Community reactions to my transracial adoptive family

IMG_2693I can’t believe that I haven’t written a post in more than a month. What a slacker! I could tell you I’ve been busy as can be and that would be true, but I think there’s more truth in the fact that I just don’t want to put my baby boy down. Like, ever. He’s so snuggly and he gives the best hugs now. He’s such a love bug. If I’m going to continue writing this blog, though, I know I have to get better about managing my time. So, today I thought I’d tell you how our journey as a transracial adoptive family is going so far, and how other people are reacting to our family.

In a nutshell: it has been wonderful.

Sometimes I look at Miles and honestly forget that he hasn’t just always been here, and that he isn’t biologically related to me. He’s just my son and that’s that. I’m aware that our skin doesn’t match but while we don’t match, we do coordinate. I mean, black and white is the quintessential color combination, right? Kidding aside, being a black and white family has already enriched our lives in so many ways.

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My experience with adoption and bonding: Fast, real, forever

IMG_1763When we were waiting to be matched with a birthmother, I read a lot of blog posts and articles about adoption. A common concern of hopeful adoptive parents seemed to be whether or not they would be able to love their adopted child like they would a biological child. A lot of people wondered whether they could/would feel a bond with an adopted child. That thought never crossed my mind, though. I was worried, instead, about the reverse.

What if we gave him or her all of our love and he just didn’t care back? What if our baby looked at us like we were total strangers and never warmed up to us? What if he was just so distraught because he suffered the “primal wound” of being separated from his biological mother that no matter how much love I gave him he never healed?

Unrequited love was the secret worry I had.

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Post-placement visits, paperwork… and lots of love

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People who don’t understand adoption assume that once you bring the baby home, the adoption is complete. But domestic adoption doesn’t work that way. Depending on where the adoptive parents or birth parents live, and those particular state’s laws, adoptive parents only have what is called “legal-risk placement” of the baby for the first six months. Essentially, the baby is not officially or legally part of your family yet, but rather, is “placed” with you pending legalities and more paperwork. Just when you think you’re done with filling out forms, there are more!

Because Miles was born in Texas, his birthmother was able to voluntarily and irrevocably relinquish her rights 48 hours after he was born. So, thankfully, we haven’t had to worry about her changing her mind about the adoption. (I don’t think I could have handled that particular stress for six months.) But the agency we worked with then became the legal guardian of Miles–not us–and said agency then “placed” him with us for six months until the required amount of time and post-placement visits with social workers have been completed and we can finalize the adoption.

I guess it’s like a trial period, designed to ensure that we aren’t totally inept at this parenthood thing. The time when birth parents can officially relinquish rights varies from state to state, but to my knowledge most states have the 6-month waiting period before finalization.

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Our Adoption Story IV: The Hospital

We arrived at the hospital in Texarkana around 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning after driving straight through from Charlottesville. We should have been exhausted, seeing as how we hadn’t really slept in three days. But tired was the last thing we were feeling as we walked into the hospital. It was still dark out and there were no staff at the reception desk. We found the sign for the maternity ward and followed it. My heart felt like it was going to burst out of my chest. We were about to meet our little boy!

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Thankfully, the maternity nurse was expecting us and let us in without issue. We went straight to our birthmother’s room, knocked and heard a soft, gentle, “come in.” We opened the door to see her holding Miles, clearly happy and relieved that we were there. “Thank you for coming,” she said. I knew from texting her that she was nervous that we weren’t going to show up. I told her there was no chance of that. None whatsoever. I’m not sure she believed me until she saw our faces, though. She smiled and handed us our son.

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Our Adoption Story, Part I: The call

So happy to say we are finally home with our son, Miles! He will always be a little bit Charlie, too, but as we were in the car, speeding past Nashville, Tennessee, on the way to Texas–trying desperately to get there before he was born–it became clear that Miles was the perfect name. It has been such a journey to get to him, and when he finally found us we drove many, many miles to bring him home. It fits him perfectly. I’m wearing him in an Ergo carrier as I write this, enjoying his sweet little breath against my skin. Motherhood is all I thought it would be, and more. I am in heaven.

