Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

After I overheard Littlebun jokingly tell Miss I that Passover celebrates Moses's Birthday, I thought I'd better ask, why do we celebrate Easter?
Miss I answered: "Because Jesus had died." And then what? "And then Mary and Mary went looking for him, but he wasn't there." What did they find instead? " . . . a baby?"

Thursday, April 09, 2009

On Not Taking My Daughter into the Fitting Room Anymore

Momma, those pants are not gonna fit you. Those are big, fat pants . . . OH! THEY FIT! Nice! They fit! You look pretty, Momma . . .

Friday, April 03, 2009

Happy Thought

Despite all my present whining (where are the pictures? why is it raining?) . . .
I'm very blessed.
In a couple of months, we'll be traveling to add another daughter to our family. In the fall, we'll be traveling to witness the adding of an "uncle" to our family (though he has already been an "uncle" for a long time).
How many people are lucky enough to have such a strange and unwieldy and challenging and multiracial and multinational family by biology/adoption/selection/extension? If only everyone could experience the joy in expanding the limits of the definition of "family" . . .

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I wrote a letter to Ethica

I'm very disappointed in the decision Ethica has made to attempt to raise money for Chifundo ("Mercy" in the press) James, the child who may or may not be adopted by Madonna, an attempt that smacks of publicity stunt more than humanitarian effort. I read the proposal, and I read the president's letter, and I have real concerns about a child becoming an "illustration" -- and about adoptive parents assuaging their own guilt by contributing to a fund to keep a single "illustrative" child with her extended family of origin.

I asked Ethica to consider instead appointing an independent legal advocate for the child and to petition the US and/or Britain (where does Madonna live now?!) to deny an application for an entry visa for the child should Malawi approve the adoption, requiring Madonna to either give up her efforts or remain in the country with the child. THIS must be illustrated: Receiving countries have to have high standards for receiving. If a child does not meet the criteria for immigration as an orphan, the child should remain in her country of origin.

So US/UK: Please consider issuing Madonna a Notice of Intent to Deny if this child does not meet the requirements for international adoption.

That's a campaign I could get behind. Receiving countries cannot assume that the practices of sending countries are ethical. The responsibility is on the receiving country and responsible agency to do their homework.

I simply received an email redirecting me to Ethica's president's letter, which presents a fine analogy (if someone with money goes to an impoverished neighborhood here, we don't expect to hand over the kids!) but it doesn't provide an adequate argument for raising funds for one particular "illustrative" child to be bought back into her extended family of origin.

The BBC reports that a judge has ruled against Madonna's petition:
"In the ruling, read out outside the court, the judge also voiced concerns about the potential ramifications a ruling in Madonna's favour might have on adopted children's human rights.
"By removing the very safeguard that is supposed to protect our children, the courts by their pronouncements could actually facilitate trafficking of children by some unscrupulous individuals," she said."

This is how a system should work, with consistency and transparency. An 18-24 month residency in country is the safeguard that they have put in place (which means, effectively, that Malawi lacks a system of international adoption). Circumvention rather than changing laws suggests a context where child trafficking is possible. I'm glad the petition was denied at this stage -- the next hope was that the receiving country's system would work (denying the emigration) and by then it would have been much harder on Madonna's other children (no matter how much I despise the material girl, these are real kids).

I hope Ethica follows through with their commitment to preserve this child's family -- and yet I fear they have used this little girl for publicity and set a terrible precedent for not allowing the system to work first, further commoditizing children by determining a specific USD amount to keep one child with her extended family.

Later: Please don't say "Slumdog Children" when you mean to insult Angelina Jolie -- and not the children.

Just the facts for now

I've probably lost all my readers in this extended silence.
If I haven't, here's a quick update on our process:

NOC received.
Case submitted to court.
Shots near-completed.
Visa applications in New York (an office titled "TravelVisa Outsourcing." Alas, India outsources too).

Miss I can't wait to tickle LittleOne's toes.

Heather asked what's left?

Before we go:
Her case needs to be approved in court (this could take awhile).
We receive verbal guardianship approval and make travel plans.
Our state requires ICPC, so we make sure that's in place.
We receive written guardianship approval and travel!

While there:
We arrive, spend time getting to know one another, and after a few days travel in-country together to the US Embassy.
We submit I-600 and I-864. Embassy takes their time, checking her documents and comparing her picture and information to missing child reports to be sure nothing is amiss. We take her to an embassy-approved doctor, come back to the embassy, and they give the okay and give LittleOne a visa. In Ethiopia, dh had an Embassy appointment and an Embassy Day. It's going to take a bit longer this time.

