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Friday, September 18, 2009

What No One Told Me About Adoption

Today I'm participating in the first-ever blog carnival hosted by the group adoption blog Grown In My Heart. I'm hoping y'all will join me in this because I think we can learn GREATLY from one another. I learned so much from y'all in the comments to yesterday's post, I'd love to hear your opinions on this topic: What No One Told Me About Adoption.

You can join in by writing your OWN post, then clicking over here to add your post to Mr. Linky. And if y'all don't have the time to write something today or this weekend, be sure to stop by and check out what other adoptees, first parents and adoptive parents wish they knew before adoption touched their lives.

What No One Told Me About Adoption...

No one told me how truly public is transracial adoption. Our social worker talked with us about the need for cultural exposure, relationships with same-race peers/ mentors, racism and the like. What she DIDN'T say was how very public is our parenting. I didn't know that when my child has a meltdown at the local mall, I have to move more slowly then is typical as we leave, making eye contact with others, just so they don't stop us because they assume I'm abducting her. Or that others might not realize that we are "together." Or that my parenting in general would be so much more public because others know (or assume rightly) that she is adopted and therefore hold me to a higher standard. Or that my daughter would find that being the poster child for adoption gets real old, real quick.

No one told me that there would be nothing I could do to remove the hurt of abandonment. I really thought, before we adopted the Tongginator, that - if only I said EVERYTHING "right" or at least MOST things "right" - I would be able to completely heal her from that pain. Now I know... as difficult as this is to face... that the Tongginator must walk this journey herself. I can walk alongside her, hopefully providing her with the skills she'll need, but I can't do it for her. And that seriously hurts my heart.

No one talked to me about the likelihood of sensory issues. Others stressed the importance of attachment parenting and developmental delays, but not one person spoke to me about sensory processing disorder. I feel parents adopting older babies, toddlers and children should educate themselves about this topic as much as they do about attachment issues.

No one fully got through to me that racism? Is EVERYWHERE. I used to just see overtly racist acts, which - in my world - truly occurred few and far between. But now? I see stereotyping, racial microaggressions, isolation, racial taunting, privilege, racism in books and other media, and just plain old idiocy. I used to pride myself on "not seeing color," but now I know that to avoid seeing color is to avoid seeing the whole person. I will never be anything other than what I am - a woman of white privilege. But my daughter? Whom I love and adore? Is not white. And that changes so very much.

No one told me that foster care is sometimes worse than an orphanage.

No one told me the stories of first mothers. Getting to know the stories of such amazing women as Suz, Thanksgiving Mom, Claudia and Jenna - just to name a few - well, I will never view adoption in the same way. The stereotypes and judgment that most first mothers face... it hurts my heart. These past few years have changed me so much: I went from a prospective adoptive parent who hardly considered her future child's first parents to an adoptive parent who not only thinks of her daughter's first parents often, but also seeks to share the stories of other first parents, in my own, small way.

No one told me that others might still see me as a non-mom. Or that I would find myself, years after experiencing the joy of motherhood, STILL sitting alongside women who feel tremendous sadness on Mother's Day.

No one told me - despite ALL of this hard stuff - how very much I would cherish, value and adore my daughter... my amazing five-year-old Tongginator who keeps people laughing and me on my toes. I feel so blessed to be her momma.

39 comments:

Buckeroomama said...

Yet, you shine, TM.

I am constantly telling my friend (who just adopted "transracially" --is that the correct way of saying it?) about your blog because I think you are one of the finest models of a mom --not just to adoptive parents.

Dawn said...

From the friend of several transracial adopption parents/children:

T Mama, this was so, so well written. And, I can tell you that you are wise to share this info because you are not alone in the "no one told me department." I've watched several friends go through most every point you made. God has blessed MY family by allowing us to share this journey with several who are growing their families through adoption.

Blessings!

bbmomof2boys said...

Very well said TM...

Hugs,
Carla

Mama King said...

Beautifully said and honest. Thanks for sharing.

Briana's Mom said...

What a beautiful post.

