Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Twenty Things" #4

"My unresolved grief may surface in anger toward you."

This chapter was a little difficult for me. The last thing I want to think about is my child be angry at me for any reason, much less their adoption, and I surely don't want to consider the thought that they may act out or even become violent. This chapter goes over many of the reasons that a child might become angry, how that anger may be presented, and how to handle it.

Not all adoptees will experience anger, and those who do will not display those feelings in the same fashion. However, it is very common for adoptees to be angry, sometimes subconsciously, and to inflict that anger in other areas of his life. Some thoughts an adoptee may have are:

  • "I'm mad that she gave me up."
  • "I'm mad that she didn't love me enough to keep me."
  • "I'm mad at my adoptive parents for taking me away."
  • "I'm lonely."
  • "I'm different than everyone else."
  • "I must protect myself from further abandonment/rejection."

The child may not be able to verbally tell you these thoughts, because they themselves may not understand exactly why they feel angry. Here are some things this chapter suggests adoptive parents can do to help their child sort through anger:

  • ALLOW them to be angry. Create a safe haven for your child to be angry, and don't talk them out of it. If your child expresses his anger toward his birthmom, instead of saying, "But that's not true...she loved you. You shouldn't be angry," tell him, "That must really hurt to feel that way. I can see why you're mad."
  • Reassure them. Although you don't want to talk their feelings down or try to change their mind, you do need to let them know that you love them and that you aren't going to leave them. Adoptees need to know that they weren't placed for adoption because something was wrong with them.
  • Find a good adoption counselor. Make sure it is someone that has experience with adoption issues. It is a good idea for all adoptees to have regular counseling during these periods in their life.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Twenty Things" #3

"If I don't grieve my loss, my ability to receive love from you and others will be hindered."

Whenever we experince a loss, whether it be death, divorce, someone moving far away, infertility, or adoption, we must grieve. It sounds so simple...but sometimes it's just easier to pretend everything is normal, and try to forget it. But that doesn't work. If we don't complete the process of grieving, we cannot move on to more positive things in life. I have had to begin to attempt to mentally prepare myself for the fact that my child will have suffered a major loss, and that he/she will need to grieve that loss. Even harder to come to terms with is the fact that I am going to have to be ok with the grieving. It hurts to even think about watching my child hurt and being able to do nothing about it. But, I realize that grieving is necessary for my child to heal.

I am aboslutely loving what I am learning about adoption. Even though some of it is hard to swallow, I am hoping it will make me a better adoptive mom in the long run. I don't believe that reading books can MAKE me a good mom or prepare me 100% for every challenge I might face, but I do feel like I will have a better understanding of my child's loss and grieving process.

"Twenty Things" #2

"I need to be taught that I have special needs arising from adoption loss, of which I need not be ashamed."

Adoptees need to know that although they might be different from the other children, they are not less worthy. Even if your child is biological, it is important to teach them that everyone has differences, and that no one person is better than the other because of them. No two people are exactly alike. My child's difference will be that he/she was adopted.

The book breaks some of the special needs down into emotional needs, educational needs, validation needs, etc. These are just a few of those needs:

  • I need help recognizing my adoption loss.
  • I need to be prepared for hurtful things others may say about my being adopted.
  • I need validation of my dual heritage
  • I need you to delight in my bioloical differences (don't pretend that I am just like you)
  • I need to be taught that my life is not a mistake.
  • I need to be taught that I have immutable value as a human being.

How can you meet the needs of your child? Educate yourself. Talk to them. LISTEN to them. Love them unconditionally. Read adoption books with them/to them. Be sensitive to them. And, cheer them on!

"Twenty Things" Chapter 3

#1: "I suffered a profound loss before I was born. You are not responsible."

It is easy to pretend everything is fine, especially if your child isn't showing any signs of being sad or angry. But (once again) it is VITAL to be sensitive to the fact that they have lost something so important, and they will want to know why. Your child knows it's not your fault, even if sometimes they might seem angry with you. Don't blame yourself for your child's struggles. This does not mean you have failed as an adoptive parent. If your child is talking to you, in my opinion, you are doing a great job! Parents in general sometimes feel that they should be able to wipe away anything that makes their child hurt, because none of us want to see our children suffer. Understand before you adopt that your child will more than likely at some point have negative feelings toward their adoption, and that it's ok. It is not YOU!

"The most important thing adoptees need is the freedom to express their conflicting emotions without fear of judgement."

Let your child know that even though you can't fix things or change the past, that you love them and are willing to hear them out, and that you love them unconditionally, no matter what they say.

