Tag Archives: adoption

Family Topiary Garden

17 Oct

Some families do not fit neatly in the template for a traditional family tree.

Our family is one that is made up of so many root systems merging, in some cases, and veering off, in other cases.

Plus, I was raised in a German & Italian family- both of which have heavy branches, and the baldguy is completely Italian, so his tree, though more traditional in structure, has many branches and shoots.

Mine is further chopped up by adoption (mine), loss and remarriage and a big step family (my Oma remarried after my Mom’s dad died during WW2, she had three kids and married a man with five kids…It’s like the German Brady Bunch).

So putting together a family tree for Alex’s end of quarter project was a challenge and a half…

Thankfully, Baldguy “accidentally” printed all of the name and date labels on Post-It removable labels which came in handy when I was sticking and resticking everything…

This is definitely not a First Grade level project, not in any form.   Like most projects in Elementary school, I think this is more of a test of the parent’s skills instead of the child’s, but that’s just my opinion.

Alex did do so much of it, but there is no way a first grader has the planning skills (or the technological ones) to do this on their own or with minimal parental involvement.  I’m just glad we had nothing planned this weekend…

They should hand out Q&A sheets and planning sheets to build up to this sort of thing.  If the powers that be did that, they would be teaching (by doing, of course!) organizational and planning skills the whole way through.  Instead we learned that we will never find the 40% off any one item coupon from Michaels when we are actually going to Michaels (though they show up everywhere in the house when we are broke or just don’t need supplies)…  We learned that Crayola Squeezable 3D Paint absorbs into the paper covering on science project tri-fold boards, but it will wait until 11:30pm on a Sunday to do this little disappearing act so the whole tree/garden looks like a madwoman did it.

That madwoman would be me.

Anyway,  I wound up doing all of the traditional branches, with photographs.  I, of course, have an extra branch from my biological relatives.  I wound up connecting all like information, all “sources” by color.  My biological “sources” are purple.  My adoptive family is pink.  Baldguy’s family is green.  All of this leads up to Alex, at the very top… For his picture I chose one of him taking a photograph.  I outlined it in purple, pink, and green and put “flash lines” of puffy paint around it so it’s like he is taking a snapshot of his entire family.

I could have used at least 3 of these poster trifold things to at least make this look less mashed and more organized. Then again, I’m a diagram nut.  I adore flowcharts… I swoon over Venn diagrams… But you knew that already.

Anyway…

Off to peel some of this paint and xyron adhesive from my skin.  It’s like a pseudo exfoliation treatment for Mamas!

Then to bed!

xo

B
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Genes aren’t always comfortable.

3 Oct

It’s a fact of life:  genetics play a large role in some of the events in our lives.  If you are lucky, you never notice any of the blips or omissions.

Well, I am not so lucky.  G6PD deficiency is an x-linked genetic disorder. What does that mean?  Well, it means that most likely both of my biological parents have the gene, as for a female offspring to exhibit the trait she usually needs defective information from both maternal and paternal sources.   Boys only get the one “X” from their mamas, so if the Mama in question has G6PD deficiency, that means her sons will have G6PD deficiency as well.  (click here for a handy inheritance breakdown).

Needless to say, when I realized the genetic link we hauled ourselves over to Alex’s pediatrician to report my diagnosis and get orders for bloodwork to see if Alex does indeed have it.  At that point, we figured I was deficient, but we didn’t know if I was partially (a carrier) or fully expressing deficiency.

Of course Alex’s test came back showing G6PD deficiency.

Deep breath.

We had a weekend to wait for the results of the test, so I started making a plan of how we would remove any triggers from Alex’s world, as I had already removed many from mine.  How would we make this huge transition easy for him, to avoid self-injurious backlash on his part.  I almost consider it good fortune, that I have been through major lifestyle changes due to medical issues (particularly type 1 diabetes, planning a pregnancy with type 1 diabetes, and being pregnant with type 1 diabetes) in my lifetime, and I definitely had a few footnotes jotted down in my memory about what worked, what helped, and what derailed any progress or screwed with my ability and desire to stick to any of the previous restrictions and demands.

