Adoptee Drama

I am an adoptee. At the ripe age of 16, my birth mother was whisked from her family in a veil of secrecy to the other side of Texas to “live with an aunt” for a year. She lived in a home for unwed mothers, where she was able to continue her education and hide her pregnant belly as it grew before releasing me to my family.

I’ve always known I was an adoptee and my family celebrated it as something that made me special. My parents always said that they chose me and we celebrated my adoption day each year. I didn’t think a lot about it as a child, but being an adoptee has shaped a lot of who I am today as an adult. While I never longed for a relationship with my birth mother, I always wanted to one day to connect with her to see if there was someone in the world who was like me. I also wanted to thank her for what must have been a very traumatic experience, because her sacrifice gave me the life that I have today.

Texas has strict privacy laws – some of the most stringent in the nation – as it relates to adoption. In order for adoptees and birth families to connect, they both must separately apply to a registry. If there’s a match, both parties are contacted. When I was a young adult, I added my name to the registry and discovered that my birth mother wasn’t looking for me because she was not on the registry.

A few years later, while surfing the internet when I should have been working, I stumbled upon a website for adoptees and birth families who were looking for one another. I did a quick search to see if any of the few random details I know about my origins were listed anywhere on the site. They were not, so I drafted a quick post about my details before promptly forgetting that I had done so.

A few years later, I received an email from someone who said that they might be my birth mother. While guarding myself against potential disappointment, something inside me said that the email was, indeed, from my birth mother. I instructed the person about how to go about joining the registry and, while we awaited word from the adoption agency, we continued to correspond back and forth.

The adoption agency confirmed that I had been talking with my birth mother, Ruth, and we continued the process of getting to know one another. I flew to the Houston area to meet her and her family twice. I learned the name of my birth father, whose family owns a line of Western boots, and received confirmation of the sordid tale I had always assumed was the truth – that he didn’t believe Ruth was pregnant with his child and other subsequent douchebaggery.

Ruth told me about the pain and shame surrounding the adoption and I did my best to comfort her. In the end, the trauma seemed to have won out, as she stopped communicating with me, despite my many efforts. Still, I occasionally added her to mailing lists associated with major milestones – our wedding announcement, Christmas card with our wedding photo, E’s birth announcement and Christmas card with his photo on it.

As we were planning our wedding, we received a save the date card from my half-sister, and she was planning to wed the same day as K and I. We never received a formal invitation to the wedding, not that we could have attended, but I assumed that Ruth decided that it was too much for her and convinced her daughter not to invite me.

After years of radio silence, I sorted through Tuesday’s mail to find a letter from a random Texas address I had not previously seen and immediately knew that it was from Ruth. In the letter, she apologized for letting so much time slip by without getting in touch, inquired several times about E, and updated me on some of her family’s news. She moved from the address I had when I sent E’s birth announcement, so it’s clear that she never received that, but I’m unsure how she was still able to receive the Christmas card I sent with E’s photo on it. Her daughter’s fiance suddenly broke off their engagements a few months before their wedding, leaving her heartbroken and in a lurch, which explains the lack of a formal invitation to her wedding. My half-sister has since met a nice man and is pregnant with her first child, a little boy due in mid-March. My half brothers are currently living apart from Ruth in the town where my birth mother last lived – one is working and the other is in his final year of high school.

I’m not quite sure how to feel. I’m honestly not allowing myself to feel much of anything. I don’t want to extend my emotions or get my hopes up that this communication is a sign of her desire to reconnect in any meaningful way. I plan on writing her back and providing information about E (“I hope there is a very happy story I need to hear,” she says), as well as some photos, which she requested. Beyond that, I think I need to consider each communication as a singular interaction and not think about them in succession or as perhaps something that could become a trend.

K thinks that she was driven to write the letter to find out more about E. It’s clear that it was of interest to her, given her several references to him in the letter. K also theorizes that she likely wonders about whether or not they share a biological connection, which I hadn’t even considered. I’m not really letting myself go to the place of analysis, especially as it relates to E, because I’ve long since stopped wondering why Ruth does what she does. She has a right to her emotions and has a responsibility to steward her past trauma in a way that makes sense for her. I’ve always hoped that she’d be able to get to a place of peace, mostly because she’s a nice person who deserves to feel released of that shame and guilt, but I know that there isn’t anything I can do to control whether or not that happens for her. Besides, my energy needs to stay focused on my own family.

Whew. What a can of worms.

Your Car Seat Might Not Be Safe After a Crash

Important car seat safety info!

Beaumont Parenting Program

How do you know if you need to replace your car seats if you are in a crash?

When a vehicle is in a crash, car seats can be unsafe to use afterward, even if they were not in use at the time. If you are unsure if your seats need to be replaced, you can contact your car seat manufacturer or use the position statement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for guidance.

