If It Isn’t Broke, Why Fix It?

Meg column topper

[Ed. note–Today we welcome Meg McKivigan, who brings her experience as counselor, developmental specialist, adoption support group leader, and adoptive parent to our site. Her monthly column will focus on current trends in adoption, from ethics to post-adoption support. -Heather]

As I thought about and planned this column, I knew I wanted to focus a good deal on pre- and post-adoption support. Both before adopting our son and since his placement with us, we have been involved in a variety of adoption groups in our area. We have found them infinitely valuable, and treasure our time with other adoptive families. One question we are often asked by both other adoptive families and those outside of the adoption community, though, is why. Why does our family seek out adoption support when nothing is “wrong?” Some reasons that are typically cited:

Our son looks like us. No one immediately assumes he is adopted, so its not a daily part of our life.

meg

Our son was adopted as an infant and has a strong attachment to us.

Our son is a healthy, happy, and well-adjusted toddler.

Our adoption, while it included grief and loss like all adoptions, was relatively “easy” or “drama-free” by most standards.

Yes, all these things are true of our adoption. On a daily basis, no one assumes our son is adopted, and even close friends sometimes forget and have asked me questions about pregnancy etc. We aren’t caught in the supermarket checkout line dodging questions about adoption like transracial families. Our son was with us from minutes old–doing skin-to-skin bonding and cuddling with us constantly. He is securely (sometimes too-securely!!) attached to both of us. He is well-adjusted. He has family who loves him, both adopted and biological. He is developmentally on-target. He is healthy and growing. I balk when people say we had an “easy” adoption, because I do not think any adoption is “easy.” However, I guess in the scope of adoption stories, ours does not involve as many speed bumps and road blocks as most.

So, why do we attend adoptions support? If it isn’t broken, why fix it?

Like a car that runs well, maintenance is needed. If you only wait until you’re broken down to get service, your car won’t last very long. Oil changes, new tires, and someone who is an expert on cars are needed to keep things running smoothly. The time to see a mechanic isn’t when you’re pulled over on the interstate with black smoke pouring out of your hood. The time to see him is on a regular basis throughout the life of your car.

And so it goes with adoption. We seek support now to build a community around us. A community of other adopted children that my son can grow up relating to. A community of other adoptive couples who understand the path we are on. The support of those who go ahead of us, parenting their adopted teenagers when the identity crisis strikes. Those who understand when our heart breaks for the birth parents, or frustrations that arise in the journey. We pour strength into our adoptive family by lovingly maintaining it.

A friend, whose adoption looks somewhat similar to ours, recently attended an adoption support group for the first time. They shared afterwards that they felt so connected, and for the first time felt like they belonged, and were not on this journey alone. They shared excitement at continuing to connect with this group. I am excited for them and the connections they made.

Adoptive parenting is just like everyone else who is parenting, in a million ways… I don’t wake up each morning thinking about the fact that my son is adopted. I just love him and raise him. At the same time, adoptive parenting is different from everyone else who is parenting in a thousand ways…and those are the times I am grateful for the support of our local adoptive family group.

If you are an adoptive parent new to this journey, I encourage you to find a group. If there isn’t one, start one! We did, with some friends and our local church. If you have been on the adoption path a while and are not connected with adoptive families in real life, I urge you to seek that out. I will discuss in this column different type of specific support, but the bottom line is we all need connection, somehow–before we are pulled over on the side of the road with smoke billowing out of our hood.

What are some ways you connect (or would like to connect) to other adoptive families?

About the author:
Meg and her husband began their adoption journey in 2010 and added their son to their family via domestic open adoption in 2011. Meg stays home with their son most days now, but has been working in the social services and special education field for eight years. Meg is involved in several post-adoption support programs in her area and loves connecting and supporting other adoptive families. Meg blogs at www.godwillfillthisnest.com

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13 thoughts on “If It Isn’t Broke, Why Fix It?

  1. I could not agree more. It’s SO easy to slip into la-la land around you and your fabulous child and how cosy and happy you all our. I know we are! But things change and you need allies and friends who’ve walked the walk, who understand, who get it when you need help or support because as you noted, it WILL happen.

    • Yes! And life is wonderful, and your child is wonderful (I know ours is!)— but support helps us remember that while their story has joy, it also started with loss, and equips us as parents to deal with that someday and support their feelings. Thanks for your comments!!

  2. Yes! I totally agree! I am 7 months into parenting our perfect 7 month old daughter who came to us through open adoption… And I find the support groups I’ve joined to be invaluable. So many “ah ha” moments arise… Including just having other parents get where we’re coming from. I really enjoy listening to the wise words of parents who have been parenting through adoption for many years… So many lessons to be learned, not to mention how comforting it is to see that despite ebbs and flows, their open adoptions yield happy healthy kids.

    Looking forward to your future posts!

  3. We’re in a different stage of the process, having just started our “official” homestudy-approved wait, and this applies to us as well. The trouble is, the closest support groups, including the one(s) our adoption agency sponsors, are a minimum of one and a half to two hours away. I started our blog to connect to folks online – and although it has been immensely helpful, it’s not the same as face-to-face support. Do you have any suggestions for someone in our shoes – who lives too far away from groups like what you’re talking about? We’re having a hard time finding any other adoptive or pre-adoptive families, even.

    • E, it is hard if the area you are in is more rural and there’s not as many adoptive families. Perhaps pick a date and time and contact some local adoption agencies and see who you can round up? You can also utilize a site like meetup.com to connect individuals. The groups we are involved in formed different ways. I go to an adoptive moms group that our agency runs. The group at our church we helped to start and now are taking the lead on running, along with another couple. We attended a focused 6-week program for foster adoptive families, and made connections that way. And now through meeting some moms at those groups (and via Facebook) we have a group of adoptive moms that get together for playdates monthly. My husband has also become close with some of the dads and they ran the half marathon together the past two years. Starting a group can be hard, as it might just be you guys for awhile. But send out an email to your friends and family- everyone know someone else touched by adoption. Let agencies know the group is happening. Keep it the same night and location for awhile so people can come to rely on it. It might just be you guys at your house and no one shows up for awhile-but someone might! The counties that do foster care also can inform families of training and groups. Our group started small, and is still not large (but is a lot bigger!!) , and is well-connected now. It is included on the list of support groups for our agency as well as for a large local church that runs an Orphan Care program. We have let other churches/community centers know about the group, because someone they come into contact with might be interested in attending. I’ve told people about it at the YMCA, at restaurants. I’ve given out business cards (cheap/free on VistaPrint) to strangers we have shared our story with- all in an effort to connect families 🙂 Feel free to email me if you want any other tips!

  4. This is a fantastic post. I couldn’t agree more with you. We are keen to set something up similar in our church. I look forward to reading more from you. God bless, George xxx

    • Please let me know if you need any help setting something up! Our church did not have ANYTHING for adoptive families three years ago and now we have a thriving group of 8-12 adults monthly.

  5. I am a adoptive mother wondering where I can find a support group in my community, my daughter is 10 and we got her when she was10 1/2 months, she is also my great-niece but it was a very difficult adoption, Can you please help me in finding a support group. Thank you so much, for your story. I live in Tualatin Oregon.

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