Lucky.

HA!

This isn’t lucky.  This just IS.  It’s genetics. It’s nothing that we can control.

It should have been caught earlier, in Alex and in me.

Some of the impact on him has been neurological.  Some of the impact has been structural.  All of the impact has made his journey so arduous at such a young age.  It is unfair. All of the impact has been accepted over the years as it seemed unavoidable and that dragging our feet would have caused more damage.  I feel like I failed him, like I accepted too quickly, even though the reality is that questions had dragged on epically, without chance of answer or just a chance of helping him.  Not curing him of anything.  Making his life better.

The reality?  If we had known sooner, the past few years would have been more manageable, easier.  Not just because of the impact this has had on Alex, but because of the way I have not been able to give his special needs the attention I need and want to give to help him have the best life possible.  I can’t kick myself for being sick.  It truly is not my fault. I try to accept that as best as I can.

It’s heartbreaking when Alex approaches me a couple of times a day and tells me “Mama, you used to feed me that (food that is off limits with G6PD deficiency…more on that tomorrow) it was making me so sick and we didn’t know. Why did we not know? I ate that so much. We didn’t know. It’s strange that we didn’t know.”

He wants answers and so do I.  I want to know why this was never mentioned or tested despite obvious symptoms and why prescribed precautions in situations where the status of G6PD deficiency is not known were not followed.

If it had just been me, I perhaps could let it go a little easier.  Actually, that is not true.  This has impacted Alex doubly because I am his Mama and for his seven years on this earth, he has learned to adapt to my abilities and disabilities and he shouldn’t have to do that.  He should have had a carefree first 7 years, with a well Mama who could play with him and wasn’t stuck in bed for two years.

He shouldn’t have been born early.  He shouldn’t have been subjected to excessive stress in utero because nobody bothered to test me before giving me a medication that could have killed me but my little guy absorbed some of the stress.   He shouldn’t be an only child.  The past 7 years of challenges and fatigue and illness put a logical block on having more kids.  Now we find out that this block should have never needed to be placed in our way.   He shouldn’t have been put through a zillion challenging medical tests and exams before the end of his first year without them first testing for the most common enzyme deficiency in the world.  When he wouldn’t keep anything down, soy formula was one of the only things that worked with any regularity.  We didn’t know we were feeding him a major trigger that would slow down his growth and development.

I should not have gone blind from cataracts at 20.  But I did.

I should not have been given contraindicated antibiotics that almost killed me when I was coming out of a coma with a massive bone infection.  I shouldn’t have been given 3 more medications that are contraindicated to combat the negative effects of the initial antibiotic, for sepsis that I was much more prone to because of?  Any guesses.

There are links being researched that link some expressions of this deficiency to autism, type 1 diabetes, and more.

I am angry.  I had a moment of realization that had me sinking into a thick sadness on the day Alex’s results came in, but I was glad we had answers.  The sadness came from the realization that all of this pain and injury and illness could have been avoided if someone I have never met spoke up,  if accessing adoption records and family medical history was not virtually impossible for bastards like me (see Bastard Nation), and if medical professionals did not see “adopted” in the space where family history goes as a clean genetic slate.

And if someone had ordered a simple blood test when the symptoms were obvious.

All of this could have been avoided and we would be healthy, and perhaps more innocent and less physically scarred.

I’m sick of saying that what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

Because someone knew.  And this almost killed me and my kid and someone charted this course we are on and gave us less of a chance at thriving than we deserve.

What is getting stronger is my anger.

And Alex.  Alex is getting a little bit stronger as he adjusts to life without a constant bombardment of triggers taxing his little body.

I am grateful for that.  I am grateful that he can feel the difference in just two short weeks. I am grateful that I didn’t lose him before his birth or after because of the ignorance of others.  I am grateful that he is so accepting of all of the changes we have had to go through in the past few weeks.

