Monthly Archives: November 2007

Bits and Pieces of Life

Where Did All this Energy Come From?

Last night was the best night’s sleep that I have gotten in a long time. I slept deeper. I tossed and turned less. I only got up once to go to the bathroom. For some reason, even my kids didn’t wake up until eight o’clock. For the first time in a long time, I got up feeling rested.

Is that why today was so productive?

Honestly, I cannot remember the last time I got so much accomplished that didn’t involve out-of-town guests. I started with the normal, daily stuff: make beds, clean up breakfast dishes, put away all of the stuff that ended up on the floor while I was gone last night. But I kept going–and going. Like some deranged cross between Merry Maids and the Energizer Bunny. Laundry. Vacuuming. Mopping. Scrubbing toilets. Bleaching the kitchen cabinets (honestly, white cabinets with three little boys is like living in the seventh level of hell). I even, finally, decorated our Christmas tree (which has been up for almost a week now).

Beyond the flurry of cleaning, I also did dinner from scratch (not unusual), and made banana bread out of some bananas that were turning brown in my fruit basket (totally out of character for me–they would usually go right in the trash). I honestly didn’t stop moving all day long, except when I gave into N’s obvious need for attention and took some time to do flash cards and read Shel Silverstein poems to him.

My house is still nowhere close to perfect–especially the family room, where the kids were exiled during my flurry of activity. And, of course, some of my efforts have already been undone. But, after weeks of feeling a total lack of motivation to do much of anything, it really felt great to be so productive. I’m guessing that tomorrow I’ll be about as active as a toad.

Pregnancy Update:

For someone who thought she’d start a blog to have a place to record my experiences with this pregnancy, I sure don’t talk about it a lot. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the fact that it isn’t “new” to me. I don’t have difficult pregnancies. At this point, I fear that I am turning into one of those people that drove me crazy back during our fertility struggles–I pretty much take the process for granted.

But I have definitely been noticing the effects of this pregnancy on my life more in the past week or so. For starters, at over 27 weeks, I have reached the point where my stomach enters the room before the rest of me does. Although, amazingly, someone I have known at my church since I was a teenager just realized last night that I’m pregnant.

Along with looking bigger, I am feeling it. I already mentioned the tiredness–both physically and emotionally. I’m also getting out of breath at crazy times (like walking up the steps from my basement, or making beds). My upper back is now joining my lower back in an effort to completely sabotage my daily comfort.

But the really telling stuff goes on in my head. This morning, I opened my refrigerator door and was hit by a feeling of panic when I saw a half-consumed bottle of orange soda. For a fleeting moment, I was convinced that one of the boys had cracked open the bottle of glucola waiting for me to get around to my gestational diabetes test. Then I remembered–I got a diet Orange Crush from a soda machine last night. Tuesday night, I was watching The Real Housewives of Orange County (I can hear your opinion of me dropping from here). One of the women had arranged for a couple’s massage with her fiance. I watched them being pampered and thought, “Man, I wish I could lay on my stomach.” How sad is that? My thoughts weren’t about the joys of a massage, or a wonderful evening of romance. I just wanted to lay on my stomach, too. Sad.

Kids:

Earlier today (during the cleaning frenzy), W~ came upstairs with light sabers for him and C~ to “fight” with. I instructed them to take it to the family room. As they conducted their sword fight on the way down the steps, I heard W~ say “Obi Wan has taught you well.” Kids amaze me. Who would expect to hear a 3-year-old say that to his 20-month-old brother (heck, who would expect them to be sword fighting down the steps with one another–I defy all of the “experts” who claim that kids only parallel play until school age to come hang out at my house for a day).

Blankies:

Last night, we had our second youth activity to assemble Blankie Buddies. The youth leaders for the boys asked me on Sunday if I would mind if they participated with us (apparently, the boys were “missing” the girls). Wow, that made it interesting. I didn’t realize just how many Young Men we have. Honestly, we ended up with way more kids than we had things to do (especially considering the fact that I was still the only one who really seemed to understand what needed to be done).

The really bizarre thing was that, somehow, my table to embroider faces ended up being occupied almost entirely by 12 and 13-year-old boys. Um, yeah. Some of them did surprisingly well. The others–well, let’s just say that it may take me more time to undo what was “accomplished” than if I had just done it myself to begin with. These activities truly do test every control issue in my body. I spend a lot of time preparing for them, then things don’t get done exactly how I want, or how I would do them. I just keep reminding myself that this is a service project, and doesn’t have to always be done my way. The important thing is that the kids are learning to do things they didn’t know how to do, helping others, and having a good time. As long as I focus on that, I can be really happy about how things turn out (even while I’m stitch-ripping).

