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Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

under my heart

“Not flesh or my flesh, nor bone of my bone
Yet still, miraculously, my own.
Never forget for a single minute
You didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.”

~ Fleur Conkling Heylinger

I’m preparing to go to Brooklyn this weekend to exhibit and maybe speak at an adoption conference.  I’m adopted, and I like to work with prospective adoptive parents.  I have a soft spot in my heart for them and love doing everything I can to help them complete their families through adoption.

Jonah is my biological child and the only blood relative I know, which is weird.  I do like when people say he looks like me.  And yet it never mattered that I didn’t look like my parents’ families (they really all do have similarities in their faces and mannerisms –  nature, not nurture).

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the conference, but also I’m more than a little hesitant to be going to New York City.  The City freaks me out under normal circumstances, but I’m frightened it’ll be eerie, too – a wounded place.

I am there to smile and bring hope to the people who file in to the conference, most of them brand new at this whole adoption thing.  Overwhelmed and emotional, they need a friendly face and maybe some tissue.  You cannot pry but you need to encourage.  I love meeting the people, meeting their frightened eyes with my reassuring ones:  don’t worry; your child will find you, I want to tell them.

So I won’t see Boo this weekend and in fact not until Thanksgiving, when we’ll probably bring turkey sandwiches down to Andy’s, and Jonah will beg for bath and grocery store, oblivious of the holiday.  I miss him already, and would gladly trade a big hug for a small slap.

My dad and I are going out to lunch tomorrow.  He’ll ask me how work has been going and I’ll tell him about the adoption conference.  I’ll bring along The Story of Amy, a red-cloth-covered cling page 70s photo album turned into a book by my parents.  My mother wrote in careful script-like print, using cutouts of congratulations on your new baby cards as illustrations:

The Story of Amy

Once upon a time there was a lady and a man named Mr. and Mrs. Wink.  They had been married for quite a few years.  They were happy and still young, but there was one thing wrong.  They had no baby although they always longed for one to share their home.

One day Mr. and Mrs. Wink said to each other, ”Let’s adopt a baby and bring her up as our very own.”  So the next day they called up the lady who helps people to adopt babies and babies to adopt parents, and said to her, “Miss Brown, we wish so much to find a baby who would like to have a mommy and a daddy and could be our very own.  Will you help us find one?”

Miss Brown said, “It will not be be easy.  Many people wish to adopt babies, and you may have to wait a long time.  But come see me and let’s talk it over.”

So Mr. & Mrs. Wink went to see Miss Brown and told her how much they wanted to adopt a baby.

Miss Brown asked them many questions and said, “I will do my best to find just the right baby for you.  But remember, you may have to wait a long time.”

After a little while Miss Brown came to visit Mrs. Wink.  She was very nice, but quite particular.  She asked more questions, and went all over their home.  She seemed specially interested in knowing where the baby would sleep and play.  She found that the Winks had a lovely home and lots of room for a baby.

Many more months went by and Mr. and Mrs. Wink kept saying to each other, “I wonder when our baby will be coming.”  Mrs. Wink would call up Miss Brown and say, “We are still waiting for our baby.  Please don’t forget about us.”  Miss Brown would say, “Be patient.  It takes time to find just the right baby.”

Several months later Miss Brown came to visit the Winks again.  Surely this means our baby will be coming soon! 

One day Mrs. Wink got a phone call from Miss Brown.  “I have good news for you!  We have a baby girl for you to see.  Can you come tomorrow?”  Mrs. Wink was so happy and excited.  She called Mr. Wink at the office and told him the news.

The next day Mr. and Mrs. Wink went to see Miss Brown.  First she told them about the baby: “She is six months old with the biggest eyes you’ve ever seen and lots of brown hair,” she said, “now go into the next room and see her.

Mr. & Mrs. Wink both held the baby girl.  “This baby is our chosen baby.  She’s just perfect!”

Miss Brown said, “Well go home and get some baby clothes and some baby food and come back tomorrow and you can take your little girl home.”

That night Mr. and Mrs. Wink went shopping for baby clothes and food.  They were so excited they didn’t sleep all night.   The next day, they went to pick up their baby girl. “What shall we name her,” they said.  Mr. Wink said, “How about Amy?  I think that’s a pretty name.”  Mrs. Wink thought for a while then she said yes, “Amy means beloved.  I think Amy Marie would be a pretty name for our little girl.”

After dinner the Wink’s house was a very busy place.  Everyone came to see little Amy.  All her grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, and cousins were there to see her.  And of course they just loved her!

After everyone left, mommy and daddy got Amy ready for bed.  When they put her in her crib they both said “this is the happiest day of our lives; we have a beautiful little girl.  At last we are a family!

The End

My parents read my story to me so often, I suppose, that I always knew I was adopted.  And I was very lucky; it was a good family.   I’ve always been lucky, always been blessed.  I certainly didn’t always realize it or appreciate it, but now I know it.  I know it every day.  It helps a lot to know it.  When I’m grateful I’m happy.

People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong.
Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

‘Manzo knows this!

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It’s 7am and Jonah’s already attacked me – he asked for “train-a” (he’s been putting an “uh” sound on the end of a lot of his words lately) so I told him it was a school day but we could go to see the train after school.  This is a pretty standard conversation in our house so I didn’t expect it when he tore at my face, scratching me near the corner of my eye and mangling my glasses.  For the second time since I bought them on October 23rd, I’ll be at Lenscrafters today to get the glasses fixed.   I think I’m going to be their best customer.  Now the almost-brand-new glasses are really mangled – no matter how I try to push and pull them back into shape they sit crooked on my face.  I look and feel like a broken doll.

It’s “special persons day” at Jonah’s school which means both my mother and father will be there, and Jonah’s classroom is preparing a special Thanksgiving feast; I pray to God and little baby Jason that Jonah’s a good boy, at least for most of the time.

This past weekend Andy took care of Jonah (with help from my mom) while I went to NYC for an adoption conference for work.  Because I am adopted I especially enjoy talking to the prospective adoptive parents, agencies, and attorneys – I was an exhibitor at the conference because we facilitate adoption advertising, and because I did not have Jonah for a day and a half I enjoyed the guilty pleasure of freedom.  In addition to manning an exhibitor table, I was on a panel of parents who spoke about “raising a challenging child.”

All the other parents on the panel had adopted special needs kids – the kids had separation trauma, fetal alcohol syndrome, bipolar disorder, you name it.  One couple had actually adopted 15 kids (!), 3 of which they had to place in a home because of violent or out of control behaviors.  Jonah’s all I’ve got, and to place him is something so hard to comprehend that I’m wild to try everything/anything else we can, as quickly as we can, to seek another way.

Would I have deliberately adopted a special needs child?  My first reaction is to say hell no, but when I was pregnant I told God (naive little big-bellied me) that He could give me a disabled child or a gay child, that I would be okay with either.

My running joke now is that Jonah is probably both disabled and gay.

Someone I met on an autism group on Linked In sent me an obviously self-published book they wrote about their “journey home from autism” – and a children’s book they’d written as well.  Very kind, to send me the books for free, and I haven’t read them yet, but I’m going to use this as an opportunity to bitch that I’m tired of the whole Jenny McCarthy “you too can rescue your child from autism” schtick.    Most of the time I think these “rescued” children were mis-diagnosed in the first place.  I believe that 50 years from now it will be apparent that what we now call “the autism spectrum” is actually about 10 different things.  Jonah was unquestionably born with autism- our family physician noticed issues before he’d even had his first immunization, and in hindsight I can easily see how he was very different from neurotypical babies.  How can that be the same thing as the child who develops normally for however many months, gets a shot, and suddenly “falls off the planet,” losing all his or her social, verbal, and other developmental accomplishments?  It can’t. The symptoms might mimic each other but the underlying cause and condition isn’t the same.

If anyone had figured out a real, viable way to “rescue” these kids from autism, we’d all be on that fucking bandwagon, trust me.  But what works for one child doesn’t work for another, and the “here’s our amazing story of how we  pulled our precious child out of the bowels of the hell that is autism” books are a dime a dozen nowadays.  You can’t throw a stone at a bookstore without hitting something written by people who want to share the inspirational tale of tirelessly helping their child become “normal” again.

The parents of kids with autism don’t need to feel guilty about what the Superparents accomplished that for some unknown reason the rest of us haven’t been able to.  Since the market is flooded with these Superparent success stories, I think what parents need is for someone to write: this sucks, and I don’t know what to do either, and I’m trying hard, and I’m afraid, and I understand, and I’m in the same boat, in the same perfect stormI’m drowning too.

I understand.  I’m drowning too.

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