Tag Archives: adoption support

Weeping May Endure

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning…

I drafted this post a few days ago. I am no longer weeping, but I wouldn’t say “joy” has settled in either. Hope and I are deep into the regular weekly schedule, and we are very tender. We are both in better places. We are at least a few steps above where we were on the day I wrote this. We are fortunate that these moments don’t last always. We are seriously still having a rough time, but I am on working on getting my mojo back.

Today is a bad day. A very bad day for me emotionally. I’m guessing it’s probably been a challenging day for Hope too.

But for real, I care, but I don’t. I’m so far in my feelings today that, um, yeah, I’m totally being self-absorbed today.

I’m tired. I’m so tired of fighting to keep us alive, reasonably functional and moving forward. It feels like my life is a giant mule that has decided that it isn’t doing a damn thing ever again. And today, I’m exhausted from dragging, pushing, and pulling it along.

This weekend was a three day weekend. A couple of weeks ago, I fancied taking Hope and Grammy to New York for an overnight in the city. I dreamed of doing some sightseeing, having a lovely dinner and just enjoying all that girl time together. But as with everything in my life these days, I feel like the weekend snuck up on me and it arrived with no plans.

I pivoted and thought, “Hey, it’s been a rough few weeks, why don’t we just take it easy.” I’ve been dealing with some reemergent pain from my accident so a low key weekend wouldn’t be so bad right?

Ha!

How about face masks and manicures? Foot dragging.

How about a streaming movie? Nonstop complaints.

How about brunch? Nah.

How about….? No.

I ran my errands, got some exercise to stave off the pain a bit, popped some meds and settled into binge watch The Mindy Project. I had plenty of time to get invested. Hope sat in and watched a few episodes; we were in the same room, but I wouldn’t say we had a shared experience.

It was a pretty lonely weekend and if I’m completely honest, I felt pretty rejected.

I had a lot of trouble sleeping because of my pain, but I resolved this morning to liven things up, get us out of the house and have a little fun on our Monday off.

Yeah, all of that came crashing down before 9am.

I thought, hey let me call my stylist and let her get a quick wash and set and then we can get our manis today. Hope shut me down with her own song and dance about her stylist’s instructions.

By the time it all went down I was trigger happy and spun off into a mad, sad, depressed, sulky spiral that, frankly continues.

I’m mad that I feel like I “wasted” a weekend waiting around for my daughter to do something with me that might seem like quality time. I was sad that she was clear that she would somehow hold up the battle of the hair dressers as a trust thing when God knows she never follow’s her hair dresser’s instructions for hair care. I was offended that she would rebuff my offers to go do stuff together—especially the hair thing because I don’t pay to get her hair done (see doesn’t take care of hair reference above). I was pissy about the fact that laundry takes her 87 hours to do two loads because it just does and it pisses me off and I knew once she started that there was no hope of trying to salvage the day. Frankly, I was just a messy, emotional tinderbox and this morning was a match.

I’ve been fighting past my own human emotions to keep us going. I don’t get the luxury of feeling a lot of the time. Today I wish I just hadn’t allowed those emotions to settle in and rise to the surface.

I am tired, and hurt, and angry and tired, and sad, and tired, and hurt and I find myself hating the people who hurt her, hating the system that didn’t help her enough, being angry with myself for just not figuring out the right pieces at the right time. And while I adore my daughter, I would give my very life for her I do not like her very much right now. #keepingitallthewayreal  And before anyone thinks that my daughter and I don’t talk about how we love each other but sometimes we don’t like each other—we talk about that A LOT both in and out of therapy. I will probably like her again in a few hours…because…she’s my kid and I do adore her.

I find myself just wishing I had kept pushing forward instead of feeling all of this today. It’s just too much and the energy in our home is just icky.  My marbles are splayed all over the floor. Sigh…it sucks.

It. Just. Sucks.

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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.


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?


