Sunday, April 29, 2007

What's the opposite of "rant0theweek," my own little effort to make good on my complaining?
Mia and Kevin's project. Theresa's explanations of why page rank and post labels matter, and the way she's integrating searchable terms to bring people where they belong (even when they don't know it yet). Nicole's posts.
Each gives me hope in a different way that blogging about these things can matter.
The latest: Swerl's list of important actionable items in the upper left. Can you just imagine being this organized?! Fantastic.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Living in Paradox/Reverie

One more reason why Nicole is fantastic. Read it first, please. Then:

If someone else were to tease apart relinquishment and adoption, it would be really easy to break it down like this:

relinquishment: bad, loss
adoption: good, gain

And it would be satisfying as an aparent to say, yes, that's exactly it. My daughter's loss of her first mother had nothing to do with our adoption, so while her loss is sad our gain is tremendously happy and move on.

But that's not what Nicole is saying. It's far too complicated for that, she's far too honest. (Sorry -- I know we could all use an easy solution). What she says, instead, is that we've all got to learn to live with paradox, with the copresence of seemingly antithetical thoughts, emotions, truths at the same time. Some possible paradoxes: I love my aparents and am glad they raised me and I wish I had never lost my first family. I love my daughter's aparents and can acknowledge their capabilities as parents but I hate that I am not raising my child and believe that n.families are best suited to raising their children. Or my own: I love that I have my daughter in my life and I hate that she lost her first family. Or another of mine: We hope for another child and we hate the conditions that would make that possible. Notice that the operator is "and," conjoining the A and B of each sentence. It is not as if the bad is displaced by the good, or that the moments are divisible as we'd wish. They are always interpenetrating.

Joy's response does not contradict Nicole, but seeks to make clear that that too easy dichotomy at the top of my post is untenable. Joy's adoption analogy, presented less gracefully: She could live abroad, she could love living abroad, but she'd always be an expat -- forever. Her life with her son shows her the difference.

I see what she is saying, too, and yet I think we're all in some ways always in exile from one another's innermost being and that biological relationships only seem to offer a way to bridge that divide. What I mean is this: I think it's too easy to believe that I have a natural way with my son, some magical access to his emotional life, that we have understandings that are rooted in biology -- that I will never have with my daughter. In some ways this might be true: I "get" his obsessiveness immediately, without even having to speak about it (or do I map my childhood anxieties onto his unique ones?) I get that sparkle in his eye just before he makes trouble because it "runs in our family" (but my daughter "glimmers" too!) After a dangerous pregnancy and near-disasterous delivery, his history is marked in and on my body, and mine runs through his. My daughter's body is marked by a different history, its tracings in her inherited beauty and her round belly, now full with toddlerhood but still bearing the marks of early hunger. She is uprooted and also cultivated. Both/and, her being not alien but hybrid.

In the end, both my son and my daughter are beyond my comprehension, though I have infinite empathy for both. Their possibilities extend beyond what I can behold, what I can even imagine. That's both the sadness and supreme beauty of loving someone else, in particular of parenting, in afamilies or nfamilies. Just families. But I'm starting to wonder if I'm one of few who thinks like that, which I had thought was a given, who loves the mystery and enjoys the unfolding.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Your people and My people

I'm having a weird, untimely recollection:
I was hospitalized again for preterm labor in winter 2001 when a massive earthquake hit Afghanistan. The nurse's aide was shaken, awaiting news of her family, whom she couldn't contact. As she folded an extra blanket at my feet, her hands, with their long, thin fingers, were shaking.
"I'm so sorry," I said, not able to think of the right thing to say, but knowing (from my own experience) that empty reassurances were not the right thing.
She was teary when she said sharply, pointing at my abdomen, "You worry about your people and I'll worry about mine."
This followed the wisdom of each of the nurses and nurse's aides who had informed me that my "worry" was advancing the preterm labor, just as holding my hands over my belly was (and who would later give me all kinds of arcane and contradictory advice about breastfeeding). That is, she wasn't accusatory in the way it first seems. But even then, I thought "That's precisely the problem." And I said nothing.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Second Coming

