Monday, 20 May 2013

10 Great Things About Being Adopted

            May 20 is a special day. 30 years ago today my adoption was finalized and I went home with my new family. I was 16 days old, so I can't recall much of those first 16 days. I'm sure my activities were quite typical of most babies: eat, poop, repeat. I was healthy, but things took time to go through, so I stayed in the hospital. Mom says that the nurses there felt bad for me (waiting to be adopted and all) so they fed me every time I cried. She says I was eating a ridiculous amount of food by the time I went home with her and that I was a diaper-filling machine (cloth diapers- because I'm the asshole who had to be allergic to disposable ones that might make it easier on my parents).
            But that's really all I've got about my first 16 days. We got a little file of information about my birth family (nothing to identify them, just basics like height/hair colour/eye colour and some interests). About seven years ago, I started making contact with my biological mother and we email back and forth and send cards and gifts at birthdays and Christmas. It's a wonderful thing and I'm so happy I chose to contact her!
            Adoption can be a difficult thing to deal with and I certainly had a bit of an issue with it as a child. I saw a counsellor for a while as a small child because Mom thought it was important to discuss our feelings. I had to mature a little before I realized that adoption has nothing to do with abandonment and everything to do with making a difficult emotional choice. Mom always made sure to tell me this, but I had to discover in my own time the gift of adoption. And there are some wonderful things about being adopted- well, they are things I love about being adopted.
1. I chose my own cultural background
"What's your family background?" is a fairly common question asked in school. Sure, in the beginning I said, "Well, my adoptive family is French Canadian so I'm French Canadian." As I got older, I realized that I could give any answer I wanted. No one challenged me when I said, "My biological mother is Cambodian," or "My family is from the Ivory Coast of Africa," because no one wants to call the adopted girl a liar. But when my biological mother and I began talking she told me her family is Scotch-Irish. My reddish-brown hair and freckles seem to fit with that. Sadly, it seems unlikely now that I am of Asian or African descent.
2. Finding out things you have in common
My life is kind of my own adoption study- you know, where you study a child brought up in a different environment and see any common points. And there are common points. Sure, there are the small ones, like my biological mother and I both love Stephen King and we're both short on patience. But there are big ones too. I was the only girl in all 3 of my high school auto shop classes and my maternal biological grandfather had his own garage. Nifty, eh? And then there's my two half brothers: one has a round face and one wears glasses. If you put them both together, they look a lot like me!
3. I never have to fill out "medical history" questionnaires at the doctor's office
Well, I have some of that information now and I fill that in, but mostly I put a big cross through the section and write, "I'm adopted." My body is kinda like an unlabelled can from the supermarket: you never know what's going to be in here! Hey, where did that thyroid cancer come from?
4. I can make many people feel super uncomfortable just by saying "I'm adopted"
People just don't know where to go with this. Most people apologize as though they've brought up a sore point. It's not a sore point to discuss! If I were a religious person, I could paraphrase John 3:16: "For Bio-Mom so loved the world that she gave her only daughter." I think people are a little oversensitive when it comes to adoption- sure, some people would prefer not to discuss their adoption, but those people aren't likely to tell you they're adopted... or write a blog post about it. Ask away!
5. I have an instant connection with clients not raised by their biological parents
I spent nine years working with clients in residential care who could not be cared for by their parents for one reason or another. I never hesitate to discuss my adoption with clients because I get the chance to talk about love and responsible choices.
6. Brother
One of the best parts of adoption is building a new family- and Brother, adopted 2.5 years after me, was a wonderful gift to our family. He and I do not share any biological ties, but he is my brother- not "adopted brother." Brother. It was sheer chance that brought him and I to the same family and I can't imagine having any other sibling in the world!
7. I've got two moms!
Sure, we're talking two completely different mother-daughter relationships, but I still have two moms and they're both wonderful! That makes me pretty freakin' lucky in my books!
8. I get to quiz the men I date about their family histories
There's always an awkward moment early on when I'm getting to know a man when I have to ask some interesting questions about male family members. You know, to ensure I'm not starting a creepy soap opera "I didn't know we were siblings!" relationship. It's always a little uncomfortable to set up, but it's usually good for a laugh.
9. "I was chosen!"
Kids can be cruel. I was always very open about being adopted because it was never a secret in my family- Mom told us from the time we were little, so there was never a heartbreaking conversation where I learned I was adopted (best way to do it, hands down!). Kids would tease me and Mom would tell me, "Your biological mother didn't get rid of you, she gave you to us. You were chosen." Well, that gave me a fat head. The next bully who told me my biological mother didn't want me was hit with, "Well, I was chosen and your parents got STUCK with you!" I know that wasn't the ideal way to make that child feel loved, but you gotta deal with bullies.
10. I know two sides of maternal love
It's true. I know the love of a mother who raised me, not as if I were her own but because I am, adoption or no. I also know the love of a mother who gave birth to a child and made the best decision she could to give that child the brightest future possible. Those are two pretty freakin' amazing gifts! It's almost as if the best part of being adopted is not feeling adopted at all, but feeling as if two families came together to make and raise a baby, despite being separated by genetics and the law.
            It's part of who I am, but it's just a part. I can't imagine growing up any other way. I'm so lucky to have two moms and a whole, big family of great people. I'm lucky to have such a great sense of humour (no doubt inherited from my biological mother and cultivated by my adoptive mother!) because there's no way I get through anything without it! Today is a great day to remember how fortunate I am to have the family I have. Unfortunately, Hallmark doesn't make a "Happy Anniversary of Your Adoption" card and it has yet to be recognized as a gift-giving holiday. I'll keep hoping.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Sunday Snapshot #2: Pizza Buns

