Tuesday, September 15, 2015


My concept of becoming a blogger was to share my knowledge as an adoption professional and experience as an adoptive mother. But not everything relates directly to adoption. Sometimes, my thoughts are just my experiences and reactions to daily life as a human being. However, since this is an adoption related blog, I always try to find a link.

Take this weekend. My older daughter moved back to our country house in Westchester County in preparation of going back to college. She brought her clothes, shoes, riding boots (she is an equestrian), beauty supplies, books, papers and food. And, of course (here comes the adoption twist) her 2 dogs and a 15” bearded dragon.

Notice I didn’t say “adopted.”  I have written about that analogy elsewhere. I do not believe in “adopting” pets as a good explanation of how they become part of the family.  As, alas, if things don’t work out and they have to be removed from your home and family – you then have to explain the “disruption”, which may be anxiety provoking to children, thinking they too could be removed from the home because of their  behavior, allergies or changes in the family’s lifestyle. 

Both dogs came from animal shelters when they were a few months old, about 2 years apart. They have fabulous personalities and are very well behaved. The bearded dragon just came last month. She works in a veterinary hospital. One of the staff was moving and could not take the lizard with her. My daughter stepped up to the plate.

When she told me about him, all I could imagine was a komodo dragon – about 100 pounds, fast and deadly. Umm. She explained he was a small, slow moving, non-slimy lizard. Send me a picture please. Well, he is very cute, yellow, smiling (he was) and sitting on her head. Umm. I asked if that was normal. She said it was. “Where does he live?” I asked. “In a tank – but he likes being out.”

This weekend,  I met Henry...that’s his name.  He was in a small tank, kinda cute and a bit mesmerizing and I found myself watching for him to move. He suns himself, watches for movement around him, especially my daughter, and he does smile.  Then she arrived with his real tank – a 6-foot long by 2 feet high by 1 ½ foot deep lizard oasis that sits on top of a storage unit of the same dimensions. He has logs, boughs, grass, sun and night lamps, a hammock and a swimming pool. He also, came with his own live and dried food supply. Oh my.

I was not prepared for this, but we found a perfect place for him on the enclosed porch. Once again, I find myself watching him. It’s a novelty and it’s as if I am at the lizard exhibit at  the zoo.  And, then there are the dogs – her 2 and my 1 – all friendly, playful and cuddly.    But pets can come with unknown background information… like a dog with food allergies or a bearded dragon with a seasonal hormone imbalance. We met each ones needs individually and seek advice and resources, as needed. Luckily, my daughter is an animal wizard and often knows what to do. Did I mention, she also has a horse?

Ok.  So the comments about unknown history and meeting a child’s (I mean animal’s) needs sounds very much like adoption. And while it is, I still don’t like calling it an adoption. We share the story of how they (and the horse) joined our families. We don’t use the word adoption, even though some were through pet adoption programs.

We opened our homes and hearts to those in need and benefited in return. There is mutual love, respect and admiration. Our lives, and theirs, have been enriched. We are a well-blended, inter-species family.

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a New York and New Jersey licensed social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was Director of the Ametz Adoption Program from March 1992 to March 2015. She is Head Writer for Adoption.net, member of the Adoption Advisory Board of Path2Parenthood and has a private practice in New York City. She was a member of the Advisory Board for POV’s Adoption Series and named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001. Follow or reach her at ADOPTION MAVEN BLOG or EMAIL.