December 17, 2014

#WondrousWednesday - Spectrum Productions

I absolutely love Spectrum Productions. They're a Montreal-based group for Autistic teens/young adults to get experience with film production and just have a good time. They learn all aspects of production - sound, animation, and even some acting! They used to be called Camera Roll Productions and changed their name just recently.

You can check out their trailer and I posted some of my favourite videos they've made so far:

November 26, 2014

How Have I Been?

Basically, I felt I needed more job security, so since September I've been working a second (part time) job. So I'm doing about 12 hours extra work a week over my full time job.

After a year of seeing doctors and trying to figure out my abdominal pains, we've finally discovered I have tumours on my liver, right ovary and uterus.

The month of November has been filled with death: just found out today a fifth member of my family has died. I feel like all I do is shop for flowers and baskets for people.

I spent the day at my great-aunt's funeral. I'm drained and tired and headachey. But I got to spend time with my British cousins, which is always fun.

I got a letter home from the Little Man's school that head lice is going around. Oh yay!

So goes the roller coaster of my life.

November 24, 2014

Coping With the Reality of Asperger: Sandra Petojevic at TEDxGöteborg

Sandra Petojevic is an amazing story teller. She talks about how the way she sees the world, through the Asperger's lens, colours the characters of her fantasy trilogy novels. She uses allegory to bring you into this creative fantasy world - learning about both it and living on the spectrum at the same time.

It's both fantastic and fascinating. I hope you enjoy every minute.

November 21, 2014

My Life With Asperger's: Daniel Wendler at TEDxUniversityofArizona

I really like this guy! (I don't know him, I just like him from his video and site) I just like how grateful he is for his friendships and it looks like he has a successful system he created. I am going to try some of his tips out.

His site is 

Maybe I'll report back after I get some of the basics down.

November 19, 2014

You Don't Just Give Kids Away

I just read this awful story about a family in BC who adopted a child and then decided they didn't want him any more, so they just left him with a woman in the States they met online.

I'll forgive you if you need to read the above sentence more than once before it sinks in.

I cannot for the life of me understand why instead of looking for help or resources in their community, they chose to spend their time in chat rooms with strangers. Then they spent time and money travelling to the US to bring the 5-year-old there.

Instead of all that planning and plotting, they could have taken parenting classes. Or gotten respite. Or therapy. Or whatever they needed to deal.

On the plus side, the child was not harmed (well, not physically at least) - I mean, thank goodness they did not hurt or try to kill him. This story could have been much worse! But I still don't understand their logic and lack of love. I also don't understand why they are not charged with neglect, endangerment or abandonment.

Apparently this happens much more often than we hear about and mostly with international adoptions. It's called a "failed adoption" or "rehoming." I wonder what it is about the process that potential adoptive parents just don't understand that you don't just give kids away. Why aren't these parents being questioned more strictly? Or why don't they know what to do once they're home?

Also, why did I bother going through the adoption process, getting security checks and all, when I could have just gone online and someone would hand over a kid to me? Geez. I'm doing it all wrong!

What a strange world we're in.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Follow the Twitter hashtag #NAAM and #flipTheScript

See also: 4 Myths About Adoption
and National Adoption Awareness Month

November 17, 2014

Love Needs No Words

I can probably count on one hand how many times I have heard the words "I love you" spontaneously come out of my son's mouth, but I still know I am loved.

I never heard those words come out of my father's mouth once, but I still know I was loved.

I never heard those words come out of some of my lover's mouths, but I still know I was loved.

There are different love languages and ways of expressing emotion, but we all feel something. We all give and receive in our own ways.

I am writing in reference to quotes from a psychologist in an NBC article about the murder of London McCabe:

Dee Shepherd-Look, a psychology professor at California State University, Northridge, who runs an education group for mothers of autistic children, said “quite frankly, I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often.” 
“These children are really unable to be in a reciprocal relationship and the moms don’t really experience the love that comes back from a child — the bonding is mitigated,” she told NBC News. “That is one of the most difficult things for mothers.” 
Shepherd-Look said autistic children can also be “rigid and oppositional.” 
“A mother told me yesterday, her whole entire day is consumed just by activities of daily living — getting up, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast,” she said. “Moms are really on duty 24/7.”

There are quite a few things wrong with these statements.

First off, no parent-child relationship is 100% reciprocal. Does a newborn give you hugs and say, "I love you"? No, babies take and take and take. Once in a while you might get a smile, but it's definitely one-sided.

For a very large chunk of their lives, your child will need you and rely on you a whole lot more than you should ever need them. This is a reality of parenting. If you got into parenting for selfish reasons, you only have yourself to blame and you'd probably benefit from some therapy to get over yourself.

It is not your child's job to love you. It's not even their job to like you. If you need love, find a partner, an equal, who can share love with you. Your child is not a replacement for a void of love and self-esteem in your heart.

If you are unable to see the smiles, love and affection your child gives you in many ways, every day, then either you have not loved them enough for them to be able to do that, or you are totally oblivious. Both cases require professional help. This is NOT the child's fault. It is YOUR failing - as an adult and as a parent.

And "Moms are really on duty 24/7"? Well, welcome to reality, but did you think you would just sit and watch soaps while eating bonbons all day? Also, that should say, "parents" are on duty. Dads or Mom-Dads or whatever partner should be "on" too. If you have a partner and they're not right along side with you in every way, doing their part to make things work, that's another issue. Again, that is NOT the child's fault. YOU need to work that out.

