Friday, June 25, 2010

mine to know and...

This is the OA Roundtable #17:
Are there any things that you don’t want the other members of your triad to know—or that you don’t want to know about them? I’ve heard first mothers talk about not sharing their birth stories with adoptive parents because those are for the adoptees and for themselves only. I've also heard of adoptees concealing their reunions from adoptive parents so as not to cause them pain. What don’t you want shared in your adoptive relationships?

The only parts of our adoption process and parenting that I hesitate to be completely open about with whomever I choose are the parts that don't belong to me, those parts of J's story that I didn't experience with her, for example. Or the few things we know for sure about Z and her situation at placement and currently. Parts of "the" story that are not parts of "my" story per se.

But there is a part of my story that sometimes I wish I could hide, and feel quite private about. It is the part where we sought medical help to get pregnant. I don't like to think about those experiences very much, and I struggle with feelings of regret that we even went there.

So, this is clearly about me and my issues. I have a lot of friends who read here - fellow adoptive parents and women who I met through my experiences with infertility - who have different experiences and feelings about fertility struggles than I do. I want to be clear that my experiences are not in any way commentary or judgment on anyone else's feelings or experience.

"So," Y said to me, maybe the second time we spoke on the phone. "Why are you all adopting... you couldn't have any of your own?"

I cringed when she said that.

My discomfort came from a couple sources - I didn't want her to feel sorry for me or to feel like her child was our second-best choice. But I wanted to be honest, so I told her that we tried to get pregnant on our own and with some minor medical intervention and then decided that road wasn't for us. Her response was even more disturbing to me - I forget exactly what her words were, but it was something about how this was justice, how she just kept having babies she couldn't take care of and it was only fitting for her to give one to someone who couldn't get pregnant. I don't think I had much of a response for her, I didn't know what to say in that moment. But I knew that her statement was not what adoption was or ever should be. I didn't want to become a mother because of a perception on anyone's part that I "deserved" it and the first mother didn't. That isn't how it works - and obviously it wasn't. Y ultimately kept her child, and we fully supported her decision to do so.

Now when I look back on our experiences with the infertility business (and it is a business) I feel a little ashamed. Not that we tried to get pregnant before deciding to adopt, but that we got involved in the roller coaster of drugs and fertility doctors after it became obvious that it wasn't happening on "our own." I feel ashamed because that was something I had vowed not to do. And when we were in it I didn't feel good about it - it felt like a desperate gamble for something I didn't even know if I wanted. My experience of all that was that it was a sad and sort of cheap game: roll the dice every cycle and if you get lucky you win. I just wanted to win, and each month that we "lost" was another excuse to feel bad about my body and the wasted money we'd spent on the latest round of drugs and testing.

All in all we quit the game long before we had exhausted all of our options. We were able to get in touch with something that had always been a part of the value system we built into our marriage - that biology is not the last word on who is family to us. It is not even the first word, though it plays an important role in the relationships that have it. I am happy for people who struggle to get pregnant and succeed. I am happy for people who don't struggle to get pregnant and still succeed. I am sad that somewhere in me I knew that road wasn't mine - I think a part of me always knew - and I still pursued it. That's what I don't want Z or J to know, though if either of them ever asked I wouldn't hesitate to talk about it. Being able to face the parts of life that we don't want to talk about is also a value(and skill) I want in the family we are building. Which means me first, I guess.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

8 months

Yesterday baby J became an 8 month old person!

I am struggling to wrap my mind around that one. Right now she is sitting on her playmat, jabbering away at a book about animals and yelling at the cats whenever they come into her field of vision. She wants them to come over and get petted. They have no desire to do so. Not to mention, our cats have never responded overly well to yelling.

Sometimes after J has gone to bed Andrew and I sit at the computer and watch videos of her when she was one, two, three months old. We laugh when we remember how amazing and advanced we thought she was, how focused and coordinated and just...beautiful. We still think that, of course. But compared to our 8 month old J, that little baby seems so soft and sleepy. Hard to believe that in less than a year she is such a big girl.

She loves pears, sweet potatoes, and anything that has even a little carrot. The current favorite is carrot-rutabega-pea. She has tried turkey and is not a fan of it on its own, today we're going to see what she thinks about turkey-pear.

