NATIONAL ADOPTION MONTH
Can you believe the month is half over? This weekend is National Adoption Day! I’m so excited! We have a number of foster children in our area who will be adopted into their forever families this weekend – just in time for Thanksgiving! What a blessing!
Foster2Forever now has nearly 100 adoption stories in our Adoption Blog Hop! Is yours listed? Can you help us get over 200 adoption stories by the end of the month? Won’t you help spread the word or host the blog hop on your site?
I HEART THE ZOO
This weekend, I took Stinkpot to the zoo. He was so excited that he screamed, yes, screamed, for the first 5 minutes! (Think Home Alone) He had an amazing adventure! He saw lions, tigers and bears, oh my! The lion was right behind the glass roaring at him. He touched a snake (okay, fake snake). I had to literally bribe him to leave.
I entered this photo of Stinkpot exploring the aquarium in this week’s IHeartFaces Silhouette challenge.
Come back tomorrow to see more zoo shots and link up your Wordless Wednesday post (and enter another giveaway)!
Katrina from Making Many Memories wrote the following story about their open adoption with their daughter’s birth family. Is this story familiar to you?
“I’ve heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason. Bringing something we must learn and we are lead to those who help us most to grow if we let them and we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true. But I know I’m who I am today because I knew you…. (For Good – from the musical Wicked)”
When we first started on our journey of adopting we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had 3 healthy biological boys and I had lost a 4th son when I was 6 months pregnant. We knew we didn’t want to do private adoption because we were capable of having another child and didn’t feel right about adding to the already long list of people who were waiting for a domestic baby. We also did not have the money to do an international adoption and had heard some really heart-wrenching stories about those as well.
That brought us to looking into foster/adoption. Little did we know when we first started the process that foster/adoption is a lot different than foster care. Looking back, we wouldn’t change how we got our angel Nevaeh and it is probably a good thing we were ill-informed.
Since this blog is suppose to be about open adoption in a foster/adopt situation, I will try and keep our story relatively short. We got our little angel when she was 2-1/2 months old. She was taken from her birth mother and father and both of them were given services. For 18 months she lived in our home and we loved her like she was our own daughter but knew that the chances of being able to adopt her were very slim. I was also the one who took her and supervised her weekly visits.
During this time I developed a love/hate relationship for her parents. Here were 2 people who loved their daughter very much but just couldn’t seem to keep it together. They made choices that infuriated me and at the same time gave me hope that somehow I would be get to be her forever mother.
So after 18 months of them slowly progressing (if you want to call it that), it was decided that Nevaeh could start doing overnight visits with them. “Oh my aching heart” does not even begin to describe the pain I felt the first time I dropped her off to stay the night. Yet I knew that I had provided the best possible start for her and was still silently hoping (and to my friends not so silently hoping) that they would find out just how hard taking care of a toddler was.
As the weeks passed, things did change, and events happened that made the social worker want the case to go to trial. But a miracle happened, and Nevaeh’s birth parents decided that she would be better off with us and asked us if we would adopt her. I will never forget that day. What do you say to someone who just gave you the best gift you could ever hope for? How do you thank them when you know their heart is breaking in two?
On this day, Steve and I made it clear that we still wanted Nevaeh’s birth family in her life. Of course, on the day of the trial, the lawyers tried to talk her parents out of it and told them they would have no legal rights to her what-so-ever after their rights were terminated. They told them we could promise them the moon and then leave the country and never even tell them once the adoption was final. And they were right. But that was never our plan. With all of their faults and weaknesses we still wanted them to be a part of her life.
Why? Is a questions we get all the time. Aren’t you afraid that they will come and take her back? Do you really want to expose her to them?
- First, a child that has been legally adopted can not be taken back. Her birth parents do not know where we live and they can barely get themselves to the local grocery store because they have no transportation and no money for bus fare. The only time we see them is by where they live which is an hour away from where we live.
- Next,the best way I can answer why is by having you look at the photo at the top. This is one of the very first photos taken of Nevaeh. She came to us at 2 1/2 months old and although our lives with her started on that day in December, her life started in September. We are one of the fortunate families to get her at such a young age but she still had a life before us.
I have 2 sisters who were adopted from birth. We can tell them what we were told as to why they were given up for adoption but that’s about all we can do. They have questions that we can’t answer. There is a part of their lives that is a huge question mark and something that they want to know. Not because they don’t consider us their family, but because it is part of who they are. They are not looking to replace us. They just want to find out more.
I don’t want Nevaeh to grow up wondering. The arrangements I have with her birth family right now is that they see her about 4 times a year around birthdays and holidays. They do not know where we live and have never been to our house. We meet in a public location (partly because they are homeless again) and I buy us all lunch. We stay for about 2 hours and they laugh and play with her.
Is it hard on me? Yes. It is an hour drive there and back and trying to fit it into our busy schedules is frustrating to me sometimes. Nevaeh is a very strong willed 3-year-old (alright, she’s spoiled). I always feel as if I am being judged as to why she throws the fits she does or why she isn’t potty trained yet. Plus I hate the awkward moments, like the time her birth mom thought I was inviting her to live with us or the time they called and asked me to co-sign on their apartment.
I have had to lay down the rules!
- Her birth dad called and was yelling at me because he was in a fight with birth mom and he wanted to know when he was going to get to see Nevaeh for Mother’s Day since he was not going to see her with the birth mom around. To which I kindly replied (you’re not her mother). He then yelled that he wanted his mother to see her as a Mother’s Day gift. I had to remind him that I was under no obligation to visit with him and that if he didn’t treat me with respect he need not bother to call at all for a visit.
- I have also had to inform them that I do not consider Valentines Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and Thanksgiving holidays that I need to bring Nevaeh for a visit. I was not clear on this when we made our arrangements. My idea was to visit for Easter/Mother’s Day, Father’s Day/Birth dad’s birthday, birth mom’s birthday/Nevaeh’s birthday, and Christmas. Anything extra is if I happen to be in the area.
I am not sure how long it will last, but I will do my best to make it work for as long as I can. Is it hard? Yes!
- I know it is harder on my husband than it is on me. Nevaeh never bonded well with her birth mother and could take her or leave her when it comes to visits. But her little face lights up and she goes running into the arms of her birth father every time we get to see him and still calls him Daddy. (Last time he wasn’t at the visit because he got thrown in jail the night before for beating mom up). It would probably be a lot harder for me if Nevaeh stilled called her birth mom, Mom.
- I think it will also get harder as she gets older. Especially if she gets to a point where she doesn’t want to visit them. At the last visit with birth dad not there she didn’t want birth mom to hold her at all. She did finally warm up to her but it took almost an hour for her to do so. I don’t want to force her to do something that she doesn’t want but I don’t want her to regret later on not having a relationship with them.
So why open adoption when I don’t have to? Why expose her to these people with sorted past who hurt her when she was a newborn? Why deal with all this frustration and awkwardness?
- Because they are her first family and they love her.
- Because they can give her a past that I can’t.
- Because they can tell her about how she came into this world the day she was born.
And because on April 22, 2010 we legally adopted her as shown in the picture above, I will always be her mom and Steve will always be her dad, but we will never be her first.
Steve, Katrina, Joshua, Jared, Jacob and Nevaeh live in Southern California. If you would like to read more about their foster care adventure, you can visit them at http://makingmanymemories.blogspot.com/