Tag Archives: The Adoption Interview Project

2011 Wrap-Up

January: Our year of milestones began with two celebrations—New Years (everyone stayed up late and welcomed in the new year for the first time) and Día de Los Tres Reyes Magos, with a very stale Rosca de Reyes. My bad for buying one instead of making it myself. Josi became a bonafide teenager, and has been steadily working on proving it throughout 2011.  I brought up the rear with an appearance on TogiNet Radio’s Adoption ~ Journey to Motherhood, hosted by Mary Beth Wells. The program centered around one of the classes I teach: Tweens, Teens & Beyond. The half hour flew and I was delighted to not know the format of the show prior to coming on. Wish there had been time for more dialogue… I had a lot to say (per usual).

February ushered in Snowmaggedon and Chinese New Year—the year of the Golden Rabbit, a year in which we were supposed to catch our breath and focus on calm (maybe this year??), and Aubry’s second celestial stem (“second twelve”) of her first life cycle this year (sixty years in Chinese zodiac cycle).

In March Holden turned eighteen, and that added new worries for Mom. I was involved in The Parenting Summit, a free online event that featured video messages from a number of a leading parenting and family experts. The focus of the summit was to share tips and advice on becoming a more effective parent. It was stressful to tape myself; I prefer a live audience… (You guess right if you thought I spoke about transracial parenting and adoption.)

April took us to our beloved Pawleys for our last-in-a-long-time-maybe-ever family vacay, this time with my mother-in-law in tow. We enjoyed the cooler weather at the beach and some respite from a very hectic schedule and the intense focus on Holden’s IB studies and college. Holden made a decision on which college he would attend. (Note: We were, and still are, thrilled with his decision)

May was a terribly emotional roller coaster. We lost Mark’s dad on the 17th, ten years after he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, while Holden sat for his IB exams.  Our oldest graduated from high school a week later, missing most of the pre-graduation pictures because he had a car accident (he was fine, although shaken up).

The International Dad wrote a guest post in June for Father’s Day.  We also celebrated our 20th anniversary, family-style. The couple-style will be celebrated in 2012… I began weaning myself from asking Holden to pick up the driving slack. The family began to “breathe,” absorbing the slower and quieter pace of life.

July heralded our first ever non-family vacation, if you could call it that. I coined it an orbiting vacation. Josi went to an invitation-only national soccer camp in the south (which is why we went to Pawleys in April), and we stayed on a lake in the next state. It was so sweltering that even the bugs were stopped their bugging. Holden stayed home to work, and yep… Accident. This one totaled the car, although he was fine. There are reasons a mother worries. (He still doesn’t have a car.)

August arrived quickly, and with it professional expansion: The launch of my first micro-published work: What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween, which I wrote because I saw a need to assist parents with ideas and support when their children are entering adolescence, when questions and emotions tied to having been adopted become more complex.

I am thrilled that I wrote and published this e-guide, that it has received wonderful reviews and feedback, that it has sold and continues to sell well, and that it has become an international seller (uh huh! :)).  I also became certified to teach a program—Bringing Baby Home—through the Gottman Institute for new and expecting parents. We took Holden to college, pulling Josi, Aubry and Greyson from school so that we could help alleviate any potential triggers due to separation.

Aubry had her last tweenie birthday in September (difficult for me to believe…).  I presented on four well-received topics at two conferences, in Richmond, VA and Indianapolis, IN.  We began to understand just how tough was going to be with Holden away at college, even though we had Skype, Facebook, Twitter, texting, phones, and emails going constantly. There’s nothing like someone’s presence to alleviate that void.

The big guy (my hubby) celebrated his birthday in October. Holden came home for fall break and it was wonderful to have all of us together. I was very selfish with his time and I won’t apologize for that… (His friends did get plenty of him, too.)

Greyson hit, what we refer to in our home as, the “double-digits” in November.  He became ten. It was huge and wonderful and kinda sad. My baby, so “old.”  To bring awareness to adoption, I participated in The Adoption Interview Project. Thanksgiving was spent in quiet reflection about those who were not with us and gearing up for the coming holiday madness.

December brought the wonderful holiday, special traditions and many, many guests, including Holden’s young lady friend. We’ve eaten dozens of calorie-laden cookies baked by Josi, Aubry and myself as well as enjoyed hours upon hours of downtime, board games and movies.

We stand of the edge of 2011, wishing it farewell as we step forward and welcome 2012 with many friends and their families. Thank you, 2011—for the lessons and the gifts. For the ongoing love and support of family and friends. For replenishing this mama’s well when it has run dry. And for the stamina to do what I love—being a mother, wife, sister, friend, aunt, mentor, teacher, writer, and speaker.

