Monday, December 18, 2006

a girl can change her mind... right?

Ok, that sounds sexist/stereotypical, but really, it fits in this situation: I've changed my mind yet again and J and I are starting to chart her temps. We're going to explore what babymakin' would entail and look into J's fertility before ruling it out.

While adoption interests me more in almost all ways, we can't get past costs. And I want another child sometime before James is 67. :| So, we have an appointment with Dr. Good Track Record, our mama friends' IUI and fertility guru for the beginning of January, and I woke up J this morning to take her temp for the first time. lol. (97.24!) Then, later, as it's CD14, J did an OPK and it was positive.

Fun.

It's still overwhelming, and I still worry about all that could go wrong. But I'm a tiny bit excited too.

We'll see, eh?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

irritated. aka: the biggest whinefest EVER.

The last few weeks have been a huge ball of clusterfuckedness. In between short periods of feeling happy or at least content, I've been alternately irritated, sad, angry, impatient, lonely, frustrated, manic and depressed.

Why?

Here goes.

1. Babymaking. I'm just not feeling it. Charting, researching donors, even talking about it -- I'm really, really, not drawn to the intricacies of TTC and pregnancy. I think the years of talking to mostly infertile people about TTC has definitely colored how I feel about trying to make a baby. I'm pessimistic at best, and a big 'ol Debbie Downer at worst. Plus honestly, I want to adopt baby number two. I just do. I want to connect with a birthfamily. I want to research lawyers and agencies, not donors and sperm banks. How we'll afford it still ridiculously unclear, but I think J and I are going to wait and save for an adoption, or look for lower-cost adoption alternatives, rather than make a baby. I may go insane during the wait, but oh well. Neither of us are really into TTC the way we need to be to chart effectively, despite the potential financial savings (and who the hell knows there, right?).

2. Famdamily. J and I just got back from visiting her parents and are in our usual two week recovery period. Going home brings up six bazillion feelings of guilt and sadness for J. She'll wall them up for the visit, and then turn into this evilly cranky alter ego for a week to two weeks after we get back. I should know not to needle her during this time*, but end up doing so anyhow. It's never pretty.

3. Shitty internet drama. Unbloggable, but still in the mix, so felt I should at least mention it. Bah.

4. Friends. I've been shitty at returning calls (Hi J/S! Love you!) and missing some really important friends. Also, there seems to be universal law that as soon as I get super crazy close to a girlfriend they must move far out of state posthaste. I've therefore not really been processing any of the above in a meaningful way, beyond therapy (and my wonderful therapist just lost her pregnancy decently far along, so I'm sure my stories of boo hoo not wanting to get pregnant/ why can't I adopt are just *thrilling* to listen to). Therapists only take you so far. I want a real live flesh and blood girlfriend to A: do things with and B: eventually feel close enough to talk to about our lives on a regularish basis. Bonus points for having/understanding food/weight issues and being willing to hear me flesh out family making strategies. Double bonus points for being Shannon. :(

5. Appointments/time sucks: Apparently every possible appointment I've been waiting on for months had to be scheduled during our vacation for RIGHT after we got back. James' speech therapy, Dr's appointments, work crap, blah blah. Plus our vacation was Tues - Tues due to cheap-ass airline tickets, so J had a ton of work related stuff to do when we got back that was barely impossible to fit into Wednesday and Thursday for her court on Friday. Oh, and our car lost heat and then temporarily died (all is well now, though). Last week SUCKED.

6. Food: Yeah. I've been eating HORRIBLY. Cupcake for breakfast? Sure! Eating fast food twice last week? Why not?! Vegetables? I'm sorry -- what? Anyway. I need to reconnect to healthy eating and exercise again. And soon.


........

Honestly, it hasn't been all bad. James has been a particular bright spot. J and I haven't killed eachother and have been making eachother laugh a lot lately, so I know things are ok at a macro level. Look for a much MUCH happier post on James (He talks! He grows!) next.



* Needling examples include: "Ha ha! You're going to have to track your cervical mucus!" and "Can we make a time to talk about the earliest possible date you're willing to have another baby living here?"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

do the something i can do......

I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.

I'd like to take a minute to shamelessly promote my friend Mindy's organization: the Kirabo Foundation, a 501-c3 (ie: fully tax deductible) non-profit who's mission is to provide a full education to as many Ugandan children as possible.

Kirabo currently sponsors 33 students in primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools throughout Uganda. All Kirabo students have lost at least one parent to HIV/AIDS, many have lost both. Uganda currently has no free public educational system.

I've known Mindy, Kirabo's director, for almost two years. She adopted her son shortly after we adopted James. She, and the other Kirabo staff volunteer their time so all funds raised can go to support the youth of Uganda.

The need is great, but even a relatively small amount of money goes a long way toward helping a child receive an otherwise unavailable education. Kirabo accepts donations at any level, however it's possible to fully sponsor a child in primary school's education for around $225 a year. A student in post-secondary school's education is approximately $1000 a year.

Beyond funding, Kirabo also appreciates volunteers willing to write monthly with a student... functioning as a loving adult/mentor, as many of these young people don't have someone able to cheer them on and encourage them with their studies. I've been matched with a 17 year old young woman who Mindy described as 'clever' and 'spirited'... and I can't wait to get to know her. :)

Perhaps your community group or church would be willing to fundraise? Perhaps you could give donations in someone's name in place of a holiday gift? Perhaps you could use a tax deduction on next year's taxes or could put aside some money should you receive a refund next spring? A relatively small amount of money can make a huge difference to these young people and their surviving families.

If you, or someone you know may be interested in sponsoring or writing to a student, or interested in donating an amount of any kind, you can contact Mindy at the following email address: kirabofoundation@hotmail.com.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

the post of the century.

Well, internets, I'm sure by now you've realized I'm a terrible blogger. Ironically, I was much better pre-kid, and now that I actually have something worth writing about -- at least for posterity's sake -- I never actually put fingers to keyboard.

So things you may have missed lately include my entrance into some good (albeit annoying) therapy for food related stuff, my ongoing preoccupation as to why James isn't talking at the level of his peers, recaps of about six thousand renditions of me singing The Wheels on the Bus, James' obsessions with trains ("CtooCtoo!") and Elmo ("Momo!"), my new occupation with a gorgeous 3 month old girl listed on a 'waiting children' list at a respectable agency... coupled with J and I's "discussion" (read: I sob, J says WTF? No.) about submitting paperwork to adopt her later this month, and well, our decision to have J get pregnant for baby number two.

Add in crazy holiday rushing (we leave soonish for Xmas with the inlaws about 1300 miles away) and I'm practically certifiable.

So right -- gettin' pregnant. Where to begin?

I wish there were some amazing moment where things crystallized and J and I realized that we were meant to birth a second child.... but there just isn't. It's a numbers game, honestly, and we just don't see how we can adopt our second child without either a: waiting at least three years to start after saving up the amount a private adoption is likely to be (and that's estimating low -- with no failed adoption along the way or long match or many firstparent expenses) or b: extending significantly outside of our comfort zone as far as serious special needs go to adopt a waiting special needs child with low adoption expenses. I've thought about adopting through the state, but our state doesn't have a foster to adopt program and at this point in our family building journey -- we're not willing to foster a child at risk for reunification attempts with their birthfamily. Maybe later, but not for kiddo number two.

