Tag Archives: African Americans Adoption

So Much Love for Hope

This parenting thing is hard. It really is.

Parenting, in general, is tough.

Parenting a kid who has seen some things and gone through some stuff is especially tough.

There are days when it brings me to tears for so many sad, sad reasons.

And then sometimes, often when Hope isn’t even around when the rush of emotions warm me from the inside out.

I love my daughter.

Oh don’t get me wrong, not only is parenting tough, and this teen girl thing? Um, yeah, it’s a beeotch. The snarkiness, the attitude, the occasional defiance, the mood swings. It’s crazy with a capital C.

But this person, this soul for whom I’m responsible, I am totally in love with her. Madly in love with her.

Last night we sat on the couch and I watched her snarf down a Big Mac and fries after a very long day of school, band practice and tutoring. She was exhausted. I sat at one end of the couch, she at the other and Yappy in between us.

I studied her. I saw her tired, but relaxed, content, fully absorbed in this life we’ve created together.

I could never have imagined that this family of mine would exist.

This morning I got up early to do her hair for picture day. I fixed her breakfast. I ran a pair of hoop earrings up to the school after school started so she had them in time for her sitting.

As I was pulling into the parking lot, I just thought about how much I love this kid. My heart actually hurt with so much love and gratitude for her.

I also thought about how much her parents must have loved her; in spite of whatever problems they may have had. I just know that they loved her; they had to love her! I don’t know how they couldn’t; she’s just marvelous.

I drove her to school yesterday, and we immensely enjoyed the extra 20 minutes we had together. We joked and teased one another.

It is in these moments that I am just so overwhelmed with emotion.

I love her.

I love her even when I’m nagging her about her room and her homework and walking the dog.

I love her when I watch her sleep, covers strewn about.

I love her when she says, “Hey mom, we should…” which is her indirect way of asking if we can do something fun.

I love her when she is a total pain in my ass.

Love doesn’t really describe this emotion. Although I still grieve about the inability to conceive and carry a biological child, I can’t imagine loving such a child any more than I love Hope.

I adore her.


Social Studies

School is about to start, and I am delighted that Hope and I will be back on a nice fixed schedule. The funny thing is, that I’ve just finished putting all of her band stuff on my calendar so that I can see how things track with my travel this fall, and I’ve come to the conclusion that life as I know it is really over until November.

Sweet, HeyZeus, I’ve pleasantly let myself wallow in denial about how consuming this marching band thing would be until the last few days.

Band kids and band mom-ing is, apparently, a lifestyle.

Yes, a lifestyle.

And I am kind of freaking out about how I’m supposed to navigate the schedule, the parental expectations and all of the nuance of social-band-parenting.

Hope just finished up two grueling weeks of band camp, which started at 7am and ended at 4:45pm. (BTW, she is now a dark chocolately shade that makes me swoon over her brown skin ala India Arie. She’s not thrilled about being dark, thanks to all the colorism she has internalized, but that’s a post for another day). Hope has made numerous friends, developed a few flutterby-life-cycle crushes and has inside jokes that only band kids know. She has developed a relationship with her new “people” for high school and I’m grateful that band has provided that for her.

Me? I have no effing idea where I belong.

This spring I wrote about my realization about being a ‘band mom’ and how I noticed that my own behavior was, shall we say…off at one of the last band parent concerts of 8th grade.

So, sadly, nothing about that has changed. I still have no idea what the heck is going on with this band lifestyle that I tripped into.

Last week the band parents’ association met before hosting a BBQ for the parents and the kids. I learned that I would need to come to a lot of meetings; I would need to raise a lot of money; I would need to volunteer a lot of time to this band thing.

Ok, intellectually I knew that; but I’m not much of a joiner and the non-conformist in me has an immediate knee-jerk rebelling reaction. I know I have to get over that and probably stop screaming on the inside, “Can’t I just, like, write you a check each month to cover some stuff?”

There are tons of activities; like for instance, there is a “Tag Day”(didn’t even know what it was, so I surreptitiously looked it up with my phone under the table) coming up and the organization is asking for volunteers for the all-day activity. You should know that any day that is promoted as an all-day event for Hope is considered a much needed day of respite for this single parent. I had no idea what a Tag Day was, but I immediately thought I needed to call a masseuse and book an appointment for Tag Day, which might just become a holiday of sorts for me.

Then the signup sheet came swishing by…and guilt set in. I eventually willed myself to stay with my massage plan, only because I knew I wouldn’t get out of something else later in the season.

