Category Archives: Adoption

My Son’s Adoption Story And Who Should Know It

The cast of characters:

Jane = me

Sam = well-meaning friend

John = my husband

Joe= our son

—–

We were watching our sons play in our neighborhood park. Polite, easy conversation about school, spring and the upcoming Boy Scout camping trip.

Sam turns to me and says, “So what is Joe’s adoption story?”

My mind goes blank. It’s been years since anyone has asked me that question. It’s been so long I’m not quite sure what is being asked. I have no idea what to say.

To fill the now awkward silence Sam says, “Well, John told me I should ask Joe.”

Ask Joe? What would he say? He was only 6 months old. He couldn’t possibly remember the day he entered our family.

And then it hits me.

Ohhhhh. THAT adoption story.

 

Sam, still trying to fill my awkward silence, begins talking about his service in Korea and what little he knows about adoption there.

Finally understanding what he is asking, I offer a laundry list of reasons why biological parents choose adoption for their children. Poverty. Teen pregnancy. Single parenthood. And some reasons we’ll never know or understand.

And then, I’m proud of my husband. My husband has an issue with boundaries. More specifically, my boundaries. He shares things about me with other people, as a way to connect, that I’d rather decide to share. Or not. It’s not malicious. He doesn’t mean to annoy me. But it does. He calls me “a private person.” And I am. So, knowing that he has a tendency to cross the line but that he honored our son’s privacy has touched me. Deeply.

Because our son’s adoption story isn’t pretty. It isn’t tidy. His biological parents wrestled, like all other biological parents out there, with their decision to choose adoption.

And it is our son’s story to tell.

Or not.

Because the circumstances that brought him to us do not define him.

Some people travel by car. Some by train. Some by boat. Some by plane. But they all get to the destination. Eventually.

And our son made it into our family, at 6 months old, by plane. This cute, chubby cheeked, giggling little bundle. The last baby off the plane. Me, afraid they had missed the flight but had forgotten to tell us. The escort, in her broken English, placing him in my arms and telling me of the dream she had, of the wonderful family he was coming home to and how he would be so happy there. His sweet, chubby face. His grin. Captivating us. Clutching each of our index fingers as he slept between us on that first night in our family.

Oh, that first night.

Our baby on Korea time. Us, exhausted, excited and weary. Searching through his bag, desperately wanting to know whether to give him soy or dairy based formula. That’s all we wanted to know. How do we feed our child? We took the formula from his bag. The instructions were in Korean. The interpreter at the airline desk said it was soy based. Great, we thought. We brought both. Soy it is!

Our baby boy gobbled down that first bottle and part of the next and promptly fell fast asleep. We patted ourselves on the back. Such great parents already. We know how to feed him. We know how to get him to sleep. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

An hour later, at the hotel, he wakes up crying. Screaming. We change him. We offer him another bottle. We play with him. Nothing is working. He is exhausted, we tell ourselves. He’s in a strange country with strange sounds, strange smells. As much as we love him already, we are still strange to him. My husband holds him, gently bouncing him as I run back to the car and get another arsenal of toys to distract him.

As I walk back into the hotel room my husband is holding our son. With out-stretched arms. Our son is laughing. He is grinning ear to ear. My husband is stunned. His face frozen. Mortified.

“I don’t know what to do,” he stammers.

He is covered, from chest to thighs.

In poop.

Our son exploded. And poop is everywhere. All over my husband. All over our son.

And our sweet, grinning boy is happy again.

I get a garbage bag from the front desk. I gently peel the clothes off my husband and my son. They bathe, together, son laughing and husband still speechless. And now, I’m giggling. The mess. The expressions of glee and horror in one moment. The laughter. Delicious, delightful laughter.

That sweet peal of tinkling joy from our precious, amazing son.

That is our son’s adoption story. The late flight. The other babies, coming off the plane one by one. Us, searching for our son and finally seeing him for the first time. The escort placing him in my arms. The smile. Those cheeks. The formula that we were told was soy but was really dairy. Feeding him the wrong formula and the poop we waded in after. And then, after the poop and the bath. After he wouldn’t sleep in the pack ‘n play. When he snuggled between us and clutched my husband’s finger and then mine and promptly fell asleep. Cuddled between us both.

That is our son’s adoption story.

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Adoption Triangle of Love

Post Mother’s Day, I’ve been thinking a lot about my children’s birth-mothers, women I admire beyond measure. It was time for me (and now, you) to re-read Adoption Triangle of Love. Enjoy. And hug your children close. 

 

When I was searching for ideas for my 100th post my friend, LLCoolJoe, asked about my experience with adoption. First of all, I could probably start a whole new blog and have plenty of material on adoption alone. I can go on and on about how adoption has touched my life. Today I’m going to share with you this nifty little piece of jewelry I found years ago.

It’s called the adoption triangle of love. Just after we adopted our daughter my husband had it made for me from a picture he saw in an adoption magazine. The premise is that each person involved (the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child) are all joined in love. I loved this idea. I loved wearing this symbol of my part in the adoption process. And then, one day, while teaching my incredible students, one of them asked why I was wearing a Star of David. I laughed. Yes, it did look a bit like the Star of David. But I explained what the symbol meant and he scoffed, “There’s no love in adoption!”