ETA: We are one of the last of the I-600s. Families who applied after March 2008 will be 800-process families, and theirs will be a little different.

We come home:
Miss I gets to tickle her toes, and six months after we are home with legal guardianship, we apply to finalize in our county. Hooray!

Friday, March 20, 2009

A few weeks ago, Littleone had a cold -- all the littleones did. But now our Littleone has a fever. As Miss I just got over pneumonia, and Littlebun had RSV pneumonia when HE was a Little one . . . I'm more than a little worried about the fever. And there's nothing I can do about it from here.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Hooray! Littleone has just been issued NOC.
Now we're waiting on family court to grant us guardianship. That will probably take two months, but could be expedited because ours is a special needs adoption.

Monday, March 09, 2009

When I hadn't heard anything about Littleone in over a month, I sent a panicked email to our specialist and I couldn't think about anything else (including work) all day. Our specialist replied that she will be preparing updates -- photos just came in! -- and sending them out to us shortly. So now I can't think about anything else (including work) because there are updates on the way.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Rocky II

Littlebun was playing capture the flag while Miss I climbed on the playground afterschool. Mothers of the other boys chatted as I watched Miss I climb -- not too high, not too fast, you're just getting over pneumonia, don't set off your asthma . . .
All of a sudden Littlebun was running towards me, hand covering his mouth, eyes wide. Blood dripped between his fingers. For the first time -- and I desperately hope last -- Littlebun had been punched in the face.

Miss I stayed with my friend while I ran Littlebun home. Inside, I immediately set to cleaning his face to see the damage -- Littlebun was most concerned that he would need plastic surgery again (see April 2006 for that fun story). His lips were both split, but no harm was done to his teeth and no stitches were required.

We returned to the playground to fetch Miss I and to show his friends that all was mostly well, but by the time we arrived the offender had already been removed from the situation.

Littlebun was really shaken. He wasn't angry. He was sad. He spent much of last evening trying to figure out how he could have prevented it, unhappy with the possibility that the violence had been relatively unprovoked (he tagged the child, consistent with the game's rules). If it were his fault, he could find a way to be sure it would never happen again.

I was shaken, too. Something really horrible had happened to my baby, and I was right there and didn't prevent it. And now I wonder if I mishandled the aftermath.

Then of course came the questions of response: Should I have said something to the other child's mother? She had seen it happen, and was apparently as shocked as anyone else. I neither scolded nor assuaged her guilt. All of my attention was on my son and the gush of blood.

But in my own lack of outrage, did I convey to Littlebun that it was okay -- even inevitable -- that he would be the victim of violence, when I was trying to deal with the practicalities (finding the source of the bleeding)? Did I accidentally convey to Littlebun, to the other mothers, to the other child involved, that "Boys will be boys"? Littlebun says no, and he has a clear understanding of what "poor impulse control" means (thanks to another child in his class), but even so . . .

Today he has two fat lips and he's missing the spring in his step and I wish I could do something to help him get it back.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Sometimes I feel like a child

We saw dh's dad on dd's first bday.
We were already at the restaurant, and they beamed when they saw us through the glass. I didn't know until it was too late that my face had fallen.
Dad asked "What's wrong?" as soon as they were in the door. I wanted to say "I don't want you to die." Instead I said "I'm having a hard day." They attributed this to knowing that Littleone was turning one without a family to celebrate her, and this was part of the reason that I was feeling so glum. But mostly, I was struck by the disparity between Dad's outward appearance of health and happiness and my awareness of what is happening inside, and the childishness of my response. They were having a "good day" optimistic about the potential for this relatively new form of chemotherapy, and all I could say was "I'm having a hard day." My hard days must seem trivial, and if they loved me less they might have wondered how I could possibly say "I'm having a hard day" side by side the "hard days" he has.
But it was a lot better -- I think -- than "I just don't want you to die."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Who's the Boss?

