Category Archives: Support Group

Silence in Adoptionland

When you are a part of a marginalized group, you learn early on that the norm is white unless otherwise stated. You learn a language that includes sign posts that hip you that the space is not white owned or dominated.

Take for instance the American Medical Association and the National Medical Association. The AMA is race-neutral, which is a super kind way of saying white, while the NMA is a group that represents docs of African descent. The latter is going to include conversations very specifically about people like me—both professionally and medically. Those conversations will happen in the AMA, but not at the level of detail they will within the safe confines of NMA.

“National” is often a sign post for those of us who are not white, and we need those spaces. You want to know why?

Well, because sometimes being in spaces where white is the default norm is hazardous to our mental and emotional wellbeing. The micro and macro-agressions. The casual racism. The casual over-familiarity. The defensiveness. The “not all white people…” statements. The folks who take our information, repackage it and profit from it as though it was original content. The “why is it always about race with you people” or “I’m just a part of the human race” or my personal favorite, “I don’t see race at all.” #Iaintclear

And if I or people like me try to engage, the resulting triggered fragility can simply spin out of control, leaving those of us who are “other” to feel abandoned, hurt, lonely, and demonized as the mean, angry person who attacked some nice well-meaning white person. Oh, we mad, we are mad.

When I started my journey, silly and naïve, I sought support in various places, both on-ground and online. I often found that in both places I was the lonely,only or one of very few.

I am constantly self-assessing and checking my need for self-care with respect to race because I work in the diversity and inclusion space professionally. I thought I would do that and handle whatever came my way in the adoption space.

What I found was one of the least diverse spaces I have ever voluntarily joined. I felt like there were so many ways I didn’t fit—I was black, single, increasingly non-religious, adopting an older kid and living in a super urban area. I know I’m not alone, but boy there are times when I click into or walk into a space looking for support and the first thing I have to do emotionally is put my shield up.

How am I supposed to get support when I feel like I have to arm myself against the supporters? It often just doesn’t work and is an exercise in wasted time and emotional energy.

Yesterday, I wrote about being invisible in Adoptionland, but other times, my presence is seen but only as a source of information, not as an equal in receiving support. I’ve found myself just withdrawing at times because I felt I was being asked to contribute to well-meaning folks who want to be good parents, but who didn’t see me as someone struggling with similar issues in adoption.

Marginalization is so pervasive in our lives.

So, I lurk. I go to support groups and don’t say much as much as I used to.  I try to hit the like button sometimes in online spaces. I get really picky about where I want to use my voice and how to use it strategically. I’m not just posting or commenting all willy-nilly. I have to tailor my response so that it’s palatable, non-threatening, and/or not too angry. I make sure I put the word “some” in front of “white folks” so that I don’t trigger someone into going into an “All Lives” rant.  I have to brace myself for the comment that challenges the factual recounting of my lived experience. I have to go take a short walk before responding so that I can keep people at the keyboards and tables when I do respond. I have to keep my wits about me because one wrong comment and my view point is just discarded like this morning’s gum that was chewed for over two hours.

Speaking in white spaces is exhausting. It’s just requires physical and emotional capital that is sometimes too much, and it doesn’t always payoff.

I often read things online or hear things in person and wonder, is it worth the cost to respond? Nah, I could be teaching Hope to improve her checkers game instead. Or just picking my toenails, you know, Hey, I could get in my car and drive around hoping not to get pulled over by cops!

I could just be doing something else productive.

There are so few signposts in Adoptionland to let me know I am welcome and that my voice is valued. I watch the reactions to the comments made by other people of color,  and I try to support them, but I also really, really monitor the reactions to their posts.

I wonder if things will get heated because feelings get hurt. Will someone get chastised or worse, banned?

I wonder would I have more fun and get more out of watching dumb pet videos. #probably

So, I silently lurk in the back of the room or behind my avatar, no doubt with others. I’ve already got enough on my plate as a single mom to an older adoptee struggling to live beyond her history of trauma.

I don’t need the drama of being shouted down in spaces when I’m seeking support.

