Adoption Interview Project – Colleen from Ranunculus Adventure
Heather organized the Interview Project smack in the middle of Adoption Awareness month again this year. After participating last year and being matched with another birth mother, I was excited to participate again this year and was looking forward into who I would meet. And then I was matched with a prospective adoptive parent and I freaked out a little. I was went to her page expecting to see a PAP blog that was marketing a couple looking for a child. Instead I found a blog of an author and florist, a blog full of interesting posts about her life, book reviews, posts about writing novels, and many posts which were pictures of weddings (and the gorgeous flowers she did for them). And then I began to worry that I would have nothing to talk to her about, because what do I know about being an author or weddings? But here’s the thing, Colleen is pretty cool, she is smart, a little quirky, and I have had a really good experience reading her blog. She’s also super open-minded and researching openness and all sides of the triad now, before becoming a parent, which I think is awesome. I can’t wait until she becomes a parent and I get to see her put her writing skills to stories of Motherhood and adoption openness. So without further ado, here’s my interview of Colleen from Ranunculus Adventure: Please tell me a little about yourself, your family, your career, when you started blogging and a little about what your blog is about:
My name is Colleen, and I live in North Denver, Colorado. I’ve been married, very happily, for nine years, to my husband Ryan. He is the pastor of a medium sized (and growing!) Lutheran Church. When I first met him, I laughed at the idea of being a pastor’s wife, but now I totally love it. Our congregation is so fantastic and giving and they have NEVER had any expectations about me being a perfect little homemaker, which is good, since they would be solely disappointed. I have one fantastic sister, two amazing parents who are so supportive and cannot wait to be grandparents! We do not have kids yet and have struggled with infertility, like so many couples we know. We signed on with an adoption agency two years ago, and are waiting for either a hospital call or to be matched with a mother who is making an adoption plan. The waiting is very hard. I started blogging about five years ago, when my husband and I first arrived in Colorado. He was fresh out of the Seminary in St. Louis, and I had just opened up my business, a small wedding florist. I started the blog as a way to display my floral designs, but also as a way to connect with people. I have always loved writing – it was my undergraduate degree – and I took to writing daily like a fish to water. It was so necessary for my well-being. The florist grew, and soon my blogging reached out into other areas: restaurants I’d visited, trips I had taken (we love to travel), funny stories and pictures, book reviews. Before long it was just a life-encompassing blog, and I think that was the way it was always meant to be. I just sold my wedding florist company to an event coordinator and so am focusing JUST on being a novelist and writer full-time. My first novel, Elly in Bloom, was published this year. It was SO enthralling and SO terrifying at the same time. The book (which is doing very well!) has opened up many more avenues for my blog’s reach and hopefully I’m just getting started. I love swimming, reading, writing, pop culture, event planning, shopping and riding my mint-green cruiser bike.
You are a prospective adoptive parent who blogged (it seems) long before you entered the world of adoption. How have you found the online world of adoption and adoption blogs?
Honestly, I’ve found it both edifying and disheartening. Some things that you read lift you up and make you feel supported. You realize you aren’t alone in this journey, and the many blogs I’ve found have made me much more informed, and much more empathetic. At the same time, I have also been a bit taken back by the anger and the strong opinions that run through some blogs – from all parties. At times it seems that there is nothing adoptive parents can do right.
When you started thinking of adoption did you start looking at adoption blogs to find out more information?
I did. But mostly we just took what we learned from our education class that was sponsered by our agency. I am much more involved with the blogs now than I was then.
What sort of adoption blogs (if any) do you read?
I read some birth-parent blogs, some adoptee blogs, and a lot of adoptive parent blogs. I find that the adoptive parent blogs are the most helpful and hopeful. They give a clear picture of what lies ahead of us, as these people have been through the experience and can convey their knowledge and feelings back to us. It’s nice to have light at the end of this journey, especially when I sometimes feel that it will never happen for us.
Speaking of transitions, a big part of your blog so far is pictures of the flowers you provided for people’s weddings. But recently you sold your flower shop, how have you felt about transitioning your blog to other topics? Do you think you’ll have a big transition in what you blog about again once you are a parent?
I honestly can’t wait to have those moments in blogging. I can’t wait to say “Remember before I had kids when I thought THIS? Well, I was totally wrong.” I can’t wait to eat crow in that way. I’m sure that when I am a parent I will have less time to blog, so that might affect my blog in a negative way, but I don’t think I’ll really care. I am so looking forward to being a mother, and most of my blog readers have been with me for years. They know my struggles, they know how we’ve waited and how much we long to parent. I think they will rejoice with us when our lives shift to revolve around a little one. They will be so loved. I think a concern for me about blogging and the internet is protecting our child. How much information is too much on the blog? Do I share pictures? Do I give them a fake name? All of this will be decided later, but it’s on my mind at the moment.
