Category Archives: the business of adoption

Open Adoption, Media and Agendas

Grrrrr.  There I was working quite happily while Fox naps next to me when I hear on our local NPR station that there is an upcoming local piece on open adoption, entitled even “Open Adoption – Bringing Two Families Together”. I’m thrilled as I wait for the piece to come on. A local story about open adoption from the first mother’s perspective – wahoo! I consider texting Big Mama to see if she can get to a radio to hear as well. (We talk and laugh about open adoption and the negotiating this wild relationship a fair bit. We also talk about gardening, science, photography, community, parenting, education and Fox, and our daughters too.) I’m just about to text her with a link to the online piece when we hit the half way mark and I stop. This isn’t a story about open adoption at all. This is a bit about one woman’s decision and the immense love she feels for her son (good), but it is just as much about a Christian agency’s anti-abortion agenda (bad).

Below is the rant to the journalist who ran the piece that I was prompted to write. Go watch the video and tell me what you think?
Open Adoption brings together Two Families
Was this a lost opportunity to talk about open adoption? What do you think their agenda really was? Did this educate the public about open adoption at all?

As an adoptive mother who is part of a fully open adoption I was excited to hear a local story talking about open adoption.

Imagine my disappointment when the resultant story was in fact not primarily about open adoption, what it looks like and the importance of connection for the child at the center being connected to their first family, or how families meld and grow and negotiate this fragile and less traditional relationship, but over 50% about a local Christian adoption agency whose focus appears to be on advising just two options and does not consider 25% of the US population as potential adoptive parents.

I was interested to hear Mary’s perspective on her decision, to hear her voice, but the post has little to do with the nature of open adoption. What I wanted to hear about in a piece titled Open Adoption Brings Together Two Families is what open adoption is, why it was important to Mary, what it looks like, how Trevor and her interact, what is the relationship like with the adoptive family. How they have negotiated this open adoption. What advice would she give to other families embarking on open adoption.

All I could garner about open adoption from this piece is that Mary and Trevor had at least yearly visits and she receives photographs. What about communication in between? What about Mary’s older children how do they feel about it? Today, most parents who place their children for adoption are in their late 20s and typically are already parenting children. This would have been an interesting avenue. The fact that Mary chose the adoptive parents via the match letter doesn’t indicate openness. Did they have opportunity to meet before or after? I want to hear from Trevor. What does he think? How has the agency supported Trevor, Mary, the children she is parenting and the adoptive family in negotiating the complex world of open adoption before and after placement and ongoing?

While I appreciated hearing the voice of a first mother (adoptive parents often command larger voices in media and society) about why she chose to place her child for adoption, I am disappointed by the lack of discussion about open adoption in a piece entitled Open Adoption Brings Together Two Families. The fact that immediately following today’s airing of the post the announcer suggested that if you would like to hear more from the ‘other side’ there was a piece about Planned Parenthood of Arizona’s position on abortion and on the wide array of health services (beyond abortion) for women it provides confirmed my suspicion that this piece was actually about anti- abortion sentiments and not about open adoption. Mary has an important story to tell about open adoption. I want to hear it. Please tell that story.

You can share your thoughts with the author of the story here.

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Filed under Adoption, open adoption, religion, the business of adoption

Challenging the Mental Block

Way back when I started this blog, I thought this would be a good way to share a little what was going on with us with far-flung friends and family, especially as we proceeded with adoption stuff. However, I haven’t blogged about adoption or what we’re up to recently at all. A dear friend recently asked me what was going on. And, in the way that good friends can, asked me whether we had some sort of mental block going on. The timing was impeccable. Just how great a mental block we have going on had come crashing down just a few days earlier in reading the news from Shelly and David, who have matched with an expectant mother (yeah Shelly and David). Shelly and David sent their fingerprints off the same week as we did. I’m ecstatic for them, but it really accentuates our inertia in this matter.

Our friend’s question, and the recent good news from Shelly and David, made me sit down and try to articulate what my hang ups are. I must admit, the hang-ups are mine rather than Green’s. Over the past year or so I’ve read countless blogs about adoption, from the perspective of the child adoptee, the first parents and the adoptive parents. It isn’t always easy reading, actually it often isn’t easy reading, and it has made me question whether you can ever ethically adopt. Talking with our friend is always good for me because she has been through this in the role of an adoptive parent, and as I talk with her about the reasons that her children were placed it reminds me to turn to the first-hand data I have access to:

Our family (like most, it has been impacted by adoption)
Our friends (who are adoptees, first mothers and adoptive families)

What are their experiences? What can I learn from them?

There are a few specific issues that I grapple with and are contributing to my mental block.