Now that I have parented two children past the age of three, I am an expert on twos and threes (wink wink).
Who am I kidding?! Twos and threes are hard. But one thing I have learned (and can't seem to convince others of) is that as soon as you go mano a mano with a kiddo, you've already lost. They have more energy than you do -- they could keep it up all day.
And the truth is that they don't really want to drive you crazy. That's a biproduct of attempts to control their own environments just a little more. They're curious, and that includes curiosity about the limits. The day I learned that "if I can't explain "Why" concisely it probably doesn't need to be a rule" was a liberating day -- and it was cheating if "because Momma's head will explode" was used in situations in which Momma's head would not actually explode. Sometimes the "whys" are clear and universal. Sometimes they are family specific but should probably be universal ("because in this family, we treat all people with dignity and saying 'stupidhead' (or whatever) doesn't do that" is a good enough reason). They needed to know that actions had specific and real consequences.
It turned out my kids weren't trying to terrorize me, and I've been doing a pretty good job making sure they don't terrorize anyone else. And that's not a bad goal.

Monday, February 23, 2009


What do you all think about "David After Dentist"? David was coming 'round from a dental use of ketamine when his Dad caught his safe but delirious behavior.
If you haven't seen it, you can check it out on YouTube (a certain someone says if I link to it, and you decide it's exploitative, I will have participated in the exploitation). I find the idea of the Remixes most troubling . . .

Oscar Recap

The Oscars were shorter and sweeter than usual, with the exception of the ill-conceived "Musical is Back"! number. I was not too surprised to learn that it was Baz Luhrman's work, without the time or budget to support his usual audacity.
I worry, though, that any social conservatives who DID happen to watch the show came away only with a combination of Bill Maher's "silly gods" comment (you all know how I feel about Maher -- last night I suggested that he'd "Michael-Moored it") and Sean Penn's quotation of epithets hurled on their way into the Kodak theater "C*mmie h*m*lovers" (I've starred only because I don't want people who hurl these kinds of epithets showing up and hurling them at me) to reinforce their view of Hollywood, artists, unions and unionizers, those who support equal rights and equal protections, humanitarians etc -- as in "See, I told you they were Godless . . ."

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Oscars start around bedtime, so we won't be going anywhere to watch. Here are my predictions, and Dr.Bloom's:

Actor, Leading:
A: Sean Penn
Dr.B: Mickey Rourke

Actor, Supporting:
Both: Emotional favorite Heath Ledger

Actress, Leading:
BothL Surprising ourselves, Kate Winslet

Actress, Supporting:
A: Penelope Cruz
Dr.B: Marisa Tomei

Animated Feature:
Both: Wall-E all the way

Art Direction:
Benjamin Button for Both

Both: Slumdog Millionaire

Both: Slumdog

Best Picture:
Both: Slumdog (unless there's a Slumdog Backlash.)

Sound and Sound Editing should both go to Wall-E (they won't -- they'll go to the Dark Knight). Screenplay should go to Wall-E (that'll go to Milk or Frozen River). Adapted Screenplay will ride the Slumdog sweep, but I could see Doubt getting the recognition I hear it deserved.

Happy Hollywood Partying.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Dear LittleOne,
There's nothing more we can do but wait. First for NOC; in a couple months, guardianship.
Daddy called home from work and your sister, Miss I., asked "Hey, Dad, when is LittleOne coming home?" It used to be, "Hey, Dad, when are you coming home?"
Miss I has decided that girls are "amazin'" and that boys are "not so amazin.'" Your poor brother Littlebun -- he's pretty amazin.' You'll see. You'll have an interesting dynamic, I'm sure, you three.
We're missing your birthday next week. We missed Miss I's birthday too -- but we didn't know it when we missed it.
You probably have some teeth now -- but we can't tell from the pictures. Miss I threw her head back and laughed, in the worst of circumstances, in a hot room full of crying babies, while she was still healing from chicken pox, revealing for the first time four marvelous teeth. Who was tiny this person who, for all the tragedy, could find something so extraordinarily funny?
You're holding your tongue over your teeth(?), lips barely parted, eyebrows furrowed. I look at the same pictures over and over, looking for something I hadn't noticed before -- but I've already read each detail, and I could draw the image. I know your birthmark from four angles, but you are a mystery. I can't wait to find out who you are -- and who I will become, as I become your Momma.

Teaching Tolerance

If the experience of the internets is representative, hate is on the rise as the economy falls. I wanted to bring your attention to a great resource,, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Washy . . . Thursday?

When my schedule changed, Washy Wednesday went away -- and no other day took its place. I find myself cleaning at 11 o'clock at night, when I have a last bit of energy, or not cleaning at all.
My new(ish) friend Aster is coming today. I'm quite sure Aster's house is never a mess. So I'm cleaning bottom to top today, while hoping that she someday becomes the kind of friend you don't have to clean for (shout out to my bffs, for whom I really DO TRY to clean . . . but who forgive me when I don't).

