Table of Contents
TWO BEAUTIFUL BOYS
Building a Family Through IVF and Adoption
by Maureen Grace
I came late to parenthood. I was 43 and on the heels of a divorce that began during our final effort to get pregnant using fertility treatments. I had always imagined my life being filled with children (three or four) and shared with a wonderful husband who would be a caring father. When I met and married the man who I thought shared these dreams with me, I was extremely happy. I was over 40 when we married, so we knew that fertility issues might slow our path to parenthood, but we were confident that we would overcome any obstacles together.
The whole notion of a traditional family with a husband, kids, a house, and a white picket fence (otherwise known as Plan A) was something that I had never questioned or doubted! I had never contemplated being a “lone parent” or as I would later call myself—a single parent. To me, the end of my marriage represented the end of my hopes for children. When I informed my doctor of my impending divorce, he told me that since I was close to their treatment center’s age cutoff, he could offer me one final IVF attempt. If I chose to proceed on my own, I would need to make a decision quickly since each month that passed decreased my chances of success.
A NEW PATH
The possibility of going forward alone without the comfort of a spouse was something I had never considered. However, my husband’s decision to leave the marriage was final. Thus, after much reflection, I decided to proceed using a donor program recommended by my treatment center. Once my decision was made, I put my fears and worries aside. Taking action helped me maintain a constructive outlook, even when doubts threatened to overtake my optimism. My new course was fueled by my belief that I was meant to conceive a child.
Thankfully, my final high-stakes IVF worked and after a relatively comfortable pregnancy, my son Patrick was born one week shy of my 44th birthday! It was such a pleasure to hold him in my arms for the first time and realize that my dream had come true. After years of longing for a child, I could finally relax and enjoy the journey of motherhood. I looked forward to returning home and putting him into his waiting bassinet. During my pregnancy, the bassinet had been a reassuring symbol that parenthood was going to be a reality for us after all.
Unfortunately, just as I began to ease into my recovery in the hospital and to enjoy Patrick’s presence, something went awry. Within 24 hours of his birth, he was fighting for his life against an infection of unknown origin. I was released from the hospital two days later without him. He was still in the NICU—his medical condition slowly improving. I was numb with disbelief and worry. One week later, he came home fully recovered. He spent his first night at home sleeping contentedly in his bassinet, and I celebrated his presence in my life all over again.
Motherhood was even better than I could have imagined. Patrick flourished and developed into an energetic and outgoing child. I often found myself networking with other parents for playdates and shared activities. Gaining entry into the well established groups of mostly married mothers in my community proved difficult (I was not yet aware of the SMC organization). Nevertheless, in time, new relationships evolved, and my identity as a single mom took shape. Patrick thrived and a new dream began to grow inside of me. I wanted Patrick to have a sibling!
Slowly, I began delving into the world of adoption literature and speaking to people who were considering adoption or who were already adoptive parents. I learned that even as a single parent at the “ancient age” of 44, adoption was still a possibility. I was very excited. It was around this time that someone told me about SMC. I began attending Boston-area meetings and found them to be inspiring and supportive. I was impressed by the many resourceful women that I met there and grew confident that I could successfully parent two children as a single mother.
A SECOND PATH EMERGES
Following the advice of several veterans of adoption, I settled on an adoption attorney who had a long and successful career specializing in adoptions from several countries in Eastern Europe. This attorney had a personal approach, spoke the language of the countries she worked in, and assured me that the medical reports and the care of the children available for adoption were excellent. The agencies and programs she worked with sounded well-organized and solid. The adoption was to be completed within a year and a half.
In yet another twist of fate, my international adoption journey proved to be a long one. It was full of unexpected delays, slowdowns and closures in several countries, and a three-year wait for a child that ended in a failed adoption. By the time I was making my last attempt to adopt, I had already been “in process” for five years! After a lot of heartache in Eastern Europe, I turned my energies toward Guatemala. I was hearing reliable reports from there of happy adoptive parents, a smooth process, and well-cared-for children. It seemed too good to be true. However, after finding a new agency, I felt reassured that my new adoption quest would be successful.
