{May 26, 2012}   Camping Trip!

So we went camping last weekend – and I haven’t had the time to write about it since, lol, that’s the kind of week it’s been! But it was fun. Roasting marshmallows, sleeping in tents, etc. OK so we could have done without the killer mosquito population, or Little J’s decision that without a crib, he has no desire to sleep (in fact, even with a crib, he’s had some issues in that regard at home this week lol). It was a challenge, and we both agree perhaps something to pursue again either just with Little Tyke, or when they’re both a hair older. But we were so glad to do it – a good time was had by all, even if it was exhausting. 😉

We took a little break on the Sunday to come back to town for church and my new second cousin’s Christening – it was a very fun, but busy, weekend … which describes the remainder of this week frankly. Lots to do, very productive, but 99.9% enjoyable. 🙂

Hope everyone else has been doing well!

{May 18, 2012}   Warm Fuzzies …
  • Belatedly to my ‘moms’ – Mom, step-mother Monique and Gramma, and mother-in-law Val – a Happy Mother’s Day. It’s been too busy a week to blog, but I DID call all the women I call ‘mother’ on Sunday. 🙂 And Happy Mother’s Day as well to all my mom friends, single dads who are both Mom and Dad, etc. out there.
  • Happy Anniversary today to my in-laws, who have been married 40 years. We’ll catch up with you in about 33. 🙂
  • Congrats to our cousin Carly, who is graduating university. Such a great accomplishment.
  • My cousin Allison and her family – their new baby Christian is being baptized this weekend!

Going camping this weekend as well – so see you all on the flipside.

Be well XO.

Please CLICK HERE first to read the article in question.

And my thoughts …

So let me start by saying I have complete and total sympathy for Laurel Walton’s experience. It sounds like she had an awful time, lacking in supports at a young and vulnerable age. While my kneejerk reaction is ‘Under those circumstances, would have have WANTED to raise a child with so little backup?’, I understand completely that she WANTED that support, and not finding it hurt – that there is a mourning process involved in any kind of loss like this – and that it never 110% goes away.

I also want to preface all of what I am about to say with the fact that my perspective is shaped from standing on the opposite side of the adoption divide. I am an adoptive mom (or – if I were to hold the same sensitivities as the writer, ‘just a mom’). But I guess that’s also one of my first criticisms aimed at this article – at no point does Walton acknowledge that her perspective is shaped by her own personal pain and agony, by her own experiences, in their time and place. So much of the anger this article brought up in me would have been allayed by a simple acknowledgement tha this was speaking both to and from her experience. My words both preceding and following this, I make no bones, come from my experience. Two individual adoptions, involving one couple and one natural mother/birth mother/term of your choice, in Ontario, in 2008-2010. I make no claims to speak for any kind of collective, any kind of ‘us’ or ‘our’. While that kind of language might seep in here in a personal, unedited, unfiltered blog, I’m stating upfront that is not my intent.

So I guess … all that said … the first obvious issue I take is taking obviously judgemental, guilt-inducing behaviours from the 1970s and applying them to today. Yours is a story from 40 years ago … a time I have no doubt when being a single mom – much less one in her teens – was a hammer many were beaten about the head with. Your suggestion of your sexuality and fertility being used by others to determine your future and that of your baby … well, if I were a more judgemental person myself I could throw all kinds of things out there like ‘But you made an adult decision that led to having to make more difficult decisions’, ‘You gave them something to use’ … but the fact is teenagers have sex and teenagers get pregnant – some might even, with help and support, make for awesome parents – and I won’t judge that. And they are entitled to treatment with dignity and sympathy in tough times – which obviously you did not receive. And I am more than ready to acknowledge that today, there are many who feel the same, and experience the same judgement, issues, etc. However, adoption records are more accessible now, and some levels of openness in adoption (from letters to visits and anything in between) are not only allowed but encouraged. When we began our adoption journey, we happened to be open to and agree with that reality, but had we not, I can honestly say I think saying so would have been a setback to the process. It is almost an expectation that adoptive parents be open to openness, even if the ‘birth family’ isn’t. It is a different time and it is far from perfect – but that is based more on individual circumstances than ‘the system’.

