Friday, May 28, 2010

belonging

I was on the phone with my mom for about forty-five minutes the other night. She has some new developments in her life that I have mixed feelings about and we were hashing it out like the pals we are. Baby J tuned up about halfway through our conversation, needing a tummy rub and restored binky, and Andrew quickly abandoned his RT homework to take care of it. He knows better than to interrupt one of my long talks with my mother.

Sometimes I feel like the stuff that makes my mom such a wonderful mother works against her just a bit. She is such a big hearted person, such a passionate nurturer that I feel concerned she will be taken advantage of. She won't, of course. My mom is many things, but one of them is wicked smart. Still, I feel overprotective and I worry. Also, I don't like to share, and I just don't have the sort of mother who I will ever get to have all to myself. I wouldn't want that sort, of course, but that doesn't prevent me from getting a little worked up about it now and again.

I was thinking about all this stuff when the latest Open Adoption Roundtable came across the pipeline. Here is the question:

Imagine your child as an adult describing their open adoption experience. What do you hope they will be able to say about you? How did you view their other parents? In what ways did you support their relationship with them?

This is such an important question, and one I haven't really considered deeply. The few times I have cast my mind toward the hazy future in which my daughter is all grown up I guess I've pictured her and I having a relationship that is a lot like the one I have with my own mom. I have just assumed that she will be independent, smart, and self-sufficient but that we will be such good friends. Sometimes when I am changing J or playing with her I'll make a mental note about something I want to tell her when she's older, maybe during a late night phone conversation, about what it was like to be her mom. But I haven't thought a ton about what I hope she will have to say about what it was like for her to be my daughter.

Now, that's not really the question being asked. Heather was careful to note that this OA Roundtable question is not about relationships as much as it is about adoption. She was careful to add that "This is an exercise in thinking about our actions and choices from another's perspective."

I hope that when J describes her life in a semi-open or open adoption she will be able to say that she was raised to love and respect her first family, whether she had the option of knowing and meeting them as a child or not. I hope she will know that Andrew and I wanted openness, were willing to work for it. (I hope, of course, that we will have that opportunity.) I hope that she will be able to say that while she had a lot of feelings about being adopted, whatever her feelings were her mom was there to hear them and did her best to understand. I want J to always know that it is okay for her to walk roads that I haven't traveled, that a real and honest exploration of her heritage and identity is a good thing, and will never be a betrayal of her father or I, or of the family that we make together the three (or more) of us. I hope that she knows her first family, that she doesn't have to ever do a search. But if there comes a time when she does need or want to search I hope that she will be able to say that her adoptive mom was completely behind her, totally supported her, and helped her feel like that work was important and valuable.

There is an underlying principle to my approach to parenting, and to other ways of being in relationship, one I hope J is one day able to articulate and understand.

You see, I don't have the sort of daughter who I will ever get to have all to myself. (I wouldn't want that sort.) The baseline reality is that we all have to share the people we love. We share them with other people, with their first families, with their friends and jobs, vocations and passions. In a very real way no other person, ultimately, belongs to anyone but herself. In another very real way, we all belong to multiple and myriad others: to the family who births us and the one who raises us, to the communities that shape us, the friends and lovers who take and hold pieces of our hearts and dreams and hurts for us, and the partners who we build lives for and with in the most precious, intimate, and precarious ways. Children are no exception to this. We have a different role in the lives of our children than we do our other family or our peers, but the joy and responsibility of parenting is part and parcel with the joy and responsibility of knowing that my child is also a part of this web of belonging. The gossamer threads that join me to her are not at risk simply because she is also connected in deep and important ways to other people. In fact, one of my primary responsibilities is to open up in her the capacity to build those connections to others, the capacity to both know and own herself and to share that self with other people. I hope that when J describes her experience growing up as our adopted daughter she is able to say that she was encouraged to both find herself and connect that self to her whole family, that despite everything that may be working against her she was raised to truly belong to herself and in the world.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Danger of a Single Story



We watched this as part of my class this weekend, and I wanted to share it here as well. It is worth the time to watch her whole talk. It is less than 20 minutes and quite powerful.

What are the "single stories" that you are telling? Who are they about? Why do you listen/repeat/believe/feel satisfied with them?

I'll write a little about some of mine soon.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

seven months old


Our beautiful girl is seven months old today. It's hard to believe that the sweet, floppy-yet-focused wee baby we met six and a half months ago has blossomed into this big tall grown-up-baby girl.

We finally set up her crib yesterday. She was really too big for the co-sleeper, and all I could think when putting her down in it was how big she is. It is almost a relief to look at her little self sleeping soundly in that giant crib. Not too fast, please!

J has become quite the studious adventurer, lunging at anything that interests her and experimenting with new sounds, movements and behaviors every day. I have a hunch that she's developing an extroverted personality, like me. Andrew swears she favors her left hand, like him. I know deep in my soul that the parts of my life, work and play, spent with our daughter are some of the most formative and creative moments I will ever know.

If you think pictures are nice, trust me - my kid in person is
unimaginably better. Happy seven months of life, sweet baby J. ♥

Friday, May 21, 2010

Someday I will once again blog about things of substance and meaning.

But not today.

