Jessica asks:

Does Ruth still remind you of Ruth from the bible?

Haven’t thought about that in awhile! Honestly . . . no. I want to mumble something about steadfastness, which would be accurate if incomplete, but since I started the blog, Ruth has more or less cut her mother out of her life, which is pretty much the antithesis of the biblical Ruth.

Why did you pick the name Nora?

After the woman in A Doll’s House; my impression is that Nora is very much not what her parents expected, and that they wanted their only daughter to be a princess—a doll—rather than a butch lesbian. Nora has managed to become herself and maintain good relationships with her parents and brother, which I greatly admire.

Also, you said at one point that you were only planning to raise one child.  Do you still feel that way?

Well, I’ve gone back and forth for a long time. I most of the time have wanted to raise two children, and Mr. Book wanted to raise only one before Joey. Then we had Joey, and I wanted to raise only him, and Mr. Book was enthusiastic about parenting again—and both for the same reason—because we so enjoy Joey. He is so, so great that (as my husband keeps saying) how could we stop at one? Adding another child is rolling the dice again, which makes me a bit nervous. We’re living with my parents now, and they’re just crazy about Joey: What if our possum is more introverted and less warm, and they care for him less? But even when I was most wanting to stop at Joey, I thought about how much I love my sisters and want a similar experience for Joey, and about wanting him not to face it alone when we die. See how sentimental I am? But Mr. Book and I both plan to have one more child. Maybe in May. 😉

As the only man in Cricket’s life, do you think there are things Mr. Book could/would be teaching to Cricket that Ruth and Nora can’t?

This question right here is why it’s taken me so long to put these answers up. At first I was thinking that there are things Mr. Book would be teaching Cricket just because he is himself, and different from Ruth or Nora in ways that have nothing to do with gender; he’s funnier, and loves early rap (you’d better believe that Joey is hearing a lot of De La Soul), and spends more time outdoors. But then I read Playful Parenting, in which Cohen mentions that in studies, boys have been found to be more likely to (e.g.) play with a baby doll if they first see men nurturing babies; I resist this information, but boys apparently look to men in specific and gender-y ways to see what they should do, and what men do. I admit, if I had known this way back when, I would have tried to choose a gay couple instead of a lesbian couple; I thought it didn’t matter, and now I think that maybe it does matter. Not that lesbians cannot be fabulous mothers to their sons! And provide them with male role models, and so forth. But I am more and more believing that Cricket may grow up to feel the lack of a dad—not of parents, but of a male parent—especially since he has Mr. Book somewhere just out of sight, the tall person who seems to fascinate him. I said something vague one time about Mr. Book being Cricket’s only male parent—not a parenting parent, I was clear—and Ruth Flipped Out. I wonder how she would answer this question. (My guess: “No.”)

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KF asks:

I hope this isn’t too personal, but I’ve wondered how the adoption has affected your relationship with Mr. Book. Is there any resentment towards each other over the adoption?

The summer after the adoption—when we’d just married and moved to Stumptown, and Cricket was 6–9 months old—it was affecting the relationship quite a bit, and that’s part of why I started this blog. I was incredibly angry at the Mister, blaming him for the adoption: not the honeymoon period you’d hope for. Funnily enough, the turning point—the point at which I realized that I needed to really start working through this stuff—came when someone I barely know said “Hey, didn’t he want to parent?” Ah, yes. Adoption was his third choice. I had actually blocked out that in order to blame him, which is pretty awful but the unfortunate truth.

I finally reconciled myself to the fact that in fact I was the one who chose adoption. He never held anything against me, and when I encouraged him to do so, pointed out that he could have stopped it and didn’t; we both regret the decision, but we’re both in it together.

Now we’re both just sad together. Whenever something new happens (we visit a new place, or we move, or Joey hits a new milestone), we talk about what it would be like to have both of our boys here with us.

And a second question – You have written that your mother was firmly against the adoption. How did your dad and your sisters respond when you decided to place Cricket? What are their feelings now?

My father also opposed the adoption, although less noisily; my sisters were cautiously interested, and I worry that Tammy saw my decision as a judgment of her choice to have abortions (it wasn’t). Mr. Book’s family was outraged, saw it as proof that we were both worthless, and have mostly cut both of us out of their lives (this is his mother’s family; his father’s family don’t know about Cricket). My parents rallied more or less as soon as the papers were signed—I am their daughter, they love me, and that’s more important than anything else. They did, however, start pushing me to get pregnant again right away. The Mister’s mom will speak to him on the phone, but has told him that she is only able to do so by pretending that Cricket is dead. She also behaves as though I do not exist, which must make their conversations somewhat strained. She does, however, acknowledge Joey: she has sent clothes for him, and likes to get the pictures I send every couple of months.

My family regrets the adoption, too, and they have excellent reason to; Ruth and Nora aren’t interested in any kind of relationship with our extended families. This isn’t the impression I had gotten from them during the match, but here we are. Ruth has told me that she has her own nutty mom to deal with, and one is enough. My father, sisters, and little brother have seen Cricket once, when Mr. Book and I tied the knot—my mother saw him then, and the day he was born. My parents send a birthday book to him every year, which is accepted but not acknowledged.