One of my favorite bloggers on adoption and related issues, Heather, is hosting an interview project in the adoption-related blogging world. I was randomly paired with Kristin from Parenthood Path. I really enjoyed reading through her blog and getting to know her a bit better through her online story and her interview questions.
Her interview is below. My questions are in italics. Her answers are not. As a point of reference, her husband is M., her son is D., and her son's birth mother is V. Hope you enjoy getting to know Kristin as much as I have!
You and I both have very young adopted children, so we haven’t yet had to deal with school family tree projects or questions from our kids about why their family is different from other families. It does make us think through, about how the birthmother/birth family fits into OUR family as a whole. In your ideal scenario, what would be your birthmother’s role/involvement in your family?
Hmmm…First and foremost, I want D. to have a comfortable and natural relationship with V. (one that makes any scrutiny that his atypical family might receive easy for him to handle). Next, I want V. to have a comfortable and natural relationship with her son. Third, I want V. to have a comfortable and natural relationship with me and M. And last, you guessed it, I want M. and I to have a comfortable and natural relationship with V. I’m not sure how we will achieve these things as our lives progress, but I imagine it will continue to require openness, honesty, respect, and love.
You allude to some problems with maintaining your “ideal “open adoption relationship because the ball gets dropped by V. I can really relate to this. Has this difficulty caused you to re-evaluate your “ideal “relationship, or has it strengthened your resolve to find ways to keep the lines of communication open?
Both. I’d really like to have regular and predictable contact with D’s birth mom, but I’ve had to adjust my expectations a bit and work to “meet her where she’s at.” Shifting my focus has taken some pressure off of me, and I think it’s also helped me personally connect with her better when she is in touch.
Of course, I worry a lot about how contact that isn’t regular and predictable might impact D. It’s been tremendously helpful to learn from other parents (like Heather!) about how they see their role not as protecting their kids from disappointment and hurt, but helping them to navigate difficult (and inevitable) emotions in healthy and productive ways.
Do you have plans to try to adopt again? Why or why not?
I suppose you’ll just have to stay tuned to learn the answer to this question! I will say that our lives are VERY full and happy with the one beautiful child we have.
You’ve talked about positive adoption language on your blog before. What is the most annoying term/phrase you’ve heard used by family or friends in reference to your son and/or his birth family?
Yah, we’ve been asked if we’ve heard from his “real mom,” and other awkward and annoying things. Mostly, though, the slips have just come from people who mean well but just haven’t thought about the implications of their words and found better ways to express themselves. I guess we’re fortunate in that no particularly awful incident comes to mind.
It does bother me that despite all the educating and explaining we’ve tried to do, some people in our lives still seem not to appreciate why we want a close relationship with D’s birth family, regardless of any challenges that might bring.
How do you deal with family or friends who are “repeat offenders” in using language that is not helpful?
At this point, depending on the offender and the offense, I either shrug it off and move on, gently mention a preferred term or perspective, or (more often than I probably should) correct with a scolding tone and rolling eyes.
I’ve read adoption bloggers who fall in one of two separate ideologies: “He WAS adopted.” Or “He IS adopted.” Apparently, for many, there is a big difference in identifying this as a once-and-done event or as an ongoing part of who you (and your family) are. Into which camp do you fall? Why?
I actually wrote about this particular issue and how my views on it have changed in my last post about Positive Adoption Language. Basically, I think it needs to be up to the person who was/is adopted to decide what term to use, and when.
Personally, I am trying to train myself to say, “we adopted him,” rather than “he is/was adopted,” because I think that more accurately reflects an action the adults took, instead of some characteristic of our son.
Your infertility journey was similar to ours in that you didn’t try many of the more invasive, expensive procedures before pursuing adoption. I’ve found that a lot of people question that and wonder why we chose adoption instead of pursuing these technologies. What is the most compelling reason you can give for why adoption was your choice.
Quite simply, we were more confident adoption would make us parents than IVF. We also felt that adoption was more consistent with our values.
Yes, I will always miss never having been pregnant, given birth, or nursed my child. But now, when I go into my boy’s room in the morning and he’s jiggling with joy to see me, I am so, so glad we didn’t spend lots more time, money, and heartache on medical intervention. There is no way M. and I could have created a child so “perfect.”
My thought exactly. :)