Sunday, January 16, 2005

We're Moving

Fits & Starts is moving...come over and see what all the fuss is about at our new address. Please update your bookmarks and links.

We out.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Introducing WTF?!

Tonight is the first installment of a new segment on this blog I like to call WTF?!* Rather than explaining the kinds of posts that will be filed under WTF?! (it's that whole "show don't tell" thing they taught us in creative writing), I'll just go ahead and get started.

Ok.**

The entire Fits Family guest-starred at our adoption agency the other night to talk to prospective adoptive couples. When the floor was opened up to questions from the live studio audience, a somber-looking gentleman asked if we had reason to believe that the children were involved in some sort of baby trafficking operation. As in, "Did you have any reason to believe that the children had been involved in some sort of baby trafficking operation?"

Um, WTF?!

I looked straight at him and said, "With all due respect, you have GOT to be fucking kidding me." Then I grabbed my adorable baby, threw a juice box at the guy's face for dramatic effect, and hightailed it out of there.

It didn't really go down like that. The woman who had adopted from China took that question and I just sat there thinking what a bizarre question it was to ask, particularly in that forum. But seriously, WTF?!


*I was going to call it, YHGTBFKM! (the acronym for You Have Got To Be Fucking Kidding Me!) but it doesn't have the same cache and reader recognition as WTF?!
**Obligatory throat-clearing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Quote Unquote

Flipping the channels today, I saw a clip of some reality TV show. It was a confessional, and though I have no idea what the guy was talking about, I need to quote him. He said, in earnest: "I'm a little insulted that someone would question my stupidity..."

That's verbatim folks. Note to stupid reality guy: You should be insulted when someone questions your intelligence, not your stupidity. Unless you're too stupid to know that, in which case you REALLY would be insulted by someone questioning your stupidity. That's all you have, after all.

***

In another, unrelated story, has anyone watched the new "critically acclaimed" NBC show Committed? And of those people, has anyone noticed that the lead actress has stolen the Bubble character from Absolutely Fabulous? And not very well, I might add.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

To Have and Have Snot

It's been a little over a month now that H. has come home. Today is our first Saturday at home with nothing to do and all day to do it. The three of us are recovering from our colds/fevers, and my obsession with my baby's snot is waning. MucusWatch (TM) is somehow not as fun on day 5 as it was on day 2. We've gone through two boxes of tissues, 25 nose drops, 13 Ricola (not for baby, of course), two cartons of OJ, and I have been slimed by snot-boy more times than I care to recall. So we are ready for a day like today, when the rain pours incessantly and keeps us inside, where it's warm and we are free to enjoy each other's company in between sneezes.

H. is a much different boy than the one we met a few days after Thanksgiving in a boxy apartment in Seoul. We had received H's referral with several photos of him at 2 months old back in September. As an adoptive parent, this is the motherload (no pun intended), the moment that makes it real: there is a baby, and he's waiting for you. We clung to all the pieces of information about him as if our lives depended on it. We studied his photos; our fingers traced the lines of his face, the thick tufts of his black hair standing straight up. We wondered about him in the morning and at night, we woke from sleep thinking about him. Who was he? Who would he be? What did he smell like? Was he sleeping that very moment or out in his stroller with his foster mother, seeing things for the very first time? As much as I would like to say we could envision all these things clearly, it was one-dimensional. We knew what he looked like, we knew his name, but it was hard to know more than that. A couple months later we received more pictures. Here he was smiling. There he was sticking out his tongue. On his tummy with his head up straight, offering up a million-watt smile for the camera. This was more, but it still wasn't enough. Thoughts turned to how much he was growing, the "firsts" he had without us, would he still seem like a baby when we met him? Still, we felt we knew him. We felt close.

