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September 2010

A Different Road To The Same Destination

Last weekend, Jenn, Nolin and I had a chance to speak to a class of perspective adoptive parents through Catholic Charities about our experiences with open adoption and interracial adoptions.  We feel so blessed to have the experiences that we have had and more importantly to have Nolin in our lives that I was extremely excited to be able to share this with others.

It was very interesting to walk into a room of strangers, but instantly have a connection based on our choice of adoption.  I talked about how we came to meet our birth mother, spend time in the hospital with her and why it was important to us to be able to have her be involved in some aspect of Nolin’s life.  I have always said that the two days in the hospital when Nolin was born, were the most exciting and scariest moments of my life.  Meeting with Nolin’s birth parents always brings me right back to the excitement and happiness of those days.

Jenn spoke about why we chose interracial adoption and how confidence in that decision will help others feel comfortable in embracing it.  As an interracial adoptive parent we were told that there may be a time in our lives when an individual makes a comment that is uncomfortable or even ugly.  These comments may be intentional or unintentional, but we both feel that if you are confident with your decision this can help dictate how to handle these situations appropriately.  We have found that if it is not an issue for you, it most likely will not be an issue for those around you.

Our counselors helped us understand that there may be people in our lives that could be apprehensive about our decision to adopt for various reasons, but we haven’t found that to be the case. Nolin is the greatest blessing we could have asked for. 

The one thing that our day did magnify was the fact that there are so many different faces and stories in the adoption triad.  There were several families we spoke to that were already parents.  I was very intrigued by one man who had an 18 month old daughter, but has always wanted to adopt interracially because of a friend he had in grade school.  It is true that you will never realize how much of an impact you may have on someone else’s life even in minor interactions.   

Unfortunately there are also tragic stories in the road to adoption.  Several couples had faced years of unsuccessful infertility treatments, while another couple had experienced multiple still-born births.  Some couples still may not have fully processed their grief over infertility, while others were so excited to move to the next step.

During our journey, I think Jenn and I fit into the excited group.  We were very lucky because our journey was not as long and tumultuous as many others.  We found out pretty quickly and easily that biological children would probably not be in our future, so we were able to move on.  Luckily it was something that we had discussed in the past and for both of us it was sort of a non-issue.

I have always looked at our adoption story as a different road to the same destination.  Sure there are some things we didn’t have a chance to experience, but it is also exciting that there are many experiences that we have enjoyed that are unique to our family.

A Friendly Handshake Would Do

October 15th is the date that has been set for Nolin’s adoption finalization.  It is the day that we have been waiting for and the day that we will have the opportunity to stand in front of a judge and tell everyone that we will accept responsibility for raising Nolin. 

Now that this date is set we had one final house visit with our social worker to ensure everything was going good.  The meeting was on Jenn’s day off and she told me not to worry about coming home, that she would just meet with our social worker.  I received a call from Jenn shortly after the social worker left.  She sounded very distant on the phone, as if she had seen a ghost.  With a hundred different things racing through my mind, I immediately asked what was wrong.  I can’t say that I expected the words that were going to come from her mouth. 

“Its Pancake…well he ummm…well, he humped the social worker”. 

“What?!” I asked and immediately broke out into laughter.

Jenn didn’t see it quite as funny as I did.  “He didn’t just hump her leg once, but three times.  And then he jumped on the chair behind her and started humping her back”.  At this point, the laughter from my office was drawing strange stares from all my co-workers.  I just kept thinking seriously, why did I have to pick this day not to attend the home visit, or why wasn’t someone recording this.

As the scene unfolded, Jenn had Nolin in one arm, and grabbed Pancake “the love dog” in the other arm as he continued his loving way.  Embarrassed and shocked, she placed him in the laundry room.  This only lasted a few minutes before Pancake started crying to join the party, but at least when he came back to the room, his hormones had calmed down and he was able to just hang out.

Apparently, Jenn doesn’t seem to think that our social worker found the scene quite as amusing as I did hearing about it on the phone.  When I asked if she laughed, Jenn simply stated, “not really”.  Before the events unfolded, she had been talking to Jenn about how she was looking to get a dog, presumably she will be looking for a dog that is a little less friendly.

A Lesson in Milestones

At Rest

Today marks four months since I started this blog and Nolin came into our lives.  It has been four months filled with learning, growing up and a lot of funny stories.  This past weekend, Jenn decided to look online to find out exactly what parents and children should be doing at four months old.

Jenn scrolled down the list and started naming developmental milestones.  She called out “the child can hold his head high and raise his body while on his stomach”…check he’s been doing that for a while in fact he’d love to start running if he could just figure out his legs.  She also read that at four months the baby begins to show a clear preference for caregivers.  While Nolin is comfortable with other’s he is a big fan of mom and dad (which I have to admit is pretty awesome).  The list also said now you should start reading brightly colored books to your child.  Jenn pretty much started that at week one and now his room resembles a library with such classics as That’s Not My Monster, Let George Do It (a literary classic by George Foreman) and several foreign language books that I bought because I thought they were written in Spanish and clearly are not. 

Then she came across one that said encourage your baby to console himself by putting your child to bed awake…insert record skipping sound effect.  Well we really haven’t done that, and haven’t thought to because Nolin is such a good sleeper.  Oh well if it is on the Internet, it must be correct, right?!