I recognize that reading the above could be painful for those who've struggled or are struggling with infertility. I realize that many would LOVE to just 'start trying', assume they are fertile, or have the potential option of a pregnancy available to them. I realize we're still at risk for having a child with special needs, and I also realize that there is no guarantee that we'll even get pregnant, nevermind stay pregnant and deliver a baby. We may well end up paying more to TTC than if we had saved and adopted later. There are no absolutes... but I'm ready to start moving forward for number two, and can deal with slowly moving toward that goal through TTC much better than putting everything on hold for a few years in order to adopt.

There are some other, non-bloggable queer momma legalities that add into the mix too.

And honestly, I'm pretty sad that we won't be on the adoption path... and while TTC will be exciting in it's own right, adoption is my default and I'll built a lot of ties to the adoption community and "get" the pros/cons/ethics of adoption as a family building method. AI with donor sperm is a whole 'effin new ballgame and I'm a bit overwhelmed.

There are few families that chose to transracially adopt first with untested fertility status who THEN decided to TTC for their second child. My favorite adoption board... my second home even... nearly all the moms/moms-to-be there dealt with IF or secondary IF before turning to adoption. I expected to be able to share another adoption journey there -- and now I find myself looking for another queer friend TTC board that will be as open and welcoming and HOME as much as my adoption board.

Wow, this post is so uplifting eh? I guess I have more feelings about this than I've let myself process.

I really AM excited to start learning. I'm ready to parent a second child. There so much more to say about this... I feel I haven't even scratched the surface of all the variables we need to consider, but I guess that's for another post. J's getting James' Xmas pictures taken and I'm supposed to be dutifully wrapping presents to ship to IL tomorrow. I'll leave you with two pictures. The first, babymakin' paraphenalia, or the first picture intentionally taken to be placed in a folder marked for baby number two in my computer:



And the second, a picture of a polaroid taken almost two years ago, and the first intentional picture placed in James' picture folder on our computer: J and I wishing aloud for a baby on Santa's lap in the Marc Jacobs store in Greenwich Village. S., James' birthmom, wrote us two days after Christmas and James' middle name is in honor of the jolly old man himself. :)



(and no, James' middle name is not "Santa".) :P

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

"If the family were a container, it would be a nest, an enduring nest, loosely woven, expansive, and open. If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable?each segment distinct. If the family were a boat, it would be a canoe that makes no progress unless everyone paddles.... If the family were a building, it would be an old but solid structure that contains human history, and appeals to those who see the carved moldings under all the plaster, the wide plank floors under the linoleum, the possibilities."
-Letty Cottin Pogrebin



The lovely girl above is my 77 year old nana. She's gorgeous, isn't she?

I'm in the process of making her a photo book of her life through mypublisher.com, a process that has given me ample time to play with old negatives... scanning them and then watching in amazement as they blaze to life on the screen thanks to editing software. That's how I found these gems... the photos themselves are long gone, but here is my nana.. tiny and dancing on my screen.

Nana has one more round with chemo before they check to see if her cancer is gone. She's had a horrible time with her treatment, and it's hard to see her hurting and well, old. I've been so taken with the creation of this book.. of seeing Nana as a gorgeous girl, or young bride, or new mom.


H. Lorraine, my Nana


Nana and Papa marry, 58 years ago (!!)


Nana with my mama. My favorite picture....

...Please, if you pray, say a prayer that my Nana's tests proclaim her cancer free and that she enjoys many more healthy years with her family.

<3




Thursday, October 19, 2006

yes please.

a post of substance coming soon, but until then i'll leave you with my newest favorite Natalie Dee comic...


Friday, September 15, 2006

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

ruminating.

My thoughts are so disorganized right now, that a linear post of substance may be out of reach tonight.

....It's funny, I used to have a livejournal (still do, though I never write there anymore) that I wrote all my deep innermost thoughts (ie: memes! and day-to-day chatter with friends), but LJ has gotten too incestuous for me to feel comfortable writing. Now I have this space, set up to join the ranks of the mommy bloggers and adoption bloggers, and another blog-esque space I set up to chronicle my food/weight related journey. Neither feel like a place to post "I'm feeling 'effing lonely" though, you know?

But, well, I am. Feeling lonely, that is. So I guess I'll try to get it out here.

It's late, and I'm enjoying my usual baby-and-wife-are-all-tucked-in-and-snoring post bedtime bliss. No one wants me to fold laundry. Or to 'help' me fold laundry. No one is snotting all over yet another of my clean shirts. My body is my own again, to remain unclimbed on, and unbitten/pinched/prodded/pulled for at least another 8 hours. It's heaven.

But tonight I'm out of sorts... restless I guess. Craving connection. Uh, lonely.

Last week I went and finally found myself a good therapist. I've been meaning to for a while now, mostly to help me navigate my unhealthy relationship to food. After locking myself in my office most of Friday morning, I finally reached someone who took my ins., had both a personal and professional understanding of food issues, and wasn't a hippy-esque middle class white woman who in her late 40's renamed herself some equivalent of "LiLo", began appropriating Native cultures and became a therapist. My standards are set pretty high people.

I met with her Monday morning and I am in deep like. :) However, I'm left with an unsettled feeling, which is probably common when you unearth all of your back-burnered issues and expose them to public inspection and discussion. Bah. The session went great though, and I kept my shit together until I started talking about the struggle in raising a child to have a good relationship with food when you just don't. That's when I lost it. Box of tissues: 1. Erin: 0.

The mommy bloggosphere has been abuzz lately with discussions of the physicality of a mother's love. I've learned a lot from these posts and wish I was half as able to eloquently discuss the breadth and depth of my love for James. And it is a physical, sensual love. There are nights when I'm holding him as he's sleeping where I can't stop tucking a curl behind his ear or become unable to resist pressing my cheek to his. His laugh delights me in a way I can't find words for. And when I stop to consider the immensely scary responsibility I have to help him navigate his way to becoming a healthy and happy adult, well. Shit. There are just so many ways to fail. And the idea of my baby ever being in pain, especially in pain because of me somehow, is unthinkable. Tortuous.

Which brings me to this: At 19 months, James still isn't talking. Well, he's vocalizing (constantly) but not in many recognizable words/nouns. Like every mother with a child who's delayed in some developmental area, every other child you know or hear about who's the same age or younger is always lightyears ahead of where your child is. Other 19 month olds are carrying on full conversations with their parents while James is mooing, and only on command.

He's been evaluated, and the nice speech therapist assured us that This. Is. Not. Our. Fault. and that James cognitive development is Just. Fine. and that he's just delayed in the area of expressive speech, but damn. Damn. I keep thinking: Is our home not a "Language Rich Environment"? Did we rely too heavily on baby sign (He won't speak the words he knows signs for... and he knows a bunch of signs.) ? Could we have done something different?

