Forward and then some

Things are looking up!

A new perspective is often the outcome of a painful situation. I am learning that I need to slow down and take in new and often uncomfortable information about myself before I will be able to move “forward”. Only then can I do so with ferocity and care.

Forward does not mean “move on”. Forward means movement towards the future. If I’m not happy with how I do things (parent, love, nourish, connect, create, agitate) I get clear about why and what to do with that moving forward.

Recently a judge granted my husband and I an uncontested divorce. For months I grieved for all that would be lost in saying goodbye to the relationship I was wholy invested in. At the same time I was holding my two sons in their own unique ongoing grieving process. We are all figuring it out and adjusting. This has been such a difficult and painful time.

I have not moved on from loving as fully as I knew how. I remind myself that I did the best I knew how at the time, and have grown from every choice I had to make for me, and for the well being of my family. I wish Shrek a healing and meaningful journey towards happiness in the future as well.

The boys and I are good. We have arrived as only we know how in this moment, together. I trust that we will do so with compassion and integrity and a fearless desire to be guided by both. I watch as my children question what love and commitment can look like and trust their own hearts in the process.

In the next few weeks I will be sharing several new directions Mama C and the Boys are going. There are some really big changes afoot and some that I will look to your guidance and feedback in bringing to life. I look forward to including you on the journey.

Keeping them safe (Part I)

When something happens to your kid every cell goes on alert. This is the basic rewiring of parenthood. It happens before birth, before you ever meet them.

The strartle, the call to action, the profound need to be with them to comfort, to soothe, to protect, to make right is a drive that builds daily and there is nothing that takes that ferocity of maternal (in my case) caring away from you.

I would like to tell you it is the same feeling for every child, and does not discriminate between biological or adopted offspring. But to me that is not necessarily true. With Sammy, I have an extra super hero power and drive-as I am not only answering to God or myself when responding to a situation. I am answering to all of his family, past and present. In addition as a white woman I am carrying generations of historical oppression into the story as well. The very oppression that causes adoption to need to take place at all in this culture. All of these layers are at play.

I am not raising him in the religious tradition, and a million other ways he would’ve been had he been raised by his mother and family. This is a huge loss for him, and them. And while he and I spend time with them each year it is not the same, and never enough.

So as an adoptive parent my vigilance for keeping him safe, and holding those accountable who intentionally or otherwise harm him is thus deeply magnified. This is not to say I’m not AS driven to protect Marcel. It’s more about the consequences and aftermath. It is also of course magnified 1000 times because I am not Black, and so far neither is the person (or institution) causing the harm. This is hugely impactful in my assigning meaning to events that transpire around both my sons.

In a subsequent post I will share a few examples of what holding others accountable looks like from here, and how it has evolved for me over time. So much so that recently when I asked Sam; “How did I handle that?” He said; “Great. I can tell you things again. Not like when I was in 5th grade. You were out of control.” More on that, and how accurate Sam’s observation is next time.

In the meantime, let’s keep doing EVERYTHING we can to keep them all safe, all the time, and not just while they’re sleeping.

That newborn will wake up in a man’s body before you know it.

When you make the decision to be a transracial adoptive parent to a newborn, or infant, you may not realize at the time that they will grow up to become transracially adopted teens, and adults.

At our house, at this moment we are navigating the world of being a brown-skinned teenager in the body of an adult brown-skinned man.

All the rules have changed. My son is being seen as a man, long before he has the understanding of what that means.

When him and I walked into town to celebrate his successful first week in 8th grade with a slice of pizza last week- the looks I received were completely different than the looks I received when he was in the stroller or in my arms or running ahead of me or at leaat not as tall as me. I picked up on sneers, glares, and projections of discomfort and dis-ease that I had not seen before.

Just when you think you have some understanding of the work ahead of you everything changes. Spoiler alert: you never really had any idea of the work you needed to do.

My son recently began dating a 13 year old white girl. I met her parents. I wanted to make sure they knew who their daughter was dating. I make sure he sends me a picture of him with her and their friends if they are at a football game, or the mall. And when they go out I refuse to let him walk home in the dark with her alone. To do so could be risking his life.

“Did your mother leave you in a box at the store?”

A friendly reminder: just because your teenager is not telling you that they are hearing the same hateful things they heard in elementary school around adoption doesn’t mean it stopped. Negative adoption talk (and even more so with the transracial adoptee) potentially becomes even more prevalent in middle school when the notion of difference is so deeply amplified.

I learned from my younger son that my older son was asked if he was; “Left in a box by his real mother?” last week. What the child added after that was too ugly for me to leave on this blog.

How my son handled these comments from the other child (who was, it has been suggested, jealous of my son for his performance on the basketball court), was completely justified in my opinion.

