featured post – “the most important thing i want you to know about our open adoption” by mackronicles

Every once in a while, I stumble upon a blog post that hits me in the gut – hard.  It’s posts like this one from Kasey of MacKronoicles that motivate me to be the best mother I can be.  Why? Because she’s honest and her relationship with her son’s parents is respectful and familial.  Talking and living OA as an extension of family is something I LOVE and wish existed in more adoptions.

While everything is GREAT with the relationship we have with our birth family I do have fears of how our daughter will feel when she’s older and wants to have that conversation with her birth mother about why she was placed.  That is a conversation I know will be hard for her to hear and  harder for her birth mother to talk about, and hell while we’re at it, HARD for me to watch her have.  But – they get to have that conversation because of the work we all put into making our family close.  It doesn’t happen this way for everyone, but I think Kacey’s post is a good reminder that fear is always present in adoption but the love we have for OUR child always comes first.

I truly believe that you have to hear everyone’s voice when considering domestic adoption and this post by Kasey is probably one of the best I’ve read in a while.

I hope you will always know that it does not matter what anyone else thinks about your adoption and our family. It doesn’t matter what your future classmates think, what people on the internet think, what people who write movies/TV shows think, or what the guy at the grocery store thinks. It only matters what YOU think. I hope you never feel ashamed to tell someone you are adopted, but I also hope you never feel like you have to explain your adoption to everyone…

ALL OF THAT

Head over to Kasey’s kick-ass post “The most important things I want you to know about our open adoption“.

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Kasey is a wife and mother of two boys, the oldest placed in a wide open adoption. Further self-definitions are still in progress and can be found chronicled at mackronicles.wordpress.com.

news item: canadian author explains how babies are made without sex or gender

On Monday (Canada Day, as it were) I found this news story in a roundabout sort of way. The short version is that I was reading a new blog called Tiny Human(s) for Two Queers and saw the book mentioned. In the comments, I saw that April recommended sending it to us here at PAIL. I decided to check it out before she emailed (and sorry to beat you to the punch April!) My first thought, was YES! And then I went to read the article, which more or less had me at “Hello”:

Not every baby comes from a mommy and daddy who fell in love. Sometimes, kids have two moms, or a single dad, or they were adopted. Some babies are conceived through in vitro fertilization or with the help of a surrogate mom.

This article discusses the book What Makes a Baby by Cory Silverberg and illustrated by Fiona Smyth.

What sets this book apart from its predecessors is that it doesn’t refer to moms and dads, nor does it mention gender – there are no blue, tuxedo-donning sperm or pink, girly eggs.

It’s vague on purpose. Silverberg said he describes the rudimentary factors in how his little readers were created. But it’s up to parents to tell them the rest.

“I explain the basics that are true about every child, but I let the parents fill in the details about how (the kids) were made – and it can be as much or as little as they want,” he said.

I still have VIVID memories of the book I was handed to explain where babies come from. It was the usual “When a mummy and daddy love each other very much they give each other a special hug” kind of story with random, graphic details that I can still quote word for word.

Here is the quote from the author that I loved the most:

“We’re just starting to get the notion that a family is a group of people who love each other but just look different.”

I read through this article several times and watched the YouTube video. I have since read (and ordered) the book and suffice it to say that it gave me EMOTIONS. I had serious doubts that this story could be told without sex or gender and was glad to be proven wrong. In my opinion, a resource like this is sorely needed, ALI or not. While waiting approximately 11 minutes for April to email, I started having a vague memory that Josey had mentioned this book before during our “Where Do Babies Come From?” monthly theme back in January. Sure enough, Josey was a contributor to the Kickstarter to get this book going. I chatted with her about it and here’s what she had to say:

