Tag Archives: African-American Adoptions

My Triggers

This morning, Hope and I snapped.


Ok, that’s not true. I snapped.

The morning routine is driving me up the wall. Hope is always running late. She’s rarely ready on time. She misses the bus often. I pack breakfast to- go in order to make sure that she has a solid breakfast. She’s always frazzled before she gets out of the door.

This means that I’m quietly frazzled before she gets out of the door.

It also means that we have zero meaningful conversation in the mornings. Usually I see her for about 90 seconds while she’s shoving her lunch bag in her backpack, grabbing breakfast and a filled water bottle that I’ve prepped. I screech to remind her to take her meds because despite them being *right there* in front of her she manages not to see them. *RIGHT THERE*

My mornings don’t start off being so frazzled. I rise around 5am to exercise and walk Yappy. This morning we walked for 2 miles. I feed him and start prepping breakfasts, coffee, making lunches. I shower and dress, do hair and make-up and resume my work in the kitchen. My own anxiety doesn’t kick in until about 7am, when I start mentally wondering if Hope will make the bus or not for another day.

Over the course of 30 minutes I get more anxious and probably a bit irritable.

By the time Hope comes out, I’m in my own quiet, anxiety spiral.

And today it came out, but what I really wanted to say was left unsaid as we exchanged barbs that continued via text message after she left for the bus.

This morning routine is not what I want. It’s not what it used to be, which is what I grew up with and what I had tenderly fostered for the last couple of years with Hope.

I grew up having breakfast with my family. We watched the news together. We prayed together. We talked about our agendas for the day and what time we would be home. We talked about our after school activities and about upcoming games. We also gossiped about my classmates.

We spent time together.

Since I forced Hope to use her alarm clock and get herself together in the morning, she doesn’t sit down for breakfast with me.

I want her to sit down for breakfast with me. I actually kinda need it. But it’s still new to her, and it’s not something motivating enough for her to hustle to make time for in the busy morning routine.

For the last couple of months, my subconscious has read that as, “She does not find you important enough to spend 10 minutes having breakfast with you.”

That gets extrapolated to: “She does not appreciate how hard you work to make it all happen everyday.”

That gets blown up to: “She is selfish and lazy.”

That goes next level with: “She clearly doesn’t love me, and we might have attachment issues.”

Which climaxes with: “Fine!!!! I don’t like you either! You spoiled, ingrate!!”


And the anti-climax? “Why doesn’t she love me and want to have breakfast with me?”

Meanwhile Hope is like, “I can sleep until 6:30am and be ready 60-65% of the time, and I have a back up bus pass to catch the public bus. I’m good.”

giphy (4)

I now see that. I see the difference in our thinking. I now see that not having breakfast and having those moments to check in with Hope is a trigger for me. It’s not a trigger for her because she gets to prove that she is independent—something I’ve been encouraging for a long time.

Could it actually be that I miss her in the morning? Sigh.

I’m not sure why it’s hard for me to say, “Hey, having breakfast together is important to me. I want to have this time to check in with you in the morning. I’m feeling a little attention starved without a few quality minutes in the morning. I’m willing to limit my expectations to 2-3 days a week. Do you think you could do that for me?” But I know that I haven’t been able to do that. That is a new stretch goal.

Asking someone who seems to have little capacity for themselves to expend some capacity for you is hard. It’s so hard. But I know if I’m not honest with her then I’ll keep feeling this resentment that isn’t fair to my daughter or to me.

I have my own triggers, and those triggers have to do with wanting to spend time with my daughter.  Who knew, especially since she can be a special pill at the moment?

I just want us to have smooth, anxiety free mornings having breakfast with my daughter. Is that so hard to ask for?

Kind of.


Hope has been having body issues lately. As if we needed more drama…but at least teen girl body issues is ‘normal’ right?


I’ve been cooking more. I pack Hope’s lunch daily. Hope supplements everything with junk food. This is also apparently normal for a lot of teens, but we cross over into snack binging when Hope is stressed, which is like, all the time.

After a long chat with AbsurdlyHotTherapist, I decided to phase out most of the snacks in the house and replace them with healthier options. Happily, this means I’m getting closer to my pre-Hope dietary regimen. I never used to have this crap in the house. I grew up thinking Crispix was a sugar cereal! #IDigress The house will soon be stocked with more fruits and veggies. Sure we’ll keep the granola bars, the hummus and pretzels, but the fruit snacks that she binges on are out of here as are the chips.

