Thursday, December 3, 2009

Introduction to What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective

Thanks to all of you who have called and emailed wanting to know when my book is hitting the market. All I can tell you is, "Soon! In time for holiday gifting." I'll let you know as soon as it's out. In the meantime, here's an excerpt from the introduction.

Adoptive parents don't love their children the same way biological parents do. That's an uncomfortable notion for a lot of people, but it's true. We don't love our children the same way. We can't. That's not who our children are. Our children come to us from someone else. They were conceived without our knowledge or participation. They lived in someone else's body, and the most important decision about their lives was made by someone else. Our children carry someone else with them into our hearts, and we love them differently because of it.

Adoptive families navigate emotional terrain that fully-biological families don't have to. As a young child I learned that babies are made in a special way between a man and a woman who love each other very much. Well, neither of my children was made that way. My husband and I have to figure out how to teach our children that sex is a sacred commitment between adults, knowing that some day they will realize they were conceived under very different circumstances.

Nothing about parenting is simple. All parents juggle their dreams, their instincts, and conventional wisdom, and in the end, most of us leap with faith. What's different for adoptive parents is that adoption adds an undercurrent to the parent-child relationship, and every decision we make passes through that current. Everything we think, everything we say, everything we do is nuanced by adoption. When our toddlers act out, when our adolescents experiment with new identities, when our adult children reject us, we experience all of that against the backdrop of adoption. We analyze all of that within the context of what we know and don't know about our childrens' birth families, and we wonder about the long-term effects of adoption on our children. We wonder if we are enough.

Right now, our daughter is perfectly at peace about having grown in her birth mother's tummy until she was ready for us to bring her home. I'm not looking forward to the day she realizes that before we became her parents, her birth parents made the decision to place her for adoption. In the most basic sense, she was in fact rejected from one life before being accepted into another. That's a tough reality for a lot of adoptees. It's also a tough reality for a lot of adoptive parents.

What I Want My Adopted Child to Know is a book adoptive parents can give to their child and say, 'I know adoption is painful, unsettling, joyous, and affirming. It's that way for me too. More than anything, adoption is the way we came together, and I'll always be grateful for that.'”

Wherever you find yourself among the pages of this book, I hope that What I Want My Adopted Child to Know makes your life different, just as adoption does.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Sunday, November 22, 2009

ABC's Find My Family Exploits and Distorts Adoption

I did not write the piece below. I point that out not to distance myself from it, but to give proper credit to Martha Osborne. Thanks, Martha, for writing this, and thanks, Katherine, for sending it to me.

Find My Family
ABC airs sensationalized adoption series
November 13,2009 / Martha Osborne

In the most exploitive and disparaging-of-adoption media effort yet, ABC will air a 'sneak peek' of their new series on Monday, November 23rd. With a sensationalized and soap-opera style, ABC will take viewers into the lives of adoptees and birth families in their Search to be reunited.

With the tagline "Some people have spent their whole lives searching for the one thing that matters most... Their wish will now come true. Let's find your family", producers completely discount any worth of the adoptive families who have loved and raised these children. Instead the show emphasizes the loss of a child's "Real family" as the one-and-only central issue of all adopted children's lives.

The entire premise of this show is upsetting on so many levels. I encourage every family of an adopted child to prepare mentally for the public reaction, and the reaction of their children who may find themselves the sudden center of assumptions about their needs, desires, and personal feelings on their adoption.

This new series is being heavily promoted on ABC. Created by the producer of Extreme Makeover, Find My Family is laden with emotional angst and tearful moments meant to increase ratings and viewership. Unfortunately, the general public's opinion and understanding of adoption is largely shaped by the media. ABC's exploitive new series will focus on the most extreme issues in adoption, and is sure to have an effect on how our children's teachers, extended family, and friends view and accept adoption.

For years, the adoptive community has sought to rectify the past vilification of birth-parents as people who gave away their children. Birth parents are now widely recognized as the First Parents of children, deserving of love, respect, and understanding. It is in no one's best interest to turn the tables and begin to portray adoptive families as second-class, or less-than' a family created biologically. This new series is a step back for everyone.

Preparing a Younger Child:

* A younger child should not watch this show, period. It focuses on emotional, adult-level identity issues and situations that are impossible for a young child to process.
* Families can empower their children to deal with unwelcome questions from adults and other children by using the Wise Up! Workbook.
* The holidays are a wonderful time to discuss the idea of families in general. What kind of families are there? Bringing adoption into a general discussion helps normalize the idea and emphasize tolerance and acceptance of all kinds of families.

Preparing Upper-Elementary and Middle School Children: Taking the Direct Approach

* This is a wonderful age to start letting your child know that birth families, even if we have never met them, or may never have the opportunity, are part of our families. A welcome part. Whether to search or not in the future is your child's choice and has absolutely no relation to the way your child loves you. I should know, I'm adopted. My parents (and yes, I mean my adoptive parents) are my parents and I love them in a way I could love no one else. Searching for my birth family is about me, my identity. Let your child know when they are still young that you do not feel threatened, and you may receive the gift of open-communication throughout their teens.
* Discuss the media, specifically as it applies to the marketing of ideas, forming of opinions, and exploiting of people for their own profit. It may also be pertinent to discuss the entire idea of people agreeing to have the most private, personal parts of their lives, filmed and put on television for the purpose of entertainment.
* Let your child know that it is okay to have mixed feelings and changing emotions about any topic, including adoption. It's not a rejection of the adoptive family to wonder about birthparents, or life in another country.
* If this series becomes widely-viewed, your child will receive very intrusive and personal questions. The show is meant to cast all adoptees as longing-for-their-lost-life. Practice, roll-play, be ready.