J loves to sit up, and is only quiet when she is in a new place or for the first few moments with a new person. Otherwise she is loud and full of syllables. She recognizes a few signs: milk, book, all done, more, kitty. I suspect she understands the sign for "no" although she is reluctant to acknowledge it. She loves our cats, though the feeling is not entirely mutual. Lately she has taken to attempting to meow at them in between imperious shouts for their attention. It doesn't work.

She is in no rush to crawl, although when placed on hands and knees she will rock back and forth and experiment a bit before rearranging herself in a more comfortable position. She adores books, yellow duckies, and her stuffed lamb, as well as both her Sophie giraffe and the little yellow mushroom alien toy by the same company.

She wakes up smiling every day.

I am very much looking forward to summertime - next week we start baby swim lessons, and I start a new work schedule for summer that will have me working two days in a row and then being home for three days in a row, plus weekends when I don't have church related work to do. The Seattle weather is finally (knock on wood) turning towards summer and soon the dahlias I planted a couple weeks ago will come up and there will be fresh berries at the farmer's market. Last night I arrived home after work and a church meeting to one of my favorite summer sights - a spontaneous building cook-out. Andrew and J were waiting for me along with two of our favorite neighbor families, and I knew that there had probably been others in and out during the evening. I remembered last year's golden summer moments, and felt a wash of warm gratitude as I realized that we are, once again, having the best time of our lives.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day

I know it goes without saying, but if there is one thing about parenting that I feel quite absolutely and totally sure of it is this: I did a good job finding a daddy for my baby. Pictured above with said baby, and my own sweet papa who to this day responds to every challenge in my life with "well, what can we do about that." Because he is my dad, which means him+me=we, always.

To all the dads who read here: Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Out of Town

Technically I am away at an eight-day intensive training this week, teaching Episcopal priests and lay leaders about congregation development.

Actually, since the conference is only about a 40 minute drive from Seattle, I went AWOL before dinner last night (we had the night off) to come back home and provide emergency parent relief to Andrew, who suffered through what was obviously the peak of J's first serious cold without backup on Monday night.

It's a lovely thing to walk in the door and experience someone who is so glad to see me that she has to kick her legs and laugh out loud. Even if she is covered in snot and liable to cough unmentionable things up onto my shirt.

But sweet baby J had a much better night last night, and currently the two souls dearest to mine are nose-to-nose and fast asleep as I head back "out of town" this morning.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


I have a Plan vs. Reality: Solid Foods in the pipeline, but until I get around to that, here's a photo essay of what has turned out to be Baby J's favorite veggie so far: Green Beans and Mint. I have been having a lot of fun making all of her food (which was the plan and is turning out to be a really delightful, maybe I can cancel that post!) and thought it would be neat to photograph the process. This recipe is from Cooking for Baby, by Lisa Barnes.

Green Beans with Mint.

1. What you need:

In this picture we have the green beans (organic, bought frozen) which have been steamed, fresh mint, reserve water from cooking the beans, and a blending device. I already use the Magic Bullet for grinding coffee and spices and making smoothies but have never loved it more than now, when I'm pureeing LOTS of baby food. Not pictured is the optional couple tablespoons of olive oil.

2. Combine and blend!

And it is pretty much that easy. I needed to use some of the reserved water to get the puree to the consistency I wanted - this is suitable for 7 months and up. The mint was chopped before going into the bullet.

The whole thing took about 15 minutes, including cooking the green beans, which really isn't bad. But the key to this really being a time saver is to make up a bunch and then freeze it. Pretty much all of the purees we have tried so far freeze well, and will last for several months frozen. I have tried a couple freezing methods: these individual containers and an ice-cube-like tray contraption.

We use both regularly, but the individual containers are our favorite. Much less handling of the food, and it's a lot easier to grab from the freezer and go. We used them for this recipe:

and here they are in the freezer with some pears:

I always taste the food I make for J, and I have to say this stuff is REALLY GOOD. That alone makes me feel good about it (have you tasted jarred baby food lately?) but I also really like knowing that I am feeding her organic food without any preservatives. Another plus is that I have more control over portion size - right now when she doesn't eat as much I can just offer her an ounce, later when she eats more there will be more. And overall this actually costs a little less than jarred babyfood, although that does depend on what brand you're buying.

I keep going on about the yumminess to Andrew, who dryly reminds me that I could turn just about any of these into a soup if I really wanted to be eating it myself. Maybe I will. Or, in the case of the peach puree, I might just grab a couple spoonfuls for myself next time I crack open a container for baby girl.