Almost My Daughter – Adoption.com

ExactlyWhereWeShouldBeThis time of year always gets to me a little more than other times. The daughter we thought would be ours is turning two. When we officially started our adoption journey, we met a young lady who was very early in her pregnancy. We chatted a little on Facebook, as she found me through our adoption page. Since we were working with an agency in our state and she was in another state, I honestly never thought anything would come of our conversations in the form of an adoption match being made; we just talked about her situation. After talking awhile, she expressed her wish that we could be the parents of her unborn child. We began educating ourselves on the possibilities and what we would need to do since our agency only worked with people in our state. We soon drove to meet her and her boyfriend and immediately hit it off with them. We got along great and had so many similar interests!

It is a difficult journey when you are faced with a match that falls through, but time does heal and now I look back and know we are all exactly where we should be.  To read more about the way I feel about our failed match and what lead us to adopting our son, Ezra, click here to read the rest of the article on adoption.com.

7 Considerations for Communicating with Your Birth Child – Adoption.com

Protecting our children from unnecessary confusion by setting boundaries with birth parents.

CommunicatingWithYourBirthChildOpen adoptions can be full of complex emotions. I have heard of many of different types of open adoption relationships. Some are smooth sailing while many have bumps in the road. “Boundaries” is a familiar topic when adoptive parents get together and discuss issues that arise in their relationship with their child’s first family. Most of us adoptive parents don’t like to set rules because we feel so honored to have this child entrusted to us. But when you look at boundaries as rule setting, you can set yourself up for failure. Instead, boundaries should be viewed as a method for maintaining a healthy relationship. Just as my family knows not to call too early in the morning or too late at night unless it’s an emergency, birth parents should know the limits of what we strive for to maintain normalcy. Setting the boundaries with the people in our lives means we can live comfortably, avoid unnecessary surprises, and not be annoyed because we didn’t let people know how we’d like our family to work.

Navigating an open adoption and the surprising emotions that come along with it mean that sometimes we say things before thinking.  Communicating with the child as well as with each other is so important.  To find out some tips on how to best communicate with your child placed for adoption, follow this link to adoption.com for more.  You will find tips with communicating with the child, but that when in doubt having a conversation with the adoptive parents is always a good idea too.  Together you can make sure the child’s best interests are always put first.

Words Don’t Have to Hurt – Adoption.com

The words people use aren’t always appropriate, but it doesn’t make them bad.

TwoRealMomsTwoRealDads“Where is her real mom?” or “Why did his real mom give him up?” Sometimes the things people say to us make us cringe. We get defensive and sometimes fire back the answer with the intent to offend or belittle the person asking. We react because it causes us pain. It attacks that soft spot of infertility that not having biological children left many of us with. It may reopen a wound we thought had closed. We fear it may confuse our child. We worry about how the words of others will affect the emotions of our little ones. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. While that little rhyme might not always be true, we do have power to decide what we allow to hurt us.

One thing I have learned, and maybe it’s thanks to many friends in the adoption groups I am involved in, is that I don’t have to take everything personally. To read more about why I don’t think words are always meant or used with ill intentions? Follow this link to adoption.com to understand why I personally have used the word “real” many times in talking about biological family members.

Why Our Family Doesn’t Celebrate Gotcha Day – Adoption.com

BittersweetAdoption-13-300x150It was an unusually warm January day in 2013. The expectant mother and I had grown quite close in the short time we had known each other. She had a bad case of bronchitis. As a result, she was not getting much sleep and growing dehydrated. Her amniotic fluid was decreasing, so we were going to the hospital every few days for a non-stress test and fluid check. We had our overnight bags packed, anticipating that one of these visits would result in the big day coming a few weeks early. That day was The Day. We called our spouses so they could meet us there. Things were about to get moving. Good thing she and I grabbed lunch on our way!

“Gotcha Day” can come with many emotions for people on all sides of the triad.  From the term “gotcha” symbolizing an object to be gotten or the way you say “gotcha” when you scare or trick someone, to just not wanting to celebrate something that could have been emotionally devastating for others in the triad.  Click here to see why our family doesn’t celebrate Gotcha Day on adoption.com.

Adoption Guilt?

guilt-07Adoption comes with complex emotions. Often, the emotions are consuming and misunderstood. One of the emotions that a lot of adoptive parents unexpectedly find themselves feeling is guilt. It can come as a surprise if you find yourself suddenly overwhelmed with emotions that you translate as guilt after you have adopted. It is not uncommon to feel adoption guilt…

It is normal to feel a wide variety of emotions while adopting.  The emotions can change minute to minute, day to day or year to year.  Being empathetic to the other members, while keeping things in perspective only help us learn and grow.  To read the full article, visit adoption.com.

