8iRWeiXjcKj9kUz5Tebo4_k_FtY Life with Two Special Needs Children: National Adoption Month - Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project - Meet Susan

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

National Adoption Month - Open Adoption Blogger Interview Project - Meet Susan

Every November is considered National Adoption Month.  It is a time to bring awareness to the growing number of children that are awaiting adoption as well as to celebrate the families who have been created by the loving act of adoption.

Each of our three adoptions, just like our children, were very, VERY different.  The big difference between Caleb's adoption and Cassidy and Steven's adoption is that we actually met and have contact -- albeit very limited contact -- with Caleb's birthmother, which is considered an open adoption.  Caleb's birthmother chose Tony and I to be Caleb's parents, unlike the State being involved in Cassidy and Steven's adoptions.

This year as I was looking around the vast Internet I learned about the Open Adoption Blogger Network.  I was intrigued and signed up.  I then received an e-mail to see if I was interested in participating in an interview project as a part of National Adoption Month, where I would be paired up with another open adoption blogger and we would interview each other and share our interviews on our blogs.  I was very interested and signed up.  The individuals that were spearheading the project were going to have individuals post on three different dates throughout the month and I knew with the way my life went that the later in the month for me was the best!

So, with that introduction, I am pleased to bring you, what I hope to be, my first of many interviews for years to come as part of the Open Adoption Blogger Network.

 Adoption Blogger Interview Project 

So, I would like to introduce you to Susan.  Susan and her husband Mitch, are currently in the waiting stage of adoption.  Susan did a great job of keeping the dialog going to make sure we met the deadlines to get our interview completed on time.

When I received the first e-mail from Susan, I had an idea, even though that we lived in different areas of the country and had never met before, that she and her husband might be using the same adoption agency that we used when we adopted Caleb.  I wrote Susan back, asked her and, sure enough, they were using the same agency.  What are the odds?!?!??!

Well, let's get on to learning more about Susan.

I know by reading through your blog that you have chosen the Independent Adoption Center (IAC), which so happens to be the agency that my husband and I used when we adopted our oldest, and they are an open adoption agency. Did you consider any other adoption agencies? Any other type of adoptions, i.e., foster care, international? 

We told ourselves we were going to learn everything we could about different types of adoption before we embarked on our journey, but there’s a lot to consider. It was hard for us to take it all in and explore all our options as fully as we would have liked. We relied a lot on the experiences of others when making our decision to move forward with IAC back in the summer of 2010. Before making that decision we did briefly consider both foster care and international adoption, but we were really drawn to the benefits of open adoption, particularly to the child. We looked at a few agencies and ultimately selected IAC because of two very strong recommendations from people we knew who worked with them. In the last few years, we’ve really come to see the limitations of relying on other people’s experiences. After all, everyone is different and you’re never going to have the same experience as someone else. Your experience might be similar, but it’s still going to vary because you’re not the same people with the same circumstances.

What have you done to pass the time while you are waiting for “the call”?

Life goes on while you’re waiting. We’ve been waiting 31+ months and are finding that the longer you wait, the more life goes on, with or without you. You can choose to be part of life or not, but it happens all around you even if you choose not. So we do our best to keep focused ourselves focused on the bigger picture. We’ve heard that adoption will happen for us if we wait long enough, but in the meantime we’ve been pouring ourselves into the lives that we are living now and pursuing our goals. We work hard and find time to play hard too. One of the best ways we find to distract ourselves is with our annual passes to Disneyland which is only 15 minutes away from where we live. We also love day trips out, visits to museums, zoos, and other local attractions, and pursuing interests such as reading and craft projects. I’ve also found it particularly helpful to stay engaged with our local bead store. They offer numerous classes every month and it’s so much fun to try new beading techniques and hang out with people there.

How supportive is your extended family with your adoption decision? 

Everyone is on board with the idea of us adopting. We’ve found that many people aren’t aware of the intricacies and complications with adoption, and that includes many family members and friends. So while everyone is generally supportive, it’s hard for some to really understand what we’re going through or why it’s taking so long. That said, we know they’re here for us even if they’re a little fuzzy on the details.

