Clueless Clutter

Survey Says

Here is some clueless clutter for you in case you needed more evidence of how far we have to go when it comes to infertility and adoption education.

Lori at Lavender Luz.com writes about the adoption-themed commercial put out by Kay Jewelers. Lori writes,” How many adoption ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into a 30-second commercial?”

How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial?
Read more at http://lavenderluz.com/2014/02/kay-jewelers-failed-adoption-ad.html#owQTe0MkrWzjtb36.99
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial
Read more at http://lavenderluz.com/2014/02/kay-jewelers-failed-adoption-ad.html#owQTe0MkrWzjtb36.99
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial
Read more at http://lavenderluz.com/2014/02/kay-jewelers-failed-adoption-ad.html#owQTe0MkrWzjtb36.99
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial
Read more at http://lavenderluz.com/2014/02/kay-jewelers-failed-adoption-ad.html#owQTe0MkrWzjtb36.99
How many adoption stereotypes ad myths, much general cluelessness can be crammed into one 30-second commercial
Read more at http://lavenderluz.com/2014/02/kay-jewelers-failed-adoption-ad.html#owQTe0MkrWzjtb36.99

Read “Every Diss Begins with This Kay Commercial” and view the commercial and share your own thoughts and comments.

Let’s interview real people with these experiences to get an idea of who to market to and how to do it in the best way. Better yet, let’s not do it in the first place. Adoption is not something you can wrap up in a little box for a 30 second spot on TV.

The second post comes from Mel at Stirrup-Queens.

Mel writes that US News & World Report covered a study last week that found that women who don’t have a child after fertility treatments are three times more likely to divorce than women who do.  27% of the women overall were not living with their partner anymore, though a larger chunk of that 27% were women without children than women with children.

The researchers in Denmark reported that they were surprised by the findings and ” that the effect lasted so long.”

*note: The article is no longer found on US News & World Report’s website.

Click over to read Mel’s entire post, “Researchers are Stunned that Infertility is Stressful”

I should neither be stunned nor shocked that people are surprised that the affects and aftermath of infertility are so damaging. It goes along with the “just adopt” or “you can have my kids! (ha ha).” But it is still upsetting that infertility is so misunderstood. We need to keep writing, advocating and sharing our stories to help make some changes and bridge the gap of understanding between the physical and the emotional side effects of infertility.

*image provided by commons.wikimedia

Rage Against the Addiction

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman hits close to home. He grew up in Rochester, NY living only 25 minutes from my home. He has family here and often returned to his alma mater, Fairport High School. I am sad not only because he was truly a talented man but because he perished so young. There are many news stories circulating about the circumstances of his death being caused by an over dose. Hoffman struggled with addiction for many years.

Yesterday I saw about a half a dozen different news outlet’s headlines popping up in my newsfeed. All were saying roughly the same thing- wonderful actor, too young, gentle and kind man. When I began reading the comments posted to the news posts, I was beyond upset and even disgusted at what some people wrote. When someone dies due to addiction, it does not diminish their death or their life, for that matter. I know it is hard for people to understand that even though one can “choose” to begin using a certain drug or “choose” to drink alcohol, what they do not “choose” is the pre-disposed, biological mind-set that puts so many individuals down this path. Addiction is a disease and an extremely sad one at that.

Imagine being so distraught, depressed and even physically ill and dependent on a substance, that it controls your entire life. Who would “choose” that?

I am deeply saddened for this man and his family. My heart goes out to them for having to put up with heartless individuals who will comment on the way he died- judging him. How hurtful that must be when already mourning the loss of your husband, father, son or friend.

The world lost a gifted man too soon. No matter how many times we see this happen in Hollywood, it does not become less sad or thought provoking. It is the gifted people, the inwardly focused and reflective artists who often suffer from mental illness and addiction. They feel very deeply and often struggle with depression; addiction is one way they cope with their mental illness or hard ship. This is another chance for our society to better understand addiction and mental illness- not berate this man for losing his own battle way too young.

