Celebrating Birth Mothers

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For years I absolutely HATED celebrating Mother’s Day. It was a poignant reminder that, despite all of our TTC, I would was not a mother. When our son arrived, I was stoked that I could celebrate Mother’s Day for once. But I realized that if it wasn’t for Sheila, I still wouldn’t have been able to celebrate. So I started to scour the internet about ways to celebrate birth mothers. That is when I discovered that the Saturday before Mother’s Day is “Birth Mothers’ Day”.

How you decide to celebrate your child’s birth mother depends on you and the relationship you have with her. We are fortunate enough to have a very close relationship with Sheila. However, I let her drive the interaction around this day. For our first Mother’s/Birth Mother’s Day, Sheila came to our house to visit. We gave her a small gift and a card from our son. I cooked dinner, and she got to spend some quality time with the little guy.  I think it was tough for her.

The following two years, we sent her a card in the mail. She has started a tradition of taking a vacation during the week of Mother’s Day (also close to her birthday).  Now we visit a few weeks prior to Mother’s Day.  This year we all went to the zoo, our first real outing outside of visiting each other in our homes. It was a great visit ( I would love to post pictures, but I won’t due to privacy concerns).  We still sent her a card, nothing fancy. To us, we want to respect Sheila’s feelings during this time.

We are pretty low key for Birth Mothers’ Day. No scrapbooks of photos from the past year. Mainly because her family is unaware (and I am not crafty). But another reason we don’t do anything big is because we have so much contact throughout the year. You see, Sheila and I talk CONSTANTLY! Now, we are good friends. We text, chat on the phone, we’re Facebook and Instagram friends, and I am constantly sending her pictures.

That’s how we celebrate our Birth Mother. How do you celebrate yours?

Family Members and Hurt Feelings

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Becoming a parent through adoption is not the traditional path of family expansion, obviously. Because of this, sometimes well-intended comments or phrases can pack a huge punch. First, let me start by saying that we have tremendous support, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have our fair share of hurt feelings.

When we began telling our friends and family that we were planning to adopt, the initial responses were wide and varied.  From the husband’s side, we had the ultra religious comments:

“Why are you rushing God’s plan for you?  Remember Abraham and Sarah? She was baron for years…”

“I had a dream that you two would have your own kids some day.”

“Don’t take life into your own hands. God works in His time, not yours.”

“You should wait longer to see if God blesses you with your own child.”

Can you see where I am going with this? Definitely not the responses we were expecting. Even then, I realized these comments were rooted in ignorance about adoption and through a lens in which “all things are possible”. But, I was still taken aback. Through much conversation and education, I haven’t heard these comments since those early days. But the echos of these comments still reside in my memory, filtering my perception and interpretations their interactions with, and behavior towards, our son.

My side of the family was definitely more open to the idea of adoption. My dad was ecstatic! Having entered the foster care system at age 3 and then aging out at 18, he completely embraced our decision to adopt. My mom and the rest of the family was just as enthusiastic (we didn’t have any grandchildren or great-grands and they were all itching for a baby).  But we still had to educate them as we educated ourselves.  It are the little comments, the ones that have the best intentions, that seem to hurt the most:

“How are you going to handle it when the child want to know about their real mom?”

“Are you sure you can love a child that is not yours?”

 When our son was born and he came home, my grandma was happy, but when she talked to our family members who live in another state, she refused to tell them we adopted our son:

“Let’s just let them think you had him. They don’t need to know.”

It was at this point that I had to remind her, and the rest, that we are not ashamed that we adopted. He is just as much ours regardless of how he came into our life and that comments like that really hurt. — This helped. Well, it made them tip-toe around the topic for a while and they eventually came to understand what we meant. My Grandma, well, she means well, but sometimes she doesn’t always think through her comments and qualifies  or rephrases them once spoken aloud and realize how awful they sound.  I give her a small pass because of here seasoned years-she’s trying.

I do realize this could sound so petty to many people. I guess the goal of this post is to raise awareness that even the most well intended comments or gestures can cause pain. If you know a family who has adopted, planning to adopt, in the process of adopting- please realize that many of us are hyper-sensitive to even the most innocent of comments. Why? Well, the social construction of family in America. Where ever we look (movies, television, magazines, church, etc.) we are reminded of what a “normal” family is. We have been on the receiving end of blatant ignorance and rudeness. So sometimes our perception is filtered through these previous experiences.

Can I give you an example? This is something that has been bothering me for a long time (and yes we have attempted to address it).  Remember those previous comments from above? The ones from my husband’s family? Okay, so those comments are going through my mind with every interaction with that side of the family. And I admit, I do jump to conclusions and misread situations, and maybe I am now… I’ll just explain the situation.

