Blog Talk Radio Transcript: Air Date 10-10-17 (you may listen to the podcast by clicking on the audio link, or read the transcript of the podcast below)

Your child is having a meltdown, and you feel like a failure as a parent. Where do you go for support? There are countless “how to” parent books, but who has time to read them? This podcast is about a couple of adoptive moms who turned to social media to connect with other adoptive parents for support, to share resources, and to build a sense of community for adoptive parents.

 

Jennifer J:  Hi, and welcome to Adoption Focus. This is Jennifer Jaworski with Adoption Associates of Michigan. This is Adoption Associates’ premiere talk radio blog show. Adoption Associates and its staff are trusted leaders in adoption, and we have placed over 5200 children into loving homes. Since 1990 we have advocated, supported, and nurtured both birth families and adoptive families, and helping families grow through the adoption process is important to us. Our offices are located in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills, and Saginaw, and our private adoption services are available throughout Michigan.

One of Adoption Associates’ commitments is to this weekly radio show, so thank you so much for listening in today. We hope that you find this forum to be inspirational, educational, and thought-provoking as well. I am happy today to welcome to Adoption Focus Betsy and Amanda. Hi ladies.

Amanda:  Hi.

Betsy:  Hi.

Jennifer J:  Good morning. Thank you for being with us today.

Amanda:  Thanks for having us.

Betsy:   Thanks for having us.

Jennifer J:  Absolutely. And so, Betsy and Amanda, you are two moms who are pretty excited about a relatively new venture that has fallen into your lap, and it is related to adoption, which is why we’ve asked you to be on today’s podcast, to give us some insight. And we’re talking about using Facebook for post-adoption support, and I can only imagine that when you began your adoption journey, you would never have predicted that you would end up using Facebook to make connections and find support in the post-adoption phase. So let’s talk a little bit about that. Betsy, will you tell us how this came to be, and exactly what it is that you and Amanda have going on here?

Betsy:  Sure, yeah. It all started when I posted a question in our networking group on Facebook, that Amanda is part of, and I was asking for a church where my daughter would be in the majority. She’s black, and we were looking for a church where she would be able to be in the majority, and my husband and I would get the experience of being in the minority. So Amanda M. actually commented and said, “Hey, I’m also part of a transracial adoption family, and would you like to get together?” So what we did was, we decided to make an event, and have a little play group, and invite other local families to get together and talk about anything they had related to transracial adoption, and that’s when Amanda P. Came, and we got together, and we just said, “There needs to be a group for this.” So we started a Facebook page. We’re all in the Lansing area, but we just started a Facebook page for Michigan, just to reach out for other families to come to the play group, and get resources, and that kind of thing.

Jennifer J:  So Amanda, will you share how your Facebook group works, and what purpose it has served so far?

Amanda:  Sure. It’s a closed group on Facebook, so only the members can see the posts that are posted onto the page, which makes it a very comfortable environment for people to share freely and not have to worry about the public seeing their post. So we share resources with each other. We basically … The purpose is just to connect and support with each other, as we’re adoptive parents, and also just raising kids who will have healthy racial identities, so just sharing stories with each other as we go through the process of being parents, and any issues that come up, or if you’re having any problems, or just supporting each other, in general.

Jennifer J:  Very good. So it does sound like there are three of you ladies that are the motivating force behind this effort, and I know that one of your friends, Amanda, could not be with us today. But let’s talk a little bit more about … I know you mentioned, you posted, Betsy, this question, or maybe Amanda it was you, about a church, looking for a church. And I know that there were some motivations there, but help us dig a little bit deeper there, and about how you guys went beyond just asking about a church, to really saying, “Hey, we should make this bigger.”

Betsy:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, well we were surprised that there wasn’t already a group in place, in our area. So the main thing that we wanted to be is for the kids to be able to connect with each other, and have other kids that they can grow up with that are in transracial adoptions that understand any problems that they might have. And also for the parents to be able to connect with each other, and just be a support system, recommend local resources. Because there are parents in the group who have kids a lot older than ours, and they can help us. They’ve paved the way a little bit. And everybody has different recommendations, and ideas. The main purpose though is just to ensure that all of our kids, and all the transracially adopted kids in the area, have that healthy racial identity.

Jennifer J:  An excellent motivator right there. Very, very nice. What has surprised you so far, about this particular group that you have? Or have there been any challenges or difficulties so far?

