Saturday, November 18, 2017

When It All Falls Apart.

There is one thing about adoption that people don’t tell you about.  You know, when you go through this process you are split open and put on display.  Every element of your life is picked over and analyzed.  And you attend all these classes and role play all these scenarios and learn how to handle all these different issues, or at the very least, you know what resources are available to you when those issues arise.   But do you know what they don’t prepare you for? What happens when your life falls apart.  When families split up, there is so much heartache and sadness and grief and pain.  But when you have an adoptive family, there are added layers of people you are disappointing. It’s not just both of your families and extended families that are affected. No. You know have immediate and extended families in addition to your families, and that’s per adopted child. We welcomed open adoption because it’s what’s best for most children and biological parents.  And we have been blessed to have relationships with these family members that have been appropriate and wonderful and supportive. But I’ve had a harder time thinking about having to tell them what’s going on than I have my parents and siblings.

Think about it.  This biological parents of my children gave up their babies because they thought they could not provide the kind of life that they needed.  And despite the fact that both of my boys would have been taken away because of drug dependency, both of these mothers could have made the choice to keep them in the system to give themselves time to get their lives back in order and get them back. But, they didn’t.  Both moms, seeing their own situation more clearly and realistically, made the choice to give these baby boys to someone else in hopes for a better life for them.  They saw their own frustrations and sadness and living conditions and felt their very own babies would be better off with another mother. They put trust in the system, knowing we had been interviewed and researched and educated about adoption and babies and what the needs of these sweet babies would be.  And they made that sacrifice.  And in both cases, their families were supportive of them and us.  They thanked us for taking these babies, and they were relieved to meet us and find that we were loving and kind and so excited to have these babies.  They brought gifts and have stayed in touch.  They have answered medical questions and celebrated birthdays and holidays with us.  And they have thanked us. Often.

And now, things have happened. And we are struggling and we are separating. And a good part of the tears I’ve shed and the fears that haunt me are how I’ve disappointed these hopeful, beautiful families. Seven extra parents (counting parents of other half-siblings), at least eight extra grandparents, aunts, cousins and six other siblings either biological or through adoption.  And I feel like the list goes on.  All these people that thought we were the better option. And to feel like I wasn't. Like I failed them. Like somewhere they were deceived into thinking I could do better and not have problems. And I wonder if they will regret their choice.  It can crush you.

I’m not looking for pity or for anyone (please, oh please don’t do it….) to tell me how awesome I am.  But, I’ve always been very frank in my blog and with my kids and with anyone who wants to know anything about adoption and infertility and all the other issues that go with it.  So, I can’t sugarcoat this now.  It is one of the hardest parts of this separation. I know lots of families go through this and worse.  I will dig in and be strong and try to help my kids in the best way that I can. I’ve made some big mistakes and we will all pay a certain price for it. But, as I sat in a parent teach conference this week sheepishly explaining to the teacher what was going on so she could be aware of added stresses on my sweet boy, she said “he just adores you”. And, I really, really needed to hear that. We’ve been through quite a bit the last couple of years and I have been more pained at the effect of the conflict on these innocent boys more than anything else.  I’m not sure I cared as much about anything else she said than that.  Despite it all, I hope my boys will know how much I love them.  And, I hope those who put their faith in me so deeply as to give me these little humans to raise and to love will continue to trust me to care for them and help them through all the pains of life.  I still don’t regret adopting them. I don’t regret the journey one bit.  We move forward.  Always moving forward as a family, whatever that may look like.  And please don't call us a broken family.  We are not broken.  We have just been rearranged.  And we will make it. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Please Teach Your Biological Kids About Adoption.

My friend and fellow adoptive mother, Heidi, recently shared an article about why it is important that your child be taught about adoption. (Teach Your Children About Adoption Before Releasing Them on the Playground by Rachel Quinn Egan)  Not my adopted child.  Your biological child.  The artical tells of an experience where the author's young daughter was bombarded with questions on a playground regarding her adoption:  "Is that your mom? (Pointing at me) Why is she white and you are brown? Are you adopted? Where is your real mom? Why isn't she here? Where is she? Why didn't she want you? You didn't come out of that mom's tummy over there, but your sister did. Right?"  

It made me realize that my six year old is well educated in what adoption is and how he came into our family.  But your child most likely has no understanding of it, and it maybe be much more important for him or her to understand than you or I might have considered.

