Sunday, August 29, 2010

The anti-adoptionists

Every once in awhile I start reading other adoption blogs. Mostly I find them comforting, to know that other people are struggling in the same way I am, or did and made it through. To read blogs written by birth mothers who have open relationships with their children's families - this gives me hope that my kid's first family will come back around at some time, and that they're doing okay. Sometimes, however, I end up on what I call anti-adoption blogs. These are written mostly by women, birth mothers/first mothers, who either regret their choice of adoption for their child, or feel like they were never really given a choice - they were backed into a corner where it was their only option. Today I'm going to write about them. Today I'm going to write to them.

Before reading those blogs, it never occurred to me that people could so hate the whole idea of adoption. Some of them call it the institution or industry of adoption. They suggest, no they flat out say, that adoption is all about making money for agencies. Obviously, I only intimately know my own experience with adoption, as a mother through adoption, though I do have a friend who chose adoption for her daughter. I completely understand hating adoption if you were forced into it. If, like happened 30 years ago, you were sent to a maternity home in secret, gave birth, but were never allowed to see your child, having no idea what happened to him/her. I get hating it then. I have a hard time believing that that kind of thing still happens. Maybe I'm just naive? That's certainly possible.

I think the thing that most upsets me about this faction of people, is that I don't want to be a part of anything that causes so much pain for someone. In my heart, I believe the kid's birthfamily did what they truly believed was best for them, the kid, and their 2 other kids (who they were, and are, parenting). However, when I read of the pain, and hate, some birthparents have, it makes me unbelievably sad. And it makes me feel a little bit guilty.

Throughout our whole process, it was supremely important to me that the first family of our child make the decision to place their child for adoption only if that was truly what they felt was in their child's and their own best interest. I didn't want them to do it only because they didn't have the financial resources to parent, because there are resources available; finances should never be the reasons someone chooses not to parent. I didn't want them to do it because they didn't have the social support system they needed or the know-how to parent, because there are agencies whose job it is to provide education and support. Yeah, I don't really know what reason I wanted them to have. What I do know is regardless of how painful our infertility was, and how strong our desire to parent was/is, I would never want to cause this kind of pain to someone else just to address my own.

I don't know what I want first parents to take away from this. Maybe I want them to know that I would never want your child so much that I would participate in stealing him/her away from you. Maybe I want them to know that when I say I want an open relationsip with you, I mean it with my whole being; I would never say it just in an attempt to get you to choose us to raise your child. Maybe I want them to know that I, too, grieve for the loss I know you must be experiencing. Maybe I want them to know that I want the best for you, even if that means you don't choose us to parent your child, even if that means you will parent your child after you've already told us you want us to. Maybe I want them to know that I support parents in raising their children and will continue to do so. Maybe it means that I want you to be okay - and not for my sake so I don't feel guilty at all, and not for your child's sake, but for your own sake.

Today's lesson has nothing to do with the above. Here it is - the word "funk" and the other 4-letter "f-word" sound very similar when coming out of a 4yo's mouth. When you're in doubt, you should not yell "what did you just say???!!!!!" because then said 4yo will said, "funk. What did you think I said?" and you will have a difficult time coming up with a plausible answer that will satisfy him.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

No more biting

I wanted to thank you all for your support and kind comments. One friend even offered a parenting support hotline, which I was totally going to call. But then I remembered that I'd lost my cellphone as part of that crappy day (did I mention the kid also puked in the car that morning - yeah bad day), and that we don't have a home phone, and then hubby's phone died and was in need of charging. So, I didn't get to call. However, the being in his room all day and complete loss of privileges seems to have been effective - at least for now. He apparently had a fantastic day at school yesterday and was pretty good at home, though was really wound up. Though he still isn't expressing feeling any regret about biting the kid on Friday, he does feel sad, guilty, and ashamed about biting his friend Tuesday. I figure this is progress, right?

While we're still not at all sure what's going on with him, I am sure it will come out sooner or later. And, as my momma pointed out, all we can do is take it one day at a time.

