Saturday, January 31, 2009

perspective on adoption

Paula at Heart, Mind and Seoul posted this very personal and heartfelt post "Twenty-Three Things this Korean-Adoptee Thought About as a Child." Her thoughts and experiences have provided much insight to me as I intentionally prepare to parent a child of a different race. Thanks Paula for your honest musings. There are many of us who are listening.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

reaching the point of grace

A good friend and I recently had dinner together and chatted about each of our concerns in life. She mentioned how one particular CD of music helped her through a very dark time. The music is written as if it is God singing the words to you. It’s like listening prayer. She lent me the CD and encouraged me to really listen to the words and to listen often so that the messages become a part of me.

I’ve been listening. And there is one song in particular that has stood out for me. I’m not a huge fan of people posting words to songs etc. on a blog because without the music it’s often hard to grasp the significance surrounding a song. But I really felt compelled to post the words to this song. May they touch you as they have me.

The Point of Grace by Dennis Jernigan

When the fire of life leaves you so dry
That your eyes have no tears left to cry.
When heartache leaves you wondering why
Or wondering how you will survive.
When you’ve grown too tired to run the race
Find your strength is gone without a trace.
When you’ve reached that lonely, desperate place
You have reached the point of grace.

I will meet you there where your striving ends.
I will hold you there in My embrace.
You will find the place where true joy begins
When you’ve reached the point of grace.

When your hopes and dreams begin to fade.
Disappointment clouding all the plans you’ve made.
Feeling lonely, broken and afraid
It seems so long since you have seen the light of day.
When it seems like every trial you face
Leaves you one step closer to the place
Where you fall away or reach for My embrace.
Child, you have reached the point of grace.

Just let go and you will see
Just how mighty love can be.
Child, your greatest strength is when you’re weak
Looking up from your brokenness to Me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

the theory of sleep

Mama2roo’s comment on my post about the things I’m looking forward to when baby comes said this...
I'll share from my own experience--thought since I actually wasn't the one giving birth that it'd be SO EASY with the sleepless nights, etc. I was SO WRONG.
This comment
reminded me of something I once heard...

Apparently when a woman is pregnant she experiences hormonal shifts during her last trimester that actually prepares her body to deal with the sleepless nights associated with a newborn. Plus, because she is so uncomfortable she ends up sleeping less during the night hence preparing her and her body to be able to function without a lot of sleep. A woman who adopts a child does not experience any of these hormone shifts etc. and her body and mind aren’t as prepared for little to no sleep.

Now before those of you who have birthed children dispute this theory with horror stories of sleeplessness let me first say that I don’t think this is a competition to see who experiences less sleep the worst. I’m not trying to make excuses for women who adopt newborns. And I get that the labor experience plus healing that occurs afterward is no piece of cake and can impact how someone does post-natally. I just thought it was an interesting theory and with at least one friend who adopted a newborn it seemed to be true. And it sorta makes sense to me. Not much will change in my life up until a baby is placed with us. I’m not getting larger and uncomfortable. I think this visual and physical change not only causes a woman to slow down but it also starts preparing her mind for what is about to happen. Those of us who adopt newborns don’t experience this same sort of preparation.

I also can’t remember exactly where I heard this theory of sleep but I’m pretty sure it was at a conference while I was working with prenatal and postnatal women. I tried to google it but couldn’t think of great search words. If anyone can affirm or dispute this theory please do.

So even though I’m trying to prepare my mind for what life with a newborn will look like, the sleepless nights just might hit me harder than I think. I guess time will tell. I’ll have to revisit this post whenever a baby is placed with us to let you know what the real deal is.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

laugh out loud

I feel myself settling into a bit of a funk. Must. Fight. It.

So I'm posting this more for myself and anyone else who needs a pick me up. You've likely seen this video clip before but it's just too cute and funny not to share again. Laughter is certainly contagious. May you find ways to add bits of good gut-wrenching laughter to your day.


Friday, January 23, 2009

this might sound odd but...

Okay, I know I'm supposed to be working on being in the moment and not look ahead to the future. But the other day I was reading a post on what a waiting adoptive mom was looking forward to when a child is placed with her. This got me thinking about what I was most looking forward to and realized that my list was a little odd!

