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Friday, December 7th, 2012
Last weekend, my family was visiting our cool Hollywood friends for casual festivities, having a few cocktails with a few creative couples when one dynamic duo (and I mean that seriously) launched into a heart-warming holiday tale about their Echo Park neighbors who finally adopted — after a brutal three-year wait — a lovely Ethiopian toddler who is perfect and quiet in every way.
They will celebrate a son, newly named Ben. Beautiful Ben. Can’t help but dream of his pretty face, long eye lashes. I feel scared for myself at how easy the images burn my eyelids. Did they travel across a desert for him? Were his family nomads in Ethiopia?
I lose track of the conversation and five minutes later, I blurt out loudly:
“Is there something wrong with him? Can he speak? Why is the little boy so quiet?” I ask, the ever-present adoptive mother questions. Too loudly, almost rudely.
My husband raises an eyebrow, like, “I cannot believe you just said that.” Thankfully the adopted kid and his ecstatic parents have not arrived yet but my husband gives me the death stare, and our mutual friend wonders out loud, ” Why does there have to be soothing wrong with a happy adopted 2-year-old?”
Without thinking, I launch into my tired adoption diatribe about reactive-attachment disorder, “so many kids nearing three years old have reactive-attachment syndrome and blah blah blah blah.”
“…and if he’s only two then there’s a bigger chance he was…blah, blah”
Party pooper. I’m sick of myself — are you? Everyone is shuffling around the cheese plate looking suddenly uncomfortable. Uh, yeah.
I stop in mid blah and nibble a few appetizers. Have another cocktail I may not need. Adoption envy ensues. I am quiet and helpful in the kitchen for the next 15 minutes and the new adoptive loving gorgeous perfect family never shows anyway because the little slow, quiet little Ethiopian son (kissing!) has a horrid cold.
Are you in the process of adoption? Are you filled with hope and longing when you meet other parents waiting too?
Tell me your own story in Comments below.
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Friday, November 9th, 2012
Author Lori Holden asks other parents about the benefits of open adoption over closed, domestic adoption. “The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole” (Rowman & Littlefield 2013) answers questions that benefit all prospective parents:
What are the benefits to those involved, and what are the costs?
And what are the biggest fears most families have about an open adoption?
Lori said, “In listening to people from all walks of adoption (adoptive parents, first parents, adult adoptees) while researching and writing my book, the prime fear I hear from adopting parents is that they’ll never be considered the ‘real’ parent. That they feel like as much distance as possible needs to be put between their newly-formed family and the not-so-convenient spare parent out there ready and wanting to rapaciously take over.
This fear is at the root of much dysfunctional thinking and acting in open adoption relationships. But though simple awareness of that fear, it can be examined and resolved, and this type of thinking is like splitting the baby. Remember that Solomon tale? The wise king knew how to tease out the ‘real” mother when two women came to him claiming the same baby. When his “solution” was to split the baby in half, thereby sharing it with both claimants, the “real’ mother would be the one to do whatever it takes to keep the baby whole and well, even if it meant loss to her.
Adoption creates a split between a child’s biology and biography. Openness is an effective way to heal that split. That’s the premise of my book. Your child’s biology comes from one set of parents and his biography gets written by another set. Both are important to that child. Both make that child who he is, who he will be.
Why not allow – encourage — children to do the same with multiple parents? Does loving my son take anything away from my daughter? That would be ridiculous. Likewise, enabling my children to love me for my contributions and their birth moms for their contributions takes away nothing from me.
“I’m so glad you asked about fear in adoption, Nicole.”
For I’m confident that even deeper than the fear that birth parents will reclaim the child they birthed and placed (which rarely happens in ethically-done adoptions) is the fear that the adopting parents will never themselves feel legitimate due to a competing claim on the child. That’s a fear that adopting parents can examine and resolve mindfully.”
Well said, Lori, I’m buying the book! Tell me your adoption story here:
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Monday, September 24th, 2012
While my family is still considering an international adoption with an agency, we have not totally ruled out an open, domestic adoption… yet. We prefer going the international route — I like the thought that the bio parents will live far, far away — but I would be amenable to open adoptions too.
