Obsessed

Hubby J and I finally came to a conclusion in regards to the deaf/HoH issue and decided we’d be open to it. It’s funny though, how differently we approach big decisions like this and yet come to the same conclusion. Me, I’m a researcher. When something grabs my interest, I get consumed by it. And I go out and research until I can research no more. So, this deaf/HoH stuff has been no different: I’ve done loads of research. This has led to some really great local resources: theater performances that have ASL interpreters present, schools with specific deaf/HoH programs, Deaf community groups, library ASL story times, etc. I’ve also found some fascinating inventions being developed for deaf/HoH. It’s so great, and it really makes me confident that we can do this because there’s so much support available in our community.

Hubby J takes a different approach to things like this though. He really didn’t have any interest in the results of my research (I get excited when I come across something really cool or interesting and just have to share it with somebody). What it took for him to get to this point was a long road trip by himself. Last weekend he had to drive a few hours away to go visit his family. I stayed home because we had no where to put the dog (and I was a thankful for the excuse so as to avoid the in-laws). On his drive home, he said he turned off the radio, and just sat with himself, thinking about what life would be like with a child who couldn’t hear, and tried to figure out what scared him about it. He said he knew kids who were severely cognitively delayed growing up, and that that experience has scared him of the idea of adopting a child with a special need generally, and especially with something seen as being pretty severe such as deafness. But then, he said, he thought about what a deaf kid would be like. The kid would be able to run and jump and think and play and converse — the only thing they can’t do is hear. That’s it. It was then that he realized that deafness just isn’t that huge of a deal, and that we could handle the need.

Although I have not found a satisfactory answer yet on incorporating Deaf and Chinese culture into our American and Hearing culture, I think it can be done, and done well — or at least well enough. The resolution? We’ll just work at it the best we can. We’ll make sure our child has a myriad of friends — hearing and non-hearing, Chinese and otherwise, and adopted and not. I also have some friends in China, and am already having them search out books on Chinese Sign Language (CSL) so that if we are matched with a deaf kid, we can have those around the house to play with (I always enjoyed learning words in different languages as a child even if I wasn’t bilingual in them — so hopefully our kid will too, but if not, at least the resources were made available). And I at least still know how to write in Chinese, so my child and I can work on that together.

Since Hubby J came on board, we have been preparing ourselves for daily challenges we might face with a deaf kid. The most important and obvious challenge is language — which is why I’m already learning ASL, and Hubby J will be starting it in the fall (at a time when I will need to change my focus to school and graduating). Plus, Hubby J has an electrical engineering background, so between my creative prowess and his practical technical skills, we have already come up with some hair-brain ideas that could help us all get along easier.

Now, it’s true, we still have 6 months before we’re even eligible to be matched with a child. And deafness/HoH isn’t even the only need to which we’re open. So it may be the case that the child we’re matched with isn’t deaf. But I figure, that’s ok. Because right now we’re just preparing for the need that might most change our lifestyle, and if it’s less than that, it’s kinda like, no harm, no foul. We’re on an exciting journey at least!

Not a Normal Feeling

Is there something wrong with me that I don’t want to have my own kids? Ones that would share the genes of my husband and I? Ones that would invoke people to say things like: “oh my he has your eyes” or “she looks just like Hubby J”? Because I really don’t want that.

I’ve never thought about having my own kids. Prior to getting married, Hubby J and I agreed that we would adopt when we wanted to add to our family. We’ve waited five long years to even become eligible for adoption, and now that we’re there, I find myself looking introspectively at my feelings of adoption and family building.

When I worked at the adoption agency, I thought I was surrounded by like-minded people — maybe even some whose feelings towards adoption even surpassed my own. Yet, so many of my co-workers who supported the mission of the agency, never wanted to consider building their own family through adoption. One friend of mine had said she wanted to have a couple kids of her own, and then maybe she’d adopt. Well, she’s had those kids of her own, and now she’s like, “I want to have another baby, but then we’re done for good.” And when she says she wants to have another baby, she means to carry her own. Another dear friend from the agency had serious complications with her first pregnancy and consequently vowed never to get pregnant again. She had planned on adopting when they wanted another child. But now, she’s considering using an Indian surrogate.

Despite having worked in the thick of the adoption world for a few years, I think I still have naive notions of adoption. I know that international adoption, in particular, has its critics who say, among other things, that the children should remain in their birth culture where they can grow up and hopefully change the political, social, or cultural issues that are causing so much abandonment of children. I can see where the critics are coming from, and, at least in theory, I can agree with them. But in practice, to think that that means leaving a bunch of kids in orphanages…well, I just can’t do it. When it comes down to it, I still see adoption as a way to give a child without a family a home, and that their life will be better because of that fact.

