We’ll take the month…

From the archives, a family favorite

Adoption Month is a funny thing. You know, how every day is Mother’s Day, really.  So why do we set aside just one day? So, yes, I’ll take an entire month to celebrate openly, and with fanfare and intention the first best thing that ever happened to our family, adopting Sammy.

In honor of the month, I am looking to post more, praise many who are doing the good work, and highlight one of the most amazing new resources for adoptive families out there, Adoption Mosaic’s new magazine The Adoption Constellation that you can download FREE here! (No need to take my word for it-read it yourself-then subscribe to the print version!) Mama C readers will feel honored that they read one of the articles here first.

This month I hope to delve deeper both into my own unexamined, and deeply considered thoughts on the topic.I hope to include other voices, and viewpoints, and define with slightly more intention Mama C and the Boys.

In the meantime, a repost (below) from last year, just before I moved over to the sleek new format. Our Adoption Day anniversary is this Sunday (November 7th).  In honor of the event, and my family, I promised all of the above that I’d be computer free for an entire weekend.

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Four years ago today
surrounded by our nearest and dearest
we filled the improvised chambers
of the probate court
at the Children’s Museum
to hear Sam’s-first-middle and last name
decreed with judicious officiousness.

Finally.
Finalized.
Same name.
Delivered.

Same name.
Yours.
Mine.
Ours in the eyes of the state.

Looking down at your name all balanced out as it is-
On the Adoption Decree
one place where we now look so exactly alike.
Good thing type ink mostly comes in black.

To honor and remember
we went to the park the three of us.
And baby Dexter.
Marcel’s baby doll-
the one I gave Sam
to help him get used to the idea
of an imminent Marcel
is now Marcel’s my-baby-doll-Dexter
a reminder that family every day is about who we bring
into the fold
when we need them.

Who is there for us to love.

For dinner Sam came up with the menu:
baked beans and cake.
Then we invited upstairs Sarah and Jay,
and downstairs Uncle too.
For a potluck and a toast.
Sam invited one more friend who he thought
would want to celebrate impromptu.

Happy Adoption Month
to those who have cause to celebrate,
and to those who are rocking
their delicate and huge dreams in the wait.

Mama C    November, 2009

In the fall I love

In the fall I love.

Crisp round orange and red.

Lingering on that cool edge

pre knit hats, thick sweaters, and heavy blankets on the bed.

In the fall I love.

Apples picked crisp from orchard trees

white and blue herons in the marsh yellow reads

and the memory of Marcel’s birth.

Joining me, Sam, (and parenthetical Dixie D) into a robust

choice blended multi everything family.

And in the fall I love

to be reminded of the missing father men

who chose then knowing or not to father boys

mine now. Crowning me queen

in brown yellow and red

leaves of a disparate

but thriving and falling

and falling and falling

in love with you tribe.

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Significant Males in our Lives Day

Last night we celebrated; “Day of Meaningful Adult Males in Our Lives-Day.” Not the name that was agreed upon 100 years ago, when Father’s Day was first celebrated in this country. But then again, donors and adoptive families were not likely whom  our forefather’s had in mind when designing the scope of the day.

This was marked by a handsome freshly caught piece of salmon, local corn, a salad and peas from our own container garden-and a bakery blueberry pie. This was the  menu requested by the one and only Uncle Buncle, the most present and meaningful adult male in our life today.  Having been apart from each other for a few days (insert golden lake water, loons, bullfrogs, kayaks, canoes, the great friends who hosted us and Sam at the helm of a Boston Whaler here), the reunion energy around here last night was something akin to popcorn on a sugar buzz.

The presentation of the #1 Uncle gifts after dinner was a sweet reminder of what an amazing job of normalizing the holiday our preschool does.  I basked in what a great thing we have going here, and how damn near perfect a meal I can cook if I want to.

Then I tripped over the elephants asleep on the kitchen floor this morning.  The birth father and the donor take up a lot of room in the kitchen, and in my heart. I meant to address you last night, I wanted to tell them but they were not listening as they rolled over, and knocked over the sink. I wanted to thank you for the wonderful men you helped to create, and all of the ways in which I have fallen in love with the traits that you have clearly bestowed on them including charm, musical ability, athletic genius and must figure out how to take it apart and put it back together-ness. Those snoring elephants, wanted no part of my-next-day-if-I-had-only-thought-to-mention thinking.