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Filed under infertility, Kids, Pain, pregnancy, Vietnam blanket project

The First Pregnancy

This is the fifth entry in a series describing my journey to motherhood. Click here to read everything leading up to this.

I think that life as a first-time parent is an adjustment for anyone. It was no different for N~ and I (oh, and Sean, too). But we found our groove. As my maternity leave ran out, it became apparent that my parent company wasn’t going to go for my boss’s idea of letting me telecommute (I wrote software manuals for an engineering company–totally could have done most of my job from home), so I resigned my position. At the same time that we were giving up my salary, my husband needed an office manager for his business. So, we did what seemed logical–I filled the job, and N~ came to work with us every day. We loved it, he loved it, and our clients thought that it was pretty cool (we had a lot of jealous working mothers). My father-in-law decided to move his office in with ours, so we had a happy family office.

As I was driving into work one day (when N~ was eight months old), I started to feel kind of “off.” It was close to lunchtime, and I hadn’t eaten anything that day, so I assumed the dizziness I was feeling was because of low blood sugar. I swung through a drive-through, then finished my trip to the office. I sat down at my desk, took a few bites of my salad, and knew it had to be more than hunger. The next thing I knew, I was face-down in my wastebasket–my body rejecting the few bites of salad that had made their way in.

Now, you have to understand, I never puke. I once had a nine-year period where I did not vomit. I have to be deathly ill for it to happen and, at that moment, that about sums up how I was feeling. My father-in-law’s assistant offered to watch N~ for me, and I promptly fell asleep on the floor of an empty office, only waking up to increase the contribution to my wastebasket once or twice more. Sean decided to leave the office early so he could drive me home. As we were going, his father asked me if I might be pregnant. I rolled my eyes and reminded him that we all knew that was impossible.

When we got to the car, Sean admitted that the same thought had crossed his mind.

“Where do you stand, you know, in the month?” he asked me.

I was forced to admit that I was a few days late. I didn’t  give it too much thought since it had happened before and, after all, there was no possible way that we could conceive on our own. Even so, Sean insisted that we swing by a drugstore on the way home and buy a pregnancy test. We got home, and I obediently peed on the stick.

Negative.

OK, no big surprise there. By the next day, I felt fine again. I chalked the vomiting up to some brief stomach bug. That would have been the end of it. Except my period never came.

Two weeks later, I finally agreed with Sean that maybe I should try another test. I waited to do it first thing in the morning. The results were instant–I was pregnant. Standing alone in my bathroom, I had this weird feeling like I was in the middle of a sitcom story line. Like a track of gasps and claps should start playing in the background. After all, the impossible had happened.

The pregnancy itself was pretty normal. The baby grew, I grew, blah blah blah. Based on the experiences of my mother and sister, I knew that I wasn’t all that interested in a lot of medical intervention when I delivered. I chose an OB that practices with Certified Nurse Midwives and enrolled in a hypnobirthing class. I toured the AMAZING birth center attached to our hospital (big rooms with real beds, HUGE jacuzzi bathtubs, even a bread machine to cook a loaf while you labored so you could eat fresh, warm bread after the delivery). I was sold. No question about it, I was going for the natural birth.

Seven days after my due date, a Monday, I woke up about 8:00 am. As I headed to the bathroom, my water broke. And then, well, nothing happened. I went on walks, I paced, I prayed. What I DIDN’T do was contract. After awhile, I called my doctor’s office. They had me come in, confirmed that my water had broken, and informed me that I wasn’t dilated even a tiny bit (and I still wasn’t having contractions). My OB and I had our first tough conversation, where he told me that we needed to induce. I cried. Induction meant that I couldn’t use that beautiful drug free birth center. I would have to be in the hospital, strapped to those idiot monitors. But, given my body’s refusal to cooperate, mixed with the fact that I was positive for group B strep, he felt it was necessary.

I had the receptionist tell the hospital I would come in several hours later (still hopeful something might happen on its own), went home, ate a late lunch, showered, packed, and got to the hospital even later than I had said I would. And still, nothing had happened.

