Adoption · Musings and Personal

Why I Chose Adoption

One of May’s topics from Erin Bohn’s Adoption Talk Link-up was Why did you choose adoption? I went with her other topic, What’s the Best Advice You’ve ever Gotten, but today I’m going to address why my husband and I chose to adopt.

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WHY WE CHOSE ADOPTION

Many people adopt because they’re unable to have their own biological children; however, that was not the case for my husband and I. Our hearts broke knowing there are children in the foster care system who age out of the system without knowing the permanency of family.

Shenandoah Chefalo talks about this in her memoir, Garbage Bag Suitcase.

Andrew and I wished to provide a home for a child (or two, as it so happened) in the system.

Admittedly, it was partly selfish, too. I hated being pregnant. I had a rare condition called cholestasis, and a very difficult delivery (almost 48  hours of labor, four hours of pushing), and had no desire to go through that EVER again.

People say you forget all about the pain and discomfort after it’s over.

I didn’t.

In my defense, though, we made this choice before I got pregnant.

As cheesy as it sounds, I always wanted to make a difference in the world. It was the motivation behind every career I dreamed of as a child: nun, psychologist, occupational therapist.

And now, writer.

Many adoptees get upset because they don’t want to be viewed as a charity case. I don’t look at my daughters, or any other adopted person, as a charity case.

I look at it as being practical. Why would I go through the hell of pregnancy, labor and delivery again when there are children in the foster care system who need homes?

And that why I chose adoption.

Adoption · Musings and Personal

An Unplanned Adoption

The journey to adopting my daughters could be summed up in with one sentence:

In his heart a man plans his course but the LORD determines his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9)

When Andrew and I began the adoption process, we were looking to adopt a child around 5-8 years. Because we had learned in our foster-adoption classes that older black boys were the least desirable* and most difficult to place, we filled out the pre-placement adoption paperwork with that in mind.

What we planned to do and what we did ended up being two completely different things…

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Paige, a white baby girl, was three months old when we began visits, and five months old when she moved in. Even though she had severe drug withdrawal, she was still considered the most sought-after type of child.*

Payton, her older sister, came to live with us just before she turned three. As a young white child, she was also considered highly adoptable.*

Andrew and I did not have problems conceiving nor did we desire another baby, which was why we didn’t want to adopt an infant, or even a three-year-old.

So, how did we veer so far from our planned course? 

Ruth: The mother of my daughters.**

The whole story started when I became Ruth’s birth coach. My plan wasn’t to adopt Ruth’s baby but that’s what happened. And then we adopted Payton, Ruth’s older daughter when they were unable to reunify.

I was thinking about all this tonight while walking my dog because Ruth and I met for coffee today. Things are still up in the air about how and when we will open up the adoption; however, there is one thing we both know without a shadow of a doubt.

It was God’s plan that we meet and be the mothers of these two beautiful girls.

* These aren’t my words but what we were told in our foster-adopt classes and by the social workers.

** For the most part, I’ve decided to forgo any sort of qualifier when referencing Ruth. She is the mother of my daughters, just as I am the mother of her daughters.

Adoption · Musings and Personal

Adoption Meanings

The following is a post from my other blog, which has since been taken down. I thought it worthwhile to share as we approaching the one-year mark since this occurred:

 

Today is the month of school for my kiddos. You’re probably expecting a blog post about my kids, all their milestones, my hopes and dreams, etc.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today.

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I want to introduce Bonnie, the dog we adopted from the shelter.

I named her Bonnie for two reasons:

  1. The shelter named her Tawnie, which I didn’t like, so renamed her Bonnie, which rhymes.
  2. It is also to honor my beloved cat Clyde, whom I lost three years ago.

I’ve used the new addition to our family to talk about adoption.

“We’re giving Bonnie a home because she needs someone to take care of her. She will be part of the family and live with us forever.” (barring the cats acting out…)

Although I didn’t state directly how Bonnie’s situation correlates with theirs, I hope the message got through on some level.

