Starting with otherwise, I’ve recently become fixated on the idea of adopting a baby… duck. It’s clearly a misdirected function of my biological clock, but it’s very real, regardless. Our neighbor across the street invited us to a small-animal petting zoo in her backyard a few weeks ago (she had some sort of work function at her house for an entire Saturday, and hired the zoo to entertain her colleagues’ kids); Kaspar and I trotted over when he woke from his afternoon nap. He was fairly interested in the bunnies, guinea pigs, chicks and – yep – ducklings as they toppled over each other within the enclosed zoo area, but I was downright enthralled. Kaspar sat on a little bench and held a few critters, and soon lost interest (he wanted to play on our neighbor’s slide). Me? I didn’t stray from MY little bench, which was clearly meant for toddler butts, until the zoo was practically packed up and rolling away in the van it arrived in. When it—and I—finally left, I had ducklings on my mind.
I’ve done a little research, and ducklings are, as it turns out, quite easy to care for. They’re social, so they should be raised at least in pairs. They also need a solid enclosure, fresh hay on the daily, and proper amounts of food and water. Eventually, they appreciate a kiddie-pool for swimming in (this should be supervised when they’re very small, lest they accidentally drown). That’s about it. Our fenced, medium-sized backyard would (will) be perfect for this. As to where our ducklings will come from, the petting zoo lady informed me they can be purchased, here in Austin, at a local feed and farm-stuff store, Callahan’s. I kind of feel badly buying an animal that’s been taken from its mother, though; I’ve always adopted my pets. So I did some additional research and discovered there was a stray duckling at an animal shelter in Dallas in 2009, but other than that, homeless ducks are hard to come by; all of the Texas duck rescue websites I found are now defunct.
To make matters (by which I mean, my longing for a duckling to call my own) worse, there’s now a family of ducks in our neighborhood. They live in the fountain-pond by its entrance. I’ll admit I’ve daydreamed of duck-napping one of the flock, but, all told, I don’t have it in me. So, it’ll either be Callahan’s or an unlikely stray that ends up joining our family. I’ve put the word out among friends (and now you readers), so I’m hoping a motherless duckling appears, right on cue, at our door. If you build it, they will come, right? In the meantime, Aaron still needs some convincing. (He just keeps looking at me funny and saying, “What you want, Taylor, is a baby.”)
Click "Read More" below for the rest of the post! (Plus, delicious baby pics).
This will be true, if and when baby #2 does materialize. We were hit hard by tax season this year, and are now paying off last year’s taxes through the end of this year via a hefty, unforeseen $600 monthly bill (so much for freelance success…). My previously expressed hesitation around having a second child due to its financial implications hasn’t, as a result, eased up. And, when I thought I was pregnant, I was surprised to find many of my other hesitations have also remained intact: Kaspar still isn’t sleeping soundly, and I’m still quite afraid that a second biological child would suffer from severe allergies and skin issues in the way Baby Kaspar did. We love, love, love our Kaspar to the moon and back, but I’m honestly not sure we could survive all that a second time, especially with a child who’s already here and needs looking after. Still, in thinking I might be pregnant, I was surprised by a small voice in my head that welcomed a second baby if one happened to be battering up in my insides. Because, hey, we’re good parents, Kaspar’s sweet, social and increasingly sibling-ready, and we all have a lot of love to give, if not a lot of extra cash lying around at present. (I should add that I’ve been lucky in getting extra freelance work to cover that tax payment each month without our having to tighten our belts too much… Of course we’ll have to pay off this work in taxes next year, once we’ve spent it on taxes this year… Sigh. Let’s just hope hard that Mitt Romney’s not sitting in office at that point or this will really all be a sick, twisted wash).
I was also surprised that Aaron’s response to my suggestion that I might be pregnant wasn’t “Uh oh,” or something similar. He said instead that he’d pick up a pregnancy test for me on his way home – he was heading out for the day when I dropped the maybe-pregnant bomb . But I couldn’t wait. Our next-door neighbor (and one of my closest mom-buddies) toted me along on her daily Starbucks run, and we swung by CVS on the way home.
It was ten in the morning. I ran in, grabbed two boxes with two digital tests in them, each, and put them matter-of-factly on the counter at the register. Now, I’ve done this enough times to know the routine by heart; normally, the cashier will mumble a neutral greeting, put the tests in a paper bag, put that paper bag in a regular plastic bag, charge my card and send me on my way without so much as batted lash. Not this time. The woman behind the counter (45, maybe 50?) eyed my intended purchase and said, “Two isn’t enough for you?” Lash batted.
To which asshole-lady said (because, really, that should have been enough ‘friendly’ banter on the subject), “most people have extra drinks in their homes, but you have extra pregnancy tests.”
Me: Blank stare.
Her: “They’re expensive, you know. Girls are more expensive because of the ruffles and boys are just t-shirt and pants, but they only get worse as they get bigger, when they’re teenagers. Blah-blah-blah-nonsensical blah-blah.”
Me: “Do you take Visa? Great. Yeah, have a good one.”
I left, but upon reflecting on how very, very shitty it would have been to engage in that conversation were I in any number of situations other than my own (unwanted pregnancy? Months of unsuccessful IVF? Fearful of miscarriage? Abuse victim? Drunk anonymous sex regretful?), I called the CVS a few hours later and spoke to a manager, who took the situation very seriously, apologized sincerely and said she’d “take care of it.” (She sounded pissed).
Aaaanyway, that worked for me. In other news: not pregnant.
I was relieved with the negative result, but the little misadventure left me reflecting on the duckling thing, and on what Aaron had said about it. Do I want a baby?
I kind of do, yeah. Actually, yes, I do want a baby! Maybe not right NOW, but the near-future is looking more realistically like an okay place for family expansion. Aaron’s getting there, as well, judging from his reaction to my maybe-pregnancy. But you know what? I really don’t want to be pregnant again (as much as I loved being pregnant, and I did). I really want to adopt. A duckling, and a baby. In that order. Tick-tock, tick-tock.
We’ll need to make more money for adopting a baby, too, but I’m not worried about it. The money shows up, you know? If it manifests for middle-class-oppressive tax payments, it certainly shows up for babies. So I walked around with ducklings, and overseas adoption, on my mind for several days, and then my friend Jenn, who frequently puts together news segments (she’s a local TV reporter) on foster kids in need of families, asked me why I was thinking about flying to China instead of adopting a baby here at home. I thought it over and told her the truth.
For one thing, I know healthy infants are adopted up like hotcakes here in the states, and there are lots of babies overseas who need families but never get them. I also used to look at available foster kids online when I was in college (see? I’ve always wanted to do this), and it appeared that most of them have sibling groups attached, or really severe disabilities, or are older than baby-age. I wish I could say that I’m game for this, and maybe I will be when Kaspar’s in college or something, but I’m not up for adopting a group of siblings, or a wheelchair-bound, brain-damaged child who’ll always, always need assistance with basic life tasks, at this point in my life, as much as it rips my heart out that some of those children don’t have families to love them. We already have Kaspar, and keeping him healthy and well is a big job. I recognize that all kids have their own unique needs, and we’ll need to be prepared to meet the needs our second child brings us, too. But I think it’s important to be really, super honest with oneself about any personal limitations when it comes to subjects like this. Spelling them out can make the process, even in its idea-phases, feel uncomfortably like baby-shopping, but it’s still crucial to think these things through. I suppose at some point, if we take the domestic adoption route, we’ll probably sit down and discuss all of this with a professional of some sort, and from there it’ll be about opening our arms and hearts and inviting the universe to land our second child – wherever he or she is -- in our laps, right where she or he belongs. (I can’t wait).
I looked around Texas’ foster care and adoptions website later that day, and read several families’ adoption stories; as it turns out, many families do adopt healthy babies through the state. My vision surrounding international adoption is possible in the here, too. I know, of course, that real life is filled with surprises; my vision may be replaced by something I can’t even imagine now, but at this point I feel like we have a whole new set of options to explore, when the time comes. Adopting a baby, or young child, from the state/foster care system might be something we end up doing; it’ll certainly be something we look into.
So, as I mentioned, Aaron discussed all of this, and then decided to let it be for now. When Kaspar turned two, we talked about a second baby, and decided to move on it, if we want to, when Kaspar turns three. There’s plenty of time. That time will pass quickly, too, though; Kaspar’s already almost two and a half. Which means by this time next year, we might be a family of four. Whoa, right?!
In other seemingly unrelated (but totally relevant… like the duckling thing) news, our house has been host to a bevy of babies in the last week, hence the photos in this post. That’s been tons of fun, and has reminded Aaron and me of what babies are all about (pure deliciousness + sheer exhaustion). I’ve watched Kaspar’s behavior around our small visitors, too, and he’s been fascinated, a little stand-off-ish, and gentle. He’s watched them closely (and, hilariously, asked with concern where they’ve disappeared to when their moms have hid them beneath nursing covers). He’s asked to hear his own birth story a lot lately, too. (“It was snowpocalypse, 2010, and the mayor of New York City closed all the schools… And Kaspar was ready to be born.”) As he begins to grasp the very concept of babies, and of himself having been one not long ago, I sense he’s approaching a stage where he’ll be able to adjust to having a new sibling around here, too. I know he’ll be an amazing big brother, and I think he’ll love that role (I so hope he will, at least most of the time) when it comes time to step up.
In the meantime, I’m expecting a duckling any day now. As always, I’ll keep you posted.
I would love to hear some happy adoption stories. Have you gone the international route? Adopted from foster care? I have several friends in New York who’ve adopted older children out of foster care and into happy, beautiful families. They’re all single moms who didn’t have other kids beforehand, though; how about blended biological-adopted families? What’s your family’s story? What should we know or look into as we take our first tentative steps on this journey (since at this point we’ve just agreed to explore these options, for serious, in just under a year from now)?