I’m looking forward to…

Waking up in the middle of the night for feedings
Diaper changes
Spit up
Exponentially more laundry
Needing a nap
Diaper rash
Not being able to go out as easily

Incessant crying
Feeling so tired my bones ache
Toting around a diaper bag
Taking 3 times as long to do absolutely anything
Pushing a stroller through all the elements mother nature can throw at me

What did I miss?

I feel ready for the hard stuff. Although I might feel different after walking up multiple nights in a row at 3 in the morning!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

happy bday to me...

Today I turn 34. Wait a minute…is that right? Thirty-four! How the heck did that happen?! The early 30’s are slipping away from me! Eek!

I’m really struggling with this birthday. Typically birthdays come and go for me without a ton of fan fare. They are significant but yet not, all at the same time. I generally don’t have a problem with getting older. I loved turning 30 and totally embraced it but this year highlights my continual aging process without children. Another birthday. Another year gone by…all 365 days worth. And still no kids. I must say that D has really worked to make this day extra special, he woke up early to make me Belgium waffles! What a sweet man I have!

I didn’t want to be an older mom. I have an older mom and I didn’t want to be that for my kids. I wanted to be the cool mom that dressed trendy and still understood what it was like to be young. A friend recently assured me that we would be older cool moms to young children together but I’m not feeling it right now. I’m feeling old. Fine lines and saggy parts have settled in. I have limited energy and oomph. I realize that many women enter the adoption world quite a bit older then me but considering I got married all those years ago I would have expected a family by now! On the flip side D and I sure have built a solid foundation to our marriage. And this is definitely important for building a family.

Oh well. Happy Birthday to me. Good food and good company…along with a glass of wine or two are on the agenda tonight!

Monday, January 19, 2009

we were on the 5 year plan

D and I were on the 5 year plan. We got married when we were both quite young and our expectation was that after about 5 years or so we would start a family. Twelve years later we’re still working on that one. It’s like I had my life planned on an Etch-a-Sketch and someone shook it all away, started redrawing the plan but didn’t allow me a glimpse of where we were headed.

I often wonder how we got here…to this place where we’re both quite a bit older then we had ever hoped with no kids. I guess life happened. A string of events starting from D getting laid off, to us moving to the States for 3 years, to me having difficulty finding employment once we were back in Canada delayed our start. The timing just didn’t seem right, there was always something else that took precedence in life. But now that we’re in our current position of childlessness after 12 years of marriage I wonder about the choices we’ve made along the way. Should we have thrown caution to the wind and tried to conceive while living in a different country with D in school and my income barely covering living expenses? We both would have been younger…how much of a difference would that have made to our fertility? Sometimes I could just kick myself and our “responsible” decision making process during that time. We thought we needed to save money, have more stability in our lives, wait for D to finish grad school and get a job, wait for me to find employment once in Canada to accrue hours for a maternity leave. Well…I’ve certainly got the hours!

I can’t go back and redo parts of life. I get that we all make the best decisions and choices we can with the information that is available at the time. And we all have to deal with the consequences of our choices. But…I guess my big lesson in all of this is to not necessarily wait for x,y,z to happen before making important decisions in life. Don’t let finances and ideal situations get in the way of dreams and desires. If you wait for everything to be perfect, you just might find yourself in an imperfect situation. And I’m not just talking about us potentially having a bio kid because we would have started trying earlier. Had we discovered our infertility earlier we would just be that much further in the adoption process.

I want to be clear that I’m quite okay with where we’re at right now and pursuing adoption, I feel that this is right for us…but as I struggle in the waiting I sometimes wonder what might have been if I had listened to my baby urge all those years ago.

An encouragement for me to spend more time following and listening to my heart versus my head.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

last clip, i promise

Just one more clip from the Adopted movie...

This is why I think that colorblindness is an ideal and not realistic in the context of today’s society and world we live in. We must acknowledge the differences between parents and transracially adopted children. This whole thing isn’t for the faint of heart. I believe that it takes great effort, awareness, and intentionality to parent a child of a different race. Definitely can’t stick your head in the sand and ignore the multitude of issues that will come up for you, your child, and your family as a whole.

D and I are quite aware of how our lives will change the day we become parents. There will be quite a few more changes and challenges for us then those who parent biological children or adopt a child of the same race. We will forever stand out in a crowd and will likely need to field intrusive questions from strangers from day one. But in the end it is about the child and our responsibility to see color and difference, and do our very best at being intentional in our parenting and being a transracial family.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

clip from adopted the movie

Here is an interesting clip from the Adopted movie called "Its Not Fair".