I was not disappointed! In October 2006, our adoption was completed when Christopher (then six months old) flew from Guatemala to Logan Airport in Boston with his escort from the adoption agency. Until I saw him emerge from the plane, I couldn’t believe that he had arrived without a hitch. News outlets had been reporting for months that Guatemala was on the verge of shutting down its international adoption program. Everyone was incredibly happy and relieved to see that he made it safely home.
Patrick and I traveled to see Christopher in Guatemala just a few months before he had arrived in Boston. We had explored Antigua and Guatemala City trying to absorb as much as we could so that we could share it with him someday. It was amazing to immerse ourselves in Guatemala’s rich culture and natural beauty during our week-long stay with him. It was incredibly hard to say goodbye and to return to Massachusetts knowing that his arrival would be months away. However, all of our longing and waiting was rewarded when he came home to us. We celebrated and began our lives together—two beautiful boys—lots of twists and turns…one happy family!
MEDITATIONS ON MOTHERHOOD
Thinking About Mortality by Shelby Siems
I have always been aware of mortality.
An aunt and uncle on both sides of my family died when I was about 7 and the only grandparent I ever knew passed when I was 11. My father and mother, 43 and 40 when I was born, passed on when I was 25 and 33, respectively. As an only child growing up with parents considered old, I spent a fair amount of time worrying about how long they would live. My father often told me he didn’t expect to make it past 52, according to a doctor, because he suffered from rheumatic fever in World War II. I viewed him as a ticking time bomb. He detonated when he was 68. And while my mother appeared to be the picture of health, she was in danger of succumbing to any number of things because she was a devout Christian Scientist who wouldn’t go to doctors.
Eight and a half years after my worst fears were realized, I was given a second chance at having a family when my son, Christopher, came along following one unmedicated intrauterine insemination in 2003. I wanted to give my son a sibling and succeeded with the birth of Charlie in 2006.
But I have not stopped thinking about mortality. I think about how in a few years I will be a 50-year-old single mother whose younger son is 5. I think about my benign skin cancer, making my semi-annual (or more frequent) dermatologic appointments, and praying that it doesn’t worsen into melanoma, which is how my mother died at the age of 74.
I have made preparations as best I can. I redid my will shortly before my second son was born, and I obtained life insurance not long after that. While attempting to get pregnant a second time, I found out that Christopher’s guardians didn’t want to take two of my children. A college friend came to my rescue. She and her husband appeared to be a fantastic solution. So if the unforeseeable should occur, I reasoned, my children could at least remain in familiar surroundings and the same schools. But then, only six months after I moved to their town, she informed me that they would be relocating out of state. If their guardianship comes into play, my sons will be uprooted from suburban Boston and plunked down in rural Vermont. I feel more distant from them now—both literally and figuratively. We don’t get the chance to see them very often and I fear my sons won’t have developed a relationship with them.
There is still more I should do to prepare for the worst. I need to send my friend copies of the information I received from the sperm bank about my sons’ donor. I need to walk around my home and catalog which items have value to me and why, so that, hopefully, they could be kept for my children. The guardians ought to have information about my assets and the ability to obtain spare keys to my home and car. Their contact 411 should be in my wallet as well as an easily accessible location in my home.
Many years ago, a Finnish friend whose entire family lived in Helsinki told me that she always keeps emergency numbers on her kitchen table because she feels vulnerable being in this country alone. How would anyone back home know if something happened to her?
I never forgot our conversation because I feel vulnerable, too.
TO DSR OR NOT TO DSR
For me, it was never a question.
by Amy Birney
I can’t remember when I first heard about the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR). I find that a bit odd, considering how controversial the issue of contacting donor siblings is for SMCs. My lack of memory may be yet another episode of mommy brain, but it also reflects that it never occurred to me not to register on the DSR or not to make contact with donor sibling families. I feel strongly that donor conceived children should have access to the people who populate the other side of their biological family. This includes the donor, hence my choice of an ID-release donor and my choice of learning about donor sibling families. I know there are many SMCs who disagree with me on this point, and I work hard to respect other opinions.
