Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our Worst vs. Their Best

Recently my good friend, a counselor, talked to my adoptive mom group about Mommy Guilt.    She made an excellent point that I want to share with you:

We, as moms, often compare our worst to other women's best. 

True dat.

Can I get an "amen," sisters?

Think about it.  

Facebook.

Pinterest.

Twitter.

Blogs.

Texts.

I like pretty things as much as the next girl.    A pin, a tweet, a post----each can send my mind reeling. 

Like right now.  What if we adopt a boy?   The natural mama groups I follow on FB are all ranting about circumcision right now and how horrible it is.    How did I not know about this?  I mean, I was just going to do what I thought parents were supposed to do in this regard.    Wow---was I about to royally screw up a future son?   Gulp.   Must make time to research this very important topic.

Then someone posts a link to an article about the fact that it's completely ok to ignore your kids at the playground while you jack around on your cell phone, catching a five second break from mommyhood.   To sum it up:  It's cool to neglect your kids sometimes, and don't judge moms for it, ok?!?  Wait, now I'm confused.  I should be an uber involved parent....natural parent.....neglectful parent....laid back parent.   Something else? 

Then I check out my favorite blog which shares ways moms can enjoy housework more.   Just put some more Jesus into it, ok?  Everything a Christian does should bring glory and honor to Him.   Um......I'm not feeling it.   But hmmmm...maybe I should.  I mean, if I want Jesus to like me more and bestow some more favor upon me, maybe I can earn it by whistling while I mop?  

So then I jump onto FB again and see some gorgeous baby photos of my friends' kids and think, Maybe I need to put my kids in some nicer clothes when we head to the park?  And make sure their hair is done perfectly in case I run into any Black people who will think me to be a horrible adoptive mother.     

Then I see someone post something about teaching their kids Bible verses and how preschool age children are the perfect age to memorize Scripture.  Oh and yes, Miss E is preschool age and really doesn't know many Bible verses.  She does know some Beyonce lyrics, though.....

FAIL.

Vicious cycle.

So I get my mail and there's two Pottery Barn catalogs.  Love the $1000 sleigh bed and the $300 curtains.   Oh, and why doesn't my laundry room look more like a 5-star hotel?  Darn you, Pinterest!

As my friend shared, we often blog, tweet, pin, text our very best---those moments of glory---be it our decorating, our parenting, our employment, our cooking, whatever.  I'm totally guilty of doing this.    I'm likely not going to post about forgetting to brush my teeth ALL day because I was too busy changing poopy diapers, wiping dried spag off the floor, and thinking about neglecting student e-mails.     I'm not going to post that my husband and I had an argument about money management, or a family member is getting on my last nerve, or one of my kids was whining AGAIN.  

Most of life isn't Pinterest worthy, is it?  

So I'm really having to work at making sure that while I celebrate the triumphs of those I follow online, they really are just like you and me---trying to make it day by day, trying their best, and making ends meet emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually.

In adoption, we are already told by society to be what I call Super Parents.  We waited how long to have kids, and then we adopt, and struggles, well, they should be seen (by us only) but not heard (or talked about.   We should be really really damn grateful for having these children, so no hardships allowed, got it?   Spotlight!   Action!   Be the best you can be at all times!  

The pressure!

(I will be addressing this issue in my book, fyi).

I think that inspiration can inspire and encourage us to be better, stronger people.  But if all we do is take inspiration and expectations and dog on ourselves for not being "that woman" (whomever she is....well, she doesn't really exist)----we are hurting ourselves and those around us.

I mean think about it, if we are all trying to be THAT WOMAN, and THAT WOMAN doesn't exist, we are all walking around as some really dysfunctional, unhealthy people!

So, back to my friend.  The point of her talk was that we must LET IT GO.   Whatever it is.  We have to let it go.  

Or, we choose to self-inflict some pretty nasty stuff that not only hurts us, our spouses, our children, and our peers, but we don't live life well.

I don't want to live a broken, watered-down, mediocre life.

I choose better.

Do you?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Divine Inspiration: Diversity-Minded Books for Your Kiddos

I'm a huge fan of resources.   :)   Knowledge is power, right?

If you've adopted transracially, I'm sure you've noticed the prevalence of white faces in Biblical literature, art, films, etc.    The angels are white, Jesus is white, all the characters are white (with sometimes a random black kid thrown in).    White, white, white.      

