- I totally meant to write yesterday, but here we are.
- I’ve now added mid-week baths to my self-care routine. I add a bunch of epsom salt and some bubble baths. I only stay in for about 20-30 minutes, but gosh it feels sooo good and I sleep so well.
- My condo building had another fire this morning, and now things are smokey again. Second fire in 2 months. We’re fine and no property damage for us, but oy, this can’t become a monthly thing.
- The death of Ma’Khia Bryant has hurt my soul so deeply. She was a foster child. I weep for her biological family, having now lost her twice.
- I’m normally very defensive of foster parents, but where the hell were they? There are reports than the fight against these grown women that day wasn’t the first time they had come after Ma’Khia. Why…how did the foster parent let this happen. I’ve seen reports that she had encouraged the bullying at times. Those folks had one job: to keep this girl safe and as whole as possible if and until her biological or future adoptive family could provide care.
- And yet Ma’Khia is gone. And to hear folks on the web tell it, foster kids are “problem kids”…it’s the same rhetoric we hear the begin to rationalize the murder of a grown man who might’ve tried to pass a fake $20 at the local bodega. EVEN if it were true, does that warrant immediate death?
- My therapist shared that she’s had to disarm knife and gun wielding folks…and she did it without any weapons and with no injuries.
- I’m just so angry and so, so, so sad.
- That could very well have been Hope. I barely know what to do with that thought.
- I’ve been cooking lately. Nothing fancy, but still yummy. We had ravioli with a meatball sauce today. It was yum.
- According to my zoom picture, I’ve gained a few pounds over the last month or two. Got to reign it back in.
- I typed that knowing full and damn well that I’m headed back to the kitchen for another sliver of the cake I made today.
- Judge me or whatever.
- Hope’s allergies are the worst they’ve been since she moved here. Daily I tell her to take her allergy tabs, irrigate her nasal ways, and take a half benadryl at the first sniff of trouble. Of course, she doesn’t, so I”ve been listening to her sniff since about 5pm. She finally just took some benadryl.
- Hope is *still* looking for a job. She hasn’t even had a nibble. I’m not sure what it all means, but we both agree, she needs to get up and out for her overall wellbeing.
- Ok, I’m out…right after I go get that little piece of cake.
Tag Archives: foster care
Hope and I have settled into a nice routine of semi-daily texts and 1 phone call a week to catch up and talk shop.
The “catch up” part is really what’s going on in our lives. The “talk shop” part is derivative of the first—it’s how we talk about the things we need to do as a result of the “catch up” part.
If I’m lucky, I get a 2nd call a week because Hope misses me and just wants to chat for a few minutes.
The texts are pictures of Yappy (which as decreased because she can see every pic on our google folder for Yappy), memes, quick check ins and good nites.
I’m really loving this rhythm and what it represents: Good attachment!
I feel good about that. I’m also thrilled that I’ve managed to train Hope to tell me the important stuff by phone and let’s keep texting fun and not the place for good chats. I’m hoping that she is able to transfer that concept to her general texting interactions. #stillparenting
She doesn’t ask me to send her random stuff anymore. I nipped that in the bud after the first month. She proudly told me that she gets her groceries delivered to campus each week. Good for her, but “groceries?” I reminded her about that ‘generous’ meal plan I’m on the hook for…use it. I’m thrilled she figured out how to get what she needed.
Each conversation I see Hope growing a little. I hear her struggles but also how she is trying to problem solve things. I don’t hear too many excuses anymore. The biggest realization is that my opinion means a lot to her and that she trusts me as a knowledgeable human.
May every parent have this moment because like Jesus, I wept. Of course my tears were from joy.
This is the period of life, those adolescent years, when you just think that you are the schitts. You know EVERYTHING. And if you didn’t know it, someone in your peer circle probably knew it just like you probably knew that one rando thing that they didn’t know. And you think that anyone over the age of maybe 25 was pushing off to the nursing home any day and couldn’t possibly know more than you because they have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel and had no doubt lost so many brain cells that they should be on a mush diet.
Yeah, you know the age.
Y’all we are past it.
Hope doesn’t just want my opinion, she actually thinks I’m smart, like really smart. She knows I don’t know everything, but she knows that I know a lot, certainly way more than her. So Hope will text me questions; she will have deeper philosophical conversations with me. And in the moments when our chats are delving into “advice” territory, she actually pushes through the conversation, prompting, asking me for my thoughts and insights.