Let me offer some additional context. My path to single motherhood includes a longtime friend who chose donor conceived single motherhood in 1989. Although she was never a member, I heard her talk about the SMC organization back then—long before I even considered having a donor-conceived child. I helped her deliver the first of her three sons on Christmas Day 1990. Jacob and his brothers share an ID release donor from the Sperm Bank of California. Jacob is a mere two months from being eligible to contact his donor. My friend tells me he’s planning on it, and I find myself waiting to exhale as the time approaches.
THE BRANCHES OF A FAMILY TREE
The other part of their story is that my friend joined DSR years ago again, long before I considered the SMC path. Whether to register on DSR was never a big deal for her or her boys, which undoubtedly contributes to why I’ve never thought of it as a big deal. My friend is in contact with all the mothers who have registered that they used the same donor. She and the boys have met two or three of their donor siblings, with varying results.
I will never forget the telling of the first of those meetings nearly six years ago,when the boys were 12, 10, and 7, and their donor sister was 12. They had driven from their home in the Upper Midwest to the Pacific Northwest to meet their donor sister. By both mother and child accounts, the meeting was a powerful and wonderful success. The two mothers were amazed and fascinated by the quick and deep bond formed by the kids, almost as though they had known each other all their lives. The boys could talk of nothing but their “sister” (their word) for the rest of the summer; and the sister was thrilled to no longer feel like a single child. In her heart, she now had three brothers who lived halfway across the country.
That’s where their story was when I got pregnant. So it’s not too hard to imagine why I registered on DSR near the end of my second trimester—once I was reasonably sure the pregnancy would result in a baby. I was contacted within a couple of weeks by one of the other two mothers who registered as having used my donor. Despite my confidence in registering, I admit to feeling a pang of fear at actually being contacted. Even though I had put myself out there willingly, it still felt something like a violation of my privacy. So I slept on it and let the idea settle a bit. Then I screwed up my courage and responded. If I remember correctly, my email started with something like, “It feels really weird to be emailing you, but…” Her response was genuine and she admitted that this brave new world was strange and a bit awkward for her, too.
From that moment to this, our DSR family has grown from three registered families with three children (two born and one unborn) to 15 families with 20 children and a couple more on the way. We know that there are about 50 donor siblings out in the world, but these are the ones who have come forward to join our group.
A TREE GROWS ROOTS
About a year ago, one of the mothers started a listserv and we all keep in periodic contact that way. I often smile at how much the questions and answers on that listserv resemble those on the SMC-Little Ones listserv. Of course, the group is much smaller and many of the questions are more specific to our donor sibling clan. We’ve asked about allergies and height/weight percentiles and late teething. We also exchange photos and marvel at the similarities and differences among our children. We’ve even discussed our interpretations of the donor’s audio interview.
We’ve also talked about what we call each other. “Half siblings” seems to be the most common way to refer to the children, although other parents like my use of “donor siblings.” The straight, married moms especially like the idea of using “cousins” with people not in the know, because it doesn’t draw attention to their husbands’ lack of biological connection. A label for the other parents is harder to come by. “The parents of my son’s half siblings” is a mouthful. “Donor moms” is a little catchier, but is misleading and leaves the husbands sounding like the donor! I’ve taken to saying “donor sib moms/dads/parents,” but others are still working on terms. I have wondered how these terms might change if we were to meet in person.
Partly as a result of a recent SMC listserv discussion about meeting donor siblings, I opened the discussion of whether our donor group members would want to meet. I was pleasantly surprised by a nearly unanimous interest in meeting. The one reluctant family comprises a straight, married couple in which the mother is interested in meeting, but her husband is not. Interestingly, after nearly instantaneous agreement on the concept of meeting soon, when I steered the discussion toward exact dates and plans, the list got quiet for a couple of months. It was as if we were still processing the reality of such a meeting. Then, suddenly, discussion of meeting revved up again. Sometime in 2009? A week or a long weekend? Summertime or school year? Central location or Disneyworld? What? You mean that Columbus Day weekend in the U.S. is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada? Well, that won’t work. How about President’s Day weekend 2010? It’s still nice in Orlando in February. Which is where the conversation sits as I write this. I’m excited about finally getting to meet these people who make up half of my son’s extended biological family.
