Monthly Archives: April 2008

Scaring Away the Adoption Goblins

As published in the Spring AFTH newsletter — click my mama column logo at the right to access the complete newsletter:

Every so often I read — or even am told by virtual strangers — that adoption is scary. Some of these folks are prospective adoptive parents considering whether or how adoption fits in their lives, and others have little knowledge of adoption outside of the relatively rare — considering the number of adoptions annually — stories of scams or situations gone awry picked up by the media.

So, is adoption scary? Yes.

But not for what might be considered the “obvious” reasons. Let’s start at the beginning.
Adoption means opening your heart to a child that didn’t come from your womb, loving a child not created with your own genetic contribution.

(Nope. Not the scary part.)

Although my husband and I did the obligatory research at the start of our adoption process, we actually brought to the table experience from another side of adoption. My husband was adopted in the 1970s, the era of closed records, and knows very little about his story, his own nature versus nurture, and the people responsible for bringing him into the world. Between everything we learned about openness in adoption, and everything we already knew about being part of a closed adoption, our choice and preference for openness was clear.

The agency classes that followed explained the practical parts of an open adoption: a minimum of letters, photos and an annual picnic visit.

(And no, that’s not scary either.)

After all, my own longing to become a parent and the loss in not yet having a child in my life made me acutely aware of the intensity wrapped up in motherhood. As much as I wanted to be a mom, I couldn’t let my own motherhood somehow negate another woman’s. So cultivating a relationship between my child and his or her other mother was something I hoped for.

(Still not shaking in my boots.)

Truth is, after placement, I made it through all that without any trouble. After all:
• Loving Maeve? Piece of cake!
• Writing long, lovingly detailed letters to her first mother? Not a problem!
• Sharing copies of the loads of photos we were taking? Nothing to it!

At our first picnic, I watched with awe as my 11-month old interacted with her first mom. Like the paparazzi, I snapped photos all afternoon, capturing moments I knew only they could share.

When it was time to say goodbye, the tears pushing themselves from my face reflected the sadness I hadn’t realized was building inside me that day. My daughter would have no recollection of that sweet afternoon in the park, or the time spent in her first mother’s arms.

(Now that? That scared me.)

I was scared of losing contact with Maeve’s first mother, scared she would decide it was too hard and pull away, scared she would decide to close any openness we had and Maeve would lose the vital connection to her story.

Since my daughter was born two and a half years ago, our relationship with her first mother has grown — especially so in the last year.

Although Maeve’s first mom may need a break periodically, I’m trusting in the conversations we’ve had about communicating that and other needs as they arise. While I’m aware there will be an ebb and flow to this special relationship, I also know we all have Maeve’s best interests at heart. Last week we sent a rainbow Maeve painted to her first mom, as well as a little gift for a special member of her first family. We’ve exchanged full names, addresses, phone numbers and I created a special e-mail address just for our communications.

We’ve chatted by instant messenger — sometimes just to simply say hello — and we’ve begun to talk about getting together this summer for a weekend.

Doing these things erases nothing from me — rather, it brings me more fulfillment as Maeve’s mother because I see all the parts of her present in her life and know I’m doing everything in my power to raise a happy, whole child.

Go ahead. Ask Maeve whose belly she grew in and she’ll tell you.

Ask her how much I love her and her arms fly open wide.

These are the moments and conversations of her truth that remedy even the most scary adoption goblins.

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Me, flaky? No. Sweet? Yes!

I have to be honest.

I’ve never liked flake cereal. Corn flakes, flakes with nuggets of granola, heck — put a box of flakes with nuggets of actual 24K gold on the grocery shelf and I’d still likely push my shopping cart right by. I see cereal flakes and something in my brain shuts off dies.

So you can imagine my skepticism when I received a box of Kellogg’s new Frosted Flakes Gold for my review here on mamahood:musings&more’s Reviews page. I didn’t exactly tear into the darn thing. (It was slower and more methodical. Like getting a bill you really don’t want but you know you have to pay.)

Still, the box was opened and eating ensued. For all the flaky (and sweet!) details, head on over to my Reviews page.


 

  

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It’s Earth Day up in here


Earth Day cupcakes to share with Maeve’s class and homemade newspaper packets with flower seeds for each of her little friends to take home and plant with their family.

(No critiquing my confection continents, folks. It’s no secret that cookin’ or bakin’ ain’t my thing. Add in geography, and one had better admire the outcome with a generous dose of imagination. A sugar high doesn’t hurt, either.)

