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Dating the “Natural” Way

For some people, they want to “give it some time” and try the “natural way” before they consider adoption, IVF, surrogacy, etc. Thats how I feel about online dating. I think I’ve finally reached a point where I have a good idea what I want. I could narrow the field more easily now. I’ve dated every race, all educational levels, and men with a wide-range of careers. I am pretty open-minded about trying a relationship on and seeing what works. Recently though I’ve realized that there are certain educational levels that match me better, and yes, even a race that I prefer. You like tall men; I like black men. Gasp all you want, but I think we need to be real about such things. It isn’t really the look; I prefer that culture. I’m still not entirely closing doors, but I can focus my search.

As a single mom, there isn’t a lot of opportunity to meet single men. I am certainly not barhopping. Babysitter time is precious and not to he wasted on a lame first date. Online dating makes sense right now, but I’m not ready to make the leap. On the other hand, I would love to have that kind of excitement again. So how long do I “try” before I seek fertility treatments for my love life?

Have you tried online dating? What pushed you into it? Do you have any tips for me?

I Said No

I have been avoiding this blog for awhile. It’s one of the reasons the content has been, well, not about adoption. I didn’t really want to share this with anyone, but something in me thinks it needs to be blogged. I actually wrote half of it before (in the afterglow of moving my blog back to WordPress and gaining lovely new followers – hi, you). Look, I’m already distracting… This isn’t easy to admit.

I turned down a referral. For those of you not in the adoption world, a referral is a child whose basic info is given to you as a potential child to adopt. I said no to a child. It’s still hard to believe that statement could be true. When I started the adoption process, I thought I was open to so many special needs. Abuse? I have some experience with abused kids. HIV? Sure, I can dispense meds and find an awesome medical team. I hate the thought of any child being left without a family. I abhor the thought of a child being passed over for someone younger or cuter. I thought there was a child that needed me. I didn’t think I would even consider saying no.

After just a few weeks of waiting on a referral, the director of my adoption program called me to tell me about a young girl. I didn’t immediately say yes, and I wasn’t sure why. What was known about her story was enough to scare others away; wasn’t that the kind of child I had wanted? What we knew of her story I could manage. I actually had some related experience. It wasn’t that I’d gotten cold feet, but it took me about twelve hours to figure it out.

Although I hadn’t immediately said yes, I hadn’t said no either. I hadn’t said anything. The director of my adoption program told me to think about it, so I hadn’t had to say anything yet. I thought about the little girl. I thought, “she needs me; this girl should not be alone.” I thought about how her name was a variation of one of the names on my list. Wasn’t that a sign? I thought, “I can’t say no.” Then I thought about me, and realized I wasn’t really what she needed. Of the little I knew about this little girl, it struck me that she needed a lot of stability. It struck me that she needed a two parent household. Brother 2 was living with me though, so I could provide a father figure. We had determined we would figure out this beyond normal co-parenting arrangement. Something about the little I knew about her made me think that an uncle might actually be frightening. I rolled it around over and over. I felt good about saying no and felt bad that I felt good about saying no. It has never taken me so long to type out just a few words as I composed the email.

I said no because I didn’t think I was good enough for this child. I didn’t know enough (nor would we be able to) to determine if my home might actually exasperate her grief or fear. I am sure there are some who will think that it’s a convenient excuse or even rationalization to say no. It could be, but I feel solid enough in my intuition to open myself up to the trolls of the Internet. I’ve been guilty myself of thinking someone was just baby-shopping when they turned down a referral. I get that you may be judging me.

It was my first experience as a parent of not being enough. No matter how many books I read or classes I attended or professionals I consulted with, I could not prepare a home that could be all I thought that she deserved, that she needed. I could not give her a stable father. I wasn’t enough, and I could not prepare myself enough. The mom guilt would have been constant, but worse, my gut told me that she would thrive better in another home. I was afraid she would never fully feel safe here. The director of my adoption program did eventually tell me that another family – a two parent family – said yes to her almost immediately. I’m hoping I get to meet them at one of my agency’s events. I hope I get to see her thriving in the love of a two-parent family. While I will never be her mom or probably even an adult she knows well, I still think about her often and want for her to have all she could need and more than she could want. I want her to feel safe and loved and confident and happy and capable and important and so much more. I would have given her those things if I could have, but I don’t think I could have been enough on my own.

Hey, Jealousy

Told Abby on twitter that her post got me thinking in an unexpected way. I don’t have shame about being a single mom. In fact, I think those who discriminate or even pity us need to grow up and grow their minds. Some who know me who might discriminate probably give me a pass because I adopted. (They can still imagine that I did not have *cough* pre-marital sex). I get Abby’s desire for a partner, but I have S-man, and he is pretty amazing.

Maybe it wasn’t Abby’s post that spurred my heartache. Maybe it was Facebook. Right after reading Abby’s post, I had a bit of a perfect storm – PMS, some (clearly minor since I cannot recall) personal stress, and finding out S-man was going to be around even less frequently. The pièce de résistance was the start of wedding season on Facebook. I am truly very happy with S-man so rarely do I feel left out, and I can genuinely experience joy for friends embarking on the grand adventure of marriage. The wedding I attended that weekend was one of those scenarios. The wedding I saw on Facebook of one of the less than a handful of men I’ve dated as an adult with who I actually saw a potential relationship was not that scenario. I crushed hard on this guy who should not have been my type, and he seemed like real marriage material (clearly, I was right). There were never any hard feelings between us, so I suppose the crush never evaporated.

Today when I saw a marriage announcement of a friend who truly deserves every wonderful thing she has, who missed out on romance until much later in life, I hated that I was jealous. Jealous? Me? Of marriage? I think marriage is awesome, but I didn’t think it was something I wanted, at least not intensely enough to be jealous.

I am not opposed to marriage. There are certainly things about it that I desire. I don’t think my commitment issues started when the engagement of my youth ended disastrously. I think that came after the two major involvements I had afterwards. The point is I do have commitment issues, but not anything like S-man does. The therapist has helped me figure out the origins of his issues surrounding relationships, and I simply take him at face value. I don’t think any issues I have would hold me back from marrying him, but I’m not sure if it would be a good idea for him even if he thought he was over those things

But he’s pretty amazing. He is certainly not perfect. I don’t think he’ll ever learn to shut the cabinet doors. He couldn’t find his way out of a paper bag. He will be distant when he is stressed. But he is so good for me. He calms me. He balances me. He loves me. And I love him. I know where I stand, so I don’t need the title of marriage. I actually think I’d prefer a courthouse (well, the pastor’s office), so it isn’t the wedding planning either. So what do I do when I feel jealous? It isn’t that I question if I’m good enough. I don’t wonder where my life is going. I am ok if I am perpetually single with or without S-man (although I am sure I would have bad days without him or anyone else). Yet I am jealous, jealous of the grand statement of being chosen I believe. It isn’t the commitment because I know things can change….

Writing it isn’t helping me figure it out. Talk to me; what could be behind my jealousy when I feel like I have everything I need (and more) already? And what do I do with this stupid feeling?

*Posting now for Abby. I will add a picture soon.

**Also, today S-man has been amazingly supportive. Seriously, amazing. So please no hate on my boy just because his life experiences have made him hesitant to “commit”.

Single: The Modern Day Widow

I know this is long, but please stick with me…

In adoption, there are a lot of people quoting the verse in the Bible that states that we are called to care for the widows and the orphans. There are even some organizations like Both Hands who attempt to support both orphan care and widow care with creative fundraising events, yet their partner organization, lifesong for orphans, does not seem to recognize families that do not include both a mother and a father as adoption appropriate families. I wonder if they would consider a single woman living in a separate city from all of her family a widow?

Before I started the adoption process, I figured that fundraising would not be that difficult. I had heard story after story of families raising tens of thousands of dollars in grants, gifts, and fundraising. Surely, a single woman on a single income would be eligible for assistance. I knew there would be some grants that would not be open to me, but that just meant less applications I hoped. I didn’t grow frustrated as I crossed organization after organization off the list after reading their requirements, but I did get frustrated when the curt or belittling rejection letters and emails started rolling in. As I dug deeper, all I could find were forums stating that they had never heard a single story of a single person receiving a single dollar in grant money. Ouch.