What is Open Adoption?

WhatIsOpenAdoption-05Being so involved in the adoption community, it’s natural that I get a lot of inquiries from friends and random people seeking help in beginning their adoption journey.  One of the things I have to often remind myself is that I was once in their shoes.  In today’s adoption climate, open adoption is the norm.  But that doesn’t mean that everyone in the early stages of adoption knows about open adoption or is immediately comfortable with the idea…

To read the full article, please visit adoption.com

The Right Foot

open adoption

Open Adoption, Open Heart

If I can give one piece of advice, it is that in all the training you will receive, you may not be taught that starting off the relationship on the right foot can never begin too early. When I say that, it means learning positive adoption language is a big deal. You may learn a few things like to use “created an adoption plan” over the dated version of “giving up for adoption”. There are many other situations though that choosing your words carefully can go a long way. But it really isn’t about just being politically correct, it’s about respect.  It’s about understanding people’s feelings.  It’s about willingness to learn.

Today with open adoption being the more normal route domestic adoptions are taking, starting that relationship off with respect is so important. As adoptive parents we are gaining something that we could not achieve on our own; a child. Imagine the heart ache and loss the expecting mother goes through every day leading up to placing her child and will likely feel every day after the placement. Respecting her as a human and the parent of that child shows you love not just her baby, but her as well. And don’t forget about the father, he may or may not be involved, but until you know otherwise, assume he is.

Remember, positive adoption language is not just about being politically correct, but respecting her. Moving forward in an open adoption requires respect. Respecting her for her decision and not just going after her baby and saying “all the right things” will create a lasting relationship that your future child can respect you for. There are many resources out there to ensure you understand positive adoption language. If it is not offered in your adoption training, seek it out for yourself, you’ll be happy you did.

Part of respecting her, is also respecting her story. Respecting that her story is also your future child’s story. People can be nosey when it comes to adoption. Some are genuinely curious about adoption, some just want to the juicy details. So decide how much you want to share with people and stick to it. People will ask all sorts of questions that you never dreamed of. IE. “Why is she giving him up?” “Is she on drugs?” “Does she know who the father is?” “Why doesn’t she want to keep him?” Etc. Keep in mind that what you share with people now, may get back to your child or give the inquisitive people less respect for the birth mother in the future. While you may have the best intentions of sharing the story with people, they may repeat it back at inconvenient times. If your open adoption ends up being like mine, we invite our son’s birth parents and other biological family over a few times a year for family gatherings. We want everyone to feel comfortable. They are all part of our extended family now. While a person may be at a low moment in life at the time of placement, often the reason for them creating an adoption plan is to not to just give their child a better life, but to also give them the ability to improve their own life.

I think that letting the expecting mother know that you will support her in any decision she makes is very important. It shows a great deal of respect. Yes, of course you want to be a parent and adoption is your goal in having this relationship with her, but her knowing that you will be ok if she decides to parent or picks another family over you, goes a long way in her trust in you as good people. But don’t just say it, MEAN IT! Get yourself in the right frame of mind before entering the relationship.  She is not there to make you a parent.  You are there to parent her child.

Starting off on the right foot with the expecting parents will help you in a lifelong respectful relationship that will be cherished by your child and all members of the adoption triad for years to come.

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Adoption Backlash

Borrowed from "Adoption Hate"

Borrowed from “Adoption Hate

Before starting the adoption process, did you have any idea that some people were negative toward adoption and assume all adoptions are unethical? I didn’t have a clue. I was in for an awakening when the more I tried to learn and advocate, it seemed the more flack I caught from the protesters. At first it really bothered me, now it inspires me to keep going forward in my journey. It is still hard to not take their comments, especially when directed at me, personal.

Yesterday on Twitter someone tagged me in two posts. The first one they said I was a baby snatcher or something along those lines and the second post, they said I lied to our son’s first mother about open adoptions not being legally enforceable and said I SHOULD feel guilt (referencing my recent blog entry). Obviously, this person was just trying to strike a nerve with me and has no clue what actually goes on in my adoption triad.

What things like this have you seen or been under attack for? How can we prepare ourselves for this and how can we respond in a positive manner that shows we are not baby hungry vultures?

