EPISODE:  AIR DATE – 5.2.17  What I Want My Friends to Know About Our Adoption

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Speaker 1: Live talk radio

Jennifer: Hi and welcome to adoption focus. My name is Jennifer Jaworksi and I’m a social worker with adoption associates of Michigan. This is adoption associates premier talk radio blog show. Adoption associates and it’s staff are trusted leaders in adoption, and we have placed well over 5,000 children into loving homes. Since 1990, we have advocated, supported and nurtured both birth families and adoptive families. And helping families and birth mothers go through the adoption process is very important to us.

Our offices are located in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills and Saginaw. And our pregnancy adoption services are available throughout all of Michigan. One of adoption associates commitments is to this weekly radio show. So thank you for listening in today. We hope that you find this forum to be inspirational, educational and thought provoking. I am very excited to welcome to today’s show Nicki. Nicki are you with us?

Nicki: I am.

Jennifer: Good morning.

Nicki: Good morning.

Jennifer: And I am thrilled to have you with us. For those of you who are listening, Nicki is a mom by adoption. And Nicki, your precious daughter is turning two this month, is that right?

Nicki: She is, I can’t believe it. It went so fast.

Jennifer: It did. I was your case worker, and happy to be a part of your adoption, and see your family grow. And I agree, it does not feel like two years.

Nicki: It doesn’t, no yeah. People say that all the time, and you really don’t know it until you experience it, that it really does speed by. I always thought they were kidding.

Jennifer: Right? It’s so cliché when people say, “Oh it goes so fast.” But it’s a true statement. This month we’re focusing on topics of interest, specifically to adoptive parents. And today the title of our show is “What I want my friends to know about our adoption.” And this is from your view point Nicki. And this is going to cover a variety of different topics and I’m excited to hear your thoughts and feelings that you’re going to be sharing with us. So I was hoping you could start us off today just by sharing a little bit about yourself, and more about your connection to adoption.

Nicki: Well, this is my first child obviously, and me and my husband got married almost 13 years ago. We were best friends before that, and even before we got married we talked about our kids separately, not knowing at the time that eventually those would be our kids together. But we’d pretty much been talking about kids since day one. And you don’t think back then that there’s any other option other than just birthing your own child, but that’s what happens. That’s the natural way that people have babies. And we thought we wouldn’t be different from that.

And we talked about it, and then right after we got married we started making plans, and we were so excited. And unfortunately that didn’t work out for us. I say unfortunately, but I really mean fortunately because it worked out. We couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Our daughter is absolutely incredible. But so that’s how we got into adoption. It was not by any means our last choice, it was the choice that it kind of came to us. It was presented to us and in a way you can’t ignore. And so we actually … My husband got a job here in Michigan. It was a perfect situation. It was a blessing. And when we got here everything just kind of fell into place. And it just became more obvious that adoption was what we were going to do.

So we met with adoption associates and everything just kind of took over. It was really a feeling of this is what was meant to be. And we had a perfect situation, so I know that I can’t speak on the side of a lot of … There are harder situations that happen. But all of them are doable. But we had a perfect situation. It was only a few months that we were on the list and then we got our daughter. And it all happened so fast. You get that call and then you go to the meetings. And our daughter was already born, so there wasn’t the whole carrying time, the nine months, or even the seven months. She was already born. She was here, so everything just went so fast.

It was so surreal how it happened. To be honest with you now, my husband and I will talk about the details of back then, and some of them I’m actually unsure of. It’s the biggest moment of my life that I waited 11 years, 12 years for, and there are actual details that I don’t remember because it was a whirlwind. It was incredible. But yeah, so that’s kind of how it came into our lives. And that’s where we are now. And being parents is more than I could have ever expected. And more natural than I expected. But it’s incredible and I wouldn’t have wished for anything different.

Jennifer: Well thank you for sharing that, and as I mentioned before, today we’re talking about what you would want to say to your friends or to others, and what you would want them to know about your adoption. So I thought it would make sense to start with a discussion about how you and your husband came to choose adoption as a way to form your family and I know you’ve already touched on the infertility of it. And I was hoping we could explore that a little bit more because this is while a very personal and difficult subject, it is a subject that frequently occurs. Infertility is something that many people experience. And it is one reason that couples begin to consider adoption as a means of forming their family. So I was just hoping Nicki, that you could elaborate on that a little bit and talk about what that was like for you and your husband. And how you went from the struggle of infertility to that decision to move forward with adoption. And what that was like personally for you.

Nicki: Sure. It was long. It was a very long, long process. Like I said, we were married 11 years before we got to this point. We went through the … First you go through the whole denial phase of this is just my body, it’s just confused. But I’m going to have a baby, it’s not a big deal. You go through that for a little while and then you start getting worried, and then you go to the doctor and that’s where you find everything out. And we went through three rounds of IVF, and IUI medication. It does a number on you. Not just emotionally, physically in every capacity.

