Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

I don’t have a specific agenda today.  I just wanted to show up, in part because I was struck this morning–for no particular reason–by my die-hard readers who show up themselves from time to time just in case I’ve written anything, even if I haven’t written in a long time.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised given my own habits (I STILL click on AfrindieMum at least once a month) but I’m still a little surprised that someone would bother for this particular blog.  So that makes me feel good, and it makes me want to show up once in a while.  Here I am!

Re: adoption…there isn’t much to write right now.  It still bothers me that we can’t adopt right now and won’t be able to for quite some time, but I’ve been able to find some peace about that.  Partly it’s because we have so much to do with raising the one we have and finishing school so we can actually get jobs that adoption gets crowded out on a regular basis.  But my heart still melts when I see babies, like it did last night at the Snapper’s early birthday party, and I pretty much cannot watch any adoption shows on Mommy channels.  They remind me that I have a huge adoption-sized hole in my heart.  I’ve stopped researching specific avenues, because I think we have to see where we’re going to settle first, and that will have to wait until we get jobs.  Between the economy and the tightness (tightitude?) of my field, it would be foolish to put more strictures on a search.  The right thing to do, the only thing to do, really, is to see what kind of home and community we will be working with and choose a mode of adoption based on those circumstances.

Otherwise, I’m still baking bread and loving it, the Snapper is alternately delightful and tantrummy, I have too many friends to count here (so grateful…), the first snow is flying…


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The Dam Breaks

Boomerific began as a way to work through issues related to our first adoption attempt which, as you know, resulted in lots of reading, personal angst and redefinition, soul-searching, an outlay of money, and ultimately three failed attempts at bringing a child home (in two of those cases, though, children stayed with their mothers, so it’s a mixed story for sure).

Then along came the Snapper through old-fashioned means, then exams and a dissertation, then law school.  Attic Man and I came to the conclusion that we had to cease adoption talk in the practical sense, as we have a tendency to act too soon once an idea takes hold.  Seeing as we aren’t exactly in the ideal position to adopt, it was a smart choice.

But lately I’ve been feeling the stirrings of family fever and I’m no longer content to sit around and wait for life to straighten itself out enough for me to start thinking through adoption for our family again.  With Attic Man’s agreement we are going to start really, really tentatively and with all sorts of clauses and exceptions, talking about how to proceed.  The idea is to have some kind of a highly flexible plan in place so that the minute we’re ready we’ll have worked all kinds of things out and can go forward with an adoption process.

(Dear Attic Man and my friend A.: I have finished revising that conference paper!  Really I have!  A., it’s in your inbox.)

Preliminary thoughts: I’ve still been reading all the adoption blogs I did before and even some new ones, so I’m hip to the issues of open records, birth certificates, enforceable open adoption agreements, etc.  My thinking about domestic infant adoption has also developed considerably compared to when we started this whole thang years ago.  While many private and agency adoptions in this country are ethical (from a procedural standpoint), many are not; many first mothers and fathers speak of buying the rhetoric of ‘moving on’ only to later realize they could have parented and will never recover from losing their children; and really, there is not the need for domestic adoption to the extent that I once thought.  There will always be some need for domestic adoption as an option for mothers who absolutely cannot care for their children–but there are already more than enough people lined up to parent those children.

Since I’ve parented a newborn I no longer feel the same kind of baby fever I once did (maybe it didn’t help that said newborn was not exactly the easiest baby…) and so along with my uneasiness about domestic adoptions (not outright rejection) I am more focused on need–who are the children that are in most need of homes right now?  We’ve talked over adopting from foster care but at this point that is not the right option for us (I may elaborate on this later, if I can work it out in a coherent and sensitive way), so that leads us, maybe, to international adoption of a young child who, despite all other attempts, is not able to stay with his or her family in their country of origin.  Of course this is uncharted territory for me (not for Attic Man) and there are layers of loss we haven’t fully thought through.  I’m reading Third Mom all the time, especially because we might be interested in Korean adoption…

I’m just blathering here so that I can clear this out of my mind for the moment and get back to academic work–anyway, we’re back.  I hope a few of you are still reading because I have the feeling we’re going to need some help navigating it all…

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Dear fellow adoption-related bloggers,

I saw Juno today. I waited so long to see it because your opinions mean something to me, especially those of you who have experience navigating the treacherous ethical and emotional terrain of real-life adoption, as first parents, adoptive parents, or adoptees. I was afraid to see it, even.

