Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Presents from Squishy' Birth Mom

I picked up Squishy's first presents from his birth mom this week, his Christmas presents and Birthday present. I thought there was also going to be one from the birth father, but I guess that didn't arrive yet. The gifts were very thoughtful and we were excited to get them. It was the first time I had taken Squishy back to the agency since placement, so I planned my speech to tell him where we were going and why this place was special and that we were going to pick up some presents for him from his birthparents.

I thought I would take this time and space to write down just a couple of my first reactions on the gifts as I process this first exchange, from the prospective of an adoptive mother. If you've been following us since the beginning, then you know that when we first started our adoption process, we were hesitant on how open to be and exchanging gifts, visits, etc. We've come a long way, but this is the first gift from his birth mom so as expected, there are a lot of emotions and reactions to process in this unchartered territory for us. And, as I have learned along this journey, you experience many emotions at once and sometimes it seems they contradict each other and you wonder, "how can I have these very different emotions at the same time!"

First, the gifts from his birth mom were very sweet, and totally in line with things I would have gotten him/think are appropriate. When people buy things for your child, as the parent you are the editor. We've definitely gotten some things over the past year that have gone straight to Goodwill. You know what' I'm talking about. I was anxious to see what she would get, because I didn't want Squishy's first present from his birth mom to not be in line with our parenting. She got him some clothes and books, and they fit into the type of things he wears and reads. This became another connection between she and I, and another reminder of why she picked me to be his mom, because we were of like minds when it came to that type of stuff.

Second, she put two cards in the gifts, one to us and one to Squishy. Both were so sweet and thoughtfully worded. Among other things, she commented on the photos and updates we had been sending her and how big Squishy was getting. She said that she is starting to see more and more of his birth father in how he looks, and "how crazy it would be if he ended up having blonde hair?" (Squishy has very dark brown hair right now.) This sentiment brought up a lot. It can be a very emotionally complex thing to not be able to speak about your child in terms of them "having your eyes" etc. This is one thing I've noticed a lot of our friends and family haven't grasped, how much of family conversations revolves around tribal talk and that they are having conversations we can't participate in. We are working on talking about Squishy's looks more in relation to his birth parents in front of our family, but it's taking time. So to see this sentiment from his birth mom, and that it came so freely, really overwhelmed me. I had no idea how much I had been craving that type of conversation about my child. I can only do it with DH, and it felt really good to have someone new join in that conversation.

And finally, the feeling that I'm still wrestling with. The books that she gave Squishy were actually her books from when she was a kid that she was passing on to him. This is no doubt, a wonderful, sweet gesture of love. But I am still working through my feelings of insecurity about this one. I felt it as an inheritance issue, and that she was making inheritance decisions for him without my consent. So that touched on feelings of co-pareting. It is interesting, because we have things from her when he was in interim care. But in a way that is different because he wasn't with us yet. I have no doubt in my mind that she meant this than anything other than love. I was just a little surprised at myself for this reaction, over books. It's not like she is petitioning us to make sure he goes to a school of her choice. So, it's a reminder to me that as we go through this journey, there are still going to be things that may stir up feelings for me and I need to be prepared. But I know that I have to allow myself to have these feelings and work threw. I am not perfect. And to not recognize and work on these feelings would do more harm.

Thanks for listening, and I'd love to hear your thoughts, from both sides. Are there any gifts that you've received that caught you buy surprise? Or, when you are choosing gifts to give to your child's parents, what are looking for?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I am a Mom too!

This weekend we had our first invitation to a birthday party. It might not sound like much at first, and we were excited to take Squishy to an event with other babies and see how he interacted, but it did make me nervous. As far as I know, me and DH would be the only adoptive parents. We have hung out with two other of these couples before, when our kids were about 3-months old, and it was fun. But there got to be a point in the day when the other two moms starting talking about labor stories, and breast feeding, and not fitting into their clothes. I just started to hang back and got quite. It was a little bittersweet, because these were conversations I couldn't participate in. Just like before I was a mom, there I was on the outside of a conversation, listening to two fertiles talk about pregnancy and complaining that they could't fit into their pre-pregnancy clothes and how much breast feeding hurt.

So, I was a little nervous going into this party. Would labor stories come up? Would breast feeding come up? Believe it or not, I do get asked questions like that a lot from other first time moms..."are you still breast feeding? did you do natural childbirth? how did you loose all the weight so fast?" I've been learning as I go, and have little non-committal answers to all those. But one-on-one is easier than a whole room full of mothers who gave birth to the child they are parenting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gift From the Sea

Six years ago today, my husband and I were married in the back yard of a vacation rental in Maine. At the end of this month, we are returning to our wedding spot with our son for the first time since we took our wedding vows. Last week, we finalized the adoption of our beautiful baby boy. As I look forward to this trip and reflect on how far we have come in six years, I remember a passage we had read at our wedding.