It’s really startling.
Of course then she will send me a video of someone trying to light farts. #disturbing #cantunsee
We have a ways to go yet.
Our chat a few days ago covered this knee injury she has, her recent cold, her grades, realizations about her ADHD and her upcoming trip home for the weekend that slid into us talking shop.
The student health clinic wanted to refer Hope to a specialist about her knee. We discussed and decided that she would see our GP when she came home this week and go from there. She’s happily over her cold, which I think developed from sinusitis and allergies. She said I might be on to something there. I told her she needed to get some Tylenol or scope out a kid on the hall whose parents remembered to pack Tylenol (I sent her with the gigantic jar of Advil. Whatever she can trade).
She confessed to not turning everything in on time and why and how she’s struggling to control her ADHD symptoms in the afternoon. I told her she should talk to our GP about that as well since he’s handling medication management these days. I told her I didn’t want him to hear it second hand (from me) and that she could just call the office to talk to him about her symptoms since we’re in a practice that allows that. She paused, toying with just asking me to do it or with the idea of dropping it. She said, send me his number. Since I’m coming home to see the doc can I talk to him about this too with him?
Me grinning on the other end of the call; “Yep.”
We talked about a hair appointment; she said she didn’t know what she wanted to do with her hair. I didn’t press but said, well, I found some salons in your neck of the woods that do Black natural hair. When you’re ready just make an appointment and check in with me to see if you need extra money to get it done. We verbally shook on it.
I swear boards of directors could take a page on the efficiency of our “talk shop” conversations. They’ve evolved and it’s really cool. It means we’re on the same page—What has to get done? What needs a step towards a solution?
And even more cool, Hope has real, cogent ideas about solutions. She may have even tried an idea or two before telling me. We’re beyond the, “maybe Beyonce’s foundation will pick us…” days. #girlwhat?
Oh there are many days when she has ridiculous ideas mixed in (all the time), but she’s more confident about all of her ideas and sharing them with me.
I don’t want to make it seem that all of the drama we have endured isn’t still there. I think that Hope and I have a bit more clarity about it and how it affects her and us. Hope is still well below her peers in overall maturity. She still is a vulnerable girl prone to being overwhelmed and succumbing to some specific kinds of peer pressure. She is not nearly as fragile as she once was, but she’s still somewhat fragile.
The patina of trauma that once was sooooo thick it just masked her is much thinner, but still very much a part of her. It covers her. I hear it in some of the pauses in our conversations about certain things. I feel it when she says she misses me. I see it when she is sad. I see it even in moments of joy. I see her conquering it slowly, but it is there.
There are many, many things we still talk about that my friends have already discussed with their 10-year-olds. Hope was in the system when she was 10. She moved a few times that year. She managed to progress to the next grade, but the lack of permanence was still there and would still be there for many months to come. And there were countless moments preceding her 10 years that led to predicament Hope found herself in at that tender age.
I hear all of that when I talk to Hope too. It’s still there. And I’m amazed to she her still pressing forward in spite of all of it. But, it’s still there, and it’s still hard for her and for me.
I’m so excited that she will be here for a few days next week. She hasn’t been home since she left in mid-August. I’m looking forward to fun chats, a happy dog, all around goofiness and to learn more about Hope in this new chapter of her life.
The more I learn about her, the more I learn about me.
Do you talk about being adopted much with your friends? Do you notice that you gravitate towards peers that have been adopted?
I have only really talked about it to my friends if a question regarding where I’m from comes up.
I have a few friends that are adopted, but that’s something that I usually don’t find out about until we’ve already been friends for some time; so I would say, no, I don’t gravitate towards others who have been adopted. I’ve known the same little group of people since I’ve been here, and that is who I stay with unless I meet someone new that I click with.
Do you think you would have accepted being adopted if you were older, like 15/16?
I’m not really sure about that, it was never something that I have ever really thought about.
While I was in the system the one thought that came to me many times was that I would just age out and move into my own apartment with some support. I think that if I was an older teen and an opportunity for adoption came up, I think that I would definitely be ok with it, I’d actually be glad and probably happy about it. Although at that point, I may have become discouraged because of how long it took for me to be noticed, but I don’t think that I would ever turn down such an opportunity.
