Adoption Connection is pleased to welcome author Lori Holden to the Bay Area. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, was written with the help of her daughter’s birthmother, Crystal Hass. Lori answered a few questions about her book in our recent interview with her.
You’ve been blogging for a while now. What made you decide to write the book?
I actually declared myself a writer about 18 months into blogging. I have always loved writing, and with blogging you get a sense of what resonates for people. I love the give and take, the clarity and the refining that comes from this writing medium. I started out as an adoption and infertility blogger but along the way I also began listening to birth parent and adoptee bloggers, who revealed to me a completely different take on something I knew from only one angle. I found myself better equipped to do the adoption part of parenting my children, just from listening to other points of view.
Then I figured, hey, maybe others in open adoption would like a short cut to these insights, a better way than trial and error where openness is concerned. This book has been called “the adoption book the Internet wrote” and I consider that a fine compliment.
What did you learn while writing it? Did your relationship with your daughter’s birthmother change while you were working on the book together?
I learned from adoptees how it feels to be asked who your “real” parents are, and not to be able to get your own original birth certificate like others can. I learned alternatives to the dreaded family tree assignment in school. I learned from first mothers what has and hasn’t worked in their moving forward through grief. I learned from other adoptive parents cases for and against pre-birth matching, paying pre-birth expenses, and formalized adoption agreements.
And I realized that relationship-building is schooling for which you never quite get the degree.
While writing chapter four of my book, about establishing boundaries, Crystal and I got to practice what we preach – we ended up on different sides of a conflict. I was quite frustrated at first, mostly at myself, until I realized the incident was a chance for me to figure out something firsthand so that I could then teach what I knew, not just a theoretical concept.
Crystal and I have had mostly smooth sailing over the years, and with our cruise control on, I had gotten complacent. The situation required me to go off auto-pilot and figure out what was really bothering me by going deep within: breathe, be mindful, dig, gain clarity. Then zoom back out with clear communication with Crystal and a commitment to our relationship — and to Tessa.
It’s clear, in hindsight, that this uncomfortable episode was actually an amazing gift.
The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption offers a dual perspective – you and Crystal sometimes talk about the same issue but from different viewpoints. How did you come up with that approach and what kind of boundaries did you set?
For years we have spoken at adoption agencies and for groups of waiting parents and more than anything specific we said, people really enjoyed just seeing us interact together and be on the same side of something they thought had to be adversarial. Through these appearances, we’ve had the opportunity to discover what resonated for people, what they were most curious about, and those are the vignettes and issues we addressed in the book.
As far as boundaries, the book was our “baby” and we were on the same side — or page, perhaps — of gestating it, nurturing it, birthing it, and bringing it up. With the focus on the book and not our egos (get the metaphor?), I can’t recall any boundary issues arising around the writing of the book.
Lori Holden, an award-winning blogger, writes regularly at LavenderLuz.com about parenting and living mindfully. She is the author of the new book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, written with her daughter’s birth mom. On Twitter she’s @LavLuz and you can also find her on Facebook.