I’m going to write some posts about for the waiting adoptive parents out there. We did not have a support group at our adoption agency and between the online courses that were mandatory, and the recommended courses, there wasn’t much that was actually useful. So I’m going to write about some useful tips you may want to consider. I’m going to assume you may have done the homestudy, profile and the ton of paperwork already. Each province, state, agency has their own guidelines for that sort of thing.
- First of all, if you’re not hell bent on experiencing pregnancy, you will not miss getting stretch marks, swollen ankles, nausea and throwing up, and stitches in places you don’t want them. Unless of course, you have all those to begin with. Ahem. You will get a child that you will love just as much as if you had pushed it through your hooha. If you have that book about what to expect in the first year, you should read it. It’s useful. Also go here for a crap load of information that will equally be as useful. But read Lori’s stuff first while you are in the endless wait because you won’t have much time after.
- You may or may want to start a nursery depending on your situation. I didn’t, but I waited almost 2 years so I’m pretty sure it would have just drove me nuts. But I did actually move into a bigger place so I had a room that was minimally furnished and I just made mental notes. The last thing I wanted to do after so many years of disappointment was a room full of baby stuff when I had no control over the outcome. That’s just me, though. Everyone is different and each journey is unique. You don’t need as much stuff as you think. I was so nervous about painting the room that my husband waited until I was away and when I saw it, my heart sang.
- Ours was an inter-country adoption (meaning we went to the States). So we had to fly several hundred miles. Frequent flyer points come in handy so stock up.
- When we got the call, I had a friend tell me what I needed and she brought some stuff over for us to pack in a suitcase. in fact, she had been putting stuff aside for me at her home. She gave me a baby sling, showed me how to use it, a ton of receiving blankets (to be rolled and used to tuck around baby in a carseat, burp cloths, etc.), 2 blankets, a newborn travel bed, some onesies, socks to be used over his hands at night, and some washcloths. That was about it. When we left the hospital with him, they shoved some formula, a soother, and a receiving blanket at us, told us to record his poo times and that was it. We googled quite a bit during the time we were away. Anything else we needed, we just bought at Target. We stayed at a hotel that had a kitchen, living room and bedroom so we were fine. We just took the car seat though as we carried him everywhere. I did regret not having the stroller we had bought on the way to the airport but we were travelling as light as possible. We had a couple of long, hectic days where we could have used it.
- When we finally got home, our friends came to the rescue and provided everything else. So you need a bassinet of sorts, diapers, formula and one of those warmers to keep the baby wipes warm. I thought it was ridiculous at first, but I grew to love it!!!! Babies dislike being wiped down with a cold anything. I also should have bought a bottle warmer, but I managed.
- There is a whole baby industry out there trying to shake every penny out of your wallet. You set foot in one of those swank baby stores and you are done. There is organic everything. For example, if you buy a baby carrier and want those little cotton pads that go on the front supposedly cause a baby may gum on them or drool on them, they come in regular cotton and organic cotton. The organic cotton is of course more expensive. Waste o’money but you will be faced with that choice in accessories each and every time. Unless they’re sucking on it for hours at a time, I don’t see how it matters. You will also see a ton of slings that promise to make you look like an African woman in the fields. They will come with booklets and instructional videos. Good luck! Also strollers – gack, don’t get me started. Some of them cost more than rent. Factor in where you live, where you walk, the type of weather you will be walking in, how to navigate aisles, if you take public transport, and of course, ease of use. The more expensive a stroller is, the more attachments you will want to make it actually functional for more than 10 minutes. For example, if you are paying $700 you should really get a cup holder for free, but you’re not going to, so there you have it. My friend had the popular top of the line one and she couldn’t carry much in it. Mine was about $400 cheaper and guess who ended up carrying her stuff? Also your child may outgrow it within the 2 years and you’ll need another. But you’re going to end up getting another smaller, lighter umbrella stroller to travel with or store in your trunk anyway. Just so you know.
- Now a word about adoptive breast feeding. I know breast is best, but I was in no space to go down that road. I also looked into breast milk banks could saw no possibility for those who have adopted. My best friend couldn’t pump enough for her own child never mind mine. But please do google it when you’re waiting and make an informed decision about it. I don’t have anything to offer in that arena. I do have to say that my son was incredibly healthy and to date has not had any serious illnesses or infections. He ate like a champ. What I can tell you about formula is that often the organic ones are made in the same facility as the regular ones. Some are better than others. Read the labels, do your research. It’s very enlightening. Also that means your partner can participate in the feedings. Nudge, nudge, honey, it’s 2am. Great bonding time.