When we finally met him, it wasn't as we thought it would be. In our minds, it was going to be this huge moment, the one in the movie where the orchestra swells and the audience wipes their eyes with Kleenex. Instead, it all happened very fast. Mr. Fits spotted him first. "I see him. I see him," he said, his voice in a hush. I was taking my boots off, almost afraid to look up. This was THE moment. My heart was racing. I looked over and saw him. He was tiny. I suppose in my imagination, he had become larger than life. And yet here he was, a little thing looking at us with great interest. We were ushered quickly into the apartment and told to sit on the floor. It was heated and we began to sweat. The foster mother sat to my right holding him, and before I knew it, she stuffed him into my arms. "Jung Ho-ya, oma. Oma. Opa. Jung Ho-ya." Hey Jung Ho...your mother. Mother. Father. Jung Ho. I felt myself about to cry, but didn't want to scare him. He was smiling, examining my face. I smelled him and held him close before passing him to Mr. Fits, who though he denies it to this date, began to cry. And then the baby began to cry as well. We had an hour or so with them, and asked an unending stream of questions about our son, his likes and dislikes, his firsts, what he ate, how to keep him happy, how to soothe him when he was sad, all without taking our eyes of this little creature, who we knew, in two days, would be with us for good. It was surreal. We marveled at how alert he was, how happy and strong. We knew we'd all be okay.

When we finally had him to ourselves back in the guesthouse two days later, we were able to shower him with kisses and all the love we'd been saving up for him. We wrote long, gushing emails home about what a wonderful baby he was, about how he could jump and turn over and how much he liked to smile and how easily he fell asleep and how much he loved his walks outside in his stroller. When we couldn't sleep at night, we whispered to each other about how readily he opened himself up to us, to being loved and how truly amazing it felt to be needed by someone so small.

But the truth of it is that as incredible as we thought he was a month ago, he is a different person today. He has blossomed--there is no other way to describe it. Everything he was, he is now more than that. When I walk into the room, he squeals with delight. He opens his mouth WIDE--in a perfect, O--to express his joy. He laughs from his belly. He reaches for everything and when he gets what he wants, he sticks it in his mouth. He'd rather chew on books than read them. He is mastering the crawling thing, and can flip from his back onto his knees with Olympic timing and accuracy. He's always in a good mood, even with a cold he musters a smile for strangers. He looks right into my eyes and explores my face with his hands as if he is trying to get to know me better. When he has a bottle in the middle of the night, he finishes and then his head crashes into the crook of my neck, his arms around me, and there is no better feeling on earth. He laughs at anything his Dad does, any silly noise or face he makes repeatedly just to entertain H. He uses my ponytail to gain leverage and pull himself up. Just before, he used my chin as a teething device. He's a smart one, that H.

I guess what I am saying is that it's possible to bond with a picture, to love a child a million miles away, but it's no preparation for what your heart will feel when he's in your arms. That as great as you think your child is one day, he's even greater the next. And it occured to me earlier, as I watched him move his knees in tiny motions across the bed as he tried to crawl, that there's nothing wrong with baby steps. We became a family on the day we met him, but day by day we have revealed ourselves, growing towards each other in a thousand little baby steps.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Tsunuptials

Things were starting to get a little serious in the world. A little too heavy. For the last two weeks we've seen nothing but human suffering on the largest scale imaginable, and the endless course of sorrow and grief that flows through it. But that's no fun, is it? Thank you, Hollywood, for once again putting things in perspective. Let me explain.

Remember after 9/11, how nothing felt appropriate? From the trivial to the lavish, people were retreating, bowing their heads, a nation licking its wounds. Within days, the big question shifted from "How will we move on?" to "Will the Emmys still happen?" And if so, "Will there be a red carpet? Will the stars get decked out? Will Debra Messing still wear that sparkly Badgley Mischka or will she opt for that black, understated Donna Karan shift?" The world mourned, and Hollywood did what it does best: pretended to care. About anyone other than themselves. (Not you Sandra Bullock. We good, aiight?)

Now, more than three years later, we are faced with a tragedy of Biblical proportions. The news shows orphaned children, their eyes locked wide with fear, alone in the world, unable to comprehend what they've seen. Pictures of missing loved ones flash on the screen, countless fliers line walls, echoing the streets of New York City on those crisp, cloudless fall days of three years ago. On CNN, people talk of the missing, the dead, their sons and daughters, entire families washed away, gone, gone, gone. It is beyond the realm of imagination--not that nature could do such a thing, but that in a single moment, without any warning, you could lose it all and then be lost yourself.

BUT.

Great things are happening! Justin and Cameron are finally engaged! So are Seal and Heidi Klum! Liz Hurley and her boyfriend! Jennifer Anniston is wearing her wedding ring again! Isn't it wonderful?!

