Mommy Wars Are Real – Adoption.com

adoption educationParents are all too familiar with the phenomena called Mommy Wars. I was watching a Disney movie called Zapped with my older son the other day, and the main character accused her boy crush of pretending to be competitive with other boys in order to be friends with them. He turned the tables on her and said that girls pretend to be friends in order to be competitive. How many of us are guilty of that? We have the choices between organic or regular, formula or breast milk, stay-at-home or working mom, public or private school, and the list goes on and on. Every day people compete with one another in so many areas of life. Parenting is no exception. How far can we take it?

In the adoption community, just like anywhere else, people are often in competition.  How can we support one another and learn to not compare our adoption to the adoptions other people have?  Click here to continue reading the article at 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.

A Look Back: Why were families so afraid to talk about adoption?

Cat-CatInBirthdayCakeYoureAdoptedI participated in a radio interview today and this question was one we weren’t able to get to, since we ran out of time.  I thought I would take it to the blog and address it here. I was a little worried about fumbling over my words in the interview on this question anyhow.

So, we’ve all seen the stories or had a friend or family member that didn’t know he/she was adopted until teen or adult years.  So the question is, why was the topic of adoption taboo?  I think this stems from a time of more closed adoptions. Adoption was a taboo subject for several reasons.

  • One of which is with infertility there is a bit of a stigma that is attached to it. Women have been placed in a role by society to have children. Men have a need to carry on the family name and lineage. With adoption their, so called, failure to do so is brought to attention.
  • Some people have the mindset that if God wanted someone to have children, He would grant that to them naturally, making it against God’s wishes.
  • Then there is the stigma of the child’s background. In closed adoptions, the adoptive parents were given very little to no information about the birth parents.  This lead to confusion or an inability to discuss the unknown.
  • Another reason adoption used to not be commonly talked about, was also the parent’s own insecurities of losing their status as “parents” to the child.  If their child ever questioned their biological roots, this may have made the adoptive parents feel inadequate or insecure and fear they may lose their child.  They may not have had many answers about the birth parents, so they avoided the subject all together. If or when the child learned of their adoption, then it was often awkward for all parties to discuss.
  • Often parents in closed adoptions also feared there was no “right time” to tell the child.  If the adoption wasn’t open, knowledge of the birth parents or a relationship with them wasn’t present, some parents may not have felt equipped to tell their child and answer the difficult questions, so they put it off.
  • Sometimes families adopted children from within the same family.  The adoption was kept a secret so there was not any confusion as to who the parent was.  The biological parent may have been a sister or close aunt or cousin.  So, while a relationship with the biological parent may have existed, the knowledge was withheld.

What other reasons can you think of that made the topic of adoption taboo or reasons why parents may have kept the adoptive status of their child a secret?

Sunday Morning Magazine Show

sunday morningI am so excited!  I am in Chicago this week visiting my husband with the kids while he works here for one of his clients.  He has been coming home on weekends, but since it’s Spring Break for Isaac, we decided to come to him and take in some of the city and things to do.  I have been trying to work on the blog here and there, but with also working and my boys coming down with colds, I haven’t posted.

A couple days ago I woke up and was checking my email, as I do every morning upon waking up, and I had an email from Rodney Lear at Q102 (WKRQ Cincinnati).  Mr. Lear was inviting me to be a guest on his radio show to talk about adoption!  After I read the email like 4 times, forwarded it to my husband, texted my husband saying READ YOUR EMAIL NOW, I responded that I would love to participate!

The interview segment is prerecorded, so I’ll be going into the studio on Thursday, April 10th.  He said he expects the interview will air on Sunday, April 13th.  I am sooooo nervous and yet, so excited!  Obviously adoption is something I am passionate about and I hope that this will really open some doors for people to understand adoption more!

For all you out-of-towners, don’t worry, the show is also streamed online.

Here’s the schedule for Sunday Morning Magazine with Rodney Lear 

Airs Sunday April 13th: (times are EST)

7:00 a.m. on WKRQ-FM (101.9)

7:00 a.m. on  WYGY-FM (97.3)

6:00 a.m. on WUBE-FM (105.1)

6 :00 a.m. on WREW-FM (94.9)

For everyone that can’t listen, I will do my best to get a link or file to upload to the blog as soon as I can after it airs.  Thank you so much for your support!

cincinnati

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The Thing I Love Most About Open Adoption

mineA few nights ago I realized my favorite part of open adoption. It is sharing my proudest moments with someone else that is equally proud! I just LOVE when my son does something new and I can share it with his birth mom. Sure I can say it to my family or post it on Facebook. It may even get a bunch of likes and comments. But other than his birth parents, no one is quite the same level of proud of him as we are. That is a very special bond.

