Adoption bloggers Interview Project 2011: Meet Laura of Fertility Alphabet Soup

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

For the second year in a row,  I am participating in the Adoption Interview Project, brainchild of Heather at Production Not Reproduction. This year over 120 adoption bloggers (not necessarily Open Adoption–but bloggers who write about adoption in some way–members from every part of the triad) are participating all over the ether! To learn more about the project go here.  I am pleased to introduce my readers to the partner I was matched with-Laura Denver of Fertility Alphabet Soup. Right off I appreciated Laura’s frankness, clarity, and ability to morph her message and blog from that of a fertility context to one engaged in issues relating to foster care and adoption.  As someone who holds the possibility of a fost-adopt of an older sibling in the wings for years down the road–I am pleased to have connected with Laura as a resource. You can also find our interview over on her blog when you stop on by!

What is the best piece of wisdom someone who has been involved in foster care has shared with you along the way and why?
“Anything can happen.”  Nobody involved in fostercare is a soothsayer.  We’ve seen kids go back to parents still on drugs.  We’ve seen them split up half-siblings that have an established relationship to be with a full-sibling that was just born “to keep siblings together.”  Even when we’ve been told that there is “no way” the parents are getting their kid back and things are moving toward TPR (termination of parental rights), the parent works their plan very diligently and is able to be reunified with their child.  Anything goes.
2. Who are you hoping to reach with your writing? Or have you had any surprises in terms of readership, or comments that really fuels you to keep writing?
I started the blog for myself.  I used to keep a journal but moved online because it was easier to keep it all in one place.  My readers have morphed since I started.  In the beginning, I had a few readers I knew from infertility support groups.  Now I have more from the foster and adoption side.  It makes sense that as my journey has changed so has my readership.  I don’t advertise, I am blocked from the search engine so when somebody outside of my known circle sends me a comment, it’s a little exciting.
3. How has parenting through foster care motivated you to shift your own beliefs or thinking about child rearing, or parenting in general? Can you share a particular event or story that gave you that ah-ha?
The ah-ha moment came to me not because of parenting, but more from understanding why kids end up in the foster system.  As a parent, I have support from my parents, my neighbors, my co-workers.  I have the luxury to be able to reach out online to gather advice or skills I need to parent.  A lot of the families in the foster system do not have that support.  There is so much dysfunction (drugs, abuse, mental health) that they are not able to create healthy relationships.  They don’t have the support network that can catch them when they fall.  The kids get caught up in the middle.  It’s made me feel very fortunate to know that if something happens, I will have someone to be there for me.
4. What is one question you have always felt you wished people would ask you when they are curious about your family?
I love the looks I get when I go through the grocery line with WIC checks on one bill, then expensive balsamic vinegar and organic foods on the other.  It took me swallowing my pride to get WIC (all foster kids get WIC), but I don’t qualify for the child deduction from the IRS it helps a little with the bills.  We’ve had kids living with us for over a year, just not 1 for more than 180 days at a time.
5. Do you have a real time or online mentor/ support group that you go to when you need help? How did they come into your life? If not what kind of support do you wish you had?
I have several blogs that I follow and can reach out if I need a different perspective.  Right now I’m trying to find support to help with creating an open relationship after foster care with the birth family.  With all of our foster kids, we’ve established a relationship with the birth family.  This was an unusual case where the original foster family had a relationship but we did not.  The birth family is out of state, which makes things even harder.  Right now we’re just taking it slowly.
6. You and your husband were not initially planning to pursue adoption, and now find yourselves months away from it. Can you talk a little about that journey?
We have always wanted kids.  We thought that down the road we’d foster after we had our own family.  We also thought that it would be easy to have kids.  We went down the path of assisted reproductive technology but stopped after “only” 2 IUI.  Adoption wasn’t our first choice but it wasn’t our last.  We still have the option to try injections and then IVF.  But we decided we didn’t care if we were biologically related to our child, our goal was just to be a parent.  I think we were a little naive about all of the appointments, paperwork, visits, drama that we’d have to go through to bring a foster child in our home.  I love my daughter and yet I felt I was always going to be a mom of two.  We’re still undecided as to what happens next.
7. How has your role as parents brought you closer together? How has it made your relationship stronger?
We totally support each other.  I put one of the kids in time out and my husband happened to walk in the door.  The kid started protesting but my husband said, “I don’t know what you did, but whatever it was – was bad enough for LaLa to put you there to think about it.”  He didn’t even question my reasoning.
8. If you could teach a class to perspective parents–what are three topics you would INSIST be part of the course?
1.  Discipline (and how inconsistency does more harm to your kid)
2.  Manners
     a.  your neighbor’s garden is not a playground for your kid
     b.  restaurants, going out in public to
     c.  I’m sorry, thank you and not cursing
     d.  adults, talking to
3.  Financial Planning (saving for college and still putting food on the table today)