Surprisingly, as someone who started researching adoption ten years ago and has experienced so many of it's facets, this is something I had never really thought about.  My child has not experienced the same thing (yet) as the girls in this article .  And it often is the case that we don't think to champion a cause until we have been touched by it.  But my eyes have been opened, and I am now championing this cause in hopes of preventing an incident like this from happening to my sweet boys.

So, in honor of November being National Adoption Month and even more so in honor of my boys and other adoptive families and birth parents.  I'm asking all of parents of children of any age, so begin in some way to also include a little adoption education when you are discussing other issues, such as differences in race, beliefs, familial makeup, gender, etc.  Do you ever wonder what to say?  Or perhaps what not to say?  Here are a few of my thoughts of points to consider (many of which are covered in the article mentioned above).  Not all of these will be appropriate to share with a child, so choose wisely and age appropriately and always out of love for all children.

1.  Adoption is normal.  It might not be as common as a biological family, but it is normal.

2. "Real" is not a word we use to describe biological or adoptive parents.  I am my son's mother.  Period.  He also has a birth mother, or his first mommy as we refer to her.  She is also real and she was also a mother to him.

3. Children are not given up for adoption because they are not wanted.  In most cases, there are circumstances preventing a birth parent from being able to keep a child.  It could be anything from mental illness, to financial problems, to drugs, to age and a number of other reasons.  We must educate our children to not think a parent (mother or father) gave a child up because they did not want the baby.  Yes, there may be rare instances where that is the case, although I still say the reason they do not want to keep the baby are based somewhere other than desire.

4.  The reasons for #3 are personal and private and nobody's business.  It has no bearing on the value of my child as a beautiful, loved son or daughter.  If I or my child chooses to share the reasons at some point, then I hope you will listen with an open heart.  Otherwise, we need to educate our children that they may not understand all the reasons, and that's okay.  What matters is that they were able to be matched up with parents of love them.

5.  There is always some degree of loss.  A child adopted at birth still experiences sadness at some point in his or her life.  There is still loss.  Some process and cope with it better than others.  But most likely, every adopted child will experience some degree of loss, and that is perfectly normal.  And they also will always feel a love for their birth family, and that is perfectly normal and it is a very good thing.

6.  Adoption shouldn't be a secret we whisper about behind closed doors.  Secrets imply something is wrong, and there is nothing wrong with it.  If your child asks you a question about adoption in front of my child, please answer truthfully, cheerfully and with love and compassion, just as you would if they asked you "what's wrong with that man?" in front of a man in a wheelchair.  Or "why is his skin so dark?" in front of a woman of color.  Don't whisper as if there is shame.  You can say "yes, D is adopted and isn't that wonderful?  Do you have any questions about what that means?"  Or maybe "D, can you explain what adoption is?" Because my child can, and he's not ashamed of it.  It's all he knows.

7.  Please, oh please do not tell my child, or yours, that my child should be grateful we adopted him.  First of all, he's not grateful yet because he doesn't realize he should be.  And he doesn't realize that life could have been worse for him.  And second of all, I will always need to be more grateful that I was given these sweet boys than they ever need to be for me.  It is not a requirement for him to recognize every minute of his life that he was rescued and should be indebted to us for that.  That may not really be the case.  And I can promise you there were many many people in line for these sweet babies.  I wasn't his last resort.  Please just let him be a kid who can be frustrated with his parents like every other kid out there.  He doesn't need to bow in gratitude for a decision in which he had no choice.

8.  And please, oh please, do not tell me how wonderful I am for taking him in, especially in front of him!  I'm not his saviour.  I am his mother.

9.  Adopted children often have different physical features than their adoptive parents.  We don't face this as much in our family, but remember that those traits did come from someone...from other parents.  And we celebrate them and love them.  And there are many biological families, especially those of mixed race, in which there are differences in skin tones and eye color and sizes.  It's part of what makes us unique.  It's not a flaw or a shameful characteristic.  It's unique.  I have one black haired, brown-eyed son and one blue-eyed blondie.  I always say D's eyes are the color of chocolate and S's eyes or the color of the sky (both things I love).  And when D sadly says I have black hair and none of my friends have black hair I always get excited and say "isn't that amazing??  Your hair is so special and not many people have hair as black as yours."  And truly, it is beautiful hair.

