Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Token Child?

As we begin to settle into a routine with two children and I'm able to get out and about more, well...I'm not satisfied. I want to continue. Yes, life threw us a little bump in our planning with two boys who were closer together than we planned. Seeing them play each day tells me they were exactly what was meant to be for our family. Exactly. For OUR family. So those of you with kids further apart, don't feel like you are missing out on anything. I'm sure you have exactly what you are supposed to have for your family. But for these kiddos, for this family? They are perfection.

As I said, we're finally adjusting to I'm ready to get going again. Build this family while we have any semblance of a young couple who can handle all these young kids. As is typical for me, I'm all over the map. Foster Care, international, domestic, special needs. I have to research them all. This time around I took a really strong look at international. An adoption from Africa really is in my heart, and I think we WILL do it someday. I'm not sure if now is the right time for that. Some of the programs I've looked at seem shaky at best, and one closed while I was in the process of finding an agency who would work with us for that country. In the process of researching several African Countries, I also came across several blogs of people who were adopting or have adopted from African. Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda, etc. I am struck by the make-up of some families who have chosen this path to African adoption. I'm more than struck honestly...I'm upset. Large families of 5, 6, 8 biological children. All white. In the middle of Idaho or some other place with less than zero diversity if that's possible. A blog filled with pictures of family and friends, and one lone face of color. Their token adopted child from Africa. The child God called them to adopt to complete their family. Now their family is complete...with their one black child surrounded by a sea of white faces. Really? That's what God wanted for that child? They wanted the child to be ripped from their home country and moved to a place where no one looked like them, or understood any of their culture? I guess I can't question God, but I WILL question their interpretation of what they think God wanted. Yes, African children need help. Yes, they live in poverty. Yes, many of them die young because they lack basic health care. That is very sad. I completely agree all of that, and it tears at my very heart. What the children are NOT lacking is culture, community, and heritage. Traditions. A feeling of belonging, even if it's only with other homeless children all in the same place as you. There is a feeling of community, even as there is nothing to share. To take all of that from a child? Really the only things they have ever "had" in their seems quite selfish when you know you can not provide those things for them. You know you have no plans to adopt another child that they could share their culture with. You know you have no plans to move to a more diverse area where the child could see and be friends with other people and children who at least look like them.


I parent two black children.

Everyday I judge myself on my ability to provide for them the things they lost when I adopted them. Diversity. African American role models and peers. Culture. I can not replace all that they lost when they left a black family, and joined ours...I know that. But I certainly will do all I can to nurture who they are as a person. They are a black person. I can't understand that with complete certainty. I can empathize, encourage, and love them. I can provide for them siblings who WILL understand exactly how they feel. Who will get it. I can make every attempt to expose them to the culture they would have if their birth parents had parented. I can find and reinforce positive black role models for my children. What I won't do is isolate them in a sea of white like a cute little black doll that I took because I wanted it. I do not have token black children I rescued from Africa. Even if we adopt from Africa, that is not what my children will be. They will be my children...who happen to be black, which bares with it a responsibility to respect that they inherently may need more effort than a biological or even a white adopted child would need from me. They need a lifelong commitment to expose and try to rebuild to all the things they have lost because I am white. If I can't give that commitment to them, I shouldn't be adopting black children.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I am Machine.

Sometimes I still dream of perfect children. You know the ones we all dream of before we have children, while we still know everything about parenting? I still think of those children sometimes. How I would dress them, the places we would go, how I would never need to yell because rationalizing with an 18 month old always works. How they would follow me in a neat little row like ducks through a parking lot.
Sometimes, I miss those kids, but the reality is...they are so boring. They are not challenging, or mentally stimulating. They are not kids, they are (to borrow a phrase from a friend) Stepford Children. There are days a Stepford child sounds great. A well oiled robot that just runs, even when Mommy has a cold and pees when she has coughing fits. A life that has kids into the car and on our way without tears and tantrums. I've realized my children are not robots, my life is not a machine, but somewhere deep inside, I am.

If you ask me how I do it, I won't have an answer. I can't even answer my husband when he asks. I don't know. There is a machine inside me. It does what it needs to even when my brain goes on auto pilot. It prioritizes, process and completes tasks that were never even in my imagination till I woke up and had two special needs kiddos. That machine can make two grilled cheese while emptying roomba, attempting to rationalize with a speech delayed 2.5 year old, and empty the dishwasher all at once. That machine can hand pluck loose fur from a dogs butt while I use the bathroom because that kind of multi-tasking SAVES TIME. That machine is smart. I have no idea where it came from.

I was ready to be a Mom. I know that now. I was maybe naive and soft, but I was ready. Good thing because every single day I end up in a place that I never could have dreamed. I did not look forward to watching a toddler pee in the potty by using the toilet seat as a back board. I didn't ever, ever imagine urine every where would make me laugh.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Things Cruise Along...Kids Get Bigger...