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Our adoption story is a long one, so I’ll have to break it up into a few posts. And I’ll start at the beginning… Thursday afternoon three and a half weeks ago on April 3, 2014… I was at home on a conference call for work when I got a call on the other line from a strange number in Texas. I couldn’t answer it and figured it was probably just a wrong number or a marketing call so I didn’t think twice. But they left a voicemail which was odd, so I checked it immediately after my meeting. And I almost fell out of my chair. A caseworker from AdoptHelp left a message that I could not believe. “Hi Allie and Jamie, I’m excited to tell you that you have been chosen by a birthmother in Texas. Her due date is… um, tomorrow, actually. Please call me back.”

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Study shows breastfeeding is over-rated

formulaWhen we first started the adoption process, the one disappointment I felt was that my child would miss out on the benefits of breast milk, as I will not be breastfeeding. Will he or she be unhealthy and get sick all of the time? Is formula bad for a baby? Will it take longer for us to bond?

Breastfeeding is the gold standard these days and both the medical and mommy community tout it as the very best thing you can do for your child. That’s all you ever hear about it. Breast is best, yada yada. Like everyone else, I simply accepted that as fact because, well, it makes sense that the best thing for a baby would be milk from the most natural source. I’m from the organic generation and I have a healthy mistrust of processed food. But, I’ve been reading more and more studies and articles that claim to prove that the benefits of breastfeeding are majorly over-rated.

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Choosing happiness, again

graciesnowI wasn’t feeling so hot last week. Stressed out, I was feeling anxious and discouraged about our adoption. Up until this point, the wait has been pretty good for me–I’ve been positive and excited. We’re in our fifth month of waiting now, though, and I think I’ve been growing weary of the uncertainty and wondering if anyone will ever choose us. And I let it get to me.

I wrote a really whiny post on Friday–basically threw myself a big old pity party. Writing it down and getting it all out of my system was a release and made me feel so much better, but I’m so glad I didn’t publish it because that is not the person I want to be or the attitude I want to have. I forgot that for a couple days, but thanks to Jamie and a great weekend, I’m feeling a lot stronger today.

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Reality Check: Cannot do it all

RealityOh, Reality. Sometimes you are just no fun at all.

Last week, we discovered we will be getting a tax bill this year instead of a refund. That’s never good news. But it also made us realize that there’s no way we will comfortably have a down payment for a house this year with everything else that’s going on. So, we’ve decided to officially put our house search on hold until after the adoption.

We had a good laugh at ourselves because we actually thought we could do all of this–buy a house AND adopt a baby–in the same year. Only the two biggest expenses of our entire lives! Who do we think we are? The Rockefellers?

I don’t know, I guess I thought we had to have the forever house before we had the forever baby. And since I work from home, I was hoping to have more space. Or maybe I was hoping there was one major thing in our lives that we could have control over. Some action we could take.

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Guest Post on America Adopts!

Image 2-14-14 at 9.07 AMA couple weeks ago, the editor of the America Adopts! blog reached out to me and asked if I would write a guest post for them. I was surprised and honored to be asked (it’s the first time I’ve been asked to write a guest post about adoption).

America Adopts! is a great resource that connects birthparents considering adoption with hopeful adoptive parents and their blog features insightful posts on various adoption issues and guest posts from birth parents, adoptive parents, and hopeful adoptive parents. Run by adoptive parents who met their son’s birthparents online, the website is devoted to helping others do the same.

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Infertility Advantage?

Last week, I was fortunate to travel to Colorado and interview the most inspirational man I’ve ever met for a magazine story and a short film we’re creating at the nonprofit land conservation org I work for. The interview was with Erik Weihenmayer, an extreme adventurer who has climbed Everest as well as all Seven Summits (the highest peak on each continent). 348 other people have also accomplished this feat, but Erik stands out amongst them. Because Erik also happens to be blind. photo-26

On the plane to Colorado I had time to read Erik’s book, Adversity Advantage. It’s all about how the greatest setbacks, difficulties, and adversities you face in life can also be the exact things that, when faced head-on and harnessed, inspire you to “everyday greatness.” This was certainly the case for Erik, who went blind at the age of 13. He also lost his mother to a car accident two years later. That’s enough to crush most people. But instead of succumbing to his adversity and checking out of life, Erik harnessed it and went on to become one of the most inspirational and influential adventurers of our time. He learned to hike and climb–he even whitewater kayaks–without the advantage of sight and now lives a more active, adventurous life than most people can even imagine. He made the impossible possible and motivates people to do the same. Not to mention the incredible things he has done for the disabled community through his No Barriers organization and Wounded Warriors.

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