10.  Please, please remember that we don't discuss adoption every day.  We talk about school and funny things that happened and Wild Kratts and the planets and how to make homemade clay.  We don't NOT talk about adoption, but it's not an every day topic, just as you don't discuss your child's birth every day.  How often do you remind your child he or she was conceived by you and your spouse and show them footage of the birth?  It's part of their story for sure, but it just doesn't generally come up at the dinner table.  So while education on the subject is so important for all of us, remember that we are a normal family, just like you.  We aren't always "and adoptive family" or an "adopted son".  We are just a family.  He is just my son.  It's not derogatory to say those things.  It's just not necessary to clarify all the time.  It's just who we are.  It would be like saying "my African-American friend" or "my friend in the wheelchair".  Yes, those may be accurate descriptions, but they aren't necessary because those aren't the reasons you are friends.  They are side notes.  Minor details.  They aren't shameful side notes or details, just not pertinent in most cases.

Remember that adoption is part of this thing we call diversity.  When discussing diversity, please include this large segment of our population. I will be forever grateful if my child is understood and accepted "as is" than made to feel like he was unloved and unwanted and rescued.  Perhaps the questions are just curious, but they still hurt.  And when a child is bombarded with the questions  on a playground or at school or wherever he or she may be, it can be a truly traumatic experience.  And my child should really just be like your child, living his or her normal, but always special, and hopefully still magical childhood.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Second-Hand Life

My shop (AKA my garage)
Sometimes friends give me a hard time because I post all the fun things I do with my boys, and living in San Diego with so much available, I can see how it might get tiring hearing about the beach and the zoo and the perfect weather all the time.  And of course, my perfect, beautiful boys....  I was accused recently by someone who had known me less than a week and had heard second-hand about something I had written on my adoption blog (you can the story here in the post below this one), that I had a "poor me attitude".  So, it is with some caution that I write this.  But please know that for every picture I post of myself with my two boys doing something fun, there is a picture like the one at the right here of the work that I do later that night after they have gone to bed.  The life we have here does come at a sacrifice, and I choose to make that sacrifice because I choose to stay at home with my kids and spend that precious time with them.  I do reupholstery and sewing work so we can make ends meet in this overpriced community we live in.  Don't feel sorry for me, and don't roll your eyes because you think I want you to feel sorry for me.  We love life by the beach.  We love the perfect 75 degree weather year round.  We love the fresh air, the produce, the culture, the sunshine, the active lifestyle and the amazing friends that this little spot of paradise brings into our lives every day.  I don't post these pictures all the time because I want to make the sacrifice--it is worth it to me.  I don't want a full-time job where I will miss out on this precious bonding time I have with these boys.  I waited too long for them to let someone else raise them.  I want them to remember a beautiful childhood with their mom.  I want them to remember how we swam, boogie boarded, biked, explored and laughed our way through some very happy days.  We don't have a lot of new things.  We get hand-me-downs and I thrift store shop, and mostly, we do without a lot of the things other people have.  Our newest car is a 2005.  I am often tired from the physical labor of wrestling a sofa into some new fabric.  I am tired from rising at 6 a.m. (because heaven forbid these boys sleep in!) and caring for them for ten to twelve hours until my husband gets home, and then staying up six more hours to finish a project.  I have an amazing husband who steps in as often as he can, and I don't know what I would do without that.  I am tired, but I am very happy.  Someday, my kids will move on and I won't see them nearly as much, and I will sleep then. And maybe I'll buy a brand new wardrobe and finally treat myself to a spa day, luxuries we don't have right now.  I'm not whining about it.  I'm just stating a fact.

Please know that I do not criticize women who choose to work and have a nanny or some other arrangement, and I am well aware that there are many moms that would love to stay at home, but they don't have a choice at all.  My friend taught me years ago that the true meaning of feminism, which often gets a bad rap, is having the freedom to choose--and one of those choices is whether to work outside the home or to say home with my children.  I make special care not to judge my fellow mothers who choose differently than I did. They have their reasons and it's none of my business.  I do work at a paying job.  It's not a very fun or creative or fulfilling one, but I can do it on my own time and I can earn the extra money we need to make it each month so it suits its purpose right now.  And for that, I am grateful.  So, if you find yourself jealous of my charmed life here in the land of eternal sunshine, just remember you probably wouldn't be as jealous of the hours I spend ripping out thousands of staples!  And I'm sure you aren't jealous of the cars we drive or the clothes we wear.  That said, I wouldn't do it if it wasn't absolutely worth it.

