Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where's the Baby?!

Really? I haven't posted a photo of Dylan in more than two months? Wow, time flies when you're a growing boy!

Here he is with his new dump truck (which I scored for a buck at a garage sale we just happened to be running by). Not the greatest quality photo, but I love the expression on his face.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Attitude Adjustment

I wrote my last post quickly, relieved to have a prompt that brought forth thoughts that were (relatively) easy to put into words, because I'd already been musing on related topics.

But I wish I'd taken a bit more time to draft and post it, so that I wouldn't feel compelled to say more now. If you'll bear with me, I'd like to share a couple more thoughts related to my diversity/open adoption attitude analogy that I feel are important.

I believe that, as attitudes, neither diversity nor open adoption are quantifiable goals to be achieved. We shouldn't say "we've accomplished X" and then rest on our laurels. We shouldn't be satisfied that our community is "diverse" if we have X number of X people from X backgrounds represented. Instead, we should ask what it's like to be an "other" in our community, and consider how we view and act on our differences. Similarly, we shouldn't be satisfied that we have contact information for everyone in our adoption triad. Instead, we should ask what it's like for the other members, and consider how we view and act on the rather unusual circumstances that brought us together.

So, if it's about attitude, is it possible to have diversity if everyone looks alike? Hmmm...probably, because if we dig deeper than skin tone, of course we ALL have other differences, things that set us apart from the crowd, things that may stereotype us in negative ways, or cause others to draw unfair assumptions. If having those differences is viewed by the group as a strength, and they are accepted with open-mindedness, humility, and respect, than I'd say there is an attitude for diversity. (But don't get me wrong, I worry about groups that all look alike, and I don't think we should judge a group "diverse" just because it includes a few people of color. What I'm trying to say is that it's about a lot more than that.)

Reaching further, if it's about attitude, is it possible to have an open adoption if there is no ongoing communication? I hope so. Even if it were to come to pass that tragically we never hear from his birth parents, I'd like to think that because of our attitude, Dylan's adoption is open.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

OAR #19: Open adoption is about...

Heather over at ProductionNotReproduction said: "Awhile back I read a summary of a workshop held for prospective adoptive parents who were exploring their options. During their survey of different sorts of adoption, the speakers said that, at its most basic core, 'Open adoption is about information sharing.' Share your reaction to that statement. How well does it match up with your experience of open adoption? If you disagree, how would you finish the phrase, 'Open adoption is about...?'"

Sure, at a fundamental level, it's about information sharing, as any close, honest relationship is. But in my experience open adoption is about much more than exchanging contact information and providing updates on the son we adopted. For me, the best way I can describe it is as an "attitude."

The prompt made me reflect back on the year I spent in graduate school earning my master's in higher education. A major theme at the school that year, which stretched across many of my courses and class projects, was "diversity." Early on, it became obvious that there are as many different understandings of diversity as there were people discussing it.

In the end, I came to the personal conclusion that "diversity" isn't about multi-cultural/ethnic/racial representation, though that should often be the manifestation of it. It isn't even about "celebrating our differences." I decided that, at least for me, diversity is an attitude. It's a frame of mind that seeks to learn from experiences that are different from our own. It requires open-mindedness, humility, and respect.

Oddly enough, I think that the "open adoption attitude" has similar requirements. It demands that I put aside my fears and stretch myself to establish and maintain relationships that are completely unfamiliar to me. It requires me to check my assumptions, sometimes take the road less traveled, and often shut my big mouth and listen.

I find that maintaining the open adoption attitude is something that hasn't come naturally to me. But, it feels natural as it unfolds. I need to practice, practice, practice. And I need to hope, hope, hope, that the work and love we are putting into it will be worth it, for the precious little boy we share, and for us all.