Friday, October 31, 2008

Adoption Language

Lately I've been thinking a lot about adoption language and how language is such a powerful aspect of adoption...indeed a powerful aspect of so much of our lives. During our adoptive parenting classes we learned about PAL, which stands for "Positive Adoption Language." Basically PAL is the art of taking words or sayings that can be hurtful to all members of the adoption community (especially the children, which is the last thing anyone wants) and changing them to express the same concept with more positive wording. Culturally speaking, our society is still fairly ignorant about adoption, which is why many of the negative terms and phrases are still heard frequently today. I thought I'd share two of the most important PAL terms we learned during our classes. These have stuck with me and have even helped me shape the way I think about adoption in general.
  • Instead of, "she gave her baby up for adoption" say, "she made an adoption plan for her baby." This is a big one since so many people toss around the "gave up" statement all the time. The terms "gave up," and "placed" imply that there is no decision in the matter, and the fact is that in most adoptions today, birthparents make a painstakingly difficult decision about the care of the child they love very much but cannot parent when they choose adoption.
  • Instead of, "he is adopted" say, "he was adopted." When you say someone is adopted, that implies that adoption is a condition or ailment for that person rather than the way they joined their family.
I also found this list on the West Virginia social services web site and I thought I'd pass it along.

Say This...

Instead of This...

Birth Parent Real Parent
Biological Parent Natural Parent
Birth Child Own Child
My Child Adopted Child
Born to Unmarried Parents Illegitimate
Relinquish Rights Give Away
Terminate Parental Rights Take Away
Waiting Child Available Child
Parent Adoptive Parent
Child Placed for Adoption Unwanted Child
Child with Special Health Care Needs Handicapped Child

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's Going Around

I know this video is going around on the blogosphere, but I love this so much that I simply have to re-post it. Thanks to Debbie for helping to get this wonderful and uplifting message out there!

Also check out this article that I linked to from Rebekah's blog. It sounds like this woman has been through a lot trying to bring her daughter home from Russia. The article gives some good insight into where we PAP people are coming from.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Truth

The truth is that sometimes the truth hurts. I've been one part extremely busy and one part extremely sad, hence the reason I've been away from the blogosphere for the past week or so. I'm sorry to all of you whose blogs I haven't read recently. I played a little catch up today and am feeling like a better blogging buddy now. :)

As for my sadness, I'm making progress in getting over our last bit of disappointing news from the agency. I don't know what in the world I was thinking, but I was thoroughly convinced that was our baby, even though it was our first time being shown and we only had a one in six chance. My hopes were sky high and I was very worked up. It was hard for me to hear we weren't chosen. Harder than it should have been, I think. Sometimes I wonder what's wrong with me. I've read some stories where people just move on and barely flinch when they aren't chosen--I admire the complete and utter faith some of you have. Sometimes I wish I could say the same for myself. I mean, I do have faith, but sometimes it feels rather fragile and shaky--not at all like the armor I know it is for some people. I guess it's just that I've wanted this - motherhood for so long now that sometimes I honestly feel like I can't wait another day. I know my time will come when the time is right, and I have absolutely NO control over when that will be, but that knowledge doesn't make this part of the process any easier.

Luckily I am busy these days, head-spinningly so. My semester has been a whirlwind lately, and when I'm not at school I'm either getting my feet wet with subbing jobs or doing homework. All this activity is supposed to make waiting easier, right? Right!


Thursday, October 9, 2008


If this doesn't make you smile nothing will...certainly brightened my spirits some. :)

I especially like what this shows about human learning...his anticipatory reaction by the end is great!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Better Luck Next Time...

Human hope is an amazing thing. Sometimes my capacity to have so much hope, even in the face of doubt and uncertainty scares me. That said, I realize hope has been a saving grace at many times in my life too.

The birthmom who was looking at our profile still isn't sure she's going to make an adoption plan, but if she does she has chosen another couple. I am having a hard time right now. I feel mostly sad, but also a little stupid for allowing myself to get so worked up about this. In some ways I wish I wouldn't have known we were being considered - then I wouldn't even know I'm supposed to feel sad right now! I was already imagining so many amazing things relating to THIS baby and THIS birthmom...I had myself completely convinced that this was "the one." Now I just feel like I'm stuck under a huge, gray cloud of sadness and disappointment. WHY did I do this to myself??? Our profile may be shown MANY more times before we are chosen...clearly I can't keep doing this every time a birthmom is considering us, I'll never make it through.

Whatever - I know there is still hope left over in my heart. "This too shall pass," as Ma B (my dad's mom) always used to say. Much like the days of infertility, right after another late period would start...I just have to give myself a little time to process this sadness, then I'll pick up the pieces and get back to the business of hoping for our "right time"--our baby to come soon. What else is there?

******Updated to attempt to answer a couple of questions from the comments:******

I was actually a little surprised when we were asked if we wanted to be shown to this birthmom in the first place. I found myself thinking OF COURSE we want to be shown. If our acceptability checklist matches her wishes ans situation then YES...we want to be shown, wasn't that the whole point to begin with?! I THINK our agency has the basic policy that if they have information to share they share it. I haven't spoken to our CW about any of this in person, only via email so this is all my own speculation. I am torn. I just read on another blog about a mistake that was made by an agency that caused an otherwise acceptable match to fall through. For this reason I think it's nice to be asked in advance if we want to be shown. That way we can be sure the situation is truly one with which we could feel comfortable. At the same time, knowing we were being considered was HARD and I'm not entirely sure I want to go through this up and down cycle every single time until "the one" finally happens. I guess I've always sort of envisioned getting a magical, life-changing call someday and then being lost in the whirlwind of impending motherhood. I never quite expected this much of a roller coaster! I still have a lot of processing to do about all of this. In one respect I can already see that this may have been a touchy situation. The birthmom doesn't sound AT ALL sure she wants to pursue adoption, which means she very well may change her mind when it's all said and done. I'm going to wait a few days and then I may talk to our CW about how all of this happened and whether or not the agency requires us to know about prospective birthmoms, or if there is some kind of choice in the matter for us.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Trying to Relate

Two times in the past week I've had the opportunity to talk about adoption with new people I've been meeting. I enjoy these interchanges very much since I'm always in the mood to discuss adoption! Still, both times I've been a little taken aback when I heard, "oh I've always wanted to adopt." I think to myself, "really?" Please don't misunderstand, I very much DO want to adopt and I am very happy with where we are in the process now, as well as the decisions we've made that have led us to this point. Having said that, if someone would have asked me five or six years ago if I wanted to adopt, my answer would have been no. Adoption is not second best, it's just different. It's different from the way most of us envision building our families.

I know most people I talk to are simply trying to relate to me when they say such things, but if they really thought about it they would realize sometimes it's simply better to keep some thoughts private. My response is generally something to the effect that while adoption wasn't originally my first choice toward the goal of having a family, it is my choice now...and then more adoption talk usually follows.

I believe that part of my "job" as a prospective adoptive mother is to provide adoption education when there's an opportunity. Still, so much of this process is unprecedented and leaves little with which to relate adoption for "everyday" people. There is no way for the average person to understand adoption and what it means for all members of the adoption triad, how to talk about it, even how to think about adoption until and unless it has affected them personally. Sometimes this really frustrates me...