However, should you want to write us in to your will, don't think I wouldn't accept....

Friday, August 8, 2014

Kicked Out of School for This Blog.

How much of one’s story is too personal to share?  When does it go from being a story about personal triumph over adversity (even if that adversity is sometimes caused by our own bad choices) to inappropriate details about our private lives that should remain private?  This is the question I faced this morning as I was called in to see the head of a private school in which my 5-year-old son had been offered a spot.  He was supposed to start Kindergarten there in twelve days.  We would normally not be in a position to attend such an elite school, but because they needed boys in that particular class, and because we were in the right place at the right time, we were able to work out a deal that would benefit all involved.  I was hesitant because I am not rich.  I don’t run in those types of social circles.  The newest car we have is a 2005 and I’m just not that Lululemon-wearing, Lexus-driving, latte-swigging mom.  I have nothing against it.  Financially, it’s just not our crowd.  But, after some interesting conversations with those who had experience with this school, we decided to put our fears and inadequacies aside, and go for it.

At least, we thought we were going to, until a staff member saw a link to my blog on the bottom of my email.  Less than twenty-four hours later, I was told this school just wouldn’t be a good fit for us.  You might think my blog showed pictures of me hung over at a New Year’s Eve party, or perhaps joking about having smoked weed in my younger days.  Or perhaps it might have used bad language, or racial slurs, or had pictures of me in a string bikini with my arm draped around some guy other than my husband.  But no.  It was this blog, where I write about our adoption experience.

I won’t attempt to include the entire conversation here, as it lasted about 25 minutes.  But I will hit the highlights.  I was told that there was no good that could come of me putting this kind of personal information on the internet.  She asked me several times what good I thought I was doing by airing my “dirty laundry”.  And by “dirty laundry”, she was referring mainly to two things (out of almost 50 blog posts over the last few years).  The first was that I mentioned that my boys had been exposed to drugs in the womb.  The second was that I mentioned my husbandhad been arrested two times before, both of which were thrown out before it even went to a judge because they were so ridiculous.  “Why would you share that with anyone?” she asked several times.  But the part that really got me was that she said that she was concerned that parents at this school might not want to include my son in playgroups or birthday parties or other social gatherings because he had been exposed to drugs.  She told me I should keep that a secret and that there was no reason that even my son should ever know that information.  She said that their school was a positive place and that there wasn’t room for the negativity or the “poor me” attitude I displayed in my writing.  I explained to her that not one of my posts were about “poor me” and that each one, although perhaps sharing some difficult experience, always took a positive spin and left the reader with an understanding of the good things that have come from it.  I could tell by the way she referred to my writing, that she hadn’t even taken the time to read through the blog herself, at least not very much of it.  I have written about everything from drug exposure, to the crazy process you have to go through, to our own experiences with invitro, to our failed adoption—every thing you could possibly want to know about this process is there. Yes, it’s personal, but I don’t think it is so horrible that it should be the reason my son is not allowed to attend this school.  I am not ashamed of one thing I have written.

I tried to explain that the current research on adoption shows that the secrecy of the past adoption culture has proven to be detrimental to children.  Secrets mean shame to a child.  If my son were to find out from someone else that he was born positive for drugs, then he would know I had lied to him, and he would assume I lied because something was so wrong with him that I wouldn’t tell him the truth.  I told her I will continue to share all of his story with him, age appropriately, and that at some point in his life, he would know every detail.  Research has shown this is the better path.  She argued that there are adopted children at this school who know nothing about their past, and that these children are just grateful to have what they have and they don’t think about their adoption story.  I cannot disagree with this more.  Perhaps they don’t ask many questions now, but this school doesn’t take middle school or high school aged children, which is when most of them begin questioning as they are figuring out their own identity.  And my guess is that she has not done much research on the subject, or she wouldn’t have made such a blanket statement.

So much more was said, but the point is that it was clearly stated that my story should be private, and there was absolutely no reason for having these details made public.  I told her that I was in the middle of writing a book about a lot of my difficult experiences and that the adoption story was only a part of that. I told her that I would be willing to leave some things off the blog, but that wasn’t enough for her.  She wanted the whole blog to be removed, and for nobody to ever be able to trace those stories to me.  She requested that work on the book be private, meaning it could not be published as long as any of our children attended school there.  I was not to write publicly about any of it again.  I was floored to hear such censorship in 2014, especially for what I consider such non-controversial material.  I told her that I was sad for him to miss out on the opportunity of going to such a great school, but if parents and teachers were going to ostracize my young son for choices beyond his control, then I didn’t want him going there anyway.

