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My parents - in - law, whom I love as my own parents - I am parent-less - are bringing up concerns about how we may be throwing a wrench into the works of "our perfect life" by choosing to adopt (we are able to have biological children, but had complicated pregnancy and birth).

I really love these people, and I want to educate them and make them more comfortable with the decision. I really don't want to get mad (okay, madder) at the fact that I don't like what I am hearing, even if it is coming from a position of being concerned for our happiness.

I think it comes from a traditional, adoption is the "second best" choice - way of thinking, that many people who have not had experience with adoption tend to follow.

I know some, or maybe all, of you will be angry at them, because it hurts to think of people thinking of adopted children as "a liability", but have any of you dealt with this issue in a way that had a positive outcome?

Thanks, L.
 

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I think its great that even though you can have babies, that you are going to adopt one, I think adopted babies are special because they are chosen babies, and your inlaws need to try to understand your feelings on the matter. I was raised by a man who wasnt my father, and my cousin married a single mom, and adopted her son, and certain family members have said stuff, but others have been very supportive, you know whats best for your family...your inlaws dont..lol

take care
 

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I suppose it depends on whether or not you think this attitude will carry over to your adopted child. Some grandparents blow a lot of steam when the kid (biological or adopted) is just an "idea", but fall in love when the child arrives. If you think they might be that way, just hang in there. Of course you can try to educate them as to why you are doing this, but I doubt they'll understand. Adoption was for infertile couples, back in those days.
 

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** warning, this is long . . . I'm up at 3:00 a.m. with a stuffy nose and have too much time on my hands **

My dad shocked me by coming out "against" this a couple months after we first told him and his wife. I was blindsided. Fortunately, he told me about his concerns in an e-mail, so I never had to see his facial expressions and his mine. He expressed a concern that we were making our lives unnecessarily "complicated" (esp. with transracial adoption), he worried that adoption can come with "surprises," we wouldn't know what kind of "gene pool" we were dealing with, and he wasn't sure he'd love the child "the same" as his two biological grandchildren -- and, because of that, we didn't know how he'd feel about financially supporting (read: establishing a college fund for) an adopted grandchild. But he acknowledged that he might have some learning to do on this subject, and that perhaps he was drawing conclusions based on too little information -- he said he had talked to some friend who had adopted from Korea some time ago, and had to recognize that their experience had been wonderful.

Thank goodness my first impulse was to give him "permission" to feel conflicted and worried and let him know he could be honest with us; that I wouldn't judge him for his feelings. I wrote him the letter, pretty much within ten minutes of getting his e-mail, and he wrote back the next day thanking me for my response and letting me know it made him feel very much relieved -- to the point even of getting "weepy" (not sure he was necessarily relieved about the adoption, but about his standing with me). But for the rest of the day after I wrote the first e-mail, I felt depressed, betrayed, and angry. I have a history of having to be the adult with both of my parents, and it saddened me that, once again, I was the one dishing out the support and understanding instead of vice versa.

Since the first e-mail, we've communicated some more about this. I have sent him some material on transracial adoption (Simon and Roorda's _In Their Own Voices_ and Randall Kennedy's _Interracial Intimacies_). He's read some of the Simon/Roorda interviews, and has thus far concluded that transracial adoption "doesn't sound easy." (Is parenting supposed to be "easy"? Gosh, I guess I just have a profoundly different perspective on this.)

I think my dad is working through his feelings, and my hope is that he will come around on this. But if not, then that's life. One thing that's telling, though, is that he has found a way to be at peace about the college fund thing. He is setting up some funds, to be administered by me and my sister, that can be used by our kids in whatever way we think is best, essentially. He's letting go and letting me decide. I think that's healthy. It's my life, it's my family.

Well, kids, if anyone is interested in that first letter I wrote to my dad, here is it.

________________

Dad,

I am not at all put off by your candor. I am glad you are voicing your concerns to me and being honest with yourself and me. I think it's okay to feel complicated feelings . . . even negative or troubling feelings.

You can trust that [dh] and I will be making this decision based on what our hearts say and what all of our research has told us. And, indeed, we've been reading about this for several years. We've had a lot more time to think through our concerns and apprehensions than you have! In retrospect, I realize it must have been a shock to you and perhaps some of the other grandparents (and aunts/uncles) -- we've come to the decision gradually, after working through fears, whereas the decision was "sprung" on you fully cooked! (Well, almost fully cooked.)

I think it's totally okay if you still feel funny about the whole thing when you start getting pictures of this little person. You won't recognize him/her. You won't get to search her or his face for similarities to other people you love (and that's a big deal because that's part of the "falling in love" experience for grandparents . . . adoptive parenting is 95% like other parenting, but genetic discontinuity is part of the 5% that is different). So that's okay. Chances are you won't begin to feel any connection until you've spent time with this person and have gotten to know him/her. Ultimately, that's what happens in every relationship -- ideals and projections are replaced with real knowing, real experiences.

As for your worry that you may not love this child the way you love [your two biological grandchildren], again -- I am not put off by your comment. I think your feelings are normal and okay. My advice is to not try to love any two (or more) children "the same." Every kid, every person is different, and deserves to be loved not equally, but as the unique individual they are. You will have a different relationship with all of your grandchildren, just like you have a different relationship with all of the people close to you. Do you love [my sister] and I the same way? I bet you don't, I hope you don't. You love us both, I'm sure, but your relationship with both of us is different, because we're different people with a different history with you. That's okay.

If you're not comfortable with "financial" matters, don't worry about it. You can put off your decision indefinitely, and that can be a matter between you and me (and [dh]) -- no one else needs to know about it. You don't need to do anything for any of your grandkids based on obligation. Give your love, time, etc. from you heart, when it feels right to you. You owe that to yourself as well as to the children.

One of the hard things about this adoption process is hearing negative stories about other people's adoption experiences. They can really scare the wits out of you. But, after having heard dozens of them now and working through fears about them, I can say that one conclusion I've drawn is that adoption is one of those life experiences that tends to get scape-goated (if that's even a word). Think of some of the other messed-up people you've known (and we've all known plenty). Does anyone blame their problems on having grown up with their birth parents instead of adoptive parents?

Ah well, I'm stating the obvious. All I can say is hang in there, keep being honest, and as much as possible don't worry about stuff. [Dh] and I are being as careful as we can be going forward, and we are working at being honest with ourselves about not biting off more than we can chew. That wouldn't be fair to us, Evan, or the new child.

If there are any "areas" of this topic you think you would like to explore more systematically -- the matter of transracial adoption, for instance -- I can certainly suggest or send reading material. I know you're like me in that you like to approach life's challenges well-informed!

All my love to you. . . .
 
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