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 

Giving A Control, 10 September 2011

What does a willy look like? , February 2012

Will he look like a girl? March 2012 (first version written May 2011)

My baby is perfect. He is headstrong and stubborn. He is curious and without fear. He is cheerful and carefree. He is also PAIS. It isn’t necessary to describe him according to a genetic condition he has, but I do. My impression of his identity is so wrapped up in whether he is a boy or a girl that I find myself treating him differently than I did when I thought he was a girl. I realise that the way I treat him is not all about him, but all about me. I need to categorise him as a boy to feel comfortable around him and to know how to parent him. This bothers me a great deal; I always thought that unconditional love meant that I’d love him if he was a girl or if he was a boy and that it didn’t matter. But from the day a child is born everyone wants to know if it’s a boy or a girl. When I read emails, I know how to react to the email if I know that the sender is either a man or a woman. I have been brought up believing there are different standards for men and for women, and I don’t know how to behave otherwise.

I know my child is a boy because he tells me in a hundred ways a day; he loves to roar, hates dolls, pretends to be a dinosaur when his sister is pretending to be a baby, he loves to jump on things and knock them down and he loves loud noises (as long as he is making them). He likes playing with the boys at school, and sometimes he mentions one of the girls. I have it easy, now he is 4 years old, because it is evident what he believes his sex to be. When he was one year old, it was more difficult. He didn’t know what a boy was and I told him he was a girl. You can imagine he was confused, as much as I was, when he could not see what made him like his sister. Maybe being a girl was looking like someone; both have black hair, both have brown eyes- maybe that is what a girl looks like. Eventually, I figured it out, and with all confidence in the world told him I made a mistake, that I was silly, because I didn’t know he was a boy. Now that I know he is a boy, I can see that all his characteristics point at him being a boy. Now I can see beyond the physical aspects of my child and into his heart and I know he is a boy and will want to be a boy when he grows up.

By the way, I am no more worried about my son’s sexual orientation than any parent should be. I know his condition has nothing to do with whether he has a preference for the opposite sex. Being PAIS is not about who you are attracted to, but about other people being able to identify your sex and treating you accordingly. In other words, if we see ourselves as ‘acceptable’ people, then we will accept ourselves. If we perceive that something is wrong with us, we will project a sense of not being acceptable. It is very important that parents accept the bodies of their children, treat them no differently than any other child, and behave in a natural way regarding all aspects of their lives. Otherwise, the child will sense a difference in him or herself and will always wonder if he or she is truly acceptable or in other words: loveable. So, in order to be treated naturally, other people must be able to identify which sex you are. Once you are old enough to keep your private parts private, no one should be affected by the condition because no one should be aware of it.

So, will he grow up looking like a girl? Will he have trouble at school in the locker room? Will he have trouble being intimate with other people? Will his self esteem be high or low? Will people love him? Will he be happy? My answer to all these questions is this: We will cross that bridge if ever we come to it, just like parents of children who do not have genital difference. There is no reason to make problems for my child by worrying about things I cannot change. However, one thing I can do is try to give him the skills to deal with any challenge that comes his way. I can teach him to deal with other people rather than avoid them, to solve problems, and to be proud of his achievements. Just now, he can put a puzzle together by himself because I tell him that I know he can do it, and he believes me. He can help a little friend feel better by making funny faces at him, because he knows that the way other people feel affects the way he feels. I am sure my son will be all right.

What to say, what to do…., April 2012

Swimming in Junior Infants , May 2012

The Fanny Story , November 2012