This is one of the first blog posts I ever wrote, back on November 15, 2004. My son is now nearly 17 years old, and we’re still sharing his adoption story with folks who ask.

When you adopt a child, you unwittingly sign up to be a lifelong adoption educator to everyone around you. Sharing your adoption story can be fun, invigorating, challenging and frustrating. I often bite my lip to prevent myself from making a sharp retort to someone who spouts off some insensitive remark about adoption.

I’ve heard plenty of insensitive comments borne of ignorance. But today, I have an uplifting story. The day before Veteran’s Day, my son’s school had an assembly to honor vets. Josh’s third grade class also had a “show and tell” time, during which the children could bring in mementos of a loved one who had served or is currently serving in the military. Josh’s birth father, who is in Iraq with the Army National Guard, e-mailed him a letter and some pictures of himself with his “big gun” (a thrill for any 8-year-old boy!).

Josh memorized his birth father’s letter and proudly recited it to his class and showed them the photos (that’s his birth father, on the right). It warms my heart that Josh feels so comfortable with his adoption that he’s not afraid to face the inevitable questions that arise when he talks about his birth father. When one of his classmates innocently asked whether his birth parents left Josh in a basket on our doorstep (she must have been thinking of Moses), Josh patiently explained the way in which he arrived in our family.

Two days after Josh’s Show & Tell, I did a little show and tell of my own. I was traveling with three women from work and I told them about Josh’s Veteran’s Day presentation. “I didn’t know you adopted your kids,” exclaimed one of my co-workers. I grabbed the opportunity, and the four of us ended up talking for quite some time about adoption. The others shared their experiences with people they know who have adopted, who were adopted or who’ve placed a child for adoption.

While I did cringe a couple of times at some of the language they used to describe adoption, I got over it. I figure that you have to take advantage of the “teachable moments,” and you can’t get much better than having a captive audience when you’re traveling in a car together!

For me, the best way to “teach” others about adoption is simply to share my own story when the opportunity arises. I don’t constantly talk about adoption (as evidenced by the surprise of my co-worker, who’s shared an office with me for several months and didn’t know I was an adoptive parent). I just incorporate it into normal conversation, the same way a woman who has given birth to her children would talk about her kids. Our situation is just a little more complex, and therefore, intriguing to others.

Because I know people are intrigued and they seek a “safe” place to ask “dumb” questions about adoption, I allow myself to be that safe place. More often than not, I leave the conversation feeling as if I have taken one small step in helping broaden someone’s understanding and acceptance of adoption.

When adoptive parents pack their bags in anticipation of bringing home their child, they always include oodles of items they think their child might need. But don’t forget to toss in the following items for yourself:

  1. An all-purpose prescription antibiotic such as Cypro
  2. Immodium, for diarrhea relief
  3. Sleeping pills
  4. Anti-itch cream
  5. Hemorrhoidal cream for those long plane/bus/taxi rides

If you’re heading to a warm climate, don’t forget to pack sunscreen and sunglasses. And if you’re prone to asthma (even mild asthma), pack an Albuterol inhaler. Tender Western lungs get easily irritated in countries that have more diesel fumes, dust and pollutants than what you’re used to breathing.

Readers who’ve traveled overseas: What critical items did you bring for yourself?

Barrenness in the Bible

September 11, 2011

In this post, we’ll examine several oft-quoted Bible passages that compound feelings of guilt, inadequacy and disillusionment in infertile people. You have a Christian friend who’s infertile. You want to encourage her, so you pull out your Bible. You vaguely recall that several people in the Bible were “barren,” and they all ended up being […]

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Lifelike Dolls Take the Place of Real Babies for Some Parents

July 1, 2011

They look and feel like a newborn baby. But their limbs are vinyl, their glass eyeballs are imported from Germany, and their rosy cheeks are hand-painted. Women are buying these lifelike “reborn dolls” by the thousands.  That’s right. I said women. Not girls. Apparently, reborns are taking the place of real babies for some women […]

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How to Avoid Adoption Scams

April 21, 2011

A woman pleaded guilty of using her infant twins as bait in a nationwide adoption scam. The woman, age 20, and her mother, scammed five prospective adoptive couples by offering to allow them to adopt the twins if they paid for medical and other expenses. Officials estimate that the woman and her mother were given […]

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New Edition of ‘Adoption Nation’ Released

April 8, 2011

A couple of years ago, I shared the keynote speaker podium at an adoption conference with Adam Pertman, author of Adoption Nation and executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. When I was researching my book, The Adoption Decision: 15 Things You Want to Know Before Adopting, Adam’s book — and the Adoption […]

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8 Ways to Support an Infertile Friend

April 4, 2011

From the time we’re girls playing with dolls, most of us dream of becoming mothers. But for the one in six women who experience infertility, the struggle to conceive or to carry a pregnancy to term is a nightmare. Women in the midst of a fertility crisis need a caring friend. Here are eight ways […]

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‘Adoption Network’ Book Signing at Northwest Ministry Conference

April 1, 2011

The publisher of my book, The Adoption Network: Your Guide to Starting a Support System, does such a nice job with their marketing materials. Here’s my page in the catalog WinePress Publishing is preparing for distribution at next weekend’s Northwest Ministry Conference in Seattle: The conference — which is one of the largest ministry conferences […]

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The Anonymity of Cyberspace Can Encourage Adoption Fraud

October 26, 2010

You’ve seen the ads in the classified section of your local newspaper: “Fun-loving, financially secure, happily married couple in our early 30s, eager to adopt a baby.” Prospective adoptive parents let their intentions be known in cyberspace, as well, via personal websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and online adoption registry services. Pregnant women (or couples) […]

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When Should You Tell Your Child He Was Adopted?

May 10, 2010

We adopted our sons when they were newborns, and adoption has always been a normal part of the vocabulary around our home. When Ben was 6 years old and Josh was 3, we went to the hospital to meet one of their newborn cousins. The boys looked around in wonderment. Babies were born in hospitals! […]

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