Friday, December 23, 2011


There is so much else I should write about but, well, 'tis the season to focus on Christmas, so I will.

I remember from childhood - and sometimes still feel - the "magic of Christmas." So I've been thinking a lot about how to create that for my son. Though we aren't religious, we celebrate by spending time with family, consuming (too much!) good food and drink, enjoying the beautiful decorations and festive music, and exchanging gifts. I want to be deliberate about building traditions now that will become meaningful and special to D (and manageable for his parents).*

One we started this year is a "secular Advent calendar." We're calling it the Christmas Cabin. In addition to the little animals behind each door, D's loved discovering small notes, each relating an activity or occasionally a small gift.

Because I believe a big part of Christmas' magic is about giving to others, as he grows older, I plan for the activities to be a bit more altruistic. For example, I envision adding "Sunset hike and trash pick up," "Help at the food pantry," or "Take treats to old folks." But he's still a bit young for those things. (Right now, if a Christmas Cabin note said, "Buy a goat," D would be quite upset that Billy was helping a family in Uganda rather than in the backyard"!)

For now, mostly we've incorporated things we would have done anyway during this busy month. By now he's got a pile of notes, and for the last few nights, after opening a new one, he has rifled through the older ones, asking me to read them, too. It's been a nice way to remember the little things we've already done together over the last several weeks that are making this time of year so special.

Here's a partial list:
- Read (and sniff) "The Sweet  Smells of Christmas"
- Dinner in his tent in the living room
- Watch "Emmet Otter" together
- Rudolf slippers
- Turning the exterior house lights on
- Hot cocoa!
- Stickers on the window
- Bath with green and red bubble (warning: turns the water brown!)
- Go to our town's holiday parade
- Dinner by candlelight
- Ice cream treat with syrup from our orange trees
- Santa and snowman finger puppets
- Getting our Christmas tree
- Celebrate Scandinavian Christmas with Granddad and cousins
- Having a holiday music dance party
- Hanging our stockings on the bookshelf (alas, no fireplace)
- Spark of Love - donate toys and visit the fire station
- Drive through "candy cane lane"
- Placing the star on top of our tree

* When I asked a friend about the Christmas traditions in her family, she asked me, "Does Santa wrap presents?" I thought about it awhile and realized, "No, Santa doesn't need to wrap presents!" Though there is a big urge to overcome, I believe that from here on out, the gifts D will receive under the tree from the jolly ol' elf will save paper and his parents' time.

Here's to the traditions - old and new - in your family that make this season bright.
Happy holidays from our family to yours, and best wishes for peace and joy in the New Year!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Open Adoption Interview Project 2011: Come Meet Lisa at Consumed by Love

Wahoo! It's time to share this year's Open Adoption Interview!! Many kudos and thanks are due to Heather over at ProductionNotReproduction for coordinating this initiative to connect and learn from bloggers involved in adoption from many different perspectives.

This year, I was paired with an adoptive parent who I'd never "met" before, Lisa at Consumed by Love. She and her husband are the dotting parents of Olivia, who just celebrated her fourth birthday and is eagerly anticipating becoming a big sister. They have an open adoption with Olivia's birth mother, Miss Samantha.

As I read through Consumed by Love for the first time, I recognized some significant difference in our lives and some remarkable similarities. Lisa is thoughtful and caring and very dedicated to her family and community. I learned from her experiences and enjoyed getting to know her, and I think you will, too.

Really, I just wish we lived close enough that I could have invited her over for a nice cup of tea and a long chat while our kids played together! The questions I asked Lisa are in bold.

What are a few things you'd like anyone new to your blog to know about you?

I’m an adoptive mom, a Natural Family Planning advocate (and teacher), and an infertile. I believe the path that led us to becoming a family was orchestrated by God and was for our own good. We learned things along the way…important lessons that make us a stronger couple and better parents.

It's clear that your faith is an important part of your life. How has it influenced your family building? Your parenting?

My faith does permeate my whole life, and it is a part of all of our decisions. I always assumed that we’d have a houseful of kids and be one of those families that witnessed to our faith and openness to life by having a large family. But God had other ideas, obviously. So, likely, our family will be much smaller than I had envisioned, but it is a witness to our faith in other ways. We witness to our “openness to life” by being open to the children God sends us, however he chooses to send them. Right now, that means being a multi-racial family anticipating the adoption of another racially-different child. In the future, our openness to life may very well lead us to foster care and/or adoption through the foster care system.

My child is the smartest, strongest and most athletically gifted kid of her age that I’ve ever seen, and that was all genetic. She is naturally gifted…we didn’t give her any of that. We did give her an environment where those gifts could shine through. That very fact makes me ponder the potential of every child and imagine a world where every child can grow up in a home where he or she is safe and loved and can explore and develop his or her unique gifts. These are the kind of thoughts that make me think we may become foster parents someday. My heart hurts for all the kids I’ve seen who have been abandoned, abused or neglected during those years when they most need security, support and stability. Through our faith, we see that infertility has given us the “freedom” to adopt and, perhaps, the freedom to be available to be foster parents. We just have to discern where we are being called.

Our faith also influences our parenting and how we pass on our values to our daughter. Olivia knows that God is in control of the “baby brother or sister” department, and she asks Him regularly to send her one (while trying to be patient in waiting). She also knows her birth story and understands God’s part in bringing us together as a family. We talk to her about kids who don’t have two parents, and kids whose parents can’t afford all the fun things she enjoys. We’ve used these lessons to teach her about generosity and sharing what we have with others. As we do every year before birthday/Christmas time, we recently went through her things to decide, together, what toys she wanted to keep and which ones we’d donate to “kids who don’t have a lot of toys.” I was amazed, this year, at all the things she was willing to give away to other kids. I think these are important lessons to learn early, and our faith and the way we live it helps mold her worldview to include a love for the poor and a desire to be involved in charitable organizations.

What about being a family that is multi-racial and built by adoption has surprised you?

First of all, I’m surprised by how many other families there are like us. I see them everywhere, and I don’t recall having noticed them before we became a multi-racial family.

Second, even though families like ours are more commonplace now, I’m surprised at all the double-takes I get when I’m out with Olivia…particularly when people hear her call me Mommy. She is very light-skinned, but her hair stands out, and I often wonder what kind of things are running through the minds of people when they stare at our obvious differences. To be honest, it isn’t until I notice them staring that I even REMEMBER the differences. We’ve been a family since Olivia came screaming into the world, so I don’t SEE her as different in my mind.