The idea that adoptive parents are some kind of privileged elite who prey upon poor, vulnerable women, who could be awesome moms if just given the time, support and resources. Again, I can only speak to my situation – and in the vaguest of terms out of respect for my sons’ first mother, as I will not ever take it upon myself to share her story – but in terms of Ari and I as some kind of ‘elite’, at the time of our adoption he’d been working in a call centre for about 6 months, and I was working very ad hoc as a substitute teacher. We drove a four year old used car and lived in a modest three bedroom townhouse. We were not broke by any means … but neither were we some kind of ruling class. And as to the boys’ mother … please trust me that she would not have, and most likely never will be, capable of parenting. While she was/is young and poor, and I have no doubt taken advantage of by many, at no point was she taken advantage of by the system or us. It is in fact because of Children’s Aid that she was able to get prenatal care, she was given opportunities to take the steps necessary to parent, she was given chances to visit and be in touch … right or wrong, the choices she made were hers. We did not go to a foreign country and prey upon misogenistic laws, poverty, etc. or hire someone as a surrogate – we went through the public system to help a child in need, and to begin the family we wanted. It was a win-win for all concerned. Did the boys’ birth mother struggle with her decision? I would imagine so. I know so. But I also know the right decision was made by the simple facts of the situation; from the day we learned he’d been born, we were in the hospital all day, every day alongside him. She, despite strong encouragement from all concerned (and the utmost clarity that she would take priority), never came back to visit upon discharge.

That story is why I am so far against the strength of the law changes suggested in this article as well … 90 days before any adoption plan is put in place? No connection until well past the birth between birth and adoptive parents? This is only going to succeed in sowing seeds of unfamiliarity, which in turn breeds distrust, between people who ultimately are working together to ensure the child’s best interests – a parenting team if you will. That connection, those shared experiences, those discussions, are best to have cleared up before a child is three months old and – yes – has already bonded with birth mother and vice versa, and while adoption may remain the right decision at that point, is all of a sudden a hundred times harder.

And what about Laurel Walton’s son himself? Despite her trauma, she describes him, upon their reunion, as a man she was proud of, who’d grown up well, etc. And who was responsible for that? Oh right, people of privilege who oppressed and demeaned her. Perhaps, rather than this evisceration, she owes her son’s adoptive parents (his parents) a thank you. Meanwhile, she is married with children she had the privilege to raise herself. While obviously it was a long, painful road for her – and again, I sympathize – maybe this situation didn’t turn out so badly for all concerned. And perhaps the ‘me me me’ pity party could be tempered by a counting of blessings … and a realization that her story is HER story … not necessarily ours, anymore than our (admittedly ridiculously blessed and lucky) adoption story is anyone else’s.

And all of this ‘adoption is so rough, unfair, hurtful, etc.’ could potentially damage a system that, while it does hurt some, has SAVED countless families and children – birth families, adoptive families and children alike. In situations where adoption would be the right choice, a purely negative story like this will only serve to discourage adoptive parents – “Oh my God, do ALL birth parents think like this? Do they all have regrets? Are they all going to want to change their minds and carry this around in their lives, and mine, and eventually OUR children’s, forever?” – and, more importantly, birth parents who could very well, like Juno, know the right path to take but feel forced to face a baby they know they’re going to give up, to strangers they’re not allowed to meet, etc. etc. etc. … this process becoming more difficult could lead to either more abortions on one hand (a valid choice, but if the idea of adoption is to give potential children and parents a future, I’m working on that premise), or more parents who – I’m sorry, in some cases, it does happen – who can’t raise their children, attempting to, against others’ and perhaps their own better judgement.

In short, this article was not only insulting – both to well-intentioned adoptive parents (you know – most of us) – but to the whole process itself, and the changes made to said process over decades. If you want to attack privileged elites making irresponsible decisions on how to become parents, perhaps we can talk tens and hundreds of thousands being spent on fertility processes … surrogacy arrangements because biology is more important than taking care of children who NEED it … etc. There are boogeymen out there – some certainly in the adoption arena – but adoption has also been a blessing for many parents – both biological and adoptive – and children … and to ignore that entirely is doing a disservice to families created in this special way … many of which, these days, in Ontario, involve continued bio-ties.