As I remember these vows that were spoken six long years ago, I am overwhelmed with how important and necessary they truly were. Six years ago we were a young couple getting hitched, future ahead of us and no hint on the horizon of what would be in store for us on our journey to become parents. Now, on this special day - our first wedding anniversary as parents - I am called to put those words here and reflect. When I read them now, I am overcome by the power of love and what it truly means to work at a marriage.

To my husband, truer words were never uttered:
“When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity - in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits - islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.”

― Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What's in a Name? Everything

How do you pick the name for your baby? The name they will have their entire life. The name that will represent who they are in this life. The name that will command presence. That is unique but not quarky. The name that hopefully they will not want to change when they are going through puberty. The name that means something to both you and your partner. The name that both you and your partner can agree on.

If you were like me and DH, when we began talking about kids the first thing we began debating was baby names. I had favorites. He had favorites. I had childhood memories to live up to. He was named after his father. We both had tons of names in our family tree that we wanted to bring back to life. I think this was a long running "discussion" in our house for five years. A looong time before we even started trying. In the end, this was the convoluted plan we came up with:

If our first child was a girl, I would get to name her, both first and middle. She would be named after my grandmother. If our first child was a boy, DH would get to name him, both first and middle. It was a combo of a name from his family and one of his favorite names. Then, for the second child, whoever didn't get to name the first child would get the second child. Do you see the rationale? The overall goal was to give me a good chance to name a daughter after my grandmother.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

First Letter to the Birth Parents

This weekend, we are going to put together our first letter with photos post-placement to the birth parents. This will be our first "official" communication with both of them. Around the second week post-placement I did send a little paragraph to the agency to pass along about baby's eating. He makes a lot of noise when he eats and everyone was concerned about that, but turns out he's just a noisy baby!

So, for everyone out in there in open adoptions, what was your first contact like? Assuming it was a letter. What did you write about your child and what kind of information did you share? We have the photos picked out that we are going to send, some of just him and some of the three of us. Our social worker has chimed in and given us advice, of course. But, we wanted to ask any adoptive parents out there what they recommend as well for the first letter. And, if any birthparents read this, what information did you want during that first letter?

Here is our situation, in case it helps you in your advice. As I said, this is our first real letter. We plan to develop an open relationship with both birth parents over time that will include visits. We have met the birth mother three times and the birth father once. It was during a three-week time period between birth and placement. So, we didn't have a lot of time to get to know each other before birth and really get that "comfortable" easy connection going before placement. So, we've got to develop that at the same time we are keeping the birthparents updated on baby boy, while at the same time we are attaching to each other and becoming a family. So, we are taking - wait for it - baby steps with communication. This first one will be a letter and photos through the agency. I do think at some point this year, for logistical reasons, we will have one visit with the birth-mom too.

So, any advice you have is great! We don't want to under share or over share, and we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings with the type of information we share. And we are just nervous as this is our first time! We know it will get easier over time. Oh, and last thing, regarding going through the agency for this first contact, that is a logistical thing as well. That will change over time and we will go into direct contact with each other.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Last Resolve Group Meeting

Last night, I went to my last RESOLVE group meeting to officially say goodbye and read a letter we wrote to the group. Here is the letter I read last night, and I'm sharing it here for everyone out there in the infertility community.


My husband and I have been coming to RESOLVE meetings for a year now, and some of you here tonight are familiar with our story. But, honestly, it’s encouraging that there are so many new people here. Because that means that this group is growing each month with more couples taking the opportunity to share their stories and support each other.

We came to our first RESOLVE meeting in March of last year. Our infertility journey had started a year earlier and we were desperate to meet others who knew what we were going through. That first night, my husband did most of the talking because I was so nervous and I couldn’t speak about our journey without becoming really emotional. Tonight, I am hear to represent our family and he is at home with our new son through domestic adoption.

