I think this project is so beneficial on many levels. It's beneficial to me, as an adoptive mom, because hearing other people's stories helps me know that my feelings, my joy, my victories, my doubts, my misgivings, my crazy thoughts......aren't so isolated. All of us in the 'adoption club' share them. I also think it's beneficial to those who are thinking about adoption because it presents a wide variety of adoption experiences; none are the same and yet there is so much to learn from each of them. And finally, I think it's crucial that adoption plays more of a 'center stage' role in our culture. It's creeping up there.....but it still lingers in the shadows much of the time; especially domestic adoption. But the more voices, like those that are starting to crop up all over this space, there are telling the truth about adoption and what it can mean for all parties involved, the more that culture of adoption will grow.
We exchanged a set of questions and answered them for each other. Some are the same, some are different. We were both curious about some different aspects of our adoption stories. You can find my interview over at her site. In the mean-time check out her answers to my questions below. Her answer to number five is my personal favorite! It's just so cool to see how God writes our stories before we're even born. And that's true about our kids whether they're adopted or not.
1. I notice you refer to your sons birth mom with only an initial. What do you think are the boundary lines in blogging about adoption?
2. You write a lot about the unexpected grief you felt for your sons birth mom; a common feeling that I believe exists in many domestic adoptions. How has this very real emotion changed the way you view your adoption and adoption in general?
3. Open adoptions are amazing, period. But if you were to be 150% honest, what, if anything, still scares you a little bit about having an open adoption?
One day I stumbled across what I would call some “angry birthmother blogs.” Its totally fine and acceptable that people blog about whatever they feel like; that’s freedom of speech. When some of those bloggers attack my blog in the comments, I don’t think that is necessarily very mature. But whatever, I guess if I am putting my thoughts out there they are open to criticism. However, I do have a fear one day that I will stumble across a “angry” blog written by H, or find out that her decision to place Eli wrecked her life.
I know there are women out there who feel like that, and they are entitled to it. I just think that Eli will have enough grief and loss to deal with about his adoption. To find out that H placed him so that BOTH of them could have a better life- a noble and selfless action- then to find out it ruined her forever and she resented us would add heartache.
I see some birth parent sites that call adoptive parents coercive, liars, baby snatchers, “desperate for a womb wet baby” is one particular one that stuck with me. How does that affect the children they placed to find out that their biological moms spent the next twenty years spewing hate on the Internet about their parents? That’s insult to injury. Maybe, I guess, if you feel that way, talk to a therapist but protect your biological child by keeping it out of their realm until they are old enough to handle it.
I know that in times past, many moms did not have a choice about adoption. And I know today that circumstances and hardships can also eliminate the feeling of having a “choice” to parent. But in our state, H had 30 days to revoke her consent to the adoption, and 60 days to petition a judge if we had coerced her. There were options for public housing, WIC, food stamps, ministries. There were options to parent. We were not allowed to even give her flowers at the hospital or pay for lunch the first time we met. No coercion there. So while she has never voiced that the adoption wrecked her life or that she completely regrets it, it's a fear of mine.
I worry someday that Eli will feel that first his conception was a tragedy, then her placing him with us was a tragedy. Like his whole existence ruined her chance of happiness, whether he stayed or went. She has goals of college and career and family. I hope one day he can talk with her and she can affirm that she did what she felt was best, and while extremely hard, she doesn’t regret it.
4. How do you work through that fear? At the end of the day, what tells you, "It's really going to be okay."
I think that while being as open and honest with H as I can, and asking her how she is doing, she won’t ever feel like she has been abandoned by us after we “got what we wanted.” I believe that God saw each page in Eli’s life book when he knit him together in her womb. I believe that we are all children of God and He loves us all infinitely. I think that the openness is a salve on the wound felt by both Eli and H.
There does seem to be a common theme on the anti-adoption sites...promises of open adoption that were broken once the baby came home. Not that there are not ever legitimate reasons to end openness, but sometimes it seems that adoptive parents close the adoption just because they don’t want to be bothered. Those seem to be the most hurt and angry birth parents, with good cause. Aside from our legally binding Post Adoption Contact Agreements in Pennsylvania, we would never just walk away. Even if choices were being made that we felt were harmful to Eli, that doesn’t mean WE need to completely cut off contact, ourselves, or that we should ever quit praying.
5. What are the God moments you can specifically put your finger on in your adoption? Those little things that you can say, "A ha--that little thing right there? That was totally God?"
I had wanted to adopt, always, but everyone was saying we should give IVF a chance, don’t “give up” etc. So some girls in my women’s Bible Study decided they were going to do a fast from the book of Daniel the first 3 weeks of January to try to get some clarity on some issues in their life. The fast eliminated many things, the main ones being yeast, sugar, and meat. Google “Daniel Fast” and there are a million sites.
Anyways, I had never done anything like that and wasn’t sure if it would make me feel close to God or just annoyed. But I decided to try it, and to focus on our decision of how to move forward with our family. My husband agreed to do it with me. I prayed a lot during that time, every time I felt a hunger pang or a craving I tried to focus on God and His love of me and desire to fulfill the desires of my heart.
During those 3 weeks I received a referral from my doctor to a new infertility specialist at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. I took no action at that point, and waited for the fast to be up. At the end of those 3 weeks I felt so strongly and so clearly that we should adopt. We moved forward and never looked back. I never called Magee. We began to plow through the paperwork of our home study and had no sense of “giving up” as people implied- this was an exciting journey!
Here is the Crazy Aha! God moment though---later, talking with Eli’s birthmom, he was conceived the last day of our fast. During the hours that God turned my heart fully towards adoption and took away any desire for a family by birth. He was knitting together Eli’s sweet soul. That gives me goosebumps just to type that. There were other moments in the journey that I felt God’s hand move, of course, but that was the most poignant. Eli was the first baby we heard about in our adoption process, and H was the only expectant mom to look at our profile. I feel like God ushered us into the adoption process quicker than most people expected because He had a specific plan in pairing up our two families to raise and love Eli together.
6. You live in a state with legally enforceable open adoptions. What are the pros and cons to that?
Again, though, I see bringing the court back in as a last-ditch desperate effort if things got really bad between a birth family and adoptive family. In most cases I don’t think families will need to bring a judge back in. We also have a PACA with Eli’s birthfather, whom we have never met. That is an example right there- he hasn’t acted on the details outlined in the PACA, and no one will force him to if he chooses not to. But it is there for him at some point in the future if he would like.
I like that in our state, a judge would be involved in that decision. I also see a lot of birth moms on the Facebook adoption pages who have not received promised pictures and letters in the mail for YEARS. That’s just not right, in 99.9 percent of cases. Even if a birth parent is incarcerated, using drugs, doing really harmful things, that was still their child. I don’t think taking time out to send a few pictures will cause harm. It might be the thing that motivates them to try again. Obviously I can’t speak for every situation, but I just think often adoptions are closed without much thought given by the adoptive parents.