Monday, February 16, 2009

False Alarm

Sfiha bubbled over in the oven, and if Little Bun and Dr.Bloom hadn't been playing video games, they would have heard that the alarm system was giving us fair warning before calling the fire department. Our siren never went off, and the alarm company tried to call us back -- on our home number, despite the fact that the alarm captures the line in an emergency.
In moments, firemen were on my porch. They were prompt and personable and tried to reassure me that these things happen, even in firemen's own homes. They were happy to meet the kids, and to agree with me that children should not run from -- but to -- firemen if ever there is a real fire.
Tonight over dinner we discussed our emergency plan, and Little Bun took notes.

How to make Sfiha:

1 t yeast
1 c warm water
2 t sugar
3 c flour
1 t salt
1/3 c olive oil

Add sugar and 1/2 c of the warm water to yeast. Allow it to become frothy. Prepare dough with rest of above ingredients. Set aside.

1-2 onions
16 oz ground meat (s/b lamb, though we used beef. Sorry, veggies, it was a rare meat night)
16 oz diced tomatoes (drain)
1/2 t cayenne, 1/2 t cinnamon, 1/2 t allspice

Divide dough into four balls. Flatten into circles. Place filling in center of dough circles on baking tray. Fold edges up to make rough squares. If you don't want to summon the fire department, be sure the edges are going to stay up OR use a baking sheet with sides. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 min or until dough is golden and meat is thoroughly cooked.

How to escape from my house in the event of an actual fire:

"If the fire is upstairs, run douwnstairs. Use backdoor our front door. Meet on H's porch. If the fire is douwnstairs, go out a window. Meet on H's porch."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Waiting for

Over the last few days, I've received the message "Waiting for" in the bottom left of my screen when I've tried to do a Google Search. Thereafter, I've received normal-looking searches that link to nowhere or to unrelated sites.
Malwarebytes and Spybot S&D missed it. The trojan may have already been removed but the file remained: a second file labeled wdmaud tucked away in my system32 folder (the sysaudio, NOT the driver). I read this means my searches were being run past the NSA. I read somewhere else they were being run through someone's house, in Bulgaria. Either way, someone has been very very bored -- and very very bad.

Monday, February 09, 2009

This is going to happen

Our specialist tells me. And she tells me of the beauty of the landscape, and the potential for carsickness, and the likelihood that our daughter -- who loves her caregivers very much -- will resent our presence at first (and that this is a good sign of a child capable of attaching). The latter, I assure her, were have already experienced. She tells us she thinks we'll travel by May.

More Misadventures Part II

It's been found.
Our only glitch?
Stay tuned.

More Misadventures

Our dossier -- complete, accompanied by $300 in apostilles -- is lost. We lost the tracking number as soon as it showed on the USPS website as "delivered." Who knows how many more weeks it'll be 'til our baby now.
Dear Littleone, We're trying.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Why I "Hate" the Octuplets' Mom

I just read an article trying to explain why national interest in the octuplets' mom turned to national abhorrence. Why we loved it: It's like hitting the lottery. Why we hate it: It's like hitting the lottery, and we're jealous. Another explanation tied reactions to the economy: This woman seems to have missed that we're in a period of contraction -- and here she is, expanding. That might be why the numbers are disturbing, why her family of 14 by 33 seems excessive and indulgent. Many people resent her disability payments from a previous job, and wonder if they'll be paying for her hubris.
Or it might be because she willingly engaged in a practice likely to result in extreme prematurity, intrauterine growth restriction and very low birth weight.
Having decided against a pregnancy that would knowingly result in prematurity, vlbw and probably iugr, I admit to having had difficulty being compassionate to a former friend, a mother of one from a healthy pregnancy and one extremely premature second child, who decided to have another pregnancy AMA, knowing that the next baby would be delivered even earlier. They always wanted a big family, modern medicine can do so much, the age of viability gets younger and younger, there are always miracles, prayer is powerful . . . I never said it, but I just kept thinking "What are you thinking?" She didn't know why I couldn't see it the same way and have another pregnancy too.
If I knew the octuplets' mom, I would be eight times as challenged in the area of compassion. She is a limit case of reproductive intervention. She (unfortunately) calls into question all IVF (is it only okay if there is a dad? If he's employed? If she isn't crazy? Are homestudies necessary intrusions for reproductive technology candidates? Who gets to decide?) She makes me think "What are any of us thinking?" So quickly, the discussion in some quarters turned from "Good for her for giving her embryos their deserved chance at life!" and "Good for her for not selectively aborting!" to "Did you know she was once on disbility, is a single woman, is Iraqi . . . and that she's selling her story?!"
Certainly rarer is the mention that these kids are someday going to be grown-ups, and they would have every right to be pretty darn mad that she chose to give them a less than optimal start -- on purpose -- and somebody helped her do it.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