The Struggle is *Still* Real

A year ago, I published a post called The Struggle is Real.

A year later, it still is. I could reblog that post and one of the few changes I’d make is to note that I traded stupid parenting books for stupid parenting podcasts (not Add Water and Stir, of course!).

A year later I would add the following:

Imposter syndrome is real in parenting. I am making it only because I’m faking it. And by “it” I mean parenting. For all of the parenting wins and Jedi mind-tricks that were wildly successful, I am beaten down by the epic failures I feel like I succumb to on the daily. I am beat down and down trodden.

And there is no end in sight.

It is stunningly easy to forget to practice self-care. Every few weeks I manage to remember I should be taking care of myself and within three days I have forgotten again. In those moments of clarity I plan to log on to the sitter site and book the nannies for regular visits, but an hour later I have forgotten, having gotten caught up in more drama than I care to write about.

It’s affected my waistline. It’s affected my relationships. It’s made me feel weary and teary more than I ever feel happy or joyful. And even though I know if I just take the time to create the structures I need to be ok, I simply push them down as I jet to problem-solve the next crisis. I really do worry at times whether I will simply get sucked all the way into the drama that is Hope, and lose myself.

This month’s self-care win was finding a new therapist who takes my insurance. Her initial reaction to the craziness that is my life was validating.

Now to call the sitter agency and schedule some regular respite.

I think I can. I think I can. I think I can…

Scarred kids do dumb, risky things sometimes. Sure I may know how to deal with it in the moment, but I still have enormous trouble understanding the misfires and disconnects that exist in Hope’s mind. I intellectually get it.  I’ve read all the research about PTSD and the PET scans of kids with trauma. But damn, son, this ish is mind-boggling when it’s not a journal article but a real, live human being up in your ish. I know we are building and rebuilding, but holy crap, it just never seems to end. It’s like a bad video game with thousands of villains; you kill one and there are 30 in its place.

Hope starts high school in a few months. I have no fears about her academic performance, but her social interactions are increasingly risky given this need to have more people like/love her. It’s devastating to know that I’m not enough; even though I knew I wouldn’t be. But I can’t get her to just be careful or even to know that her behaviors are often what drive good people away and draw scary people close.

It’s messy and terrifying.

I have no idea what’s next. None.

I’m not even sure when we tripped into this crazy period. I’m sure that I probably could’ve predicted it, but I didn’t. And I can’t even say that it’s really her; maybe it’s really me with all the problems. Maybe she’s really doing better than I think she is. She probably is.

I don’t know. I know that I’m tired. I am sad.

I was not prepared for this level of sustained challenge. I wasn’t prepared to have my heartbroken over and over again. I wasn’t prepared for just how lonely I would be. I wasn’t prepared for how many people around me would ask questions about my daughter, kindly, and how often I would lie and say things are fine or great.

When I first started doing diversity work, I went back to therapy just so I had a safe place to dump all the ugliness that comes with wading through racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and the like. I didn’t want to dump it on friends or family. I remember a colleague asking me how I did managed to do this kind of work and not flinch, and one of my mentors who was standing nearby saying, “She wears the mask.” It was a reference to a Paul Laurence Dunbar poem that I love because it’s so true, We Wear the Mask.

I think of that moment and that poem whenever someone asks me how Hope is doing, and I say we’re doing great. In many, many, many ways we are. But in many ways we are not. It is still a very real struggle.

We Wear the Mask

Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

And I know I’ll keep wearing the mask.

I have no idea what’s to come. I hope that the struggle has changed a bit a year from now. I hope the struggle isn’t quite as real a year from now.


About Face

So, a couple of days after sending a polite, but disappointing message to my church withdrawing my request for some kind of dedication ceremony I get an enthusiastic message from the children’s pastor.

Long story short, they finally get it. That’s the good, no, awesome news.

But you know, my feelings are so messy. I’m still mad, and I’m still hurt and Lord knows I hold a grudge like my life depends on it.

