Tag Archives: babies

Happy National Adoption Day

Standard

Nope, Santa didn't bring me....or did he?

It’s actually National Adoption Month, but today is the day. I was adopted when I was 5 months old. This is a fact I was always aware of and never allowed to forget. Being adopted in my family meant that I was extra special as I was planned for and waited for and my parents had to jump through hoops to get me and I came with directions. It also meant that I could legally marry my cousins. Ha ha.

As a kid, being adopted wasn’t a big deal. I mean, some kids in elementary school made fun of me, but then again, they also made fun of kids who weren’t adopted so, no harm no foul. But being adopted lends to some great fantasies. Like when an adopted kid is punished, we can truly believe that someday our “real” parents will come save us. And when we are really mad we can say “you’re not my REAL mom” which generally gets us some sort of reaction that distracts from the bad deed done. A non-adopted kid can’t say those things with any amount of seriousness. Nor can they check out people at the grocery store and wonder if they might be related.We have a whole other side to ourselves that we don’t know but are free to create. That is the main difference between us and non adopted kids. There is no mystery to being a non adoptee.

The pros and cons of being adopted balance each other out. My mother always acknowledged my personal “adoption day” with a present. That was fun because my birthday is on a major holiday so to get a present on a day that was half way to my birthday was fun. I was unique within my family. I knew I was wanted. On the flip side, I knew that I was unwanted by my birth family, I was unique within my family and sometimes being reminded once a year that I was not blood related to my mother was a double edge sword.

When I was younger, finding my birth family seemed like a very important issue. As I got older, it became less of an issue. Until I gave birth to my first child. Then I knew that for her sake I needed to get some information on where I came from. I registered with the NYS Adoption registry. This is a registry put in place for those of us in closed adoptions. At the time of my adoption in 1973, my birth mother put down some very simple facts for me to someday know. The height, weight, hair color of both her and my birth father, the circumstances of their life at the time of their decision to give me up and any health issues they knew of.

The day I received this information in the mail, I ripped open the envelope and said to my brother-in-law “well, I’m not black!” And we laughed for about a half an hour. The info was very short and to the point. Not enough for me to be able to fill in the health history that everyone has to fill out at the doctor’s office. Again, not having a health history is both a blessing and a curse. I don’t know what I need to be scared of, and I don’t know what I need to be scared of….see? I can choose to focus on that as a positive or a negative. I chose positive.

Adopted kids even get to eat the bow!!!!

We adopted kids are generally very protective of our parents feelings surrounding us searching for our birth parents. I know one of the major reasons why I don’t actively search is because I would never want to hurt my mother’s feelings. My dad was a little miffed when I told him about getting my non identifying information. My dad simply forgot I was adopted. To him, I was just his kid. After all, whenever we went anywhere together everyone always said how much we looked alike and that goes double  when we went out with my kids. Dad would always just accept the compliment without pointing out that it was actually impossible for me to look like him.

I had some friends who were also adopted. One friend didn’t find out until she was 16 and she was searching through her mother’s drawers for a lighter and came across the finalizing paper work for her adoption. She came to terms with the lies she had been raised with but she never fully trusted her parents again. Another friend was adopted and so was his sister. I was always jealous of them because I wanted a sister or brother…I had another friend who was adopted into an extended branch of my family. My mother’s friend adopted a baby and mom and I made a big deal out of welcoming her into a very special club.

Adoption is one of the most incredibly selfless, unconditional ways of becoming a parent. Those of us who have biological children will never understand. To desire a child so much, a child that does not share your own DNA and to know beyond all doubt that you will love that child because of these differences is, well, it’s love. Especially in the world today, a world where people can undergo treatments to get pregnant despite their own bodies being unwilling. A world where infertility is looked at as a disorder to be fixed or treated, a person in this world who decides to adopt is pretty incredible.

