Tag Archive | adoption

What Is Love?

So maybe I’ll try this blogging thing again. I was hoping to work some things out in my own and and just come back to posting normal life and adoption stuff, but I guess we are beyond normal. I guess I thought that when things were “interesting” around here I would post more often; however, this time I couldn’t find anything terribly funny about it. The short story is that there was a pregnancy scare and S-man and I have been dealing with the fallout.

Clearly, he already has issues with commitment, and a baby is nothing but commitment. He is absolutely amazing with both Mijo and Junior, but I suppose he feels he can always walk away. That also scares me a little bit because Mijo at least is old enough to suffer yet another loss if he suddenly disappeared. It’s not like it’s exactly the right timing for me to have a surprise baby either but S-man’s freak out definitely got me thinking in a different way. It isn’t that I want the baby. I don’t. It isn’t that I someday want a baby with S-man. That doesn’t matter to me. I am pretty patient with all of his issues because I at least understand where they come from for him. I was not surprised that he needed some space in the midst of all of this. I took some time for myself also. Brother 1 was awesome about making sure I could go out to dance to see my friends and blow off steam. Brother 2 was great about offering support through the internet while globetrotting. And somewhere in all of that perhaps I realized that I might just want a man that will commit, a man that won’t need so much space that I am forced to turn to other friends. Yes, I know it is ok to need your friends – and I have some pretty amazing friends, but I guess what I really want is to be someone’s person. To know that I can text in the middle of the night and not be a bother. To be the priority. With S-man I am nearly always the first person he would call. Only his family would trump being somewhere with me and even some of that is negotiable. But his family might trump me. And sometimes when he realizes how much he does love me, it makes him nervous enough that he tries to push me away. Mostly those times are so momentary it doesn’t matter. But this time, there was a moment there when I thought that might be the end of us.

I am stuck trying to determine if we can get past this or not. He is trying; I know he is. But even though I am starting to act normally around him, my heart is scared. I need to figure out how I really feel about commitment. There is definitely a part of me that doesn’t care at all about getting married. I totally respect marriage; however, I have seen so many marriages fail that it just doesn’t seem like a safety-net or commitment in and of itself. I guess the commitment of any relationship is based solely on the people in it not the legal status, titles used, or words said. I guess it’s that kind of thinking that made it very easy for me to be in a relationship that was not defined as a relationship and be with a man who I knew I had very little interest in marriage. It didn’t really matter what other people thought, because he truly is very good to me and we fit together very well. Mostly, he does act like I am his person, which I guess is why this has worked for the better part of a decade. Is that commitment? Is our moment only different from that of other couples because I think his issues make it easier for him to walk away? Can’t anyone walk away at anytime, really? Clearly, he hasn’t walked away.

Funny, I don’t think it would bother me as much or would I be in the same place if there was going to the baby. If there was going to be a baby, then I would be focused on the baby, not myself. It would be very easy for me to say to him ‘you can be in or you can be out but is not fair for a child for you to come and go’. The baby’s emotional needs would easily trump mine and there would have been disappointed but not the same sadness. The baby would have given me strength.

I don’t know if I can go back to normal. I don’t know if we can continue to fit together so well if I am now craving some sort of commitment. Or at least some understanding that he can’t just walk away? I don’t know if I have the patience for even momentary walking away and demands for space. Maybe we do have as much commitment as others just without the words. Can I go back to letting him be my person? Will he ever admit that I am his person? Does it even matter if he does?

While I try to figure all of this out, I am trying to focus on other things and let it fall into place. I have already started working on Christmas for the kids which is fun. I have started researching what I need to know for starting a container garden next spring. Any help with that would be appreciated as I have a black thumb of death. I guess that’s where I am. Thank you for listening. It did help me to write this out. Maybe I’ll write again soon about what the therapist said to me about it all, but I’m not sure I like her take so I need to let it simmer a bit longer.


