Thursday, December 30, 2010
...why my baby girl's parents didn't "want" her. Of course they wanted her. Of course they love her.
...why my baby girl's parents "gave her up." That's none of your business.
...how old the birth parents are. Does it matter?
I know adoptive parents understand my annoyances. Just when we think we are in the clear, that our families are viewed as beautiful, someone comes along to try to justify, reason, or figure out adoption via a negative assumption, comment, or question.
Both of my daughters deserve respect and privacy. Their biological families love them. We have two wonderfully open adoptions---and our family is ever-expanding and changing. And that's a blessing.
Adoption is a puzzle to many people. They want to put the pieces into proper, pre-determined places. That's not how adoption works. There's no perfect picture at the end where all the pieces fit together in an expected, timely fashion. Adoption is its own world. Complicated. Unique.
And that's ok.
ask me about my daughter's personality.
ask me about the joys of adopting her.
ask me what open adoption is like.
Adoptive parents, we must always tread carefully, honestly, and godly---and that's no easy task. But I pray each of us have the strength and conviction to stop, breathe, and respond in a way that educates when the annoying questions crop up.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
A little blurry, but it's a brown baby in a stocking. Another new addition to the family Christmas tree decor.
Four new brown babies---twins (my SIL got them for the girls), a baby Princess Tiana, and a girl with snap-on clothes (you can find her at Kohl's)
Monday, December 20, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I am excited to share with you that I am now the proud mother of TWO girls! On November 23, our new baby girl was born, and we were chosen to become her parents one week and one day later.
God's timing is amazing. First, our homestudy was completed rather quickly. We wanted to complete it so we'd be ready to wait in late winter/early spring; however, the training (required and held quarterly) occurred on a day we could attend, so we went. Furthermore, our social worker was available for interviews (for our homestudy) at an early date, so we did them. Paperwork wasn't nearly the hassle it was the first time; this time we had copies of nearly everything.
On Monday, 11/22, my daughter and I went to lunch with our former social worker (who had moved to another state). L and I discussed our plans regarding children. We talked about baby names and motherhood. Little did I know my daughter would be born a day later!
That week was Thanksgiving, so we traveled to visit both sides of our family. We got to spend a little over an hour with my husband's grandfather who had fragile health but still a great spirit.
The Monday after Thanksgiving, he passed away.
Then, as we were preparing to go out of town for his funeral, I made a phone call to our second agency (in another state) to ask the social worker a question. She told me it was interesting I called because a couple would be looking at profiles that night. Would we like ours, that just was shipped to the agency the previous week, to be shown? I called my husband and we said yes.
That night we were at the visitation. It was wrapping up when I noticed a text on my phone from the social worker.
The next few days were a whirlwind of nerves and excitement. We attended grandpa's funeral, made phone calls, sent e-mails, gathered paperwork, did laundry, packed, prayed, and prepared to leave home. Imagine our amazement at the circle of life---a death and a birth.
This past Monday, we met our daughter (whom our older daughter licked a lot--yes, licked). And Tuesday morning, we went to court to get custody of her.
The exciting part is that our first daughter and second daughter were both born in the same town, and both parents want open adoptions. Therefore, we have a whole new set of family in that town! What fun visits there will be!
I want to fully respect the privacy of both my daughter and her biological parents; therefore, I won't publicly blog about any specifics of their lives, situations, etc. However, I will say that our daughter's biological parents are beautiful, kind, mature individuals, and I can't wait to get to know them better.
This adoption was a total whirlwind. Many are stunned, us included, on how quickly this process went for us.
Having two babies, essentially, is overwhelming yet so joyful. Miss E can't keep her hands (or lips) off her baby sister. When our baby cries, Miss E gets close to her and says, "Shhh, baby, shhh" in a gentle voice.
My poor husband has a house full of girls! Imagine a lot of laughter, tears, PMS, dating, and shrieks! :) Thank God my husband is an excellent father. I was sharing this with Miss E's birth mother---that I am so thankful my husband is engaged in his children's lives. He's not on the sidelines with his eyes on the TV, or he's not on the golf course, or he's not drinking beer in a bar after work. My husband is a champion father. I am blessed.
Our new baby girl is African American---large eyes and lots of hair. She can cry really loudly! She doesn't like being cold (which means boo on diaper changes). She's already smiled a few times, and yes, I've already read her some books. :) She's healthy and strong---ready to see what God has in store for her.
My cup runneth over.
I cannot believe God's goodness. Nothing brings me closer to Him than adoption. Mostly because adoption---one, renders me powerless and makes me re-realize that God is indeed in charge and two, I am in awe of God's trust in me to raise these precious babies and forever be in relationship, we hope, with their biological families. What responsibility! What blessing! What joy!
