If you are a perspective Adoptive parent, there is no question that is off limits. I only ask that none be asked in front of the boys. I am happy to answer detail-oriented questions as well as emotional questions. I'd love to help in any way I can.
Also understand please that I am a Mommy above all else. I am extremely passionate about my children and family is number one. I may come off as sounding harsh in this blog but it is more my passion and my protective nature that is oozing out. I hope I am not too off-putting. I am just trying to be honest with no sugar coating. So, let's begin... :)
I want people to FIRST comment on Tayo's smile or notice how it's incredible that when he hears Hartly's voice, even at 2 months, he starts looking for his big brother. I want people to comment on my baby carrier or ask if he is a good eater. I want people to comment on how amazing his head control is (little man is wicked strong - at 9 weeks old he is already rolling over!) I want people to know, automatically, with the first glance that we are, absolutely and completely, a family. But...
Obviously when you look at our family these days, we do look a little different than most families.
|March 2013 (Hartly 2 1/2 years old Tayo 2 months)|
I believe that 99.9%
(or more) of inquiries are said out of fascination and curiosity and none of the askers are meaning to offend and that people do not understand that some wordings of questions can sting. I am quite sure that the old me, the me before I went to pre-adoption classes and seminars, probably asked similar questions to others, and I know I have nothing but love in my heart. I also feel honored and happy to educate people on adoption and I do love that people are interested in my son. Sooo... Here it goes. I will attempt to answer the best I can questions that we have gotten the most since we started our journey to find our son.
MOST FREQUENT MISCONCEPTION:
Let us start with a common phrase (or variation) that we got often when we were in the process of adopting and all the time now -
"Good for you guys! He is so lucky to have you all. That's an incredible thing you all are doing..."
The public has a huge misconception of adoption. Many people view adopted children as 'poor things' and the adoptive parents as 'saviors'. I am here to tell you that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it can be very dangerous to view adoption this way. Adoption is not a charity. Anyone who adopts because they think they are 'saving the world' is actually doing damage to their child.
Let me explain a few things:
There are way more people that want to adopt than there are newborns being placed for adoption. Everyone wants newborns.
There is never (rarely and would be highly special circumstances) a newborn that doesn't find a forever home. We are not saints. In fact, far from it. By being blessed with Tayo, another individual or couple that is waiting to adopt was pushed aside by us. Do not put a gold star on our chest. If anything, we are selfish.
Regarding race/gender/etc - The majority of people who are wanting to adopt are Caucasian. The majority of babies that are being placed are mixed races or African American (one reason is because white woman are more likely to get abortions over other races). Most people, at least initially, that want to adopt want the baby that they adopt to look like them - ie same race. You do the math.
As I mentioned below, my vision has always been a household full of different race babies. But, again, this worked well for the selfish nature of us because of the statement above. We had less competition, which was fine by us.
There is a list - ugh! A dreadful list that perspective adoptive parents must fill out at the beginning of the adoptive process. On the left hand side is a bunch of things such as - African American, Hispanic, pregnancy as a result of rape, Alcohol use during first trimester, physical deformities (cleft palate, missing limb), mental (Down Syndrome, Learning Delays).... and on the right hand side you, as a family, decide what you will check - Yes, No, or Maybe for each thing on the left hand side. This was my least favorite thing that we had to do. It felt terrible to say no to anything. This DID feel like going to a store and pointing to different babies and saying whether we wanted them or not. It made me sick to my stomach. IF we were completely selfless we would have not even read what the left hand column said. We would have just said yes to everything...
Frank always says, if we were completely selfless and saving the world we would have adopted an 11 year old blind child with one arm that has learning difficulties. These are the children that really need to be adopted.
But, even if you do adopt a child that is 11 years old and blind with one arm and learning difficulties - that child, too, is a blessing and must not be viewed as damage goods to be saved. That is not only dangerous, it is just wrong. We learned early on in our seminars on adoption that (this is true for Hartly and non-adopted children as well) no child should feel like they owe their parents or that they were a good deed for the day. A parent/child relationship at its best should be completely mutual in its benefits. It is a give/take and, if anything, we, as the parents, owe more to our children at the end of the day than they do to us. Tayo and Hartly owe me and Frank nothing. We hope that they will return our love and value the things that we do but we do not parent in order for this to occur.
MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
* please note the quotation marks because they are directly out of other people's mouths, not ours
- "Why did you adopt?"
I personally do not mind this question at all (there is a caveat at the end of this). I am happy to tell my story. Since I was 10 years old I have envisioned a house full of children that didn't look like me, but that were my babies. I always have known that there would be children grown in another woman's body that was destined to live in my heart and my home.
I raised this with Frank within the first or second date because this would have been a deal breaker for me. That is how strongly I felt. Luckily Frank was on board right away. He did not care about our children's DNA at all.
Our tentative 'plan' was to first try and conceive (just seemed smart because of age - not that we are old but younger equals higher success rate) and then to adopt. We had thought we would try and have 2 and then we would adopt 2. We got pregnant very easily. I now know, I have a lot of skeletal and core structure problems that I have always compensated for so I never knew I had them. Pregnancy was hard and painful for me almost the whole entire time. Birth was even harder. I wouldn't change a thing but I have no desire to do it all again. Especially since DNA was never that big of a deal with us to start. So, when Hartly was 6 months old we started discussing our options (that is a whole other blog - the world of adoption is a huge and complicated one) regarding adoption.
