Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2012: Jillie

The Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2012 is here! I am very excited to say I was paired with one of my best friends in the adoption community, Jillie. She interviewed me as well and that will be posted on her blog Idiot Girls Life Post Adoption. Jillie is my long lost sister, my confidant, my biggest supporter and just an amazing friend this past year. We co-admin a birthmom support group together which has been challenging and rewarding but I wouldn’t do it without my Jillie Bean! We are also apart of a new project called Adoption Truth Is where we answer questions in video format. It is new and just getting started but so far so good! When we are old and gray we plan on living in a compound full of other misfit women and our myriad of pets. Sometimes I don’t think we are kidding ;) Anyway, I hope everyone reading will enjoy the lovely Jillie’s interview:

1. You have a great open adoption from what you say, could you
elaborate why your open adoption works so well? What do both parties
have to do in order for an open adoption work?

I wish I could take all the responsibility for this but really I am
only a small part of this.  Chuck, Melissa and Little man are all part
of this too.  While little man is to little to realize what’s going on
right now so it’s mainly Chuck and Melissa.  I like to think I work
hard at being respectful of their boundaries honestly most of it is
them.  When they made a commitment to have an open adoption they took
it very seriously.  They have always gone above and beyond in all that
they do.  I don’t consider them just little man’s parents, I consider
them my friends and much more like family.  So me being the raging
egomaniac that  I am would like to take credit for all of this and I
would love to say it’s just because I am so fabulous it has very
little to do with me and a whole heck of a lot more to do with them.

2. What are your feelings on adoption? How do support someone looking
into placing? Prospective adoptive parents looking into adoption?
After adoption has already taken place; how do you support a
birthparent or adoptive parent?

You know to me support comes in many forms and this is one that I have
really struggled with lately.  While there are some women I have met
in this journey that it was the right path for them I feel like more
often than not it’s a lack of support and a lack of resources to
parent.  It is really hard to see expectant moms placing because of a
lack of money.  As for prospective adoptive parents…. That one has
become really hard for me.  I understand wanting a family so bad that
it hurts… I REALLY get that but there seems to be a lot of anger
from adoptive parents and it hurts me to see.  If I could tell
adoptive parents anything it’s that just be you.  Be honest in what
you want in your adoption.  It’s okay to want a closed adoption.
While I think that it will take longer to be matched just being honest
about it will be so much better for all involved.  In general I don’t
think birhtparents are bad people… There are a few here and there
that make me question that but overall I think we are just women
trying to make the best out of a bad situation. If I could tell anyone
in adoption one thing it would be where mercy is given mercy is shown.
It’s an important thing to remember and with that I think this
journey will be easier after.

As for support after placement, I really love getting to know adoptive
parents.  I have a few that I know and adore.  I am always happy to
answer questions and help them with their relationships.  I feel like
there is a lot of fear in adoption on both sides.  When you stop being
afraid and just get to know one another on a real level the
relationship can be something great.  As for support of birthparents
after placement…. It’s mostly birthmom’s, I don’t know if men just
process this differently or just don’t care but I have met very few
and I feel like there aren’t many out there that are “out” about it.
As for birthmom’s I do my best to listen.  Help find real counseling
for them.  Refer them to places that can help.  Remind them from time
to time that adoptive parents are human and mess up from time to time
as well.  They aren’t perfect and that once again where mercy is given
mercy is shown.  I know for me one of the best things I have found is
just having a safe place to write and have others listen.  Having
women to talk to that truly understand what I am going through has
been incredibly therapeutic for me.

3. In your opinion what about adoption needs to change?

Oh man… There is so much about adoption that needs to change.  I
mean just recently I met a young woman who was thinking about placing
and when she changed her mind the agency started harassing her.  They
now are attempting to use contract law as a form of coercion.  The way
it stands in most states when thinking about adoption expectant mom’s
are allowed to receive financial help from Hopeful adoptive couples.
The way the law stands right now should an expectant mom decide to
parent she does not have to repay those expenses.  The reasoning
behind it is that it can be viewed as force if there is a huge
financial burden now heaped on preventing an expectant mom from really
being able to chose.  I think often agencies really encourage expenses
because it really does make young women who are emotionally vulnerable
feel obligated to place.  I think that agencies are the worst thing in
adoption.  As I see it, adoptive families are just trying to build
their families, Expectant parents are just trying to do the best for
their children and agencies are just there to cash a check.  I really
think things need to change in the amount of money being made in the
adoption industry.  I think that the adoption tax credit needs to
disappear if only for the reason that I think agencies only use it to
milk more money from adoptive parents and it is used as a
justification on why expenses are so much.  The whole thing makes me
kind of sick.  I mean we are talking about children here and people
view them as a good to be traded for money and I hate it.

