Sara Whitman

Little by Little

Filed By Sara Whitman | March 15, 2008 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living
Tags: artificial insemination, birth mother, child care, LGBT families, sperm donors

Jake and I were sitting in the back room together. No TV, no video games, he was stuck talking to me.

So... when did you meet Momma Jeani?

In 1989.

How old were you?

I do the math. I can't quite believe it.


She was on the volleyball team?

Yes, we were both playing on teams that were going to the Gay Games in Vancouver.

Why weren't you on the same team?

Because I was better.

No you weren't! Jake yells.

Yes, I was, actually.

Don't trash talk my birth mother!

I looked at him. Jake did come out of Jeanine. She is his birth mother and I am a better volleyball player.

Not trash talk. Just reality.

I wonder, though, how he holds that. They love to hear their birth stories, and I tell them over and over again. Ben came out early and no bag was packed. Zachary on time but there was a lot of swearing involved.

And no bag packed either.

Jake bungee jumped with the cord wrapped around him so many times he couldn't make it out.

I love to tell the stories. Partly because I am adopted and I do not have those stories. My mother told me she picked me out, and I was the chosen one. How she loved me, how wonderful I was. Not too skinny, not too fat, just right.

Yeah, that landed me in a lotta years of therapy.

She was only doing what the social worker recommended. I still have the book she read to us, "The Chosen Baby" by Valentina P. Wasson. Originally published in 1939, it was at the time, "practically a classic in the child adoption field."

I wonder, as I listen to Jake tell me not to trash talk his birthmother, how this all sits in his mind. How it sits in Ben's and Zachary's.

I know I felt special and totally returnable. I mean, if you pick one out, you can pick another. Someone already dropped me off in the reject bin once. Why not again?

I went over and hugged Jake, and playfully started to wrestle with him. Believe me, I said to him, I was there every step of the way.

He giggled, and tried to escape, but not too hard. Even when she was puking? He asked.

Yes, even then.

Did you puke?

Yes, I did. Most pregnant women do.

Can we play the witch game? He asked. Jake and I made up this game, where I pretend to be a mean, old witch sleeping and he sneaks up. I wake up, grab him and tickle him until he "gets away" only to repeat the process over and over.

I wonder if I take the time to talk more about the birth process, do I talk about the donor at this time and how we managed to have three boys because of the generosity of an anonymous man in Berkeley, California?

Does he feel less than? More than? I know he feels different. I know from my own experience the difference is good and bad. I know it must be talked about, to be held openly, never a secret, never taboo.

I know all three of my kids have very different feelings about having two moms, two dads, and an anonymous biological father. Each will need different pieces handed to them at different times. I am constantly mindful of when a moment comes up and it is ripe with possibility.

Today? It was time to play the witch game. Jake wanted to giggle and be tickled and wrestle. He's still a little boy, grinning with his two front teeth missing. No long discussion.

But when is the right time, the right place, for each of them? I don't know I'll ever be sure about that.

I only know, little by little, I have to do it.

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I always find your posts so personal and endearing. Thank you for once again sharing with us!

I don't really have any advice, Sara. It's a difficult decision to be sure, but I'm confident you'll make the correct one. Each child is different in their needs and maturity levels. As their Mother, you'll know when the time is right.

I loved your response to Jake's birth mother comment, btw. Priceless. :)

the picture you painted is full of love. as long as there is love, you will all be just fine. stay true...

Congratulations on your long and successful relationship. I find it inspiring. It takes a lot to build a successful family now a days.

ah, I'm not only a evil Hillary Clinton supporting bitch... I really am a suburban lesbian housewife!

Michael Bedwell | March 15, 2008 9:22 PM

Lovely moments, Sara. Thank you! And WOW! We have something else in common besides BOTH being Hillary-preferring bitches...I was adopted, too. At eight days. But, fortunately, never had your abandonment anxieties. In fact, I was proud of it; knowing it is my oldest memory, and, poor as we were, it was an "up" I had over the other kids at Central Grade School in Dugger, Indiana. You have a new bike, you say? Well, I WAS ADOPTED! lol

No, there were fears but not mine. I didn't discover them until my adoptive mother was close to the bottom of her Alzheimer's well. One day after her visiting nurse who was many years younger than me left, she said,

"You know who that was?"

"No. Who was it?"

"That was your real mom. She came back to get you."

There were many times during her last three years when I thought my heart could not break yet again ["That picture looks like you." "It IS me. I'm your son, Mike."] but that was one of the hardest because it wasn't just about that moment which would be forgotten minutes later but revealed fear that had been hidden for decades and decades behind her endlessly loving eyes.

I hugged her tiny frame, kissed her forehead, and said, "No, you'll always be my mom."