Archive for June, 2008

h1

translating

June 26, 2008

Where we are now, in Europe, it’s only 45 minutes from the midday time when we can check into our hostel. Lee’s off walking somewhere and I’m sitting on the hostel steps with my goofy little laptop. We had a disagreement about priorities, hidden messages, which of us was adapting better, all sorts of silly things that really managed to hurt. So we went for separate walks to waste the time even though I looked for her everywhere and know we’d have more fun together. I guess the combination of no actual sleep for well over 24 hours plus being within a few inchess of each other for almost all that waking time isn’t actually good for our relationship, which makes sense to me.

Soon, though, I trust she’ll come back and we can shower and talk and sleep and the act more like human beings. Then tomorrow we’ll leave this crowded (though lovely!) hostel and head to our English immersion program, where we’ll have a bedroom to ourselves we can use to sulk or work out apologies as needed.

Part of our problem is even bigger than space. I don’t like being as powerlesss as I am here in a place where I can’t make myself understood in the local language. Our cabbie may have ripped us off, charging a number higher than what his meter read because he thought we’d be paying in dollars. I felt so useless that I let him keep those extra 10 euros because I didn’t want to get into some sort of gesticulation-based fight because I was so embarrassed that that would be the best I could do. I love that this is not myhome because of all the sights and sounds that would never reach me if I weren’t here, but if it were to become my home (which seems unlikely on several fronts) I would have to adjust to everything and I’d have to do it without the sophisticated vocabulary to make my needs known and learn the reasons behind rules.

I write this because I’ve already written in my journal about forgiving Lee and even forgiving myself, but it’s a good reminder that any child we might have will also need plenty of forgiveness and understanding for nothing more than being in an alien world, a strange family with two moms and rules unlike the ones that came before. I know it’s easy for me to fall back on hope that our shared history and mutual understanding will get Lee and me through, but that just makes me all the more impressed by kids who are willing and able to ake that full leap into a new life.

h1

Quick Thoughts

June 21, 2008

Lee and her sister and brother-in-law just called me from a timezone where they don’t have to be thinking about going to bed soon like I do. They’ve been having great fun together and we’re trying to set up a girls’ trip they can take with their bio mom (and me!) in the fall sometime.

Lee and her half-sister carry the same planner, have the same unusual shoe size. Even though Lee was adopted by her grandparents and her sister was raised by their shared mother, the time they spent together in childhood or hearing about each other from relatives seems to have done its job in keeping them emotionally connected despite their geographical distance. They aren’t siblings in reunion the way most adoptees Lee’s age would be, but adult sisters who love each other more than they know each other and haven’t seen each other in years. To me, it’s a good anecdotal argument for openness. From the other side of the phone line, their laughs were overlapping and I couldn’t separate one’s joy from the other’s.

h1

On the Road Again

June 17, 2008

Tomorrow I take Lee to the airport so she can head West for a weekend conference. One week after that, we’ll both be getting on a plane for our first joint European adventure, with the full awareness that it will probably be our last. She’s been teasing me that I seem to be looking forward to her absence, what I’ll be able to get done in terms of lazing around and tidying while she’s gone, but I think we both are trying to get things done in a more real and immediate way than before we signed up for training. We need to get this house cleaned, fixed, ready to go on the (probably rental) market within the next year. It’s a lovely old house, but with two bedrooms and one bath, it’s not the ideal place to start a family.

But before we start a family, we get to spend two weeks overseas as a couple. (Well, maybe only one week as a couple and one doing our own thing; one aspect of the planning is still up in the air until someone else makes a decision) and that’s awfully exciting too. Lee’s dream in life is to be able to live somewhere in Europe. In five years or so, we do hope to move somewhere that would be more accepting of a multiracial lesbian-headed family, though so far we’ve gotten nothing but support where we are now, but I’m not as convinced as she is that Europe is the right option. We’ll see, though, and I know with her involved it’s going to be a trip!

