July 2017: Meaningful Internet Resources About Adoption

Hello Blog Readers!

It has been more than a year since I have posted. We are still on our trajectory to begin the process to be certified for adoption at the end of this year. Although I have not posted, I still have been doing a lot of reading. I wanted to compile some of the resources that I have found that have been particularly meaningful to me. I have listed them in alphabetical order by the post title. I hope that you find them useful.

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Finding an Online Community

I have felt like I wanted to write this blog post for a long time. But, it was hard to articulate what exactly and how I wanted to express my thoughts. Finally, I am beginning to find a community of like-minded people on the internet! It is so awesome. A couple weeks ago, I decided to look for adoption-related podcasts. I love podcasts. So, it just occurred to me that I should see what’s out there about adoption. This is how I came across a podcast called: Add Water and Stir. Before I talk about the podcast, let me just give a glimpse of their About Us description:

The Add Water and Stir podcast focuses on promoting foster care and adoption within communities of color, especially within the African American community. We want to give voice and visibility to families like ours who often seem left out of mainstream adoption conversations. We hope to educate others as we talk about our struggles and triumphs of parenting adopted children. We also have a Wine Down segment where we talk about all kinds of non-adopted related topics as well. Subscribe and follow us on our parenting adventures!

It felt like I had just found a community that was designed for me! The two hosts: Adoptive Black Mom and Mimi are so wonderful. They each became first time parents through adoption. Most importantly, they have open discussions about privilege, power, and the intersections of different types of social identities.  They are very self-reflective. An added bonus, they talk about Reality TV.

Anyway, through their discussions I have learned about a lot more blogs and resources. For example, I learned about the hashtag: #flipthescript. This hashtag was created by adoptees to challenge common-place and sanitized stories about adoption. I learned to question the use of what I thought was pro-adoption terminology. For example, I learned about using the term first parents, rather than birth parents. Birth parents implies that the sole purpose of the individual that gave birth was as a vessel for the reproduction of human life. I learned rather than to call it an adoption triad (first parents, adoptive parents, and adoptees), a more appropriate term was adoption constellation. This phrasing acknowledges the role of child welfare system in adoptions as well as the impact that it has on extended family. Also, I learned of a blog called Red Thread Broken, which focuses on international adoptions, but provided me with some important food for though about the larger adoption industry. Anyway, in a week I listened to their entire podcast feed. Now, I am all caught up!

It feels good to find like-minded people who have adopted on the internet. I don’t see myself or my views on life represented in the mainstream adoption narrative. For example, I was reading on forum about parents’ changing their child’s first name when they are already school-age. It wasn’t something where the person was concerned about the economic prospects of the child. But, it was more of a matter of taste in the name and the desire to want to have the opportunity to name a child. There was no discussion about what message a name change could send to the child about his/her background and cultural identity.  All I could think of as I was reading it was that scene in Roots,  when the slave master beats Kunta Kente so that he will respond to the name Toby. So, when I read things like that it makes me feel like I don’t really want to participate in those forums. It makes it hard to read what people say and learn from them. I am already stressed out with all the inequality, racism, classism, etc that is going on in the world. I don’t want to subject myself to more ignorance on forums. I don’t think my heart can take it.

So, I suggest that you check out their podcast. Also, you can follow their blogs at these locations: Adoptive Black Mom and Mimi Robinson. They also have a Facebook page if you search for “Add Water and Stir Podcast.”

We are going to do it!

Hello To My Few and Mighty Readers,

This post will be brief. On Tuesday, we went to an informational session for foster care/adoption. After leaving the meeting, we officially decided that we went from exploring the possibility of adoption to deciding that adoption is the pathway through which we want to grow our family. It feels good to both be on the same page about this. He felt that the session didn’t really provide new information. After all, I have been doing so much reading and talking his ear off about the processes of it all. But, it did reinforce that he had already come to a decision about it. I felt the exact same way. So, don’t get too excited friends. We are not going to begin the process of getting certified to adopt tomorrow. We still need about two years to prepare on our end. With all that being said, the goal has been established. We are excited! I hope you all are too.

Love ya!

Navigating My Selfishness

I have a few Instagram hashtags that I follow in hopes of finding like-minded individuals who are interested in adoption. My search has been relatively fruitful in that I have found a couple of interesting people who have provided me insight into their lives as adoptive parents, adoptees, etc. A couple weeks ago, an Instagram page for a podcast came up in my feed. The podcast is run by adoptees and entailed them talking about their experiences. Many of the quotations on the Instagram page had to do with reunification with birth parents. I have avoided listening to the podcast for that reason. It made me nervous.

Then, a couple days ago a post came up in my feed that was a quotation from one of the adoptees interviewed. It read: “When I met my birth father it was like a lung I didn’t know was collapsed suddenly filled with air and life.” Reading that quotation hurt. It hurt because I imagined that it would hurt to feel that somehow my [adopted] child would feel more complete by having someone else in their life. That my love was not enough. It was very hard for me to admit that to myself. Admitting this was difficult because it would mean that I have to deal with my own issues.

I have been very fortunate person in that everyone in my immediately family (my husband, my brother, and both of my parents) have always made me feel like I am the center of their universe. Like that my love was important, special, and so very fulfilling in that particular relationship. The idea that someone who I love dearly would want a mother-love from someone else is hard to think about.