Hope put on a few pounds last year. She’s tall and the extra pounds fill her out; she looks good. She more or less agrees that she likes her body, but she is concerned about gaining more weight.

The relationship between weight gain, food and exercise are all lost on her.

I exercise regularly, nearly daily. I often invite Hope to join me. It always seems like a good idea to her at first, until she actually has to physically get up to join me.

A couple of weeks ago, I dragged her on a 3 mile walk with me. She dragged her feet, but eventually stopped complaining. It was clear that she enjoyed spending time with me. That night she fell asleep early; she was knocked out.

So, yesterday, on my way home from the office, I called Hope to inform her we were going for a walk when I got home.

She groaned. I told her it was not a request; she was going to walk with me.

I got home, changed and told her, “Let’s go.”

She groaned and put on her jacket. We hit the street and asked about each other’s day.

She told me about a sick friend. We talked about how I was phasing out some of the household snacks. She asked about nutrition. We talked about her problems in geometry and chemistry. She told me that she actually does a lot of reading about Korean culture besides the K-pop scene. I learned her hands really don’t warm up with exercise like mine do. We talked about the weather and pondered why it was so chilly when it was so warm at the beginning of the week. We talked about our hair and nails, and how I keep buying nail polish with the hopes of having time to sit down and paint my nails but never getting around to it.

We talked about her band assessment this week. Her reed cracked during class this week, and she needed to make sure her new reeds were ready before the next performance. We talked about test anxiety and what that looks like and how we might have a little problem with it. We discussed going to the St. Patrick’s day parade this weekend and the need to pick up her glasses at Costco. I asked her if she had any special requests for dinner next week so that I could make the weekend shopping list.

As we were walking back, we talked about how the skyline looked. She pointed out what appeared to be the North Star. She asked about Halley’s Comet, and I told her about how I saw it when I was a young girl so she should see it in her lifetime, when she’s about 60. If I’m lucky, I might get to be around for it a second time too. We stopped walking to look at the sky so we could confirm if it was really the North Star.

It was dark, but just before 7pm. Rush hour was happening in the sky; planes were coming in for landing at the airport a few miles away. We perched on the side of the bridge we were on to count all the planes. I explained why some were low but flying in circles; they were waiting their turn to land. A few planes were taking off. A military helicopter flew by in the direction of the nearby base. We looked up and saw the planes that were maintaining their elevation; they were clearly headed north of the DC area.  We picked out the big and little dippers and a few other constellations. Hope clapped excitedly that she was able to pick out the constellations.  We noticed a few stars that appeared to be more yellow and a few that appeared more red.

Hope’s hands were very cold, her only complaint, so we started walking again. She asked if we could have cocoa, I said of course.

We walked and talked.

As we got close to the door of our building, I told her that I really enjoyed catching up and looking at the stars with her.

Hope replied, “Me too.”

We’ll be walking in the evenings more often.

New Skin

After spending all of 2016 trying to orchestrate Hope’s success, I slid into December exhausted and frustrated. My daughter was frustrated and exhausted. Our relationship felt no better than it did at the beginning of the year.

I feel like I threw out everything I knew and just said, “Eff it. How bad would it be if I just stopped?”

I wrote about that transition.

Here we are nearly 8 weeks later and a calm has fallen over our home. With the exception of the ongoing chatter about all things Kpop, Hope and I seem content, actually happy.

She’s a delight to be around most of the time.

I’m not angry much, so I’m guessing I’m easier to be around too.

We spend time together in the evenings and chat about all kinds of things including politics.

We started planning a grand trip abroad for spring break, and then she asked me if we could go visit family instead.

For three years, I have been trying to help her to build her confidence to ask for what she wants and needs—she’s doing that now.

Some of her trauma-related behaviors are well controlled. We have slid into a period of just regular 1st world teen problems. And you know what? That’s awesome! We’re both closer to normal, delightfully normal.

One day last week, she loaded the dishwasher and tidied the kitchen completely on her own. I was initially suspicious about this, but she said she knew I was tired and it wasn’t a big deal.

I give her a list of a few things to do, and for the most part they get done.

I was chatting with a neighbor this weekend and I just said so proudly, Hope is such a good kid.

