Saturday, April 28, 2012

I Can't Believe I'm Saying This...A Rant on Adoption Pins

Finally, we are moved into our new home, and I have a few spare moments to browse my (and your?) latest addiction:  Pinterest.

One of my readers had notified me that some of my articles and blog posts were being pinned.  So, late one night, I type "adoption" into the search engine. 

Images like these irk me:

Adoption isn't...

1:  THE abortion alternative.    Adoption, abortion, parenting.  These are COMPLICATED decisions.  A mother who is considering abortion is in the heat of a crisis pregnancy (be it minor or major, in her book).    It bothers me that so many Christians promote adoption over parenting as an abortion alternative.    I do believe all mothers love their babies---born and unborn.  I also believe a woman needs to be told what ALL of her options are---not just told "abortion is bad; adoption is wonderful."   To simplify adoption, to promote it as the easy out to an unplanned pregnancy, is incredibly disturbing.

2:  "...the new pregnant."  PUH-LEEZE.  I know adoption is pretty cool---saith the public---who, at the same time, also says adoptive families are second class citizens (via their comments, stares, and questions).  I didn't adopted because it's cool or "new." To imply that adoption is a trend and we should all jump on the bandwagon is offensive.

Additionally, adoption isn't a replacement for having biological children.    Having a biological child and adopting aren't the same.  Don't give me that "I didn't carry you in my tummy; I carried you in my heart" nonsense.     To enter into adoption as a replacement for pregnancy/biology is ridiculous.   No doubt, in the end there's a child who is loved unconditionally by his or her parent(s)....but to pretend that adopting a child is the same as having a biological child, or is less cool or more cool than having a biological child, well, that implies that adopted children should disregard their biological roots and that birth parents should go along their merry little way while their child is raised by adoptive parents.

Now before you write me off as crazy....

I've read hundreds of adoption books, blogs, and articles.   I like to dig deeper into the messages being sent by a simple pin or e-mail or poem or Proverb.  It's never as simple as it seems.    And pro-adoption messages more often favor the adoptive parents, not the adoptee or the biological parents.  That irks me. 

There are so many misconceptions about adoption, these two images promoting a few of those misconceptions.  

What adoption messages irk you?   How are they harmful to members of the adoption triad?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

"Good" Hair

Last week a student of mine presented on "good" skin---that the Eurocentric ideas of beauty are pushed on ALL of us---including African Americans.  She made a great point---that African Americans are facing even higher and tougher (impossible) beauty standards than white women, because the white standard is the standard.

Which brings me to my "good" hair thoughts.   

Miss E (3.5) has a huge afro.  Sometimes she wears it in puffs, sometimes in braids, and sometimes it's just as it is---a huge afro.  

Baby E (17 months) has silky, thin, curly hair.  I can run my comb or brush through it, not problem.  

At church, a lady came up to us, pointed at Baby E, and said, "She's got the good hair."

Her statement, meant to be a compliment, made me so sad.   One, because hair is hair---you get what you get in life.   And two, Miss E was standing right there and apparently didn't have hair nice enough to deserve the attention of the stranger.

I get that black hair and black hair culture is complicated and historical and contemporary and much more.   I get that "bad" hair---kinky, nappy, dry---it's hard to care for.  

A fellow teacher of mine says his black female students in the Black Studies Program often discuss their hair.  The overwhelming consensus in his classes is that straight, faux hair is the way to go.  It's more beautiful.

Friends of mine have seven children they adopted.   She shared with me how her high school age girls are often made fun of for having natural hair.  Why don't they get it treated like the other brown girls?  

I think it's so sad that standards of "beauty" are pushed onto our girls.  Disturbingly, these standards are already being bestowed upon my babies.     They are already being told how they should and shouldn't look in order to be what society sees as beautiful.

Why would anyone else care what anyone else looks like?   If you like tattoos, get a tat, or two, or ten.  Why do I care?  If you like to sag your pants, sag away.  I don't care.   (By the way, my previous town passed a "no saggy pants" law this past year---as if there aren't other MAJOR issues in society to deal with).   If you like to look like you stepped out of a Polo ad, fine.  If you like to wear all black, go for it.    If you are ok with your ten year old wearing lipstick, whatever.

Sadly, we are spending too much time and energy judging someone else's appearance.  We take our own opinions and insecurities and project those onto others.    We perpetuate the media's messages and standards of beauty, therefore further empowering the media to tell us how to look.

