Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Holidays and Adoption

Everyone expects the holidays to become a little more complicated once you get married. "Who will we spend Thanksgiving with? Where will we have Christmas morning?" As a newly-married couple, if both families are close by, it seems generally expected that you split time between his and hers. Once children come along, maybe it changes a little. If family is at a distance, it becomes more challenging. Do you travel, or do you stay home?

You're with me so far, right?

I got a little of this feeling long before I was married. When I reunited with my birthparents in the summer of 2005, my birthfather immediately expressed his eagerness to include me in his family. He, his wife, and their daughters came to celebrate my birthday with me that fall. They sent me care packages at college. And when the holidays rolled around, they invited me to spend Christmas Eve at my birth grandparents' house, which is one of their big family traditions. Fortunately, my [adopted] family didn't really have any Christmas Eve traditions, so I eagerly agreed. I have spent every Christmas Eve since with my birthdad's family.

Then my husband came along.

We were engaged during the holidays last year, and it made for some interesting moments. You see, my husband's family does have Christmas Eve traditions. My husband was a little reluctant to miss out on them. And his family made no allowances for us--coming from a family of 10 children, if somebody has something else going on, then they just miss out.

I was very grateful to my soon-to-be-husband for making that particular sacrifice. Christmas Eve is, most years, the only time of year that I see my birth grandparents. And as I don't see my birthdad & fam nearly as often as I would like, it's an important occasion with them as well. I know that my husband could tell how much it meant to be. And this year, as we were discussing how to spend our holidays, he treated it as a given, that we would spend Christmas Eve with my birth family. Between you and me, the excellent presents we received there last year probably helped!

Adoption complicates life. There can be no denying that. Yet I continue to feel that adoption makes my life a fuller and more richly rewarding experience, for me, and I hope, for my own little family.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project

I'm thrilled to be participating in the Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project this year. OAB is one of my favorite adoption resources, and I have made many wonderful connections through their blogroll. Participants of the Interview Project are assigned into pairs, who over a period of a few weeks read through each other's blogs, then interview each other. The interviews were divided into three groups, and my partner and I are participating with the third group. You can read other interviews from our group here.

My interview partner is LisaAnne of Living Through Today. This is her public blog; through the course of our interviews, she also invited me to view her private blog, which helped me to get to know her even better.

Lisa is the birthmother of Brit, a darling little girl with the curliest hair I think I've ever seen. Lisa and Brit's birthfather placed her in what was supposed to be an open adoption. However over the past couple of years, and the past several months in particular, the relationship has changed significantly. My interview of Lisa is as follows:

What would be your ideal relationship with Brit (your daughter that you placed for adoption), if you could work things out with her?

I wish that Brit’s family would treat me, BF and our boys as if we are extended family.  I would like to be able to have phone conversations with them.  I would like to be invited to celebrate special occasions with them or them with us.  I wish that they would allow Brit to Skype with us.  Basically, I wish I was like a special aunt to her and her siblings.

I wish that Brit knew who we are to her.  That she is not only part of her adoptive family, but that we consider her part of our family too.

It would mean so much to us if Brit’s parents would facilitate a relationship between Brit and us.  It would be amazing to get a card from them with a picture colored by Brit for us.  It would me meaningful if they would send us pictures of the kids playing with gifts that we have sent.  I long for anything that indicated a personal thoughtfulness with regard to us.

We have never received a birthday card, holiday card or a note of any kind from them.  It is hurtful to know that we do our very best to be thoughtful about them and their children and it seems that they don’t have the same consideration for us.

Along the same line, what would your ideal relationship be with Brit's adoptive family? Could you see yourself becoming friends again, as you were before Brit's adoption?

Fortunately, I am one of the “quickest to forgive” people I know.  I would do whatever I could to repair a relationship with Brit’s parents if the opportunity was ever available.  I guess I answered the question to this with the above answer.