            A co-worker of mine said it best: he said that something magical happens when you bake. You begin with a bowl of basic ingredients that often do not taste good individually. Mix them up, put them in the oven, and suddenly you have a delicious treat. Now, you may say that's chemistry, not magic, but I say it's both.
            I've really come to love cooking and baking. I search out new recipes to try and think of things I've never made that I'd really love to try. There has been a lot of time for that in the past six months as I search for a new career and it's been great to have my mom as a guinea pig (though she's a little less adventurous when it comes to food, she's always supportive and willing to try a bite!). I found out I love lentils. I've made a delicious dish with broccoli rabe and polenta. And last night I made pizza buns.
Baking Magic
            Oh boy.
            I've been a huge fan of pizza buns since I worked at a supermarket bakery when I was in high school. Pizza buns were always one of the first items to sell out- and often, they were bought up by the stock boys and other store staff while they were still warm. They are a bit expensive when you think about it- we're talking about $1.75 per bun. And it is just a bun with a little sauce and cheese. But it's a magical bun with a little sauce and cheese.            
            I found an amazing recipe on the amazing Seasons & Suppers blog and they turned out perfect. I mean these were bang on. I made eight and they were gone. Sure, it takes a bit of time to make the dough, let it proof, and bake them but it's worth every second. Look at these- look at them! Try them. Use homemade sauce (lower in sugar) and low-fat cheese if you must. I'll definitely be making these again!

Friday, 17 May 2013

Fifty Word Rant Friday #3

I'd make a helluva 50's housewife. Yesterday I made a delicious brunch, baked 4 dozen chewy lemon cookies, did three sets of dishes, and then made a roast chicken dish. Where's my 50's husband with his pat-on-the-behind-for-a-job-well-done? I'd do it all in pearls and heels, too. Independent woman, 50's style.

Delicious chewy lemon cookies

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday Snapshot #2: A Very Special Mother's Day Edition

            I'm one of those lucky kids who has two moms. Sadly, it's not a fashionable lesbian couple like Ellen and Portia, but a biological mother and an adoptive mother. They're both fabulous women who are strong, intelligent, caring, and wonderful. Mother's Day is a holiday that leaves with me two great women to be thankful for, both of whom have played a huge part in the woman I am today. This special Mother's Day edition of Snapshot Sunday is dedicated to the woman who has raised me from 16 days old and she's the woman I call Mom. 