NHTSA recommends always replacing seats after a moderate to severe crash. In a minor crash, they say that seats do not necessarily need to be replaced. A crash is considered minor if ALL of the following criteria are met:

  1. The vehicle was able to be driven away from the crash site;
  2. The vehicle door nearest the safety seat was undamaged;
  3. There were no injuries to any of the vehicle occupants;
  4. The air bags (if…

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Our Anniversary

K and I have been together for the better part of a decade, but today is the two-year anniversary of our wedding. In honor of this special day, I wanted to share with you my vows to K on our wedding day:

our feet K,

I have loved you from the moment I met you when, as if by foreshadowing, I directed you in a play.

My heart contains an endless list of the things I treasure about you and our relationship:

  • I adore your sincere, musical laughter, which lifts my mood whenever I hear it.
  • I cherish your sweetness, devotion to bettering the world around you, and your supportive nature.
  • I love that you patiently teach me every day, through your generous words and deeds, how to be a better version of myself.

From this moment, I vow to always be your fierce protector and loyal advocate, and to nurture you when life bruises your tender heart and gentle spirit.

It is my great joy and honor to lovingly walk by your side through this world with you, honoring our independence and individuality, while celebrating our unity.

Nothing I could say or write could ever entirely capture the depth of my love and respect for you, so I will conclude by saying that I am so very proud to become your wife.

Goodbye, sweet girl

Tonight, Our Golden GirlK, E and I said goodbye to our sweet and longtime companion, Twiggy. She lived a very full life, but not all of it was happy. She began her life with the unthinkable, inhumane reality faced by puppy mill breeding stock. We are all so thankful that she was able to spend her retirement in a much more suitable and loving environment, where she luxuriated on the sofa and was adored by all who met her. Twiggy’s heart was the biggest I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. She literally loved everyone she encountered and I imagine this world would be a much better place if we all cared for one another with such sincerity. Such sass, such classTwiggy was also a diva who had a flair for the dramatic and was the reigning title holder from the first (and only) Motor City Pride Doggy Drag Show.

Twiggy, we know that you are now at peace and are again with your late sister Crunchy, whom I’m certain exuberantly bounded toward you to greet you on the other side. We are the most grateful pet parents to have had you in our lives and you will always be in our hearts.

A much younger Twiggy with her late sister, Crunchy

37 Weeks

I keep meaning to write a post but I feel like all I would be doing would be complaining about being 9 months pregnant.  I’ve felt pretty upbeat and positive most of this pregnancy, but these past two week has really knocked me on my ass.  I keep thinking that I have 24 days until the due date, and as you’ve probably read from C’s previous posts,the doc thinks Falco may be coming earlier.  Here’s a little update from the preggo.

Hard things:

I’ve been so sick these past weeks, probably sicker than I have been in years.  I think the most stressful part was the constant intense coughing which gave me days worth of braxton hicks contractions and kept making me barf and pee myself.  😦

I’m tired as hell.  Walking to my carpool at the end of my workday I feel so weary.  I walk soooo slowly. And I feel HUGE.  It’s seriously getting hard to get comfortable driving (sleeping, sitting, etc.)  Plus I wake up every 45 minutes to pee all night long.  Really….it is that often; I check the time!

I am feeling a ton of early, early labor symptoms this week (cramping, bad lower back pain, extreme pressure (it really feels like I am walking around trying to hold a bowling ball between my legs) lightening/baby dropping, crazy bowel movements, an increase in cervical mucus).  All this stuff is a bit overwhelming emotionally.  I’m trying to just make a note of what is happening, and not pay too much attention to anything or read too much into anything.  Easier said than done!

I have absolutely ZERO desire to wear clothes.  I’ve been sleeping naked and am hardly dressed when I’m around the house.  I no longer give a shit what I look like or wear to work.  Some of my man-ternity pants don’t even fit me anymore, and I don’t even care.  I just cycle through the same 3 or 4 outfits and think to myself, at least I’m still working.

Good things:

The nursery is done!  It’s so cute and cheery and makes me happy every time I pop my head in the room.

Our bags are packed, and virtually everything left on our to-do list is crossed off.  C and I both busted our butts this weekend.

I have finally finished my contingency plan for my leave after Falco is born–A detailed 5 page document outlining the status of all the projects I oversee, coverage plans, and alternate contact info, etc.  I have a draft of my work email away message ready to go!  This makes me feel so much better.  As much as I want to spend a ton of time home after the birth it’s going to be really stressful for me to be away from work.  I really love and enjoy what I do and it is going to drive me a little nuts to feel disconnected from the studies I manage and work on.

I’m 3 centimeters dilated and 80% effaced at about 37 weeks.  This means nothing EXCEPT it makes me feel like SOMETHING is happening.  My body is getting ready and sooner or later we will meet this little one.

 

Titty Committee

I received an email today that caused a literal tidal wave of emotions to flood to the surface and I feel like one of the few places I can truly express them is in this semi-anonymous setting.

K and I used to work for an organization that serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Dysfunction was rife and took many forms at said agency, but one of the most horrifying was their health insurance policy that specifically excluded transgender-related healthcare. This agency’s own equal employment opportunity policy referenced treating people equally, regardless of gender identity/expression, and the policy extended to benefits, hiring, firing, etc.

