talking it up

I think it was in Adoptive Families magazine where I first read this excellent advice (and I really wish I could remember where, so I could credit the writer) about talking with your little ones about adoption. It’s a given, nowadays, that adopted kids should know they’re adopted. Social workers advise adoptive parents to make adoption a fact of their adopted kids’ lives that’s there from the get-go, so there’s no dramatic “breaking it to them” moment or anything like that.

However, this was a little tidbit that I thought was so great: planting the seeds from a very young age that adoption is entirely positive. So, every time adoption comes up, adopted kids will naturally think: Yeah, man, adoption is terrific! and know that their family structure is awesome. The idea being that their knee-jerk reaction when they hear the word “adoption” is that their origins are GOOD.

And yes, yes, adoption has grief and loss intrinsic to it, and I am not trying to negate or deny those realities. But obviously, we all want our kids to feel good about how they came to exist and join their families, right?

The adoption talk with Rainbow is going great. I love his enthusiasm. This conversation is generally part of every bedtime and morning cuddle session:

Mama: Hey, do you know what ADOPTION is?
Rainbow: Doption is GREAT! Is bsrkljkdzzer FAMILY!
Mama: Yes! Adoption is great because it’s how we became a family. It’s how I got to be your Mama!
Rainbow: Miss Noelle brzoiudghhcphr TUMMY!
Mama: Yes! Miss Noelle had you in her tummy when you were teeny-tiny. She loved you SO much, and she knew she couldn’t take care of a baby. She thought about it really hard and looked for a long time. She picked Mama and Daddy to be your parents. She thought we would be the very best parents for you.
Rainbow: Mama!
Mama: Yes! Lucky, lucky Mama. So lucky because I get to be Rainbow’s Mama. I love you.
Rainbow: Awwww. (plants a mushy kiss on me) So sweet.

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family tripping

Daddy J and I went with the big boys to Washington, DC a couple of weeks ago. It was so fabulous – SUCH a perfect trip for teenagers (and grown-ups). A la Wyoming, where they pleasantly surprised us by loving the landscape and hiking and outdoorsiness of the whole thing, the boys were perfect roadtrip riders and sightseers. We were so proud of their reactions to historic sites, war memorials, and the Holocaust museum, and they appreciated exotic restaurants and food, too.

I missed little Rainbow like crazy, but it would have been a really bad call for him to come with. On the last two days, the temp in DC was 96 and 98, which is too hot for anybody, let alone a toddler. And he’s not potty-trained (although we’re making big progress!) and doesn’t eat out terribly well. And our townhouse wasn’t babyproofed. Anyway, I think it’s safe to say that he had more fun with doting grandparents than he would have with us. But, yeah, it was really nice to come home to him.

I made a photo book at Walmart about the whole adventure. Daddy J was inspired by my efforts and is, I think, making a more artsy and text-free book, but I wanted to record some info in with mine so we didn’t forget details.

Check it out here.

As an aside, it makes me wonder about adoption profile books. Like, is this what prospective adoptive parents are doing nowadays? It was so easy and inexpensive. For Rainbow’s adoption, I cut and pasted and did this whole scrapbook thing and had bound books made. I think it looked cooler, in a homemade scrapbooky way, but this assisted photo book option is a great one.

adoptive breastfeeding

Here’s an article I wrote about adoptive breastfeeding for Adoptive Families magazine. It’s in the May/June issue, but I didn’t know it was internet accessible until today.

The responses to my attempt to breastfeed Rainbow were telling; 9 out of 10 times, they were, Wow, adoptive breastfeeding! I didn’t know you could DO that! I’m really hopeful that it gets easier and more common for adoptive mamas to do it in the future. I blogged about my efforts quite a bit here, so you could poke around if you wanted and see more of what went on when we were trying it.

It was really fun to get in my first paper magazine, by the way. I’m all excited. They sent me two copies, and the the blurb about my breastfeeding article is right there ON THE COVER.

expression

We went down to Rainbow’s birth state and spent time with his birthmom, Noelle, and his birthfather three times before his birth. She invited us to her OB appointments and ultrasounds, and we all went out to dinner and talked. I was a little anxious nervous wreck at points before and during these meetings, but they were priceless. I’m so, so glad that we all got to know each other a little bit. Now I see little bits of Noelle and Eric, Rainbow’s birthfather, in our little boy every day.

Noelle did one thing that threw me for a loop at first. She smiled easily and laughed often, but when she was listening to someone else talk, she would often drop all expression from her face. Like, not an expression of amusement or interest or even sleepiness, but just ZERO expression. A totally flat affect at times.

It was a new one on me; I’m used to people constantly emoting with their faces, even when they are just listening to someone else. I worried that I was boring her to tears, or that she was seething at some unintentionally offensive thing I’d said, or that she was just zoned out and not hearing a thing I was saying. But after it happened a few times, I learned that it was just a special thing about her. Which is really nice, upon reflection: when she’s listening and taking in what someone else says, her attention is entirely on the other person’s intent and not on her own facial expressions, so they sometimes just drop away entirely.

Which fits with what we learned and continue to admire about her: she’s extraordinarily unself-conscious and unpretentious, confident and emotionally unguarded.