I think that the possibility of me declining would depend on a lot, such as how far the adopter is (location) or just how I feel about moving at that time. If I were to be adopted at that at age, I would be starting or in the middle of high school.
What do you think would make the foster care system better? What advice would you give to kids first coming into foster care and what would you say to the foster parents as well?
Well, in my opinion, the foster care system needs a lot of work. It’s not the best although I know that sometimes they are just working with what they are given. I think that the system needs to be more thoughtful when choosing who is eligible to foster because some people do it just because they can get some cash for housing the kid. Sometimes it’s not even the foster parents themselves [who are the problem], but their own biological children, if they have any. I know everyone has a different experience in the system, but I can say from my own experience that it wasn’t all that fantastic but not every home was bad.
Another thing that I think would be a great improvement for the foster system is that the social workers are checked as well because some of them don’t fulfill their duties and just skim through the process, even though they are supposed to be one person the child is able to look to for help.
As for advice, I don’t know if I really have much advice to give since there isn’t much on the child’s part to do once they are placed in a home. One thing I definitely would say is to not let the foster parents you are placed with treat you any kind of way, tell your social worker. Don’t run away from your foster home, that’ll probably make it more difficult for them to try and get you adopted, and it will put you in a bad spot. It would be easier to just ask the social worker to move houses if the situation is really not working or if they are just nasty people with a bad attitude.
For the foster parents, if you have biological children and are fostering as well, please treat them like you would your own children. They are probably already having a difficult time or have had a difficult time. The mistreatment can stick with them and affect them later on, which makes it hard to really trust or believe in any other adults. Pay attention to them and don’t tell them every 5 seconds what they may or may not be doing wrong. Foster kids need encouragement and positivity to get through it all. Don’t assume you know what they are going through or know what they feel like, regardless of how long you have been fostering. You aren’t them, so just listen to them.
If she were able to chat with kids still waiting for their very own Adoptive Black Mom, how would she coach them up, i.e., help them understand what to expect and how to emotionally prepare for life with a Forever Family?
Well, for everyone it’s different and the environment that they go to will be different for everyone. One thing that I would tell them is that they should really be serious and think when they are asked about their parental preferences and the kind of environment that they want to live in. When they do finally meet the family for them, both parts [prospective parents and kids] have to work together in order for it work out. If you can, tell your parent about things that help you and about things that upset you. Letting them know some things can really help with them in helping you and understanding your actions/behaviors. Don’t expect something super perfect; parents are people just like you are and they go through things the same as you. If you are having a hard time, let them know.
What is the best response an adoptive parent could give to a kid who is saying something to the effect of, I hate you, you are the worst parents ever.
I don’t really know. I’m sure at some point all kids biological or adopted have said something like “I hate you, you are the worst parents ever.” That’s just how kids are and I’m sure at some point everyone has said or thought the same thing about their own kid or about their own parents. #itsnormal
In terms of what the response should be, I don’t really know, but I do know that an aggressive approach may not be the best choice. Everyone probably just needs time to cool down. I do think that as the parent you shouldn’t just let it go, but I also wouldn’t recommend making a humongous deal about it. Lastly, I think that this is more likely to happen during the adjustment period and is probably just a part of the cycle.
What are best and hardest things about being adopted as an older kid?
Being in school, at some point talk of one’s parents comes up eventually and so for a while, I was constantly telling others that I was adopted and that I wasn’t from Virginia. Mostly this happened because I came halfway through the year.
One of the better things I guess is because I was older, I didn’t have to worry about losing any more friends that I made from moving around. I was able to keep friends from that time onward.
What are you most excited and nervous about as you enter (young) adulthood?
I don’t think that there is anything that I am particularly excited or nervous about. I’ve spent the past school year at a boarding school so I am ok with living away from home for a long period of time. Although I’m not worried about living without my mom, I am worried about how my procrastination will develop. I lose track of time very easily so I am definitely worried about how I am going to manage myself and keep myself in check and make sure that I keep my focus on what is important rather than getting caught in an endless loophole of distraction.
[ABM adds: We’re looking at some cool productivity apps that set timers and block sites for periods of time. If you have apps you like that help reduce distraction and increase productivity, please share them!]
What’s your current fav song??
I really love Kpop. Right now currently my fav song(s) are Wave/Illusion – ATEEZ and Twilight – ONEUS
What’s the best dirt on ABM?
