Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why I Love Open Adoption, #273

I remember when we were at our intake appointment at the adoption agency.  I remember the social worker telling us that most adoptions are open.  Something seized up in my heart.  I was terrified.  I wasn't closed off to the idea, but I'll admit it scared the snot out of me.  I knew enough to realize this wasn't some sort of co-parenting arrangement, but still, I assumed I would feel very threatened in such a scenario.

Over the next few weeks and months, I did a lot of research.  The social workers spent time educating me on the benefits of openness for everyone in the adoption scenario.  I read a lot online and in books about open adoption and the benefits.  I quickly began to understand that this is exactly what I wanted for my future child(ren).  I could re-hash all the fundamentals of why I believe open adoption is best in many (most?) cases, but if you've read my blog for long at all, you already know them.

I wanted to share with you a specific moment that occurred last night that brought tears to my eyes and reaffirmed ALL of the decisions we've made about having an open adoption.

At our last visit with Aidan's birthmom, hubby took a picture of her, him, and me together.  I never did do anything with the picture except send it to a few immediate family members and admire it a lot.  I realized the other day that I've been slacking on showing him pictures of her (the few that I have!) and I started feeling pretty bad about it.  So, I uploaded this picture of the three of us to the local photo shop and had an 8x10 print made.  I'll be turning it into a wall hanging for a Christmas gift for him.

Anyway - Aidan saw me taking this print out of the envelope and he asked, "who's that?"  I held it up in front of him and said, "I don't know, who IS that?"

He instantly pointed at me in the picture and squealed, "Mommy!!"

Then he pointed at himself in the picture and said "Nen-nen!"  (Aidan)

Then he pointed at his birthmom and said, "who's that?"  (Cue the guilt...)  I waited a minute to let him think, wondering if he'd come up with her name.  

After a minute, I said, "who IS that?"

He said, very thoughtfully, "uuuuummmmmm...."

Then, after another moment of thought... "kiss?!"  He proceeded to take this print from me and mash it to his face, planting a wet slobbery kiss right on her face.

Happy tears streamed down my face as I squeezed him tight and reminded him of her name.

And, once again, all our reasons for choosing openness for our son came rushing back and the guilt disappeared.  He knows.  He's known since he was born.  I remember saying that at our visit when he was about eight months old.  He might not understand, but he knows that she is very special.

I hope he never forgets that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Refreshing Take!

I know I haven't mentioned it here yet, but November is National Adoption Awareness Month (NAAM)!  I decided to lay low this year and didn't participate in any of the blog rings or interview projects.  This is both because of time constraints and because although I am VERY proud to be an adoptive mommy, I feel like NAAM is geared more toward foster-adoption.  Don't get me wrong, I'm good with that!  Kids in foster care need immediate and serious assistance from very special people.  I don't feel I could be an effective foster parent (but that's a whole other post).

Point is, I was cruising through some of the posts in my reader about adoption this morning and I ran across one that had me nearly leaping from my chair in joy.  I just had to share it with you.  Keep reading, the link is below.

You may remember a year or so ago, when I launched a little campaign aimed at a popular TV show, begging them to change the way they were handling an adoption storyline on the show.  We ended up with a few thousand of signatures, and I was interviewed by (and written about in) Time Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, and other major outlets.  We know the producers were aware of the petition, but they chose to ignore it, and so it fizzled.  I felt like I had still accomplished something, and I got people talking about it, so that was good enough for me.  (Please note I didn't mention the show's name or any other specifics; that controversy died and I'd like it to stay dead in terms of people finding my blog!)

The only downside to all of that hubbub was the nasty messages I got from people who believe that adoption is a tragedy - some of them believe this regardless of any circumstances.  They believe that the biological family is best for a child no matter what.  Most of the people who messaged me were quite angry and bitter, and it became clear that for the most part, they were angry and bitter about their own past decisions or issues.

One woman in particular stuck out, as she was intelligent and articulate but very condescending and insulting toward me personally.  (I'm not going to say her name here because I don't want Google seeing that, and also because I don't want to direct any extra attention to her lair of anger.)  If you know me at all, you know I don't mind when people don't agree with me; I even enjoy a good debate if it's kept friendly.  But these people who said such nasty things to me only reinforced my belief that they are just bitter about decisions they made in the past.

The woman that I referred to that was the worst of them, told me that my son is irreparably damaged, will never live a happy life, and would only be a shell of the person he would've been, had his birthmom raised him.  She also compared me, as an adoptive parent, to a prostitute and a drug dealer.  She insisted that adoption simply does not exist without the coercion and manipulation of birthparents.  She is completely certain that every woman who chooses adoption for her child is forced into it by evil baby-hungry agencies or adoptive parents.

Yes, those exchanges were every bit as pleasant as you'd think.

I REALLY wish that this post I'm going to point you to existed at that time. I would have sent this link to her as a final word.  It says everything I was too annoyed to say.  And the author says it well.  So please, go read this, and enjoy its honesty!  I wish I'd written it myself!