So often, this space is my only safe space in Adoptionland, and I had to create it for myself. That’s saying something.

So, it’s just too much and it’s so much easier to stay silent.

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When They Don’t Believe Us

Earlier this month, I sent Hope for private comprehensive testing. I hoped to document a diagnosis that appeared in her disclosure documents, as well as to determine if there were any other conditions that needed to be addressed medically and behaviorally. This week, I met with the psychologist for the preliminary report.

I’d prefer not to specifically disclose her diagnoses, but I would say they are very common findings for foster kids and adoptees.

So, yeah, fun times.

Honestly it explained a lot of what we experience. I definitely intellectually understand why somethings I do work great and some things send us screeching towards disasters. I think I get it now.

I’m finding that most of the folks I talk to regularly are also adoptive or foster parents. At this time in my life, it’s just easier. I never have concerns about being judged. I don’t have fear about my daughter being judged. These relationships are invaluable to me; that said, they don’t completely fill the holes left by my pre-Hope life.

I do still have some friends whom I confide in and of course my family, but sometimes, I find myself being so cagey. My fear, defensiveness and over-sensitivity around feeling judged and being unable to articulate the depth of our issues holds me back from deeply confiding in folks. I am always worried about being able to fully overcome the syrupy sweet adoption narrative that bounces in the echo chamber, “You’ve been a family for two years, what could possibly be wrong?” Or, “Oh that’s not a *real* issue, my kid does that all the time (you just don’t know any better).”

My daughter’s issues are real.

My issues with my daughter’s issues are real.

It takes real effort and strategy to be my daughter’s mom and full-time case manager. It’s real. It’s not that I don’t know what I’m doing, it’s that some folks don’t believe our issues are real.

We hear a lot in the media about the need to destigmatize mental health disorders; I’ve concluded that they don’t mean all disorders. They don’t mean the stuff that actually leads to suicidal or homicidal ideation. They really mean, “let’s wait until you’re actually learning how to tie the noose before we scream, ‘See something, say something!!!”

Those efforts to destigmatize mental health disorders don’t talk about how we need to manage severe disorders in children. Those efforts certainly don’t speak of the challenges of managing neurocognitive disorders that are often along for the ride, making treatments difficult to tease into meaningful chunks for parents.

Those efforts don’t consider the reactions that parents get from friends, colleagues and family members who offer comforting bullshit like, “Oh I think that diagnosis is just an excuse for a kid to act up!” or “Gosh, they are just diagnosing everyone with *that* now; it’s trendy.”

It’s hard to maintain relationships when folks don’t believe science, aren’t willing to listen and insist on unwittingly shutting down conversations with folks who just need to talk about their ish.

As I was sitting talking with the psychologist, I was wondering beyond the “team” of professionals that keep me and Hope duct taped together, who would I share this information with. Not that I would tell a bunch of people, but I found that number of individuals within our closest circle with whom I would confide in hopes of getting support for ME was pretty small. Really, really small.

I’ve been burned too many times. My trust bank is low, and in real life, I often feel really alone when walking/talking/living outside of the foster/adoption community. I’m so blessed to have cultivated some great friendships within the community, but the revelation that sharing my struggles with some people with whom I have a long history and genuine affection isn’t worth my time because I already know it’s not going to end well…well that hurts.

And it just reminds me of loss. Just more loss.

I have been spending a lot more time in recent months working on diversity stuff, and I’m increasingly sensitized to the way that this journey has affected me in ways that make me other myself or make me feel othered. Being Hope’s mom is a beautiful, amazing thing. But it’s definitely not an easy thing, not at all. No parenting is easy, and for me, this journey isn’t either.

I’m the same person as before, but I’m not, I guess.

And folks who expected this journey to turn out differently are also the same people. I’m just seeing them differently, and sometimes it’s really disappointing. Sometimes, it just really hurts.

It would be nice to feel like I could share with people actually believing that my daughter’s mental health issues are a real thing that requires real attention in order to get her healthy and happy in a sustainable way. I don’t ever want to find myself in a situation side-eyeing folks because tragedy befell us and then folks wondered why I never shared.

