Sunday, February 19, 2012

Guest blogger

It's my pleasure to give you an Question and answer session with an adoptive Mom. I love how blogging has brought people in the adoption triangle together that otherwise would never have crossed paths.

Wendy and her husband Steve adopted a little baby girl a couple years ago. I think Zoe is too cute! Wendy is one of my favorite adoptive Mom blogs because she writes about open adoption here and there. I can't remember the point when I started reading her blog but I believe it was before or during around the time they adopted Zoe.

You can go visit her blog here.

This is kind of long because I got on a roll with the questions and couldn't stop. Thanks Wendy for answering the questions for me.

Question 1. I am reading thru your blog from the start. You started your blog with writing about your experience about fertility treatments. You mentioned that you had a couple meetings with adoption agencies. Was there anything about adoption that turned you away from it and chose the treatment route?

No, there wasn't anything about adoption that turned us away from it at that point. We were in the middle of treatment, and we had decided to explore adoption as well. When we were trying to start a family, we tried for almost a year before seeking the help of a reproductive endocrinologist (or R.E.) We tried lesser-invasive procedures first; we did four IUIs (intra-uterine inseminations.) They didn't work for us. Our R.E. felt like we would be good candidates for IVF (in-vitro fertilization.) Steve and I had a lot of conversations during all of this - we agreed that we wanted to become parents, and it could happen through treatments or adoption. We wanted to research both options. So at that point we met with two adoption agencies - we went to informational meetings about domestic and international adoption. We preferred one agency over the other and felt like adoption was a possibility for us. (We found out after we chose this agency that a childhood friend of mine and her husband had just used this agency to adopt one of their sons from Ethiopia. It was just a coincidence that we chose the same agency, but we were happy to hear that they had a great experience with them.) We also explored fostering, but we decided it wasn't right for us at that point. We also felt like we wanted more information about IVF. After learning more, we decided to give IVF a chance since we were already in the middle of treatment. Even while doing IVF, I was still feeling drawn to adoption. I remember reading so many books and blogs that were adoption-related. It gave me hope to know that there were lots of ways to build our family.

Question 2. How did you choose between domestic adoption compared to international?

We went to meetings at our agency and learned about the various programs they offer - they were working with about 6 countries at the time. We learned about domestic adoption as well. Ultimately we decided to choose domestic adoption because we would be able to adopt a newborn. We also really liked that with domestic adoption we would probably be able to have background information including a medical history from our child's birthparents.

Question 3. From reading your blog, I know your daughter's adoption is open and that includes visits. Did you know from the start of the adoption process that you wanted it open? If no. What were your fears about open adoption and what changed your mind?

In the very beginning we knew our agency mainly did semi-open adoptions. Our case worker asked us if we would consider an open adoption. She shared her knowledge and personal experience with it. We talked about it and thought about how great it could be for our child to have a relationship with his/her birthparents. We thought about how important it is to know where you come from, what your nationality is, who you resemble, what your medical history is, etc. Plus to have that relationship with your birthmom (or both birthparents) where you can talk to them, ask them questions, or share your feelings -- that's so important.

As far as having fears about an open adoption, I guess mainly the fear is just the unknown. We had never adopted before, so it would be our first experience with it.

Question 4 How have your friends and family responded to your open adoption?

Early on we did hear some concerns from some friends and family members when we told them we were adopting and when we told them we had decided that we preferred an open adoption. The idea was very new to most of them. I think our friends and family knew how much we had been through in our struggle to start a family, and they worried it would become even harder.

Now that we actually have an open adoption with Zoe's birthmom and her birth family on the birthmom's side, our family and friends see how great the relationship is for all of us - Zoe's birthmom, her family, Zoe, and us. My parents, sisters, and cousins along with some friends have been able to meet Zoe's birthmom and family, too.

Question 5 What has been the craziest thing anyone has ever said to you regarding adoption?

I went to a holiday party for my sister's work when Zoe was about 3 months old. I was showing one of my sister's coworkers a picture of Zoe and her date said, " Don't will be just like she's your daughter." I was so taken aback by the comment because she is/was my daughter; she was also her birthmom's daughter. I felt like a mom in those very early moments, and she most certainly felt like my daughter. I think he said what he said out of not knowing what the right thing to say was. Zoe has two mothers who love her very much.

Also when we were looking into adoption, one coworker wanted to know why I would consider adopting from another county if the baby wouldn't look like me. There is so much more to being a family than looking like someone. She didn't see it that way, I guess.

Question 6 Do you plan to adopt more children in the future?

We hope to some to adopt again someday but don't have any set plans right now.

Question 7 If you plan to adopt again in the future. Would you turn down a possible match if the prospective birthmom wanted a closed adoption? I personally wonder how it would be for two children to grow up in the same household with one adoption being closed and one open. If you would go along with a closed adoption. How would you explain the differences to your children. By the way, I think you rock open adoption!!!

