Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Dear Sugar: Meet Michelle Madrid-Branch, Adoptee, Mom-by-Adoption, and Author

Dear Sugar:

One of my favorite people in the adoption community is Michelle Madrid-Branch. She's an international adoptee, a mom-by-adoption, and an author, among other things.  I have learned so much from her, and I think you will to!  

Rachel: Michelle, you have a dual connection to adoption.  You're an adoptee and you're a mom-by-adoption.  How has each connection helped you define and understand adoption?  

As an adoptee, adoption has defined so much of who I am as a person. From my earliest beginnings, I have lived within the skin of being an international adoptee. I've journeyed to uncover the truths of my own adoption in order to become whole. As a mom-by-adoption, I've been able to understand the deep blessing of delivering a child in this way. Both experiences have aided me in understanding the profound gain and profound grief of adoption, and I've learned three key lessons: 

Adoption is not a one-sided experience. It impacts everyone involved. Open and honest communication is so very essential. Expect differing perspectives. Respect them all. 

Grief is real for the adoptee. I didn't grieve out-loud for much of my growing up years. I kept my emotions hidden inside because I was afraid. Love seemed conditional on my being a happy, perfect adopted girl. As beautiful as adoption can be, there is an ocean of grief involved. That grief must be safely explored, heard and validated. 

Identity is the adoptee's to claim. An adoptee deserves to claim their true identity, and not one that is imposed upon them. Plain and simple, support adoptees in their journey to know who they are, on their terms and in their time. 


Rachel:  Your social media and your blog seem to be deeply rooted in honesty and joy.  Can you tell me what your main goal or purpose is when you write a book or blog post? What do you want the world to know about adoption? 

Michelle:  I want the world to understand that the adoption community has much to share. We are resilient, inclusive, proud, and no longer willing to stand in the shadows. I want the world to understand that there is a love that knows no borders and that adoption is the living, breathing blueprint of this kind of love. I want the world to understand that honesty is healing. And, that joy is possible — no matter what life has thrown in your path. Your story is your power. Use it well. 

Rachel:  For those who are hoping to adopt, what is one piece of advice, encouragement, or wisdom you can provide based on your experiences?

Michelle:  When they ask about their adoption, stop everything and focus on them. Don't brush it off, don't let the moment slip away. Adoptees of all ages need to feel seen and heard. 

Rachel:  What are three things you are loving right now? 

Michelle:  1) I'm an equestrian. I ride english saddle and enjoy jumping in the arena. My horse, Sir Cadbury, teaches me so much about balance and being in the moment. It's a beautiful gift!

2) Along that note, I feel really blessed that my 7-year old daughter is an equestrian, too. Nothing fills me with more joy than when we are together in the arena. 

3) Laughter! We are a family that laughs...a lot. I love the sounds of our laughter. I'll never stop loving that!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dear Sugar: A Letter to My Boobs During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Today I'm sharing my very recent journey.

Dear Boobs:

Ali Cummins Photography
I used to want you so bad.  It started in the third grade.  I heard a few girls on the playground gushing over a girl named Jessica.  Why?  They caught a glimpse of, wait for it....a bra strap.  Jessica was one of the cool girls with naturally gorgeous blonde hair (long and flowy, like a Disney princess), an on-trend wardrobe, and now, developing breasts. 

Around this same time, Judy Blume’s book Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret was becoming increasingly popular among girls my age, especially the section where the protagonist did a pectoral exercise while chanting, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.”   

Boobs were it. If a girl possessed breasts (no matter how small), she possessed prestige, admiration, and maturity:  three things I desperately strived for. 

The next year at my January birthday party, my mom was creative.  Though it was frigid outside, we had a beach-themed party.   My friends and I wore our swimsuits, we had a cake that looked like an island, we made seashell necklaces, and we listened to my dad’s Beach Boys records.   

Before I headed down the carpeted steps to greet my first guest, I folded the swimsuit's shelf-bra liner up a few times to create (I thought) the appearance of curves.  Of course instead it just looked like wadded-up fabric (which was exactly what it was). 

Despite my efforts, even insisting that my mom buy me a lacy, pearl embellished training bra at JCPenney, long before I needed one, you refused to make your debut until I was well into the eighth grade.  Even then, you were nothing impressive.  I was long, lean, and awkward with zero athletic ability.  And you started to emerge (and it took all of high school for this cycle to be complete), my desire for you was replaced with the next milestone:  starting my period.   I didn’t appreciate you as I should have, even when I went from an A cup to a (pushing it) B cup.  