My younger son chose to connect with the child who made the comments and let him know that an apology was necessary. Because of my younger son’s social capital that apology was delivered. (My younger son said he could not be friends with someone who could hurt his brother that way.) As a family we talked about how we can help create a deeper understanding of what adoption really looks like in the moments that follow. For example did this young man know that my son spends time every summer with his family in Washington State? Did this young man consider how fortunate my son is to have so many parents and grandparents and siblings love him as family?While that is helpful and informative for next time it does not address the pain and discomfort my son experiences every time this happens.

As a transracial adoptive parent is our job to be vigilant and aware that these types of attacks are ongoing and impactful. Thankfully I was given a reminder to check in and let him know that I still want to hear all of it, and at the very least be able to offer my compassion and understanding, to the best of my ability. At thus age, that’s likely all I can do. But, if he needs something more, he’ll let me know.

Mama C Calls It Forth

Recently I went away to one of my favorite places in the world (so far) for a weekend with a single-mama friend to meditate, write, swim, laugh, and listen to God.

I connect to my visionary spirit, and my soul in this healing spot that I’ve been coming to since I was seven. When I get quiet, and a respite from my parenting modality I return in a palpable way to what I know to be true.

This time that truth cleary took shape in three distinct areas:

  • First is a deepening commitment to my sons feeling celebrated and accepted for exactly WHO THEY ARE today. (Middle school requires ferverent monitoring. Who are you-vs. who do you begin to believe your peers/teachers/ society or family says you SHOULD be.) This demands my being fully present, compassionate and flexible.
  • Second I heard that I will return to my dream of creating a one woman performative event (monologue/story telling+poetry) celebrating and exposing my first fifty years on the planet, and the events and people who shaped it.
  • Third, a new direction calls for my fifteen years as a transracial adoptive, biological, single and partnered parent. I will be unveilling this in more detail soon, but for the time-being it is already thrilling to announce it simply as a “Coming soon: Mama C Coaching and Consulting”. How can you help? If a particular post, conversation, article, or anything “Mama C” has been of help to you on your transracial/adoptive single or partnered/parenting/blending/ donor or other journey will you consider leaving me a comment I could use on my promotional materials?

I look forward to hearing from you, and hope everyone can create a little quiet space for themselves in the near future.

Bring all your #BrownBoyJoy

As back to school day pictures flood the social media channels, I feel tender-hearted looking at the three of us. Having taught middle school for fourteen years I know full well that this picture may become more precious to me than most.

Marcel’s sweet hold on me, and his joyful innocent anticipation of all that middle school could be will soon shift. A former principal I worked with for a decade would always start the 6th grade back-to-school night the same way; “You are going to witness the greatest change in your child this year since they started their school career. So buckle up. It’s going to be a great ride.”

As his mother I want to protect that innocence and joy with every ounce of Mama-bear I have in me. As an educator and parent of a now 8th grader too, I know my effort will be better spent accepting, adjusting to and celebrating all that he will become.

As a mother of two beautiful brown boys I start the year with a larger prayer that they are seen and safe in their #BrownBoyJoy by their teachers and peers. That I will not be called in again this year to navigate how the school could or should have handled that racial slur differently. Or find myself on the phone carefully laying out how the curriculum does not accurately represent people of color, or does so in a demeaning or destructive way. Mostly I pray my sons will always walk through the halls standing tall and proud in their glorious bodies with their full hearts and hopeful and hungry minds.

May all of our babies believe in their potential to achieve whatever they imagine their highest version of themselves to become.

(Seven years ago today.)

Reunion (poem)

Yesterday a copy of my most recent publication in a poetry anthology arrived in the mail. This poem feels like an arrival on so many levels as the readers of this blog can well imagine.

Keep writing. Keep telling your story. Hold the pencil and let God do the rest! We need to hear what you have to say.

Neptune & Poseidon

Summers in Maine are as magical as they are brief. We are so blessed to live thirty minutes from many beaches with multiple personalaties. On several occasions the boys are “convinced” (forced family fun) to join me on an early afternoon excursion. Earlier this week we stayed for several hours. The fog lifted and the sun was triumphant. The highlight for me was body surfing together with them for almost an hour! Well and the fact that they allowed PHOTOGRAPHS. They were willing, and the light was a generous co-conspirator for some miraculous captures.

We’ve spent a very private summer overall. On my own, and as a family we have been invited to look very closely at the inner landscapes of who we are. This has been some of the hardest and most revealing work for all of us individually.

Fortunately we have been growing deeply in the process, amd learning to see each other in our our messiness, grief, struggle, joy and strength. At times you may choose to be a Greek or Roman diety to help you embrace all that you know you are.

I’m looking forward to returning to the blog soon on a more regular basis to share some of these explorations. In addition we had our third birth family and donor reunion tour in early July, which is packed with stories and ah-ha’s to come.

In the meantime may you all experience the gifts of love, joy, and kindness in both expected and surprising ways.