Archive for the ‘adoption’ Category

The W*bk*nz people are back. Go away, W*bk*nz people. How many letters do I have to take out of that name before they stop finding me, looking for those stupid, non-existent cheat codes?

I’ve been negligent here, I know. It all has to do with taking my few computer moments to try to write something I’ll actually get paid for, the second installment of my series on conversion. This one is supposed to be why people convert. I have about 750 words to discuss this topic in and I need about 4000. And so it slowly goes.*

We also welcomed friends home from China on Friday, with their new baby girl, T. The kids and I and a couple other friends and decorated their house before they returned. We had a blast. We got flowers and helium balloons, regular balloons, streamers, posters. The kids had so much fun covering every inch of the place. We put little duckie stickers in the bathtub, even.

We then joined a group of about 15 people waiting at the airport, holding up “Welcome Home” signs Boo coloured and a huge butterfly balloon. I forgot my camera and was kicking myself until I realized there were at least 4 other cameras present.

I feel privileged to have been part of the welcoming party and been among the first in Canada to meet little T. She was snuggled up to her Dad in a carrier and peaked shyly out at the huge crowd. I expected tears at all the fuss, but she just calmly checked us all out. We brought some of their stuff home (as an excuse for my kids to see their reaction to the decorated house) and were rewarded with some little smiles from T as she saw the other balloons tied up everywhere. She also reached out from Daddy’s lap to grab Boo’s hand.

We also got a small taste of the sort of nonsense they are going to face as a multi-ethnic family. As we prepared for the airport, a repairman arrived to fix our screen door. He spotted the decorations we were preparing and asked my son if someone was having a birthday party. Asher said no, that our friends were coming home from China today, and we were going to the airport to meet them and their new baby.

“Oooh,” the guy said, jovially. “Are you going to have chop suey there?”

What kind of dumb ass thing is that to say? Fortunately, Asher put him in his place, staring at him in confusion for a moment, then saying slowly, “No. It’s an airport. I don’t see why there’d be Chinese food there.” Then he left, rolling his eyes in the universal sign for “what an idiot” as he did so.


* Yes, I know I split the infinitive. I felt like it.


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When I found out I was pregnant with Maya, I was thrilled and very terrified. With Asher, I was happy, but it was mixed with the awareness of the awfulness of the next nine months. With Boo, it was utter shock (a maybe a wee bit of horror) for about 2 weeks.

I can only think of two baby announcements that have filled me with pure, unadulterated joy. The first was about 3 years ago, when a very good family friend told us that she was 12 weeks pregnant, after 10 years of infertility and her third and last try at in-vitro.  Her boy is 2.5 years old now, and he still seems like a miracle.

The second was tonight, when very good friends phoned to tell us they finally, finally got their referal for their daughter from China. It has been years they’ve been waiting and given that the waiting has been driving me nuts, I can only imagine how difficult this was for them. But the end is in sight! Their baby is 7 months old and they are going to bring her home in August, and I’m so excited for them. Even the kids got how great this is, jumping around and yelling, “Yeah, we get to meet the baby soon!”

I love it that we still have a few friends having babies. I don’t want any more myself, but I am so looking forward to holding theirs. I can’t wait to meet her.

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Comfort food

When I was a kid, I loved Pablum (I was a good Canadian girl). My mother intended the pablum for my baby brother, who was just getting the hang of solid food at this point, and annoyed her to have the7-year-old sucking it all back for breakfast, and she eventually cut me off. So it isn’t too surprising that my current comfort food (beside, of course, chocolate) is oatmeal.

What I really like is the slow-cook stuff, but I’ll settle for plain instant if I must (don’t like the one-minute stuff for some reason). In the summer, I add blueberries or strawberries. (Boo likes it with blueberries all the time.) In the winter, I add a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar (which is how Asher likes it, with less cinnamon) . I always toss in ground flaxseed to really scrub those arteries out.

I believe most people who know me, would never imagine I’m an oatmeal sort of woman. Always keep ’em guessing.


The new sweater is trucking right along, as I’m knitting when I’m lying down. Asher, who knows I am knitting one for him, spotted it tonight at bedtime and asked if I’d finished his. I told him no, that this one was just a bit of a break from that one.