And while my rational self knows that this is just who James is, and that he'll be talking at the level of his peers eventually (we're on the waiting list for speech therapy too), I still feel like an official bad mother. And I'd give anything to hear what I'm sure he's wanting to tell me. To finally know what some of the signs he's created on his own are supposed to mean. I want to talk with my boy. :(

It'd sure cure the 'lonlies' I have tonight.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

two pics...

James' newest love: obsessive teeth brushing.

Getting ready for a bike ride. Grossly cute. Gross.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Also,

Q: Is it sad when you start to post about your issues with being avoidant but then stop because when you look at it all out there in black and white it starts to feel/look scary so you erase it, thereby exhibiting your avoidance issues all over again?

A: yes.

(also, also: can you tell who has to create Jeopardy! questions for her workplace's annual fall retreat today?)

oh myspace.

seriously, if you are looking to find a long-lost someone under the age of 30, save your energy and just go to myspace. i did.

long ago in my living-wit-my-parents-going-to-highschool days I used to babysit a little girl, J and eventually her two younger sisters (twins) K and A. J will be 20 (?!?!) this September and I haven't talked with her or her family since in years -- at least eight. When I think of J, I picture the pretty, athletic, easygoing GIRL she was... listening to the spice girls, swimming in her pool... playing basketball.

These girls lived kitty-corner from my parents house and were my first venture into babysitting. I started watching J when she was just under 3. I was 12. I was over there ALL the time... four nights a week sometimes. All day in the summers and on vacations. They were an intergral part of my life. The last time I really spent any time with J she was twelve. Her sisters were 8.

And it was completely my fault that I lost touch with them. ...J's parents are good people. Very Catholic good people. And when I finally figured out that I was queer (at 21) I was terrified of coming out to them. I harbored a significant amount of internalized homophobia and thought that if I told them they wouldn't let me know the girls. So, stupidly, I chose to distance myself from the family before they could cut me off. I regret this immensely. I miss my girls, especially my J, who functioned as a little sister to me.

So anyway, yesterday I found J's myspace account. She's brilliant -- going into her second year of college, skydiving, dating a cute boy she's serious about... basically finding out who she in in that late teens/early twenties way. She's not that little girl anymore... but from what I read I admire who she is and who she's becoming. I wrote her and she was thrilled to hear from me. :)

And today when I looked at her 'bulletins' section she took time to re-post a widely-cirulated email top 10 on hypocrisy in arguments against gay marriage. I almost cried.

Monday, July 31, 2006

my imaginary friends in the internet....

Well! There is such great news happening in my corner of the internet! Yay!

Oh... and I thought of this poem when NOvary found out her daughter Maya's Chinese name means 'morning star', but I think it's appropriate for those still waiting for their kiddos too....

Morning Poem, Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches ---
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead ---
if it's all you can do
to keep on trudging ---

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted ---

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

........


On a completely separate topic... and while I'm playing with links...

For those with consumerist tendencies who love to buy handmade.... check out etsy.com. The deliciousness will consume you.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

fixed the glitch...

right? everyone seeing the sidebar where it should be?

i hope so.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

oh and...

for those of you smarties in bloggerland....

Why, WHY is my links area on the right pushed way down to the bottom? I think it's because of the size of my pics, but is there a way to make it fixed in place at the top? Also, is there a way to get the text in my posts (on the left) to not start at the very edge of the screen?

Help a technodolt out..... please.

i am way linear.

See, I need to post more regular updates, because when I wait forever between posts I have way too much stuff I want to talk about when I finally *do* sit down at the computer and then I can't effectively organize my thoughts.

Which is bad when you're a linear person.

So, kids, it's yet another list.

1. "Just adopt." The internets in all their glory have deconstructed JA better than I'll ever be able to, so here's my tiny addendum and then I'll leave it alone. Witnessing a former boss struggle with IF for over 9 years (three of which I witnessed day-to-heartbreaking-day) gave me more of an education in how to be sensitive to IF issues then I ever would have dreampt possible. The idea of cavalierly throwing out "Why don't you just adopt?" to her as she painfully endured failed cycle after failed cycle was (and is) beyond my comprehension. I truly don't get how anyone could be as thoughtless as to frame adoption as an option this way. Truly.

Do I think adoption is as valid of a family building mechanism as birthing? Duh. Of course. I'm a adoption-as-a-first-choicer. And I appreciate the intent behind *some* people's JA attitude... whe it's meant in the "Wow, I hate to see you in so much pain and I don't know what to say to be helpful... what about adoption? Could that work for you?" way. The intentions then are well meaning, even if the delivery falls short of being remotely helpful.

And I have to admit.... being an adoptive parent, my default for family building is adoption. Adoption brought me James, and I can't imagine parenting any other child. Adoption also brought me into knowing S. and a host of other wonderful people and exposed me to ideas and insight that I never would have had otherwise. And while adoption is complicated sometimes... particularly the more you try to really understand other triad member's experiences... I can't help but want to slip the web address to PACT or something to everyone I know struggling with babymaking. And yes... I do refrain... because I realize that IF journeys and adoption journeys are different... and that adoption isn't (and shouldn't be) a solution to IF.

Still though... when I think of all the amazing people I know in the baby-making world... people who would really *get* the complexities that adoption brings... who would be ethical and respectful Aparents... it's all I can do not to gift them with the gay toaster equivalent of adoption initiation.

2. Terminology... You know what.. I don't care if this pegs me as a PC liberal (dude, cause I AM one) but terminology matters. If S. prefered a term other than 'birthmother' I'd use it. Hands down. Natural mom, first mom, original mom.... plain ol' 'mom' (gasp!) none of these terms in any way diminishes my role as James' momma. James knows who I am. Even when he likes my mother more than me. (oh Nanas of the world... you have it so good.) I think one of the BEST gifts we can give our children as adoptive parents is being secure in our roles and actively working on checking our defensiveness and entitlement.

I've written before about the woman (prospective adoptive Guatemama, well-off, two bio kids) in my adoption classes who absolutely refused to refer to the bio mom of her soon-to-be-daughter as a mother in any form. Her terminology preference: Birthlady. If that doesn't smack of being incredibly threatened, I don't know what does. I feel for her daughter too -- how much pressure she's going to feel to support her mom.. to not "make waves"... to not long for contact or birth history.

I've heard somewhere (I think Dr. Phil? LOL. *Ducking*) that kids shouldn't come into this world with jobs. Kids shouldn't be born (or adopted) into a family to save a marriage, or to help a parent get their shit together, or to solve IF or to bolster a parent who is insecure in their role as mom or dad. Our children will live most of their lives as adults... forming and reforming connections with all sorts of other adults.. and if we want them to be close with us and to value us as their parents, we need to be open and respectful of the other connections (to mentors, teachers, spouses, birthfamilies, friends, etc) they're going to make.