Anyway, I’ll cover more of the changes and the fun stuff later this week…

For now  I need to sleep so I can find the energy to keep us moving forward.

xo

Bek

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No Returns Without Receipt.

14 Apr

I promise things will be more upbeat and accidental thong-esque shortly.
Really.
Promise.

Here’s some good news: baldguy started training for his census job yesterday! The first work he has had in 20 months! So proud of him! I became an Auntie this week when my baby brother and his wonderful wife welcomed their gorgeous baby girl! I hope to get out to OH later this year (pending me being patched up) to meet everyone in person!

Ok, now back to the serious-ish stuff.

So here are my questions for you today.
1. Have you ever had a headache so intense that you lost the ability to comprehend language? I swear I almost said “NARM!” (Six Feet Under) today because I couldn’t find words or understand them. Alex was sweet and hung out with me on my bed until I regained the gift of gab. He really is a wonder, a gift, a miracle. Best kid ever.

2. (and this one is from our local news station) Should adoptive parents be able to return their adopted children? Vote below!

(sorry. this picture was just too perfect.)

No Returns Without Receipt

I’m a little scared to ask my adoptive parents how they would vote. Mostly because my head is just a ball of intense pain and standing in line at Adoptions R’US while the clerk tries to find the 34 year old receipt in the system and my mom makes my dad handle the return while she browses for a sportier model just sounds like torture.

I kid. Well, there’s always a wee bit o’ truth and honey in there for you.

I’m planning a longer bit on adoption, as it has been coming up so frequently lately- news, blogs, twitter, etc… I just kind of want to put my perspective (as an adult adoptee with multiple disabilities) on these issues… But for now…What are your thoughts?

Is returning an adopted child screaming of equality? The next thing you know, natural born are going to be demanding to be returned as well. And frankly, there are some rather sizeable physical limitations to that scenario.

Anyway,
I will call the doc in the morning. I just can’t get comfortable. I am reading quite a bit though, as the Kindle is light enough that I can lock up my elby-bones and read while resting flat. As of this evening though even pancaking myself on the bed isn’t easing the pain. So I’m up. For now. Until meds kick in. They don’t even take a nip out of the pain, but they make me sleepy and take the edge off the raw pain*-adrenaline cocktail that is ruling my life lately.

xo
B

*and really I’m not a big baby. I have been through some crazy shidoobi in my day, especially with medical stuff. I have a hugely high pain tolerance and between that and my Asperger’s I think I’m not really making how bad the pain really is clear enough to the docs. I’m kind of a goofy girl, but I get really quiet and mellow and calm with pain. I think I calculate everything more precisely, so as to not trigger more pain or damage.

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Glass Butterflies and adoption….

