car rides, spicy foods and serious conversations


I shared this on Facebook a couple of days ago because, wow, I had to! Daniel’s caregivers at Good Samaritan Hospital’s NICU, my colleagues, know too well how his story began so I had to share with them all…and everyone else. This child of mine, my son, is so amazing. Truly I am one blessed mama!

I love the chauffeuring of my clowns that is part of this juggling act of mine. No really, I do. If only because I get the added bonus of some of the best conversations with them. There is something about the being confined in the mom-car, staring out the window that makes it a safe place to talk about anything…really anything….OMG!…yes, anything and everything. Just the other day there was such a conversation between Daniel and me.

I really like super spicy food, don’t I?

Yes, you do.

I love Sriracha so much…and jalapeños…and lemons…and pesto…and…I just love spicy and sour food so much. Is that weird?

No, I don’t think so. You’re a man with very selective tastes.

Mrs. B. tells me most kids don’t like super spicy or sour foods. But it’s not weird that I do? Really?

Not weird at all.

But other kids don’t like foods like that?

Well, you are not other kids…

I go on to explain just a little about the years he was learning how to eat and his sensory processing issues. Oddly enough, I learned that someone with oral defensiveness like he had as a g-tube fed infant, toddler and preschooler is they learn to need foods with strong tastes and smells. The stronger the taste, the easier it seemed to be for them to put them in their mouth, chew and swallow. Lucky for him his mama loves to serve spicy, savory, tasty food.

The conversation flows through the explanation of how his need for strong tastes and dislike of loud noises and bright lights comes from his extreme premature birth. We talk about his five senses: touch, taste, sight, smell, sound are processed through his brain and how because he was born 4 months too soon, his brain really was not ready to process all the touches, tastes, sights, smells and sounds.

He interrupts me telling me that it was hard for him to be born much too soon but before I can answer he continues telling me that it was good that his Dad and I adopted him because he doesn’t think that his biological parents could love him the way that he is.

Oh if he only knew…maybe he does…even if we have never spoke of this part of his story with him or around him.

Daniel, you know I am pretty certain that your biological mother and father did love you very much before you were born.

Yeah?…

Oh yes. I imagine they were so happy knowing that you were going to be born and were very happy waiting for that day.

But you and Dad adopted me…

Yes we did. Daniel, when you were born you were so, so very tiny and honestly the doctors weren’t even sure that you would live. The doctors told me that they, your bio parents, were so afraid and they didn’t know if they could do what you needed for them to do to help you.

You have to be brave when your baby is tiny, huh?

Oh yes. Yes you do. The mommies and daddies I know at work in the NICU have to be fearlessly brave and strong for their baby in the NICU and after they leave the NICU. And they are.

Like you and Dad?

Yes. Just like that…

Well that’s why you and Dad are my mom and dad.

Yeah?…

Yeah! I’m glad you are my mom and dad!

Oh!

Right?!

Truth be told this is the first serious, lengthy conversation we have had about his adoption. The last time was maybe 3 or 4 years ago when he told me that he had to be born early to meet me, his mommy. Then he asked what was his bio mother’s name. Irina, I answered. He then declared that that was a pretty name and hugged me before he ran off to play. Daniel has always known that he is adopted and that I met him the night he was born as his nurse and while Bill and I had always resolved to be honest about our beginnings as a family, we also knew that it would be a very hard conversation to have. Truly his perception of it all could have gone any way. What we wish for, hope and pray for is that he will always know that he has always, always been cherished, wanted and loved today and every single day of his amazing, miraculous life. Meanwhile I am overwhelmed with the wisdom and the insight of this boy, my son. Oh, and I am thankful opportunity for another mom-car conversation…especially because it was in the car…while I was driving.

play it again: just like that


I know I say it all the time but I can’t believe how blessed I am to say that I am this boy’s mom.

Originally published March 16, 2013

Watching Juno together here under the Big Top. A favorite movie here for so many reasons…the music, the humor, the family, the story and so much more. So yeah, we watched Juno here under the Big Top for the umpteenth time tonight.  Then comes that scene…

that scene where Vanessa holds her baby boy for the very first time.

:::sniff:::

I KNOW!

Daniel looks over at me. I look back at him and smile trying to blink back tears and quickly look back at the television.

Daniel: Was that what it was like, Mom? You know, when you held me when I was a baby?

