Thursday, April 29, 2010

Nominate Your Favorite Adoption Books

Adoptive Families magazine is seeking nominations for readers' favorite adoption books in the following categories:

1) Adoption memoirs
2) Adoption-friendly parenting books
3) Children's picture books about adoption
4) Children's books that celebrate diversity
5) Young-adult novels with an adoption storyline
6) Novels with an adoption storyline

Of course, I hope you'll cast a vote in the adoption-friendly parenting books category for my , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective. I've been overwhelmed by reader response, and I'm extremely grateful. But I'd also like to know what books you would nominate for the other categories.

I'm thinking Ola Zuri's Why Can't You Look Like Me? for category #4, Kelsey Stewart's The Best for You for category #3, Katie DeCosse/Jackie Maher's Fifty Years in 13 Days and Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away for category #1. Although Fessler's isn't an adoption memoir so much as it is birth mother memoir, I think it should be required reading for all prospective adoptive parents. I haven't read any from category #5 or #6. What's out there?

How to vote: E-mail the book title(s) you're nominating to Be sure to indicate which category, and they'd also like to know why you're nominating a particular book.

What other adoption books would you recommend?

Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Monday, April 26, 2010

Birth Parents: The Hidden Treasure of Adoption

As many of you know, I recently had the distinct pleasure of delivering the keynote address at Parenthood for Me's first annual Family Building Dinner and Silent Auction.

I began my speech by reading 'Moonlight Sonata', a piece I wrote about my kid's birth mothers late one night. That piece is currently under consideration for inclusion in a book, so I can't share it here, but here is the rest of what I said:

My husband and I have adopted twice, and through my work and personal life I've gotten to know many, many birth mothers and some birth fathers. And yet, standing here tonight, I have to admit... I don't understand birth parents.
Honestly, I don't understand making that decision.
I don't understand when birth mothers say they chose adoption out of love for their child.
You chose to walk out of your child's life because you love them?

Tell me you took on two jobs to make ends meet,
tell me you moved back in with your parents,
tell me you signed up for Medicaid and food stamps,
tell me you dropped out of school to work,
tell me you left your kids with your sister for three months so you could get a solid start in rehab,
tell me you made those kinds of sacrifices because you love your child, and that, I'll believe.
But choosing to walk away because you love them so much you'd rather spend the rest of your life without them? It doesn't make any sense.

And yet, I do believe that birth parents love their children,
and I do believe they choose adoption because they want something better for them.
I know that birth parents suffer greatly from their adoption decision, and many never completely heal.
Many never get over the grief and doubt and regret that so often accompany significant loss.

My point is that I believe birth parents love their children,
but I don't believe that's why they choose adoption.
I believe that birth parents choose adoption because it makes the most sense at the time.
I believe that when the initial panic and denial fade, and the fairy tale dissolves, birth parents get real.
Birth mothers in particular get very real, very fast.
They have to.

Every hour that passes brings them closer to the physical reality of their situation.
Every day the baby inside is growing, becoming, needing, demanding more... and more... and more.
More than its first mother can provide (maybe).
More than it first father can provide (maybe).

So they make the best decision available to them.
They choose as well as they can.
And that is what we do for people we love, isn't it?
We choose as well as we can on their behalf.

I believe that birth parents choose adoption not because they love their children, but in spite of how much they love their children.

And that, to me, is the ultimate sacrifice a parent can make.
Placing your child for adoption isn't just a matter of putting the child's needs before your own.
It is a matter of putting your child's needs in place of your own.
Choosing adoption means choosing to meet your child's needs instead of your own.

I know many adoptive parents who are fearful of their children's birth parents, or feel threatened by them, or flat-out don't like them.
That's really sad.
That's a disservice to a child you love.

My husband and I never considered a closed adoption.
Our children's biological families are theirs.
Their origins are theirs.
Their birth parents are among the most important people in my kids' lives, because it's they who chose this life for my children.
Knowing their birth families is knowing part of themselves.

I could never be at peace without contact with my kids' birth families.
I needed to meet their birth mothers,
I needed to hold their hands and look in their eyes and ask them why they chose adoption.
I needed to tell them that it's OK to change their minds,
that it doesn't matter what anyone's expectations are,
it doesn't matter what papers are waiting to be signed,
it doesn't matter how much we want children... this is your baby and you are the mother, and no one else know what's in your heart or head, and if you decide to raise the baby yourself, then that's the right choice.

Because I had those opportunities, I can love my children freely.
I can love without guilt or insecurity about their birth families.
I can give them continuity and inclusion, rather than disconnection and separation.

Children who were adopted need a lot of things.
They need to know they are loved.
They need to know their family is permanent.
They need to know they are living exactly the life they are supposed to be living.
They need to know they are accountable for their decisions.
They need to know why they were adopted.
And they need to be allowed to grow up without illusions about adoption or their birth parents.

The only way to accomplish all of that is for adoptive parents to open themselves to the treasure of birth parents.

If you are an adoptive parent or someone considering adoption, please, for the sake of your children, talk to birth parents.
Browse around birth mother forums and blogs, and spend the most time with the opinions that trouble you most.

