4 Myths Adoptive Parents Still Believe: Reframing the Adoption Narrative with Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard & Sara Easterly Transcript


Episode 5 Podcast > Full Transcript


Lori Holden, Greeting:
If your main sources of information about adoption are from the loudest voices, namely adoption professionals and adoptive parents like me, or maybe even your church or reality TV (if I dare say that) you may be missing out on key facets, that would help you better navigate your own adoption situation and better serve your child. You can't see your own blind spots by definition and you don't know what you don't know, which is why it's important to diversify where you get your information from.

As you diversify, find and choose trusted sources, people with lived experience, people who also encourage diversity in their own sources of information rather than from echo chambers.

Lori Holden, Intro:
To that end, with me today are two amazing guests; two trusted and incisive women in the adoption space. Sarah Easterly, a well-respected adoptee voice, and Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard, a well-respected birth mom voice. Each of them has their finger on the pulse of not only their own part of the adoption triad, but they also cross over into others, as should you, if you want to better understand your child's experiences and your child's other parents experiences and proceed accordingly with fewer blind spots.

In the spirit of disclosure, I want to tell you that Sarah Kelsey and I collaborated earlier this year on a widely read article called Common Ground in Adoption Land, which you can find in the show notes on Adopting.com or lavanderluz.com

That article was so well-received that we are now working on a book project about the benefits that come from listening to understanding and empathizing with each other. We on the path of adoption with our myriad perspectives.

Let me first tell you about Sara. Sara easily is not new to this podcast, as she was my guest in Episode 106 on the topic of, You're Not My Real Mom, which if you haven't already heard, you will. She kind of tells us what that really means from the adoptee point and maybe some ways to deal with that with grace and ease.

Sara, as an award-winning author of books and essays. Her spiritual memoir, which I had the absolute pleasure of reading, called Searching for Mom, won a gold medal in the 2020 Illumination Book Awards, among many other awards and honors.

Sara's adoption-focused articles and essays have been published by Psychology Today, Dear Adoption, Feminine Collective, God's Space, Her View from Home and Severance Magazine, just to name a few. Welcome, Sarah. I'm so glad to have you here again.

Sara Easterly:
Thank you, Lori. I am so glad to be back.

Lori:
It's also my great pleasure to welcome Kelsey Vander Vliet Renyard. Kelsey is the Director of Advocacy and Policy at Adopt Match. She's a birth mother who is passionate about raising the standards in adoption to better serve the children, mothers and families affected by adoption.

Kelsey has worked at various agencies and law firms in the adoption field and can often be found fervently and frequently begging the question, “How do we fix this?” She's also a co-host of The Birth Mom Podcast, Twisted Sisterhood, along with Ashley Mitchell, whom we interviewed here in Episode 102. Welcome, Kelsey.

Kelsey Vander Vliet Ranyard:
Thanks, Lori. I'm feeding the baby right now.

Lori:
Yeah, we have her baby daughter with us too. So, you might get some hints of that. And we welcome it all.

So, ladies, I want to start talking a little bit about coming out of the adoption fog, which is a term that we sometimes use in adoption land. And the way I see that, that is when you come from a place of seeing adoption is only one thing; namely a wonderful, noble, something to be grateful for. And what was it like when your inner narrative began to become your own and not what people told you adoption was for you? Tell us about coming out of the adoption fog.

And I know, Sarah, you and I talked about this at length on our first interview. So, tell us what that is. Remind us.

Sara:
Well, for me, it's about just being able to look at all sides, like you just described, Lori, and being able to accept all sides. I think I always felt there was always a lot of emotion and turmoil brewing, but I didn't have the consciousness or the words to articulate what that felt like and where things would just rub me the wrong way or just sit wrong and I didn't know why or make me very angry and I didn't know where all of that anger and frustration was coming from. I had a lot of anxiety and I didn't (anxiety is alarm without eyes). I didn't know. I didn't understand. I didn't know what it was all about.

And so for me, what helped me get through that is writing my memoir. It was putting down on paper what was such a private sacred process for me. You know, up to that the moment that I was writing all of my previous life experiences into words and trying to make sense of it all and the process of doing that and making room for it and realizing, “Hey, this is much more complicated than I ever really fully grasped.”

