news item: “My Faith Pulled Me Through”

Dum dum.

Watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was a nightly ritual in my house for years. Then we had a baby, and now the show scares the shit out of me because it makes me worry about anything bad happening to Stella, so we have only watched it a couple of times since December! Nevertheless, I am a huge fan of the show, and I especially love Mariska Hargitay’s character, Olivia Benson.

The other day while I was pumping on my work break. I was flipping through a Good Housekeeping magazine that was a few months old (I work in a doctor’s office), and I came across this article about Mariska’s adoption journey. Whoa. I knew that she had adopted two children after having a biological child when she was 42, but I had never really followed the story or known the details.

In My Faith Pulled Me Through, Mariska talks about how incredibly difficult the journey is that adoptive parents go through. She discusses the fears (such as an adoption falling through – which happened to them) and the joys. It really struck me as a great example of how ALI affects people old and young, rich and poor, and its hard on every single one of us.

As a young girl, she was forced to recognize that “mother” didn’t necessarily imply a biological connection. After her own mother, the actress Jayne Mansfield, was tragically killed in a car accident, Hargitay (who was 3½. and in the car’s backseat at the time) and her brothers went to live with their father, bodybuilder-turned-businessman Mickey Hargitay. His third wife, Ellen Siano Hargitay, became his daughter’s mother in every sense of the word. “I called her Mom. She really claimed us. She never had biological kids of her own, and to this day we are her kids.

This article was also interesting to me because I feel like adoption is not often talked about in a “real way,” and I love that her story was highlighted in mainstream media. I know a bit more about adoption because of many of you, but there is still so much I don’t know, and I love that this article highlighted a bit of their journey and didn’t make it sound like all sunshine and roses. *Because, you know, we should all “just adopt” because it’s SOOO easy and there are just so many good kids that need homes.*  Grr.

At any rate, the article ends with this:

“Adoption was a bumpy ride–very bumpy,” she says, as a huge smile lights up her face. “But, God, was it worth the fight.”

So true, right?

****

For those of you that have adopted a child, what do you think of this article? Was it a good representation of adoption?

If you have not adopted, have you ever considered it? Was it an avenue of family building that was a dream of yours to follow pre-IF, post-IF, or both?

Do you have any great adoption resources that PAIL should know about?

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Comments

  1. Ugh. I wrote my response to this in my head in the shower – that’s how much it bugged me.

    The only part of the article that reflected any sort of “non celebrity” aspect of adopting in my opinion was the part about her failed match. That is situation that no adoptive parent to be wants to be in and is beyond devastating. I wish she would have elaborated more on that heartache. Being still in touch with that woman was a good added touch though on the writers part 😉

    The rest of the article – could have been written about Madame Jolie adopting yet again.

    The part that irks me the most (sorry for being all over the place here) is the part that emphasizes how she was so overcome with emotion when she saw kids in the streets of Vietanam and Thailand. Really? So…what happened to adopting from there? Was that a necessary part of the article to throw the glorified “save starving” children aspect to make her seem more “real”. If that were the case, I would have loved to read an article about her and an adoption journey in those countries. But…she didn’t she adopted domestically (no judgment on that part we do what we feel is right for us) and used a lawyer so as to maintain a private, closed adoption because of her celebrity. Closed.

    I freaking HATE that this article glorified a celebrity in a closed adoption.

    I would have loved to hear her reasons for that choice more. About why that decision about her celebrity is more important than her child knowing where he/she came from. Meeting their extended families. That wreaked selfish to me. Why wasn’t there any mention of the birth mothers of the two children that she did adopt? The experience of taking those children home is being joyful but beyond excruciating. Where was that part?

    I know it’s an article and magazine articles are sometimes short so perhaps parts got cut out – but this hands down reads to me as another glorified celebrity adopting and choosing what she thinks is going to be the easy way to do it.

    Do readers know that when you adopt with a lawyer the birth mother most often times does not have the benefit of adoption counselling? That lawyers aren’t there to make sure the best interest of both parties are cared for? That the birth mother doesn’t find out about resources that might make it possible for her to keep her baby? Most often times not and it’s a sad reality that still exists in a lot of the world.

    Agencies for the most part lean towards open adoption now but it’s 100% advocated for in Canada now. Why? Because hands down that child will have a better understanding of the “why’s” of their life story and there will never have to be a big “reveal” at age 18 if they choose to pursue finding their birth parents.

    Now, if a birth mother chooses (after she’s had counselling, after she’s spent time considering all her options) to have a closed adoption – her choice.

    That’s a match that the adoptive parents have to accept and during the course of raising the child will have to deal with on a daily basis. That’s a hard choice.

    When you set out to adopt you look at all your options. Agency vs lawyer. If adoptive parents STILL choose to want only a closed adoption for whatever reasons and go with a lawyer. I’ll say it – hands down the stupidest decision they will ever make* and the child will be the only one who will bare the weight of that decision.

