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Adoption: What I’ve learned 2 years later

When we first adopted Bean I think we were “drinking the adoption Kool-Aid”.  There were so many thoughts and beliefs I had concerning adoption, how we would relate to our daughter’s birth parents and how we would discuss her adoption with her.  But  I’m not really sure that any of them were mine.  They were what we were told to believe and so we did.  We depended on the professionals somewhat blindly.

 

What I’ve come to learn about adoption after 2 years is this:

The same gut instinct that you use when parenting your biological child is the same one you should use when parenting the child you adopt.  No child is exactly the same and no adoption is exactly the same.  There is no one size fits all.  Many different personalities (including your child) are at play and you have to take it day by day, your own way.  Trust your instincts.

Adoption is beautiful and messy.  It is flawed and perfect.  It is emotional and it is forever.  There is nothing like the finalization day and legally becoming a forever family.

Sometimes bonding takes awhile.  It can be that way with biological children too and that’s okay.  This is especially true when your focus is on the birth parents. Sometimes you have to work hard to remember that adoption is a choice. While it may not have been an easy one, it was still one your child’s birth parents made for their child and carrying guilt about that only hurts your own bonding.

As much as you want to believe that your child’s birth parents’ life situations will change for the better, after the adoption, sometimes they don’t.  I believe I romanticized our daughter’s adoption and dreamed up a scenario where everyone had a “happy ending” but instead our daughter’s birth mom was pregnant again less than a year later. It was heartbreaking, especially since her situation was worse the 2nd time around than the first.  I’ve had to learn to let go of the anger and realize I cannot force her to make different choices for her life, but I can teach our daughter to hopefully make better choices with the life she has been given, because of her birth parents.  Always because of her birth parents.

The life Bean has is a gift FROM her birth mother and not TO us. No one sees a stranger and thinks, “She looks so nice I want to GIVE her my baby.”  No, the gift was for her CHILD.  That our daughter is a blessing to US is only the icing on the cake. She placed her daughter in our home because she wanted someone to help her make better choices, to have her experience a different type of life.  I honor her by being a mother to our daughter.  This is the life she wanted her child to have.  I am the mother she chose for her and I will love her forever because of that.  It’s impossible not to, because my daughter is a part of her and she is a part of my daughter.

After you cross the 2 year mark the focus is less on your child’s adoption and more on their personality.   People ask less questions about their adoption and generally begin to stop questioning your every decision as if you don’t really have a right to make a decision. Where I used to look at Bean and see her birth parents, I no longer do. I just see Bean….and truth be told I see her father.  She looks like my husband.  Which is fitting because he hangs the moon in her eyes.

One day when you least expect it, you will look at your child and your heart will simply BURST.  You will wonder what this feeling could be because surely you always loved this child, and of course you did. But somewhere in-between the social worker visits,  birth parent letters, adoption finalization, diaper changes and temper tantrums; something changed. You let go of all the titles, preconceived notions about adoption, guilt, worry, fear  and you just saw that you are your child’s parent and your heart is in their hand.

And no, there is no difference in the love you feel for your biological child and this child that came into your life by the miracle of adoption.  None.

 

 

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We’ve been run over by our adoption (the post I didn’t post then)

Disclaimer:
Do not worry about our family. We have our daughter.  This post was what I wrote when we were in the middle of potentially losing her. I wanted to share it because I think there are nuggets that might be helpful to others…
October 2010

I want to write passionately about adoption, particularly about our personal adoption journey. However, at the moment, I’d have to first scrape myself up off the highway because I feel as if I’ve gotten run over by a Mack truck.


The system is broken.  Adoption is like the wild, wild west.  The professionals you pay dearly for —well, I don’t want to talk about them right now.  Suffice it say that its a crap shoot. There are terrific private adoption attorneys—and not so great ones.  Great adoption agencies….and questionable ones.  Add to the mix that your friend may have used an adoption professional and had a great experience, while your personal experience is nothing short of a nightmare.

