Dear Sammy (You were so brave last night)

Sammy and Marcel (after Mama C neatened up the hair)/ Mama C and the Boys

Dear Sammy,

Since I know Grampy loves to read the blog in the morning-I thought I’d write this post to you-for after your morning donut and cartoons on the couch. For before you take off on some fantastic adventure with your grandparents! I just wanted to write to you and remind you that: you were so brave last night.

Sleeping at Grammy and Grampy’s– without Mommy or Marcel there–now that takes courage.

Asking Grammy to call me one more time, with  your full heart, and tired out body, to tell me that you missed me too–that was such a strong thing to do! Letting the tears flow, so your body could settle-how powerful to be able to listen to all of you like that!

And Sam, when I sang Swing Low to you over the phone, I could feel you in my arms- and I imagined it was my hand rubbing your back. Your body became so calm, and I heard your breathing quiet. I was right there. Like I’ll be tonight too!

Remember last week when you launched yourself on the flying Taco at the water park–something I was too scared to even approach? You amazed me with your I know I can just like that again last night.

OK enough mommying! Go have another donut, (yes I said you could have TWO) watch some more cartoons, keep Grammy and Grampy on their toes, and don’t forget your hair!

I love you Lamby, and so does your little brother!

Mama and Marcel

PS–when I asked Marcel if he had a good night last night he said; “I would have had more fun even if I didn’t miss my brother so much!”

Adoption Tax Credit Information Link and Survey

Feeling the love for the IRS/Mama C and the Boys

Update: 5/30/2011 My credit arrived!!! The process looked like this: I submitted the paper work they asked for (after I was initially told I needed to resubmit with their revised form) on April 21. I did this via fax. I was assigned a case # and case manager (discovered by calling the IRS using the number on the initial inquiry for additional information letter). They had 30 days to review the case, and make a decision. After that I was told they had another 45 days to act on that decision. IN MY CASE: they finished the review a few days shy of the 30, and paid electronically a week later. My credit was also one of the grandfathered ones (as I finalized in 2005). THERE IS HOPE.


I am practicing a letting go, and it will be the perfect time when it does come approach to this.  How about you?

If you are not in the loop about all of the delays and frustration around the Adoption Tax Credit (ATC) then you may want to stop reading right now. Enjoy your bliss. If you are not the least bit impacted by this check back tomorrow for one of my best photos in a long time! If neither a) nor b) apply to you please read on.

Dawn from Creating a Family (one of the adoptive Mama/ adoption gurus in my online life) asked me to share this link about the adoption tax credit-in an attempt to help as many as possible. Please pass along to those you know might be interested.  The piece is wildly helpful, and includes a survey to help gather data (about who is getting their refund back, how long it took etc.). I even sent the link to my accountant.

In the meantime I will keep sending happy helpful wishes to the good people at the IRS for working this all out expeditiously for one and all.  This approach will preserve my youthful good looks, and overall positive demeanor.

Don’t “just hockey” me… Mama C speaks out

Below is an excerpt from the letter that I sent the owner of the Portland Pirates hockey team , Brian Petrovek, after chaperoning my son’s kindergarten class to a “Kids Hockey Game Day” provided to Maine’s school children by his franchise. After assuring the administrators of many schools that “violence would not be part of this kids day event” permission slips were sent home, arrangements made. Continue reading “Don’t “just hockey” me… Mama C speaks out”

Single Parenting in South Korea (Japan and Asia in our hearts)

I don’t have a lot of words for any of this. Perhaps my heart’s unstoppable gravitation to all the people and parents and children in Japan, and neighboring countries is also at play in my emotional reaction here.  Who of us doesn’t on some level imagine our own parenting through a natural disaster these days?

As a single mother with a zillion more resources, and as an adoptive parent I experienced this visual story on so many layers. For the women in this slideshow what they are taking on every day in “normal” times is beyond what I face in the worst of times.  It is a New York Time’s slideshow from 2009. I came across it last night while being shaken inside out reading  this incredible blog by a Korean adult adoptee called Yoon’s Blur. As Color  Online wrote yesterday, Japan and Asia are in her heart. The Red Cross is where her and my contributions are going (she links to many charities you can support) today.