Mom and I at afternoon tea in Niagara-on-the-Lake on my birthday, May 04, 2013

            My mom is wonderful. All my friends think she is adorable and hilarious- and they're not wrong. She's not always intentionally hilarious. So often, it just slips out. It's not always what she meant to say, but it's usually freakin' gold. In honour of Mother's Day, here are just ten of the hilarious things my Mom has said and done that have brought such joy. There are in no particular order because there's really no way to rank the hilarity- just enjoy!
1. "I'm the adult!"
            This one Mom said to my twenty-seven-year-old brother and I at Christmas. We were discussing sleeping arrangements in her tiny one-bedroom apartment and Brother and I wanted her to sleep in her own bed and not on the pull-out couch. She exclaimed, "I'm the adult!" in an attempt to win the debate. Well, Brother and I lost it. She tried to clarify by telling us, "No, I mean it's my apartment." It was too late. The hilarious damage was done. Even now, if Mom asks me something I sometimes respond with, "Well, you're the adult."
2. Birthday flowers... from my cat?
            I got a delivery on the morning of my birthday. It was a beautiful bouquet of orange and yellow gerbera daisies- signed from my cat. Mom played that coy, adorable, "I have no idea who could have sent these!" before telling me the whole story of picking them out- without the cat's assistance, of course. Adorable.
3. Her obsession with "How's It Made"
            Mom loves this TV show on Discovery channel where they show viewers how various objects are made. It doesn't matter if it's blueberry turnovers or Tiffany-style glass lamps, Mom cannot watch the show without making sounds of awe. It's all, "Ha." "Hmm." "Ooh!" "Neat!" She also wants to make sure that I don't miss anything exciting, so she'll call my attention to the TV to ensure I see how that Inuit snowshoe is laced with hide.
4. Food Network colour commentary
            Mom makes comments while watching Food Network like it's her job. It's like watching football. "Ugh, I hate cilantro!" "Pfft, you think that's eight cups of arugula?" "Those potatoes look awfully lumpy!" "That portion is just too large!"
5. "If it's meant to be, it'll happen."
            Also known as, "If you're meant to get that job/puppy/dress on eBay auction, you'll get it." Infuriating, because she also says, "If you want something, you have to ask for it/pray for it/etc." There is no use explaining to her that these two ideas are contradictory- and more importantly, they make sense to her. I smile and nod, and Mom rolls her eyes because she knows I disagree. It's a thing we have.
6. The Christmas Turkey
            I did all the shopping for Christmas dinner this year and I've never picked out a turkey before (I usually buy a boneless turkey breast since I'm all about the white meat when it comes to poultry). I asked Mom which one to buy and the following conversation ensued:
Mom: I've always bought a utility turkey.
Me: What's that?
Mom: Well, it's a turkey that might be missing a wing or a leg.
Me: You've been feeding us handi-capable turkeys? Do you think our turkeys were veterans?
Brother: I'm not comfortable eating turkey that had a limb amputated due to illness. Mom and I need to discuss the difference between frugality and cheapness.
Mom: *facepalm*
7. The Penguin
            I fell in love with penguins when I saw Billy Madison with Adam Sandler. To this day, I still receive penguin-themed gifts (you'll remember the big, round stuffed penguin that Brother gave me for my birthday this year!). If I imitate the Adam Sandler "Penguin" voice, Mom belly laughs. I used that voice to get pizza takeout back in high school. "Mom, the Penguin wants pizza for dinner." And it worked. Mom still asks me to do that voice- as recently as last week.
8. "South Park"
            Do you know who took Brother and I to see South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut in 1999?  That's right. She regretted the decision during the first musical number, entitled "Uncle F**ka." She covered her eyes and Brother and I roared with laughter. She was a great sport about it- and she loves Cartman so much. It was definitely not her taste, but she took us, suffered in silence, and later told us that was a terrible movie for her to take her children to see (I was about 16 and Brother was about 13). It's a great memory.
9. Her interesting taste in TV and movies
            I'm quite aware of my questionable taste in TV, movies, books, etc. I stick to pretty neutral TV shows when trying to pick a show to watch with Mom. Mom is different. She would really like us to watch a TV show together now and then. Like the night she wanted us to watch some old west movie featuring Patrick Duffy. Or the 8-DVD Christian love story set on the prairies. Or the finale of "The Bachelor" even though she hadn't seen a single other episode that season. Or the Hallmark TV movie that she watched through her fingers when a man injured himself with an axe (it's not Saw- there's no gore...sadly). We can agree on Food Network, "Jeopardy," and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. That's enough, isn't it?
10. "Katie, what's ___?"
            I love that now I get the opportunity to share my knowledge with Mom, as she did when I was a kid. I'm teaching her different things than she taught me, though. We were watching "The Talk" one day with guest Margaret Cho and a word came up that Mom was not familiar with. She turned to me and asked, "Katie, what's camel toe?" I died. And I explained it to her. And she responded with, "That's terrible!" It was gold.
            See? I live with The Unintentional Comedienne. She has no idea how funny she can truly be until we crack up. I'm so lucky to have a great relationship with Mom! As tough as it can be to not have my own place right now, it's wonderful to get to spend some time with Mom. She's certainly getting spoiled today and she deserves every bit of it! Mom has already enjoyed a wonderful breakfast and now we're watching Il Volo's concert DVD Il Volo Takes Flight. I'm going to make a beautiful roast beef dinner and a tasty dessert later. It's the least I can do for her- not only for raising me, but also for giving me tons to laugh about.
            Happy Mother's Day to my favourite reader!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Fifty Word Rant Friday #2