Here is my caveat - a LOT (the majority) of people who adopt, adopt because they have had difficulty conceiving. Many couples have fertility issues or health issues and have often spent a lot of time, money and heartache trying to make a baby. This is a HIGHLY sensitive area. People can feel like they are broken or wonder why. There is so much sadness, guilt, grief and emptiness associated with it (all descriptions from couples I have come across in these types of situations). So this can be a very intrusive and painful question. I would highly recommend that you never ask someone why they adopted without having any background information. Instead, wait to see if it is offered to you. If you are close to the couple, they may choose to let you in. But that should be their decision.
- "Where did you get him?"
(Deep breath) So, a lot of questions are offensive because of the wording alone. This seems innocent enough but for most parents of adopted children this sends a chill up our spine. I did not go to the store and point to up high on a shelf and say, 'oohhh.... that one looks pretty. I will take him'. It is kind of like when people are curious about what race a person is they will say, "what are you?". I have many friends for whom this is a common occurance and one that hurts their feelings.
I implore you to instead, if you must ask, inquire, "Was it a domestic adoption or International?" From there you can ask what country or state the child was born in or what his ethnic background is.
Tayo was born Domestically. His place of birth is Louisiana.
- "Why did his mother give him up?" "Was his mother young?" "What's her story?" "What's his story?"
First of all, times are changing with word choice. I hate to get all PC but I can't tell you what a huge difference there is between hearing that a Birth Mother placed their child for adoption versus gave their child up. I promise you, no Birth Mother GIVES their child up. They just don't.
Secondly, please don't refer to anybody other than me as his mother. I am his mother. If you ask me if his mother is young I will smile and say, I think I am.
Third of all, any questions concerning his Birth Mother's history and life and story and how Tayo came to be in our arms is their story. It is Tayo's Story. It is his Birth Mother's story. It is not for me to tell. It is extremely private and Tayo will learn about all of it before anybody else does, when it is appropriate for him to. When he is older he can choose if and whom he shares intimate details of his past with. That is not for us to share. This is my son's life. I will not do a disservice to him by gossiping about his past to people.
- "Are you scared his mom will want him back?" "Was his mother sad?"
Refer to SECONDLY and THIRD above.
I also want to speak on behalf of Birth Mother's for a moment here. I think it is easy to villafy or make Birth Mother's like two dimensional characters. I implore you to remember they are not. Regardless the circumstances or age or what occurred to get them to where they are now, every Birth Mother loves the child that they carried inside of them and delivered. I can't imagine a more difficult or brave or heart-wrenching decision. It is one that is never chosen easily.
As far as asking me about how she feels, please don't. Frank and I will never speak an ill word of Tayo's Birth Mother. We love him completely and, therefore, we love his Birth Parents completely as well. And, in order for me to be the best mother I can be to Tayo (and Hartly) I have to concern my daily thoughts with them and not worrying about his Birth Parents. We wish nothing but the best for them both.
Regarding fear of a Birth Parent returning for their Birth Child - after waiting period is over and papers are signed, we are not just emotionally but legally his parents. It would be equally as hard to take Hartly from us as it would to take Tayo at this point.
- "Is it an open adoption?"
This is actually harder to answer than one would think. There are closed adoptions (which there are few of anymore) and then there is a huge continuum of open. Open can mean a letter and a photo once a year or it can mean weekly visits. It also, often, is quite flexible and ever evolving. Ours is not a closed adoption, so it is, therefore, open. We know the Birth Parents and how to contact them. They know us and how to contact us. Tayo will have access to all of their information as soon as we feel he is old enough to receive it. Studies have shown, and we strongly feel, the more people to love (both) of our boys, the better. As long as it is in Tayo's best interest while he is little, we are happy to have his Birth Parents in his life. And, once he is old enough, that will be his decision to make. We will support whatever he decides.
- "How expensive was he?"
Again, semantics. It is crazy how important words can be. Especially in front of my kids. I do not want either of them to ever think there is a dollar price to their value. We did not buy Tayo. Children are not for sale. All of the costs of adoption go to lawyers and courts and people who are filing paperwork and counseling and Doctors etc.
But in answering how expensive the adoption process is, there is a huge range. There is International versus Domestic. There is agency versus private. There is the length of waiting for a match. There are so many factors that play into it that there is a huge range. Frank said that he believes the range to be as little as $7,000 and as much as $30,000...
- "Do you love him as much as you love Hartly?"
If you are a parent considering adoption, I do not mind this question because I know it is a real fear people have. Others, I think it is a strange and nosy question.
The short of it - ABSOLUTELY. 100%
The long of it - as much as any mother/parent with multiple children loves her/their babies equally. Hartly and Tayo are individuals. They are two completely different people, not just because of their DNA but because the only thing in life that is consistent is change... Hartly is a first child and, currently, Tayo is the baby in the family. Birth order affects things. When Hartly was born it was just Hartly 24/7. Tayo is not an only child. He came into life with a big brother that demands a lot of attention so I can't just sit and stare at Tayo all day the way I did with Hartly. In addition, I had a lot of physical injuries when I had Hartly. I am, for the most part, very healthy now. Tayo gets things from me I couldn't give Hartly because of my situation. Frank and I have also done this (parenthood/newborn thing) before. We are not freaking out as easily and we don't have as many questions with Tayo as we did with Hartly. And I have known Hartly for over 3 years. I've only known Tayo for just over 6 months. And Tayo's temperament and milestones and who he is, is different from Hartly. But...
Do I love them both 100%? YES
Do we love them both unconditionally? YES
Do we look at them both and see our sons? YES
|who couldn't love these faces!?!|
-"Did you choose the gender and race?" "How much were you able to say what you wanted or didn't want?"
Refer above to most frequent misconception for the answer...
Tayo is our son. Tayo is Hartly's baby brother. I am Tayo's Mommy and Frank is Tayo's Papi. We love him unconditionally and completely. I look into his eyes and Tayo is home to me. He is our forever.