I was stunned. He said, “The only person that gains from adoption is the adoptive parent. The birth parent is just a selfish (fill in the blank) who was too lazy to care for her own child and the child is just another piece of unwanted garbage tossed aside.” I was at a loss for words.

Ever since I was a little girl my mother said I’ve wanted to adopt. She said when I was very young I would say, “I’m going to have one on my own first and then adopt the rest.” I pictured a house full of children. All colors. All genders. All abilities. I have no idea how I created this vision for my life. Fast forward twenty years and I received the news that I was infertile. No big deal, I thought. We’ll just adopt. I’ve never been one of those women who needed to experience pregnancy.

Selfishly, I chose to go the route of international adoption. Selfish because I was not willing to take the risk of a failed adoption here in the U.S. I had heard too many stories of birth fathers suddenly coming into the picture, or the birth mother changing her mind after the baby has been placed. Do you remember the Baby Jessica case back in the 90’s? A 2 1/2-year-old girl, ripped from her adoptive parents arms because the birth mother (who a year after choosing adoption for her baby ended up married to the birth father after all) changed her mind. It was heart wrenching. DNA does not determine who the parent is, in my book. It’s who steps up to the plate to take care of the child.

The mountain of paper work is daunting. The hoops you have to jump through (psychological tests, physical exams, letters of recommendation, fingerprints filed, financial records verified, parenting classes) are many. The expense is a fair amount. And I mean that in every sense of the word. No one gets rich off of adoption – unless, of course, you’re dealing with unscrupulous people. But that can happen in any financial transaction. Once everything is all said and done, the expense (in our experience anyway) was about the amount we’d need for a biological birth. I wasn’t able to be covered for insurance for a birth anyway because of my infertility – so the cost would be the same if I got pregnant. (Which actually happened years later but that’s for another post)

It took a little over a year for us to complete the process. And during that time I’d sit at the OB/GYN for my annual exam and see teenagers complaining about how uncomfortable they were, being 8 months pregnant. Unmarried. Planning on keeping their child  – with grandma’s help, that is. Not that there’s anything wrong with that choice, as long it provides a strong, stable home for the child. But many times, it doesn’t. I would sit there remembering that line from the movie Parenthood; “You know, Mrs. Buckman, you need a license to buy a dog, to drive a car – hell, you even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any butt-reaming asshole be a father.” Or mother, for that matter.

Having been raised Catholic, I struggle with the issue of abortion. For me, hopefully for my daughter, abortion is not an option. But when I see all those protestors lining the streets with their signs outside Planned Parenthood clinics I want to shout, “How many children have you adopted?” It’s easy for me to tell someone else you shouldn’t abort. I have a job. A home. Supportive family and friends. But do I have a plan for her if she chooses to give birth? I haven’t walked a mile in her shoes. I have no idea what her personal struggle is.

But choosing adoption for your child when you know you can’t provide the life your baby deserves? Heroic. Amazing. A decision – especially now that I’ve been able to experience the miracle of birth – that is made completely and totally with love. Absolutely. Without any doubt in my mind. 

I have two children through adoption. Two birth mothers that made the most difficult, yet loving decision for their child. I am incredibly honored that they touched my life by entrusting the care of their biological child with me. They could have chosen an easier route. But they didn’t. They chose the difficult path because that was in the best interest of their child. I believe that God entrusts us, as parents, with children to raise. He loans them to us -through biology or adoption – to care for their needs as only we can do in the physical world. Biological or not, they are children that need shelter and guidance until they are on their own.

But maybe my former student was right. Maybe I am the only one who “gained” anything from the process. From my perspective I have gained so much. I have two beautiful children through adoption that I cherish and love. I’d like to think that they gained something too, having a stable, loving home to be nurtured in until they are ready to take charge of their own lives. And the birth parents of my children dug deep in their hearts to make the most difficult, best choice for their child.

An adoption triangle. Complicated. Complex. But definitely connected in love.

No doubt in my mind.

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19 Years Ago. And Counting.

19 years ago today a mother-to-be was anxious and nervous and functioning on about 2 hours sleep.

19 years ago today they stopped for dinner at Applebee’s because they didn’t care where they ate and they weren’t really hungry. They poked at their food. They couldn’t concentrate. They just wanted to go already.

19 years ago today they missed the exit and would have been panicked that they would be late but they were already 2 hours early. No worries. Two anxious, about to be first time parents had planned for a wrong turn.

19 years ago today they were not at a hospital. They were at the airport. Because their baby had flown over 24 hours from Seoul, Korea to be a part of their family.

19 years ago today they met an amazing woman, a birthmother who wanted to be part of their homecoming so she could experience the joy she had brought to another family.

19 years ago today people coming off the plane smiled and congratulated the new parents who looked past their heads, trying to get a glimpse of their baby girl. And the passengers waited to see the baby meet her parents for the first time.

19 years ago today two new parents, some of the passengers and one baby cried (for different reasons) and then the passengers clapped, congratulating this new family.

19 years ago today the most precious little bundle of joy was placed in my arms.

And I will never let her go.

Ever.

Happy Gotcha Day, Sweetie! You will always be my sweet, adorable angel!

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