I have since learned there are a few things wrong with this developmental milestone and the people who created it.  First it was created by someone who clearly thought torturing kids is an enjoyable pastime.  Second it was developed by someone who didn’t live in an open floor plan house where the murderous screams from your child echoes your lack of parental nurturing skills loud and clear.  Third, they must not have invested in a fancy video monitor so that besides simply hearing your child scream, you can watch the horror unfold on a tiny black & white screen.

Last night, we put Nolin to bed and the crying began which is already unnerving since typically our child is laughing and not crying.  We were bound and determined to be strong.  We closed the door to his bedroom, turned the volume down on the baby monitor, went downstairs and turned the TV volume up.  Jenn and I didn’t look at each other, but rather focused all of our attention on the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother.

Then like a page torn from The Tell Tale Heart we started hearing cries in the background of the TV show.  I looked over at Pancake and he seemed to be crying.  I started to think I was going crazy.  And then I glanced over at the baby monitor and while the speakers weren’t distorting from the piercing screams, the little light gauge at the top was completely floored on red.  That’s right, thanks to technology you no longer just have to listen to your child’s discomfort, they give you a light indicator to let you know how bad of a parent you are.

Well I am happy to say that Jenn and I were able to stay strong.  We only went upstairs to his room twice to give him his pacifier and then immediately walked back out.  So what if that was in the span of ten minutes, and so what if I finally walked upstairs during the first commercial break to rock him back to sleep.  With my method, he fell asleep in two minutes and slept until almost 5am.  Therefore, I am inclined to say that I think that my way was infinitely better. 

Plus Jenn and I decided that last night he was still only three months old…and there is really no need to push developmental milestones early.

A New Perspective

To be honest for the past few weeks, I have found myself getting very frustrated with almost everything.  Work is crazy, our schedules always seem to be packed with events, and I can’t ever seem to get all of the projects completed that in some parallel universe would allow me to feel like I can sit back and relax.

Everything these days seems to be moving at hyper speed.  In one week, Nolin will be 4 months old…a fact I still can’t wrap my mind around.  I am finding that the work week starts and the next thing I know it is over with no real indication of what I accomplished.  Then the glorious weekend arrives and I am excited to actually relax and enjoy it.  Just as quickly it is over with no real indication of what I accomplished.

This past Sunday I planned to hang my new TV above the fireplace along with some cabinetry for our audio devices.  For those who know me, I have been waiting for a real TV for years and finally had enough credit card points and money saved up to get it.  This was going to be a pivotal day to remember.

Six hours later, Lee and I had finished some rewiring of the house, we realized the cabinets would not work as we had planned, and finished with Jenn saying, “The TV looks a little crooked to me”… Seriously WHAT?!  Most people wouldn’t notice it, but now every time I look at the TV all I can think about is that  at some point people are going to fall right out of it and onto my floor unless you tilt your head to the side…well I guess it is back to the drawing board.

So yesterday I left work later than planned and headed to Home Depot to try and fix my Tim the Toolman moment before dinner was served.  Turns out, I didn’t get any help from the staff, left the store with half of what I needed and only to realize that my solution was not going to work.  I arrived at the house completely frustrated as Jenn & Nolin greeted me at the door. 

Standing in the doorway, I immediately began to tell Jenn about how frustrating the entire day had been when in mid-sentence I looked down and saw Nolin quietly giving me the biggest smile I have ever seen.  He was so excited to see me…he was genuinely excited that his dad was finally home to spend time with him.

It was at that exact moment that I realized that all the headaches at work, bad customer service, and the realization the Ty would never ask me to be on Extreme Home Makeover (well maybe for the demolition portion) doesn’t really matter.  Time is only what you make of it.  This is the important stuff.  This is why I enjoy being a father.

The New Cool

I think I am now officially middle-aged.  The Cool, that I fought all my life to achieve has slowly been slipping away these past few years.  Some may argue it was never really there to begin with; either way, this ever disappointing evolution has become even more apparent now with some of my recent actions. 

The other night I was driving with my mother-in-law when a 17 year-old girl cut me off and I instinctly yelled “stupid teenagers driving like maniacs“.  Do What?!  Only people my father’s age say things like that!  But nothing has made me feel older than starting to listen to (and secretly enjoying) NPR. 

That’s right, now when I am driving in my car, you’re less likely to hear me listening to the modern rock station and more likely to hear me listening to All Things Considered or The Diane Rehm Show.  Who knows, maybe an interest in all things intellectual is actually the new cool?

Recently they had an interview with Scott Simon, host of NPR’s Weekend Edition, who adopted two girls from China (to read or listen to the NPR interview click here).  He has written a book titled, Baby, We Were Meant For Each Other about his adoption journey and inter-racial adoption experiences.

Although his adoption took place overseas, I can say that many of the same feelings in regards to ethnicity exist with our journey to Nolin.  I do feel lucky because unlike Mr. Simon’s experience, we have an open adoption.  Therefore, we hope that Nolin will have a better understanding of the love his birth parents also have for him.

As I have said before, every adoption story is different and every journey is special.  Just like Mr. Simon, I feel that Nolin, Jenn and I were meant to be a family, we just took a different route in finding each other.  It was neat to hear and compare Mr. Simon’s story and experiences, even if it meant turning in my youth angst and rebellion card.

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