My daughter will not fall asleep, and has reverted to all kinds of drama to avoid it.
Finally I gave up, and came down here to regain some sanity and check your comments. I let her cry for a bit -- I know, I'm terrible. But then she started begging for "help" in a peculiar form:
"Easy Bunny, [c]ome. [C]ome again, Easy Bunny."
"Heaven help us," my husband says. "We've started a new religion."

But you can still buy them in the store

Update: the item is no longer available for purchase on the web.

Bedeviling Advocate

*Update above*

In the grand scheme of things, one t-shirt is not a big deal.
But is unnecessary, which is really what rantotheweek is about. (Kind of why they are merely rants and not full-blown polemics or diatribes, and are far from reasoned arguments). And b.the grand scheme is made up of lots of little things that no one stopped.

MomEtc. commented on my last post:

Unfortunately we are up against aparents in our Yahoo group who are defending this shirt because they really don't see the message in it and how ugly it is. I'm trying to gently explain it to them....that adoption is not "hip", nor "cool" nor some "fad". Hopefully they can understand that. If not, I am going to let them know how adoptees are reacting to the shirt to try to bring them around.

I'm surprised that any aparents would defend it. So here's what I need to know:

How would aparents defend this tshirt?

Someone asked after my Imus post whether I was opposed to censorship, still for freedom of speech. I most certainly am. But I don't think everyone deserves the privileged venue of a network radio show. And I think had they let it go on long enough, the market probably would have taken care of Imus. The firing just expedited the process, and brought even more positive attention to the young women of Rutgers's basketball team and their power.

This t-shirt, too, could just be taken care of by the market. It probably isn't funny enough to sell, and would probably have disappeared on its own. When Signals/Wireless pulled their "Up for adoption" adult t-shirt, it probably didn't have a huge impact. It wasn't funny; it probably wouldn't have sold. But what they were probably thinking was "You know, like puppies," which has its own enormous problems. They needed to be reminded: "No, like people." And they apologized.

This shirt isn't any different from Entertainment Weekly comments and other popular culture references to celebrity adoption. And we ourselves have made celebrity adoption jokes here at home. If they/we can say it, why can't UO?

UO probably won't pull it and won't apologize -- they've proudly offended much larger segments of the world population -- arguably targetting whole nations and entire races before. (As Swerl notes in the comments, they have also pulled offensive t-shirts before.)

There. Have I gotten the defense right?

And: Am I wrong in thinking my kids would be bothered by this?

Is that part of the defense that a response to this is "overly sensitive"?

I really don't get that. It seems to me that parenting requires us to be ever-sensitive.

As Swerl said,
"If we can't get some action on this, we're losers."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"Adopting [as] the new black."

*Update above*

I swear I have a sense of humor. Sometimes you can see it here. I actually did (gasp) think that Onion piece awhile ago was funny when no one else did. And I did (I'm ashamed to say) laugh at the Comedy Central piece about celebrity adoption, even though many families were aghast.
Why, then, is Urban Outfitter's "Adopting is the new black" t-shirt worthy of a rant-o-the-week? After all, they're often offensive, and enjoy the publicity that comes from offense, and is it really so much worse than those things above?
It is. Those pieces targetted adults making the choice to adopt, and hit their targets. This t-shirt misses its target, with the potential to make children feel even more like accessories/commodities than they already might, even more conspicuous than all those supposedly harmless "Just like Angelina!" comments do.
Please consider joining my rant-o-the-week, by email or phone to the company.

Monday, April 16, 2007

So much sadness. So many families have lost their almost-grown babies today.
Hoping desperately that I can hide this news from my babies . . .

