Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Amazing Thing About Older Kids

It's 7:25 am and we're supposed to leave for the airport at 8:00. The kids and I are taking a quick trip to Wyoming to visit my grandmother.

The kids helped set out their clothes yesterday and roll them up into bundles. They packed toys and a few books for the flight. This morning they got up, dressed themselves and ate the breakfast I set out for them.

We're all packed and I have nothing to do but wait. Amazing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brain Full

In that past week, I've tried several times to post.  I sit in front of the computer, my fingers poised to type but nothing comes out.  Or alternatively, I write a bunch of words, decide they make no sense or are way to personal and immediately delete the post.

Swimming around are facts and ideas from:
- Cindy Leavitt's visit presenting more of the Neufeld material, focusing on gifted and sensitive children.  I attended 4 presentations/small group conversations in 4 days and am still trying to incorporate the information.
- Lee Binz, a local homeschooling mom who coaches parents in homeschooling, did a talk three days before Cindy's on homeschooling gifted children. Her ideas dovetailed nicely with quite a bit of Cindy's information. Lee seems to be a very practical woman, so her lecture included the added bonus of how-to's that I'm trying to figure out how to bring into our days.
- I was captured over the weekend with the idea of a professional pursuit.  Something I haven't been interested in for at least 10 years.
- Bill and I considered and passed on the opportunity to adopt a sibling set of 3 children, ages 4, 2 and a baby. Just trying on the idea of suddenly becoming a family of 5 was intense and letting go of it has been hard for me.
- At least 2 other things that are major and important for our family have opened up, neither of which I feel comfortable broadcasting over the internet right now.

So my brain is full, but my blog is empty. Maybe a few more days of letting the information ripen will eventually lead to some meaningful output.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Working Through How to Work

It occurs to me that one of the reasons homeschooling is such a challenge, at least in this household, is that Theo is so dang smart.  Not unlike the observation that gifted children avoid futility* so well with their clever minds, I see that Theo's clever little mind works at getting around doing any actual schoolwork.

To be honest, doing school work has no value to him.  And honestly, I don't expect it should as he's 9 years old and can't really hold onto the idea of doing X or Y right now so that he'll be able to reach his dreams when he's an adult.  It is way more fun to build legos. He loves to play on the computer and read comic books, and he's figured out that he can just wait until our "light" days on Friday, Saturday, Sunday to do his 4 required items and then indulge in his passions, rather than doing the full list Monday-Thursday.  And suddenly I find myself faced with a boy who has ZERO interest in working and actually a clear cut plan of how to NOT work as it serves his desires.

I'm feeling stuck.  I don't want to have escalating structures, rules or behavior charts.  What I really want is for us to sit down together in a happy peaceful way and get the work done that I've assigned. I am confident it's not too much - 3 hours of school work a day that includes the history he's passionate about, drawing lessons that make him giggle and the math he just tears through is not too much.

Probably the bit that hangs us up right now the most in our schooling time is my trying to send each of them off to doing their own thing.  As in, "Rosie and I are doing math right now, Theo please go work on your writing." While the amount of separation seems tiny to me, it looks like it is too big for either of my kids. When I send them off to work independently, Theo spends his time messing around, and Rosie hangs on me and whines.  Perhaps there is something intense to them about me engaging with their sibling and sending them "away" to the other side of the room.

My best guess right now is to really focus on the idea of coming along side - literally getting next to him and saying "this is what we're going to do now." Some combination of eliminating the separation, being the big mama and holding the work that needs to be done as a type of futility (as in this is *going* to happen now).

I'm looking for feedback.  Does this sound clear to people?  Am I getting taken for a ride and not noticing it?  How does the theory of "coming along side" to do our school work sound - and any ideas how on earth I'm going to make that happen with 2 kids at the same time?


* In Neufeld's attachment based developmental model, experiencing futility is a huge need for humans in general and our kids specifically.  Futility is the realization that life is not going to be exactly the way we want it and that we need to adapt to life.  It is in the process of adapting to what is that we grow, we make space for new ways of being/seeing the problem, and we learn that we can handle the big experiences life throws at us and still be okay.
   Experiencing futility is incredibly vulnerable and shows us our powerlessness.  I think as Americans in general we tend to avoid this vulnerability, and our children who think they need to be big and in charge of their worlds (instead of we adults being in charge) do the same thing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Small Gift

Today is the 10th day in my heavy-duty commitment to get up every morning and be in charge of my kids, whether Bill is here or not (right now, he's not).  The results shine, both of my kids show in their own way that this is working for them.

Still not a surprise to anyone, this has been a giant struggle for me.  After Bill and I hung up from the session with our consultant in which she told me in no uncertain terms I needed to be up when kiddos arise, I burst into tears.  It is just so hard for me.

