Wednesday, November 14, 2012

2012 Adoption Bloggers Interview Project

The Open Adoption Bloggers site is a great resource for different perspectives on adoption. We discovered it in October 2011 a few months before we even started blogging. Once we had written a few posts in 2012, we submitted our blog to their blogroll. We've been tempted to join in every time we've seen one of their roundtable prompts, but we always wind up chickening out. However, this October we saw calls to participate in the 2012 Adoption Bloggers Interview Project and Susan decided it was time to get involved so she signed up.

Before we get started on the interview, I want to say thank you to two women involved in this project. The first is Heather Schade who blogs at Production, Not Reproduction and is the caretaker for Open Adoption Bloggers. She's done an amazing job of coordinating over 100 participants for this year's project and keeping us on schedule. The second is my interview partner, Melinda Oklamchak who blogs at He's our heart; She's our hero. Melinda is a very kind person and is so organized. She kept us both on track as we exchanged emails and our questions & answers. I'm so happy to be part of this project and I appreciate everything they did to make this happen. Thank you both!

Melinda, Noah, and Joe - happy to become a family in 2012! 

Melinda and her husband adopted their son earlier this year. She started her blog during her wait and has continued to blog about life as a new mom. I was very lucky to be matched with Melinda and thoroughly appreciated reading her blog. Melinda knows how difficult it can be to wait to adopt. I was very moved by her story and related to it as our own wait continues. My hope is always renewed when I hear about new families formed through adoption and I was glad to see their journey worked out. 

This project was very interesting because while Melinda and I have things in common, we both blog very differently. Her blog is focused on feelings, while our blog tends to be a lot of thoughts and details about us and our experiences, without a lot of feelings. I am grateful for the different perspective I got from my interview partner and her blog.  Now enough of the introduction, it's time for the interview!

1. Congratulations on adopting your son Noah earlier this year. What’s the best thing so far about being a parent? What’s the most surprising thing?

Everything, on both accounts! No honestly the best thing is just the love, I have never known such unconditional love in such a sort time. I have had instant love for my niece and nephew but this is so different. And it is not just the love we have for him but the love he has for us. I think the most surprising thing is how fast my momma bear kicked in, I didn’t expect it to happen that quickly, to bond with him that fast. I knew the second I saw him being born my life was never going to be the same and then when the consent papers were signed I was proven right. Also how fast they grow. It seems like yesterday that he was born and now we are just 3 short months from his 1st birthday.

2. It looks like you started blogging about a year into your wait to adopt. What inspired you to start blogging at that point? Did you find it helped to blog during the wait?

It was about a year after we started the paper work and we had been on the waiting list for about 6 or 7 months at that point. We met a couple at a training session and she and I became friends instantly and she told me about her blog. I thought it was a great idea and way to keep family and friends posted on what was going on. Before I realized it I have started to write about my feelings during the process and not just what was going on. For me it helped to just be able to write about what was going on and therapeutic just to get it off my chest, to be able to say what I was feeling. You can talk to family and friends but unless they have walked in these foot steps we are all walking in they don’t know, they don’t understand. They can love you and support you but they don’t understand.

3. Is Noah’s birthmother D, aware of your blog? Did she read it before making her decision to place Noah with you and your husband?

No; not that I am aware of. That is something I would have to ask her. I really don’t think it was something she read before making her decision. She did find us on a website but it did not have our blog on it and there was no way to connect the two.

4. What’s the biggest challenge you've faced so far with open adoption? 

When she was still pregnant with Noah it was being involved with EVERYTHING that was going on in her life. Midnight phone calls and just everything. I will say she never wavered in her wanting to place him but there was still so much other stuff I didn’t talk about out of respect for her. Now it is the lack of contact or I should say the back and forth. After we left Las Vegas I think she was hurting, we were parenting a new born and just adjusting to our new life. She has made a lot of life changes and there are peaks and valleys in our relationship but all relationships are work and take time.

5. I saw in your blog that you would like to be more active as a source of information and support for those waiting to adopt. What advice would you give waiting families, especially if they have been waiting more than a year? 

Be pro active in your journey. For many months we just sort of went with the flow of things taking for granted that our agency would be doing all they could. And maybe to them they did but for us it wasn’t enough. Get your information out there, network, network, and network! List your profile on any on-line site you can. Send your homestudy to any agencies that will take it and have it on file without charging you. Ask attorneys, medical offices at colleges any place you can think of to keep your information on file. I know doing it that way you open yourself up to scams so you have to be cautions but you also need to make things happen for yourself.

6. You recently decided to move your blog from WordPress to Blogger. Can you tell me a bit more about that decision? Was it easy to move your blog or were there any challenges? 

The same friend I mentioned earlier had some give always on her blog I asked her about it and she said that she just got emails when she reached a certain amount of “traffic”, you cannot do that on wordpress. I want to become more active and thought that would be a cool added bonus to have. It was an easy process and took like maybe 15 minutes to move all my old posts over and start to blog. It was much easier than I thought it would be to be honest.

7. I noticed a couple of fundraisers mentioned in your blog and I’m curious how those worked. Can you tell me a bit more about them? Do you have any advice for waiting families who might be considering fundraising efforts of their own? 

In the area we live in basket parties are a big fundraiser for pretty much everyone. People put together theme baskets and donate them, also try to get much bigger items, like tickets to a local ball game, amusement party, large gift card amounts and you charge extra for those (get a roll of like 50/50 tickets and sale them 3 tickets for $5.) Also sale 50/50 tickets. You then charge a fee to get in and you get a sheet of tickets with 25 chances on them, (you can get the tickets on line). The object is to have a lot of baskets and nice baskets (tell people who donate you would like the baskets to be worth say $30). They are a lot of work but if done right they can be a big success. I know of several other fundraisers other families have had as well.

The advice I have is just ask, you never know who is willing to help. When we planned our first one I thought no one will want to help they won’t want to come. You will be surprised, I have people I hadn’t talked to in years call to offer help, and we have over 200 people at the 1st event. Just have faith in it all.

Anyone can email me and I help them with information I can. My email is on my blog.

8. Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently on your journey to adopt?

Part of me wants to say I would not change a thing because I have the most perfect little boy. What I have told people before if we do it again I would do things different like a live and learn type of thing. I would not get locked in with 1 agency and pay them a bunch of money up front. I would also get my homestudy done by independent place so I had control over it. That way we would have had more freedom as to what we could do. We were in the position we couldn’t be shown for some situations at other places I had networked with because we didn’t have our original homestudy. Also when we did have to use another agency to match with Noah’s birth mother we lost A LOT of money and couldn’t get a refund of it. I know that is a choice we made but I still struggle with how some places can do that and live with it.

I do need to state that is OUR personal experience, we have friends who used the same facility we used and loved them and some have even listed with them the 2nd time. Our experience was different, way different.

9. Were there any adoption blogs, websites, or other online resources you found helpful on your journey and would recommend to waiting families? 

I would say just research and find some blogs you connect with. There were 3 I followed and 2 of them I still do, plus several others but during the wait it was;

Jess at Her Womb, Our Hearts (she has since closed her blog since the adoption of her 2 children)

Rebekah at Heart Cries and Meg at God Will Fill This Nest.

I have also read the book about adoption in the 60’s and 70’s and it was a big eye opener for me to want to work hard to have a relationship with Noah’s birth family.

Curious about Susan's answers? You can check out Melinda's blog for her interview with Susan. There's also many more interviews to read from the current and past Adoption Bloggers Interview Projects at the links below.

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