Tag Archives: am I doing this right

Autobiography School Projects Are a No-No

Luc was asked to write an autobiography in class. I’ve been really really really loudly communicative and clear with all of his teachers that family tree projects and autobiographies are extremely difficult for adopted kids. So, I’m a little annoyed that this project proceeded.

When I talked to the teacher and the head of the lower school, the teacher said that Luc’s first sentence was something like “I was born in Haiti, and brought to this beautiful land…” They thought this indicated that Luc was in a good place with it. Wrong!! That is Luc overcompensating for feeling boxed into a corner and told to write about his deepest tragedy.

It has brought up loads of feelings and issues and sadness and fear and anger and etc. I didn’t really feel like they believed me when I told them this. It’s hard for people to understand unless they are adoptive parents with lots of research under their belt. They have to try to trust me.

A friend just called and said her son found Luc crying at recess. Luc opened up about being adopted from Haiti and shared a lot of his story with his friend. The child wanted to help Luc and told him it would be okay. But Luc asked how he could know that when he doesn’t know what it’s like to be adopted and he has parents who look like him.

The conversation opened the friend’s eyes and his Mom’s eyes to see that Luc has to wrestle with enormous issues every day that the rest of us know nothing about. It’s my job to fight for him to be able to do that on his terms, in his way, in his time. And I hope I get it right.

He’s such an amazing, strong, brave kid. What a blessing. I’m so thankful to God every day that I get to be his mom.

Intentions vs. Consequences

All of the adoption parenting books talk about the adoptee’s burning questions and curiosity about birth family. I thought I was ready for it. We’ve had some conversations about it, and I thought I was doing just fine. I thought I was on top of that game.

Last night, my son broke down and spoke really honestly about how much he wishes he were not an “adopted kid.” I think I kind of get that. I wish for him that he didn’t have to endure allllll the questions. I wish people would not force him to teach anyone he encounters about adoption, birth families, Haiti, and “real” moms. Each of the answers to those questions has come with an overwhelming burden of loss. He hasn’t been able to wrap his own head around this complicated concept yet. He’s not ready to teach. He may never be ready to teach.

There was something about the depth of his sorrow that sent me to a selfish head zone. As much as I claim to be his REAL mother, will I ever fully receive that honor?

Over the years, it’s felt like a punch in the gut with a wrecking ball when I’ve watched people casually erase me from my son’s lineage. When we go out with a black friend, a stranger will tell the friend how cute Luc is, instead of me. If I stand more than two feet from my son, strangers ask him if he is lost. When we went to the ER for Luc’s concussion, every staff member confirmed “Is he your son?” before proceeding. Many people feel a compulsion to tell me what a wonderful thing I have done for Luc, and what a kind person I am. Sometimes they tell me God will reward me, and I inform them that He already did.

Semantics seem minor, but they feel big to me. When people add the qualifier “adoptive” before parents, it stings. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone do that to my face, but it hurts even when they are describing someone else. I think if they did it to my face, it would hurt deeply.

Perhaps the worst is how people assume that adoptive parents don’t love our children as much as biological parents.

So, ya know, anyway … yeah.

Define Neighbor Please

Background: Our church Life Group meets at our house on Friday evenings. Right now, we are reading a book about racial reconciliation called “More Than Equals” by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice. We are on Chapter 4, which focuses on knowing who your “neighbor” is as Jesus intended. It seems like an easier concept to grasp than it is. First of all, Jesus did not intend for us to show kindness only to people who are lovable. He noted that anyone can do that. Really allowing God to change our hearts enables us to love the unlovable.

A helicopter arrived and hovered over the house. Then sirens. More helicopters. I joked that I was having flashbacks to our days of living in Inglewood. We all laughed, and then spoke a little louder so that we could hear over the distracting noise. Our book paraphrased the biblical parable about the good Samaritan, and then suggested we read the actual story in the Bible. We did, and we began to debate who was and was not our neighbor. More helicopters arrived and hovered over the house. What about the the person I thought was my friend who stabbed me in the back? More sirens. What about the next door neighbor’s son who used really offensive terminology to inform us that a gay couple lives down the street? Helicopters still hovering loudly. What about Republicans? (Kidding.) My husband noticed a news truck parked at the entrance to our street. So anyway, was Jesus suggesting that we have to be kind and generous to someone after they hurt us or just that we be open minded to a group of people who tend to oppress?