And while we're on terminology.... for the last bloody time: if you're an adoptive parent and you have spoken with a woman who is considering you as the parents to her child... that woman is an expectant mother or 'mother'. She is not a potential anything. She DEFINITELY isn't a birthmother. ....I'm really not saying this to be snarky or nitpicky... and I vividly remember how flipping exciting it was to learn that we may be parents... but squishing down the entitlement factor in a pre-birth match is IMO completely necessary for your own sanity. Before that woman gives birth, remakes her decision and terminates her parental rights... you, lovely and wonderful prospective adoptive parents that you are, are just an option. That baby, simply by where he/she is exisiting in time and space (aka: another woman's uterus) is just not your baby yet. He/she may become your baby (and good freaking luck not getting invested in that) but the experiences and journey of an expectant mom facing a crisis pregnancy just really, really isn't about you.

The hardest words for me to hear just after James was born came from our lawyer: "She hasn't signed yet. Don't get too excited." And I was pissed at her raining all over our happy lovely parade... but she was right. Had S. chosen to parent (which is as legitimate of a choice as adoption) I would have been devastated, but at least I would have had some self preservation skills from actively working on framing this experience as being S's, and not mine.

Annnyway.

3. Meh. It's the end of the workday people. My brain is mush. I'll leave you with cute James pics....

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hanging out at the local kiddie pool/fountain.... so handsome

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delicious craft paint. mmmmm.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

something of substance...

Alright, sleep is eluding me, so I figured I'd actually create a post with something other than pictures. :)

I'm having a lovely holiday/vacation/birthday/adoption day anniversary weekend... complete with a trip to camp, (my family's camp, about four hours north of Ptld) a mini outlet trip to Kittery for cheap books and kids clothes ogling, and tomorrow: a romp to the beach and the annual fireworks at the Eastern Prom.

We started out the weekend with a mini scare -- J randomly hit a deer on the highway (or rather, the deer hit her) on Thursday on her way home from a late night of working, causing our car to need over 2K in body work. She's amazingly lucky that she wasn't hurt. Thank God for insurance and a relatively low deductible. :

We spent Friday morning hashing out the repair and ins. logistics and got our agent to agree to pay for us to rent a car so we could continue with our camp plans... we ended up with a fabulous Mazda 5... SO fun and roomy compared to our little sedan and the roominess would come in quite handy a bit later...

Anyway, we picked up friends A and K and left for camp Friday night. We spent Saturday and Sunday swimming, boating, window shopping, exploring, eating yummy food and playing endless rounds of board games. Dear Jesus I love summer...

Got home late last night, slept for six seconds and then we were off again this morning to spend more quality time together and with my parents.

Ooooo... and my excitement over our rental's spaciousness?? Well, I transported home the best birthday gift ever... J bought me my first big piece of art: a gorgeous, six foot long painting created by a local artist (and friend of my artsy Nana) Elizabeth Ostrander... I believe she called it "Maria of the Roses". I am in love:

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the whole piece...

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close up...

Ok, bedtime. xoxo

Monday, July 03, 2006

oh baby....

Showcasing my newest 'niece' (in the chosen-family way)..... Rosie. Born to one of my closest friends, S.

Yay!

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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

House envy...

Yep. That's what I'm having lately.... that and yard envy. :(

J and I sold our house last fall, as we were facing a bumpy time financially and were very, very house poor. Paying for James' adoption and living off a significantly reduced income (in order for us to stay home with James for a while) made it nearly impossible to consider not selling. So, we did.

And now we're sad. We like where we live now (it's just as big as our house and it's a nice place, plus we have wonderful friends for landlords) but it just isn't our *home* the way our house on Dennett was. Lately it seems everyone is house hunting or gearing up to do be new homeowners and, while I'm happy for them, I'm over here hosting the year's best pity party, with a guestlist of 1. Boo.

We're in no shape to buy a house right now: our credit is in serious recovery from the fall and we'd have to turn to bankrobbery creatively finance a downpayment to even consider our own place.

Blah.

/piss and moan

Sunday, June 18, 2006

it's that time of year....

Happy Pride, everyone. :)

This post is picture heavy, but I wanted to share a few pictures of my chosen family.... all of these were taken yesterday (6/17) at our local Pride event, and later -- at a free outdoor Lori McKenna concert. :)

Taken from the parade....this flag was seriously enormous.
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Here's James, J, Uncle Xander and Lucy, hanging at the festival post-paradey goodness...
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And here's a close up of the fabulous Miss Lucy, resplendent in her summer dress and in love with her feet...
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Ok, not sure what's happening with James' outfit here, but he's pictured with his Tante/Godmother Holly...
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We were a pretty big kid contingent for Pride... here we all are picnicing...
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Our newest friend Mattea, a-freaking-dorable in her Pride bling and yogurt face...
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All of this left Jamesy a very tired boy...
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And the nap was important 'cause we only stopped at home briefly to check on the pup and then headed straight to Freeport for the free Lori show (fabulous!)...

Here Uncle Stephen (James' Godfather and our housemate) snuggles his nephew...
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My child, lover of climbing, with his Uncle Barrett...
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And the final pic (my favorite) James with Lori's band behind him... not to mention the *great* sky!!
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One last thing -- here's a link to a video of James dancing to Lori... *grin*
http://www.onetruemedia.com/shared?p=98de5088aeee476844f0d&skin_id=0&utm_source=otm&utm_medium=text_url




Needless to say, we had a blast. I found myself having those weepy "I-love-mykid-and-family-and-life" moments over and over again. Just a really *good*day. :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Nana...

My nana turns 77 a week from Friday. She sent me a postcard last week to ask if I'd make up her favorite olives -- big green ones with garlic cream cheese stuffed in the hole -- but upon talking with her yesterday she recanted...

The chemo's making her too sick to eat much of anything. :(

* * *

Nana was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in February -- the day after James' first birthday, actually. She's been on an agressive chemo treatment since March: three days on, 11 off until at least Christmas. We've been told that with chemo she stands an excellent chance of beating cancer... but the chemo itself has obviously been a horrible process.

We visited Nana yesterday for the first time in three weeks. JJames had been vaxxed in mid May and the Dr. recommended staying away from anyone whose immune system had been compromised till the vaccines worked their way through. Anyway, it's only been three weeks, but Nana looks so much older now. :(

At one point she sent me upstairs to get a shopping bag of donated children's books she'd been gathering for James and it hit me pretty hard that I had become something more akin to a visitor lately -- I stay in the public spaces of my Nana's home when I visit, and rarely ever make it upstairs to the bedrooms, office or old art room.

It hurt my heart a bit -- to realize time is marching forward and there's nothing I can do about it. I touched the new wallpaper in what used to be my Grammy's room -- the old light blue flocked wallpaper has been replaced by something more contempory-country-casual. I picked up a picture of my nana at 55 or 60... when she was still sporting a red tint to her white hair. I creaked down the hall to peek into my Papa's office... still familiar with the built in double beds and the pine beadboard panneling. I used to invite friends to sleep overs on those two twin beds.

