Friday, April 28, 2006

Language Barriers and Border Wars

Nuestro Himno -read about it, and give it a listen here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Gender Preference Revisited - Now with more nuance!

I received a comment on my post below, and as I started to respond to it, I realized it deserved its own post. Hope that's okay with the author:

Lola: I can understand the preference of having a girl over a boy- if you are a single female. I really do feel that young boys benefit by having a strong male role-model in their life- and girls- a woman... I believe single parents can raise children of the opposite sex. But myself as a single female am worried about raising a young boy-- let's face it- I don't know much about men (they are completely different then women in a lot of ways), and I think it would be more beneficial to the child to be with a same sex parent. I agree about entitlement- no one is entitled anything- although when you work and live and try hard in life, it is sometimes frustrating to miss out on things you would like to share in..

Oh, Lola,

I'm completely sympathetic to all of that. I realize that my post didn't sound like it - franky, neither did my response to the conversation detailed here, and for that I'm really sorry. For starters, I have to repeat that we did actually ask for a girl. (After our domestic craziness, (and my revisiting the issue of whether I really could ever meet with another mother and not take her hands and tell her - parent. But that's another post) we had a little form in front of us, and it asked us what we wanted. At first, we thought, that's crazy! We just want another child! But dh, ds and I all realized that there was an I. shaped hole in our family. So we said "girl."

I do get why a single woman would be more confident raising a girl, though I must say that some of the best grown guys I know were raised by single women, and that I'm actually quite terrified about what kinds of experiences of being a girl I will accidentally pass on to my daughter (again, that's for another post). In a way raising a child of the opposite sex alone might be a little like transracial parenting - I can do everything in my power for I., but I cannot be black. Fortunately, we are surrounded by loving aa friends, colleagues and teachers who have offered to pitch in and provide great role models (and braid hair, thank God).

I just think that not every program can, should or must allow for gender selection, or that everyone can or should demand a baby as young as possible. There are ways of selecting a daughter: China is really backlogged (my heart breaks for those waiting mommas every day - I've been reading countless stories of having to redo fingerprints because they've expired as they've waited). The backlog is particularly so for singles, as China has a quota for single parents. But you can still choose gender through some agencies in Ethiopia and Haiti, and a couple programs match single women with girls for the very reasons you state. You can also, through our agency, choose a waiting child from Ethiopia - they tend to be a little bit older (20 mos, for example), but still healthy, and believe me - very beautiful and beautiful-spirited girls.

What burns me up isn't at all the "feeling more confident to parent a girl." It is the expression of frustration that after everything else someone has lost, she deserve to parent a baby (as young as possible) girl and is being denied that right. At a very basic level, I'm defensive of my kids. No kid is a consolation prize, and even if they were, my kids aren't second or third best. I'm also very protective of first mothers, whose losses are effaced in the assertion of "rights" or "deserving" to parent someone else's child, as well as children like my daughter, whose losses of their first families could get lost in parents' grief or needs-fulfillment.

I'm not asking single women to do anything I haven't done - I don't want to see anyone give up on the dream of parenthood - but I do think it's sensible to realize that the dream might not be what you thought it was and that once you take stock of all those losses (and grieve them, which is so important) really wonderful things can happen - so long as you don't get hung up on entitlement:

First I thought I would have another pregnancy (what was I thinking? As I approach the fifth anniversary of the 54 hr labor I am amazed that I considered this a viable option). Then I thought my child was in China. Then I thought he would be a newborn boy, here in the US, through domestic transracial adoption. It turns out my child is a fifteen month old Ethiopian toddler girl. And nothing feels more right.

That does not mean that the process of getting to her has been painless. It has been the most painful thing I've ever done (and then I remember why the 54 hr labor isn't so bad afterall). I get what you say about working, and living the best you can, and still seeing dreams moving farther and farther out of reach. But then, you keep reaching, and something else happens.
I guess that's what I mean by not getting "what we deserve," but by getting better than we deserve.

I wish for you not just what you deserve, but even better things - things you never would have imagined had things been easy. And I wish that sometimes, some things, could be easy . . .


