creating community

Many months ago I went online and typed in “Northfield, MN adoption network”. A few things popped up, but almost all were in the Twin Cities. Since I really had no desire to drive an hour to find a community of adoptive families, I started brainstorming about how something of the sort could be started here in our little town of “cows, colleges, and contentment”. A few weeks later, I decided to call our local newspaper to see if they had any ideas how to start something simple, but necessary for adoptive families in Northfield.

What resulted was this.

Pretty cool. Hopefully I get a few people interested (I have already got a few emails, yea!) so that we can have our first of many get-togethers!

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Saturday March 17, 2012

Northfield woman wants to connect adoptive families

By LAUREN EHLERS

Erin Carson holds her adoptive daughter, Autumn. Carson and her husband, Kyle, adopted Autumn in October 2011 from an agency in Utah. (News photo by Lauren Ehlers)

Adoption was always a part of Erin Carson’s life plans.

After a long and emotional process, Carson and her husband, Kyle, adopted their 1-year-old daughter, Autumn, in October 2011, from Heart to Heart, an agency in Utah. The couple also has a 4-year-old biological son, River, and is seeking to adopt another child internationally.

Now Erin, a 2000 St. Olaf graduate and middle school geography teacher, hopes to start a support group in Northfield for adoptive parents and those seeking to adopt.

Q: Why did your family choose to adopt?
A: I laugh, but I think it started with my obsession with the movie “Annie” as a child. But beyond that, I’ve traveled a lot internationally and seen a lot of poverty. It hurts. I did Global Semester at St. Olaf and have also been to South Africa, China and spent two months in Thailand. The number of orphans tore me apart.

Q: What was the adoption process like for you and Kyle?
A: It was long. We started with international adoption, from Nepal, and were in that process for over three years before it failed. We also began looking at Rwanda, and we’re still in that process after two years and are hoping to adopt another child. Eventually, though, we stopped relying on international agencies and turned to domestic adoption.

Q: How did the domestic adoption process differ?
A: Every state has different laws. We had two failed domestic adoptions from Alabama, where mothers have five days to change their minds after signing the papers. I’ve never had a miscarriage, but I can imagine that what I experienced during that time is something like what one would feel like. We received pictures of the baby and even had a baby shower. When it failed, I was mad at myself for getting so attached, but our friends who have also adopted really rallied around us.

Q: How do you approach the topic of adoption with your biological son, River?
A: It’s a part of our everyday language. We read books about adoption, and I explain to him that Autumn didn’t come out of my belly like he did. I don’t see myself raising my children differently, but I may be more cautious about the things Autumn is going through.

Q: How will you talk about adoption with Autumn as she grows older?
A: My daughter is African-American, so you when you look at her, she’s obviously not ours. I think it will be important to talk about it. Ignoring differences only does a disservice. We’re very open about talking about her birth mom.

Q: How did your family and friends react to your interest in adoption?
A: Everyone was very supportive. My family support system is great, but I do feel the need for a community that really gets it, which is a major reason that I want to start a support group.

Q: How do you see an adoption support group functioning in the Northfield community?
A: We could start easy and casual — just a group that gets together every month or so to have a potluck dinner and talk. Our kids could play together, which would be great for them since they have something so unique in common. We could set up an email group and a Facebook group, too.

Q: Why do you think such a support group is important?
A: I’ve been thinking about this forever. So much comes along with adoption–it can be overwhelming. There are parenting and mother-child groups in Northfield, but nothing specific to adoption. Adoptive parents need a special kind of support, a place where they can really feel understood. I didn’t know where to go when I began the process, but now I’m informed and want to share my knowledge with others in my situation.

— Reach intern Lauren Ehlers at 507-645-1106.

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