I’ve developed a tendency to look for diversity in her dolls and books, to try to expose her to images of people who share her ethnic heritage. I think allowing her to experience diversity will be more challenging for us as she grows, since we live in a rural and very homogenous area. Olivia knows she’s different, but for now it doesn’t bother her at all. We’ll see how that changes as she grows older.

You are currently waiting to adopt another child. How have your views about adoption changed since you were matched with your daughter's birth mom? Have those views influenced anything about your current plans?

When Olivia’s birth mom was making her adoption plan, we were understandably nervous. I remember thinking that my ideal would be a semi-closed adoption where we’d have her mailing information and would send regular photos and updates and maybe the occasional phone call to keep her informed about Olivia’s life. Visits never even occurred to me. I wanted to keep some contact so Olivia would have that connection when she got older and wanted to know more, but I certainly didn’t want her to be a regular part of our life.

Oh, how that has changed! There are many things about Samantha’s life that we want to shield from Olivia’s knowledge for quite some time. However, we love seeing her regularly and spending time with her. Olivia knows that she grew in “Miss Samantha’s belly” and she sees her as her very special friend. I think that relationship will only help her as she grows and learns more about who she is.

I have an overwhelming appreciation for Samantha and the sacrifices she made to give Olivia the life she wanted her to have. She seems to have an overwhelming appreciation for me and for Joe and truly enjoys her time with us and with Olivia. It just seems natural to us to include her as part of the family as much as we can.

With our second child, we are hoping to have an open adoption from the start. We are not nearly so apprehensive the second time around, and we’ve had the benefit of reading and learning so much more over the course of the last four years. We see the benefit of openness to both the child and the birth mother, and we think that relationship is worthwhile and worth fighting to maintain.

An issue with which many bloggers struggle is determining what details of their lives that involve other people are appropriate to share, and what aren't. As a mom in an open adoption, how do you determine what is your story to tell, and what details to withhold because they are your daughter's, her birth mother's, or someone else's story?

This is a hard question for me because I often struggle with how much to tell. My blog is a place for me to work through my own thoughts and emotions when it comes to some of the frustrations and challenges of this whole parenting and adoption business, so it seems natural just to tell it like it is. However, any time I run into a story that starts telling itself in what I’d term “identifying details,” I try to back off and go vague. While Olivia’s birthmother isn’t what we’d call “computer savvy” (she joked the other day with Olivia that it took her 10 minutes to figure out how to turn on her friend’s laptop), I would never want her to find our site and be embarrassed over what I’d shared about her. At the same time, she’s pretty open with us and with others about ALL of her dirty laundry, so I do feel like I can share a little without overstepping. I think part of that depends on the personality of the birth mother.

The FACT of Olivia’s adoption is another story. There are schools of thought out there that say that her adoption story is hers to tell…and that is true, but it’s also our story of how our family was made. And it’s a GOOD story! There’s no question she was adopted, nor will there ever be a question about it. Anyone who sees her and us will guess as much. So leading with that information makes it seem normal, commonplace and ordinary. Our family was built through adoption, and there is no shame in that. Sometimes, I think the idea of withholding that bit of information seems to put adoptive families into the proverbial closet. And we don’t want to be there. Adoption, even with its issues of loss, was and is ultimately a joyful thing for us, and I think being open about it helps witness to that…not just for us but also for Olivia. It helps HER to know that she’s special and loved and that her story is a good and happy one and she should never be ashamed of it.

The details of her birth mother’s situation at the time, of course, are things that we’ll share with her as she’s old enough to understand. THOSE are hers to share as she chooses. But the fact that she was adopted and she has a birth mommy named Samantha…that’s easy stuff for all of us to share.

Honestly, as she grows older, Olivia may decide that reading through details of her potty training mishaps will be more embarrassing than reading about her adoption.

How do you envision your blog evolving in the future?

Again, it’s hard to say for sure. Right now, the blog seems to be more about life and parenting than about adoption. But when that second child comes along, he or she will come with his or her own adoption story and birthmother issues that will inevitably cause me to examine adoption issues and talk about them more here. Mostly, the blog has always been about what is on my mind, from infertility to adoption to foster care to the best way to get your preschooler to go to bed on time. I don’t imagine that will change much.

Thanks, Lisa! I look forward to following your family' story and wish you all the best.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Attention All Adoption Bloggers!

Yah, I'm talking about you, and you, and you, and of course anyone else who blogs who is interested in adoption.

I've linked to Heather's site many times before, and now I'm doing it again. She has done a wonderful job of building a online (and real life!) community of those interested in adoption. Right now, she's coordinating an Adoption Interview Project. I am planning to participate, and I hope you will too. It promises to be a great way we can all continue to learn from each other.

Note: the deadline to register is Friday, October 28th!

Friday, October 21, 2011

So, So Much

Judging from the frequency of my posts of late, one might guess that not much is going on and I have little to say. Au contraire! Things have been jumping over here, and there is a great deal I'd like to share!!

  • D's second birthday festivities.
  • All of the amazing new things he's learning and doing...and so many of the cute, sweet things he's already outgrown.

  • Our boy's excellent adjustment to daycare.

  • The ups and downs of a friend's recent match and placement that has got me thinking a lot about the losses and gains, disappointments and hopes inherent in adoption.

  • Some really great posts on other blogs I feel anyone interested in open adoption should read.

  • And perhaps most important: our reconnection with V!!

Those are just some of the things I want to write about. Alas, I continue to lack time and focus. So, I'll just throw up a few photos of our big boy enjoying a trip to the "pumpkin patch" with his beloved Grandmom.

I hope to be back soon!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

OAR#29: Accidents Happen?

Heather, who is the Hostess with the Most-ess of the Open Adoption Roundtable over at ProductionNotReproduction, prompted:

Our group is growing and a lot of us haven't "met" each other yet. So point us to a favorite post on your blog. It doesn't need to be about adoption. And tell us a little bit about why you picked the one you did.

Of course, it's hard for me to decide which one to select! So I'll just share the one that came to mind when I first read the prompt. It's called Accidents of Birth.

Crafted just a few weeks before we were contacted by the woman who became Dylan's birth mom, it's my "what I did on my summer vacation" post. Part of why I like it is because my own life is now so different than it was when we took that wonderful trip to Vietnam.

For what it's worth, I suspect this post came to mind because I still think about those kids - and children like them around the world - a lot, and also a lot about the issues I touched upon in the post.

