Saturday, July 28, 2012

Questions from a prospective adoptive Mom

I'm starting this post before I go to meet a former co-worker.  We were friendly at work though I worked pediatrics and she worked adults so we rarely were in the same building.  Since leaving the hospital we have kept in touch swapping dogs for vacations, and she started a professional journal club that I attend.  I was aware of her dietary changes as well as her using acupuncture.  I was nearly positive that it was for infertility but having been down that road I never said a word.  The last thing I wanted when I was going thru that process was prying eyes.  If she wanted to share with me she could.

About a month ago she contacted me asking me for a quick summary of adoption and what agency we had used.  I shot an e-mail back and let her know that I'd gladly meet her for coffee or lunch if she wanted to talk about our experience as well as help guide her thru the process.  She responded yesterday asking if we could meet- so tomorrow we will meet for coffee.  I am brining all of my adoption books as well as our portfolio which I picked up from our agency today.

I found out that D never did receive a copy of our portfolio.  I asked that a copy be offered to her and sent if she wanted it.  I trust that our agency would give her a copy if she had wanted it so I'm guessing that she didn't want a copy.  The agency asked if they could keep the other copy to share with other families.  I plan to agree with the only condition being that they share with families that I DONT recommend having your family complete pages (that was added stress).  The ironic thing is we stressed over the book so much but D never saw our book- ever.  She was verbally presented with information about us like the state we lived in, our names, our jobs, and how long we had been married.  Those are the facts that I know D knew before we arrived.  D had asked the agency to find a family that was married (she didn't care homo/heterosexual) but beyond that she had no other requests.  She had not asked to even approve the family though the agency did present her with limited information verbally before they had us drive the 8 hours to PA.  (so I digressed).

Today I looked back at some of my initial posts.  I read the first one.  I read the post about my fears.  I read about our interviews.  I read our portfolio.  I wish I had a real live person that had been thru the process before to ask questions to.  To share with me that it was normal to see the check list and want to recycle the list.  It would have been nice to have had someone tell me that the portfolio is important but dont drag it out for three months- be yourself and move on.  Same with the check list.  The things I worried most about checking off where non-issues and the things I though I was OK with turned out to be my biggest stresses.  I'm interested to hear her questions, her fears, her reservations.  I dont know if her husband will join us.  I dont know if she has gotten the application yet.  I really do hope that I can be a person to lean on for her.  I do plan to share my blog with her if she is interested.  Best of all I have baby girl to share with her (I confirmed it was OK to bring her) and show her that its all worth it.

So we met.  We chatted for two hours.  Baby Girl was perfect she played with her toy and pounded on the table.  She is at a point where she is deciding between IVF and moving onto adoption.  She has family members that are not in support of moving onto adoption.  I'm glad I'm not at that place anymore.  It also reminds me that I'm grateful that DH and I had determined an end point prior to starting even trying to conceive.  I dont envy her position.

She asked the typical questions-
Will I love a child that is "not mine"?
My answer- yes.  The child will by YOUR baby.

Will open adoption make me feel like I'm raising someone else's child?
I feel like open adoption is like having an extended family.  I am Baby Girls Mother.  She has an extended family larger then most including her birth family.  They want to know how she is doing and have comfort that D made the best choice for her.  They do not offer advice on how to parent and we dont have to visit them for every holiday.  The relationship is for Baby Girl and not for me.  I'll admit I'm insecure at times but the more we talk about it- the more it normalizes it.  D is part of Baby Girls journey to our family but D will never replace my role as her Mother.

If we have an Open Adoption with the Birthmother show up?
NO.  There is a relationship and a trust that is established showing up with break that trust.

Nature Vs. Nurture?
Nature determines genetics, how tall Baby Girl will be, her eye color, I think her personality (she is WAY more out going then DH or I am).  We will instill our values on Baby Girl.  We will share with her our views on right/wrong.  She will challenge us and we will learn from her as well.  D had a hard childhood and had things happen to her that were outside of her families control.  Unfortunately those events lead her to a lifestyle that was harmful to herself and her family.  Baby Girls siblings as well as D's siblings are perfect examples that there was love in D's home I firmly believe that the trauma D experienced outside her home resulted in her downward spiral.  There is no such thing as a perfect home or perfect life.  We as parents try to protect our children the best we can but there are people outside our home we cannot control.