We have so much to be thankful for this Christmas.
Friday, December 10, 2010
AA Santa---a gift from my mom last Christmas
We were blessed last year by a dear friend and fellow adoptive mama who gave us her collection of AA Christmas ornaments! It's been no easy task finding Christmas decor that represents my daughter's race, so thankfully we have friends and family members looking out for decor.
Sunday, December 5, 2010
I am not comfortable AT ALL with marketing ourselves. No newspaper ads, no parent profile online, no YouTube video, no business cards, no crisis pregnancy centers, no doc offices. I want our adoption to happen organically. I will not prey on expectant mothers. Plus, women who go to a crisis preg center could be just one month preg. That is not the time to decide on adoption.
Our old agency used online profiles (which we did) and YouTube videos (which we did not).
I flat out told *social worker's first name* today that we won't be marketing ourselves with any ads, business cards, etc. We will be working w/two agencies (*agency name* and *agency name*). That's enough.
Can you tell I have an opinion on this topic?
Why rush the process? We'll get placed quickly enough, I feel, [due to our openness to all races, either sex, and an open adoption with the birth family] without being on the prowl for a baby.
The online profiles also encourage a-parents to compete---who has the best letter? The best video? The best pictures? When *agency name* presents profiles, we a-parents can't compete b/c we don't see the competition---know what I mean?
I know some couples have waited years, maybe even a decade or two, to become parents. The networking avenues are endless and honestly, very tempting---do whatever, however, to end the dreaded wait. Many couples do not think twice about self-marketing. I admit that early in our first adoption process, I didn't think much of it either. It was all about us getting our baby and nothing or no one else. :( Embarrassing to admit. I partially blame the adoption industry for making adoption so much about those of us to pay the big bucks and not about the human hearts involved. But I also blame ourselves. Though, to be fair, everyone needs time to grow, learn, and change. Thankfully, we got the opportunity to grow, learn, and change BEFORE our first placement.
I'd rather do things right than obtain a child through manipulative and unethical tactics. After all, I believe we answer to God for everything we do.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Saturday, November 27, 2010
My life as a mother? I don't remember any other life! ha. Mine is particularly awesome for me because it has SO many dimensions. I've known since I was four that I would be an adoptive mother, but I didn't actually understand what that would mean. I didn't know I could love this much. I didn't know I could feel love/pain/appreciation all at the same time for another mother that I have never met. I didn't know it could be scary. I didn't know I would miss parts of their life. I didn't understand the journey I would take to get here. I didn't understand the journey they would take to get here. I didn't get how important it was to tell their story (or at least the parts that aren't their's alone to keep).
ALL of those pieces count. ALL those pieces make me a mother. ALL those pieces make it awesome.
Amber, please send me your full name and address so I can mail you your autographed copy of Selina's book!
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Selina graciously agreed to an interview and, yay!, my second blog giveaway!
First, the interview:
First, tell me a little about yourself---your work, your family, your hobbies.
I'm a children's book author and illustrator living in Brooklyn, NY. I've always been interested in telling stories and making pictures, so creating books for children was a natural path for me. My husband is African American (also an illustrator for kids; Sean Qualls) and our children are biracial. Our 5 year old son, Isaiah, and 2 1/2 year old daughter, Ginger, are both really good at drawing, and I just love that it appears they got our art genes! Originally, I am from Vancouver, Canada, although I've lived in New York for almost 20 years. I feel that I bring a slightly Canadian perspective to my work, in that I have great enthusiasm for everything I do; an optimism that permeates my work and is reflected in my use of bright colors and jazzy juxtapositions. My illustrated books, My Subway Ride and My Taxi Ride are like love letters to New York City.
Where did you get your inspiration for your book, Peanut Butter Big Brother?
When I was pregnant with my second child I was wondering if my new baby would look like my son (then 2 years old), and I felt that kids of interracial families might have similar questions. So I wrote this book about an older child wondering and imagining what his baby brother or sister might look like. The language is really poetic and playful, which I think kids can relate to. "Will you be my vanilla bean ice-cream sibling, or super rich double chocolate fudge?" is an example of the language used and fun nature of the protagonist's questions. My son, Isaiah, is the protagonist and in the end he is rewarded with his baby sister, who does look quite a bit like her, "peanut butter big brother!"
What's next for you? I'm hoping you have something in the works! :)
I have two books coming out next year. One is an alternative to the princess pantheon for little girls called, EVERY-DAY DRESS-UP. It's about a girl who dresses up like a different, real woman from history every day of the week. Some of the Icons include: Frida Kahlo, Julia Child, Eleanor Roosevelt and Amelia Earhart. I am also doing my own version of an alphabet book for Brooklyn called, B IS FOR BROOKLYN. It has tons of hand-lettering and fun imagery and is all about my beloved borough here in New York.