But I saw it and I liked it and I disagree that it makes light of adoption, that “If you knew nothing about adoption going into the film, you’d learn that adoption is sweet and birth mothers have no issues” (Shannon*). Maybe if you only read the script–what I saw was a pretty intense subtext that argued for anything BUT a happy ending. In my reading those humorous moments don’t make light of adoption; they are Juno’s defense mechanism kicking into high gear. She says herself that she’s dealing with stuff that’s way beyond her maturity level. Isn’t it plausible that her sixteen-year-old self deals with emotional trauma like this by making outrageous statements, by jumping to abortion, then not-abortion, then adoption, without thinking (willfully resisting contemplation), with sardonic humor to make it all survivable? Just watch the faces: in every conversation between Juno and Bleeker (except the last ones), note that as Juno bandies about her dismissive language their eyes are both red and brimming with tears, that there is discernible fear and anger behind them and that their voices crack on the edge of what they’re dealing with. The movie is ultimately about Juno’s flight from her situation, her attempt to coast on top of it without having to address it, and her failure to do so 100% of the time. In this way Bleeker is the character most emotionally honest. He’s willing to feel his feelings without reservation. Juno, on the other hand, is too overwhelmed to do the same.

The end of the movie was NOT happy–in the next to the last scene we again have the incongruity of Juno’s words and her demeanor: as Juno’s voice-over says, “Bleeker didn’t want to see the baby; neither did I, really. It just didn’t feel like ours,” Juno is lying in the recovery bed weeping the kind of slow, painful tears that say anything but “it just didn’t feel like ours,” and Bleeker is there, too, crushed with the weight of what is happening to them.

Yes, they are riding bikes and playing guitars. But I got the sense that Juno–and I firmly believe the directing leads us there–is not done with it. A sense of uneasiness hangs over the movie. It doesn’t suggest a fairytale ending for either Juno or Vanessa, who has lost a husband in the process (and I love both the critique and the dismantling of the happy adoptive couple stereotype). What it does is give us the standard text and a deeply critical subtext that keeps bubbling to the surface in ways that the characters cannot completely control, like when Juno storms out of the couple’s home, having learned that they are divorcing (the happy future she imagines for her baby is destroyed), and pulls over to the side of the road in one of her two emotionally honest moments to sob.

I don’t think that the movie dismisses the parenting option. I think Juno the character does. Remember that it’s her stepmother that brings up how hard it would be to give up the baby for adoption in their very first conversation about it, and the stepmother that defends Juno’s theoretical abilities to parent after the ultrasound tech makes a snide and rude remark about Juno’s adoption plans (“thank God for that,” the tech mutters under her breath). I don’t think that “this movie sent a strong message that in the end, the baby went to the ‘better’ parent, the more worthy and deserving parent, the right parent and to the parent whom the child was meant to go to all along” (Paula*). I think that Juno buys into the myth, that she assumes she is not ready to be a mother and that Vanessa is better equipped (and that the baby was “really hers all along”), and I think the movie is critical of our culture’s uncritical acceptance of that myth. Juno gets off the hook because the movie argues it’s her way of getting through the pregnancy, however flawed it may be, but the audience does not. Every time we want to laugh there is a face that (should) stop us. The movie is a tragedy cloaked in a comedy; its form is technically a classic comedy (meet happy hero, hero gets into trouble, hero overcomes, return to status quo), but its underbelly is anything but. I spent the rest of today feeling heavy and unsettled.

As a footnote, most of the offensive material about adoption (the Chinese adoption comments in particular), abortion, abortion clinics, prolife protestation, birthmothers, adoptive parents, pregnant teens, was bitingly satirical in my reading. I recognize satire by two things: its outlandishness, and its incongruity with other, more elemental features of a text.

On one point I must agree with all y’all. That sound track is bitchin’.**

*I must point out that I respect both Shannon’s and Paula’s views on adoption and their ability to read and analyze cultural texts. We disagree here, but I don’t think their readings are uninformed.

**I’m torn on the MLA rules for this one. Does the apostrophe in “bitchin'” come before or after the period?

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Pregnant and Scared?

My friend Shannon has a great post up about the realities (good and bad) of adoption.  Please read it!  And please know that you are stronger than you think.  Becoming a mother is one of the most amazing things that can happen to you, even when your circumstances are tough.  You are not alone.

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Ah…cup of tea, napping baby toddler (sigh). I may get to take a shower before noon! Score!

