I have once again this year participated in the Adoption Blogger Interview project. This year I was paired up with a new adoptive Mom who blogs at TTA baby (TTA = Trying to adopt). While she is no longer blogging on a regular basis, I would invite you to go back and read through her archives. She and her DH underwent quite the journey to become parents, including a month long stay out of state at the hospital with BabyGirl when she was just born and going through some health issues.Here are the questions that I put out to her after reading through her blog. I hope you enjoy. You can also head over to TTA baby to read her interview withe me.
Q: It was exciting to see an update on your blog. Do you think you will continue to blog, now that you are finished the TTA part of your journey?
A: I do think I will post from time to time. I've actually been surprised how hard it has been to give up. Taking a break has meant I've had time to read other blogs as well as have a chance to comment!
We are no longer trying to adopt so the name doesn't really work. I actually chose the blog name since it was finite. We do have a few aspects of the adoption process that has not wrapped up. We don't have a birth certificate. So we can't get a social security # and thus she does not have a bank account or a passport. Our closest zoo is in Canada so I want a passport!!! We also have not done our taxes and enjoyed the process of getting a credit for our adoption fees. Lastly we have not gone on our first trip to visit her birth family. So all of those topics may lead to an occasional post but not at the frequency I was posting before.
Blogging really helped me in developing my adoption perspective. I'm not perfect I make mistakes, I judge, I chose the wrong words at times, and I'm human. In blogging it makes me more aware of the language I use as well as challenges me to think- how might another aspect of the triad read that and respond to that post. In the end I want to be a good Mom and more importantly I want Baby Girl to feel like adoption is one aspect of who she is but not who she is. I want her to grow up knowing that adoption is an OK topic to bring up.
We have so many open and semi-open adoptions in our neighborhood I think more likely I will try to establish more contact with them (three of the kiddos are within a year of Baby Girl). Each of our three families are as unique as the next and I think putting my effort into helping baby girl see that all families look different will be more beneficial to her. So we shall see... Q: Knowing everything that you know now and what you have gone through, what is the one thing you would change about your adoption experience?
A: That's hard. My first response that came to mind was: Baby Girls Birth Mothers health. This would have meant that the decision process for D would have been so different. D would have had the choice to parent because this one aspect of her life dictated her whole life. Her health was such a mountain for her to conquer that had she been well maybe she could have parented. It's such an IF. In each of our letters I've continued to express my wish for her to get well. So often people in the adoption world discuss how in many cases parenting could have been considered had other obstacles been lifted like unemployment or lack of parenting support. D's obstacles have been life long for her which is why she has not been able to parent any of her children. This makes me sad because not only does D lose out but so do her parents, as well as baby girls birth siblings. (As an aside the reason I like our home agency is that they provide counseling to all expectant mothers that come to them and try to identify any barriers to parenting that can be overcome and if the woman wants to work with them on doing so they provide a safe place to live while they work towards solutions to their barriers)
So this lead me to the second thing I wish I could change and that is the distance we are from PA. We are an 8 hour drive from PA and thus baby girls extended family. So this mean when we went down to PA and DH left me to go back to work I was completely and utterly alone far away from my support system. It also meant when we took baby girl home she is far away from her extended family who loves her very much. If we do grow our family DH and I already have agreed we will not adopt from a different state. Not only with a second child would it be impossible for me to leave DH and baby girl alone I also feel like I need to have my childs birthfamily closer. In being in PA we also had to work with a different agency which we do not have such a high opinion of.
Q: Your blog is obviously written from your perspective and your experience. How did your husband fair during it all? Were there times where you found yourselves on very different pages? How did you handle that?
A: DH is quiet. If I have an idea I often bring it up to him and then leave it. I think he has forgotten about it and suddenly he will out of the blue give me a response. DH had agreed to adoption being part of our family plan even before we were even engaged to be married which is why I think I never let him go. We had a hard time agreeing to if we would adopt first or have a biological child first. Initially he got me to agree to TTC first and when it wasn't happening I got him to agree to at least start the adoption process and if we conceived well we could continue the adoption process later. In some ways I wish we had done it the other way around because the adoption process is long but I also know that if we had adopted first and then TTC and it failed DH would always wonder if we just waited too long.
DH and I still dont fully agree on foster vs private adoption. In our state termination of perental rights rarely occurs prior to two years of attempting family reunification for foster children. Two years is a long time not knowing if the child you love will stay or go. We both work/have worked with children in the foster care system and DH just feels like emotionally its too much for him and it would feel like brining work home. I'd love someday to convince him to do foster care (without the desire to adopt). I love children and my favorite ages are 0-5. I'd love to get a chance to be a family that could provide the love a child needed until their biofamily was able to care for them fully again. I don't think DH will ever be able to do this and well I have to respect his limits.