And Now We Say Good-Bye

We said good bye to my grandmother yesterday. She had a long battle with dementia. For those of you who have experienced this illness in your family, you know how hard it is to slowly say good bye to your loved one. Ever so slowly. Each time you see them a little bit more is gone. It is particularly painful to see the light in their eyes fade. Recognition and vitality dissipate until there is almost nothing there but a shell of a person. My grandmother’s physical body was extremely healthy. But a wilted spirit will take it’s toll on the physical. And finally at age 92 her body gave out and she is now at peace.

I imagine she is laughing with my grandfather again. They are reunited after almost 9 years. She has probably already made a couple dozen friends in her new world. Isabel was always a very social and chatty person. She could talk to anyone, and she always made you feel special. I envision her smiling again with that sparkle in her sky blue eyes. Forever she can be the woman we loved.

I miss her, but I have missed her for years.

She was such a wonderful Grandma. She and my grandfather lived in Arizona all of my childhood. It would have been nice to have them close by, but it was great having such a cool place to visit. My brother and I would go out for a few weeks at a time. Living out west is like being in an entirely new world compared to the north east. We drove through desert towns with huge cactus. We visited rodeos and rode horses. My grandfather had a candy drawer. Yup, an entire drawer. He loved butterscotch candies, chocolate covered raisins and Wherther’s Original. We watched the lightning storms on their huge deck that overlooked the entire city. We ate popcorn and peanuts, throwing the shells over the rail of the deck. But mostly my memories consist of being in their home, making the guest room my own and feeling safe and loved.

That is what grandparents are for.

My grandmother never missed an occasion to send a card. Her cursive handwriting very familiar and easy to read. It is the same writing that labeled every gift she ever bought. She loved to catalogue items. Her memories were thick and plentiful. Her labels are a gift in themselves as we find things and realize when, where and who gave them to us.

We named our baby girl after my grandmother’s mother. I was told that when my Grandma found out what we named her, she cried with happiness. She always wanted a baby in the family by that name. I was glad I could give that gift to her when so many things that once brought her joy were taken away. Yesterday the baby was in her high chair waiting to be fed, and I felt so grateful for the hope that she offers in this time of loss.  Her life is just beginning and my grandmother’s has ended.

I am lucky to have had my grandmother this long. But I am also grateful that her suffering is over and that she died peacefully in her sleep. It is never easy to lose a loved one. It doesn’t matter that I am 35 and she was 92. Her life is over and I miss her. I miss all of the things I can’t ever get back, and it is hard.

Soon our family will gather together to reminisce and celebrate her life. The photographs have already started to circulate of family get-togethers and special times. I look forward to reliving these memories with the help of my family members. These are the images I will take with me when I am missing she and my grandpa.

 
May joy and peace surround you,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now,
And bless you evermore.
-Irish Blessing

My Middle Man

 

You know in the movies when a parent is talking to their grown child and they have a flashback of when they were little? Like in Father of the Bride when George Banks listens as Annie tells him she is getting married. I have been having those visions a lot lately of my three year old, Wee. He is three and a half and every day that goes by he loses a part of his baby qualities. As he sits in his brother’s chair trying to eat his lunch, the soup dribbles down his chin because he is too far away from the table. My mind races forward to when he is a young man sitting in the same seat talking to me about girls and sports wolfing down his dinner before practice.

I know time will escape me like that.

I try so hard to remember the every day.

In the past six months Wee’s language has exploded. He has been home almost two years, and it has been such a joy to hear him speak what we knew to be very dramatic and funny thoughts. As a new phrase or word comes into play I can’t help but smile. We are finally putting a voice to his rambunctious behavior and I love it!

He is a tiny guy, just fitting into his big brother’s 2T pants and shirts. When I tell people this, they are surprised. He doesn’t seem small because he has such a big personality. When Wee is in the room, people’s gaze gravitates toward him. He is funny and cute and bursting with energy.

He is our actor. He knows what to say and when to say it. And he isn’t afraid of anything.

Even stitches.

I recently made my first trip to the Emergency Room where Wee received three dissolvable stitches near his eye. He charmed everyone there as he usually does, gaping wound and all. I told the nurse as we left that I would probably be seeing her again. She chuckled. I sighed.

