The Adoption Bloggers Interview Project was created and coordinated by Heather at Production, Not Reproduction. Two adoption bloggers are randomly paired. We read one another’s blogs. We ask one another questions. We answer those questions.
This year, I feel very fortunate to be paired with Kelsey of A Birthmother Voice. I’ve been reading her blog for over one year now. Kelsey is not only a birthmother, she is the author of The Best for You, a children’s book about why a birthmother chooses adoption for her child. More than 20 years ago, Kelsey placed three children for adoption – her daughter and then her twin sons. Her blog is insightful and positive, even when she discusses difficult topics.
Without further ado, here are my questions and Kelsey’s gracious answers:
Robyn: [D]o your adopted sons and daughter have contact with one another? Did you ask the parents who had adopted your daughter if they might like to adopt your sons?
Kelsey:When my sons found me on Facebook, they then contacted her and since they have been chatting from time to time. I do not ask much about that when I talk to them, I feel that they need to explore those relationships on their own.As far as asking her parents, that never crossed my mind. They had other children of their own as well as my daughter and once she came into their lives I believe they felt complete. I left my home state of Missouri to proceed with the twins adoption. There were many reasons why I chose to do so, but most of all I knew that my sons would go together to their family.
Robyn:What were some of the questions your adopted children had while growing up? How did you handle them? If you know how the adoptive parents handled them, did you think they handled them well?Kelsey: My daughter has always been quite comfortable with her life and the knowledge that she was indeed adopted. If there were questions, she usually had the information that she needed because the relationship between her family and mine was somewhat close. She was very well adjusted at a young age and her parents did allow her the freedom to spend time with me so I know that it helped her feel my love for her.As far as my sons are concerned, the relationship was different in that it was not as close as my first adoption. Their parents were much more private people and our agreement was honored in that twice a year we exchanged photos and information. I was content with that and in my letters I did tell them how I was doing and what I was wondering about the boys. Their mother was thoughtful in her answers and to tell you the truth the subject of how they boys felt about being adopted and the such just was not discussed that much. She never really asked any questions because I think she had all the info that she needed from my correspondence. I always sent cards on birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day and Thanksgiving … always. I wanted my children to know that I was thinking about them, even if they would not see the cards until later in life at least they were in existence, showing that they were on my mind and in my heart.
Robyn: What are some of the questions Bodde and Chase [the sons whom Kelsey parents] have had about their siblings?
Kelsey: There is nothing that I hold back from my children and adoption has always been a part of their lives. I think the recurring question is – will they ever meet their sister and brothers? I always tell them that they will, someday. I explain that in adoption there needs to be room for two families, and meeting each other may not happen for a while. Bodde understands much more than Chase does, but the younger one also likes to dance while doing multiplication so he is not the deep thinking kind just yet.
Robyn:What are your feelings on “positive adoption language” and terminology? You call yourself a birth mother, do you have an opinion on that vs. the term “first mother”? How do you feel about the phrase “give a child up for adoption”?Kelsey: Yeah, I get dinged for using birth mother quite often because of all the terms out there, it is the one who gives life that has multiple names. So many different names. When I was pregnant I heard “biological mother” quite often and that always had a very negative tone in my mind. Aren’t all mothers biological mothers? By the time I had decided on adoption, the term “birth mother” was used only on paper and most people just called me “Kelsey”. But first mother, natural mother, tummy mommy I do not use any of those terms on my blog and if I do I am referencing them in this kind of format. I don’t have a problem with them, I just use what I have always used and see no need to change it. It is what I am.However, the phrase “give a child up for adoption” does bother me only in my own capacity. I did not give up on my children. I searched my soul and searched the realms that I was in for the best parents and family for my children. I did a lot of research … the laws, other mothers, other adoptees, what I could ask for, what adoption can do to a child, how my life was going to be affected by the loss. I also researched the parents as much as I could, questions galore, and not easy ones either. I was tough when it came to where the boundaries were, how often I could contact them to find out how the children were. I choose to say that I placed my children with their families because that is exactly what I did. I never gave up. I always followed up and it was not just for my sake, but also for their sakes. I think that the adoptive parents felt just a little more comfortable with me every time I sent a letter their way. The reassurance that I was living life and just admiring from a distance helped them accept me a little more, and that is always good for the child.