Patti is a birth mother who read my book. I'd like to share part of her reaction with you:
"Some parts are hard to read, I'll be honest. I've even had a few knee-jerk reactions that have left me feeling defensive. I'm far enough into my birth motherhood, though, to look for the truth in those moments. And it is always there. One thing I hate about adoption in general is that each member of the triad is constantly challenged, and obligated, to accept and learn from the parts that are yucky. There are always more vegetables to eat."

I agree with Patti that all members of the adoption triad have an obligation to learn from each other, especially the things that are difficult to learn.

But I have found that by truly embracing our children's birth parents - and celebrating them for who and what they are - I have fallen in love with eating vegetables.

Thank you for listening.


I know that many birth parents don't choose adoption at all. It is thrust upon them by people who wield power in their lives, and it is a tragic injustice. Like anyone who speaks or writes about adoption, my words are rooted in my own experience. They represent a small space on the spectrum of adoption experience.


Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Two Thoughts Post-interview on the Savelyev/Hansen Adoption Case

Yesterday I was interviewed by Mary Beth Wells for her radio show Adoption - Journey to Motherhood. If you missed the show you can hear it at .

I first want to thank Mary Beth for hosting me on her show. She invests a lot of herself to provide an open forum for adoption-related issues, and I encourage you to follow her show.

Now for my two thoughts:
1. Can we all stop referring to Artyom as "the little Russian boy"? I've seen his name spelled a few different ways, and I'm not sure which is correct (including my spelling). Regardless, it's his name. He is a person and he has a name. Phoebe Prince. Kate Gosselin. Carrie Underwood. Artyom Savelyev. It's not too much to ask.

2. Let's get honest. Please. Too much adoption dialogue is careful (nice word) or dishonest (not so nice word). I hear from a lot of people who agree there is work to be done within the adoption community. I believe that work begins with each of us having the confidence to speak honestly about our experiences and LISTEN non-defensively to other people's experiences.

Honestly, I'm not every other adoptive parent you've ever met. I'm not any other adoptive parent you've ever met. Can we all reserve our conflicted feelings for the people and situations that are relevant, and hold our fire for the people who simply have a similar label? Birth parents and adoptive parents and adult adoptees insulting and ganging up on each other online... we're killing a lot of flies with sledgehammers here, folks, and it does nothing to move any of the issues forward.

As always, thanks for reading.


Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Friday, April 16, 2010

Radio Interview About the Savelyev/Hansen Case

Rather than come down either in support of or opposition to Torry Hansen and her response to her would-be-adopted son Artyom Savelyev, I think we all need to heed this case as an example of something wrong in the field of adoption. Artyom isn't the first child to show signs of abuse, inferior health, problems with bonding, and adjustment difficulties. Nor are the Hansens the first adoptive parents to feel misled, misinformed, unprepared, and abandoned post-placement.

This coming Monday, April 19th at 9:00 AM, I'll be a guest on Mary Beth Wells' radio program Journey to Motherhood. I plan to leverage the Savelyev/Hansen case to raise awareness of the actual scope of the problem, what is and isn't being done to improve the process, and give some direction on how we (collectively) can work for positive change in the adoption process.

Some of the issues I hope to cover (time permitting) are:
1. Inadequate preparation of adoptive parents regarding what to expect from the child and what to anticipate in themselves.
2. Insufficient post-adoption support for adoptive families. Especially once an adoption has been finalized and the child and parents are legally a family, they are technically no longer on anyone's radar. Some adoptive families need more support than they find available to them.
3. The widely accepted expectation that children adopted internationally may/will be malnourished, have suffered physical and emotional abuse, developmentally delayed (due to environment and nutrition, not congenital delays), etc.
4. Sadly, none of the above is specific to international adoption.
5. What is at the root, and what can we do?

The interview will air Monday, April 19 from 9:00 to 10:00 AM EDT on the TogiNet Radio network. Visit the website to listen or call in live to participate in the discussion at 877-864-4869.

Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Friday, April 9, 2010

Radio Interview - Adoption Book

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Beth Adams Pitoniak, WHAM Morning News Host, about the release of my new adoption book, What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Beth is a seasoned interviewer and a very warm, thoughtful woman. I've been a fan of hers for a long time, and it was great to finally meet her!

The interview will air this Sunday, April 11, 2010 on Clear Channel radio stations nationwide. Check your local Clear Channel listings for "Public Affairs" programming or click on one of the following links to listen live:

Make a great day!

Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Open & Shut

To spend any time in the adoption cyber-community is to be convinced that birth parents (almost) always want more openness than adoptive parents. The staggering majority of blogging birth mothers and birth fathers are eager, sometimes desperate, for more contact, and they’re simply waiting, impatiently waiting, painfully waiting for invitation from the adoptive parents.

Many of the most vocal adoptees are in constant craving for a deeper connection with their first families.

I can relate. Most days I want more from my children’s birth families. Most days I want information, details, history, stories, updates, contact. I want responses to my emails. I want pictures of you. I want continuity that I don't have, that my kids don't have, that only you can provide.

Most days I'm uncertain. Have I asked for too much? Have I asked too soon? Have I gone too far, crossed a line, rattled a cage, cut a tightrope, popped a bubble? Did I step on a crack?

What happens next? And when is next? Is it now? Why not now?

Is that it?

Was it something I said?

Are you coming back?

Click here to purchase Sally's , What I Want My Adopted Child to Know: An Adoptive Parent's Perspective.

Sally Bacchetta
The Adoptive Parent
My Google Profile+