*sigh*

I just love that house, I love its occupants... and I just really don't want to be a visitor any more.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

7 things

7 Things, James edition:

1. Talking! "yeah" (his favorite word, and default... WAY better than the typical toddler default of 'no'.) "here" "kitty" (which he says as though he's a South Park character -- kih-TAY) "dog" and "duck". We think he's also saying "three" (when we count... us: one, two.. James: 'tree'!). He also howls like a wolf when we're reading animal sounds books to him. Priceless.

2. Mamaing! We don't differentiate: both of us are "mumma" to James. It's funny, if I say "where's Mumma?" to James he'll always look for J, and when J does the same, he looks for me. Apparently "Mumma" is whoever he isn't currently talking or interacting with.

3. Dancing! Oh he loves to dance. For real. He hates TV but will stop and clap for singers or dancers on the crappy reality TV shows we should be restricting. (Bad parents...) He just loves music... I'm so thrilled.

4. Not eating! My fabulous eater has disappeared, leaving a picky toddler in his wake. :( Once favorites never see the inside of his mouth. We've resorted to a number of tricks to get veggies and fruits in. Best trick ever: veggie booty (Bwahahahahaaaa.... you THINK you're getting a treat, but NO: they're covered in kale! and spinach! take THAT!)

5. Not napping! We're in that awkward transitional stage between one and two naps. This means that James' favorite schedule right now is napping one LOOONG nap from 11ish to 2ish. : Anything earlier and he skips his afternoon nap and then is a beast from 6 on, anything later and we miss our nice child window and he's so overtired that the nap becomes a huge fight. Blah.

6. Reading! OMG, do we read. He loves simple books now, and we're totally in the "read this specific book four hundred times" stage. He really likes books he can interact with -- the "Not My" series, books where you can count little plastic frogs or ladybugs or stars, lift the flap books.
Not exactly fine lit yet, but as long as we're reading I'm happy.

7. Matching! We have a few books where there a mouse or a ladybug on each page and sometimes we'll skip the 'plot' of the book and just point out the reoccuring animal on each page. He finds this hysterical.

Monday, June 05, 2006

i'm the gay. so fucking what.

All the talk about Bush pushing a federal ban on same-sex marriage is making me violent. Yeah, yeah.. I know: it's not going to pass, there aren't enough votes in the Senate to create a 2/3rds majority, Bush is only bringing this up to rally the base and pander to the uber-right in time for elections... yada yada. I get it.

It doesn't make being used a a wedge issue -- as a pawn in the political machine -- any less painful. It doesn't make me any less sad. Any less disappointed in humanity. Any less angry.

Why can't my son have two legal mothers? How is that hurting the institution of marriage? How does me legally marrying my spouse affect any other partnership or marraige -- gay or straight?

If you're straight -- think about your partner dieing, leaving you with a small child you have no legal right to. You now have to go through a homestudy and adoption process, just to continue to care for the child you've been parenting from birth. Think about having no legal access to survivor benefits. Think about facing the very real possibility that your right to make burial arrangements for your spouse could be challenged by an unaccepting family member. That you may have been denied the ability to see your partner in the hospital while he or she was dieing.

Think about reading headline after headline stating "Adoption laws for opposite sex couples being challenged" or that your government has an unhealthy fixation on whether or not you should be allowed to be married to your spouse. Think about being preached against at your place or worship. Think about being held to a higher standard as a parent, and as a person. Think about being "other". Think about worrying how out you should be at your job, with the new neighbors, or in your child's school. Think about hearing "That's so straight" -- where straight means "stupid" -- regularly in your workplace or in your circle of friends. Think about people boiling down your complex, loving relationship to your spouse to only a sexual relationship. Think about being told you're "flaunting your sexuality" by holding your spouse's hand or kissing him or her goodbye.

Think about knowing that a LOT of people in the world, without knowing a damn thing about you or your life and love, fear you. Think about a world where people can form a 'church' where members are so disconnected from reality that they will picket the funeral of a victim of a hate crime, that they'll carry signs saying "Thank God for AIDS" or "Die Faggot".

Think about having to carry that, day in and day out, without letting it color the way to stay open to new people, without it coloring how you go about living and loving and fighting for your place in the world.

I bet you'd be fucking angry too.

Friday, June 02, 2006

the worst blogger ever....

It's true! I don't know why I try to keep a journal... I'm horrible about actually updating it nce the newness wears off. Since it's been a while, here's an update of where I'm at in list form.

1. James: He's so damn *edible* lately! It's crazy.. J and I frequently just look at eachother grinning and exclaim like crazy people about how much we just LOVE our kid and isn't he the FUNNIEST and CUTEST child just ever?!?!? What has happened to me?

Seriously though... if he's anything, he's *funny*. And since a sense of humor is about my favorite attribute in a person, I'm just thrilled. Oh and HE thinks he's funny too. He's just learned how to laugh that proactive laugh that toddlers give -- the OMG Look how funny I'm being?? See how I'm pretending this is a phone? Whew! Ha Ha! laugh, complete with occasional snorts and the 15 month old equivalent of knee slapping. It's hysterical.

He also rocks out to music now -- head bobbing, butt wiggling, legs kicking, tongue sticking out or lips pursed in a Dixie Chick or Springsteen induced fit of musical happiness. I just die.

2. Class: It's probably how often I hang out online with folks that have more than we do, but lately I've been throwing myself a huge pity party that we had to make a number of huge financial sacrifices that other's didn't when looking at adoption. I am happy with my choices: I choose to live in southern Maine, where we're pretty much priced out of the housing market now that we've sold our house because this is my HOME and my family -- given and chosen -- live here. We chose to build our family through adoption -- and I firmly believe that was the best decision I've ever made... I just wish I didn't have to make so many compromises financially in order to adopt and then to afford to only work part-time.

3. Weight: This is so not adoption related, but I've also been pretty self reflective lately about my weight and my relationship to food. I haven't seen a 1 as the first digit in my weight since early high school probably, and I really need to look at how I eat and how I take care of myself. I'm weighing (ha!) my options...

4. S: I don't mean to add this as an afterthought... as it really deserves it's own post.. but on Mother's Day, J, James and I visited with James' birthmom S. for the first time since she flew home after papers were signed. I just don't think I can do my feelings or the experience justice in words. Suffice to say: it was a wonderful, emotional visit and I'm hoping that it may be the beginning of our adoption opening a bit. She looked wonderful --it was great seeing her non-pregnant :) and it was great to be able to see that James' eyes are mirror images of hers, and that his jaw is probably going to slim down post-baby chub to look a lot likeS.'s and his bio sibling's. Anyway, it was an important day, and I'm thrilled we were able to see her.

5. Leaving: My closest friend left this afternoon for a four or so month trip to Denver to live with her boyfriend for the summer and early fall. The plan, for now, is that she'll move back her (with the boy) in October after having saved up a bit of money and experiencing another part of the country. Oh, I hope she comes back. She's James' godmother, the keeper of my secrets, just that best twin-like girlfriend every woman wishes for. I spent all week getting old school and making her a mix CD for her plane ride out... each song picked after agonizing about lyrical significance and importance to her/us. Sigh. Her daily presence in my/our life will be missed *greatly*.