So that was it, around 5:30 Monday evening, they started the pitocin.

In case you have never had the pleasure of being pumped full of pitocin, let me just tell you straight up–the stuff is evil. I’ve never labored without it, so I can’t make an unbiased comparison of the strength of the contractions, but I can tell you that it doesn’t ease you into labor the way mother nature would. I spent the entire night fighting through hard labor, with almost no break between contractions. Despite the coping techniques I learned in my hypnobirthing classes, there were times that I considered getting an epidural. Sean would encourage me and help me refocus when I felt weak. By the next morning, I was at a whole three centimeters.

I won’t go through every detail. Let’s just say I went through more labor, Nubain, some more labor, a long period where I was stuck at a7-8 centimeters (during which my midwife made me push in hopes that it might get me to finish dilating–it didn’t, and a merciful nurse finally got my OB to come in and make her stop), and more labor. 24 hours into my induction (about 34 since my water broke), I was still stuck at about 7-8 centimeters. My OB came in for another tough conversation. He told me that we had three options: 1. Keep doing what we were doing (which he wouldn’t actually do, since he felt it was a lost cause due to my exhaustion; 2. Put in the epidural and go for the c-section (where he felt we were going to end up, anyhow); or 3. Put in the epidural, crank the pitocin way the heck up, and see if I would finish contracting. I chose option three. Within a couple of hours, I was ready to push.

I really don’t remember how long I pushed. I do remember my OB trying multiple times to turn my son, once he realized that he was “sunny-side up.”

Time for tough conversation number three. Basically, he told me, I might be able to get my son out if we kept at it for several hours, but he would come out battered and bruised and my OB didn’t want to do that. I had to agree. I finally consented to the c-section. (Incidentally, I didn’t feel like the hypnobirthing “failed.” I actually felt pretty good about what I accomplished. I had made it through 24 hours on pitocin without an epidural. I truly did everything that I could before accepting the fact that it just wasn’t going to happen how I had wanted.)

The surgery itself was weird. At one point, the assisting intern and my OB were talking about what a good cheese cake the intern’s wife had made at a recent gathering (I didn’t know whether to be glad that they felt that comfortable with what was going on to have such a normal conversation, or if I should be reminding them to focus more on my exposed internal  organs). Then, noticing that my eyes were closed, one of them commented that he thought I was asleep. I responded that I was just trying not to concentrate on the smell of burning flesh. They laughed and assured me I didn’t need to worry–that the smell was just me (um, exactly). And my OB remarked about how “tired” my uterus looked (yeah, just think how the rest of me felt at that point).

12:31 Wednesday morning, 31 hours after the start of my induction, 44 hours after my water broke, W~ was born. All 8 lbs 14 oz of him (and yes, he had a big head–still does 🙂 ). He almost had to go into the NICU because he was having problems breathing. Incidentally, this is common among babies born via c-section–the mucus doesn’t get pushed out like it would traveling through the birth canal. He ended up being fine. I got some sleep. A few days later, we were home.

And I began life as the mother of two boys.

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Filed under hypnobirthing, My Journey to Motherhood, pregnancy

Life Doesn’t Always Turn Out As You Planned

I’ve had several things waiting for me to talk about as I got through Thanksgiving. I had planned to write about the radio interview on Saturday. I was going to tackle the next installment in my journey to motherhood (now that Julie is in labor and I don’t have to worry about scaring her with my less-than-perfect hypnobirthing experience), I’ve been mulling over the concept of “minority rule.” I’m not going to go into any of them right now, though, other than to say that the radio interview did go well. We were on for about half an hour and we covered the blankies, domestic adoption, and international adoption. And, yes, I got the opportunity to mention my teenage girls and the women from my church more than once. So I was happy with the outcome.

The reason that I can’t bother with any of that at the moment is that I finally heard back from T’s mom, P~ (T~ is N’s birthmom). P~ and I talked for about an hour. Well, mostly she talked, and I listened. I have been concerned about the fact that I had tried to call her five different times since mid-October without a reply. Sean told me last night that he suspected that something had to be going on–they have never hesitated in calling us back. He was right. Like me, T~ is pregnant for the third time since N~ was born. Apparently, she is due just a few weeks after I am, at most. This means that there will only be a little less than 2 1/2 years between her oldest and this one. From what I gathered, her parents found out (for sure–they had suspected) right around the first time I tried to call.

