I was paired with ArtSweet at Artificially Sweetened. She has two children, one through international adoption and one through domestic adoption and some of the questions she talks about in her blog are ones that are burning in my mind at the moment. So it was a really great pairing - thanks to whoever did that!
Anyway, here are my questions for her, and her answers.
1) You have one child adopted from Guatemala and one through domestic
infant adoption. Can you share some of the differences and
similarities in how you handle each of their situations (and
questions, though some of that is going to be speculative of course as
Posy won't be asking anything yet!)
P'ito's birthfamily is not present in our lives nearly as much as Posy's is. We are facebook friends with her birthmom and birthgrandma, we talk or text every couple of weeks - we skype occasionally, although not as often as we should... It feels very much like an extended family kind of relationship. And as much as I single out the class differences between us that I'm very conscious of, we share a baseline culture. P'ito's birthfamily lives in a teeny-tiny village in Guatemala, accessible only by a dirt road. His birthmom and brother don't speak much Spanish, let alone English, so communication is very indirect and mediated. When P'ito's birthmom saw a picture of him playing in the snow, she asked what that was. We send pictures and letters through an intermediary twice a year, and have visited them twice for a few hours, not in their home village.
For better or worse, P'ito is not an introspective talk-about-my-feelings kind of kid. We're very upfront with him about his story (what we know of it), we have pictures of his birthfamily around the house, and we've had a few talks about why his birthmom wasn't able to take care of him himself, but in general, he rarely brings up the subject or expresses much of an interest in our attempts at starting conversations about it. I suspect that may be different with Posy, but I don't know yet.
(He's also really been embraced by Posy's birthfamily, and I'm sure that he probably prefers visiting them (and the endless stream of video games and junk food that happens there) to visiting with his own birthfamily.)
In some ways, I think those talks will be harder with Posy, because the reasons that K. wasn't able to parent her are more complex, whereas we can say to P'ito - she knew she didn't have enough food for a baby. But with both of the kids, we've made sure that they know, to the best of our ability (I know P'ito wishes he knew something about his birthfather, and we don't have any contact with Posy's birthfather either), from whence they come. It still blows me away to see P'ito's smile on his birthmom's face.
I'm not sure I really answered your question, but if I didn't, that's an awfully long non-answer! Follow up questions?
2) You seem to have a very close relationship with Posy's birth
family, yet you do say that their lives are pretty chaotic. How have
you managed to keep in touch despite this? Do you have a formal
schedule for keeping in touch, with added extras, or do you just take
things as they come?
Posy's birthmom's life was pretty chaotic after she relinquished Posy - she didn't have a secure place to live for a while or a phone that she could reliably keep minutes on. Fortunately, it's settled down somewhat since then, although she's had to make some very difficult sacrifices to live where she's living now. We stay in most frequent contact with her birth grandma, who is one of the most awesome, big hearted people I've ever been lucky enough to know and who, fortunately, has a much more stable life. We don't have a formal schedule for sending updates or pictures - whenever I've got some especially cute ones, I send her a few through shutterfly or just post them on facebook. Because they are not legal in the state where we adopted Posy, we don't have a formal PACA (post adoption contact agreement) although we were certainly open to doing that.
3) Your post about Christmas gifts really resonates on a number of
levels. We also mainly have communication with Nella's parents and we
have thought about giving them or Baby Spouse's big sister Montana
gifts, but decided not to. Nella gave us boxes and boxes of newborn
clothes that she'd been given, but we couldn't physically take them
all. What did you decide to do and how has the issue of gifts played
C. did send us gifts for Posy and P'ito and a $100 Walmart gift card for us (!), and we wound up purchasing the laptop for her with the explanation that it was so we could keep in touch. She was so excited that she was going to be able to Skype with us that it wound up feeling really good. I didn't get the sense that it felt like a quid pro quo to either of us. I know $ has been very tight for her lately, and she hasn't made any noises about birthday or Xmas gifts this year, which is fine with us too. We will probably send her something small for Xmas - I'm thinking about getting a mug made for her with a picture of Posy on it. We have sent other gifts to the family - wedding and baby presents for her son and his wife, and occasional "do something nice for yourself" checks for K., who has less than no money right now. And that feels right and good too.
4) Our son came to us through domestic (which, for us, is
international, though for me it's kind of domestic as I'm both a US
and UK citizen) adoption, but we had considered adopting from UK
foster care if we adopt again (though you can see we had some
interesting news recently!). What motivated your decision to switch
program(me)s for your second adoption?
The main reason is that Guatemala is no longer open for international adoption! If it had been, honestly, we probably would have held our noses and pretended to be "roommates" again and gone that route. But it wasn't, so we jumped on board with domestic adoption, and I couldn't be more pleased about how things turned out. I'm glad to be able to have a more accessible connection to Posy's birthfamily, and we wouldn't have had that had we adopted from Guatemala again.
We did really want a child who would share some heritage with P'ito and put a lot of effort into looking for expectant moms who had that background (our adoption website was bilingual, we created a Spanish version of our profile, etc. etc.). As it turns out, Posy is part Mexican, although that's not the culture of the part of her birthfamily we have contact with.
5) Not an adoption question: Mr Spouse also has type 1 diabetes and we
try to limit Baby Spouse's sugar (and overly sweetened
fruit/artificial sweetened foods) consumption as he also has a genetic
history of diabetes. In the world of toddler nutrition and sweet,
sweet foods everywhere (even in the babyfood aisles) do you try to do
this too and if so, can you give me some tips?!
I wish I had tips. P'ito is a fairly picky eater and has the world's biggest sweet tooth, and as much as I never thought I would do this, I find myself bribing him with dessert to eat his dinner. We didn't give him a lot of sweets as a little kid, but it doesn't seem to have made a whit of difference. He had his first taste of ice cream at 9 months - I was wearing him in a front carrier and eating an ice cream cone and he nipped a bite of it. And it's been downhill since then. Fortunately, he's very athletic and active, or I'd be more worried about his sweets consumption. So far Posy is a Good Eater, but P'ito was a much more adventurous eater when he was younger too, so I'm not counting my chickens yet. I am resisting with all my might cooking separate meals for P'ito, but it's hard when not doing that means either he doesn't eat or you limit yourself to what he eats. Sorry, that's not really what you asked about, But no, no tips.
And a bonus 6) I'm glad to see some of your ideas on not pushing
stereotyped gender roles on your son. I thought it would be SO much
easier to avoid stereotyped roles with a boy. Ha! What else have you
done that you feel isn't going along with the mainstream (for example,
we don't put Baby Spouse in clothes with noisy/car/vehicle/dinosaur
pictures on, for the most part, though he does love steam trains, he
mainly loves animal pictures; and we have bought him a doll, though it
was hard to find a boy doll)
Did I post about avoiding gender stereotypes with P'ito? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.
ArtSweet's questions and my answers are on her blog, and the full list of bloggers is up at the Open Adoption Interview Project.