South Dakota

South Dakota recently passed legislation that allows adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQIA couples. It passed, 43-20-7.

I know there are people in the world today who have very different opinions about the community than I do, but that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to share with you my feelings and opinions about the bill that SD has passed.


 

I talked with my sister about this and she said, “I wish this was something no one had to feel any way about because I wish it wasn’t a thing that happened.” And that’s how I feel about it too. But as a birthmom, maybe I have stronger feelings than someone who doesn’t know the adoption process or have any connection to it.

I feel that adoption should be available to anyone who wants to expand their family that way, LGBTQIA couples included. I honestly don’t understand why people would say that they’re not worthy of being able to adopt. It pains me to think that. LGBTQIA couples can be amazing parents, just like heterosexual couples.

Why are they different? To me, they’re not.

When I chose the family to place my daughter, I felt it that they were right. It wouldn’t have happened with the agency we used, but if the family I fell for had been part of the LGBTQIA community, it wouldn’t have mattered. At all. I knew they were right because I just felt it in my heart and my gut.

But South Dakota passing this bill that legally allows discrimination against these couples is preventing prospective birthmoms from having that same moment when looking through profiles as they just connect and know they’re right. It’s forcing couples to go through lawyers, which can be more expensive and take more time and effort.

I have a good friend, Courtney of Living Queer, who is part of the LGBTQIA community, so I asked them a few questions.

Q: As part of the LGBTQIA community, would you and your partner consider adoption?
       A: Yes we would

Q: Because you can technically pass as female, would you make it known to the agency that you are an LGBTQIA couple or would you fear discrimination and not tell?
       A: I honestly would probably fear discrimination and not tell unless I had continued my transition and couldn’t pass anymore


 

In doing more research, I’ve discovered that other states (Michigan, North Dakota, and Virginia) have similar bills that allow discrimination without fear of retribution. I wasn’t aware of this, and it bothers me. I live in one of those states.

It will also allow agencies to discriminate against single and divorced people, couples who engage in premarital sex, interfaith couples, and anyone else whose behavior or identity violates an agency’s “religious belief or moral conviction.”

Sen. Alan Solano is a Republican from Rapid City. He wrote the bill with help from a staff member of Catholic Social Services. They are an agency who will only place infants with couples who are opposite sex, married at least two years, and unable to conceive children on their own, among other requirements.


 

I don’t know why I thought that this was something new, or that similar things hadn’t already happened in other states, but even days/weeks later, it makes me upset. I hate the idea that there are couples out there who are being denied the chance to adopt. There are so many couples (straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, of differing faiths, it doesn’t matter) who are wanting to adopt, but there are these rules that are preventing them from doing so with certain agencies.

And yes, I understand that there are other ways to adopt than private agencies. But that could require going through the state foster system, and that can cause more stress than necessary.

Yes, every child deserves a loving home, but some couples just don’t have it in them to handle the foster system. Especially if the child is older and can go back to their case worker and say they don’t like the family they’re with. That may be something the couple isn’t emotionally ready to face.

Open Letter to Prospective Birthmother

Hey there love,

I know things right now are scary. I’ve been in your shoes. I know how you feel.

You’re afraid of judgement on your situation. You’re afraid your child will grow up and hate you for placing them. You might be afraid that the adoptive parents will break their promises down the road.

I heart stories about all kind of different ways adoptions turned out. I know there is no way to predict how things will go down the road, so all you can ready do is hope for the best.

My daughter was placed when she was ten days old. Her parents didn’t have any kids before, so we’re all navigating open adoption for the first time together. But now I want to share some things I’ve learned along the way.

If your adoption agency allows you to have a hand in choosing the family to place your child with, do it. It can be overwhelming, but I highly suggest following your gut. You’ll know the right family when you see them.

When you go into labor and deliver your baby, there will be lotsof emotions. You may cry, and that’s totally okay. See your baby when you feel ready. Don’t let anyone rush you or tell you you shouldn’t.

Take pictures of your baby. Take pictures of you together. Send them to the adoptive parents if you can. Those moments with him/her in the hospital are precious memories. Having those pictures and memories are a help when you’re having a bad day – or at least they are for me.

Don’t be afraid of the social worker who comes in while you’re in the hospital. It’s standard procedure, and they want to make sure you weren’t pressured into choosing adoption for your child.

You are not less of a person because of the choice you made to place. I know you might feel that way, but I promise you are still such an amazing person. Do not let anyone make you feel bad about the decision you made.

You are giving the family you choose such an amazing gift. You are giving them a baby! You are gaining a new family through your child’s adoption. Enjoy your new life to come!

xoxo
Katy

#AdoptionTalk – Navigating Open Adoption & My Feelings

 

It’s never an easy thing to navigate through open adoption, especially if it’s the first time for all involved.

My birth daughter’s adoptive parents and I are currently navigating our open adoption. We are always re-evaluating things as she grows up. For example, our visits for the first two years were lunches in restaurants. Then we realized that that wasn’t going to work since she was more active an independent. So our most recent visit also included letting her run around a play area in the mall.

Things will continue to change as she gets older, and that’s how it should be. What works now when she’s a toddler won’t be the same as whatever works when she’s eleven or twelve.

I’ve seen other open adoptions through social media that are very different from mine, but that’s the nature of the situation. Every adoption, every family, every birthmom, they all vibe differently and their structures vary.


I was originally scared of open adoption, and didn’t think that I wanted one. I had heard so many horror stories about adoptive parents who would go back on their word about updates and visits and communication. Leaving the birthmom or birthparents hurt and clueless and wondering what happened.

But now, two and a half years into my open adoption, I honestly love it. We don’t have one where we talk or see each other all the time. We get together twice a year. They send updates halfway between visits. If something major happens, I know I can email them and they’ll respond within a few days. I’ve done it when family members were very ill or passed away.

