By Scott Scanlon
Jo Freudenheim has had the rare blessing of having two daughters – one biological, one adopted – both of whom bring lots of joy into her life, even though they’re teenagers.
Freudenheim, chair of the UB Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, helped me with the cover story giving tips to new moms in today’s WNY Refresh section and we talked a bit about her daughters, Miriam and Naomi Frisch, 19 and 15, respectively.
Most advice she gave held true for the child of any mom, she said, but one difference stood out when it came to exercise:
The need for advanced weightlifting.
One thing you really don’t need to do much of when you’re the mother of a newborn is lift weights, she said.
"You’re constantly lifting this weight. You’ve got this kid who grows and gets heavier and heavier, so you got kid 7 to 8 pounds at birth and 20 or 30 pounds not that far down the road," Freudenheim said.
"You have this chance to slowly develop the muscles that you need. But when you adopt, you often start with a child who is heavier, so one thing to consider is to do some weightlifting [beforehand], doing some things to take care of your back and your arms to prepare for that and take care of that."
There can be different kinds of emotional issues with adopted children, different concerns about establishing attachments, she said, but that’s in some cases, not all.
Her daughter Naomi was adopted from Vietnam, so "as time goes on there’s lots to learn in terms of recognizing that culture," Freudenheim said. Some books are helpful, she said, "but also limited."
Regardless of family makeup, she added, mothers learn as families grow that every child is unique.
"Of course, I thought I knew what I was doing after one and the second was completely different," said. "There’s some ways you get accustomed to certain things and you’re less worried about some things, but in other ways, each one has their own personality and their quirks and their needs."