(Tongue Firmly in Cheek)

It has come to my attention that I might be biased against white people.

I asked Dr.Bloom, who is objective and credible.

He thought perhaps I might be: after all, I'm far harder on him than on the black members of our family (one of whom, LittleOne, I've never yelled at at all).

However, he realized that this could also be sexism -- though I'm nicer to Little Bun, too.

So we settled on ageism.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

From the Security Files

This is a must read.

Popcorn All Over Again

Miss I is learning to read, and she's practicing letter sounds all the time. So when we had popcorn I said "Puh Puh Puh Popcorn. Popcorn starts with . . ."
"P," Little Bun absently filled in the blank.

"Ohhhhhhhhhh! I was going to say that!" Miss I screamed before dissolving into tears that lasted a good while.

This morning in the car, Little Bun was talking about Dr.Bloom's birthday ("Do you want MarioKart for the Wii, Daddy?")
"How old will you be?" Little Bun asked.
"How old do you think I'm going to be?"
"33?" he guessed.
"Ohhhhhhhhh" began the wail from the carseat beside.
"Ugh," Little Bun sighed. "It's 'Popcorn' all over again."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I don't know how I missed the misogynist Teleflora campaign during the Super Bowl -- I was probably just so happy. But it's come to my attention (via Dawn) that they've stepped in it again:

Jezebel points out that they seem not to have learned from the "non-mom mom" disaster, and posts all three commercials, one of which includes the stunner "No one wants to see you naked."

Someone should send them congratulations flowers . . . in a box . . . just so they'd get the (right) message.

Monday, February 02, 2009

With a child on the way and a parent just diagnosed with a major illness, we're just joining those of you who are already "sandwiched." I thought we were too young, and that our lives already had enough adventure for us to have regular things happen too and also, that there would always be time.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Many months ago, Miss I had decided to "say hello" to every "brown person" we encountered. Even longer than that, she was firmly set on"Hi-ing" them. Both of these things were humorously (usually, anyway) time consuming, because we walk ds to school, which is fifty percent aa (students, faculty and administration), our church is multiracial with a black pastor, our grocery store is in a diverse neighborhood . . .

Now, she has decided to hug every brown person we see.

In general we haven't have problems with indiscriminate affection, but Miss I does not have a good sense of personal space. This is coupled with the fact that she generally believes that people are basically good and that everyone wants a hug and specifically, from her. Over time, I had gotten used to explaining to strangers that we were working on attachment in order to deflect their attention or explain her behavior. I haven't had to do so much lately, and it is disconcerting to be doing it once again, particularly in relationship specifically to race. When she's so clear that she wants to hug someone specifically and only because he is brown, I feel unspoken judgment passed on me and pity for her from the would-be hug-ee.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

You Know You are an Unconventional Parent with Weird Kids When:

You answer this question about Blink-182's 'All the Small Things': "Why does it matter that he knows she'll be at his show?"

With this: "You know how in Super Trouper she won't feel blue (like she always do) because somewhere in the crowd . . ."

One of our dossier docs:

Dear (LittleOne's Country),

I thout of the idea of having a nother baby.

So I DO agree.

Little Bun.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm Sharing THIS MOMENT with YOU!

