You are Sooooo Wonderful!

You are so wonderful!

Sarah Baker | November 05, 2013 | 11:04 AM

Since adopting our son, I find people say the strangest things. At least they are strange to me. While we are very open about the fact that Ezra is adopted and we want him to understand his roots, other people are making me learn to be more closed lip about it. I have come to only share our adoption story in certain platforms now. Not because I am ashamed or don’t want Ezra to know, but because people don’t understand adoption. It really depends on if I am in “educate” mode or “I’m a busy mom and don’t want to hear your comments” mode.

When someone says to me, “wow, where did he get his blonde hair?” Do I say, “His birth father was blonde as a child too”, or do I say “His dad”, or do I sarcastically say “Must have been the mailman.”? I don’t want Ezra to grow up thinking I am ashamed that he is adopted by avoiding the topic, but I also don’t want him to feel like I am always saying “well he’s adopted” either.

One thing I hear a lot when I do mention that he is adopted, is “Wow, you are so wonderful to have adopted.” Or “You are such an angel to adopt”. This is what gets me: I am not wonderful or an angel for adopting. I did not pluck an orphan out of the gutters of the street. I selfishly chose to expand my family through domestic infant adoption. I could have chosen foster care adoption or international orphan adoption, but I didn’t. I wanted my husband to experience having a baby since birth, since he missed that time of Isaac’s life. I wanted to know he would be called “daddy” not Joe by the next child. I wanted to experience the joys of a baby with him and with Isaac as a big brother. I wanted to have an attachment that felt like I was there from the start. I wanted to attempt breast feeding by inducing lactation.

So, when someone tells me I am so wonderful for adopting Ezra, do I smile and nod and give them thanks for the compliment or do I spout off like a crazy person telling them why I am the lucky one, not him? I want to educate people on adoption, but is there a time and place for that?

Advertisements

Open Adoption

Open Adoption

Sarah Baker | September 17, 2013 | 06:38 PM

I posted a blog awhile back about lessons we learned during our first match. Most of the lessons we learned surrounded setting boundaries early on and communicating directly what your wishes are for the adoption. Both parties should fully understand the adoption plan so there are no surprises or hurt feelings later down the road. One of the most common things I have heard from people who are opposed to adoption or looking to reform adoption say is; “In most states, open adoption is not legally enforceable”.

Open adoption is a relatively new concept. In the lifetime of adoption, open adoptions just started being more accepted in the 1970’s. As with all new concepts and alterations in tradition, changes don’t occur over night. Studies were done and are still being done. Since people my age are pretty much the forerunners of this new concept in open adoption being the “norm”, it is not uncommon to have friends and relatives question and caution the decision to have an open adoption. They have fears (and let me admit, so did I before learning more about it) like; Will it undermine me as the parent? Will it confuse my child? Will it hurt the birth mother more to see the child? Will it cause trauma? Will the birth parents try to steal the child back? Will it be a competition of love? Will it be awkward? What will other people think? After hearing these questions dozens of times, it starts to get frustrating, but keeping in mind that open adoption is “new” and they are just looking out for your well being, I take it as a great opportunity to educate them and involve them in the expansion of our family.

As a reminder from my previous post (Lessons Learned):

Things open adoptions are not:

• Co-Parenting

• Custody arrangement

• Long term child care

Things open adoptions are:

• Birth parents having knowledge of well being of the child

• Self-identity for the child

• Love and communication

So my response to the people that like to constantly remind expecting mothers that “In most states, open adoption is not legally enforceable”, is that while it is indeed not legally enforceable, choose wisely. Choose an ethical agency. Choose an agency that advocates open adoption. Choose an agency that has training and education on why open adoption is healthy. Ask the agency if they will intervene if an open adoption starts to take a turn, sometimes miscommunication can be a simple fix. Tell the adoption counselor what your expectations are. Make sure you are choosing adoption for the right reasons and fully understand what adoption is. And lastly, choose a family that you feel you can trust with the adoption plan you envision and that you see your child having a good upbringing with.

