Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Celebrities Who Adopt

I usually roll my eyes when I hear about another celebrity adopting because I'm a little cynical about their motives. Then again, maybe it's because I'm jealous of the seemingly endless money and resources at their disposal and their ability to travel anywhere in the world and "pick out" a child.

After reading Adoptee Voice I recently found out that Grey's Anatomy actress Kathryn Heigl is adopting a special needs baby from Korea. The blog post was well-written and echoed many of my sentiments, so I'll refer you to it here.

Since National Adoption Month is right around the corner, I want to put a plug in for Nia Vardolos (writer/star of My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding) who adopted a child from foster care last year. Here's what Nia said in an article which impressed me most:

"I was put in touch with a lawyer who works with, how shall I put this daintily... known people in my industry, and was informed I could be put at the top of The List and "have an infant within three days." But didn't that mean I would be moving someone down the list? Someone who had waited? Yeah, wrong."

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nia-vardalos/the-list_b_161241.html

Appropriately, Nia will be this year's National Adoption Day Spokesperson.

Perspectives from Those Who Are Adopted

Most of the blogs I have listed on my sidebar are about families who have adopted or fostered. I can easily relate to the struggles and joys they have gone through as they build their families through adoption.

Some of the blogs on my sidebar are written by birthmothers. Although I have no idea what it is like to be in their situation, I admire them for the obvious reason that the option to adopt wouldn't exist without their selflessness.

I only have two blogs on my sidebar, however, which were written by people who were adopted:

Valerie is not only adopted, but she is a birthmom as well. Valerie is an advocate for open adoption and she was recently the keynote speaker at the FSA Northeast Regional Conference in Pennsylvania.

Peter is an adopted Korean American. His blog, Adoptee Voice, has been particularly educational for me to read as he shares his feelings and perspectives as an adopted Korean American.

I think it's absolutely essential to try to see things from all perspectives of the adoption triad in order to gain a solid understanding of adoption.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Adopting Children with Special Needs

When my husband and I were going through the training to become foster parents, one of my biggest fears was fostering a child who wouldn't be able to bond with us no matter how much love we showed. The technical term for children who "cannot" bond is Reactive Attachment Disorder or RAD.

Given some of the neglect and abuse issues that foster children are bound to have, it shouldn't be a surprise that they have trouble forming healthy attachments. Furthermore, no matter how well-adjusted a child is, the fact that they are in foster care automatically places them in the category of "special needs". So, when I recently came across this story about a woman who adopted a little boy with RAD and then "gave him back" I was very interested- not just in the sad story itself but in all of the opinions and comments that resulted.

Some people villainized this little boy's adoptive mother for her decision [and while I see their point that adopting a child isn't like adopting a puppy that you can just find another home for if things don't work out] I think nobody can truly judge her unless they've been in her situation.

Other terms that "scare me off" when it comes to adopting or fostering children with special behavioral needs are Oppositional Defiance Disorder and Conduct Disorder. I think I would much rather prefer caring for a child who is medically fragile or has Down Syndrome than caring for a child who has "behavioral" problems. That is why I admire the foster parents out there who are willing to parent children with behavioral problems. I just don't think I would be equipped to handle that.

I am reading a book right now about a man and woman who adopted 12 children in just 12 years- and many of their children have special needs. "Wow!" is all I can say. Here's an excerpt from the back of the book which describes their family demographics:

"Five children are Hispanic. One is biracial. Two are Asian. Four are Caucasian. Ten are from four state foster care systems from across the United States, two are from a Guatemalan orphanage."

How's that for diversity! The book is Out of One, Many by Bart and Claudia Fletcher.

Another good read about foster parenting is Another Place at the Table by Kathy Harrison.

Just a Warning: Kathy Harrison's account is brutally honest and it might scare some people away from doing foster care as she has had to deal with some worst case scenarios. There were some parts of her book which were very hard to read- namely, when a young a foster child who had been sexually abused "acted out" abuse on another child in her home. I think that's got to be the scariest scenario a foster parent could face! But remember- if you are considering doing foster care YOU are the one who decides the extent of abuse or neglect or issues of the children who come into your home. (See paragraph 6 of this post.) It just so happens that Kathy Harrison was brave enough, comfortable enough, and confident enough that she was willing to take almost any child into her home.

And speaking of caring for children with special needs, my heart goes out to the 27-year-old woman and her husband who are caring for her nine adopted siblings, all of whom have disabilities since her parents were recently murdered, leaving these children basically orphaned.

I guess my point is that I really admire those individuals and families who are willing to welcome a child with special needs into their home. I don't know that I am capable enough or patient enough to do so myself.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Paper Pregnancy Thoughts

Every morning I cross my fingers and check our e-mail to see if any birthmothers have contacted us.
Despite the fact that I've sent out over 270 e-mails since December announcing that we want to adopt (First I sent e-mails to my immediate family members, then to extended family, then close friends, then neighbors, missionary companions, old roommates, high school friends, and finally "Facebook Friends" whom I haven't seen in over 15 years and whom I don't even associate on a regular basis, but Hey- That's what Facebook is for, right?) we've only had one very vague e-mail a couple of weeks ago asking, "Are you still wanting to adopt?"
A couple dozen people actually responded back to our e-mails and said something along the lines of "Good Luck" or "We'll Let You Know if We Hear of Anything" but other than that no leads: NADA-NOTHING-ZILCH.

We were, however, contacted by phone by one birthmother which turned out to be a scam. (After that incident we changed the contact phone number listed on our online profiles to our caseworker's phone number. We just don't have time or the emotional energy for scammers- we went through that with our last adoption!)

As for Foster Care, our Resource Family Consultant called a week or so ago just to check in on us and tell us that although she didn't have any placements for us, she hadn't forgotten about us.

Long story short: I'm starting to feel a little OVERDUE!
We've made it through 9 months of this "paper pregnancy" and I'm starting to wonder:

-WILL WE HAVE TO WAIT AS LONG AS AN ELEPHANT TO WELCOME OUR NEXT BABY? (Elephants are the mammals with the longest gestation period of 22 months)

-IS IT OKAY FOR ME TO ADMIT THAT I'M JEALOUS OF MY sweet niece who's expecting her first child (Yes, I'm going to be a great aunt again!) and has LOST 15 POUNDS IN HER FIRST TRIMESTER DUE TO MORNING SICKNESS?
-OR AM I TOTALLY SELFISH FOR WANTING ANOTHER CHILD and I just need to be content and grateful that we've already been blessed with a happy, healthy, beautiful child. (see Alma 29:3, Philipians 4:11, and Hebrews 13:5)
As far as adoption promotion I'm just not brave enough to do Pass-Along Cards or flyers . . . yet. The concept makes me feel so vulnerable, needy, and desperate. But if that's what it takes to find our next child, then I'll just have to summon up the courage.
In the meantime we need to update our online profile with a new family picture and I should probably re-read the posts I read about HOPE!