:::sniff-sniff:::

Mom: That is exactly how it was, son. It was just like that.

I KNOW!!

I can’t believe how blessed I am to say that I am this boy’s mom.

play it again: give-aways


In case you haven’t noticed, I am re-posting old posts this month. There are so many reasons why including holidays craziness, busy-ness and stress as well as the fact that I have been blogging since December 2004 so I have a lot of posts to choose from…a little less than 3,500 posts to choose from. So starting yesterday (actually starting December 11), I am posting some of my favorites and some of the more popular posts of 2013. This year started off a little rough with some drama/trauma and it seems that it is concluding with a little more that is oddly the same stuff that started the year; still 2013 has been a pretty good year for my circus act. Considering the previous few years with so many challenges and loss thrown our way, I’ll take the good and ignore the bad…like I have been the last few weeks because ain’t nobody got time for that!

Originally published February 28, 2013

If you find your way here by Googling “give-aways” I must apologize right now. I’m not giving away anything.

Helping a friend of mine out with a project about micropreemies and their families, I found myself taking a trip down memory lane with Daniel along for the ride.

Sorting through the stack of Polaroid photos from when Daniel was at his tiniest brought back so many memories…good ones, scary ones, bad ones and the ones that continue to this day to make my heart swell with overwhelming love for this beautiful boy of mine. Daniel and I together reminisce over how we met, his Daddy, him and me, and we all fell in love with each other because we were a family. His understanding of his foster-adoption is simple, he HAD to be born 16 weeks early because he was ready to meet his Daddy and Mommy…Bill and me. He carefully thumbed through the pictures and memory book his nurses, my co-workers, made for him and then proudly exclaims, “I am so, so happy that you adopted me!” Then he hugs me oh so tightly.

I am so, so happy that we adopted you too!“, I answer back.

Improbable circumstances brought us together and completed our family circus act…for good.

Not a family out there who was created and completed by adoption ever takes lightly that which brought them all together. Regardless of the relationships we may or may not have with the biological parents of our children, or the circumstances that led to their relinquishing their children, not a moment goes by where we don’t reflect on them with gratitude for this beautiful child that is now our beautiful son or daughter. None of us can ever to presume what they might have been thinking or feeling…unless we too have birthed a baby only to soon after relinquish our baby. But we can certainly be grateful and, from time to time, say a quiet little prayer for them. It is never ours to understand the hows and whys; it is just for us to be thankful and to do our very best to love and nurture the child that is now ours forever.

Even on those days where, as the old saying goes, it is a good thing that God made them so cute. We all have days like these with our darling children and yes, oh dear glob, it is a good thing that they are damn cute on days like those.

  • Tell your kids that.
  • Put them to bed for the night even if it is only 5 o’clock in the afternoon.
  • Pour yourself a very tall and very strong drink.
  • Vent away to your husband, wife, parents, sister, brother, best friend or the lady ringing up your purchases at Target..

Go ahead…

Scream it to the universe…

THIS KID AND HIS/HER ___whatever they are doing or not doing___ IS DRIVING ME CRAZY!!!

But please, oh please don’t tell your kids, friends, family, strangers that you’re going give away your kid and put them up for adoption because they ___whatever they are doing or not doing___ and you are so done being their parents.

Just don’t.

Think about what you are saying…what your child is hearing you say…what my child just heard you say.

For what it’s worth that’s not how adoption works. Bad children, broken children, children who drive us crazy are not just given away…given away to just anyone. Adoption is our choosing to accept another person’s child as our very own, to become our child, a part of our family forever. The circumstances that bring a child together with their adoptive parents are as diverse as the children and all the parents are but they all are beautiful and miraculous.

I can’t think of a way to sum up this blog post of mine into a pretty, pretty wrapped gift with a shiny bow for you to enjoy except to say such talk, no matter how frivolous it might be, bugs me. It bugs the hell out of me.

Adoption is not that.

Not that at all.

biological reflections


Watching last week’s ING NYC marathon, I couldn’t help but smile witnessing the triumph of Tatyana McFadden clinching the Grand Slam of winning the Boston, London, Chicago and New York marathons in a single year. What a triumph that was! What a triumph her life is! Her story reminds me of my son’s ethnic heritage and yes, of his biological parents.

Daniel, on the other hand, just shrugs it off. Yes, he knows he is adopted…always has known. He is also aware that his biological mother is a Russian immigrant. But it’s no big deal…really. Actually it is certainly not the most interesting thing about him. Give him some of your time and your undivided attention and he will make you very much aware of that.