P~ admitted to me that she hasn’t called back because she needs to be in “the right frame of mind” to think about N~. She told me that, as T~ continues to have more children, it becomes harder for her to not regret their decision for her to not parent N~. Basically, she is involved with her other grandchildren, which makes her miss the idea of being more involved with him. Obviously, I already knew all of that. And I am glad that she feels comfortable enough to share it. It is still hard to hear, though, especially given the reason.

The thing is, all of us viewed N’s adoption as a second chance for T. She had goals for herself–things that she wanted to do and be. But she didn’t. And I know that is part of what is hard for P~. She supported the adoption because she wanted her child to have a different life. Now, T~ is in pretty much the same place (all three kids do have the same father, but it isn’t an ideal relationship), and is still raising kids. For P~, nothing necessarily improved for her daughter, but she at least still has the relationship with her grandchildren.

And I guess that is the hard part for me. P~ seems to regret based on the fact that nothing has really changed–I am so grateful because nothing has really changed. Don’t misunderstand–I don’t think that T~ is a bad person. And I don’t think that she is a bad mother. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t talk about her at all if I thought poorly of her. But, the reality is, she isn’t in a good situation and, given the choice between our situations, I’m glad N~ is where he is.

I know that you can’t really look at where she is and assume that it is where she would have been if she had chosen to parent him. Honestly, that is part of what I can’t stop thinking about, too. P~ gave me some information about N’s birthfather today that I didn’t have before. It really scares me to think that he may have worked his way back into T’s life if N~ were with her. There is no question–that would not have been good for either of them.

Anyhow, it has just been kind of a weird day, emotionally. I am sad for them. I’m sad that things didn’t turn out as they hoped for their daughter. I am sad for her–all that she has been through and all that I’m afraid she may still go through. Sean thinks that I should respect their apparent need for space right now and just let them call us when they want. That is hard for me because I really do care for them. Even if we didn’t have N~ in common, they are people that I would want to know. Because we have N~ in common, I think that it is only natural that I wish I could fix their problems.

I’ve always said that, when it comes to our relationship, I’d play it by ear.

Right now, I feel tone deaf.

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Filed under adoption, open adoption, pregnancy, Vietnam blanket project

The Newspaper Article

Well, I got one more surprise in relation to the newspaper article on the blankies. When I read it last night online I supposed, based on its relative brevity, that it would be buried somewhere in the “Local” section. My mother brought me the paper this morning and, well, it wasn’t buried. Actually, it is the lead story on the front page (OK, we live near two SMALL cities, and this is the paper of the smaller one, but still–I really wasn’t expecting this). So I am torn. There is a part of me that acknowledges that it is kind of neat for them to make it a “big story,” but I still wish that it was a story that included all of the people who are helping to make it possible. Especially now that it was on the front page–how cool would that have been for my teenage girls?

Anyhow, I have been debating whether to post the text of the article all day. Partially because it isn’t the story I would have written and partially because it is full of identifying information. I decided that I could replace full names with just first names for adults, and just identify the kids by their blog monikers. So, after redacting enough information to make the Clinton library proud, here is the full article:

National adoption month

‘Blankie Buddies’ give comfort, security for orphans

By Bridgette

Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

B~ TWP. — Nine-month-old Tank Boy came to the United States from Korea with only the clothes on his little back, one extra diaper and a bottle.

Three years later, Tank Boy is a happy 3-year-old surrounded by everything a growing boy could need — namely love.

But his family still remembers how one little Korean baby came to a foreign place with nothing to call his own.

“When the kids come here, they come with nothing,” said Katie, Tank Boy’s aunt. “They don’t have toys or blankets or any kind of comfort objects.”

Katie also has an adopted son, N~, from the U.S., and thinking of a community service project for her church inspired her to do something for orphans.

She enlisted the help of her mother, B~ Twp. trustee Nancy, and Tank Boy’s mother, Elaine, to make “Blankie Buddies” for orphans.

The two-month project comes right on time too, as November is National Adoption Awareness month, Nancy said.

The mother-and-daughters team hope the blankets, which resemble a stuffed animal and a quilt rolled into one, will be given to orphans in a grass roots effort to provide comfort they can keep with them, Katie explained.

Tank Boy will soon be getting a little brother from Vietnam, in addition to his three sisters who are biologically Elaine’s, and some of the blankets will go to the Vietnamese orphanage.

