My stop: The Waiting for Daisy book tour

Disembark here for the blogosphere book tour, the Barren Bitches Book Brigade. We’ve been reading Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein.

1. Peggy struggles with questions of heritage, genes, and religion. How important is it for you to have a child that is biologically yours and why? What feelings go into that decision/choice for you if you are still trying to have a child?

We took a different route than many on this book tour. We turned right at ICSI and ended up in Adoption Land.

At one time, it WAS important to have Roger’s brilliant blue eyes, my long legs, our musicality and our love of books. But ultimately we came to the conclusion that our dreams had more to do with becoming parents than with becoming pregnant.

In Adoption School (part of our agency’s process), we had to write a good-bye letter to the biological child we’d never have — in order to make way for the child we WOULD have. What a tear-jerker of a day THAT was.

It can seem that adoption is a second choice. And that may be true until it actually happens. Even if I could go back and wave a magic pregnancy wand, I wouldn’t. My children were meant for me all along — I just didn’t know it at the time. I hope they one day feel the same.

And, by the way, we are passing on our love of books.

2. Peggy’s husband, Steven, says things to the effect of “Get over it,” and expresses the wish to return their marriage from the uni-dimensional land of Infertility. How typical were Steven’s responses to your own partner’s?

It was definitely easier for Roger to “get over it.” Biologically, men are more removed from the ebb and flow of fertility, the monthly reminders of failure. I liked Steven’s sensible yet sensitive approach with Peggy — it reminded me of Roger’s ability to empathize with me but not drown with me.

3. Orenstein struggles with the feeling that she “waited too long to start trying to conceive”. How does this compare to your feelings about the timing of your journey to parenthood?

Not an issue. I didn’t meet Roger until I was 31, and we married a year later. We wasted no time trying to begin a family, and after a year we moved overseas (a third world country) for two years. Coincidentally, we lived in the same apartment complex as a Lebanese, German-trained “embryologist.” Hence our pitstop in ICSI.

So no wasted time, unless you count the years it took to meet Roger. And I definitely don’t count those years as wasted.


Hope you will come back for a visit! I serve cyber-Mojitos every Friday. And cyber-Advils every Saturday.

Want to check out more Waiting for Daisy questions? Hop along to another stop on this blog tour by visiting the main list at Stirrup Queens. You can also sign up for the next book on this online book club: The Kid by Dan Savage.

Open Adoption: When what you know is wrong

When Roger and I embarked on the journey of adopting a baby a few years ago, everything we “knew” about adoption was from decades past:

  • You waited on a long list until the agency matched you with a situation. Top of the list of criteria for the match? Your place in line.
  • You tried to make the building of your family as close to “normal” (read: biological) as possible. You didn’t talk much about the adoption, either inside or outside of the family, and you certainly didn’t have any contact with birthparents. The goal was to make it seamless, almost as if adoption were never part of the story.
  • As the child grew, you continued not talking about adoption. Surrounding my friends who had been adopted was an air of secrecy. When we did speak of adoption, it was in hushed voices. These friends didn’t know much about their birth families, their birth story, or their origins. And it would hurt their parents too much to wonder too much. So they tried not to.

In the early part of the 21st century, our agency introduced us to this newfangled thing called “open adoption.” Wikipedia (a shared consensus rather than a definitive pronouncement), at the time of this writing, defines open adoption as, an “arrangement allowing for ongoing contact between members of the adoption triad.” It adds, “an adoption is open when the biological mother (and/or father) may make the actual decision on who is chosen to parent their child.

It may seem, then, like closed adoptions were the “default setting” of the ages. Wikipedia further explains, “all adoptions in the United States were open until the twentieth century. Until the 1930’s, most adoptive parents and biological parents had contact at least during the adoption process.”

Far from being newfangled, it turns out that open adoption had always been the norm, with closed adoptions the aberration. Adoptions became closed when social pressures mandated that families preserve the myth that they were formed biologically.

Roger and I learned all that we could about open adoption. Over the years, we have replaced the myths with these ideas:

  • Adoption isn’t about waiting passively in line — it’s about who we are. A couple in an unintended pregnancy would make a conscious decision about us parenting their baby. The criteria for their decision would be our values, our bundle of experiences, and our vision for the future — US!
  • Why try to deny that our family was built by adoption? Is my ego so fragile that acknowledging the birth mothers of my children takes away from me? Loving and respecting our children’s birth parents is just another way to love and respect our children.
  • Walking a fine line between dwelling on adoption it and denying it, we tell our children (now ages 8 and 6) their adoption stories once in awhile. We encourage them to talk with us about it as their cognitive skills grow. I believe that anything kept under a rock can get moldy, and I want their adoption tales to bask in sunshine.
  • There are many more benefits to open adoption. Our children have access to their medical histories and to clans who look like them and love them. Also, our children will not have to go through the potential minefields of search and reunion just to get answers to their wonderings.

In public, Roger sometimes kicks me under the table me as I proudly reveal the way we became a family. After all, he reminds me, I am merely caretaker of my children’s stories. Someday they will choose what to tell and to whom.

But it’s my story, too, and I am so happy about our story I share often and a lot, in an effort to combat myths from a bygone era.

Triad View: “Adoptions are meant to be closed!”

I have a close family member who was very candid with his thoughts recently.

He was adopted through Catholic Charities in the 1960s. He says he has never wanted to search for his birth parents. He says his “real” parents are the ones who brought him up. He says once his biological mother decided to give him up she should lose all rights to think of him; likewise he doesn’t think of her.

Regarding our open adoptions, he fears that one day as a teenager, Tessa will find it too easy to blame normal teen angst on adoption. Further, with Crystal being so accessible, Tessa will play us against each other and the situation will be even more adversarial than it usually is during teen years.

Reed, he believes, should never think about his birth parents. We are his parents — no ifs, ands or buts. The birth parents might as well have never existed.

He says, “Adoptions are meant to be closed. What you guys are doing is freaky.”

adoption, parenting, mindfulness, open adoption