There was gleeful talk about how the band got invited to Disney last year, and I panicked about what would be necessary to fund such an endeavor and the possible combination of three of my least favorite things: Disney, begging for money and chaperoning (I lost a kid in a museum last year, nearly triggering an Amber alert for a wayward, little deviant who ran off from my group).

Then there was the updates about meetings, purchasing spirit wear, and the need for more volunteers for everything and I just was so overwhelmed. The other freshmen parents were kind of scattered about in the room and I didn’t recognize most of the people. I was appalled that the parents have to raise money for things like having the band uniforms cleaned (budget cuts) and equipment repairs (budget cuts).

By the time the meeting wrapped I was feeling exhausted from the financial needs to support a band a public school, thinking about how I, as a single parent, would best use my time and skills to be supportive without being consumed and whether I could make some much needed friends with other band parents.

So, the band BBQ starts and parents who knew each other were chatty Cathy’s—but initially only with each other. I, again, thought I’d sidle over to the 3 other brown parents; nope no willingness to have benign chatter with me over baked beans. After checking my breath to make sure I wasn’t poopy breathed, I slid back into my seat from the meeting, hoping to chat up the folks dining at the table. I drop into the conversation about how the one family’s kid is just so far advanced and he’s taught himself like 7 instruments and how it’s just so difficult to find adequate music coaches for his talent and oh, by the way, they are buying him an SUV when he gets his license this fall.

Um, ok.

Shifts seat to the left to hear more about this other family’s daughter who is doing marching band for the first time so she can try something different given how she’s always played volleyball during band season. Scouts are looking at her, but she just wanted to try something different since she’s been in private lessons for flute and piccolo for YEARS. She’s really gifted at both instruments and sports.

Siigh. Ok.

I get the bragging on kids, I do, and I can brag on Hope, but our accomplishments are so different and don’t seem to fit the conversational paradigm.

And being braggarts is something for which metro DC folks are famous. We say, “Hi! So, what do you do?” when we first meet you to assess where you rank socially and whether a potential relationship can be advantageous to us. Socially the business card exchange in DC is akin to a hook up, and if it’s a high rank, it can be nearly orgasmic. (A couple of years ago the CEO of a major, major pharma company gave me his cell phone number; internally I did a dance of joy because this number was coveted! My boss didn’t even have it.).

Hope just recently got over the notion that she could grow up to be Beyonce, yet is still asking if she might be considered a musical prodigy. Talented: yes. Prodigy? No, dear heart.

So there I was, thinking to myself, well, I want to fit in but I loathe playing this game with my kid because it’s just a no win.

My contribution is that Hope is in private lessons with a pianist who can trace her training lineage back to Mozart. #eyeroll It must’ve worked because someone asked if she was taking on new students and if I could share her number (I didn’t mention that her house smells like cat pee).

The crazy thing is that it is perfectly ok for Hope to be at the level she’s at. I wish she would practice more because I do see her raw talent, but given what she’s endured, she’s just fine. For now this is a great school activity; I don’t know if it will turn into something more. I resent feeling like I have to do all this volunteer stuff and compete socially on Hope’s musicality.

I’d also be lying if I didn’t write that I resent having to be consumed with Hope’s activities, but I recognize that as my own personal adoptive parent of an older child growing pain. It’s an ongoing friction concerning my focus on what I feel like I have to give up in parenting, rather than focusing on what I get in parenting.

It sucks.

I’m hoping that I can sort a lot of this out in the coming weeks and that my study of the band parenting social ecosystem gets easier and that the learning curve gets shorter. I hope I can get over my own issues. I hope that, like Hope, I can find my people in the band parents’ organization. Most of all, I hope I can have fun with Hope during this band season; I can already see her growing and trying to figure out her own social stuff. I’m hopeful that this trend will continue.

For now though, I’ll order myself that overpriced band booster jacket that will match Hope’s overpriced band spirit wear and I’ll figure how best to leverage a good time out of this thing.


AWAS 026: Making the Big Move

On the next episode of Add Water and Stir, Mimi and ABM talk about helping foster and adoptive kids make the transition home.  Transitions can be hard for our kids; often they’ve been shuttled about before a match is made.  It takes time to build trust, to reduce anxiety and to help kids feel safe. These can also be trying times for parents too, and self-care can be a low priority.

On the second segment of the show, the ladies will discuss college savings for adoptees and foster kids. With older kids, time to save may be limited. ABM and Mimi will talk about their strategies for helping their daughters plan for the future.

