Friday, November 16, 2007

Guest Post: Jamie

Hello Internets and fellow Du Wax Loolu fans,

I have been asked by our wise Internet Leader Jess to guest post on her blog while she lollygags all over Germany with her German Man Toy Torsten and I am honored to receive the invite.

Jess found my blog, Fully Operational Battle Station, by searching for adoption blogs online and I am delighted to report that she has been digesting the weekly doses of the useless and mindless sludge that is my blog ever since! And while at it, not learning a THING about adoption. My wisdom has been FAR better spent on discussing angry hippies, meth labs and diapers as of late, all of which I have keen knowledge of.

But I also consider myself to have keen knowledge of adoption since my husband and I are in the process of adopting a young sibling set from Ethiopia. And it's probably unfair to tease someone like Jess with promises of adoption-speak and then instead displaying case after case of hardcore avoidance of the topic. BIG SLIMEY posts laced with adoption avoidance.

And it's not that I don't want to talk about adoption, it's just that adoption is really hard to talk about with certain people. And we all know that I avoid hard whenever possible. Hard chores, hard jobs, hard discussions….. I know not of these things.

But here it goes. Because I promised Jess. And if I start frothing at the mouth due to the sudden jolt in hard blog topic, please understand that it may take a few posts about Gossip Girl and Britney Spears to get me back to my normal mental state. (Project Runway, I love you and I'm so excited you're back on, I missed you so much)

So, I'm just going to put it out there. Any and all angry rants and ignorant comments should be directed towards ME and NOT JESS. I will protect you Jess from that which seeks to spew ignorance, that which is usually adoptive parents.

Adoptive Parents. We've got it ALL WRONG guys. The whole outlook thing needs to change or our Adopted Children and all those hurt First Mothers out there will never forgive us. And really, who can blame them for resenting us when we keep running around saying things like "It was meant to be" and "Our child is SO LUCKY that we adopted her"? I know what you're doing there, sister. Who's playing the avoiding game now? You're avoiding the hard questions and the hard answers by throwing down an easy catch all. The "It was meant to be" card may work for awhile but eventually that kiddo is going to want to know EVERYTHING they can know about their first parents, their history, their lineage, their story. And that's okay. You owe them that. Don't be threatened by this. The way I see it, either don't be threatened by this or don't adopt. Well, you could adopt a cat. But not a child.

Secondly, the kid is not going to feel grateful that you adopted them. They won't thank you daily for "saving them". So, don't make them feel like they should. If you are looking for praise, possibly a career in Trust Fund Baby would better suite you? Or Hotel Heiress? Possibly an apprenticeship in Teen Pop Star? NOT Adoptive Mother. And by the way, there's no apprenticeship here so you have to get it right the first time. Scary thought, I know.

Moving on. Let's discuss agencies. People, PLEASE pick a good agency! I swear, Adoptive Parents do more research in picking out cars than they do in researching their agency. THE AGENCY IS REALLY IMPORTANT! PICK A GOOD AGENCY! GAH! Here. Here is a checklist:
  • Pick one that tries (TRIES) to help the Mother/Family keep the child. If Domestic, pick one that offers extensive counseling and if International, pick one that offers financial assistance plans to the families.
  • Pick one that is an advocate for open adoptions. If Domestic, pick one that lets you keep in touch with the first families and not only that but encourages it and if International, pick one that encourages you to meet with relatives and first families and gather as much information as you can.
  • Pick one that is involved in Humanitarian Aid, especially in International Adoptions. IE: Giving BACK to the villages and communities that these beautiful children come from. Building schools, clinics, wells etc…
  • Pick one that you are comfortable with, will communicate with you and won't piss you off.
  • DON'T pick one that promises FAST placements and smooth sailing.
  • If it sounds too easy, it's probably a crappy agency. Trust me, there are lots of crappy agencies out there.
I could go on and on about adoption but Jess is probably at this point regretting that she ever asked me here. She invited me into her peaceful abode and then I shat adoption controversy all over it. Heh. Sorry Jess.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is respect. Respect for the child's first family, respect for his story and his history, respect for his first Country and respect for his future emotions with being adopted.

Adoption is hard. Much harder than natural child birth, I have done that and this is harder. But if we do it right and I believe it CAN be done right, it can be the most rewarding, emotional and amazing thing. To love a child is a rewarding, emotional and amazing thing no matter how that child got into your arms.

And…. Cut! We made it through an adoption post together my friends. And look, no frothing! Just a slight twitch in my left eye.