Yeah, I know, major personal flaw. Whatever… it’s learned behavior for me; get burned enough and the ease of forgiving wears away over time. #jadedandcynical

Anyhoo, I read the email and just felt…tired. Exhausted.  Furious. Why couldn’t this email have come during the last 3+ weeks? Why now, after I said I just didn’t want to pursue it anymore? Why do I feel like I had to fight so hard? Why do you now say you wished you had had this great idea at the beginning of the year?

I’m relieved, and yet I’m still angry. Pissed.

And then I feel guilty for feeling furious because well, I have broken through…We’re going to have some kind of ceremony, a public ritual. It will be open to other families like ours. It will be wonderful for me, for Hope, for our family, for all of the adoptive families who choose to participate.

I think the Holy Homeboy is pleased.

And I am happy, grateful…feeling vindicated, resentful—which doesn’t even feel right when I’m talking about my church. But there you go. I feel all of this stuff, no denying it.

So, I’m guessing the Holy Homeboy is probably not quite as pleased with me. I’m prayerful that this bitterness melts away quickly so that I can really enjoy this event; so that I can really absorb its meaning, so that Hope is able to be excited about all this too. As soon as I tell her.

This will be epic.


Radio Silence

silence

It’s been more than three weeks since I last heard a peep from my church on my request to publicly dedicate Hope. I mean nothing. Not a quick email, phone call, nothing.

The last email I got thanked me for letting them know that National Adoption Awareness Month was coming up and they are praying for me and Hope.

The silence is actually deafening. It hurts my ears and my heart.  I wish the Holy Homeboy had built me for patience, but I discovered many years ago that he simply did not wire me that way.

Sigh.

I finally sent an email withdrawing my request. I’m sure that somewhere the Holy Homeboy is disappointed in all of us, but I couldn’t take anymore, so I just pulled back. I’m strong, but this was the place where I drew strength. and it all dried up.

You can’t be strong if you’re thirsty. #ABMism

Each day the silence and the rejection it implied became more painful; each day it revealed to me how we were viewed by our church—as some kind of anomaly. Each day it told me that we don’t fit, even if on the surface it looks like we do. Each day it affirmed to me about how our church’s mission maybe didn’t really mean me and Hope should be there. Each day it just took something from me…it actually stole a part of my heart from me, right after it stomped on it.

Or in this case it's better than no response at all.

Or in this case it’s better than no response at all.

I am protective of Hope. I know I will have to tell her that this isn’t happening. I think I’ll wait until she asks though. She will, and I will deal with it then. I don’t think she needs to know the truth. She’s lost so much already. I can’t bear the thought of losing a church too. We’ll probably still worship there for a while; she enjoys it so very much. But I don’t see myself there anymore. The thought of going just feels…empty.

I hope that I will forgive as the Holy Homeboy does. And that I will find some grace to cope; adoption requires so grace and some days I don’t feel built for that either.


Adopting While Black

“Black folks – Is it insulting to think about raising a white child?”

Great question posed by Angela Tucker in a recent blogpost entitled, “Why didn’t any Black parents want to adopt me.

So, hmmm, what’s the answer? Well, I, at times, hate to speak on behalf of Black folks, so my responses are my own.

Nope, it’s not insulting to think about raising a White child. I just chose not to. I’ll admit that when I filled out my matching tool, I grappled with the decision to limit my match to children of color. I wondered what that said about me, not wanting to parent a White child.

Did it say I was bigoted? Did I think I could do it? Did I wonder what my friends and family would think if I was matched with and eventually adopted a White child? How did I really feel about it? On the edges, it was a messy thought process, to be honest. Especially since I am diversity professional and prattle on about inclusiveness day in and day out.