"Twenty Things" Chapter 2

"Entering Your Child's World"

It is so important to be focused on what your child thinks and feels. Although we will never fully comprehend what our child is feeling unless we were adopted ourselves, we can still pay attention to the signs of sadness and frustration. Even when a child is adopted at birth, they immediately grieve. I know, I know. A baby? Grieving? But they won't remember! All they want is food! Quite the contrary. They won't be able to recall what happened that day, what their birthmom looked or sounded like, or how things played out, but infants can and will grieve. For 9 months they have been in a womb. They have heard their mother's voice. Felt her emotions. And now, all the sudden, she is nowhere around. Sherrie talks about how when she first was separated from her mother and brought home to her adoptive family, they couldn't get her to take a bottle. She just didn't want to eat. They couldn't find anything wrong with her, though. That's because she was grieving.

Not all infants will grieve outwardly the way she did, but they will grieve. There are some really good pointers in this chapter on understanding your child, but I'll just give you the ones that really struck me.
  • Initiate Conversation with your child!
  • Create a safe, nonjudgemental environment where your child can freely express his feelings and thoughts about his adoption and his birth family.
  • Talk about your child's adoption from day one.

Now for the things your child wants you to know....

Twenty Things

I have been really busy educating myself about adoption. I'm taking advantage of our long expected waiting time, and trying to learn as much as I can. I know adoption is beautiful, but it also brings heartache, frustration, and anger along with it, for both us and the adoptee. So, I want to be prepared for some of the challenges we may be presented with along the way.

I've finished reading "Dear Birthmother," which was a fantastic book and gave great insight into the heart and mind of birthmothers. I have since started reading "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew," by Sherrie Eldridge. FAN-TAS-TIC! This book is completely loaded with great information! Sherrie was adopted herself, so she is able to inject her own personal experiences into the book. I am finding this book so helpful, so I thought I would share my learning experience with you, in case you want to learn along with me ;)

I'm on chapter 6 right now, so I'll have to back track a little. Let's start at the beginning....

Chapter 1: Hidden Losses
This chapter just touches on the many losses involved with adoption. So often we think of adoption as a positive, happy thing, and it is! But it is also filled with loss. Loss on the adoptive couple's part, especially if they have struggled with infertility. The birthfamily's loss, which is pretty self explanatory. And, mostly, the adoptee's loss. The adoptee has lost the single most important person in his life...the person who GAVE him life...his mother. The most natural bond in the world has been diminshed.

The book states, "To deny adoption loss is to deny the emotional reality of everyone involved." While every child will not experience loss in the same way, all adoptees must grieve. Just like Brandon and I are still grieving the loss of our biological child, our adopted child will grieve the loss of his or her birth family. It's painful to think that my child will be hurt or saddened by their story, but this is reality. The last thing I want to do is pretend it didn't happen and negate his/her emotions. Some adoptees will show their grief through anger, frustration, or depression. Others grieve silently. Some will talk. Some won't. But it is crucial to keep the lines of communication open, and to let them know that it is ok to matter what the feeling may be.

Although adoption brings a sense of loss and rejection with it, that does not mean that your child's life is doomed to be miserable. There will be times when he or she will grieve...times when they will ask questions or want to talk, and there will be times that they don't even think about it. But it is so important to be in tune to what your child is feeling so that you can be prepared to help him/her.

On to Chapter 2....

"Adopted" the movie

Last weekend, while I was stuck inside sick, I took the opportunity to watch "Adopted." In short, this movie is mainly about a girl, Jen, who is an adult Korean adoptee. This movie actually brought tears to my eyes. It was a documentary of her journey to explore her past, and who she is. She was raised in a white family and a white neighborhood, and she was the only colored child in her school. She discusses all of the trials and struggles she has endured, and the effect those have had on her and her family. She admits that her adoptive parents did the best they could, because there were few resources available on interracial adoption back then. Her parents were "color blind."

Interracial adoption is a heavy topic, and I have struggled with it. I have constantly felt the need to justify myself when someone asks if we are open to all races. This movie in a way validated our reasons for choosing against interracial adoption.

I was raised to be colorblind. I was taught that we are all equal...the differences. And, in a way, that's all good and well. It was my parents way of teaching us not to be racist. But when it comes to adoption, the worst thing you can do is pretend your child is the same as everyone else. They aren't! If we did adopt interracially, Brandon and I would not see the child's color. They would be our child, plain and simple. However, that child, as they grow, would have a constant reminder that they don't belong. That they were abandoned. That no one around them looks like them.