In four days (that would be Saturday) around noon-ish (my time), I'll select (at random) and post the name of the lucky winner of an autographed copy of Selina's book, I'm Your Peanut Butter Big Brother. You may enter the giveaway up to four times by doing the following:
1: Read over Selina's website and/or blog and tell me (via a comment to this blog post) one thing you love about her.
2: Become a follower of this blog (and leave a comment telling me so). If you're already a follower, leave me a comment telling me so. :)
3: Share with me, via a comment on this post, something awesome about your life as a mother.
4: Publish this giveaway ASAP on your own blog and/or FB wall and leave me a comment telling me you did so.
It's that easy!
If your name is posted on Saturday, you'll need to send me an e-mail within three days, at supagurlrae at hotmail dot com, with your full name and address. If the winner fails to contact me within three days, I'll draw a new winner. :)
Monday, November 22, 2010
I love Crepes by Suzette, and it was always popular with kids I was babysitting. No matter how many times I read it to them, they never tired of the "game" of finding the photo of Monica's daughter, Lydia, on each page, always incorporated into a bustling, colorful Parisian scene. This book is especially beautiful for its combination of illustrations and photos of Paris
You have three days to contact me (supagurlrae at hotmail dot com) to claim your prize! If I don't hear back, I'll draw a new winner.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
I enjoy your blog and especially your adoption journey. I am a retired social worker who worked with all aspects of adoption throughout the years. Children and families of adoption are very dear to my heart. I would love to read 'Mr. Cookie Baker' to my new/only grandchild - may replace my favorite, 'Goodnight Moon'. Best to you and your family.
You have three days to contact me via e-mail (supagurlrae at hotmail dot com) with your full name and address.
You won two of Monica's books:
Mr. Cookie Baker and Color and Cook: Healthy Snacks
Both are autographed and ready to be shipped. :)
More giveaways to come this month! Keep checking back!
Friday, November 12, 2010
I had the pleasure of interviewing Monica Wellington, the author of my daughter's favorite book, Mr. Cookie Baker. The best part of Monica's books for our family is the beautiful illustrations which feature children of various races---not just a bunch of white kids!
At the end of the interview is information on how to win a copy of one of Monica's books! Just in time for Christmas shopping!!!
Let's get to know my daughter's hero:
I love creating books. I love working on my own and being self-employed, never working in an office. The way of life very much suits me. I live in New York City. My studio space is in my apartment where I live. When I step outside, I am in the center of a very busy area of the city, but when I am inside my apartment, it is very quiet. I face into the center of a tree-filled block and the sounds of the birds create a buffer from the sounds of traffic. I can almost pretend I am living in the country! I have lived in NYC for 30 years.
I have a daughter. (She is now 20 and dances with New York City Ballet.) I have been a single mother since she was born. Especially when she was young I felt very lucky to be self-employed, and to be able to combine work and motherhood so easily. I was working on my books very much in the midst of all the busy activities of her young childhood. I would draw and paint when she was sleeping (during naps, and early, early in the morning before she woke up), when she was on play dates, and then when she was at school.
The book I want to highlight here, Mr Cookie Baker, was a book I wrote and illustrated when my daughter was about three. I have always loved baking and making cookies. I loved making cookies when I was little with my mother. The idea for this book came from those memories, as well as the experience of then baking with my daughter. In addition, some years before, I had worked in a bakery in NYC during the holidays. All this came together to shape the book. Mr Cookie Baker is about a busy day in the life of a baker, He makes cookies, step by step... He sells them in his shop to the neighborhood children...He finally eats a cookie himself before he goes to bed. There are just a few short sentences on each page. I didn’t say in the words where the story takes place, but in the pictures I show that it is a place like NYC, where there is great diversity: people of all skin colors and backgrounds.
I go through many stages when I work on a book. I develop the idea with little sketches, then I draw bigger more detailed sketches. I put them together into what is called a dummy: a first book in black and white. Then I plan out my colors and the overall look for the book. Painting the final pictures in color is the fun part but it is the last step of a long process that usually takes me anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the book. Here is a link to my website showing more about how I worked on Mr Cookie Baker: http://monicawellington.blogspot.com/p/inside-mr-cookie-baker.html
Mr Cookie Baker was my first book in which I included recipes. The recipe for the decorated sugar cookies is based on my mother's recipe - I fiddled with it to make it as easy as possible. Many people have told me how much they love this recipe and that the cookies always turns out! Apple Farmer Annie, Pizza at Sally's, Crepes by Suzette all include my recipes. More recently I have worked on a series of coloring books for Dover Publications that are about cooking and include even more of my recipes. Cooking is a really fun family activity, plus children learn so many valuable skills. And of course cooking is an important part of healthy eating. One of my coloring books "Color and Cook Healthy Snacks" just won a Blueberry Award honorable mention.