Yet, it's interesting to learn, that many Biblical characters were not light-skinned, including Jesus himself.    My mom, a Sunday School teacher, shared with me this book where the author mentions several Biblical characters who were very dark skinned, including...get this, Moses' adoptive mother, Pharaoh's daughter!   Yep, looks like Moses was transracially adopted, folks.

If you are someone who is sharing the Bible with your children, here are some books I encourage you to consider.   Each features characters of color and fabulous story lines.  (I will be the first to admit that I greatly dislike many Christian books due to their lack of interesting plots/story lines and lack of aesthetically pleasing illustrations).     Here's the list with links:  

He's Got The Whole World In His Hands

The Beautitudes:  From Slavery to Civil Rights

Jubilee

The Jesus Storybook Bible

The One Year Devotions for Preschoolers

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Happy Reading! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Adoption + Brokenness


Adoptive parents are often perplexed when our parenting journey doesn't go well, even perfectly.   (Especially since we are expected, by society, to be GREAT parents since we waited for SO LONG to take on the role as mom or dad).   We are, as we argue, a REAL family, and REAL families should have REAL joys and triumphs just like any other family, right?  But we forget, we're also going to have some unique challenges because of adoption.    It's the reality of our situations.

A birth parent once wrote on an online forum that adoption stems from something gone awry.   Huh?   But isn't adoption (newbie adoptive parent thinks) beautiful, and joyful, and tender, and blissful?    Isn't the birth parent giving the child the "gift of life" and the gift of having a wonderful, loving forever family?

All adoptions stem from brokenness.  Somewhere along the way, something went wrong, resulting in adoption being considered and decided upon.    This is a heavy burden that those of us who have adopted, by those who were adopted, and by those who placed children for adoption, carry with us, whether we know it or not.

So because adoption is rooted in brokenness, there is no way that this brokenness doesn't find it's way up the stem and into the flower----sometimes in waves, sometimes in seasons, sometimes gently, sometimes heavily.    No matter what, it's inevitable.

Adoptive parents are quick to defend adoption because without it, we wouldn't be parents.   But defensiveness doesn't embrace possibility and without possibility, we do not welcome change, change of path, change of perspective, change of heart.

The truth is this:  it is what it is.    No amount of love, of commitment, of laughter, of education----none of these things, can fix the roots.

This isn't to say that all adoptees are flawed.  This IS to say that adoption, at its root, begins with something or someone being broken. 

Isiah 61:3 talks about how God can give "beauty for ashes."      Brokenness can be beautiful in bittersweet, strange, and unpredictable ways.    Many of us who have adotped feel feel this conflicting and ever-present sense that adoption, even the most positive and "ideal" adoption situations, begins with brokenness.  

Parents, it's ok to say that adoption isn't perfect.   It's ok to admit that our families were created because somewhere, there was brokenness present.  It's ok to share that we are sad, hurt, confused, upset, or anything else because the brokenness exists.    It's ok to talk about it.

Today, I want to challenge you to be honest about adoption----be it in your thoughts or prayers, with your partner, with your kids, with someone who asks about adoption, with a family member, with a fellow adoptive parent.     

By getting real, you will become a better person, partner, and parent.    



Monday, September 17, 2012

News You Can Use

Here are a few recent articles that are quite interesting!

The first is on talking to those (like me) with a chronic condition.

The second is on mixed-race children.

And, I wanted to share with those of you who buy healthy products for your family (be it hair care products, vitamins, foods, etc.), I love love love this website.  FAST delivery, great prices.     It's like the Amazon for all-things-healthy.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Let's Play Society Says

I recently discovered this article online about parenting, and it's so calmly aggressive and honest. 

I admit, I'm the kind of parent who likes my time.  I like predictability.     I like control.     I love my children dearly, but I really struggle with just sitting and playing with them.  My mind is always going (I think many of you can relate).  I have chores to complete, papers to grade, dinner to make, errands to run.    I always have a project lingering, a table that needs wiping, a load of towels that need to be washed.   

I'm reading a great book right now that talks about how we need to look at these minuscule and ever-necessary tasks as privileges in serving our family, not as interruptions to come unglued over. 

Yep, easier said than done. 

But deep down, I get it.   

You know, older people always say to us younger parents:   the kids grow up so fast; enjoy your time with them.  We nod, smile, and then dismiss their comments, moving on to the next task.

