From Infertility to Openness: The Evolution of Jessica

Jess simultaneously straddles two sides of The Adoption Wait — waiting to get picked as adoptive parents and waiting to be matched as embryo donors (there’s a new development on that on her blog).

In this guest post about her ridiculously crazy journey through infertility, third party reproduction, and adoption, Jess tells how her beliefs evolved from conventional wisdom (let’s not worry about those pesky genetic origins) to a viewpoint that’s perhaps more informed and empathetic.

donor gametes & open adoption

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Parenting Teens Amid Rape Culture

Back before Orlando and Istanbul, when we were still talking about Stanford rapist Brock Turner and the rape culture that he, his parents, and the judge arose from and perpetuate, I remember reading lots of opinions about the fact that alcohol had been involved. The gist was something like this: just because the survivor was drunk doesn’t mean she was to blame. (Example.)

True that. I absolutely agree.

And still, it feels to me like we got hung up on assigning blame, which prevented us from discussing prevention.

I want my kids to understand the perils of getting drunk (or compromised by any means) and the possible scenarios that can unfold when they are unable to make sound decisions for themselves.

Does my wish stem from a blame-the-victim mindset? I think not, and here’s why.

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My Daughter is Hurting in Our Open Adoption. Help?

Question: My teenage daughter is struggling with rejection and misunderstandings from her birth family. I don’t know how to help.

“Sara” will be 16 soon and for the last year she has struggled with depression and anxiety.  She spent a week in the hospital after having a breakdown.  We are in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) together and she’s made great strides, working hard to learn new ways to deal with big emotions.

We have an open adoption with her birth family.  Her birth mother, “Tara,” chose us to be her parents and we kept in touch with her the first 3 years by phone and letters.  We told Tara we were open to whatever she felt comfortable with. When Sara was 3, Tara came to meet her.  The beginning of this relationship was hard, because there really are no rules and we did not know anyone else in the same situation. So we all opened ourselves up to each other the best way we could.

Over time, we got to know the whole family, including Sara’s older brother, “Jacob,” who is 2 years older, and who has a different birth father.

When Sara was 7, Tara told us she was pregnant with twins and that she’d parent them (they all live with her father).  We struggled to find a way to share this news with Sara.  My husband and I thought that the way we reacted to the news would be the way Sara would react.  We told her that she was going to be a big sister, and they were twins! She was very excited and couldn’t wait to meet her new siblings. We all knew that there could be problems for Sara later on, maybe that she would struggle with them all being a family with her the only one not raised by Tara.

We have developed a close relationship, seeing Tara and the three children fairly often, sharing holidays and birthdays.  We have taken Jacob on trips with us (the twins were too young), including camping.  There were always some issues between Sara and Jacob, because they did not grow up in the same household, but we weathered those times, knowing that siblings  sometimes don’t get along.  But they always had a lot of fun and so did we.

core issues in adoption

Credit: derived from “Dew on Water” by photophilde [CC-BY-2.0]

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3 Things I Learned from the Adoption Process

The adoption process is not for the faint of heart. It requires big things of ordinary people. Running that gauntlet caused me to develop three new abilities, each which would eventually come in handy years later.

Lesson 1: Calm the Chatter

The Wait. I found all the doing of the adoption process to be the easy part. Get those fingerprints. Write those essays. Clean the house and host the homestudy appointments. Attend the classes and work up that adoption profile.

But when all the doing was over, the harder part started: doing nothing. Just waiting. Just sitting with all that anxiety over all the unknowns. Would it happen? How would it happen? Would something go wrong? How many things could go wrong? LET ME ENVISION ALL OF THEM.

My frantic mind, locked on a goal, got really good at conceiving of every possible thing that could go awry, monkey-chatter taking over as I moved through my days.

monkey chatter in the adoption process

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Open adoption parenting & mindfulness