Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2.0

As most of you know, I’ve fallen right off the face of the bloggy planet for a while. I trimmed down my blogroll and regrettably stopped reading a lot of the blogs (meaning I missed out on some pretty awesome stuff that was happening all over the place. Not even reading the blogs I regularly follow, I REALLY wasn’t venturing off to new blogs, “meeting” new people, and reading their stories.

Big mistake.

Thanks to the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project, I’m getting back in the swing of things and was fortunate enough to be paired with a blogger that I’d never met, and a blog I hadn’t yet read. It’s really helped to rejuvenate me (I hope) by making me think of different questions and issues for myself, and got me back out there reading as well.

Now before I go on too long and REALLY sound like a bad infomercial for the project, I’ll just get straight to the introductions! I present to you, I was Anne, author of Tears of/and Joy. “Anne” is a Mother of two, a son (bio) and her daughter (adopted), and wife to one ;). She is two years into the open adoption scene, and seems to be taking to it like a fish to water! I’ve been so inspired and refreshed by her take on adoption issues, and it’s been very cool to see. She’s relatively new to the blog scene, so after you read her responses to my questions head over to her site and introduce yourself 🙂 I’m sure she’d love to hear from you!!

1. Why did you have a fear of blogging? (You’re pretty great at it so far, so I’m curious!)

There are a few reasons. First, I felt uncomfortable with the idea that “anyone out there” would be able to read my intimate thoughts. Second, I can’t really write about my experience without writing about other people in my life, and I felt torn about whether I would be invading their privacy by writing about them in a public forum. Of course my blog is anonymous and I don’t use any real names and I’ve only told one person in my real life that I’m writing the blog, but I guess I worry that someone could figure out it’s me. Last, I worried about making myself vulnerable to judgment. Ultimately, I decided to start blogging because it’s the only community I’ve found that is supportive of open adoption. Even though I live in a large metropolitan area, I haven’t found that type of community here, and when it comes to open adoption, my family and friends range from unsupportive to neutral to “coming around” to the idea.

2. From your first post (and subsequent posts as well) you seem more…..enlightened (?)…than some folks in Adoptionland. What kind of preparation did you and DH do for adoption? I’m guessing you had a relatively short amount of time to prepare for open adoption, but what kind of prep did you do there?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this concept – what experiences, preparation, or personality traits makes one more likely to be “successful” in Adoptionland. Before we adopted, we went to a lot of agency informational meetings where we heard from adoption professionals and adoptive parents. We also attended a two-day adoption workshop sponsored by RESOLVE.  I read several books and a lot of articles. When we were pursuing an adoption from China, I frequently read the “Rumor Queen” web site where the blog writer tackles a lot of tough adoption-related issues. But honestly, I don’t really think I was “enlightened” by any of that. I think it was being in the situation—specifically meeting my daughter’s first parents and grandmother—that really shaped my views on adoption in general and open adoption. And ultimately, I think one has to be open to accepting the loss surrounding adoption (more about that below) in order to fully embrace open adoption.

3. You have 6 hours to yourself – no kids, no husband, and $1,000 – how do you spend your time?

Good question! I’d have to say a day at the spa – facial, massage, and pedicure. However, I’m not sure the $1,000 would cover the cost. They are ridiculously expensive around here!

4. Your second post is AMAZING. From the mouths of babes!!! And I adore that you were able to consider this possibility rather than just reject Ferb’s suggestion. Why do you think you were so open to his perception of that event?

I don’t know how open I was to it the moment he said it. I think it initially felt like a punch in the gut when he said “maybe she misses her real mom.” But those words kept playing in my head, and I definitely could tell that Ferb was very confused as to why everything was jumping all over him with explanations as to why I was Lily’s “real mom.” As I said in the blog, right then and there I did recognize on an intellectual level that I was just some woman who picked up Lily from the hospital a few hours earlier, but I didn’t want it to feel that way. Over time, however, I definitely came to believe that Lily had a connection to Fiona that was developed while Lily was in the womb. The second time that we had a visit with Fiona and Nate, Lily was about six weeks old, and I remember Fiona walking to the area where Lily was lying and Fiona said something and Lily’s eyes opened wide and went right to Fiona. There’s no doubt in my mind that Lily recognized Fiona’s voice. And the connection that Lily has with Fiona and Nate is undeniable when you see them together.