When contestants buy a vowel on "Wheel of Fortune," I get angry. Every. Single. Time. It costs you money! You're doing the other contestants a favour! Just spin the wheel, guess a consonant, and solve the puzzle. "Jeopardy" would eat you alive and Trebek would shame you and your mama.

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Award for Best Brother Ever Goes To...

            I got a box in the mail today from my brother for my birthday and could not believe what was in the box! 

You're jelly, right?

1. Candy: My favourite sour candy ever- Fuzzy Peaches. A big bag. Huge. Mom thinks I'm going to share them with her...
2. Umbrella: It's purse-sized and it's zebra print. I love zebra print stuff!
3. Dr. Seuss book: Fox in Socks. I freakin' love me some Seuss and a good rhyme.
4. Stuffy: A huge, round, stuffed penguin with big doe eyes. It's hilarious!
5. Lego: I still have my Lego table from childhood- not because I'm saving it for potential future children, but because I use it as an actual piece of furniture.
            It's awesome that a person can feel like an adult on Saturday at a mature afternoon tea and still enjoy the fantastic fun things from childhood. And I love that my brother, who is two-and-a-half years younger than I am, fully supports this playful, fun side of me.
            So, if you're looking for me this afternoon, you should check the floor in the living room where I will be passed out, snuggling with a penguin, after a sugar rush, Lego playtime, and a storybook.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Sunday Snapshot #1

            I'm a bit of a strange bird. I'm silly and playful. I own a Wii and play "Just Dance" for fun by myself (well, for fun and exercise- the sweat challenges on those games are fantastic!). I still dress up for Halloween. I wear pajamas when I'm at home. I've never liked coffee. One time I was at a friend's house and her six-year-old son was showing me a game on the computer. He wanted to show me a YouTube video, but told me he had to get an adult to use YouTube. It didn't even occur to him that I am an adult.
            Sometimes I don't feel like much of an adult. I mean, I pay my own bills, I've lived on my own, and I finished school. I owe a big 'ole student loan. I turned 30 yesterday. I am an adult, but like that cliché, sometimes I feel like I'm just impersonating an adult and barely getting away with it.
            Yesterday, I felt like an adult. Not because I turned 30 (well, partially that, I suppose). Not because I didn't spend the night drinking with friends and hitting a club (I would have loved to do that too!). Not because I went to a specialty cheese shop and bought a sun-dried tomato and garlic sheep's milk cheddar and some smoked salmon (but I did, and I can't wait to have that for lunch today!). I felt like an adult yesterday because I went to the afternoon tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Afternoon tea- for mature ladies only!
            It was beautiful! Antique furniture, clotted cream, matching china- just amazing! Ladies sitting around, chatting politely, and I didn't curse or use toilet language even once! We drank tea, ate tiny sandwiches, cooed over cute little desserts, and I felt like an adult. AND I ENJOYED IT! That is pretty impressive! It usually takes income tax season to make me feel like an adult and certainly not in any enjoyable manner. It was a wonderful afternoon and a fantastic birthday surprise.
            What makes you feel like an adult?