it’s in his dna

With adolescence comes the need to figure out yourself…who you are…do you fit in. Normal. Completely normal. Yes, even for the most well adjusted child raised with all the love. Perfectly normal.

And so we enter this phase of this favorite son’s life which leads to some very interesting conversations lately. Some answers are easy thanks to his own NICU records mom was privy to. Some, but not all. Why is his brown hair so fine and curly and so damn unruly? Will he go bald like Dad? His biological mother was Russian but what about his biological father? He looks in the mirror and although he knows he is our son and his sisters’ brother, he is not certain where the face that looks back at him comes from. He wants answers and he is not willing to wait four more years to see if he can get those answers; because odds are high he likely won’t get those questions answered by the ones who made him.

Answers to some questions are here, in his DNA. Answers he will likely discover in a couple of months. Answers that with his mom and his dad, he looks forward to discovering.

And you thought the sex talk with kids was hard.

When he looks in the mirror, we want our son to know himself. It’s hard to face the world when you don’t know where your face came from.—Adoptive Parent

outshines the morning sun

In a few days I will FINALLY be the mother of only one teenager! Words can’t describe the flood of relief that comes with that statement. Of course having four adult children trying to do adulting kinds of things brings a whole new set of worries because I’ve been there and yes, done that…and that…and that…and that too.The attempt to restrain myself sometimes is so damn hard. I hope these grown children of mine will come to realize this. I’m sure that they will. I did.

Meanwhile, I am enjoying this young teenaged son of mine. When he smiles at me and talks to me I indeed do come undone. Look at him, my son!

That hair though!

Okay, not everything can be perfect at this age.

Still there are moments where I find my heart so full when he is sharing with me his thoughts, feelings and observations.

My son!

Pride is not the word I’m looking for.

Confession: I was listening to the Hamilton soundtrack before I sat down to write this.

Lately I am more than aware of the man this son of mine is becoming. I literally have never, ever known someone who is so kind and so fair to all. When he was but a one pound baby fighting as only micro preemies fight, I was aware how strong his heart was thenas I am always cognizant of with every mighty, tiny baby I care for. But lately I am all the more aware of just how mighty his heart is.

Truly.

He makes me want to try harder to be a better person…a person like him, my son. How lucky I am to bask in his warm presence that, yes, outshines the morning sun. Added bonus, he calls me mom.

That hair though!

our sacred exchange

Today being National Adoption Day, we pause to give thanks for the son who completed this family circus and for those who stood along side us nearly 14 years ago…supporting us, encouraging us, holding us up especially when it was hard because, in the beginning, it was hard in so many ways. Today we celebrate our family and every other family created and completed thanks to adoption.

We look at adoption as a very sacred exchange. It was not done lightly on either side. I would dedicate my life to this child. – Jamie Lee Curtis,

NaPhoPoMo

poolside chatter

Sometimes the most challenging conversations with your child are the times when you are least expecting it. On a long drive down Highway 17 as the sun is setting, the kid is going to ask questions about sex…because you driving down a twisty, winding mountain highway is not nearly challenging enough. Or when you are gripping tightly to the steering wheel while driving up Interstate 5 in a windstorm it will be the perfect time to ask why their grandmother, your Mommy Dearest, never calls or writes or visits. So it would follow that while you are lounging by a hotel pool, your son will float up to you and pose a question that is guaranteed to make you sweat…not because it is over 100º even as the sun is setting…not because you are experiencing your usual round of hot flashes that come without warning and literally leave your hair and clothing soaked…if only! Nope. He floats up to the edge the pool where you are lounging, smiles and…

Hey Mom, I was wondering…do you think my biological parents loved me?

Oof!

So begins one of those hard conversations, the ones that make you sweat. Still I can’t shy away because this is Daniel discovering his story. He already knows our story of when he completed our family circus and it is a great story; he’s the first one to tell you that. But as he begins to discover who he is, as all children do as they grow up, part of that self-discovery includes his story before he joined this circus.

Do you think that they loved me?

So , taking a deep breath, I tell him yes. Because I was his nurse the day that he was born, I am privy to some of the more intimate details of his parents and his biological mother’s pregnancy.

Yes, son. I am absolutely certain that your biological parents loved you so much while they were pregnant with you.