Today, I got a tiny gift from the universe (or the legislature however you see it).  Day light savings time.  I got a whole hour of extra sleep.  Manna from heaven for my tired, aching body. I "slept in," yet breakfast is started and children are still sleeping and I have a few precious moments to share my thoughts with you.

I can do this.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Why So Angry?

From John Raible Online, here is a list that begins to illustrate the privilege we non-adoptive people live with but rarely recognize.

As adoptive parents, we've got to carry the knowledge of these needs because whether or not our children voice them, they are there. Always, I think our job is to hear, see and validate adoptees' losses and anger. And way more often then I and we (as a society) do, we need to step up to the plate to speak up and advocate.

Why so angry?

October 24th, 2010 § 31 Comments
At the risk of speaking for other adoptees,

Here’s how I would answer the question: What do angry transracial adoptees want?

We want to feel like we belong, unconditionally.

We want to feel welcome wherever we go.

We want to not be stared at when we go out with our families.

We don’t want to be asked, Is that your real mother/sister/brother/father?

We don’t want to be asked, Would you rather have been left in the orphanage/group home/foster home/street to die?

We want people to keep their hands off our hair.

We want people to stop being curious about our skin, our eyes, our hair, our bodies.

We want to feel normal.

We want to be treated as mature adults and not little children.

We want our sealed records to be unsealed already.

We want our original birth certificates.

We want our foster care files, and our orphanage records.

We want to be able to know for certain if the person we are about to have sex with is biologically related to us.

We want to know where our biological siblings are.

We want to be able to contact our first families—our foster families who took care of us, our biological families whose genetic and cultural heritage we share, our blood brothers and sisters left behind in orphanages and group homes.

We want ALL our questions answered.

We don’t want to be paid for, to be sold, or treated like commodities.

We don’t want to be told we are “lucky.”

We don’t want to be abused.

We don’t want to be exploited.

We don’t want to be studied, researched, and psychoanalyzed, especially when research studies merely justify the pain we have been forced to endure.

We don’t want non-adopted people to build careers off our pain and our struggles.

We don’t want to be the “diversity experience” for our school, our house of worship, our neighbors, or our families.

We don’t want to be told how to feel—don’t feel so angry, don’t feel so sad. Don’t feel bitter. Feel happy, feel grateful, feel lucky.

We want information about diseases we may be carrying, and medical conditions we may be susceptible to.

We want to not have to leave page after page blank when we go to the doctor and give our medical history.

We want to be treated the same as the children born into our adoptive families.

We want our legal inheritance rights to never be contested at the reading of the wills.

We want to be treated without teasing about our origins, as if we aren’t really part of the family.

We don’t want to be told that we aren’t really African American or Asian American, that we’re not real Indians or Latinos, as if we are somehow a fake version of our ethnicity of origin.

We want to be able to go to the store, the movies, the park, or the mall and not be followed around, stared at and singled out.

We want to not be called names, teased, or bullied because we are different.

We want to fit in, and to be able to blend into our environment.

We want to be around people who look like us.

We want to be around other families that resemble ours.

We want to know LOTS of other adopted people.

We don’t want to forever be the oddball, the token, the weirdo, the one who was obviously adopted.

We want to control who knows our adoption status and who gets to hear our adoption story.

We want to be treated with respect.

We want to be loved.

We want to be listened to.

We don’t want to be patronized.

We don’t want to be your token.

We don’t want to be your Asian / Black /Latino /Native /Pacific Islander /African friend.

We don’t want to have our so-called issues ridiculed.

We don’t want to be pathologized.

We want to see ourselves and our families reflected realistically on TV, at the movies, in magazines, and in advertisements.

We want to be part of the majority.

We want the privileges that others get just by being born into their families.

We want to NOT have to decide whether or not to search.

We want information about our origins collected and safeguarded for us for when we are ready to receive it.

We want the power of self-determination.

We want first class–not second class– citizenship. No questions asked.

We want to know how to act Colombian or Black or Native or Korean or Indian or Guatemalan or Ethiopian or Chinese so that when we meet others who look like us, we can fit in and feel comfortable, instead of anxious, unsure of ourselves, incompetent and scared.

We want our families to stand with us against racism, against genocide, and against the destruction of our birth families and communities.

We want families who believe us when we say something racist just happened.

We want our families to speak out against prejudice and oppression.

We want our classmates and teachers to stop being ignorant and small-minded about racial differences.

We want adults to stop romanticizing our cultures.

We want you to stop fetishizing our bodies: our hair, our skin colors, our eyes, our genitals, and other so-called racial differences.

We want you to stop appropriating our culture.

We want families to stop bragging about how they got us.

We want families to stop parading us in front of the company or neighbors.

