I am honored to be a part of the Adoption Blogger Interview Project for 2013. Each year the website pairs adoption bloggers that have experience with all aspects of adoption with another blogger, after getting to know one another and reading each others blogs, we interview each other. You can view all the interviews for this project at: openadoptionbloggers.com. We are part of the 3rd group which will be posted on 11/26/13.
I was matched with an amazing blogger on the other side of the country, Robyn Chittister, who has been blogging for several years and has adopted two beautiful children. I was shocked by how similar we are in our opinions on adoption reform and it was a real pleasure reading her blog. She is witty and a straight shooter, I hope you take some time to check out her blog at http://chittisterchildren.wordpress.com/
Me: I want to live in Robyn’s Adoption Land! You speak out on adoption costs, are there any groups or policy makers you have connected with? Or do you have plans to?
Robyn: I wish! Once I’m done with the series – and I think I’m about halfway there – I’d like to summarize it. From there, I have to figure out who the correct contacts are and try to at least get the issue on the radar. I once floated the idea of a Change.org petition to an adoption forum. I didn’t get a very positive response. One person actually said it might not be Constitutional to have federal level adoption laws, as adoption might be considered “commerce between states.” I have no idea if that’s even true. The federal government can set educational standards, so I don’t see why they can’t set adoption standards.
Anyway, I would really love to do *something* about the sorry state of adoption in this country. If there’s one good thing that comes out of the Baby Veronica case, I’d like it to be that people realize that we need standard adoption laws, and lawmakers respond.
Me: How would you address fraudulent expecting mothers with the living expenses paid?
If the woman is pregnant, all agencies and attorneys in Robyn’s Adoption Land are networked. The agency can post a query asking if this woman is working with any other agency. If she is, the woman needs to decide which agency she’s going to use. She can’t receive services from multiple agencies or attorneys. I don’t want to create a system in which a woman is locked into using an agency or attorney if it is not meeting her needs (physical, emotional, etc.) but I do want to make sure that a woman isn’t trying to game the system.
Hopefully, this will cut off most cases of fraud. Once a woman has a baby and chooses not to place, it can be difficult to prove fraud vs. a sincere change of heart. I do believe that if fraud is suspected, it should be taken seriously and investigated. As it stands, adoption fraud isn’t punishable in most states. It’s horrible.
Me: What classes pre-adoption and post adoption would you feel to be most valuable to Domestic Infant Adoption?
Robyn: We took a transracial adoption webinar the second time we adopted. I definitely think a transracial adoption course needs to be required, even if people don’t believe they will be adopting transracially. (I can expand on that if you want.)
I think a class on open adoption – what open adoption is, what it isn’t, what it can be, basically, the ins and outs – should be required as well.
I’d like to see more offerings that involve being educated by adult adoptees. Whether that’s a formal class or a reading list, I don’t know.
Post-adoption, I think an “Open Adoption After the Adoption” class would be helpful. It’s one thing to learn the theories and guidelines, but when you have real people to deal with, it’s far more difficult.
Me: Do you feel classes for the adoptees would also be beneficial and/or required?
Robyn: I have a hard time requiring adoptees to do anything. They didn’t choose to be adopted, and now they have to take a class about it? I’d like to see support groups offered for them. Pact has a tween/teen group that has some interesting offerings in terms of seminars.
Me: Did you have family and friends opposed to your transracial adoptions? If so, how did you deal with it?
Robyn: I’ve wanted to adopt since I was 13. I thought I’d adopt from Romania one day. By the time Max and I were married, Romania was (and remains) closed. So, I looked at Russia, because I have Russian heritage and I’ve always been interested in the countries that made up the USSR. But Russia required extensive travel, and they like their adopting moms to be 100% healthy, which I’m not. So, I looked at countries that escort. At that point, I started thinking about Ethiopia.
So, I called my mom and I asked her how she felt about having a grandchild who was a different race. Her response was, “I don’t care if he’s black, Korean, or blue. I just want to be Grandma!”
The only somewhat negative reaction I remember was from a co-worker. We had a very close knit group at work, and, when we were on a phone meeting, one of the guys I worked with asked about how the adoption was going. I mentioned that we were thinking of Ethiopia. He said something to the effect of, “It might be hard enough for the kid to be adopted without having to worry about not looking like his parents.” It was definitely worded from a concern for the child standpoint. I did think that had some merit, so I really stepped up the research at that point, seeking out books and blogs by transracial adoptees.
Now, we did have one of my uncles say that maybe we should foster first, so we could find out if we “could love someone else’s kid.” That, by far, was the worst response we received.
So, the short answer to your question is, no, not really. But I’m really bad at short answers.
Me: You had a post on agency discrimination, Do you find charging different rates based on race to be ethical?
Robyn: I do not find charging different rates based on race ethical. I think it’s racist. I have a post in draft form about this, but it’s way too long and needs to be broken up.
Me: What is your favorite parenting moment?
Robyn: One night, when Jackson was almost one, I think, he cried out in the middle of the night. I went to get him, and he fell asleep in my arms. The look on his face… he was an angel. It was just beautiful, being his mom.
Me: Kids say the darnedest things… Example of one of yours?
Robyn: This was actually the toughest question. It’s hard to remember all of the amusing things my kids say, because there are a lot of them.
Jackson is especially funny and “quippy.” A few years ago, when I was employed and Max was not, we were all playing outside. Jackson got into his Cozy Coupe and announced, “I’m the Mommy. I’m going to work. My manager is selfish and mean.”
As for Cassie, she will randomly say “Dammit” at oddly appropriate times. It’s the one swear word I still use around the kids, and she totally picked up on it.
I’d like to thank Robyn for her participation in this project. It was a honor to be paired with her. You can see our interviews as well as all the other adoption bloggers featured on www.opanadoptionbloggers.com
And remember to check out Robyn’s blog at http://chittisterchildren.wordpress.com/.