Amanda:  Well, we just started the group about three months ago, so it’s still pretty new. And I think maybe the only thing that surprises me is that it’s not larger. Right now we have about 54 members. But I think, I don’t know what the statistics are but it seems like there would be a whole lot more families that would want to connect. So I guess my only surprise would be that there aren’t more people in our group, and maybe that it’s not quite as active as we would like, probably. If you are having … And maybe it’s that they aren’t having any issues at this point, but if you are, it’d be nice to just share it, because somebody else in the group might be having the same issue but might be too shy to speak up about it. So I think that would probably be my only surprise, in starting the group.

Jennifer J:  Do you have any ideas about what the makeup of your group is, in terms of … Betsy, you and Amanda are, relatively speaking, new to adoptive parenting. But the rest of your group, are they also newer parents, or do we have a mixture of families?

Betsy:  Yeah, there seems to be a mixture, with kids all different ages. And I’m not sure if there’s any that have adult children, but the ones that have spoken up so far in the comments all seem to have children age, not adult children. But it would be great to get some people that have adult children involved, and get their perspective on it too.

Jennifer J:  Sure, sure.

Amanda:  Yeah, I think we’re all ages. Like she said, I don’t know that we have any adult children. But we do have teenagers, we have preteens, we have toddlers, babies, all different. And also, private domestic adoption, but we also have others who have adopted through foster care. So different stories, different experiences.

Betsy:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). And internationally, too, we have some people. That adopted internationally.

Jennifer J:  Oh nice.

Amanda:  Yeah, you’re right. Yep.

Jennifer J:  So is there … I don’t want to asy a recurrent theme, because that’s not exactly what I’m trying to say, but one or two particular issues that seem to be brought up the most, in your group, that people are looking for support in different ways for? Or not just yet? I know you guys are pretty new to this.

Amanda:  Well I think just the fact that we are white, and our kids … Some of them may be something other than black, but I think a lot of our kids are black. And so for me, I grew up in a predominantly white community, and racism wasn’t something I ever really had to think about. And so now that I have a black son, I’m learning so much. And I feel like now that I know better, I’ll do better. And so I still have a lot of work to do, and I think that just other white parents as well that are parenting a race other than your own, you have a lot to learn about the culture, and just about how to raise that child, to make sure that they become responsible adults. And so as the parent in general, it’s difficult. But I think just learning as much as possible to help your kids. I think it’s all about … It really comes down to, it’s all about the kids.

Jennifer J:  Absolutely. Good point. So I think one of the things that we were talking about before the show started today was, what you’ve gained through these Facebook connections, and what’s been surprising, what hasn’t. But I’m interested in hearing from one of you about, would you recommend that others create this sort of group in their own communities, and why?

Betsy:  Oh definitely. Yeah. We’ve had interest on our page so far from people in different areas. We’ve got some people from Flint, Grand Rapids, the Detroit area, that are all talking about … Are wanting to connect with others in their area, and get together in person. So we have our Lansing play, real young kids, and then I think they were gonna start one in Grand Rapids. And we would definitely recommend it. Because it’s just so great for the kids to be able to play together, and it’s just nice to be around other families that understand anything you may be going through. So yeah, we highly recommend people starting their own groups, for sure.

Jennifer J:  And you did mention, and I wanted to not let that pass by. This is not just about Facebook. This is not only about the support, or questions, or the communication that’s happening via social media. You guys are also having these in person get togethers in the form of play dates, which is an additional fantastic way to connect. So you are connecting families on multiple levels here. Tell us a little bit more what that has been like and what that looks like. What sort of locations do you get together at? What are you guys doing? If someone wanted to replicate this, help us understand exactly what it is.

Amanda:  Sure. Well, our Facebook page is really a foundation. So we have a lot of resources on our page. For example, we have books that we recommend for families that have adopted transracially. So books that you can read to your kids, and also local resources, such as hair salons, or churches, or we might have a discussion about movies that come out, or maybe TV shows like This Is Us. So our page is a foundation, but we also have … I had one question that was just adoption-related come up, that said they’re in an open adoption, what kind of gift do you give to birth parents for holidays, if any? So even just adoption questions in general, it’s just a resource page.

But then when we meet in person, it really builds the relationships and connections with each other. And also for our kids. Our kids get to, if they don’t get to already, see kids in their class or their peers, this is just another avenue where they get to play together and see other kids that look like each other. But not only that. You get to build relationships and talk about issues on a deeper level when you’re in person rather than on the internet.