Search and reunion of adoptees and birth families is part of adoption, and always will be. All adoptive families and birth families are connected through our children, whether we accept that idea or not. Our children bind us. It is a precious, priceless connection. This show cheapens and sensationalizes what is sacred. ABC, your show is an insult, and hopefully a flop.

Maybe I'm naive, but I'm holding out hope that the show isn't as bad as the trailers make it seem. Then again, the language the show's producers use in the trailers make their agenda pretty darn clear: Get ratings at all costs. Very sad.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One Birthmother's Voice: She's Just Not That Into You

An extraordinary young woman named Jessica wrote the piece below and graciously agreed to let me post it here. Thanks, Jessica.


She's Just Not That Into You: my unrequited love story
My daughter, the person I love more than anything in the world, does not love me as much as I love her. In fact, for the first couple of years of her life, she didn't know my face from a stranger's. I planned it that way, but it was still very hard to get used to.

Someday, having a relationship with me will be important to my first born. It will answer key identity questions, even as simple as "Who do I look like?" I do not pretend that this role is as significant to a child as the role of mother. In fact, I am more involved in the life of children I babysit occasionally. This is a painful reality for birth mothers, and it can take a long time to accept. After all, I chose the family who she calls her own. I did not wish for her to love someone else instead, but I understood it to be the sacrifice I was making for her over all well being. I think I assumed that having an open adoption, and at least getting to see my daughter and be a part in her life, would be enough to make me feel better when things got hard. I did not anticipate how it would feel to love her so much and not have that love returned.

Post-placement, I was so grateful to be included in my daughter's life. At visits, it was never hard to watch her with her adoptive parents. It was, after all, the life I chose for her. Watching them as a family reassured me that I had made the right decision. I expected them to be the biggest part of her life, and for her to be the biggest part of their lives. Initially, my daughter was on my mind 24/7 and it was really nice to have that in common with them. Because I saw her parent's role as directly replacing my own, it was fairly easy to adjust to the bond she had with them. It was much harder once I realized how many other people impacted my daughter's life more than I did.

When my daughter was three months old, I was invited to her baptism. It was not my first visit, but it was the first time I met all of the people in my daughter's life outside of her parents and grandparents. Small talk with her family and friends turned out to be very hard. I had updates, pictures and visits, but compared to the amount of time I spent thinking of her, I barely knew her. I anticipated being less familiar with my child than the parents I had chosen for her, but at least they loved her every bit as much as I did. In this situation, I was surrounded by extended family members and friends, who felt far less emotional attachment to my daughter, but who got to see her more often, and knew more about her life than I did. To my daughter's extended friends and famly, she was cute and they were certainly excited for their friends, but to me, she was everything. I tried not to stare at her as she was passed around the room, and tried very hard to participate in polite conversation with the other guests, but it was hard to take my mind off my beautiful daughter. I wanted to soak up every minute I had with her, but I worried that if people knew how much I loved her, they would be uncomfortable having me around. It was only natural for me to love her so much, but it didn't feel natural. I felt like a crazy person. I carefully watched what I did and said, fearing that someone would catch on that I still loved her like my daugheter, even though she no longer needed or loved me.

By the time we are adults, we understand our role in all different kinds of relationships with varying levels of intimacy. We have also learned appropriate and inappropriate behavior for each role we play. In most cases, if someone is in love with someone who considers them a stranger, we believe that to be an unhealthy relatiohsip. We might say that is not a relationship, but rather, an obsession. However, in the relationship between a birth mother and an adopted child, this is the natural relationship. We are not equipped with the social instructions that come with the role of "birth mother" so for women right after placement, this is a hard road to pave. It is a role that differs greatly from any other relationship in our life, and it requires tackling emotional obstacles that are very different from other forms of grief. It is not about the loss of the person we love most, but the loss of the relationship with the person we love most, just as our love for that person peaks.

This unbalanced relationship is the reason placing a child for adoption is so hard. Of course I wanted all of this for my daughter: family, friends, and a normal life. I am glad that she doesn't need me, because it means that my plan worked. She is a happy, healthy, beautiful young lady Her life is much bigger than I could have ever imagined, and sometimes I feel very far away.

As she has gotten older, our relationship hasn't changed that much, but I feel much better. Accepting my role in her life was hard, but having lots of visits the first year definitely helped me feel out and practice my role in her life. Now, I can appreciate the love I have for my daughter as the gift that it is, independent of reciprocated feelings.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective - Chapter 1 excerpt

What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective is due out by the end of the month. I appreciate all of the supportive blog comments, emails, and phone calls of the last few weeks. Huge thanks to my advance reviewers for your commitment and enthusiasm. It's a very exciting time!

Here's an excerpt from the book:
You know your birth story; I've told it to you many times. But there's one chapter of your story you may not know. It's a chapter that's not so much about you as it is about me. It's my chapter. You see, your birth story is also my birth story, because this mother that I am was born when you were born. You made me a mother. You made me your mother. And for me, our birth story actually began long before you were conceived.