So, one last time, I’d like to share our story. My partner and I began trying to conceive in October 2009. We learned after a few short months of trying and one appointment with the fertility clinic that we were never going to have a biological child related to both of us. That day, April 15, 2010, was a turning point in our lives. The doctor told us that my husband had a condition called Sertoli-cell-only syndrome in which he produced no sperm. I was shocked and thought it was mistake. But it was confirmed when the doctor said, this is bad, and then asked us if he had a brother. After some soul searching, we began the process of donor sperm insemination in July 2010. We spent a grueling nine months and six IUI’s trying to get pregnant, with no success. We knew it was time to close the door on a pregnancy and move into adoption as our path to parenthood. After almost the same amount of time working on our home study, on January 30, 2012, we brought home a beautiful, healthy, baby boy.

RESOLVE gave us a place to have a voice as we made our way through this past year. Finally, we could be ourselves and not be ashamed of the feelings we had over the past couple of years. From the anger, to the jealousy, to the deep depression, to the hope, and the laughter through tears, we had a home with kindred spirits. Side by side, we have grown with other couples, found strength in our commonalities, and forged the deepest of bonds. I will greatly miss these first Tuesday's of the month, and our safe room where we could complain about family members, pregnant friends, and ridiculous doctors. These meetings helped us so much, and we will forever be grateful to them.

My husband and I can name every child that was conceived and born through our two and half year journey. My body has been through something I never thought it would have to go through, and my marriage has suffered greatly. We have come through it on the other end, but there is still much healing to do.

Even though we have to say goodbye and move into parenthood, we will think about all of you all the time. We hope our story gives you hope that happiness is possible and that this period in our lives is not permanent. Whatever path you choose, conceiving and pregnancy, choosing adoption, or if you decide that the love between you and partner is all you need in this life, we wish you all hope and peace as you resolve your infertility in your time and in your own way.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Resolve

Tonight is my town's resolve meeting and it is the first meeting in a little under a year where DH and I are not attending. With the arrival of our son, we must say goodbye to our Resolve Support Group Meetings.

It's a bittersweet night for me, because the Resolve Group meetings gave us a place to have a voice as we made our way through this past year. Finally, we could be ourselves and not be ashamed of the feelings we had over the past couple of years. From the anger, to the jealousy, to the deep depression, to the hope, and the laughter through tears, DH and I had a home with kindred spirits. Side by side, we have grown with other couples, found strength in our commonalities, and forged the deepest of bonds.

Over the past year, we saw people come and go. You always wondered why some didn't return. Was it good news? Did they conceive? Was it bad news? Were they struggling? And now, DH and I are leaving the group. I will greatly miss these first Tuesday's of the month, and our safe room where we could complain about family members, pregnant friends, and ridiculous doctors. These meetings helped us so much, and we will forever be grateful to them.

But most of all, in these meetings, I met four of the most wonderful women I have ever known in my life. And the five us forged a bond so quickly and so deeply. I know these four women will be in my life forever, in the most precious and meaningful of ways. I am so thankful for everything the four of them have done for me and DH. The bond we have is a reminder that even when everything else is going wrong, good things can happen.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

We Are Going to Be Parents!

Never in my wildest dreams did we think we would be able to write this blog so soon. We imagined being on the wait-list for a year and spending 2012 writing posts about adoption statistics, openness, and other things that floated in and out of our minds while we were waiting for our child.

But life had other plans for us and decided that we were ready to be parents, and after the hardest and longest two and half years of our lives, the universe brought in our baby son on January 1, 2012.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Unsupportive Family Member

This Holiday season, DH and I planned to tell his sister that we are home study approved. Here is the rub: this is the first time that she will learn that we have been trying to have a family and have chosen adoption. We were very consciousness of this and know that we needed to treat this delicately and be sensitive to the bomb we were about to drop on her. Now that we are home study approved, we are making it a priority to get our adoption circle in place and start to educate them on adoption.

I am so sad to say that we never got to tell my SIL that we were adopting. We were blown off all day long. We were told two times that she was too busy and would try to talk to us later. I begged with her that this was “really important.” And DH was told that his feelings of being dismissed were “pathetic.” When it got to be 10 at night, and she and her four children were still packing their bags to leave in the morning, it was clear that she was going to make this on her terms and about her. So we said goodnight to them and went to bed. Trust us, we did take steps to get on her schedule before the big day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Little Donor IUI Humor

My amazing friend Suzy who is sharing and being an advocate for choosing ART through donors at the group blog Bloggers for Hope, well, she and I share two things: we both chose donor IUI treatments and we both have an immature sense of humor about it. For example, she buys pillows at Wal-Mart shaped like sperm because they are funny.

I dedicated this video to her today on twitter, because she and her DH are going through round two soon, and this is always how I invisioned it was happening when I was going through mine. So, hope it makes some of you smile! Laughter through tears!