Sunday, January 31, 2010

Up or Down?

Being in a same-sex couple has some perks that you don't often hear about. We only have 1 sock drawer since we share all of our socks. If we are behind in laundry we can borrow each others underwear. Bathroom toiletries don't get doubled up to suit his and her needs.

But the main perk? We both put the toilet seat down.


E.V.E.R.Y. time.


Not once in 16 years have I had the horrible sinking feeling of dropping that extra few inches and being met by a cold splash. And since we have pets who either want to drink from the bowl or are rather ungraceful and would otherwise fall in, we also keep the lid shut.

When we had a son join our family, we both vowed that this would be a skill that he would learn early on. One day his future bride would thank us for raising such a thoughtful man. So early on potty-training lessons always included closing the lid. It would become second nature, right up there with washing his hands.

So why is it that every time I have gone into the bathroom in the last week that not only is the lid up, but the seat too?

Where have we gone wrong? Is it genetic? Is the male of our species simply incapable of retaining this knowledge?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who's side are you on anyways?


Thanksgivingmom recently asked me an interesting question:

... you mentioned that you wear two "adoption hats" as it were - and I was wondering, do you think you're most often heard as an adoptive Mom or as an adoptee? Do you sometimes feel that one of those roles negates the "voice" of the other?



My quick reply to her was:

How I'm heard depends entirely on who is listening! First Moms and adoptive moms hear me as an adoptee. Adoptees consider me a traitor to the cause and usually only hear me as an adoptive Mom.



I hate it when other people generalize (ALL adoptees have a Primal Wound don'tcha know!) so I guess I should expand on my answer and not leave it to such gross generalizations.

I have been an adoptee all my life, and only an adoptive parent for the last 7 years. To me, my "voice" always sounds much more slated to my experience as an adoptee. I don't feel like an expert as an adoptive parent. I haven't read all the books, heck, we fell into adoption so quickly that we never even took any of the courses that most PAPs have to go through when they are waiting to adopt.

People go to forums and read blogs to learn, to grow, to find comfort from those who have been down a similar road. And that is why I find adoptive parents hear me as an adoptee. I don't have any more experience then they do as an adoptive parent, but I can share with them my thoughts as an adoptee. And maybe their child will one day have similar thoughts so they can learn and grow from my experiences. First moms can hear what it might be like for the child they didn't get to raise. I can give them insight into what their child may be thinking or feeling.

Adoptees seem to fall into 3 camps: Those who don't like adoption, those who are okay with adoption, and those we never hear from. Me? I'm okay with adoption. Sure it can suck, it can hurt, it would not be my choice if I could build an Utopian world. But I don't feel that I've been scarred for life, that I am wounded or that it is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. For me, it is what it is. And I sometimes get a lot of flack for that from other adoptees. I'm told that I'm in denial. That one day I'll face some real life crisis and realize that all my problems stem back to adoption. They don't understand how I could form my family through adoption. And those are the folks that only hear me as an adoptive parent. My reality as an adoptee is so far from their reality that we just can't connect.

One of the first things that always seems to come up in adoption forums or circles is a proclamation of which side you are on.. "Hi, my name is Andy and I have been an adoptee for 40 years". We start to sound like we are part of some bizarre 12-step program. I think it would a fascinating experiment to host an adoption discussion where people were not allowed to say what their connection to adoption was. I think that people would initially be much more open minded to hearing what others had to say, but that eventually people would start attributing sides to everyone based on their own personal stereotypes.

So yes, I wear 2 hats and my words have different meanings to different people. All that I can do is continue to be honest, offer help and support when I can and persevere on this strange journey called adoption.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Peas

I eat my peas with honey;
I've done so all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on my knife.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Open Adoption Roundtable # 13

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list to participate, or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table.

Publish your response during the next two weeks--linking
back here so we can all find one other--and leave a link to your post in the comments. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

Note from
Andy: I am very privileged that Heather has turned this round over to me to host. Thanks for letting me have a seat at the cool kids table!


We often hear about open adoptions where the two sides don't want the same level of openness. First mothers who don't get updates as often as they would like, or not as many visits each year. Or adoptive parents who want to include their child's first mother in his life, but she is not ready.

But what we don't often discuss is when people on the same side of the triad can't agree on the level of openness in an adoption.
  • It could be a wife who wants a fully open adoption but the husband only wants to send letters once a year.
  • Or a first mother isn't ready for an open adoption but the first father wants to be part of the baby's life.
  • Maybe a spouse isn't supportive of their partner entering into reunion with their first mother.
  • Or a partner who came along after the adoption and isn't comfortable with your relationship with your placed child.
  • And the classic Hallmark movie of the year scenario: Your mother-in-law is convinced that the baby will be snatched away from under your nose if you have an open adoption.
How would you navigate these situations? Does your current relationship impact the type of open adoption that you have? How does this affect your current relationship?


