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Today I am Thankful

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Today I am thankful for :

Lost socks

Random sharpie artwork on floors, ceilings and furniture

Early morning wake ups (and late night, and any other time I am trying to sleep)

Not being able to make 4 different school lunches without at least one complaint.

Nonstop talking and questions before I can get through my first cup of coffee

A bathtub full of toys

Not being able to pee, shower or dress in private

Hours of homework help

Boy Bands, Taylor Swift and Tween Music

Cooking for what seems to be like a small army, all with different likes and dislikes

Sitting through hours of theater performances and soccer games

Naked kids that refuse to wear clothes

Potty training

Broken windows, furniture and doors

Wet beds

Forgoing any enjoyable music for Disney Pandora and Kids Bop

Having to escort a child to the bathroom, just when my dinner arrives at a restaurant

Piles and Piles of laundry that never ends

Are we there yet?

Tattle-tales

Throwing 5 Birthday parties within 3 months

snot, vomit and pee

Hours of being stuck in the car, taxing kids to soccer, dance and theater

The words MINE! I didn’t do it! and the famous Not Me!

5am weekend wake-ups, yet having to force them out of bed at 7a on school days

10 minute intervals of potty stops while on long trips

Five kids screaming at once!

For all this I am thankful. Because one day my children will be grown, moved out, and I know that I will miss this, and long for these memories!

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My White Privilege Does Not Apply To My Children

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Before adopting I didn’t really know about ‘white privilege”. Maybe I did, but honestly, I really didn’t give it much thought. But now that my heart is intertwined within several cultures/races I am hyper aware of how races, other than whites are treated in the United States.

I would be doing my children a huge disservice if I did not try to ‘walk a mile’ in their shoes, if I did not help to prepare them for their futures, as Black-Americans and as Latino-Americans.

We (Whites) don’t like talking about race. It makes us uncomfortable, mainly because we are afraid we’ll say the wrong thing. But the conversations need to begin and continue, and not stop until the ignorance, fear and misunderstandings are replaced with love and acceptance . I have found that my children have helped me bridge those uncomfortable conversations. When it comes to our children,  we are often forced out of our comfort zone to act on behalf of them. We often do for them things we would have never done for ourselves.

The conversations I have had with my children  so far, are very generic and have just begun to scratch the surface of topics like Martin Luther King, Slavery, and the injustices against the Maya in Guatemala.  As they mature, so will our conversations. My hope is that I can stay at least 2 steps ahead of the stupidity and racism, preparing them in an age appropriate and realistic way for the future.

I don’t know what happened to Michael Brown on that evening in Ferguson, MO, but he deserves the same due-diligence we would give any one of our teenage sons gunned down in their youth.   Every time I see in the news that another Black teenager has been gunned down I think of the conversations I will have to have with my sons. They are not allowed the privilege of throwing on a sweatshirt and looking ‘sloppy’, for fear of being labeled a ‘thug’, or pulled over and asked for their ‘papers’.

Until we join hands and become that “One World, One Love” Bob Marley sang about almost 40 years ago, I will continue to weep with the Mother’s of the sons that are unnecessarily judged, harassed and yes sometimes killed because they did not posses the privilege of being white in America.

 

 

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What is “Good Hair ” Anyway?

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I subscribe to The Root, The Root is an online newspaper that describes themselves like this:

The Root is the premier news, opinion and culture site for African-American influencers.  Founded in 2008, under the leadership of Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., The Root provides smart, timely coverage of breaking news, thought-provoking commentary and gives voice to a changing, more diverse America. 

I like to stay in touch with the pulse of the African American community since three of my five kids are black, and I was raised and live in a predominantly white and hispanic community.  Today, I came across an article:  Are ‘A Whole Bunch of White People’ Adopting Black Kids? The article was written in response to A black Alabama lawmaker’s challenge to state residents regarding the adoption of black children into white families. I found it refreshing that they chose to  focus on Adoptee Stacey Patton, and her insight into the positive side of transracial adoption. They have even omitted the lawmakers name, as not to given him/her further attention.

It wasn’t the article that made me go “hmmmmm”, but the 500+ comments from the mostly African-American community that posted. This was a great peek inside the black community to witness and read how our family may be viewed.

For the most part it was one of acceptance. There were a few comments that noted that if you have not adopted, don’t bother commenting! Of course there were the ridiculous haters that mentioned such things as “…To raise an army of completely brain-washed Black People who will allow them to touch their hair, take their organs or be able to tell Racist jokes and say, “I’m not racist, I have a Black daughter’….What I’M wondering is WHY don’t white ‘people’ want their OWN white children? I mean, there are MILLIONS of white kids without parents, why not adopt them?!