I felt a little selfish for not giving up a blog for this opportunity for a great education.  But I think it’s more than that.  If I am being censored over this kind of information, then what was next?  What else was not going to be acceptable?  I asked her if there were no other parents at that school who blogged about their life, or who had written anything controversial.  She said she wasn’t aware of any.  I find it hard to believe that nobody there has a past that is public in some way.  You’re telling me nobody has ever posted a picture of themselves on Facebook doing something inappropriate?  Or made a public comment that was controversial in any way?  Please.

I would love to hear thoughts/comments, even if you agree with the school.  I’ve been stewing about this conversation all day, trying to see it from their side, and I just can’t.  Read through my blog posts, and tell me if anything is inappropriate or cause for my son to be kept out of a school.  I truly want to know.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Open Adoption and All of its Implications

Open adoptions are really becoming the norm these days.  Twenty years ago, it was still pretty common for the majority of adoptions to be closed, but research has found that route isn't the healthiest of options, in most cases.  I'm all for an open adoption.  We have two of them.  But, they aren't without their risks or pain.  We all want to be honest with our children, and I think more often then not, a little painful honesty is better than a bunch of softer lies.  I think kids tend to deal with the pain and move forward, knowing they can trust you more.  But it is hard.  Don't think it isn't.  It is hard to answer questions from your young child when the completely truthful answer would involve some form of "they don't want to see you," even if that is soften with a hundred logical, understandable reasons as to why.

I am not judging the birth families in any way.  Please know that.  I know there are circumstances.  But young children only comprehend so much about the whys of things.  And they internalize everything.  Everything is because of them, for good or for bad.  They don't understand that a person has an illness or great pain that prevent them from being a part of their lives, or from even wanting it.  What they really think is "I must have done something wrong for them to not want to see me."  

I have two sweet, loving boys who have close biological relatives who, for different reasons, don't want to see them.  When an adoptive family decides to accept an open adoption, there is some trepidation.  We did have concerns about an open adoption.  We worried about what kind of influences the biological families would bring, what kind of lifestyles they lead, and if they would ever say or do anything that would be hurtful to our boys.  Keep in mind both of my boys were drug babies, so these are real concerns. In the end, we decided the risk was worth it, and that they would have the opportunity to see for themselves, unbiased and unfiltered, and either have a desire to continue those relationships, or not.  The decision would be theirs. 

I stand by that decision.  And, we have great relationships with some of these family members.  But, there are those that we have no relationship with.   And, oh, when your child asks about those things, it can break your heart.  There are a few relationships I have not informed my oldest about yet, because he would be heartbroken to know about them and know they don't want to see him.  But, I have to tell him at some point.  I haven't lied to him, I just haven't told him everything yet, and that is the challenge we are faced with, too.  I am trying to protect him with just enough armor that he can be safe but still be able to move and grow and fight his battles. He is an extremely sensitive child, with a thousand questions on the tip of his tongue at any moment of the day.  He has a solution for everything....a way to fix EVERYTHING (at least in his mind).  But, he can't fix this.  He can't fix others.  He can't make them love him or want to see him.  Nothing he could do would make them change.  But he doesn't know that.  He still thinks that if thinks it should be so, then the world should bend to make it so.  And that it WILL bend to make it so.  I hope  he will understand someday that some people just struggle and it's not because he has done anything wrong.  I hope he can eventually sort through these relationships and deal with the damage in a positive way.  That he can sort it out and put it in its proper place in his life.  No bigger or smaller than it should be.  And I hope someday those people will decide that knowing this amazing boy is worth it.  It is worth any amount of pain.  It is worth facing guilt and heartache to know him.  He is worth it.  But, for now, we take it one question at a time.  One sensitive, yet honest answer at a time.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

It Has Only Taken Seven Years

Celebrating the completion of Ninja
Camp with an ice cream cone.
Something happened last week that hasn't happened to me in six years.  July 7th came and went without me realizing it.  it came and went and I forgot to be sad.  7/7/7 was supposed to be a lucky day, and as one that has always read a little to much into signs, I thought that it was an extra big sign that we would be given a child with that birth date.  I don't know what happened.  Maybe it was the craziness of returning from a twelve day vacation with family in Texas.  Maybe it was Summertime or sleep deprivation or loads of work to do.  Maybe it was my recent obsession with Brendan Coyle, leading me to Google/Youtube/Hulu/Netflix everything he has ever acted in so I could watch for hours as I worked in my shop into the wee hours of the morning.  Or maybe the recent finalization of S's adoption....miracle #2....has finally settled my heart.  Whatever it was, it took four days for me to realize Isaac's birthday had come and gone, tearfree and without the longing I often feel for our first son.  It's amazing how someone can be with you for only five months and losing them can cause years and years of grief.

