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.
Just your everyday family vacation snapshots…when your family is ALL THIS and MORE
We arrived back in Maine around 10:00AM yesterday after the red-eye from Washington State Monday night. Leaving Sam’s family was all kinds of hard, for so many reasons. For me the hard was because my own visit with them was so short compared to last year. I dropped so easily back into flow with his mom, his grandmother and his sibs that I felt cheated from the brevity of the one and a half day visit this time.
I also wanted every opportunity to see Sammy in his new flow with them with me there. Of course it is going to be immediately different once I show up, as evidenced by the “Instagram Live” broadcast from inside the car with his brothers and cousins on their way to shoot hoops mid week. (Talk about being allowed insight into a world you are not part of!) Finally, due to the dramatically declining health of his grandfather, there was a layer to this the leaving that felt very very hard. Not only is he very ill, but the care-taking demands on his Nahnah were exhaustive. I so wanted to be there to help her in ways that I am equipped and able to do.
When I asked Sam if he was sad about leaving he said that he was fine. When pushed a little bit, he said that he got what he needed from the trip. I could go on and on about what I think that means, but that is not my place. Sammy gets to take that one out and unpack it in his memoir one day. What I can tell you is that he stayed up till 4:00am every night in a room with three boys who claim him as their own. He never opened the new toothbrush I put in his back pack. As in still in the packaging!
Leaving California was another kind of hard. Until I have had more time to integrate that into my experience of being back on the East Coast I need to hold off on saying too much here. I will say that being grounded and supported where I was staying by my dearest friend and Sam’s namesake Samantha was critical to my ability to stay healthy, focused, and in my body for the duration of the journey. From mediation, to long foggy walks, to laying on the bed and laughing and crying to eating home made soup I felt totally held.
So when Marcel’s donor and family came to pick him up for their adventuring the day after we landed they came in and stayed at Samantha’s for an hour for coffee and bagels and ease. This was normalizing and perfect for everyone. Kids coming and going, many conversations happening at once. Samantha and Tree have known of each other for a decade, so their meeting was so important too. Marcel found his footing with his new one year old brother (pictured above, and yes there is some kind of resemblance) and his feels-like-a-half-brother as well. I felt as if I had known Tree’s wife (who we will just call “Gorgeous” here) for a lifetime within six seconds. It was Gorgeous who said; “this visit is energizing for all of our souls.” Indeed. Sending them all off for the day and a half was like sending your child to the favorite uncle and auntie for an overnight. Clearly we are sill trying to find the language for all of these new relationships. More on that soon.
Leaving California was not immediately hard on Marcel, as he really missed his big brother, and was eager to meet Sam’s family too. (And as you can see above, he was quite a hit!) But clearly figuring out how to stay in deeper connect with all of the love he discovered is hugely important. That Marcel came back from his time with them, and his half day alone with Tree more eager than ever for the world to know him as a young Black man is important to mention. He is so deeply curious about how people see him and know him right now.
What I keep telling Marcel is how important it is that he know himself first. Pretty much we checked that box as a big YES for all of us in the last week. One of my favorite parts of all of this, is that now is when we all get to really reap the benefits that this trip could begin to mean for all of us.
The journey has just begun.
Birth-family Reunion Travel Fund
We have just completed our cross country trip, and still hopeful to raise the expense of the airfare through crowd sourcing. We are only $200.00 away from that attainable $2100.00 reach! Will you please consider a $10.00 contribution? Each donation adds up and truly helps. Thank you!!!!
Mama C and the Boys Patronage
Love what you read here? Are you a first time reader, or a long time fan? Do you look forward to opening the email announcing a new post? Has your own understanding of Open Adoption, transracial parenting, or known donor family connection shifted in a helpful way? If so will you please consider showing your support with a ten dollar fandom contribution? This allows me to be "paid" here, instead of needing to farm the stories out elsewhere. This will also help me keep Mama C add free and content full all year round! Bisous!
Soon Sammy Sammy will be flying across the country on his own to spend a few days alone with his family in Tacoma, Washington.
I’m really curious and a little nervous about how this will shake out. He is closing in on 13, he is an old soul, the child has lived. But he is a child, still. He is a child moving between two mothers, two families, one love. He is journeying at a moment where the world feels volatile and unsafe. But his is the world he is entering into as a young adult. It is what he knows, what he must know. He is no longer that little in my arms. His will always be that little in my arms.
I’m also so thankful that all of this is possible in every way.