You managed to look OK enough through college and even in my Maggie Sottero two-piece wedding dress.  The corset top still required sewed-in push up pads, but you showed up well enough.   For four years, I enjoyed married life with confidence in my body, eventually joining a gym and relishing in building muscle while gossiping with girlfriends and half-assing it in step class. 

During this season, I found a breast lump, and persisted on having it examined and later extracted.  It was nothing but a non-cancerous mass.  At the time I was terrified, but I managed to handle it and move on.  

Then 2004 happened.  I was in graduate school, teaching writing to college freshman (who were just four years younger than me), and ended up getting a weird stomach virus.  That's a long story, but a year-and-half later, after over twenty medical appointments with five medical professionals, I wound up in the ER in Diabetic Ketoacidosis.  I finally had a diagnoses:  type 1 diabetes.   I was very fortunate to be alive.

I then began gaining back all the weight (and then some) that I had lost when my body went toxic.   Gaining weight meant gaining something I never really had before:  breasts!  Like real ones that looked ah-mazing in V-neck tops and swimsuit tops.  Diabetes sucked, but at least I got a few perks, including C-cup breasts.  

After the diabetes diagnosis, that's when I knew we would adopt.  My body had been through hell.  I wasn't willing to risk going down that path again, nor was I going to put a baby through that.   Adoption was the right choice for us.  

We had two children through adoption by 2011 when another knot appeared.  Another surgery, biopsy, and declaration that though it was a mass, it wasn’t cancerous.   In the clear.     

Breast ultrasounds and examinations by doctors became my norm.   I came to not only expect extra steps to be taken, but for the news to be good.   I almost felt like a professional.   Here I had experienced not only two breast lumps but a traumatic diagnosis and incredible survival story.   Surely I had enough things go wrong that from then on, everything would go right.   How could it not?

Six more years, two more children.  One of whom I had a nursing relationship with.   

Then this April...I figured my "extremely dense breasts" were throwing me another curve ball.  I figured the new lump was normal.  It wasn't.  

Breast cancer does not discriminate.  It does not care what color someone's skin is, how old she is, or even her history.  It does not care if someone has all or none of the "risk factors" we women hear so much about.  

It chose me.  It appeared, swiftly and angerly.  I do not know why.  I have been over it a thousand times.  Was it something I did?  Is it just because my body is whacked out?  Is it just the fact that one in eight women get breast cancer, and I was that "one"?  Why?  Why me?   Why after one disease did a second one arrive?

I could have preserved you, I was told.  I could have chosen a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation.  But there was a possibility that I'd need to later do a mastectomy anyway.  That the cancer would come back, sneakily, in the opposite breast.  

I had a choice, certainly, but my goal was to give myself the best chance of not only survival, but for a life with less anxiety and doubt.  I needed peace, reassurance, and odds in my favor.  

So I chose to let you go. 

I gave you some good, hard looks.  I committed you to memory.   I hugged my kids and my husband a little tighter against you.   I realized you were JUST boobs but you were still boobs:  your importance and status instilled in me since childhood.  


On the day of my surgery, I was both nervous and confident.  I could do this.  I could do anything in Christ who gives me strength.  This wasn't an ending, but a second-chance, a powerful beginning.  

It's been a long month-and-a-half since the surgery.  I look down at you.  You are new and foreign, different and present, artificial and yet MINE.  You were purchased and chosen.  You are strange.

I do not regret my decision to bid the original you farewell.  It was the right and best choice.  Recovery has been tumultuous, a never-ending roller coaster of physical and emotional and mental and spiritual ups and downs.  And I have a feeling that recovery isn't just a season of physical healing, but a forever-state of remembering and considering.  Losing you left me scarred, physically and emotionally.  

But losing you also meant potentially saving my life.

   
I am sorry we couldn't be together forever, or at least longer. I miss you, though I'll be honest that most days I don't think too much about you.   My personality of "go big or go home" helped me decide to tell you goodbye and move forward.

I know I'll never be completely over you.  Cancer changes a person, inevitably and irrevocably.   Not having you is a constant reminder of what was, but I refuse to live steeped in regret and shame.  

My journey has been one of learning and listening.  Every time bad news arrived, I felt a new wave of spiritual warfare come over me.  But this time when I was told that having cancer meant possibly saying goodbye to you, I thought to myself, this isn't my first rodeo.  I've faced hard and scary times before, and every time I emerged victorious, stronger, and more confident.  

