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Picking & Choosing

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Guest Great social worker

I often times have couples new to adoption calling me with various questions regarding birth parent factors.  How have you "veterans" determined case factors that you were open to?  Ethnic background?  Previous drug use?  Age of child?  Sex of child?

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We did some real soul searching.  When we discussed race, we asked ourselves..."would we be able to fully give a child a sense of being proud of their heritage?"  As far as sex, we always thought that if we were able biologically to have a child, we would not have the benefit of choosing the sex so why should we with adopting.  With the other factors, like drug use, etc., we just looked into our hearts and were honest about if we could give a drug addicted baby all of the love and care that it would need to thrive.  Hope this helps.

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The first and second time we adopted, the sex of the baby did not matter.  When completing the applications, we said that full anglo or anglo/hispanic would be fine.  

We have 2 blond haired boys!  This time around we are waiting for a girl to complete our family.  Since our boys are almost both full anglo, we had originally thought that we wanted our daughter to be light complected as well.  While that is partially still true, we are more open to the option of anglo/hispanic this time around.  Before we adopted our first son, we had a failed adoption.  The birthmother had some drug use early in her pregnancy.  We discussed this with a few doctors and decided to take a chance.  Although the adoption failed because the birthfamily skipped town, we felt good about our decision.

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Thanks for reviving this topic chilemom!!

Ethnic Background - With Kayleigh's adoption, we initially said full anglo only because we felt if the child "looked" more like us, it would be easier for the child as they were growing up. By the time we submitted our application to Abrazo (and I had talked to Elizabeth) and we did some soul searching and education, we decided we were open to either a full anglo or anglo/Hispanic baby. The second time around, we expanded that and said we are open to anglo, anglo/Hispanic, & hispanic and we are excited about the possibilities! I don't know if it's because we live in Texas now and there is such a large Hispanic population here so I just think it would be really cool to be the parent of a child with that heritage or what. It also to me seems like maybe we'd be accepted into that community at a different level if we were the parents of a Hispanic child than we would otherwise - just the opportunity to learn more about the culture, etc is really neat to us. I had posted on here in a different spot about extended family concerns and unfortunately, this has had an impact on our decision to not consider an Anglo/AA or AA baby. It is not quite a mutual decision - it's something my husband and I have discussed at length and he is very concerned that my family would not be accepting of an Anglo/AA or AA child and it would cause a lot of family drama and he's concerned with how this will impact the child and the relationship between Kayleigh and her sibling. I have a different take on things - I think it would be good for my family to be directly impacted by this and forced to confront their stereo-types, biases, etc or whatever they are - I am positive that my family would see past the color of our child's skin and feel exactly toward that child as they feel toward Kayleigh - and I think it would help them realize that their bias and attitudes are the result of just being so sheltered from differences and so on and so on. The other thing I think is that it would have such a positive impact on Kayleigh to grow up with a sibling of a minority race - I just think Kayleigh has such a tender heart and strong personality - I can just see her becoming some activist or something based on growing up with a minority race sibling - I think it would broaden her views on life and be such a positive thing - for all of us...but, unfortunately, this isn't something Lance is ready to take on - I guess he sort of likes to keep the peace in my family and I'm more of a rebel at heart and like to shake things up and keep them interesting - and, I have faith that my family would grow and make me very proud (instead of how I feel now about their attitudes on this now and that is very embarassed & ashamed). Whew - I went on and on with this! Sorry. Just a hot topic with me lately and one I think about quite a bit.