My husband has five siblings, two of which are the biological offspring of both parents, and three are his father’s offspring by other women.  I am focusing on my mother-in-laws portion of the family- the part of the family we have the most interaction with and visit on a regular basis.

Currently, out of the three siblings, there are only two children (our son and our nephew).  These are the only grandchildren and great grands. Our nephew lives in the city with the most of the family (we live 3 hours away). My mother-in-law lives in another state.  Our son and nephew have a two-year age difference, with our son being younger.   With that being said, when we go visit, everyone is happy to see us, they don’t treat our son any different. Lots of hugs and kisses to go around. However, after three years, our son has yet to receive a gift, card, or phone call for his birthday from any family member (including my mother-in-law) and has yet to receive anything for Christmas while our nephew does–even the aunts and uncles that live elsewhere sends gifts to our nephew.

I am not trying to be materialistic, seriously, and I don’t want it come off that way. What I am seeing is differential treatment between two children. We have made excuses- the first Christmas and Birthday “well, maybe they thought he was too young, he’s not even a year yet. He won’t remember.”- The second Christmas and Birthday “Oh, they didn’t realize we were coming down for the holiday.” – Third Christmas and Birthday -me “What the Fuck?!?”   — Maybe it’s because they see the nephew all the time and he is foremost in their minds.  Maybe it’s because my sister-in-law isn’t married to the father? – Maybe it’s because our son receives lots of gifts from my side of the family– no, nephew receives a lot of gifts from his father’s side of the family.  Maybe they don’t have enough money to spend on both kids– but a phone call doesn’t cost anything. Neither does an email addressed to him.

Where does my mind go? Maybe they don’t truly see him as part of the family. You see, I go back to those initial conversations, and this situation is filtered through those early conversations. There could be a totally rational reason why these differences exist (but I think not).

Why does this bother me so much? It’s not about the gifts themselves- he has PLENTY OF STUFF. It’s about my son starting to notice that his cousin is getting things from Granny, Great-Grands, Aunties, and Uncles and he is not. As he gets older, how is HE going to interpret these differences?

At this point, I am letting my husband deal with his family. But it’s only a matter of time until I address the issue if it’s not resolved (and it will not be pretty).

So hurt feelings? Yes.

~Until Next Time~

Ohio woman discovers her co-worker is her birth mother

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Ohio woman discovers her co-worker is her birth mother.  

 

What an Amazing story! I just had to share it. Wow!

 

 

 

 

 

http://up.anv.bz/latest/anvload.html?key=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

Bringing Home Baby

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“I’m Back!” – Something my son shouts EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. he comes home is now applicable to me. It’s been a few weeks, but I haven’t forgotten about you, my blogosphere friends! I’ve had a bunch of homework to complete, a bunch of work to grade, and a pipe burst in my basement… it’s been a little nuts.

I have been writing this blog post in my head for several weeks, and I am excited that I finally have a chance to get it on the screen. Why am I excited about this post? Because it is about the day we brought our son home!

My husband and I were fortunate enough to bring our son home directly from the hospital when he was just 3 days old. And like the day we met him, his homecoming day is a day that I will never forget. But let’s go back a few days…

After that first day we met our little boy, I was ecstatic! Of course, we sent a few pictures to our parents and close relatives, but we did not want to make a public announcement until everything was official.

What do I mean by official, you ask? In many states, birth mothers have a window of opportunity to change their minds- to not proceed with the adoption plan. In the state of Ohio, if a birth mother makes an adoption plan while pregnant, there is a 72 hour minimum waiting period before she is legally allowed to sign over her parental rights to the adoption agency. For birth mothers who decide to make a plan after she delivers, the clock starts once the plan is in place). She can take longer than this if she needs to, but once she signs the paperwork, her decision is irreversible. Each state has specific laws regarding this issue. In California, for instance, birth mothers have up to 30 days after signing the paperwork to revoke her consent to adoption (1). In Florida, however, after the 48 hour waiting period, the consent to adopt can only be revoked for up to 3 days of signing the relinquishing form(2). If you are in the process of adopting or considering adopting, please be sure to understand the laws of the state in from which you are adopting. A good resource that gives a brief overview of the laws for each state is the Musings of the Lame website.

Do you know how long 72 hours is? FOREVER. At least it seems like forever when you are waiting for the paperwork to be signed. The first day we met our son, we were not concerned too much about the time frame. Sheila* seemed very comfortable with us and happy to see us bonding with the baby. No matter how confident you may feel that the everything is going great, there is still that nagging feeling, “the paperwork isn’t signed. Our dreams can still be crushed.”

