Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer is here!

Bare feet!
Water table fun

Smelling flowers

Walking and thinking and thinking and walking

Strawberry pickin' (and tastin') in grandma and grandpa's garden
As Miss E gets older, it's fun to watch her discover her world. She runs from place to place, smelling, licking (sometimes ewwww!), jumping, smiling, laughing, blinking.
The world is her playground.
And I'm honored to be her mommy and observe these precious moments.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Puffs and Zig Zags---Hairy Adventures

Six puffs takes a lot of time---but it looks so precious!

The beauty of the zig zag is that I don't have to worry about parting my daughter's hair perfectly straight (which I'm terrible at---but am working on). Plus, it's an interesting twist on average puffs.
I'm no expert on black hair, but as my friend Ann, who is black, has shared with me, and what I've had to digest, is that just like any person's hair, a black person's hair isn't like the next black person's hair. When we were placed with our daughter, I had this fear of not doing her hair JUST right. What I mean by that is that I was under the assumption that there was ONE right way to do black hair. I didn't want black women to frown upon my attempts, and God knows I wanted my daughter to have GOOD hair. But I'm learning to grow confident in my abilities and to learn how to maintain my daughter's hair and worry less about the approval of others. Seemingly everyone has an opinion on the best hair products and styles---but I know my girl, and I'm doing my best to make sure her hair is healthy, natural, and beautiful.

Friday, May 21, 2010

News You Can Use

Several articles and videos have been brought to my attention lately regarding adoption, and some specifically focus on transracial adoption. Here's a list of the links for you. Happy reading!

From BlackVoices regarding Sandra Bullock's Transracial Adoption

From the NYT on Open Adoption

CNN video on Sandra Bullock's Adoption of Louis

Oprah's Interview With Adoptees Who Were Abused

CNN Article and Slideshow on Transracial Adoption

Monday, May 17, 2010

What Is Parenthood?

A gift.

A responsibility.

A journey.

A battle.

A pleasure.

A mystery.

A possibility.

And I so often take it for granted. I just move about, day to day, wiping Miss E's face after meals, giving her baths, changing her diapers, reading her stories, showering her with kisses and compliments, disciplining her, singing her silly songs, dancing with her in the kitchen, picking up the food she drops off her highchair, picking her up off the floor when she throws a fit, giving her $1 a pouch organic fruit snacks to keep her quiet in church, snapping photos, giggling, sighing, buying diapers and food and sippy cups, washing her clothes, scheduling playdates. The list goes on, and on, and on.

And I forget to stop and meditate on the the daunting task of raising this baby girl into an independent, responsible, loving, generous, thoughtful, intelligent, cultured adult. One who loves her God, loves her family, respects her peers and her earth.

I believe it's the little choices, now that I do stop and think about it, that add up to a big impact. It's shutting off the television, it's putting something "important" aside to follow through on discipline, it's laughing, it's abandoning plans and being flexible, it's modeling good behavior, it's taking more time, it's being efficient. It's so much.

And as a mommy, I have to be in tune with medical news, psychology, developmental milestones, and so much more.

When asking friends where to get the best parenting advice, one friend, who is raising 21 (!!!)children (yes, you got that right), said simply: The Bible.

Bookstores and libraries are FULL of parenting books. Friends, family members, and complete strangers are quick to offer up the "perfect" advice. But the truth is, if I don't start at the heart of the matter---a relationship and obedience to God---how is any other parenting tidbit going to help?

Being a parent is overwhelming, yet at the same time, it's easy to forget the POINT of being a parent and the goals we should have for our children and mostly, how we reach those goals.

We make it too complex sometimes. Yeah, we have to be smart, on-top-of-things, mindful, graceful, and humble. But above all, I think we have to be RIGHT with God ourselves before we can expect anything else in our lives to work out for the best.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Our Birthmother"

I've read many adoptive mothers refer to their child's biological mother as "our birthmother." Initially, it sounds so endearing. "Our" affectionately lays claim on a "mother" who will give "birth" or did give birth to a child who will be or is being raised in an adoptive family.