I won’t be responsible for my response in that scenario.

So if you know someone with a kid who has mental health issues, please don’t be dismissive. There are so few safe outlets for support. Recognize that destigmatizing mental health disorders means supporting folks long before the drama becomes tragic. Listen, learn and believe that this stuff is real and that it is some hard ish to wrestle with and really, really hard to wrestle with in a meaningful way alone.

Please believe us and support us.


Thoughts on Coping with Learning Issues

Here’s the deal. I’m dyslexic.

I uptake information best by hearing, speaking and doing—but not necessarily all at the same time. In fact, as I get older, I get more easily overwhelmed by external stimuli.

I was not diagnosed until I was a freshman in college; I miserably failed a biology exam although I knew the information.  The professor took pity on me and allowed me to take it untimed in his office with some assistance. I aced it, and immediately went to be tested for a learning disability.

I used to love, I mean LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, reading. I don’t as much anymore.  This last bought of graduate school pretty much killed that.

I mean, I still enjoy reading, but it takes me forever to get through a book for pleasure now. I’m more apt to go pull scholarly literature and read it.

Now, this is in part because I’m a huge nerd. But it is a coping mechanism for me.

Scholarly lit should have: an abstract, an intro, a lit review, a methodology description, study findings, a discussion and a conclusion.

My brain knows what to expect, and I can more easily string together copious amounts of information that may seem unrelated.  And to be clear, I uptake massive amounts of info, and when it’s in my brain, it is IN MY BRAIN and available for calling up and cross-referencing.

I also like statistics.

Yes, I am a nerd, but I like numeric patterns. I’ve taught myself over the years to *see* the patterns and be able to relate large data sets with each other.

I was listening to a podcast recent about how fellow dyslexics tend to have jumbled brain operating systems, but we are amazeballs at reorganizing data so that it makes sense to us.  We tend to be a pretty creative bunch.

If I were a computer, it’d be like I was a cute computer with a flash memory—takes forever to upload, but when it does, it’s there baby!

Since becoming a parent, life has become more…complicated. Complication can be pretty distressing for those of us who learn differently—which includes me and Hope, who is ADHD.

For me, this has manifested as a rigid, rabid-like adherence to evidence based studies on issues that we deal with at home. A lot of books while based on research cite too little of it and are organized in such a way I simply cannot process them.

Don’t worry, I’m like this at work too. You want to piss me off in the office?  Say the phrase, “Best Practices” and have NO research or data to substantiate that it is indeed a best practice. It brings out the worst in me. Partly because I’m an advocate of quality research, but more selfishly because I have trouble processing random “ish we do.”

(Now, don’t ask me why I like to write so much when I’ve got all this going on. I write for work, the blog and the podcast—not sure how it all works in my brain, but for some reason it does. Go figure. Thank you Spell Check and Grammarly.)

The last parenting book that I stumbled through, Hope and I raged, fought, mutually dropped Eff bombs and I had to call the emergency hotline with my agency because it was such a mess.  Um, yeah, I really don’t do parenting books anymore; they get lost in translation.

I’ve been really struggling with coping with this form of difference lately; I imagine that Hope has as well—I know she has. I’m starting to do a lot more skimming about coping with learning issues in hopes of finding some evidence based recommendations that might meet us both where we are.

I’m grateful for the recent recommendations about Brene Brown—I’m waiting for the audio version of her books to become available at the library since I *know* there’s no sense in my lying and saying I’m going to read them.

In the meantime, the recommendation has helped me discover a nice treasure trove of literature about shame, parenting, adolescence, trauma and the larger philosophy of shame and its role and process in emotional development. There’s some interesting stuff out there, like if we experience moral shame we are likely to be willing to resist avoidance and be willing to apologize, but with image shame we are pissed, avoid and refuse to acknowledge our issues at all. Interestingly, guilt isn’t at play with these two types of shame (there are at least 2 other kinds of shame); so guilt trips are never going to work.  Our own shame coupled with other emotions impact how we accept apologies.

Seriously it’s interesting stuff, so thanks for the Brené Brown recommendation; she’s interesting, but there’s some really awesome research going on in this area that speaks to me.