I mean, I knew that she was of course, but it’s like she’s sloughed off some of that hurt and that anger.  She still hurts; she’s still angry, she’s still fearful, and sometimes she’s still stuck in the past. But it’s so much less than it was even 3 months ago.

It’s not just that she’s healing. It’s like when you’ve had that big injury and the scab falls off and you know that you’re on the other side of the mountain of healing. You’ve got a ways to go, but you know it’s going to be ok. I can see Hope’s new skin after some of the scabs I’ve nursed for 3 years have finally fallen off. That new “skin” is bright, soft and supple. It’s regaining its color too. She’s going to be ok.

As a parent to a kid who’s experienced so much trauma, I feel like I can breathe again.

It’s like a big inhale, and a lovely 8 count exhale.

I think she’s breathing easier too.

When your kid reaches that turning point in healing, it’s like a bit of freedom for both of you. I feel like maybe I can trust her more now not to freak out over innocuous things. Even her severe fear of bugs is easily managed now (which is great since I no longer fear being pushed out of the car).

I feel like she can trust me more too. She finally is comfortable enough to ask me to order her something or ask to go hang out with friends. She didn’t use to do that. Those are tangible things happening that tell me the trust is real.

The most amazing thing about where we are right now is that since the ongoing crises are over, we have time to really look to the future. Hope is beginning to seriously think about her future now. We’re exploring how she will define what success looks and feels like for her. We’re looking at her post high school options. These are such extraordinary things. It’s not that I didn’t think they would ever happen; it’s that I had no idea when they would.

Last week, she announced that maybe she might want to be a translator one day. She said she might want to move and live in a foreign country at some point to immerse herself in the language. She thought I might be sad.

I was thrilled. My daughter has gone from no dreams to big dreams.

I told her that I will make sure I keep my vacation savings account flush so that I can afford to see visit her and have her show me around.

Saying that it would be a dream come true for her to step into that kind of reality is an understatement.

It’s great when other people tell me that I’m a good mom. It feels weird though when people assume I’m a good mom because I “saved” Hope or that I get a pair of angel wings just because I adopted an adolescent. I politely rebuff those kind sentiments because I know that I just wanted to be a mom, and Hope just needed one and somehow the universe smushed us together.

But sitting down and taking a moment to reflect on where we’ve been and where we are now, well, that makes me feel like I’m getting it mostly right. It builds my own confidence in my parenting. I’m hardly an expert, and I’m certain I’ve probably gotten more wrong than right on many, many, many days. But I love my daughter, and I’ve done everything I can to help her heal, tried to use whatever privilege I have to shield her from harm in any way necessary, and loved her with my whole heart.

Who knew? That recipe seems to work! So, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing. I look forward to continuing this path and helping Hope blossom into whomever and whatever it is that she will become.


Thoughts on Racial Identity Development

I’ve been fretting lately…fretting about Hope and her Blackness or rather her racial development.

Did you know that moving from the initial stage (pre-encounter stage) of racial identity development to the second stage (encounter stage) is usually precipitated by a negative encounter around race for people of color?

In lay terms, we all are getting along peachy keen until some dingbat says/does something racist, pointing out that the brown or black kid is different and that difference is bad.

For me, this happened when I was little, before I even started kindergarten. It’s a moment that I have long likened to eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The evil is knowing that people hate me because of my skin color and might go so far as to hurt and/or kill me. The good is having this knowledge and avoiding the naiveté that might get you killed. Racial identity is built on this foundation. If you are privileged not to have to this experience then your identity as a racialized person is stunted, and your privilege is allowed to bloom, so says the research.

I know that there have been events in Hope’s life that meet the criteria that would push a regular kid to the next stage of racial development, but given all that she’s endured it doesn’t seem to have registered. So much of her development in general was negatively affected. The racial piece, well, maybe it just didn’t register when she was just trying to survive.

I get all that. I really do. That said, racial identity development then is recognized as just another area that has to catch up.

When Hope first moved in 2.5 years ago, I remember being a bit put off because all the posters of pop stars were white, with very, very few exceptions—Selena Gomez, the Black girl in 5th Harmony and Bruno Mars. Turns out there aren’t really any teeny bopper pop stars of color these days. Hope’s not really into Beyonce or Rihanna so…yeah, white kids on the wall it is.