I hear SMCs deliver passionate arguments about why it is their child’s right, and not the SMC’s own, to choose whether, when, and how they will meet their donor siblings. But that doesn’t feel right for our family, I can’t help but wonder sometimes whether making those choices for my son is the “right” thing to do. It’s one of those many decisions that I will make as a mother, not knowing until later how it will play out for my son.
Most of the parents in our donor sibling group agree with me that they want our children to always know one another, like cousins; rather than to set them up for a “big meeting” when they’re older. It looks like my son will meet many of his donor siblings just after he turns three. The youngest children will be infants and the oldest will be four. We haven’t yet talked about how we will introduce the children to each other. Will we call them “friends”? (I doubt it.) “Half brothers/sisters”? (Very likely.) “Cousins”? (Possible.) Or “brothers/sisters”? (Makes me uncomfortable, but might be what the children choose.) We have at least a year to work out those details. None of our children knows about the others yet. It will be interesting to hear from them when the time comes.
A GROWTH SPURT
Back to the latest chapter in my friend’s story. The deep connection between her boys and their first donor sister is still going strong. They also have met two other donor siblings, one of whom they refer to as “that weird kid.” These newer relationships are much cooler than the first. And, interestingly, none of the brothers nor their first donor sister are much interested in meeting any more of their donor siblings right now.
Knowing this keeps me humble and reminds me that, ultimately, it will be my son who controls what level of contact he wants with whom within his donor sibling family. Not so different from how things will work with the other family members that I have brought into his life.
DEAR MS. ESSIE
At my ultrasound I learned that I’m having a boy. I’m thrilled but a little daunted because I never had brothers and have more experience with girls than boys. I’d appreciate any tips, insights, and experiences from those of you raising boys. What do you find helps you be a good mom to a boy? When and how do you think they’ll need support and encouragement from a male role model? I also have found that the news that he’s a boy has revived some paternity questions from others that I thought had been put to rest—irritating things, honestly, such as “Who’s going to teach him to throw a ball?” and “Who will be his male role models?” Thank you.
I worried about knowing how to raise a boy, but once he was here, the thought never crossed my mind. I parent him the same way I would have parented a girl—the best I know how. I don’t structure activities around “boy” or “girl” activities. He loves to cook/bake and has an apron and chef’s hat. Last night he helped me put together a little bookcase from Staples. He actually helped with the cordless screwdriver, and after I hammered the tiny nails (that hold the backing on) halfway, he hammered them the rest of the way himself. He learned to pee standing up by seeing other boys at daycare and practicing on his own. I take him bike riding and scooter riding. We go to the park and play basketball and catch. He has no grandfathers, but one biological uncle and three “fake” uncles. They are positive male role models insofar as they are male…and role models. What I want him to get from his uncles (and aunts, cousins, grammy, mom, friends, and so on) is how to be a kind, caring, confident person. You’ll find things that work for you to accomplish this.
I think what it takes to be a good boy Mom is the same thing as it takes to be a good Mom in general. Sure, you might be more likely to learn about cars and trucks with boys and dolls with girls, but those are just the things they like to play with. I think a much bigger part of being a good Mom is understanding your child’s temperament and how to work with it. Different kids are motivated in different ways. Different kids fear different things. Different kids, are, well different, and you are a good Mom when you pay attention to what makes your son your son and tailor your parenting to what works for him.
I was freaked out when I found out I was having a boy. I was so relieved that the other baby was a girl. I’m an only child raised by a single mom. It was much easier than I thought. I now know much more about diggers (construction vehicles) than I ever wanted to. I read the book Raising Boys Without Men fairly early on and it put many of my fears to rest. I try to involve male role models when possible—male swim teacher, male sport ball coach, male teenage babysitter. My son loves to garden, take out the garbage, change the batteries in toys, whatever. He loves to watch workmen work. I remember sitting on some steps in front of a construction site with him in the stroller. One of the funniest stories was when I was having the deck off my bedroom redone when my kids were 2. My son was in a diaper and saw the workmen. He ran to get his “work stuff” and came in wearing his hard hat, his tool belt, and my high heels ready to “go to work.”