The following day I brought Sheila some food after she complained about how horrible the hospital food was and then I spent nearly the entire day at the hospital. It was during this time Sheila and I altered the conditions of our post adoption agreement. Originally, Sheila only wanted letters and pictures sent through the agency. I was fine with her decision, but I wanted to leave the door open. So I told our social worker about the email account the I created just for our son so she Sheila could send him notes whenever she felt like doing so, and the Flickr account I made to post pictures for her to see. Once Sheila realized that I truly meant that I was comfortable with an open adoption, she asked if we could set up visits. I was so excited! Sheila also discussed with me why she made an adoption plan, the REAL reason and why she selected us. It was a great bonding experience, and I think we became a lot closer by having just the two of us there, mother and mom talking about things that just never came up in our previous meetings. That night, after my husband arrived, the photographer arrived to take pictures of the baby. OH MY! First, she took some AMAZING pictures of the baby solo, and then she took pictures of Sheila and the baby. THEN-and THEN, Sheila suggested that we take a picture with the baby! Finally, we had a group photo with Sheila and a shot with just Sheila, me, and the baby. We have all of those pictures in our son’s photo album. We said our good nights, knowing the following day was the day–paperwork day.

The day of the paperwork signing, the social worker gave us the schedule for the date. She will meet with Sheila first, have one last counseling session, and start signing the paperwork. We did not need to arrive at the hospital until 4 pm, and we will not be able to see Sheila and the baby until after we signed our portion of the paperwork. I thought I was on pins and needles the day of the birth, but the sheer anxiety of knowing Sheila could STILL change her mind was killing me! I couldn’t wait around the house all day, so my husband and I headed to the hospital area early and just hung out. We visited what had quickly become our “normal” food stop that week and then we went shopping! All of a sudden, I realized there were still things that I needed – I was still hesitant about getting the small personal things until we were in the clear but bought some things anyway. It was a good distraction and for once my husband was NOT complaining about me spending money- BONUS! While I was at the checkout, the social worker called (heart thump, shortness of breath- oh no the worst is about to happen). I answered the phone and discovered she was only calling to say they finished up a little early, and we could come on up when we were ready— It was done, a sigh a relief.

I quickly finished my purchase, went to the car, and we headed to the hospital. I won’t bore you with the details of the paperwork, let’s just say my hand was shaking while signing each document, and I really can’t tell you ANYTHING that was said during this time. An hour later…. we were done, finally. We were allowed to go to the room. Do you ever have that feeling when you’re walking down a hall, and it gets longer and longer? Then you can figure out just how nervous and anxious I was.

When we arrived at Sheila’s room, she was on the bed holding, cradling, rocking, and snuggling the baby. When she saw us, she started crying. I truly cannot imagine how difficult that moment was for her. I walked over to her and gave her a hug. And we stayed there in that embrace, crying for a while. As she started saying how hard it was for her, but she knew she was making the best decision, I started to reassure her that she could call anytime, and we would visit. But it was my husband who surprised me. He wrapped both of us up in his embrace and said to Sheila, “You are a part of our family now, our sister. We will take good care of [him]…” After a time, we all gained our composure and my husband and I walked to the other side of the room to allow Sheila to continue saying her goodbyes. I didn’t want to rush her. I fiddled around with a few things and started prepping the carrier. Finally, Sheila was ready for me to take the baby. We chatted while she assisted me with getting our son into the car seat. I was so nervous; my hands were still shaking and I just couldn’t get the straps in the carrier to buckle. We eventually worked it out, and we waited with Sheila until she received her final discharge papers.

Finally, it was time to go. We all walked down to the hospital entrance together, Sheila (and the nurse pushing her wheelchair), the social worker, my husband, me, and the baby. Sheila and I waited inside at the entrance while the social worker and my husband retrieved the vehicles– remember it was early January in Ohio, and it was nearly a blizzard out. Sheila and I continued to chat, and she kept take “last peeks” of the baby until the vehicles arrived. We said one final goodbye and made our way to our respective vehicles.

Then there was silence. It was just the three of us. Me and the baby in the backseat, husband driving. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. Then I took a picture and sent it to the immediate family with the message- “[Baby] is coming home!”

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After the long drive, the three of us arrived home and our son got to meet the first wave of family members, briefly. Soon everyone left and then it was just the three of us.

At home.

At last.

______

*Name changed for anonymity

(1) Adoption.com. http://laws.adoption.com/statutes/california-laws,3.html 

(2) Adoption.com http://laws.adoption.com/statutes/florida-laws,3.html 

It’s been a few weeks!