We dealt a little while with colorism and issues around Hope wishing she had lighter brown skin. Ughhhhh, she still vocalizes this when we go shopping for tinted moisturizers (#damnmakeup).

Then I noticed she only liked white or Hispanic boys; there aren’t many Black kids in the band and only like one or two boys and ok, they aren’t her type. So there aren’t many kids of color in her social circles here; they heavily populated her circles back home, but it’s like she left it all behind.

Recently, I realized during a social outing that she deliberately avoids kids of color; she doesn’t even want to associate with them. Same with my efforts to have us “friend date” other families with kids of color. She wants nothing to do with it.

I know she struggled with my version of Blackness; I was really different than the Black folk she had previously experienced. She even told me one time that in some ways it was like I wasn’t really Black. I struggled with that, and I don’t know if it’s my perceived unicorn status or what, but she is ok with me and my bougie, upwardly mobile, educated black folk. But she doesn’t seem interested in accepting the black diaspora.

And maybe it’s too much for me to expect from her at this point. She is still healing from all her trauma, embracing Blackness as an identity is probably not even on her subconscious list of things with which to grapple.

It doesn’t stop my fretting though, as I watch my beloved Hope cloak herself in social Whiteness. Even if I hope it never happens, I know that something will happen, something that will hurt her. I hope that her friends will be wonderful allies. They are good kids, but they aren’t forced to think about the things I think about, the dangers that our color expose us to, they don’t have to think about it unless they choose to.

From a parenting perspective it’s odd; I am glad that she’s bridging some of her social challenges, but I feel some kind of way about her not having any brown or black friends and her refusal to pursue any of those kinds of relationships. I’d love to see a mix of folks in her life who love her and support her. I want her to have safe spaces—sure her White friends can offer that, but I fret that having no friends of color limits her safe spaces if and when something goes down.

Add to this, my abject horror in thinking about police brutality, microaggressions, the resurgence of laws codifying acceptable discrimination and a nation’s willingness to increasingly accept racist discourse.

I worry.

Actually, describing my emotion as worry is an understatement. I am afraid. I’m also aware that all of this has a huge impact on my own well-being. I think the current political environment has exacerbated my emotion around Hope’s racial identity development. It’s complicated. I also know that this process is a natural one; it is not something I can control. I can’t control when, where or how it might happen.

I can only be there for my daughter. That’s it.

But it doesn’t feel like enough. Hugging her tight and soothing her over what might feel like an enormously painful betrayal, just doesn’t feel like enough. Teaching her how to move past it doesn’t feel like enough. Nurturing her healing doesn’t feel like enough.

I wish I could make it all go away. I wish I could make racism all go away. I wish I could make the need for this kind of identity development vanish. I just wish I could protect her from every other thing that might make her path hard; she’s suffered enough. I just want to keep her safe.

But I can’t, not from everything.

I know that, but it still breaks my heart.

Forget about Tomorrow

I used to love The Winans. When I was a kid they had this gospel song called Tomorrow; pretty famous song actually.  I have always loved that song. Last night after a meaningful conversation with Hope, I thought about that song a lot, like a lot a lot.

On the drive back to NoVa from Christmas celebrations down south, Hope and I got to talking about what a beeotch on wheels I’ve been for the last month or so. I tried to explain that this time of year is stressful and sad for me. There’s so much to do, and I also get to remembering all the people I miss so much.  I tend to be reflective this time of year and it takes me a long while to get to the good stuff in reflecting; it doesn’t usually happen until that very last week of the year when I consciously beginning looking forward as I put together my vision board for the next year.

I also really have a hard time with the minimal amount of available sunlight, and, well, I’m just grumpy.  

This year I’ve been thinking about how much life has changed for me, with an emphasis on the hard stuff and I’ve been feeling a little resentful about how hard it is.  It’s just been a really tough fall for me emotionally.

It’s always a tough time for Hope; she’s becoming more open with me about how that’s the case, all the time now. It makes me sad..or rather sad-der.

As she was telling me about her feelings  last night, I asked her what, besides me being less beeotchy, could I do to help her.

LOL, she said, basically be less beeotchy. I chuckled.

She pointed out that I seemed to understand that Yappy does dumb stuff and I don’t punish him harshly, that I understand that as a puppy dog that he’s going to do dumb stuff.  She said, but dogs just want to make their people happy. Why can’t you be more like that with me?