Adopt has numerous meanings but these three are especially fitting for the situation surrounding Payton and Paige, and Bonnie:

  1. To choose or take as one’s own; make one’s own by selection or assent.
  2. To take and rear (the child of other parents) as one’s own child, specifically by a formal legal act.
  3. To take or receive into any kind of new relationship.

Number one reminds me that adopting Payton and Paige was not an accident or unplanned event, it was a choice. We chose to help them, help their biological family, and expand our family through adoption.

Number three points out that not only did I enter a new relationship by becoming the mother of two little girls, they went into a new relationship with a different mother.

 

Even though the second definition is technically how all three of them became part of our family, I find myself preferring the first and third definitions more.

Because adoption is more than a formal legal act, it is a choice to enter a new relationship.

 

Adoption · Musings and Personal

Dear Birthmother – A Mother’s Day Card

PicsArt_04-24-10.51.05Dear Birthmother,

I think of you every Mother’s Day.

I’ve always wanted to give you a card expressing my love for you. Unfortunately, no such card exists. So I decided to write one.

After all, aren’t the homemade gifts the best?


Happy Mother’s Day to my Daughters’ Mother

I see you reflected in their eyes

glimpses of your sunshine in their smiles

As a child connected to her mother by umbilical cord

I am connected to you by love for them

both of us a life source for these radiant flowers

wipe their tears with your fingers

embrace them with your arms

watch them play with your eyes

hear their giggles with your ears

I feel you through the miles

these moments of connection

between you, me, our daughters

You are my sister

as they are sisters

and like all sister bonds

ours is

Mysterious

Beautiful

Bittersweet

Happy Mother’s Day to one of the strongest, most beautiful and inspirational women I know.

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Adoption · Linkup

Best Advice I’ve Ever Gotten

Today is Erin Bohn’s monthly Adoption Talk Linkup.

If you have something to say about adoption or need some support, click on the link above or the badge in my sidebar. This is a link up for all members of the adoption triad.

There are two possible topics for this week:

  • Why did you choose adoption?
  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

I’m choosing the latter topic for today and will blog about the first topic next week.

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The best advice I’ve ever gotten was from my cousin, Karen. After giving birth to my biological son, Eli, she told me: 

“No matter what other people think, listen to what your intuition. They may have the best intentions but you’re his mom and you know what’s best.”

And she was right.

As much as I tried to rationalize what my intuition was telling me, I knew there was something going on with Payton, my older adopted daughter.

Payton moved in with us just before she turned three. We expected acting out as she adjusted to her new living situation; however, we were surprised by the frequency, intensity, and duration.

But the real clue there was something off had to do with her lack of affection. She was only expressive when:

  • She was competing with her younger sister. For example, she didn’t initiate affection with my husband or me unless Paige gave us a hug or wanted to be held.
  • She was seeking attention in public. For example, when she gave us a hug in front of others, she would do so loudly and watch others’ reactions.

But to the outside world, she seemed like a well-adjusted child.

When I tried to speak with other parents about our these things, they would say things like:

  • That sounds normal.
  • All kids have temper tantrums.
  • You expect too much from her.
  • Mine do that, too.

Finally, we got to the end of our rope and sought therapy.

And the therapist validated what my intuition had been telling me for over a year.

“It sounds like attachment issues,” she told us.

Because I listened to my intuition saying Payton’s behaviors weren’t typical, we found an excellent therapist who has helped our family immensely.

I don’t think Payton would be doing so well if I hadn’t followed my intuition.

I don’t think I would be doing so well.

So this is my piece of advice to all parents: Listen to your intuition. 

 

Adoption

Adoption Pet Peeves, part 2 (edited)

Dear Adoptee,

This is my second installment to clarify the things I wrote in my prior post, Adoption Pet Peeves. The last point in my original post was also upsetting to a number of you.

The section of the original post is italicized. I’ve added comments/clarifications in bold.

Here is part 2:

A word or two about the proper adoption terminology.

