Blog talk Radio Transcript:  Adoptive Parents Connected from the Start – Part 1    Air Date: 7-11-17 (you may listen to the podcast by clicking on the audio link, or read the transcript of the podcast below)

This podcast is about three women that started out as strangers, but who now have a bond unlike any other. They share how they connected on their journey to China to adopt their children. They talk about the relationship their children share, and their own bond as adoptive parents.

Adoption RadioJennifer J:  Hi, and welcome to Adoption Focus. My name is Jennifer Jaworski, and I’m a social worker with Adoption Associates of Michigan. This is Adoption Associates Premier Talk Radio Blog Show. Adoption Associates and its staff are trusted leaders in adoption, and we have placed well over 5,200 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 very important to us.

Our offices are located in Jenison, Lansing, Farmington Hills, and Saginaw Michigan. And our private adoption services are available throughout all of Michigan. One of Adoption Associates’ commitments is to this weekly radio show. So, thank you very much 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, adoptive parents: Maryanne, Julie, and Maureen )better known as Mo’). Ladies, welcome to our show today.

Maryanne:   Thank you.

Julie:  Thank you.

Mo’:   Thank you.

Jennifer J:   So we are doing a summer series 2017, and we’re talking about a story that’s very personal to you guys and I certainly don’t want to spoil it, but the three of you became connected in a very beautiful way, I’m again, I’m grateful that you are on today to talk about it. So I was hoping we could just go ahead right off the block here, and Maryanne, if you would tell us about how you first became connected with these ladies, and when was that, and what were the circumstances?

Maryanne:   Well actually we didn’t know each other before we had our travel plans. We contacted the agency to find out who would be in our travel group, and we were given the other adoptive parents names. So, we probably didn’t know each other more than a couple of weeks before we traveled together.

Jennifer J:   Let me just interrupt. Let me, I’m sorry, Maryanne. I do want to interrupt a second. You’re talking about travel groups and all that, but I think for our listeners, we should go ahead and identify that the three of you were on your own adoption journeys, as prospective adoptive parents, to bring children into your lives. And this is how you met each other, correct?

Maryanne:   That’s true. That’s right. Exactly right-

Jennifer J:   And you didn’t know each other before that. That’s awesome.

Maryanne:   Nope, Nope. Didn’t know each other.

Jennifer J:  That’s awesome.

Maryanne:   So yeah, so we had all gotten referrals, and we were getting ready to travel. And then Adoption Associates gave us the names of the adoptive parents who would be in our travel groups. So Tim and I contacted Jeff and Mo’, because we were a little closer. So we went out to dinner. It was kind of like a blind date. I walked around the little restaurant with a little stick trying to find them. After we left, we said, “Do you think they liked us? You think they’ll call us again? Maybe they don’t like us. And we have to spend two weeks with them.”.

And then for Julie, I remember because they were two hours away, I talked to her on the phone, and I remember we talked about, “What are you going to pack? How many pairs of shoes should you pack?” And I said, “Check the one that’s on your feet, don’t worry about it.” And so, and then we all eventually, through all this, because we all came from different parts, we hooked up in the Chicago airport. And of course we shared the experience of each getting a child. So we were there, we were all there when we all got our girls. So, that’s kind of like being in the delivery room. You were there, you don’t forget that experience. That moment you become adoptive parents.

Jennifer J:   Wow. That really does sound very, very special. Julie or Mo’, did you want to add anything else in here about what you recall in those very first meetings?

Julie:   Well, I remember sitting on the plane, because my husband and I had purchased three seats thinking that we would want the extra space bringing a baby back home. And it was convenient on the trip over, that the three of us ladies could all sit together and talk. And that really helped, because you’ve got a 14-15 hour flight nonstop from Chicago to Beijing. And it gave us a lot of time to get to know each other and just to chit chat, kind of get our nerves in check, and share that experience.