My little guys share a birthday, in a crazy twist of fate.  I have two little left-handed boys born on the same day four years apart.  Maybe I got my sign after all.  They are the best.  They both have their own adoption story full of joys and sorrows.  D is five now and we have already had discussions about his adoption. S is one year old and oblivious to the  miracle of how he came to us.  But, someday we will start talking about it.  Someday soon.  It's a good thing.  Not without it's challenges, but nothing worth anything comes without a challenge.

My first ice cream cone
I tackled a fear this morning.  I did on ocean swim in preparation for a triathlon.  I love the ocean but I'm afraid of sharks, especially swimming out past the breakers.  I did it though, and I felt great for so many reasons.  I'm 43 and I'm running Ragnar and doing an open ocean swim.  I live in a beautiful place with two little boys that I wasn't sure were ever going to be a part of my life.  I will always miss my Isaac, but I am learning to see the joy and to keep moving forward, tackling life's challenges and relishing its opportunities.   I am learning to accept the pain of losing my baby and the fact that it will always be there, but it is a reminder that I have the capacity to feel love, and I don't regret that.  And this year, as his birthday came and went without a thought, I am learning that time really does heal us.  Or maybe its my two beautiful boys that are healing me.  Or my three beautiful boys teaching me, even if one is teaching me from a long way away.  It's only taken seven years.  Another number seven.....maybe it's a sign.   Happy belated birthday, sweet baby Isaac.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Cost of Adoption

from our most recent invoice
We got an invoice from our adoption lawyer in the mail recently (see picture).  As you can see, we were charged for "receipt of family pictures; save to file".  Now, it does say "$25 no charge" an I'm not sure if that's what it's referring to, as we still incurred a charge on this bill.  But, remind me
not to send them cute pictures of our family any more!  They request them from time to time to stay current on our family, but I didn't realize we were getting charged for them to "save to file".  But, I am not complaining.  This lawyer has been great, and I know it's just the way it works these days.  But, it made me think about what it costs to adopt.  What it costs to give a home to a child who would otherwise not have one.  What it costs to provide a home for a child that would otherwise become a ward of the state and cost us, as a people, in tax money (and in so many other ways) to support.  Foster children have a much, much higher risk of needing social programs throughout their lives.  Did you know that 70% of people in prison in California were foster children at one point?  They are at much higher risk for needing all kinds of public assistance.  And I don't mean just as foster kids.  I mean way beyond into adulthood.  So, it just seems like it would help the whole situation if the whole adoption process was much less costly.  I have friends who became legal guardians to THEIR OWN grandchildren after their daughter passed away from cancer, and they had to do paperwork and pay $900!  I mean, it's a drop in the bucket compared to a regular adoption, but still ridiculous!

When I sat down to write about this, I thought about ALL the costs of adoption.  When all is done, S's adoption will wind up costing us about $10,000.  That includes social workers, a home study through the county (that costs $4500 alone!), lawyers, travel expenses back and forth to the hospital and little things here and there that nobody thinks about.  And $10,000 is getting off easy.  Most adoptions will cost much, much more, especially if you adopt internationally.  And there's the cost of the craziness it brings, the stress between spouses as you try to decide if this baby is for you, or if the situation is too risky and might result in a failed adoption, or the cost of the major life change it brings about, often with hardly any notice.  There is the cost of adding another child to your family and wondering how it's going to affect the child you already have.  There is the cost of having a child with a history and a family that you now need to figure out how to mesh with yours.  There is the cost of knowing that your child will always have a desire to know about his or her past and will most likely want some contact in some form with the birth parents or birth family, if possible.  There is the cost of your young child asking you why his parents didn't want him, or why they don't want to see him, or why was she so sick that she couldn't take care of me (because at four, we have chosen the word "sick" to describe her drug condition....we will tell him the truth later when he is able to understand what drugs are). There is the cost of those teenage years, when most adopted children go through a heightened identity crisis.  And I'm sure there are costs I don't even know about right now.

