Thursday, June 25, 2009

The birth father.

Open Adoption Blogs



Open Adoption Roundtable Take 2:
Write about the father(s) in your family's open adoption(s). Our experiences are too varied to narrow it down to one specific question to answer. But every adoption involves at least one father. Write about his presence or his absence, record a memory or write him a letter you'll never send. Tell us about the dads and the adoption-related choices they've made.

The long and the short of it is; there is nothing to write. First dad wanted no involvement in S's pregnancy from the very beginning. Truth is he up and left her when he found out she was expecting. Not exactly a stand-up guy that you want around your kid anyway, but still. It would be nice if he had any interest at all in knowing the wonderful little boy that he had a hand in creating. The best thing he has done (and I know this sounds cruel) was to sign the termination papers. He was living out-of-state and came back after the birth to sign. S called him and he at least came back to do that. At the time we were still staying in the state and he could've met us. Could've met KJ. But no. Didn't want that either.

I guess the hardest part for me, and for Kevin, is that someday we will have to explain to our son that this man wanted nothing to do with him. I still pray that he will come around. That he will change his mind. But as of right now? Nope. Nada. Nothing.

We don't even know his first name. We never asked S. I think we figured if she wanted to volunteer that information she would. Maybe it is cold or callous of me to have such a negative attitude toward this man I've never met. But how can I not? I have prayed for the ability to forgive him. I still, honestly, don't think that I have. I can't write him a letter here because I think it would start "Dear Big Fat Jerk". And that's not good. I want to offer him forgiveness. A forgiveness he'll probably never ask for but that as a Christian trying to live as Jesus would I need to offer all the same.

Maybe I am making assumptions. I don't really know why he chose not to be involved. I just know that actions often reflect the heart and his have not made a good impression.

The oddest part is that I have to be somewhat thankful for this man. I mean, without him there would be no KJ. And who could stand that thought?! Not I. I am blessed beyond measure to have this little boy in my life and to think that someone would not want the same thing is incomprehensible to me. So it's a hard thing, this birth father stuff. But in the end God created this man to father my child in the way of sperm donation and for that I cannot deny my gratitude.

Is that a happier note to end on? Because I think that's just about all the positivity I can muster on this post!

Be blessed today and be thankful for every little thing in your life. Good or bad.
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First time away.


Next week Kevin and I will be taking our first vacation away without KJ. I don't know how I feel about this! Well, I do. We need the time. It is our fifth anniversary and it will be so nice to be away and have a chance to re-connect. I am just going to miss my little man like crazy!

So you know that I love to type words into Go.ogle Images to see what I get. We are going away to the Poconos so I typed that in. Here is what I got:

Oh my! (No, we are not staying somewhere with a heart shaped tub!)

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A crisis in decision-making.

 I should have subtitled this post: One More Thing for Parents to Worry About, Especially if you are a Trans-racial Family. :)

Every now and then the question of where we live and should we move comes up again in my mind. I know my husband is reading this and saying to himself, "Oh Lord.  Here she goes again."  You see, growing up my husband and I (separately, obviously) moved around a lot.  He moved more than me actually.  But by the time I was in middle school I think I had lived in ten different places.  Luckily I was able to enter middle school and complete high school all in the same town.  Before that we had moved every two to three years.  Bleh!  Who wants to do that?  Not me.  Not anymore. I love NY and I want to raise my children here.  I was blessed in that although we did move a lot we always were in the NYC-metro area.  I've not lived outside of this area since I was five (well, I did go to college outside Boston and lived there for a bit).  There is so much diversity here.  It is beautiful and we have all that New York City has to offer.  Who could ask for more?  (Well, Kevin could.  He'd be happy if we lived in the middle of nowhere.  I would die.)

I made all this very clear to Kevin even before we were married.  I love NY.  We are not leaving.  I am staying put.  We did move around a bit after our marriage, but always within an hour of NYC.  Now we own a house.  We are right on the train line to NYC.  On the border of a state park.  Close to major highways.  Our town is beautiful.  Not over populated.  No chance for extreme growth (read: no more houses unless you own at least 2 acres.) We have a farmer's market in the summer and fall.  And the schools are excellent.  But in a town that has little to no diversity.  Again, bleh! 

