Monday, November 16, 2015

National Adoption Month: Jump OFF the Bandwagons

Hi, Sugars!  Today we're going to talk about bandwagons.

My loathing and resistance to bandwagons began back in high school.  I had landed my dream job: selling books at Barnes and Noble.  I was the youngest employee at the store, and I absolutely loved being surrounded by books five afternoons a week from 2-6 p.m.

Until, until, the first Harry Potter book was to be released.  We (booksellers) were encouraged to wear wizard hats.  We took pre-orders from hundreds of customers.  The books, which arrived just a day before the release, we wrapped in about 10,000 layers of plastic with big bolded signs saying DO NOT OPEN.

The day the book released, I arrive at work at 8 a.m., an hour before the store opened.  As the manager opened the door to let me in, a few crazies tried to barge into the store, hoping to snag the first copy of the books which had already been displayed throughout the store.  Apparently, about a hundred customers had been lined up for hours, long before the sun came up, to get to the books first.
I didn't put on a wizard hat.  I didn't read the book.  I have still never read any of the Harry Potter books or seen the movies or understood any references to the book's characters.  

Dealing with customers who felt that the Harry Potter book release was the equivalent of meeting Jesus Christ was just too much for me.  And I'm a passionate, enthusiastic person.  It was just overkill.  The craziness outweighed the excitement.  I just couldn't.  

Since that point, I have never been a bandwagon kind of person.  Everyone and her mom has a tattoo now.  I have none.  I've never tried a pumpkin spiced latte (mostly because it has an insane amount of sugar in it, and diabetics don't handle all that sugar well).  I just bought my first pair of leggings and my first leopard print item.  Why?  Because I like them now because I like them, not because someone else told me to like them or raved about them.

There are some things in adoption that with time and experience and research, I implore you not to jump on the bandwagon.  And if you are already on the bandwagon, consider jumping off.  It's not that these things are the evil of all evils; it's that I need you to take it down about twenty-five notches and hear me out before you decide if the bandwagon is best for you and your family.

1:  Open adoption.

We have three open adoptions.  They are each very different and present a lot of joys and challenges. This was not a decision we took lightly.   Open adoption seems to be something trending, like a cool thing on Facebook or Twitter, but I see a lot of posts online by distressed parents (who adopted) not knowing what to do because they've friended their child's birth mom on Facebook before the child was even born.  Because they've felt equal obligation to the birth mom and to the child, and it's not working.  Because guilt drives their choices, not love and certainly not a lot of common sense.  To jump into anything without being properly prepared and informed, without having the right MIND-set and HEART-set, isn't healthy, no matter how popular that choice is.

Recommendation:  Read Lori Holden's book The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption.  Take open adoption slowly and organically.  Take risks, but don't be foolish.  And always follow your child's cues.

2:  Birth mother gifts.

First, let's clarify, a birth mom (or first/natural/bio mom) is someone who placed a child for adoption.  She is not someone CONSIDERING adoption or someone who has made an adoption PLAN.   I used the words "birth mother gifts" because this is what I see on social media.  Here's an example:  "Our birth mother is due in a month.  I want to get us matching birthstone necklaces and give the birth mom hers at the hospital."   Or, posts about "meeting a birth mom we are matched with" and wanting to give her a "basket of goodies."   Here's the deal.  The baby isn't yours yet, the mom doesn't owe you anything, and extravagant or "leading" gifts is unethical.

Recommendation:  You can show support by a simple card or a blank journal.  Getting overly-zealous is pushy, something an expecting mom, or a mom who has just given birth, doesn't need.Your presence, if requested by the mom, means far more than your presents.   And sometimes your presence is simply you praying for mom, sending her a text that says "I support you no matter what," not necessarily standing by her hospital bed.

3:  Believing a particular person or triad member is adoption gospel.

There is no gospel on adoption.  Each person, each adoption, each situation is very different.  To obsessively read and "obey" a particular triad member or person is irresponsible, no matter how much you agree with them.  Listen, I've read almost every single adoption book published in the last twenty years.  I follow adoption authors on Twitter, and I have friendships with some of them.  I love hearing different perspectives and experiences.  But not a single one of these individuals (or triad groups) can tell me how to best raise MY child.  Why?  Because my child is a unique individual with a story of his or her own.

Recommendation:  Read and read a lot, but remember to guard your heart.  Education is power, empathy is encouraged.  But please be wise.  Please tread carefully.  What you allow to fill your heart is what you will in turn use to parent your children.

4: More money, more possibilities.

I believe instead, more money, more problems.  Money complicates any situation.  The more money, the more "hands in the pot," the more ethical dilemmas I believe you will face as you try to adopt.  I am against agencies that charge $30,000 for the placement of a baby (or higher), agencies that charge parents based on the race of the child, agencies that allow parents to essentially hand-pick their babies (bi-racial healthy girl), agencies that provide little education to their parents, agencies that demand parents contribute to "birth parent expenses," agencies that charge parents for every piece of paper printed.   These agencies prey upon baby-hungry, desperate families who in-turn, make terrible financial (and in turn, terrible ethical) choices.  They take out second mortgages, borrow money from every friend and family member, borrow against their retirement funds, etc.  

Recommendation:  Read Julie Gumm's book Adopt Without Debt.  Remember that money is the #1 thing couples fight about.  You may get your baby, but you'll be left in a terrible financial situation that will plague you for years, if not decades.  

What I want you to know is that IT IS OK TO SAY NO.   That standing up for what is right, instead of what seems easier (joining a bandwagon), will benefit you more as a family.  That one day you will answer to your adoptee as to the choices you made along your journey.  

1 comment:

  1. While I definitely agree with saying No (and I have said No), I would ask if you could point me in the direction of an agency that isn't charging $30K or more. I've searched the internet, worked with agencies that will identify opportunities, agencies themselves, etc and have not found any that will be less then $30K. It's also almost impossible (at least in my experience) to find a situation where there are no birth parent expenses.

    Please don't misunderstand, I am not advocating for these situations, just saying in my research, I am hard pressed to find opportunities to build our family without accepting one or both of these circumstances.

    I must also second the comment about agencies preying on families - there have been situations where I've asked for additional information only to be REPEATEDLY ignored by the individuals presenting the situation. My impression is that they feel I shouldn't have any questions and that they aren't going to take the time to work with me as they likely have other families.

    Thank you!


Comments are moderated and published upon approval. Your thoughts and questions are also welcome via e-mail at whitebrownsugar AT hotmail DOT com.