And so, basically, it's consciousness. It was no longer stuffing things that felt inappropriate, that weren't okay, that didn't feel safe for many different reasons to share and bringing them out into the open and accepting all of it; accepting me.

Lori:
I love those points you made about consciousness and mindfulness and really tuning into yourself and making this your story, your literal story, as you wrote in your memoir. And you also mentioned that it's complex; it's so much more complex than, “Adoption is wonderful. Adoption gave you a better life. Adoption is only positive.”

So, Kelsey, is that something that you experienced as well as the birth mom coming out of some sort of a fog?

Kelsey:
I don't really know how I feel about that phrase. And not because of its literal meaning, but just because of the way it's used. A lot of times, in the Internet adoption community, I feel like it's kind of so binary.

And for me, it's just been such a gradual process. And I and I really think realistically for a lot of people, it is a gradual process. It's this process of self-discovery and finding the reality in your situation. But I think sometimes there's such a, I don't know, people kind of use it against one another, like, “Oh, well, you're just still stuck in the fog.”

And so, to me, I heard people say that. I guess technically when I was still in the fog, but that didn't really prompt me to come out of the fog that I was in. It really just took a lot of finding community and having empathy for the people I met that didn't mirror my experience.

And it was a gradual thing for me. It's still happening, I feel like. When I weave through my post-placement life and the grief, I'm five years out, so I'm relatively fresh out of this. And so, there's still things I'm figuring out every day and how that relates to my life now. And I don't know. And I've worked in it as well. So, I feel like in some ways that has made me speed up coming out of the fog. And in some ways that has slowed me down. So, I don't know. I have, like, a weird relationship with that.

Lori:
And it's interesting. I love how you brought in a contrast to what Sarah said. Sarah's way of coming out of the fog was an internal process. And your way seems to be more of a community process.

Kelsey:
Yeah.

Lori:
And I think it just shows that there's lots of ways that you can make the story your own and tune into what it actually means for you, not what other people tell you it should mean for you.

Kelsey:
Yeah, for sure.

Lori:
So, I want to talk a little bit about some of the myths that we have in adoption. And these myths that remain and perpetuate because we're not listening to some of the lesser heard voices.

Sarah, can you give us – Maybe we'll go around twice. Sarah, can you tell us a myth that you think continues to exist because people are not listening to adoptees? What would they know if they were listening better?

Sara:
Well, I think one thing – this comes up a lot and it's said to adoptees a lot – is that adoptive parents are some of the most selfless people around. That's actually a quote I've had a stranger tell me. You know, the conversation came up of what do I do, I mention I'm a writer. And then {indistinct 9:15}, “Oh, what do you write about?” “I'm an adoptee. I write about adoptee issues” and, “Oh, I know some adoptive parents and they are the most selfless people around.”

Not to say, I mean, anybody can be selfless. Every parent is selfless to some degree, hopefully, if they're doing their job well, they're selfless. That's what parenting asks of us in so many cases. So, to call that out specifically for adoptive parents…

Lori:
And what does that say about the adoptee who's adopted? Like, if I am doing something so sacrificial, what does that say about my kids?

Sara:
Right. All the messages that get absorbed by the adoptee, it's just it's horrible. And I grew up with it. You know, I grew up in church settings. And so, it's very rampant in the church. And adoptive parents get the casseroles, they get the special preferential treatment. And it really does send some not great messages to the adoptee and to the first families, which the adoptee is absorbing as well.

So, there's multiple, you know, it's suggesting how horrible the situation was previously. It's disregarding the fact that in a lot of cases, adoptive parents are seeking adoption for their own needs to be parents because they want to be parents. And so, that's not selfless. Just to put it on the table. It's about getting needs met.

And yeah, I find that one quite problematic and it's pretty pervasive. You know, innocent comments, people mean well, they don't mean to. It's a lot of times just ignorance. They're not meaning to say something sharp and cutting, but it doesn't sit right in on multiple levels.

