Posts filed under ‘first mothers’
If you happen to have about 45 minutes or so…here’s a truly compelling story from NPR. This isn’t your ordinary baby-switching story. In this piece, in which all major players are interviewed, you will hear about how one of the mothers knew that her baby had been switched, but went along with her husband’s wishes not to make any waves or make the doctor look incompetent. You will really be hooked after about 5 minutes listening to this. So, grab your knitting, or fill your sink with dishes or find something to do while you listen. You’ll need something to do so you can channel your shock and outrage.
I’m having serious blogger’s block. My last post was a big giant spa treatment for my soul and since then, I’ve tried to sit down and write again, some more…something. Anything. The words, they don’t come.
So, I thought that what I could do is have a bit of an open mike jam session and put it out there to anyone reading. Since I get emails every day with some kind of question relating to my blog, why dontcha just ask me here in the comments following. Go ahead and be anonymous if ya want to. Ask me anything. Or, take me to task. Whatev.
The floor is yours…
The following will be a list of ideas and concepts to reconsider during your wait. This is, in part a reaction to the changing face of wordpress adoption blogs and it seems that we have some work to do. So, in no particular order (and feel free to add more in the comments section) here are things that PAP’s, in my opinion as both adoptee and adoptive parent, must confront before adopting.
1. She is not a birthmother if she hasn’t given birth or signed termination of parental rights. If you are ‘matched’ with a pregnant woman considering adoption, she isn’t ‘your’ birthmother and the baby isn’t yours either.
2. Also, let’s give the terms original mother, first mother and other mother a fighting chance. Consider a woman’s feelings and worth when reducing her role when you call her ‘birthmother’
3. Don’t ever breathe one single negative word about your child’s mother, father, state, country, race or culture. Not for any reason. If there are disturbing facts in the situation, state them plainly and support the feelings that may come. But don’t add commentary.
1. Tough, but the truth. No one owes you anything. Infertility does not buy you the right to parent someone else’s baby. Sucks, but there it is.
2. And this isn’t going to win over any friends, but…here it goes… God did not hand-pick, or decide to have someone else get pregnant for YOUR benefit. Believe me, I can understand how it feels that your child is perfect for you, was the missing piece in your family, or is spiritually connected to you. That still does not mean that there was a grand, benevolent or divine plan, to have a misfortune befall a woman, so that a child could fulfill your family, or so that you could feel as though you are doing what your church teaches you is right. Children are not pawns. Neither are their mothers. Also, just because you believe that children ought to have a two-parent home in which the parents are married, still does not earn you the right to dictate what ought to happen to the child.
3. Along these lines, later on in life, do not tell your child that she ‘grew in the wrong tummy’. Do not tell her that she was’chosen’. Do not tell him that you were able to give him ‘a better life’ It’s a different life…you can’t know that your family and life would be better. Don’t go into an adoption without the implicit understanding that your family will be different than if you had had children biologically. You are taking on extra responsibilities. This means that your child needs nurturing that encompasses their feelings which typically include, but are not exclusive of: lifelong feelings of rejection, insecurity, a certain ‘otherness’ and also feelings of grandiosity. Do you have a longterm plan to support your child if you begin to see these things creep up? Do not minimize the impact of adoption. Yes, even if you adopted at birth. Ask any newborn baby who they want to be with. They want to be with that lady who sounds familiar.
4. Put your infertility issues in the past. If you are adopting straight out of the doctor’s stirrups, you are setting up a highly charged situation which can propel you into unethical behavior such as coercion of a pregnant woman. Again, it isn’t appropriate for a woman to decide on adoption until after her baby is born, as well as having an advocate who is talking with her about all her options and telling her of the support available to her. If you have a serious broken heart, and a houseful of baby stuff – that’s some serious danger! danger! Will Robinson. A child you adopt should not be put to work by being there to heal the serious and lingering pain of infertility. Besides, healing doesn’t work that way anyway.
