“… if a mother loves the child, she wont go through with it.”

This image has been forever burned in my mind. J knew what she was doing. And she did it out of love for her child. The state of Oklahoma gave J and her parents a lot of extra things to do. And they did them all.

There is a misconception about adoption that if a mother loves the child, she wont go through with it.

Adoptions get disrupted all the time for a multitude of reasons. And many mothers change their minds and make the decision to parent. And they have every right to do so.

(And there are many adoption situations that arise out of abuse or mistreatment. I’m not talking about those. )

Both the decision to parent and the decision to place your child for adoption can be loving decisions.

Many people have asked us about our relationship with Eliza’s birth family. And they don’t often understand what it must be like. If we’re honest, we don’t really either. We’re all figuring this out as we go. But the fact is, these people have become our very own family. We love them. They are a part of our daughter, they love her deeply and so they are a part of us. But it’s not just Eliza, they also love Jamie. We keep in touch and they are just as eager to hear how he is doing. They love him. They love me. They love Brandon.

A wonderful description of the courage shown by birth parents who choose adoption. Even though I understand the well-meaning sentiment, I cringe whenever I hear someone talk about birth parents “giving up” their children for adoption, as though choosing adoption was somehow a kind of resignation. Our experience with birth parents is reflective of what Amy writes above: We have consistently been amazed at the courage and utter selflessness as these parents make painful and sacrificial choices for the children they love.

Our New Son

I’m so happy to introduce you to our new son, Winston Swanson.

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It was less than a month ago when our adoption agency contacted us about a birth family who was interested in meeting us. I won’t go into the details here, but over the past few weeks we’ve shared a lot with these two impressive people. We are beyond honored that they chose to place this beautiful boy with us.

It’s been a strange month, in part because we’ve not been free to share this process with many people we care about. The nature of adoption is so tenuous that we felt it best to share our great news only after things had become official. Today is that day!

We’re all a bit bleary-eyed and emotionally spent around here. But we’re happy, so very happy.

I look forward to introducing him to you in person one day soon.

Recommended Reading: Irene’s Daughters

It’s rarely something I choose to write about, but becoming parents to our adopted son over a year ago is the beautiful subtext to our lives these days.  Ours was a transracial adoption, meaning that Eliot’s ethnicity differs from ours.  Perhaps at some point I’ll have something to say about our somewhat non-traditional family, but at this point I just need to hear from those further along this particular road.

Irene’s Daughters is a blog written by four women who, “are committed to an honest and occasionally confessional discussion of race relations, systemic racism, and prejudice in the United States.”  I’ve been reading this blog for a while and have finally added it to the “Regular Reading” sidebar. In addition to thoughtful critique and insight about issues of race and ethnicity, there are also regular posts about adoption, including transracial adoption.

Regardless of your interest in adoption, I think you will find this blog a compelling collection of ideas, provocations, links and questions centering on things we often discuss here at signs of life.  You might start with a recent post, “Discouragement and Encouragement,” which gives insight into how the author- a person of color- navigates conversations about race and prejudice with white friends.

and then there were three

It is with gratitude that we introduce our son, Eliot Swanson.

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Papers have been signed and now we simply get to enjoy him.

I’ll write more about Eliot later, but for now I want to thank you for your interest and support as we’ve walked through this process.  This virtual introduction hardly does him or you justice, so I hope one day you will meet this wonderful person face-to-face.

foster parenting

Maggie and I have been enjoying our wonderfully sureal weekend with our new foster son.  Because there are still some legal issues, I’m not able to share many details (or photos) at this time.  We’re hopeful that by mid-May these issues will be resolved and we will become this beautiful child’s parents.  I wish there was more that could be shared, but hopefully this will suffice for now.  Thanks again for all the great advice via Twitter, Facebook, and this blog.

what adoption is showing me about good friday

img_54761Late last week we received our Foster Home license from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  In order to adopt a child in Illinois we have to be licensed as foster parents, so it was pretty significant to get this piece of paper in the mail.  The main criteria for this license was the completion of our home study.  We’d heard from a few people that the home study can be fairly challenging as the social worker asks about issues related to family and marriage.  Someone told us their home study process was like having a stranger hang out in their bedroom!  This certainly wasn’t our experience at all.  Either we had a super kind social worker or we’re just used to being introspective about the kinds of things he asked about.  Regardless, the home study shouldn’t deter anyone from considering adoption.

We arrived at this late stage of the adoption process quicker than most because it seemed we may be a good fit with a particular birth mother.  Because we want to completely respect this mother and the complex and sensitive decisions she is making, I’ve not been at liberty to share much about this situation on the blog.  And that’s how it needs to stay for now.

Here’s what I can share: Waiting is hard!  As we have thought, prayed, and talked about this baby we have continually been reminded of our powerlessness.  There is nothing we can do except to wait for this birth mother, or another birth mother in the future, to make some difficult decisions.  We’re aware that our anxiety must pale in comparison to those mothers who are choosing adoption.  Even so, it’s been hard to know how to experience these past few weeks as the emotions we’re feeling are many.

Interestingly enough, this season of waiting and wondering has coincided almost perfectly with Lent.  It’s felt enormously appropriate to experience this process during a time of fasting and reflection.  And now it’s Good Friday and I’m anticipating Easter Sunday more viscerally than ever.  Reading through the crucifixion accounts in the Gospels this week, it’s been surprisingly easy to feel something of the loss and confusion experienced by Jesus’ friends and family at his death.  I too am ready for resolution.

Whether or not you share my faith in the resurrected Jesus, I wish you an Easter weekend filled with genuine and beautiful hope.  Adoption is teaching me a lot about that too!  Happy Easter.