- Warning: random people will be all over your child. You didn’t get to have that experience of having a big belly for people to comment on so it may come as a shock to you that people will pay a lot of attention. Babies are cute, they smell great (or should) and bring back pleasant memories for people and unsolicited advice. Catnip to seniors. I had an old woman climb out of the ocean after a swim, walk over to me and clamp her hand over my baby’s arm before I even knew it. Having a kid apparently means a woman is an open vessel for whatever falls out of people’s mouths. Most of it will be charming and delightful, but not all. It’s great to practice how you tell people about your adoption journey but remember all the details belong to you and your child and not the mentally disturbed rubby on the street. Remind me to tell you about that story one day.
- Stay at home for as long as you and your mate can. Bond with your child. Breathe her in, talk to her, hold her close. Put off company until you settle in. You deserve this time. You will experience a myriad of emotions. One of which will be exhaustion. You will be up at random hours and you can kiss a good night’s sleep goodbye for about 5 years. Seriously. Everyone says nap when the baby naps. Nobody does it, I didn’t, but you should. I did laundry, cleaned the house, made phone calls, I did a lot of staring. In the province of BC at least, you can get a home visit from the community nurse, call and schedule it. There’s a lot to know about immunizations and other resources, and you may have a lot of questions about the colour of poo. It’s better than waiting in a germy walk in clinic or having to wait for a doctor’s appointment. You didn’t have a midwife, so gather a support team of family and friends. Or a new mum’s group in the community. It may feel awkward at first, but they’ll be the only people who will listen to all the inane chatter that you will utter. You will obsess about everything little thing and now worry has a permanent place in your heart. Get used to it.
- Another topic of controversy – if you have a boy, to circumcise or not to circumcise. In this city, it’s another expensive la – di – da but unless it’s done in a hospital after birth, it’s another occasion to open a bottle of wine to soothe your nerves. And if you aren’t breastfeeding, you can drink wine. So there.
Stay tuned for more.
I received an email from someone who wanted to talk to me because I had done IVF. Her first attempt failed and she wanted someone to talk to so she could gather information about what she might do next. This isn’t the first time this has happened, but it’s been years. I felt so bad for her because I remembered how devastated I was. She seemed composed but she was definitely looking for answers. There aren’t, not really. You can do all the right things, follow the protocol, have good results, things look positive and then…nothing. And you can try again and have it work.
I shared my experience with her and also my experience with adoption. I probably talked too much. It was hard to tell if she wanted to share or just figure stuff out in her head. I hadn’t talked about that stuff in a very long time. It was a little weird to hear those words come out of my mouth. I wanted to encourage her to not give up and I also wanted to let her know she was not alone. I hope I was useful.
I’ve shared things here in this blog more than I ever did in real life, deeply personal things, but when I was in the thick of it, I was mostly putting on a brave face. Perhaps that’s where she is now. I was a little stunned after our first IVF didn’t work. Shocked that I had committed 100%, drank the herbs, did the acupuncture, chanted hours of daimoku, hired the personal trainer, gave myself the shots, did the positive visualizations. I had minor surgery, done the horrible fucking tests, been scanned and monitored, been drained of blood dozens of times. Around the same time my mother had a stroke, spent 3 months in the hospital and then I put her in a home. I had even been let go from a major gig. I pressed on because that’s what I do. I had earned my miracle, so to speak. And then…nothing. Crickets. Bitter pill to swallow but I went on to IVF#2 because I wasn’t a quitter. I was markedly different by then. I no longer believed that working hard would automatically bring me rewards. My guard was up and I wasn’t going to be that deer in the headlights ever again.
Most people I know cannot afford multiple rounds of IVF, they either have financial help from family or they spend their savings. What did I need a 3 bedroom home for if I couldn’t have children, right? Heck, over the years I’ve heard of people having fundraisers, bake sales or trying to win radio contests for free IVF. Or they enter the adoption arena. Or they don’t do either. Occasionally they just get pregnant the old fashioned way, you know because they just let it go and RELAXED. (This is for you urban legends out there for that I know exist.) Sometimes, they just move on to a different life than the one they had pictured in their heads. I hope my friend has her wish fulfilled.
Oh, boy, I was a busy little beaver there for a while. I could not participate in last week’s Microblog Monday because I was busy transcribing. I did about 46 hours in 10 days (30 hrs in 4 days). I did tell them I needed 2 weeks only to be told they needed it sooner rather than later. Of course. Just when I had a busy weekend lined up.
The 14th was my mum’s 80th birthday. For those in the know, I put a video of her on Facebook. It was terrific to see her connect for a little while. She looked right at me and told me, “This is a nice birthday.” That’s a big deal to me. We sang happy birthday to her and I know she enjoyed our visit. I just wish my side of the family could have been there for her. My younger sister sent flowers and of course, my older sister sent nothing. I wish I could have done more, I wish it could have been a big deal, but it was what it was.