Jennifer J:   That sounds incredible. I love your story. I love that this is how you guys met, and it sounds like your relationship continued beyond this? So I want to talk about that too. About the months and years that followed after you became adoptive parents and those children came home. Were you intentional in staying in contact with one another? Anybody can answer.

Maryanne:   Well, I’m thinking it was a unique experience for us in that, when we traveled, it was only four months after the September 11th attacks. So, here we were boarding a series of six aircraft to bring a baby home from a foreign country. And, at the point that we left, ground zero was still burning. All of that news was still fresh, and these were the only people that spoke English, that we were going to be with for two weeks, that were going to share this unique experience, that I remember sitting with these ladies on the plane, and that of course was on our mind. And it’s like, “Look, they’re going to have to go through us. If anybody tries to take down this aircraft, they’re going to have three moms come down first.”.

Jennifer J:  Yeah.

Maryanne:  There was bonding right away, because we knew we needed to depend on each other, and lean on each other, and it never quit. Once we got back home, it was phone calls back and forth, and how you doing, and what’s going on? And I’ve got their numbers memorized.

Julie:   Yeah!

Maryanne:   It’s like she’s sleeping through the night, that type of stuff. And I always laugh because Julie and Mo’, ’cause I already had Matthew, so they thought I knew what I was doing, but I always told them, I said, “Don’t worry, I’ve made every mistake in the book and I’ve added a few extra. I’m not a pro at this. I’m flying.” So, but yeah, and I think we are intentional ’cause we always joke about it, after the girls and the kids are all on their own, that we’re still going to get together just because we like each other. I think that was a blessing. Very fortunate. We all looked at things the same. We have the same outlook. So I mean, we generally like each other. That might not happen if you’ve ever traveled with other groups- … We actually like each other. So.

Jennifer J:   Yeah. Well you touched upon, go ahead, is that Julie?

Mo’:    No, it’s Mo. I was just going to comment that each of our daughters were all born within two weeks of one another, as well. And the three girls were from the same orphanage, too. For all we know, they could have been crib mates. So it made our bond a really tight bond, as well. In fact, I know at least in our family, right from the beginning we looked upon Emily, and Holly as Kate’s sisters, because they started from the very beginning with one another. So yeah, it was just, it was right from the get go. We made plans to stay together, and make this journey as adoptive parents with one another. Not just through the adoption part, but in the years to come, so.

Jennifer J:   Nice. You mentioned-

Julie:   Too, one thing is, is that for us it was important that our daughters see other families that look like us. You don’t often see mixed race families out and about. And it was very obvious to anybody that looked at our family, that we didn’t give birth to these children that we have, we were adoptive parents. So, for them to see other families that look like us, made it more normal. This is normal, this is okay, this is us. Without them having to feel like they needed to explain anything, or wear that adoption on their sleeve. They were comfortable in their own skin, and with us as their parents.

Jennifer J:  Are these topics, or the sorts of topics that you three discussed amongst yourselves over the years. How do you view the support that you receive from one another, and in what way did you support each other in those early days, and as time passed?

Julie:   I don’t know that a lot of the issues that I’ve had have been necessarily that of the fact that my daughters are Chinese. It’s been mostly just basic kid stuff. If nothing else, it’s been just the normal, this is what’s going on, this is what’s happening, this is what we’re dealing with. A lot of people in our lives have forgotten. From the pediatrician, to my daughter’s friends, to the schools that they go to. They look at my kids and don’t see their ethnicity. They look at us just as parents, rather than automatically thinking adoptive parents.

Jennifer J:    Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mo’:  Yeah, it’s really true. And I was just going to comment. I was talking with Kate, my daughter, about this, and just commented, “Has the adoption been an issue for you at all? Because it hasn’t for us.” We came back home and we kind of held our breath and thought, “Let’s see what reaction we get.” Because we are a biracial family. Are there going to be awkward moments, or negative moments as a result of this? And there really hasn’t been. Even not for myself, and for my girls as well. It’s just, it has honestly, it sounds a little nutty, but it’s really been a nonissue, the whole adoption thing.