Just understand that she’s going to do dumb stuff that annoys the hell out of me and not flip out and think it’s going to ruin her future.

Well, damn.

Yeah, ok.

I explained to her, as best I could, that I just want so much for her, more than she is capable of wanting for herself right now. I’ve known for sometime that this was a dangerous path for me because It set me up to be critical of everything she does. And while I don’t comment or tell her that I judge everything, I’m sure I’m constantly giving off that energy and that’s not healthy for either of us.

I explained how those desires are rooted in my love for her, but I acknowledged that it meant I probably was rarely meeting her where she was.  I was so focused on “tomorrow” that I was just neglecting her immediate needs for just accepting her awkward-still-trying-to-figure-out-her-adoptive-teen-life.

So, I got to thinking that I’ve really been overthinking some things. Hope needs me to worry about her “today” not her “tomorrow.” She needs me to just zero in on helping her get through each day without worrying if she’s on the path to say, college.  She’s just trying to get through today and get to tomorrow.

As strong as I know she must be to have endured all that she has, she is incredibly fragile. She just can’t process thinking about more than today or maybe to the next weekend.

This is so radical to me because I have always plotted everything; I’m always looking at the macro-view of my life to plot my next steps. Hope is a micro-thinker who needs me to drill down with her to just help her stay on task day to day.

I get it. I admit, that this isn’t new; I heard it before, but I think I really get it this time. I’m really fortunate that Hope can break this down for me sometimes; I can’t imagine having to figure this out with the really little ones! [Bless y’all for home fostering and adopting the littles is a calling…I’m so not built for that!] #Idigress

So, I’ve got to do some rewiring of my own brain to figure out how to better meet her where she is.

[I wonder how many adoptive parents parenting kids with histories of trauma have had before and after PET scans to see whether/how our brains must change to adapt to therapeutic parenting…must hit Google Scholar later…] #Idigressagain

Anyway, Hope announced she was sleepy and drifted off mid-sentence, leaving me to my own thoughts.

Although I see so much talent and promise in my beautiful girl, she is still in survival mode. While I do an ok job at this mom thing, Hope still isn’t feeling safe enough to make the conversion to thinking longer term. We’re still white knuckling it. I mean, I knew I was struggling and I knew she was struggling, but I didn’t realize how my hopes for her wanting more was undermining her ability to just focus on getting through each day.  #boo #parentingfail

All of this got me to thinking about the Winans’ song Tomorrow.  It talks about how we shouldn’t put off salvation until tomorrow because, well, tomorrow isn’t promised to us. In fact, the Holy Homeboy is practically doing jumping jacks to get us to move today rather than waiting for the unpromised tomorrow. The last line of the song urges us to forget about tomorrow because tomorrow might be too late to get on the party train to the pearly gated club up yonder. 

I’m guessing the Holy Homeboy was stepping in to hip me to the fact that Hope needs me to just forget about tomorrow right now and help Hope just get through today.  These early teen years are such a mess for any kid, but I can only imagine what it must be like when you’re dragging an extra bucket of messiness around in your head. I gotta not sweat what things will be like 3 years from now; it will be what it will be. Hope needs me to stay present with her, right here, right now. 

It’s hard for me to put a lot of that desires on ice, but if I want any of that life to be within her grasp, I gotta adapt and help her just maneuver through today.

So, for now, tomorrow is going up on the top shelf in a pretty box with a note saying “Open when you get to tomorrow.”

Thoughts on Charleston

I am really tired of writing about the challenges of feeling unsafe walking around in Black skin, raising a Black child.

I am tired of feeling like it is open season on Black lives.

I am tired of being fearful of watching the news, choosing to binge watch Hulu or Netflix because the reality of living in this skin means that it is more likely than not the news will relay a story of the death of a brother or sister…at the hands of someone White…because that’s what makes national news these days.

Oh sure, yeah, I hear the rumbling excuses used to distract us from living under the threat of social terrorism—“What about Black on Black crime?”

What about it?

I am tired of hearing about why we can’t get serious gun control in the US.

I am tired of seeing, reading, hearing about how White mass killers are “loners with emotional problems” who write racist manifestos, tell friends and family that they want to start a racial war, and are gifted a gun by parents.