My sister, visiting from GA, was working on some writing in another room. She came in with a worried look on her face. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but can we pray for whatever is going on out there? It sounds really serious.” “Oh! Yes! Of course!” we all replied as we suddenly realized the noise we were trying to talk over might actually be a call to prayer. It turned out that a drunk driver had been running from police, exited the hwy and while crossing a bridge near our house had smashed into another car. The damage was horrendous and everyone had to be cut out of their cars. Thankfully, nobody died.

We had been doing EXACTLY what Jesus was preaching against in our lesson! We were so focused on our curriculum and getting through the chapter in our book that we didn’t even think to notice the practical application LITERALLY just outside the door. Wow. Duh.

Who is my neighbor? My neighbor is anyone God tells me to embrace. Will I change my focus from my to do lists and agenda so that I can hear the nudge next time?

Book Question: What would the racial climate be like if we lived out unconditional forgiveness for others?

    Notes from group meeting:

  • Things we can learn from putting ourselves in situations and groups outside of our comfort zones: it’s possible, and we are stronger than we thought; we learn more about other perspectives; no group will ever be 100% what we want
  • In loving our “neighbor” as Jesus taught, what does that mean regarding people who are an immediate threat? Types of people who are probably a threat? People with belief systems we want to avoid?

Parenting Disapproval: My Son is a Hot Proton

My son has been asking about being baptized at church for a while (Read: many months.) (I’m not stalling, it’s just that schedule issues got in the way). Today was finally the day. We went over to the church office to talk about it with the youth minister. (She is wonderful!!)


Luc’s normal energy level is similar to a proton’s. Depriving him of sleep is like adding heat to the proton. We are on day [I’m-too-embarrassed-to-say] of late to bed and early to rise. On top of this, Luc is scared of the baptism process, he’s sure it means swimming naked in front of the whole church. (To any non-Christians: baptism is a clothing required activity.)

My little hot proton and his little hot attitude vibrated into the youth pastor’s office and found a giant stability ball to bounce! Two hot hydrogens and an oxygen. I’ve got boiling water on my hands. But the youth pastor handled my little Luc-ton beautifully. (It may not surprise anyone to learn that all of my chemistry teachers rock back and forth with their arms around their knees when they hear my name.)

We met for a long time. Luc revealed a lot about his beliefs and hopes and fears. We even came away with a pencil sketch of a plan for a future baptism once Luc makes his final decision.

By the time we said good-bye to the youth pastor, it was so late that someone else had to unlock the main door. They chatted with us for a bit. But Luc’s increasing fatigue had lowered his temperment to the red zone: kicking my purse. But wait, there’s more! And when I repeatedly asked him to stop, he smiled ear to ear, winked, and resumed kicking my purse!!

I was super embarrassed. It was one of those Mommy moments where you promise everyone that the behavior is unusual, and nobody believes you. I wondered aloud (rookie mistake) if his behavior was due to fatigue or an independence stage.

Response (closed-mouth smile with raised eyebrows): “Well, they behave if you give them what they need.”

(Wait. What? Am I being accused of neglecting my son’s needs? I’m being told to my face right now that my son’s behavior is unreasonable and that I’m a bad mom?)

Me (tension-relief joke): “Or if you give them what they want, am I right? Haw?”

Response: “Oh no, they’ll never behave if you give them what they want too much.”

Okay, well thanks. It was great chatting with ya! And I walked away with my terrible mom tail tucked between my terrible mom legs. Today, the answer to the name of my blog is evidently NO.

  • Observation: That last part sucked. And that person was out of line. But the implied insults hurt my feelings. And made me doubt myself and, worse of all, my sweet son.
  • Application: I need to focus on the fact that my son is an amazing, strong, kind, independent child. He thinks deeply about his faith. He decided himself that he wanted to be baptized! Plus, I appropriately and successfully taught him about faith in a God who is love.

