Monday, June 26, 2006

Dear Amy - My family is using their shower to raise adoption funds

From Newsday...

Baby shower can't finance adoption

Roberta's Note: I personally hate the idea of trolling for funds. This isn't the same as the expectant grandparents offering a special gift. This isn't the same as working a second job or cutting back expenses or making something to sell something.

Those are all generally fine to my way of thinking.

But the blatant, naked call for funds - Help us bring little BooBoo home - gives me the creepy crawleys. (I know very few folks who troll to fund IVF. "My eggs suck, help me find and bake new eggs. Send $$$ to PayPal.")

Before folks commit to adoption, they need to have a legitimate funding plan in advance. Not that you need to have all the $$ upfront, but you do need to be able to say, "Ok, total fees are X. We have Y. We will need to fund through Z, and AA, BB, CC over a XX month period."

It may take a village to raise a child, but via birth or adoption, making a family should be a private matter. Otherwise adoption veers dangerously close to an act of charity far and beyond the desire to parent.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

File Under: What the F***?

I'm always looking for new products and distributors for items I sell in AdoptShoppe.

I came upon a baby blanket wholesaler. Didn't care for what I saw, but then I came upon this. Note it's organized under Baby Blanket/Licensed Crib Throw. Although my mind raced with the comic possibilities, I'll let you make your own jokes.

Scarface = The Baby Blanket

Friday, June 23, 2006

Brangelina & Adopting, Yet Another Party Heard From

Oh, I dunno ... I'm having a hard time getting worked up whether or not Angelina and Brad make another baby or adopt one. Obviously, she loves kids. Guess he does, too. They have a ton of money so why not make a big family.

Does it only count as vainglorious if they adopt to make a big family or is making the babes themselves equally vainglorious? (Every day I'm a little sorry we didn't add one more child to our family. I had no idea how much I loved being a mom until I became a mom.)

Anyway, here is another attack on Angelina, Brad, and international adoption in general. The writer gets the basic facts right, but sheesh, the tone. Go ahead and tell her how much you didn't enjoy her article.

She'd love to hear from you, I'm sure.

How to Shop for Kids the Brangelina Way
Angelina's "looking at different countries" to find another child to adopt. We weigh some likely possibilities.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Thinking about Dads

** My father died in 1975 at 51 from a heart attack. With today's cardiac pharma and technology, I have no doubt he would have survived that first attack and might even still be with us. He was a stout, outwardly gruff man with a tri-color van dyke goatee and thick Hungarian accent. He was super-smart, soft as mush on the inside, a progressive-thinker, and one of the most tolerant individuals I've ever known.

Folks say I have his personality. Perhaps I do with a few more prickles. There isn't a day I don't think of him or use one of his "dad-isms" in a story or post. My kids love the stories about Grandpa Harry.

It's important to note that my dad didn't have his dad, my Grandpa Sam, in his life for the first 13 years of his life. Grandpa left Czechoslovakia for the US when dad was 6 months old. It took Hitler and a 13-year old who wanted to know his father to get my grandmother to finally leave Europe. After Pearl Harbor, my dad at 17 volunteered for the Army and remained in service until he was 22.

The whole dad thing was a mystery to him, but he was charming in his sometimes awkwardness. G-d, I miss him.

** My husband takes his fatherhood duties with great seriousness and responsibility, but the everyday of it still gives him pause. His own dad was and is a standoffish dad and grandpa. Little talking, little sharing, little much of anything substantial. So I play parent coach when necessary :=)

Last night (as we do every Saturday night) was movie night. We watched "Cheaper by the Dozen 2." At the end, a baby is born and a family regroups, recognizing children grow up and out. Hubby was all misty as he gets when the same scenario is played in other movies. Unlike his own dad, the dad to my kids "gets" it.

** My youngest children's birth dads. These are men who are generally cyphers in my children's thoughts. These men are relegated to wisps of biology as my children talk about their first moms with far more interest and regularity, even when I remind them it took 2 people to make them and try to bring the birth dad into the discussion.

But I'll continue to try, to make real the male side of my children's equation.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Eating Good in the 'Hood

This morning we all piled into hubby's Volvo for a trip to Lotte, a large Korean/Asian supermarket in Ellicott City, MD and we had a terrific time and in some ways it was a trip for hubby and me into supermarkets past.

If you're of a certain age, you may remember more neighborhoody grocery stores. Sawdust on the floor, narrower aisles, generally less square footage and the distinct smell of fresh food in the air. Very unlike today's overpackaged, overprocessed mega markets that have absolutely no smell at all.