I was first prompted to submit this question to Heather back before Christmas when I was trying to finish up a video to send to Liam's mom "K". I had spent a lot of time working on it and had included some videos of Liam where I could be heard on camera prompting him to tell "K" about this or that. And when I had Hilary view the final product we were able to have a great discussion on how our points of view differ on the openness (or lack thereof) in Liam's adoption.

Everyone comes into adoption shaped by their own life experiences. When people become a couple they are bringing 2 sets of world experiences together and trying to make that work. The best relationships are ones that can celebrate each others perspectives with open minds and clear communication. It's not about convincing each other that your way is better or right, or feeling that you have to abandon your own thoughts in order to match up with your partners. As long as everyone is heard and respected, then you can grow together, even when you disagree.

I came into Liam's adoption with 32 years of my own adoption baggage. I grew up not knowing my first family, had spent 10+ years searching for them, had been "reunited" with Iris and was still dealing with all that this new relationship with my first mother meant.

Hilary did not have any adoption baggage. Sure, she had other baggage and perspectives (as did I) but she was more of a blank slate emotionally when it came to adoption issues. And for us, that has been a great balance. She is able to see when it is "my" issue that is coming up and not Liam's. She can help edit a video and tell me when I'm trying too hard and may actually end up pushing "K" even further away.

It's not always easy to hear. I try not to make myself the adoption "expert" in our relationship or go down the road of "Well, I've read X,Y and Z so I know more then you do". Because really? That never helps. We are in this relationship even-steven. With her I can look at things from a whole different perspective that I would have never even considered on my own. Hilary can hear first hand about how an adoptee feels about certain situations. Do we always agree? Heck no! But we always listen and come up with the best solution for all of us. Sometimes it's her way and sometimes it's mine. And sometimes through discussions, we end up down a third unknown path that just feels right.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Slow-cooker Cook-Off

We do love to cook in our house. Actually, Hilary loves to cook and I reap the benefits (as my girth will attest to!) So when the Parent Support Committee at Liam's school decided to hold a Slow-cooker Cook-Off, we figured that we would enter 1 or 2 dishes (and not just because I'm the chair of the committee either!)

Well, as always seems to happen with us, 1 or 2 has turned into 4. Hilary and I were up late last night dicing, chopping and mixing. And today our house smells DELICIOUS!

Once everything is cooked we will pack up and move it all over to the school. We even have a local celebrity, Chef Richard Julien, coming to judge the dishes tonight. It promises to be a fun night of tasting and mingling with friends. And the end result will be that the committee will produce a cookbook from all the entries so that we can raise money for the school.

I'll be sure to let you know tomorrow if Hilary wins anything!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Somnambulism

I am a big fan of sleep. In fact, I could do it almost anywhere, any time - no lying down required. When we first became parents, I accepted that my night time sleep would be interrupted, but that it was only going to be for a short while. All babies sleep through the night eventually, right?

Not so with wee Liam. By the time he was 9 months old we abandoned all preconceived sleep notions and brought him into our bed out of desperation. And that worked for awhile.

Then we went through a period of night terrors. There is nothing like being in a deep sleep and having a 30 pound whirling dervish start shrieking in you ear.

Then we transitioned him to his own bed. WOOHOO we thought! We would sleep again. Alas, it took over 2 years to fully transition him to going to sleep and staying asleep in his bed.

He's 7 now. I think we've had about 2 years of fairly decent sleep patterns. 28% of his life so far. Not bad..........

But will it last?

This past Saturday Liam had the treat of sleeping in the spare room bed so that he could watch a movie. With all of his sleep issues, one thing has always remained constant: He will NOT get out of bed unless someone is with him. Most parents think this is wonderful! And it is, till he drops his water bottle and it rolls 2 feet from the bed and he won't get up to get it. So he yells at the top of his lungs Mama! Mammmmaaa! MaaaaaaaaaMMMMMMMaaaaaaaaaaa! till you hear him from the other end of the house and have to drop all you are doing and go upstairs to pick up his water bottle. ( and yes, I could refuse and he could learn and yada, yada, but by that time of night I'm too tired to do battle or listen to him carry on, so I cave)

anyhoo...