I am shocked that this young killer was taken alive, given a bullet-proof vest and humanely taken into custody. That alone seems to be a privilege not afforded to Black folk who are walking down the street.

I fear that a time will come when my economic and educational privilege will be shown, in dramatic and terrifying fashion, not to trump the disadvantage of my skin color.

I am angered by the unmitigated gall of South Carolina to fly what I believe to be the treasonous flag of the Confederacy;  the Confederacy lost. We’re supposed to be a union.

I grieve for the dead:

Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Rev. Sharonda Singleton
Myra Thompson
Tywanza Sanders
Ethel Lee Lance
Cynthia Hurd
Rev. Daniel L. Simmons Sr.
Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor
Susie Jackson

I am so weary of this general subject matter. I feel compelled to write about it too often.

I am scared for Hope. I don’t want to keep explaining this ish to her. There is no explanation. None. I feel a sense of anguish after this massacre in Mother Emanuel. It is shameful. It is horrendous. I don’t know how the families can offer forgiveness. I am clearly not as far in my faith as they are, because I can’t offer that at all.

I am not even sure I can write anything else…the grief, sorrow and anger are just too much. I’ll just end with what my dear friend Mimi said on one of our early Add Water and Stir podcasts: “We’re trying to raise kids here!”

Grinchy Times

This time of the year I struggle.  I always have struggled during what is supposed to be a “joyous season.”

Oh I’m genuinely grateful, and I go through all the motions and rituals of the season attempting to be cheery.


But, I’m not. I am very moody. I brood. I pick fights. I bicker.  I don’t want to listen. I am passive aggressive and trigger finger irritable. And I am often depressed, very depressed. Attempts to cheer me up are received with grins that help me fake my way through what is invariably just being pissy.

It’s very cyclical, predictable and more than just some seasonal affective disorder stuff.  I just spend several months of the year pissy, all out pissy.  Bah humbug.

I wish this year was different.  It’s not, and I’m on the warpath again. It is actually worse this year; it almost feels like the despair I felt shortly after Hope’s placement is heaped on top of my already foul mood.

This isn’t good for what’s supposed to be a healing home, and it’s probably not so good for a hormonal teenager whose mouth I wouldn’t mind gluing shut about 67.89% of the time either.

So, add a couple of doses of guilt and self-loathing to the mix for good measure.

I can’t even withdraw this year; there’s no where to hide.  And there’s only one a person or two to vent to, I mean totally no holds barred venting, because this is supposed to be a joyous time of the year and didn’t I want to be a mom?  And aren’t we getting on so well?

I don’t want to admit that I’m going through a rough time.  I hate how hard of a time I’m having getting myself together and keeping myself functional.

I’m feeling loss acutely at the moment. I’m struggling.  I’m really struggling.

Oh look, another month of 2014 still left.  Oh joy.

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.

Placement Life

Hope is home.

The last 48 hours have been good.  My anxiety level is way lower than it was when she came to visit and I was terrified of messing up.  Sure, I’m anxious, but it’s not what it was.  I’m no longer terrified.  We’ll be ok.

On day one, she wanted to nest at home.  We had our belated Christmas with some presents.  We established some ground rules and expectations that we can build on.  We watched movies, had cocoa and just chilled.  The highlight of the day was when I beat the brakes off of her in Hip Hop Dance Experience on Wii.  If you are in your late 30s and early 40s, you must get this game for your gaming system.  As Hope says, the playlist is BOMB! The game has hip hop songs from the 90s until present.  I was jamming, do you hear me?  JAMMING!  I tried to let her win but then she got mad because she didn’t want a mercy win.  I eventually stopped playing so she could just rack up some points.  I will be secretly up at night playing this game just so I can get my groove on.  Seriously, I sweat my hair out!

We successfully got through our first social worker home visit today and I got the binder for the disclosures.  Honestly—it’s a huge ridiculous binder of every piece of paper captured about her.  I haven’t dug into it yet; I figure I’ll do a little at a time.

The WA social worker is moving to finalize in May, very early and possibly in time for us to just be able to fly out without needing permission for my graduation.  Well there’s motivation to finish, right?

I’m fully aware that we are honeymooning.  We’ve had a couple of tense moments, but no meltdowns.  Everyone recovers quickly.

I think we’re going to be ok.

