As most of you know, I’ve fallen right off the face of the bloggy planet for a while. I trimmed down my blogroll and regrettably stopped reading a lot of the blogs (meaning I missed out on some pretty awesome stuff that was happening all over the place. Not even reading the blogs I regularly follow, I REALLY wasn’t venturing off to new blogs, “meeting” new people, and reading their stories.
Thanks to the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project, I’m getting back in the swing of things and was fortunate enough to be paired with a blogger that I’d never met, and a blog I hadn’t yet read. It’s really helped to rejuvenate me (I hope) by making me think of different questions and issues for myself, and got me back out there reading as well.
Now before I go on too long and REALLY sound like a bad infomercial for the project, I’ll just get straight to the introductions! I present to you, I was Anne, author of Tears of/and Joy. “Anne” is a Mother of two, a son (bio) and her daughter (adopted), and wife to one ;). She is two years into the open adoption scene, and seems to be taking to it like a fish to water! I’ve been so inspired and refreshed by her take on adoption issues, and it’s been very cool to see. She’s relatively new to the blog scene, so after you read her responses to my questions head over to her site and introduce yourself 🙂 I’m sure she’d love to hear from you!!
1. Why did you have a fear of blogging? (You’re pretty great at it so far, so I’m curious!)
There are a few reasons. First, I felt uncomfortable with the idea that “anyone out there” would be able to read my intimate thoughts. Second, I can’t really write about my experience without writing about other people in my life, and I felt torn about whether I would be invading their privacy by writing about them in a public forum. Of course my blog is anonymous and I don’t use any real names and I’ve only told one person in my real life that I’m writing the blog, but I guess I worry that someone could figure out it’s me. Last, I worried about making myself vulnerable to judgment. Ultimately, I decided to start blogging because it’s the only community I’ve found that is supportive of open adoption. Even though I live in a large metropolitan area, I haven’t found that type of community here, and when it comes to open adoption, my family and friends range from unsupportive to neutral to “coming around” to the idea.
2. From your first post (and subsequent posts as well) you seem more…..enlightened (?)…than some folks in Adoptionland. What kind of preparation did you and DH do for adoption? I’m guessing you had a relatively short amount of time to prepare for open adoption, but what kind of prep did you do there?
I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept – what experiences, preparation, or personality traits makes one more likely to be “successful” in Adoptionland. Before we adopted, we went to a lot of agency informational meetings where we heard from adoption professionals and adoptive parents. We also attended a two-day adoption workshop sponsored by RESOLVE. I read several books and a lot of articles. When we were pursuing an adoption from China, I frequently read the “Rumor Queen” web site where the blog writer tackles a lot of tough adoption-related issues. But honestly, I don’t really think I was “enlightened” by any of that. I think it was being in the situation—specifically meeting my daughter’s first parents and grandmother—that really shaped my views on adoption in general and open adoption. And ultimately, I think one has to be open to accepting the loss surrounding adoption (more about that below) in order to fully embrace open adoption.
3. You have 6 hours to yourself – no kids, no husband, and $1,000 – how do you spend your time?
Good question! I’d have to say a day at the spa – facial, massage, and pedicure. However, I’m not sure the $1,000 would cover the cost. They are ridiculously expensive around here!
4. Your second post is AMAZING. From the mouths of babes!!! And I adore that you were able to consider this possibility rather than just reject Ferb’s suggestion. Why do you think you were so open to his perception of that event?
I don’t know how open I was to it the moment he said it. I think it initially felt like a punch in the gut when he said “maybe she misses her real mom.” But those words kept playing in my head, and I definitely could tell that Ferb was very confused as to why everything was jumping all over him with explanations as to why I was Lily’s “real mom.” As I said in the blog, right then and there I did recognize on an intellectual level that I was just some woman who picked up Lily from the hospital a few hours earlier, but I didn’t want it to feel that way. Over time, however, I definitely came to believe that Lily had a connection to Fiona that was developed while Lily was in the womb. The second time that we had a visit with Fiona and Nate, Lily was about six weeks old, and I remember Fiona walking to the area where Lily was lying and Fiona said something and Lily’s eyes opened wide and went right to Fiona. There’s no doubt in my mind that Lily recognized Fiona’s voice. And the connection that Lily has with Fiona and Nate is undeniable when you see them together.
5. What is one of your less than proud moments navigating open adoption? What did you learn from it? How did you grow?
The hardest time for me was the period between our first and second meeting with Fiona and Nate. Our first meeting – which was also our first visit because Lily was a week old – was highly raw and emotional. It’s up there as one of if not the hardest day of my life, and it had to have been easier for me than for Fiona and Nate. We left the meeting without much closure in terms of our open adoption. That meeting took place within the revocation period, and in that sense they “confirmed” (?) that they wanted to go forward with the placement with us as Lily’s parents, but there was no talk of what our open adoption would look like in terms of communication and visits. During this period (between our first and second visit), Fiona sent me an email that I didn’t react well to. It freaked me out for a lot of reasons. I’d rather not include what was in the email, but the bottom line was that I wasn’t able to separate her grief and the problems she was dealing with from myself. So I basically wrote a very short and cold response to the email and suggested that we set up a meeting at the agency to talk through things. In some ways, I felt that I wasn’t equipped to advise (?) her or myself on some of these complicated issues that were directly and indirectly related to the adoption. But I’m not proud of the way I reacted because I think I really shut Fiona down at a time when she was reaching out to me. I still feel terrible about that. My biggest challenge has been accepting that there is tremendous loss surrounding adoption, and no matter what I do or say, I can’t make that go away. During the episode I just described, the loss was too much for me to bear. I was overwhelmed, and I just wanted it to go away. Now, I’m able to do a better job holding onto the loss and sadness without internalizing it or making it about me. It’s not always easy, but I definitely have a better handle on it now.