I don't know anyone who dreamed of growing up, getting married, and not being able to have children. I certainly didn't. I assumed that when (if) I decided to have children, one of my perfectly ripe eggs would let her guard down for the most athletic of a throng of swimming suitors, and I would simply get pregnant as women in my family have done for generations. I would have children the regular way, if I decided to have them at all.

I didn't think about adoption much, and when I did it was as a really nice, slightly exotic thing to do. A really nice, slightly exotic thing for other people to do. Older couples who never had children, or people who wear sandals year-round and quit their jobs to become missionaries, or families who fix up old Victorian mansions and seem to collect assorted “children with special needs” or kids from “broken homes.” Adoption was something those people did; not me. Why would I?

After going through a forest worth of tiny test strips I started to think that maybe “it” wasn't going to happen; not without some help, anyway. So I climbed into the stirrups. I consulted the experts. All of my once-private entrances and exits were transversed, transmographed, radiographed, photographed, sanitized, anesthetized, magnified, pulled and pried, palpated, saturated, dilated, inseminated, and evaluated in a series of attempts to get pregnant.

I never realized my own quiet biases about adoption until it became intensely personal. I was angry. I was petulant. I was wounded. And I was painfully surprised to find that I was a snob. It turned out that deep within my most private Self I thought of adoption as a default, a less than, a last resort for people who were out of options. People who had failed to produce their own children. People who couldn't make a family the regular way. People who were desperate or broken. People like me. I didn't want to be people like me.

I resented having to consider adoption. I resented my body for betraying me. I disparaged pregnant teenagers for doing in the back seat what I couldn't do in the sanctity of my marriage. I cried and raged and judged and fumed and after a long while, I accepted. I accepted that things happen the way they happen. I accepted myself and my situation. I accepted that it wasn't really my situation at all, it was ours, your father's and mine. I accepted his perspective and his feelings and his help, and eventually I accepted adoption as legitimate a way as any other of becoming a parent. I began to embrace adoption as the right way for me to become a mother. I grew to cherish the idea and even feel special. Adoption emerged as something self-evident and fulfilling and romantic. I fell in love with the idea of adoption and I began to bond with my child-to-be-adopted-later.

I thought that coming to terms with the idea of adoption would be the most difficult part of the process. Was I ever wrong! The time I spent deciding to adopt was a walk in the park compared to actually doing it. It turns out that adoption is a tremendous hassle. It's intrusive and time-consuming and expensive. Again and again we had to convince strangers that we were fit to parent, while every day brought another story of parents leaving their babies alone in the car or serving alcohol to underage teens. We got fingerprinted and evaluated, looked over and passed up. We gave strangers access to our financial records and our bedroom closets, knowing full well that plenty of biological parents were cruising along with stale batteries in their smoke detectors, pot handles facing out, and wall outlets uncovered.

When you decide to adopt you open your heart to disappointments and near-misses that bring you to your knees. Many times I inched to the very edge of conclusion. Many times I thought, “I'm done. I want out. This is costing me too much of myself.” I finally realized that in those moments when I was closest to surrender I was also closest to peace, and that's when I knew I was ready for you. I knew I was ready to be your mother because I had released my ideal. I had chosen the reality of my motherhood over the dreams of my childhood, and I understood that there was no other way for us to come together.

When I finally held you in my arms, I knew in my heart that I would have waited a hundred years for you. Exactly you. And I would do it all again.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Saturday, October 24, 2009

New Adoption Book - What I Want My Adopted Child to Know

I've waited a long time to be able to post this post, so please forgive me if I strut just a little bit.

My book is done. Done! Yes, that would be the book I've been writing since our daughter was born. D-O-N-E done!!!!!!!!! I can hardly believe it.

If all goes well, What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective will be out in time for National Adoption Month. It will be available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, Borders.com, some other online booksellers, and of course, on my website.

I'm grateful for the generosity of so many of you in sharing your stories, questions, feedback, insight, and enthusiasm with me throughout the writing of What I Want My Adopted Child to Know. I deeply appreciate every one of you.

Make a fantastic day,

Sally

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adoption and Breastfeeding

August is National Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Having neither ever breastfed nor been breastfed, I'm generally respectful of, but unimpressed by, the hyperbole about Mother's Milk. I don't dispute the benefits of nursing, but I don't buy into the propaganda that those benefits are only available through the bare breast.

Bonding and attachment - My bottle-fed daughter and I couldn't be any closer if we shared the same skin. Every feeding was intimate and breathtaking, with our eyes locked on each other and her tiny hand clutching my hair. Now and then her rosebud mouth would pause mid-suck to grin up at me, and I would think, "This may be the moment my heart finally bursts."

My son, currently on the bottle, is happy, confident, attached, easy-going, and delightful. His feedings take much longer than his sisters, because he grins and giggles so much he forgets to suck. Nice "problem" to have.

Immunity - My daughter has always been healthy as an ox. She has never had an ear infection, never had a serious illness, and has far fewer colds than most kids I know. Her immune system is strong, her hair and skin are vibrant, she has a fantastic appetite and boundless energy. My son is in excellent health, strong, and thriving.

Nutrition - Our pediatrician (and father of four) has no problem with the nutritional particulars of the formula we use. Good enough for me.