I think interracial adoption and culture acceptance is an amazing, beautiful thing. IF you are prepared for that. There is so much more to interracial adoption than some people realize.

Anyway, I thought I would share my measly 2 cents, so if you're thinking about interracial adoption (or adoption in general), or have adopted, you might want to check it out. It has some really good information.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Where to start?

My mind is going in circles! It's hard to wrap my mind around the fact that there is going to be a baby in my house. The other night I sat in the baby's room, and tried to imagine what it would be like to see a baby sleeping in there, and what it would be like for a baby to be crying in my house. So weird.

Problem is...I have NO clue where to start in preparing! We don't want to get WAY ahead of ourselves, but we do need to start buying things and getting the room ready, so that we'll be prepared when we do get that call. We went to Babies R Us the other night. Let me tell ya- that place can be overwhelming!! My head is spinning trying to decide what to buy first!

So, for all you mommies out there...where did you start when you were expecting?

Friday, October 15, 2010

"My Husband Rocks" Fridays

Last week, we had a little extra cash. Since we haven't gotten to go on a date in a while because our wallets have been so tight, Brandon surprised me. He made me get all dressed up (in an actual dress), and he put on a tie. He took me to Mikado, a wonderful Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse. He usually doesn't care for those places, but he took me anyway. I love them! Luckily, he really liked this place better than Kobe, so we'll be going back :) I just thought it was so sweet.

Want to know more about "My Husband Rocks" Fridays??

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Wow! I thought this post would never come! We are officially paper pregnant! That is what the agency calls it. That means we are officially approved! That's right! We are now just waiting for a baby! It's almost surreal. We've spent 10 months getting to this point, and there were times when I honestly didn't think today would come. But it did!!

While I am so incredibly excited, happy, and relieved, I am also sad. There are SO many people who have loved and supported us, and I know they will continue to do so, and those people are sharing in our excitement, which makes me even happier! Unfortunately, though, some people, including some family members, seem as though they could care less. That breaks my heart. Some just say, "ok." Some don't respond at all. And some change the subject when we talk about the baby. I think some of them haven't yet accepted that we are doing things the unconventional way. I really hope and pray they become more open to it soon. I did call my mom, and she was very excited for us.

Some family members (and other random people) have said some not-so-nice things about our journey, and that really hurts. But, what I say to those people is that whether this is the decision you would have made or not, keep your opinions to yourself. If you love us, you will support us, encourage us, and share our happiness. You don't have to agree with us. You don't even have to like our decision. But you do need to support us. That's what family is supposed to do, right? I thought so. I don't know, maybe I was raised weird.

Anyway, regardless of those who discourage us, we refuse to allow them to steal our joy! We are elated! We are going to be parents! To us, this is NOT a last resort. It is not second best. This child will be just as loved as if I were carrying them myself. So, join in our excitement if you wish. If not, well then just sit on the sidelines and watch :)

Thanks to all our friends who have been so incredibly supportive and loving! We love you SO much!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How to Write A "Dear Bithmother" Letter

Pen and Paper Pictures, Images and Photos

If you have ever been through the process of domestic adoption (within the U.S), you probably know what a "Dear Birthmother" letter is, and you know how difficult it is. If you ever plan to adopt domestically, you will one day learn how to write one. And let me tell you, it is a lot harder than it sounds. I did a lot of research while writing my letter, and I wrote and re-wrote it many many times.

A "Dear Birthmother" letter is just what it sounds like. It's a letter that you write to potential birthmoms. It goes into your family profile that the birthmoms view while choosing which family they want to parent their child. It tells them who you are and what you're about. With our agency, Brandon and I each write our own letter, trying to keep it at a page's length. Trust me, it is no easy task! I spent MONTHS (off and on) working on mine. How in the world do you sum everything about yourself up into one page? Even harder, how can I be loving and accepting of someone when I have NO idea what they are thinking or feeling??? Through my journey of writing my letter, these are some tips that I gathered and liked. I got them from different places, and some came from friends, and even a birthmother herself. So, here are my tips for writing your "Dear Birthmother" letter.