And then….I had a visit from a good friend, Anna. Luckily she came the day after I finished my massive typing job. She used to have a blog and that is where I go to know this awesome woman. Her long awaited son was born the same month as mine. I see her once a year when she heads out west to visit family. And I get to see her blue eyed boy. Wow, it always amazes me that I knew him when he was just a wish and now he is 5 years old and talking Minecraft with my kid. It was crazy, they were instant buddies. Our visit was hastily arranged so of course, that’s the day I have a doctor’s appointment in the morning in the city and I have an audition at the height of rush hour. We squeeze in a quick visit to Lynn Canyon suspension bridge. That poor woman, what I put her through! She was a bit hesitant about going across but her brave child leads her across the jiggly rope bridge and I manage to find a semi quiet place by the rocks and creek for a few minutes of peace. I wish I could have kept them there for more time with a picnic, but I had to go downtown again for an audition. I seriously would have blown it off had it not been a really decent role.
Anna graciously agreed to hang out at my house with my kid so I could go to my audition. I figured I’d be an hour tops. Well, once in the car, I discover the 2nd Narrows bridge was massively backed up because of stalled vehicle and the other was backed up because of another stall AND a 4.5 centimetre construction plate that spans the width of the bridge that causes all traffic to slow down to a crawl. I call my agent to let her know (via Bluetooth) and then I just sit in traffic working on my lines. It was probably the most zen I’ve been going to an audition in a long time. I end up being 40 minutes late. I finally get there and breathe for a few minutes before I go in. It was a producer/director session so at least I know I had my shot at it. I only got to do it once, which you could either say I nailed it or they weren’t really interested. (It’s been about a week, so I’ve let it go already.) When I return, Anna’s husband had arrived to whisk them away to dinner but I insist on hijacking one more hour with them and force them to eat at one of those family eating places that I like only because it serves wine. She’s such an awesome woman, I get pissed that she’s not my neighbour and I can’t hang out with her more. Oh, how I’d love to sit in her kitchen! She’s just so real, and she feels stuff without pushing it away. I envy that ability because it is so rare in people these days. And to do that when you’re tired because she just wanted to see me. I’m lucky, right? Yeah, I know.
To borrow Anna’s saying, we’re sucking the marrow out of summer, so I’m off!
I’m bullet pointing this one cause I’m tired and cranky.
- Good news is that I have a ton of transcription work. Bad news is that I have a ton of transcription work and I just spent the entire day typing. And then Boo wants me to read him a story at bedtime. And then hubby and him go through a tortuously slow bedtime ritual which I interrupt cause I just want to get it over with cause I’m still not finished working.
- I’m on set tomorrow. Yay!
- I’ve been bothered a lot lately by a few bodily irritations that are highly annoying and most likely related to my nether regions not responding like they used to due to hormonal swings. Another is that my hips are aching ever since I went jogging downhill a few months ago and my hip flexors still hurt (despite epsom salt baths and stretching).
- I gave up coffee for about 10 days or so because I have developed an embarrassing problem with my back end (ahem). It’s a bit overactive and irritated for some reason particularly after I have a bowel movement. I know caffeine can be a harsh on the bowels but I really don’t drink a lot and I never had this problem before. So I tried giving up the one cup a day I had. It helped a little bit but the problem didn’t really resolve totally. Tried water with lemon and green tea which was a bit better but not cured. I talked to my doctor about it and she did a quick exam, but found nothing out of the ordinary. I may have to go back but other than the usual wait for an appointment with a specialist, I will continue add more fibre to my diet. I would hate to go to a specialist after a 2 month wait only to hear that I need Metamucil or something like that. I’ve never needed a fibre supplement in my life.
- Speaking of diets, I’m back on the evil sugar train again. Arrgh, I give it up every morning and back on it every night. I got my period today so that explains that binge. My skin is also looking like crap so I’m upping my water intake again.
- Money is tight but I need to go back to the gym, so as soon as school starts again, I`m back to the rec centre. I’m working and paying for it and I need to make my well being a priority. Not asking permission, not “is it okay if I,…?” Nope.
- I got my hair done earlier this month! Back to single braids. Cost me more than I was quoted but no tip for her, I’m afraid cause I had to put gas in the truck. I have to admit, it really lifted my mood! I felt like I had my groove back!
- I got carded at the liquor store.
- I finished a book! The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson. This is a miracle!
- Just paid $2K to get the damn truck brakes fixed. Yup, no choice, there was that telltale shimmy on the highway. Just when I was making headway on my credit card. Thanks for that.
- Did I mention we just managed to pay rent this month?
- Times are a little tough, but I am determined to overcome all obstacles.
