Friday, February 29, 2008

As you know, my daughter's birth certificate was generated for the purpose of adoption -- as a result, there isn't an O to obtain, but if there was I know how important it would be to her, yet seeing all this red puts into perspective the challenges adoptees face when trying to obtain their obcs. Check it out. And share your opinion.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kristy Lee Cook beat Alexandrea? Are you freaking kidding me?

Fourteen Months?!

. . . I say, surprised at the new official estimate, even though that had been my own calculation (the official estimate always seems to be half the real). But the reality may also be quite different because we are anticipating a child with medical concerns (with no expectation that that will turn out as it did last time, with a perfectly healthy little girl running circles around us all). Then my sister reminds me of what it took to bring my daughter into my life, and I remember the moment we opened the email and after the thought of her baldness and her big, big eyes the thought "It's YOU" and I think . . . we can wait. Besides, heaven knows we have our hands full.

Dear Miss I,
I hope you will not be disappointed when you learn that having another child in our family will *not* automatically make you a momma as you have hoped (you know, so you can make all the 'sisions. You'll have to wait awhile longer than even fourteen months before you get to make ALL the 'sisions -- but I'll be there, ever so proud of you, when you do).


Nobody Likes a Recession

Or, politics this week.
SNL cracked me up. Mike Huckabee is a character and the debate sketch was on. Still not sure what to do with Tina Fey's B*tch is the New Black."
But in these last 47 weeks, if we just "give 'em money" you know "give 'em money . . they'll be happy and confident and spend. Here's a thought -- maybe if we quit outsourcing drive thrus and ICU monitoring . . .
And everybody likes Civil Liberties, but apparently anyone who understands anything about anything knows this: "It's in our national interest to know who is calling who" from overseas. (Calling home from Addis Ababa will get us on *the list*).
And we might have had some head-butts, but we still have enough common threats to seal the deal with Russia. You know, just in case you were worried that there wasn't enough worry anymore.


That virus that's going around? Don't get it. Stay at home, with windows sealed, if you have to. You don't need the horrific details but I will tell you this: I was so cold I was wearing two pair of pants under two blankets and I still couldn't get warm. I'm still wondering if I'll ever feel warm again, and I'm trying to rehydrate today.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

This is my last post on this subject, I swear. We knew when we adopted transracially that our private lives would be public. I am not an unwitting victim, and I don't regret having my daughter in my life for a second, though whether she will find my choice regrettable as an adult is still anyone's guess.

I edited my last post to pose a question that I don't really think I want the answer to: Do people honestly think they are doing my daughter a favor/preventing future adoption by asking "Are they both YOURS?"

I asked Mia awhile ago a question that I want to ask more broadly, which is How can we find a balance between challenging the institution of adoption and adoption as it is currently practiced without undermining the security of children? How to make adoption less "normal" -- which is clearly a concern for many adult adoptees -- without making adopted children feel, as people, abnormal and, by extension, bad? (My daughter is already aware that the norm is not adoption, but should she be made to feel alien? Or, should she be made to feel that nothing is personal? That we're YOUR business?)

When I write about the strangers at the "grocery store," I'm not writing about recent events. We do just about everything in a neighborhood with lots of multiracial families. My daughter has preemptively introduced herself to every person in the neighborhood, and eagerly questioned them about every aspect of their lives:

What's your name?
- Where do you live?
-- Do you have a dog?
--- Is that your other grown-up? Why?!
---- Why are you buying that? Do you LIKE that?!

If the question "Are they both YOURS?" truly comes from genuine concern over adoption (Joy says -- in response to my comment at Paula's -- that people find families like mine "horrible and fascinating like a carwreck") it's led to a really adaptive behavior on my daughter's part:

She already has this sense that this is her world, and she'll be the one asking the questions.

Yet another reminder that I should try to be more like her.

Friday, February 22, 2008

We all knew our ancestors were in Africa, but this is really amazing.

Now I'm Gonna Get ME a T-Shirt that Says Don't Ask

ETA: I have totally cooled off, and have realized the merits of having a cup of tea with honey before hitting "publish." I am, however, leaving it here so anyone who wants to can continue the conversation (minus my rantiness, I promise).

