Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Bloom Estate

When we unrolled the new rug -- purchased at 40% off on black Friday, sure to be stained by the next Friday -- ds asked if he could have it someday, "when [I'm] old." He thinks he and his wife would like to have it in their house. I told him that many of the things we have would be his someday.

Tonight as we decorated the Christmas tree (pictures coming) he unwrapped my Old World Christmas fruit ornaments with special care, knowing they're my favorites and remembering that I'd broken one two years ago. "Can these be mine someday? They're my favorites too." "Yes," I said, "Some of these will be yours, and some Miss I's," and after a pause I added "and some A's" (A being the imaginary name for an imaginary child, an idea being explored here at Chez Bloom). He turned from the tree, arms still in the air, sugar plum dangling from its hook. "I know I said I might want another baby, but I'm happy with things just the way they are."

Calculating little man. He said it wasn't about the ornaments, just about "our happiness," but it wasn't just the tree lights twinkling in his eyes.

I told him we wouldn't have to divide anything for a long time. First I'd keep everything at my house even after he'd moved to his own house, then I'd bring much of it with me when I moved in with his family. "Oh," he said seriously, almost flatly. "I didn't realize mothers would live with their grown children."

I said: "Of course, you'll have to ask your wife." I thought: I come with the rug.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The More the Merrier? (or Scarier?)

Owlhaven asks this:

"When you think about enlarging your family, what are some of the questions and concerns that come to your mind? Was it or is it a difficult or an easy decision to declare yourself ‘done’ with having children? If your family is already complete, feel free to share the questions you had as you faced the issue in the past. When you decided, did you decide once and for all, or did you find yourself revisiting the question over and over? I was chatting with my sisters about this over Thanksgiving, found it a fascinating topic, and thought it might be interesting to discuss here as well."

We've been thinking alot about this lately. Ds has been thinking about it even longer.

When we decided to begin the adoption process for Miss I, we just knew someone was missing, felt like we needed this other person in our lives. This time it feels more like it's about needs than wants.

When we decided to adopt transracially and internationally, we felt it was important that our child not be the only child of color in our then-very white family. Then she came home, and she wasn't sleeping and neither were we, and I thought maybe we were done afterall. Then there were many days when we went back and forth -- one day we would name him or her, the next we would declare ourselves complete.

Give it six months, wise women said. Six months for our new family to feel normal, six months before making major life decisions.

Third mom's question and the subsequent answers remind me of the reasons we felt that commiting to Miss I meant commiting to a second Ethiopia adoption.* My husband reminds me that I am practically a crazy woman practically all the time and was through the entire adoption process. (He rejects this characterization of the conversation).

And then he reminds himself of all that he saw in Ethiopia, all the children he could so easily love
, and he seems to think maybe we are just crazy enough . . .

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanks giving

Dh and his darling daughter are raking leaves in our backyard and I'm struck by their amazing and everyday beauty.
I'm so very thankful.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Our Life Less Extraordinary

I've skimmed my own recent posts and realized that, by and large, they are quite normal. Amazingly and wonderfully, our family is starting to feel normal. This might be bad news for blogging, but it's really good news for us. (Though it does make me worry just a touch).

In a post prompted by the impending arrival of her (white) (biological) son and thoughts and feelings this raises regarding a potential adoption that was not to be (shortly before the snapper was conceived),Sster asks whether she had romanticized her prospective role of white mother of a black child. She writes, "I’ll put it bluntly: is this a racist reaction? Have I become romantically enamoured with difference?"

I said I didn't know. Who am I to say? This is really hard.

We first thought we'd adopt from China, only because we knew families who had done it, knew it was possible, and possibility was what we most hoped for. When we first considered domestic adoption, we were asked if we would consider children of african descent. Of course we would, after which we promptly spent days by turns being angry that there would be a difference in "desirability" of black children and all other races and worrying about whether any white parents were remotely qualified to raise black children.

So after our general adoption preparation reading (all eye opening), we threw ourselves headlong into reading and research, psychiatrists' studies of transracial adoptees, sociologists' studies of transracial adoptive moms. (Turns out I had the most in common, according to one sociologist, with white mothers of black children). We asked ourselves in what ways our environment was already supportive of a black child or children, what would have to change, and what we would be willing to do to make those necessary changes. And overall, we felt eager and also very very insecure.

Somewhere along the way we started to form a picture, maybe when ds started talking about his sister "Truckabella" or when the grandmothers mentioned their girl. Maybe sooner. One adoption preparation exercise asks the prospective parent to literalize that "picture," to sketch "her" child (the exercise was intended to help prospective parents realize that they did have these pictures, and that these pictures have consequences). I drew a brown little girl - not a baby - with long eyelashes and curly black hair.