I think I have a pretty healthy perspective on the church. I have several ministers in my family. I have taken enough Bible, Religion, and Theological courses and held enough positions in churches or church groups to fill a resume. One of my best friends as a teen was a pastor’s kid and one of my college roommates was a missionary kid. I have seen how the church has hurt people and destroyed lives because the church is made up of other people. I have also seen how the church has made powerful, positive impact on people’s lives.

Once I moved out on my own, it was difficult to find a church locally that could speak to me. The people were often sweet, but they either came on too strong (frightening this introvert with their small talk) or ignored me completely because they did not know what to say or what to do with me. Although, they did almost always say Welcome. I get it, it is often easier to talk to kids than adults, and parents generally value people and places that value their kids. My primary excuse for never finding a new church home was that I often disagreed with the exegesis or had studied it myself more than the preacher and did not feel challenged. I am sure the therapist would argue that I was never made to feel a part of any church. I wasn’t a part of the church family because I didn’t have a family.

It was in a church that I learned that people generally disappear from the church after high school, reappearing about the time they get married or start having children. It a chicken-egg problem. Do young adults not come to church because there isn’t a place for them or is there not a place for young adults in the church because they do not come? I never blamed the church in general because I did not fit, but I didn’t try to make a space for myself either. I am an introvert.

When I first moved out on my own in a city away from all immediate and extended family members, there were times that I felt alone and times that I felt that maintaining a household, albeit a small apartment, was really more than one person could do. My parents had married before they had left college; there was much that I was experiencing that they simply could not understand. That was when I first started contemplating the idea that maybe I was a Biblical widow.

In Biblical times, people married even earlier than my parents did. Women lived at home with their family until they were married. I don’t recall many stories about Old Maids in the Bible. In fact, dads like Laban made sure that the older sisters like Leah were married off, one way or another. The reason that widows were such a social concern was because Biblical women did not have the same rights as the modern day woman and could not fully care for themselves. I’m glad that I can choose my mate or whom I do not want to marry. I am glad that I can work and vote and purchase property.

Paying bills, cleaning house, working full time, caring for kids, mowing the lawn, planting a garden, and maybe a little advocacy work… it’s more than any one person can do, at least well (and I don’t like not doing things well). Now I can afford to pay someone to help with at least one of those things. My brothers are often around to help now. I’m in a much better place, but I also know that my income is above average currently. Most of my single friends agree, it’s hard work to do it ‘on your own’, simply in the organization and tasks to do (forget about all that emotional mumbo jumbo).

The rest of the world probably doesn’t interpret the Biblical widow the same way that I do. There are days that I find some irony in having a family that includes at least one widow and at least one orphan. Most of the time, now, I don’t consider myself a widow. I have help here pretty consistently. Yet, there are days when I experience discrimination unexpectedly that do make me feel like a widow all over again. While the church may not care for these modern day widows, I think that single adults, especially single parents, are a population that could use our caring and assistanceSo what single woman’s lawn are you going to rake this fall?

Fill In The Blank Friday

I am trying something new today. Lauren at the little things we do has a weekly fill in the blank friday post, which I stumbled on by following another blog. Although I am blogging for another reason, my main goal on twitter (and secondary goal on my blog) is to connect with more moms, single moms, and adoptive moms because this job is tough and there are too many haters in the world. I am hoping this is a fun way to get to know a few and let you get to know me. Let me know what you think.

Fill In The Blank Friday

1. I am looking forward to… Can I just say see #6? Ok, in addition, I am looking forward to getting my house back to normal after all of these renovations and unexpected complications.

2. Something kind of embarrassing that I still love anyway is… cooking with bacon grease – there I said it.

3. My favorite car is… a Maserati, which I will never own. I can appreciate a nice car, but for me personally, my vehicle is primarily about getting from here to there predictably. I utilize public transportation as much as possible. Once, I walked by a Maserati and actually thought “that car is hot” – not something I have thought about any other car.