Today's lesson - biting is bad. Oh, what? You think you already knew that? Well, I thought my kid already knew it, too. I just figure it's a good reminder for all of us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Parenting frustrations

I'm sitting here crying, as I listen to my kid cry, pitifully, in his room. I've banished him there until his Poppa gets home so we can discuss the situation that led to all this crying (and the crying of another kid, too). You see, my kid has become the dreaded "biter" at school, you know the kid the other parents don't want their kids to play with, the one the other kids start to avoid. Okay, so maybe it hasn't gotten that bad yet, but that's where I'm afraid it will go. This is the 2nd time in 3 school days that we've gotten an email stating our kid has bitten someone else's kid. And I am overwhelmed. I'm embarrassed. I'm horrified. I'm sad. I'm angry. I'm confused. And I'm an adult. I can only imagine what's going on in his head. Actually, I wish I did know what is going on in his head so we could deal with it and stop the biting.

The kid is very oral, has been since he was born. But he has never been a biter (unless you count the 2 times he bit me when he was nursing - he was only 5 months old so I'm thinking this is a different kind of monster). I just want to know what precipitated all this! Why has he all of the sudden started biting, especially considering he really is well past the developmental stage where kids start to bite. The first time he bit last week, it was a kid who, according to the teacher, is annoying (she actually said she didn't blame him, though we all agree that biting is, of course, not acceptable ever). However, the kid he bit today is one of his best school buddies. I just don't get it!

The director of his school said that it doesn't matter why they do what they do; we just have to "come down hard so he knows the behavior is unacceptable". And while I agree that he does need to know it's unacceptable, I also think it's important to know why he's doing it. The reasons he's giving me seem silly ("I didn't want [the other child] to do my work with me"). In the past he's always used his words to express that - really, the kid is excellent with his words. There's something in my gut telling me that something just isn't right. And we need to figure it out, for him, and for his poor potential victims. There's also something in my gut telling me we're not handling this right, and that the way the director is suggesting we handle it also isn't right (for my kid). I'm completely against biting him back, as some people suggest, because I think that only condones the biting. But I just don't know what IS the answer.

For now, he's in his room, as I said, until hubby gets home and we can further discuss this as a family. He gets no toys and only two books (so he doesn't completely destroy his room). He's also going to miss out on a swim party with friends scheduled for this weekend ("if you're biting your friends, it tells me that you can't be around them") which has really upset him. But I just don't know what else to do.

Today's lesson - parenting and kids are funny (funny ironic, not funny haha, at least not today). Just when you think you're on to something, or are doing something well, they're there to teach you that you actually know very little. Parenting is humbling, and in my opinion, more so than anything else in the world.

In case you're wondering, he's no longer crying. He's now jumping off his bed and yelling. He seems to be having quite a good time. Awesome. And I am now more on the side of irritation than sadness. Where is his Poppa...???!

Friday, August 20, 2010

An envelope

I start to freak out every time I see we have an ecru colored envelope in the mail. My pulse speeds up. My heart starts to pound. My breathing becomes shallow and increased. Then I look at the envelope. My heart drops down to my toes. Sometimes my eyes well up. Mostly, I get angry at myself. Because, see, what those ecru envelopes do is start to make me hope. Why? It's because our adoption agency sends things to us in ecru envelopes. And sometimes, just sometimes, those envelopes contain information about "situations" (aka information about birth families who are considering making adoption plans for their babies), asking whether we are interested in being considered by the birth families.

And what's wrong with hope? Well, let me just tell you, since you asked and all. It's just that it's not helping at all right now, that's what's bad about it. Every time I see those envelopes, my mind, no matter how I try to control it, immediately goes to "oh this is it! This is our baby!!!!". And there it is, that spark, or flame, of hope. And then it comes crashing down as soon as I realize it's only our monthly bank statement (btw, screw PNC Bank for using the same color envelopes). Or, it IS actually from them (like happened yesterday), but it's only a request for updated vet records for our dog. Seriously, that just sucked.

And all hope does is keep me on the rollercoaster. Those of you who have experienced infertility will know exactly what I mean about the rollercoaster. With TTC (trying to conceive, for all you non-infertility folks), it's a monthly thing, where you hope all month, do what you're supposed to do to get pregnant, hope and pray and pray and hope, and then your period is a day late, and you REALLY start hoping and praying, only to have the hugest letdown ever (well, since the previous month at least). You grieve for a bit, then you jump back on the damn rollercoaster and start all over again.