I have twin boys. After I found out, I purchased some “boy” clothes to celebrate and let the idea sink in. I also read the book It’s a Boy: Women Writers on Raising Sons and enjoyed it immensely. Once my guys were born, I never thought about it, much. They are who they are. I figured no matter what gender my kids were, I would teach them things I knew, and if they had other interests, I might have to find someone else. People probably said all sort of things when I was pregnant. I didn’t pay too much attention. Mostly, I think people don’t mean anything; they’re just trying to make small talk.
As the mom of two boys, I have yet to have lack of a man cause a problem, other than my 5-year-old recently talking more about wishing he had a dad. But it’s never stopped us from doing anything. It’s never stopped him from being one of the fastest runners in his YMCA program. It’s never stopped him from dressing boyish in stylish clothing. It’s never stopped him from learning to pee standing up or learning to throw a ball (he seemed to be born KNOWING how to throw things!). You’ll be fine. And having a boy will be the biggest blessing you can ever imagine. There’s something about the special bond between boys and their moms that doesn’t exist between boys and their dads. My dad (the boys’ grandpa) has been taking on more of a dad-type role over the last few months. I think it’s helping my older son with the need for a guy. He goes to his grandpa’s house on Saturdays to play video games, do slot car racing, and build stuff my dad is even teaching him how to take apart electronic devices.
When people found out I was having a boy, some would ask, “Are you going to dress him in girls clothes because he doesn’t have a male role model?” So I ignored those questions. One of the things I didn’t realize or even contemplate when I was pregnant is my role in making him a strong Jewish man. I have a real responsibility to make sure he has good male role models, place in him safe, nurturing environments, work to figure out what sports/activities boys are playing. I went around and asked a whole bunch of my male friends what they liked to do when they were growing up. Also at synagogue I watch what the older boys are playing or talking about. It’s good insider info! I also read a good book called Raising Boys by Steve Bidduph. He talks a lot about testosterone and when boys need certain things in their life.
I’m of the belief that exposure to men is a good thing… whether we call them role models or not. I haven’t intentionally sought out men for my son at this point, but the men in the married couples that I have started hanging out with seem to interest him. He might not understand gender or “gender roles” but he is fascinated by men, their hair and their lower voices. At 14 months he’s already becoming much more physical than his little girlfriends. Whether that is because he’s a boy doesn’t matter as much to me as the fact that I need to provide him with an outlet for that energy. I think there are definitely going to be unexpected challenges of raising a boy alone, but there would be unexpected challenges if I were raising a boy as a couple. I just take things as they come and do the best that I can.
I have boy/girl twins. I think it’s important to find good male role models for both of them. I don’t want them to grow up thinking it’s all women running the world. I want them both to be exposed to many different kinds of people, careers, cultures, and so on. I want them both to grow up to be happy doing whatever. If that means my daughter is the first female to play in the NFL and my son is one of the best ballet dancers you ever saw, then so be it. That being said, my children have two grandpas who live locally and are involved in their lives as well as two out-of-state uncles whom they only see occasionally. I worry about them seeing enough men of my generation—preferably good role models and not bad ones. Hopefully as they get older I’ll find myself a few new male friends to suit this perceived need.
I have two boys who aren’t old enough to know the difference between genders…or so I thought. They love men. They will always go to the man in the room. Even though my mother does more and is more attentive toward them, they’re all about my father. At the drop in center we go to, they had a new caregiver last week who is a guy. One son walked right up to him and put his arms up to be picked up—he’s never done that to any women. I know my boys are going to get all sorts of messages about what it means to be a “man” from society even if it doesn’t come from me. I want to make sure that I have men in their lives that embody all the virtues I hold dear, like empathy, nurturing, and so on. They’re going to think that men do x, y, or z ; I want to make sure they know that men can also do a, b, and c. In the same regard, I want to make sure they see me doing all the stereotypical “male” things like using power tools and driving my motorcycle. So, yes, I do want male role models—just not ones that necessarily do stereotypical male things or at least not those things exclusively. All that being said, I also think that I’ll look into Big Brothers. I know two Big Brothers who are special men and I would value my boys having a relationship like that with somebody who is willing to dedicate a chunk of time.