Greetings everyone!

About a month or so ago, some crazy person (me) decided that is was a great idea to start writing a blog and return to school to pursue a doctorate– in addition to working full-time (teaching 8 college classes- say what?) and parenting a 3 year-old.

All of this to say that although I have been writing blog posts in my head, I have not been able to get them on screen for a few weeks.  But have no fear!  “Bringing Home Baby” is coming soon!

Stay tuned!

~Daysha

The Day I Met My Son

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Meeting your child for the first time is an event that is etched into the memory of every parent. Regardless of how you and your child become connected (conception, fostering, adoption, etc), the moment you meet him is filled with emotion. My story is no different.

As with any expectant mom, I was on pins and needles anticipating the arrival of my son. The anxiety started the moment we were officially informed that Sheila* had selected us.  It was also around that time we found out that our son was in a breach position.  Sheila really didn’t want to have a C-section, so she was scheduled to have her doctor attempt to turn him. The appointment was scheduled for Friday before Christmas, while we were on our family vacation in Orlando. We knew there was a chance the procedure could induce labor, so the entire time we were at Universal Studios, my phone remained in my hand. But nothing, no news the ENTIRE day. The following day, my phone rang at eight in the morning… it was the social worker. I bet you can imagine all of the thoughts and feelings going through my mind.  The procedure was unsuccessful, but Sheila was doing fine and no sign of induced labor (Yay! We didn’t have to cut our trip short).  However, she will have to go ahead with a Cesarean; it was scheduled for Jan. 4.

The rest of the time flew by. We returned home from vacation and got the final items we needed for the nursery and bringing home baby. On New Year’s Eve, the social worker called to inform us that the Cesarean was rescheduled for Jan 2. Oh Boy!!!  I had a bottle of wine sitting in kitchen. I was quite tempted to drink the entire bottle (those who know me realize how much of a temptation that was), it was a holiday after all. But I decided against it. I still had itty-bitty baby clothes that needed to be washed and folded. That’s how I rung in the new year.

The next morning, my phone rang at 7am. It was the social worker. Apparently our little boy decided that he was ready to come into the world and was born in the wee hours of the morning (good thing I didn’t drink that bottle of wine). At that time, that was all of the information she had. She promised that she would stay in contact with any updates and to let us know when we could go and visit.  Let me tell you, I was on edge all morning. I honestly don’t think I can accurately convey all of the emotions that I was experience. I was excited (that’s a given), I was anxious, nervous, and, and, and, and then I was crying-out of nowhere! I was a hot mess!

The social worker called us with an update a few hours later. She had spoken to the nurses but not to Sheila. Her guess was that we may be able to visit in the late afternoon, but she will call us back to confirm and give us a time. Ha! That was all I needed! We dropped the dog off to my grandmother’s and we hit the road (the hospital was an hour away). We figured we’d drive around for a bit and get some food while we waited for the phone call. We located the hospital and did a sweep of the parking lot. We drove up and down the streets. We stopped for a really long lunch/dinner. At six, we decided to call it a day and started the drive home. Disappointment doesn’t begin to describe what I was feeling. It was my own fault. I should have waited. Fifteen minutes into the drive I received a call from the social worker, she had finally spoken to a nurse who could give her accurate information.  Apparently Sheila has a low pain tolerance, really low, and the doctors were unable to get the cocktail of pain medication right for her. She was extremely uncomfortable and was not up to having visitors. We could see her and the baby tomorrow.  I could respect that.– We went home.

The next day I was more patient. The social worker called me again and said that we could visit Sheila and the baby after 5pm. Awesome! She gave us the room number and all of the information we would need to gain access.  This time we slowed down and just took it easy. We arrived to the hospital just before five, so we hung out in the car for a bit.  Finally, it was time.

Do you know that feeling you get when you are really nervous or frightened? You are walking and talking but everything feels surreal? Multiply that by 100 and you will have a little bit of an idea of what I was feeling. We walked into the hospital, made our way through the corridors, found the elevators, pushed the button, and waited…waited…waited. Ding! We boarded the elevator and went up. When we reached the floor, we walked down the hall and we were there. We were at the doors to the maternity ward and THEY DIDN’T OPEN! Oh, a buzzer (duh). I pushed the button, gave them the information they required, and they buzzed us in.  They showed us to the room.