So I won’t be posting while I’m gone, though I imagine I’ll get a few more in before I leave. I’m hoping some of my time spent at the project where I’ll be working up in the mountains will get used in journaling, dreaming, coming back with new thoughts from outside the blogosphere and outside the country. This will be my first extended vacation since I started this job six years ago, and I’m READY!

I’m looking forward to Lee’s trip this weekend both because it will give me a bit of time in the house alone, which we both treasure even though we also enjoy the days we’re together the whole time we’re home, and also because she’ll get to see her bio mom’s younger daughter for the first time in years. I can’t wait to hear about their extended visit and how Lee’s experiences preparing herself to be an adoptive parent color how she thinks of her own adoption and her first family. I’m expecting new insights, though I haven’t told her that so she won’t feel pressured! But it’s been a while, and she’s not the same person she was when she last saw these relatives, and I think that will take her somewhere new. And isn’t that the point of travel in life?

h1

Long-Distance Family

June 11, 2008

My parents moved here for my dad’s job just before I was born, leaving us a day’s drive from my grandparents on either side. I’ve never had family close by, don’t have any cousins close to me in age, and while I’m my generation’s memory receptacle I still feel that there’s much I don’t know. Lee moved to this area after college and had some semi-distant (cousin-type) relatives here at the time but is now far from everyone too.

Last night, Lee called her favorite sister (bio aunt) to check in on her health issues and some upcoming travel plans. I was sitting across the room working on a craft project and trying to fill in the blanks on the other side of the conversation when it occurred to me to ask Lee to find out how old her bio parents were when she was born. Lee’s not the best with knowing how long ago something happened anyway and while she could do a whole lot of, “Well, she was born in 1914 and had her first child at 17 and then there was 3 years until the next one and I think only 9 months to the following….” she doesn’t really have a good sense of whether something happened two years ago or six years ago or whatever. Her bio mom is still alive and it wouldn’t be hard to get basic biographical and medical information from her, though Lee’s bio dad was much younger than she is now when he died. Lee’s sister knew how old her younger brother (Lee’s bio dad) was compared to her and from that we were able to work out his age at Lee’s birth.

This sounds like sort of a silly piece of information, but it humanizes her bio parents more to me and it seemed moving to Lee as well. Lee deliberately distanced herself from them at various times, leading to some blanks in her own personal history that seem meaningful to me if not to her. While I’ve talked to this favorite sister with some questions I have about family history in the past largely because she’s elderly and alone and it makes her day to have someone talk to her, this was one of the first clarifications about her own history Lee has tried to get.

Even in an open adoption, Lee no longer has a copy of her original birth certificate where we could find out this information without having to ask anyone. It blows my mind that most adoptees her age not only don’t have their true birth data but have no one to call to ask for these little things. Lee’s always felt lucky that she got to be raised by her own family, people who look like her and gladly wove her into their network, even now keep her updated with stories about how she resembles her bio parents and what her bio dad and half siblings were like as children, and so on. It seems so obvious to me that as much openness as is safe must be a good thing. I know the excited spark I get when I’m able to visit the beloved but far-off relatives I haven’t seen in three, five, ten years. Time and space will always be dividers, though less so in this digital age where my youngest brother and our cousins have video chats regularly, but it’s unthinkable that families are still being broken apart by laws and lies.

h1

momming it up

June 10, 2008

So I didn’t really blog for LGBT families because I didn’t know what to say that I haven’t already. We’re still in the prep stages of family-building, and I guess that’s what I find difficult at the moment.

People always ask who’s the man in the relationship and I’ve always been quick to say that if we wanted a man, we’d have plenty of better options than each other. I realize that’s sort of a copout, though, and I just don’t want to admit that in many ways I’m “the girl” around the house. Lee grills, but I do most of the cooking. I like a clean house and she needs a tidy one and neither has much respect deep down for the other’s views, but I’ve recently begun a modified Fly Lady regime, trying to make things like cleaning and planning the grocery shopping so routine that I won’t have to think about anything when I have more important things to do with my daily life. While this has done wonders for domestic tranquility, that’s not Lee’s approach. Instead, she’s trying to get all her wildness out of her system before settling down for parenthood.

