Friday, April 3, 2015

Positive Adoption Quotes By Celebrities

Years ago I wrote very briefly about celebrities who adopt.  I guess this could be considered a continuation of that post.

Just today in my Facebook feed I came across two quotes from celebrities who have adopted and after I read them I thought, "That's actually pretty noteworthy."  So here they are:

"There's a lot of children out there who don't have the good fortune that our biological children do, so it's wonderful to welcome a little girl into our fold." 
-Cate Blanchett

"It's not a humanitarian thing . . . It's a gift.  We're all lucky to have each other." -Angelina Jolie

Then, just for fun, I googled some other positive quotes by a few other celebrities who have adopted:

(I reviewed Jamie Lee Curtis's children's book about adoption here.)

Props to Nia Vardalos for advocating for adoption from FOSTER CARE!

Katherine Heigl posing with her sister who was adopted from South Korea (which is where one of Heigl's daughters was adopted from):

"Adoption has been a part of my life and a part of my family, so it was how I wanted to start.  It felt natural and right to me." -Katherine Heigl

I LOVE that one- AMEN!

 I also quoted Hugh Jackman back in this post:

"I don't think of them as adopted- they're our children.  Deb and I are believers in . . . I suppose you could call it destiny.  We feel things happened the way they are meant to.  Obviously, biologically wasn't the way we were meant to have children.  Now as we go through life together, sure there are challenges, but everyone's in the right place with the right people."

Continued Contact with Birthparents in Foster Adoption

The circumstances surrounding our recent adoption compared to our first adoption (and more specifically, the birthmothers of our children in each case) are so vastly different that it is like comparing apples to oranges.  

I suppose that open adoption in any case can be tricky to navigate but in cases of foster adoption if your children’s first parents have severe mental illness, criminal records, ties to drugs and gangs, or a history of neglecting, endangering, or abandoning their children it doesn’t exactly make you want to embrace continued contact with them with open arms.  The safety and privacy of your children and family trump all else. 

However, despite the fact that Jack and Jill’s first mother is ____________ (fill in the blank): a drug addict or mentally ill or homeless or not capable of parenting [she is not all of those things, by the way, but those are some very common conditions of the parents of children we’ve fostered, to use as examples] doesn’t negate her place as first mother in their lives nor do such unsavory facts or labels negate the role or influence- be it good or bad- that she or any of the parents of the children we’ve ever fostered have on their children.  Not acknowledging their birthmother would not only be disrespectful to her but dishonest as well- it would be hiding part of our children’s story, even if that story did not start out under the best of circumstances.

After Jack and Jill’s birthmother relinquished her parental rights two months ago DCFS allowed her one final “goodbye visit” with her children at the DCFS Office.   I was grateful that the caseworker supervising the visit took the time to record the visit and made copies for us and for her. 

Although we are under no legal obligation whatsoever to keep in contact with Jack and Jill’s first mother, we have decided to let her have continued, yet limited, contact with Jack and Jill based on what is in their best interest.   Herein lies the dilemma: it’s really not in their best interest (at this point in time, at least) for them to have continued contact with her.  And yet, we know that their first mother is having a hard time losing two children.  Because of this, between the time of her “official” goodbye visit and the adoption we all met at a third-party location (that sounds so secretive- but it was just a McDonalds) where she visited with Jack and Jill for an hour.  We took lots of pictures and it was amusing to see Jack interact with his baby brother whom the children have met at least once before at one of their supervised visits where their birth grandma was able to lend a hand.  Jack has always had a gentle nature and couldn’t give the baby enough hugs.  Jill, however, didn’t want to share any attention so she was totally ignoring the baby and doing her own thing.

At the end of the visit after watching their mother interact with the kids it was just confirmed to my husband and I what we already suspected:  Although it was fun for Jack to see the baby, the visit wasn’t so much for our children’s benefit as it was for their first mom’s sake.   In truth, Jill much preferred to have “Daddy” chase her around and play with her each time her birthmother tried to pick her up and hold her.

So that’s where we’re at with continued contact at this point in time.  Over the past several weeks we’ve been trying to set up some boundaries between our children’s first mother and ourselves which can be tricky and somewhat awkward.  The hardest part for us has been trying to find a balance between being sensitive to her loss and feelings while simultaneously helping her to understand that she is no longer their parent and because of that, Jack and Jill need some time (and space) to bond with us as their full-time parents. 

