Sunday Snapshot

28 11 2010

I've been too busy eating to take any pictures this week... so this is from our holiday card photo session last week.


Wordless Wednesday

24 11 2010

Trans-Cultural Adoption and Inter-netty Posts – Fun Size

22 11 2010

A collection of things I thought about this week, brought to you in “fun size” packages (because my thoughts are not profound enough for full size or king size posts.)

Trans-Cultural Adoption

I read the books.  I took the classes.  I prepared to meet true racists and minor bigots with education not confrontation.  But at the six-month post adoption mark I can say I am shocked.  I believe our social worker and agency made a huge mistake.  Nothing I read or heard prepared me to bridge this gap.  The child they referred to us is a ….morning person.

I was born a night-owl.  My friends are night-owls.  I immersed myself in night-owl culture from an early age.  Sure people can evolve.  You can mold yourself to meet deadlines and society’s expectations.  I’ve even managed to keep a job at some points in my life, but 5:45 am – smiling – ready to roll?  How am I supposed to teach him how to survive as a morning person when it is a culture I don’t understand?  Sure I can say the words, “the early bird catches the worm” but I believe that he knows I am really thinking, “who the hell wants a worm?”

Do you think we will have to disrupt?

Turkey Tipsy

On Thursday morning you will find me here .  My sister is 45 and the single mother to two pre-teen boys.  She works a crazy schedule but for the last few years has managed to make jogging a regular part of her life.  I am the stay-at-home mother of two toddlers.  Because I want to live to see them graduate from college, I recently started running.

My sister did a 5k sometime in the early 90’s.  She absolutely swears that she finished dead last.  I however have much more road racing experience.  I did a 5k in December of 1990 and another in March of 1998.  With that much experience what could go wrong?  Thursday morning we will be trotting in Long Grove.  We will be at the rear of the pack.  I thought I wouldn’t take the kids with me, but then I realized the baby jogger has four cup holders.  Mimosa anyone?

Proof You Can Adopt AND Support Your Child’s Birthplace

Just in case you don’t read this blog, although I suspect you probably already do, I want to draw your attention to how one AP is supporting the original friends and relatives of her children.  If you haven’t read her before, you’re welcome.  (Just please don’t leave me for her, because you and I have only just met.)  I will say, she wrote a post back when I was still in the “Should we do this really? Really? Are you sure?” stage that convinced me that this was the right path for us.  (I know I should link it directly, but hey, I have been up since 5:45 am.)

Anyhow, she is doing something really cool for her children.  She is raising the money to build a library in the village where they were born.  What could be better than that?  And you can help.

Yes, Some Adopted Kids Are Lucky – The Ones That Have These Dolls.

Oh, and one more thing, I have been planning to buy dolls from Autumn forever.  In fact, she and I exchanged emails in September and talked about her doing customized dolls, one with blue glasses for PJ and one with a beauty mark for Little Dude.  But then the blue glasses broke, and instead of getting the kids dolls for Christmas, I bought PJ new glasses.  But now Lori is working on adopting a big sister for her fabulous son.  And they are holding a raffle of one of the dolls that Autumn will customize for the winner.  I think it would be awesome if you entered, just don’t plan on winning because that doll has our name written all over it.

(In case you are wondering, I don’t know these people in real life, but I am being all inter-netty and pretending I do.)

Sunday Snapshot

21 11 2010

A Holiday Card Preview

AKA –  NOT America’s Next Top Models


National Adoption Awareness Month: Ally or Antagonist?

19 11 2010

I swear I am an ally for adult adoptees.  Hopefully I am an ally to every person in the adoption triad.  But here I go again, sounding more antagonistic than synergistic.  To steal an expression recently used by one of my favorite bloggers, I guess I didn’t drink enough of the adoption Kool-Aid.

I just finished watching Adopted For The Life Of Me on PBS.


What to think? What to think? What to think?

Or should I say, what to admit about what I think?

Basically it is a documentary about sealed adoption records in the United States.  Did you know Kansas is the only state that never sealed their records?  I live close to Kansas.  But this is not a game of guess where they actually live (with no Costco that is close to Kansas).  No, this is where as a new adoptive mother I say something profound about the pain felt by adult adoptees whose records are sealed.

And I am really, really trying to get it.  I am.  But I don’t think I do.

Okay, I get some parts of it.  I get that some people really feel an emptiness or disconnect and they believe that knowing who their biological parents are/were would help with this.  I get that.