His is an intolerable age at times. Three is all-knowing, want to do it myself, opinionated, testing the limits. But three is also still a baby in many ways, needing help with everything. Wee makes me so mad, but I take deep breathes and let it pass because I know that in the next five minutes I will be giggling and squeezing him in a big hug as he tries to get away. And when he falls or gets hurt and runs to me crying, I pull him on my lap and hug him tight. Don’t cry, my baby boy.

He is so lovable.

I love his sticky hands, sweet smell, and completely silly antics. I love it when he comes down the stairs in his pajamas wearing his cape and sunglasses while carrying his lunchbox. He often has food in his hair from the previous meal. I try to keep up with him but often cannot. I feel that this will be our relationship forever. He will always make me laugh after swearing I will ground him for life. His middle child status in our familial chain couldn’t be more suitable for Wee. He will always stand out roaring for attention. He’s our perfect match.

I asked him the other day who his best friend is and he said, Min. It is times like these when my heart leaps out of my chest. Just like when Wee says hi to his sister every morning and she giggles and laughs. The love emanates between them; it is the most beautiful sight. I love watching their faces as they play and hug each other and communicate the way young children do.

“Mom, I love my sister.” My eyes well up.

I am so lucky.

While writing this he crawled onto my bed and asked if he can help me. True to form he is toting his fake ipad, a set of keys and play money that he continuously tries to “flip.” I cannot get anything done with him around, but I have learned there is nothing more important than talking to him and listening to his ramblings about blowing his nose like daddy and where he hid some of his latest treasures. I am forever waiting for the punch line.

When you raise adopted children, there is a sense of wonder about who they are and where they get their characteristics. I look into Wee’s chocolaty brown eyes and wonder who I am seeing. They are faceless people but so real and so present in my child. Now that I have experienced pregnancy and child birth, my heart aches more profoundly when thinking about my boys birth mothers. I feel closer to them because I can see more clearly now how completely selfless they were to give them up for adoption. I am raising these boys because they could not, and I feel that weight. I am more than ready for that responsibility.

If we meet someday, she will understand my gratitude to her. I can only hope she thinks I did a good enough job.

Perfect Moment Monday

 
Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.
Visit Lavender Luz for more Perfect Moments.

I had a baby girl in April. We did not find out the sex of our baby prior to her birth. We wanted to be surprised and experience one of the very few surprises we get to have in life. Well, except for the fact that her conception and existence was a complete surprise to say the least.

We have two boys. I won’t diminish my desire to have a girl. Thing is that I never doubted that my baby was a girl. And her arrival proved me right.

Nearly six months have gone by and it has been such a supreme pleasure to watch my boys with their baby sister. Endearing and heart melting are just two ways to describe what happens when I see them dote on her and fight to give her back her toy or pacifier. They make her giggle and smile from ear to ear. She adores them and they adore her.

My perfect moment is witnessing how my boys love their sister. I so look forward to the day that she can wrap her arms around them and run and play with them. She will always be their biggest fan.

 
 

Something Will Work Out

Seven long years ago our last attempt at IVF failed. We knew our chances of pregnancy were all but gone. Life seemed dismal. My grandmother looked at me with her teary green eyes and told me with conviction that something would work out. That is all she said. I hoped that her long life helped her to believe that. She had seen and done many things in her 80+ years.

Roughly a year later we were matched with Min. A picture of a chubby five month old was handed to us and we immediately said, yes, he is ours. His arrival home was marked with jubilee.

A few years pass and Wee came into our lives. We learned of his existence on February 14, 2011. What an exciting time for our family. A baby brother was coming home.

Six months after Wee came to us I learned that I was pregnant. Words cannot describe what that felt like. My heart tightens up remembering the moment I saw the positive pregnancy test. A flood of tears and emotion leaving my body. A tension released after nine years of waiting.