Previous Drug Use - When we filled out the paperwork for Kayleigh's adoption, we talked about this over and over - I think we eventually said we were okay with previous drug use but not as comfortable with alcohol abuse (although, there's really no guarantee you'd know about the alcohol use, unless an alcohol screen exists after the baby is born and I'm not aware of that). Anyway, we were still really nervous about the drug exposure even though we said yes, we would be open to that. Flash forward to now - we are now very comfortable with drug exposure - I had a long discussion with the neonatologist in the NICU where Kayleigh stayed and he really put my mind at ease when it comes to drug exposure. Basically, he said there isn't a lot of evidence out there to suppoprt that it has a long-term negative effect on the child - it's possible the ADHD rate is higher for children with drug exposure but that's even a possibility with children who weren't exposed to drugs...and honestly, we can totally handle ADHD - what I get concerned with are mental developmental delays and that's because of what I've experienced as the aunt of a severely autistic nephew (whose mom (my sister) didn't drink, smoke, do drugs, etc while pregnant....he had a reaction to an immunization at 6 weeks of age)...back to my thing though - what he said (the neo-natologist) is that they just don't have enough data on children who were drug exposed but were raised in stable, loving, nurturing homes - most of the data they have on drug exposed children is also children raised in very unstable home environments - so, he (among others) feel that it's more the environment during the child's upbringing that contributes to problems later - and if a child is raised in a stable, nurturing environment and was drug exposed, they likely will grow up to be just like any other kid who was born without being exposed to drugs. So anyway, this time, we're totally fine with any drug exposure. Fetal alcohol syndrome though scares me. But I'm not sure how you would really know if a newborn has this or not??????

Age of Child - With Kayleigh's adoption, I absolutely needed to parent a newborn - I just needed to experience all the newborn stuff and it was very important to me that the baby be a newborn (Lance on the other hand had no opinion either way on this - he was fine with pretty much any age). We had a call from Abrazo once asking us to call a birthmother who was parenting her 7 month old son and she was considering placing him (I don't think she ever did). At first, I was disappointed that we may adopt an older infant - but after about 30 minutes of thinking about it, I started thinking of all the advantages this would present and came up with a huge list - then, when it didn't work out, I was actually disappointed that we wouldn't have the opportunity to parent an older infant. However, I wouldn't trade my newborn moments with Kayleigh for anything. This time, it would be nice if our child is an infant but we said we were okay with up to 1 year old and this was primarily because of a discussion we had with our homestudy person (the one who did our homestudy for Kayleigh's adoption). She had worked with the State of Washington for a number of years handling hard to place children and had a lot to say about attachment disorder (where toddlers or children were basically neglected during those first months, years of life and have major issues with attachment (the first 3 years are very important from what I understand) and that is a long road of therapy from what she explained. This is not to say that all toddlers who are placed were neglected but I just think it would be hard to know and I really want to be able to say "Yes" right away when we get a call and not have to ask a lot of questions. So, we decided that 1 year or younger was the age we were comfortable with this time.

Gender - Oh brother, this is another uncomfortable topic for me. I guess I just need to get over it but I am having a hard time with this. So, with Kayleigh's adoption - we didn't specify a gender. We said we preferred a girl but were open either way and we were. This time, we have specified girl only. And the reasons why.....let's see, well, I think for one, we like the idea of having same gender siblings - I have 2 older sisters and the whole sister/sister relationship is just so cool to me - I've never had brothers and I know people who do have brothers who can't imagine having a sister instead of a brother (my niece and nephew for that matter - they're 25 & 27 and although she lives in Japan, they talk every day! They're very close!) but I didn't experience that and I just like the idea of Kayleigh growing up with a sister. Also, Lance has a brother who he is not at all close with and I think he has this fear that if Kayleigh has a brother, they won't be as close as if she had a sister (although I explained to him that as long as the children grow up in a loving home where they're taught to love and respect their sibling, it won't matter what gender the sibling is, they'll be close because that's all they'll know - that's just my opinion on that....). The other reasons have to do with just being set up already with girl stuff - it just seems like a girl house, hard to imagine a boy, etc etc etc.

Here I go again with another one of my posts that I want to delete as soon as I post it...but I'm going to leave it anyway - this personal topics sure do feel awkward - been a long time since I've posted some of these types of posts - and I think all the ones I've done previously have always been with my birthmother hat on.