Beauty is fleeting. 

At least outward beauty.

But the inside is what counts.

I know it sounds cliche, but we all know it's true.  :)

I can't protect my daughters from everyone's opinion of them.  But being a transracial family, where EVERYONE has an opinion about us---good or bad or indifferent---has taught me to, more than ever, say, "Who cares?" to those who spew judgements.     No doubt those judgements sometimes hurt, even if they aren't meant to, but transracial adoptive families (and anyone else who is different, which is practically everyone, right?) learn to roll with the punches. 


Parents, how do you shield your children from the media's standards of beauty?  


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Random Goodness

Some inspirational goodies:

1:  I stopped by a friend's house to drop off some items for her yard sale.   I asked her how her at-home business was going and she said something so simple and profound:

The business is on hold for now.  I'm concentrating on being a wife and mother.  Instead of always pushing my kids aside to get more work done, I'm going to focus on them.

I thought, what courage that decision takes!  I mean truly, it's simple AND complicated.  It involves putting self (and money earning) aside to focus on the sweet blessings right in front of you.  This is an area of life I struggle with.   But I know what my girls need most from me is time and attention---not a Pottery Barn bedroom or another article about transracial adoption with my name stamped across the top or a gourmet dinner.   They want ME.  And when kids don't get attention from mom and dad, they will seek it from other people and things.  

2:  I wanted to share with you an old post by one of my favorite bloggers.   She shares suggestions on expressing love to your spouse.  Goes along with the stop-think-act idea; love those who are right in front of you.   Simple yet these actions make such an impact!

One thing I struggle with is just sitting and talking to my spouse.  I want to, but we are both so busy!  Work, the kids, our to-do lists (which are very long right now with owning two houses---gulp).  But I know, I KNOW, that I need to invest time in my life-partner. 

3:  Take a moment to sit in the sunshine as it finds its way to you in the coming days.   Amanda Soule talks about the importance of going outside EVERY day, even for five minutes, even if takes a lot of effort (getting kids dressed for the weather).   I Amanda's books!  

My diabetes doc shared with me how many people, especially diabetics, are deficient in vitamin D.  Get out in the sunshine without sunscreen for a few minutes!   Vitamin D is so important to your health, not to mention you feel happier with a little sun on your skin. 

4:  Finally, please check out this blog post by a friend of mine.     Funny she wrote about the man who needed a hug.   Just yesterday I was driving to work and saw a young lady walking onto campus.  She had a LONG walk ahead of her as our campus is on a lot of beautiful acreage.  I turned around and asked her if she wanted a ride, which she politely declined, but I think even offering something, like Charity did (a hug) to someone, even if they say no, is a way to show them someone cares about them.   We just never know what our words or simple gestures might do for someone.    No doubt I've been blessed by the simple kindness of others.  Pass it on!   

And I particularly appreciate Charity being so honest about her chronic disease (MS).   As most of you know, I have type I diabetes, and I share many of her feelings.  It's not fair, it sucks, and it's very difficult...and the disease creeps up at the most inconvienant of times (on a date with my husband, when we have an important event to attend, when I'm trying to take care of my girls, when I have a massive stack of essays to grade, etc.).  I don't want pity, but I do want support.  I don't want advice, but I do want encouragement.   Today, if you know someone who is dealing with a medical issue or taking care of someone who has medical struggles, do something simple and kind for them.   Drop off a bag of chocolate or a bottle of wine.   Buy them a devotional or give them a blank journal.  Don't tell them how to deal or think about their illness, just show them that you support them.

BE INSPIRED today, my friends!  xoxoxo

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Change is Upon Me

So much is going on right now.  I'm overwhelmed.   I'm scared.    I'm frazzled.  I'm blessed.

We recently purchased a new home.  I've been dreaming of a new home for years now.   I love possibility.  I love projects.     Our new home is incredible.    We have been looking at houses for a few years now, and seriously since January.   House after house.   I wondered, do you just know when a house is THE one, like a wedding dress, or is it a more practical, less personal transaction of sorts?     After finding our house, our HOME, I've decided that you do just know.  

So with a new home comes packing and planning.   With two small children, a nearly-over semester (which includes 42 research papers to be graded), and the normal day-to-day activities,  I'm exhausted.

