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Jul 21 2014

I’m Sick of Explaining Why We Became Foster Parents

By at 12:19 pm

storks-telephone-wire

Just before Passover, my partner and I became certified foster parents in Pennsylvania. This means that we could get a call literally on any day, and have a new child in our family by the end of that day. We are incredibly excited (and more than a little scared), and because we have no idea when our family will be changing, we’ve been mentioning it in conversations so that our friends and community won’t be totally taken aback when one day we show up somewhere as a family of four, instead of three.

Across the board, people have been really supportive and excited for us, which is amazing. But one thing that has thrown me a bit is how often people ask me, “So, why did you decide to become foster parents?”

I understand that it’s a natural question. This isn’t the way most people build their families, and since it’s an opt-in situation, it makes sense that people want to know how we made the decision. But it still feels a little invasive to me every time. Because in our case the answer is a kind of muddy combination of always wanting to adopt, but not wanting to compete with people who can’t have a baby any other way, and not wanting to spend tens of thousands of dollars on the process. And once we started looking into fostering, and saw how much of a need there is for good foster families, it felt like something that we could and should do. Read the rest of this entry →

May 9 2014

Waiting in Limbo on The Last-Minute Adoption List

By at 10:05 am

cellphone-adoption

In college, Brian and I lived in a dorm which was known for one thing in particular: fire drills. Well, not exactly drills, more like people setting off the alarm in the middle of the night. For most of the first quarter, two or three times a week, approximately 600 of us would sleepily file onto the dark street in front of the building.

(Note to all college students: It is advised that you remove the pop tart from the foil before putting it in the microwave. Also, who microwaves a Pop Tart?)

After a few weeks of this, I created a routine before going to bed which consisted of setting out sweatpants, a jacket, shoes and keys so they would be easily accessible at 1 a.m. when the alarm was blaring. As I climbed into my little dorm bed, I would think, “I wonder if the fire alarm will go off tonight?” Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 17 2014

What Not To Say to Your Friend Who is Adopting

By at 7:00 pm

moses

I assume that I get this response more frequently because of my profession, but you would probably be shocked at how frequently I hear, “Just like Moses!” when I tell people that we are in the process of adopting. (Yes, Moses was adopted. Remember, mother places him in basket, daughter of the Pharaoh finds him, Moses’ mother nurses him and then he was raised in the palace as Pharaoh’s grandson before leaving to lead the Jewish people into Israel.)

We have all been there–when we don’t know what to say, we often say the wrong thing (and sometimes, the really wrong thing). And even though it is usually said with the right intentions, a verbal misstep can be not just awkward, but actually very painful. So here is some guidance on what not to say when you hear that someone is adopting: Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 11 2014

When Your Friend is Pregnant, Sometimes it Hurts

By at 2:13 pm

pregnant

“I’ve been reluctant to write this email and I keep putting it off.”

When you are not able to get pregnant and you get an email with that as the opening line, you know exactly what is coming.

“Even though I know you will be happy for us and excited, I know part of you will be sad. So I wanted to give you time to digest this on your own, rather than springing it on you in person. I know you are happy for us. I know that you are happy for so many people. But I also know it’s hard and don’t expect this kind of news to be easy.”

When my friend of 20 years told me she was pregnant, I felt a lot of things, including true happiness for her. But what I felt most was appreciation that she too was navigating her own balancing act. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 26 2014

Dear Media People: Quit Using the Word “Adoption”

By at 10:39 am

brangelina

Dear journalists, scriptwriters, and other members of the media: I officially revoke your ability to use the word “adoption,” in any of its related forms.

The lead story on CNN recently (which was not about adoption in any way, shape or form) pointed out not once, but twice, that a couple adopted their son. In one instance, they use the line, “…[She] carried him out of the hospital in her arms, as ecstatic as if she’d carried and birthed him herself.” A sensation, indeed: imagine, a woman whose name is on her own child’s birth certificate is over-the-moon at the anticipation of parenting her actual son. A banner day for mothers everywhere, to be sure.

Also on repeat, a show named “Bubble Guppies” on Nick Jr. (listen, I know it’s not exactly Masterpiece Theater, but sometimes I need to do things like take a shower) described adoption (in this case, the adoption of a puppy…or a mer-puppy, to be specific) as “giving someone a nice place to live.” If that’s all it takes, then I’m going to skip the college fund and start vacuuming more often.

(As a side note: While I applaud a marketing-job-well-done by the animal rights industry, until a cat is able to go to court and sign away her or his parental rights, there is absolutely no connection between pet ownership and parenthood.) Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 24 2014

Are We Expecting? Kind Of.

