Adoption: The First Chapter of Many

Adoption

I’m really not fond of that analogy about people’s lives being like a book. Unfortunately, it was the first thing I thought about when I decided to write this post.

In a previous post, I wrote about accepting the title of “mom.” I wanted to continue that theme, beginning with my past desire to “overshare.” Mostly, I’m very private, but when it came to talking about my kids, I had this urge just to yell out, “they’re adopted.” I refrained because I strongly believe that the adoption is their story to share, not mine. I think I felt the desire to share that information, not because I’m insensitive, or attention-seeking, but because it seemed like the only thing that defined our family for so long.

Naturally, adoption will always be part of our family, but lately I’ve begun to feel that our legal ties are no longer the only thing holding us together. Now, we have a relationship, a bond, one that doesn’t make their adoption the most important thing in our lives. Adoption was the first chapter in our book, and I’m sure it will continue to show up in other chapters, but it’s not the subject of the book, and it’s not the last chapter.

Keeping families together in Michigan

Adoption

Here’s a new update to Michigan’s ongoing quest to improve the state’s foster care system. As Michigan Radio recently reported, the state is piloting a new program designed to keep young children with their families and out of foster care. According to the report, DHS Director Maura Corrigan said: “Research confirms what most people instinctively know: All things being equal, the best place for children is in their own home with their own family. Under this federal waiver, the department will use funding to wrap around at-risk families with vital services- keeping children both at home and safe.”

I definitely think that children are better off with their first families, but it’s true that our family would not be what it is if this program had been in place in our county a few years ago. Our kids were both under five when they were placed in foster care, the exact age that this program targets. Naturally, I love my children and can’t imagine our life without them now. But would they be better off with their first family? It’s hard to know how things would be different and I try never to entertain “what if” scenarios because the fact is, things are the way they are and we can’t go back and change them.

At least other Michigan kids will have another chance with their first families in the future.

A foster care law suit in Michigan

Adoption

Michigan has done a lot to improve the state’s foster care system lately, but there are still problems. Michigan radio recently reported on a lawsuit that several parents have brought against the state’s Department of Human Services for failing to disclose that their adoptive children had special needs, which should have qualified them for federal aid. Apparently, these parents are struggling to pay the bills associated with their children’s treatment. Thankfully, we were given very accurate descriptions of our children’s histories and issues. Adoption is hard enough and I can’t imagine not having the support that we need.

Open Adoption Roundtable: a visit with my “rival”

Adoption

As part of the Open Adoption Bloggers group, I’m responding to the latest prompt in which we’re supposed to write about how we feel after a “visit.” My kids were adopted through the foster care system, so we don’t have an open adoption in the traditional sense of the phrase. My children  have no contact with their first parents. However, we do have monthly visits with Aunt S, who is my children’s mother’s half sister. This is why I often say that we have a “semi-open adoption.” Aunt S wanted to adopt BE, but it didn’t work out, for reasons that are not my place to discuss here.

Naturally, Aunt S and I were intially unsure of each other, but we’ve since become friends. The other day, BE thanked me for keeping up the visits with Aunt S, and I told her that I do it because I want to see Aunt S too. I really respect Aunt S, and think of her as a friend.

Aunt S has been to our house many times and has been to a number of events such as BE’s preschool graduation. We’ve been to her place as well. All of our family members know her. So, after a visit with Aunt S, I always feel great.

For reasons that I don’t fully understand, although BE is always very excited to see Aunt S, she also used to become very hyperactive before and after a visit with Aunt S. She’s gotten significantly better over the past couple years, but it’s still there. I’d like to think this will go away as she becomes more confident in her relationship with J and me and in our relationship to Aunt S.

Most importantly, we all love Aunt S.

The adopted movie

Adoption

BE is seven, but she’ll only watch animated movies. In her mind, live action movies (even those meant for kids) are actually for adults. Over the weekend, J rented “Where the Wild Things Are,” and BE lasted about 10 minutes, insisting that she only likes cartoons.

However, there is one live action movie that she’s seen countless times – “Martian Child.” J and I bought this movie even before we had kids, and it’s really not a kids’ movie. (There’s nothing inappropriate about it, but I don’t think it was aimed at kids). BE calls it “The Adopted Movie” and asks to watch it often. If you haven’t seen it, we all highly recommend it. In my opinion, it’s a good depiction of foster care adoption.