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.