We are a family formed by adoption and most of my readers know that I often write and blog about child welfare and adoption issues. November is National Adoption Awareness Month. I have a series of posts on adoption scheduled to happen each Monday of this month. This is the first of those posts and lucky for all of you, Jockey has reached out to me to offer one special reader a giveaway. So read to the end and follow the directions.
This is our story:
One decade ago we became parents. Hard to imagine it has been that long. We were married nine years before we got the game-changing, life-altering call. It was a long journey. We were married when I was in university and my husband had just finished college. We lived in Kitchener at the time and I was at the University of Waterloo. When I got married I had no interest in children. I was blazing a career path that would be almost everything to me. I wanted more than anything to write. I wanted to make money writing and so I did my undergraduate degree and on to the world of post-graduate at Ryerson in Toronto. Then I got sick again. I have always had health care struggles. When I was a kid I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease. It comes and goes and rears its ugly head from time to time leaving me exhausted and sometimes flat out in pain. I was half way through my graduate work, commuting back and forth to Toronto and working a lot at the Kitchener-Waterloo Record when I got really sick again. That was that. They held my job at The Record, but I couldn’t keep up the crazed pace I had been operating at and so I had to slow down after a summer in the hospital and many pounds of weight loss. People always joke it is easy for you to lose weight because you have Crohn’s. It’s true, but really the only good thing about the disease. Mostly it sucks and it has robbed me of some things: good health, money, a regular childhood. But health care struggles also teach you that you can be infinitely more resilient and resourceful than you ever thought. Anyways, I got better again, had surgery again, felt like the million dollar woman (yes we can rebuild her) got sick and well again and I worked freelancing steadily. I loved my job. I wrote every day and I got paid for it. I learned something new every day. Loved that. Not sure when I started to think about having kids, but I did. In reality I knew my body was simply never going to be able to sustain a pregnancy. I had been too sick and thin and unable to eat for myself without pain. It just didn’t seem even possible. Also I was a bit concerned about passing the disease on to a child. There is a genetic component for Crohn’s Disease. I had been tortured half my life with pain and medical procedures I didn’t want, many of which were archaic in nature, no surprise I had strong feelings about not passing that legacy onto a child. But at least to begin, we started with the fertility doctor hoping to learn something. We began inquiries about infertility drugs and possibilities. We did about one year of treatment for infertility. I tried the early treatments and pills and was interested in pursuing a moderate course of action. But the fertility drugs didn’t work and they made me moody and frankly the whole process was draining. We gave up on that idea. My heart wasn’t in that anyways. Also the endless cycle of waiting, trying to conceive and then falling flat every month when your period starts again well that was sucking my energy and spirit. We never opted for in vitro because I knew it was financially prohibitive and it seemed unlikely to me that it would work at least for us. For us, I felt it would have been a waste of time. We began to make inquiries about how to adopt. We were still living in Waterloo and we had a small apartment. I knew nothing of the process at that point. I just picked up the phone and called whatever Ontario Ministry I thought responsible for adoption and they handed us on to the Waterloo Region Children’s Aid. But neither of us was crazy happy at our jobs. While I loved the line of work, I had fallen into the contract working poor, covering everyone else’s maternity leaves, of the 90s. Hiring freezes were the norm, but contract work meant I never had benefits or job security and I hated that. So I wrote a huge feature about having Crohn’s disease. I was nominated for some awards because of it and I started shopping at other newspapers. It was then that I landed a great full-time job at The London Free Press and we moved.
I worked hard and carved out a reputation earning some more award nominations and things along the way. Again I loved the work and the stories, I was best at the hard news fly by the seat of your pants and race out the door to the train wreck stories. I resisted the lifestyles section as a gender ghetto in my business. Husband got a decent job and we bought a house and then we went knocking on the door of the London-Middlesex Children’s Aid Society. We were ready to adopt. (Part Two next Monday)
The Giveaway and more about Jockey Being Family.
Jockey Being Family has reached out this month to adoptive families. Post-adoption supports are very close to my heart. This month I will speak a couple of times publicly about adoption and I will also field calls as usual from families who are struggling. I help to run a non profit agency called the Canadian Coalition of Adoptive Families.http://www.canadiancoalitionofadoptivefamilies.ca
Jockey is a formidable and amazing advocate for children in care and for adoptive families. This month Jockey is donating one per cent of their sales, all catalog and on line sales, as well as 100 % of their sales from the Jockey Being Family Bear to the Debra Steigerwaldt Waller Foundation for Adoption which funds critical support to children and families after an adoption through our Jockey Being Family nonprofit partners. To help please shop at Jockey this month, www.jockey.com
To win one of these fabulous bears
This one is open to US only. (Sorry Canadians. I am working on more for you.)
Mandatory: Leave me a comment here stating what you will do to celebrate National Adoption Awareness Month or tell me how you became a family. Leave me a way to contact you too. (email is best) In case you win. Thanks and good luck! This one runs all month. One entry per family and Jockey will send directly to the winner. Ends midnight on Nov. 30th
Don’t forget you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent for a child in care.