Dirt? Hm, I don’t really know what I could possibly tell you. What do you already know?
[ABM responds: WHEW! Grateful I grew up without social media!]
Do you have any advice for younger kids who may feel out of place sometimes (for whatever reason they may feel that way)?
I’m not quite sure in which situation you are asking about but if it is in the foster care system then I don’t really have much advice for them because there isn’t much that they can really do but to try and wiggle their way into a group of people that they can talk to. It’s pretty likely that a kid in a foster home with other kids will feel slightly out of place. Although they may all be in the same place or situation doesn’t mean that they will be kind or will work with the other kids.
If I would give any one piece of advice it would be to not just let yourself be outcast, it’ll give the other kids a reason to come after you. Try wherever, whether at home or school, to make friends or at least find someone who you can talk to and someone who actually acknowledges you and treats you in a friendly manner.
What do you wish people understood about being adopted from the foster care system? What could adults (teachers, parents, doctors) do to be more helpful?
I’m not quite sure.
I do think that many who are adopted from the foster care system might have an issue with trusting the people around them, especially adults. Another thing that people should try to understand might be that the child could have a very hard time adjusting and that they might have some other issues from earlier on in life, or just during their time in the system.
I’m not really sure, but giving them space, listening to them, and just working with them. One thing that helped me was that I had some time to adjust to my surroundings before I started school so that everything wasn’t completely foreign to me. I got to see and do lots of things and had many experiences which helped me become comfortable and assisted in the progression of our relationship.
Four years ago, Hope was here for a pre-placement visit. She spent two weeks with me, including Thanksgiving. I was a hot mess during that visit.
I hadn’t got to a place where I really understood my soon-to-be daughter. In fact, I didn’t have an effiing clue. Looking back with clarity and a little rose-colored grace, I know that we were both trying our hardest to hold it together. It was scary as all get out to figure out how to be a family, but the alternative seemed like failure so the possibility of this visit being a disaster was a non-starter. We were doing this.
But I hadn’t lived with anyone but the late, great Furry One for more than a decade. I lived all over my house. Hope’s room was still transitioning from a guest room. I was used to my mess, but no one else’s. I hardly ate meat at that time, so I had this super vegetarian friendly house. I didn’t buy snack foods; I didn’t buy ice cream (I was also about 30 lbs lighter, but who’s counting…). My house was not adolescent-friendly. It wasn’t even a little bit.
But I was doing this thing. It was our second visit—the first one having been a month before and only about 4 days long. It was polite, hotel based and what I would probably call, more like kid-sitting than trying to start a mother daughter relationship. We had fun, but it wasn’t even parenting-adjacent.
But during Hope’s trip to what has become our home, I felt like I was more in control. This was a home game. I would entertain Hope. I would introduce her to yummy, healthy foods. She would get to meet her new family for the first time. We would go visit what would end up being her school. We would pick out things for her room.
We would bond and it would be glorious.
But honestly, it wasn’t. I was bored senseless at the museum where Hope did her damndest to show me she was brilliant. She ate all of the gummy vitamins I bought her in one day. She showed her single digit emotional age more times than I care to remember. I fielded questions about why she did some of the things she did, which was hard since I didn’t have a clue why. I even managed to drop the Thanksgiving turkey all over the carpet right outside my front door in my condo building. It was a messy visit, literally, figuratively, emotionally.
In the evenings I cried. The responsibility of caring for a kid was new and exhausting. I chugged a lot of wine after Hope’s bed time. I chronicled my experiences as a fledgling parent. I questioned if I was really cut out for mothering Hope. I doubted everything I knew about everything I thought I knew. I worried that backing out would be a shameful failure from which I would never recover. How could I reject this kid because I really wasn’t sure I wanted to give up my single carefree lifestyle? But as I cried and boozed myself to sleep during those two weeks, and as the day for Hope to return home drew closer, I found that my tears shifted to anticipating the pain of being separated from this scared kid who just wondered if I accepted and wanted her.
It was all pretty humbling.
Those two weeks, four years ago, Hope became my daughter. She was a scared, hot mess of a kid, who needed endless love, support, therapy, and permanence and an occasionally stern talking to. Even as we boarded the plane to take her back to her foster family, I couldn’t have known how I would come to love Hope. I loved her then, but my heart nearly hurts when I think about how much I adore her now.