I also get that when an authority who has your record RIGHT THERE says, “Sorry, YOU can’t see it.”  Well, that is just stupid, ridiculous, infuriating.  I would come unglued if that happened to me.  I would be blinded by my need to fight authority, and would probably forget that while that is legitimately MY record, it is also legitimately my BIO-PARENTS record.  And I do not know whose interests take priority.  I just, honestly, Do. Not. Know.  I know it is most politically correct to say it is the adoptee’s interest.  And I know I would never participate in a “closed” domestic adoption.  But that still doesn’t answer the question about records created in a different climate, years ago, that might still affect the lives of unsuspecting people.  And this film in no way cleared up this question for me.

I think in the past adoptees had to rely on the emotional arguments of “I just really have a need to know.”  And that is a legitimate argument, but probably never held much weight legally or with power-hungry bureaucrats who like to protect the status quo or even with people who see themselves as pragmatists.  So now adoptees have a new argument, based in science, which may be perceived as somehow more legitimate: the medical argument, the genetics argument, the DNA argument.

I don’t get the medical argument… not nearly as well as I get the “need to know” argument, which is strange considering I have a BS in biology and my husband has a PhD in molecular biology.  It’s not like I don’t “believe” in biology.  But I don’t believe that DNA holds all the answers.  And the adult adoptee the film features to make the medical case was 90-something-years-old and looked really great (although they did say she died before the film was completed).  In my opinion she was a lousy choice to make the argument, “I need to know my bio-parents medical history so I can take the proper precautions to ensure my own health.”  Ummmm, I would say it is likely that YOU will live a good, long life regardless of your bio-parents histories based on the fact that YOU ALREADY HAVE.

I admit to having a bias on this issue.  I think the intense scrutiny of our relatives’ medical histories is a bit of a scam.  I can’t figure out who is perpetrating the scam.  So far I think it might be the paper companies because they make all the millions of forms you have to fill out.

When I fill out those forms about my parents I just want to laugh.  Do your parents have hyper-tension?   I say Yes because they are medicated for hyper-tension, but my parents say No because the medicine keeps their blood pressure in the normal range therefore they honestly believe that they no longer have high blood pressure.  Does my father have heart disease?  Yes, but unlike my father I do not eat red meat, drink cheap vodka or smoke really cheap cigars.  And, I actually eat vegetables, green ones, not just deep fried potatoes.  So yes, my father has heart disease but I have common sense.

Here I come, back from that tangent and more focused so I can say something profound.  Please bear with me.

This was a documentary with a STRONG point of view.  In my opinion it was less convincing because it was so one-sided and created more questions in my mind than answers.  While I am sure the director wanted me to have questions like, “Why are these records still sealed?”  And, “What is my congress person’s email so I can send him/her a letter right now demanding they change this law?”  Unfortunately, the questions I was left with were of a different nature.

At one point in the movie the camera person/producer/director tells one of the adult adoptees who’s been searching for his parents for many, many years, “Yes, your records are still sealed but I have a friend who was able to track down information about your birth parents.”  The film provided no insight into how they were able to get past the insurmountable red tape.  This was very confusing to me.  I still followed his story.  I still felt for him.  But, wait, can you rewind a second?  If the records are IMPOSSIBLE to get to, how did they get to them?  That is the kind of question I was left with.

A few things I do get:

Many of the people featured in this film waited to search until their adoptive parents passed because they were afraid of offending or hurting their adoptive parents.

The adult adoptees in this film were NOT ungrateful, unhappy, whiney or demanding.  I think they wanted information, probably for a multitude of reasons, and had spent year after frustrating year trying to get it.

I think there is probably another side to this story:  the bio-families’ side.  And there are probably some bio families who really, really want records to remain sealed.  Do they have a right to that?  I’m not sure.  It is too bad that they could not interview any of those people.  Yes, the records are sealed, but clearly they had “friends” who could get around that in certain cases so I am sure they probably could have located some of these people and interviewed them in silhouette with voice distorters to protect their identity.

Lately I seem to be picking a fight with “adult adoptees” (I feel like “adult adoptees” should be said in a loud reverberating voice.)  Maybe this is just how I celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month.  No, wait, that’s not it.  It is what I said before, here, it is over-simplification that I have an issue with, not adult adoptees (as if that title encompasses the entire group of people who were ever adopted).