Apparently, the term “biological” isn’t PC anymore.  However, I don’t like the term “birth parents” because only one person is a birth parent, the mother.  Where does that leave the father? [Someone said this point indicated I thought the child-parent bond didn’t extend beyond that of the birth. I argue the exact opposite. The meaning of birth is, as quoted from dictionary.com, “an act or instance of being born” and “the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring.” When I consider the definition of birth, it seems to use the term is to say the parental bond DOES NOT extent beyond birth.]

Also, I was there for Paige’s birth, so couldn’t I also be called the birth mother[That same person said my presence in the birthing room was coercive but if she had read any of my other blog posts, she would know I had no intention of adopting Ruth’s daughters when I became her birth coach.]

A second term I’ve heard is “first parents.” I don’t like that one because we adopted through foster care and technically we are our girls’ third parents. 

Another term I’ve heard is “life parents.” This is true because they gave my girls physical life.  However, I am giving them a life by raising them so that term isn’t accurate either. [All of these terms are a matter of semantics, I suppose. I’m a bit of a perfectionist in that regard and it comes out here.]

I recently heard the terms “real parents” or “natural parents.”  These terms absolutely disgust me!!  (The other terms don’t bother me; I just choose not to use them.)  It implies I am not an actual parent and my daughters don’t have real parents.  It also implies our family is unnatural, or wrong. [Until recently, I’d only heard “natural” and “real” parent used by adoptees who didn’t have good relationships with their adoptive parents and thought there was nothing good about adoption. Obviously, the tone with which those words were used put me on the defense. Thanks to adoptee activist Angela Barra, an absolutely amazing and lovely woman who uses the term “natural parent,” I’ve been educated about the term natural parent. I still don’t like the term but now I understand it.]

To me, biological birth parents is exactly what they are; people who gave my girls their biology but are not raising them.[I recently asked both my daughters and Ruth what term they prefer. They all said birth parent so that is what I am using from here on out. I still prefer the term biological, but will use the term they chose because I love and respect them.]

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Though, to be honest, I think Payton came up with the best term of all.  Shortly after she began calling us mommy and daddy, she began calling her biological birth parents “my other mommy and daddy.”

I have absolutely no problem with that – she does have two mommies and two daddies. [And this, Dear Adoptee, was the whole point. I am not the only mother in my daughters’ lives; to deny that is to deny a vital part of them. That is something I will NEVER do!]

Adoption · Linkup

Lost Toes – Adoption Talk Linkup

I’m participating in Erin Bohn’s Adoption Talk Link-Up for today’s blog post.

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The topic is Embarrassing Adoption Moments.

The one that comes to mind involves my older daughter, Payton. She moved in with us shortly before she turned three. Having only the experience of parenting my son, Eli, I assumed she would benefit from the same parenting techniques he did.

This parenting thing is all a trial and error, as you all know. 

This was more of an error…

I was in the kitchen making lunch (maybe it was dinner) when Payton walked in and stubbed her toe on the table.

 

My son gets distracted and laughs if we exaggerate how we’re going to fix his injury so when Payton started crying, I said, Oh, no, we’re going to have to cut off your toe!

She didn’t understand I was joking.

Her brown eyes got huge and she grabbed her toe, screaming. 

Both Eli and I had to do a lot of talking to convince her I wasn’t serious.

The therapy jar got a $50 bill after that one…

Do you have an embarrassing adoption moment? Or do you just want to get involved with an adoption support community? Click the Adoption Talk badge in my sidebar or the link above to meet others involved in the adoption triad.

Adoption · Musings and Personal

Adoption Pet Peeves, Edited (part 1)

dear-adoptee

Dear Adoptee,

I upset you a while back when I wrote a blog post titled, Adoption Pet Peeves. Believe me when I say that was not my intention. My hope is the edited blog posts will clarify my intent.

A section of the original post is italicized. I’ve added comments/clarifications in bold.

I’m starting with the part of the post that caused the most upset:

“I have been told that I’m a wonderful person for adopting a child through foster care; most people couldn’t do it.  Breaking news! Having a biological child is a crap shoot just as much as adopting a child through foster care. [I don’t sugarcoat things. My daughters’ parents are drug addicts/recovering drug addicts; the 16 scars from my heart surgery are ugly; my husband is bald. You get the picture.] In some ways, having a biological child is even more risky!

