Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Adoption Story Part 1

I am a very literal person, and for that reason, I need to start at the beginning of any story I tell.  I also tend to give many, many details that can be boring.  I have accepted the fact that I am sometimes a very boring person.  I am explaining this so you can understand that I do not know how many posts it will take to tell my complete adoption story.  Since we are probably at least one year and closer to two years away from completing our adoption story with an actual adoption, I figure I have at least 600 days to tell all the details leading up to it.  It probably won't take me 600 posts, but I'm not promising anything!

I have always wanted to adopt.  I don't remember not planning to adopt someday.  My first experience with adoption was knowing the little girl next door was adopted but not being able to talk to her about it because she didn't know.  As a 4 or 5 year old it fascinated me that someone told me a secret about someone that they didn't even know themselves.  In retrospect I think it was more a case of little pitchers have big ears (I do not understand that phrase, but I'm pretty sure it is the one my mom used!)  However, one belief that went along with this illicit knowledge was that you can only adopt children who look like you.  I was told (or overheard) that the reason the little girl next door was so much younger than her older brother was because they had to wait a long time to find a baby that needed a home that was white and healthy.   I make no judgment about the choices this family made, it just led me to believe that that was all that was allowed--that you had to wait for someone white if you were white (possibly given their agency and the times, 1970's, that was the only option available for them).

This leads me to where I usually start our adoption story when people ask.  When I was ten or eleven I won the grand prize for selling the most girl scout cookies in my area.  The prize was a cruise and tour of Tillicum and Blake Island (a Native American tourist destination).  My mom sent me with another leader whose family I had never met before.  In the family was a little girl my age and race.  We spent the day together, and then I went to their house to wait for my mom.  I don't remember ages and genders, but I do remember an older child came into the room, and she was Asian.  I asked who she was and the girl said, My sister.  I accepted that easily assuming she had an Asian dad (don't ask how I thought she avoided all Asian characteristics, I just accepted it.)   Then another older child came in, I think an African American boy (though I'm sure I would have said black at that time).

"Who is that?"
"My brother."
"Okay, than who is that?"  I asked about the girl again.
"My sister."
"And that is your brother?"  I was truly puzzled by this time.  I clearly didn't understand genetics, but the confusion felt deeper than even that.
Finally she said, "they're adopted."
"Oh!  Cool!"

Reading books about trans-racial adoption and adoption in general tells me I probably dealt that family a blow and possibly, hopefully, they had a conversation about the tactlessness of children and that families come in all different styles.  They may have even assumed my "Cool" was trying to repair damage or covering my embarrassment, but it wasn't.  I did not know it was rude and I had no embarrassment (I do now:))

I just thought, "Wow that is really, really cool.  I want a family with lots of colors, a rainbow family."

I had already thought adoption was neat (after all why produce my own kids when I could love any kid) and now I found out I didn't have to adopt only white kids, I could adopt anyone!   I realize that in some ways this sounds horrifying to those who fear celebrities are making adoption popular and fear that people are going into it for the status symbol and other scary reasons.  Let me assure you that I have never followed the trends, and still don't (I love clearance too much to follow trends properly), and there is a lot more that went into our decision when we actually started the paperwork 20 years later.  I just want you to understand how long ago God planted this seed for my next (I think) child in my heart.  I think I'll answer the "why China?" question in another post.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Testing Signature

Okay.  I have created my own custom signature and added it to my template.  It seems a little annoying how it won't go down into its proper spot until I have completed a line.  I'm also not sure what I think of my signature, maybe a little too busy.  However, I do feel like I'm understanding this blog thing a little bit more each day.  Maybe in a few days I'll learn how to post pictures.  I know giving my family fake names but then posting pictures doesn't exactly guard their privacy.  However, pictures do make a blog more interesting, and I want to be interesting!  Besides, my kids are adorable and how can I have a Mamarazzi blog without pictures?  


Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Reviews

Hello,  In order to renew all of our paperwork for our adoption, we have to prepare for adoption.  One way we can get a few hours of qualification is to read some of the books our agency recommends.  Last time through we read 8 of the 10.  This time they suggest about 20 different books.  In order for a book to count for an hour we have to write a response to the book.  I thought there was no better place to keep track of the books I read than on my fabulous new blog.

