Tuesday, January 24, 2006

thanks for delurking!

americanfamily, are you dawn's friend? always glad to see the fellow midwesterners!
ditto, susan!
barb, cape may is one of our favorite spots. i hope you are well. i miss your blog....
tertia, can i just say that i feel like i have arrived, now that such a celebrity has visited my site!?
beth a, my dad is an organic farmer near lafayette, and has a farm stand at the farmers market downtown. his stand is called earthcraft farm, you should check it out! i love that you are from lafayette! i used to live on highland avenue, and went to highland elementary school (it's condos now i believe.... sigh).
zitoun, julie and i did graduate work at iu as well. yes, i know it well!
k, dag! hey, my mom was dutch, and i still have family there. in fact, we will be visiting this summer. amsterdam is one of my favorite places on earth. my cousins live in the jordan. where are you?
erika, aruba girl and fisherwife, thanks for stopping in. jo rocks doesn't she? hers was the first blog i read, my introduction to this whole wacky world! welcome.

and thanks and welcome to all the rest of you who have been visiting. my goodness but jo is a popular girl! a link from the leery polyp and my stats are through the roof.

i guess i should actually write something of substance soon, huh? i owe shannon a piece on mary and martha, homemaking and hospitality, which i am working out in my head. soon, i hope!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

riding high right now

this morning i attended the birth of my friend rachel's baby girl, and wow! a beautiful, gentle homebirth. it was such an honor to be there. i will definitely have to write more about that, and perhaps the other two births i've attended, but not right now. soon.

my server has been down for almost five days, and i've been going nuts. i'm glad to be back, trying to catch up, and will post more soon.

Monday, January 16, 2006

okay my lovelies!

i sort of missed delurking week, but there's such an interesting lot of you showing up on my statcounter, i'd just love to know who you are. time to come out of the closet! especially you philadelphians. and especially especially the hoosiers among you, being a hoosier myself. and especially especially especially the one of you from lafayette, indiana, where i went to elementary school. and then there seems to be a nice sampling of international visitors. i'm practically blushing pink i'm so flattered. but who are you??

okay, time's up. ollie ollie in come free!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

"tell all the truth but tell it slant..."

i'm pretty new to this blogging business, but one thing for sure i've figured out: part of why we do this is that we get to be way more thoughtful, articulate, funny, hip -- you name it -- than we are in real life. okay, so i should only speak for myself. maybe the rest of you are really as thoughtful and thought-provoking at all times in real life as you are on your blogs. maybe you're really always that sure of yourself about the big issues in life (and especially adoption). maybe the insights trip so easily from your fingertips, on to your keyboards and through the ether to my computer screen because you really do have that sort of clarity and integrity. (come to think of it, ms. jo over at the leery polyp really is pretty much the hippest, most way-cool, thoughtful mama you'd ever to care to meet, and not even a teensy bit of a disappointment in real life.... so maybe it really is just me....)

but i'm feeling like a tiny bit of a fraud quite acutely right now, completely captivated as i am in the raw, exquisitely written but completely artless heartbreak unfolding at speaking for myself. if you haven't read her blog, you must. and then just start clicking on the birthmothers blogring, because everyone of their stories is a story that needs desperately to be told. reading their stories is certainly blowing my mind.

so, i posted something at speaking for myself which felt, when i wrote it, to be very sincere, and thoughtful, and only a tiny bit self-congratulatory. but in what julie would call a "come to jesus" moment, i'm feeling the need to tell the whole story, to straighten out the slant of that truth. it's the story of how we came to be parents in the first place, the story of trixie's conception.

we started thinking seriously about having a baby in 1994, when researching something like "lesbians trying to conceive" or "donor insemination" or "known vs. anonymous donor" wasn't as simple as doing a google search and getting hundreds of hits. in the end, friends of ours were expecting a child through anonymous donor insemination, and had worked with a local feminist health clinic (i would link to their website, but sadly they closed a few years ago), which in addition to providing gynecological and abortion services, was willing to facilitate home donor insemination for lesbian couples. this clinic had a relationship with a sperm bank in florida, and all of the donors at that bank were strictly and forever anonymous. i'm sure there were banks back then with known and knowable donors, but i'd never heard of such a thing. as far as i knew, the only way to have a known or knowable donor was to find one yourself.