Four years later, I see so much growth in both of us. Lord knows we struggle on the daily. I mean, really, really struggle, but we’re so much farther than we were back then when we were trying to figure out if this family was even going to be a thing.
As for me, specifically, I think I may have gotten the hang of this parenting thing; it’s still hella hard, but I think I’m doing ok. I’m not so secretly annoyed by how much food contraband has migrated into my house under the guise of being “teen friendly.” I bumbled along until I made a few parent friends. I got over my guilt about not going to PTA or band parent group meetings. I don’t like them; I’m not a joiner and as a single parent with a kid in multiple kinds of therapy, parent groups rank dead-arse last on every list. I made peace with only occasionally selling fundraiser crap (but also opting sometimes to just send a check because really, do any of us need a tub of pizza dough and ugly wrapping paper?). I also resumed my travel schedule, which I know puts a huge strain on us, but the experience has taught me a lot about Hope’s maturity and attachment to me. That girl loves her mommy, but doesn’t stress too much because as she says, “I know you’re coming home.”
I have helped my daughter see places she never dreamed of—I’m currently trying to work out details for Spring Break in Greece, and I also get to see the world through her eyes. I’ve learned that I can still be selfish with my stuff and my time and that it’s ok. I have learned to say both yes and no when appropriate. I have new metrics by which to measure choices—what’s the impact on my family? Is it worth my time? Do I enjoy it? Do I really want to? I’ve also tried to create a framework for my daughter, who as far as I know, will be my only heir, to eventually experience financial freedom. I figure I’ll probably work until I keel over—partly because I enjoy working and partly because I’ll need to keep earning. But Hope? I’m doing my best to set her up to have a comfortable life filled with lots of choices, because choices equal freedom.
Four years later, I’m an ok mother. I’m learning to be happy with being an ok mother. Mothering/parenting is hard work. Maintaining multiple identities is hard work. Centering my daughters needs in my life is still hard work. I’m doing ok at it all. There is always room for improvement. During the next four years, Hope will hopefully enroll in college, maybe even finish an associates degree. She will vote in her first election. She will get her driver’s license. She might move out into her own place. She probably will have finally visited South Korea (if we’re all not blown off the map yet). She’ll have many more passport stamps. She will continue to grow, continue to heal and thrive. And I get to watch from the front row. It’s the best reality TV show ever. It’s amazing.
As Thanksgiving approaches, I needed to sit and just ponder that first visit to our home and how we’ve changed. I am incredibly grateful, and super proud of the hard work we’ve put in.
Here’s to four more years.
Hope has been my daughter for going on 3 years. It’s amazing how time flies.
This summer, we have spent quite a bit of time working on attachment and academic help. I’ve realized that Hope really has blossomed in some ways this summer.
We have some pretty amazing talks these days. She is really opening up. She has been pretty compliant when it comes to going to tutoring. Her compliance in doing chores has improved a lot as well.
Recently, she dropped something on me that really stunned me into silence though.
We were sitting in the car talking. It was kind of heated. I was trying to understand why asking for help was so difficult for her. Why did she also always refuse help? Didn’t she realize I was killing myself trying to help her be successful, to be her personal best, not for me, but for her. Why on earth was it difficult to just say yes sometimes. Why was it hard to just say, “Hey mom, can you help me?”
We’ve had this conversation before.
We’ve had this conversation several times. Her response is always the same: nothing, silence.
The affect was flat; the emotional walls went up and I would eventually just drop it.
Until one day recently, she responded to my inquiry and I was silenced by the disclosure.
In a nutshell, Hope had been in the foster care system so long and been through so many families that even after two years in a forever home, she loathed even having conversations about needing to be helped and being helped. In Hope’s experience so many people in her life have wanted to help her and their “help” resulted in:
- Experiencing emergency removals and placements.
- Portraying her parents as horrible people.
- Long term foster care.
- Moving her stuff in trash bags to a new foster home that would be in a better position to “help her.”
- Being made to take Tae Kwan Do because it would “help” her manage her anger even though she hated it.
- Being medicated.
- Being told her math skills were bad enough to qualify for a special math program that made her feel dumb.
- Having to go to daily private tutoring all this summer.
And the list goes on.
Asking for, receiving or being forced to accept help has never made her feel good about herself, never. Why would she ask for help when her self-esteem was already so low? Why would she trust anyone, even me, to help her and that it actually would result in a better quality of life?
