Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pick me, pick me! Like Middle School Sports All Over Again.

I had a little scare with my sweet little boy yesterday.  We had been swimming at a friend’s pool for a couple of hours.  D was tired and wanted to change into his dry clothes.  He was standing with his friend at the end of the pool throwing in beach balls and then fishing them out as they floated back to the edge of the pool.   I turned to talked to one of the moms and he fell in the deep end.  I just remember hearing silence where laughter and chatter had once been.   His friend’s father was standing right beside them and was getting ready to jump in after him fully clothed, having just arrived from work.  Thanks to a summer of swim lessons, D resurfaced after a second or two and though panicked, had not swallowed any water since he knew how to hold his breath.  I was getting ready to jump in when the father was able to grab his arm and fish him out.  D was so upset, but safe.  He didn’t even choke on any water at all.  I hugged him and told him what a good job he had done holding his breath and how he had been able to bring himself back to the surface of the water.  He sobbed for a minute, denying his success—“No, I not!”.  I reassured him that even though the father had pulled him out, that he had had a big hand in saving himself.  He suddenly stopped crying and said in a happy voice “I fine!”.  I thought about that all afternoon, and ran the “what ifs” through my head.  I wasn’t too shaken by it until I woke up around 1 a.m. just sick over the whole event.  D had crawled into bed with us, and instead of taking him back to his bed like normal, I left him there.  I lay beside him and watched him sleep peacefully.  I inspected his facial features and thought about how quickly he was growing into a little boy.  His chubby little cheeks have receded into a more angular face.  He has freckles on his lips his body is strong and more lean than before.  He is handsome and funny and a fun-loving handful of a child.  I love him so much.

I thought about how often we as parents make mistakes and beat ourselves up over what we think are bad decisions.  There are no handbooks for raising children, although I feel like those of us who adopt get more of one than most with all the classes we are required to take.  But, even so, it’s sink or swim for most of us, and every now in then, we have someone bail us out, too.  This experience made me think about this questionnaire we had to fill out to be in the birthparent profile pool.  The county has a waiting list, but they also have a pool of applicants from which birthparents can choose parents for their children if it is a voluntary relinquishment.  It’s a great opportunity, but can be a difficult thing to fill out.  You want to tell the truth, but you also want to be the fun, happy couple that will make someone choose you.  And all the high school popularity issues (or lack thereof as in my case…) coming flooding back!  You are allowed three pages to answer these questions and three pages of pictures you think will show who you are individually and as a couple.  I will spare you our answers, but thought you might like to see the list of questions.  It took awhile for us to fill this out, trying to judge between how much of the truth to share and how much we didn’t want to scare anyone off!  We just tried to look somewhat normal, moderately fun, not too weird, but not too mainstream, maybe a little edgy…..oh, who am I kidding!  It is what it is, right?  Sigh.  Maybe I should just put in the one about parenting, “at least he’s still alive!”  I mean, that’s a success in my book at the end of the day.

Here are the questions we were required to answer in hopes we'd be cool enough to be chosen...how would you answer?  Kind of interesting to take a look at yourself and your relationship a little more closely sometimes. 

Following information for both applicants:
  • First Name:
  • Year of Birth:
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • Physical Description: 
    • Height:    
    • Weight: 
    • Hair color:   
    • Eye Color
    • Skin:
  • Why we want to adopt:
  • What is each of us like as person?
  • Education level and field:
  • Employment (prior and current)
  • Employment and child care plans when the child comes:
  • Religion (how active, how we will raise our children):
  • Interests, hobbies, and sports (individually and shared):
  • Reading (type):
  • TV viewing (type and how much):
  • Music (type):
  • Describe your home (What makes it distinctively yours?):
  • Describe your neighborhood (urban, rural, etc.):
  • Do you have pets?  What kind?
  • Marriage:
  • How do husband and wife share/divide household responsibilities and chores?:
  • How do you as a couple/family spend your time together (i.e. how do you spend a typical weekend?):
  • Brief description of childhood (number of siblings, where you grew up, relationship with parents, significant memories/experiences/etc.?)  One paragraph:
  • Briefly describe a difficult life experience you had and how you learned from it (one paragraph):
  • Extended family (relationship between grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousings:  geographical locations of relatives; experiences and attitudes toward adoption:
  • Experience with children:
  • Children in home:  adopted/biological   description/personality/year of birth:
  • How are, or will, child-care responsibilities be handled between husband and wife?:
  • Thoughts about relationship with birth parents:  How do you feel about:
    •  Meeting the birth parent(s) prior to, or at placement.
    • Updating of pictures and letters about the child over the years.
    • Receiving pictures and letters from birth parent(s) over the years.
    • Supporting a search for birth parents.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Finances...No Stone Left Unturned.