I leave you with a few pics of the babester after his first beach trip of the summer '06 season. :)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thursday, April 20, 2006

SCARY.

Dawn just posted a link to "The Golden Link Foundation", a site that claims it will offer an expectant mother up to 10K as a post-adoption "gift" for placing her baby in an adoption plan through one of the four adoption agencies profiled on their website. The gist of this foundation's mission is put forth as to encourage women not to abort and instead choose adoption.

Ugh. Definitely unethical, and raised my hackles, so I went over to the site and read through the content.

Oddly, all 4 of the "approved adoption agencies" had similar text and linked back to the Golden Link Foundation's website.

So, I did some digging through 'whois' and found that all the sites linked on Golden Link's website (the approved adoption agencies and Golden Link's site) are all registered under the name Seymour Kurtz. I then googled "Seymour Kurtz" and found this:

http://www.geocities.com/bernw5333/

This man is out to make money by laundering babies through his "agencies". He has a thrity year history of baby brokering. Also, he states that the Golden Link Foundation is a IRS listed charity and, after checking it out, it *is*. So not okay. ARGH.

Please spread the word. SCARY.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

adoption terms that annoy me..

"birthmother" or "potential birthmother" -- when used to refer to a woman who is pregnant and considering making an adoption plan for her child. She's not a birthmother until she has given birth, remade her adoption decision, and relinquished her parental rights. Until then: she's an "expectant mother" or just plain "mother".

"our (or my) birthmother" -- S. is my SON'S birthmother. She's not MY birthmother. Nor is she J's birthmother.

"gift" -- a child is a child, not a gift. While yes, raising children *is* a gift, placing a child for adoption is NOT "gifting" a couple with that child.

"changed her mind" -- Technically maybe. But here's the rub. These babies *aren't* ours until their first parents decide definitively that they can't/aren't going to parent them. Until them, they are not remotely ours, no matter HOW attached (and trust me, I get it) we get to the idea of them being ours. Using terms like those above does NO ONE any favors. They disparage birthparents/expectant parents and they allow too much entitlement for Pap's.

... Oh.. two other first mom related terms I see online hopeful adoptive parents use that annoy me to no end: "birthmommy" and "special angel". If I were an expectant mom looking over profiles using these terms, I wouldn't even get past the greeting. Ugh. Let' not even talk about the woman in my adoption seminar who refused to use the word "mother" to refer to her child's first mom in any context. She wanted to use "birth LADY" when talking to her child -- because "After all -- *I'm* the mother, the one who'll be *raising* the child." (gag. vomit. collapse.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Tugging at my heartstrings...

There's an generally horrifying 'adoption board' I lurk at -- mainly to watch drama unfold and to scoff at the insanity of desperate potential Aparents as they jostle to present their families to "expectant mothers" (mostly non-pregnant teenage girls out posting fake ads for fun, it seems). To put it in perspective, 'babies' are even occassionally offered and requested for money. (Thankfully, there usually is no baby....) Sort of the Jerry Springer of the adoption world.

Every once in a while though someone who sounds sincere will post -- take yesterday... I ran across a post looking for potential adoptive couples for a 3 year old African American boy. His father apparently is in school, seperating from this child's stepmom (no idea where his mom is), and no longer wants to parent his son. My gut says this post is legit.

And I WANT him! But we're really not in a place to adopt a another child anytime soon -- especially a three year old who will definitely be dealing with a significant amount of loss. Still, my heart breaks to know that not one of these desperate vultures -- who post pages of "Pick me!!" requests to every potential newborn and non-AA situation has left a post on the thread detailing this little guy.

"Older" black boys just aren't what 95% of adoptive parents are excited to parent. Really -- look at parentprofiles.com. There are 295 couples hoping to adopt listed on PP.... 270 of whom are open to Caucasian children. Only 30, or10% are open to adopting a child who is African American (with both birthparents being black). And most of these folks (and Aparents in general) want a newborn or very young infant.

*sigh* I just hope this little one finds a loving family who wants him desperately.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

hello mood swings....

ok.

to cheer myself up, a list of cute new things James is doing lately....

  • enjoying reading! This mostly looks like James choosing a book, walking over to where ever you are, offering you the book, reaching up his arms to be picked up, settling in next to you for twoish sentences, wiggling down to the floor again to run and pick up another book... (you get the idea -- rather, rinse, repeat!)
  • dropping everything, grinning, and flopping onto the floor to pretend to be sleeping when we say "na-night James!" to him (which we really find hysterical)
  • crying whenever he's run out of cut-up orange pieces to eat. he's so sad that he can't subsist on oranges alone.
  • pretending to pick off his toes and feed them to us. we used to pretend to do this and now he'll offer them up willinging -- usually first thing in the morning as my wake-up call. (Picture two tiny baby fingers shoved into your mouth accompanied by a drooly paci-ed bleary grin) Ggggoooooo co-sleeping! (clap clap)
  • saying Mama (!!!)-- but only in a whiny, desperate voice and ONLY when on the wrong side of a babygate or when begging for something he's not allowed to have (ie: diet pepsi cans) or during a much hated diaper change.

and best of all........

  • clapping madly throughout any segment of American Idol where Mandisa sings. I shit you not. My son, who normally ignores TV completely, is in love. :)

"scams"

Please don't get me wrong.. I know, all too well, that in domestic adoption situations there are women (and sometimes men) who try to scam hopeful adoptive parents with the promises of a baby -- when either there never was a baby, or if there was -- he/she was being used as bait to lure in many desperate couples at once -- all willing to suspend belief (and good sense) and send buckets of money to a pregnant woman with no intention of placing her child.

In fact, I spoke to one young woman over email who apparently has been identified as a scammer -- and she'll be featured on a Primetime (or Primetime-esque) show next month where she's apparently going to be confronted by angry HAPs who had been 'matched' with her.

So yes, there are - forgive the terminology - "birthmom scams" out there.

But I have a strong feeling that when the credits role at the end of the Primetime or Dateline show next month -- the whole story on "adoption scams" won't have been told. Not by a longshot.

I lurk on a board dedicated to exposing and alerting HAPs to "birthmom scams". Names of expectant moms considering adoption, often along with oodles of their identifying information (including pictures, medical history, etc) are forwarded to this group by HAPs "checking in" to see if anyone has 'heard of' or is 'talking to' a prospective birthparent. Get one "Yep, I'm talking with her too" response back, and the girl is quickly labeled as a potential scammer. "Be careful..."

I've seen people ask about a Shannon (name/situation picked out of the air here, folks) in Michigan due with a boy in July to receive responses to be careful because a Shanna in Cali due with a girl in July was asked about a few weeks ago -- and hell -- both of them are probably the same person! And they're probably scamming!!!

..Anyway, this topic has been weighing on my mine lately because I just received a sad email update that a friend of a friend (who was facing an unexpected pregnancy and who had been considering adoption) had decided against adoption after talking with a few sets of adoptive parents and eventually being trotted out online as a potential scammer. She even had one woman tell her that she was with an adoption agency, and even though this friend of a friend didn't sign with her or anything, the woman still placed an ad (as a facilitator) indicating that she was representing her.

