Archive for October, 2009
Once the baby came home, BF moved his office to the house. Our computers are on opposite walls, our backs to each other when we are working. When you walk into our office, two screen savers greet you. Can you guess which one is mine and which one is BF’s? The juxtaposition of these two photos just cracks me up.
I was reading a book about adoption this weekend (written by an adoptive mom) and was paralyzed by these words,
“Adoption is a bittersweet solution to a two-way problem. Sweet, because a baby in need of a home finds a home in need of a baby. But bitter because it is nobody’s first choice, and the baby will grow up one day to understand that.”
While I understand that these words are what the author felt, they are her truth; I am struck by the absolute nature of them– the “it is nobody’s first choice, and the baby will grow up one day to understand that” statement. Now, I’ve talked before about how sensitive to and impacted I am by what baby’s biological mother must have gone through to make the decision she had to make and I know that for many mothers who choose adoption for their child, it is not their first choice. Sadly, it might be their only choice. But, for now, what I want to consider is that statement from the adoptive parent’s point of view because it is just so wrong in our case, and I know we are not alone.
There is no infertility backstory to our adoption. There is only this: the desire to adopt born in me when I was twelve. By then, I had such a strong sense of the imbalance and injustice of the world that I wanted my family to adopt and, when they could not, I vowed that I would one day. That awareness stayed with me, actually multiplying over time. There are so many reasons why adoption spoke to me, so many ways that I knew it was clearly my calling. Truth be told, the imbalance of the world undoes me. I don’t have many ways to right the world’s wrongs, but I can be in communion with the realities of this world and its people. I know I can’t look away from that which I see that inspires me or hurts me. I know that if it steals my breath, I must get it back in a way that whispers of justice or truth or love or community or engagement.
BF and I talked about adoption before we ever married, before we ever got too serious in our relationship because adopting was a must for me and I knew that, if I was to be partnered in this life, then I would need to find a partner who felt inspired to adopt as much as I did. Adoption made just as much sense to him as it did to me and like I had my whole set of reasons why adoption spoke to me, BF had his.
The thought that some people believe that adoption is always only a second choice for those who adopt saddens me. Truth be told, I never wanted any family story other than exactly the one we have. I could never picture my reality any other way than what it is. If there is any bitterness to our reality it is this: the imbalance of wealth and health in this world and the reality that there are not enough creative solutions being explored to impact dynamic change so that those who wish they could raise their biological children would have the infrastructure, resources, and health to do so.
The littlest kid is growing and growing and growing. He’s tall; he’s walking; he says daddy and doggie; he mostly sleeps through the night; he’s opinionated and curious, fiesty and funny, charming and, as BF says, cheesy. These days I am calling him Frankenbaby for the way that he walks. In fact, I think we should dress him as Frankenstein/Frankenbaby for Halloween and let his walk be part of his costume, but I don’t think I’ll be able to talk BF into it. If we can help him get over the fear of his mane, he’ll really be a lion cub at Friday’s Halloween March– a trek down Main Street of our town where hundreds of kids trick or treat at the doorways of local businesses and shops. He, however, has been shrieking like a banshee each time we put on his lion mane so it may be that he’s Frankenbaby afterall.
Here are some of my favorite shots of baby during October, as he crept towards 14 months old and 9 months with us.
This past Saturday, the newest Circle de Luz class– just 10 days into the program- were scheduled for a day at a local challenge course. The challenge course comes with a scary release form– making you promise not to sue them if you die and all. The outdoors program that runs the challenge course hosts a lot of different opportunities like rock climbing and kayaking and, well, things that are kinda rigourous and may lead to a bump or seven. The release form that the girls and their families had to sign covered everything from the very low-impact team building exercises we were doing and the scary daring stuff. When I gave each family their release form last week, I explained as I best could in Spanish (come on, I am fairly conversational in Spanish, but I don’t really have conversations about safety all that often so I’m not sure how clear I really was) that this form seemed really scary but the stuff that the Circle de Luz girls would be doing really wasn’t scary.
Fast forward to this Saturday, about an hour before the girls were going to be picked up for the trip, my phone rang.
“Hello,” I answered.
“Hello, Rosie, this is Angela. Is it important that we go today?” A soft voice asked.
“Why, what’s up, honey?” I asked, wanting to get a better idea of what was going on– maybe she was sick or something was wrong with her family or if she was nervous about the other girls or what.
“I just don’t want to do it.”
“Why don’t you want to do it? Are you nervous about it?” The liability form flashed into my mind.
“Are you nervous about not knowing the other girls or are you nervous about what you will be doing?”
“Would it be helpful if I told you the types of things we did last month when we took the 2014 girls. You may not do the exact same things, but it will give you an idea of what you can expect.”
And so I explained every single thing we did when we were there the month before and told her exactly how high off the ground each thing was.
“Does any of that sound scary to you?”
“No,” she answered.
“Do you feel better about going and doing it today?”
Then I told her how proud I was of her for being brave enough to call me and tell me what she was feeling and how proud I was of her for working through her fear to get to the other side.
Later, I was thinking about the phone call, about how I would have just said, “I’m sick” and wormed my way out of it if I were 12 and didn’t want to do something. Heck, I probably would have done that at 35. I love that Angela didn’t have the filter and air that we sometimes gain with age. I love that she was just a girl who faced her fear and wasn’t ashamed to talk about it and was even willing to have her mind changed. Talking to Angela on Saturday reminded me of a truth that I learned during teaching– that it is the young and unjaded, the pure and the honest, the fresh and the vibrant who teach us the most remarkable life lessons. Maybe on Saturday I helped Angela to feel better about what was in front of her, but the truth is that Angela reminded me that articulating our fears is just about the finest form of bravery.
