Archive for July, 2007

My little Meme

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Margie over at Third Mom http://www.thirdmom.blogspot.com who is one cool mom, Amom, wisewoman, blogger and all-around good egg) responded to a meme and asked her readers who would also like to join in.  I’m taking this as a form of adult conversation and since that is a rarity in my life of late, I’m jumping at the chance.

 

1) You recently brought your absolutely adorable daughter Isabel into your family from Kyrgyzstan. What drew you to Kyrgyzstan?
When my husband and I decided on international adoption, our very next question was which agency were we most sure was ethical and then once we decided on our agency, we talked about the countries they represented.  Initially, my husband felt very intrigued with Romania or Ukrane because his family is from that area of the world.  But, Romania had long since stopped adoptions after the uncovering of the atrocities happening in their orphanages and Ukrane was not participating in adoptions at that time, we listened to what countries were facilitating adoptions.  Both Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan came up in discussion with our agency director.  I became quickly interested in central Asia I think because that idea of that part of the world, where it is neither the far east, nor eastern Europe, nor the middle East, but rather a meeting of all of those worlds, that it truly captured my imagination.  I felt very drawn to what I read about the countryside and people of Kyrgyzstan.  The Kyrgyz are a very gentle people.  It was what I read in everything about Kyrgyzstan.  Both of my trips to Kyrgyzstan confirmed this, but these are the things that pulled me to Kyrgyzstan.  We quickly proceeded to start our homestudy and dossier.  We never looked back.
2) Because you are an adoptive parent and an adoptee, you bring a unique perspective to discussion of adoption issues. What are some ways these experiences influences your thoughts about the other? For example, how has your adoptive parenting been influenced by being an adoptee, and vice versa?
That’s a question and a half!   I should mention that I am an adoptee in reunion for 18 years and at the time of my reunions with my parents, I was actively involved in adoption reform and activism.  I belonged to Alma, AAC,  and CUB and an was one of seven women who formed an women’s adoptee support group that met once a week for over two years.  So, coming from that, back then I had made two decisions:
1. I would never adopt
2. That after going through those years of reunion, support and activism, I was “done” with adoption being an issue in my life.
Wrong & Wrong

So, after going through years of thinking we would have one child and I was pretty much feeling ok with that, one day it occured to me that we *could* adopt.  It was just a concept.  I was only going to be comfortable in adopting a child who had no other chance to have a family and that was the determining factor in international adoption.  Kyrgyzstan has laws that protect the mother who has already signed relinquishment papers six months to change her mind.  The people in Kyrgyzstan also have an opporutnity to adopt the children who are in baby houses and orphanages.  I felt like I could be comfortable with that kind of process.  With my background, it wasn’t going to be alright with me to have a woman hand over her baby to me.  This is just speaking for myself and knowing what I could live with and what I couldn’t.  With what I know about Isabel’s mother’s choices and how she never wavered and with other things in the adoption papers that are only for Isabel to know, I am more than comfortable with her coming to our family, to be my daughter and for us to love her.   

In my parenting, I am very aware of a few things that I do and that I have done with Suzannah that come out of being an adoptee.  I believe that you should always responsive to who your child is.  What that means to me is, every child is born with intrinsic traits, strengths, weaknesses, and individual “stuff” for lack of a better word.  It is the job of a good parent to be looking for those, and coaxing them out, championing your child so that she may grow into the best person she can be while maintaining their individuality.  For a parent to impose their own baggage and expectations on a child is just about the worst way to parent a child.  So, with those ideas in mind, for me, this is especially true in raising a child who was not born to you.  I respond to every cry, smile, wimper and inquisitive look in a way that I feel is validating.  I feel that attachment parenting is especially important in adopted infants.  Down the line, I will always make her feelings important and I will look for feelings of loss and/or acting out but I will not assume every issue she has is adoption related.  I will tell her that she isn’t alone in her feelings and that I understand how she might be feeling about some of how she feels in being adopted.  I do have to defer to her and others on trans-racial adoption issues, but luckily we have the PACT camp not far from where we live and that is exciting. 

Also, now that I have adopted, and now am a blogger…I can honestly say that I am not ‘done’ with my adoption  issues.  Of course I’m not.  So, I’m back as activist, but not as much as I was because I’m older now and, well, I have these two amazing girls to raise.  I have joined PACT, bastard nation, Ethica, and the Evan B. Donaldson institute.  Full circle.  Never ending circle. 