If I’m making every effort to teach Maeve to be kind to her friends, family and the people around her, to clean up her toys when she’s done playing and to make the “right” choice when faced with various (and devilishly tempting) options, I don’t think it’s too early to ALSO teach her — even at two and a half — these same lessons on a global scale:

How to respect nature and all its inhabitants, to never leave anything on the ground that doesn’t belong there, and to make smart choices for the world around her.

On this Earth Day, I leave you with this bit of quotational wisdom I find wonderfully inspirational:

“Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Kill nothing but time.”

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Hankering for cheese? Salt? Pretzel? Cracker?

Well, then, you could be in luck. For my Mom Central review of Keebler Toll House’s new “FlipSides” pretzel cracker, head on over to my Reviews page.

 

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A sticky hypothetical … and some reviews!

I could tell you all about my jaunt to the circus with Miss Maeve last weekend. I could, but then I’d have to tell you how we:

1) broke the dry-underwear streak that had reached a record five days

2) and then again just an hour later

3) and that ill-prepared me grabbed two pair of extra underwear before we left but somehow didn’t figure on needing a change of clothes …

4) which I’m chalking up to me being both A) scatterbrained and B) awfully darn assured in my daughter’s ability to do her business in the appropriate places (I so prefer this one) — none of these being, by the way: 1) my lap, 2) my friend’s arms while down on the circus floor or 3) standing near enough to my leg that I also get wet.

5) Now, if I were talking about the circus I would then also have to tell you that I worked up a sweat in the tight little seats while trying to shimmy off the wet clothes (we were in a box, so it wasn’t like it was in front of all 10,000 strangers/circus-goers, although I’m not sure that by that point I would have cared) and then sliding off her oh-too-cute plaid ballet flats I had excitedly tossed into my T*rget cart a couple weeks ago only to now find them, well, to put it nicely — superbly sea-worthy. (Isn’t that what boat-lovin’ people say about their crafts?) They were so liquid-tight I could have dropped a couple goldfish in there for a backstroke competition.

Gross.

Anyway, I could tell you about all of that: the night that left me sticky, my purse crusty from the ice cream with sprinkles that fell from its precarious perch on the seatback right into my bag, and my hands perfumey from my friends’ oily air freshener in her car that had exploded in the console bucket thingie where she also had stored our circus tickets, which then resulted in writing on the tickets smearing off onto our hands and us wondering aloud if we would even be allowed into the joint to begin with — since it totally looked like we had printed them up in our own Perfume-Laden Basement of Circus-Ticket Thievery. (Doesn’t everyone have one of those?) 

Yes, yes, I could share all of this wonderfulness with you but … I won’t.

Instead I’ll just tease you with the promise of two reviews in the very near future. (One tonight, and one first thing Monday.) And even better, an additional promise: neither review has anything at all to do with pottying or underwear-wearing. (Although methinks I’ve got a post rumbling ’round my wee brain about children’s underwear and the flagrant advertising found therein. Or thereon. Whatever it is, I. Don’t. Like. It.)

But, my friends, I’ve digressed. Back to mamagigi’s forthcoming reviews (isn’t it awkward when people refer to themselves in the third person? mamagigi doesn’t know, she’s just venturing a guess.)

The first review might be interesting for hungry folks in the audience (and their snack-hungry children, of course) and the other is for those who love children’s books and who are also sentimental, soft-hearted for inspirational words and all mushy inside.

And, well, if you’re at all like me, you fit both bills. Hungry, sentimental and all sorts of mushy (no comments from the exercising-folk in the peanut gallery).  Yes indeedy, dear readers, I am a prize. Ain’t my husband lucky?

Incidentally, I also have three (!!) other reviews coming — one of which has giveaways (that totally rocks, donchyathink?) — so start a-stretchin’ your finger-typin’ muscles and get ready to enter here to win! And I’ll even give ya a hint: it involves one of my favorite feel-good-while-frolicking-in-sunflower-full-fields songs. Bet you think you know what it is, right? (I know. I should make my hints more abstract. Rest assured, mamagigi will work on that.)

And with all of that excitement, excessive mushiness, and frenzied stickiness amid tigers, ponies and men in leotards, I bid thee adieu.

For now. 

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Overheard in my little world

And here are my contributions to the “Out of the Mouths of Babes” and “Kids Say the Darndest Things” files:

Maeve is now beginning to make some serious progress in potty training. During a recent expedition to T*rget with Maeve, I found myself in the bathroom three times.