To find out more about my books visit: http://www.monicawellington.com/ and monicawellington.blogspot.com
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
We are working on our homestudy to begin our second adoption.
Here are some things I said I'd never do (listen to God laughing at me as I type this):
1: Have children close in age.
2: Have a big family.
There's one thing for sure: I'm way more laid back about adopting this time than I was the first time. I think it might be that we already have a child (we aren't waiting to become parents), I'm more educated on adoption, and I have more faith in God's plan (and my hope isn't resting in the hands of humans at an agency).
I stumbled upon this blog entry from my old adoption blog, the one I created while waiting for our first child. Reading it makes me smile. I remember how I was feeling, and I also didn't have a clue that nine days later, we'd get THE call. I think it's so important to reflect on these moments:
Thursday, October 30, 2009
Fall Is Here!
I'm loving the warmth of our gas fireplace, sipping hot tea all day long, and making soup. Last night I made s'more brownies----amazing!
I'm in "crunch season" at school. I have a continuous flow of papers to grade, e-mails from students full of questions and concerns (esp about their grades!), and the ever looming realization that I still have more planning and prepping (just when I thought I was finished!).
I'm often haunted by the upcoming holidays. We have no baby. I would LOVE to spend Christmas huddled up in our house, holding a bundled up newborn, and have guests come to us for a change. I would give up all the presents and all the celebrations for a child this year.
I don't understand God's timing right now. I hope it's made abundantly clear when our child arrives. I want to feel that this period of waiting has been validated.
Well, back to grading, prepping, and dreaming.
Monday, November 1, 2010
Friday, October 29, 2010
There are few adoption books written by men, so I wanted to be sure to check this book out so, if approved by me, could be added to my adoption resource list.
Here are some excerpts:
"[. . .] while adoption is a miracle, miracles finally take their places in our lives alongside more mundane things on our shelves and blend together. Adoption is a fact of life, not a trauma to overcome" (50).
Note: That last sentence has been rolling around in my mind for days. What do you think? Is adoption a fact of life, as the author says, and NOT a trauma to overcome?
After discussing the ways in which he and his wife embrace and integrate Chinese culture into their lives, the author shares, "But while our daughters' ethnicity is one of the first labels that can be fixed on them, it does not account for and outweigh everything else that they are" (64).
Note: I found this very interesting, because sometimes my focus is SO much on helping my daughter be as black as possible, even though she is, in some ways, white (by association). But in essence, my daughter is a person first, not a BLACK person. I work hard to make sure her hair is "right," that she knows about Rosa Parks and MLK, that we find black angels and black Santas to decorate with for Christmas, etc. And maybe these things matter, and maybe they don't matter a lot. I don't really know, but I want to try and give it a good shot. Shrug.
"Adoptions don't cut off children from learning about their culture (or, in our family's case, and millions more, cultures), lineage, or heritage. They widen the human stream that sustains heritage" (80).
Note: I love how diverse our family is, simply because of its makeup (my family, husband's family, and now our family, built through adoption), its ethnicity black-white-white-black, and its unit (different and beautiful).
"There are times when our daughters have a difficult time with change: saying goodbye, or even goodnight, moving (if even, as we have, across the street), graduating from kindergarten, or ice cream shops that suddenly run out of the sprinkles that they had counted on having. Tantrums are a time-tested way of letting the world, as well as your parents, know that you'd like to call a halt to the rotation of the earth and the momentum of history for one damn minute and make the world pay attention to you. This kind of behavior is scarcely unique to children who have been adopted. But some of these ordinary anxieties might pinch a nerve with children who feel that they have been rejected in life before they had a chance to prove how lovable they are" (128).
Note: I have done little research on international and foster care adoption, but the author's last line speaks volumes to me.
The author's wife shares with her daughter (in regards to growing up): "When you're young, you want to be like everyone else. I know. People used to make fun of my hair, my clothes, my accent [French]. But when you're older, you'll see that it's good to be different. You don't want to be like everybody else. The things that make you different make you more interesting. We went all the way around the world to get you. When you're older---just a little older---you'll realize that everything you think is a problem now is actually something good. They'll be your strong points. And you will be strong" (136-137).