Then there were the children who grew up in a white home, or hoped for a forever home and instead just “aged-out” of the system like Daryl: ,  “unless you are going to adopt them “Watch Ya Mouth & Mind Ya Bizness” growing up in an orphanage is NO JOKE, being turned out into the world ALL ALONE at 18 is NO JOKE – having NO FAMILY is NO JOKE”

The biggest ‘take-away’ I got from the comments was it was ok, just teach them their culture and learn to do their hair, “The only problem that I have with it, is a very small one, and doesn’t negate my overall opinion that it’s a good thing. I just wish that when people choose to adopt black children, they would learn how to maintain their hair. Too many times I’ve seen black children looking a complete MESS because the parents (of another race) have just given up.”

Here are my thoughts on that final comment;  Hair.  Wow, in the community I grew up in, with the hair I have hair was never a ‘thing’. Growing up, the biggest question was “bangs or no bangs?.” and since it was the 1980’s…”how big are those bangs going to be?”. I have five nieces that I babysat often. They had straight blond hair. I could not even brush their hair into a basic pony-tail, nevermind any ‘fishtails’ or anything fancy like that. Poor girls looked a mess when they came to stay with Aunt Carrie.  I remember a picture of their special ‘Brownie Bridging Ceremony” and I couldn’t do anything with their hair, so I just left their hair a stringy mess for their special day. My sister would have styled it real cute, but that is the price they had to pay for me babysitting. Fast-forward 20 years and I am the Mami to two beautiful African-American girls with hair I have never even touched, let alone  styled or taken care of.

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The first thing I did, was reach out to some friends that have experience with  black-natural hair, then I went  to Target and browsed the aisle of African-American hair products, and just asked some black women that were also shopping the isle. The next thing I did was rent Chris Rock’s “Good Hair”.  I have come a long way since that first styling of Bug’s hair, and I have improved my skills (didn’t say I mastered this). I know I have a long way to go, but here’s my throw back at all those Naysayers: As Moms I think we are all doing our best, don’t assume that us white Moms aren’t even trying. I can speak for myself anyway and say that I am not only trying, that I actually stress about this more than I should. As a white mother, I didn’t grow up with this texture of hair, I didn’t have all these years of practice I didn’t have Moms, Aunts or Sisters teaching me the tricks and tips that have been lovingly handed down from generation to generation. I also know that even the black moms that have stopped perming their hair or their children’s hair struggle with it at times.

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What I do know is that I love my girls more than life itself, that I would do anything for them. That I tell them how beautiful their hair is, and how beautiful they are. I have never mentioned whether they have “good hair” or not, because I don’t know the difference, and maybe that is just as well. So next time you see a white mami and her baby girl, (whether biological or adopted) tell them they are doing a good job, and know that they are probably already criticizing themselves enough for both of you!

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Signed, Sealed and Delivered…I am Yours!

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When we adopted Lola and Diego there was a lot of hand holding through the process. We adopted through a private agency in the United States. Our agency gave us a sheet typed out in ‘comic sans’ that gave us a step-by step account of what to expect during the process. I remember sitting down with that sheet of paper and going through each step with our case worker and asking her how long for each step. Even with that, they said the PGN process could be between 2 weeks and 6 months (yes…we got the 6 month end of that deal).

This time we are adopting domestically, through the fostercare system. This has been a very different process, and I have never really known where we are in the process. After something BIG , happens I will ask…What next? about when do you anticipate this being final?

The difference is, we have our babies here with us. I get to hug them, hold them and kiss them goodnight. The adoption paperwork is really a matter of formality (don’t get me wrong, I will be excited), but it’s not like when we were waiting for Lola and Diego. Everyday that passed, was a day lost. It was excruciating knowing that they were somewhere else, and not knowing how they were being taken care of. I already loved them, they were already my children. I had several women that had gone through childbirth, try to commiserate with me over the fact that they were a week or two past their due date. Although, with all things relative, and I am sure that really sucks and is physically uncomfortable, i would think to myself “yea, but you had your baby, safe, warm and in the comfort of your womb”

That is why I am not stressing over the details of the ‘when’ the adoption will  be finalized, in my heart, it’s a done deal. What will finalization mean for our family? It will mean that we will no longer have 4 different last names, it will mean that we can make any decision regarding their education, health, diet or even hair (yes hair) that we want. We will be able to travel anywhere in the world we want to go, and we won’t need special papers and permission just to cross the state line. It will also mean that we will not have home visits (except for just a few post-adoption visits) anymore, even though we have been very fortunate to have the best GAL (Guardian ad Litem) we could ask for, and our case worker has been one of the great ones.

