For the Open Adoption Bloggers Roundtable anniversary this month, Heather came up with a great idea, the Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project. The rest of the blogger pairs are up here. Go over and browse the other ones too, because they look really interesting. I’ll wait.
My interview subject was Kelsey Stewart from The Birth Mother Voice. She is a first mother who has an open adoption with 3 of her children and is raising 2 sons with her husband. She is also the author of a children’s book about adoption written from a first parent’s perspective, The Best For You. I’ve really enjoyed reading her blog. Right now she’s doing a series about her parents, her mother, and the birth and placements of her first 3 children. It’s incredible, lovely stuff.
And now, my interview with Kelsey:
1. I know that you have both placed children and a child that you’re raising. Have they met each other? How did you handle discussing that with the kids?
My daughter met my son Bodde when he was an infant, but there has been no direct contact since then. The twins have not met our family yet. My children now, two boys 10 and 6, have always known that I have other children and they understand that they have two older brothers that do not live with them. I never hid anything from my children and I am honest about their questions. They love my book and I think that reading it, and knowing that their mother wrote it, makes them very proud and they understand that adoption can be a good thing for everyone involved. They have asked some very tough questions, but they always understand that I did what I thought was best for my other children at the time. They are anxious to meet their siblings, but know that it may be some time before that happens. They are not at all shy about talking about it, matter of fact they explain our story quite well to others. You know kids, they can see things in a much different light than adults.
2. Do all of your children have memories of your mom? (There’s a reason beyond general nosiness that I’m asking)
No. My daughter was fortunate enough have spent time with her. She has very fond memories of my mother and tells me often how much my mother meant to her. Unfortunately, my mother died one month after my son Bodde was born. Chase came three years after him, so neither one of them knew her. They know about her, what kind of person she was because all of our family talks about her still to this day. My boys know that she meant a great deal to me and they are so sweet, they tell me all the time how proud my mom would have been of me now.
3. Something that’s been on my mind recently: What are your thoughts on federal rules for adoption, including legally enforceable openness agreements and better post-adoption counseling for both adoptive and first parents?
This is a good question all though it is a rather loaded one. I think a huge problem with adoption as a whole lies within the justice system and laws that surround it. I know that there are many adoptees out there who need to know information about their beginnings and medical history. I also know that there are many birth parents out there who were promised that their information would never be released without their consent. I think it is a travisty that there cannot be a middle ground here. I believe that an adoptee has a fundamental right to their original birth certificate because as Americans, they have a constitutional right to that information. But, I do not believe that that information should be released based on what someone NOW is making into law. It is a double edged sword that I do not think will be resolved anytime soon. It seems to me that there are far too many who work in the system who do not understand adoption and a big majority of them may be biased about the subject. If there was a better understanding of adoption in our society, then there could be real advancements made to improve the process for all involved. Right now, I think there are far too many people involved in the law making process and all those opinions are hindering the advancements that could be made.
I believe that after counseling is the key to helping deal with the loss of a child and the gain of a mother who an adoptive couple will be forever linked to. Think about it, there are rehabs for all kinds of problems: alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex addiction, depression, etc. Have you ever seen a place that was solely designed to help birth parents deal with life after their child is gone? Not one. Sure there are homes set up to house them during their pregnancies, but the lack of care and help after baby is born is almost non existant in this country. It astounds me that no one thinks of that. That these new parents are left to deal with a loss so profound our society cannot even offer help. I want those laws to change and I want to see more attention given to the courageous people who do place their children for adoption. If there was more support I think you would see adoption rates rise and many more healthy birth parents living lives without shame.
4. What got you started writing?
Well, I wrote my children’s book just as a gift for my daughter. Once she received it she encouraged me to share it with the world. Once I self published the book, I received some great advice from a publisher that I should start blogging to get my voice out there. Once I started, I could not stop. It has been a very healing and insightful endevour so far. I am humbled everyday by people who contact me thanking me for being so honest about my journey. If you ask my husband, he would say that I write too much. But that is just because my house is not as organized as it used to be….before the keyboard became my muse. 😉
5. What are your 3 favorite things about living in California?
The landscape always astounds me, the camping is limitless…and I am only a 5 hour drive from Las Vegas, Nevada! I have a thing for Vegas, such a great city to explore.
6. How did you get started watching hockey? What team/s do you follow?
I bleed blue, as in St. Louis Blues. I had a great friend in grade school who was a hockey nut. She had a notebook full of stats, names, teams…it was fascinating. When I watched my first game I was impressed at how incredibly well those guys skated! Once I saw my first game live, in the Checkerdome in St.Louis I was hooked! Nothing like a live hockey game.
Go read more over at The Birth Mother’s Voice.