line up

line up with Roy/ Mama C and the Boys 2011

Last night our friend Roy gave Sam a line up for picture day.

I still fret and wonder about what his birth mother will infer when she looks at the school picture each year.

I want her to approve of his style, smile, hair, and overall presence.

I want to reassure her that he is loved, beyond fine, healthy, thriving,  fashionable, provided for, self confident, and happy.

I want her to look at his picture and know that she made the right choice.

A nice line up isn’t going to have that effect on her.

I’d do anything I could if I thought it might.

Of course my job is to know that she did.

when you sleep (to Sam)

mama c and the boys all rights reserved 2011

when you sleep

when you sleep
you are still able

to fit into the crook of my arms
and I have never yelled at you once.

you are in your mother’s belly floating
fully in the safety of a shared

unfettered universe

a feather on the heron’s head
stealth and still on the water’s edge of your pre(me)memory

where I am not your mother-
and you could be anyone’s

son. I am the roof keeping you dry
and the unrecognizable shred of a blanket between your fingers

I am not the ship sailing with you shackled in my berth
or your mother who grieved your mother’s loss at your brother’s birth

when you sleep you are not a transracial anything
or a deep brown everything

but a galactic breath deep and deepening

landing on the pillow next to your
little brother’s breath

who already knows you better than I do
only imagining that I am your mother awake

Landing at the lake

Believe it or not, I’m in the parking lot of the town hall near the lake using the free wi-fi. A dear friend is visiting for the afternoon so I am stealing this moment to let you know how well the family is doing.  So many of you have been so generous in your check ins, comments, and thoughts.  Yes, there were moments when I felt deep pangs of loss that I was not in a hotel pool splashing around with Sam’s birth family across the country.  But those have been few and far between. Sam hasn’t mentioned it once. So, I am letting it be, for now. I suppose it is as simple as noticing that this is where we are now, in every sense of the word. And, it is exactly where we need to be.  See for yourself. Continue reading “Landing at the lake”

Naming and claiming and prepping us all (Reunion update)

Six and half years ago/ Mama C and the Boys

I include the picture above to remind me, and Sam one day if he reads this blog, just how much he will have changed since his first mom last saw him. In the posts leading up to our visit, I’ll continue to include pictures of the first time we met. He was a few weeks old here.


We were looking at a slideshow of the hotel that we are going to be staying in next month when we visit Sam’s birth family when the following conversation happened:

Me: Maybe Tea and the kids would like to come swimming?

Sam: Do they swim as well as I do?

Me: I don’t know. We’ll find out. You’re an amazing swimmer. Continue reading “Naming and claiming and prepping us all (Reunion update)”

Brotherhood at camp (and a special request to my readers)

M&M 6/302011/ Copyright K. Mngqibisa

What an incredible few days on the blog. Over 900 hits, seven new subscribers, and so many NEW folks joining in on the conversation–which is brave and so appreciated. Three people have started discussions with me about guest posts for the coming months, and suggestions for future “vignettes” have been emailed, tweeted, and one person even called! Keeping my eye out for a carrier pigeon.

Continue reading “Brotherhood at camp (and a special request to my readers)”

Celebrating Mothers (Plural) Day

Mama's Day Portrait x2/Mama C and the Boys

Sam’s drawing above is a remarkable likeness! Best line from the other part of the project: My mom is beautiful because: she is herself. Biggest uh-oh line from the project: My mom loves: klening (cleaning)*. Line that tells me we’re alright: I love my mom because: she kudels( cuddles) with me. Continue reading “Celebrating Mothers (Plural) Day”

Sammy Saturday: Can we visit my first mom?

How do you say no to this?/Mama C and the Boys (2010)

Just like that. He overheard a conversation I was having with friends who are planning a trip to meet their son’s birth parents.  Later that night he asked; Mom can we go visit Tea soon?

Because of the conversation I had earlier that day I was already wondering the same question. I often think he has a touch of the mind reader in him though.

He was in the top bunk. He was looking at a picture of her, in a frame across from him on the wall.

Maybe is all I said.

Please? He replied.

I’d like that too. I answered, while looking him in the eye, and rubbing the back of head, standing on the edge of Marcel’s bed. Can I come too? Marcel asked from below. Continue reading “Sammy Saturday: Can we visit my first mom?”

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.

Honoring a contract

Guess who has a reading teacher for a mom?

This morning I finished the year in review photo book for Sam’s first mom Tea. Last year I let him do all the captions, pick all the pictures, and the order. That makes for a much more authentic gift. That was my intention this year. Then I woke up at 5:00am, and decided I needed to get this project done, this year. I like to cross things off my list during vacation. My  friend Clyde reminds me that when I die I’ll still have stuff in my in box… But, I still like to clear off space in the morning to be more present with the fam during the day. This week I’ve been doing a rather sensational job at just hanging, and relaxing. And what a shocker–Sam and Marcel are both about 200x calmer. Huh. Continue reading “Honoring a contract”