So, resources…holla at me with YouTube videos, audiobooks and scholarly research for how to manage ADHD, ODD, teen drama, older child adoptive drama…ya know…all the good drama stuff.


Both And

I posted something on my FB page a few days ago that I’m sure was rather inflammatory towards adoptees. l hate that it was inflammatory. I appreciate a good pal on Twitter engaging me on the post. All that said, I’ve left it up, despite the fact that I think the author is a bit of a hack.

I’ve you’ve followed the blog for a while, or just dug into the archives, you’ll know that I’m a huge adoptee fan, almost groupie level sometimes (see FB posts about Angela Tucker and the goodies I recently received). They’ve given me so much insight into what must be going on inside Hope’s head. They are an invaluable voice in adoption, and I’m going to keep listening because I know they make me a better mom.

But I’m also an AP who’s often in her feelings about what brought her to adoption, how hard raising a kid is, how hard raising a kid with some issues is, how sad and depressed I get, how hard I fight to stay above water, how hard I have to suppress my own ‘stuff’, how I feel I’m failing at this parenting thing, much less this AP thing that seems to require more of my than I ever imagined and the list of feelings goes on and on.  I have this identity that goes beyond being Hope’s mom.

The truth is, I’ve had to make peace in my life that I’m probably not as happy as I thought I would be as a parent. Another truth?

I sometimes wish I had just left my life alone. I’ve said before it was a good life.  Uttering this truth is a scary, ugly thing.

Getting all the stuff you thought you wanted in life, is well, not all it’s cracked up to me. And it’s not that I want more stuff, it’s just everything is tinged with loss…like everything is tinged with loss.

I am a parent to a daughter whom I adore, but I am unable to birth children—a truth that pains me greatly. I can’t *fix* my daughter’s troubles—a truth that is so complicated it just sucks; I mean I can help her heal but…I don’t know where it will take us. Relationships with family and friends are so different—some have thrived but many are irrevocably changed and not necessarily for the better. I lost my church—I grieve this nearly as much as the loss of my fertility because it shook the foundation of what I believe spiritually. Dammit, even my dog The Furry One passed away; he was one of few constants that joined Before AP and After AP. I could go on, but why, right?

Since I wrote my last pissy post on the drama in adoption support groups, I’ve largely shied away from them. Many of them are simply not safe places. They aren’t healthy and they aren’t supportive because it feels like everyone is fighting to see who is hurt more, playing vocabulary police, lots of “if you can’t take it, you shouldn’t do XX,” lots of name calling and lots of power plays.

Frankly, I’m grateful that I didn’t join any groups before I adopted Hope; I probably would’ve dropped the whole adoption thing and that would’ve been awful.  I might be sad about parts of my life, but I love that Hope is my daughter.

My mother has told me for years that hurt people hurt people. This is probably one of the truest things she’s ever said.

I look at support groups, and I see a bunch of marginalized folks—APs, Birth Parents, Adoptees—squabbling over their experiences and the validity of their feelings in the adoption experience.

The things about feelings is that whether we externally get them validated or not, we feel what we feel—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And yes, we are all marginalized groups when it comes to the general public. Here’s my diversity breakdown: We’ve all got these images that we rally against—APs are “saviors”, Adoptees are the “lucky saved” and Birth Parents are the folks kids are “saved from.” This is a super simplified version, so work with me. That’s all the general public knows and sees of this community. And unless we are an obviously adoptive family, we move through the world like a duck—smooth on top, paddling like hell underwater. The world doesn’t understand our trials, and frankly they don’t want to hear about them because that breaks the spell of the do-gooder narrative.

So, where does that leave us? It leaves us to build community among ourselves with a power structure that mimics our marginalization. Saviors on top, everyone else on the bottom. Is it really any wonder why folks get mad? Why comments go from pleasant to fury in a hurry? It shouldn’t shock us.

Add to the fact that everyone hurts in some way, and online support groups are a powder keg.

