Adoption by Another Mother

Tammy will have to adopt her daughter.

We live in an area that allows gay adoption (similar to straight adoption but more fabulous), but because there are so many shitty parts of this country that do not allow gay couples to adopt and we can’t risk being in such a place if/when an emergency happens, we have to spend thousands of dollars on a lawyer to draw up the necessary paperwork, spend a couple of months in limbo, go before a judge, be deemed fit, and then go back to living our lives exactly as they were before, but more…legal.

Insert jazz hands. Legalistic jazz hands.

I’m torn about the whole thing, to be honest. Part of me is insulted that gay couples have to go through this. If a straight couple has to use a third-party to reproduce (i.e. donor gametes), they don’t have to go through all this once they finally achieve their longed for pregnancy. It’s automatically assumed that whatever the mother gives birth to is automatically genetically related to the couple that is assumed to have created it.

But on the other hand, I’m certainly not gambling with my child. Our family will not be the test case family. Sorry. Too precious, too scary. Too much to lose.

*****

While we’re on the general subject of adoption, can I throw a few (virtual) thoughts at you? Keep in mind that my thoughts are colored by my own interactions with people who were adopted or gave up a child for adoption, and my future experience of what we lovingly refer to as a half adopted child.

I have three cousins that were adopted. One of my adopted cousins has passed away so I have no way of knowing what he would have wanted to do, but the other two had different reactions to wanting to find out about their roots. One has reconnected with her birth mother (with the support of her adoptive parents), has gone to visit her and they are friends on Facebook. My other cousin started to investigate his birth parents (again, with the support of his adoptive parents) but after not much effort decided to stop looking. There could definitely be more to his story (maybe he found out something he didn’t want to know? Maybe he got overwhelmed?) but for now, he’s just living with the information he has. Neither of my living adopted cousins wish they had stayed with their birth families, or that they hadn’t been adopted.

My SIL gave up a child because she got pregnant as a teenager, and her family shamed her into it. That’s the long and short of the situation. She recently found the girl online.  My SIL wrote her a letter asking to meet up with her, but the girl, now a woman, declined, for reasons unknown to me.

I also have a friend who is adopted, and I’ve had a lot of long talks with him recently about his experience. It’s a long and complicated story, and while he loves his adoptive family, he feels like adoption is a traumatic, brutal and cruel thing, and every human being has the right to know where they come from. He’s gotten very involved in the adoption rights community.

Obviously, our child’s situation will be different from those I briefly sketched out above. She will know half of her genetic heritage, and we chose a donor specifically because he had agreed to be contacted when any offspring turn 18, should they want to know more about that side of their genetics

Our child will grow up knowing a kind man, called a donor, gave a small bit of himself to help Mama and Mommy make her. Parts from Mommy and parts from the donor made her who she is. She will know that Mama and Mommy are her parents, and that families come in all shapes and sizes. I’m a firm believer that genetics are only a part of who you are…but it’s easy for me to say that, as a person who knows all about her family.

I worry that our child will at some point start to romanticize the donor, or think of him as her dad. Will she wish that she was growing up with him and not us? Probably at some point she will. She will probably say something along those lines to us when she is angry at us. But as much as I try to prepare myself for that moment (or those moments) I know that hearing it will be like a knife in my heart. What happens if our daughter feels like we robbed her of something? What if she resents us? What if her life is less than, because she didn’t grow up knowing what Tammy and I both knew about our families?

What are your thoughts, dear readers? Do you support adoption? Do you think, like my friend does, that adoption should be an absolute last resort? Or do you think it is a beautiful way to build a family? Or is it somewhere in between? What about people using donor gametes?

What rights do children have to know about their genetic history?

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The Measure of a Woman

I never really knew my grandmother. She died when I was a kid, but I don’t remember a time when she wasn’t sick. She had Alzheimer’s.

GrandmaGrandma, going fishing, probably around 1935.