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Happiness through shopping

I'm feeling a little more peaceful tonight, and a little sorry I was so harsh - not sorry enough to change anything about my post, just sorry enough to wish I had shown, maybe even felt, a little more humility. At the bottom of all this discussion of rights is someone who feels very threatened, threatened by the real loss of a potential child, a loss I am familiar with several times over. But while I wish I had been more merciful, I wish others had shown more grace. Too much of this (happiness) feels like a zero sum game for too many people, and then everyone loses.

We bought baby's first photo album to send to I. so she isn't shocked when Daddy shows up, or when ds and I come to meet her at the airport. We also bought her a bathing suit - purple with little flowers. I cannot believe sometimes that there's going to be an actual need for a purple-with-little-flowers tiny bathing suit here in just about five or six weeks.

Righteous Anger

She's even madder than I am.

Heartbreak (Race and Fosteradoption Part III)

If you've been following the story, the foster family lost. They will not appeal again because they do not want to delay his attachment to his new family.
My heart breaks for him, and for them.
I hope this never happens again, and I hope for the best for Kevin.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Race and fosteradoption part II

Thinking of this family all the time . . .

Parenting a Girl is Not a Constitutional Right

The time has come for another gender preference post from the least able to speak on the subject with authority (a woman who requested a daughter):

I've recently made a couple people very mad, and while I hate having people mad at me, I hate the way they are behaving, so maybe we're even.

On the message board for families adopting from Ethiopia, the discussion regarding whether one should have a gender preference or not has returned. A single mother posted wanting to know -it seems - if she could request a girl even if she's a first time mother (and hence not permitted to, according to our agency's new policy) and if not, if she could decline the referral of a boy. To do the latter, she would have to effectively lie on her homestudy and in her application, which I don't think she had fully considered.

Someone else posted about her "God given right to prefer a girl."

I have no idea what the hell that means. Of course you have - I suppose we believe in the United States - the God-given right to prefer anything over anything else. It's a free freaking market. Let alone the big decisions and that whole big thing about the pursuit of happiness. But you DO NOT have a constitutional, God-given, or in any way or under any other authority have a right to a baby of any kind.

That's hard. I had to face this before. Didn't I deserve a healthy pregnancy as much as anyone else did? Didn't I deserve to be as healthy as anyone else? Didn't I deserve a pregnancy when (and here you've heard this all before) other people can thoughtlessly get pregnant and carry a baby they can't even parent?

I'm a good(ish) person. But in any real way, did I have a right to or deserve a child? No.

Had I gone into adoption still beating on that entitlement drum, the whole process would have been so much more daunting and I would have missed out. Instead, I got a referral for a beautiful little girl, and I don't deserve this happiness. I really don't. That's the beauty - not that we all get what we deserve, but that sometimes, we get better than we deserve. The appropriate response to that is gratitude.

When a mother of little boys posted that she found it offensive to read that a potential mother "deserved a baby girl" and demanded "nothing less," other mothers seemed to defend what they believed to be the "right to a preference," when I think the mother of boys was just trying to say that how you conduct such a discussion has consequences. If someone demands "nothing less than" a baby girl, is my toddler girl less than? My boy too difficult to parent by virtue of being a boy? Outrageous.

Of course everyone wants some element of control over the process, and maybe choosing gender gives you just that little bit of control. I'm not going to lie. It did - just a little - for us. But then what happens? It turns out that your baby girl isn't healthy, or that parenting a girl isn't all that it's cracked up to be, or that what happens to your children and in your family isn't in your control.

People, of course we all make choices about the process of adoption based on what we believe we can and cannot handle. But "at least getting to choose the gender of the child you will nurture for the rest of your life" (a quote) is not a compensation for infertility, medical illness, pregnancy loss, or single status.

It's one thing to say you are more prepared to parent a girl, and to find a program/agency/country to accomodate that, and another to insist it's your RIGHT to do so, and that the policy of this agency is "silly and needs to be revisited."

Great. Now I'm madder than I was when I started posting.

