Monday, March 1, 2010

Adoption-related thoughts

My husband gave a presentation at a father/son program this weekend, and served on a panel of fathers at the end. It is similar to a program I'm involved in (mother/daughter) where we explain development to pubescent children in terms that help them understand the changes within the context of God's plan for their bodies.

I was looking over the agenda to help him figure out which parts he was supposed to cover, and something struck me as odd. And irritating. Under the panel presentation, "Being a Father", there were three speakers, covering three different "types" of fatherhood. The last one, my husband, was given the title of "Adoptive Father" to differentiate him from another speaker who was a "Physical Father".

Knowing the person who created the agenda, I am quite sure that this was done with no intent other than to be overly thorough. But it irritated me. A lot. Because the difference between a "physical father" and an "adoptive father" has absolutely nothing to do with how they ARE as fathers. The act of creating life, from the male perspective, takes only a few moments. BEING a Father involves the act of parenting a child...loving them, disciplining them, caring for them, relating to them.

And I would argue that the act of BEING a father is not affected in the least by how one came to fatherhood.

Oh, many might argue with me. I'm quite certain that there are issues we will face with our child because of the fact that she was adopted...issues that we would not have faced if she shared our genes. But then we'd have issues with a genetically-related child that we would not have with Olivia. Kids are individuals, and individuals have their unique challenges and issues. But I would argue that the way we approach parenting and relating to our child have absolutely nothing to do with her biological origins.

So, designating my husband as an "adoptive" father unnecessarily singled him out (and all the adoptive fathers/sons in the crowd) as "different". Yes, the fact that we adopted our child would have come out in the talk either way, because that is our story. And it is OURS to share, if and when we will. Having it announced on paper told our story before my husband had a chance to share it himself. And I don't like that. I don't think he minded so much, but I do. It's our story to tell, and when she gets old enough, it will be Olivia's. I don't want her singled out as different simply because she was adopted. She will always know her story and, I hope, be freely and proudly willing to share it. But I want it to be HERS to share, and not something that others share for her.

End of rant.


Today we had our state-mandated home visit to complete our homestudy update. It consisted of our social worker sitting at our table and making small talk with us for about a half-hour. She knows us. We've done this before. She didn't NEED to drive all the way out here to make sure we had a roof and running water and electricity. Except that the state requires a visit, so there you go.

During the course of our conversation, we asked how her placements are going. She said that her agency is right on target with the numbers they are used to seeing. My husband, always ready with a quick quip, jokingly said, "So why don't people like us? Why hasn't anyone picked us?" Of course there are many answers to the questions. She said that birthparents are always commenting about how cute Olivia is in our profile book. But, as we already knew, many birthparents tend toward couples with no kids...the "make their dreams come true" mentality. I get it, which is part of the reason I haven't stressed about it much.

And then she said, "Actually, I had a placement last week where the birthmother couldn't make a decision and told me to pick one. In those situations, I present her with the family that has been waiting the longest. And there was one couple waiting longer than you, so they got picked."

So, a few things. First, the fact that we are (now) the couple in her stack that has been waiting longest is kind of encouraging. I mean, it's only been a year. Some people wait for several years before getting a placement. So it is encouraging to know that no one has been waiting longer than a year on her current list.

But, why tell us that we were THIS CLOSE to being chosen for a baby? I mean, really...WHY? It's comforting and also maddening.

And now all those excited, hopeful feelings that I keep pushing to the back of my mind...the kind of warm, fuzzy feelings where you imagine the actual scenario of bringing home a new baby and how wonderful that will feel...well, those are back in full force. I need to find something else to occupy my mind so I don't drive myself crazy.


I started another toddler this week. I KNOW! But her Mom got my name from another family I babysit for, and she was desperate for a new sitter. It seems her poor little girl was getting slapped around at her other sitter' the other kids or the sitter, I'm not sure, but either way it wasn't a good situation. So I decided to take her on a trial basis to see how the other kids would react to her.

So far (today was her first day), it's been fine. The kids all played well together and included her, and she seemed happy to be here. She napped on schedule with the rest and didn't add much to my workload (what's one more toddler, right?). So I think it's going to work out.

At one point this morning, Olivia was going around and patting all the other kids on the back, saying, "This is my brother. This is my sister." And it got me to thinking... We've been hesitant to consider the foster-to-adopt (babies) idea as a way to grow our family because of how it would affect Olivia to have a baby in our home who could eventually be adopted by us or could very well be returned to his family after a few months. Would that screw up her idea of family and permanence? I don't know. I think maybe we don't give her enough credit. She adapts so well to these kids in her house every day. I'm still not sure if we will ever want to go there, but if we do someday, I think she'd be OK.

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