There is no return policy [I just added quotes to return policy so you know I’m not using this term lightly. I phrased it this way to make my writing succinct, not disrespectful.]  on your biological child but, believe or not, there is with an adopted child.  [I included believe it or not in the original post to express my surprise, not to promote adopting because you can dissolve it.]

A trial period of at least six months is required before you can finalize.  You also have two weeks post adoption to change your mind. [When this was explained to my husband and me when we signed the adoption papers, I was surprised. Guess I should have included believe it or not here as well.]

Regardless of this somewhat controversial fact, [I say somewhat because I believe the six-month trial period is a good thing. Children adopted through foster care have been through a lot. Making sure the family and child are a good fit is a good idea to prevent further upheaval in the child’s life.]

[THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH WAS MY WHOLE POINT OF THIS PART OF THE BLOG POST. It was originally written about five years ago as a note on my Facebook page. Its intended audience was friends who have no experience with adoption. My hope was the tongue-and-cheek wording would demonstrate how absurd it was to say I was a wonderful person for adopting through foster care.] I think there is something even more important to consider:  Why do you want children?  Is it for selfish reasons?  Or is it to unconditionally love and raise a child, regardless of challenges and joys?”

So there you have it, Dear Adoptee – the intention behind this post. Please forgive me for not taking into consideration how these words could effect you.

Dear Adoptee, I love you and support you on your journey.

Lynn Sollitto
Adoptive Mother

Adoption · Linkup · Writing Prompts

Adoption in The Media – You’re Not Alone

 

On Thursday I participated in Erin Bohn’s Adoption Talk linkup. The topic was Adoption in the Media.

One of the most frustrating things for me has been and continues to be the lack of support for foster-adopt parents through personal stories. It is one of the reasons I wrote mine and am working hard to get it published.

Adoption stories tend to look like this: 

  • International or domestic infant adoption.
  • Infertility catalyst; story is about that as much as it is about adoption.
  • Storybook ending, for both adoptive parents and adoptee.

This is my story, and I’m not alone in it:

  • We adopted through foster care. Most on this topic of help/education books.
  •  We weren’t infertile.
  • Our story contains many challenges both pre and post adoption.

 

IMG_1093I wanted to find a story about real people who who understood my thoughts and feelings because they’d gone through it themselves.

I wanted to know  my questions and concerns were normal, as were my mistakes.

I wanted to read about the second thoughts, the misgivings… if anyone else wanted to ditch their kid and run.

It probably sounds like I regret adopting my daughters, and, I do admit, there are days I wonder what the hell I was thinking; however, what I regret is not realizing how hard it would be, and how important it is to have a support system.

This is what I want to share with others who are parenting children with a trauma background:

You are not alone; I will be part of your support system!!

 

 

Adoption · Linkup · Musings and Personal · Writing Prompts

For Good is NOT a Coincidence

This weekend I am going to see the musical, Wicked, which is the musical about the friendship between Glinda and the Wicked Witch of the West, whom the author of the novel named Elphaba.

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Important History:  The first time I saw it, my hubby and I were celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary at Universal Studios in Hollywood. We chose this getaway because we were in the final stages of foster-adoption certification and knew both time and finances would be tight for a while. It was our last big hurrah before committing to having another child.

It was two months prior that I met Ruth* and witnessed Paige’s birth.

When people say: Oh, what a coincidence, I disagree. I believe these coincidences are God at work.

So it comes as no surprise that after God’s plans for us to adopt the girls fell neatly into place, a song from the musical would make me think of Ruth.

These are the lyrics from For Good.

Ruth and I reconnected last October and she has been sober just over two years. We are going to see Wicked together this weekend.

It’s a dream come true, in so many ways.

And I don’t believe this is a coincidence, I know it is God’s hand.

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*** Today is Erin Bohn’s Adoption Talk linkup. Click on the prior link or the Adoption Talk badge in my side bar to add your blog and/or read other adoption blog posts.