I wrote recently about how grateful I am for the internet, largely because it's enabled me to connect with other people whose experiences with adoption have been informative and have helped me feel less alone along our journey. One of the very best resources for me has been Heather's blog, Production, Not Reproduction. You may remember that she's the host of the Open Adoption Roundtable, in which I've participated a couple of times.
This week, Heather's coordinated a clever project: interviews between bloggers. When she announced the plans, I jumped in, assuming that it'd be an opportunity to learn more about another blogger.
I was delighted when I was paired with Rachel of Henry Street. She is a bright, articulate thirty-something living in New England with her husband, T. As I shared with her, I was already familiar with her blog. I discovered it early in the summer of 2009 - I think through the Open Adoption Blogroll - just as they were matched with expectant parents. As someone still waiting impatiently for a match, I followed with interest as their plans for placement developed, and my nerves and excitement grew along with hers. She didn't know it, but when she brought her precious son "Henry" home, I breathed a huge sigh of relief on the other edge of the country!
Several months later, it's fun to follow along in her parenting adventures. Little did I know it when I began following Henry Street, but now our sons are just a few months a part.
It is my pleasure to introduce you to Rachel and her life on Henry Street. I hope that after reading her responses to my interview questions, you'll spend some more time investigating her blog. She's been at it for quite awhile, and her story is both heartbreaking and inspiring. (And of course, if you are interested in seeing my responses to her questions, you'll have to head over their too.)
My questions are in bold. Rachel's answers are not.
Have there been things about open adoption that have surprised you?
How has your open adoption been different than you imagined? I feel weird saying this, but our adoption hasn't been particularly surprising or different than I imagined. That does not mean that things are perfect or easy, because they're not. It just means that I expected to be unsure about how to communicate with Henry's birthparents. I expected to be disappointed when I didn't hear back from them. Though I thought I would hear from them a little more than we actually have. I expected to be nervous when I felt like certain limits were being stepped over. So, I guess I'm surprised that I expected it to be so bumpy?I feel like I answered this poorly.
What advice would you give anyone considering open adoption to build their family?
It's different than biological parenthood, but it is worth the effort. At first, it might really difficult to 'share' your child with another set of parents. However, these other parents are who created your child, and you are obligated to maintain some sort of relationship with them so that he can know about where he came from. Do not take it lightly, for it is a big commitment, but it is worth it in the end.
Do you think you approach parenthood differently because you are an adoptive mom and not a bio mom? [Rachel asked me this question. I liked it so much, I asked it back to her. - K]
I definitely think I approach parenthood differently because I'm an adoptive mom. Even 7 months later, I am still amazed this wonderful little boy is my son. I'm sure bio parents feel this way sometimes, but I have other people to thank for this. I think that changes my perspective on things. I also think I'm a little less casual about certain small things -- I've heard bio parents make small jokes about 'giving away' their kids. They can do that because there is a 0% chance that would ever happen and they can be cavalier about it. This is something I could NEVER say because it is on some level it's 100% my son's reality. I don't think my parenting 'style' is affected, but I do think my 'big picture' is very different than most bio parents.
How would you describe your relationship with Henry’s birth parents?
At this point, I'm not sure how to describe this relationship. I feel like it's kind of strained. I want to be able to communicate openly with them, but to be honest, it feels a little awkward. While CC was pregnant, I spoke with her quite often. I felt comfortable talking to her for the most part. When we flew down to Florida to meet Henry we spent 48 hours with them in the hospital. That time was great. Both T and I felt very comfortable with both CC and O. We really felt like we clicked, mostly. I tried to communicate with them reasonably often. I sent them emails and pictures and we heard back from them once. But when I communicated without a pattern, I felt like things were getting too loose and it made me uncomfortable, so that's when I decided that I'd be more clear about when I would be sending them updates. I send them an email every 3 months, plus there is a letter that I send through the adoption lawyer we used. I've heard back from them two or three times. Once was a nice email from CC. Once was a nice email from O. Then I had an IM chat with O. which I found to be very awkward, and after that I've avoided the IM thing with them. I need more structure. But I haven't heard from them since the IM. Many things could be going on in their lives that would cause them to not be able to contact us,but it does make me sad. I wish this could be easier.
How have your struggles to build a family impacted your marriage? And how has becoming parents impacted your relationship with T.?
This question could probably elicit an entire book, but I will try to give the short answer. It's weird, but sometimes I feel these things haven't impacted our marriage much at all. We still have pretty much the same relationship we've always had. We've always been able to talk about our feelings with each other, but infertility has helped us do this even more easily. Similarly, we've always had more 'traditional' roles at home -- I'm the person that has taken care of the home for the most part, and he's the one that brings home the bacon, so to speak. With parenthood upon us, we decided I should stay home to raise our son and this has continued. Sure we butt heads sometimes, and occasionally we get angry or frustrated by the increased stress of parenthood, but it seems to happen so infrequently that it hasn't made that huge of an impact. The fact that Henry is such an easy baby definitely factors in to this. But we were always happy together, and now we are even happier as a family with a baby.
If you are willing to share, what are your thoughts and feelings about adding to your family again?
We are planning on having another child. I was planning to start working on homestudy paperwork after we submit our taxes, but embryo donation is tugging at my heart strings a little. I just can't let goof the idea of being pregnant and giving birth. I'm just not sure our state really does this and I have strong feelings about using a clinic and not an 'embryo adoption' group because though I don't disparage those who use them, I am skeptical of their ulterior motives and I do not want to use them. I also am unsure how openness works with embryo donation and I feel strongly about having some openness with the donors and siblings of a donor couple. So there's a little curiosity there, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that.
What impact has blogging had on you?
My blog is like my journal. It has helped me get my feelings out in the open. It's almost like therapy on a page. Just typing out what I am thinking has really been cathartic. Also, finding people in similar situations has really been helpful. Reading other people experiences has helped me learn how to endure the bad times and helped me shape some feelings and opinions about openness.
How do you see your blog evolving in the future?
I don't blog as much as I used to. I still think of it as my journal, and though I thought I was going to take a break from blogging for awhile, but I just need it as a source to express some thoughts and feelings that I can't do elsewhere (except for with my therapist, perhaps.) I also like to show off how beautiful my boy is. :) Also, I like to be in touch with other adoptive parents (or those who became parents in alternative ways after infertility.)