Now, the point of me writing this post is really about me working through my own feelings when I engage online. I recognize my privilege, I try to stand down and help amplify voice, I try to be a good ally, and I hope to get better at that as I grow. I also realize that with this privilege it’s tough—and not fair–to ask other marginalized people to give us APs a break sometimes, but well…the truth is we could use a kind word and a turned cheek sometimes too. I say and do stupid ish on an hourly basis, I’m sure other folks do to. Sometimes we all just need to give each other a break.

what it is2

Holistically, our experiences and feelings with other members of the adoption triad isn’t really either/or, it’s both/and. None of us in the triad seem to get the communication thing right a lot. All of us type through pain and muck. It’s easy to forget that our experiences are our own, they are anecdotal; they can’t always be generally applied. It’s easy to forget that we’re supposed to be on the same team. It’s easy to forget that we all just want to raise healthy families in supportive environments and that every engagement doesn’t have to be a PhD crash course what we’re all doing wrong—this goes for everyone in the triad; it’s true for us all.

It should be all about the both-and. Always the both-and.

It should be about compassion. It should be about hope and caring. It should also be about education, but also mindful of delivery and purpose for all of us.

It doesn’t mean that there won’t be disagreements or even all out rows, but it doesn’t have to be nasty, it doesn’t have to be discouraging, it doesn’t have to be diminishing, it doesn’t have to be dismissive.

It can and should be supportive; it should be uplifting, it should be encouraging, it should be challenging in ways that improve not tear down.

try

So my call for the whole community, is to just try to do better. And since this is The Year of the Try, the success can simply be found in the attempt to meet each other where we are.

Just try.


Support Group Side Eye

It continues to stun me how myopic folks can be. I left a support group yesterday because grown folk could not have a civilized conversation amongst adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees views on adoption. (I did reluctantly rejoin the group and immediately hit the “silence notifications” tab. #whoneedsthedrama)

Adoption makes for a bunch of interesting bedfellows, some of whom have big voices and a lot of privilege in the narrative. As a part of the triad, I’ve learned so much about how the diversity issues I work on professionally permeate the world of adoption. I was naive to think they wouldn’t, but I am repeatedly stunned by how things play out.

If we hope to build community with others, we have to be willing to feel some discomfort, even pain at times. I had a therapist that used to tell me that growth never occurs without some level of discomfort. We have to learn to exercise our muscles of compassion and empathy and to talk/type less and listen more.

The voice of the adoptee is an important one.  Man, when Hope speaks I’m like old skool E.F. Hutton—I shut up and listen. Why? Because nothing else on this journey compares to her voice, her needs. She is not just the center of my world; this adoption is about what she needed/needs. Oh sure, I wanted to be a mom. But honestly, I didn’t need to be one. I can’t say I feel like I was born to do this. I can’t argue that my maternal instinct couldn’t have been satiated in other ways besides becoming a mom (an all expense year of luxury in Bora Bora might’ve done it…). Hope needed a family. Hope’s family needed her to have a stable family and a stable home. I was available and a good match. I fit the bill.

I got a great kid; I got to be a mom, and she is getting her Mazlow’s needs met.

During the last two years, I’m sure I’ve done and said some stupid things about my adoption journey, about birth parents, about supportive folks in and around my life, about Hope and other adoptees. I’ve had to stretch, not just to understand what might be Hope’s perspective, but the general perspective of adoptees. I get that it’s hard for adoptive parents not to take some of the sadness and grief personally; but really, it’s not about us.

Except when it is, and it is when we are dismissive and silencing to the adoptee voice. Then we make it about us, our feelings, our narrative.

We are entitled to our feelings, we are. But we aren’t entitled to them at the expense of our children. It ain’t fair, but thems the brakes.

It infuriates me to hop onto an online support group that is supposed to welcome all members of the triad to the conversation, only to find that APs are whining about everyone being too sensitive. Yo, check it, everybody in the room typically has lost something, is grieving something, is struggling with something. Let’s get over ourselves. Most of the public narrative about adoption is about us anyway, what we want, what we’ve endured to finally become parents, what we feel then and now. It really is okay to pass the dutchie to the right and let someone else take a puff on the mic.

