February 28, 2009

My Kids Are Freaking Adorable

But don't take my word for it. See for yourself.

(Picture blog private but not closed yada yada just ask if you'd like access)

February 27, 2009

Just Need to Add

First, I want to acknowledge that this, the blog of an adoptive parent, is neither a neutral nor neccesarily safe gathering place.

Second, my inclination in everything, from my work to my personal life, is to do things myself. I am slow to ask for partnership, terrible at delegating, and worse at networking. Simply put, my mind thinks vertically and doesn't always immediately recognize the importance of the horizontal.

Those two things have been on my mind today and I wanted to say them here.

February 26, 2009

Calling All Open Adoption Bloggers

If I were to submit an essay to the This I Believe series, it would begin, "I believe in the power of story."

In the very beginning, it was stories that demystified open adoption for me and made it something I not only agreed with in principle, but really wanted for our family. Stories turned unknowns like "contact" and "visitation" into regular people sharing phone calls and meals.

Stories from other adoptive parents let me make sense of the role I play in our personal triads. The honest words of first parents make me more sensitive to my kids' birth families. Listening to the stories of adopted adults helps me to be--I hope--a more empathetic, aware parent with my kids.

When I've struggled with our own adoptive relationships, knowing there are other people who have faced the same worries has eased the loneliness. And when I stumble on a blog of someone who's been living open adoption for years and years? I'm almost turning cartwheels at all their insight into what lies ahead.

Beyond the sterile research studies and mass media pieces, I think it is our stories that show the world the reality of and reasons for what we do in open adoption. And that give us a sense of comraderie as we live out open adoption--something which is all at once completely normal and completely counter-cultural.

Which is why I have this little dream, a dream of starting up a blogroll just for us--a place for us to find each other and for others to find us. Writers from all sides of open adoption gathered together in one spot. A great big list of Open Adoption Blogs.

Would you like to join me? (And I really hope you do!)

I've created a space for our very own Open Adotion Blogroll. And with the help of Mel and of Kari at SugarB Studio, we even have some wonderful buttons to help spread the word. To join in, just grab the button code here and then add your blog.

I truly hope to gather as many voices as we can. No matter what open adoption looks like in your life right now--something joyful and easy, a struggle, a dream--if you embrace openness, your blog is welcome. Whether you write about adoption a lot or a little. Each of our stories sheds light on a different part of the whole.

February 24, 2009

Unfortunately Me

Meme stolen shamelessly from Sundays with Stretchy Pants. Want to play along? Google "unfortunately [your name]" and post the results.

"Unfortunately, Heather and Mean Jean will be back in Congress."
How come Mean Jean got a nickname and not Heather? This is clearly not about me, because I would never, ever be able to survive all the meet-and-greets you have to do to get elected. Besides, I'd rather watch tonight's speech at home, where I can fast-forward through all the clapping. If Obama is serious about changing Washington, he should ban standing ovations during the State of the Union.

"Unfortunately, Heather is extremely beautiful and gets hooked up with guys that are equally beautiful but cheaters."
This is actually why Todd and I adopted. We were afraid our combined extreme beauty in any offspring would be too much for the world to handle.

"Unfortunately Heather has surfaced on our screens in Scrubs, ads for L'oreal & the short lived LAX (fortunately I live in the UK & wasn't subjected to this)."
I don't blog much about my acting career, lest you all get jealous. Apparently I'm not too popular in the U.K. Must talk to my agent about that.

"Unfortunately Heather has to work as a hooker to pay for her retro fashion obsession. But she doesn’t mind. I mean check out these shoes!"
Seeing as how my last purchase was a $22 pair of Target dress shoes, I think I need to step up my game a little.

"Unfortunately Heather can’t be there, but I hope some of you can be. If so, come find me and say hi!"
This is the story of Todd's life: introverted me begging off of social events.

"Unfortunately, Heather forgot to follow the most important advice: Stay out of the path of runaway police motorcycles."
Wise words for us all.

