Mama C Safe Space Radio: A forum for Courageous Conversations

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.

A reader asks for help: How to prepare a 3 year old to meet her first mom?

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?”

So so very brave (countdown check in)

So so very much is up for my family this week, this month.

Because he is my son, and I really want and need to protect him,  I am only going to share that this is much harder than I expected. But what the hell did I expect?

Adoptive+parenting ain’t for sissies.

Suffice it to say that it is hard.

Suffice it to say that when research says that an infant’s emotional life is far richer and deeper than we previously understood, I believe them.

Because this six year old is full of big feelings, and those feelings began over six years ago in a hospital room. Over six years ago when her Mama love, her laugh, her smell, and her beautiful singing voice were all that he knew.

Then thirty-six hours later–and all that was her was gone.

Replaced by my new mama awkward and is-this-the-way-a-baby-works-loving. By my unknown smell, then timid laugh, and wildly out of tune sing song voice singing none of the songs he’d been hearing for the last however many months since those precious ears were hearing her. And with each hour he missed her more, as I became more and more the Mama me–but was still, of course–me.

And he cried a lot when he realized he wasn’t getting the first Mama back.

And now I’m asking him to go back to that moment in time, but this time with open arms, a smile on his face,  a good looking line up, and a button down shirt?

I’m asking him to manage all of that wordless grief, and turn it in to anticipation and ease and excitement?

Last night he let me know, in other wordless ways that that was not what he had in mind. It ended with a lot of hugs, and sobbing and shaking. The twenty minutes in between are for only the three of us to talk about.

And the counselor we’re breaking in tomorrow.

I reached out for help last night, after I got him and Marcel to sleep in my arms.

That help came in many forms.

When my adult, transracial, adopted male friend who has lived an open adoption all his life-asked if I felt like I could ask the birth mother to send some reassurance in some form that she was looking forward to seeing him too--I felt the waves parting in my heart.

I asked seconds later  in a text if she could leave him such a message–because all my reassurances that she was excited too-weren’t cutting it. She wrote right back:

“I’ll send him a video message to your email after work tonight.”

I thanked her, and then asked if she would please include how much she was looking forward to meeting Marcel too…

Of course.

When I think of him being tossed upside down  and back and forth-on the roller coaster upside down thing over and over again this afternoon, with a huge smile on his face–it suddenly all makes sense. For an instant the outside world, was even more out of whack than the inside one.

Man my kid is brave. And I don’t even know the half of it.

In the big light (Mama C is interviewed)

Marcel waiting for the photographer/ Mama C and the Boys

An interview with Mama C is online at Psychology Today. The piece feels like an arrival on many levels: personal voice, competency on a subject, and clarity of my beliefs and values. It is a well crafted piece that will reach a very large audience. I began blogging three and half years ago. I feel wildly grateful (and hot and sticky in my 99 degree house)  to my readers, to the medium, and to my own determination and hard work.

Race, ethnicity and place: A conversation considering all things

Summer Sam/ Mama C and the Boys 2010

I’m excited to launch something a little different here at Mama C that will hopefully invite my lurkers, and my steadfast contributors alike to join. For months, well more like years now, I have been thinking about how living in 86% White/ 6.4% Black or African American/ 3.0 Asian/2.4% Biracial identified/.5 American Indian/Alaska Native/ .5 Native Hawaiin/Other Pacific Islander and / 1.0 Other race/ Portland, Maine can and will impact my children.*  Bottom line: as a TRA and biological parent is it in my children’s best interest all things considered to stay here?  I’ve read John Riable’s writing on the subject, memoirs by TRA adult adoptees, like Black Baby, White Hands: A View from the crib and recently crumpled in a heap a few times over, when this post by a very dear friend who left Portland, Maine with her transracial family made me wonder it all all over again.  She is at peace with her decision, another friend said after reading the post. That was it. Peace. That’s what I want too. Peace with my own decision, as the head of the household to raise my family, here. Continue reading “Race, ethnicity and place: A conversation considering all things”