Honestly though, the emphasis of my thought process rested in the fact that I really wanted to parent a Black child. I wanted to enjoy the inherent privilege associated with same race adoption. I wanted to enjoy my daughter and not having prying eyes wonder what was up with our family construction. In short, I didn’t want to deal. I wanted my family to pass. If there’s an easy adoption path, I thought same race adoption would at least be on that path. Some days, I’m not sure if it is easier.

So, in answer to the main title question, I did want to adopt a child like Angela, and my beautiful daughter Hope was a perfect match. I’m not sure how many of us, parents of color, are in the hopper to formally adopt, though.  Sure there’s a high percentage of kinship adoption. For those of us who adopt through other channels, I would imagine that more of us are probably like me and just want to enjoy racial privilege in this area. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like there are lots of opportunities to enjoy racial privilege around these parts, goals of a post-racial society notwithstanding.

The numbers of kids also seems to work in our favor as well, as another blogger I recently engaged wrote—kids of color are available. White, non-Hispanic children make up 49% of adopted children in the US, according to the Census Bureau, and White households make up 78% of adoptive families. Transracial adoptions make up 40% of adoptions, and international adoptions make up 37% of transracial adoptions.

And still, Black children remain overrepresented in the foster care system.

So we see families of color adopting at a rate of just over 20%, and the availability and opportunity to adopt same race children is likely occurring at an even greater percentage than that of their White parental counterparts.

The math suggests that unless there is a deliberate desire to parent across race by people of color, it’s probably unlikely to happen in large numbers. I’m not sure what it will take for that deliberate desire to develop.

And we can all feel some kind of way about that…or not. I guess. I wasn’t willing to help out on getting past our racial issues in my own choice to parent. I am ok with that choice; building my family wasn’t about social commentary or saving the world, it was about me wanting to be a mom. It was kind of selfish to be honest.

I respect those who embrace transracial adoption because they too, just want to be moms and dads; like me, they simply wanted to be parents. The decision making process around being a parent, how to become a parent and how to then parent is so personalized. As I often say, it’s messy.

I’ve never thought that the concept of ‘transracial adoption’ was limited to White parents with children of color; I didn’t think that it excluded Black parents with White children. I disagree with the Black Social Workers Association’s language about genocide and transracial adoption, but I do agree with the group in that it feels like the system is quick to remove brown and black children from their homes permanently, thus contributing to their overrepresentation in the foster care system and setting up the numbers game that exists.

Sadly, in addition to the math, I do think that there remains a certain taboo of sorts around adoption in the Black community; it’s unfortunate. I think that the taboos are tied up in lots of things like, “don’t get in my business” (there’s a LOT of that in adoption process), “don’t judge me” (in a community that often feels judged), “it’s God’s will that I not be a parent” (religion can be spun so discouragingly sometimes).

I believe that Black parents can raise White children, and they may even be willing to do so at the same percentage rate as their White counterparts. I don’t know. But I think there are bridges to cross, and I think that the “step up” that Angela refers to in her essay is often seen through the lens of “stepping up” within group rather than across groups.

I strive to teach Hope about inclusivity. At her age, she dreams of having biological children with a husband; she eschews the idea of adopting herself one day. Who knows what will happen in her future with respect to parenting. Hope struggles with lots of racial identity issues, more along the lines of a concept that the world is a narrow one for Black folks—we don’t do this, we aren’t allowed to do that. They are probably similar to and different from struggles experienced in transracial adoptive families. It’s all hard sometimes whether you’re same race or transracial, I’m guessing.

If I choose to add to my family, I admit I probably would make the same decision again. I just would. I certainly could choose to expand my matching search but I don’t think I want to. I’m not trying to make a statement about anything. I just want to be a mom. I admit that the pull of color is a strong one. There’s also the pull of the numbers and availability. None of these choice limiting influences makes me a bad person, and I certainly am not suggesting that Angela’s essay claims that. But I do believe that I’m not an outlier, Black, wanting to parent and choosing to parent a Black child.

So, I would’ve wanted to adopt you, Angela.  I think you’re pretty darn awesome and that your family did an amazing job raising you.  Love your blog, by the way.

