Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Interview Project 2012

 When I found Open Adoption Bloggers it was a moment in my waiting process when I realized I wasn't the only one. I realized there were really others that existed in the triad. People who not only challenged the way I thought and helped me grow but also people there to make me realize that I wasn't the first one to have many of the feelings I had while I waited. Sure I read books as our agency required but many of them were written in the 80's and 90's. So while open adoptions continued to grow the knowledge in the books was stagnant.

 The Interview project is a project in which open adoption bloggers are randomly paired, get to know their partners blogs, then interview them. What I love most about this project is not only did I get to read an amazing (new to me) blog I also then was able to read the blogs she enjoyed. So without further ado I'd like to introduce Andy from Today Is The Day. Andy is an amazing Mom to a boy named Liam. Both Andy and Liam were adopted at birth. Andy has chronicled her parenting of Liam, her partnership with Hilary, the reunification with her birthmother Iris, as well as her (and Liams) relationship with food, their family traditions, their love for laughter, and my favorite posts those she calles "caught a moment."


Q:  You created a post Parenting Tips I'm Working On - What has changed most in your parenting style as Liam gets older?
A: One of the best parts of these interviews is that I get to revisit old posts that I haven’t read in a long time.  I wrote that post in 2008, 2 years before Liam was  diagnosed with ADHD and we started him on medication.  If only I knew then what I know now!  I think the thing that has changed the most is my understanding of ADHD and how it affects Liam. I still work on all the tips listed on that post, and probably struggle the most with yelling and being consistent.  Liam can push my every button (sometimes all at once).  The one thing I have tried hard to learn, is to let go of my expectations.  If he doesn’t want to go trick or treating for Hallowe’en, that’s okay.  It’s not about me and what I think he should do.

Q: You glanced at the topic of displaying birthfamily pictures and would love to hear more of your perspective on what/how much to share?  I thought your insight from the adoptee perspective was interesting as it made the keeping of pictures private made it seem like the topic of adoption was private.  How do you view balancing private vs. public information in relation to adoption?
A: I didn't have any pictures of my birth family until I was in reunion with my mother Iris when I was 30 years old.  Seeing her picture (and one of my older 1/2 sister) for the first time was an unbelievably hard moment, but also an amazing one.  It suddenly made this person that I had only ever imagined real. Pictures for me have always been important, a way to capture memories.  On the few times that I have met Iris in person, it was always important to take as many pictures as I could, because in the back of my mind I always worried that it would be the last time I saw her.  Having a picture of her and I together was priceless.

As I'm very open about my adoption, I don't hide it away. We have 2 walls of family pictures that line the staircase in our house and I have pictures of both Iris and my sister hanging among all my other family members.  I do think that if I were to hide those pictures, or not display them, that I would be conveying the idea that adoption was something to be hidden.  And it's not.

I wish that we had more pictures for Liam.  We have 1 or 2 of his Mom that she sent us early on, but that is all.  They hang among other family pictures in his bedroom, out and proud for anyone to see. 
By nature of blogging about family and adoption, I have made the choice to not keep very much private, though there are topics and stories that I would never include on the blog, Facebook or other public places.  Some of those stories are just too personal, or not mine to share.  My litmus test for what to include on the blog comes down to Mothers:  Would I be okay if either of my mothers, or if Liam's mother were to read what I wrote?  If so, then I continue on.

Q: You shared that an assignment for Liam prompted an opportunity for you and another parent to present on different types of families and how the teachers would adapt assignments to include all families.  What changes occurred as a result?  Do you speak with Liam's teachers at the start of the year about adoption?  Did your parents speak with your teachers?  (clearly not the bio teacher but he seemed unreasonable)    
A: Liam goes to a fairly small private school, so there isn’t a need to speak to teachers at the start of each year, as we have been there for 6 years now and everyone knows who we are and the fact that he was adopted.   I think the biggest changes that occurred at the school is that teachers are much more aware of the impact their assignments can have and they work hard to use more inclusive language. 

 I don’t know if my parents ever spoke to my teachers when I was in grade school – I’ll be sure to ask my Mom when I talk to her next.  However, I know that my adoption was not a secret, and something that I openly discussed with my school mates.  I also went to a small school, there was only 10 of us in my grade and we were together from Kindergarten to grade 8.  One of the boys in my class was also adopted, but he was much less vocal, almost to the point of being ashamed of it.  I got the sense that his parents did not want him to discuss it.  Ever.

