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.

Fear is Not a Stop Sign. It’s an Invitation.

“… (Peter) fell into a trance. He saw the skies open up. Something that looked like a huge blanket lowered by ropes at its four corners settled on the ground. Every kind of animal and reptile and bird you could think of was on it. Then a voice came: ‘Go to it, Peter — kill and eat.’ Peter said, ‘Oh no, Lord. I’ve never so much as tasted food that was not kosher.’ the voice came a second time: ‘If God says it’s okay, it’s okay.’ This happened three times, and then the blanket was pulled back up into the skies.” –Acts 10:9-16 (MSG)

Then Peter wakes up to a man knocking on his door. He is lead by God through a servant to Cornelius, the captain of the Italian Guard stationed in Caesarea.

“Peter addressed them, ‘You know, I’m sure, that this is highly irregular. Jews don’t do this — visit and relax with people of another race. But God has shown me that no race is better than any other…” –Acts 10:27-29ish (MSG)

That dream in the earlier verses was what showed him this truth. Racism comes and persists largely through fear. And…

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” — 1 John 4:18

“‘For I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

God does not want us to abandon fear for God’s health. And God doesn’t want us to embrace “other” people and unfamiliar cultures for God’s benefit. When we do these things, we live richer fuller lives.

Daily Dictionary – “abash”

“embarrass” (Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary)

While I thought my quip inventive at first, I grew abashed by the offended silence that followed. I mentally noted that SIDS jokes in front of new mothers are a no-go.


This lady isn't bashful, she feels abashed.

This lady isn’t bashful, she feels abashed.

Daily Dictionary – “abandon”

“vb 1 to leave and never return to : give up completely 2 to stop having or doing” (Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary)

I decided to abandon my self-sabotage demon on a desert island, and I haven’t seen it since.

Demons can't swim. No swimming lessons in hell.

Demons can’t swim. No swimming lessons in hell.

I have started timing these sketches b/c they are meant to be a daily warm-up, not a time-suck. Evidently, this will cause a quality dip … hopefully only temporarily. I prefer the line art for this sketch to the color.

When I was adding color, I accidentally added it to the line art layer. I still like the line art better than the color. But I like the little color that is accidentally in there.

When I was adding color, I accidentally added it to the line art layer. I still like the line art better than the color. But I like the little color that is accidentally in there.

Dear Universe: A promise from me

Dear Entire Universe:

I draw funny pictures with a surprising amount of angst.

I draw funny pictures with a surprising amount of angst.

No matter how large or small the Voyager ends up showing you to be, I am making a promise to you. If I manage to become a successful children’s graphic novel creator, I will never NEVER EVER say: “It just kind of, ya know, happened.” That is a fat lie. And it’s certainly not helpful to anyone when pompous, egotistical writers say stupid trash like that.

This may be the new and less effective generic anti-depressants talking, but I think all the successful writers who claim that their success fell into their laps, insinuating that they are super humans who were always going to rocket to the stratosphere… um… I got a little grammatically lost in that sentence. So, I’ll start a new one! I think all those jerks should be taken out back to the shed and shot.

In case we can’t find a way to write shed executions into law, other ideas might include the following: we all let our dogs poop on their lawn, sell them only dying batteries for their smoke alarms, and/or nobody turn your ringer off when you go to one of their readings.

Thank you for your time, Universe.

Most Sincerely,
Allison Garwood

Daily Dictionary – “abalone”

“a shellfish that is a mollusk which has a flattened shell with a pearly lining” (Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary)

When I told my Grandma that I’d watched an abalone wrestle a tiger shark and win, she replied, “Aaaaa baloney!”

These guys are not strong wrestlers.

These guys are not strong wrestlers.

Daily Dictionary – “abacus”

“an instrument for doing arithmetic by sliding counters along rods or in grooves” (Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary)

How should I know the answer to that math question? Get your abacus!


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.

Daily Dictionary – Aardvark

“an African animal with a long snout and a long sticky tongue that feeds mostly on ants and termites and is active at night” (Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary)

Aardvark walkin' to the store to grab a pack of cigarettes.

Aardvark walkin’ to the store to grab a pack of cigarettes.

Snot and ants flew everywhere when the aardvark sneezed.


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?