Rescuing Pets and Adopting Children

Since I told you I was going to let go of any pressure to blog and only blog when I had something to say (you know like two days ago), I have had three blog ideas come into my head. One is about how much I appreciate my friends which I will likely get to eventually. Tonight though, I want to work from a thought that I tweeted not too long ago…

Can we all agree to “rescue” pets and to “adopt” children? This tweet was spurred by overhearing a conversation in a coffee shop in a city that was new to me. What I heard was two people talking about “adopting out” and how quickly they could move “Joe” from house to house. While I was contemplating asking total strangers not to use the term “adopt out” as I walked out with my coffee to go, I was able to figure out that they were likely talking about a dog. The introvert in me was relieved that I didn’t have to talk to strangers. While I might be hesitant to correct those I know sometimes, the spread of inappropriate adoption language is something that I feel a responsibility as an adoptive parent to try to stop.

My dog is certainly a part of my family. He is practically one of my children in how I am aware of his feelings, make sure he gets to do fun things, etc. I went through the pet home study process with a rescue group before he moved in, just like I did before adopting Mijo. There isn’t an animal lover that can fault me for how much we love and provide for our dog, except maybe in that we don’t let him get on the furniture (just his own bed). There isn’t a reason for animal advocates to hate on my blog. I won’t even say that I think children are more important than animals, although I’m pretty sure that is what I believe.

But without question, children are more sensitive to the nuances of languages than animals. I get why animal advocates would want to utilize language that suggests making a pet a member of the family as a part of their advertising to people. I get it, but as someone who is so very conscious of how children feel about adoption and how people in general talk about adoption, I just can’t be ok with it. Because animals are not as sensitive to the nuances of languages, phrases like “adopt out” and “adoptable” and even “given away” are used without much thought.

But those same phrases can make children feel expendable, like commodities, or lacking in value. As an adoptive mom, my ears immediately heard the one conversation about adoption in a large coffee shop in an unfamiliar city, so I guess I’m saying that such phrases hurt my heart as well. I would prefer we gave children more respect than animals and saved the terms of adoption for children.

I also want to reserve the “rescue” terms only for animals. When we are talking about the Humane Society or animal control, rescue can be pretty accurate. You could literally save an animal from death. Even if that might be true for a child, it’s not the most respectful thing to say. When you talk about saving a child from his or her previous life, you are judging how awful his or her previous life was, which includes all of the people in his or her previous life.

Children love and often idealize their biological families. Children need to believe that the people and the country that created them has value. While I am thrilled to have the privilege to love and parent Mijo, I wish he never had to leave his biological family or his country. I like to think I’m giving a good life, perhaps even more opportunity, but that will never make up for losing his biological family, his country, and his culture. I do my best, but I will always be second best no matter how awesome I am.

I don’t really want to be the mom who approaches strangers in coffee shops to ask them not to use offensive terms that they had no idea could be hurtful. I don’t want to embarrass people. I’m not all that big on talking to strangers anyway. But it’s my job as an adoptive mom. So can ya’ll help me? Can we rescue pets and adopt children? Can you help me by educating those you overhear, especially your family and friends?

I Said No

I have been avoiding this blog for awhile. It’s one of the reasons the content has been, well, not about adoption. I didn’t really want to share this with anyone, but something in me thinks it needs to be blogged. I actually wrote half of it before (in the afterglow of moving my blog back to WordPress and gaining lovely new followers – hi, you). Look, I’m already distracting… This isn’t easy to admit.

I turned down a referral. For those of you not in the adoption world, a referral is a child whose basic info is given to you as a potential child to adopt. I said no to a child. It’s still hard to believe that statement could be true. When I started the adoption process, I thought I was open to so many special needs. Abuse? I have some experience with abused kids. HIV? Sure, I can dispense meds and find an awesome medical team. I hate the thought of any child being left without a family. I abhor the thought of a child being passed over for someone younger or cuter. I thought there was a child that needed me. I didn’t think I would even consider saying no.

After just a few weeks of waiting on a referral, the director of my adoption program called me to tell me about a young girl. I didn’t immediately say yes, and I wasn’t sure why. What was known about her story was enough to scare others away; wasn’t that the kind of child I had wanted? What we knew of her story I could manage. I actually had some related experience. It wasn’t that I’d gotten cold feet, but it took me about twelve hours to figure it out.

