Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2013

open adoption bloggers interviewI 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 20121117-161741-img_1903Chittister, 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.

open adoption bloggers interview 

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/.  

National Adoption Awareness Month

National Adoption Awareness Month

Sarah Baker | November 01, 2013 | 12:18 PM

national-adoption-monthEvery November we now celebrate National Adoption Month. The history of National Adoption Month is relatively new. As we learn more about adoption and the need for forever homes and advocating for ethical adoptions, the awareness continues to spread.

History: In 1976, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis announced an Adoption Week to promote awareness of the need for adoptive families for children in foster care. In 1984, President Reagan proclaimed the first National Adoption Week. In 1995, as an adoptee himself, President Clinton expanded the awareness week to the entire month of November. Then in 1998, President Clinton directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a plan to expand the use of the Internet as a tool to find homes for children waiting to be adopted from foster care. (childwelfare.gov)

Activities and celebrations are kicked off with a Presidential Proclamation, and while efforts made at the national level certainly help build awareness of adoption, participation in local programs, events, and activities by those of us with a direct connection to adoption can often be the most effective way to promote positive perceptions, debunk the myths, and draw attention to the tens of thousands of children in foster care who wait and hope for permanent families. (adoption.com)

Adoption Awareness is needed in many areas. First, helping find waiting children from foster care their forever homes is a huge priority. Every child deserves a permanent home and a loving family. There are many situations that can lead to their orphan status, but that does not make them unwanted or unadoptable. While foster adoptions are vastly needed, there are all types of adoptions that this month celebrates: Kinship adoptions, step parent adoptions, domestic infant adoptions, international adoptions, etc.

This month isn’t just about celebrating the beauty of adoption or bringing awareness to the thousands of children waiting to be adopted. Adoption advocacy is also an important part of National Adoption Month. Working hard to learn about adoption and the long term effects it has on everyone involved is necessary. Helping expecting mothers find and develop the tools they need to parent when they are considering adoption is also a huge step. Advocating for adoptees rights to their original birth certificates and birth certificate reform, as well as promoting open adoptions is beneficial for their self-identity.

Each day this month, I plan to post on our social media outlets, giving thanks or bringing awareness to adoption. You can follow our adoption at www.facebook.com/OurAdoption

Here is a link to a calendar of unique ways to celebrate adoption and spread awareness. http://www.adoptivefamilies.com/pdf/2013calendar.pdf

Continued Training

Continued Training

Sarah Baker | May 30, 2013 | 01:36 PM

Once your adopted child is home with you, the adoption doesn’t stop there. While your heart may love the child as if he is your own, the fact remains, that biologically he is not. As mothers we want to protect them. So when people ask me if I plan to tell Ezra that he is adopted, the answer is, “I already tell him”. Ok, so he’s not even 5 months old, but it’s never too early to start building his identity. An important part of who he is is that he is adopted and that he has more than one family that loves him.

Every family is different, but one thing we cannot do is be afraid to discuss with him where he came from and how he came to us. I would never want him to think his birth parents didn’t love him and that they “gave him away”. Can you imagine the pain that would cause a person going through life, feeling unwanted by someone so important? Obviously they love him; they chose life when the easy way “out” is readily available abortion. The worst thing I could do for myself would be to try to hide his story from him. He would resent me in the future. Kids have enough reasons to “hate” their parents as they get into their teens, I am not going to fuel that fire.

Not all adoptions are as open as mine, with having an ongoing relationship with the birth parents. But, if you are considering adoption, I really do encourage you to try to have an open adoption. Ezra’s birth mother initially wanted a closed adoption. We would know who she was, but she wasn’t sure she wanted contact after placement. She thought it would hurt too much. I told her how important I thought it was for both her and for him to remain in contact. I am glad she changed her mind. Information you can provide your child about his biological family will help him understand who he is and feel more confident in life. Parenting is hard enough when the child is biologically yours, but add adoption to the mix and you have a whole new set of things to think about. This is why continuing to learn about adoption is something I take very seriously. There will be questions I don’t think of. Problems I never heard about. Emotions I don’t know how to handle.

There are local support groups I have joined. I can connect with other adoptive families and hear what they are going through and share anything I may have going on. There are thousands of online resources with training, tutorials, guides, tips and social networking communities. There are books. There are counselors. Building a foundation of support is a good thing. It would be too easy to just forget that a child is adopted and keep on trucking along. But, in that child’s mind, he knows, he will fantasize about life with his birth family, he will have questions. Creating a Life Book for your child will be something he will cherish. It is a story about his life, not your adoption of him.

So, don’t be afraid. Do your research and keep learning. I think it’s much easier to address things if you see them coming than if you aren’t prepared.