Lori:
So, to counter the myth that adopt that adoptive parents are the most selfless people around, we could reframe that, “As adoptive parents are no more selfless than any other parent.” Will that give a turnaround?

Sara:
Yeah, yeah. I think that's a great turn around.

Lori:
Okay.

Sara:
And not to call it out, I guess, I have to say, I have two children who are biological to me, and I've never had anyone come up to me and tell me what is selfless parenting. So, it's just kind of strange that gets called out for other parents.

And I'm not always self – You know, it's hard to be one hundred percent selfless. That's not me all the time. So, I don't know that I want that being said to me; it might feel a little uncomfortable around my own children. They see the places I have my own my own needs. And that's okay. I think that's the other thing; let's just not call it out. Let's just stop with that.

Lori:
Okay, good. Thank you for that myth.

Kelsey, do you have one that you would like to address? What do people get wrong about birth parents because they don't really listen to birth parents, perhaps?

Kelsey:
Where do I start?

Lori:
How much time do we have?

Kelsey:
Yeah, I guess I have a couple in my mind but one that really sticks out is that – Especially when I see a lot of younger adoptive parents or people pursuing adoption, one of the things I see is they're like, “Well, we're going to do this open adoption” because they view it as like they're doing this nice thing for birth parents. Like this is a favor they're doing for us. And they're like, “Oh, it's the least we can do to repay her for what she's given us.”

And they also with that, I think it kind of blends into this other myth that it's like the need for these birth parents has been fulfilled the day she gave birth and signed the papers over to you.

The truth is that a lot of adoptees need us later, whether it's to answer questions or there's a whole spectrum of things that they could need. And there's a lot of things that adoptive parents can't provide. And so, our role in this adoption doesn't just end at the hospital or wherever the consent was signed.

This open adoption is a relationship and it's a relationship that needs work, like any other relationship does. But probably a little more work because you're coming from a very different circumstance. And we're important. Our role is important. And it continues to be not just for medical information. It's other things, too. So, yeah.

Lori:
I'm going to make a confession here. My confession is that when I was new on this path, like 20 years ago, I did kind of think that; I bought into that. That's what I thought it really was. And I remember thinking, “Okay, open adoption makes sense to me because what if we need a kidney someday? I want to know where she is. I want to find her or him.” And that's the frame of mind I had because of the myths.

And you're right. I think, Kelsey, what you're saying that there's no ending point in this. We always like to think that this is the end of the journey, but sometimes those endings are really the beginnings, not just for at the moment of placement for us, adoptive parents, but for you, too. There's a lot. Your journey is not over at the moment you signed the papers. That's the start of a whole new journey. Yeah.

Do you have anything to say about that, Sarah, in response to Kelsey?

Sara:
Yeah. I mean, I was nodding; you couldn't see on the podcast, but I was nodding the whole time because it is so true. Just speak to the adoptee mindset. You know, I spent my entire life pining and wondering about my birth mom and it wasn't about medical information. I was really lucky. I had no health issues.

In some regards, it was almost not unfortunate. It took me a long time to go search for my birth mom because I didn't have an excuse to pin on medical information or needing that. But that was more just out of protection and fear and worry for my adoptive family that I wasn't searching and stuffing my own feelings and not being comfortable, because the truth was that I was constantly wondering about her and thinking about her and really needing a connection and needing to know her and know who I came from; know my origin story and so much more.

So, absolutely, it definitely is beyond the kidney, beyond the medical information.

Lori:
And I think if adoptive parents can figure out how to stop being afraid of the bond that exists between the birth mother, in specific, and perhaps birth father and their and the baby, the child, if we can honor that connection, we all are better off because the adoptee is going to get more of that space to wonder, the birth parent is going to get more of that confirmation that things are okay in the family and the adoptive parents have worked through a fear. So, we're all better off.

I want to get to some more myths. Sara, do you have another one that you would like to share with us?

Sara:
I have another one and it's one I wrote an essay about for Severance Magazine called, Not My Adoptee. And that is the myth that, well, not my adoptee, like the title says. I think I will speak to myself, but I also happen to know that this is quite common. A lot of adoptees, a very significant number of adoptees, grow up with a lot of sometimes trauma can look good on us. A lot of traits that are trauma that may not be easily identified as trauma.

