Friday, August 31, 2007

Such as. And such.

Seriously, I have no sense of humor right now, yet I'm laughing so hard I'm crying.
Please send maps. Such as.

Poor girl.
Fantastic response.
What a country.

(Best comment on YouTube? The suggestion that mocking her is racially motivated.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Brothers and Sisters

As much as they drive me crazy (see below), I am thankful that I have my siblings in my life. I don't have to wonder how they are, where they are, who they are.

Maybe you can help siblings searching for one another before it's too late: Check this post at Theresa's.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Words, words, words

I always love the posts in which a blogger shares how she's been googled. Let me just say sometimes it isn't for the right reasons (sometimes apalling), and sometimes it is. Often in my case it's "attaching in toddler adoption" or "sleep and toddler adoption" and since I'll tell you the hard but good truth, I'm glad you're here. Once it was "relinquishing a toddler for adoption." More and more it's "Ethiopia toddler adoption."

Those google phrases, while they sure make it easy to tell who's come here for the wrong reasons, can't always make it clear who's here for the right reason or who is interested in international adoption for well thought-out reasons. But language always conveys our values. And there's no such thing as neutral language.

That's why I can't read a post about a prospective adoptive family's grief over a failed match or a revoked referral and disregard the way first families are spoken of given the context. Loss is hard, and people get angry, and angry people say things they shouldn't, but do they ever really say things they don't mean?

Admittedly, our situation is much different (though we've also made plain that we'd never go through with an adoption that could have been another way, so that difference is no accident). But (prospective) adoptive parents should speak as IF our children can hear us, write as if they can read it. We should hold ourselves accountable until we can be accountable to our children (and we will be). And along the way, we should hold each other accountable.

Please, if you believe that a mother's desire to parent her own child (or to prevent a permanent separation from her child) is drama, or if you believe that searching for an appropriate permanent placement in-country before adopting out internationally doesn't have value, please read, read, read before you proceed.

****
I'm working on another longer post, but in the meantime I wanted to post a link to Nicole's resources page. It may be that you've landed here for some reason but will find what you're looking for there.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Beat the Clock

I'm sure most of you already know this trick, but if you haven't heard of it . . .
Today I set the kitchen timer and asked the kids what they thought we could get done in just five minutes. They had all their toys put away! In the next five minutes, we worked together to unload the dishwasher. Five more minutes and it was loaded!
It's a miracle, I tell you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Stress/Fracture

I have a stress fracture in my foot, and while it hurts, it's far less painful than the mental equivalent of one, which I'm kind of experiencing right now.

Which answers my own post below, I think.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New regulations may mean it's time to Ca-ca or keum the po-po.
I'm not normally one for rumors, but if anyone knows whether the four year gap between ET adoptions beginning later this year is for real or not, lemme know.
If you haven't read it yet, check out The Nuclear Family, Exploded. I have to be honest -- some afamilies are upset with it, but I quite like it. If you can get past the tagline -- "Celebrity blended families have become a cultural flash point, revealing a broad anxiety: Do parents really love adopted children differently than their own offspring?," which is unfair to her essay and misses its point entirely -- you find Nussbaum's balanced essay. There are some cringe-worthy moments (particularly one informant's rationale for choosing international over domestic adoption), to be sure. But Nussbaum is keenly aware that adoptive families don't wish to be part of a trend or a movement, and doesn't reinforce that notion.

And then there are moments like these:
"Van Schie’s main insight from her experience was not that she should love her adopted child like her biological one, but the precise opposite. “My husband is six foot seven, highly educated, intelligent, athletic. I’m whatever you see me being. With Huck, for three years, I was expecting him to be those things. And then I brought home Tana, and I have no expectations. And I realize the injustice I’m doing to my biological child. It’s just very freeing—to find that I’m so excited to see who these two little people are going to be. Because it made me realize, I have no idea. And before, I thought I kind of knew who Huck was going to be! I don’t have that feeling anymore. Because Tana taught me that.”

Not the 6'7", but otherwise I could have said this.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hey Jealousy

A scene from Taco Bell:

Miss I: Momma on my side of the table. No your side of the table. Not YOUR Momma, MY Momma. Not YOUR pink lemonade, MY pink lemonade. Not YOUR taco, MY Taco! Not YOUR cinnamon twists, MY Cinnamon twists.