I hope others will chime in.....I know this is something that is a big deal when you're filling out all that paperwork and it makes you do some deep soul searching and asking yourself questions that you would never otherwise ask yourself. If it's any help to others, I don't think there are ever any wrong or right answers - it's a personal decision that you and your spouse need to agree on and feel comfortable with but it's very important that you do this ahead of time (and not after you get the call). Spend some time thinking this through and talk to others out there if you need more information on things. Do your homework ahead of time on this. Also, it is very important that you're honest with yourselves on these topics and you do what you feel you can do, but at the same time, remember that if you place a lot of restrictions on cases you're comfortable with, it gets harder and harder for that baby to find you. Which isn't a bad thing but just remember that it will take longer and you need to realize this going into the adoption journey, you need to have realistic expectations (i.e. you probably won't be one of those folks who gets a call 2 weeks after attending Orientation).

Lisa

Lisa

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Marcelo and I originally were sent an inquiry form several months prior to orientation, but we set it aside because we could not see eye to eye on ethnicity. I felt that if we were asking to be parents, how could we pick and choose. A child is a child afterall. Sometimes, life is more interesting with a little spice right? Marcelo's concern was how any child outside of Hispanic and Caucasion, could "fit in" here in the Valley, especially an African American child. He wasn't been ugly, just realistic. He was afraid they would be treated badly. We have come to realize that all kids get teased etc., so we would just have to deal with whatever comes our way. Luckily, Dante is a big kid, so he'll probably be the one teasing! tongue.gifblink.gif Hopefully not. I hope he'll be a gentle giant. I also wanted to challenge ourselves to see outside of the box. I thought that adopting outside of our ethnicity could really help us grow as people. Come to find out, it's helped my family, friends and strangers grow too.

Ethnic Background- After discussing this issue in length, Marcelo and I agreed that we were wanting a child period. In the end, we were open to any ethnicity.

Gender- This was not an issue because as I mentioned above, we just wanted to be parents.

Age of child- Marcelo and I were open to newborn up to 3 yrs. old. We wanted to experiece all the baby stuff, but at the same time, I could picture a little toddler with us as well.

Previous Alcohol/Drug Use- If I recall correctly, we were open to discussing individual situations on a case by case basis. Overall pretty open though.

Hope I could be of some enlightenment to the Newbies out there!

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Oh yeah, Lisa is definately right! Being open about many of the issues will definately help! You'll be in demand!!

Best Wishes for an open heart and open mind......................................smile.gif

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although im not an AP id like to stress how important it is to leave your options open. the "right" baby is out there and you dont want to miss him/her because you only wanted a white baby, boy, newborn....

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Good point, Kristal!!! Folks often come to the process with a "laundry list" of wanted traits but in the end, it's really the relationship between the parties-- the people factor-- that matters most (or should), because the "right" hair or skin color or genitalia or ethnicity doesn't make adoption right if the match is made for all the wrong reasons.

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Reading in another thread from today Elizabeth discussed how amazing it is that the right matches and placements occur at the right time when done for the right reasons (like maybe there is some Divine involvement or something wink.gif ). It made me think that is one of the important reasons for keeping yourself open to many options (as far as race, sex, situation, etc) because our human brains often sell ourselves short of what we think we can handle or should attempt to handle. I remember being cautious about committing to being open to some options, but in the end we did because we wanted a child to love and we knew that they could come in a variety of packages. I'm glad we chose to leave many doors open and allow the Lord (and the Abrazo ladies) do their work.

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i just think that if when talking to Aps they we only open to certain things i would have kindof felt they were trying to "buy" my baby and they only want the "perfect" one and everyone has their faults but what if they adopted my child and then it didnt turn out the way they imagined? Would they not love it anymore? etc...

I know when specifying what you want in an adoption abrazo will send your profiles and only connect you to BMs who fit your thing but that was just something to think about.

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Hi Krystal,

I love what it says in blue print at the bottom of your posts! How wonderful you have each other, always.

Take care,

Karen

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I think every parent envisions "the perfect" baby. No one goes into parenting thinking, I think I'd like to have a child with this problem and that problem. Of course one thinks, well if my child has this or that, this is what I'd do. Desiring a perfect child is natural. Perfect is a relative term. One child who is perfect for one family would not be considered so in another. I don't think it is exclusive to adoptive situations. I think it's part of the parenting/preparenting process. We've all had philosophical discussions in which we try and say what we would do in this case or that case. Truth is no one knows until they are there.

