Thursday, November 17, 2011

Open Adoption Interview Project 2011!

I have to say, this Open Adoption Interview Project was a lot of fun! It was my first time participating and I'm already looking forward to the next one! To see a complete list of the interviews click here!

Over the past few weeks I've had the privilege to dig deep into a blog, that before this, I had never seen. There were a few things that immediately struck me: The first was familiarity. I'm always struck by the fact that even though many of us live completely different lives we all share so many emotions and experiences that are the same. It's part of what I really love about this community. Knowing that even if our circumstances IRL make us feel isolated or alone, our blogging buddies are always there to let us know we're not alone! Secondly, I noticed her deep love for her son. I just can't get enough of that. No matter how many times I read it, hearing about a dream come true and the making of a family is such a beautiful story to me! Thirdly was her ability to share her raw emotions. It's not always easy to say how your feeling, especially when what your feeling isn't rosy. But, she gets it out there and earned heaps of respect in my book for it.

So who's blog is it? Meet Lavonne from Eye's Wide Open: My Journey Into Motherhood. After years of infertility, Lavonne and her husband D set out to adopt with the same exuberant excitement that we all start out with. Little did they know then that the journey to adopt would prove to have it's own bumpy roads and giant road blocks including a failed placement and a long wait. Finally, the day came though. They were chosen to be parents to a sweet little boy they'd go on to name T. Her blog journals her life as a mom, as a mom through adoption and a mom through transracial adoption. Her newest posts also include an very unexpected surprise... after all those years of infertility, deciding that with the addition of T their family was complete and making plans to make sure it stayed that way, Lavonne just found out that she's expecting!

Head over and check out her blog and leave Lavonne some love! :)

Here's my interview with Lavonne! Enjoy!

1). There's no doubt that infertility and adoption are 2 very life changing experiences. How do you think each has changed you both for the good and bad?

There is definitely good, bad, and ugly in my story! For the worse, I think that the infertility and adoption experience has made me more cynical about life in general. Our hopes and dreams were crushed so many times during the process, it's been easier since then to be a "glass half empty" kind of person. For the better, I think the experiences have provided depth to who I am. I have sat with many others that are walking some of the same road and I have an ability to provide empathy and understanding that most of society doesn't. So while I can't really say that I would want to relive all the crap (of course we'd always want T in our family), I can say that all the crap added extra layers to who I am, that in the end I think is  good.

2)  In one of your posts "out and about with baby T" you talked about how it helped seeing others view you being a mom because it helped you feel more like a mom. In your experience did you find it hard to accept yourself in the "mom" role after pursuing it for so long? What helped to finally solidify your role as T's mom in your mind?

Because I became a mom to T in 3 days it was really difficult to accept and understand what that role meant initially. I also felt that J had earned her role as mother and signing some papers all of a sudden also made me a mom was weird to experience. Even though I had bonded and attached to T I felt like a long term babysitter for a long time. I even had trouble using the word "mom" to refer to myself! In the end, I think it was time that solidified my role as T's mom for me and seeing him respond to me in a way that was different than others. As T got older I saw him look for me across the room, reach up for me, and settle after picking him up....all of that helped me feel that mommy feeling!

3) On the same note, did you find bonding with T to be a more difficult process than expected or did it come very easy to you? What advice would you give new mothers through adoption about bonding with their baby?

While in the adoption process I wasn't sure how I would react to becoming a mom. From my work in maternal health I know that many women have difficulty bonding to baby after birth so I don't think I was expecting a "love at first sight" sort of experience. Plus since T entered our lives two months after an adoption that didn't work out my heart was guarded and I'm sure that impacted my bonding experience. My advice to new moms through adoption (and birth for that matter) would be to be honest with your feelings and not let anyone else tell you what you should/should not be feeling. To work through the feelings is so important.

4) What do you feel are your greatest struggles and greatest joys of being a transracial family?

My greatest struggle is that my heart hurts for T when I think about the difficulties he will encounter in life as a part of a transracial family. This is what drives me to be intentional about how I parent. To read and research. To talk with other transracial families. To build intentional relationships. Etc.! The greatest joys of being a transracial family is more difficult to answer. I feel intense joy just in the fact that we are a family! I do think another joy is the clear sense I have about celebrating differences no matter what they may be and simply the fact that I have experienced the truth that deep love knows no colour or boundary.

5) How do you plan to celebrate and teach T about his African American heritage?

Since both D and I are unable to understand what it means to be African American or even a minority, we will surround ourselves with people that do. We've worked to build some intentional relationships with other black families that have kids around T's age. My hope is to one day when T is older some of the black men we have built relationships with will mentor him. I also hope that one day he'll be able to connect with his birth family and continue that process of learning/celebrating who he is as an African American man.

 6) Some of your newest posts talk about your recent discovery of being pregnant and the mixed emotions you've been facing. What has surprised you the most about finding out you were pregnant?

The fact that I was pregnant in the first place!
7) Some of the prominent emotions you've expressed about being pregnant is grief. Our cultures seem to be so focused on pregnancy and biology as a way of creating a *real* family.  Because of this are you finding it hard to be open about this grief IRL when so many expect that you *must* be soooo happy about it?

Actually in real life I've been pretty honest with those around me that I am having great difficulty accepting this pregnancy for a myriad of reasons. It is others that are having a really hard time with the fact that I'm not so happy about this and they don't know how/or what to do with that information. Since our culture views pregnancy/biology as a celebration it's difficult for others to change that focus and realize that not everyone feels the same way. This is somewhat interesting to me because while I get where people are coming from, ours is certainly not the last unplanned pregnancy to occur. I think about T's first mom and how she must have felt in the grocery store when random people gushed over her swelling belly while she was internally struggling with what to do about this baby.

8) What were your feelings after finding out that J had put a hold on her file, more or less closing your semi-open adoption? What are your hopes for the future in this regard and what would your ideal openness be?

I was very disappointed to discover that J had put a hold on her file. While there is a part of me that is understanding of this, there's also the mama bear part that wants only the best for my son and I feel that openness is the best. So my hope for the future is that we would one day be able to have a fully open relationship with J where we can communicate directly (no agency), visit, and together celebrate the remarkable little boy that T is.


  1. Loved the interview questions and answers!! Thanks, girls!

  2. This is such a great interview to read...we are a transracial adoptive family who after experiencing a failed match with a relative toddler and failed placement of a newborn we are considering revisiting fertility treatments. I realize it's not the same as an unplanned pregnancy after infertility but for me it's not THE plan we had to grow our family this time around and the grieving I can totally understand and relate to in ways. Thank you for sharing your stories Lavonne and Kelly!

  3. wow! that is quite the intro:) it was a pleasure being your interview partner and i look forward to reading on as life continues to evolve! i'll get your interview up super soon.

  4. I enjoyed reading this, thanks for sharing!

  5. Very cool! I'm headed over to Lavonne's blog now.... :)