When we walked in, there was Sheila sitting in a chair feeding our son. OH MY GOD, he is real and he is here! She greeted us and invited us to sit down, me on the bed, my husband on a chair next to me. We chatted for a bit. Sheila recounted the story of her pain medication debacle. I let her talk. I didn’t want to rush her although the entire time I was thinking… I want that baby!  But, I knew that this was a big deal for her too. I knew that this was not an easy situation for her. So, if she needed time, well she deserved my understanding and patience at the least.

We chatted for a bit longer and then the baby was finished with his bottle. She burped him and said, “Would you like to hold your son?” Of course! Knowing she was in pain, I stood up and slowly walked over to Sheila and the baby. She handed him to me and said, “Hey sweetie, meet your mommy” and she placed him in my arms. The importance of the moment was not lost on me. She was at peace with her decision and this was her way of expressing that to us. Even now, three years later as I write this, I do so with tears in my eyes. I will never forget that moment when Sheila made me a mother.

I took the baby and walked back to the bed. I looked at his little face, his dimples, his fingers….perfect.  Immediately, my husband pulls out his phone and begins taking pictures.

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After a some time had passed, my husband wanted him. So, begrudgingly, I released the little darling to my husband.

Max newborn 2

And so we remained for three hours… mother, mommy, daddy, and son. We chatted, fed him, changed his diaper, and scheduled our visit for the next day.  I still find it amazing how well we all got along that evening. Well no, I am not shocked. We have been comfortable with each other from the start as we are today. What I do know is that the three of us are truly blessed to have Sheila in our lives.

The day I met my son may not have been the same as many mothers out there, but I wouldn’t change it for the world!

~Until Next Time!

Daysha

*Name changed for anonymity 

Making a good first impression

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For me,  two of the most difficult aspects of the adoption process was creating a profile book and writing the letter to the birth family.  In my opinion, these are the items that gives birth families their first impression of you. This week I am going to discuss these important items by offering what little advice I have but also by sharing our profile book and letter to our birth mother.

The Profile Book

The profile book is one of the items birth families view to help make their decision of what family is the best fit for their child. The profile book is where you make your first impression and you want it to be a good one.   Their is no “correct” way to construct a profile book. The important this is that it reflects you and your family.  Profile books can be tangible or virtual. We constructed a tangible book and then our agency wanted us to create an additional, online profile.

So what should you include in your profile book? Pictures.  Pictures of you, your family, close family members, pets.  Anyone you want to “introduce” to the birth family.  The pictures could also include events and activities that you and your partner participate in.  Now, what you include is completely up to you. However, remember that the birth family is looking a home for their child and it is an emotional process for them. So, while you may love your wedding photos and pets, including 15 of them may be a bit overboard.

Their are many families out there who are really crafty. Their profile books are gorgeously constructed scrapbooks or other unique ideas.  I-AM-NOT-CRAFTY. So, I opted for creating and publishing a book using blurb.com.  There are many other companies and programs available, but Blurb came highly recommended and it was affordable. Here are a few pictures of our book.

This is it the cover of our book. It was the best picture we had of ourselves at the time.wpid-wp-1424622135562.jpeg

Here, I gave a brief story of how we met and our relationship before we were married. Do you know how difficult it is to put five years into a few sentences?
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Probably the most difficult part for any couple, keeping the wedding story and pictures to a minimum. I started off with 10 pictures but trimmed it to this.
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Even the self-descriptions were challenging. How do you describe yourself to a person who has never met you in just a few words?
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And of course we included our other family members!

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One of the best pieces of advice that I discovered in my search of  how to construct a profile book was to include as many “real” or candid shots as possible.  This is the best way to really portray yourself.

When you have a large family, you many to include everyone- well at least I did, but it’s pretty impractical. Luckily, we had a family reunion the previous year and was able to get a great shot that included many (still not all) of our family members.

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Another tip that I received was to include holidays and celebrations.

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This, of course is not the entire profile book, but it gives you an idea of things that you can include. As you can see, I constructed the profile book in the way that I think- blocked and structured.  I had so much I wanted to tell birth families, but didn’t want to overwhelm them with a bunch of words.   Again, you need to create a book in the style that is right for you.  You may want to search the internet for examples of other books.  Here are a few good resources.

  1. Tops 3 Tips for creating a profile book
  2. How we created our adoption profile book
  3. Don’t forget about Pinterest! I wish this resource was available when we were going through the process.
  4. Look for profiles that other families have posted. I found a lot of examples of things I personally wanted to avoid putting in our book this way.

The Birth Parent Letter

This is a tough one. The Birth Parent letter is a personal letter that introduces you to the birth family and gives you the opportunity to explain why you want to adopt and the type of adoption you prefer.