(Little bun successfully ignores these provocations for the longest time he's ever ignored them -- usually "My Momma" is enough to stir his jealousy from his depths and send him into a roiling rage).

Momma: Little bun, I'm so proud of you for not giving in and responding out of jealousy.

Which all leads up to the best sibling rivalry moment ever:

Miss I: (screaming) Not YOUR jealousy, MY Jealousy.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Little bun's hamster died today. Dr.Bloom said it would be today -- R. began refusing liquids this morning. He will be buried in our backyard under lovely new hostas. Little bun has asked dh to dremel a marker for his grave, and dh agreed. Let's hope Little bun doesn't insist on his full name.
The hardest part was getting Miss I to understand that Little bun needed me to hold him while he cried (I NEED YOU! -- No, you want me. -- I NEEDWANT YOU!!!!)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Not a good prognosis

Little bun and Dr.Bloom got home around 11:30 last night. After putting the hamster under to give him a complete exam, it doesn't look like a cheek pouch abscess, as we'd hoped, but a tumor. However, because the tumor would be inoperable and there is a chance it's an abscess, we are giving him bactrim and syringe feeding him liquid nutrition, and treating his eyes with antibiotic drops and salve. We'll know in a couple of days if palliative care is a more appropriate course. I cannot believe how sad I am about a hamster. I just can't stand how much this is hurting Little bun, who still says "There's hope, there's hope, there's hope."

A Blogger Is:

For those of you who dont know what a blogger is, a blogger is someone with a laptop, an axe to grind, and their v*rginity (Steven Colbert)

Too funny.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"If You're a Little Girl of Color, this is Your Year"

There's hope.
So come on, Polly.
The good doctor and Little Bun are on their way to the Emergency Veterinary Clinic many miles away seeking treatment for the hamster. Dr.Bloom left cursing about the vet bill (I could buy 4 black bear hamsters for that cost! And that's just to walk in the door) while Little Bun was insisting that I couldn't possibly know how frightening it is to take someone you love to the emergency room. Hoping for the best for all three of them.

Why Polly Pocket Doesn't Have Black Friends

*I'm publishing the draft because I won't have time to revise soon*

In 2007 Polly Pocket wanted to "revolutionize" the girl-toy market:

"Polly Pocket(TM) Polly Wheels(TM) Cars � Polly Pocket(TM) makes a HUGE statement with the first ever die-cast vehicles designed just for girls!"

But they left girls of color behind.

Dawn writes about her dilemma here: it's easy for us to vote with our own dollars and to gatekeep for little ones, to surround them with dolls of color and the occasional Caucasian doll until they develop an interest in a line less inclusive, and until someone else is doing the purchasing.

An aa friend insisted after the "brown Cinderella incident" -- "that NOT Cinderella! I no yike her!!!" -- that I cannot prevent this from happening, either the having or the temporary preferring, and that I cannot take away the white dolls purchased by other people. I can't make my daughter not want dolls that don't look like her and, according to my friend, I can't make her like
dolls who do. Said friend recalls getting a black Barbie for Christmas when she was three. She cried because she didn't get "Real Barbie." (As an aside, this friend has turned into a feminist activist and the smartest person I know about just about everything, including race, so I'm hopeful).

Fine, but why can't we MAKE Mattel make African American Polly Pockets?

Something is very wrong when a seller describes "Shani" as "African American or Hispanic Polly Pocket." Something is even more wrong when a search for another POC PP turns up "Postcard Series" Japanese and Chinese Polly Pocket globetrotting pals. Now that's cosmopolitanism.

In their defense, the Loving Family line offers choices (and because they come two family members to a set, can be combined creatively). The success of Mattel's Snap n Style dolls should indicate to that there is a ready market for clothing-changing dolls in several skin tones. And the Polly Pocket aisle was crowded with aa moms and daughters last night.

Black girls are expected to imagine themselves into little plastic white girls in the way that the movie industry operates on the notion that young women (and later, adult female fans of action films) can imagine themselves into male heroes but the reverse is not expected. We need to change that/those expectations.

