For the final post in this Adoption Series, I’ll be sharing from three ladies I interviewed: Melissa from White Noise, Christy from Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered and Katie from Digging to China…and stops along the way. In order to facilitate ease of reading, I’ll highlight any quotes from Christy in orange, Melissa in red and Katie in pink.
Adoption is a beautiful way to build a family. I hope that through this series you have learned a little bit about the process and the emotions involved. This final post will hopefully add to that knowledge. If you’re just starting to contemplate adoption, keep these things in mind:
“Get ready to write your signature A LOT. Make friends with the notary public at your local bank because you will see them A LOT (bonus: their services are FREE!). Be prepared that ANYTHING can change throughout the process because in the world of adoption, it seems like policies and requirements are always changing. But most importantly, DON’T DELAY the process. Get started as soon as you are able because there are so many children in need of their forever family. Your son or daughter are waiting on you!”
“Be open to all possibilities. Everyone wants a [new baby] it seems but there are plenty of kids out there in need of love.”
“Try to keep worrying to a minimum. What will be is a part of your child’s history and not something we should want to change…even if its impact is negative for your child. Our job as parents is not to erase pain from our childrens’ life experience, but to love them through it. Take it one day at a time, and be kind to yourself. We all do the best we can.”
Also, there will be things that surprise you. Katie has been surprised at “how amazingly strong my love is for my daughter who lives on the other side of the world – even though I haven’t met her or held her in my arms yet. I wish everyone could experience this miracle!” And it may be harder than you thought. “I would [have] diagnose[d] and treat[ed] my anxiety disorder so that the adjustment was smoother and I wouldn’t quite literally go crazy from unhappiness.” As you can see, the range of emotions you can experience will most likely be at two ends of the spectrum, just like all mothers experience motherhood each time a new child is welcomed into the family.
Not only will you experience a range of emotions, but those around you will have different reactions to your news that you are planning to adopt as well. Others may tell you “stories of adopted kids whose adult lives are unstable…” or if you already have children may ask, ” ‘Why do you need another baby? You have the perfect little family as it is with your 1 boy and 1 girl. Why take on more responsibility like that?’ ” If the baby has special needs, you may encounter opposition as well. For Christy, she heard, ” ‘I wouldn’t take that baby, not knowing she was exposed to meth at birth; why bring those problems into your home?’” To all of the objections Christy’s response was “Mostly I just ignore them, I am nonconfrontational by nature. When I do address them I just tell them that we prayed about it and we knew she was meant to be a part of our family and we could never imagine our lives without her.” Melissa also had to deal with these types of comments to which she responded with patience “and explained that hopefully we can raise the child in a stable enough family that they will have the best chance of growing up healthy and happy.“
Although sometimes a child comes to you (as in Christy’s case), usually you need to decide if you will adopt domestically or through another country. Melissa explains, “We wanted an interracial family. Wait times vary, but I do believe your options are broader if you are open to an interracial child.” In Katie’s case, “My husband grew up in the Philippines as a missionary kid and we’ve both always had a love for international children. When we learned of Korea’s plans to shut down their international adoption program, we wanted to give at least one more orphan a chance at their forever family.“
There’s also the issue of open or closed adoption. Melissa feels with an open adoption “the pros are huge in favor of the child; adopted children who are now grown nearly universally prefer open adoptions for access to information and their adopted story. Family is something you can never have too much of, and open leaves it up to the child to continue a relationship if they choose as an adult. I find it helpful for insight into my child’s nature: the breath holding for example, his biological brother did also and it was reassuring to hear that he outgrew it by 5 yrs old. Mostly, I just love sending his bio mom updates. She loves him so much and I think of her often, and how much we gained when she gave him up. And how much she must wish she were able to see him, happy and healthy and well adjusted. I love that I can write to her about him. I feel very strongly that open adoptions are emotionally healthier for everyone but especially the child (unless there was or is abuse, neglect, or addiction involved) so I don’t see any cons to open adoption.” Melissa exchanges “once per year letters with updates and photos (for an international adoption this is VERY open) and [has] plans to go back and visit in the future.“
Sometimes an open adoption is not best for the child, as Melissa mentioned, in cases of “abuse, neglect and addiction.” This is the case for Christy’s adoption. “[I’m] not sure it’s really defined on the legal paperwork [but], I would call it a closed adoption because the mom signed over all parental rights to us and there is nothing in there about her ever getting to see the baby. Even though the birth mother is a family member, we do not associate or have any contact with her. She is in and out of prison a lot; last we heard she was in again for more parole violations (doing drugs most likely).“
For those that don’t have plans to adopt but wish to support those who are adopting or have adopted children, be sensitive to the language you use. Christy says, “I would love to see you address ‘adoption language’. I have seen that all over the place lately and how so many birth mothers hate the term ‘birth mother’ and how they feel they are the ‘real mother’ and that the adoptive parents should call themselves just that, adoptive parents. It really offends me and breaks my heart. I have also seen the term ‘natural mother’ thrown around a lot and it also offends me because it makes me feel like they are implying I am the ‘unnatural mother’ or worse, that my child is my ‘unnatural child’.“
If you have any further questions for these ladies, leave them in the comments, or you may email me at julia at naturallifemom dot com and I can get your questions to them. Of course, you can also check out their blogs (see links at the top of this post) for information about how to contact them directly. You can also take a look at these books Melissa recommends: Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft and The Post-Adoption Blues: Overcoming the Unforeseen Challenges of Adoption. And don’t forget that THIS Saturday is the fundraiser to the Searl’s adoption! Check out the link for more details and to find out how to buy tickets for the iPad 2!
Katie would like to leave you with this final thought:
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27