My Nana was not in good health this time last year. We were afraid she would soon pass away. A couple of days after learning the news I felt a sense of urgency to tell her. My parents didn’t even know because they were out of town and I didn’t want to tell them over the phone. My uncle was staying with my Nana to help her and said she did not want guests. But I insisted on seeing her claiming she needed to hear what I had to tell her. I found her laying on her side in bed, her back to me. I went to her side as she slept and whispered, Nana? Her eyes fluttered open and I said, Nana, I’m pregnant.

We both began to cry and we embraced. It never felt so good to tell someone something. I knew it would give her great joy to learn of my pregnancy as she had seen me struggle so much over the past several years. I was so happy she was here to be a part of it, even if it was for a short time.

As my pregnancy progressed Nana’s health stabilized. She is a tough lady and I just knew she would make it to meet my baby.

Five days after she was born, we brought baby S to Nana’s house and they were able to meet. It was a day I will never forget.

When I felt sad and lost I thought of what Nana told me. Something will work out. And she was right.

Everything worked out.

The Weather Was Rainy the Day You Were Born

I remembered all those stories my mom would tell me on my birthday every year.

It was snowing the day you were born. Your brother was two weeks late and you were two weeks early. I always knew you were a girl- never had a doubt.

When I gave birth to my baby on April 10th, the entire experience felt like it was happening to someone else. Much like my pregnancy did. Going into labor and then holding my baby girl for the first time seemed like a dream. Hearing my husband tell me it was a girl, which I knew in my heart all along, felt like a sigh of relief. She was here and she was healthy. And my visions over the past ten years of a little girl gracing our life had been true. She was sent to us because we needed her. Just like our boys were sent to us because of how much we needed them.

I guess we all needed each other.

Spending two days in the hospital I felt like I was in a haze. We would look over at our baby girl sleeping in the portable bassinet and do a double take. We would look at each other and giggle. “Are we really here with a newborn baby?” Nearly 10 years of anguish will do that to you. It will make you second guess when beautiful things happen and wishes are granted.

The day she was born there was a torrential rain storm. The skies were gray and overcast. But inside our hospital room there was pink every where. There were gift bags full of girl clothes with polka dots and flowers and blankets and teddy bears. Grandma held her minutes after being born. And soon came Ooma and Papa with tears in their eyes as well. How we all waited for this baby girl.

Her brothers came to visit anxious to meet their baby sister. It was a beautiful site- them looking at her excited that she finally arrived. But later that night I began to think about all the details I didn’t have about my boys first year of life. I don’t know if it was cloudy or sunny the day they were born. I don’t know how long their birth mothers were in labor. I don’t know what happened the day she had to give them to the adoption agency- what she may have said to them as she said good bye. I am so sorry that I cannot give them these pieces of their past. I worry that they will feel bad that baby sister will know all the details of her life while they may search forever to find out.

I can only hope that this difference and the many others of how they came to be our babies will simply be accepted as their own story. I aspire to say and do all the right things for my boys when they have questions about their birth parents and adoption. In my heart I know that loving them to the fullest is the best thing I can do for them.

Little sister is a gift to us all. We have a baby in the house for the first time. Big brothers and mom and dad are smitten with our little girl.  The boys want to hold her and give her kisses. Wee says in his cute voice, “Baby cute, Mom.”

What a joy it has been to see my three beautiful children together. I always wanted three children. And I haven’t forgotten what it felt like wondering if I would even have one. It was worth the wait; no doubt about it.

35 Is the New 35

Today I turn 35. And I am happy about that.

It does feel weird to be 35. I think most people feel this way when they get to a certain age. What was the expectation when we were younger? That this is old, right?

I do not feel old. I just feel like me.

I feel fortunate to be another year older and wiser. Just coming out of a six day flu-induced-bed-coma, I have been reminded how lucky I am to have my health. A bad fever made it hurt to simply lay still, but I kept telling myself that I would be better soon.  I thought of those in chronic pain or with a terminal illness. They cannot say that. It is so easy to take our health for granted. But I vow to keep this blessing in the forefront. And not only my good health, but that of those I love.