1. The Snapper is taking up two of our better habits, reading and music, and this is making us very, very happy. Just this week he has begun to bring me books to read! Thus begins the phase of my life wherein I read books over and over until I have them memorized. I read Hands, Hands, Fingers, Thumbs (a personal favorite, thankfully) eleven times this morning. Paddington Takes a Bath was a close second at eight times. Mind you, he can’t yet sit still for a read without another book or toy in his hands to manipulate, and often enough cannot sit through to the end of the book. The boy must always be moving. However, if he’s standing and able to clap, lean in closer, or take a lap around the room, he can stay engaged in a whole book. It helps if the book is rhythmic or musical, which brings me to music. He’s a dancing, singing, music-lovin’ fool. Please don’t tell me this is just his developmental stage. I would like to believe that he has an extra-special love for music and that he got it from us, the People Who Must Listen to Music at All Times. His favorites? Bluegrass and Jazz. Hot dog. And also, and this is all Attic Man’s doing, Leonard Nimoy’s, um, breathtaking version of “If I Were a Carpenter” and the vocal stylings of Mrs. Miller (we like “Catch a Falling Star” the best). As you may have guessed, the boys have taken to listening to Special X on XM radio. It’s…well, it’s very special.

2. New Years’ Resolutions: Become fiscally responsible; stop playing amateur psychologist; read more for pleasure.

3. Yay for having child care again! We are trying two full days a week instead of four half-days. I hope I can be more efficient–it’s hard to get going on work only to look at the clock and find it’s almost time to quit for the day. I’ll also be working in Iowa City instead of at home so (hopefully) I’ll be less distracted and more focused. Honestly, when we found our child care I felt fantastic. It is such a relief. But then again the last time we found child care I felt the same way, and it turned out to be a bust in terms of my productivity and later reliability. Anyway, the center we chose is really small and just lovely. They do all the things that the big, fancy, expensive preschools do, educationally speaking, but it’s affordable and homey. But not too homey, of course; it’s immaculate and well-organized. They have a great protocol for transitioning kids to the next age room, which at the Snapper’s age is six months at a time (I like this–there’s just too big a difference between a 12- and 18-month old child).

4. Thanks for the tip on cords, Molly. I do have two pairs, but sadly they are out of the rotation until I lose a little more of the bulge. A friend of mine did direct me toward Fair Indigo, which is perfect. Classic styles, fair trade, affordable. I can’t figure out why they’re not listed in Co-op America’s Green Pages, though…they have enough mainstream press coverage that I’m betting they’re for real but I’d feel better if C.A. endorsed them.  I am still working the thrift store/consignment circuit so I may not need to worry about it anyway.

5. Adoption. Ugh. I haven’t taken a break from it even though we won’t be adding to our family for a couple of years. Attic Man and I aren’t even seriously talking about it because if we start we will end up getting into the process way too soon because we won’t be able to help ourselves. But I’m always reading and thinking about it, thanks in large part to my friends in the computer. My struggle right now is that I am taking a serious, hard-core, no holds barred look at the inevitable, inherent losses in adoption and how it is fundamentally different from doing it the old-fashioned way (and becoming a mother is no small part of this recent preoccupation). I’m not saying I’m closing the door on adoption. I definitely still want to add to our family with as many children as we can afford/look after/still keep our careers and parent well with. I definitely don’t want to get pregnant again. And it’s not because “I never want to push a baby out of there.” It’s more than that; when I was pregnant and especially when I was going through my long labor, I constantly felt like my toes were gripping the line dividing life and death. It was a level of vulnerability that scared me, and I didn’t like it. I don’t want to go through it again. That it gave me the Snapper redeems it, of course, and makes it more than fear–it was beautiful, too. Still don’t want to do it again. Adoption is just as scary, just as (or more) dangerous emotionally. Somehow I feel better equipped for its scariness, even having gone through a failed placement. I could do that again. I do want to make sure that we go about it in the most ethical and compassionate and respectful way possible next time around and every time after that, and I think the acknowledgment of its danger and the acceptance of its losses will help us do that. I hope.

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Adoptee Rights

Watch this short video and be spurred to action!

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Advice needed

If anyone’s still reading–

I’d like to nurse the Snapper as long as he’s interested, but I’d also like to sustain lactation until we adopt our next child (probably 2-3 years from now, and the Snapper turns 1 next month).  I’ve googled the heck out of the topic but can’t find out how long after weaning one can sustain a milk supply from pumping alone.  Anybody know the answer or where I can find out?  I don’t mind pumping and would donate the milk in the meantime.


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