Lotte has that old-fashioned grocery story smell and look. Live talapia, eel and grouper in the fish tanks. Live crabs in baskets. Tables overflowing with produce.

It was great. Most of the signs and labels were in Korean, Chinese and English as were the labels of most of the products so it made shopping something of an adventure. In addition to the usual produce and meats (we passed on the octopus this time) stuff, we added Korean candy, instant honeyed plum teas, and pineapple soda.

And dinner tonite was fabulous :=)

If you live within an hour's drive of Ellicott City, MD, throw the kids in the car, pack a cooler with ice, and check out the offerings at Lotte (they also have a small department store which we'll explore on other trip.)

If you haven't as yet explored Korean cuisine, here's a great introduction to the common foods, tastes, and spices. (And don't forget the candy :=)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

2006-06 School Year: Retrospective

Okay, last day of school. We moved from MD's second worst performing county school system to its best, into a school district that feeds into the state's #2 high school.

So, was it worth it? Yep, hands down. It was the best thing we could do for our family. This is what the children discovered along with their mom:

** Eldest daughter discovered being smart and well-behaved wasn't enough to getting good grades and certificates of merit. (Last year, with a strong but not stellar academic year, she came home with a raft of certificates. Mostly for having a smile on her face and a sharpened pencil everyday, I think.) She found out that when you don't hand in your homework on time, you get a big fat 0. She was challenged and made friends and found a place to fit in.

** Middle child and son discovered how much learning can go on when the teacher isn't being constantly distracted with behavior issues. "School went really fast here, Mom." He had a solid year of learning and growth.

He made good friends, many who look just like him. Asian-ness, Korean-ness doesn't require a trip in the car to someplace or something. It's not a special event. It's all about next door, the neighborhood, the school and the community. Asian-ness is now the norm.

** Youngest child and #2? Well, she just had a good year making friends and adjusting to a more academically rigorous school system. She doesn't sweat the small stuff much, or the large. She's interested in learning to read/write Korean. We may hire a tutor for her and me. (Son isn't sure he wants to.)

No, it doesn't quite feel like home to me. But it hasn't been quite a year yet in the new digs. But there's no question this was the right move for my family, even if we don't have a Starbucks right in town and everything except the grocery store is always 5 miles or more away.

:: whine ::

I'd do the move again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

And now for something... well, I don't even know what

From McDonald's ...

Yes, this is the actual URL name:

Just leaves me speechless. (And judging from my last post, you know I'm not usually at a loss for words.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

On ThirdMom's blog (please add it to your must-read blog list), I commented on a discussion about adoption, sex, and morality. This was further commented on by a few of the birth moms who have found a sensitive and sympathetic place to share their pain with mostly APs.

Some of what I said was a little misconstrued, I think. But while I have given birth to a child, I was never faced with the choice (a loaded term since for some the decision to place their child for adoption wasn't really a choice at all) of not parenting my child. I can only guess at the depth of that pain which can only be made akin to losing a child by death. And even that doesn't adequately describe it either.

I forget sometimes, that we can only evaluate others through the lens of our personal experience.

Let's talk a little about infertility/miscarriage

I started trying for a family in my mid-30s. Two very early miscarriages that left me sad but undaunted, and then my one and only successful pregnancy. At 39, we tried again. A molar pregnancy (feel free to look it up), and several miscarriages more. This time, each time, the ground would open up and swallow me whole. My sorrow was that I got pregnant easily so I stayed on the treadmill longer than I probably should have. Maybe this one, maybe that one.

The one that crystallized my grief was the one where a chromosomal report had been made. A boy, a son, still not to be.

During this time, I joined a number of post-miscarriage lists for support. Instead, I suppose in part because I did have one perfect little daughter already, I couldn't relate at all. Like we do on adoption lists, the posters would have their special signatures. Angel #1, brought to heaven [this date]. Okay, I can work with that, I thought. My signature simply said, "1 beautiful daughter, too many miscarriages to count"

But what finally did me in were those who had names for each potential son or daughter lost. Even if the pregnancy was only a few days old (called chemical in the infertility world), it merited a name.

Okay, I thought. I'm out of here and I moved to an over-40 infertility group. I spent about two years there. Some opted out for adoption, as I did. Others remained firmly and sometimes grimly on the IVF treadmill. Some like me, had one or two children at home, but wanted just one more. Others were still waiting to bring forth their own fruit.

I never did any IVF or similar. Thought about donor egg for about two seconds and dismissed it. As my RE (reproductive endocrinologist) told me, "Roberta, 95% of our technology is to get the woman pregnant. That's not your problem. Overly ripe eggs that don't divide properly are your problem. So what do you want to do?"