On Saturday, I was almost asleep when I heard him get up. Odd. but then I didn't hear anything so I went back to my twillighty stage. Then I heard him come THUNDERING up the stairs. Before I could sit up, he was in our room, curled up in a fetal position in a chair sobbing hysterically.

I went over to him and tried to talk to him when I realized he was still asleep. Not knowing what to do, but needing to do something before I froze to death, I picked him up and put him in our bed between Hilary and I. He sobbed, then laughed like a maniac, then sobbed and thrashed and called out for about 15 minutes before he was out cold in my arms. He remembered nothing of it the next morning, and was very confused on how he ended up in bed with us.

His night terrors had never involved sleep walking before. We hoped this was a one time deal and quickly put it past us.

Till last night.

Again, just as I was falling asleep I heard footsteps on the stairs. Now, we have some pretty fat cats, and they can make an awful lot of noise on the wooden stairs, but this sounded like a lot for even them. So I called out to Liam and he answered from downstairs, clear as could be. By the time I got down there, he was curled up on a kitchen chair, crying and FAST ASLEEP. Great! So I carried 50+ pounds of dead weight back up stairs and had to show him how to get back into bed. Because of course, he sleeps in a bunkbed. And after the bruises I ended up with from having him in our bed on Saturday, I had no desire to try co-sleeping with him again. Luckily he climbed up and went right back to sleep.

I'm hoping this is not the start of a new phase. He scares me enough going up and down the stairs at break neck speeds when he's awake. I'll never get any sleep if I have to keep one ear cocked to listen for him getting out of bed in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Crap

So what does you family refer to their bodily functions as? We keep a poster outside the bathroom that gives guests an alphabet full of options to chose from!
Ant Poo
Bear Smells
Cat's Nasty's
Dog Shit
Elephant Turds
Field Mouse Wee Wee
Iguana Number Ones
Jellyfish Diarrhea
Kangaroo Jimmies
Monkey Nuts
Nightingale Faeces
Owl Do-Das
Pirhana Poops
Queen Bee Tinkles
Rabbit Currants
Skunk Stinks
Tortoise Big Jobs
Unicorn Caca
Vulture Droppings
Worm Widdel
Xcelcatapus Nothings
Yellow Hammer Splashes
Zebra ManureWhat is your favorite?


Print by Chris Orr-Ra

Friday, January 15, 2010

So I have this thing.....

and Dr. Google is of no help what-so-ever, so I turn to the next best thing. YOU.

About 2 weeks ago the back of my neck was itchy/dry. I didn't think much of it.

Then it felt a bit worse.

So I stopped wearing my necklace.

Then it felt even worse.

So I put some lotion on it.

And it felt a bit better.

Then I rolled over during the night and strangled myself with the sheet and went AHA! I must have sheet burn (What? I'm a very active sleeper, just ask Hilary!)

So I was very careful every time I rolled over to not have the sheet wrap around my neck (which is probably just a good plan overall)

And, you guessed it, it still got worse.

Today it's at its worse so far. I did wear a sweater with a high collar on it that maybe rubbed it. But Dang! I need this mess to go away.

So shout out the solutions! The diagnoses! The old wives tales! The recipe for smelly mustard plasters! I swear I will try them all!

Just make this go away!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What can happen when you watch home improvement shows

Back when we were DINKS we had more money, more time and more energy then we do now. That's a bad combination when you pair it up with people who like to watch home improvement and decorating shows.

Here are some examples of how our first house was decorated:

  • We tiled our kitchen counters. I have to say, smashing the tiles was the best part of that job! I don't have a good picture of it all finished, but just imagine the pictures below with blue grout!



  • We painted the basement den entirely in stripes! Including the ceiling. This room also had a wooden floor painted purple, but I don't have any pictures of it.



  • Hilary took the time to paint the individual leafs on the border for our room and sponge painted the blue below the border to give it depth and texture.
  • Our dining room had stripes of high gloss oil and matte paint in the same colour below the chair rail

  • Our spare room was PINK with Chinese characters painted in gold adorning the walls. We then had to paint over that PINK to create Liam's nursery. It took many, many coats to cover it.
  • And Liam's nursery was white with all of our friends and family's hand prints in different colours. The brave even did their feet in a border just above the baseboard.

Adoptees and Organ donation

As an adoptee you get used to not being able to answer medical questions at a pretty young age. No I don't know if my father had high blood pressure, I don't even know who my father is. Cancer, diabetes, migraines? Who knows... I might have a genetic link to them, I might not.

