Friday, August 19, 2011

Spotlight Blogger: Meet Jenna

Today's featured blogger is Jenna of The Chronicles of Munchkin Land. Let's find out a bit more about Jenna....

First, please tell us a bit more about yourself (name, age, where you live, what led you to making an adoption plan, and anything else you feel comfortable sharing).
My name is Jenna Hatfield and I'm a 30-something wife and mom living in Ohio. I'm a writer and editor married to a professional firefighter. We have two sons. In addition to them, I also have a daughter that I placed for adoption in 2003.

I shared a brief version of my relinquishment story on my site, but I'll make it a bit shorter for you. At the age of 21, I found out I was pregnant. I began working two jobs to provide for my child, moved into my own apartment and generally was ready to parent. At 18 weeks along, I was hospitalized with what we eventually learned was a kidney disorder that had never been diagnosed. I had surgery and was placed on Level III bed rest. I began to panic and contacted what I thought was an adoption agency but was actually a facilitator. A long, slippery slope later, I placed my daughter for adoption.

We have a fully open adoption. It has had its ups and downs, as all relationships do. We have learned to deal with all sorts of things over the years, but our adoption works because my daughter's mom and I were both committed to making it work. It's been hard at times -- for both of us. But we make it work because we want the best for the Munchkin.

I also blog about family life at Stop, Drop and Blog.

When and why did you begin blogging? 
I'm not new to blogging. I actually started blogging while still in college in 2001. As such, I have nearly my entire journey through my adoption plan archived. (I say nearly because some posts never made it from paper to computer when I was in the hospital and others never made it online when I was without Internet.) I started Chronicles as a free WordPress site in 2006 and moved it to my own domain a few months later when it began to take off.

I began blogging our adoption story in a public manner for many reasons. I was tired of the stereotypes that were thrust upon birth parents. I wanted a place to speak the truth about who I was and what adoption has done to and for me. And, in early 2006, I was reeling after the birth of our first parented son as I struggled through not only the adoption issues that crop up after the birth of another child but through the murky depths of postpartum depression. I was in therapy, but I also needed a place to just "be." Chronicles came out of all of that. 

Tell us more about the title of your blog. Why did you choose it?  

I never named my daughter. The facilitator informed me that any adoptive family was just going to change it anyway, so it would be best not to get attached to a name. (Yes, I am aware of how stupid I was to believe them.) I always referred to her as the Munchkin, even in those first early days of shock. The Chronicles of Munchkin Land was a title that just worked perfectly. As a writer and the birth mom of a Munchkin, I wanted to chronicle our journey. And there you have it.

Has the response to your posts been mostly positive, mostly negative, or a mix of both?
Oh, it's mixed. I'm unapologetic about who I am and what I've been through. Not all of my story is easy to take when you realize how I was treated by our facilitator. I also take on some controversial issues, frequently speak about ethical adoption reform and lift up the fight of adoptees to gain their Original Birth Certificates. I'm also a bit of an optimist; I find a silver lining in just about any situation. As such, I'm too happy for those who want to abolish adoption and I'm too negative for those who think all mothers facing an unintended pregnancy should relinquish. I am honest and people don't always like honesty. However, my blog has brought about many wonderful relationships, unique opportunities, writing and speaking gigs and an ability to help others when they have been referred to me or reach out. See? Silver lining.

What post on your blog do you consider a “must read” for people visiting your blog for the first time? Or what post(s) from your blog is (or are) your favorite(s) and why?
That's a hard question for someone who has been blogging for so long! This year, I am most proud of I Am Not a Unicorn, which was just honored as one of BlogHer's Voices of the Year posts. It was such an honor for that post to be chosen out of the thousands of submissions and to stand beside the amazing pieces of so many other wonderful writers. My personal all-time favorite is probably The Woman Upstairs.

I very rarely delve into the memories from my pregnancy as they are still so difficult for me to endure, but I did with that post and it resulted in one of my most well-written pieces.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking of starting their own blog?

Remember your boundaries and respect the boundaries of others. There are things in our open adoption that I do not blog. I've learned some of that by trial and error and some of that is simply common sense. It comes down to telling your story, not the story of your child or the story of your child's adoptive parents. Remembering that key thing will help you as you decide what is and is not appropriate to post. (As an aside, I have permission to post photos. I asked that from the day she was born.) Other tips? Ignore the haters and feel free to set up rules and/or ban commenters for not playing nicely. It's your space; use it as you see fit. Disagreement isn't trolling, but crazy, stalker-type actions and hateful comments are unnecessary. And, in the end, do it for yourself. As Patti Digh recently said during her keynote address at the Type-A Parent Conference, "Let go of your audience." Write for you. And for, someday, your child.

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