we had not given much thought to this option. but in september of 1994, we were visiting our friend jennie in boston to celebrate her 30th birthday -- she was the first of our college crew to turn 30, having taken a year off after high school to live in portugal, and it was a big milestone. (hi jen! see, if you had a blog, i could link to it here!). another college friend, john (not his real name) was at the party. julie and i were not close friends with john, but he was very close to several of our friends, including jen. john had been a bmoc, with good reason: he was beautiful, smart, talented, thoughtful, and outrageously gay. he was the sort of guy you hope will pick you for his friend, and although he had never really chosen me or julie to be a special person in his life, he was kind and warm at jennie's party, and i was very taken with him all over again.

on the drive home from boston, i broached with julie the possibility of approaching john to help us make a baby. she was also excited about the possibility, and we sent him a very tentative note, asking if such a thing was even in the realm of possibility. he responded with guarded yet heartfelt enthusiasm, and we arranged a "summit" of sorts in boston some time later with a bunch of mutual friends in order to talk about what it would mean. both the big picture and the nitty-gritty logistics.

and here's the truth: the reason it didn't work was that john really wanted to be a father, and we were really clear that we didn't want another parent in our family. i wish i could fall back on the legal issues facing gay and lesbian parents, and chalk it up to the importance for me to be able to adopt our child and have a legal relationship, which would have required that john relinquish his parental rights. but as i recall, he not only was willing to do that, but would have insisted on it, precisely so that i could be a legal parent. no, all he wanted was to be a dad, to be involved, to be part of making decisions, to impart his values, to be a real and lasting part of his child's life, not as a "friend," or an "uncle," but simply as a dad. and he trusted us! even enough to relinquish his parental rights, he trusted us, if only we would say "yes, let's make that kind of family!"

but at the time, it was just too much for us. i wish i could remember what it felt like to be me then, what part of me couldn't imagine the possibility that there would be three parents in my child's life, couldn't trust that a man as good and kind and thoughtful as john could be trusted to work with us to make mutual decisions in the best interests of our children's lives. we even had a role model for this, another college friend who was just such a dad with a lesbian couple. in retrospect it was a clear crisis of imagination. it was, in many ways, the same sort of need to have the "pride of place" in our children's lives that drives so many adoptive parents to be threatened by their children's other parents. the sort of need that i would like to think i'm above.

of course, there are differences. what john wanted to be in our children's lives was beyond what even the most ideal open adoption offers to parents who place their children with another family to raise: a true co-parenting arrangement. indeed, what we wanted from john was sort of the best a first parent can hope for in an open adoption relationship: to be truly included as an important part of the family, but in the end, not a parent, and ultimately with no power except that which we, the "real" parents, might confer. and of course, take away, as our whims dictated. the fact that john declined this invitation suggests really good instincts on his part; the fact that he did so without bitterness or rancor -- indeed with tenderness and great regret --makes me only all the more sad that we didn't have more open hearts and minds at the time.

now of course, it goes without saying, i have no regrets about having conceived trixie the way we ultimately did, with an anonymous and unknowable donor. for if we had gone any other route, we wouldn't have trixie, which is simply unthinkable. the irony, though, of her situation, is not lost on me: no matter how she comes to feel about it later in her life, and no matter how much she wishes we might have made a different choice, it would have been impossible for us to choose a known or knowable donor for trixie. if we had done that, trixie would not exist. an enigma, for sure. the best we can do, if it becomes important to trixie some day (and so far she has very little curiosity about her father), is to help her search, and to be advocates for openness. but the truth is, unless he actively wants to be found, the chances of her finding her father are very very small. which is, certainly, a great loss for both of them.

and that's the truth. straight up.

