Adoption Tip: Connect Virtually with Your Child’s Mother

The other day I came across this extraordinary website that I wanted to share with all those out there who want more than anything to connect with the mother of your future child.

Thanks to the miracle of new media, there are more options than ever to get the word out about your desire for family. If you are interested in domestic adoption, this is an option you should seriously consider.

Remember, though … a website is only as good as it is effective in making connections. Put your URL out there every way you can think of. That is every bit as important as creating the site itself!

God bless you!

Are Your Head and Heart in Balance?

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Yesterday we had a sibling visit with my children’s older brother (“brother by blood,” as my kids say). Casey was adopted by another couple, who went on to adopt a second teenager (God bless ’em) after raising two “home-grown” children.

In less than a year, Casey went from being the oldest to youngest in his family of four kids. And he would be the first to tell you it hasn’t been easy. “I get mad a lot,” he said to me last night over burgers.

Ironically, he knows in his head that he ‘s better off now. “If I had stayed with my parents, I would be dead by now,” he tells me. “It wasn’t safe. Not for any of us … not my brother, and not my sisters.” Even so, he yearns for his first family. I keep praying for him, hoping that he will let his guard down and return the love of his adoptive parents. Someday soon.

To their credit, Casey’s new family is hanging in there. It can’t be easy.  But they have made a commitment to this boy, and by golly they are going to see it through. Each day, they will to love Casey, even when their hearts must break from all his mischief. I admire them more than I can say.

So much about foster parenting (and in some cases, adoptive parenting as well) is about keeping natural heart impulses in check in order to give the head free reign. As mothers, we want to nurture and tend to our children’s every need. We want them to be happy and well adjusted. We want them to be safe and well. We willingly put our own needs on hold at times in order to secure these things. And when reality doesn’t match the rosy image we have in our heads, we get discouraged.

Which is one of the many reasons God created husbands and wives to work together in the task of parenting. When I struggle in knowing the right way to handle a situation, I can count on my husband to help us both gain perspective. When I get in over my head, I know I can trust him because he is (a) the smartest man I know and (b) the kindest.

Oftentimes when a couple begins to explore adoption, one or the other is more enthusiastic. Usually, but not always, it is the husband who is the more reluctant partner, or the one who has more questions. When people have asked me what to do when this happens, my advice is simple:  Get the answers you need so BOTH of you are comfortable with the decision.

Getting the perspective of a disinterested and impartial third party can also help. (The social worker may not be the best choice, as they have a vested interest in getting children placed in homes as quickly as possible … Even if you are unsure of whether you can handle the specifics.)

God also gives us pastors, and friends, and extended family — all of whom will need to be on your “support team” if and when you decide to add to your family through adoption or foster care. Ultimately YOU are the one who must make decisions for your family — and live with those decisions. But if you are conflicted, or confused, or uncertain … Striking that all-important balance is easier to accomplish by talking things over with a third party.

Don’t rush, or allow yourself to be talked into something you know in your heart is beyond your abilities to handle. Get the answers you need, and take all the time you need, until you and your spouse are in agreement. There are thousands of children in need of homes … and sadly, most of them will still be there a week or a month from now.

Trust God to bring your child to you when the time is right.

EMN Mailbag: “Should I disrupt this adoption?”

Adoption is the sweet fruit that miraculously falls from bitter trees.” (The Call to Adoption, p.153).

I was up early this morning, thinking and praying about a letter I received from a distraught mother, and the little boy she and her husband adopted from Guatemala… we’ll call him “Juan.” This mother “Melody” has a chronic illness, and three biological children who are all under the age of 10. Still, they wanted to adopt. The family labored for three years to bring little Juan home … then discovered he had a history of sexual abuse and neglect.  Continue reading

Sneak Preview: An Adoption Story

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NOTE: I am making edits on an article on Catholic Exchange, which I hope will run next week. In the meantime, I thought it prudent to offer a bit more information on my own background, as well as clarify my position on some aspects of the “front end” of adoption.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to direct my regular readers to an important resource for women in crisis pregnancies and those considering open adoption, a book entitled “Because I Loved You,” which I have reviewed at the end of this article. I would like to thank Patricia Dischler and others who have taken time to help me “fill in the gaps” concerning some aspects of adoption with which I do not have relevant firsthand experience.

The first time it happened, it came from nowhere, and struck without warning. In the middle of my son’s honors assembly, I heard a name I had tried hard to forget: it belonged to a fourth-grader whose name was the same as that of my youngest sister’s second child.

Two of my sisters experienced crisis pregnancies as teenagers. The first time, my parents threw my sister out of the house. Soon thereafter she married an abusive man who was not the father of her child — and never let either my sister or her daughter forget it. In time my sister escaped, but only after a prolonged legal battle in which she nearly lost her daughter to her abuser (in NJ, he had the right to sue for custody though he wasn’t K’s father).

The second time one of their teenage daughters became pregnant, my parents rallied around her, promising to help her raise her child. Two years later, when it happened again to the same daughter, the three of them chose a Christian couple who would provide a good home for the baby boy, and who agreed to open adoption.

For the most part, I watched all this unfold from the sidelines. I was thirty and unmarried, focused on my career and living hundreds of miles away. I offered to raise my sister’s child, but it was decided the other couple was a better choice. They were married, had more financial resources, and were “Christian” (as opposed to Catholic, as I am).

