Friday, July 29, 2005

Adoption 5: BABY CARE

Although she looks more like a little froggy in this photo, Emma reminded me of those honey bears and "Emma Bear" quickly became her nickname. We use it to this day, as in, "Where's Bear? The Bear is hungry. No Bear!"

Every baby needs a name, and the adoption folks said that giving an adopted baby a new name is an important part of the "claiming" process. We were back and forth on this one non-stop for a day. My wife didn't like "Ashley Monet _______." It was too White. "Anaya" sounded pretty and was on the first photos until I remembered it was the last name of an well known local activist. Then "Emma" popped up. We'd always liked it and it was a family name and it was simple....although I have to admit when strangers ask her name I've occassionally said, "Shaneequa" (like in that Martin Lawrence tv show) just to watch their faces contort. I thought we should keep "Ashley" as her middle name to give some recognition to her birth, and there it was, "Emma Ashley Ingersoll-Weng"

...or at least it sort of was because for weeks I'd have to refer to her to in the presence of her Birthmom and the social workers as Ashley. Part of our role as foster parents was to support the reunification of Ashley/Emma with her BirthMom and we were told that - although it was common practice - renaming before adoption finalization could be part of an argument for an appeal.

The rest of caring for Emma - except for the exhaustion of getting up every two hours - was easy. Diapers and formula bottles are simple compared to the demands of running a non-profit organization which I had done until several months prior to getting Emma. I'd sit dozing or watching tv, even then, putting her in position so she'd think I was staring at her. Within a few months she and I were eating breakfast 5 days a week at the Chula Vista Country Waffles on H and 3rd Streets. The senior citizen breakfast crowd and the waitresses and 4 cups of coffee keeping me from feeling isolated and completely exhausted.

If you're in town stop by and tell them Sam and Emma and Gabriel say hello. Then order the ham and eggs...
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At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everybody needs a name, Ashley already had a name. What makes you think it's ok to change that child's name? I really disagree with that.

At 1:20 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Why not change her name?

A 6 week old doesn't know her name and would not until around 6 mo to a year.

Just like with "race", most kids attach no value to these things until the case of race kids don't have a concept until about 5 years old.

These are things that we as adults place a lot of emphasis on, but that don't matter to kids.

What does matter is how I love Emma, not her name. What does matter is how I'm willing to maintain an open relationship with the Birthmom despite being advised to the contrary.

I was fine with Ashley, although Ashley Monet was a little cheesy. My wife didn't like it though's important to her...although not anyone why not?

(It might have been important to Emma's birthmom but she disappeared onto the street, using drugs, despite my visiting her, giving her photos, and going totally beyond what the social workers said I should she kind of lost the right to complain.)

I am glad you brought up this issue, because a lot of people don't think about it much or get really hung up on it. For us, we searched for names like Anaya, etc...and then "Emma" just popped up. Its a family name too.

Read some of the stuff on "claiming". Giving a baby a new name is often advocated by adoption families and workers since say it helps the adoptive family "claim"/take the baby as their own.

At 2:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Might have been nice to keep her birth name to. Emma Ashley. This way she is her former self as her first mother named her and also her new self as her adoptive parents named her.

At 4:50 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Ha Ha! How'd you guess exactly what we did....

Her name is "Emma Ashley"

At 7:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perfect. Absolutely perfect. More adoptive parents should follow your lead.

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are wrong to change the name. What is wrong with changing her name is that she had a name. It's ignoring her origins. That's the name her mother gave her and she came to your family with that name. Changing her name is also ignoring the fact that she is adopted, she came with a history, with an original family and most importantly, she came with a name.

At 9:32 AM, Blogger Sam said...

Changing the name - and we did keep Ashley - as in Emma Ashley is really a side issue. The important thing is that I tried really hard to create a relationship with the birthfamily that they weren't really interested in, took photos, etc...and am totally open to "not" ignoring the fact that she's adopted.

BTW, her "history" is pretty aweful. I know at least one person who goes by his middle name because he was abused by his mother while he had the first name and so hated it.

