Friday, September 4, 2009

Are you ready for your Adoption Inquisition?

Adoptive parents will all experience it from time to time: the Adoption Inquisition.

Sometimes it comes up in the natural line of conversation. Acquaintances or old friends who are out of the loop will ask me how my pregnancy went, how long I breastfed for, or how long we tried to get pregnant before we had our son.

Um... the answer to all of the above could begin with "Well, you see, we adopted." Using that response inevitably initiates an Adoption Inquisition. This could be an onslaught of questions. It could be a few uncomfortable inquiries. Or it could be a sprinkling of fair and reasonable questions 
from someone who is interested in learning more about adoption. The problem is, it can be hard to judge ahead of time exactly what type of Adoption Inquisition you'll be experiencing. That's why it's so important to plan ahead before the next one begins.

Having a script prepared can help you handle an Adoption Inquisition, stop one in its tracks, or even prevent it entirely.

If I don't feel like talking adoption, when people ask how my pregnancy went, I can answer truthfully "Our son was born at 42 weeks and weighed over 9 pounds! It was a great pregnancy." (For me especially, since I didn't have to deliver his hefty self!)

When people ask me if I breastfed, I can honestly reply "I tried, but couldn't produce enough milk. He's doing fine on soy formula."

When they ask me about how long it took to get pregnant, I can get around it by saying "We waited a whole lifetime to welcome our son." This is my standard response, as I personally dislike the intrusiveness of this question. To me, it's just too much information, especially if the inquirer is not a close friend or family member. If I answer "Well, we adopted," I then have to fend off questions about how my fallopian tubes are feeling (just fine, thank you!), or anything else they can dream up! I don't care to inquire about what colour underwear people have on, so don't ask me about my success rate in the bedroom!

If you want to reveal a little without saying a lot, you can always give a short answer and (preferably with the same breath) follow it up with a question of your own. People love to talk about themselves. Given the the opportunity, a good portion of us can't resist. "We adopted our son. How was your pregnancy with your daughter?" or try "We couldn't breastfeed because we adopted. When did you switch to formula?"

Sometimes I feel like sharing a lot. If I know the inquirer well, I feel less guarded about how the Inquisition might go. However, if the person asking me questions is a stranger, and I am answering their questions in front of my son, I am always cautious. It's perfectly okay to say "I'd love to talk more about our adoption... can I give you a call later on when our son is napping to tell you all about it?"

I try to keep him the focus, as I am always fearful they might make a comment that could offend his little self or make him feel like being adopted makes him different or set apart from his peers.

Sometimes you'll get questions that blow your mind and make you wonder what rock the inquirer grew up under, and who game them permission to venture out from underneath it.

These questions are hard to read, difficult to write about, and impossible to answer politely. (For me, at least!) My sarcastic responses -- some of which I've inflicted in real life, some of which I've kept to myself -- are included.

Are you going to try to have your own children?
(What? Is my son by adoption not my own?! He sure acts like it. I even cook his dinner, put him to bed, and change his bum. If he's not mine someone owes me an explanation, and a lot of diaper money.)

Do you have any real children?
(What? Is my son a cardboard cut-out? Did I not notice a year and a half ago that he wasn't alive? No wonder he wouldn't drink his bottle, I thought it made him a little soggy-looking.)

Why didn't his real mother keep him?
(What? Am I a fake mother? Or his unreal mother? Oooh, am I an alien? Where's my spaceship? Where's the mirror? I want to see if I look like Alf!)

He looks like you, are you going to tell him he's adopted?
(Oh, sure, we'll just lie to our son about one of his basic human rights: to know who he is and where he came from.)

Is he a drug baby? Is there something wrong with him? (This one is my favourite. I tell them he was born addicted to vitamins A, B, and C. He's currently being considered by NASA for their 'Babies in Space' program, and in between his afternoon nap and his violin lessons, we contract him out for speaking engagements to discourage people from asking asinine questions about adopted children.)

Ah, yes. Preparing for an Adoption Inquisition can be an enlightening experience. Do yourselves a favour, fellow adoptive parents, and think about how you might respond the next time someone asks you to share your adoption experience.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Coffee: My One True Love.

I was born with a rare, socially damaging condition. I believe the technical name for the disease is WhiteLieusInterruptus. You see, there is no filter between my brain's reaction centre and my rubber face. If I think something's gross, a horrified sneer will appear across my nose and upturned lip before I can will myself to say "Oh, yes, please, a cup of monkey-brain soup would be just delightful."

If I like you, you'll know. If you bore me, I'll yawn. If you offer me something offensive, like steamed Brussel sprouts or monkey brains, you'll know I'm offended before I can form a verbal response.

So if you'd asked me ten years ago if I loved coffee, you would have witnessed 'the sneer'. I was a different person then. I took four classes per semester at university. I rode the bus for an hour and a half each day and had trained myself to wake up just before my stop. (Unfortunately, I never learned the fine art of drooling on myself instead of others, but that's a story for another blog on another day.)

