It is my pleasure and honor to get to introduce my readers to Lakshmi of Baby Steps to a Baby Dream and Musings. She is the mother of twin girls Cee and Kay whom she and her husband adopted at ten months old. She is also parenting transracial as she and her husband are Indian (from India) and their daughters are part German and part Native Indian.
As I began reading her archives it didn’t take long for me to feel like Laksh was one of my kind of people. And with each post I read I became more and more convinced that she is one of us.
I wish I lived closer to her I’d love to be able to sit and talk with her face to face. Instead, thanks to modern technology I have her answers to a series of questions I asked via email.
In one of your early posts on the adoption blog (Open Adoption RoundTable #8) you mention Clio as being the catalyst for changing how you viewed openness. Were there any other blogs or outside influences that persuaded you to choose openness?
Most definitely. When I started thinking of adoption, I had no clue of what it meant other than the fact that my husband and I get to be parents. Once I got past the initial parts like home study, picking an agency etc, I focussed my energies on trying to understand the process. Heather, Dawn, Rebekah, Birthmomtalks were some of the blogs I followed initially in addition to Clio and they were all instrumental in shaping my views. Alissa of A+A adopt a baby was my idol for transracial parenting and parenting consciously. When her first adoption failed and baby J joined their family 10 days later, I grieved and celebrated with her online.
While most blogs I followed were parents in open adoption relationships with the other side of the triad, I was not sure how it would look for us. The way I viewed this linking of two families was like getting married. They become your extended family irrespective of whether or not you get along great or not. You do it so that your children grow up with the best of both worlds.
Do you expect to maintain the level of openness you currently have or do you think it will change over time?
I do hope we continue as we have done so far and take it a step further with visits and trips together. I am glad we are easing into it and not all over each other from the get go. It has given us time to feel secure as parents and hopefully time for Mommy B to process her grief. I send as many pictures as I can so she gets to see her daughters grow up over time. The thing I most cherish was being able to meet her with her father and brothers. It gave us a chance to talk and get a feel for where our children come from. As the girls grow it amazes me how much they take after their mom and their uncles.
Do you miss not having spent the first ten months with Cee and Kay? Do you have pictures from that time?
Actually no. When we first got the call about Kay and Cee, it just felt right. Occasionally I wish I had pictures of them from before we knew them but Mommy B has been awesome that way sharing pictures as and when she finds them. I do have their new born pictures and their blankets from the time they were born. They will be keepsakes and a precious part of their heritage.
In the post, “Giving up. Yes Exactly That” You wrote, “6 months later, childfree as ever I am at peace with myself. I realized it is possible to feel complete without children. It is possible to be happy for others as they went through the journey of motherhood. It is indeed possible to be happy by letting go. Someday I might yet be a mother to a child of my choosing. May be I will adopt. I do not know yet…” Do you recommend everyone go through that grieving process. Find that peace before starting their adoption journey?
Absolutely. To me holding on to that grief or thinking of adoption as a substitute for a baby I could not have would have been a gross injustice to the mother who was placing her baby with us and to the baby that would eventually become our child. Adoption to me filled an innate desire to be a mother. To nurture and drink in the joys that parenting a child would give me. It was not meant to be a substitute for my body’s failure to procreate. Perhaps this is why I am unable to relate the adoption wait times with the 9 month pregnancy analogy or be treated as an expectant mother when I was waiting. That is just my personal opinion though.
In one post you expressed a fear you might never be chosen over a “typical American family” Do you feel you waited longer to be chosen and if so do you think it was because you’re Indian?
Those were fears when we started the process and I do believe eventually when we did get matched it was for all the reasons we thought we would not. It did not seem to have affected the amount of time we waited though because from the time we signed up with the agency to the time our girls came home was under seven months.
When transracial adoption is mentioned the typical picture is of white parents with minority children do you experience negativity or curiosity because you don’t fit into people’s expectations?
Yes. we do stand out as a family wherever we go. Thankfully so far we have experienced only curiousity and not much negativity. I do know some people who know us well wonder why we did what we did but then I try to take it in my stride. What is important to me is that eventually when my daughters grasp the whole idea of birth culture and their adopted culture, they understand that they are richer for having experienced so much diversity.
Do you think transracial parenting is “easier” when the child is of the majority race because you don’t have to search as hard to expose the girls to their birth culture?
To be honest, I have not thought much about it. I do think it will be easier than if our ethnicities had been reversed. We live in a neighborhood that is diverse with a fair amount of white and asian population. Same with the school district. However, as a family we tend to have more Indian friends than friends of other ethnicities and that is something I am working to change. After the girls came home, I am making an effort to get to know people outside my circles and now take the time to cultivate relationships with people I would have otherwise just been acquainted with. The girls also have native Indian heritage and that is my bigger challenge. I am bookmarking resources online and have plans to go back to their place of birth when they are older so we can get a feel for what it would have been if they had been raised there.
Do you think the girls will identify culturally as Indian? How so or why not?
I think they will since we speak Tamil at home and are vegetarian. I celebrate all festivals and love cooking so end up making a lot of ethnic food. For me this whole concept of culture and ethnicity keeps evolving. I look back on my childhood and realize the things I retain are the ones that I have imbibed without being aware of it. Nostalgia is about reliving the smells and sounds of my childhood. If that is how my daughters end up being I suspect strongly that they will look upon themselves as Indian in spirit. However, since they are being raised here in America, I am sure the local culture and traditions are something they will pick up without me having to make an effort.
Have your experiences with expectant mother expenses changed how you feel about the practice of potential adoptive parents paying for expectant mother expenses?
Yes. If I were to go back and start over, I would insist on post birth matching and most definitely not agree to situations that involve paying lump sums of money to the agency with no accounting of how or whom it is being spent on. While I am not opposed to helping defray some of the childbirth and prenatal care of the child to be born, I think pre birth matching money does facilitate unscrupulous agencies and women who use this to scam couples who are desparate to become parents. I guess I should add that potential adoptive parents should really think about the unhealthy equation we set up when we agree to cover expenses for 6-8 months and how it can pressure a mother into relinquishment even when she may not be completely sure.
Sometimes when I think about how this whole process works, it makes me very sad. For all three sides of the triad.
Click over to Musings to get to know Lakshmi better (and click on the food she mentions for recipes! Sorry Laksh I will be putting lots of green peppers in mine when I make them) and click over to Baby Steps to a Baby Dream to read about their adoption journey.
To be introduced to more new to you adoption bloggers head over to Heather’s.