Oh! And here's a link to M's photo gallery from the trip! This photo is the one that connects most closely with what I wrote so long ago.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Have A Problem

Hi, I'm Kristin, and I can't figure out how to use Blogger!
For probably, like, the fifth time since I started blogging here a little more than two years ago, I just unintentionally published a post way too soon.
Yah, I was able to delete it, so most readers might not even have realized my inanity. But for my nearest and dearest who actually receive emails of each and every one of my posts, it must be really annoying. So, I'm SORRY. I really do apologize for drawing your attention to something not (yet) worth reading.
The last couple of times, I think the issue has been with the labels function. If I press after entering the labels before selecting another one, rather than going back into editing mode, Blogger publishes whatever I've got. Urghh! You'd think since I've figured this out, I'd be able to avoid it. But it's just such a reflex to hit the enter key when I'm done with a line of type!!
Every now and again I run across another blogger cursing about not being able to fix spacing or whatever, which makes me feel a bit less alone in my bloggy-clumsiness. But mostly, I feel really technically challenged.
Does anyone have any ideas for how to help me use this technology more easily?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ready? Set? Grow!

Yesterday was Dylan's first day at daycare. He did great! His momma? Not so much.

I really do believe this is a great situation for him. The social interaction he will get and the new developmental adventures he will have will be good for him. He'll spend four mornings a week at a nearby family daycare, and then afternoons with his dad and one day a week with my mom. The daycare is run by a lovely and loving, experienced and professional woman and her two enthusiastic young assistants. He will be in a safe, nurturing environment and I have every confidence in their ability to take great care of him!

To prepare him for the change, we took him to play there a few times in the last couple of weeks. After some initial timidity, he seemed very quickly to get comfortable there and with the other kids. (All of the riding cars and balls and other toys freshly available to him certainly helped!) He was ready.

I'm not an overly sentimental person, so I was surprised by the anxiety and sense of loss that crept up on me as his big day approached. Afterall, I've been back to work for more than a year and he's spent lots of time being well cared for by others, particular his wonderful nanny all last school year.

But, he's always been at home, with his daddy just down the hall in his office. It was always easy to imagine exactly where my boy was, what he was doing, and what crazy antics he was up to. Now it feels like we're sending him off into the big wide world, out of our sphere of influence. No longer will we know of his every emotional ache and physical pain. No longer will we celebrate with him his every triumph.

So, yesterday morning, I shed a few tears. They came as I struggled to get him buckled in his car seat. He squirmed and protested, and I felt the sting come to my eyes. I want so much for the few minutes I will get to spend with my child each morning to be enjoyable - for both of us - and this wasn't a good start to the new chapter.

I remember judging harshly other mothers who've expressed angst over their kids going off to preschool or daycare. Come on, I thought. This is an important step in building the independence and self-confidence we want in our children.

As M. and I watched Dylan settled easily into his place at the table, surrounded by his new friends, watching attentively as a fun story was read to the group, I realized it isn't about worrying about how others will care for him. It's about missing him. And to be a good parent, there will be many, many more occasions when I will have to let go, for his sake, even when it's painful for me.

Apparently, it isn't just Dylan who is growing.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Early Education

Yesterday, after I rocked Dylan and stood to put him in his crib for his nap, he pointed over my shoulder at a picture of V.

"Momma," he said.

"That's right. That's V., your birth mommy."

"Belly," he said, drowsily.

Clearly, he has been absorbing the little story I tell him from time to time about how he grew and grew in V.'s belly, and when he was ready, he popped out. And about how Mommy and Daddy were there and we were so happy to see him. Mommy, and Daddy and V. all hugged and hugged and kissed him, we loved him so much.

So, I guess I'll need to work on how I tell him his birth and adoption story a bit more. We want to make sure it is easy, and age apprepropriate, and accurate, which feels like a tall order right now.

I find it so helpful to learn the specifics of how other parents talk with their kids of diffferent ages about their adoptions. If you have any resources or ideas, please share them!

One of my goals for this quickly fleeting summer was to create a Life Book that includes simple text and more photos of his birth relatives and of our time together around Dylan's arrival. I think it would be a helpful, and that he might come to treasure it. I haven't gotten around to it yet, but after Dylan made his interest apparent yesterday, I'm really motivated!

Sunday, July 24, 2011





Shortly before Dylan's first birthday, M. and I made a major decision, a decision that to this day at least one family member calls "the disaster." We gave him a haircut. Bravely, M. was the chief stylist, and I was the chief distractor, providing toys and snacks to keep hands away from the clipping blades. I must say, I was impressed! M. did a really nice job: our kid's hair was even, neat, and no longer in his eyes. But, the sweet, sweet little curls at the nape of his neck were gone.

So I should have anticipated ambivalent feelings when finally on Saturday we took him to get his first professional cut.

I'd found a shop not far away that specializes in kids, and based on our last few home haircutting attempts, I thought it would be wise to find a stylist used to working with little squirmers. Indeed, we walked in and Dylan immediately gave an excited, "Whooooaaa!" and headed toward the train table. Then he noticed the red car and got even more delighted. It was easy to get him up and into the chair. The stylist worked quickly and within a few minutes, there was a little pile of soft, fine hair on the floor.

And then it was done. And though the experience was successful - it went quickly, Dylan was too interested in all that was going on to fidget much, and our goal of getting what had become his fairly long and sloppy hair tidied up - I am really sad. Major disaster.

Now he looks like a boy, ready for school. I miss my freespirited little toddler.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Sweetest Sound

Witnessing Dylan's language development has been fascinating. I wish that I'd kept better track of it since he uttered his first intelligble word - ball! - about six months ago, because it seems like there are patterns, and then he'll totally surprise us.

When we were in Hawaii, M. and I were marveling how he seemed to be having some kind of linguistic developmental leap because each day, he surprised us with one or two new words we didn't know he knew, which was a much faster pace than before. M. confessed that he'd been keeping a list and that suddenly, it was quickly approaching 50 distinct words.

At that point, we joked a lot about how one of the words Dylan didn't know yet was "mommy." He'd been saying "dad" for months, and when you asked him where mommy was, he'd clearly point at me. But he wasn't saying it, even as he approached 100 words.

For awhile, it didn't bother me that he wasn't calling me anything. I noticed that he wasn't saying any words that began with an mmm sound. I heard from several others who said that "mommy" was not among their kids' first words. And, there were plenty of other ways I knew Dylan was attached to me.

Nevertheless, as the days that he acquired other words accumulated, but there was still no "mommy," some self-doubts crept in. (Good grief, he spontaneously said "backpack" and umbrella"!) Secretly, I worried that he'd master his nanny's name before he'd call me mommy. I wondered if there just were too many other women with spots in his heart - his grandmother, his aunties, his birth mom - and if his lack of vocal identification was a sign that I really wasn't that special to him. I didn't want to make this about adoption, but...