Editor’s Note: In this feature, the wit and wisdom of our very smart and together SMC—Ms. Essie Emcee—is tapped to answer some of the question that SMCs may face. Other sources of extraordinary wisdom can be found on the SMC listserve groups. It was from the Adopt list, in fact, that this question and the answers were shamelessly stolen. If you have a question you’d like Ms. Essie to answer, mail it to Box 1642, Gracie Square Station, NYC 10028.
Learning to Live With a Budget
by Jean M. Hoff
Confession: I hate budgeting and dieting. I experience both as denial— none of that delicious thing, only a little bit of the desired object. So when it comes to budgeting, I change the vocabulary. Let’s call it a Spending Plan, a look ahead to the next time period—how I am going to take the income that I generate and apply it to the needs (and wants) of my family?
I’ve read many books on this topic and highly recommend: All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi. The basic framework is that over your lifetime, spending by category should be broken down as follows. Must-Haves should equal 50 percent, Wants, 30 percent, and Savings, 20 percent
With this alignment of spending, your financial life can stay in balance over long time periods.
The text provides a step wise approach to determine one’s current allocation. List and quantify your Must-Haves. Must-Haves are specific: housing, child care, consumer loans (car and student loans), insurance, health care, transportation, and other contractual obligations (cell phone or gym memberships). Savings includes contributions to retirement plans, reductions in your credit card balances, and other deposits into savings accounts. Add up your Must Haves and Savings and subtract that amount from Total Income to determine how much you have to spend on Wants. Total Income, by the way, is after-tax income and includes employer’s contributions to retirement accounts and increases in credit card debt.
Warren and Tyagi provide detailed guidance on how to evaluate and reduce your Must-Haves. For me, and I suspect for many single mothers, Must-Have costs will run higher than the authors suggest. Two years into tracking my spending by these categories, my Must-Haves still hover around 70 percent. I’m out of balance. I’ve cut Wants to a somewhat difficult to maintain monthly level and reduced my Savings to a minimal 401(k) contribution.
Some of the things that I’d like to provide for my daughters (a three bedroom house, a yard, a dog) would take the Must-Have budget even further out of balance. I’d also like to enroll my children in
private schools, to leave the public school that drifts from budget crisis to personnel crisis. As I scour my Must-Haves, looking for places to cut back, a thorn in my spreadsheet is the car loan payment for my minivan, which I bought rather impulsively after the station wagon needed what seemed to be excessive repairs. A few months into the payments, I recalled that at a family reunion just before my purchase, my brother and my sister had each arrived in a minivan. Warren and Tyagi devote a chapter to the psychological barriers to success.
Some of my Must-Have choices have been victories. Last summer, after a thorough search for summer camp, I selected one that was conveniently located, economical, and seemed sweet. Two weeks before it started, I learned that many of my children’s classmates were attending another camp at double the cost. A wave of self-doubt and desperate internet searches followed. It was too late to change course, and my daughters had a wonderful relaxed summer. I selected the camp in part because the tuition was in line with my Must-Haves, but mainly after screening for a place with activities and staff that would work for my daughters.
So where is the freedom in my Spending Plan? In the Wants. Every month, I have a dollar amount to spend on whatever I want. I know that as long as spending is below that dollar amount, everything will be okay. Last year, I bought a tandem bike, cohosted my parent’s 50th anniversary celebration, and traveled to my college reunion. Looking at the year ahead, we’re planning a vacation. In June, we’ll drive the minivan to Quebec. We’ll stay in hostels and with friends. We’re getting passports. For those who think hostels with children seems like the worst vacation ever, remember, the Wants are all yours to spend. You could select to spend Want dollars on a weekend in expensive hotels. The key is to spend only the allocated funds on Wants (Warren and Tyagi suggest using cash so you don’t overspend) and to spend in ways that you love.
As I align my Must-Haves with my income, I can stop trying to “keep up with the Joneses” and enjoy the life we have. As my income increases, I will increase Savings and Wants. For now, that means no yard, no dog, no private schools. It also means vacation, French classes, swim club, and bicycles.