My only real memory of her revolves around this antique doll she kept at her house. My sister and I were playing with it once, when I was about 6. She saw us playing with the doll and came running into the living room. “Stop that!” she shrieked. “That’s MY doll!” She snatched the doll out of my hands and whacked me aside with it. She thought she was a little girl again, and some other kid was stealing her best toy.

My other memories of her are a hodgepodge of her laying in the hospice/elder care home we moved her to when my Grandad could no longer take care of her. Her Alzheimer’s was in a fairly advanced state at this point, and she no longer talked or walked. My mom would bring my sister and me to see her once a week, and we would shuffle in, awkward and unsure. We’d say a few things to her, prodded by our mother, but Grandma never looked at us or responded. I was always relieved to get out of that room. I felt like I had escaped some looming terror.

She died of pneumonia following a stroke when I was ten years old.

The grandma that I didn’t know was a study in contradictions. Born on a tobacco plantation in southern Maryland, she was raised to be a southern lady and was bewildered by the changes that the 1960s and her hippie children brought. She was shy and gentle, to the point of running from cameras and never standing up for herself when her husband bullied her. But she also left home before she was married, and lived on her own during World War II. She moved to Baltimore and ran a steel mill and played the drums in an all women band. She later married a divorced man (my Grandad, who converted from Catholicism after his first marriage so he could re-marry) and became a military wife. She never worked outside of the home again. I wonder if she used up the last of her will to rebel before she married, or if it slowly leaked out of her like a deflating balloon as the weight of life bore down on her shoulders.

Grandma & Grandad

My grandparents, sometime in the 1940s, before they married.

My mom says the one and only time she remembers her mother yelling at her as a child was this: It was the mid 1950s, and my Grandma was trying to vacuum the stairs. My mom was very young at this point, probably 4 or 5, and she was trying to help my Grandma, but was of course mostly in the way. My Grandma was probably frustrated and tired and worn out from caring for three small children while moving from military base to military base all over Europe. She apparently turned to my mom and snapped something like “S___ will you quit?! You’re in the way!” My mom’s eyes filled with tears, and she told my grandma that she was “trying to help.” My grandma turned off the vacuum, sat down on the stairs, and pulled my mom onto her lap. “Oh S___, I’m sorry. You’re right, you were helping and I’m sorry I yelled at you. Thank you for being my helper, and I love you.” She never yelled at any of her children again.

Grandma & Grandad w Grandaughters

My grandparents with my sister, me, and two of my cousins, sitting on the porch steps to my Grandma’s family plantation home in the 1980s.

But contrast that gentle love with the same woman who believed the sharecroppers that worked her family’s land were a different species, some kind of sub-human that should not have any kind of meaningful interaction with “her kind,” and was never able to reconcile her racist beliefs with the ’60s race revolution.

A woman who, along with my Grandad, paid off three different girls who got “in trouble” by my uncle in high school to “deal with the problem”. What exactly that means (adoption, abortion, etc) was never made clear.

A woman who donated so much blood during World War II that she became sick and weak, and her health never really recovered. She would remain fragile for the rest of her life.

And she was also a woman who had at least one miscarriage, and then a surprise baby at age 44. A woman wouldn’t let anyone tell my aunt that she was a “mistake,” and laughed and smiled as my mom, 11 years old, danced her baby sister around the living room, calling her “blondie angel,” and “my first baby.”

Grandma w Kids

My mom and her siblings with my Grandma in the early 1960s.

She was also the woman who never, ever said a word when my Grandad would say, at every meal “C____, get up and get me another drink!” despite the fact that to get the milk out of the fridge, he wouldn’t even have to get out of his chair. Every single meal, for years, my grandma hopped up without complaint, until my mom and her siblings started to talk back for her. “Get it yourself, Dad!” they would exclaim.

My grandma would have been 97 this month. I miss a woman who I never knew, someone who I never will know.

Happy Birthday, Grandma.