While I'm not a fan of dolls that actually teach consumerism so explicitly (Polly has a gazillion outfits! Polly owns a bus!!! Be like Polly and own a gazillion outfits and a bus!!) my daughter is, and at the least, they could offer one that looks like her.

It's past time Polly Pocket had a black friend. I just hope Miss I doesn't outgrow Tamara before they make her.

***
As I was writing this, my daughter saw a commercial for Barbie Models and yelled "Look, there's my MOM!" If it isn't about race, I can't imagine what that's about.

Scene from a Waterpark

The Players: Miss I, Little Bun, Momma, Daddy, Some Poor Stranger (in her late teens, accompanied by young adult male)

Momma: Miss I, it's very crowded. You must hold a hand.
Miss I: Nuh (pulling hand away).
Momma: You can hold mine, or Daddy's, or Little Bun's . . .
Little Bun: Here, Miss I, hold mine!
Momma: but you must hold someone's.
Miss I: (Pause, then, to Some Poor Stranger, just passing by her) Mommy! I'll hold YOUR hand, Mommy! (Some Poor Stranger and beau hurry away)
Miss I: (a bit later, to Momma) I TEASE you.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Being a Family IS Work

Somedays you aren't as aware of the work as others, but it's always work. This is neither good, nor bad, but a value-neutral fact.

I'm reminded of this alot this week for many reasons, including Dr.Bloom's insistence that "work is taking it out of him." I know this to be true. I know he is overworked. But so am I, and I'm not so sure he knows that, and I'm overworked at home.

I read a Miss Manners: a stay-at-home dad needed to find a polite way to tell his work-out-of-the-house spouse to stop calling and saying "You won't believe the day I'm having . . ." Even the tacked on "How are things there?" grates on the poor man, who just wants to play ball with his son, or do the dishes, or put the laundry away without hearing about the "important" things happening at his wife's workplace.

At first Miss Manners considers this a refreshing change, but she quickly rejects this: regardless of sex, the out-of-the-home partner should not assume that hometime is interruptable for minutiae.

But what if it isn't minutiae? Imagine that this husband not only stays at home, but also works from home (meager earnings to be sure but earnings nonetheless in an endeavor both thought worthwhile), but imagine also that the work-out-of-the-home spouse is a doctor. Switch the sexes, add one more kid, and you begin to see the growing problem at Chez Bloom.

Take a recent bad day. We're driving down the main street, arguing about whose work is more or less important at the moment, when we come upon a terrible bicycle accident. I stop yelling, pull to the rightmost lane, and dh calmly gets out while I circle the block for somewhere safer to stop. Then he runs across four lanes. As I find a place to stop, Miss I asks "Where Daddy go?" "There was an accident," I said, "and Daddy is a doctor, so he had to stop." "Okay, but why did we have to stop?" she asked earnestly. She's two and a half; it's not her problem -- or at least, she doesn't know that it IS yet.

My dad set a fantastic example by stopping for accidents -- I so expect to both see them and stop that our car is stocked for them (so is my bag, and indeed we have made use of the gloves and gauze I carry). I want my kids to be like my dad wanted me to be.

But the argument? Guess who automatically wins everytime. Guess who ends up feeling, when her partner is running late, like a two-and-a-half year old.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

open up

I've been a bit neglectful over the past few weeks (or at least, in a public way, though I've been thinking a lot about it) of something that should continually matter to adoptive parents.
If you haven't already, head to Mia's Here for disappointing records decisions news.

Our daughter's adoption is currently closed by distance, language, time, the loss of instrumental people and relationships (though we are working to change this to the extent that we can), but we have far more information than most adoptees do, and we won't forget how significant that is. My daughter has names, dates, places, ethnic information, limited medical information, an OBC, and it will break my heart if this is all she ever has. She has so, so much more than many, who have so much less than is their right.

I've written a bit in the past about our own use of post-adoption intermediary services (they've been fantastic and even called me to see if there was a reason we had not sent in our materials when I dragged my feet for a bit under the weight of it all, called to help but also to remind us of the import if we'd forgotten or changed our minds), our hopes for responses to our letters, our hopes for traveling and meeting, our hope that our daughter will not have to search and that others' daughters and sons will not have to search and their other parents and grandparents, brothers, sisters . . . will not have to search for information or for reunion. She has her OBC, even if it was only generated retrospectively.