Aaahhh, finances.  Yes, every corner of your life must be examined before you can take home a child.  This blog post will be short and sweet, as I really just wanted to post this Financial Statement that we were required to fill.  It's just an informative tidbit for those hoping to adopt, just so you are prepared for the microscope.  I really have a love/hate relationship with a lot of the things we are required to do and here's why.  I feel like any schmo can go out and get pregnant (...okay, well obviously not ANY schmo...), and yet we have to report our car payments and checking accounts and health insurance, and what we spent on Cheetos last month (okay, that may be a slight exaggeration, but only the part about the Cheetos).  On the other hand, I know the county wants to make sure prospective adoptive parents have the means to support their children, and this is all done to protect them.  I do understand that, and I think it's necessary.  Social workers get a bad rap, and we have been blessed to have some really great ones who I know for a fact have these kids' best interest in mind.  SO....even though it may sound like I'm complaining, I'm really not.  I do think this financial statement is interesting, though.  Maybe every couple choosing to have children should fill out a sheet like this....maybe it would make them take things a little more seriously.  That said, I really think that we are never completely prepared to have children in any way, and if we knew the reality of what it was going to cost us (and I ain't just talking money), maybe a lot more people would choose to not have children!  And that would be a shame.  Frankly, it is hard, and it is expensive and it will give you wrinkles and grey hair, but it will give you joy and fulfillment and love you didn't know possible.  It will stretch you and improve you in so many ways, and when you think you just aren't a good enough parent, you will find that you are.  And sometimes, those sacrifices we make, including financially, become some of the most memorable, character-building times of our lives--ones we wouldn't trade for anything, not even for the thrill of not living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Take a perusal and let me know your thoughts.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My Mother-of-the-Year Award Awaits.

My little monkey.  He looks higher than he really
was...not that I need to explain or anything....

Let’s see.  I just got back from being gone from my three-year-old son for nine days.  I yelled at him this morning and confiscated his trains until this evening.  I thought I was being the cool mom when I let him climb a tree today, which he did better than the kids almost twice his age I might add….and then he fell out of said tree just seconds after snapping my awesome photo and sobbed for five minutes straight.  He asked “what the heck?!” to some kid at the park.  I’m pretty sure I checked my phone way too many times today, and I let him watch way too much TV this morning.  All in all, I’ve had one of those mother-of-the-year days.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, it could have been much worse.  I mean, he’s alive, right?  He is happy, and he thought it was really funny when I sang him to sleep with “We are Siamese if you please….we are Siamese if you don’t please…ba dunt dunt dunt…”  In fact, he was almost out and he smiled and only half opened his eyes and said “Again.”  Of course, I obliged.  I think we ended the day on a high note.

But, high note or not, these are the things I think about when the social workers are interviewing us about our parenting styles and how we react to conflict and how we discipline.  I think about it every time we are in a required class that has to do with the best way to parent a child (which is what most of classes are about).  I think about what could happen if someone saw me in a moment of anger and reported me to child protective services, and even though I’ve never done anything close to something that would be considered abuse, I worry that because we have an open home study and are waiting to adopt again, that any little misinterpreted action could be a problem.  How deeply would they investigate?  Would they take my sweet boy first and ask questions later?  I know they would only do that in an effort to protect him, but the thought makes me sick to my stomach.  These are the things you think about when under scrutiny. 