Big tears fill his eyes as he slowly sucks in his breath. I hold myself back from reaching out to hold him tight. I wait. I wait to let him guide this narrative like I have learned too many times the hard way to do with the hard conversations with all of my kids. He exhales then meets my eyes.

But I was so, so tiny and so, so sick and they were afraid so they asked for someone to be brave for me like you and Dad. Right?

Right.

But they did love me?

Absolutely.

He looks away discreetly wiping away the tears then looks back at me and smiles widely.

I’m glad that they loved me.

Me too, son.

Then he reaches out to hug me, hug me so very tight. Now I’m the one fighting back the big tears filling my eyes. I know that I was brave enough to be his mommy when he was so, so tiny and so, so sick in the NICU; but god help me, I need to even braver for conversations like this because I am certain that there will be more to come. I’m thinking that for now, I will avoid drives on mountain highways with him alone in the car…for now.

viva tutte le famiglie!

“No chemical offsprings and rented uterus: life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed….procreation ‘must be an act of love’, saying: ‘You are born to a mother and a father – or at least that’s how it should be. …I call children of chemistry, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog. ..The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”

Thus speaks iconic fashion designers, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana…

Domenico Dolce (left) and Stefano Gabbana at their latest ‘Mamma’ catwalk show (AFP)

because, you know, coming off of their triumphant Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015 “Viva la Mama” show, where they celebrate moms, motherhood  and the family, they are also experts on family and parenting…as two men who have never been parents…ever…are.

I remember when I knew everything about parenting and raising up children…I was 18 and I was certain a family member was absolutely doing it all wrong while dealing with their strong-willed 3 year old. Being the expert that I was, I made sure they knew…and everyone else. Fast forward nine years later, I was dealing with my own strong willed 3 year old child and I realized that I would have absolutely bitch slapped 18 year old me if she was there in that moment telling me what to do.

Absolutely.

Positively.

Sometimes we need to just keep our expert opinions to ourselves.

Here’s the thing Signori Dolce and Gabbana, you are correct in that everyone is entitled to their own opinion…no matter how ridiculous in my humble opinion. I am a woman in a traditional marriage with my darling husband with our family (which you apparently celebrate). Four of our perfectly wonderful children were conceived by us in the, ahem, conventional way, carried 8 months or more and after relatively easy, short labors, delivered into our arms. Our 5th child, also conceived in love, but by means of “chemistry”, as you define it by a man and woman struggling with infertility. He grew for scarcely 6 months in another woman’s womb (his biological mother’s) and as god, fate, timing or whatever force of nature would have, he, soon after his birth, became my child…my husband’s child…our son…our daughters little brother. Our son made of flesh, blood, bones, a brain, a heart, a soul…not a plastic child but absolutely a real child…very much real for the last thirteen years.

Your opinions, whether from the heart or flippant, I find to be hurtful and insulting. I understand that they are in defense of “traditional families” whatever that is supposed to mean to the majority of thinking people all over the world in 2015. Families today, in my neighborhood, my workplace, my city, my state, my country, literally all over the world can be defined as a mother and father and children, or a mother and mother and children, or a father and father and child, or a child and aunt and uncle, or foster parents and children…and on and on and on. Children are conceived in love by intercourse and in a laboratory, via IVF, via surrogate or sperm or egg donor. And children are adopted. While you have been designing and creating fashion for more than 30 years, the last 25 years as an RN in the NICU I have been privileged to witness the creation of more families than I can possibly keep count…families with straight parents, married parents, co-habitating parents, separated parents, divorced parents, single parents, gay parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, parents who struggled for years and years with infertility, parents welcoming a total oops in spite of the best birth control out there, jailed parents, addicted parents…name it and I will confirm for you that yes, those kind of parents too…all parents to real, living and breathing children…no matter how they were conceived…children, all part of a family…perhaps not your kind of family but still, nonetheless, a part of a family.

Yes, Signore Gabbana, we do need to “respect the ideas of others”. Here is mine…

A child conceived via IVF, born to another woman calls me Mom and is very real, very natural and absolutely my child. Everyone is entitled to express their own opinion no matter how ridiculous. But a living, breathing, loving human child remains, always, real…

and at 13 sometimes too real!

Viva il bambino sintetico!

Viva la famiglia!

Viva tutte le famiglie!