Sunday, June 24, 2007

Adoption: Same Destination, Different Trip

I have two friends who have gone through the adoption process, one is a single mother, the other a working couple. Having followed their stories to happy conclusions I am compelled to write a few words.

First of all, for anyone that thinks parenting through natural birth and parenting through adoption are similar, you are mistaken. They are two worlds far apart. I am not an expert in the process, but I can say this: When my wife and I decided to have our daughter, all we had to do was agree, and try. No one asked us to fill out an application, fly half way around the world, or prove that we had the means or qualifications to be parents. This is the great absurdity of parenting where a man and a woman, qualified or not, can produce offspring. Fall outside this mold, be it same sex couples, single moms, and adopting parents, and you now have to prove to experts or the community that you are up to the task. Unfortunately for adoption, I'm not sure there is a better process.

The stress, uncertainty, and emotional roller coaster I witnessed these parents go through was inspiring to say the least. The process took many months and both parents had to fly overseas twice for interviews and to meet the child they might adopt.

Think about this for a moment.

How would our own parenting experience be if we got to see our 'potential' children as they would be at 9 or 12 months of age and then make a choice based on some logical criteria like looks, health, history, etcetera? It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it?. Parenting is a leap of faith, and our love for our children is instinctive and complete from the moment we meet them. So too it was with these parents, for once they met the child they were emotionally invested. That is, from an emotional standpoint the child they just met was "their child".

Come to think of it, maybe parenting by birth or adoption are not worlds apart: The trip is different, but the destination is the same.

So I commend them for staying the course, and I have no doubt that both they and their children will know all the happiness, frustrations, uncertainty, and fulfillment that being a family brings.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Appearance of the Pearly Whites

The daughter of a good friend is starting to show signs of teething and her mother asked me if I could recommend some teething toys that would offer her some relief.

This request got me remembering our own adventure with teething and how it felt like months before the pearly whites made their appearance. My daughter started with the teething signs quite early. She would drool all the time, and put anything and everything into her mouth. I was thankful that a family member gave her as a gift what later became our favourite teething toy, the Winkel from Manhattan Toy.

When I first received the toy, I could not understand why it was so popular, it looked unusual to me and I wondered how she would find it interesting. But my daughter loved it. She would bite it, suck on it, turn it around, throw it ( many times out of her stroller), stare at it and play with it. I loved it because it was very easy to keep clean, and I could fasten it to her stroller, her car seat or just about anything and she could have easy access to it.

Other teething toys that I found very useful were the ones that you could put in the freezer or fridge. These toys were great during the summer months when it was really hot, the only problem I found with them was that they would loose their coolness quickly. It was necessary to have at least two and to use them while at home where you could put the used one back in the fridge and give them the other cooled one.

Another surprising toy that she loved to sink her mouth into was her Whoozit, she loved to suck or bite its many arms. Though it is too big to take along with you, two great alternatives would be the Baby Whoozit and for more fun the Whoozit Starz Lights & Sounds.

There are many great teething toys for little ones on the market. Something to consider though is that they will not be teething all the time, so if you are going to purchase one, see if they will also find a way to enjoy it before and/or after they have gotten their pearly whites. Though maybe like my daughter they may not be done with putting things into their months for quite some time.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Goodbye Ella

I was doing some research on the Maternity and Parenting Centres in Toronto such as the Ella Centre and Becoming Maternity when I came across the announcement that the Ella Centre will be closing its doors on June 30, 2007.

To say the least I was surprised and sadden by this announcement, the centre is one of the great places in Toronto were parents and parents-to-be can get information and servicest as the Ella Centre from conception and beyond. Founder Amy Harpenny hopes to have the centre re-opened early 2008 and will provide parents with e-newsletters filled with expert advice and support. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the closure you can visit their website.

Becoming Maternity & Parenting Centre also offers a wide selection of classes, workshops, support groups, and counseling programs for parents and expecting parents. They offer classes from Preconception and early pregnancy, Breastfeeding, Fitness and wellness, parenting workshops, Parenting Multiples and Adoption preparation and adjustment workshops.

They also offer many support groups and counseling services for parents, from lactation support, sleep consultants, birth planning, post-partum support, as well as many support programs for parents of adoptive children or those going through the adoption process.

Both these centres were a source for support, information, and socialization. Certainly the Becoming Maternity & Parenting Centre will still provide parents with all the great services, classes, counseling and support that they may need. We also hope to see the Ella Centre return in 2008.