See Theo Run and India McAllister this hand’s for you

Sam with Sam's hand by Sam

One of my favorite adoptive parent bloggers, as you may know, is Harriet, the mama force behind See Theo Run. Her posts are always succinct, beautifully crafted, and appealing to a wide audience. I am almost always shaking my head in the ah-ha way, over there.  Their family’s full immersion in an open adoption is a continuous source of deep learning for her and this avid reader of their journey. She always manages to flavor  her posts with a dash of education, a pinch of insight, and a splash of humor. Her most recent post; Top Three Things Never to Say to an Adoptive Parent, took the wind out of me with this exchange at a recent gathering she was savoring until this moment;

An acquaintance turned around and asked me how my son was doing. I said, “Great, he’s running around like a madman into everything – really hilarious.” She replied, “Where is he from?” <…pause… sigh…>. “We adopted him locally,” I said flatly. “Oh,” she said, “I thought he was from Korea or Vietnam or something.” The whole exchange whooshed by in a matter of minutes making no impression on the asker as my ‘festive, out-on-the-town’ mood temporarily evaporated.

Join her, Theo, and her husband on their relatively new journey (Theo just turned one) and you will be in for a delightful sink in the blog-o-sphere couch, with toddler shrieks, and extended birth parent family celebrations to keep you company, along with vlogs, vidoes, and Harriet’s unique and upbeat voice narrating the tour!

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A chapter book, with an adoptee from China telling her story who is being raised by a single mom, breast cancer survivor, and who has two dads, in a small town in Maine, who has her own blog? Did I dream this up?

Meet India Mcallister in her first book, via this blog post from  The Accidental Adventures of India McAllister, by Charlotte Agell. In this passage, the infinitely likable, strong, and insightful India talks about her birth mother in China:

I have a birth mom but I don’t know her. She’s like a flower whose seed blew away in the wind, and it grew. That seed is me. But my Mommy Mom, she’s like the sun and the rain. That’s what we used to play, when I was little.

In the interest of full disclosure, the book was introduced to me by the fabulous Kirsten Cappy who had the idea to design the blog as a way of introducing new readers to the book in a new way, and as a way to appeal to the young and upwardly technologically savvy readership India would no doubt attract.

When I had the opportunity to meet with Kirsten and the author over iced coffee last summer we had a rich conversation around best practices in talking to children about adoption, and language usage around birth families and adoption. One of the truly satisfying outcomes of that afternoon was this post, where India invites her readers into thoughts about her birth father as well;

My dad is a good hugger. I love hugging him. He smells like old books, garlic, clean laundry, and sometimes toothpaste…I have no clue what my Chinese birth father smells like. There are some things you can never know and there are some things you can’t even imagine. This makes me mad and scared sometimes, but it’s okay.

In a recent review of the book, it is aptly noted that; What gives this book strength and validity is that these topics are never discussed; they are simply part of India’s quotidian existence, presented in her authentic voice. The book may not reflect best practice in the adoption language cannon at all times; like in this line from India; where the words “gave me away” seemed almost archaic to me; “What if my birth mom wants to talk to me and I can’t say anything?  Not that my birth mother would want to talk to me.  She gave me away.” Then I imagined myself reading this book with my child, and realized that India might provide an amazing opportunity for the teachable moments, as well as simply the; “wow, didn’t she say that beautifully?” moments. The accessibility of India, and the appeal of a young Chinese adoptee as the hero of her own story, make this book, and blog a must have for the upper elementary, early middle school reader in your life-adopted or not.

What are you reading out there in the land of adoption that deserves a hand? Shout it out. Let us know. And spread the word if you like what you see here. It’s the good work, and we all deserve a hand now and then!

Sam with milk weed seed prior to launch

Little Linky Love

Kite by Marcel

This morning I met one of my oldest and dearest for a little cup of tea and a check in. When she asked me if I had been writing today (she is a fierce champion of my creative endeavors) I paused for a moment before guiltily responding; No but I did cross about twenty other things of my list. Then I rebounded when I remembered I had met two deadlines this week that I hadn’t even mentioned to her or you all for that matter:

The mothering rage conversation started here has taken on more life over at Moms of Hue on my piece by the same name. Join in and share your feelings about parenting and rage.

My thoughts on how I have, and how others might drop the ball on Marcel’s need for his own cultural literacy and heritage exploration begins over at Mixed and Happy with the post I do for them monthly. This one is called; Teaching the teacher to see her entire blended family.