Initially I thought that the mom’s comments to her daughter were okay. However after reading the comments posted (of which a few I know are from an adoptee) to this clip I have realized otherwise. The comments indicate that by sharing her grief of the adoption experience, this mom shifted the focus of that specific conversation from her daughter’s feelings/emotions to her own. A better response for this mom would have been for her to validate her daughter’s feelings and allow her the space to be angry, sad, frustrated….and every other emotion she is feeling. She could have just said, “I’m so sorry that you’re hurting”, held her and cried with her. She could have created space for her to talk about her emotions and the complex issues she has to deal with by being a transracial adoptee.

Sometimes I can take what people say at face value and not think critically about the topic or comments. This happens to me all the time and I think it mostly stems from feelings of inadequacy and non-smartness. I often place little validation on my own thoughts about something when speaking with someone who has a very strong opinion like the woman on this video clip. This mom is experiencing adoptive parenting and the clip made it into the movie, so then I think of course the way she responded to her child is appropriate. Wrong. I’ve got to sharpen my critical thinking skills!

There are some things that I feel really confident in related to this adoption such as ethics, importance of all triad members, awareness of open adoption principles, the fact that this child will feel abandonment no matter what I say, issues related to transracial adoptions, etc. But because I’m not yet parenting through adoption I don’t have the answers at my finger tips on how to respond to a 10 year old child with questions. And I think this is okay. I don’t have to have all the answers yet, I’ve got some time to learn. What is of utmost importance is that I’m open to learning from all sides of the triad (thank goodness for blogs!) and know that this will be a life long journey for D and me. I love what the young woman says in the trailer for the Adopted movie…”They adopted me…it’s not my journey…it’s OUR journey.”

Saturday, January 10, 2009

adopted the movie

Has anyone seen Adopted: The Movie? Let me know if you have and your thoughts. I just came across this documentary which looks like a gem.
Adopted reveals the grit rather than the glamour of transracial adoption. First-time director Barb Lee goes deep into the intimate lives of two well-meaning families and shows us the subtle challenges they face. The results are riveting, unpredictable and telling.
I’d really like to purchase it but it’s quite pricey. I’ve asked our Canadian agency if they have it or would consider buying it. Considering this agency only does international adoption I think it would be a worthy addition to their library. Maybe I’ll have to pool my money with a few other adoptive parents to make a joint purchase!

Here is the trailer:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

longing for contentment

What does it mean to be completely content?

D and I were talking the other night about how we too often look forward to some future event for contentment. Once so and so happens...THEN everything will be good in life and we'll feel content. We both have a tendency to lean towards this line of thinking. What this does though, is rob us of the pleasure of today.

Currently I am struggling with being okay with today and not looking ahead to being a mom and how much I want my life to change. This is most apparent for me while at work. It's so hard to start a new project or work on something that isn't urgent because I'll daydream about the day we finally get "the call" and wonder if it's worth putting in extra effort at work if I'll just be leaving anyway. My work day becomes very long when I think this way. And it doesn't help that I have large windows in my office...perfect for day dreaming!

Do you remember when Oprah did that gratitude journal thing? I had one of those journals and still remember writing in it. I wonder if it's time to revisit that idea (not in a cheesy sort of way but rather taking a real look at life and gratefulness). These days I'm feeling less and less grateful for the blessings I have in life, the here and now. Instead of wishing away parts of my life my desire is to be grateful for what I do have and content with where I am at in life.

I want to learn how to live in today. To capture the power of Tiggerness I think it's about knowing how to spend time living in the moment of each day. It's still important to plan for the future but all my problems won't disappear the day we become parents. In fact, life as we know it will turn completely upside down and a bunch of new problems will be created! The thing is that I feel ready for that new world. I'm not naive in what parenting will look like. We are old enough to have seen many of our friends become parents and know what the real deal is. Nevertheless acknowledging today for today, and trying to find contentment with where I am in life is important.

This is what I'm searching for as I desire a Tigger filled kind of life.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

is it a competition?

Well, we’ve got one potential adoption situation and its subsequent disappointment** under our belt. (Believe me, I’m not looking for notches on my belt…hope we don’t have to go through this multiple times). When we found out our profile would be among a few shown to this particular expectant mom we were both struck with feelings of competitiveness. How would our profile (letter and pictures) stack up to the others? Did they pick better pictures, write a better letter? I found myself pouring over our profile wondering if it was good enough. How would she see us? Did we share enough information or too much? Maybe we should have left out that goofy picture of us at Disney!