Communicate your feelings, no matter what they are. Don’t assume that people know what you are thinking. But, if you are thinking that you want to see your child that you place for adoption at least weekly or maybe even monthly, that may be unrealistic for an adoptive family and could also be a sign that you don’t really want to go through with adoption. You may want to explore your options and see if there is a way you can parent. Don’t let anyone tell you that you must place your child for adoption. That is YOUR choice. Open adoptions are great, but ultimately, you are no longer that child’s mommy. You turn into a birth/first mother. So just be comfortable and confident in your choice.

So, while some people do close the door on their open adoption, I’m an optimist that likes to believe that this is not the norm or that they have valid reasons. I can’t understand why an adoptive family would enter into such an agreement and take this amazing gift from a loving woman, and then shut her out. It’s something that doesn’t comprehend in my mind. Was it in their plans from the beginning? Were they deceitful? Did something in life change? My thoughts on open adoption are this: We have an open adoption with Ezra’s birth family. I say family because it’s not just his birth parents. He has siblings. He has aunts. He has grandparents. These are extensions of my son. Who am I to deny him this identity of himself? There are very few circumstances I can see me making the tough decision to limit physical contact with these people. Those reasons would be drugs, crime, abuse, prostitution, alcoholism, etc. Allowing Ezra to see his birth parents this way at a young age would be devastating. I would carefully explain that until these actions are corrected, we would cease visits that include Ezra. However, I would never stop contact altogether. I would still send updates and photos. I would still be there as emotional support and encourage them to get back on a better path in life and if that day never came, when he is old enough, then I would provide him with the way to be in touch on his own accord. I pray that is never something we will encounter; we really enjoy our family picnics and time spent together. But, I believe they placed their son in my care so that I would do what is best for him… and if they were in one of those situations I described previously, I think I would be doing them and their choice an injustice by putting him in harm’s way.

To learn more about the benefits of open adoption and stereotypes often associated with them, please visit: http://www.openadoptions.com/ (I didn’t have a chance to read every single topic on this page, so I hope the information is useful and accurate)

Follow our adoption story more at www.facebook.com/OurAdoption

If you have specific questions about open adoption, please message me, I am open anytime to help!

When a Match Falls Through

When a Match Falls Apart

Sarah Baker | September 13, 2013 | 02:00 PM

This is how our first match fell apart (from my perspective). Adoption is so beautiful, but the ride isn’t always smooth.

This is how fast things can fall apart. It’s been a really difficult subject for me to talk about. We went to visit the expecting parents in their home town in September of 2012. During that visit we had a scheduled 4D sonogram. Our birth mother also had signed us up for a TV show. The producers and camera crew were there to spend the weekend with us and document our story. It was an amazing weekend… but emotions were high and many things came up that were red flags that this adoption may not be everything we and the birth parents were looking for. Our previous visits we stayed in a local hotel. This visit she invited us to stay with her so we could have more time together. We had grown into more than just a “match”, we were friends. We left feeling closer to both of them than ever, but also had concerns that we weren’t on the same page all the time with what adoption is.

The birth father never fully supported the idea of the adoption. He is 15 years older than the birth mother and has 3 children. She is the mother of a wonderful little boy, whom she gets no financial support for from his biological father. She convinced the “birth father” that together with 5 children they would NOT succeed and adoption was the best plan. He reluctantly signed papers that would terminate his rights as long as she was moving forward with the adoption. During that weekend visit, on and off camera, he told all of us that he was becoming more comfortable with the idea of adoption, but would still prefer to keep her. It was very difficult for my husband and me to move forward knowing that this father wanted to parent his baby. But we also wanted to support the birth mother, and let’s face it; we wanted a baby that she wanted to give us. That’s when we found out they were going to want more involvement in the child’s life than what we were prepared for. The father wanted custody returned to him if we were to both die and he wanted us to return with her yearly for a father/daughter dance at his church in addition to the many other visits a year we were offering, plus a lot of holidays spent in their home. This we were terrified of. If we are being honest here, we felt it may threaten our bond with the baby as her “parents”. We also didn’t want to commit to something, living so far away, that we may not be able to stick to. Broken promises, I assured myself, were much worse than hearing the truth at the beginning. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the opportunity to express the “truth” until it was too late.