At this point, I couldn’t imagine if I had gone with a closed adoption. The pain of not knowing what my daughter looks like or who she’s growing up to be. It would be too much to bear.

I know that it’s not for everyone one, and that’s perfectly fine. But it is definitely something that I would encourage birthmoms to think about when making an adoption plan for their child.


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Finding Dory Reaction

I finally went to see Finding Dory in theaters (back on July 5th). I don’t like going right when movies open cause everyone’s there and it’s just too crowded for me, so I went with a friend on a Tuesday night.

I’ve seen a post going around Facebook from an adoptive mom saying that Finding Dory is a movie that should be screened before taking your kids to see it. And to some degree, I can understand that. But you also need to know your child and whether or not they can handle something like that. I feel like the adoptive mom who said it, and those who agree with her, are the ones who aren’t ready to have a discussion about the birthmother with their child. It’s really not that difficult.

This is what’s going around for everyone to see:

“WARNING! Before seeing Finding Dory, all foster/adoptive parents should preview the movie first! We thought our teenage bio kids & 9 yr.-old adopted son (we’ve had him for 4+ yrs) could see it without us previewing it. Our kids sat in the row in front of us. Halfway through the movie, our 100 lb., very tall son, got up and came and sat on my lap for the duration of the movie. Dory has childhood flashbacks throughout the movie as she seeks to find her birth parents. The movie deals with multiple levels of abandonment and loss. While the ending is sweet as she is reunited with her birth parents & we realize her birth parents were looking for her too, there are elements of the ending that can have detrimental results for our adopted kids.

1) It was Dory’s forgetfulness that caused her to be separated from her parents…. basically, her separation was her fault.

2) Her birth parents were physically, emotionally, & mentally stable and ACTIVELY seeking for her. This is not the case for MOST of our tender-hearted kiddos. This birth parent ‘fairytale image’ can create a false image in their forming minds.

3) At the end of the movie, once Dory, Marlin & Nemo find Dory’s birth parents, they ALL (including the birth parents) travel back together to Dory & Nemo’s home and all live TOGETHER Happily Ever After. Some young foster/adopted kids might think that is the end goal.

So, bottom line… preview the movie first & evaluate for each child. There are some heavy topics brought up in the movie that are difficult for every foster/adopted child to deal with even at older ages, so don’t think this cute Disney movie is for everyone.”

Everyone has been seeing/hearing the adoptive parent side of it, but I think now it’s time to hear the birth parent side of it from one of us…

Let me touch on each of this woman’s points before going into my rant about what I think happened here.

1) Dory’s short term memory issues aren’t something she asked for – it just happened to her. If it was out of her control, it can’t really be her fault that she was separated from her parents.
It’s like saying that a child facing a challenge due to some medical issue they have, it’s their own fault if they fail. They never asked to have the medical issue, so it can’t be their fault.

2) I am a birth mother who more than likely could have cared for my child when they were born, but I knew that I couldn’t provide everything I wanted them to have. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be part of my child’s life. That’s what open adoption is for. I still get to have a relationship with them, and be able to have conversations as they grow up about why I made the decision I did.

3) If you raise your adopted child to know who we are, allow us to be part of your/their life, and have conversations about why we made the decision we did then things won’t become complicated like that.

Okay, now for me to talk about what I think happened here: 

Honestly, I think that this woman hasn’t had (or even tried to have) a conversation with her adopted son about his birthmother. Now, maybe they don’t know about his birthmother. That could be part of the issue here. But I think it comes down to how comfortable the mom is with permitting the birthmother to be part of their lives.
When you have an adopted child, you have to know that things like this can (and inevitably will) happen, and figure out how you’re going to handle them. To me, it sounds like this adoptive mom hadn’t thought it would happen or thought about how to handle it. I can only hope she sat down with her husband and her son at home after the movie and talked about everything.

I also think that the mom is dealing with other things that are frustrating her and taking it out on the movie. There could be a lot of things that factored into her making that post, and I don’t know about them, so I can only write this response based on what I read and how I interpret it.

I Don’t Know How

A wonderful friend of mine wrote this one night while struggling to deal with her daughter who was having a meltdown. It is exactly the way I picture myself when I have kids in the future.

Sometimes,

I just don’t know how to console you,

Reassure you that you have validity,

Not get impatient or angry when you disobey me,

Or allow you the amount of independence you claim you have.

Sometimes,

When your sweet little self

Shows her grown up attitude

I feel….

Defeated.

Small.
Inconsolable.
Panicked.

Like whatever comes out of my mouth is a bargaining chip

Or as if I said the most awkward thing one could say to a child.

Sometimes…

When we are not listening to one another,

My heart swells and fills with anxiety, and I can’t hear what you need.

My eyes cloud over and I get stuck in a foggy loop of emotions and tears. My voice raises and you cry harder.

Sometimes…

I feel incapable of saying what you want to hear,

Or finding a happy medium.

I dislike being cross and upset

But with you, most especially.

As you grow and become your own person, I see more and more of myself behind your eyes.

I want to give you the world,

Hear you giggle,

Watch you paint your universe in color.

But I am not a teacher like your daddy.

The ability to calm and sooth you is not inherent for me when I am upset.

For that, sweet child of mine, I must confess, troubles me deeply.

But we never go to bed angry,

And we will always talk it out until we are comfortable again.

This is my promise to you sweet girl.

I hope you understand.

I just want what’s best for you

Even if my version of that is not what others have in mind.

It’ll be you and me kid,

And we are going to rule the world!

Here’s a few pictures of my friend and her daughter:

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Side-by-side comparison of mother and daughter at around age 3

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