It's become rather fashionable for adoptive mothers (and, I'm sorry to say, some fathers) to breastfeed, and I just don't get it. Why pump and massage and pop pills... when it's most likely that even if you can produce some milk it won't be enough to meet the baby's needs? Do people really believe that bottle-feeding is significantly inferior for both baby and mother (father)?

Am I over-thinking if I suggest that if you're that driven to breastfeed maybe you're not as OK with adopting as you thought you were? Maybe you're feeding something inside you, rather than your baby.

I don't mean to sound insensitive. Gosh knows there's too much badgering on both sides of the breastfeeding issue, and I'm not looking to start any fights. Maybe I'm ignorant about it because as I said at the beginning of this post, I have zero personal experience with nursing.

Or maybe I just don't get it because I just don't get it. Hey, I think people drinking cow's milk is creepy, so I know I've got skews in my perspective.

What is your experience with this? I'd like to know what you think.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Saturday, August 8, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award!

What a thrill to find that has awarded me the "One Lovely Blog Award". I'm truly honored to be chosen by her for the award. Thank you, Deb!

The rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award" are: Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15* other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Below is a list of blogs I think deserve the "One Lovely Blog Award". They are adoptive parents, adoptees, birth mothers/first mothers, prospectives, and touched by adoption only peripherally, but all of these blogs, and the bloggers who blog them, feed something inside me.

- abundant hope

- a valuable, challenging, education

- Michelle is like a tall glass of cool water on a sweltering day

- what can I say?

- no caps, great pics, and rampant randomness. it's all there.

- for perspective

- because I've built my family through adoption, I grew up in a century+ old house, and I've thrown in the towel on the sanity thing!

- yes, she is. And sassy as they come.

- sometimes painful, always illuminating, indomitable spirit. Definitely start at her beginning.

- I, too, journaled to our "Someday Babies"

- witty, well-crafted, and so flippin' relevant

- for mindful living

- confident, with reason to be

- not a blog, but a gifted writer, exceptional being, and cherished friend

- honest and interesting

- informative, challenging, well-written

Thanks Deb, for the award! And thanks to my awardees for being there!

Craft your day,

Sally

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable: Small Moments

As part of , Heather at Production Not Reproduction asks open adoption bloggers to describe “a small moment that open adoption made possible.”

We were at the hospital when our son was born, and ever since, I've been secretly hung up on his birth mother's reaction to him. She seemed... casual... almost indifferent. I spoke with her privately and let her know that if she had changed her mind or had ANY doubts about proceeding with the adoption, then maybe this wasn't our child, and we would understand. She assured me that she had no doubts.

And yet, she only went to the nursery (reluctantly) at her mother's urging, and she never once asked to hold him or feed him. I wondered if she was trying not to get attached. I wondered if she felt good about her decision to place him but regretted choosing my husband and me. I wondered if she was on serious pain medication. I wondered if she had mental health issues. I wondered how anyone could resist his tiny, soft, warm innocence and his sweet little head.

I think of her every day for many reasons. As the weeks passed my gratitude deepened, but still, I wondered, and in the weeks leading up to our reunion I was outright anxious and apprehensive.

Happy ending ahead... as soon as she saw him she broke into a grin and reached for him. I got to spend the entire afternoon watching her coo and rub noses with him, make silly faces and giggle about his wispy hair. And best of all, she smiled every time someone said he looks like her. A really big, proud, happy smile.

I didn't realize how much I needed to see that. She gave me so much, but I guess I wanted that too. I needed to see her with him as much as she needed to see him with me. Thanks to openness, we both got what we were looking for.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reunion With Birth Mom - FAQ For Family And Friends

Very soon we're reuniting with our son's birth mother ("J") and her parents. Rather than continuing to have nearly the same conversation with various and sundry family and friends (eight times and counting), I've decided to post this FAQ for easy reference by all interested parties.

Q: Why are you going to meet with them?
A: Because we told them we would. We discussed it before "J" left the hospital; it's important to her, and therefore, important to us.

Q: What does she want from you? She must want something...?
A: She wants respect. A warm hello. Probably a burp cloth when she holds him.

Q: Aren't you afraid?
A: Most definitely. I'm afraid of what college will cost when our kids finish high school. I'm afraid of finding a lump. I'm afraid of reaching under the house to clear out some leaves and feeling a snake wrap around my fingers. I'm afraid of being home alone when there are Dove bars in the freezer. That's what I'm afraid of.

Q: Why does she want to see him?
A: Uhhh... well, I've never carried another human being in my body, but from what I understand, there's a bit of a connection that develops between mother and child. Don't you look forward to seeing people you were once close with?

Q: Is it legal for her to want to see him?
A: As far as I know U.S. citizens are entitled to want whatever they please. The law generally applies to actions, not emotions.

Q: Won't it be painful for her to have to say goodbye to him again?
A: I'm not her, so I don't know. I'm sure it was no picnic to carry a child for nine months knowing she wasn't going to raise him. She was able to make the decisions for adoption, so I'm sure she can make this one.

Q: So, you don't think she'll want him back?
A: I can't know for certain what anyone else wants, but a few minutes after he was born she told me she wants him to have a stable home with a loving mother, father, and big sister; she wants him to have a better life than what she can give him; she wants him to be safe, happy, and important; and she wants him to always know why she chose adoption for him - because she loves him. He's our son, by love, law, and destiny. She made that happen.

