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Monday, February 14, 2011

what we didn't love

I have issues.

Not me, personally (though I bet my husband would argue that!). I have issues with some things that were said at the adoption seminar we attended last night.

A third-party group, meaning that a particular agency was not "hosting" the class, put on the event. There were representatives there from foster care and private adoption - including the agent who we've chosen to do our home study - and families who could speak first-hand about their experiences with adoption.

Most of it was informative. We particularly enjoyed hearing from the adoptive parents and from our home study agent, who not only knows her stuff but who is incredibly down to earth. Joey and I both walked out of there with a better understanding of the process and more at ease knowing she would be the person asking us some of the most intimate questions about our lives. But we also walked out of there a little disturbed about some of the things said by the foster care representatives.

Foster care is something that Joey and I simply are not interested in now. It's not something that we're capable of doing with both of us working full-time jobs out of the house. I admire people who choose foster care and who are called to that service. But like other forms of building a family - IVF, adoption, etc. - it's not for all people.

Well, you would have thought these people were next in line for sainthood. At least that's how they came across. One had a dozen children, but she could barely remember all of their names. She did, however, remember their races and their illnesses, which she claimed were "not a big deal" and "didn't matter." But, let's face it: it DOES matter if that is how you identify them. It made me uncomfortable to hear her speak about them that way.

When it came time for our home study agent to speak about private adoption, they constantly interrupted her. It was like a battle of epic proportions as the poor woman tried desperately to move on and the foster care reps were busy trying to continue arguing their points/beliefs. What was initially an uncomfortable situation made me just want to bolt toward the door after the seminar was over, which is exactly what we did - as the foster care reps yelled after us, "Come next door and meet our children!" Really? First of all, as Joey pointed out, why would you invite a room full of people who find it sometimes painful to be around children because of their fertility issues to go hang out with your kids? Secondly, I'm sorry, but they are KIDS. Please don't exploit them as anomalies. I've seen plenty of children. Foster kids or former foster kids are not some kind of special exhibit to be oohed and ahhed at. I'm sure they are adorable, but it came across as though they were somehow different than other children. THEY AREN'T. If one of them came up and smacked me in the forehead, I wouldn't know if he or she was a former foster, was adopted, or was fucking born on the planet Mars.

Despite the awkwardness, all of this taught us something. Last night confirmed for Joey and I, in a sense, some of what we do and don't want to do:

- we want our child to know that he or she is adopted, BUT not be constantly reminded of it to the point where he or she perceives themselves as different
- we want to do this because we want to be parents, NOT because we want some medal of honor or extra "points" with God for doing something that - frankly - is selfish (yes, I'm admitting that we are doing this for selfish reasons... not to "save" a child)
- we want to respect the birth parents AND those who chose international adoption... at several point, there were negative "tones" used to refer to the birth parents by some folks, while others made a point to declare that there are "plenty of children here to 'rescue'" rather than adopting internationally

(And, honestly, what is with the words, "save" and "rescue"? This mentality is awfully popular, and I don't get it. It's not appropriate.)

I truly believe that most people want to pursue adoption or foster care for the right reasons - we want a chance to parent a child. We have a ton of love to give, and we want to share that love with someone else. I know that these people were not representative of every person who works in foster care, nor does what was said last night mean they aren't 1) great people and 2) great parents. I have no idea because I don't live in their homes. But I do wish people would think about what they are saying before they speak. The result is that certain words and phrases come across as insensitive and close-minded, at least in my opinion.

I know that foster care is and can be a wonderful experience. But for the people sitting in that room who have no idea what a wonderful option foster care can be, I feel sad that they left with the impression made last night.


myTTCstory said...

That sounds like such an interesting yet bizarre experience for you both. I find it interesting that they would put adoption and fostering into one seminar as they are such different choices. They're usually treated quite separately in the UK.

I'm glad you & Joey are both clear on what is right for you. Wishing you all the best with your journey x

manymanymoons said...

This post is so well thought out. I'm glad you were able to learn from the experience what you do and don't want from the adoptoin process. If I were you I would think about writing a letter/e-mail letting those in charge know how it came accros. Maybe that will protect the next people a bit who have to go through the process.

Rebecca said...

It really all comes down to respecting individual decisions and trying to find a path that is right for everyone. I hate when people use situations like this to hype their own agenda without thinking how it makes others feel. I can't believe they were using the kids that way!

anne said...

When my husband and I started the adoption process we got some of the same reactions: "oh, you're such GOOD people for doing something like *adoption*" as though we were performing some great act of mercy. On the one hand, it is good to adopt, but it's no better or worse than the goodness of having biological children.