Monday, April 24, 2006

More than my fair share

When we were filling out our Gallup Family forms (no this wasn't a joke) dh was glad to see that he and I had the same answers - not on religion, or politics (though we did for that too) but on how the household chores, including shopping, are divided. We both put "Share responsibilities with one other household member." I think he was afraid I'd be mad that he'd said that.

I'm going to say something almost entirely foreign in the blogosphere (where lots of women are righteously angry that fathers don't do a share - let alone their fair share - of the parenting):

My husband is amazing. He cleared his schedule this afternoon because this is one of those weeks where I just can't get all of my full-time work done with part-time daycare/preschool. And in a few moments, he's taking ds to the grocery store - like he has almost every week since January.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

There are Waits and then there are WAITS

So just the other day I was saying how this wait post-referral pre-travel is actually easier for me than the first wait: I know who my daughter is, I know she's being cared for, and I know that she will be coming home someday soon. But that was the other day.
Today, even though I have a million things to do before she comes home, I am really feeling the weight of this wait. It's exhausting. And it's only been 1.5 weeks. At least a month to go.
Keeping busy isn't doing it - anyone else have suggestions?

"It" happens

Not so long ago, families adopting from Ethiopia were discussing "strange things people have said." These were not strange things. They were rather normal, everyday, awful (and awful because they are everyday) racist things. The conversation proceeded for awhile before someone called it like it was. It happens, and we know it does. It happens everyday, and just doesn't get labeled racism, as it should.

Recently, someone asked a family member how my son would "know" about things if his sister is black. Know what, about what things? In this case, so far as I could tell, it was know how to identify a bad neighborhood and thus know when to be fearful.

My son, as the white brother of a black child, living in a multiracial family (see "we're all black") is going to know a lot of things children in white families never have to/get to really know. One of these is that the world is filled with dangerously racist people who don't think of themselves as dangerous, or racist, which makes them even more of both of those things.

Dear Ds and Dd I,
How I wish I could protect you from other people's idiocy.

Dear Family,
Thank you for helping me try.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Race and adoption?

This is what makes what I said before (the potential misconstrual of it, I should say) scary.
This child should be with his momma.
More on the subject later.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Smiley face

I promised this picture of one of my girls to some of my fans. See? My dog really does smile.

The Next Best Thing?

Adoptions from China have been slowed down. Families have been waiting for what must feel like an eternity, only to find out they will have to wait longer. This wait, in large part due to the volume of American families trying to adopt from China, has led to speculation that more restrictions will be put in place (health) and that quotas will be reinstated a la the early 2000s.

This led one blogger (N.O.) to revisit the issue of the "Pain Olympics" (that contest to determine who had experienced the most loss in order to determine who is most entitled to, it seems, both a child and the respect that must be accorded survivors of tremendous loss) with a twist: If there were additional quotas (there are already restrictions on the number of singles who may adopt), she asked, who should get priority? People with infertility and no children, people with one child (bio or adopted), etc.

In months past this would have led to great ugliness, but only led to a little. Most agreed that while it may seem fair to give the baby to the one with no child, there's also something really icky about taking such a stance. Most people seemed to think it should be what's best for the child, while recognizing that this is difficult in a situation where potential parents are considered largely in the abstract (hence quotas and health restrictions). And some thought that parents who don't yet have a child would be the best family for each child. But this is just the set up to what's actually important to me right now: As an adoptive mother, I've had to accept that all else being equal, I am the next best thing for my child.

One of the comments on the above discussion cited something I've heard before, and something I think matters a lot. A transracial, transcultural adoptive parent is actually the fifth best thing - in the abstract. First, a healthy, strong, capable and enabled first family. Then kinship care. Then domestic placement. Then international placement in a same race family. Then international placement in an other-race family.

I know that I.'s first family loves/loved her deeply. And in Ethiopia's case, kinship care would certainly be the next choice, but famine and illness have destroyed whole extended families and any sort of care that village that it takes would otherwise provide.

I'm okay with the fact that in the abstract, we are far from the ideal situation for I. because in the particular, we're just right for each other - so long as I keep the other in mind.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Right to the Point

We admire ds's directness. When I held him on my lap before bedtime and kind of casually affirmed that he'd always be my baby, he looked up at me, eyelashes a-batting and asked "Your best baby?"