So for those that are curious about when all this will happen, here is where we are at:

Georges and I need to have a stack of files signed in front of a notary, and then we file with the County Clerk Office.  The county clerk has 30 days to return it to our case worker, then she has 60 days to to process and submit to the state. they don’t have a deadline, but turn around on that is about 30 days. We just watch the mailbox for the next 3-4 months for the decree to come in the mail. No Judges, No courts…just the mailman bringing us the paperwork one day.

 

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STOP Doing This!

1959680_721294857892978_322306258_nAfter the Academy Awards there were lots of memes going around the next day. John Travolta, Kim Novak, and this one, pictured here. I still don’t find anything humorous about Angelina & Brad Pitts adoption story.

I don’t understand why people find it so funny  that Angelina and Brad Pitt adopted three children Internationally. Adoption is a great way to build a family. We have five adopted children two of them adopted Internationally. We are not criticized for this (at least not to our faces).  They have the resources for a large family, and rather than bringing more children into the world they have chosen to bring children waiting and wanting a chance at a forever home.

They are not the only large (by today’s standards)  ‘Hollywood” family, they just happen to be the only ones that grew their family through adoption. We never see meme’s about these other families with captions like “pregnant again?’ or “I want to impregnate you”.

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Eddie Murphy 5 kids

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So what does this say about adoption? What story is this telling our adopted kids?  Just when I think we have come so far with adoption, and our views on adoption, I am reminded that adoption families are still sometimes  viewed as ‘different’.  It’s a form of bigotry, and every time I hear/see these jokes it stings, it doesn’t feel good.

We all love the same, and we all want the same things for our children.

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5 Reasons to ADOPT 5 Kids

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I read a blog post in The Huffington Post this morning. It was titled 6 Reasons to Have 6 kids. I found the the article amusing, and shared it on my facebook page. Until a friend pointed out…”At the risk of sounding really bad here, that was a pretty awful article. Those reasons are nice reasons but not important enough to have six kids sort of reasons. Are any of those children adopted? Why bring so many into the world when so many are already here? Just MHO. Not trying to start any arguments here.” She was absolutely right! originally I went through the article and laughed, agreed with most of the items, and did the mental check…

1. It’s cheaper:

Well not exactly, our grocery bill did double, but we do pass down clothes, books and toys from kid to kid. I also learned that it’s usually cheaper to purchase the museum family membership (and in some cases, it’s tax deductible).

2. You have nice kids:

Well, I don’t know about that, I hope they are. I think the spoiled thing is more about what you decide your family values are. L&D are not any more or less spoiled then when it was just the two of them.

3. You’re not sleeping, anyway:

True, but now we are sleeping even less. With 5 kids (or 6 in her situation) the odds are against you, and at least one child is guaranteed to wake up.

4. You have a built-in entertainment system.

I do agree with this. I love watching the kids play together and there are more opportunities to learn sharing and conflict resolution skills.

5. It makes them social.

Yes, and no. I can also see how my kids have kept within the ‘safety’ of their family circle at parties, events and activities

So here is my 5 reasons to ADOPT 5 Kids!

1. There are an average of 130,000 children in the U.S. foster care system waiting to be adopted & there are an estimated 153,000,000 orphans worldwide.

2. Because each one makes my heart burst!

3. You lessen the Carbon Footprint on the world (since the children are already here).

4. It’s best to keep sibling groups together.

5. Every child deserves a forever home!

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Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Feliz Navidad et Joyeux Noel !!!!

Quite awhile ago Georges began getting creative with our Christmas Cards. My only problem is that my over-anxious type A personality can not wait for him to get the card finished and sent out. As a result we often end up with two versions. Version #1: The average holiday card, with a photos or two and some sentimental message, but usually in time for Christmas. Then we have version #2: Creative, memorable, usually with a touch of humor, but arriving well after Christmas.

So, not to disappoint, we have a both versions again this year. I can’t show you the one that I mailed out last week, because it includes the kids faces and we are not allowed to show their faces on the internet while we are in process of adoption/fostercare. But I can tell you that the kids were dressed a like, smiling in a patch of pumpkins with the sentiment “Joy, Peace & New Beginnings”. Now here is Georges version:

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And here is a retrospective of his Christmas cards from past years:

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