An Open Letter to TV

Click that link there!  Go!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Big Post That Starts With A Picture Of What I Had For Lunch Yesterday

Looks pretty tasty, hmm?  Actually, it's pretty darn good.

Back in 2007, when I lost over 75 pounds, I ate a LOT of these frozen meals from several different brands.  Most of them are reasonably tasty, y'know, for frozen diet food.  I knew that I could feel good about eating them because they were helping me lose weight.  I picked some up not too long ago to have on hand at work for days I don't get out for lunch.

Then, shortly after that grocery shopping trip, I discovered the PCOS Diva, aka Amy, and her program.  Actually, that's not true, I'd run across her site a few months ago and I think I automatically dismissed it as "just another diet plan that's impossible to follow."  For some reason, when I stumbled on it this time, it just hit me differently.  I realized it was realistic and relatable.  I read virtually everything on her website.  It all made a startling amount of sense.  Here's a woman with my same condition who is not only surviving it, she's living well with it.  I spoke to her on the phone a few times for some private coaching.  She made me feel so at peace, optimistic, and empowered.  (I had to stop the one-on-one, but will be picking it back up shortly.)

I ordered her summer and fall meal plans.  I spoke to clients of hers that I saw posting on her Facebook page.  I found out that not only is Amy for real, her ideas for living better with PCOS actually work.  She LOVES making women feel better, or rather empowering them to make themselves feel better.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn't paid or compensated in any way to rave about Amy or her website or program.  She doesn't even know I'm writing this.  I'm hoping she won't mind.  I am just truly excited about this.)

Thanks mostly to a couple of people in my life who are healthier than me, and Amy, I've had this enormous epiphany in the last couple of months about the things I put in my body and the effects they have on not only my body but my mind, my emotions and my future.  I have always eaten almost exclusively processed foods, and not usually even the health(ier) ones.  I eat a lot of junk.  It's easy, it's quick, and it's a lifelong habit of mine.  I grew up loving Swanson TV dinners, Chef Boyardee ravioli and Hamburger Helper.  Needless to say, it was a different time.  Mom and Dad always made sure we had veggies with dinner, but the 'whole foods' craze just didn't exist, at least not with anyone I knew.  And without the internet, how would we have really learned so much about it, anyway?

I've spent the last few weeks slowly stocking my pantry with foods that are truly good for me (and that are recommended by Amy).  I've become acquainted with that section of the store that I had always avoided before because it smelled funny.  You know the one.  "Natural foods."  "Organic foods."  Or in our house, the "hippie section" or "granola land."  I was pleasantly surprised to start learning a lot about food.  I would make trips to the grocery store just to wander up and down these aisles.  It was as if I'd discovered a whole new side of life.

I've now got a handsome stash of foods like flaxseed (which I am proud to say I ground myself, thankyouverymuch!), chia seeds, raw cacao powder, organic almonds and sunflower seeds, gluten-free bread (which I didn't even know existed before), steel cut oats, organic coconut oil, and so much more.  Once I was satisfied with my stash, which happened to be yesterday, I finally made the trip to the store that committed me to this whole new way of thinking.  The produce run.  Gasp!  The point of no return.  I bought strawberries, green beans, limes, bananas, cucumbers, carrots, onions, spinach, mixed greens, green onions, pears and more.  All organic.

I looked, bewildered, at my selections as they traveled down the belt to the cashier.

When did I become one of those people?!

November, 2012.  That's when.  I'm so excited... and a little nervous.  The weight loss will be nice, but mostly I am looking to feel better, live longer, and enjoy life more.  My heart and my gut are both screaming at me that this is GOOD for me and definitely the way I should go.  It'd be really absurd not to give it an honest try.  And even though gluten-free bread scares me a little (what do they use instead?!?), this doesn't feel temporary.  I think this will be permanent.  And I think that 2012 will go down in my history book as the year things changed.

So, about yesterday's lunch?  Truth be told, I had to eat it, because I didn't have any other options.  We were short handed at work and I couldn't leave.  And my body doesn't like going without food for 12 hours. So, down it went.

What's in that, anyway?  Turkey is good for you, right?  Mashed potatoes, ehh, I could do better, but I could do a lot worse too.  Sounds harmless enough.  Then I started really paying attention, in keeping with my new dietary existence.