The Eight Winds
Worthy persons deserve to be called so because they are not carried away by the eight winds: prosperity, decline, disgrace, honour, praise, censure, suffering and pleasure. They are neither elated by prosperity nor grieved by decline. The heavenly gods will surely protect one who is unbending before the eight winds. But if you nurse an unreasonable grudge against your lord, they will not protect you, not for all your prayers.
(Passage from “The Eight Winds”, The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin, p794)
Today was BC Day and it’s a stat holiday. Really, it’s a made up holiday because the other provinces have one. Or you can go for the official explanation. However, I did find out that a good friend’s grandfather had a hand in designing BC’s provincial flag. We usually go over to visit the in-laws, but it’s getting increasingly more expensive for us to go visit them for at couple of days. And hubby’s brother has returned from England and is now staying with them in their small home. Yeah, that’s a whole other story and I’m not telling it.
We’ve done a lot over the past few days. We finally went bike riding in the Seymour Demonstration Forest. We had a little warm up first by going the wrong way on a gravel path that was leading to a small river….downhill. So of course, we had to go back up. Did I mention it was a very hot day? Anyway, we made it back to where we needed to go and had a easy and shady ride in the forest. I loved it and I would definitely go back with the family or even on my own. Later, I made my family go to our local splashpark to visit the local firefighters, get a balloon and hang out and enjoy the warm evening. Next day it was off to the pool (heated) with a friend of Boo’s and I didn’t even have to go, but I went anyway. Then we went to a farmer’s market Saturday morning (with much grumbling by hubby). I had to really stand my ground on that one. It’s not necessary to entertain your kid 24/7 and for once, I got to do something I wanted to do for a change. It wasn’t for a long time, and there wasn’t as much going on there as I thought there would be, but so what? Then we went to visit my mum and we brought her to a local playground so hubby and Boo could play a bit. She became quite agitated (cue yelling and whooping) when we arrived but by the time we got to the park, she was calm and I could see that my mum had “returned” to me for a little while. That was really great.
On Sunday, I proposed that we all go to the Pride Parade for a little while via transit. Once again, grumbling ensued about how we would get there (via public transit), how long it would take to get there, whether we should take a bus once we got off the seabus or walk there. We had a late start that morning and hubby was certain we’d miss the whole thing. No, not by a long shot, in fact, we left before it ended. (We took a bus going there and walked back along the seawall on the way back to the seabus.) That was a 10,000 step day. And then we went to a friend’s place to gratefully eat and relax and hang out til late. Awesome.
Finally today, another late start, but we finally got the grocery shopping done and then I took Boo over to a friend’s to hang out in their complex’s pool. That’s twice, I’ve been in a pool in one week! That’s a record for me. No, I don’t swim and I don’t particularly enjoy standing around in water. I’m basically there to make sure my kid doesn’t drown or get run over by the big kids. But my motto this summer is if it’s free to attend, I’m in! Summer days are flying by and I’m going to enjoy as many community events as I can!
The past couple of weeks, Boo has been spending a lot of time with his “cousins” and having sleepovers. He told my husband that he would like to have 3 brothers. Of course, the thing is that Boo actually does have 2 (half)brothers, one older and one younger but quite young. Yes, he knows he’s adopted and he’s aware that he has a birthmother but I purposely left out the stories of his brothers. For now. My gut tells me it would really sadden him if he could not be with them right away. At the age of 5 he’s quite aware in the age of Skype and everything is instant to him. They are miles away in a different country and sadly, at the moment, we don’t have the means to travel there at the drop of a hat. Frankly, that’s not the main point anyway. The point is that getting to know them would mean getting to know his birthmother as well. I don’t think any of us is quite ready for that.
One of the reasons I pined for a 2nd child was because of him. Since Boo was very young, he would ask me about having a little brother or sister and I’ve explained to him that that was not possible. He accepted that and moved on, never asking again, but I know his heart. He’s never been one of those children who don’t mind their own company. If he’s not glued to his dad, he’s asking to play with friends. He’s kind and compassionate with younger children and even when he was 2 years old, he would take the hand of a nearby crying child to draw him back into the storytime circle. It fucking broke my heart that I could not wade back into the adoption process to add to my family.
We’ve been lucky that my husband’s best friend is his godfather and has always accepted him into his own family as just that, family. He has a picture of him on his wall right next to his two boys and cares for him deeply. His sons are his cousins not by blood but by love.
It’s not that Boo complains or even asks questions, but it’s something we acknowledge as a loss. Having lived as long as I have, I can say with authority that sometimes having friends as your family can be just as rewarding as blood related siblings. If not better in certain cases.
Back at the beginning, everyone agreed that when he was 18, Boo would meet his birthmother if he wished. That seemed like a lifetime ago and I truly believe that it won’t be that long before they do meet. Again.