First I read "Cross-Cultural Adoption: How to Answer Questions from Family, Friends, and Community," by Amy Coughlin and Caryn Abramowitz.   It is a relatively quick and easy read, and if you are having minor issues with family members that are cautiously supportive but clueless, it might be a good book with which to start.  It has four sections: The Questions Kids Ask, Do's and Don't for Grown-Ups, Information on 10 countries involved in International Adoption, and Resources for Learning More about Adoption.  I found the questions kids ask section a good list of questions, but I didn't really feel the answers were exactly what I would want my relatives telling their children.  Most of the answers weren't wrong or bad, just a bit incomplete, and a few I felt would be misleading if not a lie.  Specifically the question, "Was she abandoned?"  They suggest answering, No, or not rejected, or not given away.  I don't you want to say, "Yes, definitely!" to your child and that child say it to my child, but maybe there is a different way to answer.  Ignoring the question isn't an option, but another book I read suggests something along the lines of "we don't know exactly what her birth story is and what we do know is her story.  Perhaps some day she would like to share it with you."  I found the adult Do's and Don'ts useful and very easy for anyone to read since it is only a short section.  The one that stands out the most is to not introduce her as adopted.  The other two sections are useful, though brief.

The next book I read is "Adoption is a Family Affair! What Relatives and Friends Must Know" by Patricia Irwin Johnston.  This book was still short, but packed full of information.  A relative seriously desiring to be more supportive and avoid common annoying comments would find this book very helpful.  It discusses many common misconceptions and clueless statements and explains why they can be hurtful to the family member they love, yet in a way that is full of grace and sympathizes with the confused relative.  This is the book I will recommend to my family members if they express and desire to know more about adoption.  Unfortunately it is not on my adoption agency's list--I honestly don't know why--so it does not count towards our hours.  I found the recommendation for it on the blog/forum I follow:  We are Grafted In (link on the side).

The last book I read so far is ""Questions Adoptees are Asking" by Sherrie Eldridge.  My adoption agency recommends "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" by the same author.  However, my library doesn't carry it.  I can get it via InterLibrary Loan, but in the meantime I read her other book.  This book is not written to me the adoptive parent.  It is written to the adopted child who might be an adult before reading this book.  It is about healing and growing through the pain of being rejected by birth parents.  According to this book, the loss of birth parents/family is something all adopted children feel, some to varying degrees, and need to acknowledge and grieve.  I am praying that by being forewarned we can bring our child through the grief and she won't need to address this pain as an adult as the author did.  However, if she does need guidance either as a teenager or adult this book is excellent.  Every chapter addresses different things the adoptee might need to explore with compassion and kindness and gives Bible verses and questions for pondering and discussion.  The main take away for me is that no one wants to feel alone and that being around other adoptees goes a long way to help a child feel connected.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Faith and Adoption

I thought today I would start telling our adoption story from the beginning after all it will take several days to write it all.  However, instead I spent the day reading comments on RQ that made me decide I wanted to talk about something else at this time.  Specifically, after spending the day reading posts and last evening reading "Questions Adoptees are Asking", I started to feel like maybe we shouldn't adopt especially Internationally.  The book says adoptees are victims from birth whose hurts are ignored and shoved aside.  While the purpose of the book is to provide healing to hurting adoptees and will be an excellent tool for my child, it left me feeling somewhat helpless.  It doesn't give me, the adoptive mother, any clues on how to mitigate the pain my child will feel.  It makes me feel guilty for wanting to adopt.  (I know this is not the intent of the book, and the author has a book written to adoptive parents that I plan on reading and would have read first if our library carried it.)   So I went to bed already feeling a little off and spent today reading posts on RQ that:
  1. question our desire to stay in the NSN (non special needs) line
  2. make adopting older, waiting children seem equally wrong as it may take them from loving, foster families
  3. imply we are stealing a wanted child from some childless Chinese couple by accepting China's referral of a baby
  4. state point blank that by making choices such as girl vs. boy and NSN vs SN because of what we think will fit into our family we are finding a child for our family not finding a family for the child, which is of course selfish beyond all measure
So, while I read these books and forums in order to be informed and become the best mom to an adopted child, I struggled today to figure out why I won't let them "teach" me to not adopt.  It all comes down to the question asked on the other forum I follow:  http://www.wearegraftedin.com.  One young lady asked: What role did faith play in your decision to adopt and your adoption journey?

The answer is everything.  Nothing.  Everything.

Later I'll tell our adoption story and why we made the choices we made, but as I become more informed about the complications of adoption and the politics of it all, every day it boils back down to Faith.

First I have to have faith that our family can help our new child overcome the pain she will feel due to "adoption issues."  That will be through many different forms--our unconditional love, books, fellow adoptees, counseling if necessary, and Faith.  I know that our not adopting will not prevent that pain from occurring, but I pray that finding a forever family will help our child heal.