A comment on Paula's blog has me outraged, and because I respect Paula so much I am not going to respond to it there, but vent about it here. It isn't just a vent, though. Letting these things go isn't just not taking the bait, and it isn't "giving" more in the discussion (more on that below). Not saying anything seems like tacit agreement. That's hard, because while there is value in saying the unpopular when it protects the rights of the unempowered, here I'm just going to say something unpopular, and I'm not saying it in defense of an unempowered group (adoptive parents indeed are the most empowered, by any measure, of those affected by adoption) but in defense of what's just true. I just can't be magnanimous; this IS about my family and me.

Paula writes about her objection to "Made in China" t-shirts and "Family Made in America with American and Guatemalan parts." In brief, my own position is that these t-shirts are offensive for the way they commodify human beings -- or perhaps remind that adoptees are in fact treated like commodities (setting aside for the moment that we commodify ourselves and others everyday in myriad ways).

But one comment addresses the defense of "Yes we ARE family" t-shirts:

"The reason people ask so many "rude" questions about adoption is because it's a horrible thing to do to someone"


"People ask questions because really it horrifies them that some poor family on the other side of the world lost a child"

To be fair, the poster was not including Paula in the category of people who have done horrible things to first families. Still, even if you are a progressive, reform-oriented adoptive parent (I am) how is that cool?

That is just plain NOT why those rude people ask the questions and it is delusional to think that those questions come from any place of concern or empathy for anyone involved.

While I have a great deal of empathy for my daughter's first family (and I think that's incredibly clear throughout here), when someone walks up to us and asks if we are really a family it doesn't affect her family on the other side of the globe. It directly affects a three year old and a six year old who adore each other and whose relationship has just been invalidated.

I defended my husband's Abbat-a-Daddy t-shirt (note: none were imposed on my daughter -- in fact I don't believe imposing messages on my children at all so while I'm an ObamaMomma you'll never see a slogan on my children at all -- well, okay, they do have I heart NY t-shirts but they really do heart it) on Margie's blog some time ago, and I won't do it again here. I also enjoyed iBastard's t-shirt counterprogramming. It was a very funny attack on a very not-funny problem.

I am for open, empathetic dialogue between adoptive parents, adoptees and first families. And Dawn has said that on subjects of grief and disempowerment adoptive parents have far more to give (which makes many adoptive parents and prospective adoptive parents hurt but which acknowledgment also makes communication possible).

But I will not give on this and I feel betrayed by the pass that notion is getting from other people:

Like it or not, people who ask if my children are both my children are NOT thinking about first mothers when they ask it. They are NOT thinking we are horrible for the reasons you (or even WE) want them to think we are horrible. In my experience, people around us think about my daughter's first family when I ask them to or make them. The reality is that on this matter I am my daughter's mother's only and best ally.

People who ask if they are both mine are nosy and rude. Sometimes they want to know if my children have two fathers/if I'm easy (because that would make me horrible and scandalous). They sometimes want to know if I'm a foster parent (because that might make me horrible for taking money to raise someone's children or heck, for taking longer in the grocery line -- which was my experience when the comment was clarified). They sometimes want to know how I could love a child who doesn't match me or how I could form a multiracial family in this world (which might make me horrible or might make me a saint), or how I could love someone not born to me as much as I could love someone born to me (which since they love their own Little Junior Copy with all their being might just make me crazy). Yes, random people have asked about my daughter's first mother -- they've asked if I'd heard about Angelina Jolie's daughter's birthmother who wanted her back. Everybody loves a scandal. They only ask nuanced questions, empathetic questions or the questions that MATTER when I force them into the position to really think about loss.

[ETA: A friend suggests that the reason people ask these questions is that families like ours threaten their sense of order. I think this is a wise observation -- our family suggests the non-necessity of the normative living arrangements of the biological nuclear family, even if one is unaware on a conscious level. It's kind of like the sentiment that state-sanctioned gay marriage "threatens" the integrity of the marriage between a man and a woman.]

The best reason to reject sloganeering t-shirts is that nothing important can be reduced to a t-shirt or a bumpersticker. "Ask me about the complexities of adoption and how we as an adoptive family all have to live with the co-presence of loss and gain, pain and joy, while acknowledging that for my daughter's family there may be only pain combined with some relief that at least she is safe"?

Not too catchy. So my daughter wears t-shirts that say "Superstar" (her choice) or t-shirts that don't say anything.