Note: I haven't done as much research yet on adoptees as I would like to. This passage confused me some. (The author had previously discussed the primal wound, the idea that children who are adopted have a wound because they are not with their biological parents). I once started to read a book, a very popular book, called Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Parents Knew, and got so consumed with guilt and confusion that I took it back to the library unfinished. The book was negative (though perhaps realistic?)---stating, in sum, that adopted kids are all a little jacked from the get-go because they aren't with their biological parents. STAB to an adoptive parent's heart, because I try really hard to promote adoption openness (reading books, visiting with my daughter's birth family, promoting racial awareness, etc.)---but I realize that my efforts, no matter how well-meaning and successful, do not eradicate the fact that my daughter will always have a piece of her that is somewhere else.
"Pregnancies can be accidental," says Stephen Segaller (an adoptee). "Adoptions never are. Those of us who are adopted have every reason to feel snug and secure. Loved above and beyond, really" (149).
Note: Interesting. Clearly one person's opinion. But interesting.
"Those of us who have been adopted, or have adopted or want to adopt children, must believe in a world in which the tumblers of the universe can click in unfathomable ways that deliver strangers into our lives. The tectonic plates shift, the radiation belt springs a small hole, and children from the other side of the world, or the other side of the street, can wind up feeling utterly right in our arms" (177).
Note: I call this God. :)
As I mentioned earlier this month, I have stepped away from my beloved online adoption forum (one I was beyond addicted to) to instead learn about adoption on my own terms. This book has provided me with another tiny piece of adoption education---a place where I can challenge my beliefs, question my practices, and above all, appreciate the beautiful child I have.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
The Brotherhood of Joseph: A Father's Memoir of Infertility and Adoption in the 21st Century (Brooks Hansen): I honestly do not know much about infertility beyond what friend's have shared with me. The main reason I picked up this book was to learn about adoption from a man's point of view, as so many adoption books are geared toward and written by females. I love how the author is blatantly honest and shares, "Up until this whole fertility debacle, I'd always thought of myself as being pretty successful. No rags-to-riches hero, by any stretch, but someone who'd played his fortunes well, knew how to sight some pretty ambitious goals and see them through. So this prolonged ordeal with the clinics and syringes wasn't just painful and discouraging; it pretty much defied everything I thought I knew about myself" (53).
On the topic of adoptees, the author says, "And any time I've spoken to other adopted children [outside two of his cousins who were adopted], I'm impressed by the same moral: there is no moral. There is no norm. And that is good news, I think" (86).
The author compares adoption choices, particularly the "laundry list of variables" on those dreaded "what will you accept" checklists, like "Off Track Betting" (87). He goes on to say, "A bunch of factors that, if all goes well and love prevails, will end up having very little to do with the relationship you forge with your child, he or she being an individual first, not a gender, race, expense, or some unforeseen medical condition waiting to unfold. And yet a decision must be made. You literally cannot move forward without answering these questions and putting them in order, and you can't do that without feeling terribly cheap, impatient, selfish, cowardly, or bigoted" (88).
On the topic of international adoption: "[. . .] the process of adopting from a foreign country is a little like playing poker for the first time with your drunk older cousins. The rules keep changing. You're never sure who to trust, and there's a good chance the whole thing will end in tears and scandal" (100).
In a conversation with his wife, his thoughts based on the Biblical encounter between John and John's followers, "Faith isn't something you inherit; it's not even something you feel. It's something you have to do" (169). Interesting.
I don't agree with all of Hansen's opinions on adoption, but I can appreciate his experience, which is shared in detail, and again, I'm so thankful to read something written by a man in a female-driven adoption industry.
The Sandwich Swap (Queen Rania Al Abdullah): I loved this book (written for children ages 3-7, says the inner cover)! In sum, the book is about two young girls who are best friends and do many activities together every day, including eat lunch. Though they both think the other's lunch is yucky (one has pb and j, the other a hummus sandwich). The school erupts into a food fight based on the increasing friction between the two best friends, and in the end, of course, there's a happy ending. The girls try each other's lunches and discover something new, different, and yummy! I love how this book teaches tolerance and diversity in a practical way (with cute illustrations).
The Family Book (Todd Parr): Parr's simple and humorous sentences along with bright and baby-to-child friendly illustrations make this book a hit. My favorites lines are "Some families are different colors" and "Some families adopt children."
Sunday, October 10, 2010
I've been reading a chapter a day (well, um, mostly) from the New Testament. At the time I write this blog post, I'm in Romans where Paul mentions "adoption" a lot, referring to people being adopted by God through salvation.
I've seen in many "Dear Birthmom" letters online the concept that God loves adoption----OBVIOUSLY! If He didn't, why is the word used so many times in the Bible? What about Moses or Jesus Himself? They were adopted! Woo hoo! :)
I admit that at one time my beliefs were similar. Shamefully, I took Bible verses out of context to support my views. What I wasn't doing was examining the fact that the use of the word adoption in Scripture isn't the same as the current domestic infant adoption system in the U.S. Seems like a total "DUH," doesn't it? But if you're in the rat race to adopt a child, enveloped in a fierce baby competition, your view is a little clouded. Just a little. :)
If you're interested, here's some commentary on adoption in the Bible. I didn't read these webpages in full; however, I did skim them for general thoughts. I noticed on these pages, as I did in my Bible reading, that adoption is mostly (if not always?) a spiritual referral.