When I first heard about this book in February 2012 through the Kickstarter program, I knew that I wanted to give a few dollars to show my support of a project that acknowledged that families are built and babies join them in a multitude of different ways. What Makes a Baby is written in such a way that it’s incredibly open ended – when you are ready to delve into the deeper issues that surrounded your family building journey, this book will be there for you.
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In the forward written by Cory Silverberg, he states “[This book] doesn’t include information about sexual intercourse, donor insemination, fertility treatments, surrogacy, or adoption. But it creates a space for you to share as few or as many of those details as you’d like.” He also includes a free downloadable reader’s guide to help parents feel more comfortable about broaching all of these subjects – http://www.what-makes-a-baby.com/readers-guide/.
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Bottom line – I highly recommend this book to everyone, whether or not you traveled an ALI journey while creating your family. This book will help to explain and normalize the fact that while all families are built differently and that is something to be celebrated, we all share a common humanity, and that is pretty awesome too.
Stella!

Stella!

*****

Do have this book, or one like it?

Do you think telling this story, in this way, is useful for your family and how it was built?

Do you have any resources of a similar nature to share? Link up in the comments.

Many PAIL Bloggers shared their detailed thoughts on this subject HERE – worth a re-read! It is never to late to leave a comment!

*****

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healing week: the afterwards

Being present in your own life movie

A concept that I love and that I really only just started actively participating in these past few months.

I had to stop blogging. And I had to put a firm boundary in place between the ALI community and my life. It is the absolute best thing I have done for myself in such a long time. I still read my friends blogs but I have to admit they are now parenting after ALI blogs and my reader has dwindled down to those people whom I have formed a really great connection with over the past few years. The reason for the distance – that’s my life now. Parenting after loss and living after loss.

Chandra mentioned in her post that “Society tells you, you got pregnant/you adopted/you had your baby after multiple losses – now move on” and I have to agree with this ideology to a degree. You do have to move on in and accept that whatever happened in your movie to the point you are at now can’t be undone in order for healing to happen. Living in the past kills the present and the healing process. It truly does. I’ll never forget what happened to us in 2010/2011. We went through trauma like no other, my husband and I turned into shells of our usual comedic selves. We lost and began resenting family & friends and we couldn’t see a way out of the hell that we were stuck in. There’s no way I could forget how my movie started but I do wish it hadn’t happened on a daily basis.

We got through the horrible beginning though and we have found a way to live happily again. I think that’s the most important part about the afterwards when you come from a past of loss.

Living.

Quite honestly, I forgot how to do that until our daughter was born.

Josey mentioned in her post that she was “sad people from an ALI background seem to feel that they are not allowed to have the hopes and dreams that your average pregnant woman takes for granted”. I really have to emphasis that for us – coming from loss – our hope never went away, our dreams never really died, they just got edited in our movie. Do I care now that my original script included a midwife, giving birth within months of all my friends, a joyous maternity leave filled with mommy and me classes with said girlfriends, a fat belly with no stretch marks and curly haired half-Italian baby? Nope, it got edited and the remnants of the original script that I wrote are on the cutting room floor.

The editors changed my script so drastically and what we got put in its place was 10 days to prepare for another woman to relinquish her child to me. Say what! I watched her give birth the most beautiful baby in the world out and have her placed in my arms. My family grew to include the most amazing people and my appreciation for life grew to include all those people.

Those editors…you hate them when they mess with the story until you get to the good part 😉

The good part: I became a mom. Just in a different way than I thought.

Occasionally though, like every good drama, there are references to the past in our movie.

We visit the daughter we lost often. We don’t make a point of doing it, but she just happens to be resting in a pond that is on our usual dog walk route. We wink, we kiss on her bridge, or throw some bread to the ducks and their babies and we remember her. However, once the dog sees the ducks and decides he wants to kill chase them or Ky starts screaming protesting in her stroller because WE STOPPED (OMG) for a second, we gotta move on.

And so the story of “us” keeps on moving.

Forward.

Now if you aren’t sick of my movie analogy yet here’s the scene at the end of the movie after the credits roll as you are walking out the theatre.

