Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm Loving Life

One of my favorite things to do is to drive in the car by myself. I get to do this to and from my carpool everyday commuting to work and back. I play something loud and infectious... and I sing at the top of my lungs. I don't care how I look to other drivers! I just belt it out... imagining that I'm in a movie scene and somehow the song fits perfectly as the soundtrack to that particular moment in my life. Time slows down and I forget the real world momentarily.

I think of the lyrics to one of my all-time favorite songs (Matchbox Twenty's "Real World")...

I wonder what it's like to be a superhero
I wonder where I'd go if I could fly around downtown
From some other planet, I get this funky high on yellow sun
[Superman reference! Eeeek! <-- comic book nerd squeal]
Boy I bet my friends will all be stunned...

I wish the real world would just stop hassling me...


I like to imagine the world with superheros. And little ole me with superpowers. I'd love to fly... or teleport, that could be so useful. When I'm driving, I imagine these things... I remember pre-adult life, before rent and bills and responsibility. Adult life can be hard and tiring and stressful and ridiculous. Sometimes I think my fantasy world inside my head is a much better place. My escape.

And then I remember my beautiful Kal-El. The most handsome 2 month old on the planet. He's my everything. I never could imagine something so fantastic. As much as I like to think and dream and imagine, nothing compares to real life with my little man.

So, I hurry home and sing to him instead... and he sings right back at me. I think he gets me. Ha ha. :)

My little superhero...







Sunday, May 22, 2011

*Cornrows by Alice Anne* - Part II














Not Taking It Personally

Photo: www.fost-adopt.adoptionblogs.com

I'm emotional. I'm a wuss, basically. And I like for people to like me. :/

So, going through the adoption process was DIFFICULT for my poor little ole personality.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, but it's been hard for me to express it all or make it concise or logical... That makes it hard for me to even begin writing.

Blah.

So, I'm just going to write. And see what happens. ... I'm pretty sure it's going to be a novel:

The way we decided to do adoption (because there are tons of ways to pursue it) is set up in such a way that the birth parents have all the power. They can choose who they want to be the parents of their child by going through profiles of couples/families hoping to adopt. And those wanting to adopt can range from hopeful to desperate, depending on how long they've been waiting to adopt or how long they've been trying to have kids in general or how many times they've had failed placements/adoptions. So, some couples feel like they have to win over and impress the birth parents, appearing as "perfect" as possible, throwing themselves at their feet, being at their mercy... just so they can get a baby. It's like dangling a carrot, when at any point in time (up until birth and even some time after, depending on the state's laws) the birth parents can change their mind (and give the carrot to somebody else, or just keep the carrot for themselves).

We wanted to do adoption this way for a few reasons. One, we don't feel like we're ready to "save" a child from dire circumstances, which is the case in a lot of international or foster care adoptions. I don't know if that makes sense, but we wanted to do it in a way where we could avoid prior emotional problems, attachment issues, abuse, etc. At least at first, I don't think we're strong enough to handle that and to give a child under really bad circumstances the kind of attention and care he/she would need. Two, we wanted to be able to tell our child that his birth mother loved him so very much and made the choice for adoption out of love. That's a much gentler way to explain adoption to a child, I think. Again, when we're ready to handle harder situations, I think we can move on to adopting through foster care (which in a lot of cases reeks of neglect rather than love, and not too much choice goes into the matter when parents just can't take care of the child and he/she is taken away from them). That will just be harder and more painful to explain. :( And three, we wanted an open adoption. For the child's sake, knowing his/her birth parents and having a connection with them can be healthy and healing on all sides.

So we went the route of adopting a healthy newborn in an open, domestic adoption. But with it comes a price in that you no longer have much choice about when you will get to adopt or from whom. You just have to wait and then be at the mercy of birth parents and however their decision-making goes. (I'm not saying any of this is bad - I definitely think that birth parents, birth mothers in particular, should have the right to choose whatever they think is best for their baby on their own timetable and they should have the right to choose to change their mind during the state-appointed time periods... I'm just saying it's hard for adoptive couples to feel so powerless.)

With the first birth mother we talked with, I was sooo hopeful. I got excited way too fast and fell in love with the birth mother and her yet-to-be-born little girl as soon as we met her. The birth mother was very beautiful and smart and funny. We met her and then the birth father and then her family. Things were going well, so I thought (and so our caseworker thought). We heard the magical words (words that give a feeling that must be similar to seeing a positive sign on a pregnancy test, I'm sure) that if she went with adoption, it was safe to say she wanted us to be the parents.