How do you think this adoption experience, with all its ups and downs, has affected your other children?

My adoption experience has destroyed who I was before the adoption.  I feel terrible that my children have to bear that consequence.  Now any time I cry their immediate response is “This is about Brit, isn’t it?”  They know that the last four years of tears have generally been because of the adoption.  The boys don’t understand why we have been treated like we have.  They tip toe around the subject of their sister.  They too feel betrayed.  It breaks my heart to think I am the cause of that.

Obviously, from reading your blogs, your adoption has taken quite a turn this year. If you were to meet another birthmother in a similar situation, what advice would you give her?

Well, it depends on what you mean by a mother in my situation. So I will take the approach of what I would have told myself if I could go back and talk to the LisaAnne of 2011.  I would definitely let myself know that trying so hard will only hurt the adoption situation, not improve it.  I would definitely not have blogged publicly, because that has been the number one thing used against me.  And I would just give myself a big huge hug and tell myself that unfortunately it won’t get better any time soon, so just cry it out, because the loss is deep and profound.

You have received some pretty harsh and negative comments on some of the blogs that you've posted. How have you dealt with these comments? What advice do you have for other birthmothers who might also face that kind of backlash?

I try very hard to approach negative comments from the perspective of ‘if I was in their shoes’.  Often you can tell the perspective of the person commenting.  Other times I could tell it was an extended member of Brit’s parent’s family or a close friend of their family, and there is no reasoning there. I am obviously a threat to them and Brit’s relationship with her parents.

There is an anonymity that blogging allows which causes people who would never be so rude in real life to say things that are just over the top.  Those comments I disregard.

But there are some who make me stop and think.  Most often it is comments from adoptees.  I believe that adoptees are the ones who ALWAYS have a right to an opinion about how adoption has made them feel.

Truthfully most of the comments on my blog are kind and supportive and I am thankful for the love and virtual embraces I have received from so many since I began my blogging.

As for advice to other birthmothers, I would say “TELL YOUR TRUTH”.  The world needs to hear that adoption is not just love and a better life for the child.  There are so many things I wish I would have known before placing Brit.  I want more birthmothers and adoptees to speak loudly so that society can hear the reality of adoption, not just the fa├žade that has been created.

In some of your older posts, you talk about drawing comfort and inspiration from the blog of others (adoptive moms, birthmothers, etc). What is something you have read recently that gave you hope or comfort, as you have struggled with your adoption experience?

I love, love, love my adoptive mom friends who embrace fully open adoption. They give me hope for a new generation of adoptees.  I have been encouraged by those women. Each has offered to reach out to Brit’s family and help them understand the beauty of a fully open adoption.

When I see the relationships that these families in open adoption have between the biological family and the adoptive family, it warms my heart.  It makes me so glad to know that there are children who are getting the very best despite the fragmented lives that they have being an adoptee.

I consider many of these women my real life friends.  It is unfortunate that I was forced to make their acquaintance because of my loss and grief, but I am thankful for their friendship anyway.  They are all amazing women who believe providing the best for their children, even if it is hard.

What do you hope others will gain when they read your blog(s)?

I hope that a mother who is faced with an unplanned pregnancy will stumble across my blog and it will cause her to consider that what seems like the best solution at the moment, may not be the best choice in the long run.  As I have often quoted, “Don’t make a permanent decision based on temporary circumstances.”

I hope that adoptive mothers will read my blog and realize that there is another mother who may be longing and aching to know the child that she relinquished.  I want to be a voice.  I hope the words from my heart speak to adoptive mothers so that they might have empathy for their child’s birth family.

If an adoptee were to read my blog, I hope that his/her take away would be that birth families do not just move on and forget about their children.  Most of us are forever changed when we place a child.  And none of us ever forget.


Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your thoughts and your story. I am grateful I had this opportunity to get you know you better!

Be sure to check out the Interview Project at OAB for more interviews! You can also view Lisa's interview of me here.