What’s in a birthday? A birth story.

When I was born, or so the story goes, my mom asked the doctor if he was SURE I was a girl. He was very reassuring that he knew the difference.

Talk about the situation of your birth dictating your life story! I am the mother/father, the tomboy, the choice mom, the single adoptive mom, the donor assisted pregnant woman who came to all her prenatal visits alone. I have short hair, and big bones. I played soccer, and feared the ballet teacher. I can wear a dress with cowboy boots.

But even if she couldn’t believe I was really a girl, my mom did not have to question where I’d be in forty-eight hours. I was coming home with her.  I was not leaving the hospital in the arms of a relative stranger*, carefully chosen or not. All this time, I have known only my first mom. My entire biological family would come to know me in all my glory and greatness. In all my whiny spoiledness.

The first thing I saw was the top of Sam’s soft, fuzzy brown head, cradled in his first mom’s arms sitting in her bed in the dimly lit hospital room. He was one and half days old. He was sleeping. It was 4:45am. She didn’t even look up, when I knocked  softly and entered the small room. I was coming to take her son from her.  I have never told the story this way.

Birthing Marcel, and waiting to hold  him in my arms was not what I imagined. It was touch and go there at the end, what with wrapped cords, and inconsistent heart monitors. For a few minutes I thought I had lost him, before I had him.  I still can reach that terror place, if pushed. I lived with that moment for all of three minutes.

That is not the same as birthing him, to lose him.

Then when I finally got to feel Marcel’s precious and perfect little curly haired miracle in my arms, I sobbed. I wailed. I went primal. The nurses thought I was postpartum crazy. I was.  I was wailing for Sam, and everything he lost the moment I arrived in his life.  I felt their combined loss on a new hormonally infused, and physically painful way.

Taking him from her, was not joyful. It was devastating and crushing. It was supposed to be the “happiest” moment of my life, and I can still feel the terror and dread in my heart as I approached them both. I felt that I had no business being in that room. I was overcome by the grief. She said; “I need you to give this baby only your joy. Save all the sad part for me.”  Her maternal and selfless plea to me, was to give him relief from this devastating sad. She wanted me to leave the hospital and come back with joy. She gave me permission to enter into the happiest moment of my life.

I was born forty three years ago today.  My mother makes sure to remind me, all humor aside, that having this  little girl was a dream come true. Marcel made me a card of a blue bear eating a Storm Trooper while wearing his fireman outfit to keep us safe when I blew out my candles. Sam hid in the living room, and copied the words “Happy Birthday” off of a sign we made him for his birthday on the wall. He added the “Mom”, and the “Love, Sam.” At the bottom of the card he drew the two of us, side by side.

Unlike the birthday card he drew for his first mom on her birthday, he and I were not holding hands.  I can interpret that as all the independence he feels with me. I can remind myself that he gets to hold my hand when ever he wants. I can also feel very deeply that if the world were a different place Sam’s first mom would be the only one receiving cards from him on her birthday.

Marcel just woke up, climbed in my lap and asked me if it was time to eat cake! The kid is on to something.

To allowing the sadness and the joy of all of our birth stories to be told. That is my wish for today.


This post is a reminder to myself, that there is a reason we normally celebrate birthdays. This post is to help me understand all of my deep feelings on the subject. This post was a response to John Riable’s post Decolonizing Transracial Adoption, brought to my attention by Inventing Liz on her roundup post of good reads last week. This post has taken me a week to write. No this post has taken me six years and three months to write.

*There is no way to represent the countless ways in which an adoptive parent and a birth parent/family are matched. From completely closed, or unknown birth parents, to adopting your niece and everything in between my intention is to make the point that in most cases the adoptive parent is more or less a stranger considering the context of the placing of a child in that person’s hands and life.