You haven’t written a lot about the wait or adoption in general. Is this because you feel like you’re new to the adoption world and still learning or because you feel less comfortable blogging about such a personal subject or maybe because not a lot has happened to blog about? Do you think this will change after you have been matched?
I have really struggled with how much to write about adoption. I have written a few posts, and some have been really well-received, and some haven’t. I am always aware of maybe saying the wrong thing. And I know it might be strange to say this here, but since the purpose of these interviews is to look deeper into all sides of adoption, I’ll say this: I do feel that prospective adoptive parents have to be really careful of what they say on their own blogs – which is sad – because there are some birth-parent bloggers out there who are feeling very angry and will come down on any post by a prospective adoptive parent with untethered rage. It has happened to me, twice, when I used language that was deemed “a bit insensitive”. I had NO idea. I immediately changed it, never wanting to be anything but supportive and understanding of where they are coming from. Still, it left me somewhat nervous about blogging about adoption, which is sad, because I really love open adoption and I really have loved learning about the perspectives of it from ALL sides. On one hand, I can totally see how people say insensitive things and that birthparent bloggers need to a be force in changing perspectives and language when it comes to adoption. For this, I cheer them. On the other hand, it does at times seem a bit unfair that while adoptees and birthparents have a completely open forum to share their innermost feelings, that prospective adoptive parents do not always share the same allowances. Their feelings, good or bad, are monitored. From what I have learned from adoption blogs and websites, birthparents can be very sensitive/angry towards prospective adoptive parents blogs, and that means we can’t always share our true feelings. Most adoption blogs and forums are not safe places to us to share our deepest fears and hopes. I’m not saying poor us – I’m more saying that one of the reasons I don’t blog more openly is because I’m aware of that situation. The other reason is that my adoption posts right now might always be like this: “Waiting sucks.” “Waiting sucks the most.” It’s pretty boring. There is nothing to share. We get called, and then we are told that we weren’t picked. We always seem to get second place, and that is sort of like getting the silver at the Olympics – you still lose, because it’s not gold. We have a nursery ready, and my heart pangs every once in awhile when I walk by it. I don’t want my blog to turn into a very sad place on the web to visit – that wasn’t it’s purpose. There are so many other things going on in our life that there is no reason to focus in on our everyday sadness and longing. Not that I avoid it completely. I have a blog called “Waiting Sucks.” I didn’t feel comfortable writing about our infertility journey, since I believe that is something that is just between my husband and I. His position in the church also makes this an issue I tread carefully upon. And right now, there is nothing really to report except for “Waiting Sucks.” Every once in awhile, a baby will make me cry, or I’ll have a down day, but I don’t always feel like sharing those. Plus, “I cried again” isn’t really compelling reading. I’m hoping that with my novel that my blog readership will grow, and I’m considering what that means for our private life and our future child’s life. I don’t want to push it while I’m still learning about it, about my feelings in relation to the blog, to the wide internet world. Does that make sense? Hopefully, I’ll soon have much more to blog about. :)
You’re a published author now, what is your book about? Do you write in one particular genre? What are your writing plans going forward?
I posted my book synopsis below, but in the most basic summary, it’s about a woman who struggles to leave behind her past and embrace her future. It’s chick-lit, a perfect book for a rainy day or a light breezy beach read. As for my writing genre, I’m actually working on something COMPLETELY different right now, an epic fantasy. It’s big, it’s bloody and full of battles and wide-eyed imagination leaps and I am totally loving it. I think I’m in my zone. Hopefully, I can write both. I am also working on the sequel to Elly in Bloom. It’s about 3/4th done. My writing plans moving forward are to have my fantasy novel finished and edited by the end of the year, and the sequel to Elly in Bloom finished by the summer.
Here is the information on Colleen’s first novel: Elly in Bloom Synopsis: Surrounded by lush flowers and neurotic brides, chubby 32-year old Elly Jordan has carved out a sweet little life for herself as the owner of Posies, a boutique wedding florist in St. Louis. It’s not bad for a woman who drove away from her entire life just two years ago when she found her husband entwined with a red-headed artist. Sure, Elly has an embarrassingly beautiful best friend, a terribly behaved sheepdog and a sarcastic assistant who she simply calls “Snarky Teenager”, but overall her days are pleasantly uneventful. As a bonus, her new next door neighbor just happens to be an unnervingly handsome musician who has an eye for curvy Elly. Just when she feels that she is finally moving on from her past, she discovers that an extravagant wedding contract, one that could change her financial future, is more than she bargained for. With the help of her friends, staff and the occasional well-made sandwich, Elly bravely agrees to take on the event that threatens to merge her painful history with her bright new life, and finds herself blooming in a direction she never imagined. Elly’s voice, both charming and hilarious, will appeal to those readers who have been looking for a new voice in chick-lit, and will give women of all sizes the realistic heroine they’ve been waiting for. I hope you all got the sense of Colleen and how great she is, please check out the questions she asked me on her blog and check out the interviews from all the other pairings in the Adoption Interview Project.