Thank you for saying that. No, I don't think we would turn down a possible match, but I do think that we would be clear in our profile that we hoped to have a second open adoption. That would be our preference. We think it would be harder to have one adoption be open and one be closed. I think it would be very hard to explain that to a small child. I think we as parents would have to make sure that our child (children) knew that he/she could always talk to us and that we would do our best to explain his/her birthparents' wishes for a closed adoption. We would try to explain it in an age-appropriate way, too.

Question 8 How was the process of waiting to be chosen by potential birthparents? Did the wait make you feel bad because you were not chosen? As in what's wrong with me?

We were told that the wait could be 2 years or more, so we tried to prepare ourselves for that. The way our agency works, every other month you get an email from your caseworker letting you know how many times your profile was shown. I think we weren't shown at all at first, and then we were shown a couple times by month 4. We found out we had been chosen by an expectant mom around month 6. That short of a wait is not a typical waiting period, so we were really surprised and ecstatic, to say the least!

The waiting is hard. We had already been trying to start our family for a really long time. Yes, many times we felt bad because we weren't chosen. We just wanted to be parents, and we knew we had to wait for the right person to come along and choose our profile. There were things in our profile that Zoe's birthmom really liked. Those things along with the fact that we wanted an open adoption were some of the reasons why she chose us to be Zoe's parents.

Question 9 When it comes to the adoption process and being matched and the hospital time when Zoe's birthmom went into labor. Is there anything that you would do different?

The waiting is stressful, so I guess if there was anything I could do to make it less stressful I would do that! But as far as the actual process, meeting Zoe's birthmom and her family, getting to know them, and the hospital time - no, I wouldn't change anything. We really tried to just take things as they came; we knew it wasn't up to us at that point. We really care about and love Zoe's birthmom and her family, too, and we just hoped that they knew that. The day Zoe was born was a bittersweet day -- we were overjoyed that we were hopefully going to become parents, but it was an incredibly hard time for Zoe's birthmom and her birth family.

Question 10 Who has been your strongest source of comfort as you struggled with infertility and the adoption process?

Friends and family have been there for us at different moments or during different tough times. We shared our infertility struggles with just a few family members and friends, so it was a smaller circle of people who knew about that. By the time we were adopting, we had shared our news with everyone. Two friends who really supported me along the way are waiting to adopt right now, so I hope that I can be a source of comfort for them as well.

Question 11 How did you get turned onto blogging about infertility and adoption?

I was a member of some chat boards for infertility and a lot of the other members had blogs. I started reading them and decided to start to write my own. It was a good way to get my feelings out and get feedback from other people dealing with the same issues. When we decided to adopt I wrote about the process and what steps we had to take.

Question 12 Can you tell me what adoptive Mom's blog that writes about open adoption is your favorite and why?

I like the R House ( a lot. She has a lot of great information on her blog and shares a lot about her own open adoption experiences.

I also really like Production, Not Reproduction ( I love how the blogger encourages others to share their experiences in round table discussions.

Question 13 Do you have a favorite blog written by a birthmom besides my own? :) And why?

Well, I definitely like reading your blog, but as far as other birthmom blogs, I would say I like to read Amstel Life (, Sailing My Way Through...
(, and It's Just One Hat (

Question 14 Can you tell me what perspective that you have gained the most from reading my blog?

I like reading about your relationship between you and your daughter and how it has evolved. I also appreciate what you have shared as far as your past goes and how you have dealt with things in your life along the way to the present. I think it's really good to read about others' adoption experiences because they are all so different from each other.

Question 15 Do you have a favorite blog written by adoptees? Why is it your favorite?

I guess I don't really have a favorite at this point, but I'm open to suggestions. I love finding new blogs to read.

Question 16 I have a blog or two that I read but secretly or maybe even one that isn't so secret that we bump heads. Do you have any adoption related blogs that you read even though it's kind of like a car crash? (meaning you can't keep from looking)

No, not at this point...

Question 17 Before finding blogs written by adoptive parents, yours included, I had a very negative thoughts and opinions against all adoptive parents. One issue was that I didn't think it was possible for adoptive parents to love their adoptive children compared to had they given birth to them. From reading blogs, like yours and others, I know that I was wrong. That adoptive parents love their children as much as if they had given birth to them. Not more not less. Can you take me back to the day when your daughter was placed in your arms. What kind of emotions were you facing? Just for the record, I no longer feel poorly about adoptive parents in general due to reading others blogs.

Steve and I got the phone call that morning that our daughter had been born. Our daughter's birthmom's caseworker called us to tell us. My first question was how was our daughter's birthmom; I just wanted to know that she was okay. She had been in labor for quite a while. We were told that she was doing okay, and that she wanted us to come to the hospital that afternoon. We were so happy, excited, nervous, and scared all rolled into one. We drove to the hospital - it was about an hour and a half away from where we live. We went up to the nursery and were given wristbands. We went into a small room that was across from the actual nursery. One of the nurses explained how everything would work - that we would have time with our daughter, but if her birthmom wanted to have her in her room, they would do whatever she wanted. We understood.