{May 9, 2012}   Another Book Off the List

I just finished reading Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” this week …

1. Dead and Gone – Charlaine Harris
2. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
3. Reading Lolita in Tehran – Azar Nafisi
4. The Year of Living Biblically – A.J. Jacobs
5. A History of God – Karen Armstrong
6. Dreams from My Father – Barack Obama
7. Beloved – Toni Morrison
8. ‘Tis – Frank McCourt 

9. Black Berry, Sweet Juice: Black and White in Canada – Lawrence Hill
10. The Constant Princess – Phillipa Gregory
11. Wicked – Gregory Maguire
12. The Six Wives of Henry the 8th – Alison Weir
13. Eleanor of Aquitaine – Alison Weir
14. Tuesdays with Morrie – Mitch Albom
15. The Fellowship of the Ring – J.R.R. Tolkien
16. The Two Towers – J.R.R. TOlkien
17. The Return of the King – J.R.R. Tolkien
18. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
19. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
20. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
21. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
22. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling
23. Dracula – Bram Stoker
24. Last Night at the Chateau Marmont – Laura Weisberger
25. The Inferno – Dante
26. Towelhead – Alicia Erian
27. Sex, Lies, and Headlocks – Shaun Assael and Mike Mooneyham
28. The Way the Crow Flies – Ann-Marie MacDonald
29. The Robber Bride – Margaret Atwood
30. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
31. This United Church of Ours – Ralph Milton
32. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
33. American Gods – Neil Gaiman
34. Stardust – Neil Gaiman
35. Tess of the d’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
36. The First Christmas – Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan
37. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
38. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
39. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
40. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
41. Deception Point – Dan Brown
42. Digital Fortress – Dan Brown
43. The Lost Symbol – Dan Brown
44. Lolita – Vladimir Nobokov
45. Atonement – Ian McEwan
46. All the King’s Men – Robert Penn Warren
47. Under the Dome – Stephen King
48. 11/22/63 – Stephen King
49. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Harriet Beecher Stowe
51. A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
52. Scarlett – Alexandra Ripley
53. White Noise – Don De Litto
54. Their Eyes were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston
55. Primary Colours – Anonymous
56. Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
57. Ragtime – E.L. Doctorow
58. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie – Muriel Spark
59. Misquoting Jesus – Bart Ehrman
60. Fast Food Nation – Eric Schlasser
61. My Years as Prime Minister – Jean Chretien
62. Memoirs – Pierre Trudeau
63. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo d’Allaire
64. Team of Rivals – Doris Kearns Goodwin
65. The Secret Mulroney Tapes – Peter C. Newman
66. Why I Hate Canadians – Will Ferguson
67. Planet Simpson – Chris Turner
68. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
69. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe – Douglas Adams
70. Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
71. So Long and Thanks for All the Fish – Douglas Adams
72. Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams

73. Fifth Business – Robertson Davies
74. The Manticore – Robertson Davies
75. World of Wonders – Robertson Davies
76. The Donnellys – James Reaney
77. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
78. Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand
79. Farenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
80. Not Wanted on the Voyage – Timothy Findlay
81. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
82. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
83. The Crucible – Arthur Miller
84. Mirror Mirror – Gregory Maguire
85. The Emerging Christian Way – Marcus Borg et al
86. Sorbonne Confidential – Laurel Zuckerman
87. What Happened to Anna K – Irina Reyn
88. The Silver Linings Playbook – Matthew Quick
89. Hey Nostradamus! – Douglas Coupland
90. Girlfriend in a Coma – Douglas Coupland
91. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
92. The 5 People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
93. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
94. Interview with the Vampire – Ann Rice
95. The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank
96. The Bonfire of the Vanities – Tom Wolfe
97. Guys and Dolls – Damon Runyon
98. Good Book – David Plotz
99. He’s Just Not that Into You – Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, Lauren Monchik
100. Undisputed – Chris Jericho
101. Jesus for the Non-Religious – John Shelby Spong

It was quite something, I have to say! A very weird book, but a clear view at the strange lovechild that would be created if right wing religious fundamentalism ever married radical feminism. It’s written from the perspective of a ‘Handmaid’ – a class of women deemed fertile, who ultimately act as surrogate mothers to husbands and Wives – a ‘superior’ class of women. However, it’s not surrogacy in terms of anything done in a lab. They are, let’s say, a surrogate for EVERYTHING. And the odd family dynamics that ensue. A politically and religiously oppressive regime in the former United States – now known as Gilead – ensues. Scary? Yes. Entirely far fetched? Not as much as we’d probably like to think. A good read from Atwood? Yes, if you have a taste for the weird.

{May 2, 2012}   My new favourite …

By George they’ve got it! 🙂

et cetera