In her mind, help was and is associated with the breakup of her family, being shuttled around and not wanted, having no voice in her life and having her low self-esteem validated.
Help is a dirty trigger word for her.
That was a serious lesson for me to learn. It never, ever occurred to me that she would have such negative association with the concept of help. It silenced me. It broke my heart and just underscored how deeply hurt my daughter has been over her life. Efforts to keep her safe and to rebuild her life remain threatening to her.
We didn’t talk about it for a few days. I mean, what could I say to her at first?
We eventually sat in the car one evening and had a good talk about what help is supposed to be; what the potential for “help” could be in her life and how “help” is designed to make Hope the best Hope she can be—not for me, but for her.
I think this is turning point for us.
I am hopeful that her disclosure means she is feeling safer and willing to work with me to take advantage of all the opportunities in her life [note the word I DIDN’T use!].
So, for now, help is a dirty word in our house. It will come back into our vocabulary at some point, but using different language with Hope is an easy fix if it means increasing the likelihood that she will accept the things she needs to improve her life.
I never understood the gravity of real loss until I became Hope’s mother. I look back and realize that there isn’t much at all that I’ve lost in my 43 years around the sun. Sure, I have grieved for long gone family members; lost some friends. I have grieved deeply about my infertility. I’ve lost some sentimental tangible items along the way.
And certainly each of these losses have touched me and either created or smoothed my edges. But, honestly, beyond the loss of fertility, none of my losses have been earth shattering, grand scale life altering.
I am fortunate.
I am privileged.
I think about that every time I trip or kick over an emotional rock in an otherwise innocuous chat with Hope.
There is so much loss in her life; it permeates her skin, her breath, her beating heart. There are times when the memories of the loss are just overwhelming, all consuming and it’s like she watching things on a loop in her head.
I see this a lot with Hope. And I still struggle to really understand what that means, what that must feel like. I don’t know what it’s like to try to put the shred of memories in my life back together because they are like broken, scattered marbles that were dropped down the side of a hard faced mountain. #trauma
When I think about it, I mean really think about it, I totally understand why it’s so hard to get her up in the mornings. I wouldn’t want to get up and consciously ponder all those things for the next 18 hours or so either.
Hope has some summer reading to do for school; recently she commented that she had no interest in reading the books that were assigned. At my initial inquiry what was it about the books that she didn’t like, she indicated that it wasn’t really about the books.
Hope said she loved to read when she was little, would curl up with books and read for hours, but she stopped reading when she went into the system. Her beloved books were lost to her; she doesn’t know what happened to most of them. She only was able to salvage a few; they are on her book case in our home. Hope briefly talked about how some of the books were so sentimental and they were just…gone, gone like so many other things that were lost during that time.
As it turns out, sitting down to dive into a good book triggers memories of all that’s been loss for Hope.
I thought back to my various efforts to get her to read over the last couple of years. I tried everything I could to get her to read. She read a couple of things; mostly faked it, though. I had no idea I was essentially saying, “Hey spend the next couple of hours thinking about losing everything, especially the stuff and the people who meant everything to you. No, DO IT NOW!!”
I just had no idea, but now I do. I told her I understood.
I’ll still encourage her to read, but certainly with a lot more sensitivity than before.
I hope there will be a time when Hope’s life isn’t consumed about all she’s lost—not for my sake, but for hers. She’s still a little girl though (even at 15), and in reality, all the trauma wasn’t that long ago. The path to healing is a long one, with lots of potholes. I am learning to be patient with her. I’m also learning to empathize more deeply. I realize just how fortunate I’ve been in this life, and I want Hope’s life to flourish. I want her to have faith again.
To get there though, we have to wade through loss like we’re in a mud bog, praying that it doesn’t take us down. It might be all in our heads at this point, but make no mistake—it’s all very, very real.
So in the last few weeks I’ve had an opportunity to shift focus. Instead of writing, I’ve spent more time reading. I’ve been a little more active on a couple of online support groups (long time followers know I think these spaces can be a bit iffy). I’ve rested my brain. I’ve found new stories, learned about new foster care/adoption organizations, followed the #NAM2015 and #FliptheScript movements. It’s all been fascinating, largely because I’m a voyeur/people watcher-studier at heart.
Amazingly I will be getting some more time in a few months to have this breather when I have my other hand surgically repaired.
