Sunday, December 23, 2012

Other People's Words

Needing some inspiration and encouragement today...

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”
 
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.”

“Sometimes the darkest challenges, the most difficult lessons, hold the greates gems of light.”

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Questions Answered

Don’t you just love it when you read, hear or see something that you can totally relate to?  Especially when that something is stated or displayed in a way that you wish you could have done.

Since beginning our adoption process, I’ve been craving any information possible on the topic of adoption – the more relateable the better!  I’ve found a number of books, blogs and Websites that I now visit regularly, and what I’ve found is that the adoption community is full of opinions and stereotypes.   The books I’ve read so far have mainly been informational and encouraging (*sign of relief*) and the Websites tend to be mostly informational or a bit ‘sketchy’ in my opinion.  Blogs are where you find the real fun!  There are blogs I’ve read that make me feel so connected to the author I’ve laughed and cried right along with them (even if the post is from years ago), and there are blogs that make me realize how angry or hurt the author feels by their individual situation.  I’ve even found one blog that made me feel angry and judged for our decision to adopt – and it’s written by another adoptive parent!  What gives?!

So I’m thinking that if the adoption community is so varied in its own expression of feelings on the topic of adoption, how am I supposed to relay important information and details to our friends and family who ask (and who have no firsthand experience with adoption)?  If you know me, you know that when I start describing something I like to include the WHOLE picture.  I’ve realized that this can be a problem, especially when trying to teach someone about adoption in one conversation.  How can I expect to remember and relay every piece of information I’ve learned over about a three month time span (and I still have a LOT of learning to do, I’m sure)?  How can I tell them (and justify) every thought and feeling I’ve had about the whole thing?  How can I expect someone who may be surprised by our decision to adopt to absorb and process everything in one conversation?  How can I do all of this while trying to use the correct vocabulary and accepted terms?  Well… first of all I don’t have to do any of these things.  Secondly, I think I found some help!

Today I started reading In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To Know About Adoption. A Guide for Relatives and Friends. (Mom's Choice Award Winner)by Elisabeth O'Toole.  I’m almost finished with the first chapter and (aside from the mile long title) I already love this book!  From the beginning O’Toole does a great job of providing an overview of the adoption process for those who are not directly involved but who want to learn. And she does this without sounding bossy, lecturing or judgmental.  How refreshing!   So far I’ve only made it through part of the section that discusses how and why someone decides to adopt.  If I were reading with a highlighter the entire book would be fluorescent yellow, so I thought I would share some of my favorite points so far**:

From Why they’ve decided to adopt

“If infertility is a reason for adoption, understand that adoption is not conceding defeat.  Rather, adoption is committing to another path. At this point, whether or not adoption was your loved ones’ initial choice for achieving parenthood no longer really matters.”

“Regardless of why your loved ones decided to adopt, know that thorough consideration and self-examination likely preceded their decision to do so.”

From Before committing to adoption

“So most adoptive parents have completed a painstaking decision-making process before committing to adoption, and they are evidently willing to accept the many potential challenges that can arise.  They’ve decided that they are willing to work hard – harder than they probably once expected – to achieve parenthood through adoption.”

“There is a wonderful consequence to all of this deliberation: the adoptive parents have likely become quite conscious of why and how much they want to parent the child they will adopt.  Your loved ones can be better parents to their child for having a heightened awareness of their reasons for becoming so.”

From They’ve decided to adopt in a certain way: the one that works for them

“So it’s important that you, who want to support the family, know that most parents have done the work to decide what they can provide for a child, and, accordingly, determined the type of adoption to pursue.”

From Other decisions they’ve made

“Part of our job as our children’s parents is to try to provide models and experiences for them that reflect and support not only our family but also their own origins and the diversity of the world in which they live.”

“An open adoption can be a very uncomfortable concept if, as was mine, your understanding of adoption was based on an expectation of total separation of the child and birthmother or even secrecy around an adoption.  Indeed, this was once the norm.”

“I learned that openness takes many forms and typically evolves over time.”

“And they will appreciate it if others, especially those who will comprise their family’s adoption circle, try to accept without judgment these highly personal decisions.”

From How to say this gently?  It’s about them.  (Just them.)

“Yet it makes sense that even the best-intentioned friends and relatives can let their own feelings and anxieties color how they respond to the approaching adoption.”

From The important role friends and relatives play in the decision to adopt

“You should know that as part of the decision-making process, prospective adoptive parents also think a lot about their friends and relatives.”

“It’s an important step for those contemplating adoption to consider the potential responses of their friends and relatives to their adoption.  In fact, questions about the reactions of family and friends to the parents’ adoption plans are standard in social worker interviews with prospective parents.”

...all of this from just part of the first chapter!  I wish I could provide page numbers, but I’m reading this on my Kindle and haven’t figured out how to translate Kindle pages to real life pages…

Also, I purchased two copies of this book - with our families in mind.  If anyone is interested in borrowing a copy to read please let me know!  I think it could answer a lot of questions that I’ve done a poor job of answering so far.  Or you could visit the inonadoption.com Website.

To wrap this up, I realize that my view on O’Toole’s material is skewed as a potential adoptive parent.  Please hear me when I say that none these excerpts relate to any one person or event in our adoption process – they just struck a chord with me so I thought I’d share them.  I’m not trying to tell anyone how to feel, think or act.  Also please realize that I’m not asking for sympathy – I’m not.  Nor do I think that adoptive parents and biological parents are better or worse than one another (I think we all just try to do the best we can to be happy).  I will say that I know I never thought about my future parenthood (and all it entails) as much as I have since deciding to adopt.  There are many things I’ve had to consider that I probably wouldn’t have thought about if I was having children naturally, and I believe there is a reason for that.  Obviously I still have a lot to learn about adoption and I have zero parenting experience.  I’m just looking to share our journey for those who care to know.

**ALL QUOTES AND REFERENCES HAVE WRITTEN CONSENT FOR USE BY ELISABETH O'TOOLE**

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Wait Begins

Just a quick update for those who are keeping up with our progress. We’re happy to say that we completed both of our home visits last week. As expected, that was a little stressful (especially the first visit) and personal and emotional. We made it through, though! Now we’re just waiting for the paperwork to be complete so we can officially say that we have our certificate. That should take between 4 and 6 weeks.

We also completed our look book and birth mother letter this week. What a relief! I didn’t think documenting our lives so far would be that difficult, but when you think about what that book has the potential to do for us… it’s a lot of pressure! I’m happy with how it finally turned out – after 3 total remakes. We have our first ‘hard’ copy of the look book on order so we can make sure all the pictures turn out OK. If we like it we’ll order 5 more copies and we’ll be good to go!

So, basically we’re just waiting – which we probably have a lot more of to look forward to.

I also wanted to make sure to thank all of you who have visited our site and who have made purchases through our Amazon account. We truly appreciate your support! The link will be available from this site until we’ve reached our goal.

If I don’t get a chance to update before the holidays, I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Enjoy your friends, family and hopefully some time off work!