#3 National Adoption Month

November 3rd, 2010

Lexi & Milo

Waiting for Yeshumnesh

November is National Adoption Month.

This is your chance to ask questions.

What do you want to know about adoption – the good, the bad, the ugly?

Adoption is a personal subject and it’s easy to open mouth and insert foot (trust me, been there, done that)

Now’s your chance…ask away, post under a fake name if you want. I’ll answer what I can.

I’m pretty good at these topics: international adoption, older child adoption, waiting child adoption, attachment, how to prepare your family/friends, transracial/transcultural adoption, how to talk about your child’s story (to your child), how to answer the questions that are too personal without making people feel bad, books to read, resources.

So, what would you like to know?

Family Photo!


Question 1: How’s it going with a teenager?

Answer: Um…she’s a teenager. Seriously, she’s doing well. For her sake, I won’t go into a lot of details but considering all she’s been through, she’s adjusting well. We take a couple steps forward and then a step back, then a few more forward. She talks about her future with us (“you’re going to pay for my college, right?” “you’re going to help me buy a car, right?”) which is a good sign. She also reminds me how mean I am because I don’t let her eat school lunch every day like everyone else or get a cell phone like everyone else. We’re taking it one day at a time and picking our battles….like I said – teenager.

Question 2: Adopting out of birth order.

This is a debated subject. Some say you shouldn’t muck with birth order but I don’t agree. The birth order of the children in the home does not trump the birth order of the newest child. For example, let’s say your kids are 8 & 6 and you adopt a 3 year old. But your 3 year old is the oldest of 2. Now he’s the youngest of 3….so who’s birth order is more important?

What I do feel is important is taking your family’s personality into account. Are your kids “go with the flow” types or are they very set in their routines. Can the new child handle being the oldest, youngest, stuck in the middle? We got lucky. Milo didn’t care. He was the baby and still is the baby. Lexi cares when she’s in a crabby mood. But I think she’d have the same reaction if she were still the oldest.

I think what worked for us is there is enough of an age gap between Yeshumnesh and Lexi (they are 6 years apart) that there isn’t a power struggle to be the oldest.

Question #3 How come you didn’t adopted from America? There are so many kids here who need families too.

Fair question. There are so many different types of adoption – foster care, domestic infant adoption, international adoption, Waiting Child programs, etc, etc. Every person/couple has to look at the programs, look at their current family situations and decide what is best for everyone involved.

When we adopted, we picked an agency we trusted. Then we looked into the programs they offered (and they offered everything) but the one that fit our family the best was Ethiopia and the more we looked into it, the more “right” it felt. It’s a personal decision that each family has to make.

We were aware of the need in America but at that point in our lives we didn’t think we would be the right parents for kids/teenagers who need that amount of emotional support.

I don’t think any type of adoption is better or worse. But there are programs that are better than others. When you are deciding on adoption you need to decide what type will best fit your family and then you need to evaluate how ethically an agency runs that specific program and make your decision based on that. (and ethics is a whole other separate post.)

Clear as mud, right?

NaBloPoMo Post #21: ABC and their Crappy New Reality Show

November 20th, 2009

ABC is getting set to premere a new “reality” show called Find My Family. A show that will allow viewers to watch as adoptees and birth family find each other.


Before people jump to the conclusion that I am against search for birth family. I’m not. I believe in open adoption and keeping the connection to a child’s birth family is extremely important.

What bothers me is the tagline and language used to sell this show. The tag-line reads:

Some people have spent their whole lives searching for the one thing that matters most… Their wish will now come true. Let’s find your family.

“Let’s find your family”? Are you kidding me? As an adoptive parent, that’s just a slap in the face. Like I somehow don’t count as family. I feel like they are saying, “Let’s find your real family.”

Just like any reality show, it’s a good guess to say the show will focus on the most extreme examples. And now I wonder, what assumptions will the general public be making about my family? Are people going to start assuming they know Milo’s wants and desires? Do they feel they understand the questions he may have or the personal feelings he has surrounding his adoption?