Interestingly enough, on my application I did not check the AA box. I checked pretty much everything else. When Kelly asked me about that, I asked her why she asked and told her to "talk to me". She told me of a healthy newborn AA baby boy who was ready to go home. At that point, I knew that I wanted to be a parent and that there was NO WAY I could turn this perfect child down. How could I pass him by? He was what I desired (healthy, newborn, needing a home and a loving mom) And the rest is history. No, some of my family didn't "get it". Yes, I get looks. Do I notice, yes. Do I care, no. Do I recommend it for others. Absolutely, but I also recognize it isn't for everyone. Same goes with special needs. Sometimes, we don't know what it is that we need. Good thing God does.

I have a friend who likes to say, "I asked God for perfect children, but he only gave them to perfect parents". I love that. She likes to use that line when parents are complaining about their children. Makes them stop and think.

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Garden of Hope, you are such a wealth of insightfulness and wisdom and maturity. You are so valued on here - thank you for your thoughts and feelings on topics - it's always evident that much thought has gone into them. No wonder you're a teacher - I hope Kayleigh has a teacher like you some day, what a dream that would be to have her learning and experiencing for a year of her life from someone like you.

-Lisa

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I have a friend who likes to say, "I asked God for perfect children, but he only gave them to perfect parents".  I love that.  She likes to use that line when parents are complaining about their children.  Makes them stop and think.

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This is so perfect. I believe that God gives us what he KNOWS that we can handle. So, be open as if it is ment to be it will happen.

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Thank you for the kind and wonderful words, Lisa. They made my day!

biggrin.gifbiggrin.gifbiggrin.gifbiggrin.gifbiggrin.gifbiggrin.gif :

In case you've been wondering.........The reason I've been able to post so much in the last couple days is that Nathan's home sick. My poor baby has strep. He should be good to go tomorrow. Look out La Petite Academy, here he comes!!

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Birthmothers' Lament
(e. jurenovich)


My baby went through some tough times with me:
I used (to cope with my growing belly.)
I'm sorry I did it, I know it was wrong.
Will my child still get placed?
Will someone let her belong?

My baby's black, his health is good
Adoption's scary yet I think I could
But what a quandry it leaves me in
To think he's less wanted
just because of his skin?

My baby's brown, just like the dad
His first name was all the info I had.
It was one of those things, please don't say "tsk!"
Could you accept my child
despite the legal risk?

My baby's white, but came too early.
They say she'll have some problems, surely.
I called an agency, they said they'd see
if they even have
any families for me?

My baby's not a baby now.
It took awhile for me to see how
I could let go, but now that I'm ready
would there still be a home
for my tot and his teddy?

They say there are plenty of folks out there
Who want to adopt and have much love to spare.
Yet children never come risk-free.
The best hope for their future
starts with your family.

Let it be!

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Elizabeth,

Thank you for sharing the poem. It is a reminder of the pain and joy adoption brings everyone... also a reminder that every child DESERVES a home regardless of color or background.

With gratitude.

Claudia

Edited by MarceloandClaudia

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What a wonderful poem.

In thinking about this subject, I think it is much easier to be "accepting" of different things when you are approaching adoption the second time around. I believe it's not until we have children and love them 100% just the way they are, "imperfections" and everything, that we realize that no-one is perfect - not us, not the babies. Some start out perfectly healthy but develop major issus later. Other may not have gotten a good start but end up just fine. As for the race factor? I think "fitting in" with your family can be an issue, but I can tell you that when I look at my Hispanic daughter, all I see is a beautiful little girl who I get to call MINE! :)

I had an interesting conversation regarding birthparents with someone in my office a few weeks ago, who commented that if drugs or alcohol were factors with our child's birthparents, then we better "be careful" with our child because "those things are hereditary". She stopped talking as soon as I mentioned that some of our own biological family members had struggled with alcohol, and so even a biological child of ours would have some risk too! A good friend suggested I should have just told the person that while everyone else's families may be perfect, ours wasn't, so it was just as well that we got a child with less than perfect genes too!