Like a Sleeping Baby

Thank you, lovees, for your helpful suggestions yesterday. Last night I had a snack before bed (whole wheat toast with peanut butter), took a unisom, put in ear plugs, and went to sleep, blissful sleep. I only woke up three times to pee. While I wouldn’t say I feel like a new woman, I DO feel like I can function and that I remember my own name. Which is a marked improvement. I’ll take waking up 3 times versus waking up 10 times for all and sundry reasons any day of the week.

I do feel a little silly for freaking out yesterday on my blog. A gigantic THANK YOU and a hearty smooch to everyone for not pointing out that a) it was only two nights, so, you know, buck up and b) I’m going to have a baby (knock on every type of wood available) in threeish months, and perhaps I should get used to sleep deprivation?

Because here’s the thing: both of those thoughts had occurred to me, even in my befuddled state. YES, it was only two nights. Apparently (she said, sheepishly) I had a bit of a panic attack that this was my new reality and how would I function and OMG what if my heart just exploded like one of those Japanese executives that work 20 hour days and end up keeled over in front of my cubicle or oh God what if I’m at home and Tammy’s out of town and the cat runs out of food and eats me and they discover my partially eaten body days later? …like I said, I don’t do so well without sleep.

Which brings me to the next point, which is that we’re going to have a baby soon, and babies, despite being delicious, are not widely known for their sustained sleeping. I am aware of this fact, and have gone into this pregnancy with my eyes open about the difficulties we will face once the baby is here (and there are plenty, believe me). I know that sleeping will be a challenge, I know that. But first of all, I won’t be having to get up for work like I am now (for at least three months, hopefully four if we can swing it financially). And right now (subject to change), we are anticipating that I will sleep in the guest room with the baby in a bassinet once Tammy goes back to work (after two or three weeks) so that she can be in charge of basically everything except feeding and wiping baby bum until I can get my metaphorical feet on the metaphorical ground. We’re basically anticipating that I will be completely useless around the house (cooking, cleaning, laundry, conversating, etc) for a while. Thus my freezer meals. And my parents helping out around the house.

And, hey. We could end up with a good sleeper. I was, apparently. My mom said by like two weeks I was going down around 7, sleeping until midnight, waking up then to be fed, and then sleeping again until 5 or so. After the early morning feeding I would fall back asleep and go until 8 or 9. Why, that’s downright civilized for a two-week old! As much as my parents like to cackle about me getting a child just like I was (read: a handful), in this instance I hope they are right.

I Need Some Advice

I feel like crap.

For the past two nights I’ve woken up every hour or so, and wake up a final time in the morning feeling like utter garbage. I wake up to pee, I wake up because Tammy’s snoring, I wake up because I’m uncomfortable, I wake up because I’m too hot, I wake up because I’m too cold, I wake up because my back hurts, my arm hurts, my what-the-fuck-ever hurts. And last night I woke up at 3am because my stomach hurt. I was up for almost two hours with stomach pain – menstrual like cramps, nausea, a few stabbing pains here and there.

So what the fuck people. I’m sorry if I’m coming across as a whining pregnant lady to a bunch of people who would love nothing more to be in my shoes, but I’m desperate here. I know it’s only two nights, but I’m a sleeper. I crave sleep. Deep, luxurious sleep that you melt into. When I don’t sleep, nothing works right. I’m clumsy, thick tongued, sore throated, queasy, short tempered, close to tears.

And today I have the added bonus of my stomach *still* hurting. Plus my fingers are swollen, which makes trying to type and do any kind of work freaking annoying.

What do I do? How do I sleep? How do I fix this? Any and all advice is welcome.

All Clear/Swooning/Eye Roll/Answered Prayers

All Clear
Baby Girl Pirate is just fine. Whatever it was, it is no longer. To say I’m relieved is an understatement, but there are no other words to describe it. We’ll have to go with relieved.