Don't get me wrong.  We love our town.  Our neighbors are great.  Everyone is very friendly and accepting.  We get no odd or dirty looks at our blended family.  Folks are just plain nice.  But I worry about KJ and his siblings.  Will they be the only children of color in their class?  Will they want other kids around them that look like them? 

We attend a very diverse church about 20 minutes away and spend a lot of our time there during the week too.  None of our "life" is within our town.  All of our friends live outside of our town.  So it's not like KJ is not spending time with people who look like him.  It's just not in our community of residence.  Eh!  I am sure I am thinking too much...  excellent schools vs. diversity vs. moving vs. not so great schools.

Where I work is close to where we live and is the community where our church is.  Lots and lots of diversity.  We actually thought of moving here when we bought our house.  But the schools are less than stellar, there is violence (not extreme), lack of community investment and involvement, and even increasing gang activity.  Nice, right?  I would still like to move there and invest in this community.  BUT - what about my kids?  Is it worth it for them?  I don't want them to grow up sheltered in some posh mostly white community.  But I don't want their education to suffer either.  (I know some of you are thinking "homeschool" well, I think we've been down that road before.  And for me it is a "heck, no.") ;) 

So anyway, for me it is just one more thing to wrestle with.  I know God will make the answer clear.  But for now I just like giving myself one more thing to ponder...



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Monday, June 15, 2009

What option is adoption?


I've been thinking a lot lately about adoption and how it plays into the life of a family.  (And a post here sparked my thoughts again today.) At what point does it become a real option for someone?  Why do some families adopt and some do not?  Why will some spend thousands and thousands of dollars on infertility treatments and some never even bother?  It's all very intriguing to me because it says a lot about family formation and, to an extent, values.

What it boils down to in my mind is basically it is a God-thing.  Because we live in a broken and fallen world we humans have had to come up with some sort of way to make things work.  In a perfect world my son would not even be my son.  He would be with his first mama.  She would have not had to make this choice.  Don't get me wrong, I do believe whole heartedly that the Lord knew this boy would be my son.  But I also know that he knows our hearts, hands, and actions and he knew before KJ ever entered his mama's womb that she would not be able to keep him.  That she would make the choice to hand her child to me.   And that my family would grow in this way and hers would diminish at that same moment.  I take none of this for granted.

I know that God opens and closes wombs for different reasons.  And for some I think that reason is to get them to consider adopting when otherwise they might not have.  Not because any of us have a right or deserve to raise someone else's child, but because God knew it needed to happen.  Just because I wanted to be an adoptive mother does not mean that I deserved it.  In God's grace and mercy he provided me with my heart's desire.  But if he said no, I had to be OK with that too.  My husband and I do not have any known fertility problems.  We've never even "tried" to have biological children.  God led us to adoption right away.  But for some it happens differently and that is OK too.

A friend just discovered that she is unexpectedly pregnant.  For years they tried and did not conceive and they have a beautiful child brought to them through adoption.  Now they will have a biological one too!  So maybe for a time the gift of conception was not offered to them because that child needed them.  If they had gotten pregnant back then they would not have the child they have now.  A God-thing?  I think so...

You can think whatever you like.  Maybe you are not a believer.  But regardless there does seem to be an order to things and I attribute that to the Lord.  Either way you must admit things do seem to happen for a reason... maybe they are not even reasons that you like or agree with.  But everything around us does happen regardless of whether we participate or sit back and watch.  I chose to be a participant.  And thankfully so did my husband.

So long story short?  Don't take anything in life for granted.  It all falls in place for a purpose.  How you got there doesn't matter as much as why you are there.


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Friday, June 12, 2009

The Cost of Adoption.

This is a good segment from NBC's Today Show about the cost of adoption. I'm a little flabbergasted, however, that someone would have to pay & would pay $40,000 for a domestic adoption?! Am I the only one who thinks that's a bit crazy?



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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

8x8


I've been tagged by sweet Mama Melba !

