Back in 2010 I participated in the Open Adoption Blogger Interview project, the brainchild of Heather over at Production not Reproduction. This year she expanded it to include anyone who blogs at least occassionally about adoption, and I'm glad she did. Last time I was thrilled to be matched with a blogger I already knew and adored. (still adore her!) This time I was happy to see a name that is completely new to me and get to read Shannon's blog, One Inch of Grace. Shannon is an adoptive mom to biological siblings that she and her husband adopted from foster care and she writes with a sense of humor and blunt honesty that I found both compelling and refreshing. Here is my interview with her - to see what questions she asked me you can head over to her blog and to explore and meet over 120 people who blog about adoption check out Production not Reproduction today. Heather is linking to all the interviews.
And here we go:
I've noticed around the blogsphere that many adoptive and first parents who want to write about the hard stuff choose to do it anonymously, or at least under the radar from real life friends and family. Your blog is not only very honest about the challenges you face and read by your family but you also invite them to write guest posts. Could you write a little about how you came to decide to invite those close to you in real life to read and also write your blog?My mother is a frequent guest poster on One Inch of Grace. If you read her posts, you'll see that she wasn't an enthusiatic adoptive grandmother at first. As most mothers and daughters have, we've experienced our share of struggles over the years, and our adoption was one of the most severe. She's changed her opinion over the last several years, and I think her experience is an important one to share. Many extended family members are affected by adoption, and many adoptive families need the support of their extended families. Having my mom post on One Inch of Grace has been helpful to our relationship as we work to understand each other. And I hope her experience will help others who are reluctant to become grandparents, aunts, or uncles through adoption.
My sister is probably one of my top readers and I think this just speaks to her personality. She is one of the most accepting people I know and I'm thankful that she wants to know what is going on in our family. She and her partner have been an incredible aunt and uncle to our kids.
I also have several aunts and friends who are regular readers and they've also been very supportive.
Most of all, I want to be honest about adoption - I want people to know it's not easy, and we're not saints.
Writing is obviously a huge outlet for you, and I really enjoyed reading the pieces you have submitted to various publications that didn't end up being published. What writers do you look to for inspiration?
I've always been a reader, and I'm a fan of classic fiction. Some of my favorites are "The Power and the Glory" by Graham Greene, "Dead Souls" by Nikolia Gogol, and "The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde, and "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë. I've been a member of a book club for several years now, it's really opened me to up to current books. Some of my new favorites are, "The Poisonwood Bible," by Barbara Kingsolver, "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett, and "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" by Mary Ann Shaffer.
Can you say a little about how you and your husband decided to adopt from the foster care system?My husband, J, and had talked about adoption over the years, but we really started talking about it seriously about four years ago. We knew that the adoption process could take years and that if we wanted to go ahead with it, we should make the decision soon. We've never (as far as we know), experienced fertility issues, we simply wanted to add to our family, and felt that we had the love, resources, and desire to parent a child (or children) that are already here. We opted for the foster care system because there are many children in the system who are waiting for families. Unfortunately, they aren't as "in demand" as infants are.
What are one or two things you discovered along the road to becoming a parent that you wish you had known up front?There were a lot of things I knew - things that I had read or had been told about, but I didn't fully understand them until we had kids. I had read about how challenging it would be and had been told about the issues our kids would face, so I was prepared in a general sense, but I really didn't understand how it would be specifically for us. It's probably one of the hardest things I've done.
You and your kids share a race so there is nothing immediately visible about your family that screams adoption. How do you decide who and when to tell?I'm still trying to figure this out! Our adoption was finalized about a year and half ago, but it still seems very new, as though it is the defining element of our family. I find myself wanting to share this information at completely unnecessary times, simply because it is on my mind. I hope that as we attach and grow together, it won't always be on the tip if my tongue. I was recently at the park with my son and I happened to run into a childhood friend. She commented on how much my son looks like me. I was proud of myself - I just said "thanks," and didn't elaborate.
Reading your blog it seems like your view on the potential for an open adoption in your family has changed since you began writing - do you think open adoption is different/more/less challenging in a foster care adoption situation?
When it comes to our family, I say that we have a semi-open adoption. My kids were separated from their parents for neglect, but we've maintained relationships with members of their biological family. We feel that this is very important for our children's development.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
You are a vegetarian and your family eats meat - what's your favorite veggie recipe to make for them?
Unfortunately, I haven't found any vegetarian foods that my kids really love. Here are some vegetarian-friendly food that they'll eat without too much complaining: tofu, hummus, couscous, veggie burgers, bean and cheese quesedillas, and soy milk.