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Evelyn Bennett

For all our talk about adoption reform, what constitutes adequate counseling and instruction on the long-term consequences of placement for mother and child, appropriate contexts for consent to placement, the value of kinship care, and the NEED of an aparent to be able to say in truth to their adopted child that it couldn't have been another way,

we have an obligation to get educated about Evelyn Bennett's case. OriginsUSA is demanding her return to her grandparents and her mother. You can hear Evelyn's grandmother and Stephanie's lawyer on about the first half of the adoption show.

(My own sure-to-be-unpopular opinion is that the second-half discussion of the agency's ethics and their placement of children from foster care and disruptions with Sandy undercuts the strength of the first half of the show. Placement for disrupted children is a very important service to children, and far too much of the latter discussion is speculative.)

The most recent Seriouslyjustme post speaks to adopting parents in a way everyone needs to hear: Yes, we know what it is like to want a child. But we also want to be able to face that child as an adult and say "It couldn't have been another way."

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The things we learn about ourselves: I am number one in the search for "ethiopia toddler adoption ringworm." The shame and the glory . . .

Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Grieving

Nicole's most recent posts are heartbreaking. As an aparent, I have no advice to offer her when she asks how to live with (the possibility of) unrequited love for her daughter, with whom she is in an open relationship. She responds (rightly) to us well-meaning amoms who offer advice, particularly like "Give it time" and "let her grow into it" and reassurances like "She does love you" thusly: "Easy for you to say." That doesn't do anything for this moment. And there are no guarantees.

She's right.

"I need to know HOW to let this go," she insists.

This reminds me a little of a discussion on Mia's awhile ago, and of how I imagine my daughter might feel someday, with a loss and sorrow intangible and normally uncommunicated. I've never been in any of their positions, but in having suffered other kinds of losses, I just don't think there is a HOW _or_ a letting go, rather than a being in followed by a living with.

When our daughter came home, some might have said that she was too young to really grieve. But they would be wrong. When she cried inconsolably, she was not only feeling grief, but she was grieving. It was something she had to do before she could begin to really attach to us. And I don't believe for a minute that it's over forever. She will feel her loss and sorrow sometimes, and other times she'll have to do the work of grieving. If only there was a way to do that work for someone, I would do it for her. Or if there was a short-cut to teach . . . But there isn't.

Little Bun just asked me about a particular loss. He wanted to know how "[I] make it" so that I don't cry everyday about that loss. And I was stunned into silence. "Time" is one answer, but it isn't true. Time alone does not heal. The truth is, I don't know. First I think of grieving as an act, not a feeling. Then I remember that the end-game of grieving as an act is not the elimination of the pain but the integrating of that pain into the full, rich experiences of life. How do I do that? Unsuccessfully. (But any measure of success at it comes from prayer, meditation, and my husband, my children.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

We celebrated new beginnings here at the Bloom household, and with both the Bloom and Gardener families this weekend. We are so blessed to be so loved.

Miss I is delighted by her new baby doll, delivered by the "Easy Bunny" and so appropriately named "Easy Egg," while Little Bun ate entirely too much chocolate and a half-dozen of Momma's meringue eggs and managed to convince an uncle to pour him a cup of Coke. Meanwhile, I didn't manage to say any of the things I'd wanted to say to my brother, visiting from afar, or to the loved one off to war. But I felt joy being in their presence, if only for the shortest while.

Rantotheweek Returns!

Sure I rant all the time, but I haven't been labeling anything explicitly as a rant recently.
Thank Imus for renewing the rantotheweek feature here at Newflower.

I'm coming to the story late, but have to share that I agree with the journalists who've called his labeling of the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team "nappy headed h*s" an "assault on human dignity." His apology is insufficient, particularly because he's also characterized it as "some idiot comment meant to be amusing," defending the comments as thoughtless but ultimately harmless -- or no more harmful than any other hateful comments he's made about countless groups. One commenter noted that this is what happens when sexism and racism are mapped onto one another.
Imus's "apology," MSNBC's apology, NBC's apology, the promise to monitor his show more carefully . . . none of these are good enough. I do hope politicians and journalists will boycott his show and that his audience will tune him out.