Lest we give the general public more credit than we give adoptive parents for caring for the mothers and fathers and grandparents and aunts and uncles of our children, >Nobody honors my daughter's first family by asking in front of my three year old and six year old if we really belong together.

Edited to ask: (I'm starting to wonder after reading comments here and elsewhere if people think they would be helping my daughter/other adoptees/preventing adoption by pointing out the obvious/our "mismatch"?)

Maybe we should get t-shirts that just say "Don't ask."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't Be a Muggle, Sport

We were trying and failing to entertain the kids at the restaurant table. Little Bun and I invented a kind of soccer with the crayons they give you, for when the fun of coloring the menu wears off.
Our waitress overheard our soccer-talk, and asked if Little Bun played. "No, not yet." She had started at five and just stopped at nineteen. Soccer's been such a big part of her life.
"Well, I play a sport kind of like soccer," Little Bun said.
"Really?" she asked. Yeah --- Really? I thought.
"Mmmhmmmm," he said in all sincerity. "Quidditch."
Now I'm not going to argue that quidditch is not like soccer -- but I really don't think the Quidditch World Cup video game counts as a "sport."
(Have you seen the "real" quidditch games on college campuses on YouTube? Weird.)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Paula has written another fantastic post about discussing race, racism, and discrimination (and all kinds of too-often taboo words in transracial adoptive families.) Please take the time to read it. I'll post some of my own thoughts later.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

And if I Keep Hitting My Head with this Hammer

(a public service message)

I'm sure I've mentioned in conjunction with my coffee "problem" that I've had migraines with attacks dizziness and vomiting for many years, and have been through all of the standard treatments. I'm now treated at a special center for people with treatment resistant migraines, and they are great, but I still wasn't achieving my goals (I didn't want to get carsick driving a block, or get dizzy under the lights of the grocery store etc and I hated asking my kids to be quieter or Momma might throw up).
Dr. Bloom had had a clerkship with a primary care doctor who had practiced acupuncture along with Western medical solutions. He thought maybe it was worth a shot for me -- while the research on many conditions and acupuncture isn't solid, for migraines it's pretty good. Anyone with chronic migraines knows that anything with any potential is worth a shot.
I've been going for a session per week for a few months, and I've never been better. I still follow the treatment plan designed by the migraine center, but I have far fewer migraines with much less severe pain, managed to travel by plane AND train without vomiting, and am rarely dizzy. Ever critical, at first I thought it was the placebo effect -- though if I thought it was the placebo effect, it shouldn't be able to work, unless I'd set up all kinds of complex defenses, which of course I might have . . . But interestingly, before the onset of a migraine, I now have twinges where my needles are placed, thumb side of the right wrist, and the midline of my abdomen. Pressure at the wrist can curb the nausea as it starts. Part of that may be the mindfulness itself, but even if that's so -- it's working.
I'm now tapering -- I'd be suspicious of anyone who said treatment was needed every week for the rest of one's life -- and we'll see if the improvement holds. (I read an encouraging study about IF and AF and acupuncture, too . . .)

Friday, February 15, 2008

So You've Had a Bad Day

My son was sad and angry, and he wouldn't say why. But I find that, like his father, he'll talk in the car. He opened up, and this was how his day went:
"My pencil point broke." (long pause, deep sigh).
"So I had to sharpen it for like . . . like five minutes."
"And then it broke again."
Pause. I was sure he was getting to the real problem:
"Then . . . the eraser fell out. And it just felt like all these bad things would keep happening to me all day."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

We Are Not of Few Words

Judy posted her six-word memoir. You can follow her link to Not Quite What I Was Planning.
I'm trying to write mine. The first that came to mind is a quotation, a verse, a cliche, really, and I don't know why it came at all. Maybe I'll share it later.
My husband, on the other hand, is trying very hard to write an anagram: He'd rather not be confined to six words and is looking for any flexibility he can find, any way out. "He is a bargainer, that one."
But he suggests this instead "Love of a good woman, etc."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


A sample of In-Style arrived at our house.
Moments later, from the mouth of my babe:
"I yike Zac Posen. I don yike Versace."
(It must be generational).

(Two reasons why, despite the snow, it's a good day: Barack wins and the WGA accepts a new contract).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Is it only the Bloom children who believe that the pigeon should be allowed to drive the bus?
Grammy Bloom saw a play yesterday, and said to Miss I afterward, "The little girl was fantastic -- when I saw her, I thought of you. I thought you could do that someday."
Miss I responded, "What color was her skin?"
Grammy said, "Beautiful brown, just like you" and Miss I was satisfied.