My husband has been away on business for a few weeks.  He has luckily been given the ability to come home for the weekend to spend time with us (and because he teaches a Saturday class at a local college).  This weekend we tried basking in as much family time as possible.  Friday after we picked up Isaac from school, we went out to dinner and since the weather was perfect, we headed to the outlet mall to get the boys some new gym shoes.  When we returned home, the boys still wanted to be outside (Ezra loves being outside and is constantly running to the door saying “side”).  Joe and Isaac were tossing the football around and Ezra was just cruising around the driveway and the yard in his new Nike’s.  Of course, like any proud mom with an iPhone, I was snapping pictures.  Then I remembered that T, his birth mom, had asked if he was starting to run yet.  So when he was chasing the dog, dad and brother around the yard, I switched the camera to video mode and recorded a little one minute clip of him running around and “playing” football.  I couldn’t wait to send it to her!

Her response was pure joy!  “Look at him run.  I love it.  It almost looks like he’s been running and walking for years!”  I typed back “he’s a pro!” and her next message was when it hit me… she said “I’m so proud.”   It is those moments that I know that no matter how many likes a picture gets on Facebook or how many oohs and ahhs grandparents, friends or other family members give, no one else in the world shares the same love for him with me and Joe as his birth parents do.  They’ll never tire of seeing pictures that look exactly the same as the ones I took the day before.  They’ll never think I talk too much about him.  They’ll never think “Gosh this woman is obsessed with her baby.”.  They get it.  They are still his parents too, even if they aren’t parenting him.  They are proud of him.  They love him.  They take joy in his happiness.

So many people are still scared off by open adoption, simply because they don’t understand it.  Open adoption is not co-parenting or fearing that my status as “Mom” is at risk.  It is sharing the joy of a child that is loved by many.  Imagine depriving them that joy of knowing how he is doing, that would be a terrible heartache to be responsible for causing.  Being able to share with him their love, well that in itself is very special.  He will know he is precious, loved and cherished.

“He is mine in a way he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.”

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I Deserve a Baby Too!

A mother's love smallIt is really easy to get caught up in our own pity party when we face infertility or have set backs in adoption.  We see women getting pregnant on accident, we stop watching the news because we can’t handle watching stories about abused children, we lash out at family members who are expecting a baby or complain about their kids being bad, and we cry at the sight of pregnant strangers in the grocery store.  Experiencing that grief makes us desperate and sometimes with desperation we lack reasoning skills.

Adoption is an emotional roller coaster all on it’s own, but then factor in the reasons you may have come to adoption; infertility, health, relationship status, sexuality, etc, and you may have extra emotions tied to the adoption journey.  While I have seen this many times lately in the adoption forums I go to, I am not going to claim I too wasn’t guilty of all the emotions that this entry is about.

Adoption isn’t easy for the expecting mother who made an adoption plan to place her child.  She is doing it for her own reasons.  She may struggle every day with her decision.  She may feel guilt that she cannot provide her child with the life she wants.  She may change her mind every day in the things she wants her child to have.  She may waiver on what she wants out of the adoption relationship.  But, let’s face it, it is her child.  It is her decision.  We have to just be willing recipients of the child with open arms.  And we need to know when it’s time to walk away from a match that is not going to work.

I know it’s really hard to do, but keep in mind this isn’t about what you are or are not deserving of… but it is about her and HER child. (Of course you deserve a child, it just might not be her child!) This is a super stressful situation for you when she begins questioning things in her adoption plan or her match with you. I experienced a disrupted match because the expecting mom second guessed all her choices when it came to us. We were matched very early on and as our friendship grew, so did her need to know things about me on a personal level and on a parenting level.  When an expecting mom chooses and adoptive family, she often romanticizes a life she envisions for her child as well as her future in your and her child’s life.  I could not live up to her expectations and the match dissolved.  It was devastating.  The expecting mother may be freaking out and the emotions she is going through are no less valid than yours. Even if she is second guessing some of the choices. She may have people in her other ear telling her she should have picked a stay at home mom or someone that lives closer or in a bigger house.  It my experience, the earlier in the pregnancy that she makes decisions, it seems the closer the time gets those decision start to waiver. (Obviously this isn’t the case for every early match.) I would much rather have a woman come to me with adoption as her choice and feel fully at peace, than trying to make the match happen because she thinks she’ll eventually be OK with it.

It’s really scary for us adoptive parents to go through, but we just have to accept what God gives us and remember that it isn’t another woman’s job to make us mothers. She is giving us to her child… not her child to us.

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