5. What is one of your less than proud moments navigating open adoption? What did you learn from it? How did you grow?

The hardest time for me was the period between our first and second meeting with Fiona and Nate. Our first meeting – which was also our first visit because Lily was a week old – was highly raw and emotional. It’s up there as one of if not the hardest day of my life, and it had to have been easier for me than for Fiona and Nate. We left the meeting without much closure in terms of our open adoption. That meeting took place within the revocation period, and in that sense they “confirmed” (?) that they wanted to go forward with the placement with us as Lily’s parents, but there was no talk of what our open adoption would look like in terms of communication and visits. During this period (between our first and second visit), Fiona sent me an email that I didn’t react well to. It freaked me out for a lot of reasons. I’d rather not include what was in the email, but the bottom line was that I wasn’t able to separate her grief and the problems she was dealing with from myself. So I basically wrote a very short and cold response to the email and suggested that we set up a meeting at the agency to talk through things. In some ways, I felt that I wasn’t equipped to advise (?) her or myself on some of these complicated issues that were directly and indirectly related to the adoption. But I’m not proud of the way I reacted because I think I really shut Fiona down at a time when she was reaching out to me. I still feel terrible about that. My biggest challenge has been accepting that there is tremendous loss surrounding adoption, and no matter what I do or say, I can’t make that go away. During the episode I just described, the loss was too much for me to bear. I was overwhelmed, and I just wanted it to go away. Now, I’m able to do a better job holding onto the loss and sadness without internalizing it or making it about me. It’s not always easy, but I definitely have a better handle on it now.

6. What is the last book that you read? Did you like it? What book would you recommend I read next?

I love Diane Chamberlain books. The last book I read was on vacation last summer – Breaking the Silence. I would recommend any of her books (there are a lot). I like that her characters have so many dimensions, never all good or all bad.

7. You wrote, “I regret that I let our adoption agency bully me into thinking I was powerless over certain issues that bothered me.” Now, I’m known to get a bit peeved by adoption agencies, so this piqued my curiosity. Can you elaborate?

Sigh. Our social worker was a lot like Amelia Bedilia. (For those who aren’t familiar, she’s a children’s book character who worked as a housekeeper and always misunderstood her boss’ directions. For example, her boss would tell her to “draw the curtains” and she would draw a picture of the curtains. Anyway, I digress.) This social worker tended to talk in circles and she frequently got cases and situations confused. There was an issue related to the hospital bill that was unresolved between our first and second meeting with Fiona and Nate. I was really pushing the social worker to help me communicate with Nate and Fiona – to facilitate, which I thought was her job – but instead she kept telling me that she needed to focus on this hospital bill situation (which involved getting some paperwork from Fiona) and if I did anything to rock the boat then the hospital would start billing us thousands of dollars. I really felt that this social worker wasn’t giving Fiona the support that she needed, and the SW kept telling me that MY desire to communicate with Fiona was not in Fiona’s best interest and basically she is the professional and I should stop telling her how to do her job. It got so bad that I even yelled at and then hung up on the agency receptionist because he wouldn’t put me through to the social worker. I was definitely not in a good place, and things never really improved with the agency.

8. I LOVE FERB! The more I read about him the more I just adore this little person! Can you share a story about Ferb from your pre-Lily days? (NOT that I don’t love the one’s of him and Lily, haha, I DO!)