And then... things fizzled. I don't know why. She didn't talk to us much about her decision-making and the pros and cons she was facing. She didn't owe us anything, but I felt robbed of something. I hated being out of the loop. Zay kept saying, "I think she's going to parent." The holidays came around and plans fell through to meet with her again. She didn't want to be pressured or given a deadline. We were at her mercy, for sure. And though we definitely were not desperate, we were a little downtrodden about the whole process. And in general it makes you feel like you're supposed to be doing something more than just being yourselves. Like, "What do we do now?"... "What did we do wrong?"... "Are we not good enough?"... The pressure is very apparent and I hated it. I just wanted to stop fReAkInG oUt and be normal, for crying out loud. We kept being honest with her, gave her space, and didn't put on a front. We were willing to meet with her if she wanted, but we left everything up to her. And that was hard.

She decided to parent. I don't know when that decision occurred, because I don't think there was a given moment in which the decision happened... and she didn't communicate this to us until after the decision had been made (actually, she never really came right out and said it)... and there was so much else going on with the next 2 birth mothers who contacted us. Something about all this just rubbed me the wrong way. I hated the lack of communication. I hated that I got emotionally invested and it was ripped out from under me. I hated not having control. I hated the feeling that we were somehow competing with who would be the better parents - her vs Zay & me. I hated that things weren't going smoothly, when I knew one of the issues Zay had with adoption in the beginning was that someone could tell us "no"... I worried that he'd back out if things didn't work out soon. I got sad and angry. And I took her decision and lack of communication personal.

We moved on with the girl who ended up being the birth mother to our gorgeous son Kal... but I didn't easily let the thoughts go about that precious baby girl who was born a month before Kal. It was a struggle for me. The mother even texted me a picture of her after she was born. I couldn't understand why she would do that. It hurt so bad. I was at work and one of my co-workers was like, "Yeah - that's like you're starving and she sent you a picture of food. 'Remember when I was going to give you this food? Well, sike!'" I laughed, but I was devastated because we still didn't have a child in our arms at that point. Zay didn't want to look at any pictures at all, so he avoided it. I kept thinking, "Was there something else we could've done? Is there still something we could do? Why did she consider adoption and then decide against it?"

Wow, I didn't know we were going to be so fragile. But with adoption and parenthood, your heart is just so open and vulnerable. We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. Zay kind of blocked it all out. But everything just hurt my feelings and made me angry. At who or what - I don't know. It's definitely all emotional, though. Because when I think about it logically, I know that we didn't do anything "wrong"... unless being too honest and too patient weren't the smart things to do. I also know that adoption is not something every young pregnant girl should turn to, and the fact that she considered it as an option and then decided against it shows how smart and loving she really is (how many girls actually consider all their options and think it through??). It was her decision to make, not ours. I also know that we wouldn't have Kal right now had she been more decisive or if the timing had been a little different. I am so grateful for that. I also know that the 2nd birth mother who wanted to talk to us turned out to have been a scammer (getting money and using services from multiple agencies at once) and was trying to put her baby up for adoption against the will of the birth father. Drama we really didn't need! Because we were waiting for a decision from this first birth mother, we missed out on communicating with this scammer... I am so grateful for that.

Things worked out the way they were supposed to, and some of those reasons are really evident after the fact. I know I learned a lot of lessons (like, actually really learning that the race of my children doesn't matter - I had a difficult discussion with myself about my "preferences" and why I feel a certain way towards one race vs. another). I also know that we needed to have some disappointment in order to know what the joy would feel like. And I know some of my limits now and some of the boundaries I want to have in the future - I don't want to meet birth parents right off the bat, because once I meet them that's it... I know I'll have a hard time letting go. And I don't want to share our personal contact information on our profile, because I'd rather they go through our caseworker if they're really serious about it. I'll be more careful with Facebook befriending and blog sharing, just because it's hard to see pictures of the baby that could've been ours and I'd like to be a little more uncensored in my thoughts on my blog without worrying that I'm offending anyone. Even now, the "wrong" people could be reading this and I've just got to stop caring and be honest.

