3/27/2013

Being Adopted Doesn't Make a Kid Crazy

[Unnamed Person]: "I heard you're adopting!"

Me: "Yes, we're so excited!"

[Unnamed Person]: "I know so-and-so who adopted, and their kid is CRAZY."

Me: "Well, I know a lot of crazy kids [insert sarcastic laugh here]."

A version of the above conversation has happened more times than I can count.

What's worse is when [Unnamed Person] proceeds to tell me a horri fic adoption story nightmare.

Do I want to hear about adoptions that tore a family apart?

Not really.

Is it a reality I'm aware of?

Sure.

Do parents sometimes adopt kids who turn out to be "crazy?"

Uh, yeah. I guess.

But I'd also argue this:

A lot of kids -- biological or adopted -- are "crazy."

(Side note: Yesterday I spent the afternoon with ten elementary students, and my hair turned grayer by the minute. No joke. I would argue they were all a little "crazy!")

Here's my longer response [that's usually too long-winded to o er when the above mentioned conversations happen]:

I know a lot of really great kids.

I also know a heck of a lot of "crazy" kids.

Most of 'em aren't adopted.

I know there are risks involved with adoption.

I'm well aware of them.

So there's really no need to tell me a story about how some adoption went bad because a "kid turned
out to be 'crazy.'"

Being adopted doesn't make a kid crazy.

3/19/2013

Baby Donation: Say What?!

The saga of ignorant adoption comments continues, as I'm sure it will for the rest of our adoption journey lives.

"So who donates the baby to you?"

That's what a man [who will remain nameless] asked me while I was at work last week.

[Insert: blank stare, forcing myself to not yell, "What the % #@! is a "baby donation?!"].

1.) It's not a "baby donation."

2.) We don't know who the "birth parents" are. Yet. (Assuming that's what you MEANT to ask...)

3.) I hope you're reading this blog for today's lesson on "adoption-friendly terminology."

[And no. "Baby donation" ain't one of 'em.]

Here's the deal.

I WANT to talk about our adoption journey.

With everyone.

But I also want to encourage folks to think about their word choices before using them.

I talked with Susan, our adoption consultant, about the annoying comment.

I wasn't hurt by it.

Just annoyed.

And whaduya know?

Turns out we're not the only ones who've had these feelings about terms used frequently in the
adoption process.

She sent me a link to a blog post she had written about positive adoption language.

Here's an excerpt from Susan's blog, "My Grace Filled Mess:"

"The truth is, birth parents make an adoption plan.
They are not "giving up" their baby.
In fact, the opposite is true.
They are making a thoughtful, 
self-less decision to choose parents 
for their baby since they are not in a season
in their lives to parent themselves."

So, to Mr. "Who's Donating Your Baby?" --

This is the long version of answering your question.

Did I answer it even?

I hope you realize that words can be more than just words.

And often times, our language choices can have unintended meaning.

Take the phrase "baby donation," for example...

3/15/2013

All Photos Have a Story


This is the first picture Chris and I took together in 2004.

I had just graduated Waverly-Shell Rock High School and he had just finished up his sophomore
year at Wartburg College.

I remember framing it for him for our first Christmas together.

It must have won him over because we've been together ever since!

All of our photos have a story.

But aside from our wedding, and lots of weddings we've been to, we don't have a lot of just US.

Well, except for the typical self-portraits snapped on one of our cell phones.

And as we're going through the home study process, I've been getting a little worried.

What are the photos we're going to show potential birth parents?

In that pro file will be dozens of photos.

Of Chris and Shelley being "Chris and Shelley."

I want those photos to be ones that tell a story.

That tell who we are.

That show how much we love each other.



I reached out to one of my favorite photographers, Kerri.

Seriously, this gal's got talent...

In my message I explained what I was looking for, and that I wanted these photos to be special.

Special because these are the rst photos birth parents will see of us.

These are the photos a birth parent will see and ask, "Do I want my baby to be a part of this family?"