 


Add Water and Stir

Last fall two bloggers stumbled upon each other out here in the blogosphere.  One had been chronicling her life via blog for a number of years; the other had been blogging for a couple of months.  Both had only recently begun writing about their adoption journeys.  Over the months, Mimi of Complicated Melodi and AdoptiveBlackMom (ABM) found they had a lot in common and shared a strong desire to give voice to women of color interested in adoption.

In December, Mimi wrote a great piece called, “Infertility, Adoption and The Best Man Holiday.” ABM commented that they should write a movie; Mimi replied that she had something else in mind!

Well, nearly 7 months, one dissertation, two adoptive placements, one finalization and lots of life adjustments, we’re delighted to announce the launch of our new podcast, Add Water and Stir!

addwater3

Add Water and Stir will focus on promoting adoption within communities of color, especially within the African American community.  We want to give voice and visibility to families like ours who often seem left out of mainstream adoption conversations.  We hope to educate others as we talk about our struggles and triumphs of parenting adopted children.  Of course, there will be time for Mimi and ABM to kick it about all kinds of not necessarily adoption related topics as well.

So, join us for our first live podcast on Thursday, June 26th at 10pm EDT/9pm CDT on Google Hangout!  (You can RSVP or just find us live by clicking the link!) Podcasts will also be available on YouTube and Itunes the day after the hangout.

We’re open to suggestions about topics from our blog followers.  You can leave them on either blog in the comments sections or drop us an email at our respective email addresses!

Come hang out with us every other Thursday.


Liebster Award

liebster2

First of all, thank you very much Heart Mommy from Heart Mommy’s Strawberry Shortcake for nominating me for a Liebster Award. As Heart Mommy discussed in her own post, I had to run off and see what the Liebster was all about! It is a great way to spread the word about great blogs out there with relatively small followings. I’m touched that someone thinks my little ramblings are worthy of the attention. So thanks very much Heart Mommy.

So, for newbies to my blog, I’m a Black new adoptive mother to a soon to be 13 year old. My adoption journey started in January of 2013, and Hope and I just finalized our deal in early June 2014. Yep, we were speedy, so we’ve compressed a lot into a short period of time. Somehow during all of this I managed to finish my dissertation and graduate in May of this year. I’m single and Hope and I have a geriatric pup known as The Furry One—yeah, he’s special like that. Hope and I are just figuring this whole thing out, the ups and downs of life.

So, here are the questions my fellow blogger suggested I answer.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment in life?

Oh, without a doubt becoming a mom. Geesch I can barely have a conversation without gushing about becoming a mom. Even at my recent graduation, having Hope, my daughter, there just made me tear up. Sometimes I just look at her and think to myself how frigging awesome it is that this person is in my life and that she chose me and that she is proud to bear my last name. Mad, mad cool.

If you could change anything in your life what would it be?

Well, the easy answers would be to be rich and healthy slim, but meh…more realistically, it would be to have more time to nurture my relationships with friends and family. The last few years in school I pulled back on so many things and the last few months I feel like I’ve barely seen anyone. I thirst for those relationships; so I would change things so I had more time and opportunity to just hang out with friends and family.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

There is a whole constellation of folks who inspire me to push forward. Each person plays a unique role. Some are great role models, others are cheerleaders, still others are motivators and still others practice tough love. I find them individually and collectively to be fascinating and they give me the fire to get ‘er done!

I’m not sure if saying that the Holy Homeboy is an inspiration as much a major force in my life, but I will say that I’ve learned more about grace in the last few months than almost any other time in my life, save one or two. I am mindful that the strength and the gumption and the at times reckless ambition that I have stems from knowing He’s got my back. There’s a peacefulness in knowing this that allows me to be the total badass (ironically) that I believe I’m called to be.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

I’ve been working on a fantasy to move to a beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for years. I would travel there or to Madrid—a city that dwells in my heart—in a NYC minute!