"Unfortunately, Heather lost the ability to transform into Sasquatch."
Think about it. Have there been any recent sightings? Exactly.

"Unfortunately, Heather is married."
Love you, Todd!

"Unfortunately, Heather did not win."
This is true. I never win. Except at Scrabble and Settlers of Catan.

February 21, 2009

One Year

When I close my eyes years from now, I will remember how oddly warm it was that day, the way the college students lounged at coffee houses in tank tops. I will remember driving through the farms that morning and pointing out all of the lambs to your father. There were so very many lambs.

I will remember standing alone, heart racing, in a room of empty isolettes, eyes flicking to the door of the operating room. I will remember watching a clutch of people carrying a tiny pink baby down a hallway and wondering where that child had come from. I will for the rest of my life remember the moment I realized it was you.

I will wish again for the trusting weight of you on my body, those hours and months spent with your warmth pressed to my chest and the feeling that we were one unit moving through the world. I will want to bow my head and find my lips nestled in your soft hair.

I will close my eyes and feel the rocking chair beneath me, see you all those nights in shadows in my arms, turning toward me as you decide to sleep. I will watch your dimpled hands clap together when I sing, your nose wrinkling at its bridge. I will see your face crack open in a wide-mouthed grin, finger hooked in one corner, your tongue sticking out in joy. Will I smile, remembering, the way I smile now?

I will remember how languidly you have taken this first year, drifting toward milestones like a leaf atop a quiet lake. Late to be born, late to crawl, late to eat, late to teeth--always content to stay just a little longer in the safety of wherever you are.

Firefly, I wish I could do this year again. Already there is so much I don't remember, so much I'm afraid I never stopped to notice. I have felt tugged between home and work, husband and self, oldest and youngest in ways I never have before. Those quiet, stolen moments when I could simply watch you, soaking in every bit of who you are before it all changed again--I feel like they were so few. I wish I could start the clock over, this time knowing all along that we would come through okay. Know that all those times I seemed to turn away from you--toward your brother, toward my work, toward the simple business of life--I never stopped thinking about you.

Happy (belated) first birthday, little girl. Here's to many more.

February 20, 2009

Need a Hand

I'm looking for someone who has more graphic know-how than I (read: any) to help design a sidebar button for a little adoption blog project I'm noodling up. Shoot me a note if you've got mad skillz. Payment will come in the form of my sincere gratitude and a credit link.

ETA: Help received. I'm excited about announcing the new project!

February 19, 2009

For All the Eagle-Eyed Readers

Some lovely people pointed out that I dropped a name in my last post (which, thank you for, by the way--I would hate to accidentally out someone). It wasn't an accident, but I probably should have said something first.

I was getting tired of all the initials floating around, and I know they make people less real to me on other blogs. Also, Puppy's first mom and Firefly's first dad share an initial, which would be uber-confusing.  I quite appreciate blogs where people are named things like Husband, OldestChild, MiddleChild, etc. Easy to follow. I'd give everyone fun-but-not-corny-yet-easy-to-follow nicknames here, but I'm not that creative.

So, names it is! Let me introduce you to my previously-initialed cast:
  • Puppy was born to Kelly and Ray.
  • Firefly was born to Beth. Although I'm rather fond of calling her Ms B, so that one might stick around. Her first dad's name is Kevin.
  • I'm married to Todd. Who just told me he'd rather go by Tron on-blog. We'll see. (No, we won't.)
If you're worried I'm revealing too much, erm... don't.

And if anyone would like to suggest a tidy nicknaming system for the lot of us, please, by all means, do so. I'll send you a big box of cookies.

February 18, 2009

Q&A: Meeting Ms B

Melissa asks, "What was the meeting like when you met Firefly's birthmom? What kind of questions were asked, how did you feel etc."

I went back to the posts I wrote right before and after that meeting. I sound like I was holding a lot of emotion at bay. That's pretty accurate.