Ingredients: MASHED POTATOES (water, potatoes, margarine [soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, water, salt, monoglycerides, soy lecithin, sodium benzoate, artificial flavor, beta-carotene (color), vitamin A palmitate], dehydrated potatoes with sodium acid pyrophosphate added to maintain color, cream powder [cream, soy lecithin, ascorbyl palmitate], maltodextrin, roasted garlic puree, nonfat dry milk, salt, parsley, spice, chives, mono & diglycerides, dehydrated garlic, xanthan gum, extractives of black pepper), GRAVY (water, modified corn starch, turkey flavored gravy paste [corn oil, modified cornstarch, wheat flour, turkey and turkey broth, whey, turkey fat, salt, yeast extract, sauteed carrots, hydrolyzed corn gluten, flavor (turkey fat, natural flavors, spices), soy sauce solids (wheat, soybeans, salt), disodium inosinate and guanylate, dried chicken meat, caramel color, chicken fat, butter (cream, salt)], rendered chicken fat, carrot juice oncentrate, salt, dextrose, dehydrated chicken broth, natural flavors, autolyzed yeast extract, spice, xanthan gum, chicken fat, caramel color, chicken broth, soy lecithin, flavorings), COOKED TURKEY BREAST MEDALLIONS (turkey breast meat, water, seasoning [autolyzed yeast extract, maltodextrin, salt, turkey flavor, turkey stock, flavor, gum arabic], modified cornstarch, salt, canola oil, carrageenan, sodium phosphate, natural flavoring, paprika).

Oh dear.  Soy... so bad for PCOS.  Hydrogenated, hydrolyzed, pyrophosphate, diglycerides, autolyzed, modified?!  These are all words that don't exist in the foods I know (now) are good for me.  Eating that meal felt like going out to dinner with someone with intentions of breaking up with them before the entree arrives.  Like a final meal, if you will.  I admit I enjoyed it, but I also know it's the end of the 'cardboard food' era and I'm not the least bit apprehensive or regretful.

By comparison, my breakfast this morning tasted MUCH better than the frozen meal, and its entire ingredient list was: organic strawberries and bananas, raw cacao, chocolate protein powder, flax, organic almond milk, organic baby spinach (you really cannot taste it, I swear!) and ice.  It took me less time to prepare than the microwave meal.  Plus, who doesn't love throwing a bunch of stuff in a blender and making something new?! My two year old even loved it, which should tell you something.

Suddenly, this is a no-brainer, isn't it?  Oh, and did I mention I didn't have indigestion afterwards?  And I didn't consume a third of the recommended daily allowance of salt in one sitting?

If you have PCOS, go check the Diva out.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Oh, and wish me luck, wouldja?  I'm excited and committed, but I'm still working against 35 years of habits here.  Support would be mucho appreciated-o.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Six Days!

(Image credit: Google Images)

Thank the good Lord there's only six days left until we elect one of these clowns to be our new/continuing leader.

Maybe I pay more attention now than I used to, but I cannot remember another election that has been so hotly-debated, not only by the candidates, but by pretty much everyone in the country.  Facebook has been on fire with "he said/he said" posts for months, the intensity growing as the big day nears.  That's annoying enough, but the number of people willing to post/re-post these things without spending 15 seconds to verify if what they're posting is even true... is the truly obnoxious part to me.  Would you stand on a street corner and holler that the one guy is a Muslim, or that the other guy pays no taxes?  Probably not.  (If you would, you might just need your head examined.  Just sayin'.)  So don't post that crap online either, unless you can be reasonably and rationally sure that there's truth in it.

Has critical thinking become a lost art form???

Six more days of this nonsense.  Then maybe we can get back to life.  Because honestly, no matter who wins this election, we're going to have the same challenges we have now (at least for a while).  If we conquer some of those, new ones will pop up.  This is just how life works, people.  If the economy continues to improve, or hopefully does so at a faster rate, then something else will become an issue.  Perhaps the International Brotherhood of Turkeys will rise up and firebomb the Butterball factory, and we'll all be eating cheeseburgers for Thanksgiving.  It'll be something.

(Image credit: Google Images)

It's a giant game of Whack-A-Mole.  And though I'm not excited about either candidate per se, and both of them have points and views that I agree with and others that I don't, I can assure you that the United States is not going to crumble into the sea if the guy you don't like gets elected.  It's just not.  The best thing we can do is to educate ourselves, be involved as much as we can tolerate, and endorse the guy (or gal!) that we think will do the best job.  Period.

Posting angry tirades, f-bombs, insults, fake or deliberately unflattering photos, or other junk online is not going to change anyone's mind, except to perhaps show people that you can't make an actual articulate argument to back up your views and have to resort to such forms of persuasion instead.  It's sad.  Some of the most intelligent people I know - and I mean that literally - have been hidden from my feed on Facebook because I just cannot stand the nonsense anymore.  That includes both people I agree with and people I don't.  I get plenty of drama and negativity in my real life, I don't need it online too!

If you want to change the way things are going, I know a really easy way to do it.


Even if you think your vote doesn't matter, do it anyway.  Regardless of whether you and I agree or want the same guy in office.  Just do it.  Do it for me.  Do it for my son.  It's free, it's easy, it's painless, and it's (gasp!) even more powerful than calling the other guy a filthy scumbag on a social networking site.  So vote, early if you have the opportunity and it'll make you feel better.  And then, please... move on and talk about something else.