In other news, I'm working diligently on my adoption book.  You might recall that I asked for submissions for an adoption anthology several months ago.  That project is on hold for now.   My focus is on the book solely written by me.  Details to come.   But let's just say it's completely daunting.   So many people say they want to be a writer.    Saying and doing---two different things for sure.

With a nearly four-month summer break on the horizon, I'm mentally plotting summer activities for my girls.  I'm thinking of weekly goals. I want to practice letters and numbers with my oldest daughter, have devotional time with the girls, play games which help them remember to share and take turns, etc.  Lofty goals, I know.   I also want to learn more and practice styling the girls' hair.  Oh, and there are articles to write.

I need a beach vaca.  A long nap.   A few glasses of wine.   Several good books.    I need time to reflect, to write, to think, to pray.   To do nothing.  I need sunshine.   I'd like days of eating nothing but veggies and fruit and healthy proteins---refreshing.   I'd also like days of ice cream and brownies.  :)

My father always tells me, change is good.   He's right.  

What's going on with you and your family?  What do you need today?   What can you do to meet that need?   What needs to change?  What needs to rest and be reflected upon?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Beautiful Blog Post

This isn't adoption-related, but I just had to share this with you all.   Fran, the designer of my blog, wrote a beautiful blog post recently that I thought we would all appreciate.    Read it, and you will no doubt be inspired.   

Then, decide for yourself.  Finish this sentence:

I am convinced...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cool Slideshow

This slideshow, brought to you by People magazine, features thirty-five celeb adoptive families.  I knew of about half of them, but many were surprises.   Happy viewing!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Photo Credit:  Jill Heupel Photography of Edwardsville, IL


Wishing you a very blessed Easter!      I am thankful for my salvation in Jesus and the fact that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil 4:15).  Something I really need to keep in mind this week as I prepare my transracial adoption book proposal.    :)    Feeling free and happy today, knowing that I've got God cheering for me.

Love, Rach

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ask Rachel: What I Really Want to Say

J.H. asked:

What crazy things do people ask you about your girls? And what do you feel like saying, but don't?
In no particular order...

"Are the girls real sisters?"
What I want to say, "No, they are fake sisters."
What I usually say, "Yes."
Why?  They are in the same family.  That makes them sisters.  

"Why didn't their birth parents want them?"
What I want to say, %$&%#$^$#^!"
What I usually say, "Their birth parents love them very much."
Why?  Because it's true.  My girls birth parents DO love them.  The reasons my girls were placed for adoption is none of anyone's business.  Period.

"I could never give my child away."
What I want to say, "My girls birth parents made a decision they felt was best."
What I usually say...nothing.  How does one respond to such nonsense?    There are so many things wrong with that statement...and it can only lead to drama.
Why?  Some people don't deserve a response.

"Are they mixed or full?"
What I want to say, "My kids aren't dogs.  They aren't breeds."
What I usually say, "My girls are African American."
Why?  It's the truth. 

"Are their birth parents young?"
What I want to say, "None of your business."
What I usually say, "Most birth parents are in their twenties."
Why?  It gives an answer without revealing personal information.

"I always wanted to adopt, but I wanted to have my own kids first."
What I want to say, "So you think adopted kids are second-class to biological kids."
What I usually say, "My kids are my own."
Why?  Because it's true!

I think what is most annoying is that my family can be anywhere---in a restroom, at a restaurant, in an airport, at a festival---you name it---and we are approached by strangers and asked intimate, personal questions----IN FRONT OF MY THREE YEAR OLD who repeats everything and understands much more than people might think.   The disrespect, the lack of boundaries, tact, and class, and the outright nosiness is intrusive and incredibly frustrating at times. 

I try to always respond:
---With more grace than how the question was asked.
---With respect for my child, her birth parents, and our family.
---In order to educate the asker (be it an adoption fact or a little manners lesson....)


Monday, April 2, 2012

So True...Toddlerhood

I'm reading Toddler Adoption:  The Weaver's Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best.     I'm only in the beginning chapters, but I am already learning so much!   One quote that had me smiling was this (from page 32):

A toddler is completely unpretentious and honest about his feelings.  You always know where you stand.  The whole world is before her and it is a joy to watch her explore and conquer her environment.  Everything is fresh and new.   He studies his world with the precision  of a scientist.  She delights in the ludicrous and the unexpected.  His nonsensical words and nongrammatical but logical sentences are delightful.  To see the world through a toddler's eyes is to find the child inside yourself once again.