So, that's what the ecru envelopes represent for me, specifically that day when your period is late, and the subsequent crashing down. When we decided to stop ttc-ing and move to adoption, it was because I couldn't handle that rollercoaster anymore; I thought adoption would take us off that crazy ride. And, the first time, it did. But it seems it's back, that up-and-down vomit-inducing misery. How awesome.

Today's lesson? Rollercoasters aren't all that fun. Oh yeah, and do not send me any mail in an ecru envelope. That crap's not funny. (Just a thought - wonder what the bank's response would be if I were to call and ask them to not send me anything in an ecru envelope...)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Confessions of a cranky mom

So the vast majorities of days I am thrilled to be a mom. I love my kid more than life itself, and find him absolutely hilarious. All I want to hear is his sweet voice, singing, or talking, or being funny. All I want to feel are his little arms around me, with his hot little breath against my cheek. I want to read to him, play Legos, or just listen to him while he does whatever it is he's doing. I enjoy putting way his small, good-smelling laundry. I love to cuddle with him while he's falling asleep at naptime. Most days, I am absorbed by his wonderfulness.

As you've probably guessed, today is not one of those days. Today, I just want him to be quiet, preferably somewhere else. Today, I don't want his sticky little fingers grabbing at me while he's screaming and clinging to my neck (while we're at church, I might add). Today, I want his stupid Legos to not be all over my freaking floor. Today I don't want to deal with his nasty underwear because he had "a little poop accident". Today I want hubby to put him down for his nap, and I want that nap to last about 3 hours. Today I want to still be his mom, but, for the moment, only in name. Today I am having a hard time remembering all the wonderfulness. Today I want someone else to deal with the (literal and figurative) mommy crap.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The legal part of the process

I hope you're all enjoying your weekends - we are. We're finally having a nice, quiet, low-key one at home. Seriously, just as I typed "quiet" I heard the kid start sobbing upstairs; I totally jinxed myself, didn't I? Okay, 30 minutes and the kid in bed later, let's try this again. Apparently, for those of you wondering, the sobbing was due to 2 things - him almost choking on a piece of Lego and his Poppa taking the Legos away for the night. See the lesson for more info about that...

Anyway, I thought tonight I could explain the "process" after we brought the kid home (tangent - that afternoon/evening was a chaotic mess. For future reference, before you just show up at new parents' homes, check with them to make sure they actually want you to come, espeically if it's the night they brought their kid home from the hospital. And, for God's sake, bring food and make sure the new parents actually get theirs before you decide to eat everything. Also, I don't think I ever really thanked you, Mom, for making sure I got a little to eat before the pot was empty! So, thanks!).

A couple of weeks after the kid was born, his birthparents, with the support of the agency, voluntarily terminated their parental rights. The day I knew this was to happen, I couldn't stop thinking about them. I have no idea what that day was like for them. We never talked about it; I kind of wish we had... it's probably too late now. We did visit with them at least once before they did this. It was a comfortable and wonderful visit, and the first time D., his birthfather, met him since he hadn't been able to be at the hospital when he was born. The visit, and all of our many visits save one, happened at their home at their request (it was easier for us to get out and to them, than for them to get out and to us).

Our social workers had explained that we were supposed to have a minimum of 3 home visits over a period of about 6 months after the kid was born. I think we maybe had 2? I know we didn't have all 3. Our social workers are overworked (like many social workers are) and we were all navigating the openness between our two families, so I think they felt like we were doing well.

As the end of our 6 months approached, we contacted an attorney I knew from my social services days. He filed the paperwork the day after the kid turned 6 months. We talked and had a home visit with the kid's court appointed attorney (so she could make sure it was in his best interest to be adopted by us). It took another 4 months for a court date to be set. I don't actually know why there was that lag in time. My understanding from talking with other families in similar situations is that they got court dates much quicker. It wasn't like it was a big stressor for us or anything - we knew he was part of our family and that there wasn't going to be anything that would disrupt the adoption so it was just a matter of time.