I Go.ogl.ed "8x8" just out of curiosity and this is what I got:

Whoa! Apparently 8x8 is some sort of intense military vehicle... or... a fun quiz on your blog! (see below) -->

8 THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO:

  1. This weekend since I'm spending it with my mom.
  2. My 5 year anniversary getaway to the Poconos at the end of this month.
  3. Seeing Kristy, Kristy, Karen and Erica and their kiddos (my adoption buddies) on Wed.
  4. Kevin coming back home at the end of this week.
  5. Getting KJ's hair done. We keep trying and just aren't getting anywhere! We need a hair fairy.
  6. A camping trip with family at the end of the summer.
  7. Finishing the book I'm currently reading (The Story of Edgar Sawtelle) and starting a new one. I love reading!
  8. Our next adoption. :)

8 THINGS I DID YESTERDAY:

  1. Got out of bed. (A big feat.)
  2. Went to work.
  3. Called the police because there was a man passed out in our parking lot @ work.
  4. Took KJ to WalMart.
  5. Made chicken salad.
  6. Flipped the couch cushions instead of cleaning them.
  7. Drank coffee... lots of it.
  8. Google talked to a bunch of friends.

8 THINGS I WISH I COULD DO:

  1. Find a job doing what I love and getting paid enough for it to support my family and adopt about fifty more kids.
  2. Find homes for all the children who need one.
  3. Keep my dog from smelling like, well, dog.
  4. Have a house that cleans itself, or get aforementioned job so that I could afford a house cleaner.
  5. Make the world see things my way so that I could stop discussing it with everyone. ;)
  6. Bring my body back to how it looked 15 years ago.
  7. Take a trip to Africa.
  8. Love like Jesus did.

8 SHOWS I WATCH:

  1. American Idol
  2. Bones
  3. House
  4. NBC Nightly News
  5. Friday Night Lights
  6. Numbers
  7. Cold Case
  8. Don't Forget the Lyrics (Oh yes I do!)

8 FAVORITE FOODS:

  1. Chocolate Cake
  2. Chocolate Chip Cookies
  3. Chocolate Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from Haagen Daaz
  4. Chocolate Brownies
  5. Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
  6. Dark Chocolate in any shape or form
  7. M & M 's (which are chocolate)
  8. Chocolate smothered in Chocolate sauce with Chocolate chips on top and Chocolate flavored whip cream on top of that

8 PLACES I’VE TRAVELED:

  1. Hungary
  2. The Czech Republic
  3. Poland
  4. Puerto Rico
  5. British Columbia
  6. No where
  7. else
  8. exciting

8 PLACES I’D LIKE TO TRAVEL:

  1. All 50 states
  2. Jamaica (and take KJ so he can learn more about his heritage)
  3. Australia (if I could stand the plane ride)
  4. London, England
  5. Ireland
  6. anywhere in Africa
  7. Mexico
  8. Russia

8 PEOPLE I TAGGED:

  1. Kelly @ Mama's Mess
  2. Brea @ The Adventures of Brea Girl
  3. Holly @ The Kladder Adventure
  4. Dave @ Josiah's Journey
  5. Crystal @ Our Beautiful Family
  6. Angie @ Our Journey to Adoption
  7. Ali @ Adoption Photo Blog
  8. Katie @ Blessed by 3 Miracles

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable ::: First assignment :::

A little while ago the lovely Heather over @ Production, Not Reproduction asked if those of us involved in the Open Adoption Bloggers community would be willing to join a "Round table" of sorts and occasionally address questions about open adoption on our blogs. Well of course I said YES. I do love to talk, after all. And not to go too lightly on us the first time around our first assignment is to answer this:

Your first assignment is to think back to who you were when open adoption first entered into your life. As with so many things in life, thinking about open adoption without having experienced it and actually living it out are two very different things. What do you know now that you wish you knew then? Has the reality of open adoption as it's looked in your life matched your expectations? What one thing about open adoption would you tell your past self, if you could? (If you're still in the beginning stages of your adoption journey, flip the question around: What one thing do you wish you could ask your future self about open adoption?) Be as creative or straightforward as you wish.

Honestly? I think the one thing I wasn't expecting was that we would not hear from our son's first mom... it's been almost a year since we've had any contact from her. We have not moved and have kept all of our information current with the agency. One day she just stopped calling and we haven't heard a thing since. We were meant to have a meeting at our house last August and she did not show. It was confusing to me and I was grateful that my son wasn't old enough to understand what had happened.

