Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Open Adoption Interview Project 2011: Mrs R tells all

I had the opportunity to participate in the Open Adoption Interview Project this year, and was surprised to discover that one of the 124 participants had specifically requested to interview a birthfather. The unusual woman in question is the host of R House. We had the chance to exchange a few e-mails and get to know one another a bit. I suspect, indeed I hope, this exchange will continue. It appears we both have more questions on our minds that we could wedge in to this first interview. Presented here, transcript style, is the interview for your reading pleasure.

For more of the interviews, please visit the list.


Care to introduce yourself to the readers? Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and how long you've been involved in adoption.

My name is Lindsey. I go by Mrs. R on my blog sometimes, not all the time. I am married to a therapist. I have two toddler boys who were both adopted domestically as infants. We are very close with their maternal birth families. We have met and dined with birth grandparents with and without the birth mothers. We have been in their homes, celebrated holidays together, gone on vacation with a few, had them come and stay with us for several days and have a strong texting relationship. :) We are friends with some on Facebook. I send update packages every month to all the birth moms and a package a couple times a year to the birth grandparents. We were recently reunited with our oldest son's birth father through Facebook and we have gotten to know some of his extended family. It makes my heart happy. Another birth father has told us that he is not ready to have a relationship with us but we told him the door is always open.

I have been personally involved since 2007.

You mention in your blog struggling with why you can't participate with the Lord in creation. Has your faith, or your faith community, imparted any feelings about infertility or adoption that were hurdles for you? On the flip side, has there been anything related to your faith/faith community that made you feel parenting through adoption was somehow less worthy than parenting a child you conceived?

Yes and no. I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are kind of notorious for having large families because we are taught that children and families are a gift and a miracle. When I was little, I loved to listen to my mom tell us how much she loved us and that we were her most important work. It's empowering to feel that you are someone's prized work and joy. I am very lucky to have been raised in that environment. I grew up thinking that, just like my mom, my children would be my most important work. When we were diagnosed as a couple with being sterile, that dream took on a new shape. It would be a harder dream to reach and sometimes, it felt impossible. Meanwhile, we hear talks and quotes from Church leaders saying things like, “It is a crowning privilege of a husband and wife who are able to bear children, to provide mortal bodies for these spirit children of God.” (Source.) For a barren woman, these kinds of things are hard to hear even though they are true. It's hard to realize that a crowning privilege of being a human being is being able to create life ...and for whatever reason, that is not something that my husband and I will get to participate in.

That said, I've never once felt like raising my children who happen to be adopted was any less noble. I may not have have the privilege of creating their bodies, but I do have the privilege of teaching them and loving them and helping them have an appreciation for life. As someone who cannot create biological children, I think I am even more sensitive to how much of a literal miracle it is that I GET TO be a mom. It wasn't a right for me. It wasn't easy. It came at great heartbreak and sacrifice by their birth families. I am reminded of that every day.

Your family presently consists of you, your husband, your two children, and open relationship with three of your children's birth parents (both mom's and one dad, with an open invitation to dad #2) with the strong possibility of adding a third child to the mix (with first family relationships TBA). First off, do I have this right? Secondly, can you speak to your desire for a larger family? Do you have a target for how many kids you'd like to raise? Have you ever had misgivings about continuing to adopt?  If no, allow me to confront you with a new query - many people call very loudly for adoption reform related to coercing mothers to place their children. This can create a morally/ethically ambiguous area for adoptive parents. How do you see the relationship between this ambiguity and adopting multiple children?