The birth mother, young and not truly wanting adoption, seemed to also be having a hard eliza bellytime with separating herself from the baby. She called the baby by the name we chose and referred to me as “mommy” when she would tell me that “Eliza” was saying goodnight to me each night. But, she had loved and cared for this child in her womb for 7 months and was now forced with the very real fact that she chose adoption. Meaning someone else would be parenting her baby girl. This was something she was having a very hard time with. Almost daily I worried about her emotional attachment AND the one I was forming to the baby as well. We provided her with a counselor of her choice so she could work through what she was feeling and help her come to a decision she was comfortable with. I fully believe that if a mother wants to move forward with adoption, then that should be supported. But if a mother wants to parent her child, then she should have that option without feeling guilty for making the decision. I checked in with her all the time, making sure adoption is what she wanted. She always assured me it was. But, I felt I needed to prepare for her to change her mind anyhow. Gut feeling I guess. I couldn’t talk directly with her private counselor, but I often reached out to the one provided to her by the adoption agency. Whenever I was concerned for her mental stability or how she was handling her choice, I made a quick phone call asking the agency to check in on her. Sometimes, I knew I wasn’t the right person for the “birth mom” to talk to.

I had always told her we would like the baby to know them and see them “as much as possible”. Being that we live 4 hours away, both work and have an 11 year old son that is active in many school, sport and music activities, we thought they would understand that would probably mean a few times a year. After all, she already knew that we were already running into scheduling conflicts with our visits during the pregnancy. When we returned from our visit, everything seemed to crash and fall apart. She started asking a lot of questions, that I thought the agency had already clarified with her, but she was feeling the need to ask me directly. When I told her we could visit her 2-4 times a year and they could also visit us, she was devastated and it led to two solid weeks of her being very upset and angry with me. I tried everything to fix it, but it just wasn’t enough. She only heard what her emotions filtered. I told her it was ok if she wanted to keep the baby, because it felt like she was not happy with the amount she would get to see her if she went through with adoption. She lashed out again. She didn’t understand why I thought her emotions meant she wanted to keep the baby. To me though, that is exactly what she was saying. I wanted her to know it was ok.

I admit there were times I had a very hard time containing the anger I felt when she lashed out at me. She accused me of lying to her, leading her on, not trusting me and betraying her. It’s natural to get defensive when a person feels attacked. There were times I let my emotions get the best of me and I responded to her hastily. But, no matter what, it is understandable that a scared, young mother is terrified of this process and I am the best person to lash out at… I was, after all, the threat, the woman “taking” her child.

As things began to mend with us several weeks later, she found out that by switching agencies, (She switched because the agency and myself wouldn’t participate in filming us for the show having a mediated meeting to rectify our differences.) the consent form signed by the birth father was no longer going to be used and he would have to sign all over again. She was scared of what may happen because she says she still wants to move forward with adoption. The new agency began showing her adoptive parent profiles and she is telling me about them. This is what got us into this mess in the first place that blurred line of friendship and adoption. It hurt very much hearing about new families she was considering and picturing them with the baby I was just weeks ago so certain was going to be in my arms. We knew we were not getting the daughter we thought we were going to have. It became very hard to maintain a relationship with her when I felt sick to my stomach and so much stress and depression over this situation.

After time, and convincing my husband that this wouldn’t happen again, we moved on. We got matched again a few months later and we now have our beautiful son, Ezra. But that doesn’t take away the pain, the loss, the sadness, the anguish, the anger… Having never had a miscarriage, this must be the heartache that is felt? When the baby was born, she did decide to parent her. Her and my relationship took time to move forward, but we did try. It was just last week that I made the very, very difficult decision, that for my mental health and the happiness of my family, it was time to move on. I wish her well and hope that she succeeds in life and reaches all her goals. She has a beautiful daughter now. I wanted to remain in their life, but I realized it hurt me and stopped me from healing. It may have been a selfish choice to move on from our friendship, but one I do not regret… so far.

Is a failed match something you fear? Have you had one fail in the past? I’d love to hear your experiences.