2 weeks before Christmas, we had our court date. We got there early, and then wandered around the courthouse waiting for a long time. (Another tangent - okay, can anybody else believe that smoking was allowed in the courthouse??!! I mean, seriously, in the building itself?! It's just crazy to me. It isn't allowed anymore, because that particular county has gone smoke-free, but still. It was not even 4 years ago!) Finally, we were called into the courtroom itself. My mom, BFF, and hubby's parents came and were there to witness the moment the kid became legally our son.

I really don't remember much of that moment, one, because it was so quick (we didn't even get a chance to take a pic with the judge - boo), but mostly, I think, because I just kept staring at the beautiful baby in my arms. I know we had to answer some questions (do you know this means he's your kid just like you'd given birth to him, with all the financial responsibilities, etc...) and the kid's atty gave her brief report that we were acceptable, but that's about all I remember. Isn't that funny that I would barely remember such a momentous occasion as that, though I vividly remember much of the time we spent waiting in the hallways (the smoke!, walking him up and down the floors, how calm and patient he was even though he was tired)? Idk...maybe it's because I never doubted, even for the tiniest of moments, that he was our son. I didn't need the "blessing" of some court, some random judge. We'd already been blessed by God, and that was all I really needed.

Today's lesson is that even if the box of a toy says that it's appropriate for a 4yo, that doesn't necessarily mean it is. For example, say your 4yo still puts everything in his mouth, you probably shouldn't give him Legos. Or at least, you probably shouldn't leave him unattended while he plays with them. Or, if you are in the room while he's playing with them, you should probably actually pay attention to him. Isn't that right, hubby dearest?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Postplacement Process

I just realized I haven't ever told you about what happened after the kid was born, our path to the kid legally being ours. It's kind of long (and I'm kind of long-winded) so I'll start today with just the in the hospital part.

The kid was born in the morning and we spent the whole day at the hospital with him. We also visited with his birth mom, or tried to - she was asleep much of the day. She was moved, unfortunately, to a non-maternity floor, and the kid wasn't allowed to go down there. How she was treated is a story for another day). We were not able to spend the night, though I know other parents have been allowed to do that; I guess it depends on the hospital.

We were back at the hospital bright and early the next morning. It took several minutes and explanations to be able to get back to him, as none of the nurses seemed to understand who we were or why we were there. They thought at first when we said we were there to see our baby that we meant he was in the NICU - it took a bit for us all to get on the same page. When the charge nurse's light bulb finally flipped on, she took us back to the nursery to see our baby boy.

Poor little guy had just been circumcised and a nurse's aide was holding him in a rocking chair. The charge nurse asked her to give him to us and she just sat there and stared, with this really skeptical look on her face. The charge nurse asked her again to give him to me and she shook her head "no", her eyes never leaving my face. Finally, after the charge nurse asked her for the third time, and I showed her our hospital bracelet that matched the kid's, she gave him to me. She wasn't happy about it. As I've thought about that interaction, I think I know what it was about. See, the kid was/is quite obviously black, and we were/are not. She was also black. I really think she just thought the charge nurse was confused and had the wrong baby-parent match. This wasn't the last time something like that happened, though.

Anyway, so we spent that day with him too, all day, just the 3 of us. My mom was able to come meet him (love at first site, of course) and some of our good friends also visited, but mostly it was just the 3 of us, in our own room. It was awesome. We were able to visit with L. (birthmom) a couple of times this day, and she was actually discharged. Our social worker took her home, but they came to say goodbye to the kid before leaving. It was the first time she'd seen him since right after he was born. She just held him and looked at him so tenderly. And, no. I wasn't afraid she was changing her mind. I was completely sure that they were sure about their decision. It was just so beautiful and painful at the same time. She didn't cry, or say much; she's a very private person. I don't know what was going through her, but I can only imagine how horrible it must have been. I know I had tears in my eyes as she was holding him, not for us, but for her. And, really, for the kid, too, because he was losing the only mother he'd known over the previous 9 months. I cried after they left for all of us - joy mixed with sadness and grief.