But these people are SO right, aren't they?

Look back at the photos of your preschooler when he or she was an infant or toddler.    It's heartbreaking, really.   

What I'm learning is that just because something is challenging for you as a parent (sitting down to play with your kids, cuddling them instead of letting them cry it out, breastfeeding when bottle feeding would be more convenient for you), it doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do for your child. 

Just because society says you should follow a certain group of rules in order when it comes to parenting, doesn't mean they are right.  As the author of the article stated, "Although our babies begin by letting us know by the clearest signals what they need, if we ignore them they will eventually give up. At what cost did we get a compliant baby? As this is what contemporary Western civilization relies upon, it is little wonder why the relationship between parent and child has remained steadfastly adversarial."

I wonder how many of us will have adult children one day, children-turned-adults that love their parents but never really attached to them.   We will moan and groan that the kids NEVER come visit us, never call, leave us feeling lonely.   And I wonder how many of us will realize our kids are only doing to us what we did to them.   We teach our kids how to treat us.

It's scary to think about, isn't it? 

I hope that each of us can take some time to reflect upon our mothering practices and make improvements in whatever ways we feel convicted to do so.       I hope we learn to do what is best for our child, not society.     

Personally, I'll continue to fight the "to do" list and instead, spend time with my children.  It's all they really want and need.   It's free, I'm able to give it to them, and the memories we create are priceless.



Monday, September 10, 2012

Here We Go Again.....Smarter and Stronger

La Jolie Vie Photography
 

Each adoption is unique.    And each time we begin another adoption journey, we are in a new place in life.

I can say that we've been in the adoption realm for about five years now.   Our first journey officially began in April of 2007.   Baby #1 arrived in November of 2008.  Shortly after her birth, I started an adoption support group in my church, which now meets at local restaurants, and we have 30 members!  After Baby #1 arrived, we had two interim care children, a toddler and an infant.  I started this blog.   Then Baby #2 arrived in November of 2010.    I decided that I finally knew enough about adoption to write about it, so I went for it and wrote for several publications:   Adoptive Families, Madame Noire, My Brown Baby, Diabetes Forecast, Diabetes Health as well as several guest blog posts.     During this time we've had over a dozen birth-family visits and spoken at several adoption trainings.    And now, my book on transracial adoption is being published very soon!

Adoption education is never-ending.   You don't figure it all out and move on.   It's impossible, considering that adoption is ever-evolving, and the adoption of each individual child brings about new challenges, joys, and circumstances.

I'm excited to see what adoption #3 brings into our lives.

Yes, it will be crazy to have three children age four and under.    This is NEVER what I imagined for my life.   Well, I didn't imagine having Black kids, be it that I married a White man and planned to have biological children.   I didn't imagine pulling my girls' hair into puffs and braids and twists instead of simple ponytails.  I didn't imagine my kids would have two families---one by birth, and then us.  I didn't imagine I'd have this fabulous support group of women.

I'm overwhelmed how blessed I am.  I'm equally overwhelmed at how ridiculous it was for me to try to plan my life.  :)      I'm so thankful that my life didn't go as planned.    As I told a recent medical professional, diabetes is really difficult to deal with every day, all day, but without it, I wouldn't have my precious daughters.   I would choose diabetes one hundred times over if it meant that this is the life I could have as a result.    

I've learned to make peace with my disease and embrace what it has given me.  

I've learned to enjoy each of my daughters---their unique personalities, appearances, and temperaments.

I've learned what doesn't kill you, literally, really does make you stronger.

I've learned that a lot adults don't know what they are talking about when it comes to race and adoption.

I've learned that kids are way smarter than adults in many ways.

I've learned that biology matters, and doesn't.

I've learned that a child can love two sets of parents.

I've learned that embracing the unknown is rewarding.

I've learned to take risks, hold my breath, and pray for the best.

I've learned that I don't know anything.  

I've learned (again) how important it is for a father to be present and active in his children's lives.

I've learned that in order to be a great leader, I first must be a great student.

I've learned that to those much is given, much is expected.

MY JOY IS FULL.

So, in conclusion,

Dear Baby #3,

We can't wait to meet you.   Your sisters are going to lick you, tickle you, wrestle you, hug and kiss you, cuddle you, baby-talk you, feed you.   You'll be overwhelmed by their attention.