6. What is the last book that you read? Did you like it? What book would you recommend I read next?
I love Diane Chamberlain books. The last book I read was on vacation last summer – Breaking the Silence. I would recommend any of her books (there are a lot). I like that her characters have so many dimensions, never all good or all bad.
7. You wrote, “I regret that I let our adoption agency bully me into thinking I was powerless over certain issues that bothered me.” Now, I’m known to get a bit peeved by adoption agencies, so this piqued my curiosity. Can you elaborate?
Sigh. Our social worker was a lot like Amelia Bedilia. (For those who aren’t familiar, she’s a children’s book character who worked as a housekeeper and always misunderstood her boss’ directions. For example, her boss would tell her to “draw the curtains” and she would draw a picture of the curtains. Anyway, I digress.) This social worker tended to talk in circles and she frequently got cases and situations confused. There was an issue related to the hospital bill that was unresolved between our first and second meeting with Fiona and Nate. I was really pushing the social worker to help me communicate with Nate and Fiona – to facilitate, which I thought was her job – but instead she kept telling me that she needed to focus on this hospital bill situation (which involved getting some paperwork from Fiona) and if I did anything to rock the boat then the hospital would start billing us thousands of dollars. I really felt that this social worker wasn’t giving Fiona the support that she needed, and the SW kept telling me that MY desire to communicate with Fiona was not in Fiona’s best interest and basically she is the professional and I should stop telling her how to do her job. It got so bad that I even yelled at and then hung up on the agency receptionist because he wouldn’t put me through to the social worker. I was definitely not in a good place, and things never really improved with the agency.
8. I LOVE FERB! The more I read about him the more I just adore this little person! Can you share a story about Ferb from your pre-Lily days? (NOT that I don’t love the one’s of him and Lily, haha, I DO!)
Here’s one of my favorite stories; I hope it’s not too morbid! I was very close with my grandparents growing up, and my last two living grandparents were alive when Ferb was born – Grandma A (paternal grandma) and Grandpa B (maternal grandpa). When Ferb was almost three, Grandma A became very ill and went into hospice. Ferb knew Grandma A, but we lived in different states, so he wasn’t aware of her decline. I went to visit her a few times in hospice, but Ferb was young enough that he didn’t really need to know where I was going and what was going on. When Grandma A passed away, I didn’t think that Ferb was ready to learn about death, so we didn’t tell him what had happened. And even after Grandma A passed away, I continued to talk about her and show Ferb pictures of her – just because she was a very important person in my life. Fast forward two years; Ferb is almost five, and Grandpa B’s health starts to decline. This time Ferb is old enough to realize what’s going on, and he knows Grandpa B quite well. After Grandma B passes away, Ferb shows outward signs of sadness, and I ask him how he’s feeling. He tells me that he’s worried that Grandpa B is under the ground all by himself. I explain that his soul in up in heaven now and he’s with Grandma A looking down on us. Ferb looks up at me wide-eyed and say, “WHAT?! Grandma A is dead too!?” Poor guy lost both great-grandparents in one fell swoop! That’s what I get for trying to sugarcoat the hard truths of life. I like this story because both Grandma A and Grandpa B liked dark humor and I know they would have found this story hysterical and I secretly hoped they were listening in and cracking up.
9. How did you and G meet? You said you’ve known him for quite a while. How did you start dating?
We’ve known each other for 23 years and we’ve been married for almost 12. We met our freshman year in college, but we didn’t date in college. We were in the same group of friends, and I actually found him a bit annoying – loud, obnoxious, and drunk a good part of the time. We stayed somewhat in touch after college, but not much. About five years after graduating, I ended up moving back to the area where he was living and we reconnected and soon after started dating. We got married about two years later. Even now when I look back at old college pictures I think to myself, “Did I really marry THAT guy????” Seriously, though, I got very lucky.
10. What’s your favorite part of being a Mommy?
It’s hard to come up with one favorite. I love cuddling with them, watching them laugh so hard that they can barely breathe, and seeing them learn to do new things and then being so proud of themselves. I always tell my kids that I don’t know how I got so lucky, but somehow I ended up with the two best kids in the world. No offense to anyone else of course, but I really do believe it. There was a period when I thought I may never be mom and I know it’s not something that everyone who wants to experience gets to experience. Even though there are days when they drive me absolutely crazy, I try not to take a single day with my kids for granted.
11. What three pieces of advice would you give to a wide eyed couple seeking an open adoption?
I think this may be the hardest question to answer. I would tell them 1) Always remember what an amazing gift you are giving to your child if you enable him/her to build a real relationship with his/her first family. 2) Expect open adoption to be harder than you think it will be—expect regrets, doubts, raw emotion, heart-break, hard questions, and periods of silence, but don’t let any of it scare you away or make you think you’ve made the wrong decision. You haven’t. 3) Learn from the experiences of other people in open adoptions. If you’re like me, they’ll be a lot of unsupportive people in your “real life,” so find ways to connect with other people living open adoptions who understand its value. I am a big fan of Production Not Reproduction, and I often come back to this blog entry, especially when things get tough. It captures my feelings more beautifully than anything I could ever express myself!