Last year, I saw all the interviews posted and I was so bummed that I missed out on the chance to participate. When I saw that Heather was taking names for participants, I eagerly signed up!!
I was matched with Lisa, aka Mommy Squared from Our Journey to Parenthood and the Years that Follow. I hope you'll check out her blog and read about her AMAZING family. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Lisa and her family through reading about their adoptions, and through my interview with her. They have a great story to tell, and one that all in the adoption community would enjoy. I've learned a lot and plan to continue the friendship that she and I have created through this project.
Enjoy and check her out!!!
1) You've recently blogged about the feelings that come with both girls being old enough to know when they are having a visit with their birth mother, and how it hurts when it's not their visit. Do you have any advice for adoptive parents looking to having two open adoptions?
We too wondered when we wanted to add to our family how we would balance ourselves between another family?
Yes as they've gotten older particularly with our 6 year old right now there has been upsetment with not seeing her family at the same time as we see our younger daughters family. We explain to her that it's okay to be upset and we understand she is upset but with geography our visits with her family have to be more planned because of travel like seeing other family that lives far from us. Honesty has been our best policy when talking with our girls.
How do you manage two sets of birth families and the emotions and feelings that come for each of your girls when the other's family visits?
We've always allowed our girl the place to have their feelings whether related to their stories or other things. We sit the one down who is showing any variety of emotions and talk to them about their feelings and allowing them their feelings and their space. In both cases each of our girls birth mothers and their families see and treat each girl equally so usually there is not too much upsetment other than why am I not seeing so and so right now. IN addition we've started skyping 2-3x a month with Cristina for she and Ally to erase the miles between them as much as possible. It has helped a lot and even made the in-person visits easier because their continued closeness with skype throughout the year!
2) Both of your adoptions seemed to be flawless and absolutely amazing. Were you ever afraid (with either adoption) of having a failed match/failed adoption? Your blog entries during the times leading up to Ally's adoption never discussed any fears, and your posts about Jess's birth didn't either. I'm just curious if you were always confident about the adoptions happening, or if there was doubt and fear present for either/both.
I guess we may have seemed overconfident when I posted during the journey to our first child. Maybe because we 'met' her birth mother when she found us through our website and she was only 8 weeks pregnant. Geographically we lived miles and miles apart and the professionals guiding all of us had instructed us to start a relationship this early on as much could happen along the way. Our daughter's birth mother confidence in her decision making buoyed our confidence in the process. I think when we arrived in MN for the baby' birth seven month later, we knew there was still a lot to go and anything could happen ... but we put our trust in the fact that whatever was going to be was going to be and we did not have any control over it.
When adding to our family with a second child we had a completely different journey in that we met Stefanie 10 days before she had her baby. That was not enough time for us to feel confident that she felt confident in a decision she was considering at the very end of her pregnancy. Our heads told us and we told her that she needed time after the baby was born to parent and rethink what she wanted to do. We had been told by the professional guiding us that a last minute situation has a 50/50 chance for placement. My husband and I had adopted before and believed in our family and the process and like before we had no control other than to be who we were. SO after the baby was born we shared parenting with our daughter's birthmom for her to have time to get to know us more and to think more about what her choice would be and that gave her another month in deciding what she would do. With her counselor they came up with a transition plan that would start to give us more days with the baby as her day became less. This was a tenuous time for us while parenting a two-year old but it was something we knew needed to happen for any decision to be clear. Our only concern at that time was for our older daughter not to create too much attachment if the baby was not placed with us.
So you see we had two very different adoption placements into our family ... one where we had a lot of time to begin to create our relationship and another where the relationship building came after the baby was born and although in both situations we appeared confident we didn't always feel so confident just believed in the process.
3) Ellen was such a wonderful support for you guys before, during, and after your adoptions. How did you find her? How did you come to decide that adoption was the route you'd take to create your family?
Funnily enough, I found Ellen during an internet search for pre-adoption support. In speaking with her the first time for over 90 minutes (yes that has stuck with me!) I realized she was someone to know and meet and hear more about. Unbeknown to us she was/is a well respected adoption professional in the field having 30+ years of experience facilitating very open adoptions. When attending one of her potluck meetings we felt we had found a kin with the group of clients who were just like us and so we knew we were moving in the right direction.
When we married I was a bit older and so we knew there may be more to it than just having a baby and in our early family planning thought we may adopt in the future. So after the fertility treatments that didn't work in the end we moved plan "B" to plan "A" and realized for us it was about becoming Mommy & Daddy and it didn't have to be through pregnancy. SO when we turned that corner we got busy researching and seeking as much information about adoption as one can ... (we are researchers and readers which can be a plus and minus).