When I wrote our birth family letter, I wrote a general that was kept with our profile book at our adoption agency.  It contained the important information that we wanted to convey to the birth families who would view our book.  But, once we were notified that we were going to be presented to a birth mom, I tailored the letter to her.

Below is the letter that I wrote to our birth mom. Again, there is no correct way, not correct words.  This is your chance to make that good first impression.

Dear Sheila*,

My name is Daysha (32) and my husband is Jamel (33). We would like to thank you for taking the time to learn a little about us. We are excited and honored that you are considering us for the privilege of being parents to your son. We realize this must be the most difficult decision that you will ever make and we thank you for making the decision to give life to your child. Jamel and I are praying for you and your baby as you embark on this courageous journey. Choosing an adoption plan is a brave, loving, and selfless act. You are a very special person for deciding to help a couple’s dream come true. We would be honored if you decided to bless our family by choosing us for this incredible gift.

If you decide that our family is the best environment for your son, we will be happy to share pictures, letters, and DVDs with you through the agency. We are also open to visits and more frequent communication should you decide in the future that you would like more openness.  We want you to be comfortable with the level of openness between us. We are excited to be parents and we want to do what is best for you and your baby. We are just thrilled to one day bring home a new member of the family.

 Our Decision to Adopt

When we were married, Jamel and I knew that we wanted to become parents. After two years of marriage, we decided it was time to expand our family. However, that was not God’s plan for us. Jamel and I have struggled with infertility and miscarriages for over seven years. Over this period, we had discussed the possibility of adoption, but did not really know where to begin with the process or if the decision was right for us. Last year, after several discussions and much prayer, we realized that adoption is the path we were meant to take to expand our family. We were meant to conceive a child, but the conception will be in our heart. Everything we have done during our lives have prepared and groomed us to be adoptive parents. We want to parent and to give a child the unconditional love that we long share.

 About Us

As a couple, we love to have epic Scrabble battles. We also enjoy watching movies and spending time with our friends and family. We do not smoke and are in good health. In the future, we plan to adopt at least one more child since we both come from large families. We are Christians and were raised in Christian homes.  We attend church on a regular basis and we love to learn about different cultures and religsions. We will raise our children in the church, but also educate and expose them to multiple cultures and traditions so that when they are of age, they can make an informed choice about their beliefs. We also believe it is important to expose our children to multiple cultures so they will have an open mind and be accepting of people from all backgrounds.

Jamel is the primary provider for our family. He enjoys his job as a Chemist at an area company. As a husband, Jamel is gentle, loving, goofy, and protecting. He can always find a way to make me and everyone around us laugh. One of the things that I love most about Jamel is his ability to bring that fun-loving spirit to all of his relationships. When he was in college, he mentored a group of high school students who were thinking about majoring in engineering. I see Jamel bringing the same qualities of fun, mentoring, and protection to our children.

“Daysha is a “people person” and a natural teacher. She has lived in Akron most of her life. She loves to socialize and help others. She has been a Girl Scout leader for 12 years, and is a professor at an area college.  My wife is very loving and kind hearted. She is my “help-meet”, my partner, and my friend. She prides herself in her ability to shape the lives of young people, to mentor, empower, and help them to develop a positive self-image. I have no doubt that she will be just as nurturing with our children.”

 Our Families

Family is important to us and we both come from large families. I am the oldest of six, Jamel is the second oldest of six.  I am very close with my mother. She was a teen mom, so we practically grew up together and she was always involved in my activities. My mom and I are Girl Scout leaders for my sister’s troop and we also do other volunteer activities together. I respect my mother and I want to model my parenting style after hers.  I am also close with my father, we have father-daughter coffee dates on a regular basis. Jamel is close with both of his parents and communicates with them often. Recently, his mom moved out of the state, but that has not hindered our ability to visit with her on a regular basis. His father only lives a couple of hours away, so we are able to visit him often and his wife often. We both have a number of aunts and uncles, cousins, parents, and grandparents.  We have a lot of family support in Akron. My grandmother lives around the corner and my mom is only 5 minutes away. We also have a lot of my extended family that live in the area. We also have a large extended family in other Ohio cities, Georgia, Alabama, and many other states that we see regularly. We are all excited that we will have a new member entering our family!

Part of our family is our three wonderful pets. Pebbles and BamBam are our 2-year-old cats. They are very sweet and loving and will nuzzle anyone’s feet within minutes. Scamper is our 2 year old dog and he will play with ANYONE! Give him a treat, and you will be his friend for life. They are all looking forward to having a new family member to play with!

