In honor of National Adoption Month, I decided to participate in the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011, sponsored by Heather at “Production, Not Reproduction“. Anyone involved in adoption (birthmothers, adoptive parents, foster parents, etc) can join the project. We were each matched with another blogger, and we had to come up with interview questions. We had about two weeks to answer the questions, then post the interview on our blog.
I was fortunate to be matched with Cheryl from Bread and Bread. Cheryl and her partner, C.C., are from Los Angeles, California and are in the process of playing the waiting game. They are hoping to adopt a child through domestic adoption.
You can read more about their struggles with infertility in her post titled “Squeakies” and how they came to officially decide to pursue adoption. And finally, they’ve made it official and created a Facebook page for their search. Go ahead and “Like” it.
I came up with 10 questions to ask Cheryl, and I must say, I have truly enjoyed getting to know her over the past couple weeks. It is so nice to know that I am not the only one feeling overwhelmed, out of control, panicked and just plain old frustrated with this process.
Here we go:
1. What one thing that has happened in your life has made the biggest impact on who you are today?
This might be too broad of an answer, but I think the parents you’re born to (and/or adopted by) really set the course for your life. My mom, who died in 2003, was nurturing, artistic, a voracious reader and always made sure my sister and I felt safe. She also taught me the art of a good guilt trip. My dad is hardworking, fair-minded and generous. He also has a low tolerance for any kind of irresponsibility, which always made me feel (for better and worse) like failure was not an option.
Trying to become a parent has led me to grieve for my mom all over again, and sometimes feel angry at my dad for being one reason I’m so hard on myself. (I’ve really berated my ovaries, my brain and everything in between.) But more importantly they showed me how awesome it is to be part of a family, and they gave me the strength and stubbornness I need to create one by any means necessary.
2. Have you experienced any opposition from your family or friends towards your adoption plans? If so, how did you handle it? If not, how would have handled it if you did?
The feedback we’ve gotten has been almost entirely positive. I think it helps that we live in a progressive community, we have families who genuinely just want us to be happy, and Angelina Jolie has touched the adoption world with her magic wand of fabulousness. That said, my dad did express some you-never-know-what-you’ll-get concerns, and he more or less asked if there was any way we could guarantee that we’d get a smart baby. (Answer: No, but we’ll play some classical music in the kid’s room or something.)
I have a family friend who was adopted from Korea as an infant. When she was going through a rebellious phase as a teenager, I remember people saying to her mom, “Can’t you have the adoption annulled?” Even at the time it drove me crazy. If we hear anything like that—anything that treats adoption as “parenthood lite”—I will take a deep breath, make sure there aren’t any sharp objects around and do the only thing I can, which is try to educate people. (Yay for blogs like yours that do just that!)
I do worry that our kid will encounter people who think same-sex couples shouldn’t adopt, but pretty much everyone deals with some form of prejudice over the course of a lifetime. I’ll just try to explain to our child that some people are mean and ignorant, and I’ll hope that living as an open, honest, queer adoptive family will nudge cultural perceptions in a positive direction.
3. If you were only allowed 25 words or less to say to a birthmother considering choosing you and C.C. as parents, what would you say? As you can tell from my answer to #2, I’m not a short-winded person. But here goes: “We are so excited to shower your baby with bucketfuls of love, and to know and learn from both of you.” (Twenty-one words!)
4. What have you and C.C. learned about each other throughout your infertility and adoption journey?
Unfortunately, I think she’s seen my worst side: After going through IVF and miscarrying, I really had an emotional breakdown that was one part hormones, one part grief and one part old issues rearing their ugly heads. She saw how I can be a control freak with debilitating anxiety, hair-trigger tear ducts and OCD tendencies that go far beyond my usual desire to keep things tidy.
