Saturday, March 02, 2013

OABC: Megan's Birthday Tree

Open Adoption Book Club @

The first book to review for the Open Adoption Book Club is called Megan's Birthday Tree and it's written by Laurie Lears.

The book club participants read the book and then submitted questions for the reviewers to answer. I was quite impressed with some of the questions! We were instructed to answer at least three questions, but could answer as many as we wanted.

Here's the book synopsis:

Megan is adopted, but she and her parents keep in touch with her birth mother, Kendra. Every year, Kendra decorates the tree she planted when Megan was born. Megan cherishes this Birthday Tree, for it ties her and Kendra together.

Here are my questions that I'll be answering:

1) In Megan's Birthday Tree, Megan's adoptive parents were present at various points, but tangentially. Did you pick up on this? Does your response to the background role the adoptive parents played say anything about where your family is in your adoption journey?

I like that the focus of the story was on Megan and her birth mother Kendra. Megan's parents were present as her mom and dad throughout the story, and they were there to reassure her when she felt worried about Kendra forgetting her, and they supported her by assisting her with her goal of purchasing a tree for Kendra. 

Maybe this says something about where we are on the adoption journey. We're important to our kids, obviously. We're the only parents they will ever know. However, the relationship that each of our boys will develop with their birth families will be unique to their needs and desires. We'll be there to help in all ways possible, but I feel like adoptive parents should be in the background a bit steering the ship. 

Megan's parents helped build the relationship with Kendra to the point that Megan could feel in control. It takes a lot of trust and security for adoptive parents to develop this with birth families. The years prior to Megan being old enough to develop a relationship with Kendra on her own, were critical years for Megan. They kept the adoption open and progressing so that when Megan was older (the age she is during the story), she could feel comfortable with Kendra.

2) Megan's birth mother planted a tree when she was born, and decorates it yearly to remember her birth. Do you have something special that you do to celebrate your child's birth or adoption?

 When our oldest son's adoption was finalized, we went to the pottery place and made a plate and painted our hands on it. It's a very special plate! We had no idea when another child would enter our lives, so the plate's purpose was to serve dinner or dessert each year on our son's Adoption Day.

However, last year we had family in town and we weren't able to celebrate his Adoption Day. This year, we will be going to court to finalize our youngest son's adoption on the SAME DAY as our oldest son's Adoption Day!!! So April 15th will be Adoption Day for both of our boys and we're so excited!

This year we plan on going to a professional photographer's studio and have some pictures taken of all of us. Our baby's birth mom will be coming to court with us and we'll have some pictures taken of her with him as well. It'll be a wonderful day and a great way to celebrate!

3) I'd love it if participants could discuss a little bit the place of rituals, such as the photos Kendra sends of the birthday tree to Megan each year, in open adoption: Do you think they are important to children? To parents (birth- and adoptive-)? Why?

I love the idea of having rituals for adoptees. We don't have anything special that's done with either of our two children's birth parents, but it's never too late to start something! I did set up an email account for each of my sons and then I shared the email address with their birth families. I told them to feel free to email them their thoughts and whatnot, and when they're old enough to read/understand, they'd have a plethera of emails from their birth family that they could read.

So far, the only person who has taken advantage of this is my oldest son's birth father's sister (his birth aunt). She emails him about once a month and just gives an overview of the month and what everyone is doing. It's very sweet. I know that when he's older, it'll be really special for him to see that his Auntie Dani has been emailing him and thinking of him.

Other than that, we don't have anything. I'm eager to read some of the other book reviews and see what people said they do for their rituals and maybe we'll be inspired to try something!! 

4) The book was categorized by the publisher as one of its "issue books," dealing with "children's problems and special needs." Other books in the series address topics like autism, epilepsy, and stuttering. What do think about a book on open adoption being characterized that way?

I was completely unaware that this book was categorized in this manner. To be honest, it offends me a bit that adoption is considered an issue and something that deals with a child's problem or special need.

While I can understand that it's a specialized topic, and not everyone can relate to adoption, I don't think it's fair to consider it a problem. Adoption is just one way that a family is created. This book was written in 2005, which isn't that long ago, so I'm not sure why adoption is being treated like something from the 50s or 60s.

It's unsettling to me to know that when this book was being discussed, the people at Albert Whitman & Company actually discussed how to categorize this and someone had the notion to say it's an issue book in the same series as books on autism, epilepsy, and stuttering, which are all medical problems. Adoption is not a medical issue and shouldn't be lumped together with books about medical/special needs issues. Grrrrr.


5) Sometimes when a person reads a picture book about adoption and something rattles something somewhere inside, but they ignore the warning because the book is so cute and mostly so good. Did you have any of those moments in this book?

