March 22, 2010

An Interview with The Egg Drop Post

I was lucky enough (thanks to to be paired with Eva of The Egg Drop Post. I had been following her for a couple of months, but really enjoyed reading through her blog from the beginning.  She is originally from the Caribbean, and now lives with her wife, Nadia, on the East Coast. They recently jumped into domestic adoption after several years of trying for a pregnancy. Even though they're still in the home study phase, you'd think Eva had been part of the adoption world for years. In her Teachable Moments series, you can see her handle people's awkward questions and comments like a pro. She also created The Ultimate Adoption Book Club, an online book group that's kicking off next month with a discussion of The Blind Side. Y'all know how much I love seeing people come together to talk about adoption online!

You can read her interview of me over at her blog--then be sure to check out some of the other participants!

You and Nadia have both been "very open to open adoption" from the beginning. For some prospective adoptive parents, open adoption can be a frightening or frustrating idea at first. What do you think are some of the reasons you've been able to embrace it right from the start?

I know that if I were a young woman considering an adoption plan, I would only be able to pursue it, if I knew that I would be able to see my child and have a relationship with the adoptive parents. I have tried to imagine how difficult this decision would be and I know that it must be overwhelming.

Nadia is a social worker who runs a foster care agency, so she understands, from a clinical perspective, how important this is.

Also, when we were trying to get pregnant with donor sperm, we always selected donors who were open donors, which means that they would have been open to contact with our child when s/he turned 18. Growing up I had a lot of identity issues, and I know that I would have gone crazy had I known my biological parents. I think that for all of those reasons, Nadia and I have been open to open adoption from the beginning.

Reading through your blog, I was struck by what an arduous couple of years that was for you as you went through so many failed IUIs and IVF cycles, not to mention the difficulties with the insurance company. Do you have any regrets from that time, or are there things you would have done differently if you knew what you know now?

I have no regrets and I would not have changed a thing. I refuse to second guess myself. While I was trying to get pregnant I became exposed to the following saying by the Buddha which has saved my sanity: "The secret to a sound body and mind is not to dwell in the past or to live in the future, but to live in the present moment." And that is what I try to do. I think that expanding a family is a process and that everyone's process is different. My process just happened to be extremely painful, but I don't regret the time and energy I put into it.

Experiencing pregnancy and having a genetic connection to your child were always very important to you, while Nadia was eager to jump into adoption. How did you navigate that difference of opinion in your relationship? Did it ever cause tension?

We argued a lot. And, in fact, we entered couple's therapy as a result. Ultimately, for us, being together was more important than being right, although deep, deep down, Nadia knows that I am always right. LOL. Seriously, she compromised a lot but she was very moved by my connection to my mom. For me getting pregnant was very much about honoring my connection to my mom.

When you were first starting to research adoption this past fall, you wrote, "[W]e feel as if there are lots of beautiful black and brown babies here in the U.S who we would love to mother and they tend to be harder to place. One agency even has lower rates for ‘full African American’ or biracial babies, and even though I welcome the cheaper rate, its also pretty sad. When I ask people what the wait time is, they always say, “well the wait time for an African American child is not that long.” I’m happy that I may not have to wait long, but I’m not sure what else I feel about that (fodder for another post, perhaps…)." I realize this is a topic large enough for an entire post (or several!), but I'd love to hear more about those feelings.

I mean, I could write a whole book about this. As an African American woman, it is quite insulting to have people say "Oh, are you really open to adopting a full African American child?" I had never heard that term before, but I guess it's one that would be used to describe me because both of my parents are black, though mom was very light-skinned.

The fact that African American children are considered less valuable, really sucks!

Just the other day, my lawyer asked me this question--again and I had to set her straight about it and tell her not to ask me that again--and she's one of the good guys. The legacy of racism in this country lives on and it is reminiscent of the slavery days, when light skinned blacks were treated better than those of darker hues This systems perpetuates a certain value system that prioritizes European genes, in other words the darker you are, the more African you are, the less valuable you are.

It is agonizing to feel judged and dismissed because of the color of your skin and I know that from numerous first hand experiences, so being confronted by that again during this adoption journey has been difficult but certainly not surprising.

And I know that many people will read this and feel judged by me and say, 'well people should be able to have what they want." And I agree, yes, but why is it that very few people ever want an African American baby? And this fact is made evident by the price differential between African American kids and everyone else.

Right before starting your first IVF cycle, you wrote, " I guess, in the face of so much uncertainty, the only thing I know for sure, is that this experience has altered me. And I will never be the same." What are some of the changes you've seen in yourself during the process of TTC and adopting?

As I stated earlier, one of the positive things is that it set me on a spiritual path, which has been wonderful. In addition to studying Reiki, I am studying to be an ordained interfaith ministry, and I am very proud of that. Another positive, is that I came to understand that I could love another woman's child as my own. I didn't know that before and that's a good thing. On other hand, I feel, and this may sound corny, that a part of my innocence was lost. I put so much of myself into this process, and in the past when I had done that, my dreams did come true. So I am definitely more jaded than I was before.

You mentioned reading The Kid last year. One of the author's comments that intrigued me was that, for him, the fact that he was part of a two-dad pairing enabled him to easily embrace their son's first mother as his mom (since there was no competition), but more resistant to thinking of his first father as a dad. Obviously everyone's experience is unique, but I'm curious if there are ways that being in a same-sex marriage have made it harder or easier to think about sharing parenthood with your future child's birth parents?

I have good days and bad days with this one. On my good days, I envision three woman who are very close and all very invested in the child's life. My child feels very loved and has a good sense of who s/he is and it's a wonderful experience. I recently went to an adoption conference and I had the pleasure of hearing a panel on open adoption where the adopted child was hold his birth mom's hand and his adoptive mom's hand at the same time and it was beautiful. He felt very loved and had a firm understanding of who he was. So that's the image that I carry with me on my good days.

On my bad days, I see myself being jealous of the biological connection that my child will share with someone else, particularly, because that was so important to me for so long.

Nadia never waivers in this area. She is totally open and, in some ways, looking forward to having another person in the mix, but she never ever wanted to give birth and, so we don't come to this equation from the same starting point.

Do you have a favorite "guilty pleasure" blog or website?

I love

If someone were going to read just one Egg Drop Post post, which one would you want it to be?
I think that's a very hard question but I guess it would have to be one of my Teachable Moment Column's. How about The Ones Who Love You?


Lori Lavender Luz said...

Ooh, I love your last question and I wish I'd thought to ask it.

"The secret to a sound body and mind is not to dwell in the past or to live in the future, but to live in the present moment."

I like the idea of living with no regrets.

Rebekah said...

Heather, this is so fun! Thank you for hosting the interviews. I'm really enjoying getting to know all of these remarkable woman better!

Adoption of Jane said...

HAHA i luv after Ellen too! That was written beautifully. I love the outlook on African-American Adoption. I will follow Eva's blog from now on *big fan here*

Shannan said...

Heather I am loving reading all these interviews. I saw the post too late to join but I totally loving this! Thank you! You are awesome!

Jennifer said...

Hi Heather,

Thanks so much for the belated birthday wishes.

Some belated "hope things are getting better for you" wishes from me in return. Will send healing energy your way.

Best and peace.

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