Our Parenting Style

I plan to stay home with the baby for the first few months; and then I will work out of the home 2 days a week.  Childcare will be provided by my mother when I am at work. We will be hands-on parents. We will attend and help with school & after school activities. Education is very important to us; we will expect our children to do the best that they can. We will supply them with all of the tools they need to excel academically, including sending them to private school.  We will instill discipline, but we will not use physical punishment.  We will reward positive behavior. Redirection will be used when our children are young and time-outs, loss of privileges, lecturing, and discussion will be used when they are older. We want to raise our child to be strong, independent, and self-confident. We will strive to do this by instilling morals and critical thinking. We will talk to our child about the fun stuff and about the topics that are difficult. We will teach him or her to weigh the consequences of their actions before they do anything. We want our child to know that he or she can come to us about anything and we will listen. We will celebrate the good decisions and accomplishments.

Our Home

Our 4-bedroom house is in a kid friendly neighborhood. We are almost finished with remodeling a special room for our new addition. We have a lot of space in the back for playtime & cookouts. There are a lot of children in the neighborhood, some with brand new brothers and sisters that will be perfect playmates for our little one. We are fortunate to live near 2 parks; both are less than 10 minutes away. An added bonus is that my grandmother lives within walking distance and my mother is not much further away!

We thank you for taking the time to learn a little about us, our family, and our desire is to have a child who we will cherish for the rest of our lives. We wish you our love, support, and prayer as you make this difficult decision. We respect your decision to follow you heart and pray that God will continue to give you the strength and courage to do what you feel is best for your child.

Much Love & Blessings,

Jamel and Daysha

*name changed to protect privacy of birth mom

What else is there to say? The only advice that I can offer when it comes to the letter is: Be honest; Be yourself; Be Real.

Until Next Time!

~D.R.~

“Honey, let’s adopt”

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for ALL of your wonderful support, feedback, and sharing my first ever blog post! A special thanks to @AmericaAdopts, @AdoptUSKids, @profmartina, and @adoptiveblackmom. I am truly humbled and encouraged.

This week I want to discuss our decision to adopt. I am speaking for me, from my perspective. This is not only my journey, however. My husband has his unique experience and perspective as does our son’s birth mother. Adoption affects all of us in different ways. This is my version of the story.

Our adoption journey begins like many others, with years (and years and years and years) of infertility and heartbreak. We had contemplated adoption for a while, but more on a superficial level. We had requested information from our county Child and Family services. At that time, that was the only route that we thought was available to us. I had seen all of the Lifetime movies where private adoptions turned out horrible (you know, the ones where the adoptive couple finds out their child was kidnapped at birth) and international adoptions brokers/agencies did a bait and switch. I heard about the high costs for private and international adoption. So, public adoption it was. We reviewed the information and I scoured the website looking at children and sibling sets. But it didn’t feel right and my husband and I were both in graduate school. We decided that we didn’t have the time nor energy that was needed to commit to the process; so, we set the information aside for later use.

Later came two years later at the most unexpected time. Let me set the stage. Like most women TTC, I wanted a baby, DESPERATELY, and I was jealous, yes jealous, of every pregnant woman and new mom that I encountered. I didn’t want to be around anyone who was pregnant and I sure as hell didn’t want to hear about every detail of their pregnancies (Facebook was torture!).   I know, I sound like a horrible, selfish person, but those were my feelings. If I knew that I was going to interact with pregnant women (several of my close friends were pregnant at the time and I was genuinely happy for them, jealous, but happy), I would mentally and emotionally prepare myself.

Picture this, it’s June, 2011 and my husband and I are going to a wedding. In the car, I am prepping myself because I am aware of the late stage pregnancy of the bride. I was good, prepared, “I got this.” I may have to see the pregnant bride, but I probably wouldn’t have to interact with her much.  My emotional armor was set to MEDIUM.  We arrived, greeted the bride and groom, then headed to our table–it was an outdoor wedding/reception. “Whew! I did it. The rest of the day is going to be EASY! Boy, was I overreacting.” My emotional armor was reset to LOW.  We took a seat and chatted with a few of our other friends. A few of the women start talking about their children. AND THEN, another announces her pregnancy, “crap, crap, crap, crap, crap!” For the remaining two hours we were in attendance, the conversation revolved around the intimate details of pregnancies and newborns, I was in HELL. When I couldn’t take it any longer, I told the hubby that it was time to go. It was on the drive home when I decided that I didn’t want to wait anymore. I had enough of the jealous feelings. I had enough of being left out of conversations. I had enough of not being a mom.  “Honey, let’s adopt. I’m serious.” He said, “Okay. Let’s do it.”