Publisher’s Weekly Shelftalker piece on the Elephant in the Room of Children’s Literature (about the crisis in the lack of literature for and about children of color and what the publishing industry should do about it) includes a fantastic list of resources for many who have asked how to get your hands on great books for children of color, and all children featuring characters and content of ethnic, gender, and economic diversity for starters. Several of the bloggers you have been introduced to here in various ways appear in that article–including Annie Sibley O’Brien and Susan from Color Online.

I was also pleased to see this recognition for Moms of Hue, and look forward to seeing more of the same come their way soon.

And finally a special nod to the blogger behind, On the Mommy Track who came up to me at a park where the boys and I had happened upon a magical rehearsal of squires and pages and the like.  She introduced herself saying that she knew me from my blog, and loved reading about our family. It was a great moment, and her generosity is what I wish to return here with a little linky love.

You read it here first! Mama C is on it!

You read it here first;

Over at Moms of Hue you’ll find my tribute to the magnificent Edwige, who many of you know as “Our Eddie” in honor of her first day as a college graduate; Honored to watch her capture the world starts like this:

Edwige Charlot didn’t just graduate from college today. She soared. She won more awards than any other student in that auditorium. She was elected by her peers to be the class speaker. She was given a year long scholarship to the Peregrine Press, which has a wait list years long, and will probably be one of the few, and definitely the youngest artist of color, to grace their printing presses with her evocative etchings, and vibrant woodcuts. As I sat in the audience in the middle of a row of her fifteen Haitian family members, looking at her seated on stage, with Sam on my left and Marcel in my lap, I thought to myself, something is right in the world.

Skip on over to Fertile Source to see my never before published (dare I say) chapter about meeting Sam’s birth mom at the hospital that begins like this:

After traveling half way across the country in three snowstorms, for over thirty-six hours, I have finally arrived here-outside of this little North Carolina hospital room at 4:30 in the morning. Down the hall I hear two nurses mumbling, and the sound of generic holiday music coming from somewhere. The smell of last night’s blanched peas and meatloaf, mixed with ammonia lingers in the air.

I knock on the door.

I am a thirty-eight year old woman, standing on the threshold of the most important introduction I will ever make. I wait to hear the voice of the twenty-four year old woman who is about to offer me her child to call my own.

Unless she has changed her mind.

But wait there’s more! My last Adoptive Families piece on what happens when a white adoptive mama walks into a black barbershop with her three year old son and then some starts like this:

Sam’s hair is close-cut and precisely edged. Looking at it from any angle, you can see that this child’s mother knows how to care for his hair. This has not always been the case.

You don’t really need another reason to go over and sign up for a free subscription to this blog, so you can always be in the know do you? Want more of us? Our Facebook fan page is up to 39 real live people like yourself ready to join in the Mama C conversation and chime in on what matters to you! You can do that here.

Thank you for supporting all of these sites, and making my writer’s dream realize itself with your help! Without an audience, this artist would not thrive.

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!

Mom Congress Update

Momentum is building.

Here is the little piece in the local paper.

Here is the link to all of the amazing moms I’ll be working with while in Washington.

I have a lot of fear around leaving my children for two and a half days. I have never been away from them for so long. I have no reason to worry, as I have the best step-in caregivers in the world taking over for me.  Of course, as uber-planner I have lists, schedules, and back up plans in place. I have been prepping them both as best I can. Separation is loaded for both of them for different reasons. But, they also need practice handling their feelings, and learning the strategies that help them to cope. Whatever I forget to predict, and plan for is OK too. How we deal with the unexpected is a good skill to learn. Right?  Gulp.

If I am given fifteen seconds to shine there, what I hope to get across to the delegates, and the assembled guests (including Arne) would be this question; How are we reaching out to the parents of children who did not feel that school worked for them? How can we help them imagine a different outcome for their children? If our mission is to look at how to increase parental involvement in education, is that not an imperative starting point? There a few million other issues I feel passionate about.  Considering my area of expertise (as an educator, multi-racial family advocate, adoptive parent, and honorary mom of hue), focusing on ways to connect with parents who feel disenfranchised or disconnected from education in any way is where I hope to impact the discussion.

Now its your turn: If you had could have your say on the topic, what would you add? Our work, as I understand it, is to look at how to deepen familial involvement in education. What are your insights? What has worked, or not worked for you and your family? What brings you to the classroom table so to speak, or chases you away?

Everything Drawer

I wouldn’t want any of these per se. But I love repetition.

Visually, I love things, usually industrial sized things in repetition.

Maybe a little country house one day, and the yellow, white or ice blue one in the corner with a vase of hand picked wildflowers.

