Saturday, November 26, 2011

A.D.O.P.T.I.O.N.S. Part 2

I have taken some time between part 1 and 2 of the acrostic regarding adoptions. I didn't want the words to start sounding the same. It is easy to say the same thing over and over with a new letter. As the stories keep rolling through my brain I want them to be fresh and new for this second part so here we go...
T. Trust - Ultimately you have to trust that God has all things worked out to His satisfaction or you wouldn't ever begin the process of adoption. With so many unknowns in the process trust is key to survival and proper perspective. However, under the umbrella of trust of God for all the details you end up learning to trust other people as well. The trust between yourself and the birth family starts to build from the first moment that you meet them. This is the process that is filled with the most lack of trust in the entire adoption. Each party at the beginning will question the other party's motives, understandings, reasons, intentions and everything imaginable. It is beautiful to see these lack of trust items turn into trust items one by one. The process happened with both Patrick's and Eliana's birth families and I am sure that similar trust is built in most adoption situations. If you recognize that this is normal (and even healthy) then you will have an easier time navigating through the process as you experience it.
I. Intimacy - I have often said that to have a child only takes a male and female who have reached a certain biological age and 9 months of waiting and then "poof," welcome to the world, oh, little one. This process at the raw level doesn't take any thought, concern, or discussion. However, adoption is the ultimate bearing of your soul to others in order to become qualified to adopt.   If the enterprise of having natural children were this long and arduous, we would have a much smaller population. The questions are as follows but not limited to:, "Why do you want to adopt?", "What type of child will you accept?", "What race of child will you accept?", "What is your house like?", "What is the state of your finances or tax returns?", "How is your marriage?" Questions spoken and unspoken from the birth families include, "What makes you want to adopt my child?", "What do you think of me as a person since I am giving up my child to adoption?", "Will you love my child always?", and "Will you judge me?" This is not a complete list but often I found myself running away from the questions wondering how any couple could be required to be this transparent with their lives. It is, however, important to embrace the process, since it will make your adoption successful, beautiful and unique.
O. Overwhelming - The entire process is overwhelming. After we adopted Patrick we had the sense that the second adoption process would be easier, and it was with regard to the paperwork, etc. However, as a friend told me, "you are a rookie parent with each child". This statement holds true with each adoption. We are rookie adoptive parents with each adoption. As much as I wanted it to be the same, it was entirely different. With Eliana we expected that we would have time to prepare, time to enjoy setting up her room, time to get to know the birth family, etc.  In hindsight I wouldn't change anything about either adoption, but the reality of it was that they were both overwhelming! The first adoption is always overwhelming because it is a brand new realm. The second adoption for us had the new factor of 7 weeks in the NICU in a hospital 450 miles away. The emotions, the details, the insurance, the finances, the relationships, the unknowns, and more all add up to a process that can be overwhelming. It must be understood that God is in charge of this process. Otherwise, all you have is your raw emotions which cannot be trusted.
N - Not Understood - Just when you think you have entered into this wonderful plan to adopt a child either domestically or internationally, it is now time to share these plans with others. And, of course, everyone will understand your reasons, emotions, and all the details of adoption, right? WRONG.  You will find many people who have no clue about adoption except for what they have heard on the evening news or read about on the internet - these stories are often negative in tone.  In order to survive this crazy world of understanding or mis-understanding it is important to know who to communicate with. This was true in both of our situations. There were people that understood every detail of the story and were of great help throughout the process. There were those who really had no idea what was happening and therefore they got the very general version of "We are adopting a child". After that they were told only basic facts to keep them informed. If you are considering adoption please understand that people generally fall into these two categories (understanding and not understanding) and tailor your communication accordingly.  It will help you keep your sanity and survive the barrage of questions that are prevalent throughout the adoption process.

S - Sacrifice - The sacrifice of having a child (biologically) is one of putting yourself last and putting your child first. They eat before you; they bathe before you; they have their needs met before yours, etc. It is a natural outgrowth of parenthood and you can talk to any new Mom or Dad and get all of the details. This reality is equally true in the adoptive process. Everything in the process seems to happen on its own time schedule which can be inconvenient and frustrating at times. Nothing about the process of meeting the birth family will happen on your schedule. Nothing will prepare you for unexpected expenses (unless you happen to be independently wealthy!) When you keep the focus on knowing that sacrifice will is the norm then the process will be much easier to understand.

Not one of the letters that were described in these 2 articles "A.D.O.P.T.I.O.N.S." describes the process, emotions, or ups and downs completely. You must take all of the discussions in the articles and keep reminding yourself that it is not about you, it is about the child. More importantly it is not about your plan, it is about God's plan for you. This will keep your adoption in the proper focus and give you the strength to make it through. The joy at the end of the process is indescribable. Thanks for reading. I pray that these 2 articles have encouraged other couples in their process of adoption. J.V.P.E

Friday, November 25, 2011

Musical Duet

There is something fun about playing music with your 3 year old. I sense some talent here although we will have to wait and see. It is fun to see the wheels turning in his little head Enjoy the improvisation

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A.D.O.P.T.I.O.N.S. (Part 1)

Now that we have 2 beautiful kids through the wonderful world of adoption, I find that reflection on the past and a look toward the future is a very beneficial exercise for us. There are many more layers to adoption than I thought when we started this process 4 years ago. I decided to put an acrostic together in hopes that it would outline the important concepts of this multi-faceted process.