Instead I will simply tell you that I am alive, kicking, and quite busy with various activities. I wish I could say that those activities include regular exercise but alas despite plans to re-start Couch-to-5k, attend yoga classes regularly and do lap swimming twice a week I haven't done much more than strap on the baby and go for short walks to close parks since my yoga class ended in April.

Both my classes this quarter deal in some very primary ways with issues of race and privilege in the USA. It's sobering stuff, and I am challenged to process it in ways that are healthy and not crippling-guilt-inducing. One of the questions emerging for me out of the work is how to take the realities of white privilege and racism and their absolute embededness in our culture and institutional structures and present them to white people in ways that don't shut us down? Because mopey guilt-ridden white people don't necessarily do anyone any good. I'll write more on this later, lest I break my promise to give you a substance-free blog entry.

Finalization of our adoption is taking forever. But there is progress, of sorts. GA agency has finally completed the necessary steps, barring the court appearance, to terminate biological father's rights, and evidently the court date in GA to complete that process will happen in early June. That puts our earliest possible court date in late June. This is assuming the GA agency is speedy in getting the paperwork to our WA lawyer, however. And though our overall experience with the GA agency has been positive I have to admit that we don't have a lot of faith at this point in thier ability to deliver appropriate paperwork in a timely manner. But I know it will happen, and it's hard to be mad when I look at the amazing daughter they found for us. I would, however, like to get that amazing daughter a social security number.

I am in the home stretch for the school quarter - I'll be in class all weekend starting tonight and there are only two weeks left for my weekly class. Summer is a bit lighter - only one class - so I expect to do some decompressing and processing about many many things here in my corner of the blogosphere then.

Monday, May 10, 2010

(my)Mother's Day



My first Mother's Day as a mom was wonderful. Andrew made a big deal about needing to stay home from church to study for midterms and instead made me the cake pictured above and surprised me with it when I got home. My mom was here, and along with my brother and sis-in-law and their kids Sweetie and Cub we took a picnic lunch to Lake Washington and ate it in the sunshine watching mountains and water and blue sky and enjoying each other. At church I was showered with love in the form of salted caramels, hugs and well wishes, and a gorgeous ceramic bowl inscribed with a blessing that brought tears to my eyes. Last night after our weekly building bbq I stayed up late and watched Betty White's SNL on hulu and during her monologue at the part where she said "I feel so loved!" I felt a funny lump in my throat because I know exactly what that is like. ♥

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

Heather at Production not Reproduction said it really well in her post today:
But Mother's/Father's Day (and Valentine's Day, for that matter) draw such distinctions between insider and outsider the way we observe them. And I spent enough time on the outside of both--and have enough people I care about still there--to not be convinced that the sadness the days bring up for so many is really worth it when it's all said and done.


I am going to enjoy my first Mother's day as a mom. But, also, I am remembering, holding in my heart, all of those whose babies are not with them, whose mothers are not here to touch and to hold, and whose hearts are numb with longing for children not yet born or not yet found. I'll post all about my first Mother's Day later - after all it hasn't happened yet. But I want to put this out there. Thanks Heather, for saying it better than I could.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I guess I haven't been posting much...

I just realized this, today, as I was scanning through my reader and wondering where a few of my favorites have been lately. (TG, I'm looking at you.) Then I realized that it's quite likely there are folks out there thinking the same thing about me.

There are a number of factors contributing to my unintentional slow-down in blogging.

* I'm really really busy. This is the easiest excuse. In addition to school, work, church, consulting, and parenting we've had several out-of-town visitors and special events recently.

* I'm thinking really hard. Right now my brain is in "acquire" mode. I'm reading a ton of really intense and pertinent stuff for both of my classes around issues of race and white privilege that will eventually make its way through the various filters and processes in my brain and come out as blog posts. But with so much intake there is a siginificant slow-down on output.

* I've been frying my brain watching television. About three weeks ago I need a serious escape from everything and started watching Bones on Netflix instant streaming. Should I have thought about what I was doing before getting involved with a television show that I have never watched before that has four whole seasons available on Netflix at the click of a mouse? Yes. Yes I probably should have. Especially given how I tend towards the obsessive in my relationship with TV. Since I couldn't really stop hanging out with baby J or Andrew, working, or doing homework I fear it is the blogging that has suffered.

* This blog is on the brink of a change. I have finally decided what I'm going to do, blog-wise, once our adoption of J is finalized. I keep thinking about posts and directions I want to go for after that point. But the finalization is taking forever. We found out a few weeks ago that the agency in Georgia had just started the termination of biological father's rights, something that we had understood would happen right after we took placement. It's nothing to be concerned about, but we are so ready to finalize that it is fairly frustrating to wait and wait. We have hopes that it will happen this month or next. Our final post-placement visit took place in February, so all this time we've pretty much been sitting around waiting for the Georgia agency to get to our paperwork. They will, and it will all happen, but in the meantime I've been sort of stalled on the whole thinking-and-blogging-about-adoption front.

There you have it, internet. I can't promise I'll be much better for the rest of the month. After all this is a busy quarter and I've still got most of a season left of Bones before I'm caught up and have to watch it once a week like the rest of the world. But come summer some things will change and I bet I'll be back to blogging more regularly. ♥