We really enjoyed the time we spent in the hospital with "J" and her parents, and I'm looking forward to our reunion. Baby Boy has come to look so much like "J" and her father... I can't wait for them to see him!

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Thursday, July 9, 2009

WSJ Article "Targeting Feel-Good Benefits" Doesn't Feel Good

I like most of the writing I read in the Wall Street Journal, so I was surprised to find parts of a July 9, 2009 article "Targeting ‘Feel-Good’ Benefits" at www.online.wsj.com really insensitive. It may be a lack of understanding or poor choice of language on the author's part, but it's an example of how easy it is to play into negative stereotypes about adoption, and I think anyone who writes or edits on the topic should be more careful.

The article points out a cost-cutting trend among employers to reduce or eliminate post-adoption benefits for employees. In the section subheaded Domestic Adoptions, the author writes: Such private-placement adoptions, which typically cost $10,000 to $30,000, may be on the rise, based on anecdotal reports, Mr. Johnson says, as financial troubles may be causing some women to offer for adoption children they might have raised in the past.

First of all, I think it's too easy to read that as "Women who place their babies for adoption make $10,000 to $30,000 on the deal." Not so. Birthmothers may receive financial assistance for basic necessities related to their pregnancy and adoption, like medical care, housing, transportation, and counseling services. They do not receive a fee for the adoption!

Secondly, women don't "offer" their children for adoption. Women, with and without "financial troubles", deliberate and question and hope and pray... and finally they take a leap of faith. They decide to make an adoption plan, in many cases they choose the adoptive parent or parents, and often maintain some contact with the children they created. To say that they "offer" children for adoption makes it sound like they post a notice on Craig'slist and unload the kid to the first person who comes forward with the cash.

The decision to make an adoption plan is sometimes obvious, but it's never easy. This section of the article perpetuates toxic misunderstanding of birth mothers and adopted children, and I'm disappointed in the WSJ for printing it as such.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Friday, July 3, 2009

Blogging About Adoption: Adopter's Guilt

I'm ready to admit that I struggle with blogging about adoption, and the struggle surprises me. I have no mixed feelings to get in my way... no ongoing grief or frustration to impede me. In fact, I have been twice-blessed with adoptions that exceeded even my wildest hopes. Twice-blessed with healthy newborns adopted domestically after meeting their birth mothers, who are two of the most fabulous young women on the planet, and an adoption attorney who is compassionate, wise, and professionally impeccable. No drama. No trauma. No hardship worth counting, other than financial, and that burden is universal among adoptive parents.

So, what's my problem? I've thought about it a lot, and I finally realize my "problem" is exactly that I have been twice-blessed with adoptions that exceeded even my wildest hopes. I call it Adopter's Guilt.

My "problem" is that when I go on the website of the adoption agency we used, I see faces and faces and faces of people waiting to adopt, eager to adopt, some desperate to adopt. Some of these faces I know personally, others I know from reading their profiles online. Though their smiling pictures beam, "Notice me! Pick us! We'd be great parents!", I know that as day after day slips away Doubt plods in with a heavy step and whispers, "Why has no one noticed you? Why has no one picked you? Perhaps you're not meant to be parents after all. Ever."

My "problem" is that adoption has brought people into my life. People like Michelle, who of everyone I know is among the most full of love and life and promise, yet she waits and waits and waits, with growing despair. People like Charlene, who waited 7 years for an adoption match and has suffered - since the day she brought her daughter home - with debilitating depression and self-doubt. People like Dara and Jeff, whose post-adoption experience has been a devastating legal nightmare. People like the birth mothers who write to me about feeling remorseful or inadequate or shut out.

My "problem" is that adoption means gain for some and loss for others. There are winners and losers, chosen and unchosen, the triumphant and the defeated. Some of us are made whole by adoption and others are broken apart by it.

My struggle to blog about adoption is really a struggle to reconcile the irreconcilable. Why me? I have no idea. Why not you? I have no idea.

I can't change anyone else's timeline any more than I could have changed my own. I do believe that everything happens in the right way at the right time (whatever that means), and that we almost never understand that until we're looking back.

I'm supremely grateful to be one of those looking back. I trust that you will be too.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Birth Mother Voices

I expected to be emotionally moved by the Birth Mother's Day celebration. In fact, it was more like a tectonic shift.

Birth mother grief... I never imagined the depth or scope of it. I didn't know, I just didn't know, how it felt from your side of time.

Our childless counselors and the celibate priests, and those married with children said, "Go on with your life. You will be able to have other children", and turning away they spoke only of the joy of those who received our children as though it was now the only story. (from Breaking the Silence by Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh)

There is a child somewhere,
Lost in earth,
Or time,
He was mine.
There is no other feeling
Like the movement of an unborn child,
It's closer than someone touching you,
From the outside.
It is purely and cleanly,
And clearly,
Your own moment.
For those few months we were together
Alone against the world
But society,
That grand cheat,
Took him away
When we needed each other most.
I cannot say why I could not keep him.
Could there be a reason why?
Did I reject him in my guilt?
Because he wouldn't let me give up
When I wanted to?
I carried him, and he carried me.
Through a time when we could not go alone.
And I've been lost ever since.

(Lost by Cindy Sheff)

I know now that I will never know, but now I understand.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Friday, May 8, 2009

Birthmother's Day

Tomorrow (Saturday, May 9) is Birthmother's Day.

