Thursday, February 17, 2011

Let's get some discussion started

I'm a little against maternity photos.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the sentiment behind them. And if you remember, I did do some maternity photos with my friend Kara right before I delivered Elijah. You can click here to view them if you would like.

However, I think my photos were pretty tastefully done. They were more about family and celebrating the three of us before we became four. I didn't get half-naked or look lovingly into my husband's eyes.

Now please. Understand me. If you have done this, that is totally fine. I know some people are really into it. I think my discomfort with the idea really stemmed from a lot of our infertility. And John, even now, doesn't understand the point of the photos at all. It all seems strange to him.

But others enjoy it. The pictures are often very beautiful. And people like them. So that's fine.

However, I did get a kick out of a post recently sent to me by one of JB's medical school classmates. Lisa, sent me this link sometime ago. I think I went in for surgery shortly before or thereafter, and as a result, this got pushed into the background. But I've been meaning to share it for some time.

These are some photos taken for a couple preparing to adopt. They are designed to "mimic" maternity photos in a sort of a weird, twisted, and humorous way. I am not sure how I feel about the pictures, but since they are being done by a couple "in the know", I give a little more credence to them.

I'd love to hear what some of you fellow adoptive moms think of these.

Metaphorical Adoption Maternity Photos

Now pictures aside, I did find some of what the blog author wrote about adoption on her post very interesting. A few excerpts:

During the past year that I’ve known our friends. I’ve witnessed some of the more excruciatingly difficult and exquisitely painful moments that accompany the adoption process, while coming to terms with just how little most of us really understand about it. And it seems like one big part of being adoptive parents, no matter to whom, is having to play the role of benevolent public educator to an ignorant public who will take the existence of your children as some kind of personal challenge or display of moral one-upmanship.

And then there’s the obnoxious questions that will always follow them: why can’t you have children of your own? Don’t you know that they’re going to wonder why they look different from you? How much did they cost? Why didn’t their mother want them? What if there’s something wrong with them? What are you going to do with That Hair? You are going to induce lactation, aren’t you?

Even as an innocent bystander, these really raise my ire because of the amount of unthinking, condescending privilege that underscores them. I don’t know a single biological parent who’s had the very choice to give birth to their children questioned so constantly, and throughout her child’s life; you just don’t see pregnant ladies having to face an inquisition squad in line at the grocery checkout, full of people wondering why they didn’t choose to adopt? Couldn’t they have investigated foster care? Don’t they realize that there are already so many children already out there who need homes?

As you can imagine, a sense of humor is integral. And, at some point, Alana got the idea of taking a few metaphorical maternity photos, starring a large beach ball in lieu of a pregnant belly. This, after a couple of Google searches, led to the wide, bizarre, pretentious, tacky, often-naked, and always moodily black-and-white world of maternity portrait photography. And creative inspiration.

Anyways, I'd love to get some feedback from people on "both sides" of this issue. Does anyone else find the whole maternity photo a weird thing? Or is it simply because of my history that these strike me a bit funny?

And what about these adoptive photos? In good taste or sort of strange? No right answers here folks. Just something to think about.

And also something to remember. Adoptive moms have to answer a TON of questions. I don't mind doing that, but it is true that I often find myself as an educator instead of just a mom. I wonder how biological moms would feel if they had to answer some of these questions.

Just thinking outloud ...

P.S. I have some new pashminas! Click here to check out the new selection.


Anonymous said...

Maternity photos are so gross! They give me the creeps every time (frankly yours were about the most tolerable I've ever seen) I know a few people who's parents have switched out the wedding photos they had displayed of them with their maternity shots - what does that say about their family members who can't have kids??!! It's like we'll just put this wedding one up until you're a REAL family!

The creepy gazes into the stomach and hands holding the belly. Hate them.

Lisa Cronk said...

These were linked in another part of the author's blog. These are downright ODD and very CREEPY. "Awkward maternity photos"

: ) Lisa

Anonymous said...

I think that maternity shots, if done tastefully, can be very beautiful. It's a wonderful cherished memory and a great tribute to what the female body can do and how beautiful pregnancy is. That being said, I don't know that I would feel comfortable bearing my body if it were covered in stretch marks and extra flub (which, knowing my body will be the case) and then wanting to look at that on film. I'm very self conscious about my body and I don't think I would have the guts to do it, but I commend those who do.

On another note - I thought that the beachball shots were hilarious. What a great way to spoof them. My favourites were the progression of "belly growth" pics.. so well done

Dana said...

I thought the beach ball photos were kind of funny, a pretty good spoof of the maternity photos everyone seems to take.
As for the second part of the post, I think the constant questioning adoptive moms encounter is born of being curious but seriously crosses the line at times. Pregnant moms also get the questions that seem invasive, that at any other time would be down right rude, whose business but mine and my husband's what is going on with my nipples or if my child is exiting through the va-jay-jay or c-section. I would be offended if I was a adoptive mom and someone asked me a question like "How much did they cost?" Just as I would be offended if someone said to me upon learning I was bottle feeding "What is wrong with your breasts that you can't breastfeed?" Some people are seriously missing the filter that should stop them from asking those questions. If you are curious how much adoption costs because you are considering adopting there is a more tactful way to ask. And if you are curious as to why I am feeding my child very expensive Elecare formula go ahead and ask but be prepared for me to say "None of your business" if I am not feeling like going into her medical history!
Sorry this is such a long comment things like question nazis really gt under my skin!

Anonymous said...

