Monthly Archives: November 2011

Pregnant with number 20

I know a lot of people think Michelle Duggar is a tad over the top by having baby number 20 at age 45.  But, as an older mother of only 5 children, I have to say I stand in awe.  I, too, had an infant when I was 45.  I gained 35 pounds with him, and he was adopted.  After the first week, I crawled out of the house and bought the book, What to Expect the First Year.  I was in peri-menopause and couldn’t remember what I was supposed to expect.  The book said, “Should be able to hold head up by week three.”   Uh…no.  I couldn’t do that until he was six weeks, and even then I needed help.  At week five, it stated, “Should be able to focus on, and pick up a raisin.”  Still working on that one, and it’s been 8 years, although I have mastered mini-Snickers.

After he was born, I decided to skip the whole infant thing altogether with my next bundles of joy, figuring I’d just go out and get a couple of darlings that were already able to fix their own breakfast, so we adopted through foster care.  Michelle, seriously, give it a shot.  It’s super rewarding and much easier on the body.

I look at Michelle and Jim Bob’s family and wish I had heard of them back when I was first starting my family.  First of all, they name all their kids with names beginning with the letter “J”.  As an older mom, I think this is brilliant.  I can’t even remember my name on most days so when my little darling holds up a drawing of a blob, I can boldly say, “Why J.J.! That’s an amazing…thing you drew there!”  Secondly, from experience, I can tell you that simply getting my hair combed on any given soccer or piano day is a major accomplishment and Michelle looks awesome.  If I’d birthed 20 kids, I’d look like Jaba the Hut’s ugly step-sister.  Thirdly, the fact that she has any kind of libido left at all is a testament to her supreme dedication to grow her family.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar take a lot of flack for raising and taking care of and an interest in every single one of their beautiful children.  I know a lot of parents who only have one kid who couldn’t tell you where they were or what they have written on their Facebook pages.  Would I recommend giving birth to 20 children?  Heck no!  But would I want to be a part of their family?  I’m waiting for them to discover adoption.  And, when they do, I want to be first in line.

Carolyn

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Weight gain

BIG, BAD DOG. The End.

When last we parted, Buster the Giant Foster Dog had made clear that he didn’t like the new human mommy the shelter had chosen for him.  The day before I was supposed to wrestle him into the car to go home with said mom, I awoke in the wee hours of the morning certain that I was participating in a crime against the big, sweet, lovable  lug. Kinda like giving Orphan Annie to Miss Hannigan.

Unable to sleep, I prayed, turned on my computer and, voila–an email whose subject line read, “Do you still have the dog?” I didn’t know the sender, but several days earlier, I had sent an e-mail describing Buster to a dog-loving friend of mine.  Apparently, a gentleman who was fixing her computer “accidentally” read the e-mail and felt a months-long depression lift.  Get this:  He’d had a 100 lb pooch who had sat faithfully with him while he underwent chemotherapy.  Man and dog had adored each other and when the dog developed cancer and died the following year, the man was devastated.  Nothing seemed to cheer him up…until he saw the e-mail.

Well.

I phoned them first thing the next morning.  Certain this was Buster’s true family, I raced to the shelter, where the woman interested in adopting our  convalescent pal was supposed to be filling out her paperwork.  Ticking off the shelter and the woman more and more with every word I spoke, I nonetheless convinced them to give other Buster to the other family. Then I filled out the paperwork on the new family’s behalf (they lived five hours away), phoned them with the great news that Buster was officially theirs, and we had a tearful celebration on the phone.

All this took one and a half hours, during which Buster had been home alone.  He’d been home alone before.  This time he must have sensed something, because…

Oh, holy God in heaven.

In that exciting, celebratory hour-and-a-half, Buster, who had been resting in his usual tongue-protruding stupor when I left, had managed to rouse himself and rip my house to shreds.  Literally shreds.  Shredded curtains in the kitchen, living and dining rooms. (I hated those curtains, anyway.)  Shredded giant picnic basket containing my shredded knitting.  At some point he had climbed onto the kitchen counter and tore the café curtains, rod and all, down from the above-the-window sink.  Cushions had been removed from chairs.  A baby gate was thrashed.  Buster had been busy.  On the bright side, he was obviously feeling more energetic.

On the down side, I had to phone his new family to apprise them of this behavior, plus face my husband whose trust and faith in my judgment I had begged (yes, I’d actually said “have faith in my judgment”) prior to bringing Buster home in the first place.

