Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Go get a cup of coffee before settling into this one!

My world is expanding. And it is good.

I think it's time for another discussion about open adoption, folks. (For an up-close-and-personal account of what one open adoption looks like, go to Christine's pseudo-crunchy site.)

People keep asking me, "How long do they say the wait will be?" and "Where are you on the list?" and then I get to do some edumacating!

There isn't a list. There isn't a typical wait. There isn't a "typical" birthmother. Some birthmothers are teens, some are in college, some are married, and some have other children. Some biological mothers who are raising their children are fat, some are trim, some are vegetarians, some play raquetball. Some adoptive parents are rude, some are angels, and some are completely and totally average Joanne's. Typically, there is no typical.

So, a woman experiences an unplanned or ill-timed pregnancy. Sometimes she is devastated, sometimes angry, sometimes ecstatic, often conflicted (please feel free to chime in here, birthmothers). Hopefully, if she comes to the decision to place her baby for adoption, she has done so without undue pressure from an agency, family, a husband, friends, or TV (am I being naiive?). In any case, it has to be the most difficult decision she will ever make, and she will search her heart thoroughly before (and after, and forever?) doing so.

At our agency, the mother, after extensive counseling, looks at a stack of 1-page prospective adoptive parent profiles, maybe talks to a few, and then selects a family to possibly parent her baby. She gets to change her mind at any time. She is the mother, it's her right. Get this, oh ye uninitiated, the profile has our real, live, actual phone number on it. Sound scary? It can be, at first. Let's be honest. I mean, when you think of having a baby, you don't immediately think of mommy, daddy, baby, and birthmother. It's a paradigm shift (I must say, I do not take credit for these comments, they were my lovely husband's words). But now, knowing how much our future child's birthmother would be able to offer to the child throughout the child's life is immeasurable. Adoption is different. It is. Don't deny it. Cliche time coming up - embrace it!

In our case, after education and prayer, we're thrilled for her to have our identifying information, and we want hers. We want to call her when our child is old enough to have questions about her, and when we wonder where on earth he gets his love of gardening (we stink at gardening). If she chooses us to parent her baby, she is free to call any time. We'll invite her and her family to different occasions and hopefully they will come. She might not want to, especially at times, but we'll keep asking.

You get the picture. You're smart.

She might choose us in the 7th month of her pregnancy, or may have just recently given birth to her baby when she chooses. Therefore, it could be a few months if we're picked right away and she's almost due, it could be a year if we are not chosen right away, and it could be 2 days if she has already given birth. So, we wait. Soon, grasshopper.

Things I feel uncomfortable hearing:
I think you are brave/courageous/called/etc. to adopt. (Isn't it brave to have a child at all in this world?)

Your child will be lucky to have you. (Our birthmother will likely be wonderful and eventually completely able to parent, but for any reason not able to right now.)

I just know that open adoption isn't for me. (Please, please, research and consider it!)

And the obvious one, "I don't know if I could every see an adopted child as my own." (Then don't adopt. That's fine.)

I have to stop now. You won't be hearing from me for awhile. I'm not sick...stay tuned. We'll be officially waiting soon.

I also have to say, and you know this already, but I'm not perfect! Far from it, in fact. Perfection is Jesus Christ the One and Only. There will be times where I won't want to "share" our child. There will be times when I make an ugly face to myself when the birthmother of our child refers to her as "my daughter." I will want to punch someone who says, "Is she yours?" or "Do you know her real mother?" If I hurt you, give it a minute, breathe, and tell me. Nicely, please, I'm sensitive.

Oh, and ONE LAST THING. When I say "Our" baby, I mean ours to be more than two people. That's all, folks.


Barb said...

so i'm sitting here with my 24 oz Mocha Alert (with extra caffeine!)...

it seems like you (as a couple) have a realistic view of open adoption, at least from the "big picture" perspective.

and from my POV, that's really refreshing.

oh! i'd rather have my kneecaps smashed than hear "oh, you're so courageous for're an angel..." yuck. birthmothers: either sainted or demonized. hence, many of my recent "human" posts.

Amy T. S. said...

Yeah, I see what you mean. I read the blog that Beth referred to on hers, from a prospective adoptive mother whose friends say things about how she will save a baby, etc. There also seem to be many comments that are trying to erase the child's birthparents from their lives. That's awful.


I have read a few birthmothers' blogs recently (obviously), and knowing my own motives for wanting to adopt, couldn't understand why some seemed so angry at their children's adoptive parents. Another good reason for open adoption. Hopefully it is hard to demonize someone you know really well, be that a birthmom or adoptive mom. You can decide you don't get along that well, but you can see they're not a monster.

Party on, Wayne.

Thelma said...

Ack! No Coffee!!

This is beautifully written, and I am so excited for this wonderful path that God has placed you on!

Embracing it with you (from miles and miles away!)

Bon voyage, grasshopper.


Bethm411 said...

I love you, Amy. I love the things you say and how you seem to learn. I wish all adoptive parents were like you and mine.

I think Barb and I should be smashing kneecaps instead of having our smashed...not so good.

Ann Thompson said...

I am so happy to be back into your blog, Amy! F
or some reason, your blog is not available in China, and I have really missed it.
I have thought a lot about open adoption, since it is a new idea for my generation. At first, it seemed a bit scary to me. As I thought more about it, however, it seems to me that the tradtional idea of closed adoption is the scary part. With closed adoption, we tried to keep a child"s biological heritage a secret. It was almost as though we did not honor that part of the child's heritage. It was though that heritage was not important or relevant and, of course, it is. The more I have thought about it, the more I think that closed adoption is not the best choice for anyone concerned. I think it creates an arrtificial situation for all concerned.
And although this means I will share my new beloved grandchild with a few more people, I believe that this will enrich all of our lives.
Thankis for making us a part of this exciting new adventure.

Christine said...

You soooooo get it.

That doesn't mean that it will be completely normal and comfortable in the beginning. All new mothers have to adjust to motherhood. Birth and adoption bring different little avenues. You guys will be totally successful, because you're smart enough to not define success based on anyone else! You'll make it the best based on your child's circumstances.

YEA for YOU!!!

I've come to realize that the stupid, hurtful questions will never cease ... ever. The world is too big for everyone to be touched by adoption (or have a darn clue what they're talking about). We're a big, walking poster for adoption! We love it. We embrace it. We're proud to be "obvious."

flakymn said...

Thank you for the education lesson from a couple planning this for our future. Blessings friend -- Wendi