The whole thing was a great learning experience for many, many reasons (but nobody likes learning experiences as they're going through them). Talking about this has helped me move on and process all the negative emotions I've felt up until recently. It bothered me that I got so angry, especially since I didn't know where to direct my anger or pinpoint the source (it was a lot of things combining at once), but I know it's normal and I'm not going to beat myself up about it. I'll just be better prepared next time to not take it personally. If it was an easy decision and if all girls just placed their babies for adoption with the first couple that they liked, adoption would be a pretty shallow and heartless institution. I'm so glad it's not.




The Heartache of Infertility

 The day of Kal's baby blessing at Church - 5/22/2011

Last year's Mother's Day, I wasn't doing too well. When you want something so badly and it's mostly out of your hands, you can feel helpless and hopeless... I let it drag me down for awhile there. I call it the "infertility sting," and a lot of infertiles out there know what I'm talking about! You think you've accepted it and then OUCH, it hits you in the heart again.

Many a blog has quoted Barbara Eck Manning when she said, "My infertility resides in my heart as an old friend. I do not hear from it for weeks at a time, and then, a moment, a thought, a baby announcement or some such thing, and I will feel the tug-maybe even be sad or shed a few tears. And I think, "There's my old friend." It will always be part of me..."

I understood this more when I was childless. But since we adopted Kal, I have no desire to dwell on those negative feelings anymore. I consider it a blessing that I don't care too much about ever getting pregnant. The pregnancy itself wasn't what I was looking forward to, just the child. Adoption isn't a cure for infertility, but I wasn't seeking a cure. I was seeking the end result.

Is it weird that I have little to no desire to be a co-creator with God? I don't know what exactly makes me hesitate to even try fertility treatments again, but I'm just not drawn to it like I once was. Once I fell in love with adoption, I fell hard. Positive stories about adoption warm my heart. I almost feel like the only reason I went down that path was to discover adoption and find the real way my family was supposed to be created.

I don't know if I'll always feel this way... Especially since Zay still really does want to have at least one biological kid with me someday. I won't deny him that if it's something really important to him. And I think it would be interesting (is that the right word?) to get to go through pregnancy once. But we're not talking about it yet. We're so involved in loving on Kal that another child seems off in the distant future. Zay is so in love with Kal ("That's my boy!" ha ha)...it's almost hard to imagine loving another child as much as we do this one! (I'm sure a lot of first-time parents feel that way...)

To me, creating more children in this world doesn't feel like the right path for me to take. Infertility just made that kind of thinking a little easier. There's so many children here already, being born this second, who need a good home. For me, getting pregnant and having a biological child just doesn't feel necessary. *shrugs*

I'm reminded of a quote from the movie "Martian Child" (amazing movie, by the way):  "I don't want to bring another kid into this world. But how do you argue against loving one that's already here?"





Monday, May 9, 2011

"Brown!"

My nephew just learned his colors. I didn't even know he knew them until he randomly started pointing at things in my living room and naming what color they were. I praised his little smarty pants!

Then he pointed at Kal and said, "Brown!"

I could not stop laughing.

Now, in all actuality he could've been pointing to his hair... or his eyes. But it made me think about his race and how his skin won't look quite like mine or Zay's. We'll have to talk about race and skin color when he gets older and teach him what matters and what doesn't. It made me think about this blog and this article. Is saying "brown" okay? I think so. I use brown, cocoa, creamsicle, Hershey's, milk chocolatey. All in reference to my little booger boy. Lol. He better be proud to be brown! Just like I embrace my pale, pale skin (I tell myself all the time that "pale is the new tan"), and just like Zay is a black man through and through. We're all different and that's what makes us unique and awesome.

Good job, Evander! Let's celebrate all the colors! There's nothing wrong with noticing. :)





Monday, May 2, 2011

Settling In

It's been so fun trying to figure out this whole new world of parenting. I love it! I feel like I have purpose and motivation and a tinge of *happiness* touches everything I do now. I enjoy work more. I enjoy chores more. Everything I do feels like it matters, because everything I do now is for him.

Seriously, I can't believe I actually got the miracle I had been praying for. And secretly I'm thanking God for putting the desire for motherhood in my heart, because I was searching for something for so long... but I honestly didn't know what that something was until we started fertility treatments and looking into adoption.

But now when I look at him, I know I found what I was looking for. I mean, LOOK AT THIS FACE!

 Kal, very satisfied after his meal

I get to wake up to this face every morning, be greeted with a huge bare-mouth grin when I scoop him up after work, and cuddle with him in all his teeny-tiny cuteness at night. I'm in heaven. :)




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