I'm going to say more, I think, about "hmmm..." below, but in the meantime, I was just emailing with a filmmaker I also met at that conference and thought I'd publicize both her completed film and her work in progress (to which you can contribute). It looks like a really great project, right up my ideological alley!
I have been reading a book by one of the folks I saw present at the adoption conference and I am loving it. It says all kinds of stuff I think. For those of you following along at home, it's Making Babies, Making Families by Mary Lyndon Shanley.
She is basically very pro-openness in adoption and very anti-anonymity in adoption and gamete "donation." She is also very anti-free-market policy in the exchange of human gametes (and surrogate gestation, too, I think).
One nice thing she does, rhetorically, is asks "what does policy/practice X tell us about what we think matters regarding families?" She also asks again and again whether children's or society's interests are served well by various policies/practices. And in her adoption section, she comes down very solidly in favor of putting most of the power about adoption placement decisions in the hands of mothers (by which I mean women who give birth to the children in question) rather than social workers, courts, professional organizations, etc. She would also give unmarried biological mothers more rights (though not 100%) than unmarried biological fathers in making adoption decisions and I think she's correct to do so.
I think that our personal, individual adoptions are ethical as far as that goes, but the longer and the more I think about these kinds of issues the less likely I think it is that I would be a parent if the world were the place I'd like it to be. Maybe. But quite possibly not. And certainly not to the children that are mine now.
Everyone said Nat would love Selina until Selina got big enough to steal her toys and crawl around in her space. But Selina isn't that big yet and Nat is already taunting her by putting a toy up for Selina to grab, then, if Selina touches it, grabbing it back and saying "No Selina, it's my turn!"
Tonight we were all cozied up in a chair together, watching the news and Selina's foot brushed Nat's leg. "No Selina, that's my leg!" Nat chided her. Then again in reference to her elbow and her arm. I told Nat that if everyone was going to sit on top of Mama Shannon at the same time, some touching would be inevitable.
But Nat is still sweet with Selina a lot, too. She calls her "Seena Babeena" and "Baby Sister" and "Sister." The other day, Selina was doing a baby stand-up on Cole's lap and holding her head up quite proudly and Nat applauded, "Good job, sister!" When Selina cries, Nat will say "Aww, what the matter, sister?" A few days ago I left the room for about 45 seconds and when I returned, Nat was trying to spoon-feed Selina some cashew butter left over on a plate from Nat's breakfast. I had to deliver a stern reprimand about only grown-ups feeding the baby after rushing Selina to the kitchen to swab out her mouth with wet paper towels and pray she wasn't allergic to cashews (no reaction--not that time, anyway). But I think Nat meant well. I think. While I was busy swabbing, Nat turned her attentions to a doll whose face was covered with cashew butter when I returned.
When Selina came home, I had a chat with Aunt Nancy about how now I would find out more about what "babies" are like, versus what Nat is like. I realize it's kind more that I'm finding out what Nat and Selina are like, but the similarities and differences are still interesting.
So far, Selina, like Nat, loves to be held, slung, wrapped, Bjorned and otherwise carried. Like Nat, she prefers to sleep with people, but unlike Nat, she is not settling happily into sleeping alone in her hammock on a predictable time schedule. By this time, Nat was on a fairly regular sleeping and eating schedule and by six months (Selina is about 4.5) she was on an unshakable one. Nat would eat exactly 4 oz exactly every four hours. She took a 10 am-12 and a 2 pm-4 pm nap every single day without fail. She did that until well after she started solids, until I forcibly night weaned her by refusing the bottle at 2 am when she was ten months old.