A couple of days ago I was also reminded of the fragility of life. A baby girl named Grace, daughter of a well-known couple here in Rochester, was born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH); she defied all the odds and lived after being born. She continued to fight through her condition and many surgeries and made it to her first birthday. And despite all her ailments and hardship she was a happy and beautiful baby girl. However, she passed away on Friday night at 16 months old. 

Little Grace touched so many lives and will continue to do so even though she is in Heaven. What a remarkable little girl. She has left a legacy in this community. The message is, do not give up hope.
Visit the Amazing Grace facebook page to learn more about her inspiring story. 

What’s in store for this Monday birthday? Cheeseburgers, french fries and ice cream. I’m sure there will be hand-made cards and a couple of presents as well. Fortunate, indeed.

Is This Your First?

Since becoming pregnant I have had an internal struggle. I wanted to enjoy every moment of my long-awaited pregnancy, but I also did not want to ever forget everything I had been through to get there. Most importantly I wanted to be sensitive to all those who have struggled with infertility and who those are still in the trenches.

I have dealt with my fair share of unsurprising comments since revealing our news:

“That’s what happens when you adopt.”
“I knew it would happen eventually.”
“I know so many people who got pregnant after adopting.” (and they delve into names of people they know)

I understand that most people don’t get it. These comments are untrue and quite insensitive. But people want to focus on the good news, not the bad. They don’t want to rehash all that AJ and I went through and the days when we were telling people we didn’t know if we would ever have kids.
These comments dismiss infertility and also suggest that adoption is a means to an end.

But, don’t worry friends. When I hear these types of things, I make sure the commenter gets a dose of the difficult and sad truth about infertility.

Pregnancy does not happen for everyone- whether they adopt or not. The birth of a baby does not happen for everyone- despite getting pregnant multiple times. I make sure they hear from me that there are thousands and thousands of people who pregnancy will never happen for.

It doesn’t always end up this way.

And every time I utter the words, my heart falls in my stomach because I feel the pain of infertility. I will never stop feeling the pain completely if not for myself but for everyone who has to go through it.

On the flip side, I have found one particular question from strangers quite difficult to answer.

There are several questions every pregnant woman hears repeatedly-

How are you feeling?
When is your due date?
Do you know if it’s a boy or girl?

Is this your first?

I know what people mean. Do you have any other children? Are you a first-time mom?
But this is such a loaded question for me. Sometimes I pity the person that asks it- an innocent question posed to a stranger or acquaintance just to make conversation.  Uh, do you have a few hours?

I have found myself answering this question differently to different people, however.

“Is this your first?”

“No, my third.”

Their reactions have prompted further conversation in some cases.

“Oh, so you’ve been down this road before! You’re an expert on pregnancy.”

(thinking to myself)  Well, no this is my first…

See? Confusing.

In some cases, I have proceeded to explain that I have two adopted boys and this pregnancy was not expected to happen. I am a mother but yes, this is my first pregnancy.

Several people have shown emotion when hearing my explanation- tears in their eyes. This has been particularly touching since they were complete strangers or casual acquaintances. It made me feel like they understood how special this baby is. These are the people who failed to come up with an insensitive comment. Thanks goodness for them!

But I have also had to put up with every one’s expertise on making babies and how “that’s usually the way.” 

Once I started showing and it was obvious to the average person that I was expecting, it was nice to have the anonymity of being any old regular pregnant lady. But truthfully it has been difficult for me to sink into that role. When I am in public or I do get a casual question from someone, most of the time I slip by as though this baby happened the way I thought it would when I was 26 – easily. But I am different and I always will be. I have a life experience that has changed me and changed the way I look at pregnancy and parenting.

And even now when I look at myself, I am amazed. For everyone who has supported my husband and I, thank you. For everyone who has pulled for us during this close to 9 year saga, we are so grateful. And to everyone who has read my story and who visits this blog, I hope that you have found peace in your journey or will find peace with your path to parenthood.

I have 10 weeks left in this pregnancy. Baby is due to arrive in 68 days.

2103 Gala and The Commitment to Excellence Award

It is the time of year to promote the Parenthood for Me Annual Gala. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year, and all of the net proceeds go toward funding our grants. The success of this event helps to determine the number of grants and the amount we can award to each recipient.