Although I hadn’t immediately said yes, I hadn’t said no either. I hadn’t said anything. The director of my adoption program told me to think about it, so I hadn’t had to say anything yet. I thought about the little girl. I thought, “she needs me; this girl should not be alone.” I thought about how her name was a variation of one of the names on my list. Wasn’t that a sign? I thought, “I can’t say no.” Then I thought about me, and realized I wasn’t really what she needed. Of the little I knew about this little girl, it struck me that she needed a lot of stability. It struck me that she needed a two parent household. Brother 2 was living with me though, so I could provide a father figure. We had determined we would figure out this beyond normal co-parenting arrangement. Something about the little I knew about her made me think that an uncle might actually be frightening. I rolled it around over and over. I felt good about saying no and felt bad that I felt good about saying no. It has never taken me so long to type out just a few words as I composed the email.

I said no because I didn’t think I was good enough for this child. I didn’t know enough (nor would we be able to) to determine if my home might actually exasperate her grief or fear. I am sure there are some who will think that it’s a convenient excuse or even rationalization to say no. It could be, but I feel solid enough in my intuition to open myself up to the trolls of the Internet. I’ve been guilty myself of thinking someone was just baby-shopping when they turned down a referral. I get that you may be judging me.

It was my first experience as a parent of not being enough. No matter how many books I read or classes I attended or professionals I consulted with, I could not prepare a home that could be all I thought that she deserved, that she needed. I could not give her a stable father. I wasn’t enough, and I could not prepare myself enough. The mom guilt would have been constant, but worse, my gut told me that she would thrive better in another home. I was afraid she would never fully feel safe here. The director of my adoption program did eventually tell me that another family – a two parent family – said yes to her almost immediately. I’m hoping I get to meet them at one of my agency’s events. I hope I get to see her thriving in the love of a two-parent family. While I will never be her mom or probably even an adult she knows well, I still think about her often and want for her to have all she could need and more than she could want. I want her to feel safe and loved and confident and happy and capable and important and so much more. I would have given her those things if I could have, but I don’t think I could have been enough on my own.

In Search of a Stronger Circle

I read a lot of adoption blogs. Some I read because they make my heart swell. Some I read because they keep me up to date. Some I’m not sure why I read. Several I have quit reading. In fact I need to update the blog roll on this blog…. I am fairly opinionated about adoption blogs, but most of you do not know me in real life so you aren’t subjected to those opinions.

The Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms contest has always confounded me. It seems to be quite the popularity contest with letting people vote multiple times. In the past, I’ve noticed that those near the top are the “popular” blogs, but not necessarily those with content I most respect. When I see a link on a blog I enjoy, I click over from Google Reader and vote for the ones I like. But I don’t vote often as they would prefer.

AdoptionTalk is a blog I read often, so that is how I found out about the Broken Circle. Apparently one of the blogs in the top 5 has been disqualified for not being “positive” enough – I’m really not sure how to interpret the statement. I’ve not read Adoption Truth before this, but I’ve added her to my Google Reader.

I think there are several under-appreciated blogs on the list.. and several over-appreciated blogs on the list as well. But I aim to be positive, so these are the ones that I suggest you look into and maybe even vote for if you are so inclined. From the bottom up (based on current standings), so those most under-appreciated are mentioned first…

  • One Fine Tree I love reading her blog. Teresa is honest and open, and her boys are adorable! They are young, so she doesn’t have a lot of adoption issues to examine just yet, but I am sure that will come.
  • If It Takes A Whole Life I fell in love with her European travel with two kids first, but I have since fallen in love with her as a mom – and more cute kids.
  • Mama C and the Boys If race plays in your family at all… or you’re a single mom… read Mama C.
  • They’re All My Own I’m newer to this blog, but I like what she has to say. I think she probably has experience and insight to share.
  • The Eyes of My Eyes are Opened More cute kids, but mostly she is able to dig into the sadness and trauma involved in adoption.
  • My Fascinating Life I hope “Claudia” knows how insightful and helpful she is.
  • American Family I’m a big fan of snark, but I’m also a big fan of thoughtfulness. AmFam is blazing a trail of open international adoption and planning for her forever home at the same time.
  • Our Little Tongginator I truly want to meet TongguMama in real life some day. She is such an insightful mom, in-tune to her kids’ needs.
  • AdoptionTalk If you care about what is going on the world of adoption, AdoptionTalk could be one of your primary sources. She may push your buttons sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t buttons that could stand a little pushing.
  • The Declassified Adoptee I am not sure I’ve actually followed this blog, but I’ve followed Amanda at Lost Daughters.