After making a cup of coffee, I tried another approach: honesty. Last night, I just wanted it to be about what they have in their lives. By have I mean-who they can reach out and high five, and kiss, and hug, and climb all over-and not who they can’t. The elephants began to stir.  You are both here all the time, I whispered, as I scratched them behind the ears, in pictures, and stories, and the ways I tell them how you must have gotten that move from your donor, or that smile from your birth father, because it sure is suave and will level a room in about five years… The more I explained all the ways that we do honor them here, and can honor them more the smaller my elephants seemed to become. Now one is the soft plush elephant under Marcel’s arm, and the other has crawled back into the picture of Sam’s birth father on the shelf.

For me another close call, a reminder that what I don’t have (a relationship with my son’s biological fathers) is not the same as what they don’t have (a relationship with their biological fathers).  My work is to honor what they do have- deep and meaningful relationship with many men in their lives (several of whom are pictured below), and the certain grief and confusion of not knowing the two amazing men without whom I wouldn’t be Mama C.

To all the significant males in our lives we love and cherish you. A slideshow to honor those of you unlucky enough to come in contact with my camera in the last few years:

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Happy Dad’s Day (via See Theo Run)

I so appreciate how Harriet has captured the multi-layers of meaning and form of Father’s Day in their home. I haven’t figured out how to write about it yet in our world, so I’m sharing this here for the time being!

Happy Dad's Day Mother’s Day tends to overtake Father’s Day. Dad’s don’t ask for a lot, and often recieve the least praise for their efforts. It’s no different in adoption where birth and adoptive mothers provide 90% of the conversation.* For one day, let’s tip our hats to the often silent or invisible Dads out there! Father’s Day shout out to my hus … Read More

via See Theo Run

Magical Thinking

These are the fireworks exploding outside the window

Suddenly we are a household of artists.

One and Two each have a spiral notebook that we have taken to filling with images from the day as we understand them.The beauty comes from watching the images emerge, and the narratives they share as they craft their understanding of the moment in questions.

In this particular case we were driving home from a delicious afternoon and evening with dear friends visiting from Texas. Fireworks were exploding overhead at the local baseball stadium as we drove past on the thruway. It was magical to put it mildly. Sam ‘s take on watching this above.

Marcel woke with the following observation; Mom that was sure was a treat driving through a fireworks storm like rain all around the car last night. About ten minutes ago he was walking around with blocks in his shirt announcing that he was about to have four babies; Michael, Spikel, Pikel and Ruby.

According to the family therapist who I have reconnected with recently to get more help with anger, rage, adoption issues (mine and his) Sam is deep in his  magical thinking place. I understand that to mean–he sees the world in his own way—and often rationalizes things to work into his world view.  For example, I love Uncle, Uncle eats dinner with us, lives with us, and will never leave me. Sam has been “testing” this theory by jumping (twice) in front of (thankfully very slow moving) cars in the parking lot when he is with Uncle. Scary? Indeed. But, now that we have one more way into understanding it, we feel empowered to help him. We also hold him like a barnacle on the bottom of a boat around all cars!

Next up: Father’s Day, Uncle Appreciation Day, Birth Father not in our lives Day, Donor Dad Day. So many options, so little time. And never the right card to capture it all.

To magical thinking, and all the ways we witness it.

Future Sammy on being in an Open Adoption

This is the latest Open Adoption Roundtable topic brought to you by the rocking Heather at Production not Reproduction: (To participate is easy-check out the link to find out how.) I did it a little differently, in that I imagined Sam writing his own response to it at about eighteen or so. It was super helpful to me to see it this way. Helpful as in, what do I think might be going well, and not so well.  I try hard not to put feelings in his mouth, but to show how I imagine he might handle some things based on ways we handle things now. The process reveals more work we have to do! And, I don’t even touch the birth father piece here, because I don’t have any idea when or if that will become part of our open life. Continue reading “Future Sammy on being in an Open Adoption”

Four that Score+a litte more

Martin Elkort Photography

There has been a whirlwind of amazing activity on the ether in the adoption arena as of late. In my Friday Follow fashion I’d like to point out these four;

1. Adoption Mosaic Blog features guest writer Melissa Konomos opening up my eyes and many others I imagine,  in her piece Beyond the Reunion: Dealing with the Realities of Post-Reunion.

2. On Laura Writes you’ll discover a gorgeous piece about her open adoption from the adoptee-sibling perspective.

3. See The Run as always writes another to the point, luscious piece inviting her audience to participate with such mastery and grace. This particular post On Moms, is about Mother’s Day, a first for her on more than one level. Because so many people follow her conversations, you are bound to find voices that resonate with yours. The birth mother who commented on her post might send you flying for the tissues too.

4. My Brown Baby’s joy for Sandra Bullock’s recent adoption felt so solid and affirming, I included it here. I have to say that I know nothing about S.B.’s personal story, but I will be following her now. She is in a position to model great choices in the world of transracial/mixed family/single mother adoptions.