Buster’s new family was easy:  “Oh-ho, our Bob did the same when he first arrived.  Managed to chew an entire 6 foot fence.  It’s to be expected.  Then they settle right in.”  (And do what?  Eat the drywall?)  Whatever, they wanted Buster just as soon as they could get them.  My friend Su and I loaded Buster (along with about half a pound of bacon as a bribe) into the back of my Outback and off we went. Busty didn’t make a sound.  With the exception of a brief round of projectile drooling (I hope it was drool), he behaved like a perfect gentleman.  If the drive went well, the hand-off to the new family was a moment of true heart, warmth and inspiration.  Hallmark for canines.  I left feeling mighty grateful to have been part of the moment.

My husband kissed me when I got home.  “You did a good thing.  I’m proud of you.  It would be nice to take a break now from fostering dogs.  For a while.  Okay?  I know you still miss Chauncie terribly, but–”

“Sure, honey, sure.  You’ve been so understanding and so tolerant of all the dogs coming in and out of here.”

“Well, it’s all over now.  We’re done fostering?”

“All done.”

He hugged me.  “I’m not going to miss the dog hair.”

“Me either.  I am finished with shedders.”    Buster’s hair had blown out in black tufts that clung like webbing.

So, we returned to our peaceful, dog-less lives.  I stared at photos of my dear Collie girl, the one whose passing had kicked off the round of foster dogs so I wouldn’t have time to cry.  I cried a lot that afternoon, though, missing her gentle licks, the way she cocked her head as she tried to understand her people’s silly babble, the charming way she protected babies.  There would never be another being as kind and sweet and easy. …

So why wait?  I had agreed not to get another foster dog.

Within a week, I had Autumn , who came to us from the Humane Society.  There was a sign on her cage that said, VERY NERVOUS LITTLE DOG.  Little?  Her paws were enormous, with extra toes.  Nervous was correct, though:  She was so scared in the shelter that she wouldn’t stand up in the run.  As for cars?  Pooor baaaaaby.   Such a shy, needy dog.

Who knew she’d hate cats?  Or weigh 65 pounds so quickly?  and no one mentioned that she’d blow her coat twice a year and shed continuously.  I didn’t know.  Honest.

“I’m not walking her,” Tim said when I brought Autumn home.  “I’m not  feeding her or buying Frontline or sweeping four times a day.  This is all yours.”

I agreed, hugging my new bff.

That was five years ago.  Tim has never fed her (anything but leftover roasted chicken, meatloaf and spaghetti…).  He doesn’t buy Frontline; it’s true.  When he sweeps, he just happens to get some of her hair along with the other stuff into the dustpan, and he only walks her because I look like I could use a break.  As for playing with her, I wish he’d rein it in; he keeps her up way too late.

Husbands, wives and pets…gotta love us.

Wendy

P.S.  Buster and his family are still doing great!

1 Comment

Filed under Dogs, Humor, Marriage, Writing

BIG BAD DOG

It’s Friday, and you know what that means at Too Hot Mamas:  It’s time for Thursday’s Tea Time With Wendy.  (Yeah, you got that if you know us at all.)

So, two Thursdays ago, I started to tell you about Buster, the BIG DOG with the even bigger, uh, male parts.  Buster came home from the shelter with me as a medical foster dog, and a more grateful patient you have never seen.  Buster was a delight.

When I walked my new friend, people coming toward us literally crossed the street.  Buster looked mean.  He didn’t intend to, and perhaps it had something to do with having swollen…you know…but Buster tended to scare people.  Perversely, I admit that I found this amusing, because Buster was a giant pussycat–terrified of cars, stairs and anything slippery.  He needed a lot of reassurance.

My husband—the one who just days before had begged me not to bring home another canine—really liked Buster.  It was hard not to.  Buster’s paws looked like snowshoes.  His head was massive.  The dog could eat Manhattan.  And yet, he allowed my then-three-year-old to wrap his body in bubble wrap and pop him.   He’d considerately lie down when a cat came near, so as not to intimidate kitty.  He felt no such duty to consideration regarding other dogs, however, and they—the big, male ones in particular—did not care for him.  Pure envy, if you ask me.  Frequently during walks, I would hear growling from some other mutt.  Buster never backed down, and if he didn’t want to behave on a leash…well, may I just say, “Terribly sorry for all the trouble we caused.”  Given Buster’s size and inherently menacing appearance, non-compliance while strolling through the neighborhood was clearly going to be a problem.  And that car issue…

Busty refused to get within five feet of a moving vehicle.  He would plant himself and that was that.  When I needed to transport him, I asked my husband to help.

