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Parents By Choice

An Interview with Darin & Tess DeBlander, authors of Parents By Choice

Interview by Allison Martin

How did you come to write your book and your adoption story?

While going through the process of adoption we purchased and read numerous adoption books. Most of the books were overwhelming, dry and cumbersome with over 200 pages of analytical information. It was after numerous questions from potential parents and family/friends about adoption that we decided there was a need for a simple guidebook to help anyone understand the process. We felt strongly there was something missing in the adoption literature available and wanted to write a user-friendly guidebook with easy to digest chapters. With less that 100 pages we provide an overview of the paperwork, financial, and emotional expectations of adoption. We share our story so we can help others decide if they are ready to explore adoption to build a family. Our story (an infant and toddler adoption) provides a realistic view of living the process, as we include action steps, questions and resources. We present our expectations and experiences candidly and with humor, allowing for an enjoyable read. We are committed to adoption education and hope this booklet provides invaluable information to view adoption as a normal, healthy way to create a family.

Can you share a bit about the issues you had with your daughter? How did you discover that she was concerned? What was successful?

We won't share too much - as it's all in the book! But we will say that she was four years old and spoke Spanish when she joined our family. We brushed up on our conversational Spanish, only to learn that it's the feelings behind the words she connected with - and every 4-year just wants to play and have fun! She learned English through social activities in less than six months; it was amazing to see the growth occur.

She was very active and happy and never showed the multitude of warning signs discussed concerning toddler adoptions - though we watched and recorded activities and minor incidents to see if patterns would develop. After about a year, she started showing signs of grieving and emotionally couldn't explain what she was feeling. She could shut down and stare off into space during a simple game of checkers. Imagine if you had a death in your family, and a year later, for no reason you cry or become silent - no words or comfort can assist - you have to experience the grief.

What was successful? Creating lists/signs to watch for concerning issues of attachment, grief, post-shock syndrome, sexual abuse, child abuse, abandonment, etc… and recording incidents that could be a simple child occurrence, or viewed with other incidents, something more. Most importantly believing your parental instincts and knowing when to stop protecting your child from something they need to experience to move on. We comforted our daughter in a variety of ways with the guidelines from books and professional advice - then we realized our limitations and let the professional counselors assist with structure and a plan we were all comfortable with in family therapy. A realistic guideline for bonding with a true attachment is providing the same number of years with your family, as the number of years away from the family. Bottom line: You cannot rush true love and trust.

What have you enjoyed most about adoption?

Are you kidding? The kids! We're parents! We're a family! We can't imagine life without them. We truly believe things happen for a reason and that someone up there knew we were all meant to be together. We're so grateful we were chosen to be their parents!

What has been most difficult?

We have always welcomed challenges in our life, as it helps us grow in ways we can't imagine. We believe Tom Hanks as he stated in A League of Their Own, "It's the hard that makes it great!" During the adoption process the most difficult time was the waiting period for the children to join our family. We decided on an international adoption, and the wait was out of our control. Once a child referral occurs, the paperwork process could happen in 4 months or take over a year, with no real explanation as to why. Extremely difficult was meeting our 4 year old daughter for 24 hours, while we were in-country for the adoption of her little brother, and having to leave her until the paper trail was complete. Our tears of heartbreak in leaving our daughter rivaled our tears of joy for our son. We were a family for a day, and had to wait for 5 months until we were together at last!

Parents By Choice Excerpt for the ComeUnity Website:

"While we were embracing wonderful thoughts, our hearts went straight to what the birthmother must be feeling. We cannot hide the fact that on the other end of our joy, someone decided to make an adoption plan. People can make many unflattering comments about the person that was so crucial in providing your child. Yes, this person carried a baby for nine months and chose not to parent. Yes, it seems inconceivable, and from our perspective can be difficult to fully understand. However, the world is full of many unforeseen situations, perspectives and changes. It's not for us to understand, only respect. We respect her selfless act and only hope she knows her son is loved."

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Tears of Joy
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Parents by Choice
A Dream Come True
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The Greatest Gift
Joy and Surprises - Assimilation
Rainbows from Heaven
Adopting on Your Own
The Adoption Homestudy
5 Top Hot Buttons - Insensitive Comments
Homestudy Humor
Preparing Families for International Adoption
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