And don't forget to check out the rest of the participants: here's the list of pairs, and here's a clue about what each of those bloggers is interested in, and a bit more about the whole project. Thank you so much to Heather for organising this (it must have been a MAMMOTH task) and to Andy for being such an interesting and open interview partner. (How could I not love a person who uses the word 'dichotomy' in one of her answers?) Now, let's dive in with a very serious issue....
Claudia: How did you manage to start Pride and Prejudice and not finish it? What didn't you like about it? I have to know!
Andy: I have always loved to read but have always leaned towards the quick and easy reads vs the classics. I tried reading Pride and Prejudice when I was a teenager, and could never get into it. Maybe it’s time to try again, though I’ve seen a few versions of the movie and haven’t enjoyed those either.... I guess it’s just not my cup of tea.
Your little boy recently had eye surgery (he looked very cute in that hospital gown). How is he recovering? How are YOU recovering? Any tips for helping kids to get through a trip to hospital?
His recovery is REMARKABLE! Oh to be young again. Just the thought of his surgery nearly had me down for the count, but he was doing back flips on the trampoline within 4 days. My poor nerves! He is fully recovered, back to school, not having any vision problems or pain. Other then some redness in the corners where the cuts were made, you would never be able to tell that he had anything done. I think it took me a bit longer to fully feel “recovered” and not stressed out by the “what-if’s” that parents go through when their child is sick or injured. Even though it was “routine” surgery according to the doctors, there is nothing “routine” about watching your child walk off to a room with strangers, knowing that someone is going to stick a knife in him and cut open his eyeball. GAH!
This was actually Liam’s 3rd trip to the OR with full anesthetic, though all 3 were “routine” (see above for my thoughts on that!) The best tip I could give anyone is to have your child prepared. Visit the hospital if you can, read about surgeries and recovery, have them know what an IV is and that they will likely have one and why. I’m a firm believer of being honest and truthful with children and that knowledge is power.
I've been thinking a bit lately about how easy it is for those of us who experience adoption from different angles often misunderstand each other (and make each other angry), especially online. You have the unusual perspective of being both an adopted adult and an adoptive mother. I wonder what your take is on this phenomenon?
It is a position that I find I have to be careful with. I have 40 years of adoption baggage that I don’t want to impart onto Liam. I have to remember that my issues may not be his issues and that not everything is about adoption. But at the same time it does give me the unique insight to be able to sympathize with him when adoption topics do come up. I think that it has made me be much more open as an adoptive parent and more comfortable with talking about adoption. And I’ve never felt threatened by Liam’s first family or how he feels about them. I can understand the dichotomy of having 2 separate families and loving them both because I too grew up with that as a reality. (as an aside, I honestly believe that adoptees can love and miss their first families even when, like Liam and I, we have never met them).
As an adopted adult, what are the top three things that you would like adoptive parents to know about adoption from the adoptee's point of view?
1) Know that your child can love and miss their first family and that this has no reflection on you or your relationship with your child. Just as parents can can love many children, children can love many parents.
2) Don’t be threatened by your child’s first family. Stop watching “Hallmark” adoption specials.... they are so far from the norm, but since they are the only stories being put out there to the public, people believe them to be true. No one is going to try and “steal” your baby back. When you are threatened by your child’s family, your child will pick up on that. That then leads to your child being resentful of you for not letting them have the relationship that they could have with their first family.
3) Be willing to talk about adoption. But don’t always wait for your child to bring it up. No matter how great a relationship the adoptee has with their parents, we will still try to protect their feelings when it comes to adoption. When I was 13 I asked my mom to send away for my non-identifying info. She was great about it and sent it off right away. But once it arrived she waited for me to ask for it before she gave it to me. It took me 17 years to bring it up again! Mainly because I had trusted that my mom knew that it was important to me and that she would give it to me right away. My mom never initiated conversations with me about my adoption, and that made me feel like the topic was taboo.
As an adoptive mother, what are the top things you would like other adopted adults to know about how it feels to be on the other side of the fence?
1) Most adoptive parents are not the bad guys. I see so many angry adoptees online that blame adoptive parents, calling them baby stealers and much worse. If you want to blame anyone, blame the adoption industry for wanting to make money; blame social services for not having supports in place to keep families together; blame society as a whole for pressuring mothers into placing their babies for adoption in the first place.
2) Remember that it is not your job to protect us. If you want to search or are struggling, be honest with us. We are hardier then you think.
How does being a mother (particularly by adoption) make you reassess how your a-mom mothered you? (You can skip this question if your mother reads your blog, or if it's too private).
One of the first things I decided when I started blogging was that I would never publish something that I didn’t want my mother to read, even though the internet is a strange and mysterious place for her that she has never been to. So no worries on the question! Being a mother has really made me appreciate my own mother more. Even though there are many societal differences from how I was raised in the ‘70s to how kids are today, it has made me much more aware of how involved my Mom was in my life, and how I was her priority. And while I haven’t really been affected by infertility, I did go through a period of mourning knowing that I would never be pregnant and carry and deliver a child. Going through that made me much more aware of what my Mom must have gone through with her infertility issues and has allowed us to talk more openly about it.
You are obviously a big advocate for open adoption. I was really struck by the intensity of this post, right back when you started writing. I was hoping to follow your relationship with Iris [Andy's mother] becoming more open, and felt so sad to read your post called The End. If you had known, when you were 30, what you know now, what advice would you give to the Andy that was just starting out towards reunion? Would you have done anything differently (pushed harder for contact, or not pushed at all) if you had known how difficult things would become?
I think I would have pushed Iris a little bit harder back then for more contact. With the hindsight of Madelaine [Iris's other daughter] losing her job a few years after my initial contact with Iris, those early years may have been a better time to try and get things out in the open. I would also have pushed Iris for more information on my father and his family. I have 4 ½ siblings from his side that I know absolutely nothing about. I would have also reassured myself that some information is better then none and that life will go on if/when I lose contact with Iris again.
On a much more prosaic note - you write about food quite a bit and your blog made me hungry! It seems that Liam struggles with eating (a familiar scene in our house too, unfortunately). As someone who does like food, what is your advice for handing food 'issues' in your kid? What has been the best thing you've done to help him? What's the worst? Believe me, I'm taking notes on this one!
Ahhh food. We have such a love/hate relationship with it! We (my partner and I) love it and Liam hates it. I’m not sure I should be giving out any advice, since we don’t seem to have solved our own issues. The one thing that we try, which of course is the hardest to do, is to not let food become an issue. The fighting, crying and tears (both his and ours) are not worth it and were just making us all resentful. So if Liam wants to eat Penne with butter 6 nights a week and garlic fingers on the other night, so be it. [from Claudia - penne with butter is the thing in our house, too!] Our saving grace is that he does love fruit, and will eat lots of it, so there is some nutrition getting into him. Have you seen our fruit bowl? [yes - I'm extremely impressed!]
And for those of us who do appreciate a good plateful - what's your favourite family dinner that we all NEED to make TONIGHT?
I have so many favorites! But here is one we had recently, that is quick, easy and delicious. Greek-Spiced Baked Shrimp.[I am totally making that this week!]
Thanks again to Andy and to Heather!