As adoptive parents, we do not serve our children well to hide from blogs by those that have been adopted or those that chose adoption for their children. Our children need us to read those things. They need us to learn from them. It isn’t always fun, but it helps us grow. It helps us wrestle with issues. I want to read more blogs by those that wrestle with issues. If I sound like a know it all, please know that I do not. I fear that is a weak point for me as I mostly use this (anonymous) blog to talk about my frustrations. Isn’t that how we create a stronger circle – by learning from each other and by challenging each other, growing together?

I’m in search of a stronger circle. What other blogs should I be reading? I may have purposefully left a few off this list (that I don’t particularly enjoy), but there are several on their list I have not ever read. I suggest you also check out Lost Daughters and The r house for adoption blogs. How are they not included in this contest?

Edited to add that “Claudia” may have the best view on the whole situation. Although now it looks like the entire contest has imploded. My question remains though… are there other blogs I should be reading to build a stronger circle?

3 Blogs in 1

I started to write a couple of blogs, but never finished them. I’m not sure I have any actual point here. Maybe it is just a sign that I am thinking a lot. I’ve always been ok with not knowing the answer and not knowing what comes next. I suppose this could merely be a symptom. I am still trying to find my blogging groove, but I have seen some people post “random” updates with a bulleted list.

1. I miss my brother. I miss my quiet, thoughtful, passionate brother. Sure, I miss his cooking, but we’re all surviving on my attempts at domestication. He’s been on my mind a lot recently. Being on opposite ends of the world makes it difficult to catch up. Sure social media makes it easier, but we are both introverts. It’s actually sad how little we connect. When we do it is sweet but short.

Brother 2 has been in Asia for several months. His career ambitions have taken him around the world for several “short” stints – Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East. I’m so thankful that we get much quality time in between when he is actually in the States, but I’m afraid those will get less frequent as he’s climbing the career ladder. My brothers are some of the smartest men I know, so I have much faith in what he can achieve.

2. The other day we ran into some of S-man‘s friends from middle school, and we set a date to meet up for dinner next month. S-man still hangs out with friends from middle school! I have some dear friends from my college days, but we don’t catch up nearly as much as we should. Perhaps we have grown a part. I certainly don’t chat with friends from middle school or even high school. Recently, I have been making more “mommy friends” as well.

I spend my time with my new “mommy friends” and my girlfriends from my pre-mommy days; I catch up with my friends from school when I can. While there are a couple of exceptions, I mostly prefer my new friends to my old friends. I consider myself a loyal person. I have a family member that systematically eliminates people from her life, and I don’t consider myself anything like her. Yet, this concerns me a bit. What does it say about me that I prefer my new friends to my old friends?

3. I’m contemplating all the adoption bloggers I know or know of. Some are simply bloggers who happened to be touched by adoption. While they may mention adoption now and then, I am really thinking about those that talk about adoption regularly. Some of those who are in the midst of the process and mostly writing about the wait and their own experience rather than examining all the various issues involved long term. It is those that talk about all the issues involved, who try to be advocates, and who keep blogging after their kids are home that interest me right now.

It seems there are two kinds of adoption bloggers – those that are primarily about adoption and those that are primarily about blogging. While I’m not a fan of blogs in general that simply report on their activities, Mooshinindy can write about a note to the tooth fairy in a way that warms my heart. No matter what the subject matter, I most appreciate analytical, thoughtful bloggers.