5. Do nothing but encourage honest feelings from your child about how they see their adoption.
6. Do not lie or misrepresent facts to your child. Adoption happened to your child and they had no say in the matter. Honor your child with the truth. Do as much as you can to obtain their original birth certificate.
7. If your child is old enough to know their name, which is probably younger than you might think, don’t change his name.
8. And just because you see the world and people of color as represented by a beautiful rainbow of colors does not mean that the rest of the world does. The public can be a cruel place for your child. People say stupid and racist things. Be prepared for this if you have adopted a child whose skin color does not match yours. How will you teach your child tolerance while others are being intolerant?.
Read Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew – Sherry Eldridge
Don’t read books about how you can say and do things that will speed up the process. Yes, there is a book like this.
CHECK ON YOUR AGENCY
Check with your state for any grievances or complaints on file regarding your adoption and/or placing agency. Email previous clients, find ones who are not on the provided list given to you from the agency.
In closing, this is not a transaction. We are dealing with human lives. And, as beautiful as you might see the whole idea of adoption, for those of us who have experienced the many feelings of loss because of adoption, we ask you to consider the above. Don’t strip away or deny what is real and what may be troubling for the others involved, namely your child and his or her mother. Please uphold the bond between mother and child. Celebrate family…the one you’ve created and the family that your child also has somewhere else.
If you can’t do these things, or at the very least, be willing to examine and challenge your given ideas or even your core beliefs, then you probably aren’t ready to be an adoptive parent.
…is gratitude and thankfulness. I ought to stroke my daughters’ hair and feel the softness and feel my heart melt. I love the cards I got and the beautiful picture frame that was handmade.
But I am so, so sad today. I am putting on a good show, because it’s the right thing to do. The sadness is winning right now.
My heart is broken in two for missing two mothers today.
What I want, I can’t have. What I want to do is to have my mom over for a big dinner, or to go to my childhood home and celebrate there with my daughters. Instead, I’ll drive to the cemetary that I walked through on my way home every day after school and place nasturtiums on my mohter’s grave.
I would love to call M. today and have her feel comfortable in accepting that she is a mother too. I wish that even if she rejected that she is a mother, that we could at least have a relationship. I suppose we can’t have the latter without the former. I don’t pretend to understand or know. I guess that’s the problem in the first place.
So, what I ought to feel is a whole lot of gratitude. I was never promised any children whatsoever. I have two miracle children who are healthy and happy. I ought to be praying for Isabel’s mother and sending her good thoughts and reassurance that her daughter is alright and loved and that I’m so sorry that her motherhood has not been given a chance.
I’m just so sad. It’s all so unfair, all the loss. For all of us.
Suzanne, over at Straight Down The Mountain has downright made me blush. She has nominated me for the “You- make-the-world-a-better-place” award. Holy smokes that’s fancy. So, I’ll pass on the blog lovin’ to a few people who I know without a doubt are making things better in the world.
www.actofkindness.blogspot.com John Wright and his family walk the talk. They give of their time, energy and money to the people who need it most in Kyrgyzstan. He and his group fix up properties, restore hope and provide dignity for the forgotten and needy. They bring food, vitamins, warmth, toys and money to the orphanages and baby houses in Tokmok and Orlofka. They help people who are living in the dump and have no other options. John plays with the children, reaches out to those who are sick and can’t afford healthcare. He does this because of an unwaivering belief and faith that this is what he must do. I admire him so much. He and his family are there now and I dare anyone to read his blog and not feel the same admiration and respect.
Margie over at her blog, www.thirdmom.blogspot.com is a wise, kind, funny, insightful and amazing mom and human being. I feel that she is an online mentor for me in her graceful and gentle way of interacting with other bloggers (especially ones whose opinions are different from hers) and she writes about adoptive parenthood that exemplifies respect for her children, their mothers, and their country of origin. Margie is an activist, writer and a good soul. Read her.
Judy over at www.justenjoyhim.wordpress.com makes the world a better place because of her peerless honesty, humor, chutzpah, and her all-around sassyness. Judy is another adoptive mom to Nate and I admire her parenting so much. She walks an honorable path in everything I read in how she lives her life. Right now, Judy is battling cancer and is asking the tough questions that go along with a life-threatening illness. I totally love Judy. She makes the world a better place because her writing is as big as her heart.
