September 22, 2011


Ack! I completely messed up the link in that last post. Luna's love bomb is here, if you'd like to check it out.

One more day to add your bit!

September 21, 2011

If You Love Luna

You may have heard that the lovely Luna had an adorable baby. Baby Z was a little early, but she's growing bigger and stronger every day in the NICU.

Some of us put together a little something for her. A virtual representation of our love to welcome her to the world and hold up her family during this time.

If you want to add your own page to it, you have two more days. So hop on it. We hope you will.

September 19, 2011

Community Hospitality

The other week we had yet a home visit from a social worker. I'm thinking we should have some version of a home study every year, because when else do we pull it together to have every room in the house clean at the same moment?

It was not for an adoption this time round, but to have our household approved as an official Safe Families host family. Safe Families is a voluntary program that parents can use to care for their children temporarily when things are unstable. Occasions when most of us reading this would probably be able to rely on our personal support networks; our friends or families or faith communities would help us care for our kids during our crisis. Not every family has that sort of safety net. That is where Safe Families steps in--to be part of the support network for a stranger and help prevent the sort of situations that sometimes can snowball into neglect and end up with kids in the foster care system. Most children stay just one or two months and there is a real emphasis on the parents and host families working together to share information and keep the children connected with their parents during their stay.

The saying gets kicked around a lot that adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I think it's overly simplistic, but it does speak some to why Safe Families appeals to me. It is a temporary solution to temporary problems, communities working together to keep families intact and stable.

I learned about Safe Families years ago from another blogger (of course) who was part of the program in Illinois, where it began. I found out that our local Catholic Community Services branch was working on starting a program in our city (no small feat--it required passage of a new state law) when they set up an information booth at one of the annual summer festivals here several years ago. Every year I've gone to ask if they are ready for host families and every year have been told, "Not yet." Until this year, when they handed me an application packet instead. We zipped through the online training and paperwork, and here we are.

The program is brand spanking new where I live. I think we will be only the fourth or fifth family to be approved. So there is a small band of us sort of forging ahead together, learning as we go. After seeing our home and talking over our options with us, the program director thought that our family could be a good fit for children from 0-8 years old or possibly for teens who are parenting children of their own. It's strange to imagine older kids living here!

Eddie is especially enthusiastic about the whole thing, although I'm sure that will be tempered eventually by the reality of having to share his room and his toys. (And his parents.) We've explained that sometimes kids need a place to stay while their parents solve adult problems. To him it is simple: there are families who need a little help and we have places for kids to sleep. So why are we not doing it already? I have my adult worries about stretching our family to do something we've never done, about whether our best will be enough for kids in such vulnerable spots. I'm nervous. But I have to admit, I have a little bit of his excitement, too, to be part of a community solution like this for an issue that means so much to me.

September 17, 2011

My Favorite Post (Right Now)

It's hard to pick out just one post, isn't it? Do I go for an on-a-soapbox post that gets me riled up? One that tugs at my heart strings?  Or just toss out one for which I've always had an oddball affection? (Wow, I used to be a lot more snarky en blog. What happened to me?)

But Amy commented on a very old post the other day called "Four Things," so I read it again for the first time in a long time and remembered how much it meant to me to write it. It reminds me how much had changed in my perspective on adoption during the three years between walking into Adoption Agency #1's information meeting and the writing of that post--due in no small part to the stories and people I had found online. So please enjoy my current favorite post!

This is my contribution to the latest Open Adoption Roundtable, where you can read about other blogger's favorite posts.

September 16, 2011

Be Part of the Symposium Even If You Won't Be There

I'm making changes in the presentation for the open adoption symposium next week, due to some things going a little topsy-turvy at the last minute. But it will all be fine! That's my current mantra. I do need your help, though.

The presentation is nothing ground-breaking, but it is about something dear to me: how agencies and individuals might use social media to fill in some of the current gaps in the post-adoption education and support that can be so vital to healthy open adoption relationships. The Internet: it's shockingly useful for more than pre-adoptive parent "networking"!

I'm looking for anecdotes to augment the presentation, particularly from first parents but also from anyone. I'd love to have your stories be part of what is shared at the conference. If you're up for answering a few questions from me about your experience (good or bad) finding help and support online in your open adoption, please email me or let me know in the comments. How has the internet influenced your real life adoption?

Thank you!

September 15, 2011

Open Adoption Symposium Next Week--Will You Be There?

The Symposium Opening Adoption is next Friday and Saturday! Registration was extended through September 16, so there is still time to register if you've been waffling. I've been reading through Jim Gritter's latest book, Hospitious Adoption, in anticipation of his keynote and am particularly looking forward to that.