One year later, a black little girl with long eyelashes and delightfully curly brown hair lives here. When we realized that domestic adoption was not for us, was not a good fit for our family, we knew that Ethiopia was where we'd find our little girl. Was this decision, in addition to being imperialist, also racist? No. It was what our process had prepared us for.

But I do know that this way I didn't have to let go of a picture (and every loss of a picture is a very real loss -- I' ve had to give up many in the past) -- she is in some ways what I expected and a million things I never could have guessed.

We knew she would change our life, knew she would make our family different, knew we would change her life immeasurably. We would become a minority family, and she would become the black daughter of a woman described affectionately as the "whitest woman I've ever met" once (which can't be true :) I know some the people she knows). But we would have a choice. She wouldn't. I had no romantic notions of what it would be like to be the white mother of a black child, no sense that it would make me a part of a community I would otherwise be excluded from by definition. But I knew I'd be excluding her from many -- in this case, black children raised by black mothers.

I'm not sure if it's because I'm a pessimist or a pragmatist, or because I'm ever wracked by guilt, but I know my picture of myself as the white mother of a black child wasn't romantic. Yet I also know that once we got that far in the process, I wanted this little girl

(oh how that smacks of determinism, which I avoided responding to, though let me say this -- I find our finding one another all the more miraculous because it was so improbable and contingent, not because it was "meant to be")

and while I know we'll always be different, that she'll always be different because of our choice, I like that our improbable family is starting to feel so normal.

Guilty as Charged

We need finer distinctions at Chez Bloom.
"I didn't do it" and "She did it" are tired, and they aren't adequate to the situations we find ourselves in (she might have poured the water on the floor, or written on Momma's work, but who gave her the idea? The tools?). Which is why ds now knows the meaning of "Accessory," "Accessory after the fact" and "Conspiracy to commit . . ."
Should I be proud that my five year old can plead no contest?
Mia's Saving Grace is worth a read on any day: a nuanced thinker, a thoughtful writer, a very capable mom, and a woman merging two histories divided by adoption, she challenges her readers. I want to call your attention to a really important post in which she shares her experience of sharing her experience with adoptive parents, some receptive and some defensive, all with a lot to learn.

Here's just a bit of it:

"Kids should feel safe talking with their parents and not bear the weight of grown up issues upon their shoulders. Adopted kids should feel safe and comfortable verbalizing their feelings to their parents and not fear hurting the people they love. If you adopt a child it is what it is……they are ADOPTED. You can’t wave a magic wand and make them not adopted. Deal with your emotions, see a therapist if you need to but make yourself available to your child without handing them your baggage. If I could say one thing to fearful adoptive parents it would be to uncross your arms. Open them up and embrace truth.

Those of you who’s arms are open~thank you. Keep questioning, keep learning, keep growing. And don’t be surprised if your kids grow up feeling safe and secure in your presence, honored as an individual, self-assured, confident, more like a cherished daughter or son than a possession. Of course they will still have some issues. Who doesn’t have issues? But how wonderful it will be to know they will feel comfortable coming to you and talking about how they are feeling….the sign of a healthy parent/child relationship. That’s a huge payoff don’t you think?"

I think so, and I hope so.
Please go read the rest.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Name calling

By her own account (through the influence of her brother) Miss I. is (laughingly) a "Bad Baby, Bad Baby, Bad Baby" and the dog is a "Dood Dirl." Of course, she calls me "Natty" and "Awnawshus," (as in, "Shhhh, Natty Momma") neither of which are good things. All of which speaks volumes about my parenting (of the first one, her idol).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Toys R Us?

I waited at Toys R Us forever yesterday, but I got it, the toy I had no idea would be an IT toy when we decided to buy it for dd. It just seemed right for her.

The shelf it had occupied was empty, so I thought I'd come back, though I'd go ahead and purchase the tie-fighter LEGO set on sale. (Don't tell ds. It's the next marble prize). But when the cashier asked if I'd found everything I was looking for, I mentioned the Bounce and Spin Zebra, on our birthday list for dd, mfsrp $45, online for $69, onsale there for $32 when they'd had it. She called over a man from customer service, who called to the back, and told me to wait. They had only two left. So I waited, and when he brought it up front, another mother, cart already filled (she's the kind that will have Christmas handled before Thanksgiving) asked if she could have it. "This one's for this guest, but you can have our last one."

Then I waited in line for awhile behind a mom with her twenty-one month old in cart. She asked what my daughter was "into," and for a moment, I felt really incompetent. I can tell you that my son loves LEGOS, that he loves Star Wars, loves to build, loves to sculpt. Him, I can buy for and could even at two. Her? Not so much.