Adoption research by Deborah H. Siegel, Ph.D. and Susan Livingston Smith show how years of secretive, closed adoption information among prospective adoptive parents and children stigmatized everyone. Only 20 years ago, when adoption was shrouded in so much secrecy and stigma, that adoptive families knew nothing about each other or the child.
Our new reality today is that a large majority (well over two-thirds) of adoptive families will establish either a partial open adoption or a fully open adoption where birth families and adoptive families stay in touch through the years.
• “Closed” infant adoptions have shrunk to a tiny minority (about 5 percent), with 40 percent “mediated” and 55 percent “open.” Now, in fact, 95 percent of agencies offer open adoptions.
• In the overwhelming majority of infant adoptions, adoptive parents and expectant parents considering adoption meet, and the expectant parents pick the new family for their baby.
• Women who have placed their infants for adoption – and have ongoing contact with their children – report less grief, regret and worry, as well as more peace of mind.
“The good news is that adoption in our country is traveling a road toward greater openness and honesty,” said Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Adoption Institute. His recommendations include counseling and training for all the parents involved (expectant and adoptive), as well as post-placement services.”
Would you be agreeable to an open, domestic adoption where you might socialize with the kid’s bio family?
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Wednesday, August 15th, 2012
Adoption relations began to fray long before the headline-grabbing news in 2010 about a young American mother who was so terrified and traumatized her newly adopted Russian child, that she sent the pale 7-year-old back to Russia on a plane on a one-way ticket with a short note pinned to his coat!
So shame on Tory Hansen for returning the kid so gracelessly but two years later she is still in legal wranglings about it. The boy’s new Russian foster home (who said he was traumatized by his adoptive mother and the failed adoption) may be entitled to financial payments from this poor mother who got shafted out of an adopted child and then still has to pay for him.
You can tell I’m torn on the subject.
In my humble opinion, Russian adoption agencies may have overlooked some very neurotic or dangerous behavior because they wanted to find the boy a home so badly. But the adoptive mother claims in court papers that the wayward child she was handed had no business being adopted, she was unprepared to handle a child with deep psychological scars. The mom was afraid for her own life at night; he was creepy.
According to one Russian children study, over 100,000 Russian children have been adopted by US parents. At least 19 of them were killed by their new families within past decade, and some adoption charities put the number who died of illness or accidents at 40.
“We realize this agreement is not ideal, but it gives more grounds and starting points for cooperation with our US partners to avoid recurrence of a series of tragic events related to adopted children from Russia,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said. The agreement was signed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on July, 13, 2011.
Tell me your adoption story here in Comments below:
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Monday, July 9th, 2012
Part 1: I talked to bubbly Nia Vardalos, star of An American Girl: McKenna Shoots For The Stars, which launched on Blu-raylast week. Vardalos dishes to The Adoption Diaries about her own family’s domestic adoption, the emotional journey, and what it’s like to finally play a mother for the first time in the movies.
Adoption Diaries: Coming from a strong Greek and ethnic background, did you initially look into international adoption?
Nia Vardalos: Yes, and if you personally feel that your child could be maybe in India or in China then sign up with those agencies and get on those waiting lists and get out there and find your child. We also looked into a private domestic [adoption] which costs approximately $30,000 and of course there are big costs associated with international adoption as well.
AD: How did you narrow down your huge international search into a local, domestic adoption with a toddler?
NV: We finally signed up for a domestic adoption via American Foster Care, which oddly is almost cost free. We didn’t know that when we started the process. We are still on waiting lists for many countries, but it just happened that ours was free, or nearly free because we started the process here [in the domestic foster care system].
“We waited on a waiting list for China for about five years and then simultaneously we were on a waiting list for Greece on a 4-year waiting list. That was hard.”
She continued, “For infant domestic adoption [private newborn adoption] you fill out paperwork and you make a profile on yourself and then the birth mother chooses the prospective family. We did not get matched in that way — it never happened that way for our family. Ultimately we started working with American Foster Care, and ironically we met our daughter nine months later, via domestic foster care agencies.”
Join us again on Wednesday when we continue interviewing Nia Vardalos about her new movie, which launched on Blu-Ray last week, An American Girl: McKenna Shoots For The Stars.
Photo Credit: Gene Reed
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