They wheeled Zoe into the room in her bassinet. The nurse talked to us about her and let us look at her. She showed us her little fingers and toes. She showed us how to change a diaper and how to feed her. I held her first. She was so tiny and so very beautiful. She was amazing. I had dreamed of having a baby for so very long and to hold her - finally - in my arms - words just don't really express how it felt. It just felt right - to be holding our little girl. Seeing Steve hold her was one of the best moments of my life - to get to see him hold our daughter for the very first time. He also fed her a bottle - it was very sweet to watch him do that.

Zoe's birthmom asked us to come and see her in her room before we left the hospital for the night. We were asked by her caseworker to just stay about 10 minutes or so. She held Zoe in her arms and fed her a bottle while we talked with her. I remember asking her how she was doing and telling her that Zoe was beautiful. We had brought her some flowers and a letter. We also gave her a teddy bear; we had bought a similar one for the baby and our plan was to take pictures of the baby each month with the bear. That way she could see how big Zoe was growing each month.

It was really hard. We were all extremely emotional. We love Zoe's birthmom very much, and it was hard to see her in pain. We thanked her for everything and for letting us come to the hospital to get to spend time with her and the baby. As we were leaving, we got to spend a couple minutes with her mom (Zoe's birthgrandma) in the hallway. She gave us a blanket and a pair of pajamas for Zoe. We all cried so much that day. Steve and I left the hospital that night and spent the night at nearby hotel. We were asked to come back the next morning to fill out paperwork and bring Zoe home.

Question 18 Is your daughter beginning to understand her adoption story?

Well, I am not sure how much she understands because she is not quite 2 1/2. But we do talk about adoption with her. We have pictures of Zoe with her birthmom and her birth family in her bedroom as well as other rooms in our home. We have pictures of her with her birth family in scrapbooks. We made a "Zoe's Adoption Story" book so that we could read her story to her at bedtime (or whenever.) We also read a lot of children's adoption books such as Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, Over the Moon, and We Belong Together: A Book About Adoption and Families.

We are really lucky to have the kind of relationship that we have with Zoe's birthmom and her family. We hope that our relationship will continue to grow as Zoe continues to grow.

Question 19 How do you draw the line between having an open blog writing about open adoption and not saying too much about your daughter's birth parents?

It's very important to me to respect the privacy of my daughter's birthmom and her birthfamily. I am very happy that we have this relationship with them, and I would never want to do anything to harm that. We have so much respect for her birthmom and her decision to choose adoption for her/our daughter. When I write, I try to express my point of view and share a little bit about our visits with her birthmom and her family. I try not to share specific details -- I really feel that this is not just our story - it's Zoe's story and her birthparents' story, too. We have limited information about Zoe's birthfather; some of what we know we have kept private and some we have shared with family. When Zoe is older, we will give her more information and she can decide what she wants to share with others.

Question 20 Sometimes, it seems like adoption is passed down in families. Example, some adoptees become birthparents. Also, my daughter's birthfather was placed for adoption and two of his children were placed for adoption. I know Zoe is young but have you put any thought into how you might handle preventing her from getting pregnant before she is ready to be a Mom? Or how you would handle the situation if she did experience a pregnancy before she was ready? Do you think you would be more on the side of helping raise the baby or adoption?

My plan is to try to be open with Zoe about health issues, including sex education. I hope that we will have the kind of relationship where she will feel like she can talk to me and ask me questions. I am hoping that if I (we) talk to her about sex and explain what can happen, she'll make the best decisions for her. I know that my preference would be for her to wait until she's ready (meaning emotionally ready as well as ready to handle a possible pregnancy and raise a baby), but only she can make that decision. Hopefully I can give her advice or information to help her with that. If she did become pregnant, we would have to talk about her choices and if raising the baby would be the best choice for her and the baby. I think that is kind of a tough question to answer until you are actually placed in that situation.

This ends the interview.

Wendy, thanks again. You said you were open to suggestions on blogs written by adoptees. I will save my suggestions for another post since this is pretty long already.


Wendy said...

Thank you for sending me the questions, birthmomtalks! I am going to post a link to your blog and the interview on my blog soon.

And I'll check back to see your list of adoptee blogs...thanks!

Leah said...

Great job Wendy! I loved reading this as I've been following your blog for so long. :)
Birthmom - If you want another guest blogger, I'd love to share my experience with international adoption. Just let me know. :)

birthmothertalks said...

Thanks Leah, I would love to do that with you. It might take me sometime to think of questions.

Leah said...

Of course. My email is leahspafford at yahoo . com if you want to send them to me sometime. :)

Jenn said...

I love guest posts because sometimes you discover a new blog :-)