By the time of our first meeting, it had been almost two months since we first learned Ms B was interested in us. So there had been a lot of time to sit with the basic information we had about B's pregnancy and circumstances, and to ask follow-up questions of the agency counselor. We weren't officially matched or whathaveyou with Ms B (we needed to meet first), but our profile materials weren't circulating anymore. What we hadn't been able to do was sit face-to-face with Beth and see if we meshed as people. Which, to me, is just so crucial in open adoption.

Much of the meeting and the lunch afterward was the sort of small talk you make when you're getting to know somebody--the questions about childhood and hobbies and all that. Like so many early interactions in open adoption, it was oddly ordinary on the surface with all sorts of emotion churning underneath. As far as our questions for her, we wanted to know about her process so far, what had brought her to the point of planning an adoption, what options had been explored, the reactions of her family and the baby's dad. (Quick sidenote: It turned out this was her second agency. She dropped the first--which only did closed adoptions--when her mom pointed out that she hated the fact that her own adoption was closed. She contacted the first agency when she was like five minutes pregnant and told them she wanted to place. They said, "Wonderful!" and sent her preliminary placement paperwork to fill out, no questions asked. Great "counseling," huh?)

Ms B asked a lot about our relationships with Puppy's first parents--how those worked, how frequently we interacted with them. I remember she wanted to know if we called them every time Puppy hit a milestone like a first tooth. (No.) We talked quite a bit about our particular philosophy of open adoption and what our expectations would be of her. She also had questions about our parenting style and what sort of time we spent together as a family. She seemed eager to convince us that we could confidently expect this to be our baby, which made me squirmy.

As far as feelings, I was full of nervous anticipatory excitement. T and I had talked a lot about things we wish had gone differently in our first adoption, and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to not make the same mistakes twice. For some reason, I was stuck on the fact that she had seen a ton of pictures of us, but we didn't know what she looked like. I don't know why that bothered me so much, but it did. I think because it made it hard for me to visualize what it would be like to meet with her while we waited. If it had only been a week or two before we met her, I don't think it would have been as big of a deal to me.

It felt a lot different than our first meeting with Puppy's birth parents. T and I were more confident this time, more sure of what was important to us. We weren't worried about saying something that would cause her to "unpick" us. If anything, we wanted to get as many of our weaknesses and non-negotiables out there as we could, so that Beth could move on to another family if we weren't right for her. Better to find out incompatibilities now, than to be stuck trying to fix things a few years down the road. Which is one reason I think these kinds of meetings require a different kind of counseling approach in open adoption than in semi-closed. It's not about getting to the point of placement, but about all those years afterward.

February 17, 2009

Assorted Back Patting

I'm excited to the point of dorkiness to say that one of my old posts, The Missing Player, is featured at Blog Nosh today. Thank you, Deb!


Also, last week Mom Dot featured me in one of their Fab Fifteen Bloggers posts, this one focused on parenting blogs. I think I was the token adoptive parent, but, heck, I don't mind. T's blog even got a little shout-out.


Finally, Lavonne was nice enough to give me an Uber Amazing Blog award! Thanks, Lavonne! Now it's my turn to pass it on to five blogs.

Here are the official rules: The “uber amazing blog” is a blog award given to sites who...
  • inspire you
  • make you smile and laugh
  • or maybe give you amazing information
  • are a great read
  • have an amazing design
  • and any other reason you can think of that makes them uber amazing!
This made the rounds of a lot of the great adoption blogs awhile back. So I thought I would share five of my favorite non-adoption blogs with you. (Even though this isn't really the sort of thing I expect any of these blogs to participate in.)

Sociological Images: Two sociology professors post current and vintage images, with a hint of commentary. It's like all the conversations we'd have after American Studies class in college.

Feministing: All the conversations we'd have after Women's Studies class.

Electric Boogaloo: If you don't read Tiffany's stories about her unbelievably creative, unique young sons, you're missing out. One of the few blogs which makes me laugh out loud.

Filthy Commerce: Written by a business and technology reporter who wanted "a blog that took money seriously, but not so seriously that money began getting an inflated view of its own worth." It's the only personal finance blog I've ever found that actually interests me.