I really thought I was preparing myself while I waited for Briana, but I have learned so much more since she has been with me and I still have so much to learn. I didn't realize how public my relationship with Briana would be, but I found out quickly once I got home and simply walked into any store or a restaurant. Briana is still young and is just starting to process that she was born in China. And I am bracing for when she realizes the entire meaning behind that.

I think about the challenges that lie ahead of me as I parent an internationally adopted child (and I've already faced some), but I am really going to try not to consume myself with it. I am notorious for dwelling, worry and stress, and I don't want Briana to see/sense that. I'm going to try to take everything day by day and handle the challenges that arise the best way I know how. I just hope my best is good enough.

Patricia/NYC said...

Well said!! And so, so true!
You are a great mom!

Melanie Recoy said...

I already knew all this stuff. LOL!

Good post.

The Gypsy Mama said...

One day, if we sit over tea together (because I am not a coffee gal, GASP, I know) I will have to share some of the amazing, whack things people have said to my family when we're out with our little brother. But, I think living in South Africa has been a blessing in that the majority of the comments are positive because people understand the crisis of kids orphaned by Aids. And they (mostly) love on those who are brave enough to take them in.

The Gypsy Mama said...

Oh and just linked over and read the "non-mom" post you linked to from last year: THERE. ARE. NO. WORDS. (Well, at least no polite ones!)

Kristy said...

Absolutely beautiful post and perfectly said!!

Love, Kristy

Heather of the EO said...

Oh how I love those last sentences. I know your words here are going to help other people who didn't know these same things. They helped me and I'm not in your shoes. I have lovely friends and family that are, and I love to understand as much as I can.

Janet said...

NO KIDDING! Especially the part about people watching you parent! It gets old reallllly fast. I want them to IGNORE me. :-)

Diane said...

"No one told me that foster care is sometimes worse than an orphanage."

I see the foster family myth all over the place. Gets to me too. There are good foster parents and bad foster parents and some in the middle. This is true worldwide.

Thanks for this post.

Elizabeth said...

I agree. I hate being watched in public, I do have to be WAY more under control because of it. Awesome points, and thanks for stopping by my place.

Aubrey said...

Those are all so true! Some we have dealt with already, many we will unfortunately experience later. The whole preparation for race issues is a tough one. As much as you think you're prepared, it seems you never are. We continue to be shocked by the insensitive remarks, stereotypes placed on us, and just the bluntness of people. Thank you for your very real post!

Annie said...

Wonderful post TM!! Have we talked about Sensory Stuff?? Lizzie has sensory issues as well as my 6 year old, bio son and surprize, surprize food issues top both their sensory lists. It can be very hard!!

Sharie said...

TM - Tonight mom told me that her neighbor wondered why I would bother taking Amelia to Chinese School, because "She's an American Citizen?" (This neighbor has a granddaughter adopted from Russia) My mom told the neighbor that it was because Amelia might one day resent losing her culture, that it's a part of who she is, that SHE wanted to go - My mom still says MANY racist things, I correct her and we're working on it. I truly don't believe that she means any harm...only that she is unaware of the negative connotation of what she is saying.

madduchess said...

Excellent list :)

Wanda said...

Wonderful post. Very generous TM. I'm looking forward to this (when I have time to read them all) and other carnivals. It's a great idea and site.

Shellie said...

Oh what a totally awesome keeper of a post! That said so much that I would say as well. I wonder if I can come up with a post before the carnival's over. I hope I at least make it over to check out some more.

Birth Mom of Adoption said...

Good post

The Gang's Momma said...

Great stuff. Girl, you are on a roll this week :) I'm not sure what I'd list as my "no one told me's" - but I am sure that every. single. time. I read one of your posts, I come away with something new to think about.

I agree with the other commenter who said that she prepared a lot for the blessed event but I've continued to learn so much since we came home. I like it, as I'm a major information gather-er. I LOVE learning. And I like that what I'm learning serves my family, but in a small way, others are informed too, along the way.

Thanks for another "knock it out of the park" post . . .

justgerbil said...

Another great post. Although not an adoptive mom (on the table though), I definitely have experienced some measure of nonsense as mom to a half-Korean child. Unless my husband is with us, people have often assumed that Short Stuff is adopted. Shoot, they've assumed my husband is an adult adoptee of white parents because why on earth would he marry a white chick? (my wall has a dent from me pounding my head into it) People can be so bloody stupid.