But it was not to be. The bio father (we’ll call him “Gary”) fought to keep the child … and won. The adoptive parents’ petition was denied, my sister’s parental rights were terminated … and Gary swore she would never see her child again. My sister’s son would never want to see her – Gary would see to that.

When I heard that Gary was contesting the adoption, I had tried to warn my family that it might not turn out as they had hoped. After all, the family court system was bound to favor a biological parent over an adoptive one. Mom disagreed adamantly – Gary had a criminal record, was abusive, and had so frightened my parents that they were in the process of moving to another state. He had recently married, but his wife was killed in an accident in the middle of the hearing. His grief made him even more determined to punish my family, whom he blamed for his current situation.

Mom had been confident: “No judge will choose him over the parents your sister has picked for her child.”

She was confident. She was also wrong.

I’ve often wondered if, had my family approached the situation a bit differently, if I might have a relationship with my nephew today. Certainly it is “in the best interests of the child” to know his mother and her family – and yet, once my family had set themselves firmly in opposition to him, and their adversary’s rights prevailed … they lost everything. Yes, he could have chosen the higher road – and at some point down the line, I hope he will do so out of love for his son. But I’m not counting on it.

Nine years later, I still avoid looking at that little face in my parents’ “rogue’s gallery” of grandchildren’s photographs in their living room. Hurts too much. And when I hear his name called at a school assembly, though I know it’s not the same child – I still wince. Continue reading

Adoption “Unnatural”?

Hey, Al … Where’s Heidi?

If you got my newsletter today, and tuned in to “Kresta in the Afternoon” wondering where I am … tune in again on Thursday! We’ll be having a lively discussion about EMN and adoption at 3:00 EST. Don’t have Catholic radio in your neighborhood? Just listen in by computer by clicking here!

This afternoon I was also on Lisa Hendey’s “Catholic Moments” podcast. Right after the podcast, Lisa was leaving to attend the funeral of an eighteen-year-old boy, Russell, who was in a skateboarding accident last year, and finally succumbed to his injuries. Please pray for the soul of this young man, and for his mother, Cathy.

Mighty Mom sent this link to me today, a YouTube clip about “the dog who had cats for lunch.”

If animals are capable of cross-species “adoption” — how much more should we be willing to tend to the needs of children in need of families?

Are you a struggling adoptive parent? Is your child acting out in ways you are afraid you are not equipped to handle? Is she so destructive you are afraid to leave her alone? Is the reality of parenthood turning out to be harder than you thought it would be? Are you seriously considering just throwing in the towel?

You are in our prayers today. Take a deep breath, then find a way to take a break — hire a babysitter for a couple of hours, or talk to your agency about finding respite care (preferably someone who speaks your child’s language, if he or she is foreign-born). Then go to a coffee shop and read this article at “Destinations, Dreams and Dogs” about meeting the challenges of raising older adopted children, particularly those from Russia (though her wisdom translates well to foster children, too!).

Thanks to “O Solo Mama” for sending it!

Above all, hang in there, and remember the words of St. Teresa of Avila:

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you.
All things pass away, but God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
She who possesses God, lacks for nothing.
God alone suffices. 

John Paul II and National Adoption Month!

“Adopting children, regarding and treating them as one’s own children, means recognizing that the relationship between parents and children is not measured only by genetic standards. Procreative love is first and foremost a gift of self. There is a form of ‘procreation’ which occurs through acceptance, concern and devotion. The resulting relationship is so intimate and enduring that it is in no way inferior to one based on a biological connection. When this is also juridically protected, as it is in adoption, in a family united by the stable bond of marriage, it assures the child that peaceful atmosphere and that paternal and maternal love which he needs for his full human development.”

John Paul II, Letter to Adoptive Families (Sept 5, 2000)

November is National Adoption Month — and today,  November 15 — is National Adoption Day!! Yipee!!!

Are you looking for ways to celebrate adoption? Click here to go to an article from “Adoptive Families” magazine that offers 30 ways families can celebrate!

For more information about this important resource for adoptive parents, or to subscribe, click here!

Anti-Adoption? Review of “The Adoption Mystique” by Joanne Wolf Small, MSW

 

adoption-mystique1My article “Anti-Adoption Advocacy: How Should We Respond?” drew a wide variety of responses. The ones that gave me the greatest pause came from those I mentioned in the article as being against adoption, who wrote to protest.

 

According to co-founder/executive director of Bastard Nation (B/N) Marley Greiner, “We are concerned only about the civil right of all adult adoptees to receive their obcs [original birth certificates] upon request without government interference.”  (Ironically, the most heated attacks concerning the adoption/abortion issue came from members of his organization.)  However, her comments reminded me of the complexity of the issues surrounding adoption, and that to seek reform in one area is not the same as wanting to eliminate the practice altogether. (In my next column at CE/CM, I will examine the issue most central to the B/N crowd: birth records.)

 

For now, I’d like to address a comment posted by the author of this book, The Adoption Mystique by Joanne Wolf Small, MSW. She contacted CE to correct my perception, saying that she is in fact pro-adoption. I admit it made me sit up and take notice. Reaching for her book, which was still sitting beside my computer, I read the bio: “[Ms. Small] is herself adopted [at six weeks] … Her belief in the adoptive family as a positive alternate is dissonant with a widespread, covertly held public image” (TAM, back cover). 

 

Hmm… how was it that I concluded that she was against adoption? Continue reading