When an adoptee tells me something is offensive—especially something I, as an adoptive parent, have said is offensive—I take them at their word. End of story.

I don’t do/say any of the following because they are inappropriate:

  • I know this other adoptee and they are okay with it. What’s your problem?
  • Hey, it was just cute/a joke/darling! You are too sensitive!! Lighten up.
  • You always makes everything so negative!
  • You always make adoption about you!
  • Hey, why are you so angry?
  • You must be anti-adoption.
  • You must hate your adoptive parents!!
  • You aren’t grateful for being adopted?

This is just a sampling of some of the things I read on a support group thread yesterday. Now, this might be hard to connect, but much of this is offensive to adoptees much the way that the following is offensive to me as an African-American:

  • I don’t see color.
  • You’re just an angry Black Woman!
  • All/Blue Lives Matters as an “opposite” to Black Lives Matter.
  • You must hate White people.
  • The upside of slavery is that you were saved from the savagery/poverty/etc of Africa.
  • 400+ years of institutionalized, legacy driven racism and genocide has no bearing on today now that you’ve been “free” for 152 years—even though the last of the slaves didn’t even know they were free for about 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

And if I need to explain why any of these bullets are problematic, please feel free to drop me a private email, and I’ll happily send you a prospectus about my diversity consulting and the attending fee scale.  I still have dates for private consulting available for 2016. #sideeye

To all of this BS, I say…

GTFOH.

It’s crap. Just crap. Let’s all spend more time respecting one another and listening to one another. Let’s all remember that adoption is really, really about the adoptee, despite all of our personal roles and feelings. It doesn’t mean those latter things aren’t real and important, but ultimately, adoption isn’t about us APs. It’s just not.  Yes, I know…we wish it was.

If a support group is going to be true to its moniker, then actually offer support by taking time to listen to all of the voices, giving them equal weight and taking them all at their words. Otherwise, just be honest about it and rock it like an old skool treehouse. Name it something clever and post a sign on the e-door that says “No adoptees or whatever” allowed. Let folks know whether they are truly welcome. Don’t waste anyone’s time, and finally, don’t be a jerk. Honestly, it’s not hard.

Rant Over.

#FliptTheScript

ETA: I will not be using the hashtag above in future posts or on Twitter.  Despite very much supporting the movement, a wonderful adoptee brought it to my attention that the use of the hashtag by a non-adoptee–even for purposes of support–is a form of attribution. I should’ve considered that, but I didn’t. My bad.

So although I have used it before with no complaints from adoptees, I recognize how it can be an inappropriate use of my AP privilege to use the hashtag. So, I won’t in the future.

See how easy that was?


Adoption and Microaggressions

So, in my professional life, I work in higher ed on diversity issues. This week I’ve been attending a conference related to this work. I’ve given a lot of thought to what I’ve learned about diversity through this adoption journey but I realized this week that I haven’t been using diversity and inclusion terminology to describe the things I’ve experienced along they way.

I’m not the only one.

For every “Please don’t say this to adoptive parents or adoptees” list that I or my fellow bloggers publish, we fail to articulate what we are really mean. What we are really saying is that we folks in the adoptive community experience many microagressions.

Microaggressions are like mini forms of discrimination and oppression. Wikipedia (hardly a “scholarly” source but suitable for these purposes) describes these incidents as usually unintentional, but insulting and dismissive. They are hurtful. They make us flinch.

Usually associated with race, gender or sexuality, microaggressions can be committed by all kinds of people against folks being marginalized. Not sure what they look like in action? Here are some examples.

“I know you have a doctorate, but I’m stunned by how articulate you are!”

“You’re not bitchy like most women bosses I know.”

“That is so gay!” Speaking louder when there is a language barrier—the person can actually hear you.

“When I see you, I don’t see color!”

“I can’t be a homophobe, my cousin is gay.”

“Why are you people always so angry?”

myface

Yeah, for the record, all of the above are whack. Totally, unambiguously whack.

So, as I was sitting in a session this week on microaggressions, I found myself thinking about adoption, and what’s it’s been like the last year.