My daddy is a Storm Trooper: making sense of the donor thing

Mama C and the Boys/ Don't forget your hat

Marcel was playing with his Legos, while I was working on yesterday’s Letter to LePage. I missed the first part of this conversation. I tuned in loud and clear when I heard; OK Daddy you can have my light saber. Then I watched a masterfully orchestrated dance between a Storm Trooper guy, a little Lego guy and a big Playmobil guy.  Sometimes they are “guys” and sometimes they are “friends”. The conversation continued:

Is that everything you need Daddy? OK. Don’t forget your hat. I have it, and I am wearing it. But you need it too. I will hold it, until the other Storm Trooper guy goes home. You can have it then. OK Daddy. Now we have to go in the firetruck. You can come too. Here is your hat. OK? Continue reading “My daddy is a Storm Trooper: making sense of the donor thing”

Am I pushing the first mom piece too far?

Family portrait take II. Sam, Marcel and Mom (dark hair)

Have you ever embraced a parenting strategy, or approach to raising your child that seemed to be such a great idea, you couldn’t imagine why everyone didn’t praise your good judgment?In the first five years of my mamahood I have felt rather adamant about a few such discoveries including; sling wearing, sleep training, “Magic 1-2-3“, formula is best, nursing is best, co-sleeping, organic produce, water filters, providing children with choices.

But lately I’ve been thinking that there is a much larger premise I have assumed was the right choice for Sam, (my six year old son, adopted transracially and domestically at birth) that I question now. I believe that incorporating his birth story into our lives with frequency and normalcy is the key to his successful identity formation in the long-term. But, lately I have been wondering if I don’t take it too far sometimes. Is there a too far?

Take for example this story. Sam is on the floor, playing with a new toy he got on his birthday.“Mom? Do you see my bus go by your school every morning?”

“I don’t think so, baby. The road is on the other side of my building. Why?” I answer with little thought.

“Uh. Just because everyday when it goes by, I blow you a kiss, and tell you that I love you, “ he answers without looking up. What transpired afterwords was an awful lot of loving from me, and a few happy tears.

Later that afternoon, I had a very different response. I wondered if I have worked so hard to create a space for Sam to love both his first mom (birthmom) and me, that I in some ways fail to definitively claim the space of everyday MOM for him and me.


To read more of my thoughts on this, and hopefully to add yours please go to the rest of the post at Mixed and Happy which will be appearing today, Tuesday.

Trouble Tuesday: Letting them feel it

Mama C and the Boys/ Sammy

This month I am devoting Tuesday’s post to trouble. Things that give me, or someone in the Mama C collective (family, friends, our safety net) trouble. It is not meant to bring trouble energetically towards us, but to let it go, move through it.

Mama C and the Boys/ Sammy 2 .2011

SO why these photos with this topic? Besides the obvious–that Sam looks like he is having some hard feelings-it is about how much trouble I have with photos, moments like these.

Imagine if once a year instead of holiday cards we all sent Trouble Cards? Pictures of all of us pouting, in a funk, distant, troubled. Being our full selves.

So often I write stories in my head about Sam’s troubles.

Truth is, as he gets older, I will know less and less.

At the time we were at a friend’s house for  breakfast. Their kids are both Black, related to each other, and adopted. They look alike, as biological siblings can. They have a mom and a dad. They have a supersonic video game thing on the television. Was any of this on Sam’s mind? Or was it just time for some quiet? 

I have trouble letting him just be Sam-my son who can be a million miles away. Sam my son, who is not distant from me because we are not genetically related, but because he is Sam in this life. Remarkable, beautiful, energetic, loving, smart, athletic Sam who, at this moment may or may not be having a hard time.

My job is to let it happen, help him manage it, talk about it, or maybe just let him be?

Mama C and the Boys/ Sammy 3: 2011

My job is to model that I recover from my troubles in a healthy way, most of the time. My job is to allow myself to hold a hard time in one hand, and the understanding that it will pass in the other


What is your strategy around your kids and their troubles? Their big feelings? What can you share?

Note on the postaday process: It is actually incredibly helpful for me to devote a day to this. I have a notebook I keep on m desk, and I jot notes down for what I might post about on the days I’ve established. It is helping the blog write itself. And as I take pictures, I begin to see where they might land, or have in mind a picture I need for a post.