Parenthood for Me Annual Gala
Saturday, March 9, 2013
6:30 pm
Inn on Broadway
Rochester, NY
To purchase tickets, email events@parenthoodform.org

I am very excited to announce the recipient of our Commitment to Excellence Award for 2013.
The CEA is awarded to an individual who is dedicated to supporting the Adoption, Loss & Infertility community.

PFM is awarding this year’s award to Lori Holden – adoptive mother, author and educator on open adoption. We are also proud to have her as our Keynote Speaker. Open adoption is undoubtedly one of the most misunderstood and difficult parts of adoption for the general public to understand. Her work is extremely important and highly regarded in the adoption community.

Lori writes regularly at LavenderLuz.com about parenting and living mindfully. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available for pre-order on Amazon. She has written for Adoptive Families magazine, Parenting magazine and for BlogHer and MileHighMamas.com, a Denver Post site. On Twitter she’s @LavLuzand you can also find her on Facebook. She practices her Both/And technique with dark chocolate and red wine (though not at the same time).

We invite you to attend the gala and hear Lori share her extensive knowledge and experience with open adoption. Here are some highlights of the helpful information that Lori will share in her keynote address at the gala.

What is the biggest concern adopting parents have about open adoption?
While researching and writing my book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, I heard from people from all corners of adoption (adoptive parents, first parents, adult adoptees). The concern most often expressed by adopting parents is that they’ll never be considered the “real” parent. Sometimes that subconscious fear is so powerful and pervasive that it prompts adoptive parents to want to put as much distance as possible between their newly-formed family and the spare parent out there who is just waiting to swoop in and take over (the latter part is largely a myth, by the way). This fear is at the root of many of the dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors  in adoption relationships. But though simple awareness of that fear, it can be examined and resolved in a mindful and functional way.

Parenting in Duality 
Such fear can lead parents to resort to Either/Or thinking, It’s very dualistic, starkly black and white, pitting a winner against a loser. Either WE are the “real” parents or THEY are. Either WE can legitimately claim the child or THEY can. In the old days of closed adoption, the child could barely even wonder about her other parents without igniting feelings of betrayal in her own heart. Those feelings of torn loyalty can, figuratively, split the child in two.

Remember that Solomon tale? When two women came to his court claiming the same baby, the wise king knew how to tease out the “real” mother. His solution was to order a sword brought forth to split the baby in half, thereby guaranteeing that both claimants got her share. The “real” mother was the one to do whatever it took to keep the baby whole and well, even if it meant loss to her.

To help our children grow up whole, we must avoid splitting the baby with Either/Or thinking.

So what is the alternative? How do parents provide wholeness for the baby or child they adopted? How do they avoid splitting the baby?

It’s simple: switch to Both/And thinking.

Moving toward Unity
Adoption creates a split between a child’s biology and biography. Openness is an effective way to heal that split. That’s the premise of the book I’ve written with my daughter’s first mom. Your child’s biology comes from one set of parents and her biography gets written by another set. The contributions from both sets are vital to her. All of her parents make her the person she is and who she will be. Both sets of parents have a claim on that child, and the child should have permission to claim both. Otherwise she feels split.

We are already familiar with and adept at Both/And thinking. We know that parents are capable of loving multiple children — of course they are! Why not allow – encourage — children to do the same with multiple parents? Does loving my son, Reed, take away anything from my daughter, Tessa? Of course not; that would be ridiculous. Likewise, enabling my children to love me for mycontribution and their birth moms for their contributions takes away nothing from me. It only adds to them — my children. Tessa and Reed get Both/And. And I’m not splitting my babies.

It’s helpful to bring into the open any concerns that can lurk beneath the surface in the minds of adoptive parents. Even deeper than the fear that birth parents will reclaim the child is the fear that the adopting parents will never themselves feel legitimate due to a competing claim on the child. That’sa fear that adopting parents can examine and resolve mindfully.

 Lori’s trip to the annual gala in Rochester, NY is sponsored by Adoption STAR.


The annual gala is sponsored by CNY Fertility & Healing Arts.