Sunday, August 29, 2010

a pregnant woman is NOT a birth mom until papers are signed


Say it with me.

A pregnant woman is NOT a birth mom until she has signed relinquishment paperwork.

I continue to see...on so many prospective adoptive parent blogs...inappropriate language used to describe a woman who is considering adoption for her unborn child.

Until papers have been signed, every pregnant woman is an expectant mother.

Bottom line.

I really wish more people in adoption land would get this. Especially adoptive parents. The general public may be confused about adoption language, but we shouldn't be.

We all talk about respecting "birth moms" and acknowledging the difficult decisions they are facing.

Then let's respect all women who are considering placement and do them the courtesy of not using labels before any decisions have been made.

Friday, August 27, 2010

speaking about transracial adoption

I love this clip from Adoption Learning Partners. Both mother and son have some important things to say about transracial adoption.

I'm trying to imagine one day sitting beside T in a similar way.

Monday, August 23, 2010

oh canada

T is an American Citizen (always will be). D and I are Canadian. Since T is not our biological child, we have had to engage in the permanent residency paperwork process to allow him all the same privileges we have in Canada. When we entered the country with T in September 2009 he was considered a "visitor."

The permanent residency process requires:
  • sponsorship application
  • permanent residency application
  • adoption paperwork
  • immigration medical completed by an approved physician
  • 4 photos (like a passport photo)
  • proof of adoption finalization
  • letter of no objection from our province
  • American passport
  • original and new birth certificates

It took us 8 months to compile all the required documents, as we needed to wait for finalization paperwork and his new birth certificate.

After another 2 months of waiting we finally got word last week that the permanent residency process was complete. The last step, unbeknown to us, was to leave the country and when we re-entered T's permanent residency status would be validated.

So on Saturday, August 21st, we took an impromptu trip south (did some shopping) and returned with a permanent resident of Canada! The Immigration Officer was so pleasant and we were even able to get a picture of him with T holding a Canadian flag.

We're so very glad to be finished with that process.

Next step...Canadian Citizenship paperwork...

Friday, August 13, 2010

hair and skin care 101

This week I attended an information session on how to care for black hair and skin at a local salon (this is where I take T). It was so informative and I am amazed at how I continue to learn new information on how to care for T's hair. Once I think I've got it I come across information that suggests otherwise.

T's hair regime is by far the question that friends and family ask the most often. So for those of you is the current plan.

The Basics:
  • T is bathed twice a week.
  • Hair is washed once a week because it is so dry. This includes shampoo, wash-out conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and lastly a spray moisturizer.
  • On non-wash days we wet T's hair and then spray it with a moisturizer.
  • A wide tooth comb is used to comb through T's hair. And his hair absolutely must be wet for us to comb it.
  • Anytime T's hair gets really wet we're supposed to use the spray moisturizer.
  • When swimming in a chlorinated pool we put the leave-in conditioner in his hair and when drying off we spray it with the moisturizer. When swimming in a non-chlorinated pool we just need to use the spray afterward.
  • To care for his skin we lotion him up every morning and evening. Lately I've been using shea butter on his knees because they are quite beat up from him crawling around in shorts.

The Products:
We use Peek-A-Boo Tearless Shampoo from It's A Curl! to wash T's hair. This little bottle set us back $15 (Canadian) but at the time we didn't know what else to get and since this product is made specifically for babies we decided to purchase it (and others from the same line). The shampoo works really nicely and it's easy to wash out of the hair. Since T's hair is short we don't end up using very much.

Once this little bottle is empty we will purchase a decent regular shampoo as we have since learned that what you wash/condition the hair with is not necessarily as important as what you leave in the hair.

T's leave-in conditioner Patty Cake Conditioner is from the same It's A Curl! line. Again, an expensive little bottle but since we are only washing/conditioning once a week we use very little. Once this is empty we'll purchase a regular conditioner.

The last product we use from the It's A Curl! line is the Ring Around The Curlies leave-in conditioner. I really like this product as it leaves T's hair smelling quite nice. However, I've since learned that this leave-in isn't thick enough for the texture of T's hair so I need to start using a lot more.

Once this product is finished I'll be on the hunt for an appropriate leave-in that will work well with T's hair. This will be something that would never work in a white child's hair as it will be way too heavy. I will be consulting T's hairdresser when we get to this point!

The last product we use in T's four product regime on wash days (this kid has more hair products than I do!) is the Braid Sheen Spray from African Gold. This product was recommended by T's hairdresser and we were able to pick this up at Wal-Mart. Any sort of moisturizing and conditioning product made for black hair will work. This product we use daily.