Shortly after returning from vacation, I came home from work to Dylan clearly calling "Momma!" Now throughout the day, there are so, so many "mommas." There's the pointing-at-something he wants momma and the that-belongs-to-you momma. There's the please-pick-me-up-momma and the where-are-you momma. Oddly, there's the red-car momma, as any red vehicle apparently reminds him of my little cherry Honda. There's the good-morning momma and the please-read-to-me momma. One of my favorites is the out-of-the-blue "momma" accompanied by an oddly placed lip smack. And you know what? All of those mommas are the sweetest sound I've ever heard.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Good Job?

(Cue the melodrama...but this is a true story.)

Big tears slid down my cheeks and into his crib as I look in on my sleeping son and breathe in his sweet breath. I am shaken by the full realization that if we parent well, this little one will some day not need me.

Oh, other mothers, how do you bare it?

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Some say that children are little sponges, absorbing everything around them. Sometimes, it freaks me out a bit how much Dylan picks up without any effort on the part of the big heads around him. For example, he holds the pen of his EtchaD*odle between his thumb and index finger and "writes" with almost exactly the right posture. How did he learn that?!

Yesterday, as we were growing frustrated with our attempts to get Dylan to eat the healthy things we'd provided him for lunch, I off-handedly asked M., "Do you think we should give him some *f*i*s*h?" I stealthily spelled out the word, hoping to avoid shifting the boy's attention from his fruit to one of his favorite snacks.

Before M. could respond, Dylan exclaimed, "Blub! Blub! Blub!"...which is what he believes fish say.

The thing is, I don't think I spell words around him that much, and I can't remember ever doing it for the little orange crackers. Clearly, I must have, because my son knew exactly what I was talking about!


* gh as in enough; o as in women; ti as in nation. (Isn't English a wacky language?)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Happy Summer!

Dylan and Daddy in the Garden
June 21, 2011

Yesterday, as we played in the garden through the long dusk, I felt a real kinship with my Scandinavian relatives who truly celebrate the shortest night of the year. I love summer!

Though I know it wasn't official until yesterday, as someone whose calendar is closely tied to the academic year, my summer began shortly after graduation more than a month ago, and it will conclude at the end of August. So, I have already really been enjoying it.

Here are a few things this season of sun means to me:

- Part-time work schedule. Most important, I have more time to spend with my boys. I also have more time to keep up with the laundry and all the household tasks that nag at me during the school year, which relieves pressure. It might even mean I'm a more regular blogger. (See! Two posts in two days! Don't get used to it...)

- Peaches! Our tree must have produced more than 200 of the sweetest, juiciest fruit. Alas, they all ripened in a three week period and are gone already. Fortunately, they freeze well and we'll have yummy smoothies for many months.

- Summer Delicacies. It's not just the fruit we grow ourselves that I love, it's all of summer's healthy, natural abundance. To me, summer tastes like sweet corn on the cob (with lots of butter and salt), lush watermelon, and strawberries on vanilla ice-cream. Ymmmm! BTW, Dylan's favorite food right now is watermelon and he's eating tons of it. If I go near the fridge, he starts exclaiming, "Melon! Melon!" Interestingly, he is also quite fixated on some of the citrus in our yard, and in a bit of verbal dyslexia, exclaims "Melon! Melon!" when he's really trying to say "Lemon! Lemon!"

- Vacation. At the end of May, we spent nine whole days in Hawaii. Those who know M. and me know that we love traveling and have had some wonderful adventures in distant lands. What appealed most to us this year, however, was the notion of sitting on beach...without having to worry about whether the ice in our cocktails was safe to consume. So, we rented a little condo in the Poipu area of Kauai. My mom came with us, saying she was our au pair, and she did provide many hours of attention to her grandson so that M. and I could escape the responsibilities of parenthood for a bit. It was so much fun to sit in the warm water of a tide pool and watch Dylan splash around, declaring each volcanic rock "laawvah!"

- Family Time. Dylan will have a chance to hang out with all of his cousins, who live in other states, this summer. We've already had some time with his "Arizona cousins" and it made my heart sing to see them all together. Those kids are much older but they just dote on their littlest relative. Even the too-cool fourteen-year-old vied for time to bounce his baby cuz around. Dylan will also get to see more of each of his grandparents, who he adores. Each one brings something special and different to his life and I know he will always cherish the time he spends with them, being the center of the universe for hours at a time.

- Celebrations and Mini-adventures. Father's Day, Independence Day, M's birthday, a weekend at one of our favorite spots, camping at the beach, the wedding of dear friends - all moments to get together with loved ones and let loose a bit.

- Making progress on my neglected To Do list. Some things I am dedicated to accomplishing in the next several weeks include: exercising and losing weight; making our back patio area more inviting with shade, plants, and decorations; researching and buying a fuel efficient four-door car to replace my old Honda coupe, since we'll need to fit a car seat in there when Dylan goes to daycare in September; painting and finish decorating Dylan's room; and creating a Life Book for the boy.

- And lastly, casting off my ghostly pallor. Okay, I know. I know. I know. I know it's all an illusion, but I really DO look healthier with a bit of a tan.

I remember a time in childhood when summer seemed too long. I got bored and began to itch to go back to school. My, how times change.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Irrational Exuberance

Dylan is growing up so fast. It's hard to keep up with him, here and around the house.

Before we adopted, I thought I'd miss not having a kid who inherited my biological traits and tendencies. Something that surprises me is how delightful I find many of the ways Dylan is different from me. One simple example is that I am definitely NOT a morning person. I set my alarm at least 20 minutes early because I know I will need to hit the snooze button a few times. (Praise my understanding bed-mate!) Once I finally do manage to throw off the covers, I typically trudge heavy-footed and sleepy-eyed around the house. My assistant at work could probably tell you I'm not very friendly, or even communicative, until about 10 a.m.

My son, on the other hand, usually wakes up with a huge, sunny smile. When I come into his room, he's often already dancing at the rails of his crib. He's most cooperative and easy-going in the three hours or so before his late-morning nap.

Fortunately, Dylan's sunny disposition in the a.m. is having a positive influence on me. I now look forward to his greeting each morning, and especially to a few moments of snuggling in bed with him and his daddy before starting the rush of the day.

Though I am a generally happy person, and I was even voted "Most Optimistic" by my high school class, it would be a real stretch to describe my personality as "bubbly." But that's what Dylan is.

He just exudes joy.