I know I’ve talked a lot about how invasive the whole adoption process is, and I don’t say that to scare anyone off.  I know it is designed to protect these kids who have already been through so much.  Logically, I know that this kind of scenario probably would never happen, but, I would be lying if I said we don’t live a little bit in fear of the scrutiny.  We’ve all passed judgment on someone else’s parenting choice, knowing full well we have no idea of the back story or full circumstances.  Fortunately, there usually isn’t much fallout from that criticism.  But what if someone took it a step further and called the police on us?  I know of a few cases in which police were called because a stranger didn’t like the way a parent handled something, even though there was no abuse that happened.  When you have an open file with the county and are visited and interviewed about your choices, there is always fear that something will look like more than it is.  There is the tendency to sugarcoat a little bit to make sure nothing sounds even remotely suspicious.  However, we have also had it drilled into us that it is better to tell the truth than to be caught in a lie.  If you have ever caught a friend or family member in a lie, you know that everything they have ever told you or will ever tell you is now viewed with an element of mistrust.  We have made it a point to be very upfront and honest, even if it meant having to sacrifice some privacy and a little pride.  I’ve even considered whether or not I should openly blog about my parenting mishaps for fear that it could be used against me at some point.  But, I can’t live life in fear….well, not too much fear.  Maybe just enough to keep me on my toes, but hopefully not enough to paralyze me.

So, yes, I will continue to let my little wild child climb trees, and most likely I will raise my voice at him again, although I’m trying to be more patient.  The reason I was gone for nine days was to help with my father's lung cancer surgery, and frankly, although it was hard being away from D, I think it's important that he knows he isn't the center of the universe and that grandpa needed me more right now.  I would bet money on him getting his trains confiscated at least a few more times during his childhood.  He is a stubborn little sucker!  I am reminded frequently that it can be a good trait if we can ever channel it properly.  I will try to teach him to say more polite phrases than “What the heck?!”, but since I know he parrots me, that may be a harder fix.  We have to embrace the extra scrutiny, because until we are finished with our family, it is just something we have to live with, and I know it is meant to protect children.  And, perhaps in some ways, it has made me look at my parenting occasionally as a third party, which I’m convinced is not a bad thing.  I think it’s good to take an outside point of view sometimes to see more objectively what things I could be improving.  Besides, a full investigation would just prove that we are normal, and we have bad days and good days, and we know we aren’t perfect, and that we love him to the moon and back, and isn’t that what they want for these kids anyway?

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Infertility Checklist.

Infertility.   I know it’s common.  I know thousands and thousands of women (and even men for that matter) deal with it every day.  But even so, it’s interesting how few conversations I’ve had about it over the years.  Maybe it’s because it’s a painful topic, or maybe because someone is always giving you advice as to what to try next or trying to figure out what you’re doing wrong, and even though you know it’s helpful, it is hard to have those discussions.  For me, the difficulty came because I seemed to be the only one who didn’t eventually get pregnant.  Even most of my friends who adopted had at least one biological child, and so even though we’d been through a lot of similar experiences, it just never seemed like anyone had as much or as long as a battle as I did.  I’ve been trying to get pregnant since I was twenty-one and we got D when I was thirty-eight, so that gives you a small idea of what we have been through.  When we headed into adoption, it was after a year-long experience with our last option--two rounds of invitro fertilization, during which my body reacted horribly and I became extremely sick.  When the second round failed, we were done, and with feelings still raw and tears still fairly fresh, we went to our first adoption seminar to look at our options.

I suppose we are the classic example of why the county makes people go through this checklist and take their “Adoption After Infertility” class.  One of the hardest things about the whole process is how personally invasive it is.  As couples, we have so many personal and intimate conversations about everything from children to our hopes and dreams to marital conflicts we need to resolve, and most of those are kept private.  With adoption, nothing is private.  I have a love-hate relationship with the whole thing, because I know that they are just protecting the children from going from the frying pan into the fire.  And yet, sometimes you feel like it’s just none of their business.  But, I guess it is if they want to, with a clear conscience, place these children in a homes that will be good for them.

I have included both pages of a checklist we were both required to fill out (click on them to see them larger).  During the class we were required to attend, most, if not all of these issues were discussed, and you are supposed to openly and honestly share where you are in coming to terms with each of these “tasks”.  Of course I green lighted everything, and honestly, I do think I was telling the truth.  But a few of them still made me a little sick to my stomach to think about.  As much as I think we were ready to move forward with adoption, I don’t know that grief ever has an end, as implied in #1.   In regards to #4, I wondered if that meant 51/49 was okay, or was it supposed to be 80/20?  Numbers 6-8….hmmm…sketchy, but I’m sure I dabbled here in there.  Number 9-10?  Well, I think it’s hard to answer a question like that when you aren’t in that situation yet.  We all like to think we would be so intelligent in our dialogue, but even with extensive education, it’s hard to know how to handle certain things when it involves your child whom you love dearly.  And #11-#12….am I the only one that sees these as contradictory?  Having had a child placed for us for adoption and losing him back to his birth-father makes me think #11 may need to be reworded.