In considering adoption, I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I could love someone else in a multidimensional way. I have thought about how I could push away societal constructs that said that biological relationships were fundamental to feeling whole or having a parent-child relationship. I spent a lot of time thinking about how I can move past these things. But, once again I didn’t consider how my future [adopted] child would feel about the situation. Perhaps this child would feel the need to seek reunification and develop an on-going relationship with a biological parent. Therefore, I would need to learn how to support my child in doing this. I must truly believe–as I do in my head— but also in my heart that someone else’s love for me is multidimensional. I don’t believe that there is only room for only two parents in an child’s life. I know that my fear about this is that I want to continue my on-going tradition of being the best and most important _______ in my family. However, through adoption whether this child seeks reunification or not the reality is that I will be one of two mothers. So, I know that I need to listen to the podcast and come to terms with my feelings.

Adopting From Foster Care

This post is in response to a conversation that I had with a friend. She thought that before you adopt a child you had to become a foster parent. From what I have read, at least in the state of Texas, this is not true. So, I promised her that I would write a post about what I have learned thus far. What I share in this blog reflects my understanding of what I have read. Therefore, please feel free to correct any misconceptions that I have.

Before I go into detail about what I have learned, I want to make a note about positive adoption language. The language that we use shapes how we see the world. So, I am making a conscious decision to use words that are respectful of all parties involved in adoption. The Texas Adoption Resource Exchange has a list of positive adoption language terminology. The correct term to refer to a child that is available for adoption is “waiting child.”

From what I understand, there are two primary ways to adopt children from foster care: legal risk adoption and adoption of waiting children.

In the legal risk process, a family must get certified as both a foster and adoptive family. When a legal risk foster placement is made it means that the State believes that a child is not likely to return home. I do not know the details about how the “legal risk” judgment is made. In talking to a social worker, an example that she gave me was that the biological parents have already have had their parental rights terminated with several other children. While the biological parents still have their rights, then the home functions as a foster placement. If and when parental rights are terminated, then this foster family can adopt the child. Legal risk placements occur to provide the child with some kind of continuity. However, it is possible that the child will be reunited with his/her parents. There is no guaranteed adoption. The primary goal is child safety, and when possible, family reunification.

The adoption of waiting children is a different process. Rather than having your family approved for both foster care and adoption, you can just be approved for adoption. The biological parents of these children have already had their parental rights terminated. In the State of Texas, there is a six month waiting period between the time the child enters your home and when the adoption can be finalized. During this time, there are social workers visits and other services to ensure that the placement is a good fit for both parties.

In future posts, I will discuss the details about getting approved for adoption and the matching process. For now,  I just wanted to give a general overview of what I have learned.

 

Loss is Central to Adoption

Before I started reading about adoption, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about how children become available for adoption. I don’t know why I didn’t really consider where children came from. It wasn’t until I read several blogs talking about the importance of recognizing that all adoption is centered in loss that a child’s previous experiences became salient. What does it mean that adoption is centered in loss? It means that the origin of adoption is centered in a loss of particular relationships. In an open adoption it means the loss of biological parent as a primary caregiver. Adoption is the result of loss when a child is available for adoption because his/her biological parents’ rights have been terminated by the court system.

This concept was eye-opening for me because when I initially thought about what adoption meant for myself and my husband, the following types of questions guided my thinking: Do I need to have biological children? How will this new person be integrated into OUR family? Why am I considering adoption as a first choice (instead of attempting to have biological children)? It is important to know that I am not being critical of myself for asking these questions. I still believe that they are very important questions to ask. However, the concept that adoption is centered in loss is fundamental to highlighting the experiences of the child in this process. Adoption is not only about the pretty Instagram pictures with people celebrating a new addition to their family. For me, recognizing this fact is fundamental to making the decision to adopt.

As someone who wants to adopt from foster care, understanding the loss and trauma experienced by the child that may enter my home is pivotal. Not all children in foster care are available for adoption. Those children who are available for adoption have had their biological parents’ rights terminated. According to what I have read, termination is the result of children being abused, neglected, or abandoned. (It is important to acknowledge that like any other system in the United States the way in which these policies operate are not neutral along racial and socioeconomic lines. However, I will not delve into these topics in this post). As a result, children who are available for adoption have experiences that must be considered in the process of becoming a family. Understanding that adoption is centered in loss does not mean that it is not a moment of happiness. At this point in my journey, centering the loss helps me to acknowledge the multifaceted process that is required to create a family in this manner. It does not dissuade me from adoption. It emboldens me to learn more.

Representation Matters

I have always known that I wanted to be a mother. However, I have never had a particularly strong desire to be pregnant. Pregnancy seemed like the required pathway to experience motherhood. As I have gotten older, my definitions of motherhood, family, and parenting have become more fluid. This fluidity has given me space to acknowledge that I do not need to have biological children. Recently, I broached this topic with my husband. We decided to earnestly explore adoption as a way of expanding our family.

Whenever I start out on a new stage in my life, I like to envision what it will be like. In order to do this, I search for people with whom I can make connections. I imagine what my life might be like through their experiences. The people to whom I look to for examples don’t mirror me in every aspect of who I am. For instance, they may not be the same race, gender, religion, etc. Nevertheless, there is something about myself that I can see in them. Yet, in searching for information about adoption these experiences of commonality are few and far between.

I attributed these feelings of lack of identification to three key aspects of my life experiences. I am not a White woman, I am not a Christian, nor have I struggled with infertility. Whiteness, Christianity, and infertility (and their intersections) are central to the internet culture around adoption. The predominance of these themes adds to the isolation of exploring a way of becoming a mother that falls outside the norm of what society expects. So, this blog serves two key purposes. The first purpose is to give myself a venue to document what I learn and how I feel. The second is to contribute to a space on the internet where other people can see themselves represented.

Anyway, I hope that you subscribe, comment, and share your perspectives. I want to learn and hear from you, too!