Meantime; my everything drawer looks like this;

a) Momscongress is in two weeks. I have received an agenda, and the event looks jam packed with speakers, town halls, and opportunities for all these U.S. moms to come together, gather thoughts, consider and hopefully reflect. More on that as it gets closer. Right now I am just trying to gather a Washington, D.C. spring outfit together from what I’ve got, and what the Goodwill has if I don’t. I am less and less able to set foot in a clothing/department store and pay all sorts of money for things made my children is sub par working conditions, here and abroad. How many other folks out there are thrift store shoppers? Continue reading “Everything Drawer”

Mirror Mirror on the Wall- Transracial or Mixed After All?

While prepping for a Boys to Men panel where I was asked to speak about “The Challenges and Joys of Raising Boys of Color in a Predominantly White State (Maine),” I did my homework.  I had my outline planned out. I was going to cover what happens when black children’s behavior on the playground is called out disproportionately to their white counterparts, and the importance of attending a black church for starters.

I would call attention to my own internalized racism, and what I was trying to do on a daily basis to unpack it. I would emphasize the joys of  my open adoption relationship given the opportunity, and try to encourage members of the audience to advocate for their children whenever they needed to do so. Then it occurred to me that I didn’t even know what transracial really meant.  Since I used the word to describe my family in my bio, it seemed like a good idea to look up the definition.  I wanted to be able to look like an authority on something, since I figured people were going to take one look at me, and ask, “What is that white woman doing on this panel?” I would arm myself with data, and definitions, in case my personal experience paled in comparison to that of my fellow mother panelists from Puerto Rico and Sudan.

What I discovered was that the definitions just confused matters more:

Transracial: 1. to alter one’s skin or hair to change one’s appearance from one race to another. 2. (the more commonly used definition in adoption lingo) to travel across at least one racial boundary, as in a family of one race, adopting a child of another.

So, by definition, when I adopted my son Sammy (age five, African American, adopted domestically at birth), we became, because of our racial differences, transracial. Then, when I brought Marcel into the world (age two) with the help of an African American donor, I then conceived transracially according to definition.  Does the president who also had a white mother, talk about his family growing up as transracial? Perhaps the term itself was not one his mother had ever heard. The fact of the matter is that it is the only term I have ever used to describe my family, or heard used to describe it. With our heightened awareness over the choice we have over the words we use or don’t use to name ourselves on the census, I looked at transracial in a new light. What does using the word to describe my family mean about us, and more importantly what is it not saying?

This post was written for my debut post, as the debut guest blogger on Mixed and Happy. I initially posted only this “teaser” here. Please read the whole article there, and check out their site! Then come back and leave your thoughts on this topic here too!

Continue reading “Mirror Mirror on the Wall- Transracial or Mixed After All?”

Beautiful Blog Love-Pass it On.

I found out that we  had a ticket to go see Obama, the same day that I was awarded this generous and lovely prize from a new found inspirational Mama across the country, Miss Bar B.  Miss Bar B and I became acquainted first through Moms of Hue,  and have since found some sweet sisterly mutual respect and admiration across the ether through comments and emails. Continue reading “Beautiful Blog Love-Pass it On.”

Spilling over the 3×5

This week began with two posts by me, or featuring me away from Mama C: one discussing Sam’s reaction to being excluded from certain social dynamics at school, (and being the one who does the excluding), compared to my feelings of being “other” at a bridal shower at MomsofHue. The other appeared at my Open Adoption Blogger interview partner’s site; Adoption Aint for Sissies. Jill’s excellent questions allowed me to reflect on a few things that I have never taken on here in the same voice or light. Please stop by her site, read the interview, and let her know you’re there. She is an amazing woman, who I am honored to have met here.

Then today I was asked to preview an upcoming article that I wrote for Adoptive Families Magazine-which looks stellar. It is due out in May. I had to call Cordell, the owner of a local black barbershop to check out that I had everyone’s names correct. He was amused to say the least about the fact that him and his colleagues were going to be in Adoptive Families Magazine. He said Sam was good for a free line up if he liked the article. Continue reading “Spilling over the 3×5”

Happy National Single Parent’s Day

Coming into it a little late.  But, since everyday is single parent’s day to most, feel free to celebrate it all week, month, year long.

I first learned about this auspicious day at  Single Mama NYC and that is also where you’ll find some suggestions for celebrating too.  I did yoga this morning, while surrounded by a room of married women, and a bride to be at a bridal shower surprise gathering. The irony of it being National Single Parent’s Day was something I kept to myself. The fact that this day was introduced into the lexicon of excuses to buy yourself a gift, or support the greeting card industry by Ronald Reagan is something I can’t keep to myself.

My children have been borderline angelic today. That’s enough celebration for me.

Stop by tomorrow when I’ll be unveiling my interview with my Open Adoption Blogger Interview Partner. Time to make dinner in celebration of my status as a National Single Parent!