Here is the (somewhat) quick and dirty.  We may lose our daughter.  We’ve been denied (in my personal opinion) humane treatment and our situation has dragged on needlessly and cruelly for weeks and weeks. Now, we are in a situation that we have to beg  for our daughter, or at least the child they told us was our daughter. Maybe.  They’ll try to arrange that meeting.  Unlike the one they had specifically set up yesterday, but then arrived 3 1/2 hours late to.
Is the Birth Father considering signing adoption papers—even after you failed to serve him in the first place? Lets just show up 3 1/2 hours late!
I.Kid.You.Not
Is the adoptive family barely functioning at the thought of losing their child?  Well they will just have to sit and wait another 2 weeks for a meeting that will be blown off for another placementat the last minute.  Hey, they’ve already paid and there’s another placement fee check on the line!How will they find this out? By text message.  No need for a phone call.  We are busy and important adoption professionals.  Take what we’re offering. We are in control.  Don’t you know that we can make it so your book never even gets shown?

Do I sound angry? I must be coming out of the other side of grief. Perhaps that is a good sign? Well,  if I didn’t have to pull myself together to beg for my child that is.  Although why bother to pull yourself together when you really don’t even know WHEN or IF this meeting where you will be placed in the position of begging for your child will even occur?

Forget all the things you’ve carefully considered about your adoption plan. When you are holding the child you believed was yours in your arms, what lines will you cross then?

I never wanted to become one of those adoptive parents.  The ones the birth mothers talk about on their blogs. The ones that lie.  Make promises they never intend to keep.  Our promises to our daughter’s birth mother were (and are) sacred.  Etched in my heart.  Made carefully.

But what will I say now?  Can I look a birth father in the eye and say, “I’m sorry. That is not something we are prepared to do as a family. You can just have her back.”  Or will I convince myself that whatever type of adoption he thinks he wants right nowI will commit to for 18 years?Of course all of this is hypothetical. I don’t know what he wants.

Do I believe our daughter’s birth father had a right to meet us? YES.  I believe birth parents have a right to choose the adoptive families they are relinquishing their parental rights to.  However, I think that should have happened well before she was placed with us and we were told we were her parents.  Well before our children met their new baby sister.

Well before I held her in my arms and knew I would die for this child.

Now, instead of meeting a birth father about a child we may potentially adopt, we are meeting with a birth father about the daughter we stand to lose.  Those who oppose adoption may say that is what we deserve.

Does what I think matter?
All through our adoption process it was important to me that we didn’t leave a train wreck behind us in the wake of our blessing.   But never did I consider that the train wreck left behind would be my family.



I want so very much to praise Him in the midst of the unknown.  I want to. I just don’t know if I can.


**********************************************************************************

As many of you know, this story did indeed have a happy ending, but it almost didn’t. It is so important to educate yourself on adoption law when you begin this process and make sure that whomever you are using for your adoption is disclosing EVERYTHING.  We blindly trusted and learned some valuable lessons after the fact.



Just joining in? You can catch up from the beginning, here:

Waiting


God’s Perfect Timing


Placed into my arms

when children contemplate adoption 


The real reason, revealed (my first post about standing to lose our daughter)


Meeting my daughter’s birth father

The visit 
 
Everything to me 

I worry about overthinking adoption 
 
Gotcha Day—Baby Sister’s adoption is finalized!

Gotcha Day one year later

Adoption is complicated: part II 
 
Life Lessons & Surprises in our adoption journey 
 
I’m no longer drinking the adoption Kool-Aid 

What I’ve learned about adoption
 

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National Adoption Month

Did you know November is National Adoption Month? If you didn’t, consider yourself now informed and please help spread the word!

In honor of National Adoption Month I’m going to link up posts about our adoption in one place, as well as a few other resources and favorites. I hope they serve as encouragement to those of you contemplating adoption or beginning your journey.



Other great stories regarding adoption… 
A wonderful sermon that details WHY we are called to adopt and WHY God blesses adoption by explaining the biblical foundation of adoption. The EIGHT similarities between Christian adoption and our adoption by God into His family.

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
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Gotcha Day: One year later

Today is the one year anniversary of the day we adopted our youngest daughter, affectionately known on this blog as: Baby Sister.  In adoption circles this day is often called Placement Day or Gotcha Day.  It is just one of a series of adoption milestones one goes through on their adoption journey. 
When I began our adoption journey I couldn’t imagine such a day.  Then I looked forward to it.  Now, I have mixed emotions.  You see, I think I’d rather celebrate my daughter’s birth than the day she joined our family.  It is not that her adoption wasn’t a very special day for our family.  Of course it was.   She was then and continues to be a blessing to our family.  However, I don’t believe her adoption should define who she is or whom she will become.  It is not something that continues to happen to her, but rather something that happened to her once.   She was born another woman’s daughter and then, through her adoption, received another family.  When that happened she BECAME our child, forever.  She isn’t up for renewal.  She doesn’t have to do anything to maintain her position, or importance in our family.  She just is, our daughter.

