Sunday, November 8, 2015

Review of "Surviving the Holidays Without a Child - a multimedia guide for those trying to conceive or adopt"

When we began our adoption journey in 2009, I discovered a amazing resource, the Creating a Family website:, that I still use two years after finalization of our son's adotion. This holiday season, they have created a survival guide for those who are among the childless, but are trying to create their family either through conception or adoption. Surviving the Holidays Without a Child - a multimedia guide for those trying to conceive or adopt addresses many aspects of how the annual holiday season adds stress to the stressful situations of infertility treatments and the adoption process. Input for survival strategies came from studies, experts, and people "in the trenches" - women and men struggling with infertility, going through treatments, and wading through the adoption process. Holiday stress is not limited to Thanksgiving and Christmas. When you want a child, but achieving that goal is elusive, Mother's Day, Halloween, and Easter can be stressful as they are child-centered holidays. Yes, Easter has become a child-centered holiday with cute outfits, photos with the Easter Bunny, and Easter egg hunts. The Survival Guide provides strategies for creating allies, dealing with emotions, limiting physical stress, and minimizing financial stress. 

Page 9 of the Guide is the section about Let Your Family Know. Even if you view your infertility as a very private subject to not be broadcasted, the Guide recommends telling select family members who can become your allies during family gatherings. These allies will know not to ask the dreaded question, "So, when are you having children?" They can also change the subject when the conversation becomes too child-centric or make sure you get to hold the newest baby in the family, if that is what you desire.

The Survival Guide is easy to use for any family gathering such as family reunions, not just the holidays, Each section has links to blogs, videos, audio files, factsheets, all resources from the Creating a Family website. I did find that clicking on the links did not open a new window, but took my currently open tab to that link. When I clicked the back button on my browser, I was taken back to the beginning of the Survival Guide. It is a easily loadable PDF so scrolling through the 27 pages was not too difficult to get back to where I left off reading. I recommend reading through the entire guide then browsing the links afterwards. The Guide and the links are a very handy tool during the adoption process or the infertility conception/treatment process. You might consider having family members read Surviving the Holidays Without a Child so they better understand why the holidays are difficult for you.

Creating a Family is the national adoption & infertility education organization. Their mission is to provide support and unbiased information before, during and after adoption or fertility treatment to help create strong families. Check out their Five Core Values that they use to guide every decision.   They are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and you can check out their financials and IRS Form 990 at GuideStar. Executive Director is Dawn Davenport, author of  The Complete Book of International Adoption (Random House) plus many articles about infertility and adoption. The survival guide was developed with the help of several sponsors: Children's Connection Inc.; Jennifer Fairfax of Family Formation Law Offices; Walling Berg & Debele, PA; Advance Fertility Center of Chicago; Bierly & Rabuck; New Beginnings International Children's and Family Services; and Beacon House Adoption Services, Inc.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mothers and Open Adoption

We just passed Mother's Day 2015. Within the adoption world there has been a lot of discussion about how, and if, adoptive mothers should honor the biological/birth/first mothers. Adoptions have varying degrees of openness from very open like our relationship with L and the other maternal relatives of Junior to the completely closed adoptions where some children do not even know they are adopted. This year, my third Mother's Day celebrating my motherhood, I thought a lot about L and of her biological mother. Yes, Junior is second generation adoptee. L's adoption was a typical 1970s adoption - young mother placed baby through a religious organization, most likely few knew she was even pregnant. L knows the geographic location of her birth and approximate age of her biological mother. This is so unlike the relationship she, Junior, and I have which allows for very open and sharing communication. Junior knows his beginning, any questions he may ever have he can ask his bio mom, he knows who he looks like because we have contact and we have photos. L and I have formed a bond beyond friends, beyond sisters- we are both the mother of Junior. Junior knows he has two mothers and two fathers.

There are strong advocates for open adoption who passionately believe all adoptions should have some form of communication between the biological family and the adoptive family. Then there are some situations where open adoption is not feasible - international adoption or safe haven adoption where child has been abandoned, foster care adoption where it is unsafe to maintain contact with the biological family, or after adoption a biological relative may choose to no longer maintain contact. This is the case of Junior's biological father. After termination of his parental rights, Mr. chose to no longer maintain communication with Junior or with us. He may share DNA with my son and memories, but he has severed the relationship. We were willing to foster a redefined relationship for our son with his biological father as we have with Junior's biological mother. It saddens me that Mr. chose to end communication; maybe, someday we will re-establish communication.

We are grateful and blessed by the relationship we have with Junior's maternal relatives. As my mother says, "You can never have too many people to love you." Not only has Junior blossomed in this love-filled, open relationship, but so have J and D who joined us last year. As we add children and their biological family to our family, we end up not with a single family tree, but with a network of trees where the roots are connected, each tree depends on the others. Through love, communication, and relationship, we can all become better humans.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Foster Care Normalacy

Once you adopt you get into a routine, a new normal. We achieved that with Junior once he became legally free in 2013. We had school, swim team, church, my work, family dinners, and family trips. Our lives did not have to include visits with caseworkers or guardian ad litums or report submittals or hearings. We could be a family.

Last September we welcomed two more kids into our family. Six months later we have somewhat of a routine, but it is dependent upon their mother's desires and schedule. We know we have the two boys every weekend. It is up to their mom if they attend church with us or with her. J spends every day after school with us until late evening. I never know during the week if we will have D so we can have two or three kids on any given day.

All three boys have adjusted to the new birth order - Junior went from an only to the oldest, J went from the oldest to the middle, and D went from the middle to the youngest. They all act like brothers with their teasing, their bickering, their joking, the laughing. This week I have been helping Junior and J figure out their high school classes with the changing regulations - Junior has one set of requirements while J has another set of requirements. They both have dreams of careers after high school. D is looking forward to entering middle school next year. It warms my heart to see our two newest additions be children, enjoy life, and feel safe. I wish we could have them full time so they could always be secure. We will see how their lives play out during the next six months. We are expecting some changes soon, but we will adjust. When arrangements are temporary you adapt as things change. Occasionally there are tears, you pray there are more smiles than frowns.

Through this all this I know God is walking with us. Protecting the boys and giving us all strength to get through the hard times. The Lord brought Junior into our lives so He could bring J and D into our lives. Three years ago we lost our battle with the state and were forced to sign with a private agency for foster-adopt. Within three years we went from no children to three children! Our cup overfloweth.

Deuteronomy 28:2 NRS
All these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord you God.

Isaiah 26:4 KJV
Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.