Friday, January 13, 2006

when an adoptive mom becomes a stalker: some thoughts from inside a closed adoption

micah was born at 33 weeks and was placed with us when he was twelve days old, still in the nicu. he came home to us three days later. his mother, amber, and father, malcolm (not their real names), held him briefly after he was born, but they never visited with him again, nor did they call to find out how he was doing. i'm not sure when his mother left the hospital, probably the next day or the day after that. she and malcolm made an appointment to meet with the agency several days later in order to sign the initial consent (final relinquishment wouldn't happen for three more months) but they didn't show up, and the agency was not able to get in contact with them for several more days. when the agency did reach them, amber and malcolm assured them that they still wanted to place their baby for adoption, and they both signed the initial consent form when micah (then still "baby boy c" [also not his real initial]) was eight days old. the agency called us for the first time that afternoon to see if we would be interested in the placement. obviously we were, but for various reasons, the placement didn't take happen for four more days.

amber had been in touch with the agency several weeks earlier. actually, she had been working with another agency, but they did not think they could find a placement for an african-american baby, and referred her to our agency, which works almost entirely with african-american mothers. at that time, of course, she did not think she was having a baby for several more months. she said she had only discovered she was pregnant at five months, and had known as soon as she discovered the pregnancy that she wanted to place her baby for adoption. she filled out an extensive social and medical history, and answered a few questions about what mattered to her in an adoptive family. she was open to a same-sex couple and to people of a different race -- she just wanted people who were well-educated and open-minded. she did not want to meet us or to know anything about us; the only thing she wanted to know was that her son had in fact been placed with an adoptive family. she did not want us to know her last name; she did not want letters and pictures; and she did not want her son to be able to contact her when he turned 18.

we received the social and medical history, with only last names, addresses and phone numbers redacted, so we know a whole lot about micah's first family. we know his parents were in their early twenties and were parenting his two older sisters, who were six and four when he was born. we know his sisters' first names. we know his parent's birthdays, where they went to high school, what neighborhood they live in. and, because the hospital messed up, and because the agency missed a last name when they were redacting, we know both his parents' last names.

you see where this is going, don't you? we have so much information about them, it would probably take me about a day to find them. and if i couldn't, it would probably take a private investigator about half an hour. it's a constant temptation which i am firmly committed to resisting until micah decides he's ready to find them and is capable of handling the possibility of their rejection. i don't want to betray their trust or disrespect their wishes. i don't want to open wounds, and it's not my place to second-guess the way they've chosen to deal with their grief. i know micah's sisters didn't even know their mom was pregnant with him, or at least hadn't been told. i believe amber and malcolm were told they could open the adoption at any time, that at the least there would be letters and pictures at the agency if they ever wanted them (and we do send them, even though they've never requested them).

and yet... and yet. i'm haunted by the thought of them. i scan crowds when i'm out, wondering if i would recognize them if we crossed paths at the zoo, or a library or playground. i wonder about micah's older sisters, and how much they really understood. i wonder how much micah looks like them. are they also sharp as tacks? do they share his wicked sense of humor, his passion, his persistence? i wonder about amber, how she's doing, if she started community college the next fall like she planned. i wonder about their pain, both amber's and malcolm's, and how they are coping with what they've lost, this beautiful baby boy of theirs. i wish they could know him, know how well he's doing, what an amazing kid they have.

and also i mourn for micah, for what he has lost, and especially the part of it that needn't have been lost had the adoption been open. even if we do find them someday, when he is older, and even if they welcome the reunion ... i just wish for micah that there would never be a time when he didn't know them, his mama amber and his daddy malcolm.

and then there's this: what if right now they are out there, wishing they could know micah, wishing they could have a relationship with him, yearning to know that he's happy and well, and they are just too afraid, or in too much pain, to reach out? what if they can't imagine we would be open to that? or they just can't imagine it, period? that haunts me more than anything. i find myself thinking, well, you could find them and just send a really simple note, and leave it at that. put the ball in their court, but at least make sure they know we're game if they are.

and then i start to feel like a stalker, and think that i need to stop thinking so much.