And I just love that about him. Yes, some of it is undoubtedly typical toddler energy. But I think there's more to it than that. I think he inherited much of his exuberance from V. But sadly, as M's observed, a hard life has already dulled much of her shine.

It is one of my greatest hopes and challenges as a parent to help Dylan preserve his wonderful, positive disposition. I hope he won't become world-wary, and that there will always be great, unstifleable joy in his life.

(Of course, I don't expect that it will always be running around half-naked with a toothbrush that will bring on such irrational exuberance...At least I hope not.)

If you have kids who were adopted, how are they like and dissimilar from you? How do you feel about it?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

For Another Mother

Dear V.,

I don't know whether you ever read this blog. I hope you do. Have you received the emails and texts we've sent? How about the Happy (Birth)Mother's Day card Dylan made for you? There is so much I want to share with you, and I'll put a bit of it here now.

Tonight at dinner I talked with M. a bit about my ambivalance toward Mother's Day. For so many years, it was a tough day for me. All of the mothers who have lost their children, or still long for their children, are never far from my mind. Of course, I think about you and wonder how you are feeling.

Before Dylan was born, you said that you thought our happiness about finally bringing our child home would help you cope with the pain of your loss. I want you to know that since you placed Dylan into our family, every day is special for me. I don't need breakfast in bed or flowers to enjoy this holiday. His sweet, wet kisses are the most precious Mother's Day gifts I can imagine.

We haven't heard from you in several months and I miss you and worry about you. But, I feel like we are in touch in some way every day. That's because your beauty, intelligence, good humor, and determination are all so clearly growing in our son.

On this day and always, we are thinking of you and sending lots of love.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Cat's Meow

The small, black-and-white cat paces beneath our bedroom window. Her plaintive meows keep me awake, thinking about mothers and children. Thinking about maternal instincts, broken hearts, and people who do what they think is best for the little ones.

She is a feral cat who had kittens beneath our house. After a couple of attempts foiled by Momma-cat's ferocity, we were able to capture the kittens. Three adorable little balls of fur. They are old enough that they will drink milk from a syringe we offer, and after a few hours, they are purring in our arms. We hope, we believe, there is a very good chance they will be adopted into a loving family after we take them to the SPCA.

I don't want to overly anthropomorphize or make assumptions about what this little cat is thinking and feeling. But I can tell that Momma-cat knows her babies are in here. She doesn't know or care of our good intentions. Even days after they were taken from her, she hangs close to our house. Though I truly believe we have done the right thing, not just for ourselves, or for our neighborhood. Her offspring will likely live longer, more luxurious lives than they would scrounging for food in the alley and dodging coyotes and having litter after litter themselves...if they survive the pound.

But all I can think of is how hard Momma's worked to birth her babes and care for them in the wild for weeks. Whatever she's trying to communicate to them now as she wails beneath our window, it conveys her deep, deep unbreakable connection to her children.

Friday, April 1, 2011

PAL, You Can Say That Again

I've written here before and thought a lot about how the words we choose influence our experience of adoption. I believe, as with any topic - and especially those that are emotionally laden - it's tough to find and use words that are neutral, that don't relay certain biases, or just reveal certain cluelessnesses.

Truthfully, when I read or talk with someone about adoption, I quickly surmise a lot by the language they use. My judgement hasn't always been fair or accurate, and I often have to remind myself that I've come a long way in my own views about adoption, and I still slip up and say things clumsily. In fact, I have different feelings now about some of the Positive Adoption Language (PAL) I promoted earlier.

One term that I struggle with from time to time is how to refer to the parents who have placed their children for adoption. This is because some of the people I respect the most in AdoptionLandia, and from whom I've learned the most, use the term first parent (first mother/mom/father/etc.). I recognize the temporal accuracy of this term, and also how "birth mother" can be diminishing.

But I just can't bring myself to call V. Dylan's first mom. And I'll admit it's because of the primacy "first" suggests. If V. expressed a preference for the term, I would certainly use it. (When I asked her about it at our match meeting, she looked at me kinda funny and said she is fine with "birthmother." But I don't think she'd given it a lot of thought herself at that point.) Maybe someday I'll get over this stupid insecurity. But for now, on my blog and when referring to my situation, I will continue to use birth mother (separating the words, so there's an adjective that describes a noun), unless I know of someone's other preference.

I will NOT however, ever again refer to an expectant parent considering adoption as a birthmother or to the material we had to create to market ourselves as a "Dear Birthmother Letter." Frankly, though I didn't even question it during our agency's orientation, I'm now horrified that that supposedly "progressive leader in open adoption" uses those terms. Come on!

As with so many other adoption words, I wish there was a better, more neutral term for birth mom. And truth be told, there is. But using it all the time would probably just raise too many questions and cause too much controversy. What is it? It's simply: MOTHER.

Dylan has two mothers. There's another instance of where my viewpoint has shifted: most proponents of PAL encourage saying "was adopted" rather than "is adopted." They reason that adoption is just a finite, legal process and that individuals' identities should not be defined by it. I get that, and I think it is right in most cases. However, the more I read about and learn from adoptees themselves, the more I see how adoption IS part of who they are. So, this is an example of where I want to listen/read closely to discern where someone is coming from. If an adoptee says "I am adopted," rather than "I was adopted," I can make guesses about how they - at least in that particular circumstance - frame adoption in their own lives.

The last term I'll bring up now is "gave up for adoption." So much of the current philosophy behind open adoption emphasizes the "loving choice" birth parents make in placing their children. It suggests that children who are "given up" may feel abandoned or discarded. And that may well be true. But it is also true that most birth parents do "give up" their children. They experience an incredible loss, and one most would not suffer through if they saw any other viable option. So, if a birth (first?!) parent talks about "giving a child up," I view it quite differently now; I see that it accurately reflects their experience.

I worry that parsing words could discourage people for talking about adoption, and I really don't want to contribute to that. AdoptionLandia (my term for the space on the internets and our collective consciousness devoted to the topic) is crammed full of people relating awful stories of stupid, hurtful things people have said about them or their children. In most instances, though, I can see that there was no ill-intent. Inappropriate curiosity or insensitivity, maybe. Or, most disheartening, unwillingness to learn something new and/or consider another's perspective.

M., Dylan, and I have been pretty fortunate thus far not to have had any really difficult situations related to inappropriate questions or language that we've struggled to handle. Most of the time, I just try to educate by using the terms I prefer and gently correcting when we're with someone who Dylan will have continuing contact with. I hope that revealing my own evolving thoughts and words related to PAL might be helpful to others.