What is the best piece of advice that you could give a foster/adoptive parent?

I’m beginning to work on a piece about what I wish I had done differently. I would say to folks considering adoption–get that inner circle around you to support you and do your best to educate them in ways that help them help you. I regret not doing more of that prep work and I think the end result has been tougher than I imagined. Having friends and family support you is important, but there is type of nuanced support that is needed to grapple with the need for different expectations and different realities inherent in adoption stories. I think adoptive parents may feel under a lot more unintended pressure because we also get put on absurd pedestals for being such “good people” (emphasis on the air quotes). Pedestal falls hurt.

Other advice would be get and go to your own therapist, buy wine by the case and not the bottle, and try to reflect a lot so that you can keep track of progress. Progress can often get lost in the mayhem.

If you were to be granted three wishes, what would they be and why?

Wish 1: I wish I didn’t have the need to work for a living. I have little desire to live an extravagant life, but I’m finding other passions that I’d like to devote time to. Time constructs are pretty finite and I need to finance my and Hope’s lives. I wish I was at a point where I could monetize those other passions so that I could devote myself to them without restraint.

Wish 2: I wish the compound retreat that some of my best girlfriends and I often joke that we are going to start was real. Sometimes you just need to get away to a special place and shut the world completely out; you just need days or weeks to breathe deeply and rest, rather than just simply a few moments gasping for oxygen.

Wish 3: I wish there was a quick fix for Hope’s emotional healing. I wish I had one of those gadgets in the movies where I could just zap away all the bad stuff and replace it with good stuff. Healing take an enormous amount of energy, and it’s great to watch her blossom. But sometimes it’s just a painful, really painful process that I wish I could speed us through.

Describe your blog in three words.

Transparent. Irreverent. Emotional.

 

So, the Google tells me I should nominate a few other blogs to keep this thing moving along. So here are a few blogs that I follow and read with great anticipation.

Complicated Melodi: Melodi is a new adoptive mom to darling Nana. I see similarities in our experiences as people of color in the adoption community. I appreciate how Melodi talks about her own story and how it influences her adoption journey.

FosterWee: This blog chronicles Carrie Ann and Andrew’s experiences as foster parents to Blitzen. Blitzen and my Hope are similar in age and this blog has really helped me understand that the wacky things going on in my home are normal for older foster/adopted kids. I would hug these folks if I could.

Minuit262 AKA AdoptiveNYMomma: Awesome blog by an amazing single mom who juggles a lot and has this huge heart. She has encouraged me on many days, but she inspires me every day. Definitely swing by and check her out.

 

So here are my questions:

Why did you start blogging?

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned on your adoption journey?

How do you practice self-care?

If you could be doing anything else right now in your life, what would it be?

What are your predictions for the next year on your journey?

 


Thoughts on Resiliency

Oh, y’all thought I was going to talk about Hope’s resiliency? No this post is about my own elasticity.

Honestly, nothing is wrong at home, really. Hope and I are doing fine, being normal (whatever that is), but there’s just messiness all around that has me feeling stretched and tired and cranky and just ugh.

Overflowing toilet, faux belly aches, missed buses, rejected dinners, continued village fallout, a nosebleed that lasted more than an hour, a demand to do laundry for one item, a sick dog, an epic grief attack, a meeting with the school counselor, the attorney, the adoption support rep and the fact that my hair looked remarkably like Fredrick Douglass’ hair yesterday.  Seriously, Frederick Douglass…I know that sounds vain, but don’t you find that you can handle things better when you’re having a good hair day?

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Frederick is serving some serious side eye. Yeah, I was channeling this yesterday. I’ve even got the mean silver streak. Sigh…

Last night I poured a big glass of wine, fixed myself a cookie butter sandwich and washed my hair. Then I set about to google “Adoptive Parent Resilience.”