By at 10:25 am

diapers

Last week my partner and I wandered into a new cloth diaper store in our neighborhood. It has lots of cloth diapers, plastic covers, slings, and basically all the things you need if you’re planning to be a hippie parent. We were there to purchase dryer balls, but my partner started asking the woman who owns the store about various cloth diaper services in the city, and she looked at me. “Are you expecting?”

I had a brief moment of not knowing how to answer. At all. My mind went completely blank. Finally I regained the ability to speak. “Kind of. I’m not pregnant, but we’re being certified to be foster parents. So we’re hoping to have a baby sometime in the next few months, but we don’t really know when.”

“That’s great! Congratulations!” the woman said, looking as surprised as I felt. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 29 2014

Secret Pinterest, Open Adoption

By at 10:07 am

pinny

Pinterest, I like you. I really do. But seriously, it took you how long to realize that people wanted (and needed) secret boards?

When I joined Pinterest two years ago, I was in the midst of transitioning out of infertility treatments and into the world of domestic, open adoption. With all due respect to all of our amazing doctors and nurses, infertility treatments are absolutely bananas. It does not matter what you do or don’t do; they are emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially draining.

So, in order to bring some semblance of normalcy to the proceedings, I began to peruse the Pinterest “Kids” category (and of course, immediately found hundreds of things I wanted to create, find, sew, bake, purchase, and remember for when we had children).

The challenge is that only a handful of people knew about the infertility treatments, let alone that we were trying to get pregnant. When we did tell people, it was sad. It felt like a discussion about failure. And there was a lot of crying. Rumors online suggested that secret Pinterest boards were on the way, but in the interim, I worked out a ridiculous two-pronged system which consisted of taking screen shots and emailing links to myself. I did consider starting a second account with a pseudonym, but I didn’t because I knew that one day I would want everything in one place–because one day, I would be a mom. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 30 2013

Nesting For My Fifth Child… Who’s Already Born

By at 10:00 am

shutterstock_148691663

Jordana Horn recently wrote about nesting before the birth of her fifth child. We are also awaiting our fifth child, and this nesting period is different from our previous ones for several reasons. Most significantly, our fifth child is already born. He’s waiting for us in an orphanage on the other side of the world.

After our fourth child was born, darling husband and I were fairly sure that we were done procreating. We were less sure that our family was complete. Since my husband was adopted, adoption seemed to be a natural way to grow our family. A small part of me also hoped that by choosing adoption I might avoid some of the worry that I experienced during each of my pregnancies.

Parents in the adoptive community sometimes talk about the similarities between pregnancy and waiting to adopt. Personally, I have definitely experienced moodiness, anxiety, and weight gain again as I wait for this fifth child. I have also, once again, felt the impact of generations of superstition. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 1 2013

After Years of Infertility, I’m Losing My Faith in God

By at 3:33 pm

where was god?

Well, that was a colossal failure. Months of planning, 10s of thousands of dollars, two trips to Cyprus, a really promising early pregnancy–and we have nothing. We have no donor embryos left. Our last cycle resulted in my seventh pregnancy, with fantastic early signs, but I miscarried at six weeks. We’d already been tested for every cause of recurrent loss, and honestly believed the genetically tested donor embryos were the answer.

Apparently not.

What do we do now? Nothing has changed on the adoption front (we are still on the years-long waiting lists for domestic adoption here in Israel, and international adoption remains out of reach financially). We could try a gestational carrier, but both in Israel and abroad the costs and logistical hurdles just seem insurmountable.

For now we wait. We are in shock. We really thought this approach, and this pregnancy, would bring us at least one baby (and possibly a sibling in a few years). Read the rest of this entry →

May 22 2013

Interview with Interesting Jews: Author & Sexuality Educator Cory Silverberg

By at 3:15 pm

what makes a baby cory silverbergWhat Makes a Baby, a picture book “about where babies come from,” is written and illustrated in a way that is sensitive to children and parents who found one another via the traditional route (i.e. sex!), or those families which came to be via reproductive technologies, surrogacy, or adoption. The pictures and language are gender neutral and the message is one of inclusivity and openness.

I got a chance to catch up with author Cory Silverberg, who is also a sexuality educator, over email recently, and asked him a few of our–ahem–burning questions.

OK. So what, exactly, does your work as a sexuality educator entail?

I write about sexuality each week for About.com. Part of my time is spent teaching and leading workshops, mostly for professionals and sometimes for regular people who want to know more about some aspect of their sexuality. Read the rest of this entry →

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