Given the community we live in we felt we could not provide cultural experiences as well as mentors for most races.  My concern was not that our child would look different from us because there were some races other then caucasian that we were open to based on our ability to provide mentors/ cultural experiences.  Baby Girl already routinely hears about her adoption story and how it makes her special.  As I have heard from other blogs that having an transracial adoption means you will need to be ready for the best and brightest of our society making comments that are hurtful not only to you but your child.  Baby Girl does look like us but we still get comments from those we know best- family/friends and in some ways I think those comments are more hurtful because they are from those that know us best.

Domestic Vs. International?
Neither is easy.  Domestic provides more regulation and birthparents should be provided education on their rights (though unfortunately there are agencies that do not do this sufficiently).  Domestic allows you to meet your child sooner and even potentially be in the hospital room when they are born.  Domestic does have a risk of a birthmother choosing to parent and an adoption resolving though heart breaking I do think of this as a positive.  I've said this before I take great solace in knowing that I can share with Baby Girl that D made a choice to place her with us.

Adoption isn't for everyone and its not an easy road.  The road leads to the gift of parenthood.  I wont go as far a to say that adoption results in pain for your child because if you are a well educated adoptive parent the lines of communication between your child and you should be open (this isn't just regards to adoption communication).  Having communication (even minimal like in our case) with the birthfamily will also help in making your child feel secure in their home with you.  There are children that are adopted that turn into unbecoming members of society but there are biological children that turn into unbecoming members of society.  Adoption will not define Baby Girl but I strongly believe that having her questions answered will make her comfortable in who she is.  She grew in D for 9 months and then was placed with us to be loved for a lifetime.

Comments/Additions to my answers would be gratefully received!  I do anticipate that she will read my blog at some point.


  1. I think I was worried about the home study before we adopted. I was worried that we were being judged and evaluated and I was so afraid that we wouldn't pass the test. Looking back, it was (by far) the easiest portion of our journey.

    I don't think I was fully prepared for how I'd handle being around other moms who share their labor/delivery tales and me not being able to contribute. It's still hard when my friends (who delivered their kids) make comments about the dreams they had when pregnant, or cravings, or how ever since being pregnant- they can't remember anything. The worst is when friends who had difficult pregnancies say, "Be glad you can't get pregnant-- it's not all that you think it is." OUCH. It's like telling a starving person to be glad they can't eat because it doesn't taste good anyway.

    I never knew that I'd always be worried about my adopted child be well-adjusted. I will forever wonder if things happen because he's adopted. I'd like to think he's who he is and being adopted is just part of the picture, but because I know nothing different-- it's hard.

    Adopting isn't an easy fix... the pain of infertility will not be fixed by adopting a baby. I don't think I'll EVER "get over" being infertile.

    Adopting is not easy. It's so wonderful to share my son with his side of our family, but it was REALLY hard when we first started. It's gotten easier as we've progressed in our adoption and our families have slowly merged into one. But it is not for the weak and it's not all roses all the time. I have to always keep my actions, words, and thoughts focused on the fact that everything is about our son. It's not about us. People who have never adopted don't understand what it's like to have to share a child with someone else. It's unlike anything in the world and not something I can even explain. It takes a lot of prayer to get through it.

    I wish your friend lots of luck. While it's not easy, it's the greatest thing that I've ever done with my life.

  2. First, I'd be interested to talk to you off-blog about race in your community. It's possible that we'd move back to New England at some point, but what concerns me the most about that is the lack of diversity and its effect on our children.

    Nature vs. nurture: I've written on my blog that I think at least some of my son's math prowess comes from his birthmother's family. Also, she sang to him when she was pregnant with him, and I sing all the time, so he is very musical.

    International vs. domestic: From everything I've read, international adoption is a mess right now. Countries are closing or slowing down. There are huge ethical concerns. Now, there are ethical concerns in domestic adoption too, but at least it's easier to talk to the birth parents and hear their reasons for placing, their concerns, etc.

    I've noticed that you don't talk much about Baby Girl's birthfather. It's important to remember, even if the birthfather isn't involved, that he is a part of the equation. First, his rights have to be considered. After that, the child will want to know more about him.

    Two other things about openness: We're finding out that so many medical conditions are genetic, it's great to have some access to medical histories. Also, the number one question from adult adoptees from closed adoption seems to be "Who do I look like?" My son has access to his birthmother's family and my daughter has access to her birthmother and birthfather. So, at least that question will be answered. Openness isn't a cure for all the ills in adoption, or all of the feelings an adoptee will have, but I do think it's a positive advancement.