What do you think about PAL? Where do you find yourself struggling to use it? What has trying to use it taught you?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Class Act

A few weeks ago, Dylan was invited to my colleague's Child Psychology class. She was teaching infant development and thought it would be instructive for the college students to see a little kid in action. Along with my guy, my good friend's eight-month old girl was on exhibit.

It was fun! Of course, I loved hearing the students exclaim how cute he is and try to catch his eye. A little shy at first, Dylan soon started flirting as usual.

The professor began by asking my friend and me to relate our children's birth stories. I hesitated for a moment, wondering how relevant his adoption history was to the class, and then decided that though it really wasn't, learning a bit about open adoption might actually be interesting (and potentially useful?) to these students. I ended up saying something like, "Well, Dylan was adopted, which means we first 'met' him when his birth mom was about eight months pregnant and she selected us to be his parents. We are still in contact with her, and we are grateful every day that she gave us the opportunity to raise such a beautiful kid."

Then the professor moved on to asking us about various developmental milestones. How were our kids sleeping? What did they eat? How would we discribe their temperments? How did they communicate? She demonstrated a few things, like object permanence, for example, by taking a toy away for Dylan and showing the class that he knew to go looking for it.

A few times, I felt a little nervous that he was expected to demonstrate something that he wouldn't be ready to. She gave him a bright plastic Easter egg that he could hear had something inside of it. She explained that at about 18 months, many kids will learn that certain adults can be counted on as "helpers." Sure enough, after trying to get the halves apart himself for awhile, he came to me, shaking the egg so I could assist with unscrewing it.

The only task that he "failed" was when she smudged his nose with some lipstick and explained that doing so will upset many kids about his age when they see themselves as "blemished" in the mirror. But when Dylan saw his reflection, he just chuckled and moved on to rolling his truck along the floor.

And then class was done and the students scooted off. I was really touched, though, that a few of them came up to thank us for coming and to tell me directly how sweet my son is. One young woman in particular waited to speak with me. She said, "I wanted you to know I think it is so cool you adopted him. I'm adopted, too."

I said, "Oh, great. Thanks for saying that. We feel so fortunate to have him, and I love hearing about other families built by adoption."

"Yeah, I have a younger brother and sister, and they were also adopted. They're all closed adoptions though. He's really lucky. I know he'll have a great life with you." And off she went with her big book bag slung over her shoulder.

I'm not sure whether she thinks Dylan is lucky because he is in an open adoption, because he was adopted at all, or because he was adopted by us in particular. Whichever, I left the class reminded that I am the lucky one.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

SICK (Part Two)

M. made it to the first hospital in time to see two big guys in uniforms pushing a gurney with a car seat strapped to it into the hallway where he'd left me and his ill son several hours before.

Immediately before that, Dylan (and I) endured what was probably the worst part of the whole ordeal: inserting an IV needle into the tiny vein in his elbow. Apparently, that was a requirement of transport, in case he needed medication stat. Two nurses and I bundled him up burrito-style with just one arm hanging out. He looked at me with worried eyes until he felt the prick, then all hell broke loose. It was so hard seeing him wraith in pain and feel his sad eyes beg me to help, but instead I had to struggle to hold him still. Unfortunately, after too much poking, the nurse declare his first vein "too small," so we had to re-wrap the screaming child and go for round two on the other arm. Mercifully, this time the IV was quickly inserted and taped down and just seconds after he was freed and rested on my shoulder, he quieted down to a sad little whimper.

Of course, when the guys with the funny looking car seat showed up, he seemed to lose all memory of the trauma he'd endured moments before. And then when Daddy showed up, our boy was smiling again.

I had mixed feelings about strapping Dylan into the car seat on top of the gurney. On the one hand, I knew it would make him safer for the 20 or so minute trip on the freeway to the Kaiser hospital. On the other hand, it meant that I couldn't hold him and comfort him. I must say: he looked so cute up there. Fortunately, the novelty of it all kept him fairly entertained and not too upset about getting restrained.

I told M. that I didn't think I was coherent enough to drive, so again I was the one to go off with Dylan in the ambulance. Unlike the previous night, this time Dylan was wide awake and very interested in all that was going on. As he got loaded into the back with me by his side, he kept pointing and exclaiming "cah! cah!" (car). Our whole trip on the freeway was "oooooh! oooHHH!" with energetic finger directed at the trucks he saw out the window.

Shortly we all arrived at the hospital, which is spankin' new. We went up in the elevator to the Pediatric Unit and were immediately taken into Dylan's own room, a spacious place with a fancy, elevated crib (which looked too much more like an animal cage to me) with all kinds contraptions connected to it. A very pleasant nurse came and introduced herself and explained everything she did while examining him. The little guy was still so curious about this new adventure, he didn't protest at all.

As the EMTs were leaving, I heard them relate information provided by the other hospital, including that Dylan's chest x-ray may have shown "a touch of pneumonia." That was the first time I'd heard of that dreaded possibility...and fortunately, it was the last.

After a bit, I fed Dylan some yogurt and a bottle. We snuggled a bit on one of the chairs and he fell asleep in my arms at just about his typical nap time. I held him that way for a long time while M. worked on his project from the laptop. I also called my mom, who was very anxious to hear how things were going. I told her we didn't know at that point how much longer we'd be there but that Dylan seemed to be doing better than his exhausted parents!

It wasn't long after Dylan woke up that I saw something interesting in the hallway outside the room: a furry beast. Sure enough, "Prince" and his guardian asked if they could come in for a visit. Prince is a gorgeous, big therapy dog with a very gentle disposition. Dylan was a bit hesitant at first, but after some encouragement, he got down on the floor and stared into Prince's eyes. He never wanted to go far from his dad's protection, but ultimately, Dylan gave Prince some friendly pats and enormous smiles. As the dog went down the hallway to visit another little patient, Dylan blew him a kiss.

Prince and the Little Patient

After Prince left, Dylan was examined by a very nice doctor who said all of the right things to reassure us that he'd be fine and that we weren't terrible parents for not recognizing the seriousness of the situation. In light of his energy and increasingly rascally activities, we had expected her to tell us to go home immediately. So we received yet another surprise when she said that he was looking really good, but that because when he coughed he still sounded so croupy, they wanted to continue to observe him and she thought he should stay the night.

Beginning to feel delirious from fatigue, I called my mom and asked her if she could come relieve us for a few hours soon. She told us we couldn't keep her away from the hospital if her precious boy was going to be there any longer!

So while we waited for grandmom to show up, Dylan explored the unit a bit. He was pretty cute in his tiny smock, roaming the hallways. He was only marginally interested in the nurses' stations, but was very intrigued by the playroom and all of its toys. We spent awhile there before slowly making our way back to his room.