Three. Times. (I soon realized her telling me she needed to go potty was actually a reprieve from sitting in the red cart while I shopped; at home she still refuses to make any such declaration, which means every hour or so one of us leads her into the bathroom “to try.” But I digress.)

So, there we were, in the stall for the trillionth time that hour — What does one do with their cart in these situations, anyway? — when she actually did her business. Her face brightened as she was so very pleased with herself. As was I, of course.

However, my hushed congratulations and kisses of encouragement weren’t enough. She sat there, face aglow, awaiting a full-blown rendition of The Potty Dance — a silly fete that had been, until that moment, a nice little at-home tradition.

And so, Potty Dance I did. In a 3×4 foot stall.

And just as my jumping, clapping, spinning and singing died down, an unfamiliar voice pipes up from a couple stalls over:

“Um … [awkward silence] … first-time pottier?”

Rrrright. Didn’t know we had an audience.

(And no, we didn’t leave the bathroom until I was sure they’d left and were well out of sight.)

***

Yesterday Maeve, her Grandma Cookie and I had the opportunity to attend a free “Yoga for Toddlers” class. (Yes, Yoga. For toddlers. Is it just me or is that … sort of over the top?)

Maeve, donning comfy clothes and in bare feet, picked a bright green yoga mat. Mom and I were about to settle in toward the back of the room when the instructor asked the parents to join their children on the mats.

OK. First let me say I didn’t see that written anywhere on the brochure. Even in the fine print.

Second, I am soooo not a yoga-kind-of-girl — not necessarily because of the yoga itself but more because Me + Exercise = Not For Public Consumption (and I thought I wasn’t a math person! Wheee!).

You see, the whole exercise “concept” doesn’t happen often, I admit, so when it does? It ain’t pretty.)

Despite that, I just want to clarify that I am sure it was my constricting jeans that had everything to do with my inability to properly execute each slow and deliberate pose — and not my general out-of-shapeness and fundamental clumsiness. (I’m just sayin’.)

And although my mother so dutifully (as a grandmother) and so evil-ly (as a mother catching me in awkward and imbalanced positions) shot photos of our 45-minute yoga experience, they were taken on my camera and, therefore, shall never see the light o’ day.

But the best part about the day in which both my daughter and I would strike our very first Tree and Warrior One poses?

Before we ever left the house.

The first thing that morning, when I greeted her in her bedroom, I cheerfully asked: “Ready for some Yoga?”

Her smile fell. Her brows furrowed.

“Noooo, mommeeee, I want applesauce  today.”

(I’m embarassed to admit how long it took to realize what the heck she was talking about.)

***

Last week, Maeve and I met friends and their children for dinner in a nearby restaurant that not only discounts burgers on Wednesdays but also offers coupons(!) so Thrifty Me is totally up for it.

And once again I spent more time in a bathroom stall than one should ever need to do.

On the third trip (whenever another child had to go, she suddenly had to go), just as Maeve was getting perched into position and I counted to 10 while looking for My Patient Place, someone in the neighboring stall began to, well, you know, do their business.

And then, it was like everything dragged to slow motion. I swear that I saw sparks as the neuron-thingies in my little bare-bummed baby’s brain connected, and I knew exactly what was about to happen.

I. Just. Couldn’t. Stop. It. In. Time.

Her mouth fell open, her big eyes widened and she loudly exclaimed to the neighboring stall:

[Audible Gasp!]  “I am Soooo Proud of You! Good job!”

Ack. There wasn’t much to do but laugh. (And, of course, hide in the stall until they left the bathroom.)

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Paid Adoption Leave in NJ passes! On gov’s desk…

Good news!

Today the New Jersey Senate gave its final nod of approval, 21-15, to the Paid Family Leave bill it now sits on Gov. Jon Corzine’s desk awaiting his signature, something he has pledged to do. Once signed, the bill goes into effect July 2009.

As explained here before (please see the Paid Adoption Leave tab above for posts chronicling the bill through the legislative process) S-786 would provide workers six weeks’ paid leave — two-thirds pay or up to $524 weekly — to care for sick family members, newly adopted children and newborns. Employees would pay about $35 yearly into the state’s temporary disability Insurance fund through payroll deductions.

This. Is. Huge.

I’m thrilled for all parents needing time off to be with their children, biological or adopted. No one should have to choose between caring for their family or the job they need to survive.

Next up? The adoptee open records bill. Like this one, it’s made more progress this legislative session than ever before.

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