I didn’t have to pass any tests or undergo any interviews before I was allowed to have kids, like adoptive parents do. I can’t tell you if that is a good or bad thing…. They go through rounds of social workers, therapy sessions, background checks so through the agency will KNOW if they were the kid picking on me in elementary school for being adopted. On top of that, there is generally a large fee involved. I have to say, I got pregnant for free, been paying for it ever since though :).

 I was adopted through Catholic Charities so I was free (but my parents have been paying for it ever since 🙂 ). Today, many people adopt from over seas which involves tens of thousands of dollars and time commitments that go above and beyond my measly 13 hours of hard labor. And the pain when a birth family backs out at the last-minute would be far greater than any labor pains I experienced.

Today, on National Adoption Day, please give an adoptive parent a hug or send a letter to your legislature for gay adoption or maybe consider taking a child into your home. If you have the love to give, then give it. So many children need good homes, they need to be part of a family. Who wouldn’t want to make a difference? I know that kid sitting in a foster home or in an overseas orphanage is ready and willing to make a difference in some lucky family’s life.

Advertisements

For Those About To Nurse…We Salute YOU!

Standard

The little bundle who changed my life

I never hold my children as they are. When I wrap my arms around them, they are, in my mind and in my arms, the little babies I gave birth to. They are the still the little bodies  I held when they cried and nursed to sleep. When I look into my 15 year old’s eyes I still see the innocent little soul she was the first time I looked. But they are not those little babies. They are children. They have grown and changed more than I ever expected. Without any effort on my part. I couldn’t stop them but I didn’t want to try either.

I nurtured them inside my body for nine months (ok, technically 10 months and my first two were actually 10 and a half months) and then I nursed them for the first year of their lives. With my first, it was beyond difficult. And painful. Yes, it hurt. Just one of the many, many pains that became bearable as motherhood progressed.  I wanted to quit, but I just couldn’t. There was such an intense feeling of pride within me that I had produced a human being  and now I had the natural ability to continue to sustain this life. All on my own!!! My body was incredible!!

I was so excited to be a mom. I read every book in our library about child birth, breastfeeding and child rearing. I watched every single tv show, I talked to every mom I knew and many I didn’t. No one was safe from me. If they had a baby, I was asking questions. I was accosting parents in stores, in restaurants, in public restrooms. I wanted to get all the information I could, lots of different opinions and points of view and then I could make up my mind what was going to be best for me and my family.

Nursing was my choice. In 1994, in a pretty conservative town, and being young, I was not well supported by my local society. Thank God for the nursing nazis. I remember a couple of nurses who supported me in all of my decisions. They were there after I had her, when we couldn’t quite get the hang of it and when I didn’t want her taken to the nursery. Everyone thought I was insane for wanting to keep her in the room with me. A couple of nurses thought she HAD to have a bottle of water and that I couldn’t possibly know what I was talking about because I was young. One even came in and told me I would get over this nursing thing in short order when I realized that it was going to tie me down. Tie me down? It was like she was speaking a foreign language. How could this baby, this sweet innocent tiny (well, 9 pounds…not that tiny) baby be looked upon already as a burden? I didn’t understand.

I still don’t. Babies don’t manipulate. They don’t lie around in their crib thinking of ways to piss off their mothers like crying every 20 minute or pooping out of their diaper. They cry because it is the only way they can communicate. If they could calmly lean over to their baby monitor and say “excuse me mother would you mind feeding me now as I am a bit hungry. Thanks ever so much” don’t you think they would? What a pain it would be to not have words to express ourselves AND to have to rely completely and totally on bigger humans to supply your every need. That would be terrifying!

The LaLeche League was my religion. I read the book and called the hotline. I educated myself on all of the specifics. How it works, why it works and why it is the best thing for baby and mother. I became a nursing nazi. I had total support from my family. Well, my mother was not on board at first. She just didn’t believe anyone, anywhere on earth could possibly exclusively nurse. She firmly believed that at some point formula was necessary. I firmly disagreed with her. She was actually the one who bought me the LaLeche League book. She became my biggest supporter. So much so that she became a nursing nazi herself and would promote nursing to her friend’s kids who were having babies. She used me as an example of how easy and right it was. She became a convert!!

