3/31/2014

Why Not?

I was staring at boxes of eye drops in the pharmacy when a woman pushing her baby in a cart said
[LOUDLY], "SO, WHY'D YOU DO IT?"

I must have given her a confused look.

Because in my head I thought, "# $ %* #! My 'disguise' isn't working!"

Clearly my incognito look of no make-up, frazzled hair and sweatpants on my day o ff wasn't working.

[Lets face it, there are days I want to go to the store unnoticed and get home. This was one of
'em.]

"WHY'D YOU ADOPT?" she asked again, almost yelling.

My dry eyes met hers in the middle of that aisle.

"Why not?" I asked her with a smile, as I grabbed a box of eye drops and walked away.

Those of you who have followed this blog for awhile know I sometimes grapple with how to handle
these types of situations.

Sometimes I'm a bit thrown off guard.

I love that people feel comfortable asking me questions about adoption.

And I love talking about it!

But sometimes, like the other day in the pharmacy, I just want to be the tired Momma running a quick errand.

And sometimes, like the other day in the pharmacy, I feel like I have no privacy.

Sure, it comes with the territory of being in the public eye.

But I didn't even know this lady's name.

And I can't imagine how Olivia would feel if she was older and could understand this lady's demand in knowing why we adopted her.

So I was proud of myself for responding how I did.

Which brings me to my point...[Yes. Believe it or not, I do have a point here...]

I think it's important for everyone to ask themselves the same question I posed for the woman in
the pharmacy:

Why not adopt?
-Finances?
-Don't know where to start?
-Don't know anyone who has adopted?
-Scared you'll get a "messed up" kid?
-Too much risk involved with someone else carrying your baby?

There are so many reasons people don't consider adoption.

So many.

And it's sad.

But let's face it -- the unknown is scary.

Yes, adoption itself is even scarier than someone recognizing you incognito at the pharmacy ;-)

[Seriously, do I look that disheveled on TV?]

When it boils down to it, though, I truly believe we ALL have an obligation to have an open heart
when it comes to adoption.

Do I believe adoption is right for everyone?

No.

But I do believe everyone should ask themselves what they can do to support and love adoptive
families, birth parents and especially our precious adopted children.

And perhaps most importantly, I believe every single child -- no matter how young or how old -- deserves a loving, forever family.

No questions about it.

3/25/2014

The School Project That Made Me Cringe: "Families Look Alike"

My jaw hit the floor when a friend sent me this photo:
The School Project That Made Me Cringe
"Families Look Alike" was the title of a project hanging on the walls of her child's elementary school.

Passers-by were asked to match a first grader's photo with that of their parent's photo from childhood.

As an adoptive mom, and as part of a transracial family, this type of language is hurtful.

But on top of that, this elementary school happens to be mine.

It's the school I went to growing up.

The one where my principal gave me a pencil for my half birthday every year...Where my first grade teacher made me love writing from a very young age...It's the school I later spent a year volunteering as a young adult.

No doubt about it, I loved this school.

And I still do.

So I was crushed when I found out this project was hanging in its hallway.

As a parent, and as the friend of many parents who don't share physical characteristics of their children, this project needs to be re-evaluated.

The statement, "Families Look Alike," is simply not true.
Sensitivity in School Assignments
Not gonna lie, I kinda wanna take a black Sharpie and write "NOT ALL" right above the title...

My family is beautiful. But we don't look "alike."

I have friends who are lesbian and used a sperm donor to have a baby of their own. Their family doesn't look "alike."

I have friends who have gone through rounds of infertility treatments, including in-vitro fertilization with donor eggs and donor sperm, and their children don't look like them.

I have family members who got pregnant through embryo adoption -- meaning the child they gave birth to shares ZERO of their genetics.

I know foster families that have children who don't look "alike."

The whole idea of this project makes me sad.

Look.

I get it.

It's impossible to tailor projects to every single child and their family's needs or preferences.

But as a mom, I don't want my daughter learning things that aren't true.

Families DON'T look alike.

Even some biological families don't look alike.

I don't think I'm that far off  the deep end on this one...

To be fair, I reached out to the principal about this.

She said the teachers have been discussing the project and my concerns are valid.

And she confirmed what I thought all along: There was no ill-intent behind the project to discriminate against any child.

But the bottom line is this:

It does.

It "others" children who aren't born the "old fashion way."

It "others" children who don't end up looking like their parents or their siblings.

It "others" children who sometimes already have a difficult time identifying who they are and where they came from.

In my opinion, there are better ways to learn about humans and animals and genetics than making a blanket statement about families looking "alike" while comparing photos of parents with their children.

I challenge ALL parents--biological parents, single parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, same-sex parents, step-parents, grandparents who are like parents--to be an advocate for our children.

While these types of projects might be fun for some (who doesn't like looking at those awkward-but cute old school photos?) they can be so hurtful--even damaging--to others.

If your child's school has a project you feel could be more inclusive, let the educators know.

I'm confident that if parents and schools work together as a team, we can protect and nurture ALL of our children...even if they don't look like us.


Related content:
I Stand With You

Post-publication note: I offered to sit down with teachers and staff at the school with suggestions about projects--even phrases--that are more inclusive for families like my own. We had a productive conversation, and I happily passed along resources regarding more sensitivity in school assignments including this book which is a MUST-HAVE in EVERY SCHOOL.

3/04/2014

Heartfelt Ways to Honor Her Birth Mom

How do you honor a birth mom?

How do you thank her for choosing your family for your daughter?
Heartfelt Ways to Honor Her Birth Mom, Open Adoption
Chris and I have wracked our brains around this for months.

We love and adore this beautiful woman, and we always will.

She selflessly chose LIFE for her baby.

Our daughter.

She bravely carried a healthy little girl in her belly for nine months, gave birth to her and left her in our arms forever.

When we invited friends and family to her adoption finalization last week, we included a self addressed request:
Heartfelt Ways to Honor Her Birth Mom

We asked some of our family and friends to fill out this note card with a message to Olivia's birth mom.
Heartfelt Ways to Honor Her Birth Mom
Compiled, they're proof of the ripple effect that one woman's choice has had on countless people.
Heartfelt Ways to Honor Her Birth Mom
We mailed the note cards, along with other sentimental items in a package to Olivia's birth mom.

Together, we share an immense amount of love for the same special little girl.

Related content:
I Was In The Middle of I-380 The Minute She Was Born
She's Ours: An Adoption Finalization
An Adoption Finalization [in Photos]