Season Finale

Season Finale

“I’m Having Their Baby”

Sarah Baker | September 04, 2013 | 11:37 AM  (adapted from original post on Cincinnati Parent)

IHTB-collage2Reflecting where we were a year ago and filming the first episode of I’m Having Their Baby with the birth mother we were matched with and where we are today, I had no idea the happiness I would have now. While you saw on the first episode things did not go according to planned with the birth mother, we were matched again fairly quickly and now have our amazing boy Ezra. The second match came fast, but felt like forever while we mourned the loss of the baby we thought was meant for us.

Tonight, you will get a glimpse of what life is like with four of the families that were shown throughout the second season on the finale episode. We were lucky enough to be part of that. We are excited to share our happy ending. The production company came out and filmed at our home and around town with us in the spring. It has been a few months and Ezra has grown a ton since then. He has teeth, is sitting and crawling and eating “solids”. Wow, he’ll be 8 months old in a just a few days!

I have also grown, emotionally, a lot since then. While I have Ezra now, I was still holding on to a lot of grief about the loss of “Eliza” during the follow up filming. I am hoping that since I have been able to let some of that pain go since then, the episode will focus more on the happiness and joy we feel with the little blessing we have now. Ezra is a wonderful baby and I feel God had a plan when the adoption of “Eliza” fell through and Tory was able to parent her little girl, Bryleigh. I feel Ezra was the child meant for us. His personality matches ours and he fits right in. One child will never replace the loss of another, but he sure helps take my mind off it.

So, tune in tonight to the Oxygen Network at 10 pm (9 central) and please just ignore the fact that my hair is a mess in the restaurant scene and Joe trimmed his goatee way too short. I have no idea what footage they are using from the day, but by the time we got to the restaurant (which I saw in the commercial) I was a hot mess from filming all day long! Hahaha

If you missed the first episode, it will be airing right after the finale called Sharanda; Tory. Thanks for all your support!

To learn more about our adoption, follow us on www.facebook.com/OurAdoption

Addressing Adoption with Our Little One

Addressing Adoption with Our Little One

Sarah Baker | August 26, 2013 | 11:49 AM

One of the most frequent questions we get asked is “Will you tell Ezra he is adopted?” I think this question comes from a time of closed adoptions. Some people go their entire lives not knowing they are adopted. Sometimes people find out only in a medical emergency. Other times they find out when they begin questioning their birth story or why they are tall or have brown hair. Imagine how a person’s world would be turned upside down if they didn’t already know they were adopted and suddenly were faced with that news.

As a society, we come with a long history of closed adoptions and adoption being a taboo subject. With that mentality, we are often faced with even more awkward questions than this one. We are the first generation to embrace open adoption. While adoptions have taken place in all cultures throughout history, it is just in the last few decades that research has proven that open adoptions can be very rewarding and healthy for everyone involved. It gives the first family (birth parents) the peace and knowledge that the child they loved and carried is doing well. It gives the child the knowledge of his or her roots and love. It provides the adoptive family with the answers that a closed adoption wouldn’t provide.

So to answer the question of if we will tell Ezra he is adopted, the answer is; we already talk about his adoption with him. I feel it’s important to start early with this topic so it doesn’t come as a surprise. He has a picture of his birth parents and siblings in his room. We point out their pictures and tell him he grew in her belly and tell him their names. When we get together with them, he hears our conversations; reminiscing his birth, talking about our abundant and mutual love for him. When he’s bigger and can talk with us, we will continue to call them by their names and tell him God had him growing in his birth mom’s belly, but he was meant to live with us so we could be his Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes I call her belly mama. I think it all needs to be age appropriate to his capability of understanding. Right now, at 7.5 months old, he is learning the world around him. The adoption is part of his world. I am also in the process of making his first year photo book and a Life Book. A Life Book is not about adoption, but about his life. Not our feelings about how happy we are to have him, but a story line of how his adoption took place and who he is. It will include photos of his birth family, time lines, his sonograms, his birth, his baby years, etc. We will add to it as long as he wants and what he wants as he gets older, it is his life.

If you’d like to follow more of our adoption story go to: www.facebook.com/OurAdoption