Jack and Jill Adopt

A Mommy Daddy Blog

October 28, 2006

Confiding in Strangers

Yesterday I went to Michael's to buy a scrapbook for Kit. Most baby books available are completely unsuitable for adoption (The first time we saw the ultrasound!) so I decided to make one myself. I bought a really cute little baby boy scrapbook that has all kinds of fun stickers and cute paperclips and pretty paper. Everything is blue and green, but I will add other colors.

When I got to cashier, she admired the scrapbook so I decided to tell her I was adopting. I also showed her the photo of Kit I keep in my purse for just such an occasion (on a side note I've been reading Jane Austen and I think I've picked up a tiny bit of her style). The cashier admired Kit's photo and said,

"My sister adopted. She couldn't have babies of her own, so they decided to adopt."

Then she asked where Kit was now. I told her he is in Guatemala.

"Oh, his life will be so much better here! They have such terrible lives there."

Trying not to vomit, I calmly replied that there is a lot of poverty in Guatemala. I didn't want to actually get in a fight with the woman, especially since she thought she was being nice.

She replied, "Yes, we don't have poverty in America."

I just got myself out of the store and told Jack about it in the car. What bothers us most about that kind of comment is the assumption that the United States is superior to every other country. We have plenty of problems of our own here. U.S. citizens are not superior to citizens of other nations.

October 26, 2006

Babies Babies Babies!

There are four pregnant teachers at my school. I guess that wouldn't be very much for a huge school, but my tiny little rural school only has 40 teachers. That means that 10% of the teachers are pregnant. Plus me adopting!

Even though I didn't experience infertility, I still get little pangs sometimes when I hear the other teachers talking about pregnancy stuff. Normally I don't have any desire to experience pregnancy. I really feel that adoption is the way I want to go, and we'll probably do it again after Kit gets home. Still, sometimes I feel that I might be missing something.

For all those little babies that are coming I'm knitting hats. I found some beautiful hand dyed yarn at my local yarn store. It is multi-colored with beautiful soft green, blue, purple, yellow and red. It knits up to look like stained glass. If I have extra yarn I might make a sweater for Kit. I already knitted him some little red pants. I can't wait til he's home to wear them!

October 21, 2006

Our Little Hunter

The other night, Jill woke me from a deep sleep to let me know one of our cats had a mouse in the bedroom. We have two cats and lately one of them has been found with an awful lot of dead mice (and one sparrow, which I can't explain because they're strictly indoor cats). I'm not sure if we're just having an influx of mice since winter's on its way or if she's been really working on her hunting skills. Actually, it's also possible she's just stealing the mice from our other cat, since she's a bit of a bully.

At any rate, she's been bringing her catches into the bedroom so she can bat them around while we're trying to sleep. Everytime this happens, we chase her out of the room hoping she'll finish with the mouse elsewhere. She gives a little growl since she thinks we actually want the mouse for ourselves and runs off. Once we get back into bed, she's back in the room, tossing the mouse around and having a great time.

When this happened the other night, we shut the bedroom door after she was out of the room. A little while later, she was outside scratching and sounding a little upset that we had the gall to shut her out of her bedroom.

October 13, 2006

Pre-Approval and Flowers- What a Great Day!

We got our pre-approval today! That means that Family Court in Guatemala gave its approval to our adoption and we can move forward. They almost always approve the adoptions, so we weren't worried about that, but it's nice to know we can move on to the next step. Now our case will move into the PGN which is the Attorney General's Office in Guatemala. I don't know how long this will take. It varies a lot because if there is a typo, or misspelling, or a Notary's commission has expired, the case will be kicked out. Then we would have to correct the mistake and submit our case to PGN again. Some of our notary commissions expire in February, so we really hope our case gets through PGN before then!

The other great thing that happened to me today is that a student brought me flowers. A few weeks ago J. got in some trouble with the police, for vandalism, and he asked me to write a letter to the judge. I was happy to write the letter because J. has always been a great guy when he's in my library. Yesterday J. had his hearing and some charges were dropped and he only has to pay a fine. I'm glad he got off lightly because he is really not a bad kid. Anyway, the flowers were a thank you for the letter I wrote. Which just goes to show what a thoughtful guy he is!

October 10, 2006

What's in a Name?

Writing about how we decided to name our son without using any of the real names involved might be tricky, but I'm going to give it a try (Note: if you want to skip a lot of yammering about philosophies of naming and just see how we decided to name Kit, skip the next four paragraphs).

I've often noticed two main schools of adoption philosophy when I'm reading blogs and books, and I think the philosophy a parent leans towards can have a big effect on how they decide to handle naming. The first school is the philosophy of normalization, which is a reaction to the mainstream misconceptions that adoption is second best to having children biologically. This school wants to show the world that there's nothing weird about adoption and that adopted kids are just as important and just as loved as biological kids. The second school is the philosophy of reform, which sees that there's room for improvement in the ethics of adoption and strives to make progress in correcting where things have gone wrong. I think parents can belong to both schools, which is why I say "lean towards" one or the other and if you throw in other issues like race, it opens up whole new avenues of thought. I'm going to say right now that I think every parent has to make up their own mind on how they're going to handle it. I don't think our choice would be the best choice for everyone else.

