April 07, 2009

The Awesome-ness of Being an Adoptive Mom

I know that sometimes I can be all dramatic or mopey about being a parent by adoption. But honestly most of the time I'm quite happy with it. I don't know whether I grew into my role as an adoptive mom or the role just suited me to begin with, but it's working for me right now.

For the sake of a little balance around here, I present ten things I love about being an adoptive mom*:
  1. My children are learning, first-hand, that family isn't just about circumstances of biology. It is also about the people we choose to love and the commitments we keep.

  2. It's fun to confuse the nurses at the doctor's office when you tell them you have two children, zero pregnancies.**

  3. Ditto the strangers who can't figure out which two children match up to you at the playground.

  4. My husband and I were able to equally participate in every aspect of childcare, from feeding to babywearing, from the very beginning and it's led to a wonderful emotional and logistical balance in our household. No one got a head start in bonding or the extra responsibility that comes along with it.

  5. If the baby-birthing moms in my playgroup are a representative sample, I am glad I can laugh hard without peeing a bitty bit.

  6. I've come to believe in the inherent resiliency of children and it has allowed me to let go of so many things I think I otherwise would have tried unnecessarily to control.

  7. At the same time--and this may seem like it contradicts #6, but it doesn't--witnessing my children's transition away from their birth parents led me to a more nurturing, attached parenting style than I probably would have let myself embrace had I birthed them. I'll never know the mother I would have been had my children been born to me. But, knowing myself, she may likely have missed out on what have been some of the most meaningful moments of my parenting life thus far, as I've stretched myself to understand and meet my kids' needs. I like the parent adoption has made me. (And I got to use attachment as an excuse to hog the babies when they were wee newborns.)

  8. I am more empathetic to people grieving ambiguous loss and finding themselves on paths they did not expect to take in life. In many ways, unplanned pregnancy and infertility are two sides of the same reproductive coin.

  9. I have no expectations, secret or otherwise, that my kids inherited some favorite trait or talent from my or Todd's family line. I discover and delight in their unique personalities together with them as they emerge.

  10. As a mom sharing motherhood in a mismatched, non-genetically-related, happily messy extended family created through open adoption, standing up to persistently narrow cultural paradigms of family and parenthood and saying with no apologies, "We're a family," is one of the more punk rock things I've ever done.
And why not a bonus #11? I would have never have met any of you awesome people from all sides of the triad who are writing online about adoption.

How about you?

* You all are smart cookies, so I'm going to skip the whole "these things may not be universally true nor exclusive to adoptive parenting" thing, mkay?
** Seriously, though, in this age when surrogacy, adoption, and step-parenting aren't exactly rare, you'd think they wouldn't be so consistently befuddled.

47 comments:

luna said...

what a wonderful list. I look forward to #7 and I fully believe #8.

Rachael said...

bravo... my personal fav is #9. It is cool to watch my baby develop and to not have any preconceived thought about who she will take after.
and, I will admit to #7 as well...yes, I hogged the baby to 'be sure that we bonded'! :)

Guera! said...

I needed to read this. I love your list and will save it to read again and again. Once we finally have our adopted children I am sure I will have some to add to the list.

Parenthood For Me said...

What an awesome list. That just brightened my day. I do not have the open adoption aspect but I can relate to pretty much everything else. I like the parent I am because I am an adoptive mom.
Thanks for reminding me.
Erica

shmode said...

Ditto, ditto and ditto! I haven't experienced them all but I understand them all (I birthed 2 babies so I had the piddle problem for a short time *snort*).
jody

Lori said...

Love this post!

Especially #5.

Teehee!

(or should I say "neener neener"?)

Kris said...

These are great -- thanks so much for articulating what so many of us have experienced. My own (far less profound) list includes getting to drink at my own baby shower (champagne punch!).

Lavonne said...

Absolutely LOVE this post!! Thanks so much, I needed to read this right now. I laughed out loud at #5 and will definitely remember that one!

Lori said...