And so, for me, it was perfectionism. I was definitely an overachiever. I was always working really hard, desperately to be seen, to be noticed. I stood out. I was a leader. I was always kind of trying to make a big splash. And it was not healthy energy. It was a lot of neurotic energy going toward that. And a lot of it was to try to hope that my birth mother might find me and see me and that I'd stand out enough and I'd be good enough for her to come back and find.

But on the outside, that looks like I'm just a straight-A student, getting the extra credit all the time. I mean, it looks great. I was very compliant. For the most part, I had an adolescence where that wasn't always true, which is also another thing. Adolescence can be very turbulent for adoptees. But I had a lot of fears. I grew up constantly afraid, lots of anxiety, high alert all the time, nightmares, just hyper vigilant nightmares. I'd work all night, just trying to get to a safe place, just recurring nightmares of tornadoes.

But these are all kind of hidden things. It just looks like I'm a scaredy cat, you know, just there could be labels that were missing. Something bigger and something deeper is going on. Yeah.

And so, I think there is a tendency when these different manifestations of trauma don't look like a big deal, that adoptive parents can get complacent and not see it and not think that there's any – that it's open {indistinct 19:28} okay.

The second piece of that is that adoption is a lifelong journey. And so, it might be okay in youth. It might be fine. Things might seem okay. And the adoptee may not be talking about a lot of these dynamics. I was very tight lipped because I felt a fierce need to protect my adoptive parents, particularly my adoptive mom, for lots of reasons, worried she would go away. I've already learned mothers go away; that was my first life lesson. And so, doing what I needed to do to keep her close and what I needed to say to keep her close, because I needed her.

And so, just a lot of those things can seem great. And so, it's a myth, I say, because I think it's important to know what the effects of trauma look like and to be mindful to help adoptees and make space for that and not kind of further up and decide, “Oh, mine is good. So, I don't have to deal with any of that.”

Lori:
So, what may look like a model child, the model adoptee, may actually be a whole lot of inner trauma going on? I don't want to throw your parents under the bus, but did they not know? They didn't notice? Were you really that good at hiding it or were they that good at believing the myth or both?

Sara:
Yeah, I think it was both. I was very good and I think my parents, you know, I should state because it's a different situation, but I was at the tail end of the Baby Scoop Era. My adoption took place in 1972. And in that era, parents were advised, “Oh, just take the baby home and pretend like it's just one of the family; don't say anything.”

So, we've come a long way from that time. We still have a long way to go. But we're luckily a little bit beyond that now in the education, for the most part.

But yeah, I think they didn't want to know. I think part of it was {indistinct 21:23} putting some blinders on and not wanting to know. I do think my adoptive mom knew to some degree, but it was hard to look at and just not as many tools available in my youth as they could have benefited from. And no adoptees speaking out.

Lori:
Right.

Sara:
Yeah, this is new ish. And there weren't adoptees widely speaking out to the degree that we are now.

Lori:
And listening to those adoptees helps us to not have the same blind spots that parents in previous eras have had. So, that's a really good point.

Kelsey, how about another myth that you would like to bring up?

Kelsey:
Well, I definitely gave two away at the beginning. So, I'm like it's hard to pick just one. And sometimes I feel like, “Okay, is this too cliche or simple?” But honestly, like, both parents are not a monolith. We're all very, very different and the only thing – and I know I used to say – Of course, she's going to start crying now.

What I used to say is always that the only thing we have in common is that we all chose adoption, but that's not even true. The only thing we have in common is that we all relinquished, because not everyone chose it either.

Lori:
Yeah.

And that can manifest in a lot of different ways; that sense of control and that sense of direction. And that plays out; that plays out later on.

So, both parents are not a monolith. Yeah, there's got to be a different experience for each person who goes through relinquishment or placement. And there's probably a lot of stereotypes around that.

Sometimes when you speak out against the adoption-is-wonderful narrative, that kind of {indistinct 23:29}, flat description of adoption, you can get labeled as anti-adoption. And you two both speak out against adoption is wonderful. Do you think that means you're anti-adoption, Sarah?