I promise to love you for who you are.  I promise to treat you as an individual and not just one of the pack.  I promise to honor your biological parents and do whatever I can to foster a relationship with them that benefits you.

You are a gift from God.  You will live an extraordinary life when you seek and follow God's leading in your life.   I can't wait to see what happens next.

Love you already,

Your Waiting Mama

  

Friday, September 7, 2012

For New Readers----Thanks for Stopping In

New Readers,

Thanks for listening to "The Daily Drum" radio show.  I had the honor of speaking tonight on behalf of transracial adoptive parents.    A few things you might want to know about me and my blog:

---My goal is to inspire and educate.

---I welcome questions and comments.

---I'm excited to share with you that in November, my book on transracial adoption and parenting will be available on Amazon.   

---You can read more about our family in the September 2012 issue of ESSENCE magazine, pages 160-161.   The article, "White Mama, Black Baby," is not available online.   

---I'm passionate about transracial adoption education and ethics, so I hope you'll sit, sip some tea (or wine!  It is Friday night!), and stay awhile.   

Welcome, and thank you for stopping by! 

EXCITING NEWS! TONIGHT!

I've been asked by a national radio channel producer to talk about transracial adoption TONIGHT.  Here's the info, and they are going to allow people to call in and ask questions:

" The Daily Drum" which airs on Sirius XM Channel 141. Today, 9/7/12 @ 7:15 PM EST

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Birth Mother Never "Gets Over" Her Child

I am deeply disturbed when I hear adoptive parents (usually prospective, not experienced), the general public, and adoption professionals say that birth parents who place their kids can breathe a deep sigh of relief, "get over," and "move past" the child.

I know several birth parents, and not one of them "gets over" losing their own flesh and blood (even when the loss is voluntary)----because it's not natural to give your child "up" for adoption.

This isn't to say adoption can't be beautiful, that the birth parent made the wrong decision, or that the birth parent doesn't have seasons of joy and progress in his or her life.

What it does mean is that losing a child, be it through death, through miscarriage, through abortion, or through adoption, is incredibly heartbreaking and life-altering.

Consider this story published last week.    

I am honored to be my girls' mother, I look forward to adopting more children, but I'm also ever-mindful that someone else's loss was my gain.  That's the nature of adoption.    Tough pill to swallow.

Monday, September 3, 2012

If I Could Scream A Message, I Would Say, "KIDS DO NOTICE COLOR!"

Miss E is now in her second year of preschool.   On her first day, I was the teacher's helper.    On three occasions, I overheard a race-related conversation involving four year olds.

Let me begin by saying that I'm so tired of hearing white adults say that race doesn't matter, that we shouldn't put emphasis on race, that we shouldn't talk about race.      CLUELESS.  It's easy to say race doesn't matter when you are the dominant race---when you live in a happy White bubble.   I sure enjoyed the bubble before I became a mother to two brown babies. 

When I express my concerns or ask questions about race (mostly diversity), adults always lower their voice a bit and say, with confidence, that kids don't notice or care about race.

They may not care much about race, at the preschool age, but they DO notice color.  

Example 1:   I supervise the little girls going to the bathroom.   A little white girl looks at Miss E, then at me, then back and forth again, before asking me, "Are you her Mommy?"  I say yes.  Little girl wants to ask more, changes her mind, dries her hands, and leaves the bathroom.    I thought, for a second, should I state that moms and babies don't have to "match"?

Example 2:   I'm sitting on the rug next to my daughter while the teacher reads a story.   Next to Miss E is a little white girl, followed by a little black girl.    The white girl next to my daughter asks me if the two brown girls are sisters.  I say, "No, but they are the same color."   

Example 3:   I'm walking my daughter out of the school for the day.  I overhear one mom tell another, "My son came up to me and said there is a black girl in his class.   We are working with him on this."  (Meaning, I suppose, that he doesn't need to state differences, race, or something along those lines).  Mom doesn't realize that I'm the mom of one of the black kids in the class.    I wanted to tell her, "It's OK to talk about race.   It's ok that your child notices color.   Don't shy away from talking about it!"

Three examples in a three hour period.

Yup, kids notice color.

Yes, you should be willing to talk about race with your children.  

You should encourage honesty.

You should embrace diversity.

You should not project racial insecurities onto your children.

BURST the bubble! 

 
 
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