Perhaps part of my draw towards adoption is eugenics. There are some genes in my family that I just don’t want to see passed down and continued in posterity. Same with Hubby J’s family. But, we both feel there are some good behavioral traits we have that would be beneficial to share and teach a child. So, adopting a child will allow us to avoid damning a child with some stupid genes while also teaching them what it means to be a good person (god, that sounds naive). And even if these adoptive kids have some fucked up genes they carry, it’s too late — they’re already here in existence. So, let’s work with what we got on this planet, and have them grow up into responsible adults rather than just grow some more.

So, while my motivations seem odd, I guess that really doesn’t matter in the end. We’re going to give a child a family who loves them, helps them flourish into the best people they can be, and thinks they are just the greatest. And it’s this that really matters.

Deaf or hearing

We have 6 months until we’re officially both 30 and eligible to adopt from China! As such, we are starting to look into the different special needs to see what we’re open to. Up next: deaf and hard of hearing. I have spent 3 solid days researching this need, the resources in our community, the educational choices, ASL learning…lots of stuff. My conclusion: We could do it. Talking to hubby about any of this though: excruciating. First, he doesn’t want to read anything. Says it seems pretty straight forward and doesn’t need to. Next, whenever I try to ask him what he is thinking about it, he’ll say something kinda vague, and if I try to inquire further, holy hell — I’ve just gone too far.

Tonight though, I finally got him to figure out what it is that’s bothering him. He said he’s afraid of magnifying problems. What he means is that we’re going to be adopting this kid from China who is already has these issues of being different from us and we’ll already have one culture to honor and teach the kid about. By adopting an deaf kid, we’ll have a whole other culture we’ll have to make sure to expose the kid to and make sure they are comfortable within even though we are both hearing. This, I think, is a valid concern.

Problem is, I can’t find any resources that discuss this. I’ve searched online for articles or posts from people who have adopted a deaf child internationally that speak to this issue. So, I’m not sure how to respond. Guess I’ll just do some more searching.

Putting a Dream to Sleep

Most people come to adoption after having to grieve not being able to have biological children. I feel, for me, I may have the opposite experience.

This week, I came across some beautiful, school-aged boys and thought to myself, “we could do this.” They were from a country which we would be eligible for, and have some ties to. I sent a few photos to my husband via email, and he responded saying we should see what the fees are like. I wasn’t expecting this enthusiasm from him. I was instead expecting him to give me some placid response. Initially a little excited, I soon realized adopting may not be in our future. At least not in the next few years. This is because my husband is currently in the midst of a very intensive interview process for a large multi-national corporation. If he were to get the position, we would travel to a new country and make a new home there every 8 months for 2 years. Although he would initially take a significant pay cut, it would inevitably lead to my husband fulfilling some lifelong goals of his.

I can’t deny — this sounds like so much fun for us, and love to daydream about it. When he first told me about the opportunity, he asked if I’d be ok with it since I’d be in this weird space of not having a career of my own for 2 years. Initially, I told him it would be just fine — that if we adopted I would have all this time to spend with our child — foraging bonds of trust and love. But this week, when I seriously began thinking of really bringing a child into our family during this time, it seemed ludicrous. My role as an adoptive parent — particularly in the beginning — is to provide stability and predictability. And yet, we’d move every 8 months; leaving behind our home, our friends, and everything we had just made familiar. That’s no life for an adoptive child, no matter what age. I feel sad; like a dream I’ve had for years is dying — or at least moving further back on the list of priorities in our life together just when I thought it’d make its way to the forefront.

The only way we could bring a child into our life if my husband were to get this job, would be for us to have a little biological child. But this doesn’t really appeal to me. Giving birth to a child has never crossed my mind. Seriously. I never dreamed about it growing up or even after meeting my husband. I just haven’t wanted to do it. And I was thankful that I met and married someone who also desired to adopt. But now, I feel like I’m put in this lame dilemma: either bear my own, or wait another 2-3 years to think about bringing a kid into our life again.

Now granted, my husband hasn’t been offered the job yet — hell, he hasn’t even finished the lengthy interview process. But to me right now, this job raises the potential to really be a Debby-Downer on our family building plans. And yet, I don’t want to jinx this because I think my husband would love the job — it’s what he has always wanted, and I think he’d excel at it. I realize everything comes with its consequences, and this is one of those decisions that we may have to make.