                      ~ Photo (yes, blurry) taken by one of our silly kiddos

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Claiming, Classes with Judy, Family, Family Celebrations, Growing Tweens & Teens, Parenting Your Adopted Child, The International Mom

The Adoption Interview Project: Making It Real, Part Two: More with Andrea…

Yesterday I posted the first of my two-part interview with Andrea, a birth mom whom I was paired with through The Adoption Interview Project. This initiative was created for the purpose of sharing viewpoints, insight and creating dialogue. I share this interview with you so that you will have more awareness about adoption and its complexities.

In the simplest explanation, adoption happens because of a life crisis. Loss results from that crisis and the birth parents, adoptive parents, and children who are adopted are all, in some way, affected.  Adoption is complex, deeply emotional and personal. Adoption is stigmatized and inaccuracies are complex.

Often, what people read about and hear of is from the adoptive parent’s perspective, like mine. They hear a lot about the joy of being a parent and raising kids. But there are other aspects to adoption, other people who must be heard and honored. Please listen with your heart about what Andrea shares below.

In our private correspondence you and I have discussed the assumptions some people have about our “roles” within this adoption “journey” and how those assumptions are inaccurate and can sting. What do you want to share here?

There was a girl that interned for me a while back and she didn’t know about little man.  I don’t always tell others about him because it’s not always their business.  She had been watching the MTV show Teen Mom and was commenting on how the couple on the show was basically ruining that child’s life by continuing to be part of her life after her adoption.

I guess I don’t get why everyone assumes that all birth mothers are either teenagers or drug addicts.  That we are all liars and that we are dangers to the children we loved enough to carry for ten months (40 weeks=10 months, not the nine everyone always uses).  I am not Quinn from Glee, I am not going to try and steal little man back.  I am not a total screw up in my life; I am just not ready to be a single parent.

I also wish the media would profile an open adoption like mine because there is a lot to educate people on. Realistically though I doubt that will ever happen so I guess I would like to tell the world to think before you speak because you wouldn’t want to be stereotyped so please give me the same courtesy.

Your profound love and concern for your son comes through “loud and clear.” What’s the most offensive remark about birth mother/adoption that has been shared with you and how did you respond?

The most hurtful hands down was when a relative of mine found out, he messaged me on Facebook and just tore into me.  This was maybe two weeks after I placed little man and I was in a really bad place already.  I will quote it but it’s pretty hurtful:

 “You are such a low class piece of s***. You give a kid up for adoption before even talking to any of your family. What the hell is wrong with you? I bet Derek doesn’t even know. Your mom didn’t even know if that is really in fact the truth, or if it is just some made up story to draw attention to yourself. Either way it is sad. Grow up. Stop being such a lying secret keeping piece of crap. It gets real old.”

So I just responded with, if I were all those things that you say then it would make even more sense for my kid to be around me.  Funny how you wouldn’t have judged me if I had an abortion but you feel like you should have a right to tell me what to do now.  I wish I could say that I let it go but it still cuts me to the core.

Your posts are considerably shorter now than they were several months ago. How are you doing? What kind of support do you have?

I feel a lot less alone than I did when I first started writing.  One, because I am in a better living situation, and two, because I am trying to get out into the world more and be more social. I now have people to talk to so I don’t spend as much time writing as I did. I am mostly okay; I still have my bad days and I know in those days I am tough to be around.

I cry a lot still and I lash out at Derek often.  I am hoping with time it will become less raw and that I will learn to live with this hole in my heart.  I actually have a really good support system in my cousin and his family.  Brian has never once judged me for my adoption. I feel so happy that he is in my life and that I have him. His wife is also really sweet and supportive. I don’t think I could have made it through all of this without them.

What advice would you give to women considering adoption for their child?

I would tell them that adoption isn’t a simple solution to a complex problem.  It is going to hurt no matter what.  Please make sure that this is what you think is best, not what others around you are pushing you to do.

Part of what I struggle with is I feel like Derek pushed this on me.  I agreed to it, but I never wanted it. I wanted to be a mother so badly, but I knew there was no way I could do this alone.

Also I would recommend that even though you feel like contact would be too painful to not close that door.  You may never want to have contact but once that door is closed it is very hard to open back up.  Even though you feel like it will make things easier to not have contact you may change your mind later.

If you could be a super hero, who would you be and why?

I would want to be the little known hero, Captain Planet.  He uses the forces of nature to stop people from polluting. He also used clever puns when addressing villains.  I think it is the closet hippy in me that wants the earth to remain beautiful and pollution free so that little man has a nice world to grown up and raise his family in.  Although I think I may have to fight Al Gore to become Captain Planet.

So, for my blog visitors: Your thoughts?

~ Image by Savagolome

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, Events, Grief, Loss, Multicultural Families, The International Mom

The Adoption Interview Project ~ Making it Real, Part One: Meet Andrea… Birth Mom

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
~ Marcel Proust

Growth, something I seek—in part to more fully support my children as they navigate what it means to have been adopted. I have chosen to develop a deeper understanding of and expand my compassion for as many integral pieces of their life journeys as I can.