“They’ll take as many (blankets) as can fit into their suitcase,” said Elaine about her husband and her mother, who will go pick up six-month-old Quinn from Vietnam as soon as they cut through all the red tape of international adoption.

Nancy hopes “Blankie Buddies” project makes people aware that everyone can help children in need, even in a small way.

“There’s something we all can do,” she said.

The article was accompanied by two large pictures–one of my nephew holding a blankie, the other of my mother sewing with all of my and my sister’s kids around her. In all, it took over half of the front page. Incidentally, Sean thinks that the article is good. Maybe I’m just too attached to what I wanted. I just heard all of us say things that I wish she would have included.

*As I was typing this, my phone rang. The article was apparently good enough to catch the eye of a local radio talk show host. He called my mother, wanting to know if we might be willing to be interviewed on his show this Saturday. I’m excited again. Live radio doesn’t allow for editing. I’ll be able to give my girls the credit I wanted them to have.

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Filed under adoption, Vietnam blanket project

Late Night Emotions

It is past midnight, and I’m too upset to fall asleep. This is not a problem that I usually have. Sleep tends to come pretty easily when you’re getting increasingly large and still having to chase around three little kids all day. I suppose some of it could have to do with hormones, but it is mainly something else. Disappointment.

Earlier today, a local reporter came to talk to my mother, sister, and I about my Vietnam blanket project. I was really excited at the prospect of a story being written. She spent some time interviewing us, the photographer took pictures of my mom sewing with all of the grandkids around her, and they told us the story would run tomorrow. After they left, I told my mom that I feared that they weren’t going to focus on the actual project.

I came home from a meeting tonight and, out of curiosity, went to the newspaper’s website to see if they run all of the individual stories there (since I don’t get the newspaper). I was surprised to see our story already up on the paper’s website. I was not surprised, unfortunately, to see that it ended up about as I figured it would.

The article isn’t long, only twelve paragraphs. Five of those twelve are centered on my sister’s family. Not that that would be a bad thing if it were supposed to be about her international adoption. But, honestly, other than the fact that we are donating these blankets to the orphange where her son currently is, she just isn’t involved in this.

Other than a brief mention that this “started” as a charitable project for my church, the people who HAVE made a difference in this project (aside from my mother and I) are completely ignored. There is no mention of the fact that all of the materials have been either paid for or donated by generous members of our congregation–that we have already met our orginal goal of 15 to 20 blankets and still have enough fabric to do at least twice that many more again. My group of 12 to18-year-old girls who are helping to assemble them was completely ignored.

I suppose that is the part that is breaking my heart the most. When I found out that there would be an article, I was so excited to share it with my girls. I wanted to be able to tell them, “Look, you really are making a difference. They even wrote a story in the newspaper about what you are doing.”

I don’t think I’ll even tell them that the article was written.

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Filed under adoption, Vietnam blanket project

MRSA-less (Where I Rant about Modern Medicine)

I finally got the call back from my pediatrician’s office on Friday. W~ does not have MRSA. Now, here is the part I don’t get. After revealing this tidbit of information, they informed me that they would be calling in a prescription for an oral antibiotic. We find out that he doesn’t have the feared “superbug” and NOW he needs more medication? I really don’t get it. And honestly, I considered calling them back to question this decision. W~ has only taken an antibiotic one other time in his life, and it made him sicker than whatever it was that they had prescribed it for (the kid has a really sensitive tummy). But, I decided to be the model, mindless consumer of modern medicine, and asked Sean to pick up the prescription when he and the kids went to the local megastore that evening.

I was at my mother’s house working on blankies when they got home, and I didn’t come home until after the kids were in bed. I asked Sean if he remembered the medicine. He said that he had picked it up and given W~ his first dose. “But it’s really weird to give it to him, the medicine is a powder.” Um, what?

So, I go grab the bottle. As any of you with small children have probably already figured out, the pharmacy forgot to MIX the medicine. Public service announcement: Oral antibiotics are, generally, a liquid. They don’t mix it until you pick it up since they are then supposed to be refrigerated. Somehow, my husband missed this lesson in Parenting 101. I don’t really get this, since he is the one who goes straight to the medicine chest for every sniffle, and I have been either pregnant or breastfeeding–or both!– for 45 of the past 46 months of my life (yep, wrap your brain around THAT) and, therefore, haven’t had the freedom to take medication with abandon for almost four years now. So, my three-year-old got almost a full teaspoon of straight granules instead of the equal amount of mixed medicine (which, I’m assuming, means he took about twice as much as he should).