Our checklist on our adoption application also was an area where we had some discussions about comfort. A few of the medical diagnosis were things that DH was worried about but since I work in health care I was hardly worried about. I swayed him on some by fully educating him while others he wasn't willing to compromise on. Ultimately some of the things you "decline" can't be verified for months or years after the baby is born. In the end we both agreed we hated the check list and we asked the agency to disregard our check list and just offer to have our book shown and I'm glad we did because we likely would never have met our baby girl.
So above were my opinions on how DH faired during the adoption process. Tonight at dinner I asked DH how he thought he faired during the process his response.... drum roll.... "fine." How was the process during the time baby girl was in the hospital "OK." So I'll try to interpret his responses. He just like me wanted to give up at times while we waited but he would do anything for me and well he knew I wanted to be a Mom and he was going to make that happen. I think he felt badly that we were not just able to conceive. I know at least once he confided in me he hated work because coworkers talked about their kids too much and showed him pictures of their kids doing cute things because they just couldn't understand. As for the hospital part- he hated it. He also has admitted to me that he is glad it was me down there and not him because I'm far more patient then he is. He was really upset that J waited until he left before coming to meet baby girl. He shared with me tonight that he is glad Baby Girl has him as a Father. I think my interpretation of that is that DH is going to be there, respect both Baby Girl and me, and will make her realize how much she is worth every sacrifice we may have to make. She is 100% a Daddy's Girl.
Q: What has been your biggest surprise since becoming a parent?
A: Such a simple question but so hard to answer! I guess one thing that has surprised me is my patience and ability to be laid back. I'm not laid back- I am a planner, I like order, and I like things done just so. Getting excited about getting out the door by an 11 AM reading time at the library our first month home would have been humorous to me a year ago. (I now get us out the door by 7:15 AM- I've progressed). I don't sweat the small stuff. Seeing dog hair on her clothes still drives me crazy and I vacuum more then I ever did before, however I've learned to just block off some areas. The office rarely gets cleaned but the door is always closed and no one sees it. It doesn't hurt anyone. I'd rather spend time playing with her on the floor then worrying about if the bills that are paid have been filed. There are things I'd like to get done like Baby Girls Adoption book but until then I'll just have to tell her the story without the book.
Q: Do you still believe that open adoption is the right option for you and your daughter?
A: D finally did write a letter!!! I read it to baby girl who smiled at me while I read it. So I hold hope that she will be in baby girls life.
Our adoption is best described as semi-open/open. We have all identifying information for both of baby girls birth parents. I have her birthparents complete documentation from the agency. I also have a copy of our daughters original birth certificate (though PA does not legally allow this). D and J expressed their desire for us to know everything about them and there is nothing blacked out on her paper work. This means Baby Girl will always theoretically be able to find them.
On the flip side D and J have my cell phone number, they know the name of the agency we used here in our home state as well as the agency in PA, they know our first names and the state we live in. They have an e-mail address created with baby girls first name they can contact us with but they never have. We have a shutterfly account that I know baby girls birth siblings go to and have uploaded pictures for us, but I dont think D or J view it. Unfortunately (not because i'm worried they will kidnap her) I do not feel D and J can be trusted at this time with the same level of openness. If we were to move I plan to always update our agency. I have not changed my # (even when I was getting texts in the middle of the night and so desperately wanted to). We continue to check our daughters e-mail address. They will always have a means to contact us in writing.
I think time will tell if visits will happen for D and J. D indicated that she wont be available in Phili for our 1st visit. We still have not heard from J. I know for a fact that D's mother and baby girls birth siblings want a visit in the spring and I have every intention of making sure that happens. As long as the visits are healthy and safe for baby girl we will go. For an initial visit if D and/or J are there we will need to have visits at the agency to ensure ground rules are kept (that way if its not healthy for baby girl we dont have to be the ones that end it as this would hurt baby girls relationship with her birth parents if we were the ones to need to end it). I feel like I do need to set limits and expectations but primarily because the two of them have no limits/realistic expectations (i.e. J asked me if once we were home if he could drive to see us at our house. To which I responded that if he wanted to visit near our home we could arrange a visit with notice and would arrange a visit at the agency in our state.) I'm open to a visit here but my ground rules are: notice, supervision, and a healthy state.