“Yeah, but what do you know about Hope’s real parents.”

“That’s so great what you did, but you know, I want my own/real children.”

“She looks just like you; I mean it’s like you picked her out of a catalog or something.”

“Do you think you’ll be as close as you might’ve been with, you know, your own/real kids?”

“You didn’t want to try IVF or surrogacy?”

“You couldn’t find a donor? Pretty girl like you?”

[disappointed] “Oh, I thought you would’ve really helped a kid by adopting internationally, but you know, it’s good you did domestic.”

“But aren’t you afraid of an older child? You didn’t consider adopting a younger child so you could train her?”

“Was she a crack baby?”

“Is she like, you know, messed up?”

“Don’t you worry she’ll seek out her real parents one day?”

ETA: “How much did she cost?”

JoselineEyeRoll Sometimes I gently correct and educate, other times just I let it go. But it’s those times when I have corrected and educated, and it happens again when I realize that something about my experience is not clicking in this person’s head or heart. As a speaker said today, you get a pass the first time because you didn’t know that ish you said was whack; the second time you say dumb ish after you’ve been told it’s whack, you’ve made a choice to ignore the new information. You’ve made a choice to ignore me.

As the realization settled in this week at this conference, I nearly cried. For nearly two years since I went public with my adoption journey, I’ve struggled to name these little cuts I’ve felt at least once a week. I’ve been shocked by how deeply they hurt, how irritating they are, how they offer unspoken commentary about me, my life, my Hope, Hope’s life and our family. I realized how some of these things unintentionally sought to invalidate our family, to invalidate my role as a parent and Hope’s role as my daughter, to invalidate Hope’s humanity by likening her to a pet of sorts and her unworthiness of a family compared to “truly suffering” international kids. And these microaggressions are piled on to the ones I already experience as a Black woman. The cumulative impact is exhausting.

And I can only imagine what microaggressions look and feel like for transracial adoptive families, birth or first families or for adoptees. Heck, during the height of the #flipthescript hashtag last fall, we saw adoptees labeled as ungrateful, inappropriately angry, aggressive, and one of the most egregious name-calling from a fellow blogger—adoption warmongers. #gtfohwtbs All because adoptees claimed their agency and their voice to speak about their lived experiences. Over and over again, we saw people marginalize and/or dismiss the authenticity and integrity of the adoptee voice. It’s shameful.

And *that* happened within the adoptive community!

External to the adoption community, I’ve seen us reduced to a bunch of Jesus-freaks…among other stereotypes and tropes. It all makes me feel so….icky. It’s sad. It’s also bull-dookey. I mean, personally J-man is totally my homeboy, but there’s a LOT of diversity in this community, just like every other.

It’s sad to realize that somehow I tripped into being another kind of minority (because being a Black woman wasn’t cool but burdensome enough) experiencing marginalization with an intriguing side of hero-worship. Because, you know, we adoptive parents are special folks (a model minority) because we are saving children from fates worse than death.

And sure we are giving kids homes, but really, we just want to create and expand our families through a non-normative path.

Are we really that different? In the grand scheme of things, no. We may embrace this adoptive identity, but it doesn’t mean that the microaggressions don’t get to us, that they don’t frustrate us, that they don’t somehow invalidate us as parents or as kids. We want to be seen, we want to live, we want to raise our kids and we’d prefer to be in supportive, inclusive environments where people don’t say dumb ish about adoption or anything else, for that matter.

Really it’s that simple…I tell students, faculty and administrators this all the time, don’t say or do dumb ish that might hurt people and make you look like an arse.

Don’t do or say dumb ish.

So, I’m not sure if I’ll ever publish another list of dumb ish not to say to adoptive parents, but I might write some more about the intersectionality of adoption with our other identities, and how discrimination and oppression affects us, or rather me, especially, as a single woman of color parenting an older Black adoptive child, since that’s my own story and the one I’m best equipped to tell. In any case, let’s just try to be kind and sensitive to one another and the families we’ve created, any way we’ve created them.

Thank you.


Time Outs, Switches & Modern Parenting on AWAS!

The Podcast!

The Podcast!

