Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Some amazing stuff

Yes I am posting from vacation but that is because my hubby is sleeping to beat the band, he is so tired, and his laptop was waiting there, all set up, looking lovely.

I finished "Adoption After Infertility" - what a f'ing great book. The author is an expert - she is an IF with three adopted kids, and even tho the book is 13 years old it is so resonant. I learned quite a bit, some of which I wanted to share with you:

Positive adoption language - this is a newer way of talking about adoption that is designed to help solve some of the ancient issues that have plagued adoptive kids and parents forever. Basically, there are a few changes to the way people talk about it. For example, the correct term is "birthparent" - not "natural mother" or "real mother". There will be nothing more real than J and I walking the floors in the middle of the night with our sick child or going to their musical recital, walking them down the aisle, being at their graduation,etc.

The birthparent "makes an adoption plan", she doesn't "give the baby up" or "surrender the child". In a legal adoption no one is forced into anything and the adoption plan must be in the best interest of the child.

Never ask an adoptive parent if they "have children of their own" as it minimizes the legal and emotional relationship between parent and child, and reinforces that children are chattel to be owned.

Telling adoptive parents "now that you are adopting you will get pg" is not helpful and can be hurtful - it really only happens in 5% of the cases, studies have shown, and it reinforces the idea that adoption is second best. And when it does happen it is usually because the people have not truly stopped fertility treatments.

If a birthmother changes her mind, she does not "choose to keep her baby", she "decides to parent". It is her baby, she birthed it, but by making an adoption plan she is recognizing that she would not be able to provide the parenting to the baby and chooses two others to be that baby's parents. Real, legal, loving parents.

You do not "buy" a baby (I am so guilty of saying this) but instead your dollars go to pay the agency, the lawyers, for the legal paperwork, and the birthmother expenses. No one profits from the birth; the IRS has made that perfectly clear.

J and I are not PC nor are we sticklers for language - anyone who has been around us knows that. But I do like the idea of using less hurtful language to reinforce our children and to help them adapt to their adoption. We will try our best to be more thoughtful about how we talk about adoption. We will fail, I am sure, but I was really interested in this PAL and wonder how many other stereotypes I accidentally reinforce.

The book also cited a very interesting study done that showed that adopted children actually have a higher GPA than non-adopted children. Only one study is cited but I found that interesting as a great misconception is that adopted kids struggle more in school. The reason given in the book is that generally adoptive families are more secure financially and seem to have more educated parents. I don't want to get into "my kid is smarter than yours" but I think adoptive kids' struggle with intelligence is a longstanding misconception.

The author also cites many books about raising adopted children - while she agrees with the theory that adopted kids share more similarities than differences with biological children she does also agree that the few differences must be managed well. I plan to get a few of these. There is so much to learn. It makes me realize that when I was pregnant I was much more into learning about the pg and didn't even think about parenting, guess it is time for us to start thinking about that, too!

The other thing that happened yesterday was I was at the gorgeous pool, working on my sunburn, and i noticed that there were no less than 6 mixed race kids around. All kinds of families, with white dads and black moms and asian moms and latino dads, etc. One of my concerns about the mixed race adoption is that our children may feel uncomfortable around us, or weird around their peers, but hell, none of these kids looked as though they felt anything but excited to be here and happy in their families. Patricia Johnston, the author of Adopting After Infertility, says that adopting is not 100% altruistic, that some of it is based on the selfish desire of the parents to have children. I am afraid of that selfishness and want to make sure that we make decisions from the start that will benefit our child. Adopting a mixed race baby does have challenges for the child, growing up with white parents, but I did not see a single trace of that in any of the families I so closely watched. Maybe I am over-concerned and too worried. And those may be the most parental feelings I have felt yet.


Blogger Y said...

Hiya - thanks for the PAL lesson! I'm glad we're getting educated with you!

4:30 PM  

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