I do think this checklist is a good starting point for some open and honest discussion with your social worker, your spouse, and most importantly yourself.  You do need to be sure you are ready, although give yourself a little slack and don’t require such a complete, rigid standard.  You might not be 100% on everything, and that’s okay.  I’m still not, and I’m loving our little adopted boy and we’re on the list to do it again!

***Also, if you have experienced infertility, whether you adopted as a result or not, you might enjoy my post Plan B:  It's a Good Thing  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Plan B. It's a Good Thing.

My Sweet Adopted Plan B Child--Running Free

I heard an adult adoptee say once “let’s face it, nobody comes into adoption because that was their first choice”.  I don’t know about “nobody” but I think that’s probably generally true for the majority of adoptive parents.  We are here because this was Plan B, and Plan A failed.  Heck, it might have even been Plan C or D!  This particular quote came from a girl who was a little bit bitter about all she had been through, and even though she had great adoptive parents, there was something in knowing that she was Plan B that bothered her.  I’ve pondered on that statement many times, and wondered how to keep D from feeling that way.  But, as I have thought more about it, I have wondered how many times our Plan A didn’t work out and that whatever came as a result of having to rethink our plans was actually better than our Plan A would have ever  been.  Let’s think about high school crushes we just knew we wanted to marry, or how many times we changed majors in college, or how many jobs we had before we found something we liked, or how often you spent way too much money on something you just had to have, only to find it was not nearly as fulfilling as anticipated.  I’ve heard so many stories of people who suffered some great difficulty, only to find that it was the very thing that propelled them to greatness.  My father wound up with a combination of horrible dehydration and a double kidney infection this summer that left him practically passed out on his bedroom floor in the middle of the night, after having vomited everywhere.  And yet, in diagnosing his kidney infections, the doctor found a cancerous mass in his lung.  He just had surgery in which everything was successfully removed and no signs of spreading because it was caught so early.  We are thanking God right now for that horrible round of infections.  I remember seeing an interview with Richard Dreyfuss about how he was afraid this stupid movie he was in was going to end his career.  It was Jaws.  Lance Armstrong became even more competitive after his bout with cancer.  His body experienced changes that ultimately made him a better athlete.  And perhaps mentally, he was so much tougher having fought that battle.  Whatever it was, the combination paid off in a way that had not happened before the cancer.  There is story after story of incidences in which the thing we so desperately wanted faded off into the sunset and surprisingly left an opportunity for something better.

I won’t say that adoption is better than birthing a child.  I would still jump at the chance to be pregnant and have that wonderful experience.  But I don’t pine away for it like I used to do.  Age has blessed me with the ability to look back on my life and acknowledge that I have learned some fabulous lessons from experiences I would never have wished upon myself.  I have come to know amazing people because I was forced to.  I have had my eyes opened to new possibilities, and also just to the idea of having them open.  I have learned to pay attention to the people and things and opportunities that grace my pathway, and just assume that I have something to gain by taking a closer look.  Years of fertility treatment brought grief and many tear-filled nights.  But it also brought knowledge and compassion I have been able to share with others going through the same thing.  Adoption has caused me to ponder what it is that really makes a family, and what I’m willing to go through to have my own, Plan B or otherwise.  Maybe the “B” stands for blessing, or better, or beneficial or brave.  Or maybe it just stands for best, because that’s what it’s been for us.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

It’s a Marriage, Not a Birth: Get Over It. Love It. Embrace it.

I’ve been told that adoption is more of a marriage than a birth.  I think that is pretty accurate and the older the child is at the time of adoption, the more of a marriage it is.  At first I thought that because we got D when he was so young, that this wouldn’t really be as true for us, but it is.  Think about the differences between a birth and a marriage.  A birth is when a human life enters the world not ever having known anything else but his mother and father.  I add father because even though he hasn’t physically touched his father until birth, he is still made up of DNA and other physical things that came directly from his father—things that physically touched him.  This child has known no other life besides his own and in some degree, that of his parents.  An adopted child has a history before you—family, friends, DNA, culture, and so many other things—and that’s okay.  It’s even good, so embrace it.