We want families to stop showing us off in front of the congregation.

We want families to teach us how to be secure in our skin and comfortable with who we are.

We want families to feel as uncomfortable as we often do. Why should we bear the brunt of the racial differences in the family all by ourselves?

We want to have allies by our side, to trust that somebody’s got our back.

We want to learn about our countries and communities of origin. But we don’t want to be forced to go to “culture camp.”

We don’t want to be forced to follow your religion.

We want to be able to ask questions without worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings or risking our place in the family.

We want to be able to talk about our birth families without our adoptive relatives becoming uncomfortable or angry.

We want to be able to talk about our adoptive families without our birth relatives becoming sad.

We want to be able to express how we really feel without you getting mad or sad.

We want to be able to get information when we want it.

We want to be able to not be subjected to insensitive remarks or intrusive questions from random strangers, neighbors, and even friends.

We want the same gifts that the kids born into the family get from extended family members.

We don’t want to have to wonder all the time if this is an adoption-related issue.

We don’t want to have to wonder all the time if something happened because of our race.

We don’t want to be treated like your pet, your project, or the object of your missionary zeal.

We want to be ourselves.

We don’t want to be a poster child for someone else’s cause.

We want to be able to choose.

We want to be able to love more than one set of parents and one set of siblings.

We want to be able to live without waiting for some surprise to pop up unexpectedly: some long lost relative or birth parent, some former caregiver surprising us out of nowhere.

We want the security of knowing that we will never be abandoned again.

We want to be told the truth, and not some feel-good fantasy of “how much we were loved so that is why we were given away.”

We want to trust that our place in our family is forever secure.

We want to believe that we are as capable and lovable as the next person.

We want security.

We want free and fluid identities.

We want inner peace.

We want freedom from racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and other forms of oppression.

We want social justice.

When we take a stance for freedom and social justice, we want allies standing with us.

We don’t want to carry the burden of difference alone.

We don’t want to fight our battles alone.

We don’t want to fight for adoption reform by ourselves.

We don’t want to fight racism by ourselves.

We want equality NOW.

We want freedom.

We want justice.

We want to be with each other, with fellow adoptees.

We want to be in charge of our lives.

We want our humanity.

We want community.

We want our first families back.

We want our given names.

We want to speak our native languages.

We want our original citizenship reinstated, and dual citizenship if we were forced to leave our motherland.

We want to feel that we count.

We want to feel wanted for who we really are, not who you want us to be.

We want to feel that we matter.

We want to feel real.

We want to be left alone.

We don’t want to feel like the outsider.

We want to blend in.

We want a space to breathe in and breathe out without someone questioning us or invalidating our experience.

We want adoption to be about us and what we need, and not about parents–birth parents or adoptive parents.

We want adoptee empowerment.

We want to be able to take a break from being adopted. Frankly, it’s exhausting.

Finally, we want transracial adoption not to hurt so damn much.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

OK Go Rocks the Dogs

Rosie and I came across this yesterday while enjoying the treadmill video for the 10,000 time.  We were transfixed!

I wonder if watching it over and over again qualifies as some sort of homeschooling lesson?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another Year on the Fine Line

An ad in my email inbox from (they have sleepwear on sale) reminds me that November is National Adoption Awareness month.  With companies all over the country advertising support for adoption support this month, I feel compelled to write. Again.
There is something weird to me about all this drive to support adoptive families.  Because in the end, I don't really think we're the ones that need support.  Not that I'm going to turn down free money, but I've been vetted and interviewed to bring children into my family. Part of the process of adopting children is proving one has the resources (financially, emotionally and community-wise) to meet their basic needs.  
There's something whacked about a whole nation of marketing focusing on supporting the families caring for children in a second family rather than on meeting the basic needs of the family that brought the child into the world.  How about National Pregnant Mama Month raising funding and awareness about the vulnerability of being a pregnant woman in this country.  Or Parenting Skills Month where companies could bring in funds to create services and support for parents struggling to do differently for their kids than was done to them. Heck, even Foster Families Month where people all over the nation could support children in transition, their first parents who are working to create a home for them, and the foster families that create a safe space for the children during that time. Oh, I have a radical one - National Adoption Eradication Month where the whole country works together to eliminate the poverty, manipulation and privilege that create the need for children to be separated from their families.
Of course, we the adoptive parents are the ones of privilege, getting our "issues" known and helping create national marketing campaigns. Perhaps we could begin to use our powers for the good of our whole community and not just the children we have removed to our homes.
This is where I walk the fine line.  Longing for the placement of a baby in our home NOW and holding the knowledge that my blessing is the result of suffering and oppression of others.

Welcome to National Adoption Awareness Month.  I hope you will share a deeper awareness of the real issues of adoption with those you know this month.