The first choice is to completely change the child's first, middle and last names. Unless a child's older when they're adopted, I think most people change their son or daughter's last names to show that the child has become a member of the family. Changing the first and middle name can be an extension of that thought. It symbolizes that "this is now our child" no different from a child that enters the family biologically and follows the normalization philosophy. Of course, this isn't the only reason parents may decide to change their child's full name. In the case of some international adoptions, the birth name may not cross over well into the new culture. If a parent has grown up with an unusual, hard-to-pronounce name themselves, they may not want their child to go through the same ordeal. It's also possible that adoptive parents might have concerns about how other kids are going to react to the name when the child gets older and they'll change the name to prevent later teasing. It could also be that parents have just always loved certain names and just want to give them to their child.

Another option is to keep the child's name (usually changing the last name, though). In the philosophy of reform, this might be an act of respect towards the first parent(s), who go through so much suffering when they decide to place their child for adoption. Another way of thinking about it, is that the child's name is often the only thing they're bringing with them from their country/culture of origin, and parents might not change it so the child has some memento of what they've left behind. It's also possible that adoptive parents just fall in love with the child's given name or coincedently it was the name they were planning on using.

There's also a range of choices that fall in between the first two options. In the case of international/cultural adoptions, parents might decide to change the name, but use a name from the child's birth culture. They might change the first name, but make the surname of the child's first parent(s) the middle name. I think the most common decision and what we decided to do ourselves is to change the child's first name, but keep the original first name as the middle name.

Like Jack and Jill, Kit is a pseudonym and in Kit's case, it represents the first name we decided to give him. Kit's first name (not legally changed yet) is a name we've liked since before we even got married. It also happens to be a name used in English, German, French and Spanish-speaking countries, which covers most of the backgrounds of everyone in our budding family. There was more behind the decision to make Kit's given first name his middle name. While we were working on our adoption, Jill would visit photo lists of waiting children to ease her growing impatience. We had talked about giving our future child a Spanish name, but there were two she wasn't comfortable with. Both were very religious and one Jill felt became feminine in English (which is how a lot of people are going to read it here in the U.S.). When we got our referral, Kit's first name was the latter of the two I just alluded to. For a while, Jill wanted to keep Kit's original middle name as the middle name, but I convinced her to keep the first name, since it's likely that name meant the most to Kit's first mom (and honestly I like it better than his original middle name). We also talked about maybe fitting some other parts of his original full name in there, but since he's already going to have to deal with a hyphenated last name (we both hyphenated when we were married), we thought we'd better keep it short.

I should say that while we're keeping Kit's full legal name short, we'll always let him know that he has twice as many names as most other people. If he decides to change any of them legally when he gets older, or just decides to go by his original first name, we'll be fine with it. They're his names and he can decide what to do with them.

October 06, 2006

Reactions to the News

When I mention that we're adopting, the most common response is, "My cousin (sister, friend, acquaintance) adopted a baby!" It seems that everyone in the world is touched by adoption. I like the feeling that adoption is no longer a shameful secret. It's becoming a normal, acceptable way to build a family.

Most people I told assumed that we had experienced infertility. The adults were too polite to ask, but my students will say anything: "Can't you have your own kids?" Although the assumption that a child that I did not give birth to is not my "own" is hurtful, I am not offended when these kids say this. I know that they do not mean to be rude, it's just ignorance. I see it as an opportunity to educate them.

A comment that troubles me more is when people say, "Isn't he a lucky baby!" This really bothers me because I know the person who says it means it as a compliment. However, I do not think Kit is "lucky" to have us as his parents. No matter how you look at it, adoption involves tragedy. Kit has lost his first parents already. When we bring him to the U.S. he will lose his culture, his language, his roots and his sense of fitting in. I truly believe that his life with Jack and me will be better than growing up in poverty or living in an orphanage, but no one can deny that he will have to live with those losses.

One fourth grade student saw the picture of Kit that I keep on my desk.
"Who's baby is that?" He asked.
"Oh, that's the baby I'm adopting from Guatemala," I told him.
"That's so good of you!"
Some people seem to think that anyone who adopts is some sort of saint. I hardly think I am a saint! I just decided I wanted a child, and this was the way chose to do it. I will be a regular parent like any other.

I've gotten the "you're doing it the easy way" comment a couple of times from women who have given birth. Physically, yes, I'm getting off easy. Emotionally, however, I think the adoption process is probably just as demanding as giving birth. I can't really judge, because this is the only way I've done it, but I know the waiting is extremely hard for me. I am not a patient person.

Overall, the comments I've gotten have been overwhelmingly positive. People always seem excited and interested when they find out. I have not gotten any overtly hostile comments at all.