And then you remember why you stay in Maine

For the lupine in your garden/Mama C and the Boys
and the friends you adore/Mama C and the Boys
For the light on the water/ Mama C and the Boys
and the islands that are yours/ Mama C and the Boys
For the room to take up all the space that you need/ Mama C and the Boys
and all the ways you are loved/ Mama C and the Boys
For the wisdom and beauty that is you, mirrored in the majesty around you./ Mama C and the Boys

+++

Recently a discussion with an incredibly dear friend about why her and her TRA family left Maine had that cannon ball-crashing-in-the-middle-of-my-chaotically-pristine-lake effect on my parenting heart. Then a car crashed into my house. Then magical yesterday kept becoming more and more magical.

Each picture and line in this  post is about all of that, and none of that.  More on the sometimes daily, monthly, and yearly choice to stay in Maine to come. It is a balancing act, consumed with questions of race and place.  It is not something I could ignore, ever. In choosing to stay, like many other multi-racial families we know here, we are trying to co create a world infused with color, and to mine every possible opportunity for racially varied friendships, and world view shaping experiences.

Is that enough for my family? Today? In ten years? That is what I/we wonder and wonder over and over again. But, that is another post. And another. And then another. For as long as we are calling Maine home. A post has been brewing in me, and as soon as this school year closes, I will feel much more able to tackle that in the way that I want to. Like her, I think about race all the time. Like many of the readers here, we think about race all the time. Is it enough? Yesterday I was very at peace with the life we have here. Yesterday.

In the meantime, so that the rest of the world can continue to enjoy my mad skills with an i-phone, my wildly photogenic offspring, and maple syrupy caption poetry please vote for this blog by clicking here now. THANK YOU.

Once a day. Please. What are you waiting for? Five seconds. That’s all. Five seconds will keep us on the top 25. We’ve lost a little ground in this techno-popularity contest. Show ’em what their Mama C fan base is made of!

Tricks, skills and ah-has over here!

Sammy's new trick/ All Rights Reserved Mama C and the Boys

When you have the kind of growth curves we’ve been having around here, coupled with a few trips to the emergency care, and about nineteen thousand practices, games, and lessons all in the same day, you become less of a ponderer, and more of a survivalist. You inch your way to that cup of instant coffee on Sunday, eying your keyboard wistfully. Can you claim it, before the Yo Gabba Gabba DVD in the laptop hour? Continue reading “Tricks, skills and ah-has over here!”

Sammy Saturday: Flash interview with #1 son

Sam when you look at this picture, can you tell me what you see.

Grass, field, goals, and kids.

Where are you going?

I am going to Florida.

Why Florida?

Because Florida has Disney World.

What are you best at in the world?

Basketball.

What would you like to be best at in the world?

Gymnastics. Continue reading “Sammy Saturday: Flash interview with #1 son”

Adam Pertman, Adoption Nation, book giveaway

I received an invitation to review Adam Pertman’s updated Adoption Nation last month. They wanted a transracial adoptive single mother’s point of view added to the mix. In exchange for my promise to participate in the blog tour of the book (a new concept for me-where have I been?) on a given date (today) I received my own copy, and two to give away.

The amount of work that went into this book, is rather mind blowing to me.  I am sure you can scour the net for countless reviews lauding it’s comprehensive scope and broad historical focus.  I felt a rather ominous pressure while reading the book as “reviewer” and not just as consumer. (My previous reviews here of books have always been after the fact of books I read and was charmed by. Now I realize that is just a sales pitch, not a review!) I wanted to make sure that I was reading the book through the lens that my audience have come to expect of me (even if I am not sure what exactly that means).  I wrote down moments in the book that caused me pause for one reason or another, and asked Mr. Pertman to address them directly.

Continue reading “Adam Pertman, Adoption Nation, book giveaway”