Kids need homes, couples want to be parents. It's a good thing. Period. You're absolutely right: adoptive parents don't "rescue" their kids any more than biological parents rescue theirs.

Glad you had a good meeting :) Excited for you on this journey!

Kandid Kelli said...

This was well written. As always. A good friend of mine did fostercare and adopted 3 of her children. She did it because she was in foster care herself and had great foster parents. I'm sad that they were trying to "sell" their kids. How sad. Everyone is different and like you said not all options wk for everyone.

-K said...

Um yeah. Wow. I don't even know where to begin with reading this. I think, based on how you described the situation, that I would have felt the same way. As always, you are so articulate and well thought-out.

A said...

i always feel like foster care is portrayed as more "worthy" than, say, domestic infant adoption, because you are giving older kids a home. and i agree that it is an amazing calling. but it is definitely not for everyone and should not be put above other types of adoption. that stinks that that was how it was portrayed- thankfully it sounds like you got other things out of the seminar!!

Glass Case of Emotion said...

I also can't stand when kids are made into commodities. And really... they had them there? Oh, that's just awful. I do agree, it's a matter of what makes sense for any given family, but why does there need to be this whole better than/ worse than thing?

Your points about the rescue thing were dead on.

Dawn said...

It's a shame that the foster parents were like that. I'm happy to hear that despite the awkwardness that you and Joey did find out some things that you want to do!

Debbie said...

You guys are going to be awesome parents. I agree with everything you have said here! It mirrors a lot of what I said in my post last night. Also, foster advocate woman needs to be slapped. Foster kids do not all have disorders, and presenting like they do is also a hude disservice.

Browniris said...

That is frustrating that the foster care group was so overwhelming and forceful. When we went through our adoption classes, we also had to attend one on foster care. They put a spin on it as a good way to adopt an older child without as much expense, but like you said, it is not right for everyone and it seems like it can be emotionally draining. It is too bad that the adoption agency didn't get more time to talk, since I am guessing that is why most people were there. At least you were able to feel more comfortable with your home study caseworker!

Do I Have to Be a D.I.N.K.? said...

I have heard this before...another friend went to find out about fostering a child and all the other people there did was ask about money you get for fostering. It's so sad...

I hope you were able to get some good information from it!

*Jelena* said...

Before I say anything, let me tell you that I absolutely agree with everything you've said.

Now, my grandparents were foster parents to one of my uncles (they adopted him later), but I'll be frank here: my grandma did it because she needed the money (Here, foster parents used to get payed. I'm not sure if that's still the case, but it could be). She just went to the orphanage one day, without telling anyone, and came back home with a young child. My uncle was not the only kid that she fostered, but he is the only one they adopted.
Honestly, it still makes my skin crawl when I think about her motives, and about the way that she always treated my uncle differently, but she was just that kind of a person - harsh, conservative - and life had been very unkind to her. However, she never pretended to be a saint because of what she did.

On the other hand, my other grandfather and the wife he married after my grandma died adopted a baby girl, and they have raised her entirely as their own (I've mentioned her in another comment, you may remember).

Basically, it just comes down to who you are and your take on life. You shouldn't be bothered and swayed by some rude, cruel people. Your heart is in the right place, and while you do want to adopt for all the right reasons, you will be, in effect, rescuing a child from a harsh life in an orphanage.

I wish my brain wasn't so exhausted at the moment, so that I could've written out this comment a hell of a lot better than I did.

In any case, I repeat, I absolutely agree with everything you've written in this post. Honestly, I can't wait for you to get your baby, because you are definitely going to be a wonderful mother.

*Jelena* said...

It only occurred to me now that I should've said how both those kids - my aunt and my uncle - turned out. I am not going to claim that the way they were treated by their parents or rather mothers, that had the most influence, but it's a fact that my uncle never went to college, never really amounted to anything, is very emotionally infantile, whereas my aunt, even though she's only 20, I can say she's going be one outstanding person.

Sorry, I just thought this would be an interesting comparison for you. You can tell me to shut up any time, LoL.

waiting for baby said...

I know what you mean. Working in Public Education I meet a lot of Foster Families. I've been very fortunate that they all treat the kids well, but bottom line is this is a job to them. That is why they want the kids to have special education labels. And really a lot of them make good money doing so.

What kind of adoption are you guys considering?

AplusB said...