So I always like to take a minute to reflect on what I’m learning on this journey, so here’s my current list and other random musings about Placement Life:

  • Being called mom, even when she’s pissed, is really frigging awesome. I doubt that it will ever get old.
  • Having the extended visit helped a lot.  I can’t imagine being as keyed up as I was 2 months ago knowing that she wasn’t leaving so I could get myself together.  I got a lot of angst out of my system during and after that visit.
  • The fatigue isn’t as bad either.  Hope’s week night bedtime is 9:30.  Typing that is almost like typing a prayer.  Amen.
  • I am not going to break Hope.  She’s a resilient little someone.  I will be good to her.  I’m sure I will mess up royally from time to time, but she’s going to be ok.  She realizes that this is the real deal and she’s here to stay.
  • I’m learning that saying no is easier than I thought.  I have to say no a lot as she tests boundaries.
  • Poor thing thinks I’ m not drinking because I haven’t used her wine stopper.  If she only knew…
  • I managed not to freak out when eavesdropping on her phone call to a friend last night during which they compared the kissing skills of some boy who apparently hasn’t yet finessed his technique to exclude gnawing off the lips of his paramour.  Technically I wasn’t eavesdropping since she had the phone on speaker <shrug>.  The conversation was hilarious with a capital H, until I was like when the devil did you kiss some boy and almost lose your lips?
  • I was internally gleeful to win at Wii.  I was also stunned by her growth in not having a meltdown about winning, even if it was a mercy win.
  • She trusts me.  That will grow.  That’s cool.

We’re good.  Tomorrow is another nesting day.  Hopefully we’ll be able to get registered for school on Monday.

We’re doing fine.

And I’m waiting for a shoe to drop.  I’m ready.

Day Two: Top Five

The top five things I realized today, Day 2 with Hope.

5. Hope is on the come up.

What, pray tell is the come up, you ask?  It’s when your socio-economic status rises or “comes up.”  I live a comfortable life.  I’m not rich and I dang sure am not wealthy.  I’m comfortable, and Hope will be comfortable.   But Hope thinks I’m rich, a notion I must disabuse her of, and that by adoption, she’s rich.  We’re e traveling a path where she asks for things because she’s testing me and because she wants to show off to her friends back home.

We endured an hour long power struggle during an outing today when she complained either that I wouldn’t buy her anything or that I wouldn’t buy her the things she really wanted.  Hope chose gaudy stuff that was either reminiscent of a rap video (think Run DMC chains) or the biggest bottle available of Justin Bieber’s Girlfriend perfume, even though she admitted she doesn’t really like to wear fragrance.    These things represent a level of affluence for her.  At one point, before attempting to stomp off in a huff, she said what was she supposed to tell her friends back in Washington?

Sigh…We will gently sort this out over time.

4. You haven’t lived until a 12 year old tries to convince you that the 13 year old she’s crushing has a hot body.

No, really this was the highlight of my day.  Had I known I could be having this kind of conversation with my daughter I might have had/adopted kids years ago.  So she’s telling me about some little boy she is digging, and she goes on to describe him and then stops short.  We’ve had these kinds of chats recently about boys; I’m careful not to overreact to her crush confabs.  We’ve been building some trust currency during these chats about boys so she’s increasingly forthcoming.

When she stopped, I probed.  “So…what is it?  He’s cute, pretty eyes, curly hair…Are light skinned brothas back in style?” She giggled and replied, “You’re close but not really…” “Oh, so we’re talking about his body, ok.  Spill the deets.”  “OMG when he takes his shirt off…(ABM’s internal alarm goes off:  when the hell have you been privy to seeing him disrobe???)…his chest….”   Oh, ok, so he’s got a nice body at 13???  Really?  “Yeah, he doesn’t look his age, he looks a little older.”

What, his birdcage chest looks 15?

Girl, bye!!!

Seriously, these conversations are both hilarious and enlightening.  I know that Hope will need vigilant supervision, but she can crush all she wants as long as she tells me.   I was only a little older than her when I fantasized that I was going to have Ralph Tresvant’s (New Edition) baby one day.