I pray for birthmothers everywhere:
That you feel at peace with your decision
That you feel honored and respected by the adoptive parents
That you walk proud, knowing that you gave the gift of life

I pray for birthfathers everywhere:
That you are at peace with the birthmother
That you are silent or invisible by your choice, not by someone else's
That you have the emotional and social support you need

Extra special thoughts and prayers to M and J, my children's birthmothers. It is because of you that we have our family, and our gratitude grows with each passing day.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Foster Care Adoptions on the Rise

Statistics show that rates of foster care adoption are increasing in the U.S. USA Today recently reported higher rates of foster care adoption in Michigan, Arizona, and Colorado, specifically, and the trend is apparent across the U.S.

Sharen Ford, of Colorado's Department of Human Services is quoted by USA Today: "The pendulum is swinging," adding that the lower cost of foster-care adoptions helped bring about the apparent trend. Ford also tabbed more stringent adoption policies embraced by foreign countries regarding international adoptions as a key factor in the adoption shift.

I'm glad to see this kind of pub for foster care adoption. Many people who are open to adoption don't even consider foster care and foster care adoption, and certainly, it's not for everyone. Kids adopted from foster care are often difficult to place because they are usually older, often special needs, and often in sibling groups, and many of them struggle with attachment and other emotional issues. Most of these kids are far needier than the average domestic newborn.

And the legalities of foster care adoption can be trickier than adopting an infant through a private or agency adoption. Birth mothers often maintain contact and some visitation during a foster care placement. BMs either relinquish their parental rights or have their rights legally revoked in order for a foster care placement to move forward to an adoption, neither of which happens easily.

But the kids in foster care need and deserve loving, stable, supportive families as much as any other kid does. I celebrate any positive attention on foster care adoption, because I think the more people hear about it, the more they want to learn about it, and the more likely it is that foster care adoption will feel "right" for the "right" people.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Worth The Wait Boutique

I love sharing cool adoption-related things with you, and Elizabeth and Mike Lowe's
is both cool and adoption-related.

In their words: "We designed this boutique for two purposes. One is to highlight items that we found helpful while either waiting or when we brought our son home. Second is to promote and highlight products made by other adoptive parents such as ourselves... 10% of all sales on this site go to an adoption related organization. We had lots of support as we went through our adoption process and this is just one way we feel we can give back."

They've got a great collection of adoption-themed stickers, scrapbooking supplies, clothing, stationery, and a link to their Baby Sweet Pea boutique. Beautiful, adorable... check it out!

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Birth Mothers Rock

I just had one of my favorite discussions about adoption. It's the one that usually starts something like, "What about the... mother?"

I smile sweetly and say, "I am the mother. Are you asking about the birth mother?"

And inevitably they are. Inevitably they're asking, "What's her story? How can she give her baby away? Why doesn't she want it? Is she on drugs? If she didn't want a child why did she let herself get pregnant? What's wrong with her?"

I don't mind those questions. Well, I've gotten used to them, anyway, and I believe that most people ask out of concern... concern for the baby, concern for my family, concern driven by the media's sensationalized presentation of the occasional adoption-gone-wrong.

But still, I'm working for the day when "What about the (birth) mother?" means "How is she doing? Did she have any medical complications? Is she with her family or the birth father? Does she have a post-adoption support system in place? Is she at peace with her decision? Is she OK?"

That would be awesome. Because birth mothers are as much mothers as any other women who have delivered children. Birth mothers get pregnant and share their bodies to give life the same way other women do.
Some birth mothers smoke during pregnancy and some don't.
Some birth mothers do drugs and some don't.
Some birth mothers have multiple partners and some don't.
Some birth mothers use contraception and some don't.
Some birth mothers receive regular pre-natal care and some don't.
Some birth mothers text while driving and some don't.
Some birth mothers get heartburn and hemorrhoids and morning sickness and gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia and migraines and some don't.

But all birth mothers love their babies.
All birth mothers love the life within them enough to publicly admit their own shortcomings.
All birth mothers risk shame, judgement, grief, loss, misunderstanding, and physical pain to carry a child for someone else.
All birth mothers deserve respect for choosing to give life when it is clearly not the easy choice.

I sometimes wonder what I would have done if I had gotten pregnant as a teen or unmarried young woman. I wasn't ready to be a mother, and I like to think I would have had the courage and selflessness to make an adoption plan for my baby, but I'm not sure. I'm not at all sure.

So, what about "the mother"? I've jumped right back into the routine of parenting an infant. I'm high on the blessings of two fantastic kids, and with my husband's help (he's fantastic, too) I'm slowly catching up on my sleep.

As for the birth mother, she's healthy, certain, and loved by her family and friends. She's moving forward, and she's very OK.