It's been almost a week. I'm still processing, still crazed, and imagining that not many of you are still with me, since I know you were only hanging out waiting to find out if I had gotten THE CALL. Really, me too. Still, I haven't told the story, and while I don't know how to tell it profoundly, I ought to tell it before too much time has passed.

If you are an avid reader of New Flower, then you know that my first blossom stuck his teeth through his top lip last Sunday night (not Easter). That Thursday, we went to his pediatrician for a recheck. As I was signing in, reading again and contemplating (though not taking all that seriously) the sign that says "Cell phones for emergency use only, please," my cell phone rang. I didn't recognize the number, so I squeezed the sides to silence the ringer. But what if it was the ADOPTION AGENCY and I had silenced them? Yet what if I got my HOPES UP for NOTHING like every time an unidentified call came? Isn't it better not to hope every blessed time the phone rings? But what if THE CALL went to voice mail?!

In that endless moment, I also remembered that on Wednesday (the night before) I had had a good feeling about Thursday. But I had figured the good feeling wasn't for me. I may be semi-psychic, but I'm no optimist.

I answered it. It was THE CALL. "Is this a good time?" "Okay." "We have a little girl I want to tell you about." "She's my daughter." "Listen," she said, "You don't have to remember everything, you don't have to take notes . . ." I started crying.

At the end of our conversation, everyone in the waiting room knew I was crazy (fortunately this time for a different reason than the people in the ER waiting room, though when you combine the two I'm getting quite a reputation, despite being an anonymous woman). I paged dh, using our long-ago devised and only-once used (why, just last Sunday!) emergency code. He called back in a panic. "It's a girl," I said, unable to think of anything clever. Unable to think. How I wish I had planned ahead - something brilliant to say. But I probably would have forgotten it.
I couldn't stop crying.

And that is how everyone who works at the pediatricians' office learned we have a daughter.

Oh, and then I seriously debated whether "You have a grandaughter" qualified as an "emergency" call. I decided that it did.

PS Ds's lip looks great. It's healing beautifully.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Of the People, By the People . . .

Ever wonder who those Gallup Poll families are?
Good news. Finally someone wants our opinions. And we have loads of 'em.

The Much Anticipated

Review of Coke Blak:
Coke Blak finally hit our market (four pack @ four dollars). Addicted to both coffee and Coke and ordered to limit my intake of each, I thought this would be the perfect solution - it would take away any need to choose and satisfy both cravings.
At first it seems the glorious dark and rich creamy coke and espresso mix the beautiful bottle promises. Pleasantly sweet sips give way to an aftertaste that's all coffee. But . . . it's sweetened with aspartame. Not for the migraineur for oh so many reasons, and not for the unadventurous.
DH gives it a thumbs up - I have to give it a thumbs down for the not-prominently-advertised artificial sweetener.

(Hey, did anyone else hear that the new soda machines are equipped to raise the price on hot days?!)

The Really Anticipated Story coming soon. I promise.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

More Joy

Our loved one on bedrest delivered a healthy almost 36 week, almost five pound daughter.
Two baby girls today!
We're all very blessed.


We received the most wonderful phone call today.
I'm speechless, and overflowing with joy.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Backyard in Bloom

Pajama Day

Ds and I are staying in our pajamas until lunchtime. Dh was home with him Monday and Tuesday (it's some of that vacation time he has to use up), and ds will start back to school tomorrow. I'm a bit nervous about the potential of an accident, but as it is, he's already running down the basement stairs and onto the concrete floor again.

Every "my kid did that too" story that I've heard or received refers to a boy-child. I always try not to be sexist, but really - is this putting-the-teeth-through-the-lip or jumping off the porch like Superman and the like and not being careful not to do it again a boy thing?

PS Ds thinks I should post pictures of the stitches. I'll just say it looks much better today than we could have expected. Recheck tomorrow.