Friday, February 08, 2008

It was very windy here last Friday. So windy that when I opened my car door, it blew out of my hand and smacked into the door of the car beside us. It was dark, but I could tell by feeling that the dent was small. Nevertheless, it was there.
Dh and the kids waited while I wrote a note to the owners of the car apologizing and providing our contact information. I was just finishing up when the owners came back to their car. I apologized in person and handed over the note.
The husband responded that he was just surprised that we'd taken responsibility -- nobody else would have, he said. His wife seemed upset. I was embarrassed and mumbled something about my kids learning from everything I do, and we headed into the store.
Today dh received a phone call. There had been about two hundred dollars' damage, but it was purely cosmetic. No effect on the functioning of the door, no risk of rusting. They decided not to ask us to pay, and not to have the work done, because they were impressed that we'd taken responsibility and they wanted to help along the message we were teaching our kids about doing the right thing. Now my kids are learning a lesson about magnanimity, which is even cooler.

The Land of Milk and Honey

My daughter is once again going through a phase of intense fascination with all things Ethiopian. She is often realistic: "In Addis Ababa, they had animals everywhere." Yes, that's true, and she's seen it in pictures and video. "In Addis Ababa, they have the most beautiful people in the world" and, well, that could certainly seem objectively true. But this one was a bit odd: "In Addis Ababa, they have nicer showers. The shower door doesn't slam."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Some of your states still can.
Yes, we can.
(We love this man).

Have a Super Super Tuesday!!!!

That's all.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Back to "Match Match"

Friday Miss I pointed to a picture of an African boy and announced "That look like he could be my brother."
Today she practically tripped over herself (she did stumble a bit over her brother's feet) to greet an African American couple at church. Little Bun whispered, "She thinks he needs to say hello to every brown person she sees!" Miss I overhead and agreed: "Yep, just like at the grocery store."
Practically, this desire to "hi" everyone (which originated a very long time ago, though at that point she felt it was her duty to "hi" EVERYONE) African American would be easier if we didn't live in a community with so very many African American people, if my son's teachers and administrators (who we see everyday) weren't African American, if she didn't get to enjoy the company of our African American friends, if our church congregation wasn't diverse with an aa pastor, though all of those absences would create far worse practical problems (how to fill them?!). But it is all that much more profound, and hard for us, because in a community of many, many "brown" people, she lives in a house of people who are pink -- and it's starting, already at three, or at least it seems, to be a little lonely.
Over the years, we've donated to Half the Sky, an organization that has had a significant impact on orphanage life and after for many girls in and from China. They are asking for help with extreme weather-related emergencies in their centers and orphanages throughout China through what they're calling their Little Mouse campaign.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

You're Not Just Flying , , ,

I had the idea, not too long ago, that if people flew naked, security lines in airports would be much faster. Which is of course the only reason why I think their idea is kind of odd.

But you're not getting your money back

Dear Ms. Bloom,

This is to acknowledge receipt of a copy of your letter to the Mayor regarding a ticket you received Tuesday January 15, 2008 at approximately 1:05 pm while parked in the 2500 block of A Street.

Please be advised that this has been investigated further . . .

Regarding other issues that you alluded to in your correspondence -- I assure you that is not the case. The Parking Court System is sanctioned by the State Legislature, it is sound and there is an independent audit conducted annually. The Magistrates are independent contractors who have been drawn from the County Court System. How a reporter reports what may have been discussed in a casual informational interview and the meaning therein, can be a world apart from what was actually stated, if at all.

I appreciate the time you took and thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. It is unfortunate that this has occurred, and please accept our apology for any inconvenience this may have caused you and your family.


Executive Director,
Parking Authority

The letter I'm tempted to send:

Dear E.D.,
This letter is to acknowledge receipt of your acknowledgement of a copy of my letter addressed to the Mayor.
As you indicate that the Parking Authority is sanctioned by the State Legislature, I've copied all State Representatives on our correspondence.
I've also copied the reporter whose credibility and integrity you call into question.
Thanks for taking the time to thank me for taking the time.
Abebech Bloom
PS I still want my forty-five dollars.