He wanted to know who it was for. I told him for the baby our friends will be bringing home from China. I said, “Hopefully, they will bring her home in spring,” and he said, “Her? How do they know it is a ‘her? Do they know who she is already?” So I explained China’s one-child policy to him, and their tradition of women going to the husband’s family, leaving son-less parents with no one to care for them in their old age. And the resulting girl babies in orphanages, as parents try for a boy as the child they can keep.

“Are there any boys in orphanages?” he asked. I told him a few, and as far as I understood, they tended to be babies with special needs, like cleft lips or hearing problems. Why, he asked, are boys like that unable to support their parents? I told him maybe not, but maybe it was just that the parents didn’t have enough money to get their babies the help they needed, and that they hoped that by giving them up to an orphanage, they would get their clefts fixed, for example (we have close friends whose son was born with a cleft lip and palate, so Asher gets that one).

I had a hard time getting through this. It isn’t just the ‘weepiness’ I’ve been dealing with lately. It’s parenthood. Since I became a mother, my emotions are raw when it comes to anything to do with children and pain. I used to be tough as nails, but no more. Asher said, in his old-man way, “That’s heartbreaking. But it is amazing that you are knitting a sweater for a little girl whose sitting in an orphanage in China right now, and she has no idea. I can’t wait to meet her.” Then he flopped over, and went to sleep.


Maya hates studying. She has a big French test today, so she’s been studying a lot. It hasn’t been pretty. She settles into studying by attacking which ever parent is trying to help her, and last night that was me. When I said, “It’s good you can say the answer, but we need to check your spelling, so I’d really like you to write it down, ” she said, with all the teenage nastiness she should not yet possess, “I’m sure you would like me to, but I’m not.”

It always amazes me that such nastiness can come from such a mature and sweet child (which, I suppose, is better than being amazed that such sweetness can come from a nasty child). Because once she’d gotten the studying over with, she kicked into her helpful mode. She got Boo into her PJs, as she had the night before, by promising all new, never before read stories!

When she made this promise last night, and I looked at her with bafflement, she disappeared and then reappeared in my room holding her French/English dictionary. Fearful of a tantrum from Boo, once Maya started reading definitions, I gave her a cautious glare. She said, “You will be amazed at the stories in here!” She then brought Boo to her bed and ‘read’ her 3 stories. One was about a girl who shrunk in the bathtub, slid donw the drain and discovered an entire undersea world down there. Boo loved them, of course.

Last night, she told Boo the story of two girls who had birthday parties planned for the same day. By coincidence, the girls in the story had the same names as two of Boo’s best friends. Then they realized they could have a joint party. I heard this from Maya’s room:

Maya: So they had to decide where to have their party. Can you guess where they decided to go?
Boo: Gymnastics? (her current plan for birthday, distant as it is)
Maya: The girls got together and discussed it, and finally decided that they would have their party at … gymnastics!
Boo: (leaping around the bed in excitement) I guessed right! I guessed right!

When I came to bring Boo to her own bed after her stories, she ran up to me with the French/English dictionary and said, “This is my new favourite book!”

Maya is very frequently a smarter parent than I am.

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I’ve crashed again, back to the puking. I’m only up because the oven guy is here to check out the broken oven, then it is back to bed. Asher is also sick (although no actual throwing up so far, thankfully) and is blobbed out in front of the TV.

My mention of the friends expecting the baby reminded me of a column I wrote. It was accepted for publication by the newspaper that printed all my pieces, but before it was printed, the nice editor was promoted and replaced by the evil one, who never bothered to return my phone calls or emails inquiring if she would like to keep the pieces her predecessor had already accepted. (This is the height of editor lack of etiquette, by the way.)

The sad thing about this piece is that it is about 2 years old. My friend have been expecting for a distressingly long time, although it looks like this spring will really be it. I should also point out for the benefit of the non-Canadian readers that in Canada, paid parental leave is normally a year.

Good friends of mine are having a baby. I am delighted. Now that I have finished reproducing, I love any excuse to knit little sweaters and remember what it was like before mine learned to speak and tell me what a mean mommy I am.