The girl (errrr me) stands up in front of a large group of people. She starts talking about things like – child loss, adoption, open adoption, grieving, and stillbirth. She opens her entire life/past up when people to who are in similar loss circumstances ask her questions about how she moved on through/after loss. She tells them that its okay if the story they thought was going to happen gets changed and they aren’t alone on the pages. She says

“scripts get changed all the time and you have to believe that the movie is going have a happy ending”

How do I heal? I talk about my story and I try my best to help people not feel alone when they arrive at the decision to adopt a child because their original script got messed with. I think my own personal healing is flourishing now because we are done with our family building.

So, I’m still here. I’m just waiting to see what else the editors have in store for me, not being scared of potential change to my movie, and trying my best to move forward despite the past.

Be sure to go back and read the healing posts written by: Josey, Chandra, Julie, and SRB if you haven’t already done so.

*****

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tpicTracy is a mother to a gorgeous girl whom her and her husband adopted at birth in January of 2012. She holds a Master’s degree in Guidance Counselling and is a high school counsellor by day, self-admitted know it all by night, and gate-keeper of three enormous families on the weekend. She formed her new family by way of an exceptional open adoption and now spends her weekends making sure her family, her husband’s family and her daughters birth family all get to shower her with as much love as she can get. She can be contacted at theyalllived@gmail.com

family is everything

I was hanging out with a friend the other day when I mentioned that we’d be hanging out this coming Friday at Ky’s great grandma’s house for a fun Easter day of an egg hunt and then dinner with our family.

She replied that it was really generous of us to make the effort we do with Ky’s family.

I had to take a few breaths before I responded. More on my reply in a minute….

Generous is not a word I use when I describe the relationship that we have with her birth family. That implies that I’m doing something that is “showing a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected” as per Google dictionary.

It is necessary and it is expected. You bet it is when you are living in the world of open adoption (OA).

I struggle sometimes in talking with other adoptive parents in various degrees of an “open adoption” because let’s face it, I’m judgemental about it. I’ve got a strong opinion about OA now and I’m not afraid to talk about it. Actually, I’ve never been afraid of it.

My main issue stems from people who say they are in an open adoption and they really are in a semi-open one and using the word “open” as a pretence to imply that they ARE being generous in keeping their birth family involved in their lives.

That drives me up the wall.

While everyone goes into adoption with an idea of what they want in mind, its so important for prospective adoptive parents to *really* research what openness is (if that is what you are considering) by way of talking to families who have adopted, adoptees, and birth families. You truly have to comfortable with expanding your family beyond just the child before agreeing to anything with prospective birth families. If you aren’t, clarity and transparency is a MUST or you are without a doubt setting everyone up for hurt down the road.

There are so many things that need to change in the education of parents who want to adopt domestically and the definition of what open really is needs to become a priority. Yes, when you take that baby home – legally he/she is yours. The degree of openness cannot be enforced it is entirely up to the adoptive parents as to how they navigate the relationship with the birth family. Adoptive parents do get to set the rules once those papers are signed (in most provinces/states) and unfortunately birth families (outside of the birth mother and father) never really get a chance to voice how they feel.

Monika over at Monika’s Musings wrote an amazing post recently about what openness means to her. I LOVE her thoughts and think that Ohana is about the most accurate and thoughtful definition of what openness really should be in adoption.

In my experiences in talking with other adoptive parents and hopeful adoptive parents, I’ve realized more and more that most people only really *think* about what the relationship might look like with the birth mother and father after having a child placed with them when they are considering an OA. There is very little talk about what it can mean to the entire birth family who *also* relinquishes that child.

I can’t imagine not having Ky’s entire birth family in our lives, but it just wouldn’t have occurred to me to consider them if we hadn’t met Ky’s birth grandmother the night she was born. I will never forget looking at her minutes after Ky was born and realizing that she didn’t want to touch Ky because she was so unbelievably sad about what was about to happen to her granddaughter that day. Her granddaughter wasn’t going home with her daughter, she was going home with strangers. It was she who put Ky in my arms before they all left the hospital the day she was born and it was she who made me see just how much loss is involved in adoption.

