Adopted kids

The Book: Part Two

The book is complete…. I think.  For those who missed it, I spoke in a previous blog about creating ‘the book’.  For many in the adoption process, creating a scrapbook snapshot of your lives is how birth parents choose which potential adoptive parents they want to meet.  This book can be the key to getting a baby, so it’s a big deal.

Creating the book, for me, was a bit agonizing. Normally, my husband is the perfectionist in our relationship, but in this case, I was the one obsessing over the details.  I love to travel. Its an absolute passion in my life and I have so so lucky to have been to many amazing places.  Therefore, any book about me is going to have to include talking about travelling.  Normally, I’m more than happy to talk about anywhere I’ve been and all the places I still want to go.  However, when trying to show this in the book, I was suddenly questioning everything.  Here’s what happened in my brain: “What if the birth mother also loves to travel? I need to be sure to show that connection and put up fabulous pictures in from the pyramids in Egypt and Machu Picchu in Peru! She’ll love that!” But then: “wait, what if she hasn’t had the opportunity to travel? Maybe financially it’s not an option in her life and putting these pictures up will make me look disconnected from the hard reality of life and she’ll think I’m totally pretentious and don’t understand where she’s coming from.  Ok, take those pictures off”.   But then “But maybe she’ll wish her child will have the chance to travel that she never had.  Put the pictures up”  But then…..  You get the picture.

So, with some advice from the owner of the adoption agency, I decided to just be as authentically myself as possible.  All I can do is put it out there in the way that is the most true to who I am and who we are as a family and trust that the right person is out there.  Turns out that this process feels a lot like dating.  I recall some dates in my younger years when I would spend most of the night trying to figure out if I was acting right and saying the right things etc.  Then I learned that if I wanted to meet the right person to be in my life, I needed that person to like me for exactly who I am, not someone I’m trying to.  Turns out that’s true when adopting a baby also….

If you are looking to adopt, or have adopted in the past, and need someone to talk to about all of the emotions that come along with adopting, please come see me and we can work through it together.

Adoption Camp, Part 3

There was another camper who has really stayed with me since camp, let’s call this one Caitlyn. She was there with two siblings.  When her mom brought her to our group on the first day she told me that Caitlyn was born via an egg donor and that they tell her she is partly adopted.  Her two siblings are adopted and sometimes Caitlyn feels different because she has a different story.  Caitlyn jumped right in with the group.  She was outgoing and fun and seemed to be having a great time at camp.

In the middle of the second day, we had an opportunity to sit with the kids and talk about what it meant to be adopted and asked the kids to identify any feelings they had around being adopted. All of the kids raised their hands except for Caitlyn.  Most of the kids told their story about what they knew about their birth parents and how they ended up in their adopted families.  Most said that they were sad that they were adopted.  One of the counselors asked the kids to raise their hands if they were adopted.  I was surprised when Caitlyn also raised her hand and told the other kids about coming from an egg donor and that she doesn’t know anything about the woman who donated the egg and that was sad for her.  All of the kids listened and no one had a reaction.  As soon as she was done, the next kid anxiously started to tell their story.  As soon as we moved on to the arts and crafts portion of the activity, Caitlyn asked to speak to me in the hallway.  She started to cry and said she was uncomfortable.  I asked her to tell me more about what she was feeling.  She said she felt different than the other kids and wished she was adopted too.  She said she hated being different from her siblings and that they didn’t understand how she felt.  I wanted to tell her that every kid in that room would someday be envious of the fact that she was birthed by the woman she calls mom and that her situation was closer to typical.  Of course, those were my judgments so I didn’t say anything of the kind to her.  What I told her was that every person has something that makes them different.  Everyone has something in their lives that makes them feel like they don’t really fit in or don’t belong to one group or another.  She looked at me like I was crazy, then got quiet to think about that for a bit.

I’ve continued to think about Caitlyn since camp often.  Caitlyn seemed to have it all at 8 years old.  She had two parents who loved her very much, she lived in a wealthy neighborhood in Denver, and from what I could see at 8, she was bound to closely resemble Barbie as an adult.  Yet, from her perspective, she was different and strange and had a sad story that made her not likeable.  She craved to be accepted and the same as her peers.  In her house and at adoption camp, being the same meant being adopted and that’s what she wished she had.  

If your child is having similar thoughts and feelings as Caitlyn did, please consider family therapy. We will focus on helping you and your child navigate the sea of emotions that come with adoption or surrogacy, depending on your situation. I look forward to hearing from you!


Adoption Camp, Part 1

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of volunteering at a weekend long camp for families with adopted kids.  The camp started on a Thursday evening with opening ceremonies and concluded on a Sunday morning.  The camp was attended by about 50 families, all of whom had chosen to adopt a child domestically within the United States.  While this was my first time attending the camp, most of the families had been attending for many years and look forward to returning for many more.  Some families lived locally and some travelled across the country to attend.  Kids were broken up into groups based on age and assigned to counselors.  I, along with two other volunteers, was assigned to the 7 and 8 year olds.  There were 12 adopted kids in our group.  Some of the kids knew each other from previous years and were comfortable jumping right into the rhythm of things.  Others, like me, were new and nervous about what to expect.  I had an image in my mind of what a camp counselor should be.  Someone who is just a natural with kids.  Someone who the kids would instantly cling too and never want to leave their side.  Someone who could come up with super fun, age appropriate games and activities at the drop of a hat and all the kids would cheer.  I was very aware, that none of those described me.  I was really nervous that the kids wouldn’t like me and I would be a camp counselor dud.  While I attended summer camps as a child, I never made the leap to counselor like my sister did.  So at 33 years old, I was returning to camp.  Along with general nerves, each kid came with a short bio: name, age, where they live, behavioral issues, and diagnoses.  More to come on this in part 2.  While I entered the adventure with no confidence in myself, I should have had confidence that kids would be kids.  While a couple stayed on the outskirts with trepidation, most of the kids joined in excitedly.  Before I had memorized all of their names, they were fighting over who got to hold my hand while walking to the next activity.  

Adoption camp was amazing!  The kids participated in a circus, learning how to tumble, juggle, and do magic tricks.  There were arts and crafts, board games, a scavenger hunt, tag, and even some time to sit together and talk about what it means to be adopted.  By the end of the first day, I was truly exhausted.  I went home with a newfound appreciation for school teachers.  I simply do not know how they do it every single day.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to get through day 2! The experience was rewarding in many ways and I plan to volunteer again at another camp next year.