Things I’m Afraid To Tell You: My Thoughts On Adoption and Birth Mothers

As Mother’s Day draws nearer, I find myself getting unexpectedly weepy.

First off, now I’m a mom. A role I wasn’t sure I was ever going to have, certainly one I came to later in life. It’s all now really sinking in.

I’m someone’s mom.

Here’s the part where my experience is different from other mothers and where some deep sadness fills my heart.

In addition to being over the moon about our baby, I can’t help but think about Ruby’s birth mom. And how her loss has been the biggest gift we’ve ever received.

Our precious girl.

Talk about a double-edged sword. Someone else’s loss being your gain? Let’s not even talk about what the kids have lost. Totally does my head in.

A number of people have written so eloquently about what adoption has taught them , about how the adoptive parents (NOT the children) are the lucky ones and honoring their son’s birth mother, that I ask you grab your favorite beverage and read their posts. All these posts brought me to tears and made me want to add my thoughts about adoption and birth mothers which at this point are not very eloquent.

I do have to say that not all of our experiences are the same, however I feel a deep kinship with other adoptive parents. I wanted to highlight some of the ways adoption is heartbreakingly beautiful, with an emphasis on heartbreaking.

Since I’m having some trouble putting together my thoughts on adoption and birth mothers in an eloquent way, I’ll just list them in no particular order. I bring these topics up now because I’ve been an adoptive mama for a while now and believe it or not these have come up. In the spirit of transparency on the internet, many brave bloggers are sharing what they are afraid of. 

I do fear people are going to take offense to what I’m about to say. Some want to tell me our experience as mothers is exactly the same and while there are many commonalities, there are a few huge differences. Some will find out they’ve accidentally stepped on toes because they’ve been curious. Some will find my thoughts presumptuous. So be it.

I’m filing this post under: Things I’m Afraid To Tell You.

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While I do not know my daughter’s birth mother, we are connected and I am forever in her debt. Ruby is a gift. She’s changed me in totally wonderfully unexpected ways.

Sometimes I find myself sobbing because I missed the first nine months with Ruby. She was so well cared for which is a relief, however I ache for that lost time.

Please don’t ask to know the details of a birth mother’s circumstances – it isn’t your business. I am nosy by nature, so I get it. But really, not your (or my) business. It is an awkward moment for everyone involved. That story truly does belong to the adoptive child and when they are old enough may or may not wish to share those intimate details of their past with you.

I know I’ve already over-shared some of Ruby’s history with people because I have been caught off guard. I feel awful about this because it’s not my story to tell. If I’ve shared anything about this history, please do not share with anyone. If I haven’t, please don’t ask.

Please don’t make assumptions about birth mothers. There is no typical story. There is no archetype. They are women just like us, making difficult choices. And for god’s sake, please don’t make comments about how “some” people are “breeding” and are “crackheads” who just irresponsibly give birth multiple times.

Really? sounds like right-wing anti-woman propaganda from the 80s. 

Just stop it.

For all we know, the woman standing next to us in line at the grocery store has an adoption story. For some, it is a secret. I imagine, a painful one. Even without your judgement.

Please don’t judge birth mothers. They may or may not have different life styles than us.  Comments about how you could never give up a child aren’t helpful either. Under certain circumstances, we’d all make tough choices to hopefully better the life of our child.

Please don’t say adoptive parents are lucky or saintly for adopting a child – we really are the lucky ones. We are the ones gaining a child to love.

Please don’t give parenting advice until you are also parenting an adoptive child – some things are just different when you are starting your life from a loss. Also, we lean toward Attachment Parenting and would probably be parenting this way even with a biological child.

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What are you afraid to tell people? Please share in the comments or write a post of your own and link back.

Please know that comment kindness is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to EZ at Creature Comforts for the challenge. And Jess for getting it all started.

Happy Birthday To Me: Our Adoption Is {Finally} Final!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you have figured out by now – adoption takes a long time. We started our process September 11, 2008 and yesterday Ruby officially became Ruby and a citizen of the United States.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday present.