17 comments:

  1. I'm trying to think how to comment as a non-adoptive parent, nor someone who is looking to adopt. If I had any more kids than I have right now, I'd be a serious candidate for a mental institution. But anyway, I am impressed with the realistic way you are looking at and implementing the process. And I think the advice you give is excellent. I don't see how someone can take issue with the things you say here. :)

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  2. As someone who is nowhere near ready for the "big stuff," yet thinks adoption is something she'd strongly consider in the future, thank you. It broadened my limited knowledge of this very specific and sensitive field.

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  3. I'm an adoptive parent and I don't see anything controversial here. :)

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  4. VEry well written Jamie! I spoke with someone the other day that has a dometic adoption and didn't want any kind of openness b/c they just didn't want to have to deal with any of that.

    My heart broke for that child. One day she'll have questions, and they will have no answers for her.

    Our domestic adoption is very open and I honestly can't imagine it any other way. Our son is so very blessed to have pics of his first mom in his room, and we'll be visiting her over Thanksgiving too.

    Our son that we are adopting in Haiti is also blessed because we actually have a picture of him with his mom, grandpa and uncles before they left him there. I see that as a blessing because sometimes in Int. adoptions you don't have pictures of their family.

    Great post and well written.

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  5. Good job, Jamie. I agree with heather.pnr as well. As an adoptive mother, I see nothing controversial here. In fact, you are just barely on the tip of the iceberg here... if people think this is controversial, they should see the huge mass of ice under the water. Great post. Adoption is hard. It's weird. It's a roller coaster. It's an act in selflessness-- not in that I have "saved" a child (puh-lease!), but in that I have to get over myself and focus on what's best for him. And what's best for him is to know as much as possible about his natural mother, and to have an adoptive mother who is in no way threatened by her.

    And I'm so happy to have Project Runway back in my life, too. I'm so sad when they leave us without that hour of dramatic "garment"-making wonderfulness each week. They're like my prodigal son , and I've got my arms wide open. Welcome home, designers. Jamie and I love you.

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  6. LOL... after all that adoption controversy and being righteously indignant, you then go on to commit an adoption faux-pas at the end. The dreaded "natural child" statement. And lest you think I'm a cow for bringing it up and chiding you, please know that I give anyone a hard time who uses it - from my mother to my professors. I despise the phrase "natural child" because it implies that my child whom I adopted (am in the process of adopting) is somehow only my child through some distorted UNnatural process.

    Birth is birth, adoption is adoption and neither process is more natural or superior than the other. Scores of animal species have adopted motherless young, so in my mind, that makes it "natural". This is, of course, slightly tongue-in-cheek because of how angry teh internets seem to get at dissenting commenters, but I felt it had to be said: please stay away from terms like "our own children" and "natural" and "real" versus "adopted", or trust me, the therapy bill for the future adult adoptees will be staggering. I've witnessed this first hand.

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  7. I completely agree, 100%... I think you said great things. As an adoptive parent, I couldn't agree with you more. So many people adopt with such a wrong attitude, and that attitude often leads to adoptions that just don't work out. So many times, the parents expectations are way off and far too often the parents or child "give up" and the kids are sent to a place with specializes in dealing with failed adoptions...

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  8. Great post, Jamie. I followed you here from your own wild & wonderful blog. I don't know if I've commented there before but I had to just jump to your defense here... Shari, Jamie mentioned 'natural child BIRTH,' not natural child. Two VERY different things. Another commentor mentioned natural child.

    peace out

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  9. yup, sorry Shari, just popping in to defend Jamie's honor as well... natural childbirth (try joining the words jamie, "childbirth" as opposed to "child birth"...maybe that will clear things up) as in birth without drugs, done the natural way. I'm a PAP too, so I get all offended about these things myself, but no need for the battle cry in this situation. :) And I have also gone through two "natural childbirths" and this adoption is 10 times more difficult. especially for my husband!

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  10. In case I'm the one who caused the controversy with by referring to my son's other mom as "natural mom," let me clarify. There are many mothers who have relinquished their children who prefer the term "natural mother" as opposed to "birth mother." I believe they feel like the latter term implies that their only role was to literally birth the child. I am only trying to respect their wishes. When Cy's mom and I talk, I will ask which name she prefers. "Natural" in this sense only refers to nature. Like nature vs. nurture. Only in this instance, it is nature and nurture working together for my son's benefit. His other mom and I are not opposites. If she's his natural mother, that does not make me his artificial mother. If so, then being his birth mother would make me his death mother. Being his first mother would label me his last mother. That logic doesn't hold up.

