Friday, April 30, 2010

Confidence

Miss E, admiring her new shirt in the oven door reflection.
I admire and adore my daughter's confidence.

She isn't shy about admiring her smile, her eyes, her be-bo, her hands, her feet, her legs, her shoulders, or her hair. She seeks a mirror (whether it be a true mirror, or the oven door, or the glass in front of the fire place, or a window) and admires. She grins at herself.

In honor of National Poetry Month and my beautiful baby girl, here's Maya Angelou's famous poem Phenomenal Woman:



Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Meet Tracy












I had the pleasure of "meeting" Tracy Hanson through a Facebook friend who announced the Tracy was conducting a blog giveaway. The prize? A piece of her jewelry which she sells on Etsy----all adoption related!

Just a little bit about Tracy. She lives in Denver and is a mom and grandmother---both through adoption. Tracy shared the following with me:

My Muse is the orphans that have been given a second chance by incredible people that take the risk to open their hearts and love the unloved.

I am touched by the moms that send me thank you notes & pictures of their little ones and I think of each one as I put a sweet name or message on the necklace. I love to make a treasure, something tangible that they can have close to them as they wait for a baby to come home or as a reminder of how they chose to be a mom and how they love their children.

The connection between women and my pieces is also something that continues to amaze me. I have had moms connect in line at Disneyland because they were both wearing one of my necklaces. I have also met many wonderful husbands that want a one of kind piece that will show how much they appreciate their wives and daughters. I have such a great respect for single moms who make the decision to adopt children and sometimes older children and to do the best that they can to raise them.



Some of the sale profits of Tracy's jewelry go to the following organizations: Children's Hopechest, Water for Christmas, 147 Million Orphans, Worldwide Orphans Foundation, The Adoption Exchange, Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep. Additionally, Tracy donates to specific adoptive families.



On a personal note, I was impressed with the beauty of the piece I won: an angel wing on one side, my daughter's name on the other. It was packaged so beautifully----a white envelope with white and black damask patterned tape. When I opened the envelope, a white, heart-shaped, tin box was tied shut with a black ribbon and an artsy-label. Inside was nestled my darling custom necklace. One of my thoughts is that families could not only have a piece of jewelry made for themselves, but also have a similar piece made for the child's biological mother.
Thanks to Tracy for her darling designs. I hope my readers will check out Tracy's blog and Etsy shop very soon!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Parenting Is...

"It isn't the great big pleasures that count the most; it's making a great deal out of the little ones."
~Jean Webster, Daddy-Long-Legs

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Spring Has Arrived


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Humbling Facts

Here are a few numbers:

3,042

That's the number of children available for adoption in my state.

13,097

That's the number of churches in my state.

(Look up your state here).

The Bible commands Christians to care for orphans and widows.

We are failing.

Recently I was sharing these facts with a colleague of mine. I expressed that I believe some of the reasons people do not adopt from foster care is because a lot of the children waiting are black males who are thirteen, fourteen, fifteen (plus) years old. And that scares families. It is believed (and perhaps true) that children in foster care come with a lot of baggage---and families just can't handle that. Furthermore, the state hardly provides a lot of support for families who adopt through foster care, making the transition difficult. The state boasts of adoptions that are basically free of cost, well, financial cost...but that doesn't lure many.

I often hear people say, "I admire those who adopt from foster care. But that isn't for us."

It's obvious that thousands of people think it isn't for them.....thousands of Christians.

I admit, I was one of those who would say I'd NEVER adopt from foster care. After all, aren't there plenty of healthy newborns who need good homes? Well, the answer is no. Especially not for white children. There are dozens of couples in line for each white, healthy infant born and being released for adoption. There are far fewer who are open to black children. Sadly.

Adoption is NEVER easy. Foster care adoption is unique. I'm do believe adoption isn't for everyone. I do believe that once a family decides to adopt, all adoption options aren't best. For us, embryo adoption isn't an option. We aren't compelled to adopt from another country due to our work schedules and the cost. Domestic infant adoption was our last choice when we started this process, and it ended up being the avenue we chose.

I have no idea if we ever will adopt from foster care. But I do know that when we see the cold, hard facts, I allow my mind to wander and think, "What if...?"

Do you wonder, too?

----

For those interested, check out Carrie Underwood's latest song entitled Temporary Home.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Too Much? Too Little?