I think Jesus said it well..."whoever of you is without sin (or imperfection) may cast the first stone".....hmmm, did anyone notice that no one volunteered?!

Edited by sugarfamily

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Thank you Elizabeth for putting so much of what I have been feeling lately into your beautiful poem. It hard to "vent" concerns about the check-box approach many take towards adoption...I'll take this but not that. And it VERY hard not to want o get up on my soap box and preach about being "open"...period ! Anyway..thanks again!

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I love this poem!

There are not guarantees in life. I have to laugh at myself and remind myself that to think that my attempts to "control" my life by only opening myself to certain situations because at the moment I think those choices are more desirable because I think they will make me more immune to heartache or tough times or make me more succeptable to love and happiness is really just futile. When I do that, I am in reality probably only closing myself to the things that I desire and more importantly God desires for me.

Excuse the run-on sentences - maybe my point is clear - as mud. :blink:

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Birthmothers' Lament

(e. jurenovich)

My baby went through some tough times with me:

I used (to cope with my growing belly.)

I'm sorry I did it, I know it was wrong.

Will my child still get placed?

Will someone let her belong?

My baby's black, his health is good

Adoption's scary yet I think I could

But what a quandry it leaves me in

To think he's less wanted

just because of his skin?

My baby's brown, just like the dad

His first name was all the info I had.

It was one of those things, please don't say "tsk!"

Could you accept my child

despite the legal risk?

My baby's white, but came too early.

They say she'll have some problems, surely.

I called an agency, they said they'd see

if they even have

any families for me?

My baby's not a baby now.

It took awhile for me to see how

I could let go, but now that I'm ready

would there still be a home

for my tot and his teddy?

They say there are plenty of folks out there

Who want to adopt and have much love to spare.

Yet children never come risk-free.

The best hope for their future

starts with your family.

Let it be!

I have a poem in my head and hot wheels in my purse.......now I need to get the poem on paper and the hot wheels on the track. Thank you for your beautiful poem, Elizabeth. Stanza 2 rings true in my heart and head. Honestly, as Nathan's 4th birthday is literally hours away, I have had the desire to write what is in my heart and head and I will, if I can only find the right time. You always hit the nail on the head and express it with such flair. Bravo! Bravo!

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I have a poem in my head and hot wheels in my purse

That sounds like the 1st line to a country western tune.... :lol: I am still laughing

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Elizabeth,

That poem was just beautiful! Thank you for sharing it with us. Wow... You do have a way with words!!! I am always amazed at your eloquence.

More than one of those stanzas makes my eyes fill with tears as several of them sound strangely familiar! ;) Much of this poem sums up our adoption experiences.

I am so glad we took the plunge and trusted God and His perfect plan. We are not perfect (nor are our children), but His plan IS perfect and nothing short of miraculous.

Elaine

p.s. I am so happy that the Abrazo chicks EDUCATE us. Many go to Orientation in one mind set (about what they are willing to "accept") and leave totally changed and open!!! :) I can not say enough good things about my Orientation experience or the gratitude I feel for being pushing past my comfort zone through education and faith.

If Abrazo hadn't taught with such honesty and if I had not been open to change, then I would not be the Momma of my two precious girls.

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Has anyone heard of or read about the new "moral dilemma" on the horizon in reproductive science? The term being used is "Designer Babies." That's right, the ability to manipulate DNA to accentuate certain desirable traits (intelligence, physical attributes, male vs female, etc.)

Not content to simply let "nature take its course," couples WILL have the ability in the future to "pick and choose" those traits they consider as desirable.

Does anyone else feel a sense of concern about all of this??? And what of the "designed" children who fail to "measure up" to their parents' expectations????????

Just as the moral ramifications of birth control was debated in the 60's and 70's, and IVF in the 80's and 90's, the new ethical debate may very well be "Designer Babies."

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