I don't think having my "entire day consumed just by activities of daily living" is limited to autism families. It sounds like a normal day to me, but hey, maybe I'm just special. Also, guess what? You don't have to wash the whole house every day. You don't even have to change your clothes. Just make sure the kid is fed and relatively clean. The rest is gravy.

None of these things are an excuse to kill someone! In fact, the only time I think it *might* make sense to kill someone is if they were trying to kill you first. And even then, if you can just injure them to thwart attack, that seems better. I'm pretty sure her 6-year-old didn't try to kill her. And I'm pretty sure little London loved his mom up until the moment he died.

I'm writing this, as a mom who hardly hears "I love you" from her child, but feels it in many ways. I see it in his smile and in his puppy dog eyes. I see it in the way he crawls into my bed when he is sick and sticks up against me like a little barnacle. I see it in the way he asks me for help and in the ways he asserts himself and doesn't want my help. Those actions come from a place of love, security and trust.

I'm writing this as a mom who works full time and is at work right now despite sleep deprivation - from the last few nights with a sick and clingy child in my bed. I am writing this, secure in the fact my husband is taking care of him well, because his job is more flexible and I will lose mine if I take more days off.

I am writing this secure in the fact I know my son is loved because that is more important to me than being loved.  I tell him with words every day. I tell him with my gentle and loving actions. And when I ask him if he knows he is loved, he says, "yeah, I know."

November 14, 2014

4 Myths About The Adoption Process

Since we announced our decision to adopt locally, we've heard all sorts of warnings, issues and problems people have heard from "someone who knows someone who adopted and...".

We've also heard how "amazing" or "blessed" we must be to even contemplate such a thing. So I want to straighten out a few things about our case and how the system (here at least) works.

Myth #1: It's Expensive!

We looked into international adoption previously and the cost depends on the country in question. Even then, it's not representative of the cost of the child. The costs are mostly legal, agency and travel fees, as well as a donation to the orphanage. Do not ask people how much their child cost them!

In our case, we're doing local adoption, and agency fees are paid for by the government. What we have paid for so far was our police background check ($125 each), and for doctors to fill out our medical forms ($170 total). Once the adoption is finalized, we can pay for an updated birth certificate - like we would for any other child. I hardly see that as expensive. I spent more money on tests and scans when I was pregnant, quite honestly.

I also want to stress we're not rich. While we are paying for a house, we're also paying off the debt from huge renos last year. While I believe we could survive off of one income, it wouldn't be fun and it wouldn't be mine! I wouldn't want to lose my job without something lined up either. So we are ok, but I wouldn't want to rock the boat too much either.

They look for the basics: you have food in the fridge, a functioning bathroom, a room for the new child, and a washing machine. Is the house/apartment safe and clean? Ok, you're good!

Myth #2: It's Invasive!

We had to have friends and our bosses comment on our character. Good friends are helpful and supportive, so I don't see this as a big deal. They know us best and I have no problem with them vouching for us.

We had to have our bank sign off on our financial situation. I guess some people could be put off by this, but I really have nothing to hide.

The home study was grueling, I'll admit, because we had to rehash everything about our childhoods, which in our cases, weren't the happiest times. I presume others might have a better time with this if they weren't abused. But still, I have nothing to hide. While my past did shape me into the person I am today, I am not ashamed of who I have become. My childhood experiences influence how I choose to parent (attachment/gentle parenting) and I think they should know that.

Yes, it's true, most people don't get questioned before they pop out a baby (often by accident). Most people don't get asked about health, financials and emotional or physical capabilities. But life isn't fair and adoption is not about being fair - it's about doing the best for the child given the situation they have been unfairly placed in.

So yes, it's certainly a more invasive process than had I chosen to use my uterus again, but it's not that bad given the situation, providing you are open, realistic, secure, and upfront about your life and situation. If you are in some sort of blissful denial about your life or financial stability, it will be exposed and it will create problems.

Myth #3: The Child Is Going To Have Problems

Sweetheart, if you want a perfect child, don't have one because it's NOT POSSIBLE! People are flawed. Children are people. Ergo, children are flawed. No one is perfect!

Life is full of problems. Should I stop living because there will be problems?

Also, in case you didn't notice already, I have a disability, and my child has a disability. If the next child is too normal, it won't fit into our family nicely. lol

So hey, maybe the child will have problems, but the child also needs love and a family, and I think that sorta trumps the potential problem issue. If and when there are problems we will deal with them as a family, because that's what families do, amirite?

Myth #4: They're Going To Take The Child Away!

Well, the first family has 30 days to change their mind after placement, so yes, they can take the child back. It's their RIGHT. It is the child's RIGHT. People have rights and those rights should be respected. I don't have any rights in this part of the process because the child is not an object and not my possession. I did not buy it at a store and then get robbed. I am granted guardianship for a short time before the first family relinquishes their rights - if they choose.

Will I be sad? For sure. But it's a chance I take. If I had used my body, I could also have a miscarriage, a stillbirth or a child who dies shortly after birth. These are all potential losses.

But I refuse to make choices governed by the fears of "what if?" My job as a parent is to do right by whatever child I am lucky enough to raise. My job is to give love. My job is to help them become the best person they can be. If I only get to do that for a few weeks, I will do that. If I only get to do that for a few hours, I will do that. I will do that until the minute I die.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month. Keep learning more by following the Twitter hashtag #NAAM