What I'm getting at is that Christian couples who are considering adoption need to examine, and I mean REALLY examine, their own hearts and the adoption system. They need to make the best choices they can because they are choosing with their dollars to support an agency or an attorney. They are voting for certain practices by writing checks (investing money) into an adoption process. It's crucial to ask tough questions, and above all, to examine one's own heart and ask God to point out areas of selfishness, entitlement, deception, misconduct, misleading, etc.
I'm blessed to have met so many women, both online and IRL, who have connected me to adoption doors I probably wouldn't have opened otherwise. I'm grateful for those who pointed out another way to look at adoption besides just the "hearts and roses" (as some of my online friends call it) version. I'm thankful for authors who blog or write books or articles that speak their adoption truths---though they may not always be right in my eyes, they create in me an urge to learn more. My daughter, my future children, my spouse, my children's birth families, the hopeful potentital adoptive mothers I meet, etc. need to encouter the best woman I can be.
When human lives and hearts are involved, there's so much on the line. I hope that today you are stirred to learn and grow in adoption as God would have you.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Some of these attributes benefit me tremendously in life, particularly with my diabetes. I'm an educated, demanding, and good patient. I don't mess around when it comes to my health. Being Miss Type A also helped me in school and in our adoption process. I had assignments (whether it they were essays or adoption self-studies) done weeks before the due date.
I'm on my game.
However, when I get hung up on something, I'm on it. Call it addiction, call it obsession, but I just call it me. Every perk has it's downside, and this is mine.
Let me explain. I have been part of an online adoption community for a few years. I have made many friends there, and I have had numerous opportunities to learn about various adoption issues, including and most importantly to me, the challenges faced by all members of the adoption triad: adoptive parents, adoptees, and birth parents. Furthermore, I facilitate and adoptive mama group and am always reading adoption books to add to my adoption resource page which I distribute to new adoptive families.
In August, after a LONG and sweltering summer (one we spent a lot of time indoors because 115+ temperatures), I was getting quite tired of my beloved online adoption community. It wasn't them; it was me. (I know, that sounds like a typical bad breakup line). Honestly, I had become emotionally attached to some of the women (many of whom, mind you, I've never even met in person) and their feelings surrounding adoption, that I was getting more and more wrapped up and jaded about this question: Can adoption ever be ok?
This question comes from me, one who doesn't believe adoption is a perfect system that creates a win-win-win situation for the adoptive family, the adoptee, and the birth parents. Someone always loses in some way. Loss is required of adoption. Adoptive families typically do not choose adoption without some sort of loss, be it fertility or the loss of something else (like my beta cells---uggggg). Birth parents lose a child, though the PC language is that they "place" their children for adoption. Adoptees lose the experience of being raised by their birth families---and they have no choice in the matter. I think it's only fair to everyone involved to recognize these losses. Adoption isn't a happy-go-lucky experience, though no doubt there are joys.
I was so overwhelmed by the emotions of others and my own conflicting feelings about adoption, that I jumped onto a new project: a book. It was to be an anthology of essays written by adoption triad members. This book was to be RAW---no adoption fluff allowed. I am a person of action---and so, I was going to do something!
I prayed that God would give me clear answer----write the book or not. After all, it would be a major commitment. I was about to start work again (43 students=lots of grading) in addition to my regular role as a mom, wife, and homemaker. Oh yes, and then I had my freelance writing, my blogs, and my volunteering. And Mommy and Me Dance class.
Being the planner I am, I generated a Call for Submissions and continued to wait on God---write the book or not? I then wrote a book introduction. And kept praying.
God never gave me a clear answer, though I felt, finally, after some careful self-analysis, that writing a book out of conflict and overwhelming emotions probably wasn't the best motivator. The book, really, was for me. I wanted something to help me sort and clarify my current adoption feelings.
I have been setting my book project aside----maybe forever, maybe not. As I write this blog post, I've also been taking a much-needed break from my online adoption community. As always, I do have a stack of books on my nightstand, half of which are adoption-related. I can't bring myself to stop learning about adoption. I'm also planning our next adoptive mama meeting. My daughter deserves an adoption-educated mommy. And I need to know what the heck I'm doing as an adoptive parent.
It's funny because my everyday life has little-to-nothing to do with adoption. I eat, I workout, I play with my daughter, I go to work, I make dinner, I hang out with my husband, I go to bed. But there is always a lingering thought tucked away in the back of my mind. A new concern or question.