We've superficially discussed adoption of another child; we wanted a younger sib for Short Stuff but prob cannot have another one safely... and people have commented (assuming an Asian adoption) that "oh well it'll be easier for you two to get one since you're... you know!" Um, what? Can't even SAY it, and yet assuming that would somehow give us an edge because what, my husband "matches"? One of these days I might just whack someone with a rolled-up newspaper. (probably not, but I will fantasize it)

And the "non-mom" thing? That's just plain idiocy at its best. Er... worst. (she says confidently as a stepkid who was told snidely more than once that her stepdad wasn't a "real" dad either. ) I'm still not using Teleflora, either.

Reading your blog over the last year and the links you provide has given me a lot to think about, too.

blackbelt said...

That was beautifully written.

Thank you for that paragraph about racism and color. Welcome to my world.

CC said...

No one told me that sometimes I'd want to tell others that our children were adopted, because I want others to know how very special they are.

And I'm still sad on Mother's Day and when friends announce their pregnancies too. :(

Shawnstribe said...

that is just it!!!!
the only way i can describe it is upside down parenting.
but in all these issues, heart aches, joys and over whelming feelings...what is left is love....a love that crosses all boundaries, a love that is so protective, a love that will never give up...
i feel so privileged to be part of this community.
and just to back track...yep, white, blond, blue eyed dolls!!!!
whatever next, thats all they had....week two we were so honoured to work with real babes :)
xxx
s

mommy24treasures said...

great post.

The Things We Carried said...

Brilliantly written. I relate to much of this and it is not all easy to articulate, but you did it ever so well.

The racism everywhere is what has surprised me the most.

gretchen from lifenut said...

This was a fantastic post. I too do not fully understand the issues and trials moms who have adopted their kiddos face.

It's far more complicated than I realized---I had never thought about how public your parenting truly is, for example. I always think MY parenting is public because there is literally a crowd around me. I guess I do understand that feeling when all eyes seem to be on YOU.

Thanks for posting this.

Aus said...

Thanks for the comment - and as for this post - what BEAUTIFUL WORDS! You also said something that never - ever - occurred to me, and something that I was taking comfort in. I still shall hide in that shelter - but with more opened eyes....our youngest son is currently in foster care. Thanks for the heads up - being prepared by just 'realizing the possibility' is often very helpful!

I'll add one - there are - and always will be - folks out there that are just opposed to adoption (domestic or IA). There reasoning is about as sound as a racial bigot's - but knowing that you will someday encounter one - just be prepared for that response!

hugs - aus and co.

malinda said...

So beautiful, that I almost didn't link my contribution!

Oh, yes, that public parenting! The worst for me, though, was the five months we lived in China. I SOOOOOO wanted Chinese people to see how wonderful my kids were that I micro-parented for a while until I realized what I was doing to my poor kids!

Dita said...

Amazing post, TM. I devoured it and read so many of the links you posted.

Thank you so much....so, so much!

discombobulated said...

great post.

Michelle said...

Wonderful contribution to this theme!! Yes, there were so many things I did not think of or consider prior to bringing my children home. Great points!

Colleen said...

Fantastic post. I must agree that there were many things about adoption I was not fully prepared for...my parenting being so public. My daughter looking in to my eyes and asking "Mommy we look a like because we both have a big heart, right mommy". Sensory....this is a big one.
Thank you for your wonderful post...I really love your blog. : )

Julie said...

Did you crawl into my head and write all the thoughts that I have had? Perfect post.

Though I have to add that I hate the fact that I am known as "The mom with the Chinese girls." I am just a mom. No more no less. It gets old fast when you look like you just rolled out of bed, your kids are screaming, and all you want is to run to the store and buy some milk and everyone knows who you are. Anonymity is something you don't get when you adopt transracially.

But I wouldn't change it for the world because they are my world.

suz said...

Thanks for the plug and note. It helps me to know that something good came out of my horrible experience. If education and awareness is all I can do, I will find solace in that.

Raina said...

Just excellent.

Margie said...

Yes. What you said.