I know intellectually that this is not a competition. I’ve been told that when expectant moms chose a family to raise their child it’s generally because of an overall feeling of connectedness to that family, not necessarily because one has a bigger house than the other. How can it be a competition when so many lives and deep feelings are involved? I even found myself praying for the other prospective adoptive parents in our situation. After all was said and done (even had she placed) I knew there would be a few couples left disappointed and I would imagine that their emotions were just as raw as mine. Even so, I can’t shake this silly feeling of being compared and in competition with other potential parents.

It’s a strange competition type feeling. We were up against people who were in exactly the same position as us. The one thing we all had in common was our desire to be parents through adoption. This commonality tends to bring people together since it’s not everyday you meet someone who has or is in the process of adopting – an instant bond is generally created. However, in this situation, our common desire put us in separate corners. It’s not a great feeling, this one of competitiveness. I want to root for the other side, knowing what a life changing situation we are all in. But yet, I need to root for us. For D and me. It’s not about them, but about us. It’s not a competition. It’s a journey. Our story and our journey.

**Although D and I feel disappointment at not becoming parents, we very much respect this mom's decision to parent.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

letting go

It's time to let go.

Last night while in bed, I realized that I am holding on too tightly to this adoption process. I have an ideal of what it will look like and when it will happen. An ideal situation, ideal age of baby, ideal open adoption, ideal time frame. When will I learn that my ideals are just that, and not realistic?

Do you know people whose lives just seem to "fall into place?" Lives which, at least on the outside, seem to have everything going for them - great jobs, marriage, kids, the house, cabin on the lake, etc. I'm sure that there are many things these families are going through on the inside that I don't see, but all I know is what is portrayed. I've never had that sort of idealistic life (I'm sure many haven't) but I sure long for it.

I must begin the process of letting go of my adoption ideals. This is so much easier said than done. Although I have turned to God for guidance and wisdom throughout the process I can't quite give Him the control of the whole thing. Considering adoption consumes my daily thoughts how do I really let go? What does this look like anyway? I doubt I'll stop thinking about adoption. We certainly won't stop making decisions along the way. This is why the cliche of "let go and let God" is so hard. I can't box it up, dump it at God's feet, turn my back, wash my hands, and continue on in life. That is completely impossible. To let go is far more complicating and a bit of a paradox. God calls me to come to place where I can allow Him to carry my burdens. Does that mean I don't feel the burden? That I am free?

Perhaps I'm just too cynical for this. I don't think that I truly believe that good things will happen for me so then how can I let go of my hold on this process. If I can keep control of the situation then it might end up being good, the way I want it to be. The problem with this line of thinking is that I have NO control in adoption anyway! I've only ever had the perception of control.

It's time to let go.

Maybe letting go is less complicating then it looks at first glance. Is it just about trust and faith? Is it about a peace filled heart? Is it about having a childlike faith, knowing that there is a Higher Power involved?

I think this is going to be a daily process for me. A daily reminder to let go. Letting go for me will mean a shift in focus from my adoption related ideals to trusting God with them - not an easy task. However, letting go will not mean that everything disappears magically. I will still feel the emptiness, the anxiety, the uncertainty that comes with adoption.

But maybe, just maybe, I'll have a little more peace about what the process will look like.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

welcoming 2009

Last night was loads of fun. Played games, drank martinis, ate too much food, and toasted to 2009. I don't think I've ever been so excited to welcome in a new year. I hope my expectations of 2009 aren't too high!

We toasted to having a Tigger kind of year. Carolyn said this in her post on making life good:
I do believe in the power of Tiggerness. As 2008 ends, and as you contemplate what sort of 2009 you will experience, my hope is that you will create the sunshine in others' lives that will spill inevitably and powerfully into your own in healthy and lifegiving ways.
I've been having way too many Eeyore kind of moments. Although its okay to have these moments and to be real in life, it's time to usher in more Tigger experiences. I haven't quite figured out how to do that yet when feeling very Eeyoreish. My guess is that it is about my focus. I am continually reminded that God is enough for me. It is in Him that I find my hope. As 2009 begins, my prayer is that I will be mindful of God's promises in the good and not so good times.

My hope is for a lifegiving year. One that is characterized by the power of Tiggerness to positively impact myself and those around me.