Ours isn’t a butch/femme relationship by any means, even though that was the norm for her generation. We’re more extrovert/introvert or yuppie fungirl/neurotic nerd. And I’m actively a feminist, embrace the many emotional parts of me that are feminine. I love that I can be nurturing and an intellectual without having to compromise myself. I’m proud of my brains and at least accept my body. I don’t want to be at all male and I’ve gotten over wanting to be a brain in a vat, but I’m also not interested in makeup or vamping around.

I want my children to be able to find themselves in terms of gender expression, cliched as that may sound. Both Lee and I benefitted from not being forced into feminine roles as children and suffered (more me than her, with my excessive guilt and history of anorexia) when we were pushed to behave like young women should in our respective family mindsets. I want to be a mother who won’t be pushy but will care. I want my children to know that everyone has to do chores, but that it’s fine to end up with the kind of system Lee and I currently have, where because I’d rather do anything than vacuum and she loathes doing dishes we each benefit enough from not doing our despised chores that the ones we do instead feel easier. It may still mean that I’m the one who can teach a kid to sew on a button and Lee teaches basketball skills — and indeed it would be ridiculous to set it up any other way — but I don’t want those skills or those lessons to be inextricably tied to our identities.

I don’t know yet how I’ll manage this, but it’s why I’m thinking about it now to prepare for then.

h1

choosy mothers

June 2, 2008

I’ve been following the blogosphere conversation about whether adoptees are in some sense justified in thinking of themselves as “second best,” with some of my favorite comments coming from Sang-Shil, complemented by Jae Ran’s thoughts about finding families for children rather than the reverse.

I haven’t yet written here much about myself or my problems with my mother and self-esteem, something I’m mostly dealing with by journaling privately at the moment, but one thing my counselor brought up last time I talked to her was whether my mother has always been harsh with me because I was unwanted. That hadn’t actually occurred to me before. After all, my parents had been married for years before I was born, been Catholic and anti-birth control for quite some time before my conception, and had gotten their master’s degrees. My dad started his first academic job just before I was born and my mother did some freelance work but primarily stayed home and cared for me. I’ve imagined she resented some of that, but I never thought about the pregnancy being unexpected, in part because timing makes it so clear that at least two of the brothers who followed me were planned.

Lee and I, as a childless couple, are approaching parenting from choice rather than necessity. But why adoption? Well, the early stages of Lee’s perimenopause are awfully entertaining without adding in attempts to impregnate her. While I might have the tendency to fertility my mother seems to, I have a very common spinal defect that leaves my tailbone curved into my body like a hook and several of my organs out of place. It’s possible I could carry a pregnancy to term, but not without significant bedrest and pain. Beyond that, between my spine problem and my migraines, tendency toward depression, anxiety, and OCD, I’ve never really believed my genes are anything special to pass on to a child. As children ourselves, neither Lee nor I ever imagined pregnancy and babies where we saw our lives headed. I remember saying at age 8 or so that my dream was to live with another woman in a treehouse, jointly raise foster or adopted children, and be a writer. As an adult, I can’t imagine how annoying it would be to schlepp groceries up to a treehouse and I write online but not for money, but I live with and love my best friend and can’t help but think I’m leading the life I wanted.

But what about the children? Special needs adoption is our first choice, but chances are phenomenally slim we’ll be matched with the first children whose worker is sent our information. What’s going to happen is that a social worker at some point will (I hope!) match us with some children she thinks will do well in our home. I know we won’t be the children’s first choices because they’ll already have been separated from their birth family, foster families, other caregivers. But I wonder if to some extent I’m setting it up in my mind this way because I’m the one on the awkward higher side of the power dynamic and I’m trying to somehow justify myself or get away from the metaphor of shopping for a child. I’m so obsessed with doing things ethically that I’m afraid I’m going to hobble myself and talk myself into knots. I want to be a good mother, don’t believe I could be a perfect one.

This post isn’t going where I thought it would, but I guess I’m not sure where it was going anyway. Maybe that’s the best lesson I can get from this.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 43 other followers