Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Perspective from guest blogger (international adoption)

One of my favorite things about blogging about adoption is how it brings people together that otherwise might not or probably wouldn't have gotten to know someone on another side of adoption. I don't mean to say this in a way that one group wouldn't be nice to the other but people tend to really put their hearts on the line when it comes to blogging on line.

Check out Leah's blog. She adopted her son from Ethiopia and during that process of adopting they found themselves pregnant so she is also the Momma to a beautiful little girl. Go here to check out her blog.

Question 1. I am reading through your old blog posts from the beginning. After several attempts to become pregnant with treatments and it failing you said, "We quickly decided that international adoption was best for our family" Can you explain why you and your husband thought international adoption was best compared to domestic adoption in the US?

My husband and I had always been interested in adoption. But really, what finally helped us make the decision to adopt was that we wanted to be parents more than anything. I had found peace that I would never have a biological child, but I wasn't going to accept not being a mom. So, for us, adoption was the easy answer. We at first looked into domestic adoption, but it scared me. My husband and I had already been through a lot of heartache with failed treatments, I didn't want to experience another heartache of not being chosen by a birthmom, or a birthmom changing her mind after I had grown attached to the child. (And in my home state, birthmom's have 30 days to change their mind) International adoption seemed more like a sure thing.

Question 2 How did you choose Ethiopia over any of the other countries?

Both my husband and I work outside of the home, so we knew whatever adoption path we choose, how much time we'd have to miss work mattered a lot. Many countries that are available to adopt from, you are required to stay there for a long time. This helped us narrow down our choices to either Ethiopia or Columbia. My husband and I had always been drawn to Africa. . . especially because his family is from Egypt. This made us feel really good about adopting from Ethiopia.

Question 3 You blogged about happily finding yourself pregnant during your adoption process. At anytime did you feel worried that your journey to adopting a child from Ethiopia could jeopardized due to your pregnancy?

My first reaction when I found out I was pregnant was pure joy. But after a few minutes, it was pure terror! We had mailed our Dossier to Ethiopia 4 days before me finding out I was pregnant. I was very nervous that this would jeapordize our adoption plans, and I didn't want that to happen. My husband and I wanted to adopt. We were emotionally invested in the process and at no time wanted to back out. But I was really scared that this would all be possible. I waited to tell our adoption agency until I was 12 weeks pregnant, and when I finally told them, they were very excited for me, and we changed some paperwork, but luckily it didn't delay the adoption process at all.

Question 4 At what moment during your international adoption journey did it become real to you? May 4th, 2010, it became very REAL. This is the day we got our referral and saw our son's picture for the first time, and got to read about his story. My husband and I sat at the computer and just cried. We were happy to "meet" our son, but so sad for all that he had endured. I was 7 months pregnant at the time, with my big ole belly, while looking at a picture of my son in a far away land. It was surreal, but finally, very very real.

Question 5 While in Ethiopia, did you feel like you had to anything unethical? I asked because I recall reading a book about someone adopting from China and they had been told to bring money for "gifts" I know unethical things happen during adoption, but I was lucky to never witness it. We were actually told not to bring money for tips. I stayed in a guesthouse affiliated with the orphanage, and I made payment before I even arrived in Ethiopia. We were told all the tips, etc, was covered before hand, and that I shouldn't give additional handouts. Also, I was lucky that I never saw anything unethical at the orphanage. We all did bring donations such as clothes, diapers, and shoes, but I know those are going for a very good cause.

Question 6 Are you and your husband doing as a family to ensure Khalil knows about his culture? As in traditions, Ethiopia meals, special holidays or anything other stuff that comes to mind.

We are lucky that we live in a metropolitan area with a large Ethiopian community. We celebrate the Ethiopian holidays with Khalil and we attend events put on by the Ethiopian community here. We need to do more though. I really want to learn how to cook some Ethiopian dishes. I really want to make sure Khalil never loses his heritage. It's such a big part of who he is.

Question 7 I remember reading your very touching accounts of the days you spent in Ethiopia with the other adopting families. Are you still in contact with any of them?

I am still in contact with the other adoptive families, and it's been such a blessing to have them in my life! Going through adoption with other people, there is hardly anything that can create a bond more than that! I've been very lucky that one of these families live just over an hour drive away. This family has a son just a month younger than Khalil. We have had many playdates with them, and our kids play so well together. I often email the mom about things going on with Khalil and to bounce ideas off of her. I dream that in the near future, we'll be able to have a reunion with all of these families. I feel forever bonded to them.

Question 8 Did any of your family object to to you adopting a child outside of your race?

Unfortunately yes. My family was okay with it, but Taher's family had some objections. They are Egyptian and didn't understand why we didn't just adopt an Egyptian baby. Although I saw their point, this was our choice and our journey. And not only that, but adoption isn't even legal in Egypt! Once Khalil got home, all of those objections went away, and he was welcomed with open arms.

Question 9 What as been your biggest challenge in raising a child outside of your race?

Currently, the biggest challenge is other people's looks and comments. Everyone looks at our family, and wonders how it all fits together. Khalil is still too young to really understand. We do talk about the difference in our looks, we talk about adoption, and read a lot of books on adoption, but I think our challenges with him and how he deals with this haven't even begun yet.

