It's hard for me to fathom that as of 12 years ago today, a judge declared me a mom.  Life since then has radically changed, mostly for the best.  Some of you will read and declare with eye brows raised, mostly? Yes mostly.  There are things that I miss about being care free and not having to worry constantly about another human being other than myself.  The staying up all night and sleeping all day, drinking and taking off for the weekend.  You think that would have ended when my thirties went out the door but I was still doing it up until my son came into my life.  Would I trade and go back to a more carefree time, hell no. From the moment that I signed up for adoption I knew what I wanted to be.  I knew that my life would change but the difference of someone telling you that and the reality are far different.  

The question for me was not if I was going to adopt but when.  I knew from the age of 22 there would be no "biologically" born children for me.  I was sad at first and it kept me out of quite a few relationships. Perhaps it is why I got so wild in my 20's, I just didn't care enough about a single relationship if I couldn't produce anything from it.  Hmmm, food for fodder but not here, I can psychoanalyze that later.  My twenties was spent in bars, clubs and some pretty wild parties.  Finally in my mid to late twenties I started back to school by adding collage to the mix.  After a few years and speeding my way through as many dates as I could, I transferred to a four year university.  There I meet friends that I still have to this day.  Life was pretty good and had begun to slow down, I was thirty by then.  I still could not make any lasting relationships but didn't think anything about it.  After graduating from collage, getting a job at another university and working 12-17 hours per day, I knew there had to be more to life.  At 40 I decided on two things, I would run a marathon that year and I would start the adoption process.  I did both.  In June of that year I ran the Rock n' Roll marathon, one of the most painful experiences of my life!  Good lord, even with all the training, it felt like being hit by a train.  I swore to never do it again, that ended up being a lie but again that's another story.  I also started the adoption process  before my 40th birthday. A few months later I was on a two year waiting list for a child under 2 years old.  What??  Here is where the timeline gets fuzzy for me (give me a break it's been thirteen years and 2 computers).  Friends of mine also decided on adopting and were going to a country that at the time I had never heard of, Kazakhstan. They were adopting a little girl when I first heard from them about it (they ended up adopting a girl and a boy).  My friend talked to me about the process but at the time the university paid horribly (they still do) and there was no way I thought, that I could afford to do an international adoption.  Yes, I had looked into a domestic non county adoption and they were even more expensive.  Remember this was actually 13 years ago.  My friend encouraged me some more and I finally went to a meeting.  It was there the agency gave ideas on raising money, also that all the money would not be paid up front, you would pay as you go.  Less than a month later I had signed the initial papers and I was on my way.  

It was a year of highs and lows.  Going through the process of adoption besides the money stress, can be stressful and joyful.  The first 6 months were one of just getting the home study, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork and more paperwork.  I think you get the picture.  Finally the day before Thanksgiving of that year, I turned in the entire notarized, apostilled and stamped giant pile of paperwork to my agency.  Please remember also that to that time I had not chosen or seen a child.  This was all prep work.  However that day, as I handed over the weight of at least 10 trees, there was a picture print out of a baby boy on the directors desk.  I told him what a handsome boy and the family getting him would be lucky.  The director raised his eyebrows and said "He will probably be your referral, the family that he was referred to now wants a girl".  Instant tears flooded my eyes.  The director said that he needed to wait a few days and would have the answer.  Two days later he called to offer the referral of the little baby that I had seen.  The picture was of a little guy looking wistfully at the camera and was perhaps 7 months old.  You cannot accept the referral right away as they want you to wait for the medical so that you can review it.  I had no doubt in my mind and knew that nothing in the medical report would change my mind, and it didn't.  He had been born a blue baby as the umbilical cord had been wrapped around his neck but according to the report had begun to breath on his own.  It didn't matter.  I couldn't get his wistful little look out of my noggin.  On December 10th I accepted him as my referral.  Now the painful wait started.  I wouldn't travel until Mid April of the next year.

Traveling to Kazakhstan was actually quite easy if a long trip.  The travel went very smoothly and some 27 hours from take off we landed at 3 in the morning.  We, another woman was traveling with me as she was adopting from the same orphanage, were meet at the airport and whisked off to a hotel.  The next day we loaded onto a train and traveled to Taraz.  There we were once again met by our guides and whipped off to our hotel.  The next 2 1/2 weeks were spent meeting with our babies twice a day for playtime and cuddling. Between times we explored the town we were in, met with locals and were invited to eat with locals. The hotel was beautiful and the food was different but flavorful.  If it wasn't for the stress of why I was there it would have been a wonderful vacation.  Finally the day arrived to go to court.  We dressed in our best and went in to court to see the judge.  I wish that I could remember more but I was so nervous and all of the proceedings were in the Kazakh language.  Near the end the judge rose and speaking in broken English said that she would go out and deliberate on her choice.  It was about 5 minutes that seemed like an eternity, that she came back in the room and asked me to stand and come forward.  She then read a statement, that I cannot remember, but at the end she put out her hand and said "Let me be the first to congratulate you on being a new mom".  I broke into tears at that point and she just kept rubbing my back and asking if they were happy tears.  I could only nod my head yes.   That last year had weighed so heavy on me and the knowledge that I had finally reached motherhood was overwhelming.  I was a mom, holy crap.  It had finally happened.  The thought filled me with fear and extreme elation all at the same time.  Good God what if I screwed this up?  Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap I was a mom.  I wanted to run and hide to quiver under a rock and at the same time stand on the tallest building with my mom cape billowing behind me, hands on hips just to show the world that "I WAS MOM".  Luckily the I am mom won out though I never did get a cape. Ever once in a while the quiver still runs up my spine thinking that I could still screw this up really really badly.  