Here’s one of my favorite stories; I hope it’s not too morbid! I was very close with my grandparents growing up, and my last two living grandparents were alive when Ferb was born – Grandma A (paternal grandma) and Grandpa B (maternal grandpa). When Ferb was almost three, Grandma A became very ill and went into hospice. Ferb knew Grandma A, but we lived in different states, so he wasn’t aware of her decline. I went to visit her a few times in hospice, but Ferb was young enough that he didn’t really need to know where I was going and what was going on. When Grandma A passed away, I didn’t think that Ferb was ready to learn about death, so we didn’t tell him what had happened. And even after Grandma A passed away, I continued to talk about her and show Ferb pictures of her – just because she was a very important person in my life. Fast forward two years; Ferb is almost five, and Grandpa B’s health starts to decline. This time Ferb is old enough to realize what’s going on, and he knows Grandpa B quite well. After Grandma B passes away, Ferb shows outward signs of sadness, and I ask him how he’s feeling. He tells me that he’s worried that Grandpa B is under the ground all by himself. I explain that his soul in up in heaven now and he’s with Grandma A looking down on us. Ferb looks up at me wide-eyed and say, “WHAT?! Grandma A is dead too!?” Poor guy lost both great-grandparents in one fell swoop! That’s what I get for trying to sugarcoat the hard truths of life. I like this story because both Grandma A and Grandpa B liked dark humor and I know they would have found this story hysterical and I secretly hoped they were listening in and cracking up.

9. How did you and G meet? You said you’ve known him for quite a while. How did you start dating?

We’ve known each other for 23 years and we’ve been married for almost 12. We met our freshman year in college, but we didn’t date in college. We were in the same group of friends, and I actually found him a bit annoying – loud, obnoxious, and drunk a good part of the time. We stayed somewhat in touch after college, but not much. About five years after graduating, I ended up moving back to the area where he was living and we reconnected and soon after started dating. We got married about two years later. Even now when I look back at old college pictures I think to myself, “Did I really marry THAT guy????” Seriously, though, I got very lucky.

10. What’s your favorite part of being a Mommy?

It’s hard to come up with one favorite. I love cuddling with them, watching them laugh so hard that they can barely breathe, and seeing them learn to do new things and then being so proud of themselves. I always tell my kids that I don’t know how I got so lucky, but somehow I ended up with the two best kids in the world. No offense to anyone else of course, but I really do believe it. There was a period when I thought I may never be mom and I know it’s not something that everyone who wants to experience gets to experience. Even though there are days when they drive me absolutely crazy, I try not to take a single day with my kids for granted.

11. What three pieces of advice would you give to a wide eyed couple seeking an open adoption?

I think this may be the hardest question to answer. I would tell them 1) Always remember what an amazing gift you are giving to your child if you enable  him/her to build a real relationship with his/her first family. 2) Expect open adoption to be harder than you think it will be—expect regrets, doubts, raw emotion, heart-break, hard questions, and periods of silence, but don’t let any of it scare you away or make you think you’ve made the wrong decision. You haven’t.  3) Learn from the experiences of other people in open adoptions. If you’re like me, they’ll be a lot of unsupportive people in your “real life,” so find ways to connect with other people living open adoptions who understand its value.  I am a big fan of Production Not Reproduction, and I often come back to this blog entry, especially when things get tough. It captures my feelings more beautifully than anything I could ever express myself!

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Random Reason I Love Long Board #1 (and #2!)

Who knows, maybe I’ll just post this one. Maybe I’ll post a lot. I numbered this post just in case.

We were sitting on the couch, watching The Prestige.

Long Board had seen the movie before, but was really into it. It was just yesterday, but I already don’t remember if he said something, or did something, but something made me ask, “You really like Hugh Jackman, huh?”

I thought he was going to say something like, “Yeah, he’s a good looking guy” (PS – I also love that Long Board will admit if a guy is empirically attractive – title of post has been updated accordingly). Maybe, “Yeah, I really like his movies.” Even, “Duh! You know I love X-Men! He’s the perfect Logan!” I don’t know – one of the reasons people usually like Hugh Jackman.

Instead he simply replied, “Yeah, he’s a good Dad.”

He could have liked him for a hundred different reasons, but I gotta think this is the best, most touching one he could have come up with.

