Monday, November 5, 2012

Myth: Open Adoption Is Always Awkward For Everyone Involved

Myth Busting Monday

One of the biggest reasons I decided to start blogging again is because I want to normalize the adoption experience for my family and especially my children.  I am frequently asked many questions regarding adoption, which I welcome.  Much of the time these questions originate in misconception or myth, this is my effort to remedy (at least a little) these misunderstandings.  I have found that many times all that is needed is education.  While I do not consider myself an expert, I choose to write from my own experience backed by research when available.

This last weekend Norma and I taught a class on openness at the Southwest Regional Families Supporting Adoption Conference held in Tempe, Arizona on the ASU Campus.  Go Devils!  I could not have been more proud of Norma!  She spoke directly and confidently about her side of how we make open adoption work for us.  With November being National Adoption Month I would like to share several points we shared in our class over the coming days and weeks.

It is commonly believed and somewhat a myth that open adoption is awkward and uncomfortable for all those involved with it.  Open adoption is a relationship and like any relationship it has it's awkward and uncomfortable moments, especially in the beginning as people are getting to know one another.  Recognizing this as the case, Norma and I have come up with a list of things we believe help overcome those moments and move into a more relaxed and happy relationship.  Most if not all of these I have learned by trial and error so don't feel bad if things don't go as well as hoped for, this is a relationship and all sides need to understand that mistakes will be made.

1. Plan your visits at a time that works well for both of you.
No one (at least not anyone I know) wants to get up at the crack of dawn and meet with the adoptive or birth family to get to know one another better.  Meeting at a comfortable time is especially true if their is a baby or children involved in the visit and one or both sides have spent the better half of the night up feeding and caring for the baby.

2. Meet in a location you are both comfortable with something to do.
If you are not sure whether you want to invite the other half of your adoption into your home by all means do not invite them!  Meet at a restaurant, a mall, a zoo, children's museum, splash pad, or park.  Many would say the adoption agency is a good choice but I don't agree.  Meeting in a sterile room where there is nothing to talk about or do can really stifle the conversation.  I think it is so much better when you can discuss what menu items look good, the animals or art you are viewing, or how cute it is that little Sam doesn't want to do anything but go down the slide.  Having something to break the ice is vital and makes the conversation easier for everyone.

3. Prepare yourself for the visit.
Please do yourself a favor and get some rest, exercise, relax, and eat well.  The last thing you want to think about during those initial visits is how hungry or tired you are.  You want to go feeling happy, confident, as relaxed as possible and on a day when you don't have a hundred other obligations to fulfill.  Plan ahead of time what you are going to wear and please don't pull out the heels and sassy skirt just because you feel great in it.  Wear something you feel good and comfortable in; something that looks nice but you can still handle a baby or small child in.

4. Take someone who "gets it" with you and discuss with them how you would like the visit to go before you get there.
If you are on the adoptive couple side, this person is preferably your spouse as the birth mom and her family will be wanting to get to know both of you.  If you are the birth mother or father, take someone who is supportive of your decision and who is supportive of you in general.  Before you arrive, discuss with them any subjects or people you do not want mentioned or talked about in detail while understanding it is quite normal for an adoptive couple to ask about the birth father. 

5. Get to know each other before you invite the whole family along.  Don't bring "surprise" guests you have not prepped the other one for.
As with any relationship you are hoping to have last for a lifetime it starts slow and eases into getting to know one another before inviting all your family and their opinions into the situation.  This is especially true with open adoptions as many in your family may not understand or get why this is so important.  Bringing along your friends or family because they are curious about who the other side is can wait and shows respect and care for the relationship.  There will be plenty of time for sharing as you get to know one another and how much easier it will be when you have had time to warn the other about Aunt June and her off the wall comments about adoption.

This is what Norma and I came up with, we're curious what you think.  What have you done to help ease into a tender open adoption relationship?  Tell us!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn, Fall, Or Praise The Lord It's NOT Hot Anymore!

Thankful Thursday: We Can Go Outside Again!

Hallelujah! Praise the Lord and heavens above, fall is upon us!  You know how there is a known medical disorder called SAD?  Well, there is and it stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder and it has been discussed and thought of as a medical condition since Civil War times.  Yeah, a diagnosis for people who get sad during the winter.  I need one of those, except excessive heat related, especially come August and September when I feel like I'm going to loose my mind it's so hot here!  An overall slump takes over like I am literally melting and can't find my limbs to do anything with.

But alas, it is finally October!  Not only that but it is the middle of October, even better!

This week I am so thankful for fall!  Thankful for weather my boys can play outside in without my supervision because outside play in the summer here requires constant adult attention.  Adult attention because we are in the pool or because mine little ones get overheated so very quick and I'm not into toddler heat stroke. So hallelujah, we can ride bikes again, jump on the trampoline, play with chalk, chase bugs, and my absolute favorite, leave all the windows open and smell that wonderful autumn air!