Poor Tim.  Able to bench-press more than he weighed, he got Buster into the car, but Buster panicked and jumped out.  At Tim.  Tim’s back went out, and he wound up in bed for a couple of days recuperating with the faithful (and, I am persuaded, repentant) Buster by his side.  Buster slept a great deal at this point.  He was still recuperating from his neutering, after all, poor baby.

After a week or so, the shelter phoned.  Someone had stepped forward to adopt our dear Buster.  We met.  Unfortunately, Buster refused to get in her car.  Refused to walk with her, too, nor did he particularly care to be anywhere near her.  And she was scared of him, which made the adoption a little problematic in my opinion, but the shelter did not share my point of view.  The night before I was supposed to turn him over to his new mama (how this was to be accomplished remained a mystery to us all), I couldn’t sleep, convinced this was the worst dog-human pairing in recent history.

Being a praying gal, I had a talk with God then, at three a.m., got up to have a chat with Buster and to check the e-mail I hadn’t had time for the previous day.  There in my inbox was a note from someone I did not know with the subject line “Do you still have the dog?”

To be continued…on Monday.  Honest.

2 Comments

Filed under Dogs, Humor

PREGNANT AT FIFTY

Too Hot Mamas has an announcement:  One of us is pregnant.

I looked that word up, and the dictionary definition is:  Heavy with child, significant, expectant.  I, Wendy, am all those things.  At fifty-two and fifty, respectively, my husband and I are in the process of adopting from U.S. Foster Care.  Our daughter is delighted and very ready to share her life with a sibling.  My husband is as scared as he was the first time around, I am cleaning out the basement (nesting), and our friends are, variously–supportive, excited, confused and aghast.

I understand the aghast part; I really do.  Our daughter is pretty darn easy, a delightful child with whom we share a terrific relationship.  Our careers are in flux—not easy, not secure, not gifting us with financial resources to spare.  And, WE ARE IN OUR FIFTIES.  So what are we thinking’?

I have many responses, but it all boils down to this:  It’s important to have parents acknowledge your birthday with joy.  To know you can go “home” for Thanksgiving and every other holiday.  To know that unconditionally loving parents accompany your walk through this beautiful, complex, wonderful, treacherous world.  And, far more selfishly:  Becoming adoptive parents is the best thing that ever happened to my husband and me or ever will.

It boils down to the article below.  I invite you to read  about Steven K. Walker.  Whether you’ve ever considered adoption or not, or are a parent or not, his story is a wonderful reminder that the greatest “success” in life is loving someone.

Wendy

From Summer 2011 Adoptalk

by Steven K. Walker

Steven was adopted from foster care at ten. Below he tells of the events that transformed him from an abused child to a national adoption advocate. Follow Steven on Facebook at the official page of Steven K. Walker, Adoption Advocate.

“He’ll never amount to anything.”

Would those words destroy or motivate you? For me, the words simply seemed true; I should be a failure. Statistics would predict that I’m in prison, but that wasn’t my destiny, was it? Who can know for certain if I will amount to anything, and why would they say that?

My story started in August 1987 when Alice, a mentally challenged alcoholic, gave birth to an undersized baby boy (me) in Niagara Falls, New York. There was no father listed on my birth certificate; it could have been any of the men she brought home from the bar most nights.

From the hospital, my mother brought me to a filthy four-room apartment that had only one outside window. There was no crib or baby formula, so Alice fed me whatever she ate. I often slept on a makeshift bed on the kitchen floor while strange men came over to abuse and take advantage of my poor drunk mother.

In November 1988, Alice gave birth to another boy, David. He and I shared everything and it was great because David gave me the attention my mother gave to strangers. Soon, however, life turned into a nightmare.

Alice kept bringing home men and some of them abused David and me physically, sexually, and emotionally. I tried to protect David by hiding us under the kitchen table, me covering him, and a blanket over us both.

If we refused to get out from under the table, the men would swear, rip me off of David, and beat him. When I tried to defend David and fight back, they beat me even more severely. Though I don’t remember specific men, all the abuse is like a vivid Van Gogh painting in my memory that can’t be forgotten or erased. Inevitably it defines, in part, who I am.

Memories ate at me and made me second-guess everything. Was the abuse my fault? What about my mother-why didn’t she defend me against abuse that left me with a dent in the back of my head and hand tremors? Alice never abused us, but she did not keep us out of harm’s way. Later, I came to realize that it wasn’t her fault, and believe now that she tried the hardest she could to keep David and me safe.

Through all the abuse, I cared for David as best I could. I always made sure he was fed before I was. I made certain he had a coat to keep him warm during the cold winters. Soon I became malnourished.

