Tuesday, June 29, 2010

full disclosure?

When and where do I disclose verbally that T is adopted? From our skin color I think it is quite obvious that I did not birth this child but do I need to name it in public?

Way back (it feels like forever ago!) right after T was born people would peek into his car seat or the snuggly wrap and comment on his cuteness. We replied "yep, we adopted him x days ago." I think this was a way for us to wrap our brains around the fact that he was indeed ours and that this whole adoption thing had really happened. And because his skin color did not "match" ours it seemed sort of obvious to us that we had adopted him so why not say it.

It didn't take long and I realized that responding this way impeded me from really feeling like his mom. Every time I immediately disclosed the fact that he was adopted I also negated my role as his parent as well as the fact that he is a permanent part of our family. So I stopped doing it.

I have two recent examples of when I did disclose his adoption and afterward wondered if I had needed to name it.

At Gymboree (with baby T):
I'm looking at the sale rack which has some killer deals on pants for a two year old. I wonder if I should get them because who knows what size and shape T will be in two years. But I have a really hard time passing on a super deal. After all he will need pants when he's two. So I start chatting with the sales clerk...
Me: Are the height and weight measurements on the pants usually pretty accurate in general?

Salesclerk: Usually.

Me: I'm wondering about the length. He's pretty long right now.

Salesclerk: But you're not that tall is his dad?

Me: Oh, he's adopted and I have limited information about his first parents.
So. Should I have disclosed his adoption? Or was it okay for her to think he was my biological child? Should I have answered her question with D's height? But isn't that misleading? Since I will continue to shop in this store does that justify my mentioning his adoption? What if we were in a different store where I knew I would never be back?

At a continuing education event on infant nutrition (without baby T):
I'm sitting beside a colleague and my family doctor (it was so weird to see her out of context and then have her sit right beside me!). Breastfeeding is the topic of discussion. My doctor knows of my original intentions to induce lactation and the measures I took last year. My colleague overhears an insider comment to my doctor and asks me if I tried the protocol. Since I have no issues with discussing this and especially because we work in child and maternal health (which is very pro breastfeeding) I chatted with her about my experience. Then the woman who organized the education event took a chair at our table and joined our discussion. She only hears that we are talking about breastfeeding and doesn't know the context. I say something, which I can't remember now, and she asks...
Woman: Did you try breastfeeding?

Me: My son is adopted.
Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. Why is that the first thing that pops out of my mouth? I could have easily and with complete honestly told her that I had tried but it didn't work out. That is the truth. She didn't need to know that T was adopted. Right? Or would my doctor and colleague have thought that I was misleading?

In the second example T wasn't with me so there was no way of her even thinking adoption. But most of the time he is with me. And because I think it's pretty obvious that T is not my biological child I assume that others think the same thing. This assumption usually causes my disclosure. When someone asks me an odd question I'm thinking..."um, have you looked at him and do you see his mocha brown skin??"

But I do believe that I need to rethink my assumptions.

This week I went to my salon for highlights. The stylist was an apprentice (it was cheaper) so not my usual person. I needed to bring T with me and then D was going to meet me at the salon, take T, and switch vehicles. The stylist took me to the back to get started. T crawled around the front foyer area and the receptionist and other stylists looked after him (they always do this, I love this place!). When D arrived he picked up T and came to find me and let me know where the car was parked. After he left the stylist said...
Stylist: So, this is a personal question, but is he adopted?

Me (thinking): um hello?

Me: Yep.

Stylist: Oh, I thought your husband was black.

Me: His skin color is really quite dark for him to be biracial.

Stylist: No. I have a friend whose father is Jamaican and mother is white and her brother is very dark whereas she is much lighter.
I guess this can and does happen. Maybe I shouldn't be quite so surprised when someone assumes that he is my bio child.

I'm just confused about when it's okay to disclose his adoption and when it's okay to let people think what they think. I know the answer to this will come with experience and depend on the situation but in the meantime I'm not sure what to do. It is usually after the fact that I think about a better response, not in the moment -- really dislike that about myself.