Everyone I knew at the time was a nursing mother. I didn’t know anyone who wasn’t. In my world at that time, it was just the way it was. And then I made a friend who didn’t nurse. To be honest, it confused me. I hadn’t known anyone who didn’t at least attempt to nurse and then make some excuse and switch to bottle feeding. But this friend had never tried and didn’t desire to nurse her children. I was dumbfounded. She was totally confident in her choice to bottle feed and AND she didn’t feel the least bit threatened by my choice to breast feed! Like I said, my friends who had given up were always defending their choice. Not this friend. She knew herself and she had no guilt. Incredible!

She wasn’t the last of my friends to chose not to nurse. And it was mind expanding to have women in my life who make their own decisions. As good as I felt about my decisions when it came to child birth and child rearing, these women felt jut as good about theirs. I had to open my narrow mind to include the probability that some women may have a different view, a different idea of what it means to parent. And they are incredible moms. And they have incredible kids. Their boobs didn’t fall off and their kids didn’t get leukemia.

I am happy and confident in my choice of feeding my babies. I am content with their babyhood. I am no longer a nursing nazi (but I can still quote facts and figures). I have respect for moms who chose not to nurse. It is a personal decision. It is, because we live in a land and in a time where it can be a personal decision. I am completely for any and all women’s rights. And breast or bottle is a womans choice as clearly as any that we, as women, face. What was right for me and my babies may not be right for another. Situations vary and I can no longer be so arrogant as to think I know what is best for another when it comes to their child.

How I fed my babies wasn’t what changed my life. My babies are what changed my life. I have three happy, healthy, smart kids who would be totally grossed out to hear this story. But someday they will appreciate this. Nursing isn’t easy in the beginning, but neither is motherhood. Breastfeeding doesn’t make a mother. For that matter, birth doesn’t make a mother. Love, time, commitment, trust, attention….so many ingredients to making a mother. Whatever our choices, respect.

Parenting, the Teen Years (can I be done now?)

Standard

She is doing a "peace" sign...NOT giving me the finger

I became a mother young in life. Not a teen or anything, but younger than many these days. I come from a long line of women who waited to have kids. My grandmother who was born in 1907 was over 30 when she had her first child. My mother got me when she was 30. Both of them had careers and lives and then added children to the mix. I chose to have the child and build my career simutinously. And I have never regretted that choice. I suppose it is the harder way to do things, but neither my grandmother or mother had it easy either.

Now, when my first child started pre-school, I was the youngest mom. But, I was totally accepted and always felt like a part of the clique. For the other moms, this was their youngest going to school, for me it was my oldest. There were a couple of moms who had been the young mom with their first, and now of course, as happens when we age, they were no longer the young mom, I was.

When my oldest started kindergarten, I was shocked that her teacher was younger than me by a year or two. Teachers were always old. How could this be? This meant the people I had graduated high school with were now the grown ups. That meant that I was now officially the grown up, the parent. I knew I was the parent prior to this revelation. No one goes through 13 hours of hard labor then pushes out a nine pound baby and forgets they are the parent. But this was the next level of parenting. And I was still so young. Growing up along with my child.

I think we all grow up with our child no matter the age we were when we came to be parents. I remember looking forward to turning 30 so that I would be a legitimate parent like my parents were. But being older and more established did not insulate my parents from life. They divorced, they experienced all the hard things that go along with raising a child. I was a “challenging” child and a holy horror as a teen. It didn’t matter that my parents were well loved, respected members of our community. I didn’t give a flying fig about them when I was a teen. So, why then do I think that my 15 year old is supposed to give a flying fig about me and my life? Why do I think that just because I am closer to her in age than my mother was to me that she and I share this special connection? Cause we don’t.