It was that moment that I knew that couldn’t let them lose her. I couldn’t just leave and take their baby away. Let’s face it, our baby girl isn’t just ours.

She is everyone’s.

And you know what. That’s exactly how it should be.

I find it sooooooo necessary to point this fact out clearly to everyone who asks about our relationship with them.

My reply to my girlfriend was this…

I’m not being generous. I’m being a mom. That means making sure I take care of all my family, and her birth family is my family now.

Adopting a baby domestically goes way beyond maintaining ties to a birth mother and father only. Family can be huge and the loss of a baby can go generations deep. It’s that point that I emphasis when I talk about adoption now. In domestic open adoption, you aren’t just adopting a baby, you are gaining another family.

Cherish your families and remember that the baby that may be on its way to you though adoption comes from a family that is grieving their loss.

Family is everything and your baby can reap the benefits of knowing and loving them all.

Intend on loving them all.

*****

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tpicTracy is a mother to a gorgeous girl whom her and her husband adopted at birth in January of 2012. She holds a Master’s degree in Guidance Counselling and is a high school counsellor by day, self-admitted know it all by night, and gate-keeper of three enormous families on the weekend. She formed her new family by way of an exceptional open adoption and now spends her weekends making sure her family, her husband’s family and her daughter’s birth family all get to shower her with as much love as she can get. She can be contacted at theyalllived@gmail.com

featured post: “Some news from Ms. J” by Weathering Storms

Rain is a Mom who blogs about life with her husband, MrRuger, and their son, Cadet. They have an open adoption with Mrs. J, Cadet’s birth Mom, and Rain’s most recent post is an extremely interesting read about that dynamic. Beyond the fact that Ms. J is currently incarcerated (and considering starting her own blog about that experience – how interesting would that be?!), it’s just awesome to read about how the relationship between them all has evolved into a truly familial relationship.

In Ms J’s words: “No one has the right to take issue with my choice to place Cadet for adoption. I did it for (him). In this adoption you have become family to me. You have supported me when my own family didn’t. Family isn’t about just about blood, it’s about who stands up for you. I stood up for Cadet and you have stood up for me even when you didn’t need to. That’s family. And who ever doesn’t agree with that is just crazy.”  (Take that adoption critics!)

She also talks about the work they are doing to make this a truly open adoption for Cadet:

…we also want to start establishing a healthy relationship between her and Cadet. We don’t want Cadet to remember a time when Ms J is not in his life. We want him to always know that she is important to us, and their relationship is something we’ll always encourage. What better way to do that, then start establishing visits? Provided that Ms J wants visits, of course.

People obviously choose different types of adoption for many different reasons…international vs. domestic, open vs. closed, or somewhere in between. It’s just so interesting to me to read about how each family works to make the decisions that work best for them and their child(ren).

As always, comments here are closed so you can go visit Rain at her own site. Please head over and read her original post and share your thoughts there!

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Rain @ Weathering Storms in her own words:

Hello, I am Rain (age: 35). I am married to McRuger (age: 33). Our son, Cadet, joined our family in September of 2011 through domestic adoption. We have a nutty little dog named Em, who is an expert at sleeping and running. We live in sunny California and have a passion for cooking (and eating).

Why a blog? Well, I love to write, I adore connecting with others, and I feel the need to share my experience.

And why did I choose “Rain” as a theme to my blog? To me, rain brings all good things. It encourages growth, feeds our rivers and oceans, and makes me feel happy. I have always loved rain more than sun. So, when I came up with a blog name, I wanted it to reflect something I love. Rain seemed to be the perfect choice.

Sit down, browse a bit, and enjoy the show. It will never be too boring, I promise.

*****

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