There is always a day that comes in October when I open my door one day and say (in the words of a former patient of mine), "Praise Jesus! Fall is here!"  You may think that's being a bit dramatic but as a born and raised Flagstaff girl and a girl who believes in being thankful for all things good I say it is right on.  This year fall flirted way to long for my taste but I believe (and please may I not be rushing it here) fall is finally, finally here!

May you all enjoy this wonderful season especially those that like me live a little too close to the equator!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grandma's House

Thankful Thursday: Memories of Grandma's House

Recently, my grandma sold her home of over 25 years.  It was, in my opinion, the ultimate grandma house.  When I say ultimate I'm talking a barn full of horses, chickens, a tire swing, trampoline, swing set, basketball in the driveway, fields to run and play in, cozy fireplaces, secret hideouts, a sledding hill, a canal that flooded in the spring to canoe on, puzzles at Christmas, always ice cream in the freezer, a basement to do bullet reloading in, a place to do fly-tying, bookcases of good books to read with comfy chairs and warm blankets, a big beautiful staircase to slide down, a big jet tub to swim in with the cousins, warm bread or brownies or cinnamon rolls coming out of the oven, and big, big family gatherings that included games, family story-telling, family testimony meetings, and always the feeling of being loved.

But best of could never walk into that house without Grandma and Grandpa acting as if you showing up was the best thing that had happened all year.  Truly, their ability to make you feel like you were the greatest person to ever walk the Earth (I'm not exaggerating) is one of the greatest things about being their grandchild.  Grandma Frost has a way with her hugs; just when you get within arms reach she reaches out and grabs you to her as though she can hardly wait to squeeze you.  Grandpa, who passed away a few years ago, would grab you to him with one of his "tree stump arms" (his words) and while hugging you dig his fingers in between your ribs, under your collar bone or some other bony part that would make you squirm.  Never do I remember entering their house when they did not get up to greet me and cover me in compliments.  These acts of love made going to their house the ultimate pick-me-up.

This post is for me, my siblings, and my cousins in hopes it will inspire you to write down some of your own memories of grandma's house.  For all that our grandparents are, I wish to someday become.  No one else has had a bigger influence on my life other than my own parents and for that incredibly positive influence, I am so thankful.

My Grandma Frost with Ike and my mom with Zad.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ten On 10: October 2012

I am always looking for an easier way to record our life for myself and my family so when I first started reading Rebekah Gough's blog A Bit of Sunshine, I fell in love with her idea of taking a photo each hour for 10 hours every 10th of the month.  I'm hoping to find the beauty of an average day no matter what it brings.  You can read about Rebekah's inspiration and see more Ten on Ten projects here.

My first attempt at Ten on 10 was a little undershot.  My photos covered about three hours and ended with Zad taking a few more photos hours later.  I'm glad to capture a few moments of our day in Flagstaff after an eventful morning with Aunt Casey at New Frontiers and a little vomit on the way home...we'll see what November brings!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Myth: Open Adoption Is For The Birth Family

Myth-Busting Monday

One of the biggest reasons I decided to start blogging again is because I want to normalize the adoption experience for my family and especially my children.  I am frequently asked many questions regarding adoption, which I welcome.  Much of the time these questions originate in misconception or myth, this is my effort to remedy (at least a little) these misunderstandings.  I have found that many times all that is needed is education.  While I do not consider myself an expert, I choose to write from my own experience backed by research when available.

MYTH: Open Adoption Solely Benefits The Birth Families

TRUTH: Open Adoption Benefits All Involved

I know that the birth families of our boys love getting to see and know the precious boys they placed with us, open adoption definitely benefits them but it is so much more and benefits all of us.

For Me:
I love our open adoptions.  I love knowing and getting to show my love for the people my children come from.  I look forward to and am often giddy over any chance I have to spend time with them, text them, Facebook chat, or visit over the phone.  Basically, they are some of my favorite people on this Earth.

Some would say, “Well of course you love them, they made you a mother.”  Absolutely, this is true but for so many more reasons I love them.  I love that my children look like them.  I love that when I look at Zad or Ike I not only think, “Man that boy is cute!” but I also see their birth parents.  I love that when Zad eats something hot he shakes all over like he has the shivers and that just last week I watched Norma (his birth mother) do the exact same thing!  In that moment I watched Norma my heart was so happy and I giggled to see a trait I am so familiar with.  I love that when I recently saw pics of Ike’s birth father as a child he was standing in a way that exactly resembles Ike now.  I love that when I sing to Ike he calms and wants to snuggle, it reminds me of hearing Hannah sing to him when he was in her belly and how she could feel him relax within her.  I love that connection!

Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my boy’s birth parents.  I don’t think this would be different had we never met or only met long enough to confirm their decision in Steve and I.  I would wonder about them whether I knew them and saw them or not.  What a great comfort is to know where they are, what they are doing.  I joy in their success and pray for them in their weakness. 

Knowing Zad and Ike’s birth parents allows me to be a better mother.  I know how to answer their questions about where they come from, who they come from; I love that the answer is to tell them they come from the bravest, most unselfish people I know.  I get to tell them I watched their birth parents hold them and love them as babies as any proud parents do.  I get to tell them how they touched their hair and whispered sweet tender words to them before they placed them in our arms to be their parents.  I know that their love for them was and is some of the most pure and real love.  I love that they trust me enough to teach them of their love and I do.  

For Steve: (in his words)
I’m happy for the benefits it provides our children. I am glad for the option to ask about medical history. I know that they were loved, that it was a thought out, prayed about and pondered process not just abandoned.  I know that even today they still care for their well-being and think that we are the best place for them to be.  It’s a badge of honor.  It helps me keep in remembrance how special adoption is, what a miracle it is.

For Our Children:
Open adoption allows our children to have answers, to be loved in person by their birth parents, to have a connection to their biological culture and race in a way we will never be able to give them, to have answers about health histories and traits, and to reconfirm their prayed over and planned out placement within our family.

It allows them to know more of who they are, there is no mystery there.  Hopefully there will be no fear or false hope when approaching their birth parents in the future because the relationship with them will already be solid and in place.

We believe in being honest with our children about all that is them.  We want them to discover who they are and we support any influence that improves their self worth and place in the world and the wonderful men we know they will become.

When people ask I often say, "Open adoption doesn't have to be weird unless you make it that way.  Yes, boundaries have to be respected and honesty is important when setting those boundaries but open adoption can be a wonderful addition to any family.  I can't imagine mine without it."

For some common concerns and facts regarding open adoption you can click here, here and here.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Little Note About Us



We are Steve, Angie, Zad, and Ike.  We live in hot Arizona where the sun always shines and we enjoy the outdoors….most of the year.  We are a family of four created through the miracle of adoption, looking to become five maybe even six!

Steve would say his favorite part of life is being a husband and dad.  He works four days a week at a large investing company allowing him three day weekends which gives him more time with his family.  Steve is very much a hands-on dad; he gets right in there changing diapers, teaching the boys how to dive into the pool, and wrestling them on the bench at church.  Steve loves to spend time on his boat and can’t wait for his boys to be big enough to wake board behind it.  He never thought being a dad could be such a mix of laugh out loud moments along with the pull out your hair times as well and looks forward to adding to the mix with baby #3.

Angie loves being a stay at home mom spending her days teaching and playing with Zad and Ike.  Her boys started gymnastics and music class this year and she gets a kick out of spotting them on the monkey bars and dancing to classical music with them.  She works as a registered nurse taking care of cancer patients two or three days a month while Steve has his “Boys Days.”  She says this helps her keep perspective on the things that really matter in life and allows the boys to bond with dad.  She loves to spend time chatting with friends and cycling, decorating her home, and doing adoption education in the community.

Zad is three and is incredibly sweet natured and helpful to his family.  He is half African American, one quarter Mexican, and one quarter Irish.  He loves being the big brother, swimming, wrestling and doing projects with mom or dad.  He would tell you he wants to watch a movie everyday cause he loves to cuddle with mom, which she will take any day!  We all enjoy our open adoption with his birth mother, Norma and consider her part of our family.  She is in our home often and we loved visiting her in Hawaii last year while she was living there.

Ike is our two year old little fireball!  He is half Mexican and half Irish.  He is always testing his strength and ability to climb most anything; his lack of fear delights him and scares his parents almost daily!  Ike is always happy, even during time-out he will bat his long eyelashes and grin at his mom while she is trying to learn how to resist!  He loves to makes cookies, ride bikes, and jump on the trampoline.  He doesn't like to sleep alone; we find him in bed with us or snuggled with his brother every morning.  We look forward to the texts, Facebook messages, and phone calls we receive from both of his birth parents.  We have Hannah, his birth mother over for dinner whenever she is available and hope to be able to see more of his birth father in the future.

Top 5 Things You Should Know About Our Family:

1.     We love each other and are committed to one another 100%.
2.     We love open adoption and embrace our children’s birth families.
3.     We work hard and play hard; but mostly work to play everyday!
4.     We love Jesus Christ and visiting the temple as a family every month.
5.     We love that our family is created through many miracles of adoption.

Thank you for taking the time to get to know us a little better we look forward to meeting you!  Please feel free to contact us anytime or check us out on our blog:


Steve, Angie, Zad and Ike!