I explained to Kerri that our budget was pretty much non-existent because of the expenses with
the adoption process.

But I didn't have to wait long to hear back from her.

I got a voicemail.

Do you know what she said?

"I would be honored."

[cue: tears falling]

Seriously?

Really?

We are so excited to work with Kerri next month.

Photos are something I didn't want to worry about.

But I was.

And now I know I don't have to.

Because Kerri's got some real talent.

But you know what?

She's got a bigger heart.

3/14/2013

A Soap Box Follow-Up: The Classmate Apologizes

I received a lot of comments and emails after yesterday's blog post.

A lot.

In fact, I'm still trying to keep up.

But I'm not complaining because it clearly struck a chord with some folks.

In the midst of my dozens of messages about fundraising for adoption, I heard from my former
classmate.

You know, the one who triggered my whole rant blog post in the first place.

She said, in the course of three separate messages, the following:

1.) Her baby had significant health issues when it was born.

2.) It's hard to pay the money for hospital bills on one income.

3.) "We were going to adopt after being told I could not conceive. As we began the process, we
thought wow this is going to be a lot of money to come up with so we decided to wait for the moment."

She went on to say she was devastated that I took o ffense to what she had said about being able
to "a fford a baby."

While I appreciate the apology, the part I don't understand is this.

She readily admits that adoption is expensive.

So expensive that it deterred her from actually pursuing it.

The fact of the matter is this [and I wish I could throw in some fancy statistics here]:

Most people don't like asking for money.

They don't like asking for help.

It's a pride-thing.

And it's people who make ignorant comments that scare others from swallowing that pride to ASK
for help.

If the only people who adopted were those who could readily a ord the process, only a handful of
kiddos would get the opportunity to grow up in a loving family.

And that's not fair.

I would hate to see a child miss out on growing up in a good family because the family didn't
have the means to aff ord the adoption process, and they were too scared about any "attacks" they might have by asking.

Chris and I have an awesome support system.

We're keeping our friends and family close.

And we're lucky.

We know this.

But please -- on behalf of ALL adoptive parents, those familiar with the process, and those who
want to adopt but are scared about financially affording to do so
-- think about your words before you use
them.

OK, I'm stepping down from this topic [for now]...

3/13/2013

Today's Soap Box: Ignorant Comments on Adoption

Here's the deal.

I understand everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

But I hope people choose their words wisely.

I've had one person comment recently on a Facebook fundraising event which has triggered today's
soap box.

(And yes, I realize I might be opening the door for a rash of blunt opposition...)

That person will remain nameless and has since deleted her comment [maybe after having a realization of sorts that it was wasn't necessary nor was it completely accurate]...
Her comment on our recent t-shirt fundraising was something along the lines of:

"How clever! Maybe I should make a t-shirt fundraiser to afford my baby!!"
 

Mind you, she gave birth to a baby just a few months ago.

I was hurt by her comment.

And maybe she didn't intend for it to be rude.

But the fact of the matter is this:

Adoption is expensive.

A lot of folks, take us for example, simply don't have $30,000 that we're just sitting on.

More importantly, that $30,000 isn't to a afford a "baby" per say.

It's for much more.

It's education, counseling, doctor's appointments, money for rent or groceries for the birth mother
who otherwise might not have the opportunity to have a healthy pregnancy.

It's money for an adoption agency that, often times, is providing those services for the birth parents.

It's travel expenses.

It's background checks.

It's invasive [and frankly, sometimes uncomfortable] interviews.

It's postage to mail out piles of in-depth paperwork.

It's the cost of fingerprints.

And clearances from every place you've lived in the past 20-years.

It's legal fees after home visits from a social worker checking in to make sure you're competent as
a parent.

That $30,000 isn't including serious health implications a baby could have after he/she is born.

It's just the average of a domestic infant adoption.

The bottom line:

We're not fundraising because we can't afford taking care of a baby.

Like many adoptive families, we're fundraising to ALLOW us the opportunity to do so.