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Another Night, Another City, Another Hotel

I’m making my third stop in Texas in 22 days. I’ll make a fourth stop in December. And while I sit in another Texas city in another hotel, I don’t mind it. I mean, I miss Long Board – and there’s a part of me that is sad that our life as a married couple that never spent a night apart was so short-lived. He actually came along with me on my first trip, perhaps just to avoid reaching that fate even more quickly. But alas, last weekend I was apart from him, and as I sit in my Hy@tt watching CNN’s coverage of the Penn state scandal, Long Board is far away camping somewhere. In the rain.

Call me crazy, but I’d take my lonely hotel over a rainy tent just about any day!

And the truth is – I really enjoy traveling alone! Here are a few of the reasons why:

1. I do not have to consult with anyone else on what I want to do. I’m not sure where or what I want to eat tonight, but I’m going to decide without having to consult anyone else. And I enjoy that. I like reading on the plane without having a companion to talk to. I like being on my schedule, no one else’s. I’m even one of those losers that doesn’t mind eating either alone with a good book, or sliding up to a sports bar and watching the game by myself. I’m so rarely alone these days, that, well – it’s not all that bad!

2. Let’s face it, these are work trips first and foremost. The whole point is not about going out on the town (though sometimes that’s a perk: see reason 3!) I have a job to do. So when I walked into my room tonight my eyes honed in on the DVD player attached to the TV and visions of RedBox and chinese takeout danced in my head…..ah, a night in at a hotel. Get plenty of rest to get up bright and early and work all day. And if my volunteers call me and there’s an emergency, the only person who’s night get’s ruined/canceled – is mine. And that’s okay. It’s what I’m getting paid (sort of, ha!) for.

3. Being alone gives me a prime opportunity to hit the town and meet up with people! Okay, this sounds quasi-creepy. I’m not talking about some weird cheater-nonsense. I’m talking about many of you fabulous bloggy/internet people! I’m hoping to set up just such a meet up tonight/tomorrow. Now I just need to get my volunteers to give me the green light that everything is kosher tonight and that I won’t be needed….but I digress. Now sure, I can technically do this if I’m traveling with someone else, but not quite so easily.

I’m not sure how I would explain my internet friendships to my colleagues. There’s a sort of unspoken assumption when we travel together that we’ll hang out together. And since I’m friends with my colleagues, this plan usually works out just fine. We’ve met up with friends, family, etc. and it always goes just fine. But I’m not sure how, “Hey, wanna meet up with my friend that I’ve actually never met but know because I blog/write on forums about how I gave my kid up for adoption?” will go over with colleagues, or, say, my boss.

Long Board knows about my internet hobbies and has been with me on one of those “first meeting” situations. Since we had a second meeting with this person, I know that he wasn’t totally freaked out by it, but I think it threw him just a bit. I’m not sure he “gets” why I make actual friendships with people through this medium. And frankly, it’s just more comfortable for me to meet and spend time with these friends on my own. Maybe that’s wrong or whatever, but it is what it is for now.

So, I could mope about being stuck in this hotel room alone, or I could celebrate the solitude. Dream of RedBox and chinese food. Scheme to meet old friends for the first time. And be extra okay with this arrangement because it’s just temporary and I’ll be home on Sunday.

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Overwhelming Wedding Support

Someday I’ll stop blogging about all things wedding, but not today.

And don’t worry, not until I post some of those pictures I’ve promised you. 🙂

A few days ago, a dear friend posted this picture on her F@cebook:

I immediately “shared” it and commented that not only did I not update our relationship status for a week, but that I didn’t check F@cebook at all on my wedding day. (Nor did I check my Blackberry – a huge accomplishment in itself!)

Wanting to confirm that I wasn’t a dirty liar, I went to my profile and scanned down to October 8th.

My heart was warmed as I re-read all of the posts of congratulations and well wishes, and I realized how many of the amazing people that commented were folks that I’d never met in real life, but knew from my time online in adoptionland. Folks that I have met, but that were friendships that were foraged almost entirely online. It was a really cool moment, and I let it go without commenting. And I didn’t want to keep it that way.

