I am always surprised by the calls and emails I receive from adoptive dads around this time of year. One father of teenagers wrote: “Each Father’s Day as I reflect on my family and our two beautiful daughters, I think about ALL the families made possible through Barker’s presence.” Another called to read me a note written by his daughter. She was adopted through our older child program, Project Wait No Longer, and she wrote on the back of his card, “This is the first time in my 14 years that I have ever been able to trust a man. Thank you, Dad.” I don’t know why I should be surprised anymore. Clearly fathers are more engaged than ever in parenting, and clearly children and youth want more involvement and guidance from their dads.
In late January 2016, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution honoring the life of my neighbor and friend, Anita Datar, the American victim in the November 20th terrorist attack in Mali. The resolution acknowledges her many accomplishments: she served as a volunteer in Senegal, where she embraced the Peace Corps’ value of promoting a better understanding of people and their cultures from countries around the world as a tool for promoting peace. She became an international health and development expert focused on reproductive health, family planning, and HIV.
I never really thought of my family being *that* different until our son entered elementary school.
In some ways, this seems like a silly thing for me to say. We are, after all, a Caucasian lesbian couple living in Virginia, and we happened to adopt a black-biracial son. To be honest, I don’t know of another family that looks remotely like us in our neighborhood.
Before our son started school, none of that really mattered in our day-to-day existence. Our neighbors and friends have seen us only as a family. Our son sees us as his parents, and we see him as our child. Of course, there were always boxes to check on forms, and forms biased for “mother” and “father” pairings to remind us, but we didn’t spend a lot of time on our difference. We were just another Northern Virginia family.
Last night, Barker had the opportunity to spend the evening at an intimate gathering with the inspirational couple behind the movie “Closure,” a documentary about a transracial adoptee who finds her birth mother, and meets the rest of a family who didn't know she existed. The movie makers, Angela and Bryan Tucker, were in Washington, D.C., for a screening of the film at American University and to gather support for their new venture, The Adopted Life Episodes. Barker joined adoption professionals from around the DC area, including Adoptions Together, PACT, Children’s Home Society, the Lab School, the Commonwealth Academy, and National Children’s Research Center to meet and support the couple and each other in this important work.
Last month, I had the unique opportunity to attend a writing workshop at Kripalu, a wellness center in the Berkshires. It was a blissful few days of yoga, meditation, and memoir writing. I sat in a circle of other writers, each of us anxiously awaiting our turn to openly share the words we had put down to capture our own – often painfully personal – stories. When I shared my own writing, the pain of my infertility struggle was laced throughout the sentences. But so, too, were the words I used to describe the unbounded love I have for the daughter I eventually adopted, and the son I birthed soon thereafter. When I got to the end of my piece, another woman looked up, met my eyes, and said, “That’s my story , too.”
Reflecting Upon the News: Navigating the Evolving Complexities of Adoptee Connection with Birth Family
Sunday’s Washington Post Outlook section featured two different stories about evolving adoptee connection with birth family:
The first story focused on a Chinese girl who had been placed for adoption at age 3 by her Chinese birth parents due to the one-child policy; she was later adopted and raised by a family in Seattle. Through a series of unique circumstances she found her birth family, has visited and forged relationships with them, and recently her Chinese birth brother actually moved in with her family in Seattle so he could study in the United States.
When making an adoption plan, birth parents have many thoughts running through their minds. They wonder what others will think of them and their decision to place. All birth parents think of the following at some point and want everyone to know:
Whether you have worked through grief associated infertility, or you are now able to legally marry your partner (about time!), your decision to build your family through adoption has already been a journey. Domestic Infant Adoption organizations are numerous, and a quick Google search can produce an overwhelming amount of options. With 70 years of domestic adoption experience, The Barker Adoption Foundation can help you find a reputable agency that meets your needs. Here are some key factors to consider as you begin your search.
You have decided to make an adoption plan. Your roommate(s), family, friends or coworkers may be aware of your pregnancy or that you had a baby. Naturally, they will inquire about your future plans for yourself and baby. They may even want to help to plan a baby shower for you or recommend day care providers. This might be an awkward moment to inform them of your intention of making an adoption plan for your baby. Ultimately, who you choose to inform about your decision to make an adoption plan is your choice. Here are some suggestions that you may find helpful: