Friday, November 30, 2012

Why Do We Want Children?

Have you ever stopped to think about the motivations behind your desire to have children?

At first, it might have been just to follow a tradition, because that's the way things go...
But why do we work so hard to have children when it proves difficult?

I have thought about this a lot, lately. What if this doesn't work? Could we be happy without children? Would we spend our life regretting what could have been? What would be missing in my life, if I didn't have kids?
I believe this last question is of supreme importance.

We probably all have different reasons to want children. Maybe you absolutely need the activity and excitement in your life. Maybe you're worried of the loneliness as years go by. Maybe you can't bear to disappoint a partner or deny grand-parenthood to your parents.

For me, it's the need to dedicate myself to something more important than me.
Sure, a life without kids would mean a lot more money, travels, freedom. But even the most exciting life seems a bit tasteless to me if it's all about myself.
With this in mind, I believe I could lead a happy life without children. It's the first time that I'm even able to bare this thought. I would have to find a greater cause to serve. Maybe I would dedicate myself to charity or something like that. I'm not ready to accept this yet, I would have to grieve the family I have imagined. But I think I could do it if it proved necessary.

Coming to this conclusion, very new to me, has made me feel a bit relieved. We are not done with the heartbreak. But I know at some point, whatever fate decides, I will be fulfilled again. This state of waiting is temporary. And that gives me some strength to keep going.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Washable Wipes

As you know, we have started gathering baby stuff. We have already decided we would like to use cloth diapers. We are doing our best to reduce our impact on the environment and will keep doing so once we are parents.
One thing we have heard can make a different is using washable cloth wipes for the diaper change. I figure we're going to do poopy laundry anyway, this is not much different!

So the last time we bought new sheets for our bed, I decided to keep the old ones and cut them in wipe-size squares (that's about 8X8 inch). I don't know if the material will be absorbant enough, but I figure we have nothing to lose by trying!

I thought I'd share the tip. If you want to try washable wipes, start collecting your old clothes that are no longer usable early during your wait. This way, you'll have plenty of wipes by the time your baby is there!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

More About Attachment

If you have ever brushed the idea of maybe one day adopting, you have certainly heard about attachment theory. In fact, Reactive Attachment Disorder was one of the first things that were mentioned to me by one of my closest relatives when I announced our intention to adopt, before even Congratulations...

I don't pretend to be a pro in the field of attachment, but I've done some research since we have decided to adopt.
In a nutshell, attachment is the very important ability that a person has to create healthy, secure relationships with others. This ability is developed in the first few years of life, based on the repeated experience of a safe and trusting relationship with a primary caregiver.
Pretty simple, when a baby is born in a healthy family, to a set of parents who have desired and wished for this child. But life is sometimes messy, and there are a variety of situations that can hinder the development of this primordial ability.

Obviously, less than perfect attachment is a risk inherent to adoption. And the consequences of an insecure attachment can be very scary as a child grows.
Luckily, there are things adoptive parents can do to help their child heal and learn to trust. Attachment parenting is a technique that can be used for children in all situations, from the young baby picked up in an orphanage to the older child with obvious disrupting behaviours. Professional help can be obtained for the latter and, though I'm sure the process is not easy, therapies have shown tremendous results on affected children.

So here are a few things I have learned about attachment:
  • The belief that children adopted under 18 months of age cannot suffer from attachment disorder is a myth. Age at placement does have an impact on the attachment patterns and the intensity of the damage, but even a child adopted at 3 months needs attachment parenting if these 3 months were spent in a traumatic situation.
  • Attachment parenting is often counter-intuitive, and will most certainly be judged by well-meaning friends and relatives.
  • One of the basis of attachment parenting is that the parents should be the only ones responding to their child's needs for the first little bit. As a general guideline, Becoming a Family recommends that you count at least one week per month that your child lived away from you before you can start involving the extended family in caring for your baby. This means that only you should feed, bathe, change, rock, hold or comfort baby during this time. It also means that we'll have the difficult task to tell Grandma that she cannot give a bottle to her grandbaby...
  • During this time, baby should be in his parents arms almost 24 hours/day. Eye contact and skin to skin contact should be pursued as much as possible, and baby should spend her days in a carrier. It doesn't matter that we are tired, this is not about the parents!
  • Some books recommend that only one primary caregiver be designated for the first little bit. The second parent can then be integrated later.
  • Attachment parenting means that it's ok to co-sleep (safely), that a child should never be left crying  alone (even when he is being punished) and that baby's needs should be met immediately. Can you see how friends and family will judge you for "spoiling your baby"? That's what I meant, when I said it was counter-intuitive.
  • After a few weeks, when we can differentiate her needs a bit better, we can probably transition to more traditionnal parenting. We'll have to play it by ear.

Of course, our baby may not even need this. But we won't know until she's much older and I don't want to risk hurting her more by not even trying.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It Could be Worse!

Gina, over at One in Five Million, has written this post which came at a perfect time for me. I needed to be reminded that things are really not that bad...
So I've tried to give this some thoughts and put things in perspective.

Sure, this family building journey is taking far more time than I ever imagined I could survive like this. But did you know that, in some cultures, men who are not able to conceive with their first wife are allowed (sometimes encouraged) to take a second wife? I am so grateful that Pablo is sharing this journey with me!

Sure, I feel somewhat left behind while all my friends and relatives are building their families. But some women survive multiple miscarriages, failed adoption, even still birth. I can only imagine the pain of welcoming another baby in your circle when yours is missing...

Sure, my life plans are being pushed around. I really did not imagine myself still in this exact same place, a few years ago. Some of my life projects may end up falling off the shelf as the years go by. But the status quo could be much worse. I have a home I love, in the sweetest small town in the whole world; I have a good, challenging job; and I'm married to my best friend.

Sure, the program closure and very slow reopening feels a bit like salt in an open wound. But we are so lucky that we have access to programs like this. Single parents, gay couples, people with certain medical conditions or a more complicated past have a much harder time finding a country they can adopt from.

Lately, the hopelessness has blurred my vision a bit. I need to remember these things and snap out of my pity party!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

How to Fake Patience - Tip #3

Keeping busy is our only chance of survival during this excrutiatingly long wait for our children to come home. But how do we keep busy when there are no children running around the house? We're stuck in a circle...

If you've followed How to Fake Patience Tip #1, you already know quite a bit about your child's culture of origin. But here's something that will keep you busy for a long time!

How to Fake Patience - Tip #3:
Go deeper. Much, much deeper.
I'm talking find English versions of prized novels from that region, figure out what music everyone is listening to, right now, find videos showing traditional dancing on YouTube, watch classical movies from your child's country, read English language newpapers and get a feel for what everybody is talking about...
Sure, it only takes a few hours to read a book or watch a movie. But, unless you're adopting from Florida, you'll have to spend quite some time to figure out real, authentic cultural items from tourist traps. Actually, you may surprised at how much time it takes to find real references. You may have to go on forums, try to find a cultural group in your area and get in touch with them or research on the Internet.
Sri Lanka has a very rich culture, and English is used very widely. You would think it would be easy to find out about the latest trends or the timeless classics, but I've been working at this for several months, now.
A good but basic starting point is the Lonely Planet book for the country in question. Some of them have a section about what to read or watch before going. These may not be the most representative sample of what is being done in local underground circles, but it's a beginning.

And if you have taken up my suggestion of starting a monthly newsletter to your extended family, these can be a really good source of inspiration for the (numerous) newsletters you have left to send!
That's two tips in one, ladies and gentlemen! Don't thank me: I'm as desperate as you are ;-)