A Rookie Mistake (or just down-right hypocracy)

When we first made the decision to adopt, my husband and I had simply thought that we were a family looking for a kid, and there were lots of kids looking for a family. While I worked in the adoption field, I told him about long waits for “healthy” kids and how there were all these terrific kids with special needs still waiting. After talking about it, we both agreed that we would adopt a child with a special need. Instead of studying this morning, I chose to do some preliminary research on someĀ  special needs. At first, I have to say I was being short-sighted. I suspect it’s the type of short-sightedness any new parent may have: Building up the most perfect idea of what you want your kid to be like — what sports they will be participating in, what hobbies they will have, etc. So, when I looked through these needs I thought things like “oh no, our child can’t be hard of hearing because then they won’t be able to play team sports, and I loved playing sports and I want my child to be able to enjoy that…so…hmm…yah, I don’t think so.”

So here I am, calling the name of this blog, “Consider the Kid,” when I was masking my desires and expectations behind a facade of being concerned about how a child will fit into our family. What I should have been doing is considering a particular child’s desire for self-actualization and how I could aide that. Even if we adopted a child that had no hearing problem doesn’t secure that they would want to play sports at all. It’s their life, and I’m here only to civilize them. I am to teach them how to act appropriately in public, to hug those they love, to find compassion for those they dislike, to use words instead of violence to deal with difficult feelings, to be responsible for their words and actions, to assist them in anyway I can to allow them to reach a goal or dream. I’m not here to force my expectations of having a child who plays hockey or masters the piano or is a black belt in karate. That’s for them to decide what they enjoy doing, and I’m here to support them in those pursuits.

When I look through the list of special needs from now on, it’s going to be based on what I can provide this child, not what this child could provide to me. It’s going to be in terms of “do we have supportive programs in our community for that need?” and “will my insurance cover any related treatments?” and “can my family handle this need?”

Oh my god…I’m one of THOSE people now…

It finally happened. I really didn’t think it ever would because I thought I was a bigger person and could see the bigger picture. But it totally happened.

I am jealous of a friend who just announced to me she is pregnant.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally don’t want to be carrying a kid on my insides, but I do want a kid. I’ve wanted to adopt for years, but my damn age is keeping me from making this a reality. But the announcement was really just salt in open wounds. See, something I do from time to time is look at the waiting kids on my agency’s site to get me ready for the plunge. I look at photos and read about special needs and wonder: “Could we parent that child? Could we handle that special need?” I need to do this because I totally have commitment-phobia right now. Don’t freak out about that though. I had it before I married too, and that’s been the best thing for me. I just take big decisions like this very seriously, and — well — it doesn’t help when I worry like a champ. Seriously, if there was an award for best worrier, I could probably win. Especially when it comes to this adoption stuff. But I really do want to adopt. And I’m really eager to parent. But also scared. Terrified. But faithful that it will work out. Or, at least optimistic. Kinda — anyway, I digress…

A couple months ago, I saw this boy who is 2 and a half and has a really minor special need. Oh my gosh, I’m telling you I freaking fell for him. Well, that sounds obsessive. And, as this story progresses, you could probably classify it as such, but it didn’t start that way. At first I thought he was just a cute kid, and was sad that he had to be put on the special needs list because he’s a toddler and a boy (since most families will scoop up a toddler with a special need if it’s a girl, and those referrals don’t make it on the list). I had contacted a friend at the agency about the boy because I was actually picking on her for a typo in the information. She had said six people had already inquired, which was encouraging. In preparing my husband for our eventual adoption, I thought I’d be cute and test his openness to parenting such a kid, so I sent an email with the boy’s info in it to my husband. He agreed the fact that he had to make it to the list was egregious, and he cursed our young ages and our consequential inability to adopt. Seemed to be positive feedback, albeit superficial. That, I had thought, would be the extent of it. But, no, of course not.

Last week I decided to sign on again and check-in to see if any new kiddos were added with any new special needs I should consider. Sure as shit, that little boy was still there. How freaking sad is that? He’s practically totally healthy, but a boy. A damn cute boy too — with scrumptous Buddha earlobes and big, soulful, almond eyes. As the week went by, I found myself thinking about him more, and wondering how our family would do with adopting a child his age despite our deficient child-raising skills (and by that I mean non-existent, not neglectful). I started doing some research on the issue of adopting a child that age, and had started feeling pretty empowered, like we could do it despite the challenges we might face. In order for myself to think about our abilities though, it helped to picture this particular boy running through our house, or playing outside, or refusing to eat anything small and round, or coloring on the wall after he was explicitly told time-and-time again not to do so.

