“If a mother and father can love more than one child, then why is it so hard to understand that a child can love more than one mother and father?” ~ Unknown
People often hold assumptions about the “roles” of those who are most “familiar” within the adoption “journey”—adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Often these assumptions are inaccurate and can sting. What do you want to share here?
The one that I hear most, in fact someone asked me about it today, is something along the lines of, “I don’t know how you can do that open adoption. Aren’t you afraid her mom is going to take her– I mean I’ve heard so many stories about that.” I feel like I am always sticking up for Kaycee and Jenna’s birth mothers. I find it frustrating when people put them down. I just do my best educating them about the blessings of open adoption.
You parent two sons that you gave birth to. How does this affect your feelings about and relationships with your daughters’ birth mothers?
We had the incredible blessing of being at Kaycee’s birth and that alone gave me utmost respect and love for her birth mother. I had delivered two children, but it’s different being on the other side and watching it (I’m so glad I didn’t have to deliver my last two; delivery is not easy!!) I think the fear of them being taken away or wanting them to be “all mine” is not there like it is for some because I had two kids already. I knew that if I had enough love in my heart for more than one child then it was ok for my child to have love for more than one mom. I know I’m their mom and I get to see all their milestones first. I try very hard to text pictures a lot.
What are the most offensive remarks about birth mothers/transracial families/adoption that has been shared with you and how did you respond?
The most recent one that really bothered me because I was caught off guard and had never heard it was about Jenna’s birth mom. She placed Jenna with us when she was six-weeks-old. A co-worker said, “So what, her mom couldn’t handle her?” I was like, “Wha…???” I botched up that response because my jaw was on the floor. Then I was mad about it for a full day. A couple of hours after that another co-worker asked me how much Jenna cost. I now have good responses to those questions if they ever come up again but at the time I just sat there with my mouth open in shock.
What advice would you give to people considering open adoption? What would you like to share with those considering parenting a child of a race different than theirs?
Regarding open adoption: I was grateful someone told me to have a written contract drawn up. It’s not “legal,” but it’s something that made our plans for communication and visits clear. I knew what was expected of us and I never want to let my daughter’s birth mothers down.
Regarding transracial adoption: You are a walking billboard for adoption. Be prepared to talk about it and educate people about it. I feel blessed with this opportunity. Sometimes I’m caught off guard and respond poorly, but most of the time it goes pretty well.
I realize your daughters are young, but what has been the most surprising to you?
It took me a bit to let my guard down and feel bonded with my older daughter. I loved her but wasn’t sure I felt like her mom. I sometimes felt like I was babysitting her and she wasn’t really “mine.” When she started hugging me and kissing me back I knew it was for real. Her calling me “Mommy” completely sealed it. It was different with our younger daughter from the start, no fears and so much easier. Kind of like first bio child versus second bio child. Totally different, more confidence the second time around.
Do you do your daughters’ hair?
Yes! I read a lot of Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care. I can do puffs (of course), flat row twists, and finger coils. I just did two strand rope twists with Kaycee last weekend and they came out pretty good for my first try! I even bought an African American mannequin head to practice on but I don’t have much time to practice. I want to be able to do their hair; that bond is important to me.
If you could be a super hero, who would you be and why?
I guess Superman; he is mild-mannered, good, strong, and loves to help others. And he was adopted!!
Discussion: Today I probed a little deeper with Kierstin. She was just as graciously open as earlier. What other questions or insights about adoption and open adoption would you like to share?