Cancer disrupted my life.  But it didn't defeat me.  My story, my journey, it continues.  And I have you to both blame and thank.   I have memories and a future.  I have hope.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dear Sugar: Meet Dr. John DeGarmo, Foster Care Expert

Dear Sugar:

Let's just say this upfront.  I absolutely admire and respect foster parents.  They have one of the toughest jobs: advocating for children, (sometimes) fighting a broken system, and dealing with ever-changing rules and plans. That's why today, I wanted to bring you some foster care wisdom from Dr. John DeGarmo, a foster parent and fostering advocate.  

Rachel:  Dr. John, you seem to do it ALL!   So my first question for you is, why?  Why make it your mission to educate others on foster care and adoption?  

Dr. John:  Before I was a foster parent, I held many of the same misconceptions that most in society have about all things foster care today.  Indeed, as the media continues to focus on the many negative stories about foster care, foster parents, and children in foster care, these misconceptions and negative stereotypes only increase.  I feel called to not only help children in foster care and foster parents, but also to help general society better understand the foster care system, as well as the many challenges children in care face on a daily basis, in a better fashion.

Rachel:  You and your wife have fostered many children.  I'm sure one thing you hear often (I do!) is that some people claim they could "never foster" because it would just be too hard.  I know some foster parents find this offensive.  I'd love to know how you respond when someone says this to you.  

Dr. John:  My response is this; “That’s a good thing. It is supposed to hurt. My heart is supposed to break! These children need me to hurt for them. To be sure, children in foster care need stability and they need security. Yet, what they need the most is to be loved. As foster parents, we might the first adults who have ever loved the child in a healthy and unconditional fashion. Sadly, for some children, we may be the only adults who will ever love the child in this fashion, in an unconditional manner. So, when the child leaves our home and our family, our hearts should break. We should experience feelings of grief and loss. After all, we have given all of our hearts and love to a child in need.  Oh, and I do cry each time these children leave my home. I do grieve, as my heart is indeed broken. 

Rachel:  What are three things you would tell any person considering becoming a foster parent?  

Dr. John:  Before becoming a foster parent, one must determine if one's spouse/partner also wishes to care for children in need in the home.  If both in a relationship are not in agreement, marriages can be destroyed. Second, one must determine if she has a strong support system of some kind. Whether it is a church, family members, work mates, friends, or neighbors, foster parents need to surround themselves with people who will help and support them.  Finally, be aware that foster parenting can be exhausting, and may lead to emotional burn out.  It is important to take time for oneself as a foster parent as you care for children in need.

Rachel:  Oftentimes, I hear those who wish to adopt express that they'll "just go through the system" because it's a "cheaper" way to become a parent vs. adopting an infant domestically though an adoption agency.   This deeply troubles me because they clearly do not understand the goal of foster care and the trauma that many children in care have been through.   How do you respond to those who just want to adopt as quickly and cheaply as possible?   

Dr. John:  When a child is placed into foster care, the initial goal is to have the child reunified with his birth parents, or a member of his biological family. To be sure, the initial intent of placing a child into care is that the placement be a temporary, with reunification the main objective. Yet, there are those instances when reunification is not possible, and the child is placed through the court system for adoption. There are several reasons why a foster child might be placed up for adoption.  First, the custody rights of the birth parents are voluntarily terminated; secondly, the custody rights of the birth parents are terminated by a court order; and third, the child is up for adoption due to the death of birth parents. 

Rachel: Finish this sentence:  Being a foster parent means ______.

Dr. John: Being a foster parent for me has created a sense of urgency within me to make a difference in the lives of those in need.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Dear Sugar: What to Include in Updates to your Child's Birth Family

Dear Sugar:

You sit down at your computer to type an update to your child's birth family and you wind up looking at a blank screen for several minutes, even hours.   Then perhaps you shut down the laptop, go get some ice cream (because that makes everyone feel better), and vow to try again tomorrow.  Yet the cycle repeats itself.  WHAT IN THE WORLD DO I WRITE?, you ask yourself.  



Most domestic infant adoptions these days have some level of openness, and this openness often includes what we call "updates."  An update is pretty self-explanatory.   Doesn't it sound hopeful and reasonable?  But for someone who isn't a writer (or talker or sharer) by nature, updates can be daunting.   So today, I'm here to help!