I'm sure that thinking about this right now will help with future situations. And I'm quite sure that I'll make mistakes about what to say when. I'm glad I have a bit of time before T will be able to understand these conversations. The pressure will be on when there are little ears listening.

Friday, June 25, 2010

a conversation at costco

Awhile back my sister and I were shopping at Costco. T was with us. We had paid for our items (why is it that you always leave Costco buying more than you intended?!) and my sister was waiting with T while I got a hot dog. An older gentleman approached my sister and asked...
Man: Is this your baby?

Sister: No. He's my nephew.

Man: Why is he so dark?

Sister: Um...because his mom and dad are...

Then she turned away from him signifying that the conversation was over.

People are weird and say even weirder things. This man was likely wondering how a biracial baby was so dark since he would have assumed that one of his parents was white. I wonder what he would have said if I had been with T...

Sometimes it's better to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a new look

I'm trying out some of the new blogger templates. Bear with me if I switch it up before I decide!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

remembering one year ago

One year ago we were chosen.

One year ago we were giddy with excitement.

One year ago we prepared.

One year ago we met an extraordinary woman and her mother.

One year ago we were invited to a last doctor's appointment and heard a heartbeat.

One year ago we nervously stood outside an OR waiting for news about mom and a baby.

One year ago we were stunned speechless when baby was born very ill.

One year ago decisions about bringing baby into Canada were made for us.

One year ago we cried tears of pain as we said good-bye to a woman we had hoped would become a part of our family...and to a baby with an uncertain future.

One year ago we traveled south with an empty car seat...and traveled home with an empty car seat.

One year ago my heart broke like it never has before.

One year later I am in a very different place.

But the experience of one year ago is a part of my story. My journey.

I will never forget.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

9 months old

Baby T is 9 months old.

How did that happen?

I still remember the 7 lbs baby we met in the hospital. T is now a whooping 23 lbs 7 oz and wearing 12-18 month clothing. A big boy!

So much has changed in our household during the past 9 months. Currently there is very little on our floor -- the kitty's food dish has been moved, the stereo speakers are behind the couch, the vacuum and norwex mop come out more often -- as our little one has started to crawl. He also pulls himself up onto furniture or a pair of legs that are often standing in the kitchen.

T has expressed his opinion over solid food -- "you want me to eat what?!" We're still slowly working on purees and the little turkey will only eat bought baby food! Some days he'll only take 3-4 bites, other times he'll eat 1/2 a jar which is considered successful.

We've experienced the terrors of teething. And have become familiar with baby Tylenol. T now has 2 little teeth which are so cute and sharp!

T is a very serious observant baby. When out in public he often won't crack a smile, he is watching, taking it all in. This makes me wonder what his personality will be like.

His first pool experience was fun...T is a fish! This child has no fear. He slipped while crawling all around the pool and dunked his whole head under water. He popped up before any of us could react and continued on as if nothing had happened! I forsee swimming lessons in the fall.

Sleep in our household continues to be at a premium. The nights are okay but naps have taken a turn for the worst. T will usually only sleep for 40 minutes at each nap. One sleep cycle. He has trouble falling asleep again once slightly aroused at the end of the cycle. Would love to figure this one out. He needs more sleep and I need more of a break!

T is a very cuddly baby. He loves to be held and snuggles with both D and I. We love his tight hugs.

Every once in awhile I listen for his babbling and cute baby sounds and am still amazed that he is here and he is ours. I am so proud and so blessed to be his mama. The past 9 months have been a crazy ride.

One that I never want to get off of.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

crash course in transracial parenting

For everyone who is a transracial adoptive parent or who is considering adopting transracially please take a look at John Raible's must read post crash course in transracial parenting. Looks to be quite a challenging course (I've read a few of the books he has suggested and they aren't easy reads) but worth it.

Wish I could find a few adoptive/prospective adoptive parents in my area who are willing to get down and dirty, talk honesty about the adoptee and first parent perspective, and really invest the time and energy to complete a course like this together.

If you know me, live here, and are interested, please contact me!