    *try not to throw tomatoes at me – they stain.

    Anyone thinking of adopting needs to do their research. Talk to people who have adopted, talk to adult adoptees, find out if international vs domestic is the right choice, find somebody in a crappy adopting situation and an amazing one. Go from there.

    • Oooh – so many great points here Traathy. Like I said, I know so little about adoption, and though I’ve always thought it great to do open adoptions, b/c I’ve never been in the situation, the line in the article about it being a closed adoption never even jumped out at me. EEK! Sorry. You’ve given me some great food for thought. I love your blog, because you ARE so real and open about your experience, and I think it’s so amazing that your daughter is growing up to know her sister. So much to learn!

      • It’s a lot to process!! More importantly, every situationis different. It just boggles my mind that it was bc of her celebrity that she wanted a closed adoption. Such a cop out. Like all families boundaries have to be set and all families have issues. Adoption is about expanding your family. For example: sometimes ya get shitty in-laws when you get married. Would you have chosen not to get married because of it? Probably not 🙂 Same with adoption. Celebrity or not. Deal with it!!

        Sorry I was a bit grouchy in my reply – its a hot topic for me!

  2. My plan– long before IF threw a wrench in my plan, anyways– was always “have a couple kids and maybe adopt a couple kids.” I don’t know why. Maybe because I am drawn to wanting to “help the suffering” and saw taking in a couple of orphaned children as some sort of good deed. Maybe because I love kids and want them from everywhere. Maybe because a lot of things. I don’t know. When IF hit, I spent a ton of time on my state’s foster program website, looking at the photo listings. I fell in love with kids who were way too old for me to appropriately adopt (I don’t think a 26-year-old late-bloomer like I was should adopt a 9-year-old) and kept going back to the site to see if anyone vanished from it, presumably to a new home.

    I know almost nothing about adoption, and all the “real” stuff I know is from people I have met recently via PAIL who have adopted. I am fairly adoption-ignorant and yeah, I had NO CLUE what went into the process. I think some part of my brain was all “well, if you do it in ‘this way’ and avoid all that *extra paperwork* you could have a baby sooner.” LIKE ANYONE ASKS FOR EXTRA PAPERWORK, WHAT.

    This sort of article is what I would have read on the treadmill and thought, “Yeah, go Mariska! I want to adopt some kids too. Yes, it’s hard, and then it all works out in the end and you can go on your merry way just ‘having a family’ like everyone else.”

    But I read adoptive bloggers now and that’s not it at all. Adopted children have a history before they arrive in your arms. They have a whole lineage, ethnicity, maybe a different race or country of origin. They have a whole other family. And bloggers who did open adoptions talk about bio moms and bio dads and bio siblings and oh, right, when you adopt a child you actually adopt a whole family along with them, sometimes.

    It’s just so much more complicated than I ever realized.

    I am glad that Mariska talked about adoptions falling through, so that people realize it’s not an open-and-shut decision and it can be FRAUGHT with legal potholes that end in heartache and loss. And I’m also glad that articles like this, which gloss over some of the realities that “regular people,” who don’t have endless cash and lawyers on retainer, have to endure. I learn a lot from these conversations.

  3. So I avoided even reading this until now, and I’m a freaking contributor for pail! We were foster parents. We wanted to adopt through foster care, 1) because those are kids who society has utterly forgotten about it seems and 2) we couldn’t afford a domestic or international adoption.
    We were called to the hospital to foster a 5 day old preemie. She was our daughter for a year. And then she was taken back, the adoption fell through. My heart will always be missing a piece, because she has it. BUT, and this is what I want the focus to be on, I WOULDN’T TAKE ANY OF IT BACK. For a year we got to love and care for a baby who had we not been there, would have most likely had a much rougher start on life. And for that critical 1st year she got love, amazing nutrition and a sense of family. And while my heart broke when they took her back, here’s the good news, one of her parents, really got it together, like really really. And we stay in touch and she is loved. And that is what foster care is really about, healing families. Had we kept her it would have meant this parent had spiraled further down the terrible path they were on. Now this parent has a second lease on life and a beautfiul child. I am willing to be contacted by anyone who wants to know more about foster care or ‘fostering-to-adopt’ which is what we did. It will BREAK YOUR DAMN HEART, and you will thank god that it does. We are still going to try to pursue adoption through this route at some point.

    • “For a year we got to love and care for a baby who had we not been there, would have most likely had a much rougher start on life.” — phew. What a way to think about it, and it’s so heart-breakingly true. You are pretty damn amazing CJ.

    • Wow. I just went back to see if there were any other comments on this thread and you just brought tears to my eyes CJ. I don’t even have the words to express how much love you have for that baby to have been able to do what you did. Amazing.

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