1. Is there ever a situation where it is the right thing for expectant parents to place their child with another family? Should the genetically linked family be preserved as a traditional unit at all costs?

2. Do we compromise our moral code by engaging in the Adoption Industry? Is there a way to avoid this?

The numbers of children, specifically newborns, placed for adoption in the US is significantly higher than that in the UK. The lack of an adequate social safety net for families is disgraceful, and is without a doubt part of the contributing factor to the number of placements that happen. I feel strongly that poverty should not be a sole reason to place a child. That as a community we should be more family friendly and supportive and not just in words, but also financially. I believe that we should provide health care including easy access to birth control.

Talking with friends who are first mums and adoptive parents with pretty open relationships with the first parents, poverty wasn’t the sole reason for their placements, sometimes it wasn’t part of the equation, sometimes it was. Not being in a good place mentally to parent; not being in a relationship with someone that they wanted to parent with; not having sufficient emotional and physical support from family to go forward; all given as reason, maybe not exactly in those terms, but basically along those lines.

I know that if I’d been pregnant and not ready to parent my family would have taken my child under their guardianship. They told me as much while I was growing up, they were in a position to, not all families are despite great mounds of love.

I know that at times in my life I was not ready to be a parent.

I know that despite a the burgeoning adoption industry, adoption has been going on formally and informally for all of human existence. That persistence doesn’t make it right, but it can inform us.

I know that I can’t stand in judgment of first parents who have decided to place their child, because I haven’t walked in their shoes and I can’t say I wouldn’t if I was in their position.

I grapple with the problem, but I think we’re at the point now where we can say adoption can be a positive. A positive that is messy and complicated, but a positive all the same and that we’re ready to see if a situation arises where first parents think their child may thrive in our home.

If we’re going to be open to adoption, we have to get on with this home-study paperwork.

My friend, the mama over at Our Family Changes sat me down last week while Green and Bean were off in Nebraska (more on that later), cracked the whip and has me working on this paperwork again. Working out how we’re going to deal with the whole adoption industry thing, that is a post for another time. For today, this is adoption thing is messy, not well articulated and definitely a work in progress.

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Filed under Adoption, ethics, Homestudy, the business of adoption

Adoption Agency Meeting

We met with an adoption agency yesterday that we are seriously considering. This was the first time we’ve done more than talk over the phone.

At some point in the adoption agency meeting I look down and notice the baby drool I picked up at a friend’s house has not dried and disappeared, but is a delightful stain on my shirt, a long line of drool stain. I draw my cardigan over the stain and catch a glimpse of Green’s sneakers. The sneakers are clean and in good condition, but sneakers. Then Bean shrieks with delight at the latest noise coming out of the contraption the agency has provided to occupy her and I think that someone else might not think her hair a delightful tousle of golden cherub curls, but rather unkempt. Perhaps they think all of us unkempt with sneakers and stains and tousled curls and maybe they think us not best candidates for adoption. Maybe we should have dressed for an interview. I notice my legs are beyond prickly. Crap.

Green laughs at something and Bean runs over and jumps in his lap. Screw it. I’m guessing these folks know that being a family isn’t all about being neat and tidy and really, baby drool should earn me a few points. Right?

ps. They gave us a couple of books to start with.

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Filed under Adoption, the business of adoption

Baby Steps

After months of procrastination deliberation we’ve finally made a step, albeit a small one, toward getting on with the adoption efforts. Our application for homestudy is in the mail AND we have an informational meeting with an agency on Wednesday! Yee gads!
(Bobby, I need to touch base with you. What things to ask?)

Small Steps

So, I’ll admit I kind of hesitated. I mean, is my health really excellent? Can you see the hesitation in my writing? I talked with my cardiologist and he said yep, I’m good to go. Then this past week I had a weird lump, well rather depression in my breast, actually no lump. All of a sudden, and it hurt! Is that TMI? Ahhhh well. Luckily, I had a baseline mammogram scheduled. Went, weird stuff on the mammogram so they sent me for an ultrasound. Ultrasound clear! Yeah. A quick call to my doctor sister in law and she says yep sounds good, no lumps, just fibrous tissue. The radiologist actually said it looked like disgustingly healthy tissue, fibrous, but healthy. Now? The indentation is still there, but it no longer hurts. The body is a weird, weird, weird thing eh?

Get this, after a fair bit of talking to Dr. Google, it looks like caffeine and chocolate can play a role. Now there isn’t coffee or tea in my diet, but maybe this will be enough to break me of my chocolate addiction?

Getting the all clear was enough to send me digging for the homestudy application form and reaching for the phone. Eek! Excitement. Note this isn’t the homestudy form though, just the application for, but we did say small steps didn’t we.

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Filed under Adoption, Health, the business of adoption