Q: Traditions are a big theme in your blog.  Where do the traditions come from?  What is your favorite?
A: I do love a good tradition!  Most of our traditions come from my partner Hilary’s family, but some are ones that she and I have developed over the 19 years we have been together.  By and large my favorite tradition is Table Presents.  This one comes from Hilary’s family and has its roots in British tradition.  For Birthdays and Christmas (and some other holidays if we feel the need to spruce things up) everyone at the table gets a small, usually funny, gift to open before the meal is served.  Our friends and my side of the family have even now embraced this and we all have a lot of fun with it. Some of the best table presents over the years have included bacon mints, bacon peanut brittle and bacon mouth spray.  We have a thing for bacon!

Q: You mentioned that you only took a few weeks off when Liam was born.  In the US gay couples, men, and adoptive parents don't typically get paid time off because paid time off is paid by a companies short term disability policy.  Since I (and the other groups listed) never give birth thus never are "disabled" we don't get paid time off with our children.  How does this work in Canada?
A: Here in Canada maternity leave is 1 year, but that is technically broken down into 14 weeks of actual “maternity” leave (based on the woman giving birth and needing to recover) and the rest is listed as “parental” leave.  The parental portion can be taken by either parent or split between the 2 of them.  All of this leave time is paid by our employment insurance benefits and is available to anyone who has worked a minimum number of hours before they apply for it. Employers can choose to “top up” the amount a person is paid while they are off, but those employers are few and far between.  Adoptive parents qualify for the parental leave portion and can have it extended the additional 14 weeks to make up the full year to allow for bonding with the child.
At the time that we adopted, the laws had just changed recognizing same-sex couples as common-law couples, and another law changed allowing common-law couples to adopt.  So my partner Hilary was able to take paid parental leave when Liam came home.

Q: You posted a few times about starting but being unsuccessful at finding your birthfathers family.  Have you considered reopening that search?
A: I go back and forth on this one.  I have very little information, so knowing where to even start is hard.  If anyone knows a lesbian named Carol from Guelph, Ontario who would be in her 60’s, let me know.
And even though I don’t currently have any contact with Iris, my mother, I know that she absolutely does not want me to search for his family, and I don’t want to hurt her or cause her any distress.  From what I’ve gathered in tidbits since our reunion, Iris and my father’s wife were (are?) friends, so that could be pretty awkward.  Another factor is  that my siblings would all be in there 60s and 70s and  I’m not sure how they would handle finding a sibling now.  But then on the other hand, my siblings would all be in there 60s and 70s, which doesn’t leave me a whole lot of time left to try and find them.

Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

Q: Silence has been the hardest part of our open/semi-open adoption thus far.  The not knowing if letters are arriving or if gifts we have sent to her siblings are being distributed.  How are you helping Liam deal with the silence and has it changed as he has gotten older?
A: This has been the hardest part of Liam’s adoption for me.  I so wanted him to have what I didn’t – a relationship with his first family while he was growing up, avoiding the emotional roller coaster of reunion later on.  For the most part Liam takes it in stride, having never known any different.  Since he is growing up as an only child, the idea that he has siblings close in age is probably the hardest part for him.  He would very much like to meet them and have them as part of his life.  When he does bring it up we explain as best we can, based on our own assumptions.  However, I’m sure there will come a time, as it does with many adoptees, that he will decide that he wants to search for them and we will do everything we can to help him with that journey.

Q: You posted about watching Say Yes to the Dress (which i can admit to watching- WHO has $10000 or even $1000 for a wedding dress? but I digress)  What is your current guilty pleasure?
A:  Ahhhh guilty pleasures.  Right now my guilty pleasure is having an hour to myself in the morning before everyone wakes up, so that I can play mindless computer games, otherwise known as Farmville on Facebook.    I know!  Serious time waster of no value what-so-ever, but hey, I enjoy it with my morning coffee.


 Thank you Andy for sharing your blog with all of us. I know you have stepped away from adoption blogging and stated it was because you felt that at times you felt you had nothing left to add. I really appreciate your perspective as both an adoptee and an adoptive mother. I hope one day my daughter can feel that I was as open with her as you have been with Liam.


  1. I've followed Andy for a very long time -- in blog years, anyway :-) She's a wise one.

    I'm happy to say, TTA Baby, that Andy's thoughts on school assignments and adoption will be included in my upcoming book. Yes! I new book on open adoption will be available in the 20-teens.

    Thanks for this interview. You asked great questions, and I learned things about Andy I didn't already know (she's Canadian, eh??).


  2. Thanks so much for being such a great interview partner! I loved having the chance to get to know you!

  3. Great interview! And thanks for following my blog! :)

  4. This was a great interview! I am going to go check out Andy's blog (I had never heard of it) and read her interview with you! I love finding new adoption blogs!!!