You got our family dynamic down right. In reality, I cannot believe that there have been two (and possibly three) women who have chosen to have a child, break their own hearts and place that baby with us. When I think about it long enough, I seriously am shocked that adoptions ever happen. We worked with an agency in our first adoption and had an adoption profile through their website. Our oldest son's birth mother found us through that site, we flew out to meet her and her family, we loved each other, she placed with us 6 weeks later. Our youngest son's birth mother is actually a dear family friend of about a decade. She confided in my brother-in-law that she was expecting and wasn't ready to marry the father but wanted her son to have a mom and a dad that were married. Several months later, she told my brother-in-law that it was too bad that my husband and I weren't hoping to adopt again because she wanted to place with our family. He told her that he would call us and we said that we would love to get to know her better if she'd like. We met again (under new circumstances, obviously) talked to her dad, flew out to visit her mom, her and her family and in the end--she did chose to place with us. With this third little that we are hoping to add to our family in the new year, the expectant mom has been a blog reader of mine for quite some time. We flew out to visit her, had a fantastic time and fell in love with her spunky personality and huge heart. She is a great example of fortitude in the face of hardship.

My point is that we only sought after adoption, so to speak, with our first son. In the other two situations, their birth moms sought after us.

Do I have a specific number of children that I want to have in my home? No, I don't. Would we love to welcome more children in our home? Yes! If we felt good about it, the expectant parents felt good about us and it all worked out.

As for reform, I am not a bandwagoner. In order for me to join a movement, I have got to feel the personal fire for it. As for coercion in adoption, I don't have very much experience with it. I am sure that it happens, I feel that it is horribly wrong, but I just don't have the experience necessary to call for reform and know what I am talking about. I will leave that to those that do know what they are talking about.

I am, however, passionate about open adoption and adoptive parents keeping their promises. That is a movement that I can get behind and do advocate for.

 Why did you ask to be paired with a birthfather for the interview project? Give as much or as little depth as you wish.

 I wanted to interview a birth father mostly because I don't know much about the birth fathers of my children. They have each chosen the level of their involvement (or lack thereof) and although I remind them several times a year that we are open to building more of a relationship ("Let me email you some photos." "I have a video that we made of our summer vacation that I would love to send you." "We would love to meet up for dinner in the near future." "I have a holiday package with some drawing from your son that I would love to send to you."), I have yet to experience any interest. For me, this is devastating. I guess I just wanted to learn a little more about what it would be like to have a birth father that chooses to remain in contact. It is something I am not really educated in.


Thanks to Lindsey for her openness and honesty. If you are curious you can see my side of the interview here.


  1. It was great to read this interview. I've seen the R house button on pretty much every LDS adoption blog I've ever stopped by and so nice to find out more about Lindsey and her commitment to open adoption. I must say that this statement niggles at me, " I just don't have the experience necessary to call for reform and know what I am talking about. I will leave that to those that do know what they are talking about." Lindsey, you are the perfect person to call for adoption reform. You have a strong voice, a large audience and dedication and passion for open adoption and children. I'm guessing you've seen these resources already, but just in case and are great resources. Thanks.

  2. Great job, on both sides of the interview. I'll never get my head around such exaggerated or inflated importance placed on conceiving and giving birth. If there is a crowning privilege of being a human being, it's my opinion it would more likely be being responsible for and dedicated to a life created rather than just simply creating it.

    I'd like to highlight a few of the things you said in your interview on Lindsey's blog in a post on my blog. Is that ok with you? I will link to both interviews if you want.

  3. Campbell - for some reason I'm unable to load your page. At any rate it's fine by me if you want to post anything I've written.

    As for the interview, I'll refrain from commenting. I'm too well aware of my nature as both curmudgeon and ass to believe that could go well.

  4. So, I Am didn't think our interview went well? I hope that's not the case since that is certainly not the message you sent me in our emails with one another.

    Regardless of how you feel, I loved learning more about you and your POV.


  5. @growfamilygrow: You are right, it would be a great movement for me to get involved in, but I would need to do WAY more research on it. In due time, hopefully.

    Thanks for reading!

  6. Mrs R - Just to clarify, I feel the interview went very well. I'm refraining from commenting as I feel that editorializing on your responses in this manner would ensure that I am both an ass and a curmudgeon. Should further discourse related to the interview be desirable there are more forthright ways of accomplishing that goal. As such, I shall allow your words to stand on their own strength, with neither critique nor defense from me.


What do you think? I'm curious.