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.
I’ve been up since 1:30 am. My heart is both squeezing with an ache that is unfamiliar and cracking open with all of the expansion this journey necessitates.
Putting my son on a plane to go be with his West Coast family, his first family, his birth family, his biological family, his other family, his all -these -things- and -more- family was challenging to my mama heart.
I’ve opened the door wide open and said; “this is a path only you have access to. This is a journey that you are equipped to make alone.” At the same time I reassured him that I’m with him all the time, and will be elated to be with him soon.
What was once my understanding of the parameter of love has now been broken wide open. This I would argue is not simply a result of of parenting,but a deeply necessary component of adoptive parenting.
I feel so thankful to Shrek and Marcel for the six hour hour Airport drop off. It was so important for Sam to know that his entire family was holding him at this moment. That his entire East Coast family will miss him deeply and look so forward to having him home.
Thank you all for reading, praying, sending your kind words, and just holding everyone. It is so appreciated.
I wanted to call all of your attention to the GREAT news that Hip Mama Magazine, where yours truly has had many a mamahood piece published, and a photo credit or two is relaunching back under the helm of it’s fearless and talented originator Ariel Gore(How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead,Atlas of the Human Heart). There is a fantastic kick starter project underway to make sure that “PRINT LIVES” (the mag was going to turn digital apparently which is in part why she decided to save it, and reclaim it). I contributed what I could and would love to encourage you to do so as well, if even a dollar is something you could hand over. There are several great incentives, (Dad there is one that involves all the pie you can eat on September 1sr in Santa Fe) so please consider. They have reached more than 50% of goal already which is super encouraging. Parenting on the fringe, and writers who may not make the mainstream cut, have always found a home in this high quality zine.
I’ve been dangling along the eye wall of a mothering hurricane of sorts this week. What I can share is that I’m uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because this mothering thing is so damn hard and this is my kid, and don’t you all see that we just have to dig in deeper and believe in a different outcome?
I can say that sending a Mother’s Day card to your first mom who you haven’t heard from in two years does not fall under the “no sweat” column of Sam’s heart. Although, with Sam it may sometimes appears that way. And then when his amazing 2nd grade teacher leaves school for the rest of the year on a maternity leave the chances are pretty good as we predicted that he would not transition smoothly to the new teacher no matter what rewards or consequences were in place. Leaving is leaving. Left is left. Period.
Combine race, adoption, single parenting, coupled parenting with all that is my dynamic, intelligent, loving, eager, curious, super social, and wildly movement oriented Sam and you have several high pressure systems, cold fronts and warm fronts converging at once both at school and at home. When I was asked to consider if Sam’s aftercare arrangement was indeed the best fit for him, my internal storm tracker went into a category five. Suddenly we are all asking ourselves a million questions again. Is it this? Is it that? What if this, and maybe not that. Would this work better? Would that? What if we all just joined the circus?
Then Marcel saunters in, with a poem about what a great mom I am, to put next to the letter about all the ways I could be a better mom from Sam. Oh, hi Marcel. I remember you.
Shrek has been an incredible support, after we both survived our own fault line dance last week. My mantra during that time was simply, “I am OK. He is OK. The kids are OK.” Over and over I just kept reminding myself of those three statements. At the end, we were more than OK, we were stronger, closer, and further in, instead of heading in opposite directions. His steadfastness, courage, and “I’m IN” mentality was nothing short of heroic to me. We were and are amazing really. He took several calls this week from distraught me. He has been such a rock.
When I indulged a little and posted something to that degree on my Facebook page, my friend Glenn replied;
We are all broken; it’s harder to try again than it was to begin. Courage.
Love to all of our broken bits, and courage in finding the pieces we know can go back together with a little patience, and trust. A special shout out to all the women and men in our lives who not only support and bolster this mothering (or semblance there of this week) but who in many cases are not themselves recognized as mothers/fathers, even though that is EXACTLY what they are to me and my family and many others I am sure. So to Debbie, Sage, Tia, Weezie, Eddie, Alex, Esther and Paul a very Hip Mama and Papa shout out to you too. You deserve all the praise, breakfast in beds, and cards we all do and then some. Thank you again.
“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”→
Last year does not beg a great deal more reflection on my part. I reflect all year long. Today is about what’s next. Apparently being a composer is on Sam’s list.
For his birthday Sam received an incredibly generous present: a full piano sized keyboard and lessons from a bunch of loving folks all coming together. He has been leaning in this direction for months–so it was a natural next step. What has transpired since then (besides removing the couch and train table, and turning the living room into a kind of Montessori like music room with several cushions and bags of blocks etc around the perimeter) is astounding. He places his head phones on, composes, and then plays it back when he is happy with it. (Head phones were a KEY component to this purchase!) This one that I’ve included here-along with my own first attempt at a slide show movie and tribute to his depth-is remarkable to me. I started crying about halfway in. I’m not sure where the tears came from. Maybe it was because I felt so much joy that I was given this opportunity to enter into his inner life this way- and that he has found a medium that allows him this freedom.
His music teacher claimed in his second lesson ever that she’s never met a child with an ear like his. I looked at her cross-eyed. What am I supposed to do with that? I’m that friend you know who NEVER listens to music. I’m the one you make CD’s for because you are sure that there is hope somehow.. Fortunately I draw towards me musicians of all sorts. She said–just give him every opportunity he desires to hear, play and express himself musically. So I’ve started asking those musical peeps what more we can offer, invite and encourage in and around Sam’s world. Suggestions folks?
Meanwhile Marcel the architect and engineer has been busy designing future space travel, cities, and making the world a more loving place in his own remarkable way.
This picture reminds me that I have a post in me called: How parenting is a lot like paper mache.
For today I’m inviting peace and more space for creativity and unpacking race and white mind into our new year. I’m committed to trying to let go of desired outcomes and the need to get everyone else on my page. I am here to do my work. Others are here to do theirs-or not. I can open my door.
Less time for the non important, and more time to just visit with the ones we love. Can it ever be that simple? I’m committed to more and more time on our new green carpet with blocks, a pad of paper, and lots of space to explore the space between us.
I look forward to sharing more of the journey with all of you. It is an honor to be part of your world, and I look forward to learning more together in this new year of possibility.
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.
Last week I read a very moving post about adoption guilt at See Theo Run. I have been thinking about the post since then, and returned to the site to leave this response:
I’ve been thinking about this post for some time. I feel both inspired and eased by your honesty. Guilt is perhaps not the word I would embrace for me. Perhaps the word has some limitations. Let’s come up with another? A word that can capture all this guilt: about having our family come together in direct relation to another family coming apart. Our-this is my family guilt–built on a world where there is no social justice if a woman/man must choose for a certain handful of reasons (economic based often–and not always by any means) that she does not have the support to be able to parent. Guilt that the child we have chosen to parent had no choice in his or her story being written this way. Guilt that we are not allowed to ever forget that these two factors collide so that we could realize our deep and unwavering desire and longing to love and parent this child for the next fifty or so years. Continue reading “Adoption guilt, safe kid gratitude and birth father surprises (a Mama C mixed bag)”→