Betsy:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, and our play group particularly, we meet in a play café, so it’s real good for the young kids, which is … It’s just a area where the toddlers and babies can play and crawl around, and we can get coffee, and it works as a great meeting place for us. So if you have something like that in your community, where you can meet, or just meet anywhere that you’re comfortable and the kids can play together as a [crosstalk 00:13:42]-

Amanda:  Yeah, maybe even a park. You could do a park.

Betsy:  Mm-hmm (affirmative), that would be great.

Amanda:  We’ve done a coffee shop. So it really is just your community and what your community has to offer. We probably, we even talked about going to each other’s houses. So it’s just really what works best in your community, depending on where you live, and what you have access to.

Jennifer J:  Absolutely. So, let’s … I want to go back and talk a little bit more about the Facebook group itself. Are there rules that you have created, or that you believe to be important for this group? And then talk about, if you could, who moderates your group and how that is done. That was a lot of questions at once, I’m sorry.

Betsy:  Yeah, it’s just … So far the rules we have is just for entrance into the group is, are you from Michigan? Are you involved in some way with transracial adoption? And the moderators right now are myself, Amanda M., and Amanda P. But we are talking now about having moderators in other cities that can be able to post events for play groups in their cities, so we might be getting some more moderators. So that’s just what we have so far.

Jennifer J:  That’s great.

Amanda:  And we really haven’t had any issues come up, where we’d have to say, “Oh, you can’t say this,” or, “You can’t do this.” So far, everybody has been really great, and just wanting to help each other out. So we haven’t had anything negative really, to have to worry about. But not to say that as our group gets bigger, that that won’t happen. But we’re there looking at the page, and making sure everything goes smoothly. Since it is still a little bit new, and on the smaller side with 54 members, it hasn’t really got out of hand, that we had to [crosstalk 00:15:47] deal with anything. But not to say that it won’t in the future. But right now, everyone’s just super helpful.

Jennifer J:  So what are your plans or hopes for the future of this group, both from the Facebook perspective as well as the actual in person play groups?

Amanda:  I think just for more people to start using it, and using it as a resource. I guess for more people to know about it, so know that there is the Facebook group out there for people to connect with each other. So just getting the word out about it, and hoping that more people will use it. And also maybe that each section of Michigan, so Grand Rapids, the Detroit area, maybe up north, that they all have their own little play group that they put together. Or not even play group. Maybe they just get together for coffee if their kids are older and in school. What do you think, Betsy?

Betsy:  Yeah. I think, yeah, definitely. And for my personal hope for it is just for my daughter to be able to build lifelong friendships within the group, and me also, for … Just to have friends that are going through any of the same issues you’re going through, is just wonderful. And you don’t feel like you’re going through it alone, and your child doesn’t feel like they’re going through it alone. They have someone that knows exactly what it feels like. And I just am so hopeful that other people can get involved, and have that too. Because I know there are a lot of kids that are transracially adopted, and if they can find other kids like themselves, that they’re not gonna feel so alone.

Jennifer J:  You’re right. You’re right. And you guys obviously, as you mentioned, are in the Greater Lansing area, and we have heard mention in other parts of the state, of similar or different groups. The great thing about these groups is that there’s no rules, necessarily, that they have to function or run a certain way, so it’s been nice hearing about what you ladies are building here. But tell our listeners, if they happen to be in the Greater Lansing area, and want to connect with you, how would they do that?

Amanda:  So I think the best way to do it would be to go onto Facebook, and in the search bar at the top, type in “Transracial Adoption Group – Michigan.” And you’ll see Amanda M., Amanda P., Betsy, we frequently post on the page. And it also shows our events coming up, too. So if you’re in the area or you know you’re gonna be coming to the area, maybe you can join in a play group with us. If you’re not interested in the play group, but you want to use us as a resource, then become a member of the group, and use it that way.

Jennifer J:  Awesome. I wish you guys continued success and growth. It sounds like you’re ready for it, and you’re definitely looking forward to that. And you’re in the infancy stages of your group, so I am excited and hope that you guys continue, because what this group offers is really special. And I personally thank you for coming today on Adoption Focus to share about it.

Amanda:  Yeah, thanks Jennifer.

Betsy:  Thank you for having us.

Amanda:  Thanks for having us.

Jennifer J:  Absolutely, and for those of you that are listening, and would like to connect with Adoption Associates, you can do so by contacting us at 800-677-2367 or on the web at adoptionassociates.net. Do remember that we’re live Tuesdays at 11, for additional adoption topics. We’d love for you to continue to follow the Adoption Focus programming, as we continue to listen, learn, and grow together in adoption. For now, this is Jennifer, on Adoption Focus. Have a great day, everyone. Bye-bye.