Last week, our very own Adoption Coordinator, Jodi Singer, shared her family’s incredible adoption journey. You can read this beautiful story about being an adopter here. Most importantly, Jodi’s adoption story taught us how adoption means resilience. But we were still left with a few questions about what that means. Read more from Jodi in this Q&A blog, which helps us dive deeper into the meaning of adoption – for Jodi’s family and for all of us.
Q: Although you have always wanted to adopt, the beginning of your adoption journey begins where many other adoption journeys begin: Infertility. Do you have any advice for couples struggling with infertility? Can you tell us more about when you decided adoption was the more natural route for you and your family?
Infertility shows its face in many forms. For us, it was obvious that naturally conceiving was not going to come easy. It was not that either one of us couldn’t have a child, it was that it would probably require medications, etc. I did not simply want to explore any other options. I have always wanted to adopt, and the voice in my head said, this was the opportunity to fulfill that dream. A lot of women yearn to be pregnant, want to experience that closeness to their child. For me, it was different. I wanted to create the bond after the womb. I wanted the child to know that I was there regardless of the past, the circumstances that brought us together, or the events surrounding their adoption. Children need love, understanding, and a chance to grow. I loved both of my children before I met them.
Q: In your adoption story, you talk about fears and concerns your husband had. Can you tell us more about what those were? How did the two of you overcome them?
My husband, in his heart was afraid that he would not love the child like he would a biological child. He was afraid of doing something wrong, of the child not bonding with him. Our son was born in September 2007 and our daughter in November 2010. Out of the blue one day he came to me and said, “It does not matter how a child comes into your life, the love is the same.” He never expressed at the time of adoption, it was only after. He wanted to support me, my wishes, and our desire to grow our family. We overcame them by talking about our fears, about exploring other adoptive couples’ journeys, and about sharing our true feelings with each other.
Q: Here at Arms Wide Adoption Services, we preach the importance of choosing an agency that is the best fit for you to our potential families (even if it means it’s not our agency). Can you tell us more about why you went with a private agency and why you thought they were a good fit for your family?
My husband and I chose private adoption, because we come from very different backgrounds. I was raised Christian, in a Methodist church. My parents divorced when I was three years old, and I grew up with a step family. My husband’s parents were both raised orthodox Jew, and his parents’ expectations were that he would marry someone Jewish. After dating for two years long distance, we married, and he moved home to Cincinnati, Ohio. We felt that at the time, our religious backgrounds would deter a lot of people. We respect each other’s religions. Neither one of us has converted and felt that is a lot for someone to swallow and/or understand. We were very aware adopting from the foster care system would require more than we could give at the time. My husband and I felt the children in the system needed consistency, parents that could provide more attention than a ‘typical’ child, and knew how the system worked. We were newly married, young, and not sure if we could adequately provide what a foster child needed. Although the private agency stated that our religious differences could turn birth mothers away, we were willing to take the chance. It was the best decision for our family at the time.
Q: We loved hearing about how you were not willing to represent your family inaccurately in your family profile, even if it meant waiting longer for a match. As an Adoption Coordinator, can you speak more to the importance of being upfront at the start of the process?
The process of adoption is challenging under the BEST circumstances. The paperwork, the ups and downs, the disappointments of potential placement, and reality that the child is being placed ultimately because the birth parents cannot provide for them in one way or another. The least you OWE your potential child(ren) is to be upfront, honest, and forthcoming. You must understand the result of your actions every day, all the time. If you are not your true self, you can hurt that child’s well-being.
With that said, we are humans and need to not take on more than we can deal with. That is crucial in your decision to adopt from a particular agency as well. When fostering to adopt, the process and your ability to be your true self is even more critical. These children need an advocate, need a person in their corner, and someone to care when no one else is there. If you cannot do that, this process is not for you. The commitment is real. When dealing with children that have experienced trauma, your willingness to empathize (even with a crying baby) can be a game changer in that child’s life. Whether it turns into adoption, or the child goes home to their biological family, your time with them will be an imprint in their hearts. That responsibility is a gift, and should not be taken lightly.
Q: Tell us more about meeting your children’s birth mother. You talk about how you still share things with her. What do you share? How often do the two of you communicate?
