When I started our blog about a year ago I did it for myself and for family to follow our journey and get updates. I never planned for it to be followed by other people. When I listed it on the blog roll it was more to connect with other families who have either adopted or are looking to adopt. I was able to find strength in following other blogs and realizing there were other people who were walking in the same shoes we were too. And no matter how different our journeys were they were still the same. The nice thing about this is getting to see how people handled things during their wait, with the birth family, even just how they were feeling at the moment.
I love to talk to people about adoption so when the opportunity came up to sign up for the interview exchange I jumped at the chance. I was matched with Susan of Susan and Mitch (hope to) adopt . Susan and her husband are still in the waiting game of adoption, and are hopeful for a match soon. They are a great couple who love to travel and are always on an adventure of some sort. You might find them using their season tickets they have to Disney, on a crafting trips, going the OC fair or the Festival of Books. I am glad I got matched with Susan and have to say I wish I would have stumbled across her blog before. Our blogs are so different, my blog is much more emotional and hers is up beat and talks about all the fun things they are doing to stay busy. It also talks about a fun project she is working on while they are waiting for a match. Their blog is very light and fun and was a joy to read. I have enjoyed the emails we have exchanged so far and look forward to continuing to be in touch with each other and following them while they wait for a placement and hopefully about parenthood too.
How did you settle on the agency you are using?
We chose Independent Adoption Center (IAC) for several reasons. Probably the most significant was that we met 2 other couples who had adopted through IAC and were very happy with their service. We also got a very good feeling from the person who led the initial orientation session we attended. She had worked for IAC for several years and was very familiar with adoption both from her work and also from her experience adopting 2 kids 20+ years ago. It was clear during the orientation session that IAC is very committed to making sure everyone in the adoption triad (adopted child, birthparents, and adoptive parents) are supported through the process. We really liked that IAC’s services include free counseling for birthparents. We also appreciated that IAC is nationwide and has as a significant online presence.
Did you talk to a lot of agencies?
No, we only talked to 2 agencies in person. This is largely because we joined a Resolve adoption support group in our area a few months before making our decision to adopt and several months before choosing an agency. We learned about different agencies from other couples in the group so we already had a good idea of which ones would appeal most to us before we met with any. At the same time we also were doing research on agencies in our area and our research confirmed many of the opinions we formed from our group meetings.
Has your agency guided you in the path your blog is taking? You have a lot of pictures and more information on places you go and things you do and not a lot about your feeling and things about adoption or is that just your personality? The reason I ask this is because I remember the agency we used telling us not to use a lot of information that it overwhelms the birth mom, so I was just wondering if different agencies see different things. But I think it is great seeing all the amazing things you do while waiting.
Our agency was very particular about our official adoption letter and online profile. They meticulously review both before you are “live” in their system. However, while these are reviewed in great detail, the same is not true for other online outreach tools we use and this surprised us. Aside from a general instruction that we should continue to post new photos, we did not receive any further instructions on content for our blog, Facebook, etc. This is both liberating and bewildering at the same time. While it is nice to be able to post freely without any restrictions, sometimes we also have been anxious about what we should or shouldn’t post or blog about. It’s less of a concern now, but it made for some stress when we first started sharing our story online.
I like this question because it highlights the differences between your blog and ours. I hadn’t realized quite how much we focus on things we are doing and how little we bring up feelings on our blog until I read yours for this project. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking to answer this question and there are a few reasons we haven’t focused on our feelings. First, our agency advised us to include as many photos as possible on the blog and this can be a challenge especially when it comes to illustrating concepts or feelings. Second, while I write most of the blog posts, my husband has been trying to contribute more. All along our posts have been written from our voice, not just mine or his, and it’s more of a challenge to incorporate feelings from our voice. If I were writing from my voice alone I would write more about my feelings going through this process. Third, we’re also been encouraged by our agency to stay as positive as possible and express this in our communications. As you know, many of the feelings you have during a long wait often aren’t very pretty or positive. We always try to keep our readers in mind and we know they could be anyone including prospective birthparents, other parents waiting to adopt, friends, family, and other people we’ve met on our journey both online and off. While we don’t want to sugarcoat our journey, we also want to be careful not to make our blog consistently a downer with some of our sadder moods.
Overall, we’ve seen our blog as a vehicle to expand and deepen the ideas in our official letter, as well as provide updates on our life during our wait. That said, your blog has really inspired me and I’m looking to see how we can constructively discuss our feelings in more depth going forward.
You talk about the cross stitch project you are working on. At one point I felt like you might be holding back on finishing it because if you do and don’t have a placement yet you will be let down, is that something you have thought about?
Yeah, that is something I’ve considered. Some days I plan to work on it, but find other things to do and don't get around to stitching. I think part of it is a fear that it will be completed before we match. Of course, it’s such a big enough project that I’d be unlikely to finish before we match, unless it takes us years!
You said that you say NO to closed adoption, does that mean you would not be open to an adoption situation if the birth mom only wanted a closed adoption?
At first I wondered about this question, but then I went back and looked at the post we wrote in July about open adoption and realized how our post could be seen as being a statement against closed adoption. We were inspired to write this post for a couple of reasons. First, we felt it was really important for us to define open adoption on our blog, not just in the textbook sense, but what it means to us. Second, we try to stay engaged with the general adoption community and this post was also in response to some of what we had been looking at. We’ve read many painful stories about closed adoptions and had seen Dan Rather’s report, “Adopted or Abducted” looking at women from the “baby scoop era” in the 1950’s to 1970’s who were forced to give up their children without any possibility of further contact. We know things are different from that era now, but we’ve seen painful birthparent stories out there that are current and our hearts break for the men and women who want to connect with the child they placed, but cannot. The most important thing to us is that we can discuss openness with our child’s birthparents and find the best option for all of us. Our first choice would definitely be an open adoption, but we recognize there are many reasons this isn’t what every birthparent wants. We would consider a closed adoption provided this is what the birthparents truly want and they know that we are always willing to reevaluate this decision if they would like us to do so. Another good thing about IAC is that they are always willing to help facilitate contact if a birthparent changes his or her mind.
My husband and I waited for around 16 months for placement and I always wondered could I be doing something different should I have done this not that, is there anything you would change? There are a few things we would change. First, we realized several months in that we hadn’t made the best choices for us when we first set up our match preferences. We realized this was preventing our profile from being seen as much as it could have been. Second, we just took it as given that we were going to match quickly and we definitely were not very proactive in the beginning of our wait. We’ll always wonder if we would have already adopted by now if we had made different choices with our preferences and also been more active in getting the word out online. Third, we wish we had thought to take better photos while we were checking out agencies and getting through our home study. The good news is that we now get the chance to redesign our adoption letter and change out the photos. Luckily we’ve been saving some good pictures just for that.
If you would like to read Susan's interview of me click here.
I have to say the experience of having one on one time with another family was so nice and being able to ask the questions you think when you read a blog was pretty cool. There were over 100 people that signed up for the exchange this year, and I think that Heather Schade of Production Not Reproduction has done an amazing job at organizing this and the site for all adoption blogs. You can see a complete list of matches here. Take the time to read them if you can.