I've had the same dentist and doctor for the past 12 years. They stopped asking long ago so I almost forget about it being an issue. Till I read a friend's blog the other day. This friend had gone through all the testing to be a kidney donour. As you can imagine when they are planning to take a chunk out of one person and put it into another, they do a whole wack of tests. Not much point in going to all this trouble if chances are it's not going to work or the recipient is going to end up with some other disease that the chunk might have been carrying.

One thing that Jen discovered in her journey is that adoptees would never even be considered to be a donour. You guessed it... we have no past medical history from our families. So we could have any number of things lurking in our genes.


Well that just sucks.

Not that I had any immediate plans to start handing out spare body parts. But I hate the idea that I don't even have that choice. What if someone I loved needed a kidney? I have a spare. Would I really just have to watch that person suffer and ultimately die because I don't know my father's name? I've always thought that I would be a donor, one way or another. I give blood when I can. I'm on the registry for bone marrow, I've signed my organ donor portion of my driver's license and Hilary knows of my wishes.

This makes me wonder about after death donations. My only knowledge on this topic is what I've learned on TV. But they always seem to have to move pretty fast to ensure that all the organs are still viable, which makes sense. And other then consent forms, nobody seems to be digging into their past history, denying them because they don't have access to open adoption records. It could just be that it would bog down the story line. After all who wants to watch a 1 hour drama where 40 minutes is spent on paper work? Or maybe the need for organs is just so great that they are happy to get whatever they can and just hope for the best.

I have to say though, that if it ever came down to it, my kidney potentially saving someone's life, I would fight tooth and nail to either get the info I needed, or convince the doctor's to go ahead without that info. Because to me, the alternative is not acceptable.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Open Adoption Roundtable # 12

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list to participate, or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. Publish your response during the next two weeks--linking back here so we can all find one other--and leave a link to your post in the comments. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.


A number of bloggers have written about their open adoption resolutions or hopes for the coming year, but Debbie gets credit for suggesting it as a roundtable topic. And a great suggestion it is! Open adoption is all about relationships, after all. Most every relationship can benefit from periodically taking a step back and thinking about emotional or practical changes we'd like to make as we care for others and ourselves.

Call them resolutions, commitments, changes, or choices--how will you be proactive in the area of open adoption in 2010?





Liam's adoption:

With the lack of openness that we have my resolution this year may sound odd. I am resolving to NOT be proactive in the area of open adoption this year. I cannot make "K" respond to us. I cannot force her be a part of Liam's life. There is nothing that I can do that is proactive that will help the situation. More likely I would end up making it worse. If she is not in a place in her life that she can embrace open adoption, then my pushing, cajoling, asking, begging or pleading isn't going to magically fix that. It will just end up pushing her further away.

So I will continue along without trying to change things. Our door will always be open to her. We will continue to send updates and pictures. We will welcome her with open arms when she is ready.

My reunion with my first mother:

Another area of my life that lacks openness! But my resolution for this relationship is different. I want to be proactive this year in seeking out more openness. Again, I can't force Iris to do anything. But I want to be much more up front with her on how her choices affect me. How not telling the daughter she parented (and who still lives at home with her) is hard on me. How being a secret and not allowed to send or receive emails, phone calls or letters from her can be emotionally draining. How all this secrecy makes me wonder every day if she is even still alive. How I would very much like to know my 1/2 siblings on my father's side.

So here's to 2 very different resolutions for 2010!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Monday, January 4, 2010

Perfect Moment Monday

I'm just squeaking in today!




I just recently started working from home. It was a sudden decision, so the only "workspace" I had initially was in our bedroom. Not ideal, but workable for the short term. Over the holidays I got spunky and started rearranging furniture. A spare room/playroom became my office. I still share the space with Liam however. He has a desk, a white board, shelves of board games and a bean bag chair.

Today was the first day that I worked at the new set up and it happens to be the shift that I work late. So when Liam got home from school, my day was really only just starting. He has acclimatized fairly well to having me work from home. He knows that he has to be superdy-duperdy quiet when I'm on the phone, that he can't interrupt me constantly, and that I can't stop and play whenever he wants me to. I do have the type of job that I can still concentrate if he is playing in the room, nattering on to himself as kids are want to do.

He has spent the entire time with me today playing "office". He made himself a laptop out of paper at school, borrowed some of my extra supplies and has set up shop. He has a real computer mouse hooked up to his "laptop" and is even wearing my old headset.

The perfect moment happened when I heard Liam make a telephone noise and the answer it "Attendance Line, Liam speaking!" sounding exactly like I do!