Blogs from all members of the adoption triad have been an incredible resource for us as we explored adoption and open adoption. One of the most important resources we found was Heather at Production not Reproduction who has done an amazing job at reaching out and connecting members of the open adoption triad. One of her projects is called the Open Adoption Interview Project where blogging members of the adoption triad are paired up and interview each other. This time I wasn’t just a spectator in the interviews I participated. My interviewee and interviewer? Rain of Weathering the Storm.
Rain and McRuger, her spouse, have had a convoluted pathway to parenthood, through fertility treatments, fostering and then finally open adoption. Her words are honest and heartfelt. Some of my new favorite posts are the guest posts she invited and then posted recently sharing different views of adoption to open discussion. Thank you Rain for participating. My questions are in bold type.
Our sons are just ten days apart in age and so I imagine we’re going through some of the same experiences. How are you addressing questions about his adoption and Ms. J?
With strangers, or people I have just met, I tend to keep answers brief and to-the-point. I don’t think I need to tell the entire story. With friends and family, we’ve encouraged people to ask as many questions as they want. With that encouragement, we’ve also expressed a desire to keep some of Cadet’s story private, so that they will understand if we don’t give lots of details. Only a few people know anything about Ms. J and her circumstances. Some people know only some of the story. I never lie about the story of Cadet’s adoption, but I am very careful about who I share those details with.
Is there a resource about open adoption, book or blog, that particularly resonates with you?
I have yet to find a book on open adoption that I have connected with. I have read several, many of them too clinical and removed to really help me learn about open adoption. My quest for open adoption blogs has really just started. However, the first one that comes to mind is Geochick over at http://geo-chick.blogspot.com/. Her writing on the subject always seems to be interesting and informative.
It sounds like you and Mr. R have a different ethnic, ancestral background than Cadet. What impact do you see this having on your parenting and Cadet? How do you plan to address it? PACT?
Yes, McRuger (my husband) and I are Caucasian. Cadet is the true definition of “multiracial”. I think that parenting Cadet has already opened my eyes to a new level of inequality in the world. I’ve been trying to find toys, books, and artwork which represents his background, and it’s hard. I have to scour books stores to find children’s books with a “dark skinned” hero/heroine. Even though Cadet is a male, I still want him to have a few dolls/action figures which “look” like him…it’s been a challenge. Even the labels on foods, shampoos, and toy boxes are plastered with the smiling faces of “white” children. So, I’ve had to question friends and family to find these things which will (hopefully) foster a sense of belonging and connectedness in Cadet.
That being said, we are raising Cadet in a heavily multi-ethnic area and we have friends who come from all different backgrounds. As Cadet gets older and begins to notice the differences in skin color, we want to take advantage of the diversity of the area.
We always plan on being honest and open with Cadet when it comes to his heritage. Frankly, there are very few role models for him to look up to. We want him to be aware that not everyone is treated equally all of the time, and how to handle that.
I feel like I am rambling on…did any of that make sense? Yes.
Something a little lighter. Given your love of good food and cooking are you planning on making Cadet’s first foods? Have you started looking at baby cook books? What regular food are you most excited about introducing him to?
I am SOOOO looking forward to cooking foods for Cadet. And I have already thumbed through several different cookbooks and gotten a few ideas. Since our area is a cornucopia of fresh fruits and veggies, I can’t wait to let loose with him at the Farmer’s Market. I am really looking forward to when we can take him out to our favorite Indian or Thai restaurant and letting him experience those spices and flavors for the first time. I feel that part of exposing Cadet to the wonders of this world will happen when he first tastes a light curry or miso soup or even just a fresh peach still warm from the sun.
I’m impressed by how you’ve responded directly and respectfully to what sounds like some outside criticism/flaming about your decision making. Are you ever tempted just to ignore it? Do they ever respond?
Ahhh, one of the best things about having an anonymous blog…people getting pissed at me for choices I’ve made. Seriously though, I’ve never been one to ignore or evade a discussion. Even when I was teaching high school, I never wanted to move away from “uncomfortable” topics just because they were hard to talk about. Just because someone thinks my choices are poor ones, shouldn’t mean I should ignore that belief. I want to enter into a conversation and be open about it.
What I’ve talked about on my blog (foster care, adoption, parenting) are important topics and people feel strongly about them. And when people feel strongly about subjects, that’s when good dialogues can take place. None of these topics should be taken lightly. To that end, I feel that when someone takes issue with my choices, I want to look at it from their point of view…in hopes of learning more about my own thought process. I am not perfect, far from it, and I believe that we can learn so much from each other if we set aside ego and pre-conceived notions.
What ticks me off is when people are instantly angry or send hateful e-mails without first trying to understand where I am coming from. I am always open to people contacting me, and using my blog as a forum for a respectful, thoughtful dialogue.
In some cases, yes, I have had a positive response, but mostly my pleas for dialogue go un-answered.
You’ve commented before about the very broken foster system, what three practical/realistic things would you do to change the foster system? (Unfortunately, making the reasons it exist go away isn’t likely to happen)
I’m not sure I can come up with three. However, the big one for me is about the actual people handling these cases. Social workers/Case workers need to be experienced, well-educated, highly paid, and frequently reviewed by peers, foster parents, and administrators. I think some of our most frustrating events in foster care happened because of the social/case workers who were handling everything. The workers were overworked, underpaid, and (in some cases) didn’t have the proper training on how to handle certain situations. During our time as foster parents: we were lied to, ignored, called names, and that was just by the social workers. I think having the proper people in foster care would go a long way to improving the system.
I imagine from what you’ve written that you have some strong opinions about the adoption process and adoption agencies. How would you like to see adoption change in the US change in the next 10 years?
I would love to see more dialogue and education about adoption in our country. I think there are still a lot of people who have antiquated notions of what adoption is (my parents used to be like that). There are people who believe that we are “saving” Cadet from some poor house/orphanage/baby home. The number of questions I get about adoption, even through my conversations on facebook, lead me to believe that people still don’t understand what adoption looks like today. So, before we can change it, I think we need to talk about what it looks like now and how we can improve on it from there.
With that, I think it’s important for all sides of the adoption world come together and share their experiences (without judgement or fear). Adoption is a world of dualities. There’s the pain of a mother giving up her child which is coupled with the joy of adoptive parents being able to parent that child and there’s also the adoptive child who may experience feelings of loss. With such high/strong emotions, it’s important to be open and honest and take the time to understand where the other person is coming from.
Sweetest, unexpected moment in open adoption so far?
Naming Cadet. When Ms. J shared how she came to name him, we knew we had to keep the name. And then when the pieces fell into place for his middle name, a name that had connection from both families…it always brings a smile to my face.
Thank you Rain.
Rain will be posting my responses to her interview questions soon (I sent them late, big surprise) on her blog. Go over have a read. You can also check out other interviews, just pop over to Production not Reproduction’s list of interviews.