Wow, that's too bad the foster parents were so dominating and pushy. I feel bad for any potential foster parents in the room who were scared away. I'm glad you and hubs went in with an open mind, but still are staying true to your wants and desires. You are great role models for any future parents!

Trisha said...

That is really sad. I feel sorry for those kids. It's amazing how many different opinions and feeling there are on the subject.

PCOSChick said...

Ugh, you know my opinion on this!! Just makes me wanna drive down there & smack them around! Sooo wrong.

~C~ said...

I agree so wholeheartedly with everything you've said.

And if you're looking for input from adoptive families, my brothers are adopted. I bristle at the suggestion that they were "bought," "saved," or "rescued." That lexicon really gets under my skin. You hit on one of the most important aspects of adoption: making sure the child always knows he was adopted, but doesn't feel like he's always being reminded of it. And I just don't see how that can be done by someone who fancies him or herself a saint rescuing those poor kids who otherwise wouldn't have a chance, and who are most easily identified by their particular illness or disorder.

WaitingVicky said...

We are having our first information night tomorrow... I'm basically certain it is going to turn out like this. This country is so anti-adoption, I am going to have trouble keeping my calm through it!

It's great, despite the awkwardness, that the seminar helped you think more about what you want and your reasonings. Very excited for you :)

April said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
April said...

(deleted the first to correct a few things)
Just found your blog and this was the first post I read through. I would have left feeling the say way after hearing all of that. My dh and I adopted our little guy (after years of IF) in May of 2010. Since starting the process (Nov 2009) we have heard both well meaning and not well meaning comments (both in classes and from people we know or don't know) and they always leave you feeling like did they really just say that? Ugh. So no you aren't on a rescue mission you are on an amazing journey that will make all your dreams come true! :)

ps. hopefully if you have more seminars to attend they will be more open minded and not so pushy :/

Carli said...

Wow, the foster people sound like they were really pushy!
Glad to know that you and Joey feel comfortable with the person who will be doing your home study. I am sure that makes the questions about your private life so much easier!

Julie said...

I'm sorry your experience was so negative. I work with foster and adoptive parents (completing homestudies, home visits, finalizations, etc.), and I'm shocked that they hosted an event for both private domestic adoptions and fostering. Sure, fostering often leads to adoption, but they're still very different things. People get into both for different reasons, and if you feel one is not right for you, then it isn't. Period. I wish you luck on your journey!

Adele said...

Yikes. Yet more proof that you're doing this for the right reasons, Katie. Children aren't girl scout badges. And different paths are appropriate for different people. I'm glad the experience consolidated what you do want, and also what you don't.

Kakunaa said...

Why should it be a competition? How bizarre! I'm so glad I wasn't there.

And even if it was horrid - it sounds like it helped you confirm what you want and how you feel about it, which if nothing else, is good.

erika said...

I am sorry about the negative feelings the fostercare people have left you with. It just sounds awful.
However, it seems you guys had an overall useful experience and learned some things about the path you are about to take.
I am praying and hoping for kind, and positive people assisting your way towards parenthood and that you will have good memories about the process you will go through to build your family.
I am excited for you starting this journey! and I am excited for the Little One who will be blessed with amazing parents like you two!

rebecca said...

I'm sorry it was such an unpleasant situations, but glad it gave you guys clarity in terms of how you'd like to move forward. We also had a bad experience when we looked into foster care in our area and came away not feeling comfortable with it.

Logical Libby said...

You should not do anything you do not feel comfortable with on your journey to being a parent. Fostering works for some, and not for others. It is all a personal choice.

Keep your head up. There's more to come, but it will all be worth it.

conceptionallychallenged said...

That would certainly have rubbed me in a bad way, too. Not remembering their children's names? And the saving/rescuing concept is weird, too. I'm glad you could also take some good experiences from the meeting though.

Baby Hopes said...

Very well said. You put into words many thoughts that have been hard to express. My husband and I plan to adopt as well. At present, we're going through treatments (so we cannot start the adoption process yet), but regardless of the outcome, we plan to adopt. And as you so genuinely put it: it's about becoming parents and sharing the love you have to give... not about "saving" a child or "earning extra points." Very well said.

Waiting Lisa said...

Saving and rescuing are words that don't match with adoption. Major ick factor.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about doing foster care. But first we need a bigger house. Which doesn't seem possible anytime soon. We only have two bedrooms right now- ours and Jayden's room.

I am definitely glad we first did domestic newborn adoption. It was important for me to experience this first. But, I think maybe foster care could be the right next step for us. Kind of exciting to think about how different our lives could be ten years from now.