Maryanne:   Yeah-

Jennifer J:  Say that again, what did you say that you wear on your sleeve? I’m sorry.

Mo’:    Oh, I just said, the fact that, and I thought in many ways it’s a blessing that, it’s very obvious we are a biracial family. That, like Julie said, we didn’t give birth to these beautiful girls. So it’s not as though the girls have to contemplate, “How do I share my adoption story?” You know what I mean? It’s like, who do I tell that, hey, by the way I’m adopted. Didn’t know if you knew this or not. It’s just there. Everyone knows from the moment they meet us, and because of that, it’s just a nonissue.

Maryanne:   Yeah.

Mo’:   It’s a nonissue. So, that’s what I meant. I’m sorry.

Jennifer J:   Oh, you’re good, thank you very much for that-

Maryanne:   Every time my girls start in, sometimes my girls will start in with a whining, or the, “I don’t want to do that.” Or, “Do I have to?” Or whatever. It’s like, “Hey, look, take care of business. Yeah, and by the way, you’re adopted, and your Chinese. Do you need therapy yet? Move on. Yeah, we all have things to deal with. You can handle this too. Go for it.” It’s, for us, it’s just a nonissue.

Jennifer J:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). Do any of you recall any specific words of advice that you shared with one another as adoptive parents in the beginning, or at any point in time?

Julie:    Well, as Maryanne mentioned, when we got Kate, when we received Katie on those first few days in China, she got sick. She had an upper respiratory infection, and was very constipated. So, like Marianne said, we were knocking on their doors at all hours of the day going, “What do we do for this?” And so, poor Maryanne and Tim, because they have an older son, we did rely on them heavily. But it was from that perspective of, how do we get them to eat? How do we, this type of thing. But yeah.

Maryanne:   Yeah, we’ve always referred that to the bless the morning blessing, ’cause they-

Julie:  Right, right?

Mo’:   Their visit to your room-

Maryanne:   Some of the things we bonded over, we really can’t share on the air.

Jennifer J:  We will give you a pass on that, then. I can tell the comradery between the three of you. It’s very apparent to me and I know that it’s been, is it 16 years now? That your daughters are been home with you-

Maryanne:   15 years in January

Jennifer J:   15, okay. And so-

Maryanne:    They’re all 16 but yeah, it’s 15 years they’ve been with us.

Jennifer J:    Okay. So can you take us through and share kind of some of the most memorable times that the three of you have shared together? If it’s easy, that might be a big task, but let’s see how we can handle that.

Julie:    This is early on in our, before we even got the babies. Here we are, as six jet lagged adults, Americans in a foreign country sitting down for dinner. And Maryanne, god bless her heart, you get picture menus with very cryptic Chinese descriptions on ’em. And she ordered what she thought was beef tenderloin, and it came and it was white and squishy, and she’s chasing it around the plate with chopsticks. And my husband looked at her and said, “I read that on the menu to be beef tendons.” It wasn’t beef tenderloin at all. So you share a plate of beef tendons with someone in a foreign country, you’re going to have a bond.

Maryanne:   I forgot about that. Yeah.

Jennifer J:   That’s awesome. Anybody else?

Maryanne:   Yeah, so I remember right-

Jennifer J:    Oh, I think we lost Maryanne for just a second. Everybody there? Oh,.

Mo’:     Yeah, I’m here.

Jennifer J:   Is everyone with us? Great, okay, is that Mo’?

Mo’:    It’s Mo’, I can add something.

Jennifer J:   We did drop, I think we dropped Maryanne. She’ll be back with us in just a second. Go ahead.

Mo’:    Well, I was just going to say, I remember coming home from China, and right from the get go saying, “We’re going to stay in touch, we’re going to get together.” And already making plans right from the beginning, for a meeting, and staying in touch. We celebrate. Every year we get together and celebrate the girl’s Gotcha Day, which is their adoption day and the day we became adoptive parents. And so, it’s a very much, it was from the very beginning, a very concerted effort on our part to stay together, and we have long standing annual get together’s as well, at Julie’s house in the fall.