But there are issues with this term.

First, the idea of "our" is disturbing because it's claiming another human being as theirs. As if this woman intentionally got pregnant only to place her baby with an adoptive family---you know, like for fun. Yeah, right. "Our" also seems to impress upon hearers that the woman is solely existing for the purpose of birthing a baby which she might, intends to, or has placed with an adoptive family.

Second, "birthmother" is often used for a woman who is expecting a baby, not a woman who has placed a baby. A woman cannot and isn't a "birthmother" if and until she places that baby with an adoptive family. A match (meaning, if an expecting mother chooses a family prior to the birth of the child or even after the birth but the mom's parental rights are not terminated) doesn't equal a woman being birthmother.

"Birthmother." Really, it's two words, yet it's lumped into one. A slurred word that strips away the emphasis on mother.

Additionally, "birthmother" is a term that offends many women who have placed their babies for adoption for a few reasons. (These reasons I'm listing have been complied by me based on my discussions with women who have placed babies and from my own assumptions and understanding).

First, the term tries to encompass a very complicated, intricate situation into a single event: a birth. What about the months of pregnancy? The emotions? The choices? The bonding? The wondering? The years of loss, grief, and pain that will follow a placement?

Second, "birthmother" is the term many adoption agencies use, and that puts a bad taste in the mouths of many. Adoption agencies, most, exist as businesses, not ministries, and many women do not really understand this until they've worked with one, placed a baby through one, and then are left feeling empty, cheated, manipulated, lost, etc. So to be labeled as something that was driven and designated by an institution that partook in the adoption is offensive, hurtful, etc.

Third, there are better terms. Some women who have placed babies prefer: biological mother, natural mother, or first mother.

(I've had many discussions with adoptive moms and women who have placed babies about the terms listed. Each has her own reasons for using one term over another. At this time, I'm not sure which is "right" for my family, and you will often read that I do use "birth mother" in my posts. I do this mostly because it's a generally understandable term to the general public. However, I do not strongly disagree or agree with the other terms).

I recently read an adoptive mom's blog where she kept mentioning "our birthmother." Now, this "birthmother" hadn't given birth at the time of the blog entry (so yeah, she was really an "expecting mother"). Second, the woman didn't belong to the adoptive family, so the term "our" hardly seemed appropriate. And third, a match means nothing in adoption. Not really. It's a possibility (maybe an adoption will occur, maybe not)---but to claim "our birthmother" is rather presumptuous of the adoptive family. (I think that family needs a good talking to by the social worker!) I've said this before and stand by my claim---the baby doesn't belong to the adoptive family until all legal matters have been fulfilled.

Words are powerful. And no one likes to be labeled as something or someone they are not. So when adoptive families refer to their child's biological/natural/birth/first parent, the "our," in my opinion, should be left out, and the term, whatever it may be, should be chosen with love, caution, and consideration.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

Last year I got to celebrate my very first Mother's Day. My husband took a photo of my daughter and me before church. We were both dolled up in cute summery wear and smiling with the sides of faces pressed up against the other's. I received a few gifts and cards. The day was full of quiet contentment.

My day of joy is a day of pain for many women, specifically, women who have lost their children through adoption. (While many of us are practically bathing in flowers, jewelry, Hallmark cards, and homemade breakfasts, other women are grieving). Yes, for many, it was their choice to place their children into adoptive homes, but the fact that they chose to lose their babies doesn't change the fact that the pain is still there and always will be. Each birth mother carried her son or daughter for weeks upon weeks, and many, if carrying to full term, carried their babies in them for ten entire months.

I want people to know that the misconceptions surrounding birth mothers are harmful not only to the women who placed their babies, but to adoptive families as well, and most of all, I think, to the children who were adopted. When people make snide and judgemental remarks about birth parents, they are speaking of a child's biological parent. And that's got to sting.

I urge each person to do a few things as we celebrate Mother's Day.