As I’ve sat in numerous adoption and foster parent classes, I have been privy to many, many discussions, some which included me, and some to which I not-so-subtly eavesdropped.  It has been interesting to hear how many prospective adoptive parents would like to erase their potential child’s past and “move on”.  Things like drug and alcohol abuse, neglect, mental illness and so many more issues that have plagued various birth parents lives, become the reasons for criticism.  And keep in mind that many adoptions happen as the result of very coherent, deliberate choices by wonderful birth parents to place their children with families because they just don’t feel that they can give those children good lives.  Those choices are made out of a great love for their child and extreme unselfishness.  But, as one who has adopted out of our local foster care, I can say that most adoptions aren’t the result of a choice like that.  I believe that adoptive parents really need to face this fact:  adoption is not the same as a biological birth.  Accept it.  Mourn the loss of it, if that bothers you, and get over it.  It’s not the same and it never will be and that’s not a bad thing.  It’s just a different thing.

I remember sitting through a wonderful class that was all about how we need to not cut off all ties from a child’s birth family or the life they had before adoption.  The instructors taught about how continued visits with biological family long after adoption can be most beneficial to the child.  They taught us to not throw away clothes or blankets or anything from the child’s life before adoption because no matter how tattered and dirty those things might seem to us, they are one of the few connections that child has with their biological family and with a former life that is becoming more and more distant in his memory.  They talked about not changing their names (especially in older children) because it may be the only thing their mother ever gave them.  They talked about the difficulty in still having contact with the biological family, but that in many cases, that contact was very healing for a child.  They discussed how many adoptive parents don’t want the hassle of more extended family, or regular visits, or dealing with people that aren’t their own family.  They said often adoptive parents are insecure that a child might perhaps love someone else more than them, and maybe want to return to live with that family, but that on the contrary, usually what happens is that the adopted child realizes this was the better choice for him and is happier to have discovered that for himself.  Ironically, right after the bulk of this class was taught, I heard an adoptive father turn to someone else during a break and say “Well, I’m severing those ties as soon as possible.  I know what’s best for my child and they aren’t it.”  I was totally surprised that he had missed every single principle taught in that class, and I felt sadness at how his child may feel, not only with his parents’ attitude towards where he came from, but also without that connection that might have helped him to heal more quickly and more completely.  Adopted children need to sort through all these things at their own pace, not at a pace that is more convenient for us.  A marriage is two people entering in to a contract, with risks on both sides.  Don’t forget it’s a risk for the child to take you, too, and he never asks for you to leave your past behind.

Adoption is a wonderful thing.  If you have read any of my blog entries, then you already know how I feel about it.  But it is the marrying of two worlds.  It is two or more people that aren’t blood-related coming together just like in a marriage.  As you willingly step into that union, remember that you are taking that child to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until…well, I know the traditional vows ends with “til death do us part”, but I believe in the eternal nature of families, so I will replace that with “forever and ever”.   

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Maybe We All Need Parenting Classes (and other truths we don't want to admit)

I wonder how many parenting classes the average parent has had.  As I look at this picture, and think about the things this crazy child does, I wonder if maybe I need more!  I wonder how many parents are CPR/First Aid certified.  With all the frustrations and mounds of paperwork required for the great state of California to deem me an acceptable parent, I do think there are some good things that come out of it.  Every year, we are required to complete eight hours of classes that have something to do with parenting our hopefully soon-to-be-adopted child (we don’t have another one in our home yet, but have be current just in case we get the call).  If you include the first year of the process to get approved to adopt, that means we have attended at least 29 three-hour classes, not including the three we are due to attend this month, or the three-hour CPR/First Aid classes we have to attend every other year.  And even though we are only required to have eight hours each year, the classes are almost always three-hour classes, so that really makes nine hours each year.  The math=96 hours of parenting-related classes, not including the twelve hours we will attend this month, making the total at least 108 hours!  Okay….ENOUGH MATH!

So, what kind of classes?  Here is the list.  Many of these have multiple sessions, but even so, we have been required to take so many hours that we have had to repeat the classes over the years.  Keep in mind that these classes are for foster parents and adoptive parents, as in California, you have to be certified for both since technically you are foster parents until the adoption is final.