4) I didn't see any entries for 2008 (when Jess was born), so I'm curious about how you came to the decision to adopt again. How old was Ally when you and Tim decided to pursue adoption again? Did you find the second time to be easier or more difficult (getting prepared) than the first?
Yeah that reminds me to finish moving over my Yahoo360 blog over to my blogspot. You see I started to move our blog over than I got involved with current posts and didn't finish moving everything over. Initially when we married we spoke about having at least 2 children as both of us each have a sibling. SO when adoption became our way to have our family we knew we would adopt two times unless somehow twins came to us in the process.
We had starts and stops on our second journey not because we didn't want to adopt again but our drive for a child was at a different pace then the first time. We contacted our agency in 2007 to update our homestudy and didn't finalize that part of the process till February 2008. Then we didn't resign or announce our intent to add to our family with Ellen and our family until late June of 2008 and then we met Stef in early August. I think the more difficult part of our second adoption is that it happened so quickly and we weren't there yet we expected it would take longer since we already had a child. We believed in the process so were a little more confident believe it or not when embarking on adding to our family :)
5) How did you prepare Ally for the arrival of Jess? I know your one post explained that it was a very short time between being presented to Stephanie and Jess's birth, but did you talk to Ally about adopting a sibling? How did she react to becoming a big sister? How did Cristina react when you told her about your plans to adopt again? Do you think she has even been jealous that Stephanie is so close to you guys, and she's in Minnesota?
We found a great book "Big Sister" by Johanna Cole (there is a big brother book too) that we began to read to Ally early on before we even completed paperwork to adopt again. What we liked about this book is it did not have Mommy pregnancy stuff in it, it focused more on what it would be like as the big sister with a new baby in the house. Ally was only just two when we met Stef and Jess was born so her true understanding of it all was pretty limited because of her age. In some ways we believe it made it easier for us to be in a last minute situation a she didn't have the understanding of what a baby in belly was and what adoption was at that time. All the same we wanted her to have an idea of what being a big sister would be like when a baby came into our family.
When our plans were in place we announced to the world (ha, ha) that we would be adoptin again and that included Cristina and her family. Everyone was excited for us and we knew Cristina would be a great help to us in that our relationship with her would guide us into our next relationship.
When we met Stefanie and her family we made it clear we were a package ... Tim, Me & Ally are a unit and adding Stefanie's baby was their grandchild but so would be Ally. With that we had also told Ally's birth mother and her grandparents that another child added to our family would be their grandchild too. So we set the stage that we are all one family.
6) Do you plan to adopt again? If so, do you plan on going through Ellen again?
For a nano-second this year we thought about a third and had a situation that may have brought us that third child but the mom chose to parent. Ellen was actively involved with us and the woman in that situation. Should we ever add to our family we would DEFINITELY go back and work with Ellen she is a wonderful, wise woman with much integrity for the process and all involved.
7) I read that Stephanie kept Jess for the first five days. Was this hard on you and Tim? Were you guys ever afraid that she'd change her mind?
As I explained before we wanted her to have time to think about her choice and wanted her to have that time with her baby as we believed only knowing us for 10 days was not enough for us to have her make that kind of decision. Our heads were strong in keeping that train of thought but our hearts were weak but we realized when we shared our parenting that in dropping Jess off to be with Stef that the grief we felt was only a milli piece of what her grief may be should she choose us to be the baby's parents and so that was how we lived through it. Stefanies' deciding to parent would have been her choice to make and we knew it was something that could happen but nothing we could do about it so we lived with our whatever will be will be feelings.
8) What's the best adoption-related advice that you've ever been given?
Let your control of it go ... This is a journey that is hard, it tests you but you do become a parent in the end but you have no control on how it happens for the big things so you have to learn to let go.
9) If you could go back in time and change one things about each of your adoptions (it can even be to go back and tell yourself something), what would it be?
Hmmm, that it's okay for us to show our happiness and our sadness with birthfamily. We are all human and we should revel in our human emotions as long as they are not malicious in intent.
10) What are your hopes for 2013?
Trying not to completely fall apart when our youngest, Jess is registered for and then enters kindergarten for the 2013-2014 school year. To celebrate family more and more. Enjoy the moments I have with my girls and not get too tied up in something I think they shouldn't be doing as long as it is not harmful to any of us!