6 Feb

Glass Butterfly for Sarah’s Wedding….Originally uploaded by CleverGirlBek None of my formatting is holding… Off to explore a fix for it… But here’s my post anyway….   I made this piece for my little sister, who is getting married (eloping! woohoo!) this weekend… This piece, and Sarah (my sister) mean so much to me for so many reasons…. Some of you know that I am, or was, an only child for 30 years…. Some of you know that I was also adopted into my family at 3 weeks old…Two years ago, just before Christmas, I got an email that started something like “I think I may be the person you have been looking for”… A couple of weeks later I received a sweet card from another woman I had never met that was supposed to arrive, I think, before that startling email but because I forgot to change my address on that one online registry, it took the scenic route…They found me. My birthmom, Julie, and my little sister, Sarah. They found me.After a near match with a possible biological father and his sister (that proved heartbreaking all around, it wasn’t a match but I still occasional email with my not-really-my-aunt but still so wonderful) I finally just let my desire to find a biological relative cool off…. I figured that it wasn’t meant to be… Arizona (where I was born in 1975) and NY (where the adoption was finalized and where I was raised) have rules on searching and records and releasing even non-identifying information that excluded me completely from receiving even pleasantries from either state agency…. The adoption lawyer, Stanley Michelman, has long since left law but had been working on cataloging all of the old files and promised to keep in touch…I just let everything go. I lost hope, but not in a hanging my head low sort of a way…I really let go and moved on without another thought…. For the first time in 30 years I didn’t totally lose my marbles on my birthday. Ok I didn’t celebrate either, but I wasn’t a complete mess like I had been every year since I was a kid and it dawned on my, on that day, that someone that I didn’t know might be thinking of me, someone that I didn’t know might have blanked me out of there mind, someone that I didn’t know might just not care, and that someone that I didn’t know carried me around with them for 9 months and just gave me away- and from the story that I knew, of my adoption, they kept me for 3 weeks and then still decided to give me away. While I know the true story now, and learning it has been a long, intense healing process for all of us involved, it’s really hard having that one day a year and not wanting to get out of bed, and having nobody (at least nobody I knew pre-wide spread internet use) else who could understand….So they found me. Not only was there one person who thought about me on my birthday, she thought about me more than that… In fact, I quickly learned, I have four siblings that were all raised knowing that they had a big sister out there in the world somewhere.Imagine wishing every year, as a child, that Santa would bring you a sibling and then 30 years later, after abandoning that wish, you get a Christmas card from a sister you didn’t know you had. Yeah. Intense. Between the email from my biomom, and the many emails that have followed, and the letter she sent in a Christmas care package and my sister Sarah’s card and letter I was a mess. I was a happy mess, but I couldn’t stop crying long enough to say a single word. The decision my birthmom made to give me up when she was 17 years old did change our lives forever. I was always told, when I took my parents for granted, which all kids do, “Imagine if ‘she’ kept you, what your life would be like”…. But there was no imagining with me- I never imagined any of it. I was a creative and imaginative kid, but I never let my brain go there. It’s probably the one thing in my life where I have never said “what if….” and maybe that was a saving grace at times….The decision my birthmom made to find me (she searched for so long and then boom, one night, there was my information…we were so accidentally close at times- she worked in the same company as my parent’s next door neighbor who adopted twins around that time so my mom and I were discussing the whole adoption thing with that neighbor while in the next state my birthmom was working away and wondering….) was perhaps more life changing. The loose ends have been tied up. The questions have been answered. My heart and soul have healed so much. Being given up at birth by your mother is known in adoption as “the primal wound”. That primal wound will always be a part of me, but it is more of a scar these days….Slowly fading and sinking into the skin….And I have siblings.Sarah, who is the oldest of their family, and I are very close…. She came to visit last year and it wasn’t weird or awkward like everyone assumed it would be. There was this calmness, this familiarity, this connection…. Like you have with your oldest friends- you know the ones, you lose touch for awhile, life goes on, and then somehow, someway you reconnect down the line and it’s like not a day has passed, except there are some new tales to tell…. Anyway, Sarah is getting married this weekend….Her/our grandma passed away a few years ago and she and Julie still talk about her and still have a hard time with her passing- understandably so, from what I have heard she was an amazing woman…. She collected glass and crystal for years and loved butterflies…. Sarah mentioned a few times that she wanted to incorporate butterflies somewhere in her wedding….When Sarah was visiting us here in Florida awhile back we went for a nice slow drive through this local nature preserve…. We got out of the car to take pictures and a single, beautiful monarch butterfly followed us around. It felt like the past, and Sarah’s grandma, was saying that everything was good. And it was….It is good.  There are hard days and moments still, but it is so much easier to weather them with so much love around me.   So I made this piece for Sarah….She should be getting it today, before they leave on their drive to the Smokey Mountains for their wedding weekend… Sarah and Greg are doing their wedding in a way that is a perfect match for them- surrounded by peace and quiet and nature and soft sounds…. I am so proud of her and can’t wait to meet Greg in person (although he and Jeff look and act so much alike it’s kind of crazy sometimes)….So this is a vintage, glass butterfly…The theme and material borrowed from the memory of her/our grandma…. Set in sterling silver, by me…..With love…. A connection to the past brought to current times….Congrats little sister! I am forever in awe of you.

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