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My most recent piece in Adoptive Families Magazine in their Living with Diversity section illicited the following response in the “contact” section of my blog.  I am sharing it for purely ego gratifying reasons, it was hugely validating on so many levels:

Just read your article in the June issue of Adoptive Families 🙂 As an African-American man, a father of an adopted son (private adoption), and a father whose family is now waiting to be matched via the fost/adopt program in our state your article spoke to me on SO many levels! The smells, the sounds, and the laughter that your son Sam has gotten (and will continue to get) at the neighborhood barbershop (as well as many other things you are probably doing) are going to affect him in so many ways for his entire life.  Only wish others who pursue inter-racial /trans-racial adoptions were as proactive as you. You go girl!!!!! 🙂

I’ll be asking James if I can reprint that on the back flap of my book.

Speaking of books, my little poetry/photography collection that I had printed for the silent auction during the faculty talent show last night, raised $75.00 for the school! It was a limited edition (two copies) but it came out so well, I am planning to do a similar edition to offer here. Details to follow! I read my poems Black Enough and Crazy Hair Day to a crowd of 500+ with ease this time. Marcel even joined me on stage for the second poem (to stop his crying), and Sam informed me in the car that my poems are boring. Hard to compete with the hip hop act, or the bass guitar and the waa-waa pedal…

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I promised my “New Crayon” post today, as inspired by the amazing Color Online (see link at New Crayon) but  I’ll have to come back to you with that one. I am leaving for the Moms Congress in, gulp, two days and haven’t begun to sort out the packing, the meals for the kids, the final sub plan, or how I am going to transition from this me to that me in Super Hero fashion my Sunday at noon.

Would love to hear from others who have read a particularly moving adoption piece recently, or who have someone or something they feel like we all should know about! Post a comment, or send me an email at mamacandtheboys@gmail.com if you’d like to approach it that way!

Our open adoption part II: the birth father (+ Ghost Story poem)

The first five paragraphs of this post just got transferred to a bus waiting to depart the Mama C terminal at a date to be determined.  I have too many unresolved feelings around a story that is far too biased from my point of view to post it here.

The “open” part of my relationship with Sam’s birth father lasted for about two months after the termination of his parental rights when Sam was eight months old.  In that open period, he and I did have a couple of written exchanges, which, thankfully included an exchange of photos, from here to there, and from there to here.  Then, for reasons I am not going to elaborate on here (more on my part then his), our contact ended. It is my understanding that he is still able to contact us, through our agency, should he wish to do so.  It is my intention, and responsibility to renew that offer. This  is something I haven’t been willing or able to go about yet.  It feels as if it will soon be that time again, in a good way.

Shifting my feelings about things that transpired in between Sam’s birth, and the termination of the birth father’s parental rights eight month’s later  is work that I still have to do.  I’m not ready to tell the story until then.

In the meantime I will say that I keep imagining a positive outcome for Sam and him one day, and hope that I know how to facilitate it, when and if I am asked to. Until then, I’ll keep writing poems, and praying for guidance. In honor of poetry month, and the fact that tomorrow night I am reading two poems (Black Enough, and Crazy Hair Day) to an audience of over 300 at our faculty talent show, I’ll close this post with a poem I wrote about all of this last July. Wild how much has already changed in me, and in Sam since then.

Ghost story

Mom there is a man creeping up right behind you
Sammy says to me after dinner the other night.
I turn around slowly
trying to pretend I am scared.
Noticing I am actually scared.
I get wide eyed and ask him
if he saw a ghost?
No and yes.

He is learning about ghosts.
They like the dark, not the light.
He asks me to talk like they do–make the wooo-wooo sound.
No, not like that! Like this, WOOOO WOOOO.
He wants to be afraid-
he doesn’t want to be afraid.

He won’t go into the little bathroom at night now
since he decided it was the perfect place for one.
This has resulted in several accidents.
I am planning on hosting a tea party
in the dark and inviting this ghost
so we can befriend it.
This will reduce the amount of laundry I have to do.

His ghosts seem so small now-
still wary of the light.

He doesn’t have the ghost of his birth mother’s
choice
to contend with yet.
The ghost of wondering what it would have been like
to have been raised by her,
to have been raised by the beautiful black woman
that shares your blood
and has your eyes
and all the what-else-ghosts
instead of me.

Or is she my ghost, still?

What about his birth father,
what will that ghost look like to Sam?
Will he be the kind that haunts him all of his life
from just behind the door to his identity
as a man,
as a father one day?

Or will that be the ghost Sam meets head on
in his dreams,
or over the phone
when he asks him
how come he didn’t want to be his dad-
when he could have been?