    And I don't feel like adoption is exactly a natural process. I'm so thankful for my son and his other mom. There is something unnatural about a woman giving birth to a child and giving him to someone else, whether that is necessary or not. In that light, I do not feel the process is natural. I think it can be necessary, as it was for my son's mom, but what's natural about a mother handing her child to another couple to raise? He's my son, no doubt, but he still has another mother. I'm in love with him, just as I am with the child I gave birth to, but I feel loss for his mom everyday.

    Oh, and I did natural childbirth too, as in no epidural, and that was hard. But the pain ended quickly. The pain in adoption doesn't end so quickly. The pain I feel for my son and the loss of his first family, his history, and everything that is lost in adoption is not going away. The pain I feel for his natural (or first or birth) mother is overwhelming at times. His first smile, laugh, everything... she's missing them all. I see her every time I look into his sweet face. And I know she's missing out on this phenomenal little boy. How can I call myself a Christ-follower (or just a good person, for that matter), and not feel that empathy for her? So, yeah, adoption is hard. And I thank God for both of my sons everyday.

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  11. Great post, Jamie.

    As a fellow person adopting from Ethiopia, I'm particularly annoyed by the whole "charitable" tone that people give their adoptions.

    Can you imagine the impact on a child who grows up in a home where the parents are constantly receiving kudos for the act of "saving" the kid? That is crazy talk.

    I say, if you want to do an act of charity, give money. If you want to be a parent, adopt a child.

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  12. You mean I'm not the only one that feels like the adoption process is way more complicated than pushing one out? Thank you for others that may occasionally feel the same way! At my first group meeting at our adoption agency one man said, "we are here to do a very self-less act" to which I replied, "actually I think it is a very selfish thing to adopt. If you are aiming to be self-less, take the money and donate a drinking well for the whole village". I don't think he liked me.

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  13. Hi Jamie,
    I have to agree with you. But, it is not easy! We have a bio son and a daughter we adopted from Guatemala. We are in contact with her Birth Mother and I know she has a lot of regret for putting her daughter up for adoption. She has other children and is living with her parents. She does not have a husband and she struggles from day to day. I have sent her money occasionally to help but I feel she is very depressed and writes of her sadness, shame, and lack of a career. I often wonder how this relationship will continue. I feel that keeping contact with her makes it harder for her to continue to heal.
    Adoption is harder. When you are pregnant you know where your baby is and that he is safe. Adoption, in my book, starts when you decide to adopt. I would say it takes at least a year, or two, or three.
    But speaking of Agencies and finding a good one, there are some Yahoo groups that you can research from the adoptive parents, one Yahoo group is called, International Adoption Agency Feedbacks. You can post questions about agencies and get private responses or look through the archives for information.
    When people say to me "How wonderful of you to do this for this child or how lucky she is to have parents like you" I look at it for what it is... "Ignorance” If you are not in the Adoption World and do not deal with it on a day to day basis, it would be easy to be "Ignorant" of it. I simply tell them “We did it for selfish reasons. We wanted another child in our lives and we feel we are the lucky ones to have such a perfect child “Don’t get me wrong, even family members have ticked me off with their thoughtless comments. And I will let them know. EDUCATION is the answer and in a respectful way. If you pipe off and get all defensive they won’t hear a thing.

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  14. While I totally agree with a lot of what you're saying, I have to pipe in that you really don't address how this is when you're adopting from foster care. I feel it's a lot different. I have four, soon to be five siblings adopted from foster care. I also know many families who have adopted from foster care. (I'm a Social Work major as well.)
    We love these children, we're not rescuing them and they aren't going to be grateful, like you said.
    We appreciate their birth/first families, but we also have to deal with the fact that these families have abused, even tried to murder them. We try very hard to give respect anyway, and concentrate on the good in them, but it gets really complicated when faced with the fact that your child's birth mother tried to drown her in the bathtub at birth. So yes, we're all for openness, but please don't judge us if we decide to hold some things back from our children.

    Nonetheless, great post, Jamie.

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  15. Jasmine,

    Totally agreed. Foster Care is foster care, completely and totally different. Thank you for mentioning this.

    Shari,

    Childbirth.

    Thanks for the comments and feedback everyone. And Becca, I thought your clarification was excellent.

    Jamie

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