Naturally, I called poison control. Thankfully, antibiotics are considered pretty safe. I was told to try and get him to sleep on his side in case he puked in the middle of the night. He ended up being fine (although I did the whole check-to-see-if-he-is-still-breathing several times that evening).

So, today I went back to the local megastore and headed straight to the pharmacy, unmixed bottle in hand. I asked to speak to the pharmacist in charge. I explained to her what happened (calmly, but making sure she understood that I took this VERY seriously). Her response? “Yeah, we mark the bags, but sometimes they miss it and forget to mix the medication. I’ll get you a new one.” No shock. No indication that SHE took this very seriously. Just “yep, it happens.” Holy crap. What if it hadn’t been something that is relatively safe that my son was given too much of? How many other people are there out there who, like my husband, wouldn’t realize that medication doesn’t generally come in powder form? I hate putting the health of my family in someone else’s hands, especially if they will openly admit to incompetence.

Incidentally, my mistrust of modern medicine has been several years in the building. It started about five years ago, when I was in a car accident. It took three different doctors six weeks to figure out that I had a fractured neck (partially because the first two didn’t even DO x-rays, partially because the third one waited almost a month before he bothered to READ them). When I asked the third doctor if I should see a chiropractor for my ongoing back pain he told me “no.” He said that a chiropractor would just pop my back, and they were going to “fix me.” After a couple of months of physical therapy, and another doctor thrown into the mix, they declared me unfixable (this was about a year after the accident). Things got so bad when I was pregnant with W~ that I finally broke down and followed my midwife’s advice to ignore Dr. We’re Going to Fix You and go see a chiropractor. Three weeks. That’s how long it took her to make the pain go away (turns out, I has three ribs out of place). After years of pain, it only took her three stinking weeks to “fix me.” Over three years later, and the pain has never come back.

So, this is why I forego a lot of the “optional” prenatal tests. This is why I haven’t seen my family doctor in years. This is why I go to an OB who practices with two midwives (I do still like the security of having modern medicine as a backup–I don’t think it is totally evil, just way too pompous and over-used). This is why I have such internal conflict over vaccinating my kids. And, I suppose, this is why I still haven’t given W~ his first dose of now-mixed medicine. I just think that, sometimes, we do too much. We defy Darwin. We make ourselves weaker by not allowing our bodies to do what they were designed to do.

That, and we put our lives in the hands of incompetent nitwits.

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Filed under Kids, Pain, pregnancy, Soap Box, vaccinations

Our Adoption Story (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

We received the call that T~ had chosen us on a Tuesday. Two days later, we were in a car with our agency’s director, making the 3-hour drive to T’s aunt’s house so that we could meet her and the family. I remember seeing all of the redbud trees lining the highway–I had never really noticed them before.

We arrived late in the morning. We met with T~ and her parents first, but her aunt and brother were eagerly waiting outside. They would come in and talk to us before it was all over. The meeting was definitely a bit awkward, as could be expected. The agency director and the local volunteer who had been working with T~ were both there, and helped the conversation along. T~ wanted to know if we smoked, and was pleased that we didn’t (incidentally, I don’t think that she would have gone through with the match if we had–she had already backed out of two different matches with two other agencies because she didn’t feel comfortable with something about each of those situations). We asked her how she felt about circumcision (we knew which way we were leaning, but decided that we would go with her wishes if she had a really strong preference–she wanted the same thing we did). Her parents asked us how we felt about the “possibility” of the baby being biracial (she was hiding a lot about the birthfather from them). Her brother asked us some questions about our religion that related to race (I was really impressed that he had done some research). The volunteer asked T~ if she had picked out a name for him. She said she didn’t want to, that she wanted him to always have the name that we chose for him. They asked if we had chosen a name–I found out later that she was thrilled with the name that we gave him, since it had some special meaning to her. Actually, when we arrived at the hospital after his birth, it was already on the little card in his bassinet.

