Wednesday, July 24, 2013

why do I blog? {summer is for reruns}

This post got quite a bit of attention.  It was in response to a super critical comment as well as a post on the blog of an adult adoptee about me.  After the initial "whoa", criticism can be a good thing.  It made me reflect on many things that have happened along the way as well as my convictions.  Even more, it made me realize that in trying to keep a good balance of "real" & some level of privacy, I hadn't shared enough of my heart.  While I may never get the opportunity to meet those that read my words or ever even hear from them, I hope that whatever I share at least makes readers feel like they have a sense of who I am.  And so, this post was born:

I've actually thought about this question quite a few times, even more over the last couple days. There's really no one answer. A friend encouraged me a few years back to start a blog b/c I have some experiences/testimonies to share. I have journaled for a long time, so this is a way for me to journal, too. It has also afforded me the opportunity to connect with others beyond those right next door to share experiences & learn a thing or two. In the back of my mind, though, I've always known there would come a day I would either make a mistake or tick somebody off with a personal decision.

Little did I know I'd manage to do both all at once. If you've taken time to ever read my profile, it states, "It's an imperfect world, I'm an imperfect person..." Case in point: In the last several days, I have had quite a few comments on my blog. Unfortunately, one of those comments was innappropriate in content, & I missed it. For that, I am very sorry and am glad that it was brought to my attention so that I could remove it.

I completely understood this person's anger at such a thing, but evidently, our choice to rename our son was equally disturbing to her, or actually, I believe the word was "disgusted". On that, we will have to agree to disagree, but I do hope you might hear my heart on this. We did not make this decision on a whim or based on satisfying some self-centered need. Just as things like circumcision are constantly hot topics, there really is no rule book with a right or wrong answer. Everyone tends to have a passionate opinion, but in the end, it's a personal decision. We know some that kept their child's given name in full; we know others that changed it completely, with no trace of anything from the original. After reading (& reading, & reading) articles, forums & anything else we came across about renaming an adopted child, we really felt "damned if you do; damned it you don't." If we had not given him a "K" name like his siblings, we could have been judged for making him feel left out. In the end, we tried to give him both. Through translators, both in Ethiopia & here, we were able to communicate about these possibilities, & in the end, he liked K'Tyo. And, no, I did not try to persuade him. Pa-leeeze....anyone that has hit the teen stage knows that if you try to make your kids' decisions for them knows, it will come back to bite you in the butt with, "But you made me..." Nope, not interested in goin' there.

But here's the thing. I followed the link to your blog & did a little reading. I think maybe you think you already know me. That maybe I'm full of "unicorn farts & rainbows as I'm out in the world "saving" children" by giving them the awesome opportunity to be adopted by me. Umm, no. I have written some posts about the journeys to our children b/c I am amazed that out of this whole big world, I get to know them, love them, & be part of their lives.


Here's the other side of the coin. In a perfect world, there would be no need for adoption. Children would be able to remain with their parents, & parents would be able to care for their children. Our outlook on adoption has never been & never will be to "save" a child, nor has it ever been a "Plan B". We don't believe in finding children for families, but families for children that are in need of one. I'm not looking for a child to fill some need in me to feel like I'm saving the world or to gain attention. If I wanted attention, I'd do something way easier. Parenting is hard; parenting children that will always have the pain of a missing piece is harder. Still too fluffy? Here's a few other things you don't know: You don't know that I held my little girl's mother in my arms time & again when no one else thought her "worthy" of anything, let alone respect & kindness. You don't know that at her request, I sat in on visits to make them easier on her. Many asked me "why?"..."Why would you make it easy for her? Why not let her get completely frustrated so she would just quit coming to visits?" Why? Because it was the right thing to do, and because I honor the fact that she is her mother, beyond the circumstances that prevented her from being able to function on a daily basis as such. You don't know that even though this was a termination of rights situation, I still choose to maintain contact with the family because it was never my hope that they would not be able to care for their daughter/niece/granddaughter so that I could adopt her & never look back. The goal of foster care is never adoption; that is the last resort.

You don't know that I desperately wanted to meet anyone from K'Tyo's extended family so that I could look them in the eye & promise to do my best on their behalf. You don't know that I have spent his two birthdays in our family overwhelmed with grief b/c I wonder if his mother died worrying for her son. I wonder if she ever got to see a birthday. As a mother, it makes my gut ache to think of leaving this earth & missing the chance to see my child grow up, let alone know if they would even be cared for. It sucks.

You don't know that I spent a long time with Kendi's mother on the phone when she was in the hospital, reiterating that I wanted her to make the decision that was best for HER...she owed us NOTHING. You don't know that I did not ask her for permission to go to the hospital because I did not want her to feel any pressure. You don't know that when she wanted to take the baby home for a few days that I supported her when nobody else would. Not only that, I continued to encourage her & tell her to NOT base her decision on us. This wasn't about us. Not for a minute. You don't know that I left all communication during that week up to her to ensure she did not feel any pressure from us because I did not want in any way to influence her decision. You don't know that I long for continued communication with her as Kendi grows up. You don't know that I think of her every single day.

Adoption is messy & originates from loss. Originally, I was going to respond to you in a private email, but I realized that I may have other readers that were offended or that can offer the perspective of an adult adoptee. Quite frankly, I need you. Our oldest 2 daughters were adopted by my husband, & we got it wrong more than we got it right. I did not have the luxury of the worldwide web in those days for information or any BTDT people. I need the perspective of adult adoptees because I want to navigate this road with our adopted children in a way that keeps their needs & feelings in the light. I'm gonna make mistakes, but I want to learn. There's a lot I don't know, & there's a whole lot I can't understand because I haven't lived it. I mean, I don't know if it's right to say birth parent/family, first parent/family, natural parent/family... What is appropriate? I don't know that I like the term "gotcha day" that wrong? These are just a couple examples of many things I want to know from your perspective.

I don't need you to agree with every decision I make. I don't even need you to like me. But at least know that you don't really know me. You know bits & pieces that I choose to share & you might choose to judge personal decisions or judge me for my faith. That's your prerogative, but here's one thing you can know for sure--My intentions are not to hurt my child by changing his name or be ignorant to the needs of any of my children, including those that have been adopted into our family. I love them fiercely--like lay down my life for them fiercely--but I am fully aware that all the love in the world won't erase the wound of loss. I will continue to give my all, & I welcome the opportunity to connect with & hear from those that know intimately the position of adoptee so that when "my all" falls short, I might learn in order to serve the needs of my children well.

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