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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Sunday, April 30, 2006

More Adoption Thoughts/Dreams

Not only have I been thinking about my own adoption, and adoptions that have surrounded me at work, but I've been thinking a lot about wanting to foster or adopt kids as well. I know, before you all keel over from a collective heart attack. It seems like a sort of insane idea. But you know how ideas can seem insane because they are completely new, but then you meet people who are actually doing those things, and it feels like the most normal thing in the world.

It started when a good friend of mine adopted two sisters from foster care a few years back. They were ten and twelve years old then, and they have integrated into her family in the most wonderful way. She and her husband already had three children (one in college), and so now they have five. And it all seems to work out in a slightly more complex but really lovely way. The girls are doing great. The rest of their family is doing great. And it seems like the most normal and wonderful thing in the world. These people encountered a lot of shock and dismay when they told people they were (gasp!) adopting two children who were (gasp!) NOT BABIES. They came with their own histories, habits, ideas. They weren't little blank slates that could then be written upon. They were, and are, their own people. Many people couldn't handle this idea. But guess what? It's worked out great.

Then my best friend adopted the world's most adorable godchild ever, from India.

Then, a few months ago, a woman named Annie Kassof showed up to one of my home readings holding an impossibly adorable baby boy. She read from the anthology Using Our Words while jiggling and shifting him from arm to arm, about how she has serially fostered about twenty babies over the past several years. I was riveted.

I love babies. I completely adore babies. Most people have their "favorite ages" of children, and I have to say that I am a total sucker for babies. And it suddenly occurred to me, that this could be a way to have babies, over and over and over again. And to give these tiny people a refuge in their limbo.

Then I've been spending way too many hours scrolling through the photolistings at AdoptUSKids, and looking at the various heart galleries, including the Bay Area Heart Gallery, and my own heart has been melting into a total puddle. Heart Galleries are these incredible photo galleries of kids-who-are-waiting-to-be-adopted, their portraits taken by professional photographers in the most compelling ways imaginable- showing them to be individual, unique, beautiful humans. And suddenly I started dreaming about all these three-sibling groups. Vivid, real dreams.

(snap) And then she woke up.

Yeah. I know. It's not going to happen now. I am already overwhelmed and overextended beyond belief. I'm already tightly smushed into the Sandwich Generation. But it won't always be like this. I know that, too. And then maybe our doors will open a little wider and we'll be able to say yes to someone who is waiting out there.

Onother thing: our daughters are so lucky. They have every possible advantage and privilege in the world. And I think about the half million children in this country who have no home, no family, nobody looking out for them. It just doesn't seem fair or right.

But it's not the right time. Not this week, anyway. Probably not this year. But some day.

In the meantime, I decided to do the one thing that is feasable right now. I've decided to become a VMentor (virtual mentor) for a foster youth who has "aged out" of the foster system, someone who wants to go to college or become trained in some kind of work, and who has nobody to shepherd them into adulthood. The VMentor program, organized through the Orphan Foundation of America, is a pitifully small commitment: they ask you to email your mentee twice a week, offering support, friendship, a little bit of an anchor in the big world. I can do that. I want to do a lot more, but for now, I can do that.


Blogger Patry Francis said...

A thoughful post, as usual, Susan. I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about the Orphan Foundation.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 10:01:00 AM

Blogger Alice in Austria said...

I totally agree! :) (I sent you an e-mail, check your spam-folder, lol) :P

Sunday, April 30, 2006 10:48:00 AM

Blogger Bustopher Jones said...

Your godchild IS adorable. And now I want to be a VMentor, too! I also think it's amazing that you want to be a foster mother.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 11:45:00 AM

Blogger Grits said...

I found your blog because I was searching for other foster/adopt parents out there. I am at the end of the training and about to receive children soon.... a sibling group we believe. So, don't be afraid to try it when the time is right. The MAPP training that lasts for 9 weeks, which prepares you to foster or adopt, is wonderful, and we are thrilled about becoming parents. Thanks.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 12:38:00 PM

Blogger melanie said...

I think you'd be a great foster/adoptive mom, in part bc you've special insight being an adoptee, and bc you're already a great mom and mentor. So maybe the time will be right, one day. In the meantime, your kids ARE really lucky!

And your godchild is ADORABLE! Wonderful photo.

Sunday, April 30, 2006 3:24:00 PM

Blogger Libby said...

Susan, I'm with everyone else who thinks this could be great for you: starting with the VMentor program and moving up from there. Here's a story about my aunt and uncle; I think I've mentioned them before: http://kenttribune.com/main.asp?SectionID=59&subsectionID=184&articleID=10766

After four bio-kids they began fostering, and adopting, and...well, you'll get the rest in the story.


Monday, May 01, 2006 5:48:00 AM

Blogger Susan said...

libby, that is an amazing story. Wowee. I don't think I'll ever be one of those Mother-Who-Lives-in-A-Shoe with 25 kids. Just a few at a time. And yes, I'm taking it very slowly, starting with the Vmentoring. Maybe it'll turn out that that's all I can ever do. But it's a start.

Monday, May 01, 2006 9:04:00 AM


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