What advice would you give to a mother considering adoption?
The biggest advice I can say is to remember that Adoption is born out of Loss. Loss for you if you are unable to have a biological child, loss of birth family for the child and finally loss of the child for the birth family. These losses never go away and are a life long struggle for all involved. You need to be prepared for this. Do the research, read the Primal Wound (http://nancyverrier.com/the-primal-wound/) and understand that the loss exists no matter how young the child was when they come into your life and no amount of love can replace it. Know that you will always share your child with the first family, be okay with that, embrace it, know that there can never be to many people to love your child.
What was your journey like to become an adoptive parent?
The journey was somewhat that of a mother embarking on the journey of having a biological child. The journey for me took about a year, similar to a biological mom. I made the decision to have a child, I applied to be a parent, and then I had to take parenting classes to make sure that I was ready (shall we call it the adoption version of Prenatal classes!) Then I had to complete what is called a home study to make sure that I was a good fit for being a mom and that my home was safe. And then we wait! And when I got the call I was probably as overjoyed as any biological mother who received the positive pregnancy test! The biggest difference is that my waiting was before the positive pregnancy test! After my “test” came back positive, it was a matter of weeks before I finally got to meet me little girl.
What is your fondest memory with your own mother?
My fondest memory of my mom was the years we spent seeing the world together. We had transitioned from Mother/Daughter to best friends. And we had wonderful adventures together!
What have been the challenges / rewards of adoption?
The biggest challenges I have had are being able to educate myself of how families with adoptive children are different. I did not just adopt a child, I kind of entered into a “Marriage” of sorts, Not only did I get my daughter, I also got her siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and another set of parents. Once again more to love a child who has experienced loss, but also a tough sea to navigate to keep her emotionally safe. I love watching her blossom into this amazing little girl. She is able to experience things that she may not have experienced had she not joined our family. I have found all the new people in my life to be very rewarding and I would not have it any other way.
Do you ever get to the ‘end of your rope’? What brings you back?
All the time. Parenting is tough. You can read so many books and speak to many people but when you are in the trenches it sometimes feels very helpless. I take time for self care, and believe it or not, self care for me is doing something special with my daughter. Get away from the grind of life, go on a date, do something fun. I remind myself that I do not have to be perfect I just need to be the best I can be, and if I loose it, it is all about the repair.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a mother ?
You do not need to be perfect. Your home does not need to be perfect. In the eyes of your child you are perfect.
What is one thing you would like your own mother to know about your childhood?
I know that life was not easy for us growing up, but I love that you made sure that I never knew.
How are you doing things different / the same as your mom?
I love the fact that my mom insisted that we be kids, I want the same for my daughter, kids are in such a hurry to grow up and they need to enjoy the wonders of being a kid.
What would you describe your parenting style as?
This question flows from the above question, so I engage in Therapeutic Parenting as it is the appropriate parenting model when raising children effected by Trauma. I also have a commitment to my daughter of honestly. I want trust between us as with my mother, we had trust, I felt safe speaking to her about anything even the hard topics, I want the same for my daughter. I want my daughter to feel safe coming to me about anything.
How do you or have you been required to advocate for your child’s health?
As a child coming from a difficult start in life, I have had to be present and informed about all medical issues that she currently has and ones that may come in the future. I have made sure that I am educated about how to assist her with her health and also educated on the signs of any future heath issues that may present going forward. I have educated myself on all the services that my community has to offer.
What frightens / excites you most about motherhood?
Failure. Hope. My daughter comes from a background of struggles. I fear that she will follow the path of others from her background. But I am also hopeful that she will shed that stigma and be a successful happy lady who I will be proud to have had a hand in helping mold.
What’s the biggest motherhood challenge you face or women face in general?
All the external influences. Other people’s opinions, societies expectations, social media, school and friends. There are so many people who touch a child’s life and as a mother, we want to keep them safe but it is scary to send them out into the world.
How have you navigated the world of single parenting?
As a single parent, I am the sole caregiver for my daughters. So I need to meet all of her needs. It can be a lot at times, I needs to be the one to discipline, encourage and teach her. It is hard to not be able to have a break. But on the flip side I am on the front line of everything in her life. I do not miss anything! As someone raised by a single parent, I only have that model to draw from. I do not know what either of us are missing not having a father figure in our lives on as day to day basis.