Chookooloonks: Technically, Karen is an adoptive mom, but she stopped writing about her daughter's adoption a few years ago. Her photographs and words inspire me to find beauty in my life every day. And I really, really want the interior of my house to look like hers.

Now it's your turn to point me to some good blogs. What are some of your non-adoption daily reads?

February 14, 2009

Birthday Eve

Ms B, Puppy and Firefly are slumbering away upstairs. T is washing dishes. I am frosting a coconut cake for Firefly's birthday lunch tomorrow.

Contentment and peace one-hundredfold over this same night last year. It all seems so long ago now, yet I'm somehow still shocked twelve months have already gone by.

February 13, 2009

Valentines, redux

This is a re-run from last year but I wanted to repost it because today every word is again true. T and I won't exchange gifts tomorrow, so in a way this is my valentine to him.


I have never been big on Valentine's Day--not the principle of it, but the practice. Puppy and I made Valentines that were mailed far and wide, and we'll share a family holiday meal together tonight. But overall I tire of the emphasis on material expressions of affection and the insane focus on romantic love to the exclusion of all other forms. My husband is a high school teacher and it is perhaps the most highly anticipated day among his students, aside from the last day of school. That saddens me on many levels. It's a day when the insiders and outsiders in the teenage dating game are made clear. Students (girls and boys) lucky enough to be dating someone flaunt their balloons and bears and flowers all day. There used to be a rule about leaving gifts in the school office, but they would run out of room before lunch.

As he does each year, today T will get on his soapbox for minute in his classes. He will remind his students that love isn't just about having a boyfriend or a girlfriend, but about all the people we choose to include in our life. He will say he wants them to know they are special and loved and not forgotten on this day. Then he'll pass out some candy and those class Valentines you buy $3 for 30 at Target. If it is like every year prior, the teenagers will get as excited over those cheap cards as they did in elementary school. And at least one student will come up to tell him how much it meant to be noticed on a day when they felt so invisible.

This is why I fell in love with my husband. Not just because of his romantic gestures or the way he makes me believe I'm the most amazing person he's ever met (although I appreciate those things). But because he understands that love opens its arms wide to gather in as many as it can, as often as it can.

Happy Valentine's Day to every one of you. May your day be filled with true love.

February 12, 2009


Hitting the easy questions first...

Mayhem asks,
Are either you or your husband stay-home parents, or do you both work outside the home?
We both have paying jobs. T is a teacher and coach, so he works full-time-plus during the school year and is home during the summer. I work part-time for a non-profit, from our house. Three days a week, I drive the kids to their babysitter's house, then drive back home to work. You can tell it's a work day for me if I'm twittering. Ahem.

Ironically, because of how far the babysitter is from us, my 'commute' time is five times longer than it was when I worked in the organization's office in California. I still think it's worth it, because the whole thing is a pretty great set-up at this stage in our lives. We're both challenged creatively by our work and I still get to do playgroups and library storytime and all those other SAHM-y things with the kids. And every week during the summer we have four consecutive free days to do whatever we want. Summers are awesome 'round here.

On a related note, T took four months of family leave when Puppy was born and was the full-time, at-home parent. (I was still working full-time at that point.) He was great at it and I think it laid the foundation for the nice balance of parenting duties we now enjoy. But you would not believe the sexist bullshit he heard from his co-workers about that choice. Of course, this was the same group who fired him from his coaching job for daring to take three days--three!--off for his kid's birth. So our expectations of them weren't all that high. But still. Asshats.

February 11, 2009

All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

Opening the floor to questions, that is.

It's been while since I've done this. And there has been a little burst of new readers here recently (yay! welcome!).

So! Is there anything you'd like to see me write about? Anything you're wondering, big or small? Ask away...

February 08, 2009

People Are Not So Bright Sometimes

T was talking to some acquaintances of ours and mentioned that we would be seeing Ms B soon.