midwinter blues update

1. do get the house under control. and keep it relatively under control. the mess just makes me want to crawl out of my skin. check -- it's not clean by anyone's standards, but it's livable.
2. do get out of the house. every single day. preferably somewhere micah can run and play. close -- monday we went to the zoo with the two of my favorite lovelies, jo and sophia; tuesday we went for a jog; wednesday we didn't get out (it was raining and i was waiting for the washing machine repair guy), but we did have a play date with my friend liz and her four year old daughter recently adopted from sierra leone; thursday we went to the zoo in the morning with rachel and her son, who is Micah's age, and after school we went ice skating with pat and her kids; and today we went to the library.
3. don't let getting the house under control become an excuse for not doing #2. check.
4. do get together with friends several times a week. pick up the phone and call! check (see #2 above).
5. do start running again. at least three times a week, even if you have to do it with micah in the jogging stroller (ugh! he's just so freakin' big these days!). so far, i've run twice, once with micah, once without. and i still have a couple of days to get another run in! (and oh lordy, am i out of shape! but it felt gooooooddddd.)
6. do put together a training schedule for running the broad street run in may. even though i haven't run in a couple of months, there's plenty of time to work up to 10 miles. haven't done this yet, but this is the sort of thing i love doing (charts and schedules and such), and there's still plenty of time.
7. do finish julie's sweater i've been working on for 4? 5? years. by the end of january seems a reasonable goal. cate, i just don't know how you find time not only to knit, but to write about knitting.... but aren't you happy that i'm at least blogging? and of course, it's not yet the end of january... hope springs eternal!
8. ditto trixie's poncho. oops. (see #7.)
9. do eat more fruits and veggies. better, not enough, but better.
10. don't throw the baby out with the bathwater if i fall down on anything on this list. check (see # 6, 7, and 8).

the fact that it's been a balmy 55 to 60 degrees this week has surely helped a lot in the lifting of my funk, along with the fact that it was still light the other day at 5:00 p.m. (!), but i'm going to take a little credit too. so far so good.

run, don't walk

to the store for coconut milk and curry paste, squash, cabbage and potatoes, (if these aren't staples in your house), so you can try out this yummy recipe courtesy of (the currently hibernating, hopefully soon to reemerge) boomerific. we had it for dinner tonight, and it was oh so delish. i used red curry paste, and was a little heavy handed, which meant that julie was in heaven, it was just on the verge of (but not quite) too hot for me, and i made a box of annie's macs and cheese (organic, whole wheat, of course) for micah. trixie was at a birthday party for dinner, but it probably would have been a little spicy for her too. so be careful with the curry. and enjoy!

edited to say: i added some chickpeas for protein, and it was great. i'm a bit of a protein hound.

short on time, long on ideas

i have so many posts running through my head, so little time these days (seems i either have meetings in the evenings, or i fall asleep with micah.) here are some thougths rambling around in my head. what should i tackle next?
  • our adoption story
  • when adoptive moms become stalkers: thoughts on micah's birthfamily
  • yoga and running as a spiritual practice (and some thoughts on infertility)
  • christian chaos, or, dynamiting the current organizational structure at our church
  • a wildly diverse united church of christ congregation considers equal marriage rights
  • vindicating martha (as in mary and, not stewart): some thoughts on homemaking
  • sensory processing disorder, anyone? with a possible dash of adhd thrown in?
  • getting married again for the first time: how self-indulgent is it?
  • epiphany: why our family is probably complete, at least for the next 15 years or so
those are at the top of the list right now. what sounds interesting to you?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

bleak midwinter blues

so i don't know who you are out there (or if there really *is* anyone out there!), but whoever you might be, i need your help to keep me accountable. it's the bleak midwinter again, and i'm a little bit down in the dumps. sigh. happens every winter. and the thing is, i know exactly what i need to do to feel better, but that's sort of the nature of being down in the dumps: you don't have the energy or momentum or get-up-and-go or *whatever* it is you need to do the things that would give you the energy, momentum, get-up-and-go.... so it's just a vicious circle. anyway, i figure if i tell someone else what i know i need to do, and maybe if you ask me how it's going now and again, then perhaps i'll be more inclined to get off my butt.

so, here's my do and don't list for getting out of the bleak midwinter doledrums:

1. do get the house under control. and keep it relatively under control. the mess just makes me want to crawl out of my skin.
2. do get out of the house. every single day. preferably somewhere micah can run and play.
3. don't let getting the house under control become an excuse for not doing #2.
4. do get together with friends several times a week. pick up the phone and call!
5. do start running again. at least three times a week, even if you have to do it with micah in the jogging stroller (ugh! he's just so freakin' big these days!).
6. do put together a training schedule for running the broad street run in may. even though i haven't run in a couple of months, there's plenty of time to work up to 10 miles.
7. do finish julie's sweater i've been working on for 4? 5? years. by the end of january seems a reasonable goal.
8. ditto trixie's poncho.
9. do eat more fruits and veggies.
10. don't throw the baby out with the bathwater if i fall down on anything on this list.