Well said. #4 is always a fav - not only for the shared parenting aspect but also that both of us got 8 consecutive hours sleep each night. Just not at the same time.

And without being too crass, check out Motherhood Uncensored's post today. Holy moly, that gave me something else to add to my gratitude list!

cindy psbm said...

#5 man, I am really jeolous of women who don't have this problem.
Those 'exercises' don't even work to quell the problem...oh well.
I love that you have empathy towards people who suffer loss that can't be seen.

I have a number #11 for you.
You don't have the 'mommy-brain' syndrome since you are always so witty with every post!!

Parenthood For Me said...

I left you a present at my blog.

beagle said...

I LOVE this post. It may be the best summary of adoptibe motherhood I have read to date. I wish you would/could publish it in a mainstream magazine like "Parents" etc. I wish the reast of the world could GET this . . .

Thank you.

And I think I love #9 best.

My own addition which you did pretty much cover . . . is that family is about choice and commitment for us too so it has freed me up to ignore the dumb ass legal relatives and invite cool people to be aunt and uncles etc by choice. (We still acknowledge the dumb ass relatives mind you . . . but their role is less vital than that of people who willingly and generously love my son.)

I clicked here via Rachel and you made me day.

Spring said...

Good list. #4 and #9 are my faves. I would add all the people who come up to speak to us because we don't look alike (I mean the friendly ones)...adoption has opened up our world in ways I never imagined.

Judy said...

This is a really wonderful list, Heather. Just love it.

Judy/JustEnjoyHim

Malloryn said...

Thank you for sharing! This list really brightened my day :)

Alison said...

wonderful list!! I totally agree with all of them. I love watching my children develop without any preconcieved notions about them. It also cracks me up when I see myself or my husband in our children....environment plays a huge role in their development also.

Kari said...

What an amazing list..I really needed to read this today!

cynthia said...

great list- you have articulated everything i feel, and think about too. my fave is number 1, but i love them all.

Deborah said...

I can't tell you how much this list has brightened my day. I have been focusing a little too much lately on the downside of being an adoptive parent. I have thought of some of these things, but it's so nice to be reminded. Thank You!!

Bobby said...

Wow this is a great post. We will be adoptive parents in (I hope) 4 short days now, and we can't wait! Thanks for collecting this awesome list of open adoption blogs.

Villagepig said...

From ICLW:

Wow, I love this list - both eloquent and humble to boot.

I think that the thing I love most about the blogging environment is that it has opened up doors to unconventional things which were previously only privvy to those on the inside.

I love that I can go from one place to anothre and read different parenting experiences but still realise that they ALL haveone thing in common - the overwhelming, exhausting, terrifying, wonderful, amazing, completing experience that is parenthood!

Thanks for sharing your list :-)

VP

Jason and Vanessa said...

So.... About #7... If I use "because I can't have my own" as an excuse to be the baby-hog now, with other people's children... Is that creating a truly horrific MONSTER baby-hog, you know, for attachment purposes, when we do finally get to adopt? ;)
Thanks for this blog! We're less than a year away from applying for adoption, so I'm reading all I can.

chantel said...

i just love this. it's everything i think but am not eloquent enough to put into words!

sparrow said...

Thank you for this list. We are currently waiting for matching with open adoption, and this list has definitely given us something to look forward to, whilst feeling in 'limbo'! :)

Lavender Luz said...

I enjoyed this the first time around, and I am enjoying it again in 2010.

Excellent choice for Creme.

Michelle said...

Thank you for this list. For a couple deciding what the next step to a child is, it's nice to hear an honest opinion from a Mom.

Mandi said...

Here from the Creme... Numbers 2 and 3 I can totally relate. People always do a double take with us.

Barb said...

I still want to adopt one day.. and for many of the reasons on this list. I hope we get to that place financially and emotionally.

And HAHAHAHAH at #5. That is indeed a blessing.

tbonegrl said...

Here from creme de la creme.

Ditto #11 being not having to deal with the fog your brain takes on after the hormones have wreaked their havoc on you.