These are questions I asked my online adoption forum.  The forum I moderate is composed of men and women across the globe that are either adoptive parents or hopeful adoptive parents.  They represent people from many types of adoption and are in different stages of their adoption process.  It is nice to get a variety of views and come together for insight and solutions.  It is also just a great place to know that we can talk freely and not be judged for asking questions and wanting to learn more.

Examples of how people have been attacked for their role in adoption were then brought up.  One such example is that we should take the money we have saved for adoption and give it to the expecting mother in order to keep the family intact.  This is unrealistic.  Good in theory, but if a baby only needed a little money and the rest is history, I am sure far less women would consider adoption.  The $15,000 we paid in adoption fees would not last long.  Surely not 18+ years to raise that child.

The people who speak out against adoption may come across poorly.  They may be hurt and angry.  And although they are offensive, we can still  learn from these people. Wading through the bitter words and attacks on our humanity can be difficult.  Setting our ego aside and listening to the injustice they have faced in their adoption story can help us reform adoption.  Do I think abolishing adoption is the answer? No.  And not just because I benefited from infant adoption myself.  But, because things aren’t black and white.  The downside of learning from these nay sayers, is whenever I have tried to reach out to them for clarity and have a sensible conversation with them, their repeated attacks to my family are so harsh, that I give up. I have so many times told them that more people would listen if they approached the subject with more respect, instead of scare tactics. They go for the shock value in their message instead of reasoning and solutions to the problems.

So while I choose to not engage them if they are not willing to have a healthy and productive conversation, I will not dismiss their concerns either as just angry rants from bitter people.  We can continue our education and fight for preservation of first families as well as rights for birth fathers, access to original birth certificates, open adoption and more.

Did You Feel Adoption Guilt?

guiltAdoptions come with complex emotions.  One of those emotions that most birth parents and many adoptive feel is guilt.  I think it is completely understandable (yet unnecessary) for a birth parent to feel guilt.  They may feel guilty for making the adoption plan, for not being in a better place in their life, to wanting more for their child and themselves.  But, at the same time, it is my hope that they also see the all the positives of why they are making that choice.  It can come as a surprise when people outside of adoption learn that adoptive parents may also suffer from feelings of guilt.

Guilt is a loaded word.  The definition of guilt to many people is that you have done something “wrong”.  However, I think these people are just looking at the word guilt differently.  While some may use the term “guilty” to describe the feelings they have for feeling joy with their adopted child, other words could easily be used in its place.  Empathy, Compassion, Appreciation, Affinity, Pity, Sympathy, etc.  It really is about the person feeling the emotion and to what degree they perceive the situation.  Some people just tend to beat themselves up more than others.  Some people rely on the good in a situation to thrive or survive through it. (Some people just lack understanding and feel entitled.  Let’s hope none of my readers are of that variety.)

When we were in the process of adopting, I went through a variety of emotions.  Guilt was one of them.  Guilt came in many forms:  Guilt that I couldn’t provide my husband with a biological child (or that I wasn’t sure I even wanted to).  Guilt that I wanted to adopt a newborn.  Guilt that I questioned my ability to parent outside my race.  Guilt that I was going to “sell” myself as someone with more resources for parenting a child, to an expecting mother.  Guilt that I would get to be called “mommy” by a child she loved so much.  Guilt that I would experience all the firsts.  Guilt that I would never understand how tough her decision was.  Guilt that I may not be a perfect parent either.

While Ezra’s birth mother is an incredibly strong woman, I know this hasn’t been easy for her.  She seems at peace and very proud of Ezra as well as her decision, but still, I am sure there are times that she wishes she could have parented him instead of placing him for adoption.  Ezra’s birth father has always shown more emotion when it comes to the struggles he faces with adoption.  He has always been extremely kind to us and never showed us any resentment.  He is always smiling when we are together and he is very affectionate toward Ezra.  These things just show me how much he cares.  Watching the yearning in his eyes gives me guilt.  It gives me guilt to know that we have the ability to give “more” and because of that we were chosen to parent their child.  It is very normal to celebrate success, but when it contributes to someone else’s pain it is more guilt producing.

Guilt in adoption hopefully fades with time as the open adoption relationship blossoms into a healthy, loving extension of your family. Understanding that these people chose you to parent their perfect little creation is something you should not feel guilt over.  But just because it is OK to not feel guilt, does not mean it is OK to feel indifferent or not want to help ease their pain.  Sharing an open adoption and open communication is good for all members of the adoption triad.  However, if you allow guilt to consume you, you may begin to suffer in other areas and your child will also suffer.

Have you experienced any of these emotions?