Toddler Adoption: Not Thrilled to be Adopted

I’ve been trying to do more adoption reading lately and Toddler Adoption: The Weaver’s Craft has been my book. It’s not likely we’ll be placed with a toddler, but our child will eventually be a toddler, so issues of toddler adoption still apply.

One section that seemed applicable is about dealing with a lack of reciprocation. It’s a reminder that adoption is not about rescuing a child. No matter their situation, that child has lost something:

Prospective parents need to consider whether their egos can handle unreciprocated love. As one mom lamented, “It was so hard for so long—I was so in love with her, and she was so not in love with me.” Friends and family members say naive things such as, “I bet Johnny is thrilled to be with you after living in an orphanage,” when, in fact, Johnny is violently rejecting Mom. This issue is discussed in Holly Van Gulden’s and Lisa Bartels-Rabb’s book, Real Parents, Real Children. They point out that the benefits of adoption for the child—having a family of his own, being rescued from an abusive home, or joining a family that can economically provide necessities, even luxuries the birth family never could—are so wonderful that we have difficulty understanding how an adopted child could be anything but happy. But the reality is that many adopted toddlers are anything but happy, some for quite a long time.

Parents of adopted toddlers should be able to depersonalize rejection, understand its origin, appreciate the honesty of it, and remain steadfast in their determination to connect with the rejecting child. They need to maintain a long-range perspective, rather than require immediate responsiveness from their child. It may take weeks, months or even years before their love is reciprocated. (page 41)

That last bit makes it sounds kind of depressing, though I included the second paragraph to give some sense of how we are supposed to respond. None of this may apply to us, but it’s helpful to know. Attachment is a real issue in adoption and helping a child grieve what they’ve lost is important. We can’t simply gloss over it.


My blogging of late has felt a bit disconnected. Like I’m not fully communicating what I want to say, or at least not communicating it well. Maybe it’s more that I’m blogging just to get the ideas out and written down, rather than working on effectively communicating those ideas. That would make sense, as I feel like I’ve had a lot of thoughts and ideas lately that have slipped away without being captured in a blog post (not that all ideas need or should be blog posts, but many of them were ideas I wanted to share).

Bleh. I don’t like blogging like that. It’s not fun to read and it’s not much fun to write. I’ll see if I can find a bit more focus.

Living Simply

Shaun Groves has been blogging about simplicity lately, talking about why to live simply and things they’ve done to live simply. It’s encouraging because I’ve had similar thoughts rolling around in my head lately (though haven’t taken a lot of action on it). A lot of external sources have been encouraging it, of which Shaun is only the latest, ranging from Shane Claiborne to the Foursquare NextGen Summit ’07 to our rummage sale to our whole adoption process.

Some of it comes from very basic ideas, like trying not to be wasteful. Things like electricity and water and food are cheap right now (a few years ago you could add gasoline to that list, and I’d say it’s still relatively cheap) and we just waste them because they are cheap. It’s evidenced when we leave the lights on or let the water run or throw food away.

Part of my motivation is money: Spending less on stuff makes our adoption more affordable. It also makes it easier to help others and be more generous. It also means I don’t have to work as hard (one of the benefits—and scary things—about being self employed). That’s why we canceled our Netflix subscription. It’s why we probably won’t renew our cell phone contract. It’s why we only have one car.

Of course some things about living simply I have a hard time with. Water is a lot simpler and cheaper (and healthier) than Pepsi, but I have a hard time making that choice. And when I try to eat something cheaper and healthier, that craving for something tasty kicks in.

In short, I’m a long way from living simply. But I’m starting to become aware of the need for it and trying to figure out how to overcome my own addictions and compulsions. We get so busy and all these things begin to consume our lives, but we forget how few of them are necessary and how much could be accomplished without them.

Minnesota: The Muslim Frontline

Is it me, or is Minnesota some kind of flashpoint for Muslim conflict? There were the Muslim taxi drivers refusing to carry alcohol, there were the six Muslim imams booted off a U.S. Airways flight, there was the charter school allegedly teaching Islam and now we’ve got Muslim tortilla workers fired for dress code violations.

Freedom of religion is turning into a frontline battle in Minnesota. What I find so perplexing is the double standard Muslims seem to face. Once upon a time Christians were in the same boat.

So far the Star Trib article covering the tortilla caper has 536 comments (though I urge you not read them—a newspaper article with comments is kind of stupid; it’s not quite the same as a personal blog entry). The infuriating comment the Star Trib highlights is bad enough:

Immigrate = Assimilate
“I don’t understand why recent immigrants have refused to embrace the American way of life. Why did you come here if you don’t want to change any of your behaviors? When my relatives came here, they learned to speak English and embraced the norms of American society. You can still love and respect your culture, but to live in American means to be an Americann.”

I’ve always understood being American to mean we have the freedom to live the way we want, not being forced to embrace a certain lifestyle. These kind of ‘Immigrate=Assimilate’ arguments always frustrated me. The initial immigrants to the U.S. (i.e., colonists) hardly assimilated with the natives—they just conquered them. The Native Americans were always the ones learning multiple languages and serving as translators while the Europeans sat idly by with their sole language. Times apparently don’t change.

And apparently we’ve forgotten the lack of assimilation of our forefathers. The church my mom and grandparents grew up in was founded by German immigrants and held German services well into the 20th century, long after everyone got off the boat.

I think the U.S. is quickly reaching a point where the dominant culture is no longer white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant males, and it’s freaking some people out. Welcome to the minority.