So far, he's a good kid.  Today is our Familyversary as we call it.  This year we celebrated early by spending it at the El Capitan Theatre watching 29 hours of Marvel movies which capped off with the new Age of Ultron.  Yes, I kept my son out of school for two days so that we could do this together and yes, we had a hell of a good time.  I look back now to that day, that wonderfully stressful, joy filled, anguish and love filled day, that a woman that I did not know, would never see again but granted me a whole new life.  I look back on that day and just to tell the story still brings tears to my eyes.  That day, April 28th, will always be one of the highest moments of my life, so far nothing else has come close.

No this is not sideways, this is how high he can swing, see the trees that are blurry under his bum.
Above all else, Enjoy life.

It's the one you have,
I hear it all the time "Oh you're an adoptive mom", um no.  I'm a mom.  Short, simple and to the point.  I don't say to you, "Oh, you squirted one out your vajayjay, you're a biological mom".  Yes, I missed his birth, yes I missed his first birthday but really those in the long run don't matter.  I have been through the 5 childhood fevers and rashes, his ear infections, his surgeries, his skinned knees, his first steps, the shooting cheerios out his nose, his first day of school.  The dancing in the rain to catch rain drops on our tongues and the muddy shoe prints across the floor.  The first time he said “I love you mommamom (not a typo, that’s what he used to call me).  I will be there for his first time driving, his first love, his first loss.  I hold him when he cries and hug him when he's happy.  We play video games together even though I suck at it.  He knows it, he doesn't care.  I'm the one who is tough on homework and bedtime.   I make him clean his room and fumigate it at least once a month.  There is nothing “adoptive” about any of that.  Some of you might get angry and declare yourself an “adoptive parent” and that’s ok. I am only speaking about myself and my son.  To adopt is to acquire and yes that is how I come to have my son but it was only a moment in time.  The adoption process was only a process.  From the moment I saw his face, from the moment he was handed to me, from the moment he first smiled at me, he was my son and I his mom.

We hear it all the time in the media, "So and so is survived by his two biological children and his adoptive children".  What??  Why the need to differentiate?  Do you think Mister So and So sat at the head of the dinner table and said "You there, my biological children may begin eating, when they are done you the adoptive ones can finish up and then clean this place spick and span".  Can you tell this irritates me?  When my son was little, he didn't pay attention to such idiocy.  Now at 13 he pays attention to the news and is also irritated by it.  He too would like to know why it makes such a difference.  Who cares?  Is there someone out there secretly keeping count? Think how the children must feel when they are segregated out from the family.  I am disheartened everytime I hear it.  I have been lucky, most in my family were happy with me going through the adoption process.  I say most as there were a few dissenters.  When I brought him home however it was as though he was born to the family.  He is us and we are him.  He has his uncles tendency to get overly aggravated, he has his grandfathers wit, he has one of his grandmothers sense of right and his other grandmothers love of small things and he has his mothers sarcastic wit.  We are family which means we love each other no matter who they are or where they came from.  Family is not blood, family is bound by love, anger, passion, glee, joy, sadness, pain, and truth.

Another problem that I have are the questions that we get.  I mean really, stop and think before asking a question.  

When someone asks me “Oh when did you adopt?”  Nice question, no problem.  

Me, “I brought him home when he was 13 months old”.  

Them, “Oh really, does he still speak his native language”.   

Me, hmmmm, what?  

Them “I mean, it must be hard for him having to think about speaking english”.  

Me, hmmmm, what?  

How about one of my favorites  

Them, “He was born in a muslim country so what are you going to do when he wants to go over and fight with them?”  

Me, what?

Them, “How far behind in school is he?”

Me, “Excuse, why would you think that?”

Them, “Well english is not his first language”

Me, what?

I know that people are just curious. Please though stop, think and ask yourself if it was your child, what would you say.

So why write this now, two reasons.  One, there is a wonderful posting going around on Facebook about what a mother and her two daughters have been through and the stupid ass things that people say to them. Some of the questions were funny while others are just plain hurtful.  The second, is a video that I saw the other day that was actually quite good and made me laugh and think. The guys at Cyndago made a wonderful and humorous video starring Markiplier, but the message is really at the end of the video.  It was great to see (cough, cough) young people caring about and wanting to make a difference about adopting and attitudes towards adoption.  Attitudes do need to change.  If we can’t change the elders perhaps changing the younger ones will be more successful.  Ask yourself, what is family?  Do you like  yours?  How do you want your loved ones treated?  All I’m asking really is to consider the feelings of others.

Neither my son nor I ever think about what brought us together as a family.  Every once in a while, I will bring up where he was born and ask if he is curious.  His answer is always the same "No, I have a family".

He's right.  

We are family.

Enjoy life, it's the one you have.

(ps:  you may have read this before, I updated it so that it matched what I posted on BlogHer, 20Apr15)