Friday, January 06, 2006


i first met grampy almost 18 years ago, when he was still quite hearty and hale, but just as it's hard to remember your kids at a different age and stage, i can't really remember him then. well, a little bit, maybe. but really, the first clear images i have of him, he was already wearing cowboy boots at all times to keep his foot from dropping, and soon we were talking about how he really shouldn't be driving any more, although he did for many more years. even after his foot slipped and he drove his big, baby blue buick through the garage door, through the brick back wall of the garage, and into a tree, he kept driving. that very car, in fact, even though it was officially totaled, because he was offended by the amount the scrap yard guy offered him. the tires alone are worth more than that, he grumbled, and for the next year we would find him in his wheel chair, pulled up to the open hood, tinkering. he was a fine mechanic (having dropped out of school after the 6th grade, he went on to make a fortune with his own trucking business), and the car is still sitting in the garage today, in perfect working order.

just like his car, grampy should have been dead long ago; anyone else would have been. he stayed alive through sheer stubborn force of will. when he died, early in the morning on the day after christmas, it was because he decided to. he was in the hospital, and having refused a feeding tube, told his youngest daughter, julie's mom, that he was ready to go home. you mean back to the house? she asked, but he shook his head and said, no, home. he said the 23rd psalm, reminisced about the boys he had taught in his sunday school class years ago, and talked about whom he might see when he got home. ellie said, julie and marta and the kids are coming in a couple of days, maybe you'd like to wait until they get here. why should i wait? he asked, and indeed, why? he could have been no more sure of julie's devotion to him, no more secure in the bond he shared with his great grandchildren, no more comforted than he had already been through the regular visits to his home, and more recently to his hospital bedside, to which micah knew the way by heart, exploding out of the elevator, down the hall, through the swinging doors, to his grampy in the first room on the left.

grampy died the way he lived, with dignity, fully aware, and completely in control to the very end. at 92, his body just gave up, though his mind was still sharp as a tack. it was a death we can all hope for. his funeral was as joyful an event as a pennsylvania dutch funeral can be. "the best funeral ever" was bandied about by folks old enough to have attended their share. his granddaughters eulogized him beautifully, and i trust the irony of their tribute to grampy's open and accepting nature was not lost on the homophobic minister at shepherd of the hills. (i am ashamed to admit that i took some satisfaction when said minister's praise-song hand waving was upstaged by the beautiful rendition of "i'll fly away" sung simply and beautifully by julie, her sister, her sister's partner and trixie. and i'd even allow as how it was a bit unchristian of me to be enjoying the moment quite so much, except that grampy, too, would have been rolling his eyes at the hand-waving; and while he was a pretty straight-forward guy from an era when irony had much less cache, he too would have appreciated the irony.) yes, grampy's was a death to be celebrated, not mourned.

and yet i do mourn. not for grampy's passing, because that was, as they say, a blessing. but i do mourn for so much that having grampy in our lives meant. the beautiful quiet landscape of his gentleman's farm an hour outside the city where we would rake leaves in the fall, sled in the winter, sip sodas and rock on the front porch in the spring and summer. the long afternoons when micah and julie mowed the lawn on the riding mower, and trixie rode her bike up and down the lane. the way grampy called trixie "miss philly" and the way his eyes would light up as he watched "henry" -- the middle name he and micah shared -- play with antique clay marbles on the living room carpet. i will miss the way his house smells comfortingly of days gone by; i will miss eating fried clams and succotash at hickory park; i will miss sneaking ruffled potato chips and real coke when everyone else has gone to bed. i will miss the window into julie's childhood, the house almost exactly the same as when she was a babe. most of all, i will always regret that micah won't remember grampy or his place.

grampy was buried on a lovely hillside next to his wife florence, who died a few months after trixie was born. one of ten children, he is survived by just one sister, as well as two daughters and their husbands, two granddaughters and their partners, and a great granddaughter and great grandson.