It just completely wears on you. And you look for any piece of hope, but then at the same time you’re terrified to get that hope because you’ve had hope crushed so many times and so it was by far the hardest and most emotional thing that I’ve ever gone through. And probably ever will go through simply because it was unexpected, uncharted territory for me, and it messes with leaving a woman and my increasingly intense desire to be a mom. And it affects everything. Being a woman and having children is something that is of all time, that’s just how it’s always been. That’s what you did. And yes, now we’ve evolved, we’re so much more than that now.

And that’s awesome. However, that instinct remains in us, and will always be a part of us, for a lot of us. And so that just … It was crushing, it was absolutely crushing. And every time it didn’t work it just broke our hearts all over again. And we did always compare it to mourning. We were mourning on a regular basis for this child that we haven’t even got to meet yet. And so it was incredibly, incredibly difficult. But, there’s two things that happened that stand out to us as the reasons that we kind of felt like adoption was for us. One, was we went to an adoption seminar just to get information and kind of explore it. Because we didn’t know anything really about adoption.

And honestly I was skeptical because I wanted to give birth to my own baby. I wanted to go through that process and I felt like I was going to be missing something by not doing that. And I didn’t know how I would feel about the stories you hear about how the birth mom situation works out. And I didn’t know anything. So the idea just terrified me. So we went to this seminar. It was held at a church. And the information was good and everything was fine. But then they had a … She was a very young reverend that was speaking. And he blew us away. He adopted from another country. They went and he was telling the story about going and meeting the children. And just his story touched us immensely and the whole idea just, it sparked something in us. And it moved us like we had never been really moved before.

We hadn’t felt that sensation before and so that was one thing that happened that made us feel like maybe we should look further into this. The other thing, which is slightly hilarious was we went and saw Despicable Me, the first one. And when we left that movie we were both balling, just balling because … I don’t know if you’ve all seen it, but there’s adoption in that and it’s the small things that happen in life that touch you in different ways than they touch anybody else. And it could just be as simple as a movie that just sparks something to make you feel that maybe that is something that you do want. That maybe it’s just the fear that’s stopping it. And you need to kind of put that aside because it is possibly how it’s going to make you have a family.

So that’s kind of how we got into it. And it’s from that point on, we couldn’t quit thinking about it. We did try naturally a few times after that, but more so, we had eggs that we needed to use and so we were finishing that chunk of our life, and then everything kind of fell into place and that’s where we started the whole process.

Jennifer: Nice, thank you for sharing that. I know Nicki that you’ve experienced many comments and questions that you’ve shared even with me from others about adoption. And I was wondering if you’d like to discuss a few of those that really stood out to you?

Nicki: Sure. For the most part, everybody … I feel like adoption is becoming more of an understood thing. Sadly it’s not as understood as maybe we would all wish it to be, but I feel like it’s becoming more understood. So we’ve had a lot of more understanding conversations than not. However, there are those people that would say, “Are you sure you’re okay with not having your own baby?” Or, “Will it feel like its someone else’s child?” Or, “Have you considered a surrogate?” And all these questions that were kind of indicating that adoption is a last choice. And that’s not at all how we looked at it by any means. That was not our feeling. Our feeling was, if I want to carry a baby, I don’t see what a surrogate’s going to do if there’s children out there that do need a family already. That would be my preference. And that was our personal choice obviously.

But she is our own baby. She is our baby. She is not someone else’s child, she is our child. And she happens to be lucky enough to have other people that love her and the birth mother being one of them. And that’s not a bad thing. That is the greatest thing for her. But she is our child. She calls us mamma and dada and she gets excited to see us. And she cries to us. and she gets mad at us because we tell her no. We have those, and so it’s not taking anything away from the birth mother. We almost willed this child into existence. We wanted her so bad, and she’s ours. And so the comments that come in about her not being ours, or someone else’s, or not our own, or questioning why we made this decision is because this decision is what got us this amazing baby.

And we wouldn’t have had it any other way. And she is 100% our own. 100%, there’s no question about it. I didn’t carry her. But I did carry her in my willing her existence.

Jennifer: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well said Nicki. Let’s talk about the process. What would you want your friends to know about the process involved with adoption, and with becoming adoptive parents?

Nicki: It is trying, it is 100% trying because you look around at everybody who gets pregnant, has a baby. And not to say that that’s easy, it comes with its own trials. But you look around at this and you think, “I can’t believe I have to go through this. I can’t believe that I have to have every aspect of my life looked at.” And I had to get my friends and family involved. And this is supposed to be our own, between me and my husband. And it’s now including so many more people. And it is somewhat, at the time you think it’s intrusive. But it’s not. It is a different experience, but it’s not a worst experience. It’s not a harder experience. It’s just a different experience.

