Sunday, September 30, 2007

On the Popularity of Polemic, my Own Propensity for it

Please note: the following (strikingly banal) realization will not stop me from engaging in my now only occassional rant-o-the-week, my own outlet for polemic:

Most of the time I try to be nuanced in my thinking and in my writing. Every once in awhile, though, I read something or hear something that makes me lose all interest in nuance -- I react so strongly to what is so clearly a strong reaction as it is that I have a hard time being fair. Add to that that I don't really want anyone to hate me, whatever I say about not caring what other people think . . .

This happened last week, so I just didn't say anything. But then I feel like I've let other people down. Instead, I wrote my polemic to the View (below).

I realized that nuance comes from a privileged position -- in a position of relative power, there is little cost to me to concede a point, to be empathetic (except the heartbreak that comes along with it), to say "yes, I see." Polemic seems necessary for the systematically disempowered, even if it makes its auditors balk. It's why there are pros and antis, and people who appear pro and anti when they aren't, when we all really know it isn't that simple.

But what if we suddenly, simultaneously, universally agreed that being nuanced wasn't waffling, afterall? That it is an extraordinarily empowering thing to be? Imagine the conversations we'd have.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dear Ladies of the View,
I am disheartened to hear of Sherri Shepard’s perspective on the adoption of African children by white women, equating such children with “accessories.” These comments – which are not unique by any stretch – tmz has described Mary Louise Parker’s new daughter as an “accessory” and Urban Outfitters sold t-shirts with “Adoption is the new black” within the last year – and they are much like comments many of us hear everyday from ignorant people.
What is disturbing about such comments is that they are targeted at adopting parents and celebrities claiming to be hopeful or future adoptive parents, but they miss their mark, merely offending us but ultimately hurting our children. Can you imagine an adopted child overhearing the remarks? Overhearing the remarks being repeated by other children or by other children’s mothers? It takes work to make a child who has suffered loss feel loved and secure and to see herself as a full member of a new family. This is the work we have been engaged in for more than a year. Why would anyone work to undo that confidence?
I understand that not everyone will support our decision to adopt (or adopt internationally, or adopt transracially), but I cannot understand others making our children the subject of derision (Please know I have quite a sense of humor: Samantha Bee’s spot on International Adoption on The Daily Show clearly hit her target, was broadcast after our children were in bed, and also, it’s quite amusing).
Our daughter was not adopted hastily or as part of a trend, but rather after an extensive, emotional and at times exhausting process, and after we’d carefully weighed our options for building our family and the consequences for our children. Never have I heard of giving birth being considered part of a trend, but it’s been going on for millennia on this round earth. If the desire to love someone by choice is a trend, it’s a trend I’d like to see continue.
If Ms. Shepard was willing to recant her foolish statement that she was too busy feeding her children to know whether the earth was round or flat, perhaps she’ll admit that she’s also too busy to have been schooled on the subject of other people’s families and thus spoke inappropriately. If not, may Angelina Jolie, Mary Louise Parker, Meg Ryan and Nicole Kidman never visit the View again, lest they be criticized for their choice of accessories.



Angelina Jolie
Mary Louise Parker
Meg Ryan
Nicole Kidman

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jena, When You Are Six

We don't watch the news before our children's bedtimes. Little Bun listens too closely. But when we got in the car today I didn't realize it was set to talk radio -- Daddy had driven the car last. I immediately got caught up in coverage of the Jena Six and before I realized it, Little Bun was caught up in it too. I only realized it when he said: "I'm glad Miss I and I don't hit each other -- you wouldn't know if it was a 'race thing.'"
More seriously, he asked what a family like ours would possibly do in a place like Jena.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Ladies, here's your
ObamaMama T-Shirt.

For 20.08.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A public service message:

Do NOT hold hot coffee between your knees while you are driving.
You may burn and/or embarrass yourself and have to drive home for new pants.
Please, people, heed the warning on your coffee cup that tells you it is "Hot when heated."
That is all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why it was positively Dickensian!