Todd is coming along with me for this symposium adventure. The kids are not coming, as they are figments of my imagination invented for the sole purpose of bringing me blogging notoriety.*

If you're going to be there, please let me know in the comments or send me an email so we can connect! One of the organizers said there might be a bloggers' table at one of the lunches, so also tell me if that's something you'd be interested in.

* Lack of actual notoriety puts the lie to that claim, doesn't it?

September 14, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #29

One of my favorite events at the BlogHer conference last month was Listen to Your Mother, an open mic style show where bloggers threw their names in a bowl for the chance to read their favorite blog posts.  Out loud. In front of people. Many, many people whom they had never met. Brave little bloggers, they were.

It was a blast for me as an audience member, not only hearing some great writing, but getting a tiny glimpse into the bloggers themselves. They had to pick one post from the whole of their blog and say this is the one I want to share with everyone. Not necessarily their most popular post or most influential post (although some of them probably were). But the one that meant something to them and that they felt represented them. Some were hilarious, some were poignant. They all made me feel like I learned something about the people reading them. As a bonus, I discovered some new blogs to read.

I thought it could be fun to do an open mic style roundtable. Our group is growing and a lot of us haven't "met" each other yet.  So point us to a favorite post on your blog. It doesn't even need to be about adoption. And tell us a little bit about why you picked the one you did. 

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Write a response at your blog--linking back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs--and link to your post in the comments here.


The responses:

September 12, 2011

Our Day With Ray, Continued

The first part our our day together is here

"Can Ray come to family movie night, Mama?"

"Yes, of course!"

Eddie is the driving force behind our family movie nights, when we pile on the couch together, make a popcorny mess, and watch a kid-friendly flick. He is always excited when once of his (frequent) requests for movie night is granted. We had planned one for that evening, thinking it would be some good down time after the excitement of the beach and seeing Ray. Now Eddie wanted to know if his first dad could join us.

Ray was enthusiastic about the idea, as were we; Eddie was beaming. We made plans to pick up burgers for dinner. He decided to run home to change clothes first after our day at the beach, so we packed up our things and parted ways in the parking lot where we had met that morning.

Eddie, still in his carseat, looked to me for reassurance as Ray walked away. "He's coming to dinner tonight, right?" he asked

"He is, buddy. He's just going home, then he's coming to our hotel and we'll spend more time with him."

Eddie buzzed with happy excitement. We cleaned up the hotel suite a little. Eddie got out his special blanket and stuffed animals and arranged them in the overstuffed chair by the television. We queued up the Netflix movie he picked out. As the time came for Ray to arrive and call to be let in to the complex where we were staying, I saw Eddie--my little boy who normally fights every single bath--take himself into the bathroom on his own initiative to bathe before Ray came.

Todd's cell phone rang. "He's here, buddy!" I called out to Eddie.

Only he wasn't. Something had come up with his mom, he told Todd over the phone. He wouldn't be able to make it.

I felt my heart sink. It would be months before we saw Ray again and Eddie hadn't even gotten to say goodbye.

I was the one to break the news to Eddie, the one who saw every inch of him crumple. Hugging him on the bedroom floor as he wailed, I looked over his back at Todd. "Get Ray on the phone. Now."

Ray and Eddie had a brief conversation that would break your heart. The chance to at least say good bye, to say I miss you, didn't make the disappointment less, but it was something. We cuddled as he cried some more and then quieted down a little. We moved out to the front room and Eddie curled up with his blankie in an armchair while I sat on the floor at his feet, rubbing his back.

Eddie is just five years old. The quintessential oldest child, he has a definite way he wants things to be and often does not get his way, in additional to the regular disappointments that crop up in a child's life. He's disappointed a lot in the course of the day. We've witnessed how he processes being let down, have learned how to come alongside him and what seems to comfort him. This time was...different. The sorts of reflective things that normally help him regain his emotional footing ("You were really looking forward to tonight. I was, too. It is so sad and disappointing that Ray can't come. You don't see him often and when he went back to his car you didn't even get to give him a hug.") had helped some, but he was still troubled.  We sat without speaking for awhile, Eddie curled into himself, sad and unsettled.

Something told me maybe this was about something bigger. Not just sadness about cancelled plans with someone very special, but about the way things are.

"I bet it's hard to live so far away from your birth dad," I said into the quiet. The response--it was immediate, it was powerful. Like a water breaking through a dam. Eddie fell on me with huge, gulping, visceral sobs. We clung together for a few minutes like that.

And then it was over. I felt his entire body release as he sat up on my lap and said, "I want to watch the movie now." The sadness not over or resolved or behind him (how could something so big be), but back in his grasp enough for that moment that he could relax into the couch with us and laugh at a favorite movie.
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