Second I have to have faith that the adoption process works.  I know that trusting in governments is somewhat foolish, but there are laws in place and people in both countries doing their best to ensure these laws are followed for the best of the child.  Without faith in the process, I think it might be immoral to adopt.

The only way I can have faith in those first two is with faith in God.  My faith is not in books or governments;  it is in a God Almighty and Loving.  My God led us to adoption, so He is in charge of healing my precious daughter.  No one is more powerful at healing than my God.  Also, while humans make mistakes and corruption exists, I must hold onto my faith that God is more powerful than any government.  After all, He says in the Bible that "for by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him,"  Colossians 1:16.  How can I not follow God's journey to our newest child and trust that He has it all in hand?  It is really my only option, and one I rejoice in.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I have decided...

on names.  They aren't terribly creative or unique, but they'll work, and it is less than nine months since I started this project, so hey, just rejoice with me.  I am going with a Botanical theme.  It doesn't seem terribly unique, but none of the blogs I currently read use this theme.  I have banned myself from reading new blogs in order to revel in my own cleverness for a short time.  Once I have some posts under my belt maybe I'll be open to reading other blogs that copy my theme.

So here are the names:  My husband will be Oak.  He asked me if that meant he was going to break in a big storm since Oaks don't bend like Willow Trees, but I chose it for his steadfastness and strength.  I decided on Cedar for me.  I was thinking about using my own name, but I kind of liked the idea of changing my name.  Cedar was on the list of boys names, but I thought it sounded "girly."  The only other tree name I came up with was Willow, and I didn't want people to think I was weepy a lot.

As far as the kids go, I was going to go with flower names.   Yes, I know trees don't marry and produce flowers, but this is an adoption blog, people, in case you didn't know.  However, I couldn't find flower names for all the kids, so I'm telling my readers (that's only me so far!) that I have a Botanical theme. My oldest boy, age 10, is going to go by the name, Huckleberry.   There is no particular reason for this name--he is nothing like Huck Finn in the book--I just like the sound of it.  My currently middle child, boy, age 6, is going by Snapdragon.  Yes, this name does fit him, though he is also full of compassion and kindness.  My daughter, age 2, is going by Sunflower.  Really I think every two year old girl could go by the name Sunflower.  This leaves Sweet Pea for our as of yet unidentified daughter from China.  There is still a chance that our child from China will be a boy, but after 5 years of praying for our daughter if God does give us a son, he'll just have to go by the name Sweet Pea.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What's in a Name?

Okay, I think this is going to be fun, and I can't wait to post all my wisdom for the world to read, but I can't do that yet.  I'm still trying to figure out Blog design, Titles, adding Blogs to follow, and most of all names. One of the things that held me back from starting a blog is exposing my family to the whole world.  Changing names doesn't really stop that, but it gives me plausible deniability which is a good, good thing.  I think I am funny, but coming up with clever names for my blog and to figure out blog names for my children is causing me to rethink my self assessment.  I have found wonderful blog names for children like Tongginator and Cheeky, but I can't just copy those mommas.  I have to be creative and different, but I am finding I am not creative and different.  Okay, so some may argue the different, but either way I can't find names that work.

One child suggested Luigi, Mario, and Princess Peach, but once we actually adopt from China I can't imagine Princess Peach for my bio daughter wouldn't get me in all kinds of trouble.  (If you don't know why don't worry; it just means you aren't following all the race discussions on RQ and I think that is okay.)  Colors of the rainbow lead me to similar problems, though child #2 did suggest Green, Blue, and Purple.  My husband suggested A,B, and C.  When I said that was not creative or funny he suggested "little cat Z?"

Suffice to say, it took me nine months to decide on my daughter's real name, it'll probably take me nine months before I am ready to regal the world with my family's delightful antics and my amazing wisdom.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First Post

Okay.  This is my first post.  I have no intention with sharing this blog with anyone until I have more than one post, possibly until I have 100.  I have not decided.  What I have decided is there are some things that apparently a BLOG is the place to share it, and I always follow the trends.  Okay, I'm always behind the trends, but I have been following a lot of adoption blogs recently and I decided I needed one of those too--a blog that is.  If for no other reason than to have a place where I can link to all the blogs I really, really like without having a ton of bookmarks my husband will some day delete because "you don't use them, do you?"  So there it is, my first blog post and my secret, ulterior motive for starting a blog. Now I just need to figure out how to add the blog links to my page.