A spontaneous brotherhood jam and Friendsgiving

I pulled off a spontaneous dinner party and jam for seven the other night. OK, so I had help prepping and the easiest guests ever. BUT the point is that spontaneous is not in my vocabulary. It is a goal of mine to not need to plan everything, and leave room for surprises. I want to model that to the kids too. In this case a spontaneous invite to one, turned into two because Hassan’s most amazing brother Malik was in town from Los Angeles. They asked me to make sure Eddie could come, and before you know it, we had a big ole party at my house.

Brotherhood of goofy faces/ Mama C and the Boys 2011
this is serious work/ Mama C and the Boys 2011
Malik's glasses -the prize of the night/ Mama C and the Boys 2011

Marcel went around the table asking everyone what they were thankful for that night. The answers:

1. Feet to walk around and skip and dance with

2. Buses and planes that bring you to your brother

3. Everyone in the whole wide world

4. Spontaneity

5. This great dinner mommy made

6. Music

7. Having a family of choice in Portland

Have any Friendsgivings in your plans in the next few weeks? Are you inclined to the planned jam–or the spontaneous flavor? What are you looking forward to?

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Just one quick resource to share with you that the fabulous Nancy shared with me yesterday: 30 Adoption Portraits in 30 Days from Chicago Now. I haven’t read them all–but by the looks of it a real range of stories from the triad and beyond.  Come back tomorrow to meet my interview partner for the Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2011 unveiling!

Final day to register for Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011 (and more)

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011

The Interview Project is open to any blogger

  1. who writes at least occasionally about adoption,
  2. is interested in meeting a fellow writer with different views and experiences, and
  3. wants to welcome someone into their own online space.

Everyone who registers by October 28 will be paired with another adoption blogger. You will have two weeks to get to know their blog and send them some questions by email. On November 17, you’ll post the interview on your blog and your partner will post their interview of you.

For more information please click here.

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I have also been contacted by the Dave Thomas Foundation who asked me to post a link to this video about research on their child-centered recruitment model   http://bit.ly/tjuQWh . Here is an excerpt from the press release:

Child-focused recruitment is a model used by DTFA’s signature program, Wendy’s Wonderful Kids (WWK), which provides local adoption agencies with grants to hire dedicated adoption recruiters who spend 100 percent of their job focused on finding waiting children forever homes.  The study found older children and children with mental health disorders achieved even higher rates of adoption, providing new hope to the many children who enter foster care and often languish for years or “age out” of foster care altogether without the support of permanent, loving families.

If you experience with WWK or the DTF that you’d like to share here please do. I have to say the message on the video was very engaging to me.

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I am in the middle of several “I wonder how I will write about this…” life moments at once.  I am going to Sam’s school today to meet with a team of staff to talk about success. I am going to leave it there. That line between blogger, mother, and recorder of a life that is not mine gets rather blurry sometimes. In this case I will tell you that being a teacher and an advocate for your own child in the district that you work is complex.

I have some other exciting news professionally that I can’t reveal just yet, but suffice it to say that doors seem to be flying open in corridors all around me. We are doing important work out there, and it is being noticed. Have you seen that too? Share some of your success to start the weekend off right? Then go sign up for the Interview Project!