I’m really glad I adopted, for so many reasons.

3) Taking Kyrgyzstan out of the running (because I’m guessing it would top the list), where would you go and what would you do for your dream vacation?

Oh, this one I already know.  I’ve thought of it many times.  I’d like to rent a house in the countryside in France for the entire summer.  You invite only your most fun friends to come and visit for a week here or there.  This vacation isn’t filled with activities.  In the morning you take a swim or a walk.  Then we all walk into a village where you get your day’s bread, cheese, produce, etc.  and then maybe eat lunch or walk back to the  house.  You take a nap with your daughters.  Then, around 4 or 5 we all start cooking and then we eat our dinner.  There is no tv and so we read or walk into town and listen to music.  I would love something very simple and beautiful like that where being very close with my family taking part in simple pleasures were the most important things.

4) Like many of the friends I’ve made online, I know primarily through discussions of adoption. But what else makes you tick? What are your artistic and creative outlets?

I was raised amongst artists and so a lot of that rubbed off on me.  I love for my home to feel inviting from the minute you walk up to the front door.  I like my home to feel rustic, open, welcoming and light.  I am by trade, a cook.  I worked as a baker and pastry chef for many years and that is still something that is very important in my life.  Nothing makes me happier than to bring a delicious and warming meal to the table for people I love.  I am interested in buying my groceries at farmer’s markets, I try to cook with organics as much as possible and what is in season.  For a dear friend’s birthday last night I made a dinner of roasted leg of lamb, a salad of baby greens with heirloom beans and tomatoes, roasted rosemary potatoes and plum almond upside-down cake with vanilla ice cream. I also love to garden both flowers and vegetables.  I also dabble in knitting, needlework and mosaic.

5) When my husband and I adopted our second child, our daughter, someone told me the saying “one is fun, two is ten.” And in our case, it seemed to apply, LOL! Are you experiencing an exponential increase in your level of parenting activity now that your second daughter is with you? Do you get any sleep (asked tongue in cheek after reading “When Co-Sleeping Goes Wrong . . .”

That is so funny!!  You know, the only thing that has truly increased to beyong capacity is the laundry.  It’s everywhere…the dirty, the clean, the in-between.  The baskets are overflowing.  Suzannah is very interested in changing her clothes often to reflect her mood or if she wants to give a ‘performance’ (which is often)  Isabel is going through a couple of outfits a day with all the spit-up and other bodily functions.  So, if I don’t do multiple loads every day, It’ll take over the house.  Other than that, I feel pretty in charge of the chaos.  We’ll see if that still holds true when Isabel starts walking!

July 18, 2007 at 10:12 pm 3 comments

Reasons for Bottle Feeding

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ISABEL FRESH OUT OF HER BATH

Disclaimer:  I am very much in support of breastfeeding and did so with my daughter Zannie for nearly 18 months which only came to an end when I had surgery and my milk supply went away for good.  When Zannie was born, I spent ten days with a hospital pump and a supplemental nursing system in order to get my milk to come in.  I went to La Leche meetings.  I was into it and so glad I didn’t give up during those first weeks.  So, it is with that in mind that I state the following…

Some People need to bottle feed.  OK?

I live in the land of patchouli and granola girls.  I live in a wonderful community where individuality is celebrated.  I grew up here and I love it here.  But I have to say that I keep getting this double take when people see me feeding Isabel with a bottle.  I ignored it at first, but it keeps happening.  Now it’s beginning to annoy me.  Finally, I think I’ve figured out that what people are reacting to is that Isabel is a small baby and I’m bottle feeding and people are wondering how I could possibly be giving my baby formula.  I was thinking about it and there are many reasons that people might be excluded from breast feeding and so why are we so quick to judge one another?  Is it the mommy wars? (My boobs are better than yours…)  Is it a general feeling of superiority? (Only an idiot would choose not to breast feed…) I mean, really….what is behind that knitted brow I see when you look at me feeding my beautiful baby.  I’m grateful for these bottles.  (PVC-free, natch…)  For the first time in her life, she is getting the nutrition she needs. 