At the information session I learned that we need to add another product to T's weekly regime. A hair/scalp conditioner or otherwise known as "oiling your scalp". We haven't purchased this product yet and the sample we have to try isn't from African Gold. I can't remember the name of our sample oil product but once again I'll be speaking with T's hairdresser for more info on this. I'm not sure if we're supposed to use this product on his wash day or pick a different day of the week.

Can't stress how important it is to find a hairdresser who knows and understands black hair. T's hairdresser is the same woman who held the information session and I've been getting to know her a little bit. It was really important to me that T's hair was cut by someone with brown skin and I'm so pleased with the salon that we have found.

I did ask about learning how to cut T's hair myself since if we keep it short he will need a cut every 4-6 weeks. But as someone beside me in the session said...I wouldn't cut a biological child's hair on my own so why would I try to cut my adoptive child's hair? Very true.

So there you have it. Hair and skin care 101!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

money, money, money

I am very frustrated by the role money plays in adoption. I was recently made aware of a situation where a family was chosen by an expectant mom, but had to decline simply because of the projected final cost of the adoption. I am also aware of a family unable to have biological children who would love to adopt a child, but because of intentional choices they have made to live a simple lifestyle, are unable. Because of money.

I am so sick and tired of money playing such a major role in adoption.

So many of us who have chosen adoption are now in major debt. This isn't right. I don't believe that adoption needs to cost as much as it does. There are always hidden costs that no one, especially not the agencies, tells you about in the beginning. You only find out at the end. Once you're emotionally attached and willing to use plastic for anything and everything. Agencies are non-profit organizations, however I am quite confident that many directors and other agency staff are making a pretty penny.

And as soon as there is a bottom line, greed and corruption enter. If money were taken out of the equation child trafficking would cease to exist. Coercion would no longer be a concern. And other families would be able to adopt a child.

Currently, adoption is for the wealthy. Or at least for those who have a bit of money and are willing to go into debt to build a family. Money is not everything. I truly believe that. But you still need it to feed and clothe a child.

And I'm quite curious as to what that agency told the expectant mom about why the family she chose was unable to parent her child. I sincerely doubt it was the truth.

I leave you with a word from ABBA:
Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world.

All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

oa roundtable - agencies and open adoption

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. Click here to link to what other bloggers are writing about this topic.

We each interacted with at least one professional during the adoption process (agency, lawyer, facilitator, consultant, hospital social worker, etc.). What was one thing that they did that was most supportive of open adoption? What one thing was least supportive?

Since we live in Canada and adopted a child from the United States we endured two agencies...and all the drama (and money!) as a result. Our experience with our agencies was vastly different. We were explicitly told by our Canadian agency that they work hard to take the emotion out of adoption when interacting with prospective adoptive parents. We can safely say that they did a pretty good job of this. So much so that we often felt belittled for any emotion we did show. Our social worker was great though. She was supportive and encouraging. The agency we used in Canada only does international adoption and didn't provide us with any information regarding open adoption. However, our social worker was able to chat about this with us.

We have seen open adoption work very successfully as many of our friends are involved in relationship with their child's first parents. So before we even signed the application form we already knew a fair amount about openness and that we placed a great deal of value on this sort of adoption. This is one of the main reasons we chose to adopt from the US instead of overseas. (For those of you wondering why we didn't choose to adopt locally you need to know that for varying reasons it is very difficult to adopt in our province. Many people wait 5-8 years).

Our American agency required us to read specific books as a part of our application process and this included reading on open adoption. However, as we got to know the workers at this agency better we became aware that they don't really encourage complete openness between adoptive and first families. This agency's definition of open adoption is what we would refer to as a semi-open adoption where all correspondence between families flows through the agency. The agency encourages adoptive and first families to meet prior to or during placement but that is where the openness ends. We were supposed to keep our address, last name and any other identifying information a secret, as was J. We did share some of this information with J as did she. How can you be given a child and not share more of who you are? How can you give your child to a stranger to parent without knowing where he will live?

Both of our agencies knew that we were very open and willing to be involved in a fully open adoption. Yet, each in their own way questioned us and our motives. Each brought up openness at various times and would ask "are you still open to x, y, z?" And we would continue to say "yes." It is a frustrating have to defend yourself for making choices that you believe are clearly in the best interest of the child. Isn't that what agencies should be interested in as well?

In the end, we learned more about open adoption from friends living it, than we ever did from our agencies.