Remember that thing I said that time?

Posted in Adoption, Operation Shock and Awe, Parenting on March 19, 2009 by Brad

About how there were momentous events in my life of which two years sobriety was the least? Well now I can talk about the other one.

We are having a baby

Lamia gets to be a big sister!

Let’s not talk about my below average photography skills.

In other news, we are in the process of making a date to visit with Sprog’s family. We figure best get it done before we have a new baby, else it will never happen.

More on the blame and entitlement stuff

Posted in Adoption on February 6, 2009 by Brad

I wanted to clarify where I am coming at this whole adoption thing from, particularly in relation to my previous post about blame, entitlement and the adoption chasm.

I did not really include birth parents from the BSE and similar (for example Suz) who were clearly given no choice. I was speaking more from my own point of view as someone who participated in a so-called voluntary adoption. I say so-called because I am not convinced that they are entirely voluntary in all cases, although it was in mine.

Certainly, birth parents need to take responsibility for their actions in creating a baby. I think exploring all their options is a form of taking responsibility. Thing is, adoption agencies have some damn good sales people.

Ever gone shopping for something, and gotten led a little astray by the salesperson? For instance, when we went to buy a stroller for our unborn baby. Once again, a parenting decision – you know, you want to get the stroller which is going to be most safe and comfortable for your baby. Do you get a full size pram which is wonderfully comfortable for your bundle of joy, but a pain in the ass to fold and put in the car, and then only gets used for 3 months until baby wants to sit up and then you have to buy a stroller anyways. And of course you also need to think about your lifestyle – do you want a zippy little 4-wheeler that you can take into the city easily, or do you want to jog through country fields with your oversize pneumatic tires? Will it fit in your trunk along with your dogs? Is it light enough to fold and carry on a bus?

So you figure out all these things, and then you walk into the store pretty sure that you just want a layback stroller which can be used from newborn until age 4, and that should set you back maybe $70. And then the sales lady sidles up. And she is so sincere, and she reads you pretty well and snickers with you at those women over there checking out the $800 pram and tells you they’ll hate it in the end, and be back for this $250 layback stroller that is exactly what you are looking for (except 3 times the price). And you say “but wait, this one here does the same thing for only $70, why is that one so expensive?”  And she tells you it is better quality and will last you several children (except it will not, unless you have a 3-4 year age gap, because it only fits one child) and that crappy one you are looking at gets brought back to the store all the time because the wheels fall off. So you buy the $250 stroller, and you think you got a good deal because you did not walk away with the $800 pram. Why? Because some sales lady gave you (a vulnerable pregnant woman) a spiel that convinced you that your child would die while crossing the street if you bought the cheaper stroller. Reality? The $70 stroller is probably just fine.

And adoption professionals likewise convince vulnerable pregnant women that their children will have terrible lives if they are not raised by this fancy couple here. They are worth $250 to your $70, your family life is unstable, what happens when the wheels fall off? You are a terrible parent if you do not do the very best for your baby, and what good parent does not want the very best for their baby?

Coercion is subtle. That stroller? My wife and I walked out of the store with a layback stroller, suitable from newborn to age 4, exactly as we planned. We were OK with the $250 price tag, because we wanted the best for our baby without going overboard and forking out $800. And yet, 16 months later, it sometimes gets stuck when we fold or unfold it. And the frame is kind of buckled because we hung grocery bags from the handles even though it said not to (seriously, who doesn’t?). So now we are no longer drinking the Maclaren kool-aid, and we are wondering if we should have just bought the Graco…

And those expectant mothers who let their babies go because they were told it was the best thing they could do for their baby, suddenly find themselves wondering if perhaps they would have been just fine as parents and maybe they just needed someone to tell them so.

Maybe the best thing you can do for your baby is buy the $70 stroller and spend the other $180 on Gymboree.

Disclaimer: Stroller comparisons are for purposes of illustration only. I still love our Maclaren, and it is in fact the stroller I walked in there planning to buy. I just made the sales lady work for it. Zoooom!

Miracles and milestones

Posted in Mumblings on January 28, 2009 by Brad

I have not yet gotten around to addressing the many thoughtful comments on my previous post, nor have I managed to continue on my original thought train. These past few days have hosted a series of momentous events in my life, the least of which is I am celebrating two years sobriety. I will address the adoption chasm post in the near future. Promise.

Blame, entitlement and the adoption chasm

Posted in Mumblings on January 16, 2009 by Brad

I am inspired by Dawn – or at least the commentary on this post of hers. I am not sure I can cover everything that is in my head in one sitting. I may never make it. But bear with me.