In the story of her life, I don’t imagine that her adoption, something she had no control over, something that (in comparison to her overall life) was but a moment in time—-should weigh in as the most important thing about her.  It shouldn’t define her.  Character, integrity, faith, sense of family/community, education and purpose should be what defines her.  It should be what defines all of us.
So while Baby Sister won’t have cake, ice cream and presents to celebrate this day (as I know some families do) the day will not go by unnoticed by me.  Instead I will chose to think about her birth parents on this day.  To think about what they sacrificed by placing her for adoption.   I will pray that they find their way around and through the grief and loss they undoubtedly feel…and I will quietly thank them in my heart for choosing us to raise her.



Because I cannot imagine a day of my life without her in it.  And because of them, I don’t have to.

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I’m no longer drinking the Adoption Kool-Aid

Recently we had another visit with our daughter’s birth mother.  As I mentioned before, she is pregnant again. Less than a year after placing our daughter for adoption.  She told me she didn’t want to get pregnant again but that her very young boyfriend WANTED a baby and so he decided to try to get her pregnant…and lets just say she didn’t exactly stop him or prevent the pregnancy.

If I thought the last visit (her first after placement) was tough it was really just a warm up for this one. It was traumatic, to say the least.

In her mind the purpose of the visit was NOT to gain validation of her choice and to see that our daughter was adjusted, bonded, healthy and happy.  That is just the propaganda spewed by many adoption professionals to the adoptive families. The reality of her visit request was that she worried that our daughter would forget her.

The visit showed her that our daughter forgot her.

She was apparently told by her social worker that the baby would always know her smell and recognize her.  Um, that didn’t happen.

Our daughter was placed at 12 weeks.  She is now a 14 month old child who is enjoying her ability to walk. She didn’t want to be held, especially by someone other than her Mom and Dad.  She was more curious about the room and looking out the window then interacting with someone new.

Truth be told, she is a Daddy’s girl and prefers him over me any day.

I of course had expressed my concerns in advance to the social worker who blew them off and stated that our daughter’s birth mother was “well aware that the baby would not go to her” but would be more comfortable with her parents.   Then she gave me the song and dance about just wanting to get validation of their choice. I don’t know where they get that this validates their choice.  The desire to visit the child comes from the GRIEF rebirthed after  seeing her pictures and then the FEAR she will not remember her or love her in the future.


Many tears were shed.  It broke my heart.
 
I tried to explain to her that our daughter would know about her because of the fact that we aren’t keeping her adoption a secret.  That she will grow up knowing she is adopted, and that it’s not a big deal to be adopted.  We will share with her information from and about her birth mother (if she ever gets around to writing that letter and making that scrapbook) and birth father as is age appropriate.  At a certain point in time she will be given everything I am collecting and saving for her and of course she will be free to seek out her birth parents if she wishes… with nothing but support from her family.

Everything our daughter has, opportunity she will be given, education she will receive, the family she has, and the lifestyle she lives will all be a product of the decision her birth mother made.



But make no mistake, I am no longer drinking the Adoption Agency’s cool-aid.


In our situation I can clearly see that the visits are not about closure.  The pictures and letters don’t validate the choice (for some birth mothers) but instead reopen the wound and start the cycle of grief and loss all over again.

I will never be convinced that these birth mothers are offered sufficient counseling services.  I don’t think that individual situations and personalities are taken into consideration. Everything is cookie cutter.  Feeling sad? All you need is some pictures.   Regretting your decision? Why don’t we schedule a visit and then you’ll feel better.

But what I learned is that the opposite is true. Our daughter’s birth mother admitted that the pictures hurt her…they made her want our daughter back.  She admitted that she didn’t particularly feel good after visiting with her but that her FEAR that she would forget her made her want to schedule a visit.


Again, this wasn’t about closure or about healing. It was about prolonging the grief.  About ripping off the scabs and reopening the wound.


This isn’t healthy.  For either of us.


to be continued…
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