Of all my internet cruising, I found that there really are a few culture wars going on within the adoption community.
Though culture wars are fascinating, they are rarely pretty.
Where oh where do I begin?
How about the #ShoutYourAbortion/#ShoutYourAdoption trend from a couple of weeks ago? OMG, seriously, folks can’t have nothing. Folks who aren’t necessarily a part of the conversation have to clapback about ish that is really not their business.
So, in an effort to remove the stigma from abortion, a hashtag was born- #ShoutYourAbortion—because well, isn’t that how “movements” are launched nowadays?
Anyhoo, not to be outdone and/or ignored in a story, folks launched #ShoutYourAdoption as a response to all the abortion shouting in hopes of apparently reminding folks that adoption is an alternative to ending a pregnancy and shouting out all the families who apparently “saved” kiddos from inevitably being aborted.
Yeah, I get it. I do. Um, ok. But why come?
The conversations became ugly and corrupted, because well, adoption is actually *not* the opposite of abortion, and because this is what happens when critical conversations are reduced to less than 200 characters. As someone who’s been on both sides of the conversation, I would understand how it might serve to push more women who question continuing a pregnancy into a closet and away from meaningful support systems that could lead to different choices.
We all have belief systems, view points and experiences that allow us to sort information/data into categories—good or bad. This hashtag culture war about shouting to remove stigma resulted in exacerbating the frictional relationship among women. Ugh, messy and more disturbingly stigmatizing.
Really, really unnecessary.
Oh, then there was the American Girl drama.
So, AG profiled an adoptee in a two dad household. Amaya looks happy and healthy and is surrounded by lots of love. Some folks went nuts because the story dared to tell the story of the girl’s family—namely the part about two dads. They were offended because reading the AG newsletter and being “confronted” with an adoptee story that features parents in a same-sex coupled relationship was tantamount to an “agenda” being forced upon them through the pages of a voluntary read magazine.
Fo real doe?
Oh good grief, just stop it.
The child was in need of a home with lots of patience and love, she found one. She found one with two dads, and if that’s the worst thing that happens to her moving forward in her life, I’m going to assume that her future is looking pretty bright. She is on her way and apparently doing well. But the adoptee and her future is lost in all the hullabaloo about gay parenting and the emphasis is put on the love lives of her parents.
Or rather the love and sex lives of her parents, because isn’t adoption all about the parents and not the adoptee?
And like I do in this post, those protesting make reference to a larger culture war at play; however, their argument advances a theory that we are all being hoodwinked and bamboozled into the fall of Rome, because of all the gay folks running around.
For me, this is just another distraction from a focus that should be on the foster children and adoptees. I’m not saying that folks are not entitled to their own values and opinions, but really, can we really, focus on making sure kids who need homes find homes with stability and love and not get hung up on a bunch of foolery?
And finally, it’s National Adoption Awareness Month in the US; it’s [always] time to #FlipTheScript. I personally love to hear adoptees tell their story and discuss their trials and triumphs in being adopted. I am interested in hearing about them, from them. I’m also interested in hearing from birth families and first parents. But dang if I’m still not seeing support group posts about adoptee gratitude, about feeling defensive and threatened, about how their adoptive child isn’t so pissy about being adopted. Sigh.
Just because everyone’s story isn’t palatable to the ear, doesn’t mean the story isn’t true, isn’t valuable, isn’t worthy of you just listening and being empathic for all one stinking month of the year.
And because we *can* actually walk and chew gum at the same time, you can meaningfully listen to adoptees flip the adoption script while still celebrating your adoption, your adoptive family and whatever else you want to celebrate during the month year.
Before I became an adoptive parent, I never would’ve guessed that there was so much drama in the adoption world. I was certainly naïve since it’s really just a microcosm of the world as we know it.
Adoption has been a beautifully difficult path for me. It would be nice if the community could treat each other with kindness and respect. So many of us really do live with some real challenges related to adoption; it isn’t easy. These culture wars and others mean that we end up living in relative silence; there’s no more air and space for the challenges to get the support that families need.
My wish for NAAM2015 is that we just be kind and supportive to one another, no matter what brought us to this journey or even if we made choices that didn’t bring us to adoption.
End adoption culture wars. Don’t try to be kind and supportive, just be kind and supportive. Life is hard; just do it.