We may not be locking that cabinet anytime soon, but I do think we’ll be going for a toilet lock ala Tina Fey in Baby Mama. And I will be suffering through it ala Amy Poehler in Baby Mama.
BF was going crazy. Baby had figured out how to pull the air conditioning registers out of their hole and had taken to A. crawling around the house, pushing them and B. throwing stuff down the duct work. Watching him do this, it suddenly became clear to us where a pair of baby’s soft sandals had disappeared to: under our house, ripe for some family to find 75 years from now when they are gutting the little cottage that could to build their home of the future. Even though we found Little People, toy remote controls, cars, and packages of baby wipes down in the register, the humor of the whole situation wasn’t really making it worth it to BF to keep the registers as they were. So he went out and bought industrial strength (which is also baby strength ’cause our kid is strong as all get out) superglue and, after putting baby to bed one night, went around the house, gluing the registers down. BF went to bed feeling satisfied.
The only catch? Baby has expressed ZERO interest in the registers since that day. Has not even glanced at them as he is crawling by. BF doesn’t want to admit this, but it is killing him.
So, just a few minutes ago, baby turned away from the bathroom cabinet that has all his towels in it (he was dismantling it) and walked towards me. Five steps. No joke! So, we have a walker. And we also have a Milestones Contest winner. Congrats to Anne for calling the walk date as October 20th. I wonder if he’ll be walking well enough to do the Halloween Parade in our town by feet or if we’ll be pulling him in a wagon. We’ll see pretty soon!
And we also have this morning’s Love Your Body day Pledge winner. Congrats to Laura! You can still enter the Love Your Body pledge contest. Hope you will!
In Honor of the upcoming Love Your Body Day, I wanted to feature this trailer for Hijas Americanas that many women across the country helped create. Go check out the Love Your Body Pledge and sign it now! There are still drawings ahead of us including one on Monday and one on Wednesday.
“He’s such a lucky boy.”
Baby and I have been stopped by a well meaning town resident who I vaguely know. He’s not the first to say this to us.
“We think we’re the lucky ones,” I say. This is not the first time I’ve answered this way.
For now, I can hate that phrase– He’s such a lucky boy- but it doesn’t yet do any damage to baby’s psyche. One day, though, it will.
The truth is that I don’t see baby’s life as lucky. Being born in a country that is so disproportionately poor and resource-starved to parents who were so poor and resource-starved themselves that they could not raise him (we know a little more about baby’s story than I am implying in the previous sentence but out of respect for baby being the keeper of his story, we are holding that private until we are able to share it with him, and he is able to decide if he’d like to share it and with whom) actually feels to me like anything but luck.
Baby’s life, to me, though, shows me what faith is– faith in something greater than ourselves and faith in other people. Think of a mother who has given birth to this beautiful boy who she, of course, loves with all her heart. Think of the challenge you must be facing in your life to make the decision she makes. Think of the wisdom she has to know that love, sometimes, means not physically holding on– a wisdom I, the girl who holds on too long, could never have. Think of the faith she has to know that the right family will be waiting for him. No, sir, how our baby’s life has evolved is not borne of luck. It came alive when a woman that I admire to my core made a decision based on faith, based on a knowing deep within her, based on a stark assessment of her life and the injustice of this world, based on what might look like hopelessness to some but what I believe is really hopefulness. I don’t know how to dramatically reconcile the poverty of this world; it is what I most wish I were able to do. It wasn’t luck that brought us together. I know that for sure. And though I can’t yet articulate all of it in the way that I wish: I know that baby coming into our lives, our coming into baby’s life is part of something bigger than all three of us.
The other day, I was typing at my computer during BF’s time with baby, and I turned towards the chirping that was going on behind me. On the floor about ten feet away was our baby boy, concentrating hard on a soft car that he was given by one of my dearest friends for his birthday. The moment, it’s smallness and hugeness all in one, stole my breath, and there I was suddenly weeping. He does this to me, this boy. He breaks my heart, opens it up, and warms it all at the same time. Even as I type these words, remembering the scene, the unremarkableness of the moment wrapped in the remarkableness of our union, I am weeping again. There are times when the only prayer that I can say, the only words that I can muster are “please, let me do enough.” Not my best, because I am terrified that I will somehow justify less than enough. And this baby boy, his biological parents, they have put so much faith in us, they have given us their trust, they have blessed our lives with this beautiful, beautiful boy. When I was weeping the other day, BF came to me and asked me if I was okay. The feeling inside of me was so big, I couldn’t give it words, I can’t really right now. I just shook my head at him, nodded towards the baby, and, thus, choked him up, too.
Remember that feeling you had the very first time you fell in love? It was so enormous that it almost didn’t fit inside of you. It felt like you would burst at any moment and that if this love somehow didn’t make it, you would die because there would be nothing else worth doing as much as loving this person. I remember thinking sometime in my twenties that love like that, that ferocity, that intensity, that joy laced with fear, doesn’t come back after first love. That the physical, visceral sensation of that only happens once. Weeping out of the blue as my child gummed on his car that day, I realized it comes back. As luck would have it, it comes back with a ferocity that swallows you.
Congrats to Stephanie Braun for being this year’s first Love Your Body Pledge 2009 winner. And, now, more of you need to check out the Love Your Body Pledge 2009 contest! Join in today.