A -- Adjustment It might go without saying that having a new child in the family is an adjustment but more than that, the entire process of adoption is a life adjustment. At the beginning it is all about classes, books and money. Then there are the meetings with the social workers to determine the path of the adoption (domestic, international, ethnicity of the child, and other parameters.) Ultimately no matter what path you take to prepare for an adoption, the biggest adjustment is the match. It is without a doubt the largest adjustment that we have made in 19 years of marriage. With the paperwork process and the classes it is easy to be detached. But when you are introduced to a prospective birth mother, it is a beautiful adjustment that is almost difficult to put into words unless you have experienced it. And the adjustment was not any more or less significant with Eliana than with Patrick. Depending on how open the adoption is the adjustments will continue for a long time. Personally, I wouldn't want it any other way. I have come to realize that adoption is not "second best" in God's eyes. It is not something to do if and only if you can't have "your own" kids. It is near and dear to His heart and it is put in the same place as natural child birth. God gave us these children no matter the path, just as he has granted others with biological children. And, in the end, they are all God's kids.
D -- Dependence The more unknown a situation is the more dependent you are on someone or something else. With both adoptions our dependence had to be 100% on God. There really is no other way in my mind. Without dependence on God you have only yourself to depend on; so many times in this life we have proven that we are not dependable. The Friday before we were connected with Eliana's birth mother we received a call that another adoption situation we were pursuing had fallen through. It was one of the most bizarre situations I have been in. Apparently the birth mom was scamming adoption agencies and families for money and had now come to California to continue the process since the agencies in Las Vegas had figured out what was going on. So getting that phone call on Friday was a relief but we were naive in thinking that the process would be delayed. The first phone call for Eliana's situation came that next Monday and off we went down the path again. Then after we settled down into the possibility of a late August birth only to get a text after church on Sunday June 26,2011 that Eliana was going to be born that day. And presto, we were dealing with a tentative match and a 3lb 6oz child who spent the next 6 weeks in the NICU in Northern California. Then we faced the prospect of having Vivian spend an unknown amount of time in Northern California (5 weeks) while Patrick and I stayed here in Southern California. We were completely dependent on God for wisdom, direction, endurance, finances etc. since we obviously had no control of the situation.
O - Openness Scary, Fun, Exciting, Rewarding, Indescribable. Which word do you want to use to describe openness? It is a default response for people who don't know anything about adoption to assume that you won't have any contact with the birth family (or "hopefully" won't have any contact with them.) That has never been our approach to the situation. We have always worked to get to know our birth families and serve them in any way possible. We continue to be connected to both families in our situation through various electronic and non electronic means. Open adoption means that you are going to meet the family and get to know them during the process prior to the birth. Sometimes this is not the case when the adoption starts with a call from the hospital. In Patrick's case we had 4 months or so and with Eliana we had 3 months before the "official" adoption. To deny the openness of adoption is to put yourself in a situation where you deny the essence of what adoption is. And it will be important to explain in full the world of adoption to Eliana and Patrick so it is vital that we don't start off with omitting truths or altering the facts. I am assuming that the story will change as we add facts when it is age appropriate. Truth is never relative and adoptions are no different. This may be where the most emotional ups and downs occur, but the end result is worth every bit of the process.
P - Prayer, Patience, Perseverance -- choose one because I sure can't :) -- all three are integral to the adoption process. Prayer reminds you to be totally dependent on God, Patience is a virtue and highly important in the adoption process and perseverance is a result of that. Since nothing is really under your control until you bring the child home from the hospital, adoption requires a enormous amount of Patience. I remember with both Eliana and Patrick that feeling that nothing was in my control. I knew it was in God's hands but that didn't mean that I had any clue about the outcome. Eliana was the biggest surprise since she came 2 months early. Patrick, however, was also a surprise since we didn't know when the real due date was going to be. Our best guess was actually 3 weeks before the actual due date. As I reflect on these 4 letters (A,D,O,P) it occurs to me that they apply equally to the birth mother/birth father. Adoption that is only understood from one view point is not adoption at all. There is an amazing amount of love, stress, and many other emotions that go into the birth mother's choice of adoption that most of us will never know. As adoptive parents we get a small insight into the thoughts of the birth mother, but I often wonder how many emotions and thoughts we are not privy to. In this day and age where you can't even discuss how much your annual salary is to your friends it is amazing that we are told as much as we are about the birth families situation.
Thanks for reading