So I sheepishly said I didn't know, without explaining that we've only known each other for five very intense months, that we are having a difficult enough time with basic communication. She likes everything, for the most part. As predicted, she could have fun in a paper bag. She loves lots of things. So I could have said she loves to dance, loves disco!, loves to read, loves my cell phone and Daddy's "Palm Pie," loves her dolls, loves the box of hand-me-down fancy shoes from my niece, loves our cat and dog, loves her life. These are the things she's into. But no, ashamed that we didn't form a preconstituted market for some doo-dad (and if we do, we don't watch commercials together to find out), I just said, "I don't know."

She seemed surprised that I didn't know. (Who wouldn't be?!) Her daughter loves the Disney Princesses, and can sing and do interpretive dance to "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes," and despite being just the cutest-bit shy, the little girl showed me a couple of her moves, right in her seat. And that Disney Princess, however much Disney Princesses make me cringe, really was a doll.

The cashier kindly offered that in addition to the it toy of our choice, they'd also gotten TMX Elmo back in stock. I didn't buy it (she likes our first generation Tickle Me Elmo just fine).

I don't usually stress too much about Christmas shopping and always manage to keep it in perspective (except the med school year when I cried because our budget was so tight). But for a moment I wondered, how long til I really know my daughter?

In Other Business

Dawn's got a great business idea, and I'd love to see it (and her) succeed.
Especially if you blog, check out This Woman's Work, at right, for getthemblogging.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I was responding to Erin O's comment on a post below (and Erin, you didn't pressure me at all. Just made me think!), and I realized something. I'd implied we were on the way to number three, but we aren't, yet, I didn't think, though we struggle almost daily with whether or not we should be (many from our travel group already are!).

Sometimes I think I'm crazy for thinking about #3. (See the 90 minute tantrum, below, or the help I receive from a dear friend each week just to keep my house organized and my sanity semi-intact as dh works extra hours). But sometimes I think kind of like this
at largerfamily, written by Owlhaven in October:

"You see, I’ve been to Ethiopia. I have memories of walking through orphanages with child after child plucked at my clothes looking pleadingly upward, and raising their arms begging to be picked up.

I know deep in my soul that at this very minute there are thousands of children dying a little inside every day because they have no one to call their own. No one.

I also know how little time it takes for a former orphan to become a sassy, self-assured, much-loved member of a family. It is a miraculous and delightful metamorphasis to behold.

And here we sit, blessed beyond measure. How can I blithely say I’m done, knowing that in saying so I am shutting the door in the faces of real living children?"

She goes on to say to say that this feeling isn't about a savior complex, but the real sense that someone is missing.

Is someone missing here at Chez Bloom? Sometimes I think, given that it'll take us a good long time to process the paper and to wait, that January, at the latest June, will be the time to ca-ca or keum the po-po.

We'll never be a larger family. I don't have the temperament for it (I think I'm much too impatient, maybe a little too fragile), though God bless those who do --

but are we really done?
I don't think so.

Adoption Madness

No thanks to Criminal Minds (follow link, click feedback) for portraying an adoptee as a psychopath, inspired by the novel written by the post-modernist professor he believes to be his mother. She isn't, but as a birthmother, she is willing to die for him.
It used to be just NBC on my bad list (see L&O, L&O:SVU, and potentially Heroes, though my judgment on that one is still pending).
Whatever we do mean by Adoption Awareness this month, this isn't it.

Mother of All Tantrums

If you're a long(er)-time reader, then you know that we've been struggling with tantrums since Miss I came home. Today we set a record: one and a half hours before she finally cried herself to sleep. About every twenty minutes she tried to pull herself together: "Done." Deep breath. "I done. All done," and then she would start again.
My beautiful daughter was screaming and growling.
I wanted to leave her in her room, shut the door, and take my own deep breaths. I did step out for a few moments to call my mom for advice and encouragement, but I was too fearful that she would feel abandoned to leave for long. So I sat there on the floor of her room while she screamed and growled and cried.
Readers, I am not Catholic, but I prayed to Mary.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Fashion and Function

The bikini bottoms over jeans were just for fashion, I thought. But they're for function. They go much faster on the slide.
Pants on the head, legs wrapped round? I think that's just for style.

Adoption Awareness?

I'm a little hesitant about "Adoption Awareness Month." I'm not sure exactly what it means: awareness that there are families like mine ("awareness" being about as useful as "tolerance"), promotion of adoption or placement for adoption, or advocacy for adoption reform. Maybe all of these things? It isn't exactly like Transplant or Breast Cancer Awareness . . .

But I do want to thank Sesame Street for making me cry this morning. Word on the Street is that Gina is bringing Marco home from Guatemala tomorrow, and so far it was handled quite sensitively, and she couldn't live in a better neighborhood for a multicultural family and for finding great role models for her son.