Sara:
I'm not anti-adoption. I don't think that means I'm anti-adoption. It means that I care deeply about adoptees today. I feel a pressing need to help adoptees today by way of helping their families; no more. I mean, that's really why I share. That's why I write. It's certainly not about exposing me. It's about I want to help adoptees and I want to help kind of show where my journey has been and to try to shed light on some adoptee dynamics. So, that is my purpose is supporting adoptees today. So, that's not anti-adoption.

The more you look at the industry and you study the history of the adoption practices and where we've come from over the last hundred years or so, it's hard to look at that and to not – you can't unsee it once you've seen it. And so, I definitely feel passionate for change.

I think adoptions should probably drop. The number of adoptions should come down if we're doing everything right. And by right, I mean, reforming the industry and having better, more ethical practices.

So, in that regard, that doesn't mean I'm anti-adoption. I think there will always be a need for adoption. There will always be adoptions taking place. But yes, I'd love to see them cut down. And then the ones that are taking place, I'd love to see just a lot better awareness, better support for adoptees and their families.

Lori:
Yeah.

And those are good points that when you see it as such a simple thing, it causes some of the pain that you went through when you were growing up. And you had to work through and now to pay it forward to help adoptees that come after you, you want people to kind of see it in a different way.

And I love the way Dr. Joyce Maguire {indistinct 26:04} says, “Adoption should be about finding homes for babies and not babies for homes.” And that's where we sometimes go off track.

And Kelsey, I'm sure you have something to say about this, too. Do you consider yourself anti-adoption because you don't completely embrace adoption is wonderful?

Kelsey:
I think that a lot more people sit in the middle. And I think that's going back to your point about listening to the loudest voices. I think people on both sides can be very, very loud; you know, to each their own. But I just tend to sit more in the middle.

I also am critical of adoption because I work in it. My life has been affected by it greatly. My dad is also an adoptee. His birth mom was an adoptee. And I'm the fourth generation in my family tree to relinquish. And so, it's affected my life from day one. And I'm critical because I care. And it affects my entire family.

Really, it's that I've seen the traumatic effect of it. I've seen benefit of it as well. And I've worked with so many different women from all across the board that have needed this choice. And as sad as it is, it's true; our country does not provide enough resources or social programs and nine months is just not enough time to get your shit together on your own without help. And so, it's a fact that this has to happen in a lot of circumstances.

To criticize adoption is, for me, my intent is always to make it better, to fix the problems that we face, and to preserve it as a safe choice for women. Because in my experience and in my perspective as it is right now, and has always been, adoption is not a safe choice for women to make.

Lori:
Can you say more about that?

Kelsey:
Yeah, it's highly predatory. She has a lot to say. So, as it is right now, the higher profits in adoption make it a very – It's very affected by consumerism. Which just sounds disgusting because it's our kids that we're talking about. But there's very high profits, they keep rising, and it's allowed for people to see these gaps in the market where they say, “Hey, I can go make a couple of thousand dollars off of this”, and then they'll jump in with their entrepreneurial spirit and they'll become a middle man with no qualifications.

But the way our statutes are set up, that allows for those things and it allows for so many abuses. And unfortunately, adoptive parents are manipulated and taken advantage of in the area of their pocketbook. And the mothers are manipulated and with the person that they're carrying.

And so it just becomes this big pay-to-play scheme. And that's what we're witnessing every day; it gets worse. The way that they're advertising now to get mothers is so competitive and it's predatory and it's scary. It's scary. And, you know, I always say that your experience having the chance of being good is solely based on the luck of where you live in the United States and who pops up on your Google search when you go to find an adoption professional.

And it's super scary to have a vulnerable woman out there at the mercy of whoever is at the top of her Google search, because whoever's paid the most money to be at the top of that search.

And so really, when I criticize adoption, it's so that it becomes a safe choice. And, you know, we also hear a lot from like activists like pro-life, pro-choice, and a lot of people want to know, like how do we get more adoptions? How do we do more adoptions? And really, it's not about doing more adoptions. But if you look at the numbers of adoptions and how they've gone down significantly since The Baby Scoop era and even since, say, the 1980s, 1990s, you're looking at extreme manipulation and terrible experiences that mothers have had.