So to anyone and everyone that wished us well on F@cebook – thank you. Truly, genuinely, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I could not be more touched that so many people across the country were thinking of us on that day. It’s beyond awesome.

Oh, and I confirmed that my first post was two days later, safely nestled on our Honeymoon, and I indeed updated our relationship status on October 15 – one week later, just like I thought. 🙂

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Not Technically Mrs. Long Board After All….

I didn’t really think about it, but I suppose I didn’t welcome myself back as Mrs. Long Board because I’m not Mrs. Long Board. I’m still just good ol’ TGM.

On the night that we finally sat down and filled out our marriage license I paused. I stalled. I freaked? I don’t think I went that far, but I was far enough that LB put his foot down and said that I’m not changing my name. So for now, for all legal purposes, I’m just Mrs.TGM. Who knows what the future will hold – probably a name change, but for now, we’ll stick with the status quo.

I tried to keep this change under wraps. I planned on responding to Mrs. LB, accepting mail sent to Mrs. LB, and not really making any kind of a public declaration that we were Mr. LB and Mrs. TGM. I’d go with the flow. Which worked great until I realized that every person I knew/met/bumped into on the street would ask me if I was going to change my name. I suppose that I thought not changing my name was so uncommon that it wouldn’t occur to people to ask. Oh, but they did.

My Dad was overjoyed – but without showing it. That meant a lot I suppose, and in a strange way it meant a lot to LB. My sister was a little horrified, if only because she had bought me a shirt for wedding day prep festivities that said “Future Mrs. LB.” I said, “Hey, one day I might be – you know, in the future, so it works!” 🙂 (See? Not throwing fits here!) LB’s family, well….I can’t get a read on them. That and the vast majority of them don’t know. His Mom knows because she asked and he wasn’t going to lie to her. I think she let it go at first, but asked more questions later. He answered with a brief, “It’s a personal decision that we made,” and cut off all further inquiries to the matter.

I’m fairly concerned for the day that both Grandma and Sister find out. They are the more….opinionated members of his family.

But I think there was a part of me that was concerned for the day that Cupcake would find out. God forbid we lose touch, I don’t want to be the only one that knows all the contact info. Sure, I could just give Dee my new last name, but my email has my current last name. I’m traceable. And it’s a connection to who I was when I had Cupcake. There was something about getting married that felt like shedding some of that person anyway….I think the name change felt a little bit like the final nail in that coffin.

Maybe I need to make a full transition from who I was to who I’m becoming….but something just wasn’t ready in me. My public answer is that I’ll probably change my name when we have kids. Of course, I’ll want to have the same name as my kids.

But even if I change it to Long Board, I’ll never have the same last name as all of my kids. Perhaps there’s a part of me that feels like if I didn’t give Cupcake my last name, why should I give that to her siblings? There’s some crazy part of me that wants to already keep things even. And I just have to accept that it will never be “even.”

Wow, the theme of this post sure evolved as I typed! Such is blogging! Now to ponder some more….

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Welcome Back, Mrs.

Yes, I’m welcoming MYSELF back to blogging. I, once again, took a break.

Fun fact: Planning a wedding can be a full time job.

Interestingly enough, my actual full time job is more like a time and a half kind of job. So you do the math.

So for the past month and a half or so – I worked. I worked at planning a wedding. I worked at controlling my reactions to my sometimes crazy mother. I worked at planning and executing the five fundraising events I’ve had since then. I’ve traveled to Madison, Wisconsin and Austin, Texas. Even a brief stint in Vegas as a “mini-moon.”

And today I signed up for the Open Adoption Roundtable Adoption Bloggers Interview Project! Confession? I feel a little big bad for my partner, as yet to be assigned….I haven’t really blogged adoption much recently, have I? Though, I suppose the flip side of that is that there’s a whole lot of stuff they could potentially ask me about!