First, think twice before you make a comment or utter a thoughtless question about a child's biological parent. Don't ask if a child's biological parent was on drugs, is a "deadbeat," was too young, was too poor, is unloving, etc. Just. Don't. Ask. Because when you speak a negative word against a child's biological parent, you are, above all, hurting the child. Don't assume anything.

Second, honor mothers all around you, whether they are parenting their biological children or not. Don't forget the women who have placed babies for adoption. They ARE mothers. They deserve some respect and remembrance and appreciation and thought. Send a card. Make a phone call. Do something. Don't ignore them.

Finally, thank God for the children you have, whether they are yours biologically or not, and whether you are their parents or not. Thank God for the children in your life who make celebrating Mother's Day possible.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Hope is Built On Nothing Less...

...than Jesus and His righteousness.

NOTHING has me on my knees more than adoption-issues. Not even my diabetes, which is a 24/7 task and disease and cloud and blessing, has me communicating with God more than adoption.

Adoption is, in a single word, complicated.

There's no "how to" manual, no guarantees, no maps, no simple answers, no smooth paths.

I surround myself, voluntarily, with adoption. I participate in an online adoption forum, I read fellow adoptive mama blogs, I run an adoptive moms group, I read adoption books. On a more personal level, I have this blog, we have an open relationship with Miss E's biological mother, and we have close friends who are adoptive parents.

And not one story is flawless. I guess the flaws are also the beauty of many situations----because without them, we wouldn't have our precious children.

For a person like myself who likes control, adoption completely turns our worlds upside down. There is nothing in adoption we can really control, even though it's our choice what we are and are not open to, what we put in our profile books, what promises we make to our children's biological parents, etc., it's not our choice how it turns out. Not really. Because there's so much we can't control----when and if we are chosen to be parents and to which child, how the relationship with evolve with our child's biological parents, what questions will crop up, which answers we will not have.

My hope is built on nothing less, truly, than on God. He is the only rock in an unreliable, unsteady, and uncertain process called adoption.

I got the BEST advice from a fellow adoptive mama one day. I called her about Miss R, a little girl I had "met" online and was itching to adopt. My friend said, "Just pray your way through every step, and you'll be fine."

I realized I hadn't done that, and when I stopped to ask God what He wanted for our family, I knew Miss R wasn't our child. GULP. I should have known. Well, I think I did know, really, but I was ignoring that still, small, patient voice that said, "Nope."

Some days I envision my life full of brown bundles of joy. I'm the crazy mom with the huge van full of car seats. People stop in awe at our big, transracial, beautiful family.

But in reality, I'm not built for it. I just don't think so. I'm too controlling, to structured, too happy with having lots of ME time, to surrender to many children. I'm not sure I'd be happy with a large family, and I strongly believe an unhappy mom equals an unhappy family. Although adoption is addicting, and the thrill of a possibility evokes my mama-heartstrings, I know that the reality is that raising even just one child is a daunting task.

I'm open to the fact that God might drop a child into our lives we weren't expecting or anticipating. I'm open to the fact that some day I might look back at this blog entry and laugh at myself. I'm open to the fact that even though it's fun to imagine a big brown family, God might have something else in mind.

Knowing that there's such a strong need for adoptive families to accept children of all races, particularly black children, is always in the back of my mind. ALWAYS. While I cuddle my one child, a round little girl with brownie-batter skin and a charming personality, I am always aware that there are others who need someone like me---a mommy who is ready to plop another child on her lap and into her arms.

I'm not sure I'll ever stop wondering, imagining, searching. An open mind and heart is a powerful thing. But I know that I MUST put my full trust in God and pray my way through every single day if I'm to be the best mommy I can be.

And it's dawned on me just today that perhaps my job isn't to swoop in and adopt brown baby after brown baby, but rather to begin seriously educating and reaching out to other adoptive families and talking to them about their openness to children of color. Maybe instead of trying to reprogram myself, I need to take what I've been taught, through experience, and share that with others.

I guess that's what this blog is about.