In my real RantotheWeek (which is a bit inaccurate, as I think they're more like Q3 or 4) I'll post about Disney and Disney Princesses (and the history behind the exclusion of black princesses later.)

Three's Company

Ds announced yesterday that he's still lonely, but that he likes his sister so much we should "do it again." He wants another little sister, only this time he wants her to be "zero" so he can "raise her the whole way." He promises to take care of her if I take care of Miss I. What ever happened to "Please Momma can I have a puppy?!"

Sunday, November 05, 2006

O-h N-o

My son can now read -- I mean, really read, not just read/remember Hop on Pop or More, More, More Said the Baby or anything Eric Carle.
This is very exciting, yes, except for one thing: He's wise to my tricks.
Today he realized that "Walter the Dog Who Passes Gas" is actually "Walter the Farting Dog." ("What's farting, Momma?" Bless his temporarily innocent little heart.)
Tomorrow I'll have to give up spelling over his head.

My daughter pointed to a word on a box and happily exclaimed "Aybeeceedees!" One of her 35 English words is the first four letters of the alphabet.

Friday, November 03, 2006

And Your Name Is?

So I have lots of more important things to blog about, but this one has really been bothering me, and it'll just take a second:
You all know I am the queen of "Why do you ask?" both in terms of using it and recommending it for use to transracial/multiracial/adoptive/open/nontraditional in anyway families. It works for most questions, and it helps guide our answers (or stops more questions from being asked). But here's one I can't figure out:
"What's her name?"
Rarely did people ask my son's name when he was a baby or toddler. "Hey, buddy." "Hi, little guy." "Hey there, handsome."

But everyone wants to know Miss I's name. Sometimes it's an attempt at a subtle way of acknowledging their acceptance of a family of our construction, a question in which one can casually use "your daughter," both to test it out and validate it: "What's your daughter's name?" (See, I get it, and I'm okay with you -- and if it's a mistake, it's a mistake in the enlightened direction). Or it might be a way of asking a question that is personal but not TOO personal, trying to get me to offer more than is asked, as if I'll blurt out "HernameisIandshewasadoptedfromEthiopiaandhereareallthepersonaldetailsofherrelinquishment." Or maybe it's a way to feel admitted into our inner circle, because we emit such a warm glow. Maybe they're taking a survey -- I like to hear about, and complain about, baby names too.

The problem is that I always feel compelled to answer, and they never forget. Add this to her incredible beauty and electric personality, and you have an intensification of our fame/infamy. I go to the grocery store a week later: "Hi, Miss I!" The clerk turns to another clerk. "This is Miss I. Check out those lashes!" (which, by the way, really are to die for). In another store, "Miss I! It's you!"

I'm not totally comfortable with strangers calling her by her first name, as if she knows them and they know her. I know that most people are harmless, but for the same reason that I don't sew ds's name on his backpack, I'm not comfortable with the world knowing Miss I.

But I can't exactly say, "Why do you ask?" to that, without seeming like a paranoid freak. (You'll probably all chastise me for ever having answered in the first place. Or maybe now I'm being the paranoid freak).

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Some good news to share:

Our friend's baby is on her way to good health, and the courts have approved their adoption. They are a beautiful family, and I wish them continued health and much much joy.

Our own re-adoption is on its way to finalization here in the US. I didn't expect this to be so emotional, as we were already legal in Ethiopia in May. Still, reading the draft order made Momma and Daddy cry. The attached exhibits, which I'd already seen and read before, put me in mind again of the love and loss that came before us. That she shall hereafter be known as the daughter of A. and D. Bloom brings us profound joy.

Thank you for sharing in our joy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"At issue are remarks the Massachusetts Democrat made on Monday before a college audience in California in which he said he was joking that if people don't study and work hard they could end up getting "stuck in Iraq." He said it was a "botched joke" that was referring to President Bush."

It wasn't a bad joke; it's that he told it wrong -- he doesn't have a good sense for the comic, and he should know that by now (wouldn't a good student learn?)

But if Kerry's really going to be charged with being unpatriotic (and for crying outloud, he's a distinguished veteran, as were many of his supporters in the last election), you'll have to charge us too:

Ds currently attends kindergarten at a school that provides narratives and keeps binders of progress, but no grades. I unthinkingly remarked in front of him that I was concerned about his transition to a school that issues grades in the first.

Since his dad once jokingly posted my grad school grade report on the 'fridge, he knows that "A"s are "really good."

So he said, "I hope I get A's. But what if I get a C?"

I answered, "One C? Nothing, really. All C's and D's? You could be president."

That, I think, is what John Kerry meant. Oh, and it's funny and awful, because it's true.