My mom arrived and breathed a huge sigh of relief, I believe, when she saw for herself that Dylan was pretty near to his jolly ol' self, with the unfortunate exception of a very hoarse cough. With little encouragement and much haste, M. and I pulled our stuff together and split. In retrospect, perhaps I should have felt more concern as we left our sick boy. But at that point, he was in such good hands - his dear grandmother's, not to mention all of the hospital personnel - I couldn't focus on much other than my own pillow.

The next few hours are kind of a blur. I know we made it home, set our alarm clock and crawled into bed. We slept for a few hours, then roused ourselves with showers, grabbed something to eat, and headed back to the hospital. The plan was for M. to spend the night there with him and for me to return and then go work in the morning or back to the hospital of he needed to stay longer.

We went back to Dylan's room to find him climbing up the walls...almost literally. Clearly, he was feeling much better. He was keeping his grandmom on her toes, exploring all corners of the room...and the oxygen bottles, and the trash cans, etc. It was so good to see him!

We thanked my mom profusely and sent her on her way. We read to Dylan a bit and I fed him a bottle, rocking and hoping that he'd soon feel as sleepy as we did. By 11:00 p.m. there were minimal signs of him slowing down, so I helped prepare a bed for M. on the room's funny chair and gave them both some snuggles. Eventually I left, feeling both relief and trepidation. Even knowing that Dylan was much healthier, and that he had his daddy right there, I was worried about my little boy spending another night in the hospital.

Early the next morning before heading to work, I spoke with M. He said they'd both had a pretty good night and that there was no new news about Dylan's condition. They were waiting for the pediatrician to come by to check him out and hopefully send them home.

So, I headed to work reluctantly and got a few things done. About 11:00 a.m., M. called and let me know that the doctor had examined our boy and determined that he was in good shape. And then he called me about an hour-and-a-half later to let me know that they were both home, Dylan was already sleeping in his bed, and M. was headed for his. Such a relief.

Of course, I asked M. what we were supposed to do to follow up. Medication? Nope. Keep him as calm as possible. Nada. Visit to his own pediatrician tomorrow? Not necessary. Apparently, she'd said "if we wanted to" we could get him a humidifier for his room. I was amazed that after two ambulance rides and two nights in the hospital, there was apparently nothing more much for us to do to make sure Dylan was well.

In the end, I'm not quite sure what to make of this unfortunate episode. On the one hand, it feels like much ado about nothing. On the other hand, I'm terrified by what could have been.

And, throughout the whole ordeal, I kept asking myself, "Should we contact V.?" Although we had sent her an update just a few days before, we hadn't heard from her since Christmas. I wondered if she would want to know her son was in the hospital, or if it would just bother her that she's far away and couldn't do anything to help. We were awfully busy and struggling to cope with the situation ourselves. I reasoned that we should wait until we had real information to share before potentially concerning her unnecessarily. We emailed her a few days later and let her know.

But what I realize now is that I really didn't want my son's birth mother to know I hadn't recognized when our child really needed help. My maternal instincts had failed me. In addition to failing Dylan, I felt I had violated the trust V. had placed in my.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sweet Valentine

This little cherub has filled my heart with happiness.
May you feel such love today and always.

Friday, February 11, 2011

SICK (Part One)

(…and unfortunately, I don’t mean that in a positive way, as so many of the college students I associate with do these days.)

Well, we’ve passed another parenting milestone: the first trip to the ER with our ill baby. I will hasten to add that all is well now. But it was definitely no fun.

Between Christmas and mid-January Dylan held onto a little cold that manifested only as a persistent runny nose and a little cough, as far as we could tell. Then one Sunday we took him to the “h*ppiest place on earth” (a story for another time…) and we noticed as the day progressed that his cough was deepening. He wasn’t coughing often – maybe just once an hour or so – and it didn’t seem to bother him much, but it sounded awful.

We didn’t notice the cough or runny nose getting any worse, but he did seem to really be “snoring” on Monday night, and then again when we put him down to sleep on Tuesday evening. With hindsight, we now realize we should have been more concerned about that.

On Tuesday night, I was already in bed around 10 p.m. when Dylan woke up whimpering. M. went in to comfort him, and I could hear the little guy really panting. After trying to soothe him a bit, M. brought him into our bedroom. Dylan looked and sounded like he was working awfully hard to breath. We decided to call the advice nurse at Kaiser.

I held the little guy who slowly fell back to sleep while M. spoke with her. She asked all kinds of questions that I could hear too. Was he blue? No. Was he unconscious? No! Did he seem dizzy or was he having trouble controlling his limbs? No. Fever? No. Was he eating okay? Yes, he had been. Were his lungs “retracting”? Because Dylan spent the first few days of his life in the NICU learning how to breathe better, we knew what that meant. We unzipped his jammies and, yes, his diaphragm was visibly being sucked in whenever he inhaled.

At that point, he woke up a bit more and started coughing his barky cough. The nurse could hear him. She suggested that M. hang up and call 911!

We were shocked, scared, and horrified that we hadn’t realized the seriousness of the situation. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be the first time that night.

M. called and the dispatcher indicated paramedics were on their way. Dylan watched us with big eyes while we scrambled around to put on clothes, gather his diaper bag, and otherwise prepare for a possible trip to the hospital. I remember thinking how odd it was to hear sirens in the distance coming closer, and know they were coming for us. A few minutes later, the paramedics arrived along with a big fire engine, followed by an ambulance.

Dylan was so sweet and cute as the big guys in uniforms came into our little house. But we knew he must not be feeling really well because there were only a few of his characteristic “ooooohhhhs!” when he experiences something new and interesting.

The emergency personnel were really nice with him. They tried to give him some oxygen through a mask while they checked his vital signs, but he kept pushing it away. As we had 15 months ago in the NICU, M. and I tried to interpret the various numbers and “secret code” they were using to communicate and assess what was going on.

Eventually, they told us that they advised he be transported to a hospital. (Again, we were surprised.) They brought a stretcher in, and M. and I made a quick decision that I’d go with the little guy while M. followed behind in our car. Unfortunately, because it was apparently a busy night for emergencies, the hospital closest to us and with which we are most familiar was “slammed” and they let us know they’d be taking us to another area hospital.

I got on the gurney and held Dylan tight while they strapped us both in and loaded us in the ambulance. In a moment of brilliance, M. remembered Dylan’s Puppy and passed him into us. We gave Daddy a bunch of kisses before they turned the lights and siren on and off we went.