I don't normally quote what I've read on boards, partially because it seems like bad etiquette if I'm not even going to ask the writer for clarification or to rethink what she's written (why then do I quote strangers on a train at will? Hmmmmm ) and partially because it creates this intense circularity, boards complaining about other boards and blogs and I find it really damaging and unproductive. . .

But I must purge this:
"My child has an almost storybook reason for being placed for adoption . . ."
(Did she mean textbook? or did she truly mean "storybook?")

My agency did not give me an angel. My agency gave me the responsibility for caring for a flesh and blood child who will grow to human adulthood outside of the context of a fairy tale. Instead of a storybook, she's going to want her own story. I'll bet her angel will want his too, here on earth, and not in the hereafter.

If I've gotten your meaning wrong, I apologize.
If not, here's a storybook for likeminded people:

Once upon a time, there was a little child -- I mean abstraction -- who lived to be filled with everyone else's expectations and to fulfill their every dreams. And she never wondered where she came from -- abstractions never do -- and they all lived happily thereafter. Until she realized she was an abstraction.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Best "Problem" Ever. has run out of businesses in need of support in the short term.
What a fantastic problem to have.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

On the Other Subject

Me, to the people making the decisions they are making:
"I don't think you know what 'advanced directive' means."

We should all get educated.

Toddler attachment milestone

Our daughter, 2 1/2 mind you, said the most fantastic thing tonight. I gave her a kiss and said "Goodnight, sweet pea," leaving her in the care of her daddy. She said "Momma? Sometimes when you turn and leave me it make me sad," very calmly. I turned and kissed her again and she smiled and relaxed. I am so proud of her for feeling the difference between sad and angry and being able to express it.

On the other hand, today at school she hit G, then said "I so mad at G!" Words INSTEAD of hands is something we'll have to keep working on.

In Brief

Paula has written another fantastic post . I strongly encourage aparents and paparents to read it.

Then -- I finally received my copy of Marianne Novy's book on adoption in literature. I'll be reading it in the next few days and wanted to invite you to read along/discuss.

Finally, adopting garbage cans?! Nuh-uh.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Little bun is excited to watch adoption on Arthur this month. He read part of the article over my shoulder and wanted to know if Binky's family was adopting "for real, I mean like in real life." Ummm, honey? It's a cartoon.

Chosen Family Making Choices

Since this is primarily an adoption blog, this title may be misleading, but only in part. Our family is a family by choice, and we rechoose each other all the time.
Our extended family is even more "by choice" if by "by choice" we mean that neither biology nor law have very much to do with it. This means that my children are surrounded by additional aunts and uncles, and a self-proclaimed "third grandma" and it means that my children's "real" grandmother is third grandmother to my nieces and nephews on the other side. Good deal all around.

Except when it comes to a crisis.

When we agreed to be health care proxy(s) for a chosen family member P, we spent about three hours discussing her living will, her beliefs, her hopes, her expectations. We discussed hypotheticals in detail. She had similar conversations with her primary care physician, her neighbor, and her close relatives. She copied the document we all signed five times and sent copies to her primary care, her lawyer, us, and others to hold onto. She wasn't sick at the time, but she was serious. Now, suddenly, she's seriously ill.

Remember when I wrote about palliative care for our son's hamster? We used this term with our son because dh and I are committed to the ethics of palliative care and hospice -- not because we really thought there was much we could do in the way of palliation for a small animal. We believe in the sanctity of life and we believe that it is bound up with end of life issues.

"Real" family members wish to make other choices than what she'd wished, but these choices are not theirs to make (she knew this would happen). Now we're going to have to make choices we didn't want to have to make.

At one point it looked like our attempts to have everyone comply with her wishes would be overlooked because we were chosen-family, because her "real" family was vocal, and because doctors don't like to quit (which is generally a good thing) despite the legal documents. Now we are infinitely grateful to palliative care teams and hospital ethicists. And come what may, we are grateful for P's life and love and we are so thankful for her foresight and the guidance she provided us in that conversation and in her living will.