And it can take a while, or it cannot. It’s impossible to say because you are being matched with somebody. Someone is choosing you and that can take a long time or it can take a short time. And I feel like the process, regardless of the length is incredibly important because these women are choosing someone to raise their child, and that is not a small thing. That is in no way anything that they can just pick based off of just a picture. Or pick basically just out of a book. They have to take the time. They have to choose this, and it has to feel right to them.

And the agency has to make sure that they’re giving them the options that are best for them because this is the biggest decision that they will ever make, and I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it is. And nobody should try to imagine it because everybody would react differently and everybody feelings [inaudible 00:15:25] differently. But that is why the agency has to be so involved is because they have to help them. And the birth mothers are making this decision based off of what they want for their child. And you should be … We should all be 100% behind that because if you’ve waited for a child and you want to love this child so much, then you want to make sure it’s the right situation.

You want to make sure that the child is right for you and you’re right for the child. And so the process is 100% necessary. And the process can take a long time, but it’s for a reason. Or it could be short, and that’s also for a reason. But going into this with any expectations other than you’re continuing to work towards building your family, is a mistake because it is a process and it’s a necessary process. And that process will bring you the joy that you look for if you’re patient and you work with the process. And don’t take it personal or in any sort of negative way. Just rejoice in it because it’s an amazing thing. The thought of this being what your life brought you, may not have been what you thought at the beginning of your process to have a baby. But it does turn out to be something that you will never forget. And I still continuously want to be a part of adoption in general because it has been that moving for our family.

Jennifer: And I really like Nicki that you touched on the birth mother here, the birth parents. And the process for them, and how their process then intertwines and intersects with the process of the adoptive parents too. So I know that an area that you feel strongly about is the birth family. And I’m wondering what is important to you to relay to others about your daughter’s birth mother? Or the relationship that you have with her?

Nicki: I met her shortly, and it didn’t take but a few seconds for her to be one of the most amazing people that I respect more than most people I’ve ever met. Like I said, this decision … And it’s not just because I always wanted a child. It doesn’t matter. This is a human life that you created, and you’re asking someone else to raise this child and to have this child as their own. And that decision, that’s a part of you. That cannot be easy. I can’t imagine it, so it’s hard to even describe it. But it cannot be easy. And I have the utmost respect for her, and I find her incredible. And our birth mother was amazing. She was smiling and happy even though you could tell she was sad. But she was happy because she felt like this is the right situation for her daughter. And she felt like this was the match that was meant to be, which of course made us super happy.

But she was happy and sad at the same time, which is how it should be because she is sad for the loss, for her loss and for her daughter’s loss. But she is happy for what the child is getting in return. And that is an incredible, incredible strength to have. To have both the sadness and the happiness of what this is bringing. So I think that there’s a lot of misconceptions about birth moms. But I feel that way about everybody. I don’t think that anybody should be judged. You don’t know their story. You don’t know how they got to where they are. But this decision is never something that they just do out of anything but love. Because honestly there are other options. But they chose this one because they love them and they want the best for them.

Jennifer: That’s such a selfless choice.

Nicki: Incredibly.

Jennifer: So you mentioned the happiness and the sadness and that sadness coming from the feelings that she has in her loss, the selflessness, versus the selfishness. And you’re right about those misconceptions. They certainly do exist. Hopefully we’re going to continue to address those. But I’d like to shift our attention now to your daughter. If you were able to have an honest conversation with a friend about the fact that your daughter was adopted, what would you want to say?

Nicki: It wouldn’t be very lengthy because honestly it comes up to I maybe didn’t give birth to her, but there is no doubt in my mind, and my husband’s mind and my family’s mind. There is not doubt, and there will be no doubt in her mind that she is my daughter. She is 100% my daughter. She is loved, she has so many people that love her. She has anything she could possibly ever need. And basically it would be that yes, she came to our life in a different way than traditionally, but that just makes her even more special. Like I said, we willed her existence. We wanted her so bad, and we are going to prove that to her in every possible way that we ever could.

And she’s ours. She is our baby. So yes, she is adopted, but she is our baby. And she did go through, like we mentioned, she went that loss of her birth parents and any possible family that she had on that end. But she is gaining the world. She is gaining the world outside of that because we just adore her. We adore her, and in a lot of ways that birth family is going to still be a part of her life. Whether it’s just through our stories, or we are going to remind her that she has so many people that love her. So the loss is there, but it’s going to be somewhat subdued due to the fact that she is going to be completely surrounded with love. And we’re not going to take anything away from her.

Not her birth family, not those people that love her. We’re going to give her the world. So adopted or not, she’s ours.

Jennifer: So we’ve talked about your reasons for choosing adoption. The process of adopting, the birth mother and now your daughter. But as we’re approaching the end of our show I wanted to ask you to talk about the impact that others have had on your adoption.

