A's Story

I would like to introduce myself, I am A's adoptive mother. A is a sweet boy who is very social, loving and hard-playing. He is fun and intelligent and most of all makes me feel like smiling every time I think about him. A is 4 years old and challenges me in many ways, I think he is too clever for his own good, or perhaps it is my own good I am more worried about!

Things I had to think about before adopting A were mainly adoption issues such as acknowledging that differences are a good thing, that we can celebrate good things but we must not ignore the painful things. Adoption is a blessing as well as a burden for parents and children alike: there is a catch 22 in adoption. 'If a child is adopted, thus chosen, first he must be rejected or given away.' If we ignore the second part, we ignore half of the child's story. I see a lot of parallels in adoption stories and DSD stories. We cannot keep something quiet or ignore it and hope it goes away if it is fundamental to our character development. We have to face it square on, however uncomfortable it can be.

So, I hope if you decide to read my A's Story, you will be refreshed by my openness about sex, trust and development and not offended.

Knowledge is power, 1 July 2011 

My story is a turbulent one, however I don't want to talk about my feelings or fears for my son. What I'd like to do is tell you about my successes with him. But before I begin, I'd like to tell you a little background information to help you follow the story. I'm going to try to make it brief, so if it seems a bit detached, it's only because I'm so involved that I could write a book and not say all I feel. So, very briefly, my son was born in 2006. He was diagnosed PAIS in 2008 at which time we decided to raise him as a boy. Until then he was identified as a girl. We went to court to have his birth certificate changed and were very lucky that all fell into place for him.

Part of what made everything work out for us was that I have done some research on intersex conditions and I have learned 3 main things from 7 months of intensive research. The first is that unless there is a medical reason for surgery (not a cosmetic one), that surgery should be very carefully considered and not rushed into. The second is that secrets make people feel shame. It could make a child feel that something should be hidden or is wrong. And third, that since any medical decisions made are going to affect the child for up to 80 years and since I'm only going to be making decisions for my child for less than 20 years I should try to include him in as much decision making as possible. It all seems very facile, to say it now, but honestly I went through a lot of emotional roller-coaster-ing before drawing these conclusions.

Based on these lessons, I am trying my best to develop trust between our son and us as parents by not keeping secrets. I am not overloading him with too much information, however if he ever wants to talk about why he doesn't look like other boys, I will talk to him about it in an age appropriate way. Also, I am trying my best to remember that as my son grows up and looks back on his life he will feel more secure if he can remember being involved in the whole process. After all this is his body, not mine, and he needs to be able to feel that it is a good body. I do not intend to indicate to him that he should have surgery- if he asks for it we will discuss it, but I'm not going to make this a central focus for him to 'look forward' to or to fear. And finally, since I have no idea what it means for anyone to realize they are different in such a fundamental way, I cannot assume I can provide him with all the answers or tell him how he should feel.

I feel that we were very lucky to know in advance of our son's arrival that he had an intersex condition because it allowed me plenty of time to learn all there is to know at this time. If I could recommend anything to other parents it would be to inform yourselves; this way your decisions will be your own and not the decisions of experts, family members or strangers. You will be able to choose what will work best for your family if you have all the information available. Based on what adult intersex people have said in their personal stories, I believe my child will not resent me ( any more than any teenager would) later because I have really tried to find out as much as I could before making life altering decisions on his behalf.

Giving A Control, 10 September 2011

What does a willy look like? , February 2012

Will he look like a girl?, March 2012

What to say, what to do…., April 2012

Swimming in Junior Infants , May 2012

The Fanny Story , November 2012