In particular, the comment from akeeyu grabbed my attention.

You know, not all infertile couples adopt, so railing against infertile women is kind of…eh.

Also, isn’t anybody else’s head tilting like the RCA dog’s? All this talk of infertile women feeling entitled to everybody’s babies, and so little talk about infertile men, or infertile couples. Just women.

Men are so rarely included in well… anything baby related. Admittedly, we do not get pregnant. But neither do adoptive moms, so what is with this whole mystic mother thing?

Our judgemental, misogynistic, misandrist society is to blame, that is what.  Because a womanly woman is expected to want to be a mother. And a manly man is expected not to give a crap about the progeny, just about the act of creating the progeny, and all the practice involved. For a man to be the driving force behind having kids is practically unheard of. Modern men may stand stoically by in the delivery room instead of smoking in the cafeteria while we wait for a nurse to bring us the news that we have a son/daughter, but in most other respects we are still cave men when it comes to babies.

And yet the irony of it all is – the presence of a man (or lack thereof) is often the driving force behind voluntary adoption.

The chasm between men and women is just as important as the chasm between adoptive and birth parents, and in both cases it is the child who falls into the chasm while we yell over their head.

And now for something completely different – blame.

Here is a little anecdote. Several years ago I was involved in an automobile wreck. I was not the driver, and the driver of the vehicle I was passenger in was not at fault either. Some tiny old lady in an enormous SUV decided to pull out right in front of us, and my left leg was smashed to pieces in the impact. I went through months of painful surgery and rehab because of the stupid bitch, and you bet I was bitter, because I had NO control over the situation and it was clearly not my fault. I would have felt better if she would at least have said sorry, but legal liability and all – I understand why she never did.

Some months before that, a friend of mine was involved in a similar wreck – except in this case, she was the one who pulled out in front of someone. Because she was my friend, my initial reaction was to ensure that she was OK, reassure her that she was not a terrible person for causing an accident, and console her over the loss of her car. I gave not the slightest thought to the poor sap who smashed into the side of her and for all I know could have died.

Now that I have been the poor sap (or at least in the poor sap’s car) I often wonder what happened to that person. Being put in that position flicked a light on.

So, trying to place myself in the shoes of an infertile couple…

In most cases, infertility just happens. It is not because of anything you did. You are just a passenger on this ride. I can see how you would be bitter. And then to be demonized for wanting a child by those who can have children but voluntarily gave them up and are now whining about it? Well sheesh, I can see how you would not have a whole lot of sympathy.  When you place a baby for adoption, you are ostensibly in control of your vehicle. You may be hampered by a back seat driver (family member/priest/social worker etc) telling you what you should do, and in the heat of the moment you may take that advice, but bottom line it was your choice. Even before that, getting in the car was your choice (you had sex). So yeah, I actually can see where the entitlement comes from.

And on that bombshell, I am going to get coffee. May finish this later.

My son is 8

Posted in Adoption, Parenting on December 7, 2008 by Brad

I cannot quite wrap my head around the fact that he is 8. Maybe it is because I see so little of him, or maybe time really does go faster when you get older. It seems strange that my daughter is almost 15 months old, so I suspect the latter.

He had a great time on his birthday. A party on Saturday with all his classmates from school. We talked on the phone and he told me all about his presents.

And I think this was the first time I have been happy on Sprog’s birthday.

Parenting Lamia has flipped a switch in me. Instead of Sprog’s milestones depressing me, it is Lamia’s milestones that make me think wistfully of Sprog. I realize what I missed by not seeing him eat his first bite of food, crawl across the room, pull himself up on my leg. And somehow, on his birthday, it is about Sprog now. Not about me missing him.

Never mind

Posted in Adoption on November 28, 2008 by Brad

I decided against posting my response to Nicole’s link to an article on feminism and adoption. Some things are best left unsaid when it is essentially just another scream into the abyss.

I will still say I am thankful for adoption. Reform is necessary, and way too many birth parents get screwed by the current system. Especially fathers. But for my family, adoption was a good thing. Is a good thing.

Pass the kool-aid.

Today we made history

Posted in Politics on November 5, 2008 by Brad

Just a few minutes ago, I sat with my daughter on my lap, tears streaming down my face as we watched President Obama give his victory speech. A beautiful, gracious, inclusive speech.

My son was born in 2000, my daughter in 2007. All either of them have known is a nation suffering under George W Bush. I have hope for tomorrow. Hope that my children will now be able to grow up in an America we can be proud of.