Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project. I’ve been paired up with Shannon from One Inch of Grace who is an adoptive mom of two beautiful children. Shannon and her husband adopted their children from the foster care system and she brings a unique perspective to the conversation about adoption. I’m delighted to introduce you to her today. Here are the questions I had for Shannon and her responses.
1. There is a comment on your blog in your “Modern Love” post that I love. “We maintain contact with some members of our children’s extended family, for what we feel is their own good. We want to help our children answer as many questions about their past as we can…..long ago, I traded secrecy for openness when it comes to my kids.” I’m interested learning how you came to that place of openness with respect to adoption.
I think my husband and I always felt this way. We feel that there is enough love for everyone; just because our kids love their first family doesn’t mean they have any less love for us. I guess I would say that we’re not afraid of their family.
2. Tell us a bit about your decision to adopt older children through the foster care system in the United States?
We had considered adopting for many years, and we saw that the greatest need was in the U.S. foster care system. Many people don’t want to adopt older children, and these kids can get stuck in the foster care system for years, sometimes even until they’re 18. If we were going to adopt, we knew that we wanted to give our love to those who were already here and were waiting for a family.
3. You mention that both of your children have Life Books that came from the adoption agency. Can you tell us about what is in these books?
Their life books are meant to be filled out by them when they are old enough. Thankfully, their foster family completed certain parts of their books, since they were not old enough at the time. Their books are meant to help them remember their first family, explore their feelings about foster care and adoption, and imagine what their future can look like. Their foster family helped fill in a lot about their personalities and preferences at the time. The kids go through phases where they are intently interested in their books, and we use this time to complete even more sections. Most recently, we’ve filled out pages concerning how they entered into foster care and what they remember about their first mom and dad.
4. You maintain contact with some of your children’s biological family—their aunt and cousins in particular. What are some of the blessings and challenges associated with that?
Mostly it’s a blessing. We are currently in touch with my kids’ aunt, cousins, and half-brother. Their aunt has become one of my friends and I really respect her. I tend to be naive and want to trust everyone, so maybe the biggest challenge is to know when to hold back. I feel that we’re not only honoring our kids’ family, but expanding our own too.
5. It must be a challenge to explain the circumstances of their adoption to your children at this young age. (They’re seven and four, right?) How do you do it?
Yes, our kids are four and seven. Our seven year old can remember a lot about how she came to foster care, and we’ve been explaining to our four year old that he has two moms and two dads for years. They’ve always known that they are adopted, so we’ve never really had to have a “talk” about it. But, the reasons that they entered foster care can be difficult for kids to understand, so we’ve tried to be honest with them on an age appropriate level. Probably the biggest challenge is to balance the harshness of the truth with the gentleness of our approach. Considering that we have so much contact with members of their first family, it’s likely that we’ll have contact with their first mom and dad before our kids get to be adults.
I’m over at Shannon’s blog today answering questions she posed to me. I hope you’ll pop over and check out her site as well as some of the other interviews being posted around the blogosphere today.