Question 10 Have you started talking to Khalil about his adoption? We do. I made Khalil a lifebook that documents his life so far, and when our paths met. We also have a lot of great adoption books that we read daily. But again, I don't think he gets it yet. But we'll keep talking about it. And the fact that he does look so different than us, I don't think he'll ever be surprised by the fact tha the is adopted.

Question 11 I don't imagine kids as young as yours see race yet but have your children said anything to lead you to believe that they do know the difference between themselves?

Not yet. But my daughter Scarlett, who is 19 months old, thinks every little black boy is her brother. She'll point and say, "Khalil?" And I need to explain that it is not Khalil.

Question 12 Do you know anything about your sons birthparents and birth story?

Unfortunately we do not. And this bothers me, and makes me see how big of a blessing an open adoption can be. I assume that whatever strong woman made the choice she made with Khalil did it out of love for him, but that's not something I'll ever be able to confirm, and that bothers me. We all have the right to know who we come from. Even though Khalil is so loved and so wanted, I think this will be a struggle for him someday.

Question 13 After the shock of discovery that you were going to have a baby by birth. What was the biggest surprise of having a baby by birth? and the biggest challenge?

One of the biggest surprises when I got pregnant was how excited people were for me. I never felt that same excitement level when I announced our plans for adoption. That was hurtful. But everyday I am grateful that I got to experience pregnancy, and that I have a biological child. And even more than that, everyday I am grateful that Khalil and Scarlett have each other. They are truly best friends, and I couldn't imagine my life without either of them. Our story, although bizarre, just feels right. The biggest challenge had to have been caring for a newborn. Nothing can prepare anyone for that experience!

Question 14 You just blogged about increasing hours on the job. How did you choose your daycare options for your children?

We really didn't want Khalil to be with too many people when he first got home because that's how life was for him in the orphanage. We wanted our home to be a safe place for him, so it seemed like an easy decision to go with a nanny who would come into our house. It's really worked well for us, and Khalil and Scarlett both really like her.

Question 15 Do you have desires to add more children to your family down the road? If so.. would you attempt adoption or by birth or both? and why that choice?
I haven't ruled out a 3rd child, but there are no immediate plans. If we did have a 3rd, I would try to do it through pregnancy. I have said this, I would never do infertility treatment again, and I also don't picture myself every adopting again. So many people make international adoption seem so wonderful. To me, I couldn't get over the pain I saw. I felt guilty and conflicted removing Khalil from his country. The process was emotionally draining. And although I know have my son who I am so in love with, I just don't see my family ever going down that path again.

Question 16 My daughter's parent's had a child a few years after adopting her and I used to wonder how the children were treated or loved different because of birth or adoption. Do you worry about trying to ensure your children that you love them equally?
This is such a great question, and something I think about and worry about constantly. I never want Khalil to feel second rate. Ever. I feel like a lot of people who have adopted and also have biological children aren't honest about how they feel. I have to believe I'm not the only one who feels the way I do. Carrying a baby in my tummy for 9 months, and feeling those kicks, and getting to look into her eyes the moment she was born, well, there is something to be said for that. Our bond was immediate. I met Khalil when he was 10 months old. He had already developed a personality. He didn't know me at all, and the bonding process took much longer. I will say this though. . . I love them both equally. And I try to carve out special time with both of them so they both know how loved they are. I want to give Khalil the confidence that he belongs in our family, that he is loved fiercely and equally.

Question 17 What have you enjoyed most about my blog? Your blog was the first birthmom blog I ever wrote. I was immediately drawn to it because of your honestly. You say exactly how you feel, and you often talk about topics that others won't address, but perhaps want to. When I read your blog, I can literally feel your pain for your daughter. You have the ability to transform the reader into your life, and that's a wonderful talent.

Question 18 Do you have a favorite blog written by adoptive parents? birthparents? adoptees? I read many blogs by adoptive parents mostly, and there are so many I love! One of my favorites is www.ourlittlebuster.blogspot.com. She has an adorable Ethiopian boy, and I feel like the writer has become a friend in real life as well. (although we've never met) You are my favorite birthmom blog. :)

Question 19 I imagine your pretty busy with two young children. What do you and T do to keep your relationship strong?

We try to do date nights every once in a while. I really don't like being away from the kids, so usually we put the kids to bed, and have the sitter come, so the kids never even know we are gone. This past summer, we went away for a weekend and had my parents stay with the kids, which was great. In March, we are going to start Tango lessons once a week. I think it's so important to keep your spousal relationship first and foremost. The stronger our relationship is, the better we can parent.

Question 20 What do you do to take time for yourself?

Once every couple of months I go to happy hour with girlfriends. During the kid's naptime, sometimes I'll go to the salon or go get a pedicure. And once in a while when the kid's go to bed, I'll head to the movie theatre all by myself and watch the cheesiest "chick flick" imaginable.

Question 21 Do you have any advice for someone starting the process to adopt a child from another country?

It's a very difficult process and do a lot of research before starting the process. I would also tell people that how you feel prior to adopting and how you feel afterwards may be entirely different. I am not the same person that set out to adopt in 2009. Adoption changes you.

1 comment:

Trinity said...

Great profile! <3 Leah!