I know that she cares and I know that she loves him. I think she just needed to be separate from us for awhile to get her life back on track. We remain as open as ever and hope she comes back around. We don't know where she is. She moved and did not leave a forwarding address with us or the agency. Her previous cell number is disconnected. So we just wait.

Lesson learned? You can be as open as you want, but it is still a two-sided endeavor. You have to respect your child's first families feelings and wishes regardless of what they are.

We were always open to a fully open adoption. We said from the first meeting with our social worker that we felt that an open adoption would be the best thing for whatever child entered our family. We just weren't prepared for it to become closed from the other side...

Introducing the Open Adoption Roundtable ~ Production, Not Reproduction | A blog about open adoption

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Adoption: The Process.

I recently posted on my Twitter/Facebook that I needed ideas of something to write about here on my blog. One of the suggestions was to write a bit about the actual process; costs, etc. I think some of the myths (along with the cost) of adoption is what scares a lot of people off. Folks who would otherwise consider adopting.

Firstly, adoption is not a Lifetime movie. No birth-mother is going to stalk your family a la "boiling a rabbit" in your kitchen. The most disappointing thing to me that I have learned while on this journey is the bad rap that birth-moms get! It is almost disgusting. As soon as you say you are adopting, or your child is adopted, folks automatically assume that the natural mother was strung out on crack or a 12-year rape victim. This is VERY rarely the case. Most of these women are responsible people making a life-altering decision. They need our support, not our assumptions.

Additionally, ask yourself: Why am I adopting?  Many people are led to adoption because of infertility issues.  Others because it is something you just felt called to do.  Some maybe it's because you had an adopted sibling or family member.  Who knows?  It doesn't really matter as long as the reason does not lead to unreasonable expectations or an attitude of deservedness.

The most important thing you can do before adopting is to educate yourself. Read some blogs. Visit some message forums. Read books. Do your research. Release yourself from the mindset that you are "rescuing" a child. No one, or no child, deserves to be your rescued victim. This thought only puts you above them and their natural family. Christ teaches us that we are all brothers and sisters in him. No one better than another. And chances are your adopted child probably would have been fine and loved with their natural parents. They are just choosing adoption as another option for them. Yes, some women are coerced. Some are drug addicts who maybe could not adequately care for their child. But more often than not; this is not the case.

Let me clarify that so far I am talking about DIA (Domestic Infant Adoption) now obviously if you are adopting internationally or from the foster care system things are very different. But since we did not do those types of adoptions I can only speak to DIA. (End disclaimer) :)

Secondly, choose a good, reputable, ethical agency. (If you are doing a private adoption and not through the state.) I have a friend who had a great list of questions to ask an agency you are considering. If I can find it I will post it here with her permission. Some of the ones I have asked are: What types of counseling do you offer? Do you provide interim care for the waiting period between when a mom/dad sign and when it is irrevocable? How many placements did you have last year? How many expectant (birth) parents did you counsel? Agencies should be (and this is hard to come by) encouraging mothers to parent before they make an adoption plan.  Adoption should be a last resort.  Not a business venture.  So if they have had fewer placements than birth families counseled that is a good thing.  Not every contact should lead to a placement.  That would just scream of coercion.  (Off soapbox.)

Lastly (in this post, anyway); there is the cost of DIA.  This is what scares most people away I think.  It is not cheap.  An agency should provide you up front with their list of fees.  Do not let the cost deter you, however. There is a Federal tax credit that is now up to around $12,000 that you can claim and recover those costs for your adoption.  You do have to pay the money up front but most agencies offer some sort of financing which you can then pay back with the tax credit.  There are some organizations which will give you an interest free loan that you can then pay back with the credit.  You can do fund-raising, you can hold a yard sale, you can take out a home equity loan, you can borrow from your rich Uncle Bob... just be creative.  If this is what God is calling you to do He will not let money stand in the way.

I look forward to your comments and questions.  This was written over a couple of days so I am sure I forgot something!  In a follow-up post I'll provide some links to resources that I have found that I really like.

Have a great day!

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