  • Don't immediately choose "Dear Birthmother" as your introduction. While that is the standard intro, I personally chose "Dear Expectant Parent." Why? Because for one, she isn't a birthmother until she relinquishes her rights. Right now, she is just an expectant mother trying to make a decision for her baby. Second, don't forget the father! A lot of times, the father isn't in the picture, but sometimes he is, and we don't want to exclude him. It isn't WRONG to choose the standard intro, but do it for the right reasons.
  • It is common in the first paragraph to ramble about how you idolize her, how thankful you are for her choice, or how you know this must be a hard decision. Do yourself a favor. Don't. No matter how hard you may try, you can never even begin to know what she is feeling or thinking. You have NO clue. So don't pretend to. It's insulting.
  • Don't tell her how heroic she is. She probably doesn't feel heroic.
  • Keep the first paragraph simple. Don't overdo it. I started by thanking her for reading my letter, let her know I was praying for her, and whatever decision she makes is ok. Even if she decides to parent.
  • In the following paragraphs, tell her who you are. What you're about. What are your hobbies? What do you do for fun alone and as a couple? What do you do for a living? What is your family like? What's important to you? Tell her about your childhood. Tell her what kind of parent you want to be. Pets? Other children? Tell her.
  • Be honest. Be you. My final letter took the shortest time to write, because I stopped overthinking and just wrote from the heart. She knows you aren't perfect so don't pretend to be.
  • Every birthmom is different, and they are each looking for something different. You can't possibly know what she will want, so don't try to make up an image of what she wants and pretend to be that. Just be YOU. God has a baby out there for you, and regardless of your letter, he will make sure to grab her attention! It's ok to present yourself in "your best light." She expects that. Just don't sugarcoat it.
  • This isn't a sales pitch. Don't pressure her, or tell her what she'll get if she gives you her baby. We want our children to come to us, but for the right reasons. I want our birthmom to choose us because she feels it is the best choice for her child, not because it's the only choice. And definitely not because she feels sorry for us!
  • Stay away from saying "our child," or "my child." At the time that she reads the letter, it's not your child. It's still hers.

There is no certain format that will guarantee a referral within 30 days, so to speak. Just be respectful of this woman who is faced with such a decision. Love her.

Most importantly, PRAY for your birthmom, and for each mom who reads your letter. More than likely, there will be many. Pray that they have the peace and guidance they need to make the right decision for their child. Let God handle the rest.

Feel free to ask me questions! I am no professional, I am just learning this journey for myself, and thought I would share what I am learning with you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Profiles In!

I finally turned our profiles into the agency today! That is a major sense of accomplishment! We had to make 4 profiles with our Dear Birthmother letters and pictures and information about us. This is what the birthmothers will look at when choosing a family for their child. I'll be writing a post later about writing a Dear Birthmother letter (trust's harder than it sounds!).

We haven't gotten our final approval yet, but we are expecting it any day now! Well, next week actually since our social worker is out of town this week. Once we are approved, they will start showing our profiles to birthmoms!!!! WAHOOO!!!!!!!! Thought this day would never come.

Brandon and I have decided that on the day we get our official approval, we're going to celebrate. Not sure how yet, but I know that we are going to buy the baby something that day. I am SUPER excited for that day. I will probably cry like a baby :)

I'm planning to make a video later about our profiles and how we put them together, so keep an eye out if you're needing some tips! :)

Friday, October 1, 2010

No news is good news...right?

I hope so, because that's pretty much what we have. Nothing. We are STILL waiting on approval from the agency. They had to request a report from Brandon's counselor, who said he was sending it out on Monday, but our social worker responded to an email of mine yesterday and said they still hadn't gotten it. In case you don't know me that well, I can't stand relying on other people to get things done. If I could, I would drive alllllll the way to the counselor's office, pick up the report, and drive allllll the way back downtown to drop it off at the agency. At least then I'd know they have it! Our SW did say that the homestudy is done and ready for review, they're just waiting on that stinkin report. So frustrating.

My husband really does rock!

I know, I know. I've been a terrible blogger. But, in my defense, work has been crazy busy lately (and I kinda like it that way!), and we have been completely consumed by dealing with insurance companies since Brandon's car wreck last Friday. Most of you are on my Facebook, but if you aren't, he was t-boned on his way home from work last week. He's fine, but it sure has created a big mess! 2 wrecks in 1 year is more than enough for me! Unfortunately the other driver, who was at fault, doesn't have State Farm, and working with a different insurance company is a PAIN! Brandon was on vacation this week, and, bless his heart, he's spent the entire week fighting with insurance companies and getting things done! :( I feel so bad for him. But, in the midst of all the junk going on, he has managed to keep the house clean, do most of the cooking, AND he even went to the grocery store for me yesterday! What a man, right? I think so. :) Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have him. It's so easy to look at the faults. Not so easy to pay more attention to the positives. And there are plenty of positives!