Still I can’t help but think about it from time to time. Recent conversations with other parents of micropreemies remind me of it all again. One mom shared just how wonderful her now preschool aged son is doing; as we moms of mighty micropreemies do sometimes:

He spent 9 months in the NICU and three years on the ventilator in a nursing home as a foster child. He was adopted in February, decannulated in March and is growing like a weed! and no cognitive deficits! All this from a child who was made a DNR, comfort care and his medical records reflect that he would die from respiratory failure…BUT GOD had other plans!!! NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!!!

And we moms of micropreemies all share our collective happiness and praise for such an amazing little boy because he is amazing…truly. Until one comments how awful these parents are who abandon their babies in the NICU because they just can’t deal. My heart skips a beat or two or more as I reflect on how painful such a sweeping judgement of that little boy’s biological parents…the parents of any baby or child placed for adoption…my son’s biological parents is.

I’ve never really written about this before so bear with me here.

The social worker’s notes of my son’s NICU records include his mother’s statement that children like Daniel in her country are institutionalized because no one has the ways or means to care for them. Doctors in her country encourage parents to do this because the state can care for them so much better. The reality of that suggests that it might not be for the best. Tatyana McFadden’s public biography suggests that as well. You might agree as do I. Still who am I to judge the decision that my son’s biological parents made? Who am I to label them in any negative way? My son was conceived in love and very much wanted. His NICU social services records reflect that too. I can never presume to know the heart of his birth mother the day she signed the relinquishment papers and walked away. Just as I would never dare to presume to know or understand the heart of any other parent who does that as well.

But I can think about how lucky I am. How wonderful and full my life and the life of my family is because of her decision and because of this sweet boy of mine. I can think about every other person who is so lucky to know my son as well because he is my son…my child by adoption.

I look at his smiling, freckled, dimpled face and my heart swells the way that any mother’s does when they gaze at their child.

He, on the other hand, being the preteen boy that he is archly asks, “What?!”

Nothing“, I tell him. “I just love you. I love your face.”

I never met his biological parents. I imagine that this is for the best as I can focus on just him, my beautiful, wonderful boy. Still, as he grows into the handsome young man that he is becoming, I can’t help but visualize that which he has inherited from them. I imagine that he has his mother’s eyes and I bet her face is dotted with the kisses from the sun that we call freckles. Those dimples when he smiles and that little cleft in his chin is probably his biological father’s as is that hair that refuses to be tamed by a comb. There is no denying the truth that they made a beautiful baby here. I get to call him son.

Over the years I have from time to time considered how will I share this part of Daniel’s story with him. He will know…eventually…especially now that I have written about it and pressed publish. For now we talk about adoption and his biological parents much like we talk about sex. He asks a question, for whatever reason he might have a question, and I answer it. I answer it truthfully and I answer it simply. If he wants or needs more information he asks and I answer and so on. He knows her name is Irina and his name is Richard and, well, that seems to be enough for him…for now. When the day comes that he needs to know more or the day when he reads this I want him to remember one very important thing. He was very much loved then as he is now. He is physically a beautiful young man but what makes him the beautiful human that he is is the fact that he was, is and always will be very much loved.

NaPhoPoMo day 11

 

chosen


Because it is National Adoption Month and Prematurity Awareness Month and because I can’t imagine how much better my life could possibly be not seeing this beautiful smile everyday and enjoying the warmth of his hugs, reveling in his quiet wisdom and laughing until I cry over his jokes…and because that is one helluva a run-on sentence I give you this poem by Terri Banish.

You might want to go and get some kleenex now.

If before you were born, I could have gone to heaven and saw all the beautiful souls, I still would have chosen you.
If god had told me, “This soul would one day need extra care and needs.”, I still would have chosen you.
If he had told me, “This soul may make your heart bleed.”, I still would have chosen you.
If he had told me, “This soul will make you question the depth of your faith.”, I still would have chosen you.
If he had told me, “This soul would make tears flow from your eyes that could fill a river.”, I still would have chosen you.
If he had told me, “This soul may one day make you witness overbearing suffering.”, I still would have chosen you.
If he had told me, “All that you know to be normal would drastically change.” I still would have chosen you.
Of course, even though I would have chosen you, I know it was god who chose me for you.