It would have been wonderful if I could have breast fed Isabel.  (For that matter, it would have been wonderful if she could have been breast fed by her first mother too…) Nursing was a wonderful time I had with Zannie and we both miss it.  (She swears she remembers it…)  If Isabel had been a newborn, I might have tried what some adoptive mothers have successfully done and attempted to breast feed.  But, Isabel was 8 months when we brought her home and had only been given those wacky, Russian bottles with n.ipples that let the baby drink 8 oz in about 5 minutes.  I could never replicate that when I was nursing Zannie, let alone in an adoption scenario. 

So, here was my immediate short list of good reasons why mothers bottle feed and I think I might laminate this and hand it out to the more obvious people whose disapproval is rather evident.

Top 10 Reasons For Bottle Feeding Your Baby

(Or, give me a break ok…I’m doing what I need to do to feed my kid)

1. You’ve adopted

2. You’re babysitting

3. You take medication that is contraindicated to nursing

4. It makes your lovely breasts crack and bleed and then your baby screams

5. You had surgery and the anesthesia made your milk supply weak or go away completely. (Happened to me!)

6. Your baby weans herself on her own.  (My friend’s baby refused to nurse after 4 months)

7. Your husband or partner wishes to experience the close bonding that bottle feeding affords to him/her with the baby which is very important.

8. You’re exhausted, haven’t slept in weeks, & not getting any support for breastfeeding or even those around you are against your breastfeeding.

9. There weren’t enough community resources to help you right after giving birth.  Getting your milk to come in is difficult for many women.  Without my lactation consultant, I don’t think I would have been successful in breastfeeding.

10.  And last but not least, sometimes women just decide not to.  And while I absolutely support breastfeeding and think that all women should at least try to breastfeed, it doesn’t mean that if I walk by a mom in a restaurant or a park and I see her feeding her baby with a bottle, that I should whip my head around to make sure if I was seeing right.  Her baby will be fine and is getting proper nutrition from the formula in that bottle.

That’s what I wish would go through other people’s heads when they’re watching me feed my girl.  No, that formula isn’t full of all the incredible goodness of mother’s milk, but the whole time Isabel drinks a bottle, we are looking at each other and she is tapping her fingers on mine and she is curling into me while I’m rocking her gently.  It’s very, very sweet and intimate.  It’s wonderful. Heavenly even. 

I just had to get that out there.  Carry on.

July 6, 2007 at 10:59 pm 18 comments

Some of her best friends are adopted…

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Subversivewriter is causing quite a stir amongst adoption bloggers and for good reason.  Not only are her posts arrogant, but her responses reveal someone completely unable to see any other point but her own.  It’s this kind of thinking in potential adoptive parents that takes away the respectibility of some adoptive parents who actually want to put their children’s needs ahead of their own. 

This was my response to one of her posts.  I wanted to put it here because she has deleted my other comments on her blog which were calm and reasoned which I cannot say for her responses back to me. 

“But can you not see, at the stripped down barest level of the argument that adoption and surrogacy can lead to great pain and lifelong issues for the child born of these situations? Adoptees are angry for good reason. That so many huge decisions are made for adoptees and left with erased histories, not legally entitled to their own documents, and many, many other reasons leave the children who grow up as adoptees with a great sense of loss.

What also angers adoptees is the pervasive attitude today among most people interested in having children by adoption or surrogacy is the blatent and outright entitlement they feel with regard to raising children not born to them. It seems as though if we question that in any way, to you we’re homophobic and nothing could be further from the truth. It’s the notion of “I want a baby. If these people here won’t give me one, I’ll create one and pay someone to do it.” Your message is one of the entitlement and ownership bolstered with the word ‘homophobia’ to try and build your case for why you should be given a baby. That’s not subversive…it’s just, well, obnoxious.

Why is it so offensive to you that adoptees accept their ciucumstances with their jaws locked in a permanent smile? Just because it makes you happy and you feel that you should be a parent, does not translate to the automatic right to have whomsoever you choose to be your child, regardless of sexual preference.”

She did respond with unnecessary meanness and I responded that I wasn’t all black and white and anti-adoption and to please just deal with MY opinions but she deleted that post too…sigh…one day I will get some street cred…I swear.

Go…read for yourselves….

July 3, 2007 at 1:21 pm 12 comments


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