And it’s an annual thing that is a priority for us. And each of those events, to be honest, are memorable because, watching the girls grow up, and mature, and the different phases as Julie mentioned earlier, that they go through. They’re just such a big part of our lives. So-

Jennifer J:   Really nice to hear.

Julie:  One of the things too, that I think has added to this blessing, is that when we returned to China to get our second daughter, Mo’ and Jeff had already planned on going to get another child. And my husband and I, our first one didn’t want to eat or sleep. And it’s like, “Yeah, and you want me to go back and get another one?” And when we finally made the decision that yes, we were going to go and get a second child, it’s like, “Okay, we’re doing our paperwork together, and we’re going to make sure that we’re in that same referral group for the second trip.” And so our three couples, and three children have grown to another three couples, and three more children. And some of them have gone back to China. And when we get together, there’s 29 of us, adults and children. We’ve got seven  families that get together, that all shared this experience, and it’s unreal.

Mo’:    It really is neat because our combined travel groups for our two daughters, like Julie said, are seven, seven adoptive families. And it really is, we consider ourselves family to one another. We call ourselves aunts and uncles, and we are an extended family-

Jennifer J:  That’s awesome.

Mo’:   It is a really special bond that we have as adoptive parents.

Jennifer J:   So Mo’, and I know Maryanne’s back with us. So welcome Maryanne. Mo’, I wanted to go back. You were talking about Gotcha Day, and all of you celebrate that, which I didn’t know. That’s super cool. The 15th Gotcha Day was just recently. When was that?

Mo’:      It was January 16th, right guys? We traveled I think January 13th, and we received our daughters on the 16th. So we try and schedule, and Maryanne coordinates this for our travel group. She has everyone over to her place to celebrate the girls Gotcha Day, right around the January 16th timeframe. So.

Jennifer J:    And then you mentioned the annual, your longstanding annual get together’s that are a priority to you guys. What do you do, and where is that held?

Mo’:   We get together, I think around five times a year. At least five times a year. We have two Gotcha Days, because of having traveled twice. And then, Julie has a get together at her place in the fall. We’ve got a get together coming up with another, our seven families. What is it you guys? ,This month if I’m not mistaken.

Maryanne:     Yeah, a couple weeks. A week from Saturday.

Mo’:    Yeah, and then we celebrate the Chinese new year at another family’s house every year. So minimally I think it’s about five times a year, every few months we are hooking up with one another. So.

Maryanne:   Yeah.

Jennifer J:   Very nice.

Maryanne:   Yeah, we’re very fortunate with that. Yeah.

Julie:     And that’s just the annual get together’s that we do. There’s other times that Maryanne and her family will come down to our house for spring break, or to pick blueberries, or we’ll all go to Mo’s house sometimes in the spring, or other odd times. This isn’t just, we feel a connection because we’re adoptive parents and it’s only adoption related things that we get together. These are friends, these are family that, I’m as close to these people as I am to my blood relatives. So we get together all the time.

Jennifer J:   And I certainly sense that, that’s what you’re saying, and that’s what I’m feeling here. That you are extended family to one another, and maybe these relationships began initially because of adoption. Which is such an incredibly cool story, but it’s obvious that you guys are family to one another, and in everything that you do. Can we talk a little bit, I’d like each of you to talk about what these relationships have meant to you, how these relationships are formed and where they are today. Share that with our listeners, if you will.

Julie:   Well, I know for our-

Maryanne:   Huge blessing. Yeah, yeah, yeah-

Jennifer J:    How about we start with Maryanne?