I got through the potentially most expensive stages of parenting: fertility clinics and infant childcare. It took guts, savings, and faith. Warren and Tyagi acknowledge that there are time periods in every person’s life when their recommended financial balance is not achievable: unemployment, starting a new career, beginning a family. All of these time periods are temporary. Yet, even during these time periods, possibly when total spending exceeds income, it is important to allocate some minimal funds to Wants. Know how much “fun money” is available and enjoy every sip of your latte!
Jean M. Hoff is a Single Mother by Choice, raising two daughters, Gretchen and Carolyn, and remembering her son Isaac (1/10/2002 – 1/17/2002, SIDS). She works for a wealth management firm in the Washington, D.C., area and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is developing a generic Spending Plan spreadsheet to track expenses using the “All Your Worth Categories” and would like to share it with SMCs who have read the book. She welcomes comments on this article and suggestions for future articles. The opinions expressed are Ms. Hoff’s and SMC can take no responsibility for them.
WHAT'S THE BUZZ?
Want to be a Contact Person for SMC in your area? The primary purpose of the CP is to welcome new members of SMC and to let them know what is happening on the local level. You may also want to contact current members and start organizing a local chapter meeting. As the CP, you could contact the local members and start to run local meetings or set up an organizational meeting for the local members where the roles and responsibilities of a local chapter are distributed amongst those who are interested in having an active chapter. If you’re interested, contact the SMC office at email@example.com.
Karen Avery (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the new CP for Sussex County, NJ. She’d be happy to hear from any members in the area who might be interested in getting together.
Jennifer Mayer (Jennifer.Mayer@pepsi.com) is a new CP for the Westchester County, New York. If you’d be interested in getting together, she’d be glad to hear from you.
Lizabeth Zack is a new CP for the Spartanburg, South Carolina area. She can be reached at email@example.com.
SMC is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. In these difficult economic times, we especially need your contributions to ensure that we are able to continue our work. If you would like to contribute to SMC, please send your tax-deductible contribution to SMC, Box 1642, New York, NY 10028 if you are paying by check. If you would prefer to pay by credit card, you can do so via PayPal by either going to our renewal page(www.singlemothersbychoice.com/renew.html; scroll down to see the donation section) or by going right to PayPal and using the “send money” feature with the SMC email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) as the designated address. All contributions are tax deductible as permitted by law and all monies received will go to the fund. We will send you an acknowledgement of your contribution upon receipt
My Mother’s Hands
by Bobbi Kyle
adoptive mother to Lilliana
(3 1 ⁄2, adopted from Nepal at 10 months)
After I washed the bottle,
Changed her diaper
Wiped her nose—
Soft and creased
Smelling of onions and soap.
A scar from an acid burn in high school.
A history behind them,
A whole lifetime ahead of them.
They were Grammy’s too.
Sewing, stroking my arm,
Primping her hair.
Delicate pinky, crooked
from nerve damage.
Now they are mine.
And when I hold my daughter,
Your daughter, her daughter,
I feel you both there.
Strength and love, held like water
Captured in the palms, in the creases.
I hold Lilly’s hand in mine
And see all the hands that hold her.
Palms outlined by palms,
Outlined by palms, stretching back
The Book Corner
by Shelby Siems
Maya’s Journey Home (Suitemates Publishing) by Susan E. Lindsley and SMC Tina L. Christiansen is a sweet story about a baby panda living in a Chinese orphanage. She and her best friend are well cared for by their nannies. But one day they overhear older bears talking about mommies and daddies. Then they begin to see adult bears come in, cry, smile, and leave with a baby.
Maya wishes for an adult bear to take her home too. Before long, a polar bear does just that. The same day a brown bear adopts her best friend. They know they will miss each other, but they are happy to finally get their own mommies. Reading this story to your young newly adopted child would be a wonderful way to explain adoption to him or her. The child will begin to grasp the process on its most basic level. The exquisite watercolor illustrations by Wendy M. Cannon that adorn the book, which was published by the company for which Ms. Christiansen serves as president, will keep children of all ages entranced. This is a keepsake for any family that includes an adopted child and would be of interest to kids in other SMC families as well.
Got a new person in the house? Send the information to email@example.com. Be sure to include all the vital statistics. And congratulations to all our new moms!