If you're new to the WSBS community, here's a quick summary of our family.  We've been in the adoption community for a decade.  We have four children, all adopted domestically and at birth, and all of the adoptions are open.  So that means four kids, four open adoptions, and yes, four updates to be written at once!  (I like to send updates at the same time in order to stay consistent and organized). 

Here are some things to include in updates:

  • the child's growth, which may include his or her height, weight, size in clothing.  This is especially true of infants who grow rapidly!  
  • favorites.  What does the child most enjoy?  Include foods, activities, even specifics like books or tv shows or songs.    
  • dislikes.  What drives the child bonkers?  Again, include foods, activities, etc.
  • milestones and firsts.  What new accomplishments have occurred since your last update?  First tooth?  First trip to the beach?  First word?  
  • medical info.  Did your child have a cold last month?   What about that first broken bone after a bike incident?  How did he or she bounce back?   
  • family fun.  Did you take your child on vacation?  What about a weekend visit to Grandma and Grandpa's?  Maybe on Friday nights, your new tradition is popcorn-and-movie nights in your pjs.   
  • personality.  Is your child serious or silly?  Does he or she have a certain "look" given to strangers or to a silly aunt? What makes your kiddo special and awesome?  
  • holidays and celebrations.  Talk about things like baking sugar cookies together, decorating the Christmas tree, that epic Easter egg hunt with the cousins.  
  • funny or sweet quotes.  Have a talker?  Share something funny or sweet the child said.  
  • changes.  Is your daughter no longer into Doc McStuffins, but is now on a Nella the Princess Knight kick?  Are the twins trying to potty train?   
  • hopes.  What are you looking forward to in the coming month?  A scheduled trip to the zoo?  A certain holiday celebration?  School starting?  
Some have asked me, but shouldn't I ONLY share the "good stuff"? I don't want the birth parents thinking there's something wrong with us (as parents) or the child.   The answer is no!  No you shouldn't just include the "good stuff."  Your child is a human being with likes and dislikes and quirks and flaws.   Illness happens.   Tantrums happen (oh help me, Jesus, with ages 2-4).   

How often should you send an update (however you choose to send it)?   That's really between you and the birth family.  Though infants change SO rapidly, that I think sending updates more frequently in the beginning is perfectly reasonable.   It can also be reassuring and healing for both you and the birth family to update frequently at the beginning of the post-placement relationship.  

Join me on Facebook to discuss adoption updates.  What do you include?  What are you struggling with when it comes to post-placement relationships?  



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dear Sugar: Burning Domestic Infant Adoption Questions

Dear Sugar:

One thing you may not know about my family is that we set out to adoption internationally (Guatemala) first, and our agency warned us the program was going to close soon.  So we then moved on to considering foster care-adoption.   A couple of families from our church had gone that route; however, after many heart-to-heart conversations, we decided not to continue down that path.  We then had two women volunteer to be surrogates for us, to which we decided we weren't interested in building our family that way.  Domestic infant adoption was the last consideration on our list, and here we are, ten years later, having adopted four times via DIA.  
Today I want to answer the DIA questions (and hopefully helpful answers) I'm asked the most.   Let's get started!  

Q:  One reason I'm leaning toward international adoption is because we do not want an ongoing relationship with our child's birth family.  It seems like everyone who adopts domestically is talked or coaxed in to open adoption.  Is it wrong of me to not want to spend a lifetime sharing my child with his or her birth family?  

A:  I facilitate a local adoption support group of 425 women who represent different triad members. Many of these mamas have adopted internationally.  As their children grow up and express interest in learning more about/locating their birth family, the international mamas-by-adoption have faced struggles.  Some of them have no information on their children's birth families (and their child's medical history) which can be emotionally problematic (and physically problematic when it comes to medical situations).   

Now, there is no "right" or perfect adoption route to take.  Every avenue AND every adoption has its pros/cons, joys/struggles. However, you are correct to assume that open adoptions among international adoptees and their birth families are much more rare than in domestic infant adoption.

It sounds like the fear is coming from you, the hopeful parent.  I understand open adoption can be BIG and scary and intimidating.  I also understand that you feel you do not want to "share" your child with his or her birth family, because it's likely you don't have much education on open adoption (so you create scenarios and feelings in your mind).  However, open adoption is a spectrum and the adoption isn't all about you and your needs, fears, and desires; the adoption is about the child. If you opt out of domestic infant adoption simply out of fear, there's a lot going on there besides just avoiding open adoption.   