And people know more about it now. Transparency is accessible now. People don't want to do that. So, if you don't want the numbers to keep going down, I say to like these type of people, then you have to preserve it as a safe choice. And it's just not possible right now.

Lori:
Thank you for that, Kelsey. I think there's probably other whole other podcast episodes and series of episodes that can be done on that. And I really, really love what you said about how you're critical about adoption practices because you care and you want to maintain this as a safe choice for women who need this choice and remove the predatory practices. So, I really appreciate that as being the good kind of critical.

There have been a few high profile articles about adoption in mainstream media this year. Sarah, would you talk to us about what happened in March with an article in Wired that was called Adoption Moved to Facebook and A War Began? Talk to us about the article and then some adoptee reaction to that article.

Sara:
Yeah.

You know, I hate to give this article a little any more airtime, Lori. It was a very poorly written article, I'll just say. I mean, I felt like the whole thing was really centered around one adoptive parents who encountered what she decided was the anti-speaking of, you know, she decided this whole underground anti-adoption movement and that people were name calling. And certainly, I mean, we all know that sadly, that just exists in social media. That is the world we're in right now on any number of topics.

And so, the whole article, I felt, was flawed to begin with, because it was just kind of talking about that {indistinct 33:21}. And she basically took revenge and started going after some of these adoptees.

So, I think what bothered me about the article was, one, that it was poorly written, two, not well researched, and three, just ridiculous to put that much, it felt like click bait, really. I mean, we're talking about people on the fringes, really extreme views that is not representative of the adoptees out in the public scene, writing and speaking and working toward reform; that just isn't representative. And so it was irresponsible in that way.

And it landed with a lot of fury from a lot of adoptee, for a lot of different reasons; just countering, just being anti – What that means; certainly there are going to be a few people, outliers, saying anti-adoption and they're going to have strong beliefs on that. Like Kelsey said, “To each his own.” That's fine.

But for the most part, you've got a lot of people very passionate about working toward better practices, more ethical standards, creating better laws, ensuring that adoptees who come in from other countries have citizenship and aren't deported upon adulthood. And some things that are pretty sensible, reasonable things that are needed in the space. So, that doesn't mean you're anti-adoption.

And so, the article, like I said, I just hate to give it any more airtime because it just felt like a click bait sort of piece. You've got some people who are very strong willed, and then you've got the adoptive parent who's coming after them in a really strong-willed way. It was like watching a bad reality TV show.

Lori:
So, it didn't go into any of the complexity. It just kept with a simple trope that that everybody already knows without any challenge to that, in fact, reinforcing it.

Sara:
Yeah.

Lori:
Yeah.

Let's go onto another one. That was another one in June in Time Magazine. And it exposed some tactics used by some in the adoption industry to convince women to place their babies; maybe convince is too light of a term. Kelsey, would you talk to us about that article and the reaction that birth moms had to that?

Kelsey:
Yeah.

So, I saw an overwhelmingly positive reception from birth moms, just because we don't really get articles written in a positive way for us or really not positive, but like a credible light. I think that credibility is such a privilege and we're often dismissed as, Well, I don't know if you really believe her. She's not really a credible source.” And so, we have to work really hard to be a credible source.

And so, for this article, I know the reporter worked super hard for over a year and a half on this, and I was really impressed with his research. And just it was very extensive what he wrote.

And I know on the other hand, the professionals were pissed off like they were mad. Not all of them. A lot of them were like, “Yes, change needs to happen.” I think the good ones were like, “Hey, this is a problem and we can't just keep ignoring it.” But there were a lot of professionals that took it very personally, even if their name wasn't mentioned. And I thought that was very telling.

And I even saw in like some Facebook groups, people were like not receiving it well. Just kind of like, well, this article basically is a repeat of something that came out 10 years ago. And I'm just like, “Why has nothing changed then?” I didn't understand that kind of thinking. That's obviously a problem. And if it's not a problem that affects you then a lot of people don't seem to care, I guess. Which I think that's pretty predictable, I suppose.