I am not a fan. Just a little TMI for me. I have a couple of pictures of my "bump" that were taken by the hubs-but those are for us to remember and not to thrust upon others. I don't think either R or myself could keep a straight face staring into each other's eyes-just not our style. Not our style. At. All.

That being said-yours are reasonable. They were like a family photo shoot where you just happened to be pregnant. Totally different situation.

Lisa Cronk said...

The only "photo shoot" we did while I was pregnant (with Sarah) was Austin's 3 year old photo shoot. We did a few family photos at that photo shoot and we have one of him giving my belly (clothed) a kiss because he was excited about his sister coming, but that is it. We didn't do any photos for my first pregnancy or any other with my 2nd.

Anonymous said...

In a nutshell? Egotistical and Self-Promoting. Screams - Look at Me! Look How Amazing I Am!

Keep it to yourself please...

Tiffany said...

What an interesting discussion topic I have to admit, I never really thought of the controvery over maternity pictures. For me, I have seen some that look fantastic. Pregnancy is a miracle to be celebrated and since I am such a photo fanatic, I like using pictures to capture special memories. I originally wanted to get pictures done with the family when I was pregnant, but never did. I never did the progression of the belly bump either because I felt fat, not just having a "baby belly." The only maternity pictures I have are just regular pictures that show I was pregnant that I've put in my son's scrapbook. I think some maternity pictures can be great though.

I do like to see others' opinions on the matter. I feel that I am more sensitive to others feelings on various issues just from reading your blog and your followers' comments. I love that everyone can express themselves freely on your blog. Thanks for that!

nicole said...

I think maternity photos, when done tastefully, can be fantastic. I come from a family that takes pictures at EVERY special occasion; carrying a growing human in your body (or adopting one) is a pretty big deal in my opinion. I had to drag my husband to the shoot but even he, in the end, admitted to enjoying it.

That being said, our pictures are primarily for US. One day, we'll print and frame one to be placed in a semi-private area of our home and if we put them in a book, it won't be the one on top of the magazines on the coffee table :-)

Oddly enough, I took very few photos while I was pregnant, so it was nice to (on the day I happen to go into labor) get some professional shots before my belly deflated. BTW, I love looking back seeing pictures of my mom preggo!

As for the beach ball photos - if they like it, I love it ;-)

Anonymous said...

I took some week by week shots (not every single week) when I was pregnant and was so glad I did. First of all, it allowed family who was far away (especially my mother-in-law) feel involved in the pregnancy. Secondly, it was amazing to watch the process of pregnancy. I found that when I was in it, I wasn't particularly objective about what I really looked like. Yes, I FELT fat and gross at times, but in reality, I looked just fine. For me it was about celebrating the yielding of my body to this new life. I was so grateful to be pregnant and the photos helped remind me to remain grateful rather than feeling resentful of the stress on my body. I can certainly understand how this would be a complex issue for an adoptive mother, though. Clearly, there are no easy answers.

Rachel and Hans said...

I actually find it odd that maternity photos are controversial. I think pregnancy is such an amazing and beautiful thing, if you feel like you want to capture it on camera...go for it! That being said, I am quite conservative in most every area of life and question the need to post the very "intimate" photos for everyone else to see.
I had some tasteful ones done as a last minute thought with Kaia and I am forever grateful that I did. I love looking back and seeing my round baby belly and remembering how excited and blessed I felt. I will continue to have some photos taken with each pregnancy. These photos aren't enlarged and hung on the wall, but are a very special part of the baby book & our memories!

Jess said...

I looked at those maternity photos you get by that link on google and OHMYGOSH! All that naked! WITH NAKED CHILDREN! And not BABIES! Biggish kids! Whoa Nelly.

I have seen maternity pics that are cute. Baby blocks, including older kids, smiling, laughing...more like family portraits where you happen to be pregnant (more like yours) and that doesn't bother me. I sort of would have liked to HAVE some pics of me pregnant I think...(not that I could not yet do this but I won't)...because we tried so HARD for it. also always seems rather odd in some way, too. And the melancholy just adds to that odd feeling. Like I pics good/creepy morose pics bad!

As a quasi-artist I think some of them are very pretty. I think that pregnant people can be quite beautiful, too, so naturally it's an easy subject matter to make into art. That said, I'm not sure there's much use for them. Hang them on the wall? In the nursery? Too many are much too.....naked. And like the blog author said...imply almost that sex! is! awesome! and! powerful! The focus of the semi naked couple starts to feel a little like missing the point to me.

But then what do I know. Sex has nothing to do with making babies round these parts and hasn't since...oh, about 2004-2005.

As for that particular photo shoot...I can't decide if it's funny ha ha or the symbolism of waiting without real EVIDENCE is plain beautiful. Especially the beach-ball-inflates series. It seems too cartoony to be anything but comical, and then again...isn't that how it kind of FEELS, too? You know? Through infertility and then through you're sloooooowly progressing to motherhood? More slowly than fertile people, that's for sure, even if fertility treatments WORK and you don't even adopt at ALL. I think it's interesting, to say the least, from that perspective. But then again, I'm not really sure what they're GOING for. Is it just mocking/joking or is it somewhat serious? Not sure!

I answer a LOT of questions about the kids ("OH, you have TWINS?" when I tell the kids' ages 6m out of the year pretty much guarantees I'm always explaining us!) and that's ok with me, like you said. But some people leave me shaking my head and questioning the intelligence of the human race. That said, there are enough people who I can connect to or even help that it's worth it. And it's worth it to me for the kids to see strength in our answers, too. KWIM?