I’m closing out the last week of National Adoption Awareness Month with the second part of twin posts from the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project. Part 1 was where I interviewed Allison of A Few Sprinkles Short of a Sundae, and below is the part in which she interviewed me (originally posted on her blog).
Allison: You wrote that you taught students that geography determines how they chose certain aspects of their life – sports teams, religion and politics. How did you come up with this wise analogy? Is there anything else that can be subbed in for those choices? Sexual orientation? Socio-economic status (city vs country, state to state, & globally)? Divorce rates?
After my husband and I got married, I marveled that my husband’s “clan” in Boston loved the Patriots with the same fervor that my clan loved the Broncos. How could this be? I had grown up with the One True Team, hadn’t I?
Later on, my husband and I moved to Syria for two years and found that our new Muslim friends (who were overwhelmingly warm, kind, loving and compassionate, despite the way Muslims are often portrayed in western media) were as devoted to Allah and to honoring the five pillars of Islam as my clan was in living a Christ-like life and using the Ten Commandments as a guide. How could this be? Hadn’t I grown up with the One True Religion?
Same with politics. We absorb what we’re exposed to and it becomes our default setting, only we may not be aware that we HAVE a default setting in these areas. We might just think everyone else is wrong.
As for the other aspects you mention, I suppose it is possible in all areas to think that your way is the One True Way, but I don’t really hear people arguing that it’s better to be homosexual than hetero, better to be poor than not-poor, or that divorced families are better than intact families. Rather I hear people asking for acceptance of differences, not an insistence on a hierarchy.
What made you decide to go with domestic infant adoption versus international, foster or other kinds of adoption? Did you ever feel that adoption was a “second choice” for you and your husband? Did your feelings on that change after your first adoption?
Although we also went to information sessions for international and foster adoption programs, we were fairly clear from the start that domestic infant adoption would be the way for us. As for being second choice in building a family, it depends on what you mean by “second.” Yes, we did try to become parents in the old-fashioned way first and through adoption second, so if you mean in chronological terms, the answer is yes. I wrote about this in a post, In adoption, last means best.
You have contact with your children’s birth parents, how would you handle things if that was not an option? Would you have sought any level of openness if you had adopted through foster care? Or helped your child find their roots if you had adopted internationally? Why/why not?
Well that would make me very sad to have no contact with the birth parents of either of my children. If we had gone with foster adoption or international adoption and if I knew then what I know now, I would pursue any openness we could get (assuming openness made sense; clearly, there are times when it wouldn’t, such as if our family’s safety were at stake). Writers who have influenced me on this topic are SocialWrkr24/7 and the book Bones that Float by Kari Grady Grossman, who tracked down her sons birth family in Cambodia and found so much more.
Openness is a good way to help an adopted child heal the split between his biology and his biography because it minimizes the space (physical and/or emotional) between his two sets of parents.
Why do you think envisioning disrupting your adoption helped you to realize that you actually did not want to do that and that you were indeed bonded to your child? Was that a risky move on the part of your counselor? (I ask because I also had to do the same thing when dealing with severe post-adoption anxiety.)
Because it put choice back into my equation. Having choice is key to someone who is stuck. I suppose it was risky, now that I think about it, but my therapist must have had both trust in me and the process, as well as experience with other stuck clients, in order to have had such certainty about the outcome.
If you encounter someone with PADS (or PPD) do you encourage them that some days just getting dressed is indeed a victory? How else can someone encourage a person going through post-child depression?
Yes. I would encourage the person to be gentle with herself. And to get help, in the form of counseling, and in being able to take a break once in awhile — a trusted friend or neighbor or relative stepping in for just an hour at a time. Perhaps at the root of the depression is fear of not being up to the task, and that can often be eased by getting just one night of good sleep, by having some space in which to regain perspective, and by being gentle with oneself. This is so hard to do when you’re running on fumes! Sometimes getting dressed is a huge victory, as is just managing to get a meal on the table, even if it’s mac & cheese. As my yoga teachers say, “we count success in small measures.”
How to encourage a person? That’s a tough question and I’m not a therapist. But what helped me was family members letting me know they would be there when I got too close to Overwhelm. That friends sat with me while I cried, not trying to fix me but simply abiding with me. And that my husband picked up the slack when I was incapable. And that they all reflected back to me their faith that I would come out on the other side intact, even when I was certain there WAS no other side.
What does your family like to do together as a family unit? What do you do to further strengthen your familial bonds?
As I type we are on our way out to play family Nerf football in our front yard on this beautiful Fall day. We attend each others’ choir concerts, basketball games and other activities — often our extended family members are there, too. Once in awhile we go to a really cool bloggy event at the museum, theme park or movie theater. And we make a point to have dinner together almost every night, a steady point of connection in our lives.
To read interviews from other pairs of adoption bloggers, visit The Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011.