Vietnam & Guatemala Adoptions Shut Down

Stories like this aren’t what you want to hear when you’re about to adopt. Both Vietnam and Guatemala have halted all foreign adoptions (though the U.S. stopped Guatemala adoptions after April 1, so it’s not clear how new this news is). Ouch. It’s an effort to make sure children aren’t being stolen and mothers aren’t being coerced. It’s a good thing, but tell that to an adoptive parent who’s been waiting for over a year and has a picture of their referred child on their fridge, just waiting to bring the kid home.

Whenever people freak out at the incredible high cost of adoption, this is one of the reasons I point to. Making sure everything is above board and free from corruption is expensive. Putting protective layers of bureaucracy in place is never cheap.

This is also why we picked Ethiopia. The orphanage our child will come from was set up by our agency, an organization with more than 100 years of adoption experience around the world. They know what they’re doing, and the result is a top notch facility. There’s nothing shady going on in the back corner.

And by the way, we’re up to #38.

Adoption is Closer Than We Think

Nine months is a long time to wait for a baby. But at least you know how long the wait will be. With adoption it’s a bit trickier. In December we were told six to nine months. Of course things are complicated in Ethiopia by the rainy season in late summer that shuts down the government. Adoptions aren’t processed for a month or two.

So if you do the math it means we could be hearing any time now, but it also means if we don’t hear soon then we won’t be getting our kid until after the rainy season, sometime in the fall. To complicate matters, my wife is active on our agency’s online message board. Some enterprising folks put together a user-generated waiting list using volunteered info, and based on this less than reliable info, we can determine where we are on the list (my wife gives more details). We started somewhere in the 80s, I think, though honestly I wasn’t paying much attention—it seemed too early, too vague and I didn’t want to celebrate non-milestones like moving into the 60s.

Continue reading Adoption is Closer Than We Think

Twitter, Moving, History & Art

Blogging has definitely slowed lately. I blame Twitter—I’ve been enjoying its strength as a place to make temporary, pithy comments that don’t require much time or thought investment. Maybe that says something about how valuable/worthless my Twitter posts are, though I do try to avoid the Twitter equivalent of the cat blog and at least keep my tweets entertaining. Not sure if I’m accomplishing that, though 191 people don’t seem to be too bored.

Our big Memorial Day weekend was spent helping my brother’s family move. This is a borderline psychotic admission, but I think moving is kind of fun. Yes, it’s incredibly stressful (for those moving). But it’s an interesting opportunity to cram all your stuff into the back of a truck and redistribute it into a new space. It always makes me realize how much crap I own and wonder if I really need all that crap (and hopefully I spent enough time minimizing the crap before the move). All that said crap also makes me realize how unorganized I am, and how stuff I thought I needed so dearly I really don’t need. There’s plenty of stuff I haven’t touched since moving into our current home a little over a year ago, and that helps me let go a little bit.

Continue reading Twitter, Moving, History & Art

Prince Caspian: The Book vs. The Movie

On Saturday night I saw the movie Prince Caspian and yesterday I finished rereading the book. Much like the movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I felt like Prince Caspian the movie was so-so. After Peter Jackson’s incredible version of The Lord of the Rings, it’s just hard for The Chronicles of Narnia to measure up.

Prince Caspian is a great example of not measuring up, and I didn’t realize how badly until I finished rereading the book. The movie felt like lots of battle and not enough exposition in between. You never quite knew what was happening or why. The book is about the exact opposite: very little battle and loads of exposition in between. Turns out both battles in the movie (the raid on Miraz’s castle and the epic battle between the Telmarines and Narnians) aren’t even in the book (well, the epic battle is sort of in the book, though Caspian, Peter and Edmund fight for mere moments before Aslan shows up).

Seems like a bizarre choice to pump Prince Caspian full of battles when LOTR already covered that ground better than anyone will for a long while. I realize they needed to make the movie more epic and more climactic, but it seems like they were telling a different story.

Islamic Charter School Flap is Ridiculous

A little more than a month ago I wrote about a local Twin Cities columnist up in arms about a charter school. Katherine Kersten claimed the school, Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), illegally blurred the lines of church and state by forcing Islamic prayer and instruction. The Minnesota Department of Education has investigated and their report said: “MDE has determined that, with regard to the areas reviewed, most of TIZA’s operations are in compliance with state and federal law.” The investigation did find two “areas of concern” that TIZA will need to address, moving a Friday voluntary prayer session off campus and adjusting the busing schedule to bus kids home at the end of the school day, not only after voluntary after-school activities (which include religious and secular offerings).

The whole story seems kind of dumb to me. There were some valid questions that needed to be addressed (and they are), but the entire tone and approach of the original attack is ridiculous. It brought out the worst of Minnesota when the school in question started receiving threats and had to bring in extra security. It gets even more ridiculous when a state legislator called for Kersten to resign and Kersten responded with a blog post of her own. And there’s even more ridiculousness when a KSTP camera crew showed up at the school and got in a fight with school officials. What?

This whole story is quickly becoming absurd. It’s embarrassing for the local media, the TIZA school (who lost the high ground with that camera crew incident) and Minnesota in general. More than anything this shows how very far we have to go before we can understand and get along with Muslims.

Update: It gets even better when you learn that KARE11 did have permission to film at TIZA and they filmed the whole encounter with KSTP (and apparently posted their b-roll online).

There’s also a nice blow-by-blow comparison of Kersten’s allegations and what the Minnesota Department of Education actually found.