I swear sometimes I still feel like I am 15 myself. I know exactly how and why she lies. I just choose to not call her out on it every single time I catch her. Part of parenting is denile. If we never denied what we know, if we punished our kids for every single thing we know they are doing wrong, the kids would never leave their room. I have to let some things go. I have to pick my battles and pray that the universe takes care of the infractions I choose to over look.

Now, picking my battles was so much easier when she was 2. Don’t argue with a 2 year old about what clothes she wants to wear no matter that they don’t match or are too big. Just don’t argue. Work with it. Layers usually forgive all fashion choices. But yes, she has to use the potty and cannot just pee in the corner if she feels like. No she cannot stay up all night. Yes she can pick out the special toy she wants to bring to show and tell. See? Simple.

Today, it is about boys and clothes rather than potty training and clothes. And some days I am totally lost. And I know it has not a thing to do with my age. It is all about her age. I know this because I am still friends with the ladies who knew me as the young mom and despite the fact that they are 15 years older than me, they are just as confounded by their teens. We are still sharing the same experiences despite the difference in our age. Teenager-ness is universal, like the plague and natural disasters. No parent is immune to it and there is currently no vaccination or escape plan. We just have to hunker down and try to survive.

 I always knew I wanted children. I knew as I was traveling as a teen and very young adult that I was collecting these experiences to share with my future children. And I do. And I was always of the philosophy of  Have Child Will Travel. I brought my oldest everywhere with me. She went to her first off broadway musical (Lust…how inappropraite) when she was 6 months old.All the old ladies were so impressed with how quiet she was for being so young. My children went to very fancy restaurants and to work with me, they went to grown up parties and meetings, operas and master classes and major rock concerts. That isn’t to say that we always did grown up things. We have made the trip to Mecca (Disney World) twice and we will again I am sure. And we hit every kid movie that comes out and they do all the after school activities that other kids do. But my world is a balance of kid stuff/adult stuff and that is just the way it is.

My parents did lots of grown up things but I was usually allowed to go to my grandparents house because grown up stuff is BOOOORRRING. And my grandparents were in their 70’s and retired. With my kids, my parents were  still working. They still had a schedule and a life. So, it is totally different for me. Because I was younger having my kids, my parents were  younger grandparents and that is very different. Also my parents were divorced which also threw a kink in the traditional extended family. My grandparents were married for over 50 years. They were always available to pick me up, babysit, make dinner, and keep me overnight. With my parents I had to schedule consult with them as far as babysitting.

 I had my last baby when I was 30. I do not feel that my age has made me a better mother to her than I was to my eldest. I am a more experienced mother, a wiser mother, but that is just the way it goes. Now I am the average mom when I go to my youngest child’s school functions. And the older moms who’s oldest is in my youngest’s class are saying and doing the same things I was when I was a first time mother. Ofcourse, I was 28 at the time and they are 48,but our age  makes no difference in our love for our child.

When we decide to bring a child into our lives, when we decide to become a parent, we decide exactly how we are going to raise this child. We decide how our child will be. We determine what kind of child we will have, if they will be sporty or arty or studious. We decide exactly how and for what we will meter out punishments. If we will spank or use time outs, if we will breast feed or bottle feed, cloth or disposable, Ferber or Sears, if our parents way was the right way or the wrong way. And that is all before we actually become parents. And then it happens and we try to stick to what we had decided. But we can’t because there is now an anomaly thrown in which skews all of our well laid plans. And we realize that it doesn’t matter if we are young or old, if we give birth or adopt, if we have a family bed or let them cry it out. None of it matters at all. Because life takes over and the only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain.

What unites us is far more powerful than what divides us. And I know if I sat down with the Rajo Devi Lohan, the Indian woman who gave birth to her first child at age 70, she and I would have much more in common than not. She would have the same fears, joys and expectations that I did. We are parents and our children, not our age, is what links us. I wonder if she would be interested in raising a 15 year old girl……