Adoptive Parenting Perspective: How Being Adopted Informs My Parenting

September 4, 2019

We are privileged this week to have this guest blog written by Lynn Grubb. She is both an adoptee and an adoptive parent. She lives adoption from both sides of the relationship equation! Enjoy, listen, and learn!  Lynn Grubb is an Illinois born adoptee, and a 50-year resident of Dayton, Ohio.  She is President of the Adoptee Rights Coalition, a grass roots 501(c)(4) Ohio non-profit advocating for all adoptees to have equal access to their original birth certificates.  She is employed by and facilitates a kinship support group through the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA).  When she is not advocating in the adoption and kinship communities, you can find her at home with her family and pets, reading a good book.  She blogs at http://noapologiesforbeingme.blogspot.com/.

 

My husband, Mark and I, got married in 1991 – he was 34 and I was 25.  I became an instant stepmother to his 3-year old daughter, and so began my adventure into parenting.

When I was 27, and found out I was pregnant with our son, I began reading all sorts of parenting books. I turned to books because my own mother was not a place I could turn to learn and understand about pregnancy and birth, since she had not experienced it. I did what most of us do as parents whether conscience or not: I took what I liked about my own childhood and repeated that and tried to filter out what I didn’t like and didn’t do that.

In trying to determine how to label our parenting, I guess you could say in some ways we are part “free range” parents, in that our kids can have privacy in their rooms, walk to stores and home from school and do things without one of us being present and part “overprotective” (their words) in that we insist on rules, respect, personal hygiene, phone numbers and conversations with parents before overnights happen.

I am definitely not a helicopter mom.  Both of our kids have chores, earn their own money, and know how to take care of everything, like cooking and laundry, themselves.  My own mother was at one time what was called in the 70’s and 80’s a “supermom” which meant I was fortunate to be involved in every extra-curricular activity known to man, but I didn’t learn a lot of grown up things like how to pay bills until I was out on my own, struggling to learn them later.

Now that the kids are older, I am a full-time working mom and our daughter, at age 14, is almost completely self-sufficient (our son moved out on his own several years ago). I am truly amazed that I don’t have to wake her up in the morning, tell her to make her lunch or remind her to do homework.  She does all these things on her own.  (I’m probably just fortunate that she has a conscientious personality).  When I cook a meal, our daughter sees it as a treat – not an expectation.  (Lucky for me, her dad is now retired and can keep an eye on her after school and bonus: cook dinner!).

We do not ascribe to materialism at our house – we are minimalists with a clutter problem (I know, it makes no sense).  My husband and I grew up on opposite sides of the tracks, and we have lived in both the city limits and in the suburbs throughout our years of marriage.  One thing we can both agree on is that time with family is more important than stuff.

Here are a few specific areas that my being adopted has helped to inform parenting our daughter (also adopted):

  • I get the identity piece. I grew up in a closed adoption without any idea of why I was given up for adoption, who the people were that made me, where they went and why my parents didn’t have any information.  I decided this would not be something our daughter would need to suffer.  She has all of her information, including photos, a journal, the story, the truth, addresses, and if that isn’t enough, she has people she can call besides us, for more pieces of the story. Also, we have her original birth certificate.  She doesn’t care about this simple piece of paper now, but some day she might.  I ordered it before the state sealed it (she’s lucky Ohio is an open state).  If you too want to help adoptees get their simple piece of paper, please donate to the Adoptee Rights Coalition.
  • I understand her anger and other emotions. She gets really angry sometimes at her birth mom for leaving her.  I validate that anger and tell her I am really pissed off at my birth mother too.  I know underneath that anger is loss, pain, fear, hurt, and love.  It can be excruciatingly painful to some adoptees that the woman who gave birth to you left you in the hands of somebody else.  Neither of us buy into the common idea that “she loved you so much she gave you away.”  Also, I wouldn’t hesitate to find her an adoption-competent therapist if I believed she needed one.  Just because I’m adopted does not mean I believe I know it all.  I still would turn to the experts if I needed help.
  • We are both INFP  We got really lucky that we are similar on the Myers-Briggs personality type.  We just get each other.  We are also both super stubborn.  People tell us we look alike and she does the same thing I did when I was a kid and someone would tell me and my mom that we looked alike.  We say: “we aren’t even blood-related!” (cue funny expression on person’s face). For those of you who are Myers-Briggs fans, my husband is an INFP and our son is an INFJ.  We are super exciting at parties 😊
  • We tested her DNA. I am part of a lot of DNA groups and people get really touchy about whether they should test their adopted kids, tell kids about their (unknown) fathers, etc.  I believe it’s quite simple.  Ask yourself this (my husband says this to people):  Do you know who both of your parents are?  I don’t care if it was an affair, rape, incest, donor sperm, abuse, teenage pregnancy, or the next-door neighbor . . . people have a right to know who their biological parents are.  If you don’t tell her now, somebody else will tell her later.  Why is someone’s parentage ever a secret?  It shouldn’t be.
  • We welcome her birth family. Although our adoption is kinship, I am not blood-related to our daughter.  She has birth family members that want to be part of her life.  We welcome any and all birth family members that do not pose a threat of harm to her.  As an adoptee, I am thrilled that she looks so much like certain family members.  I value the genetic mirroring and background information that she is able to have. It makes my heart happy to add another ancestor onto her family tree.  The more love for her, the better!

adoption-attuned-bboks

Learn how the coaches at GIFT Family Services can help you and your family navigate your adoption journey. We've faced our share of family challenges and crises, ridden the metaphorical rollercoaster, and our families have not only survived; they have thrived. We offer experience, neutrality, and understanding.

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[1] Named a Favorite Read of 2013 by Adoptive Families, (the award-winning national adoption magazine.) Named a Notable Picture Book for 2013 by Shelf Unbound in their Dec/Jan 2014 issue; Honorable Mention - Gittle List of 2014; Finalist; IPNE 2014 Book Awards (Independent Publishers of New England), Honorable Mention 2014 Purple Dragonfly Book Award 

 

 

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