December 31, 2006

Happy 2007!

After a great week with family in Ohio, we're back in DC. We didn't do anything special, just did a lot of laughing and talking and relaxing. And six college applications - pressed the last button today, woo hoo!

New Year's Eve, can't believe how fast this year has flown by. The Boy is off at a party - an all-nighter at a friend's house to keep the kids off the roads - and The Girl will be leaving for a sleepover soon. Third Dad and I are headed to some friends to celebrate. Normally we stay home and do absolutely nothing, so this is kind of a treat. I'm looking forward to it.

And I'm looking forward to a lot of blog-reading and writing tomorrow, too.

Happy New Year, everyone!

December 20, 2006

Wishes for You

Because I know the coming days will leave little time to finish any of the posts I have in draft or swirling in my head, I want to take a minute and say this to each and every person that has stopped by this blog, added comments, offered support, asked a question, or raised a concern.

Thank you. You will never know how much I've gained from knowing you here online or (for those I've had the honor and pleasure to meet face-to-face) in real life. Writing, and knowing you are reading, have become more important to me than I'd ever have imagined.
To the adoptees who grapple every day with the pain of adoption, with the loss of their identities and first families, and with society's failure to see that these are an attack on their human rights, I give my wish that the new year brings you the information and contact with the people you seek, and change to the policies that keep your identities and families from you.

To the mothers and fathers who spend this time of year in sadness because they cannot find the children they gave to the world years ago, or are separated from children they have found, or who struggle in reunion, I offer my acknowledgment that your pain is real, and is caused by yet another failure of society to understand the importance of the bond that you and your children share.

To the adoptive parents whose lives have been blessed by the children that have come to you from near and far, I send my hope that your love for your children will grow into the kind of nurturing support that will help them seek their identities and tell their truths without fear of violating their relationships with you.

And to all who, in spite of the challenges and inequities, have found family and joy through adoption, I challenge you to look beyond your happiness and see the pain in the lives of others who have been less gently touched by adoption, so we can all work toward the change that is so desperately needed.
I'm looking forward to writing and reading more and more next year. Although I've told a lot of my own story, I see myself talking more next year about what to do with my thoughts and my desire to change adoption. There's so much work to be done, so many things you and I can be doing to make a difference. I'd like to talk more about that in the coming months, and also hear what you are doing in your families and communities to make these same changes. It's exciting to think about!

Have a wonderful holiday everyone, whatever holiday you may be celebrating, and a wonderful year end if you're celebrating no holiday at all! A Happy Healthy New Year to all!

December 16, 2006

Don't Misses 12-16-06

Although the holidays have many blogs quiet, still some terrific posts and good information:
  • An amazing post on first motherhood on Wet Feet; this more than anything I've read captures the emotions of the first hours and days and months after surrendering a child.

  • And another amazing post from Claud, Somewhere in China, which dispels the myth that Chinese mothers don't mourn the loss of their children to adoption.

  • From the Korea Times: Number of Older Single Mothers Rises - The article indicates that the number of Korean single mothers (which in the article means an unmarried woman who becomes pregnant regardless of her final decision for her child's future) between the ages of 16 and 20 appears to be dropping, while the number of single mothers 26 and older appears to be rising. The statistics for single mothers between 20 and 25 has been stable during the same time period. The article also indicates that single mothers are choosing to raise their children more frequently - from 2.7 percent in 1984 to 3.5 percent in 1996 and 31.7 percent last year.
  • I found an organization online that I hadn't heard of before - MomsRising. Here's their description from their website:
MomsRising has a goal of bringing millions of people, who all share a common concern about the need to build a more family-friendly America, together as a non-partisan force for 2008 and beyond. This grassroots, online effort is mobilizing mothers, and all who have mothers, across America as a cohesive force for change. Started this May 2006, MomsRising already has over 50,000 citizen members, as well as more than fifty (and growing) aligned national organizations, working together to create positive solutions for the future.
    The website has information about MomsRising initiatives and services, including their e-newsletter. Since moms are the focus, it seems to me that this is an organization that should be made aware of the need of first moms for support, and of the potential for their children to be removed from them by unethical adoption agencies and individuals.

