Book Review: The Eye of Adoption

The Eye of Adoption by Jody Cantrell Dyer is a candid look at the process of open infant adoption. The book takes readers from the struggles of Jody and her husband to conceive to the finalization of their adoption, and the title is based on Jody’s experience that adoption is “a storm of faith, fear, paperwork, hurt, healing…devotion and hopefully, a delivery.”

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Jody tells her story in a way that seems down to earth and relatable. It feels at times that you are a friend sitting across the table from her at a coffee shop as she describes both the best and worst of the adoption process. The book begins with Jody’s description of the pregnancy and birth of her first child, Houston, and her struggle in the years that follow to conceive again. Jody is honest with how infertility strained her marriage, and how she and her husband arrived at adoption.

Jody explains how the MTV show Sixteen and Pregnant, among other programs, showed her that infant adoption was very much an option.  Inspired by Catelynn and Tyler’s open adoption from Season 1,  Jody watched and was “mesmerized and enlightened by the birthparents’ loving attitude toward the adoptive parents, and vice versa.” The show gave Jody hope, and gave a face to open adoptions.

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Brandon, Teresa, and baby Carly with birthparents Catelynn and Tyler from Sixteen and Pregnant

Throughout the book, Jody shares the tremendous loss felt when a match falls through, and her determination to have a baby. For anyone considering adoption, she lays out the specifics. There are detailed accounts of filling out endless paperwork, completing a home study with a social worker, and creating a family profile book.  And then there is the wait. In the waiting period, Jody and her husband have to deal with The Question (Have you heard anything yet?), and consider practical issues like when to set up a baby nursery.

Jody’s book is not just an adoptive mother’s account, but she also includes the story of her husband, Jeff, who was adopted in 1963 at 10 weeks old. Jeff’s story of adoption, which was shrouded in secrecy, contrasts the Dyer’s very open and transparent adoption today. There are also parts of the book that heartbreaking. The real and raw pain of a birthmother placing her son in adoption was difficult to read, but necessary in understanding the full scope of adoption.

Adoption is a family affair, and Jody also shares how Houston felt about welcoming a new member into their family, and how both sets of grandparents offered their support. Finally, Jody provides an interview at the end of the book with her son’s birthmother that gives readers an intimate look at the relationship between the two women. From start to finish, the The Eye of Adoption was engaging and informative, and it is a valuable resource for anyone interested in learning more about open adoption.

Tell Me Your Story: Of Becoming a Mother

In January of 2014, Sarah started writing letters to her child’s first mother. In the letters, she shared stories about her own mother, anecdotes about her husband, and her prayers for the mother who would change both of their lives forever.

Married for almost ten years, Sarah and Doug started the adoption process in 2013,  although they had known for awhile that adoption would be in their future. After sharing with their families that they wanted to adopt, they set up a family blog to share what they had been learning about the adoption process. The private blog detailed helpful information from books, their home study training, and different classes they attended. They wanted to not only prepare themselves, but prepare their parents to be sensitive to the complexities of adoption.

Sarah and Doug represent the next generation of adoptive parents.They are honest about their expectations and committed to raising a child who understands their adoption story. To prepare for their adoption, they read, talked, and then read some more. The prospective parents discussed serious issues such as their level of comfort with an open adoption as well as more practical issues like discipline. Sarah advises that one way to successfully prepare for adoption is to tackle any potential issues before they happen. When asked if she comes across blogs or comments that discourage adoption, Sarah says,

“Adoption is not about being comfortable as an adoptive parent. I think it’s critical for me, as a prospective adoptive mother, to read these posts. I think these posts may be the most important things I read in this entire educational journey. My goal is to learn from these voices who are bravely sharing their stories. Their sharing empowers me to anticipate some of the challenges they bring up as I raise my child, to avoid some of the pitfalls altogether, and to acknowledge and APPRECIATE my child’s need to express his or her frustration with and hurt from the adoption experience.”

Also, Sarah and Doug don’t see their adopted child as a way to fill in the place of where a biological child should be. The couple see their future child as an extension of his or her birth family, and for them the adoption process is about  “adding an entire branch, with its own offshoot, to the family tree.” An open adoption means sharing with the birth family the opportunity to see their child grow and thrive.

For most prospective adoptive parents, waiting is the hardest part. While waiting, Doug and Sarah had a few close matches and even had a match fall apart. To put things in perspective, Sarah told herself that she didn’t want to rush the process because she knew that the birthmother would be making “an enormous, heartbreaking decision beyond comprehension.” Each day she tried to live in the moment and prayed that the mother meant to place her child with Sarah and her husband would be making a decision in full confidence and peace.

On January 1, Sarah wrote the first letter to her child’s first mother, and on March 2, they finally met. Frank was born on February 20, and after delivery, his mother chose Sarah and Doug to carry on her son’s life and legacy.

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Sarah & baby Frank

 In the days following Frank’s birth, Sarah and Doug were able to bond with their new addition and simply marvel at the miracle of life. Above all, they were profoundly grateful to Frank’s birth mother for the life she had entrusted to them. Of the experience, Sarah says, “Never in my life will I forget the moment this beautiful woman placed her baby boy in my arms before walking out of the nursery and said, ‘Look at you–you’re a natural. I knew you would be.’ Frank, your birth mama loves you so.”