Last week I wrote a long post about our first encounter with my boys’ Life Story Book and the less than positive aftertaste in my mouth. I was quite surprised about the number of waves it made in social media. I was quite sad to hear many people (and here I mean a really a huge number) contacted me on Twitter or Facebook openly or in private messages to share similar experiences. This is how I ended up in a conversation with Emma Sutton.
Soon 2 things became clear:
- 140 characters were just NOT enough
- She and I have so much in common about our adoption journeys
So we decided to expand our Twitter conversation (convo) into a blog post, thus Blog-o-Convo was born. It doesn’t follow the classic interview style as in I don’t pose a short question and she gives an extended answer and then we move on to the next topic, rather a classic style conversation 2 friends can have over a cup of tea coffee.
The humble beginnings
FMY: I read lots of blogs and spoke to adopters to learn more about this world. I am not really the type who learns from reading suggested books from cover to cover while taking notes and imagining how certain scenarios would play out for us and how I would/should react. I didn’t look too hard, I need to admit, but I didn’t find any honest, first hand accounts that spoke to me or could have prepared me for what’s to come.
ES: I agree, I looked for honest, first-hand accounts that would tell me what to expect emotionally and how the experience might impact me personally and my relationship with my husband. I read the obligatory books to impress our social workers and quote stuff in the PAR, but never found something that felt true and resonated with what actually happened. I hope my book can bridge that gap, so that people feel less alone and that all this weird stuff is normal.
I wish I had known about all the adoption blogs when I was going through the process. It wasn’t until much later that I started engaging with other adopters, first on twitter, then reading their blogs. It definitely helped me feel less alone.
FMY: Very true. I said it often, the adoption Twitter community is just fabulous and I couldn’t have done the last year without their support, may it be a ghost hug (aka virtual hug) or just saying ‘yes, we know, we have been there and it sucks for the time being‘ or even ‘I have no wisdom for you, but I am crossing my fingers for you‘.
For me blogging was originally a way of keeping in touch with my friends from all over the world to let them know how our new life is progressing. If I look back at earlier posts I see there wasn’t any structure or theme, just writing down things as they were or how I felt. A few months ago I noticed that lately more people are reading it and I received feedback from fellow adopters and questions from prospective adopters who were thinking about adoption, but wanted to know more before they fully commit.
ES: When I started writing my book, the experience was very like off-loading several years’ worth of blogs in a short period of time. Chapters were short and punchy, to make them easy to read and easy to write. And I only started blogging once the book was done, as I was afraid of diverting my attention away when it got to the tricky bits of finishing the book. The blog is more immediate than the book, I can have conversations with people who comment and I love that aspect of blogging.
Anonymity vs having your name there
FMY: Protecting our children was our main concern, but it was also easier for me to be more honest and open about the big issues like Problems with school or Adoption pushing me into depression knowing ‘the powers that be’ (Social Workers, school, therapist, Local Authorities) didn’t know who I was. This way I could voice my opinion, share my take on the happenings and not worry about any negative repercussions.
ES: Anonymity was something I took very seriously – I unfriended lots of people on Facebook and stopped tweeting and made sure all my posts were private. But there was something about writing a book that made me choose to put my real name on it (but not the childrens’). By that time, we had our Adoption Order, so I no longer had to be careful what we said about SW or FC or the system. And I guess I wanted people to see that there was a real face behind the story, not an avatar.
ES: For me, there is something refreshing and powerful about getting to know other adopters on social media. We had about seven couples on our intensive training and I imagined we would all keep in touch, whereas in reality I only still talk to one of the couples. So I love that there are communities of people that I can engage with and ask questions of on social media. One of the first questions I had on twitter was about keeping in touch with foster carers (because our SW was rather frowny and vague about it) and I was really heartened to see that many adopters kept in touch. It gave me faith that what I was doing was okay and normal. I feel that I belong, that I am normal and all this is just stuff. I can’t tell you how much that helps when things go a bit pear shaped.
FMY: Exactly! There is something wonderfully weird about being able to share our deepest, darkest thoughts and moments with people I call close friends, while I don’t even know their real names and we have never met each other. The very fact that Emma and I are having this ‘conversation’ shows how invaluable this kind of support really is!
Disclaimer: I do not benefit from Emma’s new book in any monetary way, however reading her adoption story really brought back lots of sweet and painful memories about our own journey and I do hope it will have similar effect on many fellow current or future adopters.