Adoptive Parenting

The Impact of Divorce on an Adoptee

The impact of divorce on an adopteeI’ve been sitting all week with a question I received from a reader, I’m going to call her Leilani. She was asking for my opinion as a woman, and as an adoptive mom. I’ve been mulling it over and I’ve decided I have a more valuable perspective to offer Leilani – that of an adoptee.

Her story is not mine to tell, so you’ll have to excuse the vague-blogging.

Leilani has been married for over 5 years and has no biological children. Sometime ago, she and her husband made the decision to pursue adoption and are now very close to having a child placed with them. In the time since they began this journey, Leilani and her husband have realized they don’t want to be married anymore. They are, however, still committed to the adoption process, and have discussed and agreed upon plans for co-parenting. While Leilani is confident that their current plan is for the best of all concerned, she isn’t sure how much of their plans they should share with their agency. She isn’t comfortable with the idea of withholding information, but worries that full disclosure will lead to unnecessary delays in a process that has already been painfully slow and drawn-out.

Well, Leilani, you aren’t going to like my answer. I don’t think full disclosure to your agency is enough. Until your relationship situation has been comfortably settled, it is irresponsible and callous for you to bring a child into the uncertainty.

When I was in the 8th grade, I came home from a junior high football game to learn that my mom had asked my dad to move out. If I close my eyes, I can still relive the way my world lurched when I heard this. They didn’t actually separate. Dad spent a few nights in his van in the driveway, and Mom eventually let him come home. But my sense of security, which had never been terribly strong to begin with, has never recovered from that moment.

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#AdoptionTalk: What is “Correct” Adoption Language?

I’ve always called him my biological father. My mom called him The Sperm Donor. His mother – my biological paternal grandmother, who everyone called “Nana” – called him my dad.

Of course, Nana also persisted in referring to my sister, as my half-sister, even after I corrected her. And she called my daddy my stepdad, even though she knew he had adopted me.

I never liked that my mom called him The Sperm Donor, but I never bothered to correct her. That would have been disloyal – after all, he was the enemy. He had walked out on us – abandoned us

Throughout my life, I’ve allowed others to control the descriptors – some have called him my birth dad, my real dad, “that lying bastard that walked out on you and your mom….” The only one I’ve ever corrected is “real” dad, even though my preference is biological father.

#AdoptionTalk What is "appropriate" adoption language? Who decides?

Recently, we had to have an adoptive family assessment before we could get the final approvals to finalize Lil Bit’s adoption. She asked how we planned to talk about adoption in the family and I explained that we’ve already started discussing it – we read books about adoption, the boys have all seen pictures of their first moms, and the twins keep asking when we’ll go see the judge so he can give Lil Bit our last name….

She approved of everything except our use of first mom. Her professional opinion is that first mom might be confusing and we should use birth mom instead….

That makes exactly ZeRO sense to me. I can’t fathom how first mom is more confusing than birth mom, but whatever. She’s the professional (and her blessing is required to keep my youngest son forever), so I smiled and agreed to give her thoughts serious consideration.

But that combined with my own experience, got me thinking – who determines what is appropriate, or acceptable, or correct, adoption language?

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#ComeHomeLala: A Joyful Prayer Request

#ComeHomeLala

I’ve been planning this post for a couple of weeks – ever since I realized that this week’s optional #AdoptionTalk topic is International Adoption. And then just Tuesday I learned that I would have to change the plan slightly – it is the most brilliant,sparkly, fan-freaking-tastic change of plans in the history of ever!#ComeHomeLala Please pray that their trip and Lala's homecoming will be safe, smooth, and uneventful, and that this wonderful, beautiful Forever Family will continue to bond, love, and grow.

Okay, maybe I should back up.

I know this amazing woman. Who has an amazing family. And amazing children. One of whom she has been waiting for over 2-1/2 years to bring home from Haiti.

And Tuesday my friend learned that all the i’s had been dotted and the last document signed – and she and her husband flew yesterday to Haiti to FINALLY bring home their baby girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My prayer request is this: please pray that their trip and Lala’s homecoming will be safe, smooth, and uneventful, and that this wonderful, beautiful Forever Family will continue to bond, love, and grow. (more…)

#AdoptionTalk: Nicknames

Oh, he's just a lil bit!I realize it’s pretty silly in the grand scheme of things, but we take nicknames pretty seriously around here. Okay, okay… *I* take nicknames pretty seriously.

For every placement we’ve had, I spend many hours deliberating nicknames. What you may not know is that all of my kids’ blog handles are their
actual nicknames. We really do call them Squish, Squirm and Lil Bit. So for me it’s a pretty serious proposition. The nickname has to fit the child, number 1; it has to be something that is unlikely to be construed inappropriately…. And it has to be something that won’t completely humiliate the child when he/she is older – cause nicknames tend to stick around here.

Of course, I obviously violated my own rule with Lil Bit.

He’s going to hate me for that someday.

It really wasn’t my fault.

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Foster Family Holiday Hurdles – Halloween

It’s no secret that foster parenting is hard. What non-foster families often don’t realize is how EVERY.PART.OF.LIFE. is more complicated when you’re a foster parent.

Case in point: Halloween costumes.

Let me just say that I realize it’s barely September and a little early to be talking about Halloween costumes, but thanks to foster care, I have to start thinking about it now.

I LOVE themed Halloween costumes. As a kid, I always envied the families that had coordinated costumes, and now it’s something I love to do with my kids. But…. Foster Care. Since I never know what size my family will be from one week to the next, I have to carefully consider appropriate themes each year.

The theme has to be expandable, in case I get another placement between now and Halloween.

It also has to be collapsible – and not dependent on anyone that isn’t a forever child. In EVERY.PART.OF.LIFE. is more complicated when you're a foster parent.2013, I had a great plan! Lady Bug was going to be Merida, carrying a teddy bear to represent one of her triplet bear cub brothers, and the twins were going to be the other two bear cubs. How freaking cute, right?!

Except Lady Bug was reunified with her dad on October 5th… So we were looking at two bear cubs and a teddy bear… Not great.

I had to scramble a bit at the last minute, but ended up finding these adorable little monsters.

Last year I really left it to the last minute. There was so much going on with trying to get Squirm’s adoption finalized that I just didn’t start planning in time. We ended up with going with a pirate theme, with Lil Bit doing a cameo as a shark. (more…)