I checked the list again yesterday, still finding his sweet face posted. Unbelievable. This morning, after reading a few more articles on attachment and all that, I drafted an email to my husband (he’s out of town). I forwarded the email I had sent months before to him telling him this poor boy is still just waiting. Additionally, I divulged that I had been doing research on the issue of adopting a toddler-aged or even pre-school-aged child, and that I felt confident we could parent just such a kid as this one. Finally, I asked my husband that if this poor boy has the misfortune of remaining on the list until later this year when we’re FINALLY eligible to proceed, if we could take a look at his file. It took a lot for me to get to this point, because of the aforementioned commitment-phobia. But I felt good about all that I had brought up to the Husband. Before I sent it though, I just wanted to check the boy’s profile one last time.

Holy shit. It was gone. His profile was gone, which means he’s been matched with a family. Super, super good for him. Truly. Thank god, because he was too cute, too young, and his special need too small to keep him on the list. But I felt sad. I did it to myself though. I have such an active imagination, I just should not allow myself to picture things like this boy being apart of our family. In fact, to truly be safe, I shouldn’t be looking at lists of children at all until I’m eligible to adopt. Because I’m sure it will happen like that again. I’ll be very hesitant about everything, but continue to look at the list, and then — BAM — I’ll find a photo of a kid that resonates with me, and I’ll start imagining our home with that kid in it. Bad news. But whatever, I’ll be fine, and get over my weird imaginary child loss. I’m just glad it happened before I sent the email to my husband. It’d be weird for him to get an email about this kid and a long, drawn-out analysis about why I think we could do ok with a slightly older kid when it all would turn out to be moot anyway. That’s a conversation for another day — a day when we could realistically be faced with just such a decision.

But did my friend have to tell me she’s pregnant today too?

I’ve had a lot of friends have babies over the past couple years, and it really hasn’t bothered me at all. I’m happy for them all. And I’m happy for my friend who told me tonight that she was pregnant. But a part of me was sad. And jealous. I want it to be my turn. I’ve been waiting as patiently as I can for years to be able to adopt, and I still am not there yet. I keep myself busy with school, and sewing, and my dog. And here, everyone else around me is popping out the little ones. And I don’t want a kid right now while I’m in school. I want to finish so I can provide a better life for any child who enters our home. It was really just bad timing for the news to arrive. Couldn’t I have gotten over my make-believe child before she could have told me? Oh, but she had no idea. And perhaps I’m just too sensitive right now. I found out today that I lost my scholarship at school. And I got an expensive parking ticket. Dammit. It was just a bad day for her to tell me the news.

But, I don’t want to be one of those people who resents pregnant people. The kind who refuse to go to baby showers because they can’t take the pain or reminder of their lack of their own parenthood. Reminds me of a skit where a woman was at a party playing pictionary, and all her pictures were representing her barren womb, and it made everyone feel weird. I don’t want to be THAT lady. I think it’s stupid to let your emotions get in the way like that — to effect your ability to share the joy of others developments in life. And yet, here I am.

Life lessons are always easier said than done.

Adoption Story, Part I

My husband and I made the decision to adopt shortly before we were married and were to leave for Peace Corps. When preparing for what we wanted to do for birth control in a third world country, it was proposed that my husband get a vasectomy. We both knew this is essentially a permanent fix, so we looked at how we would build a family in the future. After an assessment of the weird health issues on both sides of our families, we agreed we’d be doing humanity a disservice by keeping these genes in the pool. Additionally, as two young, naive adults looking to save the world (years later we still have this ideal in mind…but perhaps more practical solutions for such), we thought providing a home and parents to children who were in need was perfect. Besides, the world has too many people anyway, so this way we’d only be providing a home for people already around. (I said we were naive, right?) Hubby went through with giving his swimmers a dead-end, we left for Peace Corps, and that was the last we spoke about family building.

When working for an adoption agency, I did pretty damn well not to let the sweet pictures of children everywhere and the happiness of bringing families together get to me. I even fared pretty well when coworkers began having kids. But when my friends started popping out sons and daughters, the baby-crazy seed finally planted itself into the fertile soil of my mind. Since we were still too young for the China program, I initially looked at Taiwan as an option. I knew deep down inside that it wasn’t good timing for our family to be doing this, but still found myself answering the baby-crazy siren song. Thankfully, my husband was reluctant about starting, so it never moved further than collecting information. I was sure frustrated and pissed off at the time, but this is one of those moments where it’s good to have the spousal veto to prevent stupid decisions to be made.

Here we are today, more than a year and a half after we seriously started talking about starting the adoption process, and this time we’ve actually begun the process. We’ve already turned in significant amounts of paperwork (seriously, it’s ridiculous how much paperwork with about the same information you need to turn in. Absolutely ridiculous. But, I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to be a circus performer and jump through hoops). Additionally, my baby-craziness has thankfully been tempered, while my husband is really excited to start. I guess, in the end, I just can’t stay away from the adoption community for long, and now going through the process from the other side of the coin ought to be interesting to say the least.