Safe Space(s): Departures and arrivals

My son will be starting a new school in the new (calendar) year.

Updated post as of December 21st. 2011:

He stepped out of the old building with his head held high, and his pack full of artifacts and fabulous memories. Before he left-he hugged his amazingly caring, and dear to all of us teacher after giving her her favorite thing: a pink rose. Then he presented his class with a bag of sweet tangerines for their snack that day. He found other adults in the building he had formed important connections with–and had appropriate good-byes. In the car he announced to me; “That was easy Mom!” I cried a few hidden tears, and headed us out of the driveway to our next destination-some new school new clothes, and then a visit to the new school (saving this for another post).

So why did we leave? I described it to him this way; “You were at an amazing school, that was just the right place for you, while you were there.  And now you are going to a school that can see all of you the way you and I do. A school that can see you as a scientist, a writer, an athlete, a musician, a diplomat, a great friend, a wonderer, a mover, an explorer, and a brown skin chocolatey boy in all his big glory!” Sam’s eyes got so wide. This landed with him in important ways. His largess in the world, and the physical largess of the building we are transitioning to are in sync. He feels this on many levels.

Translation: my son loves to move in so many ways. We have found a school that has programming and structures in place that can give him the space and encouragement to do that (physically, emotionally, socially and academically) in ways that as his mother, and as an educator I see are a better fit over all then where he was. It is not important to me to talk about how we came to this discovery–but to celebrate how right a move it was for our family. Marcel is part of the story too–as several of his dearest friends already attend, and will attend next year in kindergarten the same school with him. It is quite possible that we will also move into the “neighborhood “that the school serves at some point in the not so distant future. We need a back yard, neighbors to play ball with, and a street to ride our bikes on. We are all shifting in other ways too. The move seems to welcome and encourage these shifts in unexpected and magnificent ways.

He will be deeply missed. I will deeply miss so much of what I cherished and valued there. But, with even a few days out, I see that all of that good stays with us, and just builds on what we are coming into. I will be writing about the new, in the new year. For now it is about honoring the space between the two.

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I will be on LIVE radio tonight! (7:30PM Eastern time) the guest on Dr. Anne’s; “Safe Space Radio“. If you follow the link to the station you can link up to it on the internet I believe. But that is way above my head. (I’ll post the link to the recording of the show next week.) It’s all of half an hour on the subject of transracial adoption.

After hanging up the phone with the host last night, during our pre-interview talk, I felt confident, and competent on so many matters in this arena from my point of view. Meaning, after almost seven years in the role as adoptive transracial Mama, I can claim with ease and semi-clarity my views on the joyous messiness of it all. I understand that these beliefs and understandings shift, and are meant to. It is a relief to finally understand that there is no absolute best way to do any of this adoptive/transracial/parenting dance we are permanently on the floor trying to get right. On the floor is a wildly appropriate metaphor no?

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One last departure and arrival of note: I am dropping off the photobook to mail to Sam’s birth father (care of the agency) this afternoon. We had to arrive safely as a family first in  a place where the decision to put it out there, and to release control over the outcome was quietly agreed upon.

Helicopters and birth fathers

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.

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Take me to, to the other side…

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 Marcel I 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.

10. Sam. Marcel.

My beauties/ All rights reserved 2011 MamaCandtheboys

A single mama moment or sixty

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”

When your brother is not around you…

nap, and nap a little longer. Marcel made it into the living room, asked where Sam was, and fell back to sleep.

Last night on the phone, I did not have to sing an out of tune rendition of Swing Low to Independent Boy. Instead I listened to his effusive (meaning two or more sentences) accounts of the rented BMX, passing the swim test to the town float (!!!), and more. When Sam asked to say goodnight to Marcel and Marcel kissed the phone while Sam kissed it back-I almost imploded with brotherly boy love joy. They have never been apart for more than 24 hours.