Congratulations, Mr. President.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Living the Dream

It was with special excitement Little Bun read in Martin's Big Words (Doreen Rapaport, illustrated by Brian Collier): "I have a dream that one day in Alabama little black boys and black girls will join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers." Little Bun and Miss I figure we are, quite literally (they're 7 and 4, afterall) "living the dream."
Little Bun realized long ago that families like ours couldn't exist in a nation where we couldn't even drink from the same water fountain or swim in the same pool. It dawned on my children today that our family has the blessed opportunity to help to "speed up that day when all of God's children -- [Miss I] and [Little Bun], [the 'Israeli in our attic'] and [Momma], [Daddy] and [Grandma Bloom] -- will be able to join hands and to sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, 'Free at last, free at last; thank God Almighty, we are free at last." (examples provided by Little Bun and Miss I). I am overcome with the responsibility.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hotel for Dogs

Like many parents trying to relieve cabin fever during the deep freeze, we went to see Hotel for Dogs yesterday afternoon. I was very surprised, unpleasantly in parts, but mostly pleasantly.
I didn't know that the main characters, Andi and Bruce, were foster children on their fifth home, or that their current foster parents were Lisa Kudrow and Kevin Dillon, musicians better suited to Rock Band than performing their rock music live. The FPs kept the refrigerator and the pantry bolted, and like all other foster families before them, didn't know Andi and Bruce were still trying to keep their dog Friday on the fire escape. Andi and Bruce commit minor crimes in order to feed Friday, and their antics escalate -- but with the feel of necessity -- over the course of the film.
Andi and Bruce are clearly loved by their social worker, Don Cheadle, the most consistent adult figure in their lives over the past three years. But when he finds them a promising placement -- three hours away with a fine family -- can they accept? By that time they are running the dog hotel.
Andi has kept it secret from their new friends that she is a foster child. She has to tell lies and more lies to keep the secret. Still, she is becoming attached to these friends, and it's clear that the kids can't leave the dogs . . .
"Adopt," "adopt," "adopt," as an alternative to being destroyed (the enemy is a "kill" shelter) rubs me the wrong way as it does in real life, and it's compounded by the analogy between the foster children and the dogs they foster covertly. This has raised questions from Miss I about whether dogs ever stay with their natural families, and whether our dog should have been allowed to stay with her natural mother (not on the "foster farm" from which we retrieved her). Clearly these questions are not actually about the dog.
Andi's burgeoning romantic relationship with a pet store employee raised concerns for me about dating and age -- after all, Andi is a minor (16), attending a party that appears to be unchaperoned to meet a boy who might be 18. And of course, they kiss, which the movie (and this mom) could have done without.
I won't give it all away. I will however confess that I cried at the entirely predictable ending -- I kind of liked Cheadle as a social services employee that could also be a hero.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Little Bun learned some "bad" words on the gifted bus, but he didn't quite get them right. He tried out the shock value of "wiss" one day: "Momma, I have to 'wiss.'" I was confused, until he left the room, at which point I realized that "wiss" was a combination of "whiz" and "p*ss."
The other day he tried out a new one: "Miss I, you are a B-R-I-T-C-H" -- "Did I get it right? What's the right word?"
Miss I is not a britch, and he was reprimanded for trying to swear, particularly in gendered terms. The latter is worse to me than the former, which is why I almost feel guilty for thinking "Ann Coulter, you are a colossal britch."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I had posted an ungenerous vent, so I am replacing it with a thank you to Susan for her generous comment even when I was being unkind . . .

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Trouble with Harry

Poor little rich boy Prince Harry probably didn't realize he'd stepped in it. In explaining his "accidental" (naive) racism, other members of the British army present for you plenty of other insults.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

SIL asked me tonight how I like our wii fit, and I declared my love without reservation. And then I ticked off my list of other things I love. I don't gush (those who know me in real life can testify to this). But here is a list of things I could gush about:

Wii fit.
The Roomba.
Bosch dishwasher (can you hear it? Neither can I).
Tina Fey.
Slumdog Millionaire.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The Good Kind of Entitlement