Ugh. Oh that was fun. #notreally

It always amazes me that while there is tons of research on child resiliency, there seem to be little about parental resiliency, much less about adoptive parents. Certainly there are resources, and it would seem that having access to resources seems critical to nurturing parental resiliency, whether you’re an adoptive parent or not. That said, I find myself wondering how parents just deal.

I mean, I just do deal and I know the adage that parenting is the toughest job…blah, blah, blah. But when it seems like Rome is burning and you’re the empress and you have a personal fan instead of at least a fire extinguisher, you might feel inadequate on a good day; absurdly stupid on the next.

So my next search string was “Self-care for adoptive parents.” This search was much better; apparently I stumbled on the right lingo.

I did find this article: Self-Care: Barriers and Basics for Foster/Adoptive Parents. I found this particular barrier resonated with me:

“Fourth, too many parents simply do not know what would help them. They know something is missing, but can’t put their finger on just what might make them feel better. Parents are often told, “Call if there is anything you need,” but it is hard to call and ask for help, especially when you cannot even articulate what you need. This leaves many parents vulnerable and exhausted.”

And also this because I just posted how someone is always doing worse:

“Compounding matters, recent disasters—9/11, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the earthquake in Pakistan, and the prolonged conflict in Iraq—remind us all that there are always other people who are worse off. We are taught as children to be happy with what we have since other people have it much harder. It is little wonder we sometimes feel guilty because our ongoing trauma pales in comparison to these catastrophic tragedies.”

Yeah. That.

So, the recommendations in this document are cool. Yeah, I need to find a few more things to personally look forward to and I need to just be ok with being different. I thought I was, but I’m not. And yes, connecting with other parents helps—there’s a delightful notion of finding commonalities in the countless struggles. It is validating, and reinforces that this stuff is “normal’ for this population, but does it make me feel better? Not really. And giving yourself permission to ask for help feels useless when you really can’t put your finger on what really would be helpful other than a good cry that can happen somewhere other than in your master bath with the bedroom and bathroom doors closed, sitting on the toilet because that’s the most private place in the house. #maybeIshouldtrythewalkincloset

On other sites I stumbled over, respite is the be all, end all solution to my resiliency problems. But as a single parent, I don’t have a partner who can pick up some slack and I’m sensitive about how I use the geographically accessible village and I love my sitter service and it’s worth the money, but “respite” makes for a pricey night out before I even leave the house.

So, now what?

Oh, I pray a lot. A lot; a lot.

So here’s my current approach to trying to practice self-care:

Lower expectations. Seriously, I’m lowering them all the way to the floor. Having so many unmet expectations can’t be healthy, so that’s where I’m going to sit down and take a rest for a while.

I’m tired of having expectations that the school counselor is going to respond to my email about bullying on the same day or that I’m actually going to get to play Boggle with Hope when she gets home from school or that some folks in my life will ever meet me where I am on this journey or that the Absurdly Hot Therapist’s scheduler will actually give me a consistent set of appointment dates or that Hope won’t lose her shiz every time she sees a bug as tiny as an ant or that I won’t cry inside when Hope and I go out and I get the crazy eyeballs from people while she’s in the middle of a meltdown because I can’t stop it and I feel like it’s a commentary on what kind of parent I’m perceived to be. I’m tired of a bunch of stuff, even though many things are going well.

I’m just tired of having expectations that are just not going to be met.

I never knew my skin was so thin. Maybe this process just strips so much from you; maybe you need that thick skin coming in just so you have a little reserve when it’s all sloughed off as you progress through the process. I don’t know. I do know that in terms of resiliency, I could use a lot more bounce to the ounce. #rogertroutmanfan

So there’s my current two nickels of thoughts on parental resiliency. Lower expectations to reduce heart and head pain risk. That’s my goal for the next month or so as we move toward finalization.

So, fellow bloggers, readers, parents, how do you keep it together? How do you recharge, how do you make it work?


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