Lastly, but not leastly, I want to send an award out to Nicole at www.paragraphein.wordpress.com for being an incredibly brave blogger. She writes with her whole mind, heart and soul on being a relinquishing mother who regrets placing her daughter for adoption. She writes with great compassion and anger about adoption, the system that let her down over and over, difficulties and pain in open adoption, and what it all means to her. I never tire of her willingness to put it out there, and to let all comments stand, even the ones that hurt her. So, while I wish she weren’t having to write a blog about her pain, I celebrate her and I feel that she absolutely is making the world a better place by writing at length about that which must be changed in the American system of adoption.
There are many others I’d love to honor. But man, it’s late here. Four is good, right? Oh darn…I just remembered one more new-ish blogger I really like. Talk about honest. KAD blogger Kev Minh. www.borrowednotes.wordpress.com
Feast on the riches of these people.
The following is a post I wrote nearly a year ago. In response to my last post regarding Daniel Drennan’s article, I remembered this post and feel that it’s worth putting out there again because it directly speaks to the moral and ethical questions of international adoption.
I read blogs lately a lot, most of them written by someone in the adoption triad. I’m reminded by these writings several important things when it comes to adoption and has solidified many of my own stances and beliefs regarding adoption. The main things I’m reminded of are that adoption is borne of imperfection and loss. I mean, let’s stop, as a society, putting a pretty bow on it and calling it a gift. The abandonment of girls in China, the extreme poverty of peoples across the world, and in our own country, there is a great deal of pressure put on young women who are in a certain socio-economic situation to relinquish their babies. I have experienced my own great feelings of sadness, confusion and persistent emptiness all stemming from adoption. It’s real, and it goes on and on. If that weren’t so, my reunion would have been a piece of cake and I’d have this terrific relationship with my first mother, which I do not. Also, the losses surrounding adoption are chronic and everlasting. Becoming an adoptive parent has not only left me unchanged in my belief that there needs to be sweeping ethics reform and acknowledgment of those losses within the adoption community and outside of it as well. So now what? What do I do now? As a girl who was once very active in the adoption reform movement in my 20’s, part of me wants to say, “Shhhh…don’t tell anyone I’m adopting.” And if someone does find out, particularly all you lovely adoption bloggers out there, I feel like saying, “I’ll be good! I promise! I’ll do all the right things and take her back to her country every year and speak her language and cook her country’s cuisine and we’ll learn to make beautiful felt rugs”… and anything else I can think of. Just don’t hate me ’cause I’m adopting. See, that’s the adoptee in me. Don’t reject me! I’m ok! Really I am!
But I am. I’m adopting. And you know what? I’m SO SO SO SO SO SO glad I am. There it is. I’ve said it. Hmmm. No thunderbolt yet.
So, the thing is, how do I, and therefore we as a society and global community reconcile adoption? On a microcosm, how do I reconcile being adoptee and adoptive mother? How do I navigate myself so that I “reflect the change I want to see in the world”? By standing up and lending a small but distinct voice in the adoption world. I can stand up for myself by declaring that closed adoption was a tough road for all involved. My adoption didn’t at all serve my first parents. They were promised that they would be able to go on and ‘pretend like it didn’t happen and lead normal lives.’ It left them hurt and confused and with wounds and they both live lives that reflect those wounds. I can stand up in particular for my first mother who, in response to her experiences during her pregnancy and relinquishment of me, forged her own armor which she feels she must wear for the rest of her life. She is aware that it protects her from hurt, but that also it is bondage and barrier.
