Thursday, August 3, 2017

Dear Sugar: 5 Burning Adoption Questions, a Q and A

Dear Sugar,

I get a lot of questions about adoption, and today I'm answering some of them!  Let's get at it.

Q:  Do expectant parents see the hopeful parents' homestudy?  Should they be able to?

In my experience, the expectant parents (or birth parents) do not see the homestudy. The reason being, the document is intended, for the agency's purpose and for legal reasons, to show due-diligence happened and to prove that the family IS qualified to adopt.

It's my opinion that the birth parents or expectant parents should NOT be able to see a homestudy. This is not because we, as hopeful/adoptive parents have something to hide, but because SOME of the info in the homestudy is very personal and detailed and again contains information that we consider "private" to almost everyone in our lives.   (For example, our parents and close friends don't know our yearly income.)  Likewise, I believe that expectant and birth parents have the right to keep certain details of their lives private.

That said, I believe in honesty and disclosure.  The expectant parents should ask any questions they want.  It is up to the hopeful parents if they disclose answers to those questions, whatever they may be.  I think expectant parents should have the information they want and need to make an informed choice, which varies parent-to-parent. I believe agencies should foster communication between the expectant and hopeful parents, guiding them on what is and isn't appropriate to ask.  If the agency is ethical, this isn't an issue.  

Q:  Is it OK to change my child's birth name? 

What did you agree to with the expectant parents?  That's really the only question you need to ask.  If you made a promise, keep it.   I believe re-naming an infant CAN be different than re-naming a toddler, preschooler, or older child.  

Personally, we co-named each of our kids with their birth families.  We used their preferences/chosen birth name for the child along with our preferences/chosen name.  I believe this was a way to honor everyone and create a beautiful name for each of our children.  

Q:  The primal wound theory:  yay or nay?

I don't believe there is a "yay or nay."  The primal wound is different for every adoptee and their individual circumstances and story.    I know adult adoptees who don't believe in the primal wound, yet I also know adult adoptees who do.

As the (adoptive) parent, I believe our responsibility is to know that SOME adoptees struggle with the "primal wound."  Thus, if we are educated on it and are proactive in meeting our children's needs, that's what matters.

It's not up to us to declare if the primal wound is real or not.  That's not our call to make.  

Q:  Language like "our birth mom" or "our baby" before the child is born is supposedly a no-no in the adoption community, but I find it endearing.  So what do you think?

"Our" claims ownership, and you don't own the expectant mom and child.  If/until placement happens, the baby is hers and she is her own.   I understand that some hopeful parents find "our" to be endearing.  It's a way of stating connection and affection.  However, I personally find it inappropriate. And remember, a woman isn't a "birth mother" if/until she places a baby for adoption.  Until then, she's an "expectant mom."   Words matter.

Q:  I want to breastfeed my child, but I'm not sure I want to discuss this with my social worker or an expectant mother.  Thoughts?

My belief is that when a child becomes yours, the parenting choices are also yours to make.  You do not need "permission" from anyone.   However, adoption, especially open adoption, is an experience and commitment to respect, grace, and disclosure.   I don't think there is a right/perfect answer; however, I don't think you should lie.   If your social worker or expectant mother asks you if you intend to breastfeed, and you do, than say so.  If you aren't committed, say that.  But at the end of the day, once TPR and revocation is over, you as the mom have to make parenting decisions:  many of them.  This is what makes you mom:  making those informed decisions based on what you believe is best for your baby.  I share my nursing journey here and here, if you'd like to learn more.  

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