My children’s birth mother is a very special soul in my life. She has made mistakes, was positive for drugs at both of their births, was incarcerated for part of her pregnancy with my daughter; but all that aside, she is still their mother. She is a human being that loves them unconditionally. Their birth mother chose me to be their mom, and I do not take that responsibility lightly. She is a driving force in who they are, and I recognize that. I have shared with her my disappointments in her actions. I have told her that I love her no matter what she does, but more importantly I encourage her to stay clean and work on her life. She deserves a better life, and if I can help her so that my children will be proud of her one day, I have succeeded.
I have only shared the good things with my kids. I send her milestone pictures (i.e first day of school, summer fun, birthday, holidays, etc). We sometimes chat through text a few days and other times, I do not hear from her for months. She is a single mother of three other children (mine are in the middle). She gets no support from anyone. I respect her space when she needs it. A child cannot have too much love. It is crucial to not only recognize birth parents (private or foster-to-adopt) but to shed light on the positives to the children, when appropriate. The children deserve to know where they came from with a guarded explanation. It is only fair and appropriate for them to know their roots.
Q: You talk about how you share details about your children’s birth mother with them. How do you keep the conversation open? What kind of questions do they ask?
My children are eight and 11 years old. They have just recently started asking more questions. I answer the best that I can, not revealing that they have siblings. The reason is, it will not benefit their lives at this point. It will only hurt them as they question “Why us?” Although I am very close to both of my children and I feel that they have an unconditional love towards me, I realize that they have a void that I cannot fill, nor will I ever try to. They wanted to know what she looks like, so I showed them pictures. They wanted to know what she is doing, so I told them. My son recently told a family friend about his adoption story. She stated that he explained it with such love and pride. I got tears in my eyes. I hope that both of my children always see their adoption story as a positive in their lives.
Q: You talk about the void in your children’s hearts that you cannot fill. Do your children want to meet their birth mother someday? If so, how do you navigate those conversations? When do you think is the right time for it to happen?
My children have asked to meet their birth mother. I simply say, now is not the time and you will meet her one day. I am hoping after high school. Their birth mother has a long way to go before I feel comfortable with them meeting her. I want it to be a positive experience, while recognizing that I cannot change the truth. I want them to know their siblings, their ‘other’ family.
Q: If given the chance to do anything over again, is there anything you would change about your adoption journey?
No, I would not change a thing.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
Yes. Our birth mother came to our agency 10 days before our son was born. She was in a bad relationship, did not know where to turn and knew that she could not care for another child. After his adoption was final, we stated that if she ever contacted the agency again, we’d like to adopt again. Who knew that two years later we would receive another call.
Our daughter was born with Pierre Robin Sequence. To simplify it, she was born with a birth defect that caused her jaw to be small. This inhibited her from sucking properly, breathing properly as her tongue was too large for her mouth and can cause a lot of other issues. At birth, no one was aware of the birth defect immediately. Our birth mother wanted to keep her. She had a son that was almost 5 years old, our son, but this was the first girl. The problem was, we already adopted one child from her, she tested positive for drugs at birth, and she had an adoption plan. With the intervention of an attorney, hospital staff, and social workers, she ultimately chose to place our daughter with us in the end. We quickly noticed that something was not right with our daughter.
My husband is not a religious person; however, to this day, he feels that both of our children were meant to be ours. If we had not already adopted our son, our daughter may have gone into the foster care system and passed away from SIDS. If not detected, Pierre Robin can cause malnutrition, learning disabilities (not enough oxygen to the brain), and even death. Because we were persistent, she was diagnosed at four months and had mandible distraction at five and half months that changed her life.
Wow! Arms Wide Adoption Services is incredibly lucky to have Jodi on our team. We appreciate you sharing your story, elaborating through this Q&A series, and continually serving as an advocate for adopters and adoptees everywhere. We know it’s not always easy to share your story, but we know so many parents who can relate. Thank you, Jodi!
About Jodi Singer
Ever since she was a little girl, Jodi Singer had a yearning to help others. When she and her husband adopted their son, Jodi says her life really started to have purpose. When her daughter came along, she knew her family was complete. Their births brought Jodi closer to the adoption sector, and she began her adoption career right after the birth of her daughter, and has never looked back.
As a Foster Care Coordinator for Arms Wide Adoption Services, Jodi manages foster homes in which children are placed. Her primary goal is to ensure each child is safe and has all their basic needs met. She is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Read more about Jodi here.