Probably the most difficult part of the conversation, for me, had to do with ongoing contact. Our agency does not generally do fully disclosed adoptions. They facilitate communication. After the adoption is finalized, they stop monitoring the contents of any communication, so you have the option to open the adoption fully at that point (that was very new to them when we adopted). We told T~ that we would send letters and pictures for her. She told us that she didn’t want them. And she had no intention of writing to us. She didn’t even want to see N~ once he was born. It broke my heart. I told her that I would write and send pictures to the agency, anyhow, so they would be there if she ever changed her mind.

That was a Thursday. T~ was induced the following Tuesday. I went to work that day, then went crazy waiting to hear something from the agency. Finally, mid-afternoon, I got a phone call. N~ had been born. And T~ wanted us there as soon as possible. We weren’t ready–our agency’s policy was to not have the adoptive parents around for the first 24-48 hours so the birthmom had a chance to spend time with the baby without the influence or interruption of the adoptive parents. Because she was so adamant, though, they told us to come. I saw my son for the first time about nine hours after he was born.

Happily, I also saw T~ at the same time. She had changed her mind about seeing him. We spent some time together, during which he passed his first meconium. And her family gave me my first test of motherhood–they handed him, tarry diaper and all, to me to change.

In T’s state, a mother is discharged from the hospital 24 hours after a healthy delivery. But they won’t discharge a child that is being placed for adoption until the termination of parental rights has been signed–72 hours after birth. That meant that N~ was going to have two days alone in the hospital. We all discussed it, then got permission from the hospital for Sean and I to rent a hospital room for those two days. During that time, T~ came back twice to visit him–the first time was to bring her brother, who couldn’t make it before she was discharged, the second time was just because she wanted to see him one last time.

We were there when T~ was discharged, and it was difficult. Reality was definitely hitting her. She cried and kept asking us, “You will write? You will let me know that he is OK?” We promised that we would.

Two days later, after a tense wait, our agency director and the local volunteer came into our hospital room to let us know that the paperwork had been signed, and to complete the paperwork on our end. The volunteer had a strange look on her face. She asked to hold my son. As she sat there rocking him, she told us that T~ had never mentioned the birthfather’s name to her. Signing the paperwork was the first time she had seen it. It was someone she knew. With tears in her eyes, she told me that she had worked with the birthfather several years ago (this woman was a public social worker). She was careful not to disclose anything that she shouldn’t, but she kept saying that, if someone had told her years ago that she would be in this situation, completing an adoption on that young man’s child, she would never have believed it.

“He is so lucky  to have you. He is so lucky that he won’t have that influence in his life,” was all she could say. (Incidentally, T~ agreed with this. She ended the relationship shortly after becoming pregnant and, to my knowledge, has never spoken to him since. All she would tell us about him was his height, that he played basketball, and a few other private details. I have never seen a picture. She has never said his name to us. She refuses to discuss him.)

N’s birthfather is a perfect example of why I don’t believe in forced openness in adoption. We did have to go to court to have his rights terminated–he wouldn’t sign the paperwork. Not that he wanted to parent. And he didn’t come to the court hearing where his rights were terminated. Of course, he was otherwise engaged. My understanding is that he has been otherwise engaged a couple of other times since then.

Approaching N’s first birthday, we called the agency and asked if they could see if T~ would give us a way to contact her directly (we had been sending letters and pictures up to then, as promised). They got us an email address. A couple of days before his birthday, I was able to email her and ask if she would be interested in a visit. She was thrilled at the idea, and we were able to have a joint birthday party for him at her parents’ house.

Things kind of flowed from there. As time wore on, we abandoned all shreds of secrecy. We have been out to visit them several times. And, of course, the road flows both ways. They have been to our house on several occasions, too. It has been over 4 1/2 years, and the relationship is always evolving. I can’t say that it is always perfect. Our contact with T~ has definitely diminished with the births of her two subsequent children. We currently don’t even have a way to contact her directly. I still call her parents, but even they don’t always call back anymore. I sometimes struggle between wanting to maintain a close relationship with this family that I have grown to love, and wanting to give them their space. Because, ultimately, it is her decision to make, and I want to respect it. But as long as I feel that continued contact is healthy for my son (and I have NO reason to feel otherwise at this point), the lines of communication will always be open here.

So there it is, the story of N’s adoption. Minus a lot of my emotions. I guess that there are some things that I’m not willing to put out there. At least, not yet. Suffice it to say, he is my son and I am his mother. He made me a mother. And I would give my life for him.

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Filed under adoption, My Journey to Motherhood, open adoption, transracial adoption