This is my third year to take part in the Adoption Interview Project, hosted by Heather at Open Adoption Bloggers. The blog welcomes writers from all sides of the adoption triad—parents, adoptive parents, adoptees—and encourages learning, understanding, and growth. Check out interviews from earlier this month HERE and HERE.
This year, I interviewed Shannon from One Inch of Grace. She and her husband live in Detroit and are parents to an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy adopted from foster care at 4 and 20 months. I much enjoyed getting to know Shannon through her blog, and I’d encourage you to go check it out. In the meantime, here are a few words from her:
1. Your blog is called “One Inch of Grace.” What’s the significance of this title?
The Bible teaches that God gives us abundant grace, but countless times since we’ve become parents, I feel th I have barely enough – or one inch.
2. You’ve been blogging for about three years. Why did you decide to start blogging, and how have you grown as a writer? What function does blogging serve in your life and in your role as an adoptive mother?
I wanted to blog to keep a record of our early life as a family – I hoped (and I still do) that it will help my kids make sense of everything when they’re older.
3. What challenges are the most frustrating in adopting from foster care? What changes would you like to see in the system, if any?
At the time that we were going through the adoption process, I often became frustrated and impatient at the system and “the hoops” that we were required to jump through. Now that I’m on the other side of it, my main thoughts about the system are focused on decreasing the number of adoptions and keeping families together whenever possible.
4. You also write for Shetroit, and in one post, you mention your journey in appreciating racial diversity. What lessons about your city and its people would you like to share with those on the outside?
We’re minorities in Detroit, and it’s largely been a very positive experience. We’ve felt welcomed and our new friends and neighbors are very gracious.
5. While many people come to adoption after infertility, you chose foster care adoption as the first route to building a family. What factors went into this decision, and what kind of reactions did you get from family, friends, etc. ?
My husband and I felt that we were able to provide love and a home to a child (or children) and we wanted to do this for someone who was already here. Many of our friends and family were supportive. A few people weren’t initially, but they came around and grew to love our kids.
6. What resources were the most helpful to you in preparing to be a foster parent? Do you think typical certification classes are adequate preparation?
I think our foster care training class was very helpful. But, I don’t know if there’s anything that can fully prepare someone to parent a child from foster care. The most helpful thing we did was to visit a family therapist.
7. What is the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers?
The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers is an organization that hosts storytelling events once a month in Detroit. I told my story about adoption at one of these events last year. You can watch the video HERE.
8. People often tell foster/adoptive parents that we’re saints. How do you respond to that?
I wish I were a saint. I’m just another parent working to be the best I can.
10. You frequently discuss Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control by Heather Forbes and Bryan Post. How did you become aware of this parenting style, and what are its basic tenets? How has this approach helped you as an adoptive parent?
We became aware of BCLC through our family therapist. The basic idea is that children with attachment disorders do not respond well to consequences, logic, or control. The books shares alternative strategies for parenting attachment-challenged children. One of the most appealing parts (to me) is that it focuses not on changing your children and their behaviors, but on changing our reactions as parents to their behaviors.
11. Do you maintain contact with any members of your children’s biological families? What are some of the biggest misconceptions about birth families, especially in the foster care system?
Yes, we have a relationship with several people in my kids’ first families. I think a big misconception in general, is that people are defined by their family. Family members can be vastly different from each other and shouldn’t be judged based on the poor choices of another.
12. As a writer, I always struggle with balancing protecting my children’s stories and being open and honest about parenting and adoption. How do you make those decisions?
I don’t use my children’s names or use their photos. I tend to stay away from personal aspects of their past and focus only on telling my story. I hope they’ll develop their own stories when they’re ready.
My group of participants goes live on Nov. 26. Click HERE to read my responses and other interviews.