Great list!!!

a Tonggu Momma said...

I enjoyed this even more the second time around. Excellent choice for the creme, Heather.

Sunshine said...

Here from Creme!

I whole heartdly agree! I love this and will start to read your blog now- thanks Mel!

We've done 10 IVFs and had 4 losses, one at 20 weeks. We dont know what to do next but adoption is certainly on the table. I am all for open or semi-open, so your blog will be great for me!

Sunshine

Billy said...

From the Creme.
Love you list :-).

Mrs. Gamgee said...

Stopping by from the Creme list...

I love this post. So often when pondering adoption, I know I focus more on the challenges that it will likely pose. I love that you have taken the time to remind yourself and us why it is so incredibly awesome.

nh said...

Fantastic list...

karlindaadoption said...

I love this list. And I fully intend to use attachment as an excuse to hog the baby too! :)

Lut C. said...

Popping in from the crème de la crème list.

Great post!

Suzanna Catherine said...

Here from Creme...

Wonderful list! I also love the line about hogging the wee ones. Absolutely perfect.

myinfertilitywoes said...

Wow, wow, wow. Found you on Creme de la Creme and am interested in reading more of your blog.

I would love to consider adoption at this point but my husband isn't there (yet).

your #8 blew me away - unplanned pregnancy and infertility must be similar - getting what you don't want, not getting what you want.

Eye opening. THANK YOU & look forward to getting to know you!

Miriam said...

Hi there,
Came here via Creme de la Creme... what a fantastic post. My husband and I have recently made the decision to adopt, and we're in that super-overwhelming initial phase where we're researching like fiends. This is a very inspiring list that I'm going to share with my husband in our ever expanding folder of stuff about adoption. Also - number 8: IF and unplanned pregnancy as two sides to the same coin... insightful, poignant, and true. Fantastic post.

Anonymous said...

pretty cool stuff here thank you!!!!!!!

Pixie said...

Thank you for this post. I return to it again and again when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with the process.

grifft said...

Every time someone comments on this post, it sends me an e-mail. It's been a while since I read the list, and we now have our little boy.He's currently 14months old (yesterday) and we've had him since he was 7.5mnths.

Thank you for reminding me it would get better. I now read your post and smile because I feel all those things and more. The time really drags whilst waiting to be approved to adopt, and then drags even longer whilst waiting for matching. Once you're matched, the waiting for the approval is unbearable! However, time flies once you have your little one home.

Hope all of you guys are doing well

xxx

(formerly posted as 'sparrow')

Becca said...

Wow. I just found your blog and this list is absolutely fantastic. I've had so very many of the same thoughts. Awesome. Thanks.

Christina said...

Love your list! Love it!

My addition: we are the only family I know where my husband knew we were having a baby before I did! (The agency called him, he called me.)

Because doing it different is how we roll.

Waiting Lisa said...

Haha, can I use number 7 as my excuse for why I have never left Jayden for more than 20 minutes? (And even leaving him for 20 minutes only happened twice in 4 months.)I'm pretty sure people think I'm nuts.

Great list. All of it.

Anonymous said...

'Kay, I'm really late to this party, but had I given birth to my daughter, I'd probably not notice (or would at least take for granted) the things she'd do that were "like me". Every now and then, she does something so unlike anything I or my partner do...and so identically like what her birthmum or dad do. And I LOVE telling them about it. She's almost 2 now, and has just started pushing her hair out of her eyes with the pinkie finger of each hand (who uses their pinkie finger??? - her birthmom, that's who). So telling S about the fact that our daughter does this exactly the way S does, makes S's day - it will someday, I hope, make my daughter's day....and no-one takes this simple little thing for granted.

wannabemommy said...

I find it so funny that people feel the need to say she looks like she could be ours. I no longer correct them... That's for Katie to understand that she IS ours and she is HER Birthmoms. It's more than ok to be different. It's interesting and it's real. Love knows no boundaries... Great post, thank you for sharing

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