David and I moved into foster care when I was four years old. With our things in black trash bags, we were shoved into the back of county cars, and said goodbye to our mother. It was confusing. I felt like a prisoner, but prisoners know where they’re going and we didn’t. What if we obeyed instead of fighting and hiding?

David and I ended up at a farm, with a mother and father who seemed nice. It was a hardworking Christian family who prayed with us before bed and got us up early to work in the barn. David and I did as they asked.

One morning, the foster mom assigned us to milk the goats. We didn’t understand why this needed to be done and were struggling to comply. The foster mom tried to make it fun by squirting us with milk from the goat’s udder. Unfortunately, the raw milk hit me in the eye. Six years and several surgeries later, I became legally blind in that eye.

With my belongings in another trash bag, I went to the next foster home. My third foster home was supposed to be therapeutic. The mother had a Ph.D. in psychology and was a special education teacher. She claimed she knew how to care for David and me, but also told us that she really wanted a baby girl, not boys.

Just when I started to get close to the father, they pulled the rug out from under me. They claimed that I was a bad influence on David and sent me away. David stayed behind.

From this home I moved to a Pennsylvania group home. At age six, I was the youngest kid there. We had to complete chores to earn rewards but no one taught me how so I often had to do chores over when I messed up the first time. The head of the facility told me I should never have been placed in the group setting.

Imagine my mindset. I was separated from my brother, lied to, and kept in the dark about my future. When I asked where I was going, the response was often, “Do you like ice cream?” People were saying they loved me, but then giving up on me in less than six months.

Next, I moved in with an older couple in Buffalo, New York. They made it clear they didn’t intend to adopt me; they were only fostering to get money for the husband’s heart surgery. I was eight, but was treated worse than the couple’s five-year-old granddaughter because I was “not blood.” This saying irks me. When humans get cut, don’t we all bleed the same color?

On weekends, I visited potential adoptive families-too many to count. They all gave up on me, even the three families who signed the adoption papers. My feelings of hurt and distrust grew.

Just before my ninth birthday, I moved in with a family in North Tonawanda, New York. I knew them a little from having been in respite care with them a few times, including a time when David was there because his family went to Florida. Before I moved in, the family sent me a letter with pictures of the family, house, and school. The letter ended with a question: Did I want to adopt them as parents?

I was hesitant to fall in love, but this family reached out to me. They wore patches to see what it is like to be blind in one eye. They put ice on their hands to simulate tremors. Still, I could not give in. I hit, kicked, spit, bit, and swore. I told the mother that I didn’t have to follow her rules because she was not my real mother.

Her response was always, “I love you no matter what.” She got to know me and saw my broken heart. She learned that I loved sports and invested in hockey goalie equipment so I could take shots at her whenever I was angry. Afterward, she would rock me in her arms, give me a freezer pop, and tell me she loved me.

The mother was always open and honest with me. She and the father tried to answer my questions as best they could without lying. Around the time of Halloween, after I turned ten, they told me that they would only answer my questions if I called them Mom and Dad.

On New Year’s Eve, Mom and Dad took me to Niagara Falls to see the ball drop. At the time, they said, “How great it is to be celebrating both our anniversary and our son.” The words caught me. I chose to be adopted. I got to pick a court date and even change my name. To honor my dad, I took Kevin as my middle name.

On Tuesday, April 1, 1997, I went into the Niagara County Court House as a foster child and came out as Steven Kevin Walker, son of Kevin and Jody Walker. It was a relief, though I still wish I could have been adopted with my brother.

Since my adoption, my family has grown to include another boy and six girls. I graduated from high school at the top of my class, was Student Council president, captain of the football team, and a three-sport athlete. At community college, I was in more than 20 clubs, served as an officer in the student government, and earned my associates degree.

Today I am an adoption advocate. I share my story in the U.S. and Canada, have been published widely, and have appeared on television and in videos. A man in Florida who heard my story donated more than 400,000 suitcases for youth in care so they can move with some dignity instead of having their things stuffed in garbage bags. In 2001, I helped write legislation to keep siblings together in foster care in New York State. In 2006, I got to share my story with then-Senator Hillary Clinton and leave copies of my speech with all 100 senators (including Barack Obama).

The message I hope to convey is: Don’t give up on us. You never know who we can become. Accept each of us as your child; I am simply your son, not your adopted son, or foster son. All of the adoptive families who stick with the children they adopted from foster care are my heroes! Walk in our shoes and you will understand; our love is deep and the best place we have ever lived is the place with the family who keeps us forever.

5 Comments

Filed under Adoption, Children, Motherhood, parenthood