This is a good perspective on the damage a show like this can cause:

For years, the adoptive community has sought to rectify the past vilification of birth-parents as people who gave away their children. Birth parents are now widely recognized as the First Parents of children, deserving of love, respect, and understanding. It is in no one’s best interest to turn the tables and begin to portray adoptive families as second-class, or less-than’ a family created biologically. This new series is a step back for everyone. (RainbowKids.com)

And yes, the show does use terms like “gave away” and people who “are adopted” (Milo was adopted, not is adopted. It happened once, just like birth. Lexi was born, not is born.) And let’s face it because the show will be filled with drama, raw emotions, heavy editing and extreme circumstances, it will take a while before it’s canceled.

Could this happen?

May 12th, 2008

There are 2.1 billion Christians in the world. And there are 143 million orphans in the world (according to UNICEF – although if you look at other sources the number varies between 50 – 200 million depending on how you describe an orphan. Living with family but parents are gone, one parent gone, both parents gone, parents alive but placed them in an orphanage, etc). So, if my math is correct the numbers work out like this: if 14% of the Christians in the world adopt 1 orphan then every orphan would have a home.
I’m realistic. I get that you can’t just sign up to adopt an orphan and I get that while one child is being placed with a family another is taking his place in the orphanage. And I know that the underling causes for orphans will not go away just because they each got a home. But there is a reason that God calls us to care for the orphans over 40 time in the Bible.


November 19th, 2007

One of the things that is suggested for adoptive parents to do is to wear their child/baby in a sling to help the bonding process. I am all for slings. I used one with Lexi and we both really liked it. I’ve been looking around at different slings for our new baby. I have a homemade one but it’s sort of a “cradle” sling and only good for infants. I also have a long piece of material that I can use to tie different ways but I’m not to good at the ties so I’m hoping to find one that is a little simpler to use. I’ve been looking at these two. Does anyone else have one that they would recommend? My only 2 requirements are: easy to use and can be used with toddlers.

Where does all the money go?

November 18th, 2007

There is lots of discussion around the cost of adoption. There are those that really dislike adoption because they feel it is like “buying” a child, there are people who just don’t know where the money goes, there are people willing to adopt but unsure of where their money is going…the list goes on and on. But one of the reasons that we chose Children’s Home Society is because they are very upfront about the cost and where the money goes. When we send in our dossier we also send in a check for $8700. That’s a large chunk of money going to something called “country fees”. But those fees help cover the cost of the care our child has been receiving for however long they are in the care center (and considering day care, on average, in MN runs about $900/month and the kids are only there 8-10 hours a day, $8700 barely begins to cover the cost of several months of round the clock care, with medical treatment if necessary.). The fees also go towards humanitarian aid projects such as these in the various countries CHSFS works with. So although I’m not thrilled with the amount, I’m not uneasy or worried about where our money is going.

Adoption and Children’s Television

November 16th, 2007

Some of this is old news but it’s still worth mentioning. There have been some positive steps in showing adoption on children’s television. Yesterday I was at the Minnesota Children’s Museum and saw the Sesame Street exhibit. One of the signs mentioned Susan and Gordon’s son Miles, who on the show, was adopted domestically. I also found this blog archive of “Gina” (another main character on Sesame Street) adopted a son from Guatemala on the show’s past season.

Arthur also aired an episode featuring a Chinese adoption.

I’m a big fan of kid’s programming dealing with issues as important as adoption but one thing that I wish the shows would talk about is the birthparents. I think without meaning to, the writers portray the adoptive parents as the only people who love the adopted child…if you were six and adopted, how would that make you feel?

“Why are you adopting?”

November 14th, 2007

Most the time, when we are asked this question, I really don’t mind answering it, however, I don’t like answering it when I feel like I have to defend my choice.

Occasionally, when I’ve been asked about our choice to adopt the real question seems to be “why adopt when you can have biological children?” It’s feels like the person is implying that because we are capable of having children, that should be our first and/or only choice.