I get frustrated with myself at times. I do enjoy my family, every single day, but I also never forget that adoption is pretty messed up sometimes.
How much "adoption" should I carry with me every day?
Does God ever will that an adoption happen?
Is is mostly always best that birth parents and their children stay together?
Can a birth mother ever be confident in her decision to place her baby? Can she ever be truly happy with that choice?
Should adoptive families adopt and move forward, never lingering in "what ifs" and conflicting thoughts?
What is the best balance for the adoptee? How should adoption be presented to the child?
I don't want to put on an ignorant Christian coat and go along my merry little way, believing, as many Christians claim, that Jesus LOVES adoption PERIOD. People matter to God. All people. Not just the wants of adoptive parents to become parents.
6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Kisha's Kids Beautiful products with a vintage look for AA kids---including books, decor, dolls, clothing, and more! If you register with them, they'll send you a 15% off coupon.
eeboo Features a variety of products, including a matching game that features children of different races and ethnicities.
To find a variety of brown baby dolls, please visit this previous post of mine for links. This post features some of the deals I got in summer on brown baby dolls that you might try searching for.
I would love to find a place where I can buy individual people (like for a dollhouse) so I can create our family. I only see sets everywhere that are either all white family members or all brown (which is supposed to represent every other race, I guess?!?). Suggestions would be appreciated!
Happy shopping, and please let me know your favorite places so I can pass those resources on to my readers!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
I decided shortly after we adopted our daughter to initiate an adoptive mama group. The group started at my church, and our goal was to have Adoption Triad Sunday, a Sunday where the music, sermon, and readings all focused on adoption (and adoption education) while showing support and love for all members of the adoption triad: biological parents and their families, adoptees, and adoptive families. After that event took place near Mother's Day in 2009 and the group's goal met, we evolved into a group of mothers who met once a month at a local cafe to talk about adoption.
Our group now consists of mothers who have adopted through foster care, domestic infant adoption, and international adoption. Our families are made up of children from various countries and states, various races and ethnicities, different biological family makeups, different levels of communication openness, and more. It's a lovely, diverse, quirky group. We laugh, we nod, we gasp, we advise, we acknowledge, we mourn, we brag, we inform. The group, in a word, is simply fabulous.
Meeting with other adoptive mothers has been a huge blessing in my life, but I also have worked hard to pursue post-adoption support in other ways, including:
1: Conversing with women who have placed children for adoption.
2: Keeping in touch with our social worker.
3: Reading adoption articles, books, blogs, and online forums.
4: Getting together with other adoptive families.
Adoption is like anything else in life: when you fail to evolve and learn, you fail to change. And when you fail to change, you find yourself in an unhealthy rut.
What can you do, as someone who is involved in adoption, to cultivate support in your life and in the lives of others? What's stopping you from evolving, and how can you push past those obstacles?
"You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt
Monday, September 13, 2010
Matthew 12: 33-37:
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart[g] brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
After all, we took her from her biological mother---the woman she knew for the first thirty-nine weeks of life. Yes, we were chosen to be E's parents, and yes, we were good parents, but that didn't change the fact that I had some guilt about the situation.
Furthermore, would our daughter some day resent us because of our race? Would she be teased for her funny looking family? Would she be deemed as not "black enough" to be accepted by her own race because she's rasied by two white people? I recall one of my black students wrote a story about how was teased by some of her black peers who said she was an "Oreo" for living in a mostly white neighborhood and speaking proper English. The story hurt my heart and haunted me.
Being a new mom is a challenge, and being a new mom through adoption, a transracial adoption, was even more daunting. How would I do everything right so I wouldn't royally screw up my child?
I don't know why I entertained these thoughts and doubts and questions and guilt trips. After all, we did what we felt was ok by God to do---adopt. We used an ethical agency, entered into what we believe to be a God-blessed and orchestrated adoption, and we did nothing shady to "secure" a baby. We kept and still do, every promise we made/make to our child's biological family. We read adoption books constantly and keep adoption as a free flowing topic in our household.
My daughter is now nearly two years old, and it's funny how many times I forget that she's adopted and that we aren't the same color. She's just my normal, and I'm her normal. I'm not the same mama I was when E was first placed in my arms. But that doesn't mean I can stop learning. There will be challenges ahead.
I have no idea what questions she'll have for me in the future or how I'll respond. I hope I'll respond in honesty (even if it means "I don't know"), compassion, love, and grace. I hope that she'll know that I don't have all the answers, but I'll do my job as best I can---to love her, honor her, respect her, and support her.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Currently I'm working on printing all of the letters we've sent to Miss E's biological mother and putting them in a 3-ring binder. I went to our adoption file to retrieve a few documents and out slid several copies of our profile book.