4. What are the stereotypes about being a birthmom you feel are put on
you? How are those stereotypes wrong or right?

Oh man…. I hate this. I was watching Modern Family a while back and
it’s actually one of my favorite shows but I remember the gay couple
was trying a domestic adoption and they met with an expectant mom.
There was a joke about promising to show the baby all 52 states and
that they would be sure to take him to East Dakota… While I chuckled
it really bothered me.  While there are some stories of adoption in
the media the vast majority either focus on the adoptive couple or on
all the wrong parts of birthmom’s.  I feel like we are either
degenerates or teenagers to the media.  There was a special a while
back called “Birthmom’s” that aired on TLC and I FUCKING HATED IT!!!!
It made me so irrationally angry that I wanted to punch things.  They
followed three women who were just like every trashy stereo type you
can think of and I often feel that’s why adoptive parents can be so
weary of having an open adoption. When all they ever see are
degenerates that are just horrid I don’t think I would want an open
adoption either.  With that said they are so far from the women I meet
on a regular basis.  These are women that have the lady balls to want
nothing but the best for their children even if that means a lifetime
of pain, regret and shame for themselves.

5. Biggest piece of advice for prospective adoptive parents? For
expectant mothers looking into adoption? Parents who have already
adopted? Women who have already placed?

That it’s not about any of us.  It’s about this child that we all
love.  Remember that.  Don’t get into this without really knowing
what’s what and please really look into how your agency operates.
There are far more unethical ones than ethical ones.  While they may
seem great on paper there is a good chance that there are some very
shady things going on.  The more I work on things with my therapist
and really go back and stop blacking out things from placement there
are things that really bother me with how things were done.  I know
that when I went to get state insurance the agency worker counseled me
on things to say and not to say so that I would be approved right away
for state insurance.  Things like make sure you don’t mention that you
are planning to place.  They may not approve you… While I get that
it keeps costs down and that I am entitled to state insurance
placement or not, being told to lie about it really bothered me.  I
was horrid at it anyways because they gave me a note explaining that I
had no income and that I was being provided with expenses through
them, when the worker asked me about it not even thinking I just told
her the whole adoption plan.  I still received benefits and there
wasn’t a problem I just wasn’t any good at deceiving a state worker.

For these next questions, I wanted to get an outsiders perspective on
questions for a birthmom. Since this project is primarily about
education I thought this would be a good idea to include questions
such as these. I asked one of my social work professors what would her
questions be for a birthmom.

6. What were your factors in considering adoption?

Honestly… I never wanted this.  My ex kind of bullied me into it.  I
just felt so broken down at that point I just kind of gave up.  I felt
so ashamed that I didn’t want anyone to know and I didn’t feel worthy
of keeping little man.  I just want him to have a good life.  I want
him to have a Dad and I didn’t want him to grow up like I did.  Moving
all the time.  Bouncing from pay check to paycheck.  Knowing when my
mother couldn’t pay our rent.  I remember when my father lived in Palm
Springs I used to write to him as a child.  I want to say I was nine
or ten at the time.  I really liked writing letters as a child and
always thought it was fun to send them off.  Well the first time my
father wrote back he included $2 in the letter.  I didn’t tell my
mother and I used the money on a snow cone while at the beach with
friends.  Later that day my mother was in a car accident and didn’t
know how she would be able to afford her deductible.  I remember
feeling so guilty, like it was my fault for being selfish and not
giving her the $2.  That if I had none of this would have happened.  I
didn’t want little man to feel like that too.  I didn’t want him to
feel guilty for wanting basic things and I didn’t want him to have to
take on adult responsibilities at a young age.  I was horrified that I
would do that to him too.  I know now that I wouldn’t have.  I know
now that I would have done everything I could have to keep him from
knowing if there were ever financial burdens.  In that moment though I
was scared and there wasn’t anyone there to tell me these things.

7. Who was your support? Did you have support from family, friends,
society? If so why or how did that contribute to your decision to
place? Was it a negative or positive influence?

Oh man what a question… I didn’t know about my pregnancy until I was
pretty far along.  I was so freaked out and I felt like such a
failure.  That I didn’t tell anyone really.  There were a few that
knew but really I kept it pretty quiet.  I felt so much shame.  I told
my ex but he was so checked out that I just felt beaten down.  He was
adamant that placement was the only option.  I felt like if I told
anyone that they would just tell me I was a failure and I already felt
like such a failure I think it would have just pushed me over the
edge.  In hind sight though there are a few that I should have told
sooner.  Instead I let my ex talk me into contacting an agency. Once
that happened it was pretty much over.  I didn’t know this then but I
can see it now in how things were handled by the agency that they
really didn’t want us to tell our families.  In the moment I thought
it was so that we could avoid the pain of judgement but looking back I
think more in more it was to cut us off from our support systems.