I did not, but I'm curious to see if others did. I thought the book was good. Not the greatest book I've ever read about open adoption, but it was positive and I like the relationship that Megan and Kendra had. 

Here's my rating:


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quick Update

I know you've been asking, "Where are the blog posts???" Let me just say that the time I had before Hugh is not the same that I have now! He loves to snuggle and I can't won't put him down so you have to be patient and enjoy my posts when they do happen.

First off, let me say that Hugh has been sleeping for eight hours at a time at night for the past four nights in a row! He turned two months and suddenly started sleeping eight solid hours. It's been glorious!!! :-)

Our oldest boy... my sweet sweet Gustafer has decided that he wants to pee in the potty. So he does. He's basically potty training himself! He asks to go potty and if we ask him if he needs to go, he usually says yes or no and means it. It's literally shocking to me that he's going potty on the potty. My MIL and FIL just asked about him being potty trained and I said, "He's not ready... we won't even start until this summer when he's at least three." Sure enough, the same day, maybe the following day, he decided to go to the bathroom on the little potty in our bathroom.

Gus has been doing really well with his OT visits. She works with him for an hour and they do a combo of gross-motor (jumping, throwing, kicking, hoping, crashing) and fine-motor (cutting, beading, stacking) activities. She's helping me with transitions and getting Gus to help focus more. I need to ask her about some suggestions for when we're dining out and how to get him to handle being out in a restaurant. We usually give him his iPad to play with to keep him entertained, but I'd love to be able to take him to eat without it. Then again, he is two.

Lastly, I've been asking begging and pestering Steve about a minivan for a while. As soon as we knew about Hugh I started creating my own Toyota Sienna on the Toyota website. Of course, Steve shot down the idea of a minivan every time. But once Hugh came home and the daily routine kicked in... I seriously started the nagging.

Over the last two weeks I've been blocked into my car like five time. By this I mean someone has parked so friggin' close to my car, that I cannot open either the passenger door to get Hugh in, or the driver's side door and passenger door to get Gus in.

I've had to put them into the very back, painfully (and not a pretty sight I may add) squeeze myself into my driver's seat and pull forward enough (or into another spot) so I can get the boys into their seats. The big issue would be the doors. They just don't open wide enough to get the boys in comfortably.

So this happened yesterday at the store. I was LIVID. I had sent Steve a picture of a minivan (as another nagging reminder) and he said, "You're barking up the wrong tree." I was beyond upset. So when he got home, I explained my day and my reasoning for being so upset about my car. He ran some numbers and told me to look for a car.

I found my dream car. It has everything I wanted. Leather seats. DVD player. Radio controls in the steering wheel. Steve called on it this morning, worked out the details of trading in Chuck Dio (my Ford Edge) and we went this afternoon and came home with our newest addition: Lex.

He's named Lex because someone jokingly said to me, "You know Toyota and Lexus are the same thing right? A Toyota Sienna is basically a Lexus minivan." So there he is... Lex.  :-))

Okay-- enough from here. Gotta go to bed!! Nite nite!!

OAR #44

OAR #44: What Openness Means to Me

For me, openness means stability.

We have a very open adoption with Gus's birth family. His entire birth family knows that he's adopted and they all look forward to hearing about him. They enjoy pictures, texts, videos, and Facebook posts. More than anything else, they enjoy visits and getting time with him.

As Gus has gotten older, the visits have become more fun because he likes to play and interact with his birth family. I love how open our relationship is because for me, I think about the future. 

I think about what Gus will ask about his adoption, and I wonder what he will need from us and his birth parents. By having an open adoption, I feel like we can provide him with answers and some stability. 

The answers are essential to his development and his well-being. I want him to always know that his birth parents love him and made the decision to place him into our arms because they knew what was best for him. It'll be different to have it come from us than to have his birth parents tell him directly. It'll also be different to have us say, "C and H love you so much" versus him hearing it directly from C and H.

When I think about openness, I am overwhelmed with a sense of peace and calm. It's reassuring to know that our children's birth families will always be there in some way.

With Hugh, his birth father is unknown and will never be part of his life. While part of me worries about how this will affect him, I know that the relationship we have with his birth mom MORE than makes up for this. She is amazing.

I know that there will be questions that Hugh has that Gus won't ever have to ask. When it's time to talk to Hugh about his adoption and the reason his birth mother placed him into our family, she will be right there with us. She's such an important part of our family and an amazing piece to the puzzle.

Because we have open adoptions with each of our boys, I feel like I have tools to help provide stability beyond what my husband and I can provide. When things go beyond our ability to help and answer, we have the most important and critical people there to help guide us.

Open adoption is so amazing for so many reasons. I'm proud to be an adoptive mom and to have created my family through adoption. Because of adoption we have so many people in our lives that love our kids and love us. We are so incredibly blessed!