Not only would such space give Jack and Jill a better sense of permanency but hopefully such space will give us some breathing room as foster parents coming to the close of a year and a half long emotionally exhausting case which has been full of weekly required visits.  We also think that such space and temporary separation, although understandably hard on her, would be beneficial for their first mom and her healing.  At this point so close after relinquishment and adoption any personal contact she has with Jack and Jill will just make things harder.

One option I’m considering to help Jack and Jill differentiate between their first mother and myself, now that I am their official mom and she no longer is, is to refer to her as Mama ________ (her first name).  That way we still both retain the “mother” status but there is a difference for them between “the woman who used to be my mother” (somewhat less formal by attaching her first name in back of “Mama”) and “my current mother” (simply “Mama”).

As for Jack and Jill’s birthfather, he hasn’t had any contact with them since last summer and they thus haven’t been faced with the dilemma of having to differentiate between two daddies.  I envy my husband for not having to deal with any of that parenting drama/competition because sometimes it’s hard to share such a crucial role- especially when most parents don’t have to share their child with another mom or dad when they welcome a child into their family (step-parenting is certainly one exception.)

Although Jack and Jill’s birthfather expressed the desire to relinquish his parental rights last year he never actually showed up to any of the court hearings to officially do so and therefore, at the recent pre-trial hearing where Jack and Jill’s mother relinquished her rights, their birthfather’s rights were officially terminated in his absence after having been given advanced notice.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

75 Months of Anticipation

I've taken down the "Waiting to Adopt" ticker from the sidebar of my blog.

My Facebook Status explains why:

After over six years of waiting to adopt again including three different agencies and nine foster children (seven of whom have come and gone), THIS WEEK WE WERE ABLE TO ADOPT TWO OF OUR FOSTER CHILDREN (siblings) who have been in our care for over a year and a half, which means, among other things, that they are no longer our foster children but simply OUR CHILDREN! And I can finally show pictures of their faces now!
"Trust God and believe in good things to come." - Jeffrey R Holland

Our recent adoption brings with it some updated stats: 9:11:2.

9 refers to the number of years we've been doing foster care.
11 refers to the number of children we've fostered.
2 refers to the number of foster children we've been able to adopt.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mr. Rogers!

The older I get the less inclined I am to make fun of Fred Rogers and the more I realize how much respect and admiration he deserves.

I think  "Mr. Rogers- he wasn't just the soft-spoken host of a children's TV host who wore a red sweater and played with puppets, but he truly was an educator and minister- and to some degree a child psychologist (even if he never formally earned the latter degree.) What an influential- yet ever humble and gentle- man he was!"  

Since today is his birthday, this post is dedicated to Mr. Rogers and anyone who emulates the attributes he mentions in the following quotes of wisdom he's shared during his life:

"We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility.  It's easy to say, 'It's not my child, not my community, not my problem.'  Then there are those who see the need and respond.  
I consider those people my heroes."

"Love doesn't mean a state of perfect caring.  To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now- and to go on caring through joyful times and through times that may bring us pain."

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers, You will always find people who are helping.'

To this day, especially in times of 'disaster', I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers- so many caring people in the world."

Here's to all the helpers, those who love when it's not easy, and to anyone who sees a need and responds.  (I think many foster parents and child welfare workers, among others, definitely meet that criteria).

  "If you look for the helpers, you'll know that there's hope." -Fred Rogers

I also readily admit that we have a few wee ones in our home who watch Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood on a regular basis so I'm glad that Mr. Rogers influence can live on in their lives.

Love, Sacrifice, and Grief

A few more gems to add to my collection of "Affirmations for Saying Goodbye/Letting Go". 

My hope in sharing these quotes is that not only will they touch someone who is dealing with a loss right now but perhaps there is someone reading this who is thinking "I just couldn't do it (foster care) and have to say goodbye and see the children go back."  I didn't think I could do it either, but as Tolstoy and Mother Teresa have taught us, the bottom line is that LOVE requires SACRIFICE.  Love can lead to grief, but it is that same love which also helps to heal.