Let's focus on that fact that "she is adopted". So what? This means that she grew in someone's stomach, came out, and then after 6 weeks she doesn't remember, got a new family who all her memories, experiences, et... will be built around. As long as we are open and honest with her, and do a great job of parenting - the fact that she's adopted probably won't mean much at all to her in the long run.

We'll see. Do you have some personal experience with this you'd like to share?

At 10:09 AM, Anonymous Michelle said...

My daughter is 9 and wants to change her name. She has the same name as her birthmother and she does not want to be called by the due to the fact she was abused. We are leaving the choice up to her. They kept her middle name as Ashley, and if Emma chooses to go by Ashley when she is older, she could do that.

At 1:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

She grew in someone's stomach and doesn't remember????

That is her mother not a human incubator. Character and mannerisms are genetic. Family is important, origins are important.
Adoption is not a painless experience for an adoptee. They do experience loss, it is important to them. There are lots of books on adoption you can read and you can especially learn from adult adoptees.
I am not doubting you care very much for the little girl but you need to learn about adoption in order to be a better father.
Your views are a bit narrow and ignorant. Sounds rude but it's the truth.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Hey, she is a spitting image of me - except for the image of course - and acts mostly like me and her older brother. I've read plenty, and baby adoptees seem to experience far less "loss" than older kids.

Family and origins are as important as we make them. I was a smart, poor kid, who was abandoned by my mother for 5 other babies and I never felt like I belonged in any group growing up. We never had cultural or familial rituals.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Sam said...

...really, I don't think she remembers in probably any conscious way that matters, and if the subconscious ways do matter

THOSE ARE FAR LESS IMPACTFUL (a) then her experiences during years 0-3, and then the other 65+ years of her life. becoming a better father, well, I have lots of time to do that too, and will read a plenty as she goes through different developmental stages.

At 3:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Character and mannerisms are genetic. You can also see studies make with identical twins who were seperated at birth, or look at mothers and children who are reunited after being seperated for years. So many things in common. You just don't want to take in anyone else's views, it's a pity you are so closed minded. It's a shame for the little girl. I'm sorry you had a difficult childhood and were abandoned by your mother. (notice I don't say "think you were abandoned") I am taking you at face value there. None of what is said to you is meant as an attack, you are getting some good information from us but if you know everything already then.....

At 3:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow- I can't make this sound any other way but rude. As an adopted adult(I was adopted at 6 weeks)I am stunned, saddened and hurt by how little you understand of the affects of adoption. I would suggest that become clued in- rapidly for the sake of the child you adopted.

At 3:51 PM, Blogger Sam said...

I've heard of some of them. Give me the citations and I'll look them up.

I do know that many things are not the same, even for identical twins. For example, both can have anxious personalities and low levels of depression due to their inherited body chemistry, but one may have learned much better coping mechanisms or have grown up in a very healthy environment so the effects are much less.

P.S. Emma said, for the first time, "Money, OOOHhh OOOHHH AAAHHH Ahhhh" and "crying" - her brother was crying and she was quite concerned.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Hey, anyone who spends so much time at a place like this is probably a little off and a little obsessed for some reason --- i'm starting to thing i am.

See ya tomorrow, I've got to disengage from this, and spend some time reading stories!

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Sam said...

not "money"

she said "monkey"

At 4:42 PM, Blogger Sam said...

Well enlighten me then. Refer me to the right book. Share something about yourself.

I guess I was hoping with this blog, whoever commented would be really interested in sharing and learning, not just lobbing criticisms without providing any context.

Put yourself out there and tell us how you remember what happened when you were 6 weeks and the trauma - and give me a shot at pop psychologizing your life.

I've known enough therapists and people who were wounded for all kinds of reasons to have seen how they project stuff onto things that are not actually the cause at all....or shouldn't have been a cause except that others projected so much onto them.

I'll look at some forums tonight and see if I can find any support for this "loss" position.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Sam said...

BTW, here's what I think about loss - having experienced some of it myself.

