Everyday Life

If you regularly check this blog, you have probably come to realize that I do not post on a regular basis. If you were to check my calendar, you would see that I have scheduled in blogging times that I rarely adhere to.

Sometimes I find that I run out of things to write about adoption. Sometimes it seems too simple. I have two families: a biological one and an adoptive one. I have two nationalities: I’m an American citizen born in the Philippines. I have two races: I am an Asian, more specifically a Filippina, but I was raised in a white family.

Well, that about sums it up and now I can go about my daily life.

Except that adoption touches everyday things too.

I wake up and do as much of my morning routine as I can before the baby wakes up. As he bounces on his crib mattress calling “Mommy!” He looks at me with his Asian eyes – my eyes – and I’m reminded that we share physical features. This is something I didn’t share with my mom. I settle baby on my lap and I’m reminded that my mom opened her arms and lap to me when I had no one. Baby is 20 months – the same age I was when I came over from the Philippines, so I am struck by the contrast in our experiences. At age 20 months, he expects mama or daddy to check in on him if he cries, if he asks for food, wants to play, or has a stinky diaper. At age 20 months I was in a foster home and had only been there for eight months. Consistent care was still something I was probably getting used to.

After I kiss the baby, my hubs Bri-Bri, and my stepson (if he’s here on a weekday) goodbye, I get on the light rail to go to work. I’m thankful for my job and I’m glad I can share the responsibility of providing for our family with Bri-Bri. Sometimes I wonder if I should be doing something more, other times I think “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I have a decent salary, the job uses my skills, and the work environment is great! Yet I’m burdened with the idea that my life should be more. I was given a chance to live the American Dream. I was given a chance to be somebody, so why am I just another suburban mom with a desk job?

But then I pause.

I’m an American suburban college educated mom with a middle class job. People line up at American embassies in the Philippines to apply for work and citizenship in America in hopes that someday they can attain an American middle class lifestyle. There are children in the Philippines that need their eyes corrected so that they can read textbooks, blackboards, and computer screens if they even want a chance of getting educated and get out of poverty. There are children that succumb to chronic illnesses or malnourishment and don’t even make it to adulthood. I could have been one of those children without eye care or healthcare. I could have been a child that didn’t make it. With this perspective, my ordinary American life suddenly becomes extraordinary, and I’m reminded not to take it for granted. I’m reminded to be thankful and to use what I have to give back to others.

I sit at my desk and do my paralegal/bookkeeper/billing staff job. I read the attorneys’ notes when I create outlines of clients’ Wills and Trusts. Some clients write in their intake forms or tell the attorneys that they have adopted children. I wonder if they think the law will treat their adopted children differently when it comes to inheritance. Other clients leave gifts to organizations that do international economic development. I smile knowing their gift will help families somewhere become more economically stable and those parents may not have to make the decision to relinquish their children to give them a better life. Sometimes when I’m paying the firm bills as part of bookkeeping, I make a mental note to check my automatic bill pay to see if my sponsorship fee for Children International went through. I don’t have a ton of assets like our clients, but I am glad the little bit that comes out of my check each month helps my sponsored child in the Philippines. It gives her a chance at a good future.

I go home and have an evening with my guys. My stepson is here now and I make sure to give him a kiss and ask about his day and not just spend time with the baby. I want him to know that the baby didn’t take his place in my heart because birth is not the only way to become a parent. My guys are goofballs and they have the same smile, the same giant forehead, and some of the same mannerisms. Bri-Bri is passing down his love of superheroes to both the boys evidenced by the baby pushing a toy truck driven by a plastic Hulk while yelling, “Hulk Truck! Hulk Truck!” He stops and wants to color with mommy. I pass down my appreciation for creativity that I got from my mom as we color a picture together. My mom’s legacy of snuggles on her lap around a storybook is passed down when I snuggle the baby on my lap and read books or read the same book five times (at his insistence).

Baby is in bed, his clothes are in the wash, and I have a chance to blog. Nothing stood out to me because I’ve just been engrossed in my daily routine. But as I thought further, my adoption story, my two nationalities, and my two families can be nowhere if I don’t think about them much or everywhere if I realize how they influence every aspect of my life.

Adoption and parenting perspectives

I’ve been away from my blog for a while because a certain 19-month-old has kept me busy. I also work full-time and do what I can to tidy up after the baby, the husband, and stepson. Yes I am the only female in the house.

Anyway, during this time I have actually thought about my adoption and I think my adoption has impacted how I interact with the baby. For example, I have embraced the practice of Babywearing ever since my C-section scar was healed enough not to be irritated by having a small baby in a carrier pushing on it.

(This photo was from a memory book my mom made for me for baby’s 1st birthday. Thanks, mom!)

Not only does baby wearing make life so much more convenient and is much less hassle when you need to take baby on public transit, but I am reminded that I’m giving the baby a closeness that I lacked for the first 18 months of my life. I don’t take for granted baby snuggles because I know that I missed. them as a baby, and yes, I do feel a bit of sadness that I had nobody during that time.

Also, I’m grateful for the things the baby has as part of a middle class American family. He has his own bed, eats three full meals a day, and has enough food that he can spare dropping a few Cheerios and crackers on the floor. He has had access to medical care even before he was born, and his parents and pediatrician regularly monitor his development. He has stability. He knows he goes to grandmas house while mommy and daddy work and he knows he will see both of us when we come home.

I think the fact that I didn’t have these things for the first 18 months my life, I don’t take for granted what he has and I hope to tell him when day how lucky he is. I don’t want to do it in a way that makes him feel guilty for his privilege, but in a way that encourages him to pay it forward.

Being adopted also reminds me to be more sensitive to my stepson. Even when I was pregnant, people would ask me if I was happy that I finally would have a child “of my own” God gave me grace to help me gently remind them that my first child is my step child and yes I was excited that I would be a part of this new child’s life from birth. I don’t want my stepson to feel lesser because he is not biologically mine because I remember feeling like people thought I wasn’t really my mom’s daughter because we didn’t share the same DNA. When my step son comes over, I do my best to make time for him and ask him what is going on in his life. I hope I continue to show him that he matters just like his baby brother matters to me.