Are there any adoption blogs or websites that you are following? 

 My husband and I both regularly follow America Adopts, both on their Facebook page and blog. We were drawn to them early in our journey, both because of the great advice they often have for those waiting to adopt and because they write regularly about a variety of perspectives and topics related to adoption. I also follow “He’s Our Heart, She’s Our Hero” which is the blog written by my interview partner from 2012. While her wait to adopt ended almost 2 years ago, her story has some parallels with my own. I find her perspective very inspiring and I find it helpful to hear her stories about life now that the adoption is finalized.

What adoption books have you read that helped you the most? 

This year I read "Instant Mom" by Nia Vardalos, who is probably best known for her role in the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Her book is about her long and very rocky journey to become a mother, which finally happened by adopting through the foster care system. She tells her story with wit and candor and it includes stories about her career and her struggles to become a mother. I found it very engaging and easy to read, and also found there was a lot of good information about adoption in the midst of her story. I learned several things I didn’t know about the foster care system and my husband and I have started to reconsider our path as a result. I also liked that Ms. Vardalos is committed to adoption advocacy and donates proceeds from the book to charities.

"Instant Mom" really stands out for us because my husband and I also had the opportunity to hear Ms. Vardalos speak twice about her book and her adoption journey. The first time was in April 2013 at the "Los Angeles Times" Festival Books. It was right after her book came out and I hadn’t read it yet, but I knew I wanted to hear her talk about her book. We bought a copy and she was so sweet to us when we she signed it. We heard her speak again at a local library in October 2013, and this experience was even better because I had just finished reading her book. We stood in the book signing line just to thank her for the book and tell her how much I liked it. We weren’t expecting her to sign our copy since it was already signed. We were very impressed that she was so sweet to us again and happily surprised when she volunteered to sign our book a second time.

 I saw from your blog that you were working on a cross stitch project, I’m assuming for your nursery. Have you completed that project?

I have not. This year has been very difficult in many ways, including a death in the family and a failed match. A bit got done in the glow of matching with a pregnant woman in early June. Unfortunately my enthusiasm for the project faltered when the match failed and we went back to continuing our wait. Sometimes I find that I have time to work on the project, but find it very difficult to settle down and actually stitch. I wind up getting involved with other things and the project continues to go unfinished.

I know while we were in our long waiting period for our oldest, we received some insensitive comments from well-meaning individuals. How do you handle those?

We’ve been fortunate in that we received very few insensitive comments. There are a few that have come close, but these are usually in relation to the time it is taking or the method we’ve chosen to adopt. We often hear, “Why aren’t you adopting a particular way, such as internationally? Someone we know did this and they adopted right away.” It’s clear that the people making these comments want us to become parents as soon as possible, but they don’t realize how invested we already are with the path we’re on. Our response varies depending on our connection to the person making the comment. In some cases, we’ll just respond that their idea is something to consider and we’ll leave it at that. In other cases, we’ll take some time to explain why that might an idea for the future, but not possible now.

There is a source of painful comments that I’d like to share. I have a very dear friend who is in her 80s and lives in London. She’s been like a grandmother to me and we talk on the phone every week. She’s a lovely person and has been extremely supportive of our plans to adopt, but she’s never really understood how adoption works in the 21st century. In the last year, things have become more complicated because she has developed dementia. She often asks about our son or daughter, forgetting that we haven’t actually adopted yet. And unfortunately I made this even harder when we matched over the summer and I shared our good news. Almost every week now I find myself explaining once again that our match failed and I don’t have a child, when she asks how my daughter is. I know she loves us very much and she doesn’t mean to hurt me when she asks, but I’ve learned I need to be much more careful when sharing information with her about our adoption plans.

You can read more about Susan and Mitch on her blog here.  I would like to ask my friends to please pray for Susan and Mitch and that God would bless this couple with a bundle of joy!!!!

If you would like to read Susan's interview of me, you can go to her blog and read it there.

You can learn more about the Open Adoption Blogger Network and the Interview Project here.

And if you go here you will find third and final installment of interviews in the Open Adoption Blogger Network Interview Project of 2013.

If you want to read more, here is the second installment.

And the first installment is here.

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