Marcel and I leave on our journey two days later to visit with his donor and family in California. (Knowing that I will be on the same coast as Sammy is going to bring us all ease I suspect.) I’m equally curious how this Marcel moment will unfold, and what new understanding Marcel will gain about who his radiant, beautiful poetic self is in this lifetime. He will hold his little brother, who just turned one. He will be with his donor and his donor’s family. He will be invited into a new layer of understanding about what the word “family” holds for him.
I’m also so thankful that everyone involved is all about the YES in this moment too. The everyone includes my husband who has been holding the YES in his own way. I can not begin to imagine what his experience will be having us all across the country navigating this extended family foray away from him. (Of course he was invited to come, and would very much like to join us another time.) And, yes, part of this story began long before he came into our lives. One day we all hope that those markers will fade into the background, allowing this to just be a shared breath at any one moment of who we just are.
A dear friend reminded me to reach out on the blog to readers encouraging them to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign.
Or, for those of you who prefer to use PayPal and make a donation to this epic adventure that way-you can do so here for a generous $10.00 donation:
or here to pay for the pre-travel line up for both boys, or the tank of gas for the rental car for $25.00: or a day of driving from the airport to Sammy’s family and back to the airport thirty-six hours later with $75.00 here: or several hundred miles on the airplane for one of us with an over-the-top hugely appreciated $100.00 donation you can do so here: Or finally because you just feel crazy moved by all us on this courageous, family-making, more-love is more-love adventure and want to support this being paid for outright with ease and love with a $500.00 donation here:
With less than a month until his visit to his family in Tacoma, Washington Sam is working on the desired look. Being in brown skin, raised in a very white state and in a white home I watch as he seems to absorb every morsel of what-is-Blackness he can from the world around him.
I attempt to witness and validate how he integrates this into his daily experience of self-in-the-making.
Marcel opted out of the fresh cut this time. He is growing his hair out, today. His exploration of his racial identity is something he has been less empowered to explore historically.
By that I mean I realized recently that I have had this attitude that he would be fine for the last several years. Part of the journey we’re about to go on his about me waking up too. His path is just as important and deep as Sam’s.
Recently an editor at AARP magazine contacted me to see if we would be willing to be part of a photo shoot about the “Modern American Family”. After several emails back and forth, and lots of clarifying questions we agreed. The huge bonus here was the travel allowance to get four out of five of Shrek’s available children in town for the shoot. They came from as far as San Francisco, and as near as up the street for hair, make up, and click, click, snap, snap for a good part of last Sunday.
But why us? Well apparently we evened out an upcoming story for the boomers on family today-both regionally and in terms of the composition of our blended family in the making. Here’s a few stanzas from a poem I wrote to honor the occasion that might further answer the question:
Remember we want to capture
the nine of you at ease
so the rest of the world
sees the “modern family”
wait, wait that’s it-
Adoption, blended family
transracial, known donor insemination,
divorce, first marriage at 46, second
marriage at 61, run of the mill,
kind of thing
Everyone look this way
On 3, 2, 1:
See-family is click click
with eating an ice cream cone
as long as it complements the color of your shirt.
The experience was a complete hoot really. (Leading up to it there was definitely some free floating anxiety about just how one is supposed to present as a modern family in the making…) But once we were all here there was some very sweet family bonding around the edges of it all. The photographers Gregg, and Tom, and Caitlin the glamorous make up artist or “groomer” were part of the blend by the time the shoot was complete. Five thousand tons of delicious food were delivered for our lunch and in six weeks or so the issue will appear.
I was also interviewed over the phone for the story, and am super hopeful that a link to Mama C and the Boys might be included in the copy. Since the magazine boasts the largest readership in the world, it might mean a little boost in readership? For our “trouble” we will also receive a few prints from the day to mark this surprising and magical moment in time beautifully.
This morning we Skyped with my father in New Mexico, after making #1 Uncle blueberry pancakes. Now the boys are off playing ball with him in the park. Bliss. We made a card for Shrek and are working on various messages and drawings for some of the other significant males in our lives that we like to acknowledge today.
The absence of a “father” per se, is not the curse or deficit some might attribute to the children of the single mama. In fact in our home, it is quite the contrary.
Neither Sam, nor Marcel have a dad. That is a fact. Both, have a biological father. In Marcel’s case that man is Tree his known donor. We emailed him a special message today. Marcel understands that Tree is not his dad, but is his biological father. Marcel has created a working definition of donor that meets his needs. This is not a sad thing, this is a very powerful act: to name and own your understanding of a relationship. For today, that is a relationship that exists in it’s own container that the three of us are designing. It will evolve as Marcel gets older, and his needs change with that growth. For Sam, there is a birth father, that he has seen pictures of, and whom he has reached out to with letters and pictures. He has not had any contact from him since he was about a year old. .