It was pretty surreal, and because Dylan clearly didn't seem in critical danger, it was all kind of interesting to me. Thankfully, I’d never been in ambulance before. I think that part was a lot harder on M. He didn’t know how his boy was doing or where the hospital was located. (In fact, when he arrived just a few minutes after we did, the ambulance driver let him know he’d followed a little too closely! Of course, I was grateful he was already there.)

I was curious about what would happen next. It was SO not like the TV show ER, thank goodness! We were shuffled around a bit by the EMTs and the hospital personnel, but fairly quickly moved to a small room designated for pediatric patients. There was just one other little girl there with her mom. Dylan soon was diagnosed with croup, which wasn’t a surprise to us.

We were told that croup is a very common childhood illness, typically caused by the same viruses that result in a cold or just a mild sore throat, if anything, in adults. It’s usually the swelling of the larynx, and because the bronchial tubes are so small in children, the airway is obstructed. In modern times in the U.S., it rarely gets as severe as it did with our boy…which makes me feel like an awful mother for not getting him treatment sooner.

They gave us a medicated nebulizer and instructed us to keep it close to Dylan’s face, which was a real challenge since the mist seemed to bother him and he’d push it away. (When it wasn’t in his face, he’d snuggle up on our shoulder and go back to sleep.) After listening closely to his breathing and giving him a chest x-ray, they decided to give him some steroids as well, at which point they finally shared that we’d be there “several more hours” and there was a possibility that he’d be admitted to the hospital. (Another shock.)

His breathing seemed to be improving, but at some point, they evaluated him again and decided he needed another treatment of the medicated nebulizer. It was about 2:30 a.m. when I encouraged M. (who was already exhausted from working hard on a work proposal) to go home. At least one of us should get some sleep. He did so reluctantly, and I assured him I’d give him a call if anything changed, I learned something new, or we needed him in any way.

Fortunately, at about that point, the other little patient was admitted to the hospital and moved, so we had the room to ourselves and could even turn out the light. I spent the next four hours lying on a gurney, repositioning a sleeping baby so that he’d get the steam in his face but it wouldn’t wake him up. Not an easy task, and I didn’t sleep a wink.

About 6:30 a.m., Dylan woke up and started to be his active self. A new shift of nurses was on, and a very nice one came and examined him and even ordered us some breakfast. Finally, the doctor returned and told me that typically, when two of the treatments are required, hospitalization is indicated, so they were recommending admission to the hospital. (Another shock, especially with a pretty happy baby I was having trouble keeping from squiggling out of my arms.) About 8:30 a.m., I was finally told they were making arrangements to transfer us – by ambulance – to the closest Kaiser hospital, since that’s where we are insured. I called M. – who was actually able to get about three hours of sleep – to fill him in, and he was already packing up to come back to the hospital. He arrived just as the guys for the ambulance service were preparing us for transport.

To be continued…

Sunday, January 30, 2011

OAR#23: Taking the bliss outa ignorance

(I'm sliding in a post before January concludes officially.)

In a little twist, the most recent Open Adoption Roundtable sent interested responders to another blog and asked for answers to Jessica at O Solo Mama's "ignorant questions" about open adoption.

I'll take a stab at answering as best I can...

1. If open adoption is so great, why do so many people suck at it? By this I mean, not honouring commitments, closing the adoption, telling the other family they’re not “doing this thing” correctly or playing the “for the sake of the child” card?

Open adoption relies on human relationships, human relationships with loss, longing, and love at their heart. Like any relationship, it is only as healthy as all of the humans within it. Therefore, it is almost always complex, messy, and emotionally challenging. All too often, it "sucks."

Of course, for perspective, it's important to recognize that open adoption is not the only relationship in which people sometimes have trouble honoring commitments or behaving as anticipated. And of course, it is in relationships with a great deal at stake - such as marriages, or bonds between parents and children - that our human weaknesses cause the most pain and do the most damage.

2. From the standpoint of first parents, open adoption sounds like something that could prolong suffering. Could this suffering potentially outweigh the good of knowing where your child is? Who helps the first parent?

Obviously, I can't answer this one, but I am interested in the responses being submitted by first/birth parents.

3. I’m guessing kids are not hung up on how many relatives they have. Tell me that the thing that hangs up the public all the time about open adoption and other unconventional relationships—two mommies, two daddies, three, four, parents—is the least of your worries because it seems to me it is.


Well, it's too early to tell how Dylan will feel about having two mothers, but I'm guessing he'll pick up on the cues that M. and I give him. We're pretty comfortable with the lingo of open adoption, so we suspect he will be too.

4. Do you ever feel like you should give this child back? Does the thought ever seize you totally as you watch your child with her bio-family: “ooops?” (OR for f-parents: Do you ever feel as though you need to take this child back? That nothing is stopping you beside an agreement that feels false? Does that feeling go away?)


Well, unfortunately, we haven't seen Dylan interact much with is birth mother. But I have never felt that Dylan isn't exactly where he "should" be.

I can say that I have wondered what his life would be like if he was with her instead of us, and what could have or should have been different in her life to make it possible for her to parent him.

5. How do children ever cope with knowing they could not be kept? When they see their natural parents having more kids, what do they think? Who helps the child in this situation? Both sets of parents?

I don't know yet, but I hope it is both sets of parents. I know that how Dylan will feel when she has and parents additional children is something that concerns V.

I will say I hope we never use - or think of, really - the term "could not be kept" with Dylan. Yes, at some point, he will be mature enough to understand that his birth mom made the decision that she could not parent him as well as she felt he deserved. But I hope the focus, and the feeling, for him is on the love and courage that decision took, rather than on a sense of being discarded.

6. Can you say comfortably that some surrendering mothers could not cope with an open adoption or do you think that it should always be the standard?

I think that's actually two questions. Yes, I believe some surrendering mom's can't cope with an open adoption, but that's not because it's an open adoption. Like I said, it's complex, messy, and emotionally challenging, and not everyone has the support or emotional fortitude to move beyond it. But that is true of any of the options for handling an unanticipated pregnancy, right?

The second part of the questions is a bit tougher for me to answer. I guess I'll say "yes," it should be the standard that all members in an adoption - birth parents, adoptive parents, and children - have the option to maintain relationships with each other. But I know that there are lots of circumstances - particularly in international adoption - when that isn't possible. I say that I think openness should always be an option for a placing parent.

7. Is there ever a reason (aside from extreme/illegal behaviours) to close an adoption totally?


But of course, determining which behaviors are "extreme" can be a subjective thing...and that is why, I believe, many people "suck" at open adoption.

Now, go read what other people had to say!