Selina is pretty unpredictable. She sometimes eats 4 oz of formula. Sometimes she polishes off a 6.5 oz. bottle and I wonder how much more she would have wanted. I never know how to fill them for her maximum happiness and the least waste. She sometimes naps and sometimes doesn't. That is, of course she sleeps during the day, but often it's in snatches here and there and almost never in her hammock, though I got lucky a couple of days in a row here. Sometimes she wakes to eat at 11 pm or 1 am and sometimes she eats at 7:30 pm, goes to bed and sleeps soundly until 6 am. (That would be a good habit to get into, of course, but she only does it occasionally.) Basically, she's guaranteed to take a good long nap only if I wrap her on me. And then she'll do the two-hour morning nap or the two-hour afternon nap. But in her bouncy seat or the hammock, it's a crap shoot. Nights, if she does wake up in the middle, she's done sleeping on her own. I can fight it and keep getting up every 15-45 minutes to bounce the hammock and stick her binky in her mouth or I can kick Cole onto the couch and put Selina in bed with me and she's happy until 6 or 6:30.
What I like is the "happy until 6 or 6:30" part. I don't like sleeping with her because I just don't sleep well with her in the bed and Cole has to go on the couch because the bed just isn't big enough for me not to lay there all night worrying that we're going to smother her. Fortunately, Selina doesn't insist on sleeping on me. She's happy enough to sleep beside me. But still. I don't sleep so much like this, myself.
But all this is really just to say that as cuddly as Nat was and still is, Selina is, if possible, even cuddlier. I think that's just dumb luck, though. I don't believe all babies are this cuddly. I do think all babies probably prefer to stick as near to people as they can though.
I am starting to think that maybe we will not use a crib for Selina like we did for Nat when she outgrew the hammock. I think I might just get another twin futon and put it on the floor in what will be the girls' shared room. Then they can crawl into bed with each other if they like. As long as Selina is big enough and mobile enough by then to get away from Nat if she wants to, a sibling bed might work well for my cuddly girls. Anyone out there do a sibling bed?
Speaking of crawling, that's another difference. Nat loathed tummy time. She would not tolerate it for 2 seconds and screamed bloody murder the whole time. Selina had 30 minutes (!) of tummy time today, next to me on the floor while I worked on the laptop beside her. She kicks and coos and grins and laughs at the toys hanging just over her head out of reach and tries to move from here to there. Nat never crawled until long after she walked. Until she was eleven months old, I could sit her in the middle of a floor, run to the bathroom and return to find her right where I left her. Selina is going to be a crawler for sure and possibly quite soon. She is itchin' to crawl.
Selina also loves to sing. Nat is just now starting to sing along with me when I do lullabyes at night (or "bedtime songs" as we call them). Selina is already singing along. Her face is all smiles and round little toothless "oh!"s in various musical pitches while I sing "Amazing Grace." It almost doesn't work to put her to sleep because she's so worked up and excited about singing. But I keep doing it anyway, because, duh, how cute!
Last week was the 4 month check up and Selina came in at 13lbs, 14 oz, up to 50th %ile for weight from last month's 12th. She's still low--in the 6th %ile--for height. The doctor told me she would need to catch up in height or we should worry.
"Oh, she's probably just going to be short" I blithely answered.
"Oh no, she can't be this short," the doctor tried again "at this rate, she'd only be about five feet at adulthood." (Mind you, the doctor is only about 5'3" herself.)
"Yes," I said, "her mother told us she was five feet tall, but when I met her I was thinking she was probably closer to 4' 10". And Selina's father is only 5'7".
"Oooooh..." said the doctor making a note (perhaps: "all adopted babies are not completely unknowable biological mysteries from nowhere.").
Ha! My girl is perfectly healthy. If just about perfectly round. She's a little round ball of baby sweet enough to eat up with a spoon!
Our panel was very well received. It was like adoption summer camp except colder. We had a terrific mix of academic and non-academic, first and adoptive parents (one of the best mixes at the whole conference) on the panel and in the audience, which leant itself to fabulous discussion after the panelists read their work.
Now I've got two new articles brewing in my brain that need homes and time to get written. If only my desire for sitting and thinking and reading and writing wasn't in such (slightly losing) competition with my desire to hold my babies while they're young enough to let me! It looks like chiropractor's advice aside, the baby wrap is coming back out this week...
I have a friend who is working on a magazine feature article about adoption. She is particularly interested in the process by which adoptive parents decide what kind of adoption to pursue. If you'd like to read her interview questions with no pressure to continue to participate, please send me your name and email and I'll pass them on to her. All members of the "triad" are invited to respond!