I knew in my heart that public adoption (foster-to-adopt) wasn’t the path for us. In Ohio, if you wanted to go the public adoption route, the only option was foster-to-adopt. For me, it was the fostering part that I just did not want to deal with. After eight miscarriages, I didn’t want to get attached to a child we were fostering, only for that child to be reunited with their birth family (which is the goal of the foster care system).  I knew that if we were going to adopt, it would have to be through private adoption. What we had to decide was whether it would be domestic or international.

I read a few of books and searched numerous websites.  I contacted several agencies for information as well as a local adoption attorney. After comparing the process between domestic and international adoption, as well as the cost, we decided that domestic adoption was the path for us.  Once we made the decision, the remainder of the adoption process was as close to a fairy tale as you can get.

That August, we selected an agency, Caring for Kids (www.cfkadopt.org). The great thing about this agency is that they only place children who were going to be born or living in our state (Ohio). This dramatically decreases the cost because out-of-state adoption incurs more fees. Secondly, the agency broke down the costs upfront. They provided a schedule of how much money would be due at specific points during the process.  They made us see that private adoption was “affordable” and achievable. We started the process in late August: training, home studies, etc. (not as bad as some may think).  By October our profile was completed and it became active (birth families could view our information during their selection process). The week of Thanksgiving, we were notified that a Birth Mom wanted to meet us.  We met with her the following week, and on December 5, we were officially matched (she picked us). Our son was born on January 1, we met him on January 2, and we brought him home on January 4.  Talk about a whirlwind!

Well, that’s my story in short. In future posts, I’ll discuss the home study process, the initial meeting with the birth mom, and bringing home the baby. My question to you, what topic are you the most interested in? Let me know in the comments below or on twitter @blkadoptivemom. The topic that receives the most requests will be published next!

Until Next Time!

~D.R.~

That’s Right! I’m an Adoptive Mom!

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I am asking myself, “Why am I starting a blog?” And honestly, I still don’t know if this is a great ideal or if I’ll be any good at it.  “Will anyone want to read anything I have to share? Do people really care?”  I guess I am just going to have to go for it and see what happens. That seems to be my mantra lately.  “Is my three year-old ready to participate in basketball? (He wasn’t) Well, let’s just sign him up and see what happens.”   And so, that is how I am going to approach this new project. So here it goes.

“I am a mom. I am an adoptive mom.  I am an African-American, adoptive mom of a loving, hilarious, creative, high-energy, African-American son.  I am working mom. I am a mom on a journey.  I am a mom who is still learning how to be a mom. I am a mom.”

That’s me. A mom.  That’s right, I’m an adoptive mom. This is an important part of my identity, but not my entire identity. I’m a wife, a daughter, a teacher, a sister, a friend, and much more. But, for our purposes here, I am an adoptive mom. I will write about mom stuff, I will write about adoption, and I will write about anything related to being a mom.

I bet you have a question at this point “If being an adoptive mom is an important part of your identity, why does it seem (by your handle) that you are focused on race?”

Great question! When my husband and I considered adoption, we realized the only experience we had with adoption was from media, friends, and family.  From the media and other interactions, we learned that white families invested a lot of money into adopting newborns and infants both domestic and abroad, while black families adopted older kids through fostering or by taking in relatives.  Whether this was broadly true or not, this was our sphere of reference and influence. After much contemplation and research, we decided to go the route of private, infant adoption–which garnered an interesting(and misguided) array of questions and comments from our friends and family.

What we learned from the experience is (at least in our state) black families rarely engage in private, infant adoption. Of course there are many reasons for this, the most salient being socioeconomic status and the cost of private adoption.  But there are also a lot of misconceptions about the adoption process that ALL groups have. My hope is that our story and the information that I share here will inspire people to overcome some of these misconceptions.  So, although race is not going to be a major focal point of this blog, I do want to begin the conversation.

In future posts, I will explore all of the adoption options available to prospective parents. I will discuss why private adoption was the best choice for us (Note that I said for us. I do realize that it not the right option for everyone. Potential adoptive parents must choose the route that is best for them). I will discuss, in more detail than you probably want, our adoption journey.  I will also discuss everyday mom issues–and there are plenty- the good mom stuff and some the stuff that makes us want to curl into a ball and cry. I will discuss the challenges and joys of being a working mother (again, best choice for us, but not everyone).

I hope and pray that you are willing to go on this journey with me. I hope that we can engage in a dialogue about many mom-related topics. I hope that you will offer suggestions and ideas about what you want to read, learn, and discuss.  We are in this together.  Let’s jump in and see what happens!

Until next time!

~D.R.~

Follow me on Twitter: @blkadoptivemom