Thanks for asking.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Friday, March 20, 2009

How To Jump Start Your Adoption

Oversleep and run late all day.
Skip your morning shower.
Skip breakfast.
Leave your family's dirty breakfast dishes in the sink.
Put more on your daily To Do list than you can possibly accomplish in a month of Sundays. Cram a few more in the margins of the paper.
Land a great new client and take on a massive writing assignment with an impossible deadline and zero margin of error.
Begin spring cleaning - empty every closet and most of the drawers in the house. Sort everything into piles. Distribute piles between the kitchen, the family room, the dining room, the laundry room, the playroom, and your bedroom. Add "finish piles" to your To Do list.
Spend an hour and a half making a complex, multi-pan dinner. Watch your family eat it in 7 minutes.
Start to wash the dinner dishes, muttering to yourself about your schedule, your fatigue, your missed shower, and the breakfast dishes you had forgotten.
Hear the phone ring. Say you can't answer it because your hands are soapy.
Hear it ring again. Shout that you can't answer the phone with wet hands.
Hear it ring again. Stomp across the kitchen dripping soap and water and wondering where your husband went and why he doesn't hear the phone.
Hear the caller answer your prayers. "A birth mother has chosen you." And suddenly the only thing you need to do is not on your To Do list.
Go meet your baby.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Friday, March 13, 2009

He's He-re!

Tuesday night, March 10th, we finally got The Call. A birth mother had chosen us to adopt her baby, and if we were willing to make a leap of faith and drive across the state, she'd like to meet us as soon as possible. And oh, by the way, she's been induced and is hoping we can make it in time for the delivery. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT????? Hmm... let me think about that for about .0000003 second!

Long story short, our son was born in the wee hours of Wed. March 11th. We were there in time and we held him immediately after.

We were doubly blessed to be able to spend a few days in the hospital with our son's birth mother and both of her parents. By the time we headed home we all felt like family.

Our daughter's reaction added uber-coolness to the whole experience. She was (and still is) beside herself with joy and pride at being a big sister. She was like a little carnival barker her first day back at school. "Who else would like a turn to meet my new baby brother?" She wore her "I'm a Big Sister" t-shirt to school three times that week. My motherly instinct (you can't wear the same shirt to school three days in a row!) didn't stand a chance against her beaming smile. Besides, every time I look at her in that shirt I break out in tears. She's waited a long time for a sibling, and on top of that, it was our son's birth mother who bought that shirt for our daughter in the hospital gift shop. She bought him his first teddy bear and said she didn't want to give a gift to him without giving something to his sister, too.

Yeah, I'm crying again. There is a post-partum component to adoption that no one tells you about! :)

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Adoption Financial Assistance

Economic instability affects adoption in at least two significant ways: more babies and children are placed for adoption, and prospective adoptive parents are more challenged by the financial burden of adoption.

Domestic adoption in the U.S. typically costs anywhere from $12,00 to $20,000 (more, in some cases), depending on medical, legal, agency, and travel expenses. International adoption may cost more or less, depending on similar variables. And as any parent knows, that's just the beginning!

is a national non-profit 501 (c)3 financial assistance grant program that will provide qualified couples and individuals (regardless of race, religion, marital status or sexual preference) with grants of up to $15,000 towards their adoption expenses. You can review their FAQs and download a grant application from the website.

The Financial Aspect of Adoption is an article on that offers a variety of strategies for funding your adoption.

Please let me know of other resources you've found helpful. I'll be happy to post them here.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Parenthood for Me

Today I'm grateful for waiting. Yes, I'm actually grateful that adopting is a slow process, because it takes time for people to find each other.

I'm not talking about birth parents and adoptive families finding each other, I'm talking about the people who have come into my life because I'm "out there" waiting for an adoption, the people who find me leafing through the adoption books at the bookstore, the people who email me at 3:22 a.m. to say "I just found your blog and website, and for the first time in a long time, I have hope. I believe again. Thank you." And people like Erica.

Erica and her husband (AJ) are adoptive parents and the founders of a not for profit corporation established to "ease some of the burden bestowed on people who desperately want to be parents."

Erica and AJ invested time, money, and hope in ART (assisted reproductive technology) before pursuing international adoption. In the end, their journey was a rousing success! It brought them together with their son and forged their committment to help other people build the families of their dreams.

Today I joined the Board of Directors of Parenthood for Me, Inc. I'm excited and grateful for the opportunity to work in tandem with Erica and AJ. I look forward to helping more people find their own reasons to be grateful for waiting.

Maybe you... :)




Friday, February 27, 2009

The Secrets That We Keep

Openness in adoption is no longer a novel discussion, but a conversation with a friend has got me wondering how degrees of separation bear on degrees of openness? For example, what if the birth parents want ongoing contact with the child, but the birth grandparents or siblings want to remain anonymous? What if the grandparents are the ones who want contact and the birth parents are against it?

Or in my friend's case: Her cousin, Jim, was adopted at birth and has never expressed any interest in finding his birth parents. Although the adoption was closed, Jim's mother accidentally found out who is birth mother is, that she lives in the next town over, and that knows that she had another son after placing Jim for adoption. The birth mother has raised the second son to adulthood. Neither Jim nor his birth mother are aware that Jim's mother (and several other family members) has this information.

The question is, should someone enlighten Jim against his parents' wishes?

Arguments for: Jim is an adult. He was raised as an only child, and his parents are elderly. Wouldn't it be great for him to find out that he has a brother? Doesn't he deserve to know that his birth mother lives nearby? Although he hasn't expressed any interest in finding his birth parents, he might feel differently about a bio sibling. Give him the information and let him decide what to do or not do. If he finds out later that his family knew all along, he may feel hurt, angry, etc. that he was the last to know.

Arguments against: The adoption was closed. His birth family shouldn't have their privacy compromised just because his parents accidentally have information they're not supposed to have. He's never been interested in finding his birth parents, and surely he's considered the possibility that he has bio siblings. If he finds out that his birth mother raised her other son, he may feel deeply hurt, rejected, etc. His parents are squarely against the idea.