Adopted children have tremendous problems with the loss they feel when their adoptive parents:

a) were lousy parents,
b) lied about their birth circumstances,
c) did not acknowledge their birth circumstances,
d) dealt poorly with their children's feelings of loss,
e) did not know how to deal with their childrens' inter-related other issues.

All these are compounded when the adoptive child doesn't know how to move through the grief - and if the child hyperfocuses (maybe psychiatric issues here) or wallows in the problem issues.

Let me emphasize that if the adoptive child has psychiatric issues like depression, any loss and every other problem can be heightened to a much greater magnitude than it would be for most people.

(I'm not sure, but I also think that people who cling to their "culture" or ethnicity in an unhealthy way and force adopted kids into it, or adopt a victimized stance, or totally ignore their children's interest in, say, African culture create tons of problems too.)

Therapists (and lawyers incidentally) have tremendous power to destroy. The best therapists I've known help people understand, process, but then focus on practical things that improve their lives today.

Good psychiatrists say, "Here's medication, but that's just to stabilize your mood and get you to a place where you can develop a different lifestyle and healthy coping mechanisms...then you can go off medication...or maybe not if your body chemistry is really out of whack." The worst just drug and keep people spending so much time wallowing, grieving, focusing on, their problems that they are unable to start living healthier lives! (taking their money while doing so!)

So, that's not to disparage the loss adoptive children feel, but OF COURSE Adopted children on forums and who are quoted in books have issues regarding loss! And, of course, more adoptive parents need to be better parents and more sensitive to these issues.

Maybe I'll be lousy in this respect but I doubt it. I've overcome enough adversity in my own life by being open and honest. I love my kids and while I don't do somethings right, I get the most important things pretty darn close to very very I'm not so worried.

BTW, don't believe everything you read. Only lawyers usually write with perfect accuracy and then no one can understand them. Posts on the internet are notorious for conveying partial information and truths.

geee, is it possible I'm a little more clued in than you thought?

At 1:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

gee, is it possible I'm a little more clued that you thought??

Err, it's not about you being right or being the saint and hero, it's about the fact that you refuse to see adoption from any other perspective than your own. might be a good start for websites to look at.
Do you want some book titles too?

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Sam said...

awe, i'm fine with seeing adoption from a different perspective. I think the adoption experience can be very different for different people for lots of reasons.

It seems to me like some people posting comments refuse to see adoption from others' perspectives - when those perspectives are positive.

How can anyone make the blanket statement that "character and mannarisms are genetic" implying ALL ARE. of course they are not.

I guess I share my perspective and suddently I'm "narrow" and "closeminded"? I need to hurry up and "be a better father?!?" I think someone put that I was, "mean, ignorant, arrogant, and homophobic"...I'm suprised I wasn't called, "racist" too!

As for my "pathetic need" to be seen as "saint" and "hero"? Oh please...I'm happy, my kids are happy, why can't we share that without it being questioned and criticized so rudely?

Someone refered to Emma as that "poor little girl"...I guess the abuse we've heaped upon her is appearent in the photos! has something about this.

Emma is doing great as anyone who knows her can see, and I've done a pretty good job, and I've many years to learn and do a better job.

So what's so aweful about that?

I'll go to bastard nation next.

At 10:11 PM, Blogger MeekoMommy said...

Naming...that is tough! We kept her full birthname as our adaughter's middle name, chose a new first name and gave her our last name. She has four names and about 10 nicknames... oh well!!

We also call her bear or little bear and her native language it is Mato cikala (little bear)... I also call her Skuye gi (which means brown sugar)...

Emma Ashley is a beautiful name...

At 10:16 PM, Blogger MeekoMommy said...

Anonymous said..

That is her mother not a human incubator. Character and mannerisms are genetic. Family is important, origins are important.

In our case her "mother" abandoned our a-daughter. What kind of "mother" is that???? Yes, she was an egg donor, an incubator if you will.

I could go into detail surrounding her situation, but won't... this post made me "perturbed"... Yes, family is important if they choose to be around/involved, if not, then they don't deserve to be... history or not.

My daughter will still grow up knowing her heritages, but will not have the benefit of biofamily to add to it... That will just have to do.

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