Friday, March 14, 2014

Don't worry, I'm Jewish

Kate and I constantly ask each other questions about what type of parents we'll be. Is there a family computer or do they each get a laptop. (Family computer.) Do they each get a cell phone? (Yes, a "dumb" phone.) Is texting at the table okay? (No.) What types of snacks do they get to eat? (Cut up fruits & veggies.)

But there are some questions that, despite our constant asking, will not have answers until our child arrives. What type of Jewish household will we be? What if our child doesn't want to have a conversion or a bar/bat mitzvah? What if they don't want a Hebrew name? Despite all our planning, we can never answer these questions and worries, but it doesn't keep us from asking.

Kate and I live a Jewish life, and that's part of the reason we yearn for a child. Our Shabbat table feels empty without another place setting. Challah tastes better when the small hands I love knead the dough. Purim would be more colorful with a child in costume.

We have been very clear with the adoption agency that we want a child who is comfortable being Jewish. But at the end of the day, a child consenting to live in a Jewish household is different than that child actually living in a Jewish household.

I am trusting that when we share the beauty of Jewish ritual with our children, they'll find something valuable in it too. Worrying about it will do no good.

Yet. I continue to worry about how I can make my adopted children feel welcomed in a new community that may feel very strange for them. Our children may look significantly different than us, with straight hair, darker skin, or eyesight that needs no correction. They won't know the Hebrew prayers, and won't believe us when we say that we're all still learning it too.

A friend of mine says there's no need to worry twice. You worry when it's useful, but not again. My hope is that in identifying my fears and worries, we'll be able to find solutions. We've set up a meeting with our rabbi, who will hopefully give us insight on how to introduce an adopted child into Judaism, and connect us to others who have dealt with this sort of situation before.

We're lucky to live in our Jewish community, a welcoming community full of love. I am excited to introduce our children to our wonderful, supportive community, and believe that our community will adopt our children just as much as we will.

Shabbat Shalom!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

You want what???

I married into a big family. Kate's mom is one of seven children. One of the best things about marrying Kate is her family - they're fantastic and huge, especially compared to my small family. (I have one cousin, if you count both sides of my family.) They're loving and wonderful, and I can't wait to have a large immediate family of my own.

For a year and a half Kate tried to get pregnant, a monthly, expensive roller coaster where you wonder if your body is portraying symptoms of pregnancy or PMS. Kate wanted to grow her own baby, but I've always wanted to adopt. (A watermelon out of my vagina? No thank you.) When Kate failed to get pregnant, we said we'd wait until I was done with law school to start the adoption process, but I've never been a very patient person, especially when it comes to things that tug at my heart. (Kate and I were engaged three months after we started dating.)

It's my first year of law school and it's awful. I'll finish, but I need something more than the future promise of a family to motivate me to continue this B.S. So we started the adoption process, and I can't wait for a child.

I've always thought that babies looked like little aliens. They act like ones too. They don't understand English, are new to gravity, and make noises I hate. I've always enjoyed "older" children more, and that's the type of kid(s) we'll be looking at.

As we've broken the news with family, their reaction has been mixed. Family has asked why we don't want a baby. They've said it's safer, better to get an infant who hasn't experienced emotional loss yet. Some have said they wish we'd reconsider. Others ask why I don't try to get pregnant. Some are just silent to the happy news. Their lack of approval is hard, especially because it feels so obvious to me that adopting an older child is exactly what I want to do.

With an "older" child (we're talking school age here), I feel like I can better know what I'm getting into. Their personality has already developed in part (ready for some Jewish and parental molding!), I know what they've been through, they can communicate their feelings (or, at least, what happened at school), and they have interests I can relate to. A baby, on the other hand, can't tell you if they're going to be dull or smart, interested in drawing or shooting guns, if they'll hate living a Jewish life or will love it. Plus, if my life is any sort of an example, childhood loss can make you a better person. And all I want to do is give lots of love to a gazillion children.

It took us over two months to finish our huge stack of paperwork, draw an outline of every room in our home, create an emergency plan, solicit references, and it was such a relief to send off that stack of papers. We've enrolled in an adoption training, and we'll be in "search" for a child soon, we hope. Being in search, of course, just means waiting for the right child to come along, so that could take two days or two years, but it's exciting all the same. We're starting the process to have a child!