Q: Breast feeding an adopted child can be very controversial. Is it something you discussed with your daughter’s mother before the adoption was finalized? If so, was she supportive? If not, why did you chose not to tell her?
A: I think breast feeding can be controversial in all areas of parenting and was shocked at how much resistance I got to trying. My first time googling breastfeeding and adoption I found a forum discussing how breastfeeding an adopted child was equivalent to molesting a child. I grew up in a home where I had four cousins born around the same time as my younger sister and my aunts/mom would pass the babies around. Milk was milk and hungry babies need milk. So the comment on the forum shocked me!
In order to induce lactation I had to take medication which is in a grey area here in the US. It is legal in Canada and Europe however the FDA here in the US does not approve the drug. The FDA banned the drug because when the drug was administered intravenously it resulted in cardiac failure. The Canadian research I found indicated that the drug should never have been given intravenously. There is this funny loop hole and that is compounding pharmacies. If you can get a physician to give you a prescription (which I was able to do) I was able to go to a compounding pharmacy which is not regulated by the FDA the same as other pharmacies and they made the drug specifically for me. Its not exactly legal but its not illegal from my understanding. Since I have no cardiac issues my physician was not concerned about the drug.
Since adoption is already complicated I decided that I was not going to share since sharing would likely lead to questions about how I induced lactation. I legally obtained the drug here in the USA. The last thing I needed was to have my home study questioned because I was taking drugs. I did discuss breast feeding with D generally to feel her out. She did not breast feed any of her children and had actually been instructed not to with baby girl because of her health. I did consider telling D however I did get the sense that D was not overly positive about breastfeeding. I was very cautious to advocate for medical care but not make medical decisions for Baby Girl when legally it was not my place. I'm sure there are other parenting choices D and I may not see eye to eye on however D chose me to make the decisions I thought were best for baby girl. I waited until we were home and in a place where D had entrusted me to make the decisions I thought were best for Baby Girl.
Baby Girl never did latch on after drinking from a bottle for a month at the hospital. She had a very unorganized suck and plain and simple was a mess. My primary goal was the milk though having her latch on would have been a convenience and I may have gone longer had she latched on. In her 9 months she has only gotten sick three times and I'd like to think the breast milk helped. Am I glad I did this for Baby Girl- yes. Q: You wrote a beautiful, heartfelt letter to D and J, in which you talk about planning on forgiving them. How are you managing with that? Is it getting easier with time?
A: I think that letter was the most therapeutic thing I've done. It was also the scariest post I ever posted. The most mundane post can lead to a rant in a comment. I think I had every right to be angry at D and J because they failed baby girl during the pregnancy. With that said I held onto my anger towards them for too long. My letter helped me realize my anger towards them is four levels deep 1) I held an unrealistic expectation as to who my daughters birth parents would be (especially given our check list) 2) the health complications baby girl experienced as a result of D's lack of care for her own health 3) the explanation I will have to give baby girl as to why she was adopted and 4) the manipulation. By identifying why I was upset with them I could start to understand and forgive.
Its easy for me to think had D just taken care of herself for 9 months baby girls start to life would have been so different. So now rather then just thinking about how she just should have stepped up and taken care of herself I now find it easier to walk myself thru the process of where D was in life when baby girl was born and why she was making the choices she was. D's health issues are bigger then just a matter of going to a doctor and taking care of herself. Its the big picture I need to remind myself to look at. D is stuck in a cycle that she can't get out of and cant get better. One poor choice leads to another and she is sinking. I hope at times that the adoption process was her low- her wake up call that she needs to take care of herself. Her letter to baby girl did indicate that things are moving in a positive direction for her and I pray that she really can get on her feet and take care of herself. She would make an amazing social worker like she expressed she wanted to become because she has lived the struggle.
I still have found myself overcome with frustration when D's choices during her pregnancy still affect Baby Girl. Our daughter has dealt with too many adult problems in her short life. Lucky for her by the time she is more aware those adult problems they will be hopefully be behind her but even today during her well baby visit some of those issues creeped in again.
J I have a harder time reminding myself to let go of the anger. Unlike D he never once admitted that his actions resulted in baby girls time in the NICU. To him it was all D's fault. Since I know less about his history its harder for me to understand why he is the way he is. If I could just explain it I might understand.
I'm going to have to be truthful to Baby Girl and I wont be able to sugar coat everything. As baby girl is old enough to understand different aspects of her story I'll share them with her. I'm learning to come to terms with the idea that though I'm her Mom I wont likely have good answers to all of her questions.