Dear Peach Parents with Chocolate Children,

I ran into something yesterday that was a solid reminder to stay vigilant. Because sometimes people are just big, fat, ignorant honkeys. Nothing against white people, some of my best friends are white. (That’s a joke, because I’m white.) Anyway, I mistook a Smiling Face for a friend…

“Your enemy won’t do you no harm
Cause you’ll know where he’s coming from
Don’t let the handshake and the smile fool ya
Take my advice I’m only tryn’ to school ya”
Read more: Temptations – Smiling Faces Sometimes Lyrics | MetroLyrics

It is a TERRIBLE feeling to get duped! Betrayed. Tricked. So I have compiled the beginning of a list that might (maybe) help adoptive parents to spot “Smiling Faces”…

#1: “Why isn’t there a White History Month?”
If your friend complains that the African American teacher facilitates constructive discussions about race too much, your antennae should go up. Teaching children to be “color blind” teaches them that color is bad. P.S. White History Month actually does exist! You can learn more about important white figures in the months of January through December each year.

#2: “The Sin of Provocation”
If your friend’s child bites your child and then she blames your child for driving her child to bite, your antennae should go up. Biting is never okay, and it is never the fault of the victim. Duh.

#3: “There is some truth in stereotypes, why else would they exist?”
If your friend ignores concrete evidence and assumes that your black, male child is a trouble maker who struggles with academics more than her white child, your antennae should go up. Everyone wants to think that their child is a genius, but it is nobody’s right to convince your child that he or she is less than what they are.

#4: “Mean People Suck”
If you and/or your child come away from play dates feeling inadequate, your antennae should go up. True friends will be kind to you and leave you feeling encouraged.

#5: “Microaggression Theory”
Suggest meeting at the library so that you can observe your children interacting with each other while they work on homework. If your friend shows up with the child’s Auntie who happens to teach the grade your children are in, you should run. Just run. Know you’ve been ambushed and run. It will end with the Auntie explaining why her niece or nephew is a saint and your child is a goading pre-criminal.

The fact that our children have been through too much too soon makes them survivors, not monsters. They are exceptional and strong. We must publicly celebrate them and stand up for them at all times.

Nobody gets to parent my child but ME.

To 31 year old Luc (if you have issues with cavities):

Note: If 31 year old Luc does not have issues with cavities, please totally disregard and immediately destroy the following babblings.

Dearest 31 year old Luc,

very tired mom

Mom under the influence of exhaustion (mental and physical).

I love you. You know that. You were always a high-energy, strong-willed child. You know that too. Strong-willed children can be tiring. When you were two, you caused mayhem. I’d sigh, “Aw Luuuuc…” and you would double over with laughter. I used to have a private Jerry Maguire joke with myself during times of friction; I would think to myself, “You deplete me.” But, no matter how frustrated or exhausted I became, I always made sure to tell you that I loved you without condition.

So, about the teeth. The guilt is really getting to me. I know I should scrape myself off the floor and brush your teeth after you brush each time, but the inevitable battle… Ohhh the inevitable battle. I just… It’s just… I never do it. I won’t say I can’t do it because we’ve all seen the You Tube videos of the blind or deaf, one-legged and/or no armed, three-toed hermaphrodite puppy climbing Mt. Everest while singing “Nearer to Thee.” Or something similar. Can’t is a big word. I could, but I don’t. I hold myself accountable.

The thing is there are a million things, like teeth, that I need to scrape myself off the floor to take care of: that bump in your nose, hair cuts*, pink sludge, soy, bathing, ash attacks*, pedophiles, room tidiness, holey socks, playing Wii until your eyes glaze over and you forget how to swallow, and on and on. I can find two degrees of separation from any activity and DEATH. Because I’m a Mom. It is a mother’s curse to know that everything can lead to permanent damage. God gave us the superpower of foresight, but He didn’t provide any antidotes!!!