The next morning, we were back, bright and early. Our social worker had us sign a bunch of papers. No, I don't really remember what they were - I was much too excited to be FINALLY taking our baby home!!!!!!! It was huge. It was what we'd been waiting for, really, for years. It was everything. It had snowed a pretty substantial amount the night before, so we'd stayed the night at my mom's, because she lived in the town where the hospital was. We took the kid over to her house to pick up our dog. He just looked at the kid, repeatedly cocking his head back and forth. I'm pretty sure he was thinking, "uh, what the hell is this? And we are going to leave it at Gram's house, right?". Actually, I'm pretty sure he was thinking similar thoughts for the whole next year. Poor Jonah.

We took them both home. I sat in the backseat the whole way, staring at his beautiful little face, not believing that they'd actually let us leave with him, that we were now a family of 3 (well, 4 counting the newly depressed dog). Our son slept the whole way home. Hubby drove really slow. There wasn't much traffic, though the roads were pretty covered. I just stared in amazement. It had finally happened - we were parents.

Today's lesson is that you (okay, maybe I) should pay more attention when you walk into a public bathroom - to the floor specifically, you know, to make sure the toilet hasn't overflowed and someone's pee isn't all over the floor. You could fall, you know, into the pee. And that would be absolutely and completely disgusting. You might, at least, get to leave work early if that were to happen to you...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The voices in my head...

I realized 3 things last night as I was trying to fall asleep:
1. Yesterday's "dialogue" was actually a monologue (for those of you who get stuck on details, like maybe me) because it was more of a stream of babble, rather than a back and forth with myself. Yeah, I know. I spent too much time thinking about which it was last night when I should have been sleeping. And yeah, I'm tired this morning.
2. There's more pie at work. Yum. (Then I couldn't fall asleep because of all kinds of things, but mostly the thought of that yummy pie kept creeping in. What?!!? Don't judge. It was really good pie!!)
3. I realized that in all my babbling yesterday, I forgot the lesson! So, here's yesterday's lesson - When something keeps invading your thoughts, you should probably address it. But when you can't deal with the main thing (pregnancy and babies and all that crap) you should just eat the pie, so one of the insistent voices will shut up and you can at least get something done.

And then I realized 3 more things when I got into work this morning:
1. The pie is gone. No trace of it, like it never existed. This is sad.
2. I am grateful for whoever took the pie so it can't tempt and taunt me all day. Sure I am. That's what I'm going to tell myself all day at least...
3. My chair at work is trying to kill me. That's right, an inanimate object has it in for me. I think it's just pissed off that I ate the pie yesterday.

Today's lesson - yesterday's lesson may be wrong. Probably you should not just eat pie to shut up the voices in your head, if for no other reason that your chair might try to off you. Just eating the pie apparently, much to my surprise, doesn't work at clearing your mind. It may actually add in another (loud and insistent) voice that tells you you're going to get fat from eating the pie. Perhaps, you should just try to deal with whatever is the actual issue. That might shut up all the voices so you can get some freaking work done.

Dealing with it is also, probably, the best "professional" advice I can offer. However, we social workers tend to do better at dealing with other people's crap than our own. So, that said, I wish I had some pie...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Today's internal dialogue:

OMG, where did all these freaking pregnant people come from?! All of the sudden they're everywhere. I think I'm a pregnant magnet. Well, that's just funny, in a not really all that funny kind of way. Freaking irony. Hell, be honest with yourself - it just sucks. Yup it does. I wonder if there's any of that cherry pie left... Oh, that's great, I'll get fat and just look like I'm pregnant. Yeah, that would make me feel a lot better (dripping with sarcasm). Geez, the pregnant people are even on TV. Why was I even watching that show last night? Okay, next time the preggo ladies take over the show (or those women with their new babies - seriously I swear I see more new babies now than I did when I was working with them at my old job. What is up with that??!) anyway, I'll just turn it off. Or walk away. Yeah, I can do that. Pie, pie, pie, pie. I know there's still pie here. Damn the pie.

I should probably do some work since I haven't gotten anything I've planned done in the last few days. I mean I have been working, just not what I have planned. At least no pregnant people have come in. Well, except for the 2 who work here. Serously, the pregnant women are taking over my world. Work or pie, work or AND pie? No pie!! Just get some work done already.