Of course, no episode of Add Water would be complete without a brief confab about the latest in pop culture!

Join ABM and Mimi live on Thursday, August 20 at 9pm EDT/8pm CDT on Google+!

Or listen to us from our podcast page, addwaterandstirpodcast.com, or on Itunes and Stitcher! Don’t forget to give us a 5 star rating and tell a friend about the show!

Feel free to tell us about your transition story below!


Talking about #Ferguson

Oy!  My mind has been in a million places this week.  Apologies for the mistaken title and reference.

_____________________

Hope and I were in a bit of a bubble for the last week and half or so. After I made the decision to say goodbye to The Furry One, I just kind of shut down. Truth be told I’m still kind of closed for business, but that’s for another post. We certainly were aware that Michael Brown was killed by a police officer. I was aware of the decline of Jefferson into a bit of chaos over the last week, but mentally and emotionally I was elsewhere. There was a lot of Disney Channel watching. There was a lot of Shark Week. There was little news watching, together anyway.

I would watch the news late at night. Read the news articles, watch videos, read blogs about Brown, his death, the frustrated, hurt and angry town besieged by tanks, snipers and a media circus. My heart hurt. My head hurt. I’d turn it off and return to my own grief. I’ve done this every day for 10 days.

Last night I told Hope we were going to watch Anderson 360 to.

Sigh. She whined. And then she started to watch. Then she started to wonder out loud and the questions came.

The questions she had. The commentary on race. How she described what she was hearing, thinking, seeing, believing. It’s disheartening. She deconstructed *everything.* I hardly know what to even say about it all.

The idea that somehow she has to be less threatening to others as a young black child…we talked about that. There was a lot of, “…and that’s why mom tells you to…” do something that is a tactic to be as non-threatening as possible. You have to earn the right to be completely authentic, delightfully and meaningfully confrontational and candid as a brown child. Not everyone will be comfortable with that you. These were difficult things I told her.

She hates the police. She sees them as the “system.” She’s always been very data-driven and evidence based, and Hope’s evidence says, most compellingly, that the system and all its players are not to be trusted. I wonder whether she will always have such distrust. I shudder at how she might react to being confronted by law enforcement. I cry when I think that she might be killed because of her lack of trust in those who are sworn to protect and serve.

Her anger, and mine, about an unarmed young man, just 5 years her senior, being shot in the street and left there for hours was palpable. I think she would march in the streets if she could. I would so be there with her.

I’ve been thinking about all the code-switching I’ve been trying to teach her. These lessons are second nature to me, but she questions me all the time about them. “But why do I have to….” “Because,” I reply, “You don’t want people thinking XX about you.” What I really mean is, you will find a lot of White people who think XX about you already, and you can’t give them any reason to keep believing that or worse: you need to make the White people around you feel comfortable.

Grammy has long told me this world is made for the comfort of a dominant few.

I don’t want to teach my kid to not like or trust any group of people. But I also have a responsibility to talk about and teach her ways to navigate in brown skin. I wish it wasn’t different, but it is. It’s a blessing to be privileged in so many ways, but to lack privilege in something so obvious as the color of our skin…

Sigh. It’s hard to discuss and explain to a 13 year old who’s only lived with me since January. I remember when she asked me months ago why was it ok to kill Black boys? It must be ok because it happens with alarming frequency followed by narratives that paint the kids as deserving of their plight and a killer walking away into the sunset. That’s what she sees. A lot of times that’s what I see.

I’ve been doing diversity work for more than a decade. I’m good at it too. But now, with my own kid, with her unique history…it’s a whole different ball game.

There’s so very much more I could stumble through on this topic in this space but I’m going to just have to leave this right here for the moment.  There’s been another shooting in St. Louis.

Sigh. #JusticeforMikeBrown

 


Only 5 Days Left: Top Five

She goes home in 5 days.  The next time she comes it will be to stay.  I am looking forward to taking her back and dreading the separation all the same.  Today was a bit more sanity-grasping.  I’m still tired, but I feel like there’s still some functionality I can squeeze out.

5. Sometimes God allows you to see someone else’s reality check and allows you to be blessed by the observation. 

Grammy came to visit.  Bless her heart.   She came with a photo album and high expectations of being grandma.  I so wish she could’ve had the experience she dreamed about.

Instead, Grammy got a serious reality check.  Hope avoided her like the plague.  She was impulsive during the visit.  She ignored her at various stages, she was a little obnoxious.  She chattered nearly the entire time.  She was as polite as my scared little biting hila monster could be, under the circumstances.