You will probably read this and feel resentment. You might even show it to your future therapist. And you’ll both agree that I should not have let a 7 year old’s temper tantrums dictate my behavior: She should have ignored the rage, and brushed his teeth after he brushed. At least once per day, right? I mean couldn’t she manage even once per day??

No, 31 year old Luc and his future therapist, I can’t manage once per day. I can manage once per week. Usually.

But, no 7 year old can possibly comprehend the permanent consequences of dental hygiene!

I know. I tried to explain them to him.

But that’s insane!

I know that too. I’m sorry.

Sorry?! Say sorry to TSA as their wands go crazy over a mouthful of fillings!

If that would help, I will. Maybe. If I have the energy.

You really are unbelievable, you one-sided conversation having nut jo—

Don’t you talk to your mother like that!

I’m not!! I’m reading this! YOU are typing it!!

I need you to check your tone, son.

You are not a sane person.

I realize this. And sometimes I cling to one of the benefits of being an adoptive mother: I can claim with near certainty that enduring my neuroses is better for you than enduring [insert negative unknowable alternative]. It’s a low bar, but a moderately comforting one. Also, I know you know, and your future therapist knows, and you know your future therapist knows you know I love you. And love conquers all?

In conclusion, I love you very much. I’ve made sure you know you are loved. Your daily hygiene is an acknowledged suboptimal situation. But I love you very much. And I love you. Did I mention I love you?

Now, who wants ice cream?

*It’s a black thing.

I Never Win Anything

When I arrived, the hallway on the 9th floor was filled with (I assume) 125 people. Role was called. And then, the stunning news that 5 lucky people had been chosen by a randomization computer script to be on call. Meaning they could go home immediately and not even think about reporting again until a week later. At that point, they were to call the Magical Phone Number of Potential. They would likely learn that their service was complete!

The first name was called: a young, very overweight Latina. I decided she could use a break. I approved.

Then the second name: an older white man sitting way down at the end of the hall (indicating he had arrived early and prepared). He seemed humble and bookish, so I approved him too.

As each person passed me, I showed them I was genuinely happy for them (and I was! …. I was. Well, I was trying to be happy for them) by smiling and whispering, “Congratulations!!”

The third name: an oldish (60’s?) African American woman who smiled so big as I congratulated her that I thought she was going to hug me. Approved.

The fourth name: some dude standing in front of me whose last name started with G. Too close. Too emotionally searing. I did not approve. But I pretended I did, even as the hot tears filled my eyes. I never win anything, I sniffled to myself.

The fifth name: Allison Garwood. WHAT?! I gasped audibly. The crowd gasped audibly in reply. I looked at everyone and smiled and thanked them. And the band played some song as I walked carefully down the catwalk, trying not to offset the crown that had been placed precariously on my— oh wait, that’s Miss America. But there is no way Miss America is more excited to win than I was. Amazing and awesome.

Therrrrre she iiiiiis, Mrs. On Caaall Juror Eight-Oh-Nine-Fiiii-hiiiive…

The Fashion Industry Is Trying To Kill Me

I used to keep a blog by this title. In it I posted links to articles about 20 year old girls stepping off fashion runways and dying of heart attacks. I stopped posting for a while. But the media is still telling me that my best look is emaciated famine victim. I disagree. So I juxtapose 2 images against each other to remind myself what true feminine beauty looks like.

Today’s installment:

Erdem Wilhemina 3/4-Sleeve Floral Sheath Dress ($840 at Neiman Marcus)

Erdem Sheath ($840 at Neiman Marcus)

Neiman Marcus shows me that if I stop eating and bathing for six months, I too can be worthy of this expensive Erdem (which sounds a little like “murder” when read backwards) dress.

Or…

Fuzzi, Sizes 14-24 ($595) at Saks

Fuzzi, Sizes 14-24 ($595 at Saks)

Saks Fifth Avenue shows me that if I keep eating a healthy diet, exercise, and lay off the heroine, I can embrace my curves and look like a beautiful woman in this expensive Fuzzi dress.