One course of action has been to open up dialogue with those that have direct “roles” in and have had their lives forever altered by adoption—adults who have been adopted and birth parents. This ongoing need to dialogue brought me to participate in The Adoption Interview Project, an initiative created by Heather Schade, who is a mom through open domestic adoption and is the caretaker of the Open Adoption Bloggers, a network of writers from all sides of adoption.

As I outlined in my post on November 9th, the purpose of The Adoption Interview Project is to shed some insight, differing views and perspectives about the complexities of adoption. I am thrilled to participate and have been randomly paired with Andrea, a birth mother who recently relinquished her son.

Andrea and I have been exchanging emails for several weeks. I have found her to be thoughtful, intelligent, warm, and caring. We’ve had discussion about the often-held misinformation and stereotypes of our capacities: birth mother and adoptive mother.

My hope is that by reading this interview with Andrea, you will come to discover much. In her blog, Andrea doesn’t hold back when expressing her emotions. And she certainly is open about her story, albeit (and rightly so) the names have been changed. The rawness of what she has been dealing with and the love for her son comes through. As a woman and a mother—who has given birth and adopted—I feel the essence of what she expresses.

Andrea adds profound humanity, voice and weight; the “shadowy” birth mother image fades. She is real. She is grieving. And she loves her son.

I’m going back to your original post, Onewhere you state, “I am new to blogging but figure it could be helpful.” I know you continue to grieve. Have you found that blogging is helping you to process your feelings about your son, his birth father and your decisions?

I have really enjoyed blogging. I am not sure how many people actually read it, but I find a great deal of comfort in knowing that my words are out there and I am not so alone.  I am still sad and it still hurts but it hurts a lot less to at least get my feelings out there. I often treat it like my journal but mostly I like the idea that others can read it and see that there is more to being a birth parent than the stereotypes we often get labeled with. I don’t know that anyone will actually ever read it but I like the idea of it.  I also like that I can do it without ever revealing who I really am. Some day I may be ready for that step but for right now I would prefer most people I know in real life not know about my adoption. Even though they may not be as judgmental as I fear, I am not ready to take that step and be completely open about my adoption.

How emotionally prepared and supported were you by the agency you worked with prior to, during and after relinquishing your son?

I have very mixed emotions about the agency I went through.  On one hand they were great, they took care of me when I was unable to care for myself.  Ericka, the woman who works with birth mothers is a very sweet and caring person and I am glad to have met her.  I always felt that she went above and beyond what was required of her. On the other hand though it is a for-profit agency and their goal is to make successful placements.  It’s a double-edged sword.  I often feel that there should be some sort of birth mother advocate that is involved in adoption.

While I was lucky to have a very supportive adoptive couple behind me I am not sure that all women will have that same luxury. It’s like there is an added guilt factor that I don’t believe is intentional, but there are two people that you have come to know and trust and have provided for you with the expectation of placing your child with them.  You know that if you don’t place it will not only have accepted their help but you are going back on your promise to them when they have lived up to their promise to you.  I was very lucky that I have such wonderful people that never made me feel that way but I have a strong suspicion that is not the norm.  I read a quote from another agency that it is good to build that bond because it is less likely that a woman will change her mind after having the baby, as she doesn’t want to disappoint the waiting couple. It just came across as very unethical.

You have an open adoption with your son’s adoptive parents. What is the best part about being in an open adoption? The most difficult? How do you manage boundaries? What has the response been about what you share in your blog?

The best part is while I may never be his mother I still get to be in his life.  I like to think of all the things I hope to one day show him and it’s really what keeps me going.  I love the idea of taking him roller-skating some day, or taking him down a slide in my lap.  It is those happy pictures in my mind that keep me going.

The most difficult part of it is that there all these day to day things I see him doing that I wish I could do with him.  I won’t see him take his first steps.  I won’t hear his first words.  It saddens me and also makes me jealous.

As for boundaries, I gave Chuck and Melissa access to my blog because I want them to know that part of me too.  I also want them to feel comfortable with what is being written on the Internet about them. As for communication I try and take my cues from them.  I try not to email them unless they email me first. (I slip up from time to time though) I have their phone number, but I don’t think I have called them since before little man was born.  It’s all so new that I often worry about pestering them.  I don’t want the open adoption to become a chore for them.  I want it to be a good functional relationship that they enjoy having as much as I do.  I really wish there were more books about this life as a birth mother, but there most likely won’t be because no two birth parent adoptive parent relationships are alike.

Overall I think they enjoy it.  They often will comment on things that I write.  Particularly when I go off on tangents about things out of nowhere like I did with tort reform.  The only tough part is they often want to act on things and that is never my intention when I write.  I don’t want them to feel like they need to try and help me every time I write about something I am struggling with.  I know that they only do it because they care.  I just worry that it will strain our relationship and I never want that.

** Please check back tomorrow for Part Two of this interview. And please, share this with your friends. Thanks from The International Mom and Mama Andrea!

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, Events, Grief, Loss, Multicultural Families, The International Mom