8. Did you consider other options? Abortion? I will add; what are your
opinions on the abortion vs. adoption debate?

Ummm well I was WAY too far along to even have abortion as an option.
There are laws against that sort of thing.  Also seeing little man’s
face on that ultrasound has forever changed my life.  I felt soo much
love there was no way I could have done anything else.  Keep in mind
though little man was like seven months along at that point.  To me
though abortion and adoption are totally different worlds.  One is a
small cluster of cells that may or may not result in a child being
born.  Abortion is a reproductive choice and adoption is a parenting
choice and there is just no comparing them.  It’s like asking what are
your thoughts on breast implants vs heart surgery.  Yes they are both
surgery but you can’t tell me they are in any way the same thing.
They just aren’t.

9. Did you see your child after birth? What were your feelings? Did
you waiver in your decision making? What were your feelings about the
adoption decision after birth compared to before birth?

Yes, I saw little man after his birth. I didn’t want him out of my
room for one minute.  I love him so much that I wanted to take every
second I could with him.  You know I have some mixed feelings on what
happened next though.  My agency worker really encouraged myself and
the other birthmom’s who lived in agency housing to have the adoptive
mother stay in the room with you while you were in the hospital.
While I love Melissa and I loved our time together I really feel like
it was another thing the agency does to prevent you from changing your
mind.  I love Melissa so much. There was no way I could hurt her by
changing my mind even though I desperately wanted to.  I love little
man so much.  I just want him to have a good life.  I just want things
for him to be okay and in that moment I felt like I wasn’t good
enough.  I also felt like I would be trash if I hurt Chuck and Melissa
because they were never anything but good to me and I love them.

10. A question I feel is really important to address is how you feel
the agency played a role in your placement? Did you feel coerced? Did
you feel like you the option to parent after the agency giving you
maternity housing? What were coercive practices your agency
participated in you did not realize, or maybe you did, until after
placement?

You know at the time I didn’t but looking back there are a lot of
things that I block out because I can’t deal with them.  There were so
many things that the agency did that were just unethical.  The way
they coached us on what to say.  The way they picked my hospital even
though I already had a hospital selected when I first met with them.
They didn’t want me to use the hospital I had selected because they
weren’t adoption friendly. The way they coached us on what to say to
social workers.  The way they told us not to tell our families.  The
way that should we change our mind at any point that we needed to
leave housing immediately.  How I found out later that while I agreed
to have a legally binding open adoption and little man’s parents
agreed to have a legally binding open adoption that it was never
filed.  That I have no paper work from signing my rights over.  I
still don’t understand how I didn’t get copies of that.  In the moment
I was too hurt to step back and really think about it.  Looking back
though it bothers me.  There is a lot of money in adoption.  As long
as there is money there is going to be coercion.


4 responses to “Adoption Blogger Interview Project 2012: Jillie

  • Addison Cooper

    This was a really great interview. Jillie, I like how you said “I feel like
    there is a lot of fear in adoption on both sides. When you stop being
    afraid and just get to know one another on a real level the
    relationship can be something great. ” – Just before your interview, I read an interview of a foster-adoptive mom, and she said something really similar – that we need to learn to mourn together instead of mourning against each other.

    I’ve got several family members who are touched by adoption – in my extended family I’ve got a birthmother who never was able to reunite, a kinship adoption, and domestic adoption. I also am a social worker, and have mostly worked in adoption. I simmer with something in between anger and brokenheartedness and sadness when I hear about manipulative, coercive, dishonest social workers. It took me a few years, but I’ve gotten more comfortable calling supervisors of workers who are unethical. I understand a difference between incompetence, overworkedness, and unethical. One can be trained away, one can be managed away, and the other just needs to be stopped.

  • Lori Lavender Luz

    I love that you two have decided you’re sisters :-)

    Thanks for sharing your story in this project, Jillie. You helped show the complexities of openness.

  • sifinalaska

    This is great, thank you so much for baring your soul in such a way! You know, I have to say from a total outsiders perspective – I have always been wary of how certain agencies run. For a lot of reasons, including many you listed above. It’s one of the things that has held me back from adoption for a long time. Now that I have decided to go through foster care, I am feeling a lot more confident about the whole thing… if only in knowing that the children who are there and freed for adoption really do need someone to love them so badly. There is no doubt in those situations, you know? No room for the possible shadiness or corruption. I guess it just makes me feel better for some reason I couldn’t even fully explain until I read this and realized how much of it really does have to do with my discomfort with SOME agencies (not all, because I have seen some run well, but.. you know). Anyway, thank you.

  • From the Mind of a “Vulture” | Single Infertile Female

    [...] out. Elle over at It’s all w(rite) here interviewed Jillie from Idiot girls life post adoption here and Jillie interviewed Elle [...]

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