When you find out someone is pregnant, you don’t ask why they got pregnant you congratulate them. Same thing for people adopting.

I’m more than willing to explain why we are adopting internationally, or why we chose Ethiopia or any of the specifics, but as for the general why we are adopting – here’s the answer: We want more kids.

Adoption Is More Common Than You Think

November 5th, 2007

Kevin has blogged a lot about the common-place-ness (is that a word?) of adoption. Once we started this journey I felt like I was seeing and hearing about adoption everywhere. And international adoption seemed to pop up all over the place. I feel like I can’t go anywhere without seeing a set of parents pushing kids in strollers, carrying babies in slings, etc and it’s very obvious that the children are not biological. I don’t know if it’s just a common thing here in Twin Cities or if it’s all over, but it’s very reassuring to know that when I go to the mall or out to eat our kids will see other families that look like ours.

Political Correctness In Adoption

November 5th, 2007

It seems like everything has to be PC today. Nobody wants to offend anybody else and some times I think being politically correct is a good thing there are other times when I think we’ve taken things just a step to far. But with adoption I think it’s important for people to learn the PC terms and how to talk about adoption, especially if they want to ask questions in front of the child. So here are some tips on how to talk about it.

1. Don’t ask a parent “which ones are yours and which ones are adopted?” All my kids are my kids. Some are biological and some are adopted. (And to be honest when a white parent is walking down the street with a white child and an African/Asian/Latino child, do you really need to ask?)

2. Biological parents or birth parents did not “give up” or “put up” their child for adoption. They placed their child or created a plan for their child.

3. Real Parents. The child’s real parents are the parents they live with, love them, care for and provide for them. Biological or birthparents are the parents that placed them for adoption.

4. Be respectful of a child’s privacy. Many children don’t like to discuss their adoption with anyone they meet. If they offer information, feel free to talk about it. If they say they don’t want to talk about it, respect that.

5. Adoption is something that happens once in a child’s life. If it’s related to the story say “Carrie was adopted.” Not “Carrie is adopted.” You don’t say “Lexi is born.” You say “Lexi was born.”

6. And along those same lines – only bring up the fact the child was adopted if it’s pertains to the story you are telling. There’s no reason to keep the “adopted” label with the child. You never introduce a family as Kevin and Abby and their birth daughter, Lexi. So you don’t need to say “Kevin and Abby and their adopted son/daughter.”

There’s probably a lot more that I could talk about but those seem to be the most common mistakes people make. It may not seem like a big deal, but to an adopted child, these terms and phrases are part of who they are and need to be used carefully.

And most importantly, if you aren’t sure, just ask the parents (not in front of the kid if possible) I appreciate the opportunity to educate people and I know most parents also appreciate it as well.

The Word “Adoption”

November 2nd, 2007

We have a couple of back issues of an adoption magazine (which in all honesty are a lot like most parenting magazines – the first couple issues are interesting but then you realize they are just printing articles about the same topics over and over). Anyway, one of the issues talked about the word adoption and how frequently we use it when not referring to the adoption of a child.

It’s used in such contexts as adopt a highway, adopt a pet, adopt an animal from the zoo, adopt a policy, etc.

I haven’t decided how I feel about people being able to “adopt” all these things that aren’t children but there are some people who feel very strongly that the word adoption should be reserved exclusively for talking about children.

They don’t like adopting pets becuase of how quick and easy it is to go to the humane society compared to how long and sometimes difficult the adoption process is. They don’t like the adopt a highway, because it’s not even a living thing – it’s just that – a highway. And the adopt an animal from the zoo bothers them because it confuses adopted kids. If you adopt a kid you bring them home. You take care of them. You love them. They are yours forever. If you adopt a zoo animal you send a check every month. Why don’t you get to bring them home? How come you don’t even get to pet them?

Personally, I don’t think the issue is as wide-spread as the magazine makes it out to be, but it is just one more thing for us as parents to keep in the back of our minds. One more thing that our children may be more sensitive to than the kids in their class.