Creating connections with Adoption Choices families

Posts tagged ‘adoption reading challenge’

Love and Regret

A few weeks ago we had a wonderful visit from my youngest daughter’s birthmom, her husband, and their 3-month-old daughter. My daughter’s birthmom’s youngest daughter, is also my youngest daughter’s half-birth sister, however we just call her, Baby Sister, to make life simpler.  We were all under one roof for three days, and our house was full of the love and happiness of two moms, two dads, two big sisters and one baby sister. For the kids, our visits are full of visits to the park, dinners out and in, school visits, bedtime stories, and being tucked in by everyone my kids love at night. For the mama, mommy, dada, and daddy, our visits are time to reconnect, to continue getting to know each other, and of course to snuggle beautiful, sweet, lil baby sister.

The foundation of my relationship with my youngest daughter’s bithmom is built from hefty stones of regret, pain, loss, hopelessness, and grief. We both carry these stones, putting them down, and having a seat on them once in a while to talk about how heavy they are, how much they make our back break, and how they can make our soul wince with pain. However dense these stones are, they seem weightless as pumice when we see our daughter happy, or jumping for joy as she introduces her birthmom to her teachers and classmates at school, or when she cuddles her newborn sister and gives her kisses.

We put down our stones in strange places; in the baby section of Target, or driving on our way to pick up our daughter from school, or in the Deli line at the supermarket. However, we put them down, and we talk. Which I think is one of the most important parts of our Open Adoption.

We talked about how family can let you down. We talked about how someone whom you would have never met, if it wasn’t for life changing circumstances of making an adoption plan for your child, can become one of your greatest allies; an “Auntie” to your youngest daughter, and a mother to your oldest. Mostly, we talked about regret. The great big “What If’s” that sometimes haunt us both. We talk honestly, plainly, and with endearment for the hopelessness of wishing to change the past.

Reflecting on our visit, and our talks, has led me to revisit a book I read a few years ago called, Lifegivers: Framing the Birthparent Experience in Open Adoption by James L. Gritter.  I have chosen to reread this book as my next Adoption Reading Challenge selection. I am particularly interested in the chapters on grief and regret, and I am hoping giving this book another read-through will help me to understand more of my youngest daughter’s birthmom’s experience in our Open Adoption relationship.

Love and Reading part III

I’ve completed two books this month in the Adoption Reading Challenge, and I’m currently searching for my third. Upon completion (finally!) of Jaiya John’s memoir, Black Baby, White Hands: A View From The Crib, I came away with many conflicting feelings. However, I am glad I read it, and feel I have many takeaways from it. As I read Jaiya’s words, I felt as if a friend was telling me stories of his life, a little bit at a time, rewinding over the very good, and really bad parts, to make a statement, and to gain my understanding.  I do not think this book is for everyone. Jaiya is a poet, and he writes like one.  If you are looking for a concise book on the feelings of people who are transracial adoptees, this is not your book. However, if you are looking to understand the depth of the soul of one man, and his journey through life as a transracial adoptee, or to challenge your thoughts on what to means for a black child, to  grow to become black man in a white family, then this book should be a must read. Black Baby, White Hands is not an easy read, it’s musical like Jazz, and it’s painful, like a sunburn, but it’s worth the time for the insight that is gained.

I jumped right from Black Baby, White Hands, into another memoir written by an adoptee. The Mistress’s Daughter, written by A.M. Homes, tells the story of the author’s reunion with her birth parents in her thirty’s.  I cheated a bit on this Adoption Reading Challenge, as I actually listened to the book on It is narrated by Jane Adams, who I had to often remind myself, was not the author, as she narrated the memoir so genuinely. I felt as if Ms. Homes wrote like a journalist while telling the story of her reunion with her birth mother, Ellen, and her birth father, Norman. Her writing is to the point, pragmatic, and almost devoid of feeling. However, the stories Homes tells are both touching, and revealing, about the void that is filled by knowing where one comes from.

Homes takes the reader on a journey through the everyday nitty gritty of living in a once closed, and now open adoption. Homes also explores her own fantasies of her birth parents and her adoption. Even after the reunion, the continued not-knowing in the story drives the author to genealogy, to look for a connection to her families and her place in them. Reading/Listening to Homes’ memoir has confirmed for me that having an open adoption, no matter how it plays out in the future, at least provides a door for my children to walk through on their path towards discovering who they are, and who their birth families are. Knowing who we are seems such a basic right, that I am often perplexed by the stories of hidden truths, or falsehoods by omission, about children who joined their family through adoption. Although the truth is sometimes hard to swallow, sometimes hurtful, sometimes scary, I think untruths’ can create deep wounds that are hard to heal. Again, I pray that I am on the right path for my girls. I pray that they truth will heal them and make them whole.

Love and Reading

When my husband and I first started on our parenting and adoption journey, I read just about anything I could get my hands on regarding adoption and parenting in general. I have a huge library of books, articles, and magazine stockpiled around my house. I have read many of them, but some just sit and gather dust as I wait to get my reading mojo back. I think I may have over-dosed on non-fiction in the first years of parenting. I have been reading lots of great non-fiction over the last year, including The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow, and The English American by Allison Larkin, both which have adoption themes. However, I feel the need to ramp-up my adoptive mom thinking.  So, in an effort to really challenge myself to read more this year, I have joined the Adoption Reading Challenge over at The Chronicles of Munchkinland blog.

The first book I am reading is Black Baby, White Hands: A View from the Crib by Jaiya Johns

I read a bit of this book few years ago, but it was pretty heavy stuff for a newbie adoptive mom, who was a beginner at parenting transracially, and who was trying to convince herself that everything was going to be just fine. A few years have passed, and I feel I’m ready to really look at this book and see how this young man’s story of being adopted by a white family in the 1960’s, resonates with me. Next month I’ll post my thoughts on this book and my choice for my second book in the challenge. The Adoption Reading Challenge is open to anyone interested in reading books with an adoption theme. Wish me luck and feel free to join in!

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