I thought this would be a good way to launch me back into blogging. That, and I’ve got all this “free” time now that the wedding is beside me! Well, unless you count purchasing and then writing countless thank you cards, putting together our “home” (something we purposefully neglected until post-wedding) and – holy crap – getting ready for holidays! Already??? HOLIDAYS? It’s a wee bit bananas if you ask me!

Now, before the assault of requests come (perhaps I flatter myself….) there will be a password protected post of pictures. Soon 🙂 I promise. I must admit, I LOVE my pictures. LOVE. It was really awesome to feel completely and totally pretty for a day and have someone follow you around with a camera so that you can prove it later. Can I wallpaper my house with these pictures of me looking put together? Please??

I suppose Long Board’s not to shabby either.

So since he’s not driving me crazy yet, I’ll say this: We’re completely and totally blissfully happy living together as man and wife. You know, with little speed bumps along the way! 😉

But truly, it’s been an incredible journey so far, and now I’m finally getting back to documenting it. If you’re still here after all of these trips off the grid – I’m impressed. And I promise to treat y’all better. I swear!

 

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Regrets

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about regret recently.

Mostly about how people say that they don’t have any regrets, because everything is a lesson learned or everything happens for a reason (or some such pretty little way to wrap things up).

And honestly? I kind of think it’s phooey.

How do you really go through your whole life without any kind of regret?

I think I first got super annoyed (and a little obsessed with this topic) when I watched an interview that Vienna (a la The Bachelor “fame”) talking about how she did not regret being on The Bachelor.  Now that’s all good and well. Enjoy your time on reality television, who am I to tell you what you should place value on in your life. But when she went on to say that she doesn’t regret anything she’s ever done in her life? I just can’t buy it!

Haven’t we all bought a dress that stayed in our closet, with the tags on, that we never wore yet constantly found ourselves asking, “Why did I buy that again???”

Haven’t we all gorged on a little too much food and thought, “Why, oh why, did I have that last scoop of peach cobbler??” (Okay, that was me at my department potluck today – so insert your own last scoop/slice/piece choice ;))

Haven’t we all had a haircut we wish we never got? (I know Long Board sure does!)

Are those huge life altering regrets? Probably not. But hey, never say never then!

As I looked up the definition of regret, to see if people were just being too uptight and restrictive, I was caught by one of the definitions of the transitive verb:

: to be very sorry for <regrets his mistakes>
Now this one REALLY got me thinking…..
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To be honest? I think the world could probably use a lot more of this kind of regret!
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To be even more honest? I think the adoption community could as well – and I don’t just mean that for one side of the triad either. There are things that have occurred in our adoption that I absolutely regret. That I 100% am very sorry for. I promised Dee a picture of Cupcake’s Dad for a long time before I was really ready to provide that kind of information. I didn’t want to say no to her because I was afraid of the repercussions, but at the same time, I didn’t totally plan on following through. I would write it off in emails that I couldn’t get to our pictures because they were packed away (true, but still). The truth was that I just wasn’t ready. In time, I told Dee the truth. We had a good conversation about it. All was well. But I regret not being more upfront at the start. I regret feeling like I couldn’t be open and honest.
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There, I said it. I regret.
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I hope that others do to…
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I kind of hope that people are regretful when they break promises and close adoptions. I kind of hope that people are regretful when they lie, or stretch the truth. I sort of hope that people are regretful when they speak poorly and unfairly of their children’s first/adoptive parents. I hope that adoptive parents regret using unethical agencies and I hope that first Mom’s regret not disclosing the names of the biological fathers.
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I think these are all things for which we should feel very sorry for.
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Does this mean that we need to wallow in regret? That we need to beat ourselves up about every decision we’ve ever made until the end of time? Of course not! But I think a modest amount of regret might not be so unhealthy after all. You can still learn from the experience, you can still grow from the experience, but that doesn’t have to take away the element of regretting that it ever had to happen in the first place.
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And perhaps we can even learn and grow a little more, by just being able to admit to at least the teensiest bit of regret.

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