Understandably, this first exposure to the world of domestic adoption turned my friend of a friend off to the idea completely. She chose (for a number of reasons, many beyond the scope of this post I'm sure) to end the pregnancy instead.

And I'm sad about that -- not that she chose to exercise her right to terminate her pregnancy, but that she had the adoption experience she had. How horrible to have your motives questioned and your body and child treated as a commodity. It just pisses me off.

It also resonates with me so strongly because James' birthmom was accused online (quite strongly) of being a scammer. She was devastated. But I have some wiggly, snuggly, beautiful proof that that accusation is/was a load of shit. And S's story of being an expectant mother navigating domestic adoption is horrifying -- a journey that took her though a few sets of horrifying, immoral, bigoted and unethical HAPs before finding J and I.

But her story is not mine to tell here. And sadly, her story -- and those of countless other birthmoms and expectant moms considering adoption -- won't be told on a Primetime special anytime soon.

So yes. I'm sad tonight.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

fascinating read....

Dawn, over at ThisWomansWork, wrote an amazing article for Salon entitled "Open adoption, broken heart" that details the open adoption between her family (adoptive) and the birth family of her daughter Madison.

I read it this morning and cried.

Her depiction of leaving the hospital with Madison mirrors my experience of leaving the hospital with James.

Here's a paragraph I wrote in another journal a few weeks before James was born:

"For those of you who are control freaks (as I am), the last few weeks before you're about to become a parent are crazy-making. I'm sure this is true for anyone about to welcome a child into their life, but it's particularly true for those adding kids though domestic adoption. It's like: be excited about this baby, but he's not really your baby yet, and he won't be yours even after he's born for several days, but he needs to bond... so love him with all your might, just remember that bioparents have every right to parent, and that the baby isn't always real to them until after he/she is born, so it may not work out, but still, it might... so you have to be prepared financially, emotionally, and logistically, but still... try to keep back a part of your heart in case it doesn't work out, even if you are buying baby detergent to pre-wash tiny clothes and your friends are beside themselves and your checking into baptismal stuff at your church, blah blah blah blah."

I can't imagine what S's feelings were/are about choosing to have us parent James, but I can remember her anguish in the hospital during the first few days after James was born. S had a very well-defined birthplan that included her not wanting contact with James after he was born - she wanted us to immediately take over with all parenting/medical decisions. (We had been prepared for and excited about an matching with an expectant mom who wanted a very open adoption and instead had been chosen by a wonderful woman who was adamant at wanting little to no contact with her birthchild after his birth and with us once she returned home after TPRs were signed.)

I can remember wanting to be with S in her room instead of with James in ours. Of course I wanted to be with J and James -- learning this new life that may become my son, but I also desperately wanted to reassure S that we didn't just want her baby and that we truly did care for her as a person. I was so afraid she'd feel like an incubator. I was also so afraid to fall in love with James -- as I was all too aware that S may choose to parent him.

The hours I spent with S after James' birth are ones I will treasure always. We cried together. She asked me questions about James.. "Is he cute?" "I bet he's cute..." We watched Roseanne on the wall-mounted TV, holding hands. I snuck her in some powdered mini-donuts because she hated hospital food. I relayed and advocated for her requests to the nurses and the hospital social worker.

Our hospital experience overall was pretty mixed. On one hand, J and I were treated quite well -- we were given a room to ourselves for the entire hospital stay (we were discharged with James when S. was discharged), and we had access to the nurses who treated us as any new parents (which we were worried about, considering we were a same-sex couple at a Catholic hospital).

On the other hand, the nurses/social worker were relatively invasive in their questions and S's hospital experience was very frustrating. The staff had some preconcieved ideas about what an adoption looked like, and were (rightfully) very protective of S. S viewed this "protectiveness" very negatively though -- she felt as though she was being told how to grieve and didn't want to have to rehash her feelings with every rotation of new nurses. She also felt pressure to parent. Plus, none of the staff knew what to do with S.'s close relationship to J and I -- I think they worried that we may be influencing her. Meanwhile J and I were just trying to advocate for S, all the while trying to convey to her that we were very respectful of her current role as James' mother and that we were completely okay with her changing her mind about bonding with (or even parenting) James. The last thing we wanted was for S to feel as though she had to place James if she had reconsidered her choice.

After S was discharged, I walked her out of the hospital and got her situated in the backseat of the car that would be taking her back to where she was staying. We hugged goodbye and I told her we'd call her that night to check in. We shared a look that spoke volumes, though I can't do it justice in writing. The car left and I watched it go until I couldn't see it anymore. I kept it together for the walk back to our room, but completely lost it when I saw J getting James ready to be put in his new carseat for our discharge.

We were discharged on Valentine's day. I sobbed uncontrollably as I sat in back seat of our car next to James while we drove the short distance between the hospital and our home. I remember seeing the traditonal white and red paper hearts on many shops and doors (left by a local Valentine "phantom" who's been peppering Portland for thirty years) and I was overwhelmed with so many emotions -- appreciation, love, sadness, guilt, fear, excitement, concern -- the tears just started and wouldn't stop. Then our CD played kicked on the next track on a mix CD J had made a few weeks before, and suddenly we were listening to 'Sweet Baby James'. James must have been worrying about his new mom's emotional stability.

* * *

In her article, Dawn writes: "I had been picturing the two of us [she and her daughter's birthmother]balanced on opposite sides of a tipping scale. If one of us was the real mother, then the other one was not. If one of us was happy, then the other must be sad."

I've learned that in order to successfully and joyfully attempt/complete an adoption journey, you must be okay with living daily with complexity. Adoption is at once a gain and a loss. Excitement and fear. Happiness and sorrow. There are two (in our case three!) REAL mothers of every adopted person. James is my child, and he is S's child.

Anyway... please read Dawn's article. It expresses all this so much better than I can.


xo

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

the wee child this blog obsesses over...

i figure it's true -- a picture really is worth a thousand words..


Bill of Rights

these both were so insightful, I just had to share them.........


A Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage

by Maria P.P. Root

I HAVE THE RIGHT...

  • Not to justify my existence in this world.
  • Not to keep the races separate within me.
  • Not to justify my ethnic legitimacy.
  • Not to be responsible for people’s discomfort with
    my physical or ethnic ambiguity.

I HAVE THE RIGHT...

  • To identify myself differently than strangers
    expect me to identify.
  • To identify myself differently than how my parents
    identify me.
  • To identify myself differently than my brothers and
    sisters.
  • To identify myself differently in different
    situations.

I HAVE THE RIGHT...

  • To create a vocabulary to communicate about
    being multiracial or multiethnic.
  • To change my identity over my lifetime--and more
    than once.
  • To have loyalties and identification with more
    than one group of people.
  • To freely choose whom I befriend and love.
And two more from Marilyn Dramé's companion article "A Bill of Rights for Mixed Folks" on pactadopt.org:

  • I have a right not to fractionalize myself in order to conform to society's notion of race.
  • I have the right not to want to fit in exactly.