I guess I’m feeling a bit bothered by those that are put forth as the best adoption bloggers, who seem to be more about blogging than adoption. I read many thoughtful adoption bloggers that read books on adoption and go to conferences and think about the impact of adoption on their kids’ daily lives. This is clearly an unfinished thought. I don’t have a point of which I am currently aware. Any insights for me?

Under the Microscope

Reading adoption blogs has taught me one important thing. No matter what choice I make as a parent, I will be criticized. Do I search for dolls that look like my daughter or is that sending the wrong message? Should I have kept her original name to honor that identity or should I have given a family name to claim her as a true part of this family? I can just imagine the field day some may have with the word “claim”. I use it simply as the name of an emotional parenting technique. I do not believe my children belong to me, but I am grateful they have been entrusted to me.

And that – respecting my children as individual personalities with emotional needs – is how I want to make all my parenting decisions. Children are all unique; adoption is only one factor in determining what is the best choice right now today. Today, my child may need to read books about his birth culture and country of origin. At Christmas, he may only want to celebrate traditions that his friends share. Having multiply identities is rough. Co-workers and clients do not need to be a part of my social world (for all of our mental health!), but they do want to connect on Facebook. Children that have been adopted have to balance out concerns about disloyalty and issues of loss and rejection. Adoption gave my kiddo a second chance at a family, but the fact that a second chance was needed is enveloped in sadness.

I read blogs by adoptees (I’m still not sure I like that term, but I will let them choose their own identifiers) and blogs by birth mothers and blogs by those who have reunited despite living on different continents. I read blogs by adoptive mothers I think are too big for their britches and blogs by adoptive mothers I want to hug and share a pot of tea with them – because tea seems nice and friendly and warm and loving, but truly black coffee is my drink of choice. I read as much as I can, trying to understand every opinion.

In one way I read so much because I don’t assume that I naturally know what is best for my children. I am human. I am flawed. I will make parenting mistakes. I know that is what parents do, even good parents. Yet, I also believe that I am a good parent, and ultimately, no matter what I read and what you suggest, I have to make the choices that I believe are best for my child right now today because I know my child and I am responsible to my child. I am responsible to meet my child’s emotional needs and understand the specific concerns that my child has with adoption. Each adoption story, like each child, is unique; so while there are many things that are never ok, there are also times when I can make a choice for my child that is best for my child even if you don’t think it is the best.

Boy howdy am I glad that I decided to start a completely anonymous blog. I am sure our non-traditional family already raises a few eyebrows. I can’t say I look forward to comments from haters, but I will try to learn something from them

Single Family Discrimination

Within one week, I read that Americans are more skeptical about single mother families than families with two gay parents And China is once again allowing single women to adopt (although only heterosexual women). It hit especially close to home after being encouraged by agency staff not to pursue a specific adoption program as a single woman, even though the country’s laws allow for single women to adopt. More than that and more important than my feelings, my heart hurts because this means that even as I have eliminated exclusion from some by officially joining the mom club, my child will still be impacted by discrimination.

I have and continue to create opportunities for my child to have relationships with strong  male role models, including the brother that has established residency with us. I know the fact that I’m not yet married will have an effect on my child, but I am doing my best to mediate that and turn it into a positive.

I am sad that my child who must already deal with racism and the complications of a multiracial family will also be forced to deal with societies discrimination against me. I don’t even like dealing with the not a part of a couple syndrome most of the time! It seems so unfair for a child who must already process not having her biological family to also deal with others’ perception that her adoptive family is not good enough. It’s a good thing we celebrate being a bit beyond normal.

I am thrilled that I no longer have to deal with “you’re not a mom yet” or “it’s different when its your own kid” or other such belittling statements. Boy was that a pet peeve when I was trying to make the most responsible decision about when to bring a child into my home! I wanted to make sure I could both support my child financially and dedicate the time necessary to be an active, in-tune parent. I haven’t yet heard anyone suggest that an adopted child is not the same as a birthed child. I anticipate that one won’t bug me as much. What will the therapist say about that?

So now I’m wondering if I should buy one of those costume jewelry diamond rings? Perhaps that would save my child a few unnecessary looks and comments. Advice?

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