3. My girl misses her dad Every. Single. Day.

I’ve often told friends and family that I believe grief to be a horribly destructive emotion.  It’s such an amalgamation of so many other messy emotions—sadness, hurt, anger, loss…It’s just wicked.  I’ve heard stories about Hope’s dad that didn’t paint him in a very good light.  He’s gone now, but Hope has him up on an incredible pedestal.   He was her primary parent, and she adored him.  And then he was gone.  And people said bad things about him and said to get over it.  She hasn’t.  It’s going to take more time and a lot more maturity to get her to a place where she can really handle that loss in a healthy way.  She talks about him a lot, and I’m ok with that.  He isn’t a threat to me.  I don’t intend to try to make her stop missing him or to totally rewrite the history she’s constructed to help her remember him.  It is what it is.  It will take her time to get there.  Her grief makes me sad though.

2.  I know that she really doesn’t want to be pack leader, sulking notwithstanding.

For the most part, Hope is good about how we are constructing boundaries for her.   Since she’s out of school, we have designated school time.  There’s tablet time, which thanks to a nifty app shuts ish down!  We had an epic negotiation session over brunch about chores, allowance and behavioral expectations.  In short, Hope was happy with the boundaries as long as they were laid out, some things were negotiated and the consequences—both positive and negative–were clear.

That was fine until I the screen time app kicked her out of a game and she didn’t win her last game of solitaire before screen time expired and I ixnay’d hooking her DS to the house wifi.  And let me tell you, her sulking stomp game is strong.   The screen time combos sent her into a pout spiral on the couch.  She argued that she had not won one game of solitaire yet; I replied, well maybe tomorrow will fare better.  And she went all, “Mr. Gorbachev , tear down that wall” on me.  <blank stare>

Again, girl, bye.

She nearly went apoplectic when I said she would have to earn my trust in her on the internet post placement to get wifi access to the internet on her DS.  Internet access will be a relatively new thing for her, and I’m not interested seeing it abused.  Also, I know she is young and not too discerning about folks so she needs a heavy hand around the access issue.  Even if and when I said yes, I’d have to set it up to change the password daily in order for both of us to really make it work.

Whatever the scenario and ensuing meltdown, Hope longs to feel safe and secure.  She needs to know I care and that our extended family cares.  Being the boss is hard work that she really doesn’t want to do.  She wants to be a kid.  I’ll let her flex from time to time, but Mom’s the boss with ultimate veto power.  She don’t want none of this responsibility, not really.

1. I am so a morning person and Hope is not.  I know I will be the one to do the primary adapting.

And it’s ok.  No, really it is.  Change is good.  Reframing productivity and success is good.  There shouldn’t be any sob stories for my lost productivity or any whining about why Hope doesn’t like mornings.  Besides, did you really think I didn’t think my life would get turned upside down?

We are creatures of habit and preference.  Mine happen to be early to rise and conquer the world.  Hers happen to be rise around midday and world domination can wait until evening.  She is at her most active and most productive between the hours of 4 and 7pm.  I see it and I feel it. It is exhausting since I start winding down around 2pm; I am most productive between 5-10am.  But this is how she’s wired.

Some days I will learn to sit down more and some days she will be up with the proverbial chickens.  I’ll still get my before dawn workouts in and my morning quiet, reflection time.  I hope to get some writing done tomorrow morning before she gets up.  I look forward to adapting to a more lively afternoon life, when normally I’m winding down.  It’s really all good.

Oh there’s so much more I could write.  Stay tuned for an interesting hair focused post as she emotionally toys with wearing her hair out when she moves here permanently.  Just two days and seeing me with my hair and so many naturalistas walking around the DC area, and she’s thinking.   It’s good stuff.

My Mind on Paper

The Inspired Writing of Kevin D. Hofmann

Mimi Robinson Online

One black woman's journey through infertility, adoption and now being a SAHM

My Wonderfully Unexpected Journey

When Life Grabbed Me By The Ears

Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

These are the adventures of one family in foster care and adoption.


finding the balance between being a mom and a marketing maven

Stephanie Rodda

Pondering Faith and Family


an adoption support community

Fighting for Answers

Tales from an adoption journey


Because of course race and culture matter.

SJW - Stuck in the Middle

The Life of Biracial Transracial Adoptee

Pryvate Parts

I'll show you mine ...


Let's be honest. Adoption isn't easy, pretty, or fun. Except when it is.

Becoming A Mama

A Reflective Blog About Pursuing Motherhood

Harlow's Monkey

an unapologetic look at transracial and transnational adoption

This Side of The Diaper

One Guy's Experiences as a Stay at Home Dad