*Updated 12 April: Imus fired by NBC and CBS. See? Rantotheweek really works!*

Friday, April 06, 2007

What Sartre said?

Little Bun asks, in his most serious seriousness, just before falling asleep: "What if when someone dies, he gets to heaven and finds out he's the only one there?"
And he frowns.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Celebrate a girl like her

Dawn gives a heads up from Carmen who gave a heads up that Kiri Davis's film A Girl Like Me could win her a $10,000 scholarship from cosmogirl.
In her powerful short film, Davis repeats an old experiment in which young black children demonstrated a preference for white dolls, with painful results. When I first saw it, I cried. And then I sent a link to everyone I know.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Microlending for Major Change

I just got a happy email I had to share: One of the small business women we lent to through is repaying ahead of schedule. At the completion of the loan terms, our funds become available and they can be loaned again. Might not seem like such a big deal (we lent a tiny amount of money) it feels like a huge success.
To share the wealth and share this fantastic feeling, click on Kiva at left. You can search and lend by country, continent, trade, gender . . .

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

If you don't think closed records are that big of a problem yet, read here to be properly outraged about efforts to unseal information in one state. And if you haven't done so already, stick around and catch up on her story. Of course she's Ungrateful.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Sweetness (the small things)

As we played in the backyard tonight, Miss I decided to play more independently than usual. She wanted to play in the sandbox alone (which would be fine if she didn't scoop sand into her hair), allowing me time to weed around my incoming tulips. But every once in awhile, she'd get up, dust off, and come find me for "Huds, Momma. Huds." Then back to the sandbox she went.
I live for "huds."

Easy for me to say?

Sometimes I don't say the things that need to be said because I feel like someone could respond "That's easy for you to say." But sometimes I should say those things anyway.

I've been thinking about this since I posted about the reforms necessary for domestic infant adoption, as only a start to overhauling the whole process, the whole paradigm. Rob, and other readers coming for my opinion, had every right to think, "But she doesn't know. She didn't adopt domestically. It's so easy to judge," every right to think that international adoption is even more flawed and far less ethical (lots of people do) and so not to listen to what I had to say. I appreciate that that didn't seem to be the case, but that that possibility exists does hold me back.

I'm thinking about it more now in relationship to Mia's efforts to restore the rights of adoptees to be able to obtain an unaltered birth certificate. I feel unqualified to say "D*mn right she deserves that!" and that all adoptees do, because my daughter doesn't have it either and because we didn't adopt domestically.

Miss I was born in a rural area that didn't register her birth. Her birth was first registered for the purposes of her adoption, long after she was born. But fortunately for her, for the truth, it has a little asterisk that points to us as adoptive parents. And we got to retain that certificate when we applied for a US one. We've already applied for international intermediary services, trying to make contact with extended family. (I've shared a bit about all of this earlier). It is moving far too slowly for my comfort, as things can change, people can be lost and with them, her history. When they are a little older, when we know more, we will go, and we will grab onto any little bit of her story, her history that we can, any contact we can make so someday she won't have to search.

Why should anyone have to search
? Why shouldn't they know who their first parents are? Why shouldn't they have contact, and a relationship to the extent that they choose?

But this is easy for me to say, from continents away. Easy for me to say because in our case it may be impossible. Easy for me to say because it doesn't pertain to me.

Yet maybe we are the people who should be saying it. As parents who believe that it is a basic right and deep need to know, maybe we'd be the best advocates.

Easy for me to say, maybe, but not so easy to explain.

Two Mothers

I am sending you to Paula's again for a beautiful post about honoring and remembering both of her mothers, knowing and loving her by loving them. Paula is a voice for both progress and peace, and I admire her so very much.