“Sammy before church. I told him how proud you’d be of him, looking so sharp. Happy Easter to you and your family.”
I included the above picture.
I pictured her and her family at church. It was one of the real reasons we rallied to go too. If he were being raised by his biological mother, I know she would have taken him to church today. I imagine he would have been dressed this well with her too. Of this I have little doubt. Continue reading “What I want us all to see”→
1. Sam had nothing but great things to say about his new school all week. His teacher reports that he is fitting right in. His favorite thing about it? “All the friends I have already.” Continue reading “Thankful on this Friday”→
The decision to go visit and then not visit Sam’s first family last summer, is one I am working through today.
We’re all still working out way through this one. Perhaps the hardest part for me is the not knowing how this impacted Tea*, and her relationship with him. I sense she may still feel angry at me–hurt–frustrated? I did not tend to our relationship in the aftermath in the way I should have. I retreated so hard and so fast after it happened, because I felt like I had done something so wrong–publicly and privately by putting so much energy into that trip. And, although I am certain (because of things I have chosen not to talk about here-those moments in our childrens lives we must protect) that I made the right choice for Sammy**-I sense I made a very wrong choice for her and her other kids, and her parents. All of this wondering is coming up for me so hard because for the first year in Sam’s life we have not heard from her at his birthday or Christmas. Everyday I race to the mailbox and feel my heart sink when there is nothing there. Continue reading “An end of the year ache-and a call for wisdom from first/birth parents”→
At 4:45 the agency called. His first mom had decided that she did want to meet me. Our closed adoption was now going to open right up.
She was waiting to hear from me.
She was what? Welcome to parenthood: make no assumptions or plans.
Sam’s favorite part of the story is when I ran all around the house screaming; “He’s born. My son is born. Oh my God. He’s born. He’s here. Oh my God. My son.” Or something like that.
I was the only one there.
But, not for much longer.
His Tia spent the night here last night to help celebrate #1 this morning. She is the one who joined me in our 36 hour (due to weather , not distance) traveling adventure to Sam. The first time I held him was at early on the morning of December 24th.To read an account of that day, you can go to my essay called; “Taking Care of the Sad Part.”
Right now Sam is playing “In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight..” on the keyboard.
Sam’s goals for the coming year:
Drop in at the big bowl (skateboard park lingo).
Play all the songs I want on the piano.
Go to the bounce house.
Go to the roller rink.
Snow board better than anyone.
Read a chapter book.
Talk to my birth father.
Eat candy whenever I want.
Happy Birthday Baby. This is the anniversary of one of the two happiest days of my life. And, it always will be.
post script: This is my 400th post, on the 7th anniversary of Sam’s birth. Dag gone cool.
Although I haven’t listened to it yet (something about listening to my own voice on the radio..) I wanted to pass along the link to the interview with me on Safe Space Radio “a live forum for courageous conversations” last week. The topic: inter-racial adoption. Here is the summary from Dr. Anne-the show’s host:
An interview with public school teacher, poet and blogger, Catherine Anderson about adopting her son Sam. Catherine describes her decision to adopt and how she thought she understood racism before parenting. She describes her experience of those “grocery store moments” when she has to respond to other people’s surprise and inappropriate comments in front of her son. She speaks movingly about her relationship with Sam’s birth mom and how strong the pull is to keep proving to her that she is doing a good job. She describes the ways that she talks to Sam about race, and the ways that she, as a white woman, feels she can and cannot prepare him to be a black man in Maine. Catherine reads her beautiful poem, Black Enough to open and close the interview.
It was a hard interview for me going into it, because I knew that I was offering myself up as the slide for the transracial parenting race related microscope-something I am more and more comfortable doing for the most part. I remember wondering afterwords “was there any content in that half hour?” But in retrospect that is because I was evaluating my own story as story teller as a memory in the setting of microphones, engineers and a powerhouse of a host. My goal was to put myself out there in a way that might allow someone else to do the same, in their own journey. Enjoy my interview with Dr. Anne. When I have the ability to listen to it, I’ll come back and offer a little more meat to what it feels like to me to hear the exchange. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you–because that is who I was talking to.
My son will be starting a new school in the new (calendar) year.
Updated post as of December 21st. 2011:
He stepped out of the old building with his head held high, and his pack full of artifacts and fabulous memories. Before he left-he hugged his amazingly caring, and dear to all of us teacher after giving her her favorite thing: a pink rose. Then he presented his class with a bag of sweet tangerines for their snack that day. He found other adults in the building he had formed important connections with–and had appropriate good-byes. In the car he announced to me; “That was easy Mom!” I cried a few hidden tears, and headed us out of the driveway to our next destination-some new school new clothes, and then a visit to the new school (saving this for another post).
So why did we leave? I described it to him this way; “You were at an amazing school, that was just the right place for you, while you were there. And now you are going to a school that can see all of you the way you and I do. A school that can see you as a scientist, a writer, an athlete, a musician, a diplomat, a great friend, a wonderer, a mover, an explorer, and a brown skin chocolatey boy in all his big glory!” Sam’s eyes got so wide. This landed with him in important ways. His largess in the world, and the physical largess of the building we are transitioning to are in sync. He feels this on many levels.