One of the people listening wanted to clarify that B was Puppy's birth mom, too. Confused, T explained that, no, our kids have completely different first families.

Why would this person think that Puppy and Firefly shared a birth mom, you ask? In his words: "Oh, I just thought--I mean, you always call them brother and sister."


Which made me remember a time I shared a straw or a spoon or something--maybe it was a lollipop?--with Puppy in front of some other moms. One woman was looking at me funny and I asked her if she wasn't big on sharing straws/spoons/lollipops. Because some people just don't like the idea of sharing utensils, you know? My dad is like that.

She answered that of course she didn't mind sharing with her children, but that was because she is related to them (emphasis hers). Shared DNA makes a spit-covered lollipop less gross, I guess.

I just pointed out that she wasn't genetically related to her husband but I bet she had shared a lot more than a spoon with him.

February 04, 2009

Finding Freedom

I spent some time Sunday night with Ms B on the phone. We were supposed to be making plans for Firefly's birthday, but kept getting sidetracked into this and that. Chatting about small things and remembering how different everything was this time last year. We eventually did force ourselves back on track and managed to schedule some birthday events. (Firefly is getting two birthday parties this year, lucky duck--one at our home and one in Ms B's home town.)

I'm continually surprised by how easy things are with Ms B. I don't mean that this past year has been a piece of cake for her, but just that our relationship is so free of drama. It's easy to talk to her about things both shallow and deep, without censoring myself. I don't have to debrief every interaction with her in my mind. I don't check where I am emotionally before picking up the phone to call her.

Those may seem like strange things to say, unless you know that (a) I hate talking on the phone and (b) it hasn't been so easy with some (just some) of the people in Puppy's first families. A few of those relationships are exhausting for me, and until recently I took almost all of the responsibility for that onto myself. I looked at other adoptive parents who seemed to move so easily and confidently in their open adoptions and told myself that I fell short of their high mark. I couldn't understand why I kept having to work through the same emotions time after time after time after time. Why my gut reactions were so often defensive. I wondered if I was just too threatened by the thought of sharing parenthood, too insecure about my triad role to do open adoption well. I can't tell you how many times I came down on myself, wondering why I couldn't make this just work already.

(The irony of course being that I would never, ever have told another adoptive parent that they're to blame when open adoption feels hard to do. Or a first parent or adoptee for that matter. Open adoption is worthwhile, but sometimes emotionally bumpy. )

And then B came along and I geared up for more hard and it just never came. I feel like this past year with her has been one big eye-opening experience. I feel more confident than I ever have. Because I'm the same person in Firefly's adoption that I am in Puppy's and yet everything else about it has been different. I'm finally able to separate out what is about adoption and what is about me and what is about things wholly out of my control--and realizing that the struggles of the past three years haven't been all my fault. And not in a blame-shifting, point-fingers-at the-other-parties way. Just finally realizing that there are some ways we have to make the best of a hard situation with Puppy's adoption. And that maybe we've actually been doing a decent job.

Before I had another open adoption to compare things to, I didn't realize just how small I had allowed myself to feel, how much dysfunction I had excused in the name of compassion. I didn't really believe, deep down, that openness could ever come easily to me. It is the outcome I never expected nor even realized I needed, that our second adoption would begin to bring health to the first.

February 01, 2009

Wilbert Today

We had 726 entries to the Bloggy Giveaway contest!

I was amused by how many people wanted the rest of the four-foot tall bear story. Did my brother share the bear with me? Did I ever exact revenge?

I didn't get to play with Wilbert Bear much. He was my brother's special bear. We did do a series of very scientific experiments together to determine whether or not Wilbert was secretly alive. (Mostly leaving him alone with a jar of honey and trying to catch him eating it. We were sure there was slightly less honey in the jar one time.)

But! Wilbert still lives at my parents' house and Puppy plays with him all the time when we're there. He loves him to pieces. So, in a round about way, I did win that bear.

Back to business: the random winner of the $15 gift card is Kathy's Korner! Congratulations to Kathy and a big thanks to everyone who entered.
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