What my sons do have is a super capable mom and an amazingly supportive village of co-parents which includes many, many, meaningful males. These men are among other things: Black, white, and many other hues. These men are adopted, married, transgendered, strait,unemployed, conventional, Jewish, free spirited, professional, spiritual, agnostic, political, Muslim, outgoing, independent, Christin, artistic, quiet, musical, single, immigrants, wealthy, athletic, young, middle aged, and older who all have one thing in common; a meaningful connection and commitment to participating in Sam and Marcel’s expansive walk in the world. These men model what maleness is: multifaceted, magnificent, and theirs to design.
A few weeks ago I asked Sam if he ever get’s any flack, or teasing from friends who know he doesn’t have a dad. He immediately answered; “No. My friends think it’s cool that I have a mom who does so much stuff with me, and that I don’t have to worry when my parents don’t get along.” So, that is clearly a commentary on what first graders were talking about and taking in that day. On another day I imagine Sam might have answered that differently–as he is surrounded by so many loving coupled people, who have highly functional and successful relationships. But when I pushed a little more that day he continued; “Mom, I think it’s cool that you do what you do. I don’t know, I just think we are really good just like we are. My friends like me, not me because I have a dad or don’t have a dad.”
This is also possibly a reflection of Sam taking in that marriage could be in my future one day, and that will mean a large shift in the family dynamic. But, for today we cherish all the many generous and gifted men in our lives, and all the ways you enrich all of our lives. Of course, this post would not be complete without acknowledging the two males who are probably the most significant in both their lives: each other. Years ago I read a quote from a young man, raised by a single mom, who also had a brother. In it he said;
“I learned how to be in relationship, by having relationship with my brother and my mother, and watching them do the same thing. I learned how to be a loving and relational man by watching what made a relationship successful.”
I was pregnant with Marcel when I read that. To learning how to be in relationship, and honoring the men who show us over and over and over how that looks when it works, and modeling for us, how to arrive there-hearts and souls in tact.
I’d love to hear about your experience with this day–what it means to you, or doesn’t. What books you read to your kids if Father’s Day is difficult, or challenging, that have helped your family find words to normalize and embrace all the great you do have. Who the most significant males are in your family dynamic, or how you see your children impacted by any of it. To read more about Father’s Day from all sides of the adoption constellation there is an Open Adoption Round Table discussion on the topic here.
I love October for his birth at the beginning of the month, and the anniversary of learning that Sam’s first mama had chosen me to be Sam’s everyday Ma at the end of October. It is the time of the year that I often feel my best–in many connective tissue to the world ways. I always feel like writing poetry, baking, taking pictures, hiking, making things. Continue reading “Four years ago today (a birth story)”→
He was right next to me, asleep I thought, when his super sweet little three year old voice bounced off the hotel’s mission style headboard with this inquiry; “Mom? Am I a super star?”
We were on a little mini vacation-two days in a hotel in Providence, Rhode Island visiting the parents of one of my best friends. For a devout homebody he was doing remarkably well on this little adventure. Just sleeping in a different bed garnered the title of superstar in my book. I may have also used the term when he had willingly sat in the hotel pool (on the steps in the shallow end, and in the dreamy little sunken hot tub next to it) voluntarily on several occasions.
For the rest of this post, on the lighter side of Mama C, please go to Mixed and Happy.
This post on Salon, struck me for a number of reasons. I appreciate the anonymity the writer maintains, in order to write freely on the topic of her son’s “femininity”. I also love her voice, and the way she takes on the random moms she encounters. Ashamed to admit that I might have shared the thinking of some of those moms at points in my playground career.
Part of the infinitely rich Adoption Round Table over at Production Not Reproduction this “Frank answers about Open Adoption” post came from See Theo Run, in response to questions posed by O Solo Mama. I admire, as always, Harriet’s clarity and concise style. She finds her way to words that have not begun to gel in my own head.
I’m on a little hiatus of sorts as it is February break here on the East Coast. This means that Sam and I are clocking some serious Mommy-Sammy hours, which I am trying to just enjoy, and not look at like a blogging petri dish! We’ve been to the movies, the car wash, the donut shop, the gymnasium, and the accountant! (Speaking of which–the adoption tax credit extension is something you should research/ask your accountant about if yours expired last year, or maybe even the year before. Just saying!) I have two exciting guest bloggers coming soon to a Mama C near you in the next few days and weeks.
On my own mind/brewing is a post on my own transracial adoption parenting successes and areas for major improvement. I’ve had some knock me over with a feather moments in the last few weeks. I’m eager to give them voice, and invite you in.