Our experience during this final piece of the adoption was full of paperwork and crowded waiting room visits, but it all came together yesterday when we met with the judge in his chambers.

The bailiff held the baby and let her play with her radio while Jed and I spoke to the judge and signed papers. Ruby’s fan club of court house ladies waited outside the judge’s office.

In the end, we’re officially a family.

Finally.

Happy Birthday to me.

Talking Adoption on Yes and Yes

Today I am guest posting about adoption over at one of my favorite of all times blogs – Yes and Yes. If you are curious about the hows and whys of our adoption journey, this is where you’ll find some answers.

Sarah Von is a world traveling former ESL teacher with a love of Taiwan and a contagious laugh.

I hope you stop over to read my post and while you are there stay awhile and get to know Sarah a bit.

Finding My Voice As A Parent: Also See STFU

Alternate post title: Quit effing telling me what I should and shouldn’t be doing with my kid.

Three months in and I’m already over people’s “helpful advice”.

Some advice for advice givers, just don’t.

Commiserating about being tired is welcome, but telling me things that start with “you should” or “you shouldn’t” or “don’t ever” isn’t welcome or helpful. What works for you and your family works for you. All kids, parents and families are different.

Including mine.

Recently someone asked me how I was and when I replied that I was exhausted because Ruby had been kicking me, hitting me and or bumping into me all night {while she was sound asleep}, the woman replied, “You shouldn’t be sleeping with your baby!”

My eyes stung with tears (from exhaustion and let’s be honest, being admonished). I said through clenched teeth – “Well, we are. It is our decision to continue bonding with our newly adopted baby throughout the night. We have made our decision about what works for our family right now and when you are parenting an adopted kid please let me know.”

In case you are wondering, I’m still pissed.

This comment implies I haven’t thought carefully about this (and every other) decision we’ve been making in regard to parenting Ruby. I have been weighing my loss of sleep and the rage that accompanies it (which is a whole other issue unrelated to Ruby) and wanting to make up for those nine and a half months she wasn’t with us {also see: the dark ages}.

I’ve agonized over the “cry it out” people telling me I could train her to self-soothe by letting her sob alone in her crib. Dude, I’m not going to do it.  So stop telling me how well it worked for your kid.

Friends, I’m new at this parenting thing and Ruby is a special girl with lots of people interested in her well-being. In other words, we’re doing this thing kind of more publicly than I’m comfortable with. Usually I like having at least a basic handle on things before I share them with the world. That doesn’t work in parenting. It changes by the moment and so does what works for your family.

It’s a lot like yoga in that way. What works for your body in this moment is what is right for you. Who am I to tell you are wrong because it looks different than what I would do?

I’m working on finding my own voice as a parent. As a natural worrier and as someone prone to deep feelings of shame over being “wrong”, please be kind and thoughtful in your comments about what I “should” and “shouldn’t” be doing.

Nobody likes when you do that.

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So tell me, how do you handle unsolicited advice?

Catching Up with Alicia Herrera of Spirit House Designs + a GIVEAWAY!

Last November I interviewed my fellow public school teacher, adoptive mom (to be), and owner of Spirit House Designs, Alicia Herreraas part of my Featured Teacher Series.

Here’s a snap shot of our conversation recently.

What is happening in your adoption?

We are now 27 months into our adoption pregnancy.  After the initial flurry of paperwork, classes, and home study, we have been more or less waiting.  And, because all of the legal documents tent to be valid only for a year, we have renewed all of our paperwork once, too.

We are pretty much at the “top” of the list for getting an important phone call- the one where we are matched with our child.  After we are matched, it will be another 4-8 months while we go through the court system. We hope to have a toddler at home this time next year!

What’s changed since last year?

One big change has happened since this time last year.

The program that we were in (Thailand) basically slowed to a stop. International adoption is dicey in that the process can take so long that policy changes happen mid-process.  We were advised by our adoption agency to switch countries if we were wishing to complete an adoption in the next couple of years (yes!).