Nicki: When I was thinking about this, in a lot of ways I feel like anybody that becomes a parent, other people do have an impact, whether it’s through adoption or it’s not. And you meet people that say things and they could say I’m adopted or not, it’s just being a parent, you become … I call it the Mamma Bear Effect. You get protective and you do care more about what people say to you. And I feel like that would happen whether or not she was adopted. But we’ve had for the most part, there’s been … We’ve had so many people, strangers, people we know, so many people that have only said nice things.

But there are some that come in with questions just like, “Where is she from? Where did you get her?” Just stuff that’s just an educational time. You can just nicely explain, yes she is adopted, she’s from here. It’s not a big deal because it’s not. It doesn’t change anything about her. She still is the amazing child that’s mine. But I feel like for the most part it has been just a positive impact. She’s a very outgoing little girl and people love her. And it’s just been really, really supportive. And with everybody, and people have questions, which is fine. The simple, “Where is she from?” And stuff that’s like that, but there’s some stuff that they have questions about that … There’s this privacy aspect that you need to have for the sake of your child. And we limit what we say to other people just because we don’t want them to relay it back to her in a way that we didn’t control.

Not that we want to lie to her. Not that we don’t want to tell her the truth about everything. But we want to control how it’s said because she’s a child in a slightly vulnerable situation. And as her parents, we have the ability to protect her from any sort of negative twist on anything because there’s nothing negative about it. And you can’t give that away. So you have to maintain that privacy. But you don’t have to have secrecy. If people have questions, you don’t have to be secretive about it. You don’t have to try to deny that she’s adopted because we are a trans-racial family, so she is obviously adopted, so the secrecy doesn’t make sense. Nor should it make sense to anybody. It’s okay that we went through adoption. It’s wonderful that we went through adoption.

So I feel like we have a good balance of that privacy versus secrecy. And I think that’s a key thing in our interactions with other people and how they impacted, but for the most part it’s been a very positive impact. And we’ve had more people come into our lives that love us due to her. Because she just brings so much joy to everybody.

Jennifer: I wanted to just add recently I was able to hear your husband addressing a group about adoption. And he was talking about this same topic that you are. And people asking, “Where is she from?” Or, “Where did you get her?” And those sorts of questions. And your husband, as you and I know has a great sense of humor. And I think that when people ask that, they’re expecting him to say that she’s from some far away country. Or she’s from the opposite side of the United States, or just some really far away place. And he just matter of factly says, “She’s from Detroit.” And so there was a lot of humor in that when we got to hear him say that the other day. Almost as, what a ridiculous question. As if, does it matter where she came from? No not really, she’s our daughter.

But the expectation of the person asking that question is that there’s going to be this grand answer that they’re waiting to hear. And after all, she’s a Michigan girl.

Nicki: Right, and I think honestly a lot of that comes from a lot of the famous people, and society gripping onto the tabloids about people adopting Haitian children and I think that that’s all that they know about adoption. So if they see this baby that is obviously not our birth child, that’s just what they assume because we could be Angelina Jolie, it could be the same thing. I think that’s where they get it from because that’s all they know about it.

Jennifer: So we are very close to the end of the show Nicki, and I just wanted to give you a chance to wrap us up if you had any final thoughts or anything that we haven’t touched on that you feel is important here in our last minute or two?

Nicki: Basically I just want to make sure that the birth mother is the key part of the adoption process. But the adoptive parents are also obviously they’re equally … Well not equally, but they’re just as important because it takes the two groups to make this amazing life for this child. And you need to just be aware of your own strengths and what you can handle. And if you … I feel like there’s a lot of the questions that come up and a lot of the fears and a lot of the stigma, if you’re holding onto that, then you need to let that go because adoption is an amazing thing. You bring this amazing child into your life and it becomes this amazing, beautiful situation for both you and the birth mother. And I feel that both of those groups just need the respect and the privacy and the admiration. Especially the birth mother. There needs to be a sense of positivity behind adoption more so than any sort of secrecy, negativity, or gossip. Because it’s not any of that. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Jennifer: Thank you so much Nicki. And your words are very beautiful and I appreciate you being on adoption focus today and speaking straight from your heart about issues that are important to you. And I know speak to a lot of people. So we appreciate you.

Nicki: Thank you for having me.

Jennifer: Thank you to our listeners as well. And remember that we are live on Tuesdays at 11. Next week I hope that you can join us as we will hear from an adoptive father who will discuss the differences in private agency adoption versus foster care adoption. That should be an interesting show. If you’re looking to connect with adoption associates, you may reach us at 800-677-2367, or on the web at adoptionassociates.net. Thank you again for your support of adoption focus, and for now, this is Jennifer with Adoption Focus. Have a great day everyone. Bye bye.