April 27, 2007

"Thank You for Taking a Look at Our Letter!"

We're tying up a few loose ends on our home study and are close to beginning the official wait for kiddo #2. Overall I've been impressed with this agency's home study process in comparison to our last. They are unafraid to dig deep and challenge perspectives. I had some good discussions with the social worker about my ambivalence this time around and some of my ethical concerns.

We should be working on our introduction letter that will be shown to prospective birth parents, but I've been dragging my heels a bit. Our first adoption has become so much about the relationships now that I sometimes don't give enough respect to the process that brought us all together in the first place. I've been a less intense about the paperwork this time. Some of that is good (I often need to chill), but my conscience gave me a kick in the head this week about my attitude. The people who will be reading my words as they consider placing their child deserve more than my half-assed attempt.

So today as Puppy napped I pulled out the letter we wrote last time, thinking I could just update it a bit. We spent hours on the content and layout, and I was pretty proud of it. In my memory it hit just the right note of sincerity without cheesiness. But when I read through it today I was cringing. It's just so gushy and earnest. Our lives are so happy! And we're just sure adoption will be so wonderful! I was relieved no one would ever see it again. Then I realized that K probably has a copy tucked away somewhere, and I cringed again.

I'd quote it for you, but I'm too embarrassed. It's not all bad. It's respectful of its readers and doesn't make assumptions about their decision. We managed to avoid labelling anyone a birth parent prematurely; even then it bothered me, though I probably couldn't have articulated why. No one was called courageous or unselfish, nor were there any references to baking cookies (though there was talk of Christmas ornaments and homemade Valentines).

I'm going to give myself some grace and say that we were at a different stage then. We had all these ideas about adoption and parenting without a shred of experience. It's hard to write about a future life with a child whose personality, tastes and interests are unknown to you. And some of it was due to our social worker, who urged us to include certain things which just weren't really our style. But honestly I can't believe K and R didn't just roll their eyes at us when they read it. Maybe they did, then thankfully decided to meet us anyway.

The whole exercise still feels a little artificial, although this time there is less pressure to try to fit our whole lives on a single piece of paper. The agency uses these letters just as an introduction. From them, people can pick households for which they'd like more information. At that point they get a copy of the home study, pictures, and autobiographies T and I wrote. So it functions a bit like an abstract.

I'm working hard to make this second letter honest and genuine without being too earnest. I've decided to introduce us the way I would to any parent I was just meeting. Talk about our personalities, philosophies, and interests, without the weird "here's how we would parent your child" vibe. I definitely also want to include something about our perspective on openness. I think the first time we were open to seeing what would happen as far as contact. Now that we're coming in with an existing open adoption we have some more concrete desires. Oh, and I refuse to use any exclamation points. We restrained ourselves to four (out of 1,012 words) last time, but each one mocks me now like a little high school cheerleader. Anyone want to be an editor?


Anonymous said...

Oh, those letters have to be agony. Best of luck with it.

Mama Bear said...

I know what you mean about your first profile, I look back on ours with the same regards and have thought over and over how to do it different next time -- btw I would love to be your editor -- I really would love to read it!!!

Anonymous said...

I'd love to read as an editor and a nosy person ;)

Yeah, and as much as the letter we wrote probably was too too goofy for words, it was made just that much worse because without our knowledge or consent, the agency CHANGED OUR WORDS from first mother to birth mother. Didn't know until the adoption was final and they sent our profile back. Blech.

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