I need to feel entitled to my children. I probably wrote about this a long time ago, but I had a difficult time feeling entitled to Little Bun because of the dramatic nature of the pregnancy and the near-loss during delivery. I worried that, because he had survived, because he was -- as he says -- "the boy who lived" -- I'd never put him in time out. I had a difficult time feeling entitled to Miss I because I know that she was loved very much by her first family, who cared for her for fifteen months. But the good kind of entitlement is necessary for effective parenting.
Because of the "bad" kind of entitlement ("our birthmother" etc) entitlement in adoption gets a bad rap. It's tied to all kinds of things -- including my concern here, "naming and claiming."
There have been many fantastic posts about name changing, why people did and why they didn't and whether or not they would do it again. Adoptees saddened that their names have been changed, first families wounded by a name change.
But I have to admit: I would never feel entitled to parent a child who had been named a "junior."
We were presented with a situation in which the child's mother said it was imperative that the child's name not be changed. The child's name connected him to his father. She was not ready to choose not to parent that child, and this is one of the things that communicated this to us.
And then we were referred our daughter. We had chosen names to add in some place, and left the placement contingent on her name. The meaning of her name broke my heart, and to share it would be to share too much of her story. And that was the problem. The meaning of her name communicated the reason for her relinquishment. Would everyone know what the meaning was? Of course not. Would I? Certainly. Would it impede the development of my "good entitlement"? No doubt, for a time.
And yet -- if I would have known that I soon would have connected a name of sorrows to a beautiful girl who was bubbling over with life, I probably would have kept it as her first name -- second names (and especially second MIDDLE names) are too easily dropped. But I love her name -- and so does she, and she is proud of the story and her name's meaning, and the way her name resonates with our family's other names.
Like all adoptive parents who've changed a child's name, we have every intention of supporting her decision to revert to her first given name at any point. For no clear reason, Little Bun has decided to go by his middle name at school, and we raise an eyebrow but no more.
But would we make the same choice again?
This is not hypothetical. I'm looking at the picture of a little girl, LittleOne, who has a name (it isn't LittleOne) and a life that has nothing to do with me -- yet . . .
I used to think, like most prospective adoptive parents, that naming was not an example of the bad kind of entitlement so much as a necessity for the good kind. Now I think it isn't necessarily "bad" but it isn't necessary for the "good." There are so many routes to the good kind of entitlement . . . and there's so much to learn along the way.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Monday, January 05, 2009

Why the Country Switch? And how?

We've been asked, in person, in comment and email, and by Little Bun, who swears he has an Ethiopian brother out there:
We switched because that's where LittleOne is. We were waiting for a referral for Ethiopia, with openness to a range of medical and developmental issues as well as social and background issues (as before), and in the meantime, we were checking our agency's Waiting International Child list. There was LittleOne, whose needs matched our family's capabilities and preparation and special needs homestudy approval. We were aware that we would not be approved for their regular adoption process, but could be approved for a waiting child.
And so it is that we are on this new adventure. We've already begun exploring how to become a tri-cultural family -- fortunately, we have many friends and colleagues who share her birth culture and even region and we're looking forward to the challenge.

LittleOne (or, Moses is a girl)

At about the same time as we started actually waiting for Moses, LittleOne started waiting too, only she wasn't waiting in Ethiopia. I can't share too many details this early in the process (and because her country has advised against blogging) but LittleOne has big, beautiful brown eyes, and Miss I is delighted to have another brown girl in our family. LittleOne's adoption is a special needs adoption, and LittleOne is an amazing little girl.

I am amazed that we found one another, but now our paperwork has to do the same.

Practically, there are two major complications. The first is that LittleOne is waiting in a country with an often slow court process and a disinclination toward international adoption except for in the cases of waiting children. Documentation procedures are strict, and several court dates are necessary. This is a good thing, but it means that it'll take some time to bring her home. The second, for those who know international adoption, is that Ethiopia is not a Hague country, so adoptions are still processed under I-600as, while LittleOne is in a Hague country, requiring I-800as for all new applicants. We are a "transition case," because our original I-600a was filed before the U.S. became a Hague country and our I-600a is still valid. We have been assured by phone that this will be fine, but we'll feel better when we know that the new country has received our CIS approval. And of course, this all means another dossier. Minor complications involve travel: Ethiopian adoption is common enough now that adoption week is relatively organized and predictable (as predictable as international travel can be). Large travel groups stay together and help one another out. LittleOne's country is not sending many children abroad right now/anymore (again, a good thing ultimately), only Waiting Children/Special Needs adoption, so we will be a bit more on our own.

On learning of LittleOne, Dr.Bloom's mentor blurted out "Who the hell are you? Angelina?" It was the third or fourth time we'd been asked that question since we learned of LittleOne, but as Miss I points out, no I am not: "Momma has a chubby tummy."

So now you know. I have a chubby tummy, and I have another daughter. If only two governments will see it our way soon. We hope to have her home not too long after her first birthday.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

It's Not What it Sounds Like

I told dd that if she opened the box for her new puzzle in the car, it would likely spill, and she might lose pieces. As I expected, puzzle pieces dumped when dh parked the car. As he unstrapped her and lifted her out of the car, dd screamed in dismay "Momma is wight. Momma is wight!!!!" which of course sounded like she was distraught that "Momma is white!" to the people passing by, even though she really just meant I was right.