The Great Interview Experiment: Introducing the author of A+A adopt a babyDecember 16, 2009
First let me say that The Great Interview Experiment really has been great because it introduced me to two people and two blogs I am not likely to have ever encountered otherwise. Now they are both on my list of blogs I keep up with. In addition, it is fun seeing how interconnected the blogosphere is as I encounter references to The Great Interview Experiment in other blogs I follow.
I now keep up with Baby J and her parents on A+A adopt a baby, not because I have any experience adopting, but perhaps because I don’t and, as far as I know, I won’t. In addition, the author is an intelligent woman, an excellent writer, and seems like the type of person I’d really enjoy knowing. Here’s our interview:
1. How did you and your husband meet and how long have you been married?
If you ask me, I will tell you that Andrew and I met on the internet – if you ask him he’ll say we met through the Seattle music scene we were both a part of. Both are true! Andrew and I both kept blogs at Livejournal.com back in the day, and we both played in bands. I found his journal and realized that he was in a band that I’d been hearing a lot of good things about – they had recently played a few shows with a Seattle band who were cronies with me and my ladies. I added him as a friend in hopes of networking, and maybe getting some shows with his band. Then we got a giant show with a very well known musical group at a large Seattle venue and I wrote about it. Andrew suddenly started to wonder who I was! (His band has always been bigger than any of my projects, and he was used to people adding his LJ because of the it.) Eventually he came out to Seattle to see us play in a New Wave Cover night (we covered 99 Red Balloons) and the rest was history. We were engaged about six months after meeting each other, and married in April of 2005. So, coming up on five years of marriage!
2. Are you still in a rock band? What type of music do/did you play?
I am not really in a rock band anymore. I was in an all girl pop/rock band for several years called The Catch. It was so much fun. When Andrew and I got married we started another little project, mostly to distract us from the wedding crazy-making, called For Better or For Awesome, and recorded a few songs. Technically FBOFA has never broken up, but we don’t play out much – maybe once a year or less. I left The Catch in mid-2005, shortly after getting married, because it was time to either commit completely or bail, and I had never planned on being a rock musician as a career. Before my rock and roll days I was a classical percussionist, and studied solo marimba in college as a side project, not my main degree. I’ve always loved hitting stuff and making music out of it!
3. You mention that you had another blog – what was it about? Why did you start it and why did you stop it?
I have had more than one other blog, actually. I had three different blogs on LJ, and this is my second blogspot blog. In my first LJ blog I mostly wrote about my social life, and looked at it as a love letter to my own circle of friends. When I left my band I started another LJ that was friends-only, as many of the folks who followed the first blog knew me primarily as either the drummer of The Catch, or the wife of the lead singer of Kane Hodder. Eventually I wanted to write publicly again, and started Alissabeth (http://alissabeth.blogspot.com") which now is an outlet for mostly theological reflection, and hasn’t been updated much with all the adoption stuff going on. I feel like with A+A adopt a Baby I really found a new public voice, and being as adoption and parenting are topics that generate a lot of interest and wide internet networking this is the blog that seems to have generated the most attention, and support. I have really appreciated the support. And, in interest of full disclosure, I also like the attention. 😉
4. A mother-to-be chose you and then at the absolute very last minute decided she just couldn’t do it. Your posts about it all are very wise – how did you get there?
Adoption can be a sticky topic and a harrowing experience from all sides – first parents, adoptive parents, child. My attitude about adoption has always been that the best option if it is at all possible is for children to be parented by their first parents. And that the only person really capable of making that decision – whether that best option is possible, is that first parent, which is usually the first mother. So I had told myself over and over that just because we were picked didn’t mean we were parents yet. If I was trusting Y (the woman who chose us and then changed her mind after her child’s birth) to choose who would parent her child, and trusting that she was the only person who could make the right choice about that, then I couldn’t be mad if in the end she chose herself. That is not, in the overall scheme of things a "bad" outcome. It helped that I really did have a good relationship with Y, and did trust that she would be a good parent for that baby. My opinion on that didn’t matter in the broad scheme, but it helped me. Also, it has been helpful for me to let adoption be its own unique process. This means that I resist comparisons to other ways of family building, especially biological family building. There were several people in our life who wanted us to respond to the failed match as if it were a miscarriage, or some sort of parallel experience to a disruption in the biological gestation process. Adoption isn’t a parallel experience to pregnancy – it is its own unique and valid way of family building. Evidenced by the fact that we had our daughter two weeks after the failed match!
5. You had initially planned on an open adoption but ended up without one. Has that changed how you imagined things would be?
I posted about this recently, and yes it has. In some ways it has been easier initially, I think. And by "easier" I mean "easier for me." Since I’ve never met J’s first mom or even seen her picture I don’t think that her grief is as present to me as it would have been if we had known her, if she had relinquished Baby J directly to us. I think that later on it might be more difficult, because I don’t have answers to the questions that J will someday have about why she was adopted, where she came from, etc. I am still in a position where I can choose to trust her first mother, and trust that the choice she made was the choice she had to make, because parenting J was just not an option for her, despite how much she might have wanted to, and how much she loves her daughter.
6. How did you decide you wanted to become an Episcopal Priest?
Good question! I have always been someone who gravitates towards leadership roles, and who is interested in the synthesis of life, belief, action, and our experience of the practical and mysterious in our world. I started my undergraduate education intending to get a degree in Russian Studies, and ending up with a degree in Christian Theology – more as an exercise in working out my own faith and figuring out if "Christian" was a label I still wanted to claim that out of any desire to use the degree professionally. I also developed a strong academic interest in Women’s Studies while in university, and hoped to go on to get a PhD that integrated faith and feminism in some way. I took time off after graduating to be a rock star and figure out my next move. After looking into several women’s studies programs and taking some graduate courses at a local state university I realized two things about life in academia that changed my course. The first was that while there was some room for feminism in theological circles, there wasn’t a lot of room for my faith in most legitimate feminist/women’s studies discussions. The second was that if I was going to be an academic I probably wouldn’t get to interact with other people very much – it would mean a lot of time alone doing research and writing and not so much "shaping young minds and teaching" asI had envisioned. After a lot of reflection, prayer and discernment within my community of faith I realized that the priesthood was a vocation that would use all of what I have to offer – my mind, my interpersonal skills and love for people, and the desire I have to be part of making the world a better place. And that by being a woman in that role I would be in the position of living out some of the feminism that I believe in so strongly, in a way that makes sense to me and fits with who I am.
Thank you for the interview, Alissa.
Enjoy that baby! (Oh, like she had other plans….)