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”→
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.
The photo book for Sam’s birth father arrived Thursday from Shutterfly.* Two copies: one to send and one to keep. (It’s the 5×7 soft cover, and it came out GORGEOUS.) Sam and I read it together that night. It’s about twenty four pages, back and front. Great photos and captions describing Sam, his passions, accomplishments, and things he has in common with the few things we do know about his birth father. I’m reaching out to him and his parents. All this movement on my part was inspired by an interview I read last week, as part of the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project.
I haven’t shared so much as a photo with him in five years. I promised to update him yearly, and didn’t. I was stuck in my fear around him, which I have hinted at, but that I am not comfortable talking about at length to protect him mainly. An interview I read from a birth mom got me moving into the vault of my memory to excavate a hard copy of our last email connect. Upon rereading his words, I decided it was time to try and reach out again. All of the contact with Marcel’s donor is another reason I felt like I needed to shake things up a bit, with both the birth father, and Sam’s first mom. We had so much important connection, and it all started with effort, love and trust in the best outcome. It’s almost like I feel an inequity in where I am placing my relational energy on my kids behalf. I wanted to right that balance.
After we read the book Sam said; “Either he’ll write back right away…or I’ll never hear from him ever.” Then he asked if he had our phone number. I explained that years ago he made it clear to me that he was not ready to be in relationship with either of us. But, perhaps today that had changed. I then added that maybe I was also part of the reason we were no longer in contact, and I wanted to extend an invitation to him to be in touch with us if he was ready, willing and able.
After some thought Sam offered this wisdom; “Either he’s ready now or he’s not.”
I suggested that the pictures, and my letter might serve to help heal any hurt or hesitation he felt from the process we were all involved in years ago. I explained that he had chosen not to reach out to us with the address he had (the agency) but that that didn’t mean he might not now or at some point.
Sam looked at me and said; “Well if you tell him I like remote control helicopters, and ask him if he does too, he’ll write you back.” I hugged Sam gently, and whispered, “Sweetheart, who wouldn’t want to know you?” Then my heart imploded .
And now we just wait, and send out love, and pray.
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.
At pick up from school yesterday-Sam gets in the car and immediately tells me I am going to hear from the teacher tonight in an email. I’ll just tell you that the use of some undesirable language was involved, and the back of another child’s artwork is where my young deviant scribe chose to write the word. As a poet, writer, and wordsmith in general I am hesitant to react about a “word”. But as a parent of a six year old, who may or may not be picking up some of that foul from me, I know I have to reset the appropriate button quickly. As a single parent another layer comes in: will other partnered parents hear of this transgression and judge him and me? As a transracial parent the you better have a cleaner mouth than everyone else because if not you’ll be judged differently than your lighter skinned peers voice enters in. Continue reading “A single mama moment or sixty”→
An email from Sam’s school that turned into a red flag that became a series of conversations, a meeting and a great deal of progress in the right direction. Advocacy ain’t no joke.
A few dates.
Uncle’s oceanic journey giving way to my scheduling coverage adventure.
A parting and the deep loss that came with it.
Two invitations to facilitate an anti-bias workshop with educators, and an offer to submit a proposal for a book.
Halloween? Yes. Yes, I know where I put it. It’s there under the paperwork for the roof estimate and the refinancing. Under the schedule for swimming lessons, and PTO meetings. It’s near the grocery list on the back of the lunch calendar.
Where are the snow shovels? In the cellar where they belong in October!
Oh no? Really. Check if there is one last roll in the pantry-next to the spare five minutes I left there last month?
Are you still standing? How do you keep the balance from tipping? What was it about October? Happy November. May it bring some peace and ease, and CALM to all of us in need of it.
Known Donor 101-A simplified version of what I figured out in the last three years.
1. I have to listen to what he needs around this evolving relationship too. Fear can not be a platform from which I ask for what I need. (for me the “fear” was not ever based in reality, but in old stories I wrote about other relationships in my own life, and my children’s lives.) Fear often uproots my clear thinking heart.
2. Admit that you really don’t know what is best, and it may be different from what you want. (I mean that I am not a donor conceived child, I have no experience with this. I have intuition, and mama-hood as my guides.) Isn’t “best” a myth anyway? It is how we work together that makes this work. Continue reading “Known Donor 101: Celebrating the success”→