For my first book, I decided to read, Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother by Jana Wolff. It's not a new book... it was originally published in 1997, but was recently revised and one that I've heard many things about over the years. And it's available for Kindle, so it became the first on my list.
Essentially this book, written by an adoptive mother, is about her experience adopting. The bulk of it focuses on her insecurities and lack of knowledge about adoption and how terrifying the adoption experience is from the standpoint of a couple (or mother) trying to adopt. She proceeds to adopt a little boy and discusses the intricacies of an inter-racial, open adoption.
I had heard some terrible things about this book - that she said terrible things about birth mothers, that she was insensitive, that she made adoption seem scary. I'll have to agree and disagree. She does say some pretty awful things, but she also seems to couch this in the idea that these were her thoughts in the adoption process. They are not necessarily her thoughts now on the other side.
I remember being in that place. I remember wanting a baby so bad I could hardly stand it. I swear, I would see babies in the store and I physically ached to have one. I would have done just about anything to get one. And I understand the absolute terror that is involved in the adoption process. You're whole chance of becoming a mother depends on someone else agreeing to give you their child. You go through a ton of emotions (grief, anger, sadness, happiness, fear, joy, etc.). It's all over the place. And your internal dialogue is horrific. You lash out internally at the birth mother - Why is she taking so long to make her decision? Does she like me? Why doesn't she like me? And you lash out at yourself - Why is there something wrong with me? This isn't fair! Maybe I'm not supposed to have children at all. How can I possibly convince this teenager sitting across from me that I'm who she wants to raise her child?
I remember all of it. And now, two adoptions later (both open, both perfect) I know how stupid it all is. Those feelings mainly come from fear and anger. And they're helped along by a lot of other people. I can't tell you how many people have asked us, "Aren't you scared she'll come take the baby back?" Honestly, we've gotten that question over a 1000 times... and my oldest is only 3. I think most of the world has seen one too many Lifetime Originals and believes that this is how life truly is. Sure, there are those adoptions that don't work out. And that's got to be hard for everyone involved. But the birth mother who sneaks into your house while you're sleeping and snatches back the baby? Well, let me just say that I have never been concerned about that one!
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I think the book was a good depiction of the range of emotions an adoptive mother goes through as she's navigating the adoption process (or at least it matched mine pretty well). But I'd also be curious for her to write a follow up. How does she feel now? What are her thoughts looking back? Because while I had many of the same thoughts she did, I certainly don't think any of those things now. Now I realize that I was terrified. And that I didn't need to be. And I realize how ridiculous most of the things I thought were.
I do think this book is a great resource for birth families and for adoption agencies. It gives you a glimpse into the secret terror that the adoptive mother is feeling. Perhaps if everyone had these fears out on the table to begin with, the realization that it's all crazy would sink in a little faster! And the agencies and birth families can realize that we're not trying to be mean, we're just scared - much like the birth mother sitting across the table from us.
Give it a read. And let me know what you thought!