"So I have some personal questions for you," J. tells us on Pomegranate. Given that a) Pomegranate is a Chinese adoption blog aimed at other Chinese adoption bloggers and b) several of the questions clearly relate to personal experiences of Chinese adoption, I think it is a reasonable bet that this particular collective ‘you’ is aimed at people who are adopting/have adopted from China.
So, by all rights, I shouldn’t be answering them. I mean, I acquired my child the lazy way. I had no paperwork to fill out beyond the forms for my maternity booking appointment; I didn’t get asked any awkward questions by social workers; I didn’t even have to wait all that long for him. I have, in short, not earned my way to answering this questionnaire. I am being a questionnaire fraud here.
Not, admittedly, that I’m letting that stop me. I mean, these are questions! They’re cool! They’re fun! So I’m going to do it anyway. But I do at least feel appropriately guilty about it, if that makes any difference.
Your child’s Chinese name (assuming s/he has or will have
one)…are you a) using it as a middle name, b) using it as a first
name or c) not using it at all? Why?
N/A. But this whole issue is, as it happens, something I find interesting enough to have given quite a bit of "So what would I do?" thought to.
While it would depend at least somewhat on how easily the name could be pronounced, what I’d really like to do if I were adopting from China would be to keep the Chinese name as her first name (since it would be her first name chronologically and so it would make sense to keep it as her first name in the other sense as well – it would be a way of showing that her Chinese heritage was a crucial part of her). Then I would have a name of my own choosing as her middle name (because choosing names for their children is what parents get to do) and, unless the first name was very easy for English people to pronounce, I would use this as the name I called her (to make life easier). Then, if feasible, I would have a name that was as close as I could get to a translation of her Chinese name as her second middle name (since the topic of the meanings of names fascinates me and I love translating names in this way). Then I would hope that she never wanted any monogrammed linen.
What are you most looking forward to experiencing with your child/ what do you most enjoy doing with your child?
Watching him experience/learn new things, and snuggling up together.
What’s your favourite book about adoption?
I’ve only read one and a half – The Kid, by Dan Savage, and part of From China With Love, by Emily Buchanan. They’re good in different ways, so I don’t know if I could pick one.
What will/do you miss most about your life pre-parenthood?
Being able to do the stuff I want on my own schedule, when I feel like it.
What’s your favourite children’s book (any age group)?
No way could I choose. Too many fantastic ones out there.
Lifebook – excited to start or terrified of screwing it up? Top tip?
If this applied to me, I’d be terrified of screwing it up. What I’d probably do would be to delegate it to my mother, who’s excellent at this sort of thing.
What hobby do you secretly hope your child will take up and love?
Well, something he could make a fortune from in order to support me comfortably in my old age would be good, but I honestly didn’t have particular hobbies in mind. What I hope for is just that he’ll take up some hobbies and love them, whatever they are. I want him to be the sort of person who throws himself into life wholeheartedly and passionately.
Thinking about it, I would be disappointed if he wasn’t a keen reader, but saying that I hope for him to be one is putting it the wrong way, since I’ve always taken it for granted that any child of mine will love books (and it’s totally clear by now that, in this child’s case at least, I am completely correct).
Co-sleeping – "well of course" or "maybe but I just don’t see any of us would sleep"?
Depends what stage of parenthood you’re asking about.
Pre-Jamie: "Co-sleeping? Well, obviously that’s fine for people who want to do things that way. But, let’s face it, I don’t much fancy the idea of having a struggle with getting him out of our bed later on. And besides, there’s at least some evidence showing possible association with increased SIDS risk. Nah – I’ll do the sensible thing and get him used to his own cot from the start."
Twelve days post-Jamie’s birth: "Co-sleeping? Nah, not for me. I already decided that, didn’t I? I’ll just get Barry to put this camping mattress down here on the floor for me. Then when I get really exhausted doing the night feeds and really really can’t face getting up again with him I can just lie down here with him on the mattress and rest a bit. Because I wouldn’t want to co-sleep, oh, dear me, no." *
Two months post-Jamie’s birth: "Screw it. Co-sleeping."
Two months and a few days post-Jamie’s birth: "Good grief, this co-sleeping thing is brilliant."
In anticipation of eventual second child: "Co-sleeping? Well, of course!"
If you’d had sole choice of your child’s name (assuming you didn’t), would it have been different? Wanna tell us what?
His first name would have been David. (His middle name is the one I chose – my father’s name.) The name David is one of the few that’s not only a lovely name, but also has a meaning I like (‘Beloved’) and a character associated with it who’s pretty cool to be named after (shepherd who goes up against a giant and wins? That’s the kind of courage and skill I’d like my child to show.) Unfortunately, it’s also the name of Barry’s former boss-from-hell. That one got vetoed quickly.
‘James’ was Barry’s choice – it’s after a friend and workmate of his who died at far too young an age, from a severe asthma attack. Barry made the decision to name his son after him then, long before he met me. It’s not one I would actually have picked, but it was perfectly OK with me. Funny how impossible it is now to imagine him having had any other name.
In the movie of your life, who plays you?
Sleeping. Light on, light off? No, YOU silly.
I was always a ‘light off’ type (not because it bothered me, but just because I took it for granted that, well, when you go to bed you switch the lights off) until I met my husband, who is a night owl and almost invariably comes up to bed after me. I started leaving a nightlight on for him, and didn’t realise how used I’d become to it until I went on a course in London a few years back and realised just how weird it now felt to turn the light off before going to sleep. I will very happily sleep either way – I have slept through discos when I got bored with them.
China – experiment with food or not?
N/A. But if it did apply – well, I like to think I’d experiment, but Karen’s recent experiences are pretty daunting!
What’s your favourite China adoption blog (after this one of couse..ahem…)?
After this one, it would be The Naked Ovary.
*As my public health service announcement for the day, I shall point out, to anyone who doesn’t know this, that this is a well-known stupidly risky way of doing things. Tiredness is thought to make co-sleeping more dangerous, because it makes you sleep more deeply, which might make you less aware of the position of the baby in the bed. I don’t know if there’s any hard evidence for that theory, but it is generally considered sensible to avoid co-sleeping when very tired – which is, of course, just when you most want to do it. In fact, this is one of the major arguments in favour of co-sleeping from the start – it means that you stay fairly rested from the start and (hopefully) never get into the situation of co-sleeping when you’re exhausted.