A letter to friends and family…

This is a letter I have been putting together. If you have anything to add PLEASE comment me. I really want to give my loved ones a heads up on what to expect through our adoption :)

What exactly is domestic infant adoption?

This is the adoption of a newborn or very young child whose birthparent has made a difficult decision that she is unable to parent at that point. These parents love and wish that they could parent their children but feel that adoptive placement is the best decision for their children. The parents relinquish their rights voluntarily. The majority of birthparents who take part in domestic infant adoptions select and meet the prospective adoptive parents and want some level of openness in their adoption, which refers to the level of contact after the placement. However, it is the birthparents right to limit contact as well.

And don’t worry, just because there is openness does not increase the chance of the birthparent kidnapping the child after placement.

Understanding Loss in Adoption

Adoption is only made possible through loss; birthparents, adopted children and adoptive families often experience grief when adoption happens. To the average person, the adoption of a child is something to be celebrated. However, issues that arise during and after the adoption process can bring up feelings of guilt, shame, sadness and isolation for birthmothers, adopted kids and their adoptive parents.

Losses an Adopted Child Experience

The loss that has the biggest impact on an adopted child’s life is that he is not being raised by the mother who gave birth to him. Even adopted infants show signs of grief during their adjustment to their adoptive families. Regardless of the reasons for a child’s relinquishment, it is completely natural for an adoptee of any age to grieve the loss of his birthmother and his life before adoption.

Losses Experienced by Birth families

The most obvious loss for a birthmother is that she is no longer the legal parent of a child she gave birth to. With that loss, women may experience isolation from friends and family, often leading to depression.

Like adopted children, birthmothers lack a concrete focus for their grief because their child is alive and there is the possibility of a reunion someday. By not having a focus for their intense feelings, birthmothers may have unresolved grief, which affects future relationships.

Birthfathers and extended birth family also experience loss in adoption. Friends and family of those affected often underestimate the emotional turmoil of losing a biological child or grandchild to adoption.

Losses Experienced by Adoptive Parents

Although the adding of a long hoped for child to the family is a reason to celebrate, it can also bring up some feelings of grief. Adoptive parents may be grieving the loss of a child who is not genetically tied to them and in some cases the loss of the ideal child they were hoping to adopt.

5 Losses with Infertility

  • Loss of control
  • Loss of individual genetic continuity
  • Loss of a jointly conceived child
  • Loss of the physical experience of a pregnancy
  • Loss of the joint emotional experience of conceiving, shared pregnancy, birth experiences, etc.

We want to assure you that both Dave and I recognize the importance of the grieving process. We have faced it head on and are confident in our decision to move forward with adoption. We are also aware that post adoption depression can affect adoptive parents as well. We are partnering with fellow adoptive parents to help us through our process.

What makes Adoptive Parenthood Different From Biological Parenthood?

  • Complete assessment and approval by agency
  • Need to explain how the child came to be our child
  • Need to explain to child his/her biological background
  • Need to explain why birthparents made an adoption plan
  • May need to help the child’s feelings of rejection
  • Accept communication with and from birthparents during placement and into future
  • Understand the subject of “searching” and “a right to know”

Positive Adoption Language

Unless it is necessary to indicate that the parents have adopted a child, it is politically correct to refer to the people raising the child as the parents and to not refer to them as adoptive parents. In addition, reference to a child’s adoption by labeling him the adopted child in any situation is not appropriate unless it is relevant to an issue being discussed.

Failed Adoption

A sad reality of adoption is that we may experience a failed adoption. In our case, a failed adoption can happen when the placing mother chooses to parent her baby.

Failed adoptions can be devastating. Even though we have no legal right to parent the child, the child has grown in our hearts. A failed adoption is a very real loss that needs to be grieved.

We also have the choice to reject certain situations as well. We have already made this gut-wrenching decision once during our wait. Living it first hand, we can tell you this is extremely painful and taxing.

Helping Our Baby Adjust

There is a small chance that our baby will come home directly from the hospital. Most babies spend some time in interim care (foster families that only work with Bethany Christian Services) while waiting for birth parents to relinquish. This could last just a few days or extend to several months.

Many babies feel the trauma of adjustment: new people, new surroundings, smells, unfamiliar food, and a foreign bed. We have researched a few ways to help form a loving bond.

1)   You will probably see us “wearing” the baby often to familiarize him/her with our scents and to promote contact.

2)    We will be the only ones to feed him/her, as this is an important bonding time.

3)   We will be the baby’s primary provider of care, meeting all needs ourselves, to build trust.

4)   Because the baby may have experienced a different caregiver and environment after birth, we are advised to use moderation in having visitors and company during baby’s early adjustment to our home.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

We will share more later on the challenges of adopting transracially. Here are just a few points to think about:

Issues in Transracial Adoptions

In the best of all possible worlds…

  • No child would ever be separated from its biological parents.
  • No parent who birthed a child would ever need to be separated.
  • Nobody who wanted to give birth to a child would be unable to do so.

But this is not the best of all worlds…

  • Adoption satisfies the child’s need for loving parents.
  • Adoption satisfies the birth parent’s need to provide a nurturing family when they cannot parent the child themselves.
  • Adoption satisfies the adoptive parent’s need to build a family.

In the best of all possible worlds…

  • Racism would not exist.
  • Society would not have prejudice about adoption.

But this is not the best of all worlds…

  • Transracial adoption meets the needs of children when same race placement is not available.
  • Every child has a right to a permanent, nurturing and culturally competent family.
  • Given a choice between a home and waiting in the foster care system, every child deserves a family.
  • Transracial placements are complex. Adoptive parents must learn to help their child develop racial pride.
  • Every time there is an assumption that race doesn’t matter in a given situation, that assumption must be examined.

Issues a transracial family must acknowledge:

  • For a child to have positive identity they must feel pride in being all of who they are.
  • Others identify a child of color by skin color; independent of the family they grow up in.
  • Racism exists. Parents of a child of color must not evade or minimize that skin color prejudice exists. Children cannot be protected from racism; they must be prepared for it.
  • The child must learn to distinguish between events that occur as results of their own behavior and events that reflect the problems of society, independent of them.
  • Other people of the same race as the child will have expectations that the child will be aware of. He or she needs experience to be able to meet these expectations.
  • No child should be handicapped by the limits of their adoptive parents experience.

Recommendations

  • Know who you are. If you are white, you can’t be black, brown, tan or yellow.
  • Find adult role models for your family, not just your child.
  • Participate in culture.
  • Convey to your child that their racial community didn’t reject him or her.
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3 Responses

  1. I found your blog through http://reclaimblackfamily.wordpress.com/. You left a great comment on adoption. I just wanted to say that we adopted domestically and transracially–twice! We have never been so blessed as to be parents to our kids. My husband is also an adoptee, so is his sister, and many others in his extended family. I pray that will help our kids throughout their journeys. People tell us all the time how blessed our children are to have us, but we always say–no, it is us who are blessed! I hope that your adoption story will have a very happy ending/beginning. Blessings, Bonnie

  2. Thanks so much, Bonnie! It can be such a struggle when I know there are people with such strong opinions about it… whether good or bad. But the bottom line is, my DH and I want to have children and there are children out there that need parents. It’s as simple as that. And we aren’t going to the back of the longest line to make it all happen! I trust that God will equip us to be the best we can be. Thanks so much for the encouragement… it’s so great to hear positive stories!

  3. And oh my word… your two little ones are just beautiful! I did glance over your blog quickly and noticed you are thinking of adopting again :) I pray you get that next little bundle soon too!

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