Friday, December 12, 2014

New Perspectives

I've wanted to write a new post for a while now, but I have had a hard time figuring out what to write about. So, I think I'm going to talk about what adoption is and isn't and how our perceptions and how we have changed through the process.
Recently, I've felt very convicted on the point that the goal of adoption is not to give us a child, but exactly the opposite, to give a child in need a home and a family. I think that most people (us included when we started the process, to be completely honest) start out looking at adoption as a means to get a baby. And yes, adoption can accomplish that and should accomplish that, but the goal should not be to give parents a baby, but to give a baby parents. And when people look at adoption as a means to get a baby that's when adoption can be seen as unethical and to me, it can look like "baby shopping." When people look at adoption for self service they often look for what they think is best for them. Example, when you adopt you fill out a preference sheet with preferences ranging from everything to race, mother's background with drugs and mental illness, babies with special needs, age of child, and everything in between. Now, I do think there are situations to say no to, if you don't have financial means to support a baby with known special needs or if you live in an area where your child would be the only one of a certain race then those are things to consider for the child's well-being. But when an adoptive parent says they want a blonde, blue-eyed, perfectly healthy girl from birth, in a completely closed adoption where the mother's family has no history of any illness, disability, or drug/alcohol use, that to me looks like baby shopping. And I also think that's hard to explain to a child that they were chosen based on their birth mother's merit, and that can make a child feel like they need to live up to the fact that they were "chosen" for such reasons.
Now, we have learned all of this by going through the process, if you asked me at the beginning of adoption I would have said I wanted a completely or relatively closed adoption, a new born only, race would not have mattered, but some of the other issues would have. But I was looking at adoption as a means for me to get the family I wanted, not give a child a family they need. And I think that is what makes all the difference. The babies who need to be adopted a lot of the time are the ones whose birth mothers smoked, who have a parent with a mental illness, who may have a baby with down syndrome or a hearing loss, who have a disability, or don't know who the birth father is. To disregard a baby whose birth mother has a past or who may have some obstacles to overcome does not serve the baby or the birth family, but only the parents and I think that can be selfish. I also think that most of the time a completely closed adoption on the side of the adoptive parents is selfish. Selfish out of fear- which is totally understandable. As I said, when we started we would have said we wanted a mostly closed adoption, because we didn't understand how positive open adoptions often are, and because we were afraid. We had to learn a lot to change our minds. Many times completely closed adoptions can hurt the adoptee - they don't know where they came from, they wonder why they were abandoned, they feel unloved by their birth family, and sometimes forgotten. Not always, of course, but sometimes. And of course closed adoptions sometimes are for the best interest of the child because of the situation the birth mother is in. Now, we are open to whatever our birth mother is open to, of course, depending upon the suggestion from our social worker and the pregnancy counselor. And this is because our view of adoption has shifted, from wanting to have a family, to wanting to give a family to a baby and possibly his/her birth family. We hope that the birth family will be part of our child's life in some form or another and that he or she will know that they are ridiculously loved by 2 families.
Needless to say, in June this post could not have been written, at the time I would have found a post about adoption being unethical offensive. And I did, I read articles from adoptees who felt burned by the system and cheated out of knowing their birth families and I did feel offended. Now I feel sad for them, and use their experience to learn from. Of course, there are adoptees out there who still don't agree with adoption, but just like any topic there are extremists who are best to listen to with a grain of salt.
I hope that no one feels "offended" by my post, but if you do, maybe that's a good thing, maybe it's conviction like it was for me. I also hope you know that this post is not to shame anyone, or make anyone feel guilty, it comes from a place of understanding and grace, because we used to be on the path to baby shopping. I just hope to educate, and help others learn from our experience.
Thanks for listening, and as always, if you have questions or comments please contact us anytime.
Kristen & Adam

Thursday, December 4, 2014

3rd and Final Homestudy Visit

Tuesday we had our final homestudy with our social worker. She came over and asked us more questions about our marriage, our preparation for our baby, talked to us about signs of neglect and abuse even in infants, and we talked about the rest of the process. Then she walked through our house making sure we had everything baby proofed that needed it and that we have ample room for us and a baby.
Next she will write our homestudy report, we will get to review it to fact check and then she will send it off to be finalized. Once it is finalized she will give us a service plan - further education she wants us to complete prior to our placement. And when it is finalized our profile book will go into circulation at the Virginia Bethany offices. The pregnancy counselors start with people who are a match, but have been waiting the longest, so we probably won't be shown right away, but we will get a notification when our book has been seen.
And that is where we are now! Our profile book is done and we are awaiting feedback, and then we just wait for finalization and then wait for a match! And I'm still getting asked a lot if we are still accepting donations and of course we are! We have A LOT of money left to go, once our homestudy is finalized we owe $7500, then when the baby is placed with us we owe $15,000.

So the last few posts have been more informational about the process than about us and what we are experiencing, and so I feel I have to share what we have been going through. Over all so far, our adoption process has been good, busy, bumpy, but we've felt really good the whole time. The only disappointing thing has been fundraising. We had all kinds of fundraising plans in place, but no one has stepped up. We asked everyone we knew to donate items for an auction and we got absolutely no response. We did a fundraising campaign where we did raise the money we needed which was AWESOME, but most of that was from family. We have just been really disappointed that our friends have not stepped up. I had 5 co-workers donate which is amazing, and we had 1 family from church donate money and someone donate baby-proofing stuff, 2 friends from high school, and 1 person we didn't know. Now, this is not to say we are not thankful and blown away by the love from these people, we absolutely are, we just thought more people we were close with would donate. We also expected more support from our church and people at church. Throughout the whole process we have had one family at church donate, and they have been so generous. Maybe this is naive, but I really thought we would get the most support from people at church. We know people and have read about how people have paid for their entire adoption through fundraising, we even know someone who raised almost $10,000 through an auction made up of donations from friends and local businesses. We were planning to do a puzzle fundraiser where someone pays $5 and sponsors a puzzle piece, but since we only had a handful of $5 donations last time, we don't want to end up with an unfinished puzzle.
Now, please understand this is not to encourage donating because that should come from your heart and not from a place of guilt, this is not supposed to make anyone feel guilty, it is just so that anyone reading our blog who may be considering adoption can know our honest experience and our honest disappointments. The most help we have found with our adoption experience is other adoptive families being honest with us. We also know that God will provide and we are not worried about our finances.

Here is a good blog post about what to do when you have friends adopting, lots of people don't know what to do and don't know how to ask:

And as always, please please please ask us any questions you might have,
Kristen and Adam