I wish for more babies. It seems an endless cycle. I'm like a child that bores of a puppy once it's no longer cute. Okay...not bored...not that...just...complacent. No one NEEDS ME. Not in the primal way. I think my kids could gladly make it a whole day and scrounge for food if they needed to. They certainly seem happy enough to roam the garden and eat tomatoes that I haven't yet cut up, or to grab a kitchen chair and drag it over so they can eat an apple. Tyler will even pull Roomba to the middle of the carpet and start her up. What do they need me for? The occasional dirty diaper that they could careless if I changed anyway? I need babies damn it. Little tiny babies that cry in need of a burp and a bottle warmed just so. Little bitty with legs all frogged up inside a sleeper gown, and tiny, itsy bitsy eyes that will pop awake if I even think about moving when they are sleeping on my chest. The last thing that slept on my chest was a 25 pound Corgi and he snores like a lumber jack. I want to SWADDLE things and make little burritos out of a sleeping baby and a stretchy blanket. I want a little tiny nose almost hidden by a huge pacifier. I want little match sized fingers topped by razor blades ready to tear my face to shreds if I don't rock them just right. I want that. Really.

Instead I got a job. Just weekends at the farm up the street to help them out in their farm store during the apple harvest. I love this farm and spend a lot of time there with the boys anyway, so why not? If I want more babies, that means more money in one way or another. Lots more money most likely, so I guess instead of all the little tiny things I wish were in my home, I'll focus on all the BIG things that have to get done before we can get the little things. Which is actually quite opposite of the way most things work. We need house stuff done, and bills paid off, and to build our savings back up a little more. We need a lot of house stuff done. I don't know if it will ALL happen before we think about adding on to the family again, but some of it needs to. We at least need to figure out the answers to what we're doing with the house before we add on to the family. I would like to rip down the single story part and replace it with a 2 story part. Whether that's feasible financially or not, we'll have to see. I could be quite happy here if we did that though!

Right now I need to get a grip...on laundry and a bunch of other things that are right here and right now. How we always have so much laundry, I'll never be able to figure out. I think my children contribute, but honestly I don't ever seem to run out of their clothes. Mike always needs clothes so the majority MUST be his...but he swears he's going to wash all his work clothes himself. I don't think that ever really happens though. I wonder how many loads of laundry I would have to do per day to stay caught know once I catch up. I would think if I did a load of laundry a day that would be enough. It seems so simple! One load per day for a family of 4 and we wouldn't have mountains build up. But it does. It always does. Ugg...

Fun for today: Mike in the living room with both boys.

Mike: Tyler, don't take your clothes off.
Tyler: Jargoning away and I can't understand anything about it. He might be saying something about ice cream...or the dogs?
Mike: Tyler! I asked you to leave your clothes on!
Tyler: Help! Dadda, Help!
Mike: No, I won't help you take your pants off. I've asked you to leave your clothes on.
Tyler: Help? Dadda? Momma? Help?

I go in. He's down to a diaper. Matty is running into the wall cause he has Ty's shirt over his face. That's my life.

Friday, September 3, 2010

and then there was Earl...

So we take our first vacation in several years that didn't involve driving somewhere to pick up a baby, or to finalize an adoption, or celebrate a holiday...just V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. Awesome. We're on the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and we had planned nothing more than fishing with the boys, putting out a couple of crab pots to see if we could catch any, and a whole lot of playing in the sand. I think it's perfection when you have a 16 month old and a 2.5 year old. Then hurricane Earl had to show up so we spent 3 perfectly fine days worrying about a hurricane that in the end, didn't even give us any rain. Oh well. We did a little fishing, and caught 5 crabs, 3 of which we kept and cooked up. One was soft shell even...pretty neat-o.

Over all, it's been a perfect place. We can look out the window or hang out on the screen porch and the boys have a plethora of things to see on or near the water. Boat! Boat! Bird! Bird Momma! Bye bye Boat! Bye bye! Bye bye Bird! Needless to say, the boats, birds, and "Dewey's" (dogs) that they see never fail to entertain them.

Dewey, our corgi is actually here on vacation with us, while the two big dogs are at home with a dog walker. We weren't supposed to have any dogs with us, but Dewey pulled a fast one and almost died in the two weeks before vacation and was touch and go (to put it nicely) right until the car ride down here. I'm pleased to say he's doing fabulous now and our biggest concern is keeping him out of the Bay because he really wants to go swimming, but he can't...he has a bunch of staples in his stomach from an emergency surgery 4 days before we left. We are glad he is here and doing well though!

Matty is having an amazing vacation, but he looks like hell. The mosquitoes LOVE Matty...they always have. He's one of those kids that can walk from the house to the car and come in with 5 big bites that all swell up into welts. Right now he has one 2 on his forehead, one on his cheek, one under his eye and big one on the end of his nose. It swelled his little nose up and turned it red. Looks like he's been drinking. His back, arms and legs are covered with them. The coconut oil seems to help them a little. I don't know what to do. I can't bathe him in mosquito repellent everyday! All those chemicals can't be good for him either.

Tyler's speech has really blossomed in just the week we've been here. He turned to us both the other day and in his toddler drawl said, "ya-wan-doe-dow-a-beach?" We were very impressed! He starts playgroup when we get back, and I'm excited for how that will challenge and improve his social skills. He should have a one-on-one for the first few weeks at playgroup anyway.

Yesterday we went for a drive and happened on a dollar store that had swords. Tyler HAD to have one, and so we got two. They were called Robot Swords, and light up and make a noise like a robot booting up, but it ends with a cha-ching! It sounds like a robot playing the slots or something. We have heard nothing else for 24 hours. They are currently on the top shelf in the closet. We're hoping they will forget when they wake from their naps!