“Ohhhhh man!  Back in the day, my mom whooped me with an extension cord!”

If you’ve ever hung out on “Black” social media, surely you’ve come across such a #ThrowBackThursday kind of post.  Not only has corporal punishment long been a form of discipline within the Black community (and other groups too), but there is often a certain amount of pride in having endured and thrived under the lash of a good spanking/whooping/beating.

On this week’s Add Water and Stir podcast ComplicatedMelodi’s Mimi and AdoptiveBlackMom will talk about discipline, communities of color and adoption.  Adoption often involves significant loss and trauma, requiring patient, therapeutic parenting.  Mimi and ABM will talk about how all this jives together in the face of family and friends who fondly reminisce and declare that if it was good enough for them, then corporal punishment is good enough for the kids.

Of course, we’ll have our regular Wine Down session–we’ll catch up on Married at First Sight (live tweeting tonight)–and offer our recommendations!

 Join us on Google+ on Thursday night at 9pm CST/10pm EST!

 


Add Water and Stir: What’s Going On?

The Podcast!

The Podcast!

On this week’s Add Water and Stir, Complicated Melodi’s Mimi and ABM from AdoptiveBlackMom talk about current events, raising children of color, power and privilege, and their fears, hopes and dreams for their kiddos.  Recent events like, but not limited to, the killing of 18 year old Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO, should give all parents pause and require a moment of thoughtful reflection.

So what do you think about Ferguson? Did you talk about it at all in your family? What did you say? Does it make you think about how you raise your children? If you are an adoptive family of color or transracial adoptive family, how did these lenses shape your reaction to this social episode?

Drop us a line and let us know your thoughts and we’ll try to chat about it on the show.

In the “Wine Down,” Mimi and ABM will chew the fat on the Love and Hip Hop:ATL prize fight reunion shows and Married at First Sight (which incidentally we both live tweet through on Tuesdays).

Find us on Google+ for the live hangout on Thursday, September 4 at 9pmCST/10pm EST!

The YouTube video is available immediately and you can catch our MP3 downloads on our Add Water and Stir podcast page within a day or two of our live show.


Episode 5 of Add Water is Live!

The Podcast!

The Podcast!

The latest episode of Add Water and Stir, Take Your Time, We’ll Wait, is live!

Last week Mimi of Complicated Melodi and I welcomed relative new comer Future Adopter from A Sista’s Guide to Adoption to talk all about all the waiting involved in the adoption process.  The episode includes lots of good stuff about length of wait times, emotions associated with waiting and how folks keep themselves busy until their bundles of joy arrive.

In the Wine Down (which I’m thinking we totally need to trademark and during which my homies had me drinking alone this week—the horror!), we ladies dish about Love and Hip Hop:ATL couple Wacka Flocka and Tammy’s fertility issues, Kim K-Dash’s whimsical desire to adopt a Thai tween while vacationing, and the latest on Married at First Sight.  As usual, we wrap up with our recommendations for the week!

Peep us on:

Towards the end of the podcast, poor Future Adopter experienced a power outage that ended her connection.  Don’t worry I’m sure we’ll have her back on the show at a later time to see how she’s progressing through the adoption process!  We are happy she was able to join us last week!  🙂

And yes, my recommendations actually included “grease,” aka Blue Magic this week.  This naturalista’s hair likes it; nay, it LOVES it!  What can I say, petroleum and mineral oil are my friends. #shrug #dowhatsrightforyourhair #itsalsocheap

Blue Magic Conditioner Hair Dress, 12 oz.

This image is for Mimi!


Add Water and Stir: It’s All About the Match

The Podcast!

The Podcast!

It’s time for another episode of Add Water and Stir!!

Join Mimi and ABM as we host the next episode of our podcast tomorrow night, August 7th at 10pm EDT/9pm CDT on Google Hangout!

In this episode we’ll talk about the matching process and placements. We’ll also talk about the emotions associated with saying “no” to a match or a placement! Tough but important decisions!

RSVP or just hit us up on the Google Hangout! <<<link here! Or peep us on YouTube or the podcast page on Friday!


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