December 15, 2006

Not Funny

Kim was one of the first to speak out about the cheesy campaign - thank you for your vigilance, Kim. Susan speaks out loud and clear, too, as do Claud, Joy, Baggage, Tina, MSP, Avery, Jae Ran, Roundisfunny, and others I'm sure I'm missing. I'm shouting you all out to thank you for shouting this campaign down.

Although I missed the original website, I was able to pull the following up from the cache. Unbelievable.

The Association For Adoption Of Little Bites™ is a fully licensed adoption service. Established in 1996 with the aim to find caring homes for loving little bites. Everyone is welcome to adopt! It doesn’t matter if you’re a single mum or dad, or a teenager, a senior citizen, a size 14 or a French politician. Even short people and married couples with children may adopt.

About Us

The Association For Adoption Of Little Bites™ is a fully licensed adoption service. Established in 1996 with the aim to find caring homes for loving little bites. Everyone is welcome to adopt! It doesn’t matter if you’re a single mum or dad, or a teenager, a senior citizen, a size 14 or a French politician. Even short people and married couples with children may adopt with AFAOLB™.

Parenthood is great and we encourage everyone to go through with a bite adoption, but keep in mind that; a bite is for life – it’s not for lunch. That means that with adoption come responsibilities. It’s important for us here at AFAOLB™ that every adopted baby bite gets a good upbringing. Don’t worry, it may sound more complicated than it is. We will be with you every step of the way.

Check out our new Baby Bite Lifetime Insurance Plan™ which includes:

  • Fixed premium for better financial planning
  • Lifelong medical and life insurance protection to give you and your bite extra peace of mind
  • Receive a 10% discount on Babybite Bumbers (newborn size only) in most stores throughout the UK
  • A folder decorated with the AFAOLB™ stork logo, great for organizing
    insurance documents.
Now, it's one thing when an air-headed advertising type puts something like this together - you can chalk it up to a complete lack of intelligence and sensitivity. But what about this:

New Proud Parents

1. Lucky, adopted by Kev & Shell
2. child, adopted by ramaa & Male & Female
3. jay, adopted by ramaa
4. Samuel, adopted by Sarah
5. britney, adopted by Nicola Weston
6. wolfgang, adopted by Kady Moy & Katie Hilton
7. asama, adopted by helgordon
8. frank, adopted by helgordon
9. Ste jr, adopted by Kara Lyons
10. jesse, adopted by janice pickering

I think the fact that people responded positively to this campaign frightens me more than the existence of the campaign itself. We can reach Pizza Hut and take the campaign down. But how do you reach the individuals that think this is OK and change their minds?

I want to scream. I think I will. Right into Mr. Simon Wallis' ear, via his email at Simon.Wallis@pizzahut.co.uk. And into the ear of Mr. Neil Christie, the campaign's creator, at neil.christie@wk.com.

Thank you Kim, for providing these email addresses, and for giving the link to the WK website, where you can leave a comment:

http://wklondon.typepad.com/welcome_to_optimism/2006/11/adopt_a_cheesy__1.html

December 8, 2006

100 Thoughts - 100 Posts

This is my 100th post - a good time for a little retrospection and introspection, I think.

I began blogging to share my story and to voice my thoughts on adoption loss – my children’s losses and those of their firsts parents. I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started, except that I anticipated I'd mostly be communicating with other adoptive parents.

But among the first to respond to this blog were first mothers, who have generously opened a dialog with me that has so deepened my understanding of their experience. I thank them all for their willingness to communicate with me, especially Claud, Suz, and Kim. You are the best – brave, wise, and strong, and willing to work hard for others.

I found adoptees here, too, many of whom voiced how torn they were by their adoption experience, also their criticism of society’s refusal to acknowledge how utterly devastating it is to be kept from their identities. With strong, clear voices, they have told their experience, not the one their adoptive parents or first parents would like to believe is true. The amazing Joy, Jae Ran, Ji-In, Susan, Mia, Amy - your voices stand out, thank you for your openness, honesty, and unfailing support for your fellow adoptees.