Most of all, the change I want and must reflect is in my parenting my daughter whom I have yet to meet. So, yes. I will cook her country’s cuisine, learn to craft felt like they do in her country of origin and buy beautiful things on our trips there. By honoring her place of birth, I honor her and her first mother and family. And while I’m doing so, it’s still not enough. Because orphanages aren’t simply filled with children whose parents have died and need homes. No, there are children around the world who are in orphanages because of poverty, hunger, politics and other countless reasons. THAT is the change that I must be a part of, and ultimately must be a part of adoption reform. Yes, it’s that global. So, simultaneously I am adopting and ultimately working toward eradicating the need for people across the world to feel as though they must relinquish their babies and children. There is so much work to do. Our foster care system is broken. The western world has too much to eat and so much of the rest of the world is starving. Where do we begin? It begins with me. In my own adoption stuff and in adopting my daughter – it starts with me. And while I can’t solve much in the way of the world’s problems, I can do what I know to be true and right. Love is a great beginning, but my daughter is going to need so much more than that and I’m so OK with that. That’s my job. That’s what every adopted child needs. She will reflect the kind of parenting that I very much needed. These are the things I can do. That’s the thing. Yeah. That’s what I wanted to say.
…a very interesting article I found on Google News today. I’d like to link it here and get everyone’s honest opinion. I found it quite powerful.
Isabel has been my daughter for six months. We’ve been a family of four for six months. I’ve learned by ‘listening’ to Isabel how to care for her. She’s showed me what she needs and when. She’s taught me her different cries and that the ‘hungry’ one is more urgent than the ‘I’m bored’ cry and different still is the ‘I need a bottle’ or the ‘I need some cuddles’ cry. I speak fluent Isabel-ese.
It hasn’t always been easy, not by a long-shot. I’m not speaking about the love part. The love just comes and has been there since meeting her and holding her. But being the kind of mom she needs has taken time and lots of mistakes. I hate that that’s true, but it is. I wish I could say that since I had already been a mom to a baby before Isabel, that I seamlessly parented her from the day I brought her to our home. But I didn’t.
I had to learn that she likes to be held close, but she needs to be able to look out and around. She likes to sleep on her own and adores her crib. (She won’t co-sleep…have mixed feelings about that) She loves savory foods over fruit or sweeter things. I had to learn that she is, at times, tentative. She holds back a minute, decides if she trusts what you’re offering her, and then pushes it away or grabs it with a smile. She’s shown us who she is over time, and it’s been nothing short of amazing to watch it all unfold. It’s lovely.
I look into those deep, brown eyes and wonder, “Where did you come from?” “Your mother must be beautiful and graceful because you certainly are.” I wonder what her mother is doing and if she’s safe. I wonder exactly what circumstances led to her decision regarding her baby girl. I hope that she is not suffering. I wish we could send her letters and pictures, and we do send pictures and notes to the orphanage in case she comes looking, but that’s just not the same. I wish that young women, particularly women in impoverished nations, didn’t have such impossible choices when faced with an unplanned pregnancy outside of marriage. I heard my husband talking softly to Isabel the other night as he brought her down to her bath. He said, “I’m so sorry your mom couldn’t keep you and raise you. But since she felt that she couldn’t, I’m so lucky that we get to raise you. We’ll take you back to Kyrgyzstan and find her if you want to. We’re here to take care of you.” Those were some powerful words for me to overhear. He’d got it just right. For me, hearing that with adoptee ears, he’d got it just right.
Over the holidays I heard the often-said “That’s one lucky girl”. With my extended family and with close friends, I usually reply with a minimum of, “No, we’re the lucky ones.” And we are. Isabel has lost so much and has been through enough without the added burden of hearing how ‘lucky’ she is. She deserves a childhood free of obligation, guilt and the message that her existence in our family is one in which she ought to feel grateful. We’re going to set up her whole childhood around the truths around her birth and adoption, and let her feelings come without our own feelings getting in the way. She’s not in our family to help us overcome infertility. She’s not here in any sort of ‘occupational’ way. It’s hard that it happened this way – for her mother and for her. Never for a moment do I push aside the enormous losses Isabel and her mother will always carry with them. But now, and for the future, Isabel is in our family. She’s my daughter. She’s thriving and lovely. For that, and so much more – I am so incredibly lucky.