As Mia rightly points out (and Amy as well) mutual registration (particularly with fee-based intermediary services) is far from a solution. Voluntary registration does not claim access to OBCs as a right, and can cloud the Access to OBC issue with questions of search and reunion.

But in the meantime Regday is one way to make a difference for some.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

WalMart Syndrome

Miss I climbed up on my lap at dinner and refused to get down. "Momma, I scared. I scared. I scared. Hold me," and she was serious, but she wouldn't say what was so scary.
Dh finally got it out of her: "I scared of WalMart comin to get me."
Apparently something about my conversation with Little Bun about heartless giant multinational corporations struck terror into her little being.
I mean, I hate large retailers/big box stores too, but . . .

On the Other Side

I've been reprocessing distant and recent events lately, for a whole host of reasons (including that I return to them under times of regular stress, and that I still haven't adequately established what being so sick earlier this year really means). At the same time I'm reading Hip: The History by John Leland (New York: Harper, 2004).

I came across this:
"In an oft-quoted passage from Hammett's The Maltese Falcon, the hero, Sam Spade, tells a story to explain why he does what he does . . . It concerns a real estate man named Flitcraft, who went to lunch one day and narrowly missed being crushed by a falling construction beam. For Spade as for Flitcraft, this brush with random, meaningless death was a lulu. 'He felt that somebody had taken the lid off life and let him look at the works.'" If death could come at any moment, what of this life he was living? "He kept walking, leaving behind his name, his job and his family."
But here's the best part: "When Spade tracked him down a few years later, Flitcraft had rebuikt a life nearly identical to the one he left behind, falling into it with the same inevitability as the beam that had nearly killed him" (90).
What to make of Flitcraft's story? Is it such a bad thing?

Monday, August 06, 2007

Coming Home

I brought back from my trip some new research ideas but little accomplished research, some new shoes (from W 8th between Sixth and Fifth if you are looking), a new doll named Tia rechristened Chrisita nicknamed Tita, an oddity from KidRobot, and a Magic School Bus Germ Set from Scholastic that will allow Little Bun to explore microbiology to his heart's content without requiring me to help him prepare a slide from a st**l sample (no seriously, he asked and yes I really did say "no," I don't care the educational benefit).

I also brought back Vanessa Redgrave's voice intoning words from Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, which resonates with Wit. If you haven't read or seen either, you should, and both.

Finally, I brought back an awareness that I must do this again. I need to be a grown-up, even if I spend the whole time buying things for my kids. I need to sit in a nice restaurant, and remark on how they couldn't, or eat in a casual cafe, and remark on how they'd love it. I need to be with my bff just because.

I came home to a son who "just can't stop saying I love you, Momma," and a Little Girl who tells me she's all grown-up. "Are you so proud?" she asked. Indeed I am.

Anti-Racist Parent Meme

Judy tagged me for the Anti-Racist Parent Meme, which was a bit hard -- but how could I not do it? The questions are great, and she called me one of her homeys, which honors me.

1. I am:
Norwegian, German, Irish, and English.

2. My kid is/kids are:
Little Bun is Norwegian, German, Irish, English, Italian and Welsh.
Miss I is Kembata (ET).

3. I first started thinking more about race, culture, and identity when:
To be honest, it’s probably all too familiar. It was when I was in kindergarten and I wanted a black doll and a family member in an older generation said that was not to be – white mommas had white daddies who had white children. But my parents gave me the doll, and in that place and that moment that was revolutionary. Would that it had not been.

Because I lived in a rural white community as a young child, I had few preconceived notions about anybody but rural white people. This combined with my parents’ 60's idealism was strangely protective -- and too much so perhaps -- against racism but also against awareness of race and culture.

My thoughts on race, culture and identity complexified in college as my world opened up, and it became clear the way they are tied to class and material concerns, but it was still largely academic in the way that whiteness allows.

Little Bun was fortunate to be born into our world of that moment -- a racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse working class neighborhood wherein a little blonde boy was in the minority and his playmates would speak Spanish. But it was the planning for Miss I's arrival a couple years out that made us become practical. I wish now we really claimed our position as "anti-racist parents" when we had just one white child.