The adoptive parents came more slowly. I began to look for them online, and found that most were talking about the early years of their adoption experiences - meeting their children, raising their families. Slowly, more have come forward who think and feel as I do, who question what we are doing in adoption and how we are doing it. They have helped me feel less alone with my own thoughts, which sometimes have taken me to very dark places. Wise Roberta, Kahlan and Zoe, Marlene, Ryan, Dawn, Susie, Gwen, Clouds - thank you.

But one thing has stunned me - the disrespect of adoptive parents toward first parents and adoptees, which can be found in insensitive blogs and rude forum dialog. I don’t understand it – it's contrary to simple human civility, and it also makes no sense that the people who benefit from adoption – the adoptive parents – would be blind to the pain of those who suffer because of it. And so eager to judge. Not every adoptive parent behaves this way, of course, but the volume of rudeness I’ve seen online has been shocking.

So going forward I’ll keep writing my thoughts and experiences, for they’re the only thing I can speak of with any authority. Hopefully in doing so, others who see the need for change in adoption will open their hearts to those who grieve the loss of their children and first families, and will begin to speak, to write, and to do something about it.

One of the first posts I wrote still expresses best what's in my heart toward first parents, especially those of my children:

  • I acknowledge your pain
  • I recognize that you were pushed to your decision by circumstances beyond your control
  • I am sad that I have the parenting experience that is rightfully yours
  • I love our children with all my heart
  • I hope you meet and know them one day
Now, almost a year and 100 posts later, I would add this, to adoptees:

  • I acknowledge your pain
  • I believe that the loss of your identity is an affront to your human rights
  • I understand that you are perpetually torn between two families
  • I know that your voice alone can speak to this experience
  • I am listening
And to my fellow adoptive parents:

  • I know you love your children with all your heart, as I love mine
  • I ask you to always remember that our families were created from the pain of others
  • I encourage you to give your children the freedom to express their truths, and to support them as they seek their identities and family connections
  • I beg you to extend respect to the parents and children that have been separated by adoption
Adoption is often expressed as a paradox. We’re all in it together, for better and for worse. Thank you all for being here in the paradox with me.

December 3, 2006

Acknowledging Reality

The question on the last open mike discussion - whether or not transracial adoptees should be only children - was clearly one that's on many minds. Thank you all for your emails, excellent comments, and posts - other points of view on this question can be found here and here and here and here.

The majority of you who commented and wrote about this topic - really all of you - agreed that transracially adopted children shouldn't be racially alone in their families. I agree - it's common sense, I think. But sometimes, our efforts to ensure our families are no different from others blinds us from recognizing it.

When adoptive parents are white and the children are not, a family's transracial adoptive status will be obvious. Being so clearly different, constantly on display, can grow old fast, and parents and kids alike may react to this by trying to prove otherwise.

I've said it myself - "We're just like any other family" - and in many ways it's true. My family's daily life looks a lot like the daily life I remember as a kid, filled with school, friends, sports, activities, housework and the like. But it would be unfair to my children to pretend that because the life we live is ordinary that our family is the same as every other. The fact is that outside our home, wherever we go, we're different.

Some adoptive parents may find this difficult to accept. They may believe that their love for their children can transcend the differences. Others feel that downplaying them, and focusing on family life, are a better way to assure their children's security in their family. Still others may avoid the issue altogether. Denial can easily become the path of least resistance.

We can't deny reality, though. Transracial adoptive parents must recognize that our families will never be just like the non-adoptive families down the block. We'll need to make decisions that other families will never have to face - decisions to add siblings to our family who share our children's race, to move to neighborhoods that give our children contact with others of their race, to send our children to racially diverse schools, to support their searches for their first families. These issues, not those of day to day life, will create the greatest challenges for our children when they are grown and move out into the world as individuals.

Facing these decisions is a responsibility we accepted when we adopted our children. Acting upon them is our responsibility, too. It's our reality.