After the last week and a half, I deemed the visit actually successful because I know what could’ve happened.  I was happy and proud that my girl kept it together a bit—not one meltdown.  Given where we are and how we’re doing, there wasn’t even a single meltdown.  Really it was an act of God.

Grammy was stunned that Hope’s behavior could be deemed a success.  After she left she was like, “You guys (my sisters and me) weren’t like that.  I don’t think I could stand for that behavior.”

Ah, welcome to my world.  I’ve been trying to tell her what it’s like.  She wasn’t buying it.  She told me what I needed to work on with Hope, in her opinion.  I told her which things were mountains and which things were parking lots on her list—which was mostly parking lots.  I’m trying really hard not to die in a parking lot; dying trudging up mountains is good; parking lots are a waste of time.   I’ve recently died in several parking lots—it is not worth it.

I think she gets it now; or at least she gets some of it.  I got some validation that yeah, I’ve got a lot going on in Casa ABM.  It ain’t easy.

I needed that validation, and I really needed it from Grammy whom I adore, but if you read this blog regularly, you know that Grammy can get on my nerves something terrible.  Hearing her acknowledge that things aren’t as she thought they would be or that I’m good mom trying to do right meant the world to me.

4.  Bedtime is a mountain I am willing to die on. 

The exhaustion, now more from walking on eggshells all day, is so absurd that I am insistent about the 10pm shutdown.  Anything later will render me nearly incapacitated and will only guarantee that we will have blowups because the battery is just too low for me to have any patience control.   The latest power struggle was adhering to bedtime.  I repeatedly told her I loved her every time I told her she had to go to bed NOW.

I felt like Dr. Suess:  You can go to bed in your clothes, you can go to bed without meds, you can go to bed with socks, you can go to bed on the couch, on the floor, at the jamb of the door.  Oh, but please believe these lights are out now!!!  Now dammit, now.

I filled her humidifier.  Clicked out the lights and strolled to my bedroom, while she sat on the couch in the dark.  Took homegirl about 3 minutes to realize that she wasn’t about that couch surfing life and got ready for bed.  Got her water, refilled the water carafe, took her meds and cutoff her own light.  I went in to kiss her goodnight afterward.

This was such a major win today.  We won—both of us.

3. She’s terrified, and I wish there was a magic thing I could say or do to make it better. 

But there isn’t a magic thing.  We will go through this cycle for a good long while.  I have no idea how I’m going to get this dissertation written.  It’ll get done, but I really don’t know how.

Last night Hope confided a lot of her fears about moving.  At one point she said she didn’t want to live the rest of her life here, but she was afraid if she didn’t move here she wouldn’t have a family.  She wondered if giving this chance up and remaining in the system was a worthwhile choice/risk for her.  It was heartbreaking.  I honestly can’t imagine what it all must feel like for her.

I love her so much, even when she is being a first class hellion.  I’m moving into that space where I can try to take a moment to just breathe and remember how she got to this moment.  That’s got to be what brings me back to how best to handle things.

2. I have a wonderful primary care doc who managed to help both of us today.

As I was going in for some “please scrape me off of the ceiling” medication this morning, Hope became afflicted with one of her now infamous maladies—the trusty sudden ear infection that also prevents swallowing.  She informed me and everyone who would listen that she hadn’t swallowed at all during the 7 mile drive to the doc’s office.

Blessed be, doc had a medical student in the office today for shadowing.  Hope got the full service treatment by the med student while I begged like my life depended on it for anti-anxiety/anti-depression/anti-keep-me-from-losing-my-mind drugs.    Then she got a second once over by doc, who diagnosed her ear infection free, though she does have TMJ and some repetitive stress in her wrist from gaming.   Round the clock ibuprofen…awesome.

I knew she was doing it for attention.  She was busted but the TMJ diagnosis gave her a little cover to save face on.

She had another sudden onset this evening, and after I put on my shoes and grabbed my coat to head to the ER to see about this chronic issue she slipped, again, into some kind of remission.  I’m sure it will be back.   I was just glad that my doc did and said all the things I needed him to say for me and for her.  It was a good experience all around.

And yes, I got some short term drugs and we’ll reevaluate my pharma needs after her official placement in a few weeks.  Blessed be.

1.  This will power me through some tough days ahead. 

She handed this to me at the end of lunch yesterday.  I nearly cried.  I have put it with my important papers and prized possessions.  It is why I’ve popped my pills, put on my pjs and committed to doing it all over again tomorrow.  I’m not sure what else I want or need to say about it.

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