4. If I could pick one type of weather to live with for the rest of my life it would be… sunny between 70-90 degrees. I like it bright and warm. My heart smiles just thinking about it.

5. My favorite thing to do after a bad/stressful day is… get a good hug and/or pour a glass of wine. Running is a good option, but not my first line defense when it’s been REALLY bad. On normal stressful days, I just need to cook a good meal and take a walk with someone to get back on track.

6. This weekend… I will have dinner with one of my best friends and mommy mentors. We are working out the when and where, but I cannot wait.

7. If I were a color I’d be… like Lauren, I took online quizzes to determine that the correct answer is green because… I am calm, contemplative, and nurturing according to the quiz, but I think it fits.

Like it, love it, or think it’s lame? If you participate, comment here so I can find your list too. Now I have to figure out how to let Lauren know I am participating.

Clarification: No Exclusion Here

I want to be clear that I don’t think that I’m better than you are because I waited to start a family. Wanting to parent but feeling like the responsible thing to do was to wait was kind of like a scab that people kept ripping off with exclusionary suggestions that I could not understand or my experiences were not good enough because I did not have a child in my home full time. My years as a nanny weren’t enough to join in the conversation. Being the go to caregiver when a family member would travel for weeks at a time was still just babysitting, despite legal paperwork that named me as guardian. So often I felt I had to explain why, even as a single women, completing an education and establishing a career, I was not parenting “my own child”.

For me it wasn’t about infertility (that I know of), but I know many others who have felt the sting of comments and questions from others about parenting. As excluded as I felt, I am sure those suffering from infertility felt even more devalued and vulnerable without the defense of responsible choices that I tried to use. I still find it interesting that I felt a need to defend myself, yet apparently Americans are most skeptical about single mother families.

I don’t want that old defensiveness to in any way sound like judgement for those who were able to or forced to start families earlier than I did. Clearly, single moms need to stick together. Whether you are young or old, single or married, working or staying at home, if you are trying to do the best for your kids, I consider us on the same team. If you want to parent, are trying to get pregnant, or are in the process of adoption, you are likely consciously considering the best interests of your future children and doing research on what is best for kids and will be best for your kids. Of course you have something to add to the conversation. I have felt the sting of exclusion and want to ensure that I am not unintentionally doing the same to anyone else.

Single Family Discrimination

Within one week, I read that Americans are more skeptical about single mother families than families with two gay parents And China is once again allowing single women to adopt (although only heterosexual women). It hit especially close to home after being encouraged by agency staff not to pursue a specific adoption program as a single woman, even though the country’s laws allow for single women to adopt. More than that and more important than my feelings, my heart hurts because this means that even as I have eliminated exclusion from some by officially joining the mom club, my child will still be impacted by discrimination.

I have and continue to create opportunities for my child to have relationships with strong  male role models, including the brother that has established residency with us. I know the fact that I’m not yet married will have an effect on my child, but I am doing my best to mediate that and turn it into a positive.

I am sad that my child who must already deal with racism and the complications of a multiracial family will also be forced to deal with societies discrimination against me. I don’t even like dealing with the not a part of a couple syndrome most of the time! It seems so unfair for a child who must already process not having her biological family to also deal with others’ perception that her adoptive family is not good enough. It’s a good thing we celebrate being a bit beyond normal.

I am thrilled that I no longer have to deal with “you’re not a mom yet” or “it’s different when its your own kid” or other such belittling statements. Boy was that a pet peeve when I was trying to make the most responsible decision about when to bring a child into my home! I wanted to make sure I could both support my child financially and dedicate the time necessary to be an active, in-tune parent. I haven’t yet heard anyone suggest that an adopted child is not the same as a birthed child. I anticipate that one won’t bug me as much. What will the therapist say about that?

So now I’m wondering if I should buy one of those costume jewelry diamond rings? Perhaps that would save my child a few unnecessary looks and comments. Advice?

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