Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease. ~Lisa Alther

Now, as always, the most automated appliance in a household is the mother. ~Beverly Jones

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bust a Myth

Myth: If you can’t get pregnant, you can “just adopt.” 

The other day my three-year old son said to me, "Remember, Mommy? When I was in your belly in Korea?" Uh-oh. He seems to have missed one of the key points in his adoption story. Both my children were born in South Korea. It appears I need to find another way to explain to him how he was born and how be came to be our much loved son!

As a woman who struggled to have a family, I cringe inside every time someone flippantly says, "You can just adopt." People seem to think that having biological children and adoption are "interchangeable" paths to becoming parents.

With my whole heart I believe that men and woman should pursue whatever means available to them to achieve their goal of becoming a loving family. What I challenge is the commonly held belief that parenting biological children is exactly the same as parenting adopted children.

Of course all children need love, basic necessities, discipline, affection, and safety. Both groups of children also have the same chances of growing up to be happy, functioning adults (some people wrongly assume all adoptees are dysfunctional). I could go on and on about how many aspects of raising adopted children is exactly the same as raising biological children (it is a struggle to get them to eat vegetables, brush their teeth, use a tissue...you get the point!). But I believe that families created through adoption have extra "layers" and dynamics that must be recognized.

If you are going to enter the wonderful, and life changing, world of adoption, you must be prepared in ways you never expected. It is impossible to name all the subtle ways that parenting adopted children is different, but here are a few:
  • Get ready for tough questions and tough conversations. Unlike children who know for certain where they came from, children who were adopted have additional questions about identity, race, and the circumstances of their birth.
  • Be prepared to love, and sometimes defend, your child's birth parents. Those around you, and maybe even yourself if you are being honest, may question the choices they made or how they lived their lives. You need to be able to admire and love them for giving you the greatest gift of your life.
  • Be prepared to accept a culture or socio-economic status or religion or race or..or...or...the list goes on. Most likely your child's beginnings are not the same as yours. Embrace the differences and learn about them.
  • Be prepared for the public. We are a transracial family, so people know right away how our family was formed. The curious stares, the nosy questions, the genuinely interested questions, the naive questions of other children, the ridiculous questions (Are they real brother and sister?).
  • Be prepared for many unknowns. Having children is a total leap of faith, regardless of how they arrived. With my son and daughter I have little information on their prenatal lives, infancy, and medical histories. When we joyfully became their parents, we accepted all that came before them and all that is to come in the future.
Thump. Thump. That is the sound of me climbing off my soap box.  So many want to view "adoption" as a simple answer to infertility. It is not - it is a different type of parenting with different issues and different responsibilities. But it is just as rewarding, just as loving, and just as amazing as becoming a parent by any other means. The advice people give to "just adopt" does not take into account all the factors that must be recognized when seriously considering adoption.

My husband and I struggled with infertility for 4 years.We are now blessed with two beautiful children. To learn more about infertility and options to become parents, please visit http://www.resolve.org/infertility101. To learn more about the background of National Infertility Awareness Week® (NIAW): http://www.resolve.org/takecharge.
             

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Amazing Changes



I should be in bed, but it is so hard to find a few minutes of time to sit down at the computer. BB has been gradually giving up his nap, so we decided to do away with it altogether. No nap certainly has its pros and cons!

These last 6 weeks or so BG has been healthy....and she has blossomed. I imagine that all parents go through this phase of  "discovering" the personalities of their children. For some reason, I think this process is different for those who become parents through adoption. Maybe it is because I know that BG and BB had a whole other life in Korea, one I don't know much about. I know that other life shaped and formed them, but I can only see evidence of it by watching who they become as they grow older. Maybe it is because my children came home at an older age, so this "unfolding" and revealing of their personalities was somewhat condensed into a shorter period of time. Their personalities were well on their way to being formed before I was blessed enough to hold them in my arms.

I really misjudged my daughter! As I have mentioned before, she was frequently ill the first 5 months she was home. She had 4 ear infections, tubes in her ears, and two hospitalizations for dehydration. She didn't really catch a break. Being sick, combined with the normal grieving and adjustment period, contributed to her being somewhat withdrawn and shy. She was not showing a lot of interest in talking. She was somewhat clingy and hesitant. Sleeping was difficult and we were all having a hard time developing a routine.

Well...that little girl is gone! Our BG is sassy, opinionated, bold, fearless, loud, and so much fun! She is constantly trying new words (usually shouted at the top of her lungs). She is a brave swimmer and climber. She still loves to read, but now slows down to name objects and look at the pictures. Most notably, she is stubborn and persistent. The other day she was told "no," so she dramatically left the room and noisily closed the door behind her (we are going to be in trouble when she is 16!). She can hold her own with her brother. She sings and can carry a tune, although she doesn't know the words. She throws balls (and forks, cups, bowls, blocks, etc.) like a champ. She has her own style of dancing, one that is completely unique. She loves animals and meows like a cat backwards ("woemmmmm").

Each day I feel that same excitement and anticipation that you feel on Christmas morning. I can't wait to see what new part of BG we will get to see that day. Adoption is an amazing journey, and our little BG is an amazing girl.