Recently, we arranged to lead an adoption education/Q and A session at our agency. Being a transracial family in an open adoption has been an experience that our social worker thought should be shared with waiting families.
I spent a few weeks reading many adoption books to add to our resource list. (If you would like a copy of our resource list, you can leave a comment on this post, along with your e-mail address, and I will happily send it to you). I found so many wonderful titles which I ordered from our local library, including books on transracial adoption, bringing a new sibling into the family, adoptee feelings, children's books, parent books, and so many more.
I also spent some time considering my daughter's outfit (of course!) and found a beautiful, adoption-themed t-shirt on Etsy. (See above photo). The seller offers a variety of merchandise---browse away, readers!
Additionally, I created a two page list of tips based on our adoption experience and education. I divided the list into three categories (while you wait, when placed, after placement). (Again, if you leave a comment with your e-mail, I'll send it to you).
We arrived at the agency right on time and gathered in a large room, sitting in a circle. We told our adoption story, handed out a questionnaire (to get the ball rolling), and then opened up the conversation to questions. Here's some of what we were asked and a summary of what was said:
Q: Openness intimidates us. What can you share?
A: Our openness was gradual. We were ready to be fully open from the beginning, but our social worker wisely advised us to let the relationship grow slowly. As when you meet anyone new, you don't immediately share your most intimate personal information. We have a relationship with our daughter's birth mother that has grown organically over time. We started with sending photos and letters. Then we opened up an e-mail account just for our correspondence. Then we exchanged phone numbers. Then we had a visit. My (Rachel's) thought is this: the woman gave us her child. What reason do we have to withhold that child from her?
Additionally, we know that we are the gatekeepers of our daughter's connection with her biological family. We take that responsibility seriously. We know that our daughter will probably want information on her biological family. Who are we to deny her that? We feel it's important for our daughter's sake to maintain a connection with her biological family.
Note: My personal belief is that adoptive parents hold back because of insecurities often based on stereotypes and misinformation. Adoption education helps greatly!
Q: How do you do her hair?
A: We talked to other transracial families, we humbly took advice from strangers (including two black women who escorted us all over a Super Target, pointing out various products), and we found resources. There are You Tube videos on how to do hair.
Note: We are asked this question all the time. :)
Q: What do you do while you wait for your child? It's hard to wait! Up until this point we had paperwork to keep us busy.
A: We have a whole list of tips for waiting families. I think it's important to "nest" as any expecting family. Get the nursery ready, scrapbook, write letters to your future child.
Keep in mind that adoption is ALL about waiting. You wait to start waiting--haha, you wait for a match, you wait to finalize, you wait for communication, you wait, and wait, and wait. God taught me a lot about patience and that continues now.
Other Topics of Discussion:
- Families need to understand that a match isn't a guaranteed placement. That baby belongs to his or her biological family if and until that child is legally placed.
- It's not appropriate, we believe, to put a biological family's personal information on blogs, Facebook, adoption message boards, etc. That can be hurtful and harmful to all involved.
- An open adoption, a transracial adoption, a special needs placement, etc. aren't for everyone. However, each person, we advise, should pray about their decisions and let God lead.
- It's essential to be educated! Education eases fears and changes hearts.
We were blessed with the opportunity to meet with waiting families. While we were waiting, many families and individuals took the time to educate us, and we feel that passing on this education will be a positive force in people's lives.