Friday, July 20, 2007

Interview with Laura Christianson

Meet Laura Christianson. She is an author and freelance journalist specializing in adoption-related issues. Her "Exploring Adoption" blog received Forbes magazine's "Best of the Web" rating. Laura has written numerous general-interest features and essays for national and regional publications. She speaks regularly at writers conferences and other events. Laura lives in Seattle with her husband and two children, who both joined their family through adoption. You can learn more about Laura and her books at her website.

1. Can you tell us a little about your self and how you became interested in adoption?

After my husband and I had been married five years, we decided it was time to start having children. Then we discovered we had infertility challenges. During the time we were trying to decide how to deal with our infertility, several of our friends adopted. We closely observed them, pummeled them with questions, and decided that adopting would be the best family-building option for us. Rather than pursuing infertility treatment, we quickly moved towards adoption.

We adopted our two sons when they were newborns (they are now 14 and 11 years old), and we have completely open adoptions with their respective birth families, which is quite a fun adventure!

2. There seems to be an increase in the amount of adoptions happening in this country. What do you attribute this trend to?

With the recent tightening of adoption laws in other countries, the amount of parents adopting internationally actually decreased slightly, from 22,728 in Fiscal Year 2005 to 20,679 in FY 2006. But interest in and awareness of adoption is on the rise. I attribute some of that to the fascination with celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Madonna, who have recently adopted. Because they are such high-profile people, their adoption stories put adoption in the news—and on people’s minds.

Plus, with an entire generation of internationally-adopted children now grown, families with multiple ethnicities are becoming the norm. People are used to seeing white parents with Chinese children. More people are acquainted with adoptive families. Once you meet an adoptive family and realize they really aren’t all that weird, your own interest in adoption increases and you begin to ponder the possibility of adding to your family through adoption.

3. How can couples who want to adopt make it happen? Where do they start?

Most people who truly have a heart to adopt can make it happen, but it takes a great deal of patience and perseverance. For starters, I recommend learning as much as you can about adoption, so that when the unforeseen happens (and it will happen), you’ll be slightly more prepared. Read as many adoption books as possible, subscribe to magazines such as Adoptive Families and Adoption TODAY, peruse adoption blogs, subscribe to e-mail discussion groups specific to the type(s) of adoption you are considering, request information packets from all the

adoption agencies and facilitators in your region, join support groups for adoptive families, and pummel other adoptive parents with questions! Most of us adoptive parents truly enjoy sharing our experiences – we’ve been where you are and know what you’re feeling. Educating yourself about adoption will give you confidence and will equip you with the practical tools you need to build your family through adoption.

4. Can you tell me a little about your new books and what prompted you to write them?

Eleven years ago, after we adopted our second child, I was a member of an online Christian support group for infertile women and adoptive moms. We often discussed the crazy comments people—particularly, our relatives—made about adoption. I decided to write a short booklet to help educate adoptive grandparents about adoption, so they could better support their adult children who were adopting. As I began researching, I realized I had enough material for a full-length book.

Because you’re an author yourself, Tricia, you know that the process of “pitching” a book project to agents and editors is not for the faint-hearted. I attended Christian writers’ conferences for three years, pitching my project right and left and incorporating suggestions from various editors/agents into my book proposal. Last year, Harvest House Publishers offered me a contract for The Adoption Decision (which releases in early August). As soon as I finished writing that manuscript, I completed another manuscript I had been working on, The Adoption

Network (which was just released by WinePress Publishing).

I call The Adoption Decision a “how-to for the heart,” because it acquaints readers with the emotional and spiritual aspects of adoption and adoptive parenting. It’s packed with fascinating stories from people whose lives are directly impacted by adoption – there’s no dry, boring, clinical stuff in this book! I think it’s an entertaining read and it helps people clarify what they want their own adoption to “look like.”

The Adoption Network is a companion volume to The Adoption Decision. It’s a workbook for people who want build a face-to-face community of support for adoptive and foster families, birth/first parents, or adopted people. It is packed with worksheets and practical tips about how to start an adoption ministry in your church or community.

5. In your opinion, what is the most important piece of advice for someone in the process of adopting?

Hang in there! The adoption process truly stretches you—sometimes past the limits of what you imagine you can bear. But it also grows you in ways you never would have expected or experienced otherwise. While you may wonder whether you’ll ever meet that child you’ve begun to love, it will happen. As you’re waiting, be proactive about creating a support network for both you and your future child. Make an appointment with a pediatrician who specializes in adoption medicine, find out what social services are available in your community for adopted children, and attend events where you can meet other adoptive families. A support network is an invaluable

resource for adoptive families.

6. Do you consider adoption support your job or your ministry?

Both. About 10 years ago, I started an adoption support ministry at my church in Seattle; I care deeply about encouraging and informing those who are considering adoption and adoptive families. My Exploring Adoption blog is a ministry as well, since I do it in my spare time (but have become rather addicted to it). With the publication of two adoption books, I have moved into the realm of “doing” adoption support on a professional level, as well. But my passion and my calling is to help people; I’ll continue providing adoption support, and if I generate any income from doing so, that’s icing on the cake.

7. How are you using your blog in your work? What has been the biggest surprise?

Blogging about adoption has been the best learning experience of my life! I have met (virtually speaking) fascinating people who have readily shared their stories and their lives with me and my readers. My readers have expanded my narrow perspective on adoption exponentially during the almost three years I’ve been blogging. Because I regularly check my blog’s stats, I’m able to keep tabs on the topics the majority of my readers are interested in. What has most surprised me is the huge numbers of people who are interested in adopting children with Down syndrome. That’s cool!

8. What do you do in your spare time?

You mean, when I’m not blogging? I spend a lot of time at my 14-year-old son’s baseball games (and cross country meets, and basketball games, depending on the season). I love reading books to my 11-year-old son. He loves fantasy books and “dragon” books and he likes to hear me “do” the characters’ voices. I also love to walk, swim, and rollerblade. Right now, I’m in the midst of starting a new internet blogging/marketing/writing business called, with my business partner, Jim Rubart. Planning that takes up a big chunk of my free time, but it’s exciting, and we can’t wait to launch our business.

9. What are the last five books you read or movies you watched?

Movies: The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer; Raising Helen; Bella; Facing the Giants; and Leave It To Beaver, Season 1 DVD (“The Beav” is family-friendly and a complete riot; we all love it).

Books (I read multiple books at one time): The Secret Life of Becky Miller and Renovating Becky Miller, by Sharon Hinck; Tears of a Dragon, by Bryan Davis; Why Didn’t You Warn Me?: How to Deal With Challenging Group Members, by Pat Sikora; Whitehorn Woods, by Maeve Binchy; Bones That Float: A Story of Adopting Cambodia, by Kari Grady Grossman, and Shopoholic and Baby, by Sophie Kinsella. Yes, I have eclectic taste in books!

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