Monday, December 03, 2012

Guest Blog Post: Russell Elkins, Author of Open Adoption, Open Heart

Anyone who knows me knows I'm adopted. I've known all my life and have never made a secret of it. I had a very satisfying childhood and view the family that raised me as my true family. That said, I was found by my birth mother several years ago and we now have a steady, ongoing relationship. The experience inspired me to write Battle Axe, which is not to say it is based on my experience in any way--it simply served as a catalyst for my imagination to run wild and wonder what would happen if a man my age suddenly found out he was adopted, at age 40, and was subsequently found by his birth mother...or someone claiming to be, at any rate.

I continue to be an advocate for adoption and for adoptees and their birth parents to find each other--and then decide if it's right to continue a relationship. I know such reunions--much like open adoptions--do not always go as intended, but one must keep an open mind. 

With that, I turn this blog over to Russell Elkins, who has just published Open Adoption, Open Heart: An Adoptive Father's Inspiring Journey. More information about Russell and his book follows this post. Russell's appearance was arranged by Kathy, who writes the wonderful I Am a Reader, Not a Writer blog.

All of the most wonderful people in the world have had a group of people hating them. Jesus Christ was crucified; Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered; even people like Michael Jordan had people who despised him simply because of his achievements. Every church, organization, group of people who band together to do good in the world have another group opposing them. Adoption is no different.

I didn’t really realize the extent of it until I jumped into the adoption advocacy world. My favorite thing I’ve been called is “adopta-raptor” because people like me swoop down and snatch people’s kids. I’m sorry, I know that even though she was trying to be malicious when she called me that, the way to insult someone is not to call them something cute like that. I had to laugh.

Most of the people who hate adoption are people who have felt cheated or wronged by the process. Almost universally, at some point in their adoption experience the control over their own situation was taken out of their hands- a mother forced by her parents or someone else to place her child for adoption, a grandpa who didn’t want his daughter to place her child, a woman who chose adoption after being raped, a father whose children were removed from his home by the state, etc. Hatred toward adoption is almost always centered around a situation having gone wrong at some point. Not many people who have had little to do with adoption truly hate the concept enough to fight against it.

That’s why my wife and I stand as tall as we can for adoption. We see things so very differently from our side. For us, it was a way to build a family, and family is what life is all about. Family is what helps us learn to love in ways that we can’t experience anywhere else. And with adoption, especially now that most adoptions are “open” adoptions, we have learned to love our children’s biological parents in a way that we never understood possible before.

The relationship we have with our children’s biological families is very unique. It’s not natural for us as human beings to want to share the concept of parenthood with someone else- that goes for the adoptive side as well as the biological side. Yet, we make it work! Not only do we make it work, it works very well. It was not automatic, though. Open adoption is not a single event- it’s a journey. It’s a road that twists and turns and both sides have to find the balance together.

I’m a better man because of open adoption. I’m a better man because I have learned to love in a new way- the way only a parent can learn to do by being a parent. I’m a better man because of the way I’ve learned to love that unique branch of our family tree that we call “birth parents” because, yes, we love them and, yes, they’re our family too.

All I’ve ever really wanted to do and all I’ve ever really wanted to be is a father and a husband. Everything else I am and do is a tangent of that. Adoption has made that possible and I will be forever grateful for that.

Author Bio:
Russell Elkins was born on Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., in the fall of 1977. Along with his five siblings, he and his military family moved around a lot, living in eight different houses by the time he left for college at age 17. Although his family movedaway from Fallon, Nevada, just a few months after he moved out, he still considers that little oasis in the desert to be his childhood hometown. He and his family now live in the Boise, Idaho area.

Russell has always been a family man at heart, looking forward to the day when he could be a husband and a father. It took him a little while, but eventually his eyes locked onto a beautiful blonde, and he has never looked away. Russell and Jammie were married in 2004. Years of struggling with infertility left Russell and Jammie with a decision to make and their lives changed dramatically when they decided to adopt.

Russell and Jammie have adopted two beautiful children, Ira and Hazel, and have embraced their role as parents through open adoption. Both are actively engaged in the adoption community by communicating through social media, taking part in discussion panels, and writing songs about adoption. Russell also writes a weekly post for and contributes regularly to Adoption Voices Magazine.

Book Summary:
The world of adoption has changed dramatically over the past twenty years. No longer do biological parents have to say goodbye to their child forever. They now have more options when deciding the type of adoption to pursue, such as open adoption. Open adoption creates the opportunity for a special relationship between biological parents, the adoptive parents, and the child.

Open Adoption, Open Heart is an inspiring and true story, which takes the reader deeper into the feelings and emotions experienced by adoptive parents. As you read this incredible story, you will experience the joys, difficulties, and amazing victories facing adoptive couples. Russell and his wife, Jammie, invite you to share in their inspiring and heartwarming journey.

See the book trailer here.

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