I really loved this because it illustrated the problems that are often such a secret. I think the industry operates with their two different audiences, very secretively, very privately. They have a social worker that works with a mother or a social worker that works with the family, and then they play telephone.

And so, I think for adoptive parents, what you could take away from this article is that this is a glimpse into the other side. It may not have happened exactly like the article said, but there are a lot of similar trends that are very widespread. And it showed you what working with like a facilitator who's not licensed, not regulated, no oversight for them, how they are treating birth moms and expectant moms.

I think it's a window in to see what is the adoption process, the same one you're walking through, what is it like on the other side for her. Because there is a lot of coercion that comes naturally with the process of adoption, because the way our system is set up and then there are a lot of professionals that take that extra step and put the pressure on even more so.

So, I personally liked this article; didn't like the content. It was obviously a lot of disturbing material. But I do appreciate the time and care that was put in to bring the adoption process through a clear window for people to see and what it's like for us.

Lori:
I think in cases of both articles, it was whose voice is being brought forward. And in the show notes, we will have links to both of those articles as well as some response to them.

And Kelsey, if I recall, you and Ashley Mitchell did a response podcast episode on Twisted Sisterhood. So, we'll include that link in the show notes, too.

Kelsey:
Yeah.

Lori:
Well, I always get sad because I have lots more that I want to cover, but we're at the last question now. And this is a question I'm asking of all guests this season. From your perspective in the adoption triad, Sarah, what do you think people need to know to adopt well, and to adoptive parent well?

Sara:
What did I say last time, Lori?

Lori:
It's in my round up in Episode 12.

Sara:
Yeah.

I mean, is it okay to say something different or? Yeah, I think to adopt –

Lori:
More voice.

Sara:
Yeah, to adapt well into adoptive parent well. I think to adopt well, know. I mean if you haven't adopted yet, know everything you can. Study adoption. Listen to voices from all of us here to absorb the information. Learn. Go in with your eyes open, because I think a lot of times, we don't have that opportunity still.

And I don't know why, but we get wrapped up and you're kind of learning as you go, which is, you know, some part of that is the parenting journey. So, it's not to say that it's hopeless if that's where you find yourself, but once you find yourself there, then get in that place, get enough learning and being open.

And being open to really seeing, even if it hurts, because it's not always pretty. It's not a pretty package. It's not always that wonderful, beautiful story. So, be okay with that and just start getting comfortable with the discomfort and the complexity. That might be what I said last time. I don’t remember.

Lori:
That's ringing a bell and it's really eternal evergreen advice, really.

Kelsey, how about you? As a birth parent, what do you think people need to know to adopt well into adoptive parent well?

Kelsey:
To adapt well, I really think that you need to seek transparency at every turn and do your research. I think that you can take your research outside of even just adoption and get into things like – I think that you should kind of radicalize yourself in a way and do your research on things like classism, racism, things like that.

And then when you are ready to focus in on adoption, listen to voices that you haven't listened to before that you would have never thought to listen to before. Widen your perspective and embrace empathy. Get used to that, because that is going to be a lifelong process for you.

And to parent well, that's great. I would love tips to parent well. To adoptive parent well, I think keeping an open mind. It sounds so simple, but it is tough. And approaching every milestone with an open heart and open mind. And get ready for – just you'll be so much more ready for anything that adoptive parenting throws at you. And your child will be able to be received well with whatever they bring you as well.

Lori:
Well, you're speaking my language when you mentioned openness as one of the key ingredients. And I also love what you said about transparency, because when an article like that Time Magazine one comes out and adoptive parents are reading it, and if they were to find their agency in it as one that was using coercive practices, I think that would be so very hard to come to terms with that you participated in something that was unethical. So, the way to avoid that is to do your due diligence on the front end instead of later.

So, if you get this message in time, people do your investigations and look for transparency. And continue with transparency and openness. So, I think that's a wonderful tips and insights from you both.

Sarah and Kelsey, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate how you've shared your perspectives.

Sara:
Thank you.

Kelsey:
Thank you, Lori.

Lori:
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