Since K clearly wanted to be able to access healthcare needs that were relevant to his identity, and his job at the time involved healthcare advocacy, he approached the CEO at the time to inform her of the extraordinarily problematic nature of these exclusions, and how they personally impacted his life. She basically told him, “Yeah, well, we can’t afford inclusive coverage, and since it doesn’t impact me, tough $%^&.”

The only other option was to file a formal grievance with the President of the Board of Directors. We were the first in the several decades’ history of the agency to file a grievance. Upon filing the grievance, according to documented procedure, the Board President convened a group of people to discuss the grievance and to make a decision. K and the President served on the committee, and they each selected a representative to serve (K chose me), and, if memory serves, there was another person who wasn’t affiliated with the agency who was asked to serve.

The committee met several times, during which we openly and awkwardly discussed K’s body and identity (why is having chest reconstruction surgery relevant to your identity?, why is this a medical expense vs. cosmetic surgery?, but do you really NEED a “breast reduction” in order to look/feel like a man, and why should we pay for it?). It was such a objectifying and demoralizing experience that, in order to maintain our sanity and trudge through it, K and I jokingly referred to this group as the “titty committee.” At the end of the process, the President basically said, “Yeah, we’re not equally providing benefits, but we can’t afford inclusive coverage, so tough $%^&.” I’m fairly certain that, to this day, this agency still does not provide inclusive health insurance to their transgender employees (if they even HAVE trans-identified employees these days).

Time marched on, and K and I have found much better employers that provide us with great healthcare coverage and celebrate our identities. We have mostly healed from the trauma and humiliation that this agency caused us on a fairly regular basis. I still avoid the place like the plague, though I continue to receive their email updates, mostly as a way to remind myself just how far we’ve come since then.

However, as I referenced above, I received an email from them today that triggered me and stopped me in my tracks. Their new Executive Director was trying to help a media outlet locate LGBT people who have experienced employment-related discrimination and would be willing to talk about it on the air. It took everything in my power to not reply with, “YOU! YOU DISCRIMINATE AGAINST TRANSGENDER PEOPLE, YOU F***ER!” I’m still so damn angry that, more than an hour later, my hands are ice-cold and my heart is pounding in my ears.

I will keep repeating, “We have survived and we are safe.” But what about those who come after us? I sincerely hope that they’ll find a way to create the change we were unable to make (or find another opportunity), because I need (and WANT!) to focus my energy on my growing, loving family.

Deep breaths.

Still sick

While several of my symptoms have improved, I am still sick. The cold/flu has officially turned into a sinus infection. I had a regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment today, so it was a good opportunity to get a prescription for well-needed antibiotics. I started a five-day round of the meds, so hopefully, there’s a significantly lessened risk of me infecting well-wishers at our friends shower on Sunday.

I still feel like hell on toast, though. I blew my nose this morning and felt so dizzy from the congestion moving all around in my head that I had to sit down and forego my daily hair styling regimen. I am quite grateful for no longer going through about a box of Kleenex each day. My poor little nose was getting all chapped and flaky from the constant blowing and wiping!

I really just need to feel like myself again. I have too much going on at work and at home, and this illness is being extraordinarily intrusive. At least it has given me an opportunity for some snuggle time with K.

Thanks for putting up with my complaints!

An open valentine to K

Dear K,

I try to express to you just how much I adore you, but I’m certain I don’t always do as well as I could. I wanted to take a few minutes, on the precipice of our Little’s birth, to document a handful of the things I love about you:

  • You are the strongest person I know. When you were first disclosing your gender identity to me, you could barely say the word transgender. Now, you are blazing a trail to create the family that we want, gender assumptions and roles, be damned. You knew that there would be bumps in the road, and there certainly have been, but you continue to face them with bravery and grace, reaching out when you need support.
  • You are so damn patient. Little things that fluster me simply roll off your back. You bring me comfort when I’m at my wit’s end, and I’m always amazed by your patience. I know that it’s this particular quality that will secure your fate as a phenomenal dad.
  • You never know when you’re being hilarious. Whenever you unintentionally crack a joke, it makes me laugh even harder when I realize that you aren’t aware of how funny you’re being!
  • I think you’re aware that you’re attractive (though I’d probably say “devastatingly handsome”), and I know that you’d openly admit to having a nice ass, but I love that you’re not at all self-centered. You have a generosity of spirit that draws people to you, making us all better for knowing you.

I could probably go on for days about all of the things I treasure about you, but I don’t want our readers to gag on the schmaltz. Just know that I promise to continue reminding you of your amazing qualities with each passing day. Happy Valentine’s Day, love.

xoxo
C

Sitting around

I know that this is a super dorky thing to get excited about—-but we just had a workplace ergonomics specialist come and show us how to use our fancy desk chairs.  We’ve been in our new work space for more than 6 months and I’d never even attempted to move any of the 10 knobs on my chair.  Since the pregnancy has made me a little more uncomfortable this is a very exciting development.  

My back and legs are real happy!!!