Swoon/Eye Roll
Why has no one ever told me how fun power tools are? Seriously. Fun. My parents loaned us their electric hedge/bush trimmer, as we’ve been trying to maintain our rather formal yard with hand trimmers. When we bought the house we didn’t realize the guy who owned it before us had someone come by a few times a week to take care of the gardening. Upon realizing this fact, we were filled with optimistic anticipation about how good of a job we would do on our own! And how much money we would save! We were sadly, sadly mistaken. Gardening is hard work, y’all. HOWEVER, I have discovered that electric trimmers are a game changer. They slice through bushes like butter. Awesome!

Before I could get out there and start a’trimmin’, Tammy spent the morning shooting me worried looks, and making comments like “just…take it easy out there, babe.” (OK, side note: we went to labor and delivery last weekend because I was having sharp sustained pains in my lower left abdomen. After ruling out all the Scary Bad Things like pre-term labor, organ problems (for me), etc., the doctor decided I had pulled a muscle in my stomach during an over enthusiastic closet re-organization session and sent me home. I tell you this to give context to Tammy’s worries.)

I blithely assured her I would be fine, and raced outside to bring our bedraggled bushes back to their manicured state. Not 15 minutes into my lawn grooming session, Tammy came outside to check on me, still wearing her worried look. It was hot outside (90 damn degrees in October, what the actual fuck is that about) and the trimmer was kind of heavy, so I promised her I would be inside shortly. I kept up my end of the bargain, and trooped inside a few minutes later to find her preparing a huge glass of ice water. She hovered around me while I drank it and asked me no less than five times if I would also like some juice. Or a snack.

Love that woman. She can make me swoon and roll my eyes at her simultaneously, a rare and elusive quality in a person.

wuv u potatoHow I often feel about Tammy.

Answered Prayers
A friend of mine posted something on FB over the weekend that pissed me the hell off:

Yesterday God answered prayers in a way that we couldn’t have even imagined. He is so faithful!! Thank you to our community who was praying for us. Today is going to be a much better day for [name of franchise she and her husband own]. 🙂

FIRST of all, the whole “answered prayer” thing. I’m sorry, but it just makes zero sense to me. Why would god answer YOUR prayers but ignore others? Obviously I’m sensitive about this in the context of pregnancy and babies. Why would god answer one infertile’s prayers and not another? Do you have some direct line? Do you pay for access? Do you have more people praying on your behalf and god somehow tallies prayers to decide which ones to grant? And furthermore, why is it that god is answering prayers about this dumb franchise that you own, but not prayers of, I dunno, people out of jobs entirely, or people with sick spouses/children, or, hell people living in damn war zones, starving to death.

Prayer PositionOk, I figured it out. Prayers are answered when one assumes the correct position.

SECOND of all, what is up with god being faithful to you? Isn’t that supposed to be the other way around? This is not the first time I’ve seen or heard people express that sentiment and I’m still baffled. Are we now the ones to be worshiped? God swears loyalty to us?

FINALLY (although not really finally, I could go on about this all day but I’m sparing you), why is it when good things happen it’s because they’ve been “blessed” by god answering their prayers, and when bad things happen it’s still god, but it’s “all part of his plan” and “we aren’t meant to understand”. Why the fuck not? We can understand when we’re “blessed,” so are we being cursed on the flip side? Is that how I should understand it?

Is there really some magical/divine presence that directs our lives like an air traffic controller? If so, does he/she/it decide how our lives are going to go before we’re born, sometime during our lives based on behavior, or based on past lives behavior? Because if it’s before we’re born, that’s kind of fucked up, no? That someone could be born doomed to live in pain and fear and hunger, and someone else be born with a silver spoon shoved up their ass? (Granted, that does sound rather painful.) I cannot accept the argument that god makes things happen to us based on behavior, because I think we’ve all seen some mighty fucked up things happen to wonderful people, and vice versa. Like pregnancy – some of you out there struggling deserve to be parents way more than so many people I know. And yet your struggle continues.

Why? It makes no sense. But fuck being “blessed,” and fuck “answered prayers.” I call bullshit.