Having a singleton who entertains himself 95% of the time, sure is nice for a spell. But it’s got me all out of whack. We are three. Our fabric, our relational life, our way of rocking it is almost always about factoring in the other brother too.  We have all this new space, that Marcel is exploring. In some ways that space is easy and gentle. In other ways is about just how much bigger my tantrum can be now. For the last two days I have not been outnumbered by kids. I miss being outnumbered. Maybe as one of three kids growing up, I will always feel the comfort in that number. More likely, I just miss my biggest boy.

I have been ordered asked to play boat and spaceship parade with motorcycles. And you thought you had work to do! Thanks for stopping by, and sharing a moment with Mama C.

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Thank you to the two new subscribers to the blog this week, and my fabulous friend K, who contributed to the Mama C fundraising machine! Look how amazing you all are? Ad free. Entertainment priceless!

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.

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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)”

Pomp and Kinder-stance (videos-short and sweeter than sweet)

Sam “graduated” from kindergarten yesterday. He packed the outfit in his backpack–and changed into it after recess. He told me that I didn’t need to email his teacher to remind him he needed to change his clothes, because he would remember…

He received an award for READING because he came so far (from being a non reader to reading at almost a 2nd grade level at the end of K) this year. You’ll hear me gasp when I hear that he was given the reading award.

I cried a lot.

Mama and the proud graduate/Mama C and the Boys 2011

My son has left early childhood.

My son is infinitely capable.

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what post would be complete without a little shameless begging for a vote. And please take time to scan the list, and vote for other bloggers, with a special request to help keep the voices of birth parents, and adult adoptees on the top 25 too. Their voices are often underrepresented on these lists.

Mother’s May: Celebrating First Moms, Many Moms.

from the archives: Tired Sam(3 weeks old) and tired mom (mine) /Mama C and the boys

This year we’re sending a card that Sam picked out,
and one of his drawings from school.

A photograph of him and his brother and a big smile.

It’s no longer a heavy heavy for me. Or him.

(When it stopped being about me, and what if I say the wrong thing, or not enough of something, or too much of another thing.)

It’s simply something we do with joy and ease in May: we send Tea a Mother’s Day card.

She is his first mother.

She will always be his first mother.

She will always be the person who Sam likes to thank for;
“carrying me in your tummy and having me, and loving me all that time,”
and “everyday still”.

She is the one who made me a mom too.
Who chose to believe in my own ability to do so, even when my own body couldn’t or didn’t.

I get less and less hung up on holidays of any sort.

This one has so many opportunities for me to make so many people genuinely happy that I can’t not.

I send my loving Mama a thing (this year a Snapfish notebook with her favorite grandkids on it) that is useful and fun.

I pick a different super Mama’s in our lives each year to make a donation in their name to Unicef to help other Mamas be their best too.

And I love planning how to get other people to help my sons honor me with a thing, but that is worthy of another post soon.

I scan for coupons and deals so I can slip in a “Well look at this? Look what the Mother’s Day fairy sent me thing”. This  year a beach chair that has straps for my back so I can carry all of their beach things too that will keep them happy while I sit on my old butt on my new chair. Did I mention the new suit that will fit when I have about five less pounds on all my things? The mother’s fairy was generous in a way.

I put up a new window bird feeder to help the new birdie mamas feed their babies. I even got it to stick.

For a list of socially conscious to all out frivolous gifts for all the moms on your list-I like this post on the topic from Rage Against the Minivan. Feel free to add links to your lists below.

How are you honoring your first mom? Their first mom? Other moms in your life this year?

Grand S(l)am: bragging rights are not biological

Beachball with Sam/ Mama C and the Boys

He has a gift.

He can hit.

Hand eye coordination doesn’t begin to explain it, either. He aligns the speed of the ball, and the contact with the bat, with every muscle in his arms, legs, and eyes in harmonic syncopation. This has been going on for years, and with his first coach pitch game only two weeks away, I am getting ready.

Ready for the joy he radiates when he hits.

Ready for the heads looking up and over as the ball soars beyond the scope of expectation. Continue reading “Grand S(l)am: bragging rights are not biological”