And the amazing thing is, she loved me right through all of it. She felt frustrated and helpless sometimes, but she was patient, and she never blamed or condemned me or asked me to be a different kind of person. As a result, I learned to trust her even more. She’s usually pretty happy-go-lucky, and that vibe can mask her strength. Now I know that 1) my uber-responsible ways have a dark side (see debilitating anxiety), so I could learn a thing or two from her Type B personality, and 2) if I fall, she will catch me. She has. These are traits I want in the mother of my children.
5. What made you choose an open adoption instead of a closed one?
We both read Dan Savage’s book The Kid, about his own experience with open adoption, long before we even met. He makes such a good case for it—his son will never have to wonder how his mother felt about placing him, etc.—that we never really considered another kind of adoption. The more I read, the more convinced I am that this is the right choice for us.
I admit I’m a little scared that our child will like his or her bio mom better than us. She’ll be the cool aunt that our teenage kid threatens to go live with, and all my insecurities will rear up. But I know it’s worth it. And, selfishly, I tell myself that if our kid knows his or her birthmom is just a regular human like us, he or she won’t build up an imaginary, perfect supermom.
6. Do you think it is harder for a same-sex couple to adopt than a heterosexual couple? If so, why?
In some ways, I think it’s easier. We won’t have to “come out” as a nontraditional family because we already are one. Even if one of us does have a biological child, it will be pretty clear that the other one is not the baby-daddy. No one really asks, “Why are you adopting?”
In other ways, it’s definitely harder. There’s a small but vocal contingent of people in the world who think kids shouldn’t even know gay people exist, let alone be raised by them. Some states have laws against same-sex couples adopting, and I’m terrified that someone will put one of those laws on the ballot in California. There are also lots of little logistical things that straight couples don’t have to think about. Because of the difference between state and federal laws regarding gay marriage, I imagine that doing our taxes once we have a baby will be a nightmare.
I say all this realizing that legislation, shifting cultural attitudes and our LGBT-friendly adoption agency have made the process about a thousand times easier than it would have been even 15 years ago.
7. What was the last movie you saw in the theaters?
An indie movie called Martha Marcy May Marlene about a young woman trying to leave a cultish commune. It was good, but really intense. I think it’s time for a comedy next. I’m strangely drawn to Puss in Boots.
8. Your 16-year old daughter comes home from school and has decided she wants to get her belly button pierced, a tattoo on her shoulder, and also wants to dye her hair purple. Which (if any) of these will you let her do? Why/why not?
I’ll encourage the purple hair dye—it’s fun, and it will grow out. The tattoo is a definite no until she’s 18. I will point out that both of her moms have tattoos, and does she really want to look like her parents?
What kind of rebellion is that? I’m on the fence regarding the piercing. The idea doesn’t thrill me, but maybe she can talk me into it. I think it’s important to give kids more of a say in their lives as they get older, and I want to be the kind of parent who’s open to stuff, especially stuff her kid is passionate about.
9. What made you decide to become a blogger?
I started my blog on a whim—my coworker had just gone to an intro-to-blogging class, and she showed me how easy it was. Fifteen minutes later, I had a blog. Six years later, I still do. I think most of my readers (all eight of them?) think of Bread and Bread as a blog about my life, but I’m really into books and pop culture, so I try to blog about how those things affect my life. Writing little critiques feels like a good exercise for my brain. Hopefully it will prevent Alzheimer’s or something.
10. What book are you reading now?
I’m about halfway through Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta, a novel about a woman and her brother, who’s an eccentric musician who has created this sort of parallel universe in which he’s a rock star. I’m also reading Mamas and Papas, an anthology edited by Kelly Mahey and Alys Masek. Neither of them became mothers super easily, and I really appreciate that it includes pieces about infertility, miscarriage and being a birthparent, as well as a ton of other parenting-related subjects that I’m sure will become increasingly relevant.
Oh, and I saw that you listed Room as one of your favorites—mine too! What an amazing, beautiful, terrifying page-turner!
Don’t forget to stop on over to Cheryl’s blog and read my answers to the interview questions she had for ME!