So, with so many costs, why adopt?  It's just like anything else you save up and pay a lot of money for.  Because it's absolutely worth it.  A new car, a European vacation, a new home....all those things have a cost attached, but what you get from it is so worth it.  Don't think I am comparing a child to a car or a vacation.  It's an analogy.  The experience you get on that vacation will last a lifetime.  You will make memories.  You will take pictures.  You will see and taste and touch things you never could have before.  And it will make the stress of saving that money and pinching pennies a very distant memory.  All you will remember is how amazing it was.  And that's how adopting is.  Every single one of those costs will never be more important than every single amazing moment of having a child, or of being a mom.  And not that every moment of being a mom is amazing....but you will look back and remember the good.  When my son, out of the blue says "Mom, I love you" or "am I your sweet baby?" or "come snuggle with me" or "will you read this to me?" or "will you play monster trucks with me?", the costs we incurred adopting him will just not matter.  In fact, S's adoption isn't even final yet, and it already doesn't matter, because I love these boys more than life itself, and you can't put a price on that.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fear and Self-Loathing….Why Sometimes Not Having a Biological Connection to your Child is a Bonus.

I was reminded again this week that my insecurities are still a much bigger part of me than I had hoped they would be in my forties.  I won’t go into the sordid details, because frankly, they’re not THAT sordid, and most would say, just get over it!  But, here is my point as it actually pertains to adoption.  I have realized that there are benefits to not having a biological connection to my child.

My handsome D.
First, let me let you in on a little secret.  I have self-esteem issues.  Yes.  It’s true.  And those of you who know me really well are not at all surprised by this declaration.  Those of you who know me on a little more superficial basis are probably somewhat surprised.  Exhibit A.  The title of this blog.  As I went back to research it a little more, I realized that the phrase comes from a novel entitled “Fear and Loathing in Vegas.”  I would, of course, be the one to add in the “self” part.  I have had that phrase stuck in my head for a long time, “Fear and Self-Loathing” and it’s not even correct!  But, I’m digressing a bit.

Here’s the thing.  I have realized that because I have some unaddressed issues that keep me from feeling as confident and self-assured as I would like to feel, I have a really hard time feeling that confidence about anything I do, whether it’s artwork or writing or anything I have had a hand in creating.  Like children.  But, I’ve realized, that since I didn’t have a hand in creating these children, that I find they are exempt from this.  I used to pine away over not being able to get pregnant.  But, I’ve realized that maybe that was one of the greatest blessings.  Not just for me, but for them, too.  They will never have to suffer me coming down on them because they represent something I never was.  To me, they are even more beautiful and more amazing partly because they came from somebody else.  I feel perfectly justified in bragging about them and in telling them, or others, how handsome they are, because there is no part of me that feels they are beautiful because they carry any of my genes.  I am removed from them in a good way.  They will never carry my baggage.  I will never feel to cut short a compliment because, in some roundabout way, I might feel I am bragging about myself.  Or worse, YOU might feel that I am bragging about myself.

My beautiful S.

Maybe this is all just a little twisted.  And yes, I’m sure I need therapy.  And I am not saying that others withhold because of these reasons.  I am speaking to me and my case alone.  Contrary to what this might portray, I am a silver lining kind of a girl.  And this is one of the unexpected silver linings to adoption.  I love these boys partly because they are NOT a part of my gene pool.  I shower them with compliments.  I tell others (probably to an annoying, nauseating degree) how beautiful these boys are.  How amazing and talented they are.  How funny and smart and thoughtful they are.  How athletic and bound-for-the-Olympics they are.  And, even though I know some of that comes from how they are parented, I truly believe that a lot of it came with them when they were born.  I love these boys more than I thought I would be capable of.  And maybe, when I truly feel that love for myself more, I will be capable of even greater love for them, too.  I hope to get there someday.  But for now, I know I am released from any boundaries that would inhibit feeling and expressing my love for them, because they are released from representing any part of me that I don’t love.  And that is a great thing.

P.S.  PLEASE don’t see this as a call for compliments and reassurances that I am just so wonderful.  It won’t change me.  I have to be the one to change myself, and I am truly working on it.  It only makes me think you don’t know me so well!  :)

(photos by the amazingly talented