I wonder what the kid's doing at school right now... I hope he's having a good day. Here comes K. (1 of the pregnant co-workers). I so like her and she's like the cutest pregnant girl ever. It kind of makes me sick she's so cute, especially since she doesn't even realize it! I know she's like completely over being pregnant. Really, who does want to be super pregnant in this horribly hot August. Oh, wait. That's right, I do. No, I don't. Not really, I just want my baby. Maybe I do though... Oh, crap. I don't know. (pie, pie, pie) I totally shouldn't have been facebooking our social worker today. That seems to have completely sidetracked my brain. FOCUS!!!!! GET SOME WORK DONE ALREADY!!!!!

Dear Lord, this is some really good pie...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Momma, can I ask you a question?"

Here are some of the (thousands of) questions the kid asks me every day. It often starts with, "Momma, can I ask you a question?".

* "What does olfactory mean?" That's right, people, my 4yo actually said the word "olfactory" correctly. And after I told him what it means, he used it later that day appropriately in a sentence, twice.
* "Is that person a lady or a man?", which was asked right in front of the person in question. I quickly herded him away. And, no. I didn't know either the gender of the person. It was a valid, though obviously inappropriately timed, question.
* "Momma, where'd your penis go?". "Momma is a girl. Girls have a vagina, boys have a penis". "Awwww, that's so sad for you" (shakes head side to side with real sympathy).
* "Is Jonah (dog) gonna die when we go on vacation to the beach (in a couple of months)? You know, 'cause Georgie died while we were on vacation to Aunt Donna's house. So, should we take Jonah with us on vacation so he doesn't die?". Ummm, anybody got a good answer for this, other than "no, he won't die just because we go on vacation" 'cause that doesn't seem to be cutting it?
* "Why's our baby taking so long? It makes me really sad and I'm too impatient to wait much longer. Hasn't God figured out yet where our baby is?". I only wish I had an answer to that question.

Today's lesson is really just a reminder that our kids' minds are steel traps, I tell you. They remember everything so don't say anything you don't want them to 1. remember for ever, and 2. repeat in front of any and everyone.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oh, Georgie...

We just returned from spending several days visiting with family. It was a wonderful visit and I so appreciated the time with people we love (and away from the craziness). When we came home, however, we sadly found that Georgie the Fish had passed away while we were gone. I first noticed the smell and quickly realized that Georgie was (quite literally) belly up in his bowl. I called the kid over to me and explained to him that Georgie had died. Here's how the conversation went:

Me: Baby, Georgie has died. I'm so sorry.
Kid: Momma, what happened to him?
Me: I'm not sure.
Kid: Poppa, Georgie died.
Hubby: Okay. Uh, I'm sorry. (takes fish and starts to flush it down the toilet)
Me: Uh, wait a minute. Can we process this first, please.
Hubby: Uh...oh, okay.
Me: Baby, how are you feeling?
Kid: I'm sad that Georgie died. Momma, you know Georgie really liked it when it rained. He really liked to jump, especially when it rained. He was a good jumper. Momma, we shouldn't have left him to go on vacation. We shouldn't have left him alone 'cause that's when he died.
(Hubby flushes Georgie down toilet)
Kid: Momma, is Georgie going to heaven?
Me: I think so, but what do you think?
Kid:Yeah, I think so, too.
Kid: Momma, can I ask you something?
Me: Sure, baby. You can ask me anything. What is it?
Kid: Is Georgie in heaven now?
Me: I think so, what do you think.
Kid: Actually, I think he's still in the toilet.
Me: No, he's not there. Poppa flushed it. He's not in the toilet anymore.
Kid: Oh, good. 'Cause I have to pee and I don't want to pee on him. That would be rude. But, Momma, is he in ocean heaven now?
Me: Yeah, I think so. I think that's a good place for a fish.
Kid: Is he with his fish family? 'Cause we were his people family and we loved him. He was a good fish and we were his good family. But maybe now he's back with his fish family because they love him, too.
Me: (hugs the kid tight, without words for once in my life)

Today's lesson - kids understand a lot more than we give them credit for. They're also empathetic, both of which are attributes we really need to nurture. I think intuition and empathy are necessary for our kids to have in order for them to have a better world than the one we have now. Lets work on it together.