my first meme

what were you doing 10 years ago?

i was starting the second semester of my second year of law school (in the midst of writing that law review article, in fact). thinking lots and lots about race, "property as power" and the constitution. love, love, loving it ... almost as much as i hate, hate, hated practicing law. sigh. it was an expensive little hobby, law school, but i did love it. i was considering converting to judaism, drinking a lot of high-test coffee with law school buddies i'm no longer in touch with, smoking a lot of cigarettes bummed from said buddies.

we were living in the same house, only its third owners in a century, in the midst of (still ongoing) renovations. attending monthly block club meetings with mrs. bracket, mrs. sheppard, mr. ravenell, mrs. farmer, reverand wills and so many other old-timers who have since died. we were also on our third try of home inseminations trying to get julie pregnant; trixie would be conceived the next summer. i was *very sure* that women who stayed home with their kids were sad sell-outs and that daycare was part of the feminist revolution; that no kid of mine would *ever* sleep in my bed; and that moms who breastfed for more than a year were doing it to fulfill their own needs, not their babies'. um, yeah, please pass the crow!

what were you doing 1 year ago?

almost exactly the same thing i'm doing right now! staying home with micah. taking care of baby ada from down the block, now 18 months and walking and talking up a storm. taking care of the girls next door before and after school. sitting on the board of trixie's school. very close to completing my la leche league accreditation. serving as church school superintendent. resolving to run more and eat better. trying to pull myself out of the bleak midwinter dolldrums.

five snacks I enjoy:

1. salted peanuts and raisins
2. whole wheat toast right out of the oven with butter
3. julie's homemade beer, especially the belgian tripple (is beer a snack? sure!)
4. garlic stuffed olives from dibruno's
5. marinated mozzarella balls from talluto's

five songs to which I know all the lyrics:

1. every song on abby road
2. lift every voice and sing
3. bob dylan's jack of hearts
4. abba's dancin' queen
5. every song on prince's 1999

five things I would do if I were a millionaire:

1. quit taking care of other people's kids
2. tithe (or more)
3. practice yoga several times a week
4. get regular massages
5. travel far and wide

five bad habits:

1. putting off returning phone calls
2. not dealing with paperwork right away
3. yelling at my kids
4. bragging about my kids
5. taking my grumpiness out on julie

five things I like doing:

1. running
2. spending long days at the beach with my kids
3. preparing and eating meals with friends
4. watching cop shows with julie
5. reading to trixie while taking a hot bath

five things I would never wear, buy or get new again:

1. women's jeans that aren't low riders
2. oversize t-shirts or turtlenecks
3. cheaply made shoes
4. large frame glasses
5. brief-style undies

five favorite toys:

1. internet
2. knitting needles and yarn
3. kitchenaid mixer
4. new digital camera
5. tankini from title 9

so here’s the deal: remove the blog in the top spot from the following list and bump everyone up one place. then add your blog to the bottom

moma la carter
An Elephant’s Gestation
the wide tent

then select five people to tag:

1. mamacate
2. sara skates
3. peter's cross station
4. wet feet
5. leery polyp

Monday, January 02, 2006

wow! i'm a "prominent race crit"

i was just googling my name to see if my blog would come up (not sure how public i want to be with folks in real life), and i found quite a long citation to the law review article i wrote in law school entitled "Race Obliviousness and the Invisibility of Whiteness: The Court's Construction of Race-Miller v. Johnson." the citation is at this site in this article. at one point he calls me a "prominent race crit" along with a bunch of authers who have been incredibly influential to me: derrick bell, kimberlé crenshaw, lani guinier and patricia williams, among others. too funny!

too much....

julie's grandfather died the day after christmas, and while it was expected and a blessing -- he was 92, fully in control, and very ready to die after a long physical decline -- it definitely threw off our plans for a restful week at home as a family. instead we spent the week with julie's folks and sister and sil at grampy's farm, about an hour from here, in the midst of a lot of stress and family angst and funeral planning. sigh. a tribute to grampy will have to wait so that i can put my house back together again (we flew out christmas night after feeding our christmas party of "misfit toys" and the house is a wreck). tomorrow it's back to the grind.

yes, i'm feeling a little sorry for myself.