·         --Embracing Your Child’s Heritage (I did another blog post based on this class called “Am I Racist for Wanting a White Baby?”)
·        -- Risk Factors (which will “examine current information about inherited illnesses (including mental illnesses), congenital conditions (including cerebral palsy), and the risks and effects of prenatal drug exposure, alcohol and HIV.”)
·        -- Attachment Parenting (session is six three-hour classes designed to give tools and techniques to help children who have experienced trauma, abuse, neglect, etc., be able to form healthy relationships)
·         --Kinship Adoption (for those adopting an extended family member)
·         --Adoption after Infertility (required for those adopting because of failed fertility treatment….we had to take this one)
·         --Adoption the Lifelong Process (covers issues that arise over the life of an adopted child, including how to talk about their experience before and after adoption, how to talk about birthparents, exploring what it means to them to be adopted, etc.)
·         --The Placement Process (self-explanatory—all the nuts and bolts of the adoption process)
·         --Adult Adoptee Panel (one of my favorites—usually two to three people who were adopted as children and now share their stories, the challenges they faced and how they overcame and/or deal with issues that often arise in adopted children)

Those are the core classes that are repeated every year.  Then there are others that are taught from time to time.  Here are some of the ones I’ve seen recently:  Beyond Consequences (better ways to discipline children, especially those that have been affected by neglect and/or abuse and who don’t respond positively to traditional discipline methods;  Social Skills for Youth, Parenting the Hurt Child, Anger Issues, Shaken Baby Syndrome, etc., etc., not to mention classes about the particulars like how your adoption benefit works, applying for extra help with special needs children, plus the initial PRIDE classes which is the nine-class session everyone has to take when initially getting certified to Foster Parent/Adopt.  These classes go through so much information from the basics of the process, to many of the things that kids and parents in the system go through.   Double Whew!

My point in sharing this, is that at first, I felt a little frustrated.  I mean, you look around and you see so many people that you feel (and I know this is totally judgmental!) have absolutely no business being parents.  Often their pregnancies were unwanted, or they are on drugs and/or alcohol and continue to abuse those substances while pregnant, or they are living on the streets, or have no means of supporting a child, or even worse, of being able to actually have feelings of love and commitment to a child.  And yet, I, as a potential adoptive parent, have to jump through so many hoops and have people ask me very personal questions about past relationships and my job status, and look at my bank statement and ask how my childhood will affect my parenting.  I have to take a class about adopting after years of infertility treatment to make sure I’m in the right state of mind to have a child.  They question stupid decisions I made twenty years ago, checking carefully under my fingernails to make sure there is no dirt there.  It is really hard to not get self-righteous about how I can be a better parent than someone else.  And I say this as a person who does not look down on others for any of those reasons.  I do try to have compassion and know that I don’t know their circumstances and therefore have no right to judge.  But when we stand side by side, and they are allowed to keep their child and I have to do just the right dance to get mine, it’s hard not to start making comparisons.  That said, here is what I’ve learned from this, as I implement my silver-lining approach to life….maybe more of us need parenting classes.  We have to take classes to get certified for all kinds of things—driving a car, getting a degree, handling food as a waitress, learning to sew, becoming a Zumba instructor, and the list goes on.  And how many of those involve something as important as the 24/7 care of a human life?  I have a wonderful group of mom friends, and when we get together, do you know what the bulk of our conversations are about?  Yep….parenting.  How to be better.  How to help our children read and write and sleep better and not be brats and potty train and stop whining and be unselfish and share and grow to be wonderful, productive members of society who care for their fellowman.  Okay, maybe it’s not always worded like that, but that truly is the intent.  And yet, most of us only have a few years of experience.  Maybe it’s not such a bad idea for us to take a class on how to be better at the most important job we will ever have.  I have found that I have drawn many helpful truths out of the almost 100 hours I have spent in these classes, and am wondering if maybe, in all the frustration of going through “the system”—maybe they have this part right.  And maybe we can all take a step back and be more open to accepting help and seeking out answers from those who have gone before us and have tread that water.  Why are we trying to reinvent the wheel every minute of the day?  I’m grateful for this adoption experience for so many reasons, but one of the big reasons is that I have been forced to learn and to be more open.  I’m not cured, but I’m better for having lived it and for embracing what I have to do and seeing the great benefits, and I think letting my carefree child jump off big cement dolphins is maybe part of what makes me a good mom.