My friends are adopting. They need the stamp of approval from the Ontario government, and then they will chose domestic or international adoption. If they decide on international, they must apply to that country and, of course, actually go get the baby.None of that sunk in with me at first. I reacted in exactly the same manner I have reacted to any other of my friend’s announcements of an impending child: “Yay! A baby!”

It’s the same to me – waiting out a friend’s pregnancy or waiting out the adoption process. Of course, it is not the same to them. They get the same excruciating waiting and wondering. But other than that, the journey is completely different.

Of course, there is the expense. With a biological child, the expense kind of sneaks up on you, until one day you find yourself buying a minivan. Adoptive parents pay between $20,000 to $40,000 in various governmental fees for an overseas adoption before they meet their child.And they also have to ask themselves the tough questions before they have the baby, unlike those of us who have biological children. That just starts with one person saying to another, “Hey! We should have a baby.” Or even more likely, “Oops. The ‘yes’ line turned blue. Now what?” Only then, when it is pretty much too late, does one of us say to the other, “Do you believe in spanking?” or “I think cribs are cruel, don’t you?” or “We are going to raise the child in my religion, right?”

Adoptive parents ask these questions before the baby is placed in their arms. Directly or indirectly, they are forced to as they go through the adoption process. While I know it is not feasible to demand the same of biological parents, it is too bad we are not all forced to face those same issues before we take the plunge into parenthood. We would be better parents for it.

When my friends made their announcement, I asked, “Who’s taking the year off?” Which is when they told me that they do not get a year of leave with their baby. They get about eight months. Employment Insurance benefits allow eight months for parental leave. The other four are maternity leave. Because my friends are not giving birth to their baby, because they are filling out form after form, signing cheques left and right, and flying half way across the world instead, they lose out on four months.

Maternity leave, the explanation goes, is meant for the mother to recover from the birth. I had difficult pregnancies and even I did not need four months to recover, but that is beside the point. I am not arguing that birth mothers need less time. I am just horrified that adoptive parents supposedly do.

Cathy Murphy is the Director of Adoption Services at Children’s Bridge, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping parents adopting overseas. A mom of two adopted children herself, Ms. Murphy says, “Adoptive parents need at least as much time to adjust to parenthood as biological parents, if not more. Many children come to us with significant problems, and they are also grieving the loss of their caregiver. Often, parents end up taking unpaid leave to give their children the time they need.”

Several adoptive parents took the government to court in the late 1990s over this issue, when biological parents received six months paid leave and adoptive parents were allowed only four. They lost, and when the new legislation came into effect at the end of 2001, it continued the old discrimination.

Ms. Murphy points out that the government is becoming more sensitive to the needs of adoptive parents. In its last budget, the federal government announced a tax break to compensate for some of the costs of adoption. “It doesn’t end up being much,” says Ms. Murphy, “but it’s a start.” As well, the provincial government has announced the removal of the $925 ‘processing fee’ charged for overseas adoptions.

But none of that gives the adoptive parents more of what they really need: time with their new child.

My friends are having a baby. The process they are going through to become a family is different than the one I went through, but the result is the same. The politicians who came up with this law should be ashamed of themselves for treating that child as though her family is less important, less deserving of the time to become a family.

I’m breaking out my knitting needles and preparing to welcome that child wholeheartedly into my community. I would like the federal government break out its amendments and do the same. Then, when a new child arrives, no matter what her journey, we’ll say together: “Yay! A baby!” Because that is all that matters.


I supposed to some Americans, whining about 8 months instead of a year seems a bit, well, childish, given the criminally-short paid parental leave they get. But it is the unfairness of it that pisses me off so much, the treatment of adoption as somehow a lesser route to parenthood. Even if biological parents got 4 years and adoptive only 3, it’d still be wrong and unfair, even though, compared to so many other places, it would be great.

I also have to credit (or blame, depending on your outlook) this piece for my discovery of the blogging world. In researching it, I stumbled across a huge world of adoption blogs, a couple of which are in my blog roll, and from there other parenting blogs, etc.

Okay, the oven guy says he has to order a part, so the damn stove is out of commission until Friday morning. But it is a cheap part, so I won’t complain. I’ll just go back to bed.

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