Hubby and I decided to ride two rails and begin to explore adoption and try one more time for a successful pregnancy. I went to "Intro to Adoption" classes 6 weeks pregnant and nauseated. I told my OB I wouldn't consent to one more prenatal exam until I had an ultrasound at 8 weeks.

I did. It was perfect, a little heartbeat and all. I was sick as a dog and hoped that this meant all was well. We went on vacation. Came back for my prenatal.

Next day I started to spot. At 12 weeks, I lost my last pregnancy. A month later, we began adoption in earnest. Not as a cure for my infertility, but as another option that would allow me to extend my desire to parent.

My personal refusal and stubbornness to define myself in terms of failure.

What is resilience? How do we learn it, how do we teach it? We learn how to compartmentalize and how to reframe the experience. (When I divorced my first husband, my mother used to go on and on about the failure of my marriage. I told her the marriage didn't fail. It merely concluded. Now that made her crazy :=)

My secondary infertility/miscarriages didn't make me feel like a failure, but boy, they surely pissed me off. Worse, were the sad faces, the whispers. The prayers to St Jude (patron saint of hopeless causes) from my husband's side of the family. Hey, knock it off already!

"What am I supposed to learn from this?" became a personal mantra. It's not bad, it's a teaching moment!

I couldn't ultimately relate to giving my lost little zygotes names, that would mean my whole personhood was being defined by personal loss. I couldn't ultimately relate to the relentless drive for a second pregnancy, because that too would have defined me by my cranky biology, aging eggs, and an unfilled womb. Uh uh, that wasn't going to fly for me either.

My mother was the poster child for emotionally stuck in a bad place.

In response, I became the emotional equivalent of "MacGyver" - no matter how bad it is, I have the resources and tools to get me out of yet another jam.

Yet in my fear, it was easy to tamp down raw emotions that didn't quite fit the MacGyver mold I developed for myself. I prefer to "do" myself through emotional hurt rather than ponder it, even when ponder is all you can do ... or should do.

Even while awaiting the arrival of our son from Korea, I had to do (I had already completed several needlework and bead pieces) and with that I began to write the first pages of what became

None of us can feel each other's grief. Both my parents are deceased, my husband's parents are still living. He has no idea of what it feels like to be an "adult orphan" (perhaps a posting for another time.) And why should he. This is an event for the future. Merely an abstract at some time ahead.

So how can I expect to understand anything at all about birth mothers who rail at me. Or they me. I can't unless they and I find what is common to our shared losses as well as shared gains. I can give my children everything except a genetic past and linkage, critical elements to who they are and will become. The contribution of every biological parent is the piece of themselves in each child. Deep in the DNA where APs like me can only view from a distance.

We can, we should reach to each other from the chasm of our individual pain. It's not about them or us ... it's not about whose contribution is more vital ... nature vs nurture ... the terms we're allowed to call ourselves and what others will call us. It's about wholeness for the children we share. By coming together for them, we can heal ourselves, as well.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Exploration of the Black/White Divide and Judaism

Our merry little family band started out as inter-religious. Me the Jew. My husband the retired Catholic. We agreed from the first date (yeah, it was some kinda first date) that since my Judaism was a core factor of who I was, upon marriage and children we would be a one-faith household.

Then we adopted two children from Korea.

Then we were a transracial, interfaith family with bio and adopted kids.

Today, we are a singular Jewish family -- some from birth, some from conversion -- with racial challenges.

Here is a series of articles about being Black & Jewish, Bi-Racial and Jewish, with a bit of Islam thrown in for good measure.

As Asians face somewhat different racial/ethnic challenges, but there's a lot here for us white APs, Jewish and otherwise to ponder.

Multicultural Interfaith Families

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Love the Statue of Liberty? Prove it!

This week, Homeland Security Chief, Michael Chertoff and his team decided that Tampa, FL and Charlotte, NC were more deserving of anti-terrorism grants than NY and Washington, DC. He's looking to cut these cities back by 40%.

His reason? NY and DC are low-risk security targets, no "icons" worth protecting.


I won't bore you with my personal list of DC and NY icons. Suffice it so say, "What has the Secretary been smoking?"

I'm a former NYer, if there is such a thing. If you live, lived, visited or just love the idea of NY, visit Senator Hillary Clinton's "Send a Postcard" site and dash off a picture postcard to Michael.

No matter how you stand on her politics, she has partnered with Congressman Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee, to remind Secretary Chertoff what's at stake for New York and for all of us when Homeland Security funds to high-risk areas are slashed.

This isn't about politics or grandstanding.It's about common sense. And yes, it's the right thing to do.

I Love NY.