Through candid (and often funny!) observations and heartwarming personal stories, a Holt adoptive mother shares the challenges and joys of parenting adopted children
For the past three years, Holt adoptive parent Jane Ballback has shared her adoption stories with families waiting to bring their children home. An adoptive parent for 24 years, Jane speaks at parent training classes led by Holt Social Worker Mike Guinn. Mike offers the formal training. Jane presents the personal experiences relating to the issues being discussed.
“I provide the stories that bring the theories alive and help new parents figure out what they are about to face,” says Jane. “Everyone loves a good story, and mine are real, relatable and memorable. Adoption concepts are rather abstract and hard to explain until you understand how the theories play out in real life.”
Starting today, Jane will share her thoughts and stories on Holt’s blog once a week. The theories and issues discussed will be relevant to new adoptive families as well as families who have had their children home for some time. Our hope is that Jane’s blogs will serve as an educational tool for adoptive parents and also as a catalyst for candid, meaningful discussion.
Feel free to comment on Jane’s blog entries with your own suggestions, questions and personal stories as they relate to the topic being discussed.
Jane’s daughter, Stacee, will also occasionally be joining her mother as a guest blogger.
The following is a message from Jane:
Hello, my name is Jane and I am one of the luckiest women in the world. I have been married forty years to the “boy” I met in high school, I’ve had a fascinating and rewarding career as a Human Resource Consultant and Career Coach, and now that I’m retired I get to do volunteer work for non-profits whose missions are near and dear to my heart.
The best part of this story, though, is that along the way my husband and I adopted three children from Korea, who are now young adults. Being a parent was the hardest job I’ve ever done, and watching them grow and develop has been the experience of a lifetime.
I’ve always been an intensively curious woman and learning to be an adoptive parent was one of my greatest endeavors. Determined to be the best parent I could, I talked to adoption experts, read everything I could find about parenting adoptive children, and when I was “in over my head”, I worked with a gifted child psychologist, who is herself, adopted.
I was, by no means a “perfect” parent. Along the way I stumbled, survived, learned and laughed. The idea for this blog came out of the volunteer work I do for Holt International. For three years now I’ve been working with the Southern California social worker, helping to train parents who are waiting for their new arrival. He does the formal training and introduces the adoption theories and ideas – I provide the stories that bring the theories alive, and help new parents figure out what they are about to face. Everyone loves a good story, and mine are real, relatable and memorable.
I thought my first story would be about my daughter, Stacee who is now twenty years old and a junior in college. I want to introduce Stacee to you because she will periodically be blogging with me. I have often been asked how it is possible to love a child that is not your own. I understand the question — it’s just difficult to answer, so I often tell this story.
I actually did forget once, that I was not my daughter’s “real” mother. When Stacee was three she had a persistent fever and was turning bright red. After a few days of trying to figure this out, my pediatrician told me to drive directly to the Children’s Hospital and get her admitted. He suspected, rightfully so, that she had Kawasoki’s Disease. This is an unusual disease, common among Asians with just these symptoms. It’s a very treatable disease, but time was of the essence and the result of not treating it was the possibility of permanent damage to Stacee’s heart.
As I sat in the admitting department, with this hot, bright red child on my lap, I was distraught to say the least. The nurse began getting a history from me, about my health, and my family’s health. For fifteen minutes I answered all of her questions, and then thought, Jane, have you lost your mind, your health history is totally irrelevant. I’d forgotten that I wasn’t Stacee’s birth mother and in fact, knew nothing about her health history. I apologized to the nurse for wasting her time and that was that.
Happily I had gotten there in time and thirty-six hours later after dosing her aspirin through an IV, the symptoms were gone, and there was no damage. The doctor asked me if he could bring medical interns to see what this rare disease looked like and I said sure. Each time he came by he would always say, “This is Jane and her daughter Stacee. Jane forgot she wasn’t Stacee’s birthmother.” He told me after the interns had left, that his heart was touched by my connection to my daughter. This story helps people see that once you decide you’re ready to love a child, it no longer matters how the child comes into your life.
Welcome to my blog!
I love talking to other adoptive parents, and know that they have wisdom to pass on to me. Thank you for participating in this communication and being willing to share your thoughts and stories as well.
Watch for Jane’s first official blog entry next week! Jane will introduce you to her three children and discuss the incredible differences in how adopted children respond to their relinquishment.