Adoptive parent requirements vary from country to country and, initially, we had not been married long enough to consider a few other options.  Those options were suddenly open to us, including a very good program with a small children’s home in Taiwan.

Having to change countries is a big fear for adoptive parents because of time and money lost. It can be heartbreaking to essentially “start over”.   We had to face that fear this year and it was hard for us.   More waiting, more money, still no guarantees.  We took a deep breath, crossed our fingers, and reapplied in Taiwan.

Are are you still raising money to fund your adoption through Spirit House Designs? 

 Reapplying meant redoing a lot of paperwork (again!) and repaying fees.  In addition, the program in Taiwan is also about $7,000 more, by design, than Thailand. We expect to spend about $35,000 by the time we are finished, which is roughly a teacher’s take-home salary for one year.  It is amazing to consider!

What’s new at Spirit House Designs?

Oooh. The thing that I am loving the most this year are the silk art scarves.  They have been individually painted, dyed, and then shaped by hand.  I added little specks of light and color to make each one unique.  They look great and feel luxurious.  I put up a tutorial on the blog that shows my favorite way to wear them as scarves, but they are versatile enough to be worn as a shawl, too.

They are such a pleasure to make. Working with silk is filled with meditative moments.  Mixing color, paying attention to the fiber’s response, moving slowly, being open to what each piece wants to become… all of these things are done with intention and love.  I believe that this attitude is what makes each item beautiful and what pleases the wearer. There is no substitution for heart.

I also have the next batch of nuno felted scarves, flowers, huipil cushions, as well as some gifty felted soap, all of which can be seen first at the open studio at the house on November 19th.

Where is your work available?

I will be showing at the Davis Art Center Holiday Sale and the Davis Gift Mart the first weekend in December.  This should be a fun holiday season of sharing both textiles and adoption excitement updates with everybody.

I will also be having a Spirit House studio presale on November 19th, for those who are unable to make the Davis Art Center Sale.  From 10 AM-2 PM, the studio will be open and items will be available for purchase.

The studio sale is by invitation only, but all are very welcome.

{For an invitation, simply submit a comment of interest}.

All of the profits from the presale go directly toward our adoption fund.

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Alicia has generously donated a silk scarf to the readers of Teacher Goes Back To School.

To enter to win – please leave a comment about what color palette interests you most: warm tones or cool tones.

 Options for Extra Entries:

Subscribe to Teacher Goes Back to School via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner) and then leave a blog comment telling me you subscribed. If you already are a subscriber, leave a comment letting us know.

Subscribe to Spirit House Designs via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner) and then leave a blog comment telling Alicia you subscribed. If you already are a subscriber, leave a comment letting us know.

“Like” Teacher Goes Back to School on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm. If you already like TGBTS, leave a comment letting us know.

“Like” Spirit House Designs on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm.If you already like Spirit House Designs, leave a comment letting us know.

Tweet this post or share it on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm.

Who is eligible to win?

Anyone with a valid e-mail and a U.S. mailing address is eligible.

When do I find out if I am the winner?

The contest is open from November 13, 2011 until midnight PST on Friday, November 18, 2011. The winner will be announced on November 19th at the Presale. {Need not be present to win.}

You will have 2 weeks to e-mail us back with your home address so we can mail the prize.

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

Thank you to all who entered.

Things To Do While We’re Away

Surprise!

We’re back.

Not really. Auto-post is like magic.

I did want to stop in and say hi and tell you all we miss you already and point out some good internet things to do while we’re away.

As you read this we’re probably completely wrecked in Taiwan after the 12 hour flight which left at 2am + a 15 hour time difference. We’ll be posting occasionally to Facebook and Twitter if we can.

In the meantime, here are a couple of posts until we get it together when we return from Taiwan and to the blog.

Happy reading!

Helpful hints for welcoming a new family home – thank you, Rosie Molinary! We’re looking forward to introducing our new addition to everyone, just as soon as we’re all bonded as a family.

Go look at all the pretty stuff I’ve pinned on Pinterest

Find out more about adoption from Adoptive Families Magazine.