Transracially Adopted Children's Bill of Rights -

Adapted by Liza Steinberg Triggs from "A Bill of Rights for Mixed Folks," by Marilyn Dramé.

  • Every child is entitled to love and full membership in his or her family.
  • Every child is entitled to have his or her heritage and culture embraced and valued.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who value individuality and enjoy complexity.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who understand that this is a race conscious society.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know their child will experience life in ways differently from theirs.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who are not seeking to "save" a child or to make the world a better place by adopting.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know belonging to a family is not based on physical matching.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who have significant relationships with people of other races.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know transracial adoption changes the family structure forever.
  • Every child is entitled to be accepted by his or her extended family members.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know that if they are white they experience the benefits of racism because the country's system is organized that way.
  • Every child is entitled to parents who know they cannot be the sole transmitter of the child's culture when it is not their own.
  • Every child is entitled to grow up with items in their home environment created for and by people of their own race or ethnicity.
  • Every child is entitled to have places available to make friends with people of his or her race or ethnicity.
  • Every child is entitled to have opportunities in his or her environment to participate in positive experiences with his or her birth culture.
  • Every child is entitled to opportunities to build racial pride within his or her own home, school, and neighborhood.

These are going in James' lifebook -- that is, if I ever have fifteen minutes of non-parenting, non-working time to devote to his lifebook.....

An introduction..

Hello internets!

Welcome to "ten miles behind me", yet another in the vast sea of 'adoption blogs'.

I've waffled on starting this blog (I already have two personal ones on Livejournal), but I liked the idea of a stand alone space to ruminate on all things adoption. I've got a lot to say. ;)

Beyond adoption, I'm also drawn to the idea of using this space to chronicle James' early days as a person and my early days as a parent. Plus, J and I are still planning on adding another child to our family at some point in the not-so-distant future (maybe twoish years from now), so having an established space to write about that journey also appeals to me.

So, who *am* I? I'm Erin, a 28 year old woman partnered to another 28 year old woman (J) for the past six years and an adoptive mom to James (who celebrated his first birthday last month). J and I are white, James is black/mixed (more on this later). We share our home with a housemate (James' 'uncle'/godfather Stephen), four cats with multiple personalities, and one slightly neurotic lab, Noe. TMB will also be a child of color, with at least some African ancestry.

Adoption was our first choice re: babymakin'. I've been drawn to adoption for a long time... in fact my mother remembers me talking about adopting a daughter from China when I was in elementary school and one of my high school papers was on open adoption. J was also supportive of adoption as a family building option, so we didn't really put much energy past the researching stage into concieving a child.

We quickly chose domestic infant adoption, primarily because we wanted to be 'out' for the entire adoption process and because we wanted to start out with a young child with few special needs as first-time parents. We were also very welcoming of an open adoption, and liked the idea of welcoming our child's birthfamily into our life as extended family members.

Living where we do, we were initally hesitant about our ability to connect a child of color to a community of same race peers and adults. We never doubted our ability to love and care for a child of another race, but definitely wanted ensure that we were up for the extra challenges inherent with being a multiracial family in a predominantly white state. So J and I did a ton of talking and researching. We talked to someone local who had adopted transracially. We talked to our friends and family. We looked up resources in our community. We looked up resources online specific to white families adopting children of color.

And then there was James. :)

During the researching phase, I had discoved the wonderful world of online adoption advertising. This was about a month after we had made the official decision to start TTA (trying to adopt), and we hadn't begun a homestudy or created a profile or connected with an agency/attorney... nada. Nothing. All along we had been told how long it would probably take a youngish two-mom adoptive couple to be chosen by an expectant mom considering adoption, so I guess I felt safe throwing up a little two paragraph blurb about J and I on one of these adoption classified sites so early in the process.

My posting was added by the moderator on December 18th, 2004. J and I were in NYC around this time -- sitting on Santa's lap at the Marc Jacob's store in Greenwich Village and answering "a baby" to his query of what we wanted for Christmas in front of a line full of other shoppers.

Two days after Christmas, Santa came through. I checked my email that evening to find a response from a woman (S.) in her (late) 7th month of pregnancy.. a woman disenchanted for a multitude of reasons with the hopeful adoptive parents she had matched with who had liked our 'ad' and wanted to talk further. She wrote she was due in mid February with a biracial boy, and that all signs pointed to him being a healthy baby.

(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Thus began a number of gutwrenchingly difficult conversations between J and I. Was there any way we could be ready to be parents in six weeks? Could we afford to fund an adoption *right now*? Were we sure we were able to effectively parent a child of a different race? Could we get a homestudy done in time? What if this woman chose to parent after the baby was born... would we be emotionally and financially able to move on? What the hell were we thinking????

Eventually we came to a desicion. I wrote back to S and told her we were going to have to pass on talking further. I told her we were devastated with our response, but that we were only in the beginning stages of the adoption process and that we didn't want to string her along as she very obviously needed committed adoptive parents ASAP because of her coming due date.

I wrote this to her on the 31st of December, '04 and I sobbed the entire time.

A week later, J and I met with Judith, a local adoption attorney and adoptive mom who is highly regarded for her twenty plus years of adoption experience. We went over the preliminaries -- how she charges, how adoption works in different states, what services she provides, etc -- and at the end of the meeting she started talking about birthmothers. I brought up S's emails and situation and explained that we had told her we would have to pass for logistical reasons. Judith listened intently while we went over S's specific situation, and once I finished talking, she started outlining exactly how we could make things work to match with S.

Beyond logistics, there was also the issue of J being a very linear person who had been pretty freaked at the idea of becoming an insta-parent with a mere six weeks notice. So imagine my surprise when J turned to me after Judith had finished talking and said "I think we should write her back."

(!!)

And so, we did. I got back to work just before lunch and took my lunch hour to write back to S. About 2 hours (and 4,000 clicks to refresh my email) later I recieve the best news possible - S. had not matched with another hopeful adoptive person/couple yet and she wanted to talk to us on the phone the next morning! I almost passed out.

I'll make it short for now -- we did end up matching that next morning (January 8th, 05') following an easier than expected phone call. S. flew to our state (her strong preference) the following week for the remainder of her pregnancy and we all grew very close. James was born at 4:35am on Saturday February 12th, 2005 at our local hospital, about four weeks after his birthmom chose to match with us. :) His entrance into the world was shockingly quick -- S. had only about an hour's worth of contractions (which started at 25 seconds apart!) before James was born.

S. signed the TPR in front of a judge ten days later and flew home the same day. We had to advertise a notice of adoption in the community where James' birthfather's last known address was, and by late April (following no response) his rights were terminated as well.

We finalized James' adoption on my birthday, July 1st 05'. :) As per usual, I sobbed through the entire court procedure.


* * *

So, while this post is quite long, that's the incredibly abbrieviated version of our adoption story. The timeframe from our official decision to start paperchasing to adopt a child to James' birth spanned about two and a half months.

And life with James? It's blissful, even on the hardest parenting days. And trust me, you're going to hear all about it here.

So welcome!