I had the opportunity to go to dinner with a friend and fellow adoptive mama last week. Her family, like ours, is transracial, and we often discuss the dynamics of being a transracial family. She's a counselor, so she always has thoughtful and honest insight. In fact, she and her husband were a fabulous resource as we were considering being open to a transracial placement.

One of the questions that popped into my mind during our conversation was this: Is it possible to gear my child too much toward her race?

I'm obsessed with buying books featuring black characters. My heart rate speeds up when I flip through a book and find brown faces and story lines featuring black history. I was on a mission this past Christmas season to find cards, angels, ornaments, etc. that were "brown" like my baby girl. I dig past all the white babies on store shelves hoping to find a sweet brown face somewhere in the midst of whiteness. I recently discovered a Hallmark store that still carries the Mahogany line of cards----and I nearly let out a WOOP. I do more research on black hair care than on nearly anything else.

In March, we went to Gulf Shores, Alabama to visit relatives. There I found two fabulous bookstores that sold hardcovers for $5 and paperbacks for $2 and $3. I bought books on black history that were labeled as appropriate for eight year olds. I couldn't help it. I was reading the story of Ruby Bridges to my daughter the other day---including the "whites only" water fountains.

When we were waiting to adopt, I read several books on transracial adoption. We talked to transracial families. Actually, we GRILLED them. (Thankfully, they were kind enough to allow our interrogations). I observed transracial families everywhere I went (and tried to do so discreetly so they didn't think I was staring them down). I pointed out every black child who had "good" hair.

During that time, I learned how important it is to incorporate the child's racial identity into the child's life---and not just during Kwanzaa or Black History Month. Books told me that my child would really miss out on a full and good life if I didn't constantly seek out ways to affirm and enhance my child's blackness. Some authors suggested that we should find a black pediatrician, dentist, etc., make black friends, go to a more diverse church, etc. We should do this even if the doctor was an hour away. If our neighborhood wasn't diverse, we should move. If our local community was mostly white, move.

We were feeling a lot of pressure. We wanted to be the best parents possible, and like any good parents, we didn't want to screw up our kid. I mean, being adopted is already a unique journey, and then add race into the mix, and that unique journey gets more complicated.

But as I settled down, got those books back to the library, and really thought about it, I decided a few things. One, I was going to get the best doctor for our family----no matter his or her race. (Ours, by the way, is a white female). Two, I wasn't going to seek out people to befriend based on their race. I mean, how unnatural is that? "Hi! I'm so glad you are black! Will you be my friend? Oh, and be a racial role model for my child forever and ever?!?" (We do, by the way, have friends who are black, and white, and Hispanic, and other races). Third, we weren't moving simply because everyone who lives on our street is white. (We live on a street where you can see from one end to the other, and there are only ten houses).

When I was in my panic-mode, I got great advice from a friend. TAKE THE BOOKS BACK. Stop reading them. I'm not sure why I thought someone else's opinion, a stranger's, of my life was better than my own instincts. Yes, I gained insight and had some fabulous thinking sessions, but at the end of the day, it's OUR family.

So am I over the top? I don't know. I mean, I'm intentionally and always seeking out material things (books, toys, music, etc.) that I think will help affirm my child's racial identity. But the truth of the matter is that we are two white people raising a black kid, and our family isn't really white, and we aren't really black....

So what are we?

"Transracial" is a pretty word that means to me that our family is made up of more than one race and that race transcends us into something else that we weren't before.

Shrug.

All I know is that I'm trying. I want my daughter to feel beautiful in her brown skin and know that we are crazy about her, believe in her, and are so proud of her. We want her to know that when we look at her, we don't see our BLACK baby, but just our baby. Yet, I want her to know we love and celebrate her race, and that even though we aren't black, we will provide her with whatever she needs to feel and be black.

I have no idea if what we're doing is right, wrong, indifferent, damaging, helpful, or something else. I'm just doing the best I can right now and hope that it's enough.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Must Read Articles

Black hair is a hot topic right now, especially because Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair is now on DVD and the masses get an insight into the world of a black woman's hair. Friends of ours have seven children, all of whom they adopted, and all of whom are black. The father posted this article on Facebook called Keep Your Hands Off The Hair that I think many of my readers will appreciate.

Additionally, my husband found this article on babies and dancing. Apparently I was right about the assumptions people make regarding race and dancing.

Enjoy!
 
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