What do you think?

Here's a beautiful quote from :
"We believe in a birthmother's right to choose. If she has the courage to place, she has the wisdom and right to choose her child's parents."




Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What Goes Around Comes Around

I don't often weep with strangers, but I did with Cheryl and Jason. I watched them watching the rest of us, those of us who had successfully 'crossed over' to parenthood, and the carefully arranged look on Cheryl's face tore through me like a hot knife.

I have to say something to the two of you, I began. I remember... how you feel right now. I remember listening to other people's stories and feeling really angry and resentful, and smiling politely and passing the pretzels and wanting to scream at them to shut up! about how wonderful it was to meet their baby's birth mother, and how it was all worth it in the end, and how I should "Hang in there!" and trust that God brings families together at the right time.

As Cheryl's face crumbled I told them I know it doesn't seem fair and it doesn't make sense yet, but when you're waiting to adopt, there is nothing else to do but hang in there and trust God.

That was thirteen months ago, and Cheryl and Jason's amazing daughter is now six months old. Truly, what goes around comes around, because here I am, frustrated waiting for our second child. Here I am, anxious and doubting and awake at 2:00 a.m. And here is Cheryl's blog:

When we were in the waiting period, I always thought that this adoption would never happen. It was taking too long, we had been hurt and were spending more and more money each month. I have to say that what everyone told me was true. I was told that the "right" baby would make its way to us and she has. This is very difficult to see when you are in the midst of the waiting period, when a potential adoption plan falls through or when everyone around you has children and/or new babies. God's plans are always greater than our own. The reason I was never able to have biological children is now in our home. All 6 pounds and 5.5 ounces of her. It was meant to be that I become her Mother.

I feel at peace again for the first time in a while, and I think I can fall asleep now. Thanks, Cheryl.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Thursday, January 29, 2009

What New Moms Really Want

Since Precious Bundle #2 is taking her or his sweet time (read FOREVER!) I've had a lot of time to reflect on those first chaotic days... weeks (OK, months) of instant parenthood, and I've come up with a list of gifts for new adoptive moms.

These are all things I either received or found myself wishing for after bringing our daughter home. I guess they'd be good for any new mother, but they're particularly helpful for adoptive moms, who never know when they're going to be plucked from their routine and dropped into the giddy insanity of parenthood.

Gifts for the New (Adoptive) Mother

A catheter. Seriously. Before you roll your eyes and think "Here goes another mother martyr trip. Poor me, I don't even have time to go to the bathroom", consider how difficult it is to use a public bathroom with an infant in tow. You can't put the baby down anywhere - too dirty - so you hold the baby, leaving you with only one hand free to dispense and position the paper seat cover. When it slips off the toilet seat (the first one always does), you reach down to grab it before it hits the floor, which leaves the baby dangling upside down from your arm, and you quickly realize how much they hate that.

When you finally manage to get a seat cover to stay put you have to figure out how to get the t.p. with one hand. This should be easy, since the t.p. is perforated between the sheets, and the dispenser has that nice toothy edge to tear against. Yeah, right! I swear those perforations are just sketched on, and that toothy edge is about as sharp as a raindrop. One time I tried to hold Baby's head under my chin and make a quick grab-and-tear with two hands, but she wiggled and I had to drop the paper and grab her before she slid off onto the disgusting floor.

I've got some other ideas for how to handle the automatic flush, washing your hands, and opening the door, but we've spent enough time in the public bathroom for now.

Home visit hair cut. I think my daughter was well over a year old before I got my hair cut. No time, no baby sitter, no way I was going to take her into a salon full of hairspray and chemicals... I would have paid double for someone to come to my house and cut my hair.

Hair bands, hair clips, and barrettes. See above. These, carefully arranged, can get you through a trip to the post office or the bank.

Drive-through gift cards. Fresh hot coffee for me, and a nice leisurely nap-inducing drive for Baby. It's like a mini-vacation.

Olay Daily Facial Express Wipes. I fell in love with these! Some days it was the closest I came to a shower. At least my face felt rejuvenated!

Nice house clothes. I have to admit, before I became a mom I never understood the allure of sweatpants, leggings, and oversized shirts. My husband still doesn't. I often wished I had something that looked better and wore as well.

Chocolate. Because it's chocolate.

Gift card for a car detail service. I was amazed at how fast my car became littered with wipes, tissues, spilled milk, hair bands, empty Purell bottles, etc. If you can find a service that makes house call, so much the better!

Zip-loc bags. I used these for everything, and still do. Great for stowing a dirty diaper or spit up clothes until you get home, or for holding small portions of formula, cotton balls, cheerios, chocolate, etc. If you're handy, you can even fashion an emergency catheter out of one! It's surprisingly easy to wash the bags in a sink of soapy water, then let them dry overnight and use them again. And again and again.

I'd love to hear your ideas for new mom gifts. I'm working on a list for new dads, too, so I hope you'll share!

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Adoptive Parent Website

I'm excited to announce the launch of my latest website, a resource for adoptive parents. It's called , and I hope you'll join me there for articles about adoption and parenting, helpful hints for navigating the adoption journey, and a sneak peek at my "literary pregnancy" - my first book about adoptive parenting.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you. You are all part of my experience!

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+