I went to bed when I wanted, rolled into class when I felt like it, and only saw four a.m. bedtimes or wake up calls when I'd forgotten to start finish a term paper that was due the next day.

Then I grew up, got married, and duty called. My love affair with coffee began somewhere between my alarm clock going off at 3:15am and my 4:30am start time at my airport job.

I really liked my time there. No, I'm not claiming that I loved the early mornings, or that I basked in the glow of the lost luggage department where I spent so many hours. But I met my true love at the airport. And its name was coffee.

I can't say that I'm a mindless follower of any particular chain. Tim Horton’s and Starbucks both have multiple outlets at the Vancouver International Airport. But I have to admit my love affair began with Starbucks. They made me fall in love with the brew. They created my dependency. I hold them entirely responsible.

I blame Starbucks, you see, because they put up shop about one hundred yards from our airport check in counter. If you stood very still and closed your eyes, you could hear the hiss of the espresso machine rise over the hum of the bustling airport.

I tried to resist, but more often than not the 3:15am wake up calls would get the best of me, and I'd need that little jolt of caffeine to keep me conscious on many a morning.

It didn't help when we bought our first apartment. Although we were on the fourth floor, Starbucks had set up shop on the ground level. There was just no escaping it. Every time I walked out the front door of our building, there it was. The white and green sign, that Siren on their logo. Calling me. Beckoning. Come. Drink the coffee. You can't live without me.

And they were right. I tried, you know. When my husband and I toyed with the idea of becoming parents biologically, I tried to kick the caffeine habit. I still remember the day I gave up the black beans of addiction: December 19, 2006. I'd gone to a particularly wild boring holiday party the night before, and found I had no appetite for coffee the next morning.

Since we were hoping to get pregnant, I knew that drinking caffeine was not the best for our potential babies. So I gave it up cold turkey.

It was an ugly experience. I had headaches for weeks. I was moody. Depressed. I had vivid nightmares about the Starbucks mermaid holding me underwater in a sea of caffeine beverages, daring me to inhale. "You know you can't live without us, mere mortal! Breathe! Inhale the cappuccino, or you will be cast into the sea! Latte up!"
 I lasted about a year, and then relapsed. Or should I say resigned myself. I'm no quitter, darn it! I've re-embraced my addiction. Now I have one cup in the mornings (which is really equivalent to six or seven cups, because my husband, our house's brew master, likes his coffee thicker than his oatmeal.)

I really love my coffee, and on days when we're out of beans or out of cream, I find my heart grows a little heavier until I get my fix. Either that, or maybe my respiratory rate is just
settling back into its natural, coffee-free rhythm!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Certifiably Insane: Can I Get an Upgrade on My Rubber Room?

A few weeks back, I mentioned my upcoming trip to Disneyland with my pint sized powerhouse. I called myself crazy for thinking of it, demented for attempting it, and completely delusional for thinking it might be fun. I also commended my deranged self for attempting the trip all on my own.

Then the plans changed ever-so-slightly.

My husband surprised me. He wanted to come after all. (By surprised I mean FLOORED; I've been nagging -- oops, I mean respectfully requesting that he get his passport done for five years now! FIVE! I've been through a whole passport since I started asking him!) Not only did he want to come, but he also wanted to bring some family with him.

Um, excuse me, which family? (The suggestion of "some family" is always followed up by "be more specific!!!" He's one of five kids, I'm one of twelve, so you can imagine...)

"My little brothers," he replied. It really was a very sweet gesture. Kevin's the oldest of five, and his family never quite made it to Disneyland. So he's taking his youngest two brothers along on the trip he hadn't gotten the chance to take himself.

So we're off. My 29 year old husband, my 27 year old self, our 22 month old lap infant, our 20 year old and 14 year old brothers. Hey. Wait a minute! I'm outnumbered four to one! Our hotel room had BETTER have two bathrooms......

I'm actually really looking forward to it. Getting to be a kid again (not that I behave like an adult any more often than is absolutely required.) But it'll be nice to just be there, in the magic of Disney, with three kids who will be seeing it with fresh pairs of eyes.

The 14 year old is kind of caught up in adolescence. He's trying hard to be cool, and is constantly debating (in the healthy sense of the word) and practicing a bit of defiance (as is expected of kids his age!). But he will always play with our son, and throw a ball around with him, and be there for him. They really love each other, and I think it's great that he's coming along.

The 20 year old will be in his glory. He still watches the occasional cartoon, and he loves being around little ones. He has Down Syndrome, and hasn't lost that childhood innocence in a lot of ways. I'm looking forward to seeing how much he enjoys the trip.

If you thought I was crazy to be taking on Disneyland alone with my toddler, you must be sure of it now that I'm taking it on with four boys. Check me into my rubber room and strap on the straight jacket. Just don't forget my mouse ears!

Watch out, Disney. Here we come!