And now I’ve seen it in more than one instance: RAINBOW DOES IT TOO!!

I recognized that blank-looking expression immediately; it popped up when he was intently watching me teach him how to use a toy. I saw this lovable quirk of Noelle in him, and it was just so cool. I keep wanting to tell her, but feel like it’s likely that Hey, you know that blank, zoned-out expression you get sometimes when you’re paying attention? Rainbow gets it TOO! might be misinterpreted.

So wanted to record it here for posterity: some behaviors are indeed genetic.

Mother’s Day

Sure, it’s a bit of a Hallmark holiday, but it’s nice to actually set aside a single day to think just about mothers. So, thanks, Hallmark.

It’s a peaceful morning so far. Daddy J gave me my beautiful mother’s day present – a series of three tree paintings that will go in my office – and we had coffee in the quiet house. The big boys are asleep upstairs with their cousins. I’m feeling pretty good, but also kind of gently sad. I’m so sad for cousin Katie, who is in town, and for Henry’s immediate family (please go sign the petition to seek justice for Henry if you haven’t already done so). I’m thinking about our three little babies who were miscarried. And about Wardie, of course.

And mostly I’m thinking about Rainbow’s birthmother, whom I’ve christened Noelle in some upcoming online writing. I failed again to get a mother’s day card to her – I’m SO BAD about remembering to send cards for special dates – but, like last year and the year before, I will write her a letter to let her know she was in my thoughts on mother’s day. I hope it’s an easy day for her, and that she feels pride and happiness knowing that Rainbow is in the world and is happy and thriving. I know she has grieved for him, and that it’s harder than I can imagine to carry a baby while planning to choose adoption, but she made it so that this amazing little boy is in the world today. She brought him here. A gift beyond measure.

I read this essay by Erma Bombeck this morning for the first time. I thought it would be another tongue in cheek, Erma Bombeck sort of thing, but it’s actually very poignant and perfect. Soon Goonie will bring Rainbow home from his overnight at her house, and I’ll get to love on that sweet boy. And then we will bury the ashes of Daddy J’s grandparents at the local cemetery. And then we’ll let the cousins play and visit with family on this beautiful summery day. And I’ll talk to my mom on the phone and make sure she knows how much I love her, and I’ll hug Rockinrolla and Brad tight. Delicious ambiguity, indeed.

If you are looking for an answer this Mother’s Day on why God reclaimed your child, I don’t know. I only know that thousands of mothers out there today desperately need an answer as to why they were permitted to go through the elation of carrying a child, and then to lose him or her to miscarriage, stillbirth, accident, violence, disease or drugs.

Motherhood isn’t just a series of contractions; it is a state of mind. From the moment we know life is inside us, we feel a responsibility to protect and defend that human being. It’s a promise we can’t keep. We beat ourselves to death over that pledge. “If I hadn’t worked through the eighth month….” “If I had only……”

The longer I live, the more convinced I become that surviving changes us. After the bitterness, the anger, the guilt, and despair are tempered by time, we look @ life differently.

This may seems like a strange Mother’s day column, on a day when joy and life abound for millions of mothers throughout the country. But it’s also a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no other mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back.

In the face of adversity, we are not permitted to ask “Why me?” You can ask, but you won’t get an answer. Maybe you are the instrument who is left behind to perpetuate the life that was lost and appreciate the time you had with them to do it.

The late Gilda Radner summed it up pretty well. “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned the hard way that some poems don’t rhyme and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. LIFE is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity.”

very special rainbows

And I can’t even look at this site without having tears spring to my eyes, much less look through the waiting children photos and info.

It both humbles me and makes me proud to be human that organizations like Reece’s Rainbow exist. How wonderful that there are people who will devote their time and energy to helping these innocent little souls find homes, and how beautiful that there are people who are ready to welcome these special needs children into their families with open arms. What amazing families must be born from that act.

I wanted to post the link to do a little bit toward raising awareness about this family building opportunity. Individuals can also donate to help make adoption affordable for those parents who are interested in the process.

first little soldier

So, I have a piece published on Babble, and I’m sort of nervous about the whole thing. It’s very personal, and it’s all just out there. So far there has been one friendly comment, which was nice, but will the trolls come out of the woodwork and smell fresh meat? Will people pull quotes out of context and use them to prove what a dumbass/callous bitch I am? Will people say cruel/judgey things about my life and choices? Will I be able to shrug it off?

(uhhhhhh)

That said, I am super, duper excited about it. I have sent off a bazillion (well, maybe eight) pieces to Babble, Adoptive Families, and Parenting, and am all hopeful to get something else published very soon. Also am working on the racy romance novel (up to about 17,000 words of 55-50,000) and that’s fun.

The writing is a big dream of mine, and it feels so great to take this first step of getting paid to write something and put it out there. My job-job (writing passages for and editing/revising English standardized tests) is something I really love, and it has the added bonus of getting my writing muscles all limbered up.

Daddy J fully supported me in converting our attic into my office, and it’s perfect place to work. It’s a beigey soft and coral pink, totally feminine and comfortable, with shaggy tan carpet. The perfect little nest to hatch dreams.

So, go check it out if you get a chance.

(holds fluttering stomach)

I hope you like it.

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