Translation: my son loves to move in so many ways. We have found a school that has programming and structures in place that can give him the space and encouragement to do that (physically, emotionally, socially and academically) in ways that as his mother, and as an educator I see are a better fit over all then where he was. It is not important to me to talk about how we came to this discovery–but to celebrate how right a move it was for our family. Marcel is part of the story too–as several of his dearest friends already attend, and will attend next year in kindergarten the same school with him. It is quite possible that we will also move into the “neighborhood “that the school serves at some point in the not so distant future. We need a back yard, neighbors to play ball with, and a street to ride our bikes on. We are all shifting in other ways too. The move seems to welcome and encourage these shifts in unexpected and magnificent ways.
He will be deeply missed. I will deeply miss so much of what I cherished and valued there. But, with even a few days out, I see that all of that good stays with us, and just builds on what we are coming into. I will be writing about the new, in the new year. For now it is about honoring the space between the two.
I will be on LIVE radio tonight! (7:30PM Eastern time) the guest on Dr. Anne’s; “Safe Space Radio“. If you follow the link to the station you can link up to it on the internet I believe. But that is way above my head. (I’ll post the link to the recording of the show next week.) It’s all of half an hour on the subject of transracial adoption.
After hanging up the phone with the host last night, during our pre-interview talk, I felt confident, and competent on so many matters in this arena from my point of view. Meaning, after almost seven years in the role as adoptive transracial Mama, I can claim with ease and semi-clarity my views on the joyous messiness of it all. I understand that these beliefs and understandings shift, and are meant to. It is a relief to finally understand that there is no absolute best way to do any of this adoptive/transracial/parenting dance we are permanently on the floor trying to get right. On the floor is a wildly appropriate metaphor no?
One last departure and arrival of note: I am dropping off the photobook to mail to Sam’s birth father (care of the agency) this afternoon. We had to arrive safely as a family first in a place where the decision to put it out there, and to release control over the outcome was quietly agreed upon.
After the responses I received from yesterday’s posts (off line, FB messages and on the post) I thought I better remind my fantastic followers that I also live over on the other side of this is hard a great deal of the time.
Things I am grateful for as a single mom:
1. Cuddles, huggles, night night needs, pile ups, spooning, and movie nights in my bed.
2. Planning vacations wherever we want to go, and asking whoever we want to come with us.
3. Cooking for kids, and leftovers for me works just fine.
4. We only need a little car.
5. Immense pride when my kids do well, which is very often because this highly functioning, loving, with it parent is absolutely enough and my kids are doing beautifully in this family of three.
6. How easy it is for people to accept offers to help.
7. During my journey to Sam, and birthing MarcelI was able to choose the people I knew could handle all of the mess and the joy with the most ease and skill. Having that lifetime connection with them.
8. When the pediatrician says things like; “Catherine I have no concerns whatsoever about these kids, or your ability to raise them as a single parent. In fact, you really do a bang up job and it shows in so many ways…” And then the next day when another doctor says; “Go home and tell your husband…” and I say; “I don’t have one, but if I did I probably wouldn’t share that with him anyway.” And he balks and says; “Oh I’m sorry.” And I look at him like he has multi-colored slime all over him, and say; “Why? I’m not. I choose to do this on my own, and I’m doing beautifully.”
9. Dancing to All the single ladies in the kitchen, cranked up super high at least four times in a row with the boys, pointing to our rings while swishing the rest of us-and feeling like it is some kind of ridiculously meaningful ritual.
10. Being able to listen to the lowered voices of the wives/partners who admit in secret that they; “sometimes wish they could change places with me…and didn’t have to worry about their husbands/partners who are not employed/taking care of themselves/unreliable/cheating/not present as parents/glued to the television. Realizing hard is just hard.
Things I’m grateful for as a transracial mom:
1. My entire white mind world was turned inside out, and the new version is 6000% better and improving daily.
2. The strength and beauty that comes from living in the margins.
3. Opportunities to advocate for children (and families) of color (mine and others). A new found voice to talk about bias and education for starters. Learning the difference between speaking for someone, and speaking of that which I notice is a systemic inequity that starts with my own stuff is a hugely satisfying part of that work and path.
4. The new families that are in my life because we are all parenting in the hue.
5. Buying as many of the Black Barbie and other dolls as I can from the Toys R Us so that they identify the need and increase their inventory.
6. Giving those dolls away.
7. The friendship with my son’s donor and the possibility of a deepening relationship with Sam’s first family.
8. Feeling uncomfortable on a cellular level when I realize everyone in the restaurant is white, and choosing to go somewhere else instead. Sam agreeing that is a good idea. Discovering three mixed/ families of color at the following restaurant, and learning that one of them knows us from the blog.
9. The incredible support and connection of the adoption community in real and ether time.
A few days ago a reader contacted me with a request for help in preparing her daughter to meet her first mom for the first time. I know precious little really. But, I have the amazing fortune of being connected to many who know much more. So I asked her if I could share this story out here on the ether in case you all had some great wisdom to share (names have been changed). At the end of her story, I’ve included what I took away from this summer of not meeting Sam’s first family, and of the ease in meeting Tree. What resources, suggestions, or lived wisdom can you share? Continue reading “A reader asks for help: How to prepare a 3 year old to meet her first mom?”→