4. People think my name is:
African American. In New York, when I first met people, they would say “Oh, I thought you’d be black.” They say the same to dh, as we share his last name. This expectation seems almost inexplicable here, where the name is quite common among black and white people. (Here I share the last name with one of my best friends, who is indeed black).

5. The family tradition I most want to pass on is:
Loving people you don’t have to love. The boundaries of our family have never been defined genetically, or in any other traditional way, and this has led to an unwieldy network of extended relations that I wouldn’t have any other way.

6. The family tradition I least want to pass on is:
Multiple Neuroses, but I suspect that this is what I will pass on most.

7. My child’s first word in English was:
Little Bun: Momma, followed shortly by “ball” and “I do it,” but these all followed his word below.
Miss I: “HiMomma,” on the telephone, from Ethiopia. “No,” to Daddy, in Ethiopia.

8. My child’s first non-English word was:
Little Bun: “Agua.” At two, he would give up this word, along with other Spanish words, insisting that because he did not hear them in our new city, they were “baby talk.”
Miss I: I don’t know. I know she said “Machina” and “Ishi” (it’s okay, which she repeated to herself for reassurance until she was sure it really was). Aye-yuh (either an endearment or “I see you,” “I’ve found you”).

9. The non-English word/phrase most used in my home is:
Ishi, ishi (it’s okay). The AmharEnglish combination with most uses is the following: “Ca ca or keum (stop) the po-po.” It’s now our life’s motto here at Chez Bloom and we like to spread the philosophy.

10. One thing I love about being a parent is:
The surprise. I think of myself as someone who hates surprises (no surprise parties, thank you – please tell me what you’ve gotten me for Christmas so I won’t wonder, no spontaneous trips) but my children are all of these things in the best possible way.

11. One thing I hate about being a parent is:
That I am ultimately not in control, though this is also the most beautiful thing. In my moments of clarity I am aware that I am blessed to watch the unfolding of these extraordinary little lives, which will become big lives that will take journeys I could never have imagined.

12. To me, being an anti-racist parent means:

My daughter likes to play “Matchy Match,” which she also calls the “Compare Game,” identifying things that are the same according to mostly random qualities. This is something that comes out of preschool card matching games and Memory, I’m sure, but it took a turn that should not have seemed unusual yet took me by surprise anyway. She looked at her skin. “I brown. No, I no brown. You no brown, I no brown. You pink, I pink. We ‘matchy match.’” Then she thought for a moment and frowned, “I brown,” she said. Then she flipped her palms up, and gestured for me to do the same. “Matchy Match!” she screamed happily.

I was nonplussed, part of me felt defeated by her strong desire for matchy-match. But being an anti-racist parent means to me striking a balance between matchy-match and difference, surrounding my children with a community full of vibrant difference, and recognizing that the rights of all people are dependent on the protection of those rights for others – in short, teaching my children that all of our interests are intertwined without resorting to a color-blind and a too na├»ve universality.

I tagged Erin, and she accepted the challenge. Check out her thoughtful responses -- and great stories about being the mother of two amazing little boys, at Holding Still.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Missing Miss I and Little Bun

My kids are with their grandparents this weekend so I can attend to some grown-up things (trying somehow to catch up at work, spending some much needed time with a friend, perhaps even Manhattan shoe shopping). I'm missing them like crazy already, though I desperately need both the time and the break. As awful as it is to have someone hanging off your knee growling (really) "I NO WANT YOU TO LOVE EDDYBOODY (anybody) ELSE!" from no particular context, it's far more awful without the clinger (if not the clinging).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ethiopian-American Idol

Miss I loves pop music. Sure, we've tried jazz, and she hears classic rock, but she's a pop princess. Thirty seconds of a Kids Bop (agh -- what are singers thinking licensing their music for this schlock?) commercial and she's going around our house singing the multilingual and toddler-accented "Yo Yo You You I Not - A Yike - Your Girl Head," which is far and away better than the original.
Of course you should hear her version of 4 Nonblonde's "What's Up," which for one day, she inexplicably called "her song."