Monday, April 10, 2006

In Stitches (or, Bad Momma)

After the Big Thing I was very tired. I'm not sure I could have done anything differently, but even so.
Right before bath and bed time, I ran to the basement for a second. DS was upstairs on the couch eating a little snack. While I was down there, the phone rang, and I answered it. DS isn't all that patient.
As I hung up, he ran down the steps and couldn't stop his momentum, slipped on the concrete floor and landed on his face - on the edge of a paint can. When he looked up, his two front teeth were through his lip. And DH was at work.
A neighbor drove us to the ER, dh met us there, and after six hours, four doctors, four nurses, conscious sedation, and waking, we got home, at 4 am.
Scarring should be minimal, but every time I look at it, I'll remember what ds said, with his teeth still through his lip, "Who woul fut a faint can at the botton of the stefs?" Later, with his lips swollen after surgery and his body still not completely in his control, he sat up, leaned forward and pressed his lips to my cheek, a great effort at a kiss and, I think, at forgiveness.
We're all very tired and traumatized.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Big Thing

I am pleased to announce that the Big Thing at Best University that has been consuming most of my waking moments lately (ds had decided to fire me, before going to grandma's for a weekend, and while he loves grandma better, he's willing to give me another shot) is over, and it was very, very successful. Which means I can relax. But it also means that I will have more time to obsess about our lack of referral.
I wasn't supposed to be in charge of anything, really. I had shared some ideas, had agreed to participate in a planning phase, but I'd also shared that I'd be bowing out when my daughter came home. And then she didn't come home. (So I had no excuse, for myself or for them, despite the little losses along our way, which didn't seem to entitle me even to a good cry.)
But it was great, and it's over, and I can go back to my normalish life.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Are you doin' sarcasm?

Check out this article from the Onion. Very, very funny. (See? I still have a sense of humor).

Cheap and angsty.

Either this quiz underestimates my caffeine addiction, or my headache doctor overestimates it.
Angsty, yes. Althletic, no. Or at least my Playstation Virtual Personal Trainer tells me otherwise. But cheap?! Come on.

You Are an Iced Coffee

At your best, you are: hyper, modern, and athletic

At your worst, you are: cheap and angsty

You drink coffee when: you're out with friends

Your caffeine addiction level: medium
What Kind of Coffee Are You?

Those of you who know dh will find this more accurate than my own.

You Are a Soy Latte

At your best, you are: free spirited, down to earth, and relaxed

At your worst, you are: dogmatic and picky

You drink coffee when: you need a pick me up, and green tea isn't cutting it

Your caffeine addiction level: medium

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

We're All Nontraditional

I had been working on a post, "We're all black." In it I discuss how a black friend of mine only half-jokingly suggested that one way of thinking through "white mother-black child" is to refer to Haiti's declaration of freedom, which declared all Haitians, regardless of skin color, to be black.
A popular adoption forum removed its "Non-traditional Families" board, because that board was "too political" - not in content, but in the nature of its existence. But here's the thing: it's all political, and in the adoption community, we're all nontraditional.

Monday, April 03, 2006


I've been trying to find words for this way of expecting, to make it intelligible to people who've had children the regular way. And the best I can come up with is that it's like being pregnant, but having no due date. Enat says the same thing, but with better reason to say it, a couple posts back. Their efforts to bring their daughter home are heroic and humbling, to say the least.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Brother and I.

Ds said the other day, "Isn't it weird that we have a baby's room but no baby?" Yes, it kind of is.

Yesterday, we stopped to drop a present off for R., one of those beautiful babies I told you about just a few posts ago. We couldn't stay long, and are looking forward to a longer visit soon. DS said, "Is R. their baby too?" Yes. "So now they have two children." Yes. "Just like you do." Pause. "Me and I." Yes, I guess. Or at least, that reflects my feelings. I'm not waiting to be a mom, I'm waiting to find out who I will mom, just as ds isn't waiting to be a brother, but a brother waiting for his sister. But.

My mom remarked that I. is becoming ds's imaginary friend. I think that might be so, and we don't know whether to curb it or let him run with it.

Thoughtful, careful, socially responsible post coming soon. Or at least one that makes me seem smarter and less self-involved, whatever the truth of those appearances may be.