I suggest you learn as much as you can from adoptees before choosing an adoption route and a level of openness.   And as far as not wanting a lifetime of sharing your child, your child's beginning will always be with his/her birth family, and no adoption route you take can change that.  

Q:  Why does DIA cost SO much?

A:  DIA can cost a small fortune, yes.  But there are also those of us who adopt using small, ethical agencies that operate as a ministry and not as a business.  What do I mean by this?  Of course the adoption cannot be free since agencies (even small ones) have to pay rent and qualified employees, but they do things like not operate a super fancy website, not hire social media managers, not charge families "advertising" and "marketing" fees, not offer posh maternity homes for expectant mothers, etc.  Does this mean you may wait longer for a child than if you paid more and used a "big" agency?  Sure.  But what matters most?  ETHICS!   Now not all "small" agencies are ethical, and yes, big agencies CAN be ethical. There are reasonable fees, and then there is "fluff."  Does "fluff" mean there are placements?  Sure.  But to me, the more "bare bones" the agency is, the more room there is for ethics (because there's less getting in the way).   (What does ethics mean in adoption?  Find out more here.)


Q:  I REALLY want to adopt a little boy.  Yet I feel a slight sense of guilt for having a preference.  Our agency says it's up to us.  Is it OK to be selective about gender?

I wrote about this awhile back, and I stand by it.  I'm opinionated on this matter.  But it's YOUR adoption journey, not mine.  We have never said we would only adopt a boy or a girl.   We are a big, happy family, with three daughters and one son.  I wouldn't change a thing!  

Q:  I'm considering trying to find a match on my own vs. using an agency.  I've read that some hopeful parents opt to market via social media.  Have you tried this?

A:  No, I haven't, and let me tell you why.  1: I'm not willing to put my personal information in public spaces, accessible to anyone.  2: I like the security of having an agency involved, a third party, for the long-haul.  (A good agency will be available for the long haul:  pre, during, and post placement, and not just for you and the birth family, but also for the adoptee.)  3: I am not interested in being both hopeful parent and the expectant parent's social worker/counselor.  That is unethical and it's not healthy.  (Now some choose to hire a third party, a counselor.) 

Now I know many who have gone the independent route and have adopted.  That's their choice and their journey.  I'm merely sharing my reasons for not opting to go that route.   


Let's chat about DIA on Facebook.  What other questions do you have?  What would you add to the answers I provided here?  


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Dear Sugar: Meet Jill Murphy, Mom by Birth and Adoption

Dear Sugar,

A few years ago I "met" Jill Murphy online.  Soon after, she published her memoir Finding Motherhood, and I was blown away.  Jill placed a son for adoption, then later faced infertility which led her to choosing to adoption two girls internationally. Her story is one that offers us a unique perspective of mothering, loving, mourning, and rejoicing.  

Rachel:  You have a unique connection in that you're a birth mother and a mom-by-adoption.  What have these two experiences and ways of mothering taught you about adoption?  

Jill:  It is a unique situation. It has taught me that there are different ways of becoming a mother. And that falling in love with a child may take time. With my birth son I always loved him. That strong love I had for him help me know that he needed more than I could give at the young age of 18. It was a love that put his needs before my wants. Once we were reunited, I fell in love with him - it was like meeting a stranger and developing the love you feel after you get to know someone. Confusing I know! My daughters I feel as tho I fell in love the minute I saw their picture from the adoption agency and got to hold them in my arms. I would say the one beautiful gift I received with being on both sides of adoption is understanding it better. I am a birth mom of my son - but he has his real mom - I respect that and honor that 100%. I thought of him every day  of his life...wondering how he was and hoping nothing but love and happiness. That made it easy when my daughter asked "I wonder if my birth mom ever thinks about me?" - I could tell her that absolutely she does. I have walked her journey and can use my experience to help sooth the wonder and curiosity of my daughters. I think it has also helped my feel confident in my relationship with my daughters - if they ever wanted to seek their birth mothers, I would be onboard 100%. 

Rachel:  You wrote a book called FINDING MOTHERHOOD.  What compelled you to put your story on paper?  What has the response been like? 

Jill:  When I found my birth son 7 years ago - he was 22. I had realized that a lot of me feelings of loss and grieving never really got processed. It took me 22 years to open up the "closed drawer of feelings". It took my breath away how much healing I had needed. I needed to grieve the loss of placing a child, then the loss of infertility realizing I would never carry a baby with my husband and then the feelings you go through with adoption - proving you are good enough to be someone's mother. A lot of feelings all at once. I started blogging about it and thought that maybe my story could help someone else - there will always be a scared pregnant teen out there, a couple experiencing infertility and couple who adopt...so my book came to be. I have had such a great response. The stories from people of how they had a hard time conceiving, to others who have been adopted and searching. I love connecting with others who share even part pf my story. 