Toni Cooper just wanted to announce the birth of my perfect little angel! She was born four weeks early (due to my high-blood pressure) on November 17, 2008, via Csection. She was 6lb. 13.5oz, and 20in. She is doing wonderfully and got to come home with me the day I left. In fact, her doctor jokingly asked if I was sure she was only a 36-weeker! Big brother Chase couldn’t be happier and isn’t even annoyed (yet) when she cries.
Erika Hall is happy to announce the birth of daughter, Elina Madison Hall, on November 25, 2008, at 1:12 p.m. She was 6lb, 7oz. Sheis a wonderful blessing.
Rachel Janowitz announces the birth of Sydney Rose on October 9, 2008. Yes—that’s 10.9.08. It has to be good luck! She was 8lbs, 5oz, and 21.5in. I couldn’t have asked for a happier, more delicious little girl! She’s everything I had hoped for and I am over the moon in love!
By the Grace of God, Sandra Lanzel announces the arrival of Adam Everett Lanzel on October 10, 2008, at 31weeks. He was 4lb, 3oz, and 17in. After spending six weeks in NICU, Adam came home at a healthy 6lb, 7oz, and 19in. Our little miracle is getting to know his big sister, Emily, and enjoying all the hugs and kisses from her and Mom. We are counting our blessings each and every day and look forward to our future adventures together!
Connie Lyndon is thrilled to announce the arrival of her daughter, Casey Michelle, on December 12, 2008. She arrived in the midst of a classic Canadian snowstorm and a full moon, at 7:52 p.m. Casey was 6lbs, 11oz at birth, and at 6 weeks had already hit the 10-pound mark! She is so beautiful and fun, and I love being her mummy. I cannot stop kissing her!
Sheri Lippman is overjoyed to welcome Spencer Jack to our family. He was born on February 7, 2008, and was 7lb, 9oz, and 19in. He was welcomed with open arms by big sister Briella With overwhelming happiness,
Laura McFarlen announces the birth of her son, Samuel Howard. He chose to arrive early on January 16, at 5:31 p.m., healthy and handsome. He was 6lbs, 11oz, and 19in. and grows stronger by the minute. God has blessed me and given me what I asked of him. First Sam was only a dream in my heart, then he lived under my heart. Now he is my heart.
Roberta Scott is proud to announce the birth of her son, Jesse Austin Douglas Scott. He was born on June 29, 2008, 3:31 p.m. He was 8lbs, 14oz, and 22inc. Jesse’s birth is a lifelong dream come true for me. He is a happy and healthy little boy and my miracle baby. Having Jesse has added so much fun and joy to my life. Motherhood has been such a wonderful experience so far, and I look forward to all our adventures together in the future.
Carma Wallace enthusiastically announces the arrival of William Dylan King Wallace. He arrived quickly and two weeks early on November 17, 2008. My easy pregnancy turned into such a fast delivery that both my ob and my mom missed the big moment.
Susan Whitaker joyfully announces the arrival of Luke Peter William Whitaker on December 8, 2008, at 12:02 p.m. He was 7lb, 5oz. and 20.25in. Luke is the love of my life. I have never been happier.
ABOUT THIS NEWSLETTER
This newsletter is published quarterly by Single Mothers by Choice Inc., a nonprofit founded in 1981. Annual subscriptions to this newsletter are included free with a membership ($55 for first year, $35 for renewal) or by subscription at $25 per year. Give a friend a gift. We are a nonprofit 501(c) corporation, and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
We welcome submissions of original material. All material is published at the discretion of SMC and may be edited. SMC claims sole editorial authority and responsibility for the contents. Articles published in this newsletter represent the views of the author and not necessarily that of SMC. Send submissions to Shelby Siems at the SMC office or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SMC accepts advertising at the rate of $1,000 per page (adjusted proportionately for fractions of a page). Classified ads or announcements from our members for noncommercial ventures are accepted without charge.
Jane Mattes, CSW, the publisher of the newsletter, is the founder of SMC and author of Single Mothers by Choice: A Guidebook for Single Women Who Are Considering or Have Chosen Motherhood. Jane is also a psychotherapist and can be reached at (212) 988-0993, at email@example.com, or at the SMC office at Box 1642, Gracie Square Station, New York, NY 10028.
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