I am not saying that these people aren't entitled to their own personal happiness. But I know how show business works, and when something gets leaked or announced to the press, it is usually confirmed by or even reported by said star's publicist/manager/ass-kisser. I'm the first to admit that I am tickled by celebrity gossip. Pop culture is actually somewhat relevant to the kind of work that I do, so I need to be in the know, when say, an Olsen sister goes to the hospital. But show a little tact, would you? Someone else's misfortune doesn't rob you of the right to live your life and do it well, but it does require that you show a little decency and restraint. The press loves a good gossip wedding/pregnancy/birthing/divorce story, so they are to blame as well. I guess all we're left with really is the question: Who cares? (Sandra Bullock, that's who!)

Who cares if you got a rock the size of Gibraltar? The next time your publicist is asked to confirm a story about YOU YOU YOU when VERY BAD THINGS are happening in the world, tell him or her to say "No comment." And let the spotlight continue to shine where the world needs it most.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Snot City

It finally happened. Our son got his first cold. That is, his first cold we know of. And it ain't pretty. Here's why: Babies don't know how to do several things. Among those things are 1. blowing their noses; and 2. covering their mouth/nose area when they sneeze. So now I can't figure out if that's banana and oatmeal on my cheek or a glob of something else. I guess I could do a taste test, but I'm not twelve. That'd just be gross.

The good news is that the little dude isn't about to let the common cold stop his good time. He seems to be of the "stay positive" mentality (something he obviously hasn't picked up from us) and nothing--not even a thick trail of mucus on the area between his nose and lips, his nolip or um, lose--will stop him from laughing at his Baby Einstein DVD. The downside is that he's not sleeping too well and getting somewhat frustrated with not being able to breathe. And also somewhat angry at his mom and dad for shoving that white bottle up his already-cramped nostrils to deposit, yes, MORE FLUID. As if he needed that.

Dr's appointment at 12:30. I am not worried or even think he *NEEDS* to go to the doctor. But she's two blocks away, and maybe she can help the air move a little more freely through his tiny and very cute nose. And she can look in his ears and listen to his cough while she's at it. And then maybe, just MAYBE, we can all get some sleep tonight.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Who's Your Mommy?

People who meet H. are instantly charmed by him. They are intrigued about adoption and our trip to Korea to pick him up. Their interest is genuine and kind. But the number one question I get asked the most by strangers, acquaintances and friends when talking about it is: Did you get to meet his mom?

[Insert cheesy movie screech here.]

Say what?

First of all, let's get one thing straight: I AM HIS MOM. But, I know what they mean: Did we get to meet his birthmother? If they stopped to think for a second, though, before asking, would they realize how inappropriate it is? How very none of their business it is?

Secondly, what does it matter? Unless you are a close relative or super close friend who would understand the emotional complexity of such a meeting and its relevance in my life, it really shouldn't matter to you. If I said "Yes, we met her," what would you do with that information? I understand that most of the time it's just curiosity, but you don't see me asking you how many times you and your husband have sex each week, do you? Right. Because even if the answer is good---let's say, 10--it's really nothing but gossip to me.

The other thing that bothers me is that H is a baby now...but what about when he's one...two...three...six? What happens when he's old enough to understand the question: "Did you meet his mom?" How is that going to make him feel? To know that as much as I am his mother, it's for some inexplicable reason, important to OTHER people to hear about his biological mother. That that piece of information somehow trumps everything else.

We will talk to H. about his birthmother. Just as he will forever be a part of her heart, she will be a part of all of ours. We will answer all his questions about her, we will support whatever decisions he makes about communicating with her (adoptive families can send correspondence to the Korean agency, where she can access it whenever she likes), or even returning to Korea to meet her someday. But that belongs to us. No one else.

When people have asked me THE question (which also accompanies my other all-time favorite: "What do you know about his parents?"), I bristle inside. And yet, I usually smile and say something like, "Oh you mean his birthmother? No. But we met the foster mother." And that seems disingenuous to me. His foster mother and birthmother are not the same, but because I am taken aback, I somehow substitute one for the other. That's my bad, so to speak. It's up to me, from now on, to say: "Why do you ask?" or "We really only talk about H's birthmother with him." Or something better than what I've been doing. Because I owe that to all of us.

And if that fails, there's always, "So, how often do you and the Mr. do it?"