It takes a village to raise a child.

Whether you've adopted or not, it certainly does, there's no denying it.

I hope during our fundraising efforts, we're able to become advocates for the option of adoption.

And we can shed a little light on this long, complicated process.

We are humbled by the many, many friends, family members [even strangers] who have been
walking with us along this unknown, scary path.

We've set aside our pride to ask and accept financial help.

And prayers.

It's not easy.

Trust me.

To the former classmate of mine who made the [what I view as ignorant] comment that sparked
my whole rant blog post today  --

Consider yourself lucky.

Lucky that while you were pregnant you could save for your daughter's college fund.

You could plan for her nursery.

That while you were expecting, you had comfort in knowing your insurance would likely cover a
chunk of your baby's hospital bills.

Perhaps this post will encourage you to think about your views re: adoption expenses.

I hope it does.

While we don't have the peace-of-mind you might have experienced during you're pregnancy, we
still consider ourselves lucky.

Just in a different way.

Because we know firsthand how many people care about our family.

We've seen it.

And felt it.

Perhaps that's the greatest perk in this whole process.

3/06/2013

Announcing Our Adoption With Cupcakes

Adoption Announcement
Hi friends!

I'm excited to start blogging about our family, and even more thrilled that you're following my hubby
Chris and me on this adoption journey!

OK, let's be real here. We're excited, nervous, scared...just about every emotion you can think of. But that's normal, right?!

We officially announced our plans to adopt just a few weeks ago.
Scratch Cupcakes
We had a little help from one of our favorite places, Scratch Cupcakery.

I made these c-u-t-e pennants when we delivered the cupcakes to share our news!
Scratch Cupcakes
Seriously, what says "happy news" more than one of these sweet treats?!

We're fortunate to live close to our parents in Waverly, and they were thrilled. This will be the first grandchild on both sides of our families.

Since posting the above photo on my Facebook page, Chris and I have been overwhelmed with support, encouragement, prayers and lots. of. questions.

So, here's an attempt to answer some of them:

Why are you adopting? 

After many trials and tests, and a lot of prayers, we've decided to grow our family through adoption.

The image of what our family has shifted over the years as we've grieved the loss of having biological children. Chris likes to joke that our genetics our too good to be passed on, but in all seriousness we truly believe our genetics will not -- and do not -- define our family."

And we couldn't be happier to start this journey.

Where are you adopting from?

We are adopting from the U.S.

Do you have a preference on the child you adopt?

Not particularly.

We did specify that we would like a child who is 12-months or younger. But with all other details, we're flexible.

The end result is a baby to love and nurture and teach, and that's what matters to us.

Do you want an open or closed adoption?

We would feel comfortable with an open adoption.

Research shows there are a lot of benefits for children growing up in open adoptions; they don't have to wonder why they were placed for adoption or who their birth families are. But ultimately, our priority is respecting the wishes of the birth parents.

How long of a process is it?

The short answer: Hopefully 1-year.

The longer answer: We're not sure. As you may know, adoption takes time. Sometimes a long, long time. We're prepared to be in this for the long haul and know that a child will be worth the wait.

We've selected an adoption consultant to help make the process easier and potentially shorter. We think she's an expert, and we certainly value her insight and knowledge with birth families, adoption agencies and hopeful adoptive families like us.

Where are you at in the process?

We're drowning in paperwork!

We're currently in the home study process and meeting with a social worker who will weed through our paperwork and interviews and reference letters to eventually certify us as safe and ready to adopt.

How much will it cost?

You don't want to know...

We are expecting the adoption process to cost $30,000 - $50,000.

This is the average cost of a domestic infant adoption.

We will be spending a lot of time applying for grants and financial assistance, and we have great family and friends who are already organizing fundraisers to help us afford the process.

Related content:
Love at First Sight: Powerful Photos of Us Meeting Our Daughter
Dear OliviaDear Kendra
Our Daughter's Adoption Finalization [in Photos]
Our Journey to Addison