Rachel:  For someone who is considering adopting a child, what advice do you have? 
  
Jill:  My advice for others adopting.....be patient and have a good pen! You feel lost in paperwork, but it is so worth it!!! Patience is key! It is not your traditional 9 month pregnancy...and if you know that going in, you will feel better. Also one thing I wish ALL adoptive parents knew - especially with closed adoptions - is that when a child searches for their birth parents, it is a normal thing. It has nothing to do with YOU as parents. It is all about finding who they look like, where they come from and learning their story before being adopted. It is for the adoptee about finding that missing piece of the puzzle. I wish all adoptive parents could know that and be supportive to their child if and when that day comes. SO many adult adoptees that I know always say "It would kill my parents if they knew I was searching" or "I don't want to hurt their feelings". It is a normal healthy thing to want to find out your past. 



Rachel: What about for someone who is already parenting and has children who are old enough to ask the "big" and "hard" questions about adoption?   

Jill:  Always BE HONEST. I think more so now a days it is open and talked about. Adoption isn't a big bad scary secret that parents keep anymore. The biggest disservice you can give your child is not being honest about them. Talk openly about it - answer questions the best way the age of the child needs. When I met my birth son my girls were 7 and 9 - of course they knew they were adopted because they are Korean and do not look anything like us. But when I had to talk about the choice I made for my son - I had to tell them in a way they could understand. I simply said some woman can carry a baby in their belly AND be a mommy. Some woman can carry a baby in their belly but aren't ready to a mom - maybe they aren't married or too young to be a good mommy and then there are woman that CAN be a good mommy but not carry a baby in their belly. God matches up people. They understood that. As they got older we would talk more about it. Now that they are teens our conversations are much different - as you can imagine! :) 



Rachel:  What are three things you're loving right now?

Jill: Three things I am loving right now...just 3??? Let's see - a quiet cup of coffee in the morning when the rest of the house is sleeping, sunshine of summer and trying to binge watch shows! I love me some TV!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Dear Sugar: When You're Tired of Being an Adoption Spokesperson

Dear Sugar:

For some of you, adoption is new and exciting.  You might want to talk about adoption to anyone and everyone who asks.  You are proud of your family.   I get it. I've been there.  

But for those who have been on the journey for awhile, sometimes we get to a point where we're tired of being Ms. Adoption Spokesperson.   For one, our family is just that:  our family.  Not our "adoptive" family.  For another, we're just going about our business, busy as every other mom, when someone yet again wants to know THE story.  Finally, the attention (and interrogations) may be upsetting or annoying to our children.   




What is an experienced mom to do when they reach that point of adoption-education burnout?   

1:  Ask your child, the adoptee, what he/she wants.

When a stranger approaches you, AGAIN, with a question or comment or hair-stroking (no, just no), what would your child like to see happen?  Because he or she is at the center of the stranger's questions or comments, so I believe he or she should have the power to decide what happens next. Would the child prefer to speak for himself/herself or prefer you answer?  What type of "answer" should be given, if any?   




2:  Hand the person a card.

If you're a blogger or have worked with an adoption agency you're happy with (and is, of course, ethical), hand over a business card. Say, "It sounds like you're interested in adoption.  You can get more info here."  Then smile and walk away or change the subject.   Usually I can tell if someone is truly interested in adoption (they usually state up-front their adoption connection) vs. just being nosy. Either way, their intent and motivation is irrelevant to what your child wants and needs (point #1). 

3:  Reflect.

Why are you currently annoyed or tired of the questions and comments?  Is there some unresolved feelings?  Are other things going on in your life, and an "interruption" by a stranger is encounter that sets you over the emotional edge?   Whatever it is, find a healthy way to journey through so that your struggles don't negatively impact your child.  

4:  Take a (personal) break.

It's OK not to be ALL about adoption ALL of the time.  If you've been consumed a little too much with your own adoption education, it's OK to take a break or a step back.  Some areas you may be too committed:  online adoption groups, reading about adoption (books, blogs, articles), or attending a support group.   Negative feelings and experiences in these areas can bleed into your personal life, which isn't always helpful or healthy.