Maryanne:    Okay. They are my sisters. I don’t have any biological family sisters, so if there’s a problem, or just something that I’m irritated about, or whatever, I can call them up. I mean Mo’ is Joe’s godmother, so and in Julie, and Mo’, and their husbands have always made sure that Matthew was included, which always endears him to me. ‘Cause he’s our oldest biological son, and they’ve always made a point to include him. So he’s not excluded just because there’s 14 other adopted kids, and he’s the only bio one. He still gets it, and they always make sure to include him, which is just very endearing. It’s just like Julie said, it’s just family, you call up, Julie and I are Betty Crocker’s. So we exchange recipes.

And we’ve learned from each other. I mean, she’s more spontaneous, so I’ll send her a text or something that said, “I threw this in.” Or whatever. And it is important for us to keep that relationship. I think it was Julie that said, so the girls can grow up together. Even if they haven’t had any major issues right now, if they get to college and something comes up, they always know that there’s someone there in their exact same position. Like she said, they’re not the only family that looks like this. This is pretty typical stuff, for us. Someone in the Lansing office said, “When you start doing international adoption, the world opens up.” And it not only opened up internationally, it opened up within our own state boundaries that we’ve learned other people, and just the comradery between us as adoptive parents.

Mo’:   Right. Yeah.

Jennifer J:  Julie or Mo’, did one of you want to speak to this, what these relationships have meant to you?

Mo’:  Yeah, I’ll just make a comment. I think it’s been stated before, but it’s really important. I really think that our daughters are all comfortable with who they are, and their families, in a large part because they have this extended family amongst them. And we all do look alike. They’re not the only ones. And we get together so frequently that it’s just a given. We’re just not unusual. We don’t stand out. This is the way we’re made, and they’re just comfortable in their skin because of it. So.

Jennifer J:  Good point.

Julie:   Well, I think one thing too is that, these girls have grown up with each other. I know one of the questions that you had, had was for the girls was, how did they first meet, and things like that. They’ve grown up together from the time that they don’t even remember. We had them together. So, these are people that they’re comfortable with. There might be that first little apprehension, but once they start talking, their heads are together, and they are playing like they have been lifelong friends, which they have. We have a get together at our house for two days in October, and these girls are crying when they have to leave.

My husband and I had discussed it, it’s like, “Okay, what do we do when all these girls are grown at college, and married, and kids? Maybe be an adult, we can have a retreat. Let’s pick a spot. Let’s go away.” And I had sent that out in an email. It’s like, “What do you adults think?” And instantly the response was, “No! You’re going to do this forever, and we’re bringing our boyfriends, and we’re bringing our husbands, and our kids are going to be there.” And it’s like, “Well, okay.” We’re a unit. We’re a family. It’s going on forever. God willing.

Jennifer J:   Yeah, yeah. What an incredible story, and I’m equally as excited, you will not be overshadowed, but you might be by your daughters next week. We will be hearing from Emily, Kate and Holly and I so look forward to that, as I know our listening audience will as well. And we’ll get to hear about what this all looks like from their perspective. And then we’ll follow up the week after that. So with all of you together, goodness, I’ll have to eat my extra bowl of Wheaties that morning. I am super excited about our summer series that we’re doing, and I appreciate you ladies being here today, and kind of laying the groundwork, so to speak, of what is to come in the coming weeks.

So for all of you that are listening who are interested in connecting with Adoption Associates, we would love to hear from you at 800-677-2367. You can also connect with us on the web at adoptionassociates.net, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. We continue to be in awe of the support that we’ve received and from our listening audience for this show. If you have suggestions about topics you’d like to hear, send us a message and let us know about that, too. So Julie, Mo’ and Maryanne, once again, a big thank you from me.

Maryanne:  Oh, you’re welcome.

Julie:  Thank you.

Mo’:   Thank you.

Maryanne:   Thank you.

Jennifer J:   And be looking forward to hearing from you guys again in a couple of weeks. For now, this is Jennifer on Adoption Focus. I hope you all have a great day. Bye-bye.

(Aired on BlogTalk Radio on 7-11-17)

Watch for Part 2 which will be posted on November 20, 2019!

To learn more about becoming an adoptive parent, and adopting in Michigan, click HERE.