My husband came into the home office to ask me a question and saw the profile book, picked it up, and said, "Oh. Here's the 'give me your baby' book."
We both laughed a little. Not because it's really funny (we are not out to snag a child like a prowler) but because the truth is, the profile book is a necessary evil in adoption (as the system is set up currently).
The absolute hardest thing for me in the preparing-to-adopt process was filling out the checklist of what we were and were not open to. This included medical, racial, communication, sex, etc. openness. It was so hard to check boxes when we knew we were making decisions about a child---a real person.
The second hardest thing was the letter and the profile. As a writer, I wanted a perfect letter---one that was honest, heartfelt, and well-written. The profile was an extension of the letter---photographs, captions, and "facts" pages.
Every adoptive family wants to put their "best foot forward" in their profiles. How can we not? Adoption sometimes feels like a competition. Furthermore, adoptive families are on a pedestal. Many believe we "save" children who "need a good home." Even if we don't believe that, even though we know we are the lucky ones as the child's chosen parents, there's still that lingering feeling that we have to live up to a nearly perfect standard. Gulp!
It probably starts with being investigated and interviewed early on in the adoption process. It's invasive, even when I've done nothing legally wrong in my life (except one ticket when I was in my early twenties for "failure to reduce speed" when I rear-ended someone), getting fingerprinted in the interrogation room at the state police department was intimidating. We had to answer questions about our childhoods, our sex life (yeah----that's another post), our religious beliefs, our discipline methods, etc. Nothing was off limits. Our life was an open book. That's the red tape. You want to pass all the hurdles with flying colors. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.
I know now much more than I did when we first started, and I know that no matter what I put in the profile and in the letter, God's plan will prevail for our family. No human hand can mess up God's will.
BUT, I know that we adopt again, and it comes time to create the dreaded profile, I will agonize over each photo, each caption, and each word in our letter. I will wonder if I'm being as honest as I should, if I should delete or add information, if I should be more or less detailed.
I'm pretty proud (maybe that's not appropriate to say...I don't know) of our first profile book. Not because we were chosen and became parents, but because I think it's accurate and honest.
I was tortured over my decision of whether or not to include the fact that we are adopting because I have type I diabetes. I was so scared no expectant mom would ever choose us because diabetes is a scary word that conjures up images of amputees and obese people and needles. Lots of needles. BUt in the end, after feeling convicted to be honest, we included a lengthy paragraph in our profile about my disease.
I also didn't want to say the typical blah-blah-blah (empty nonsense) like "Dear Birthmother, Thank you for choosing life for your baby. You are so brave. We should fall down and worship you." (Ok, so omit the last sentence, but the letters are really that drippy and horribly tacky. Look for yourself on an adoption agency's website under parent profiles. Be prepared to be bored by reading essentially the same letter over and over. The only amusement is the variety of photos people include. Think about horrible Christmas sweaters, poorly posed-formal portraits, and people hugging their dogs, their "babies," as they wait for their human babies to arrive.")
I don't know exactly what our next profile book will contain, but I got a great list of ideas from an online friend. I'd like to share that with you in a future post, so that if you are jumping into domestic infant adoption, you'll have something new to go off of than "Thank you for choosing life for your precious, darling, adorable, baby who will be our gift from God." Eyeroll.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
It’s hard to believe that the summer season is quickly ending. If you’re anything like me, you’re ready for change.
Fall more in love with reading this fall. Embrace the new season with a refreshed mindset. Learn to open your mind and heart to something and someone new while supporting fellow bloggers.
The goal: Promote your favorite blogs by writing about them on your own blog. Link your readers to the bloggers who inspire and empower you. Interview other bloggers if you wish. Share your favorite posts. Cultivate a season of refreshed minds!
Fall Into Fall begins September 1st and continues until November 15th. Feel free to cut and paste pieces of this message into your blog. And be sure to tell your favorite bloggers that you are sharing their blogs with others. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor!
Happy reading, and let’s get to writing and celebrating!
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
A reader wrote in to Ann Kearney-Cooke, a member of SHAPE's advisory board, in the August 2010 issue of Shape (34). The reader said:
"My mom keeps making remarks about the extra pounds I'm still carrying after having a baby last year. How do I get her to leave me alone?"
Kearney-Cooke's response was a few paragraphs long, but one part in particular stuck out to me. She suggested the reader respond to her mother's comments by saying, "And you're saying this because...?"
The reason this response works well, according the advisor, is that "you shift the burden of explanation back" to the person asking the question/making the comment.
Maybe I'll try this in the future when facing another nosy, judgemental, or condescending comment or question regarding adoption.