Getting beyond the over-simplification bug-a-boos (see how you can make it sound like a “cute” problem by giving it a cute name?) the important question is can an adoptive parent of a toddler really learn anything from adult adoptees?  Are the opinions of adult adoptees even relevant when the circumstances around my son’s adoption are so different than the circumstances of a closed domestic adoption that took place 50 years ago?

Hell yes, it is relevant.  Maybe I don’t get “it” but I do understand how “it” can make me a better parent to my adopted son.

This film reminded me that my priorities might not be the same as my son’s.  And it is my parental duty to try to help my son fulfill HIS priorities.  If I can’t predict exactly what they will be, I need to make the effort now to ensure that I can help him later whatever he decides his priorities are.  And if I want help predicting what his priorities might be, well I better be listening to adult adoptees.

My son will have no access to medical records from his bio-family.  This does not seem that important to me.  This might seem very important to him (a point this film drives home).

Maybe I can’t find out what illnesses ran in his family.  But I can find out if birth certificates were even issued in his village in 2009 and if death and medical records are kept on a regular basis in his birthplace.  I should know what the true life-expectancy is in his area of the country and what are the common causes of death.  I still won’t be able to provide him with all the information he might want, but I may be able to provide him with a context that makes the lack of information a little less painful.

My job is not to tell my son (or any adult adoptee) what should or should not be important to him.  My job is to bring him up to understand that there is more than one side to every story and that there is almost never a completely right or completely wrong side to any issue.  My job is to make sure he knows that I will never stand between him and his history.  My job is to ensure he knows that our love and our bond will not be broken by his relationship with any other person, including bio-relatives.  My job is to help my son understand as much as he wants to know about HIS story.


Because if you made it through that you deserve to see a picture of the kids that are being raised by this antagonistic ally.

They Paved Paradise

18 11 2010

In the words of Joni Mitchell… “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone…”

Below are the four most unexpected things I miss since moving.

1)      My chiropractor.  I have had a series of injuries and have unique ligaments which, wait, you’re not 96-years-old and confined to a nursing home?  Oh, then I will spare you the details.  Let’s just say, a good chiropractor makes a world of difference in my life.  And I am a high-maintenance patient.  A chiropractor must never, never, never crack my neck.  And I am not going to be totally forthcoming.  And at any random visit he/she might need to work on my ankle, or shoulder, or back, or…  you get the picture.  And oh how I miss Dr. David Lawrence.

2)      Excellent Health Insurance.   I didn’t even know our health insurance was that good, until I didn’t have it anymore.  Let’s do some comparing and contrasting, shall we?  In Oregon my husband worked for a major university.  In our new town my husband works for a major university.  In Oregon the university paid for the insurance 100%.  Here it is going to cost us upwards of five grand.  In Oregon we had no co-pay.  Here it is a minimum of $15 and when PJ had to go to the Urgent Care center it was $50.  The university we were associated with in Oregon did not have a medical school.  Here there is a medical school and three hospitals right on campus.  We went to the special eye doctor at the university hospital, ON CAMPUS.  We bought PJ’s glasses from the store at the university hospital, ON CAMPUS.  The doctor and the store were both “out of network”… in other words, they didn’t honor the university insurance.  You figure it out, because I can’t.

3)      Costco… with it’s Morning Star sausage, excellent diaper wipes, organic fruits and vegetables.  Here we have Sam’s Club.  I would compare and contrast but what is the point when there is no comparison?

4)      My Bathtub.  Our last house (or should I say our current house in another state since it hasn’t sold) was a fixer when we bought it.  When I was eight-and-a-half months pregnant we gutted the bathroom.  And I insisted my husband install a jet tub.  Nothing fancy, in fact the cheapest, smallest jet tub you can buy.  I used it pretty much daily after PJ was born.  I traded in showers for baths and was still using it daily two years later when we moved.  But, a conventional size tub is a conventional size tub, right?  WRONG.  I miss my bathtub.

I know in Ethiopia no one is complaining about a crummy bathtub, a sub-par warehouse store or lousy health insurance.  Please forgive my self-indulgence.  It’s just I have a kink in my back and I could use a nice, long soak in the tub.

He loves his "saws-all"

Remember, you could buy this bath. It comes with a house, near a Costco and a great chiropractor.

Taking the inaugural bath.

Even before we had kids we never really had private time.

PS  I just checked out my “dashboard” this is officially my 43rd post (not counting photo-only posts).  That means I can check #12 off my goal list.

Wordless Wednesday

17 11 2010