Robyn: Do you watch any of the current fictional TV shows that feature adoption (Glee, Once Upon a Time, Parenthood, Modern Family, etc.)? If so, what are your thoughts? If not, have you followed any of what’s been said and been intrigued?Kelsey: I did watch Glee once upon a time – Sue Sylvester is the BOMB! Love her! However they did kind of lose me with the story line of Rachel and her mother, ESPECIALLY when her mother adopted the daughter Quinn had at the end of the season. Not to mention, I felt that they did not delve deep enough into Quinn’s character that year on the show, the pregnancy seemed more of a nuisance to her than the life altering event that it would become for a girl in her position.I also watched the first season of Parenthood and loved it, but it no longer works with this year’s schedule. Maybe I can catch it over the summer to catch up on reruns 😉 Overall I think that the writing for adoption on television is not what it could be. There are some very deep issues, and also some wonderful self discovery that could be portrayed, I just have not seen it that way.
What would the ideal open adoption agreement laws be? Should open adoption agreements be binding? If so, what are the consequences for each party not following the agreement’s terms?Kelsey: This question is like a giant bomb that has many tiny timers on it that will continue to explode for a long period of time. I will answer here out of order, so please bear with me
. Should adoption agreements be binding? Yes. Yes. And YES! Unlike any other kind of specialty law, there is none that is more misconstrued than adoption. That is the biggest problem, the legal crap surrounding adoption. If two parties make an agreement in adoption, then there should be some kind of clear cut way that those two parties can communicate in order to help that agreement be upheld. Look, adoption is all a matter of the heart and the heart does what ever the hell it wants to do. Things change, people change, and opinions change, but the bottom line is adoption has to be committed to for the children who are involved. The consequences will affect them the most. To hell with pride and all of that, if boundaries need to be revisited to help keep everyone involved content, then so be it. An adoption plan made when a child is young may need to be revisited in order to accommodate the changing needs of all members of the triad.
I say this because in both of my adoptions there was never a mention of lawyers and all that stuff after the relinquishment. If there needed to be less contact, or sometimes more contact, then we communicated that to each other and NOT a counselor, lawyer, or anyone else. We were adults about it and worked it all out amongst ourselves. There were no third parties and as far as I am concerned, no feelings hurt along the way. I think that in today’s day and age there are just TOO many people involved in something that is so personal, so intimate. If the people involved can communicate with each other then the better it is for the child.
So, for a simple answer to “What would the ideal open adoption agreement laws be?” First and foremost, give all the information possible to mothers who are considering adoption for their child. Knowledge is power, and in that power one can make a sound decision knowing they are their best advocate. I say get the requests of all parties and agree to what everyone wants the boundaries to be. Then, by law, I believe those agreements should be looked at every 5 years for adjustments that may need to be made. I believe that the States should allow all parties access to Original Birth Certificates for so many reasons and #1 being it is a Constitutional Right that every American has. If someone changes their minds about those agreements, then somewhere down the road someone stopped talking to someone. COMMUNICATION is of the utmost importance in adoption and it is not something that should be feared.
Robyn: (I always like to ask a fun question) A question that has nothing to do with adoption, but I add it because Breaking Dawn comes out on November 18th, and I’m a bit of a fan of the Twilight saga: Team Edward, Team Jacob, or Team Who-the-Heck-are-Edward-and-Jacob?
Kelsey: I am going to break your heart here, but I fall into the category of Who-the-Heck-are-Edward-and-Jacob? I know who they are, I know about the story because many people I know are fans. And I, too, am a fan of the Vampire sorts. I read many vampire books with Anne Rice being the Queen. But my thought is that I am so far behind now I might as well wait until my kids are interested in the books, read them, and want to watch the movies. That is when I will absolutely sit down and watch all of them so I can discover it with them. Until then, I will have to wonder what the fascination is with the franchise and most of all … this Edward and Jacob you speak of.
I want to thank Kelsey for taking the time to answer all of my questions. I highly recommend her blog. The link is over in my blog roll on the right. It’s also right here.
Please take a moment to see the other Adoption Bloggers Interview Project entries at Production, Not Reproduction.