Thursday, March 29, 2012

Babies and School

My head has been spinning lately.  The short version of the story is that my oldest got into a local charter school. One that is impossible to get into. Well not impossible, apparently.  There were 1500 applicants for 30 spots and we got one of them.  You'd think I'd be overjoyed. Instead, I'm not sure we're going to take the spot. It's a fabulous school but not very racially diverse. Hence my head spinning.

Also... we are overjoyed and have been praying like crazy for the babies who are now living at the El Roi baby home in Swaziland.  Go here to read about them! How amazing!!! And I am so jealous of my friends and husband who are traveling there this summer.

Speaking of, and just to catch up on some loose ends... we did have a lot of folks donate to the Human Race for Heart for Africa. I think we raised over $300 just from my little post about it.  Only two folks wanted to be entered into the drawing for the tumbler, so I got a little lazy about making the announcement.... so a very belated drum roll goes to..... KELLY H!  :)  Kelly, we can chat at church and figure out what you want on your tumbler! Congrats!

I also have another opportunity for a giveaway to tell y'all about.  My dear friends Emily & Graham are adopting two children from Ghana. They are having a big ole yard sale this weekend to raise funding for their adoption (so if you live in Wilmington, you should go!).  To help out, I offered to make a custom embroidered t-shirt for them to raffle off. Click here for more info on their fundraiser and to enter the raffle.

I really am praying a lot lately. I'm having to take an honest look at myself and at how I want to educate my children.  This school thing is such a tough choice for me. I've been joking with my friends that I'm probably the only person in our entire city who would get the acceptance letter to this school and first laugh and then later cry.  Sheesh.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Please notice.

"I don't even notice that he's black," she says, smiling at me.

And my heart breaks.

Black is not a flaw in my child that needs to be politely overlooked.  Black is not a negative characteristic that you nicely ignore in order to see my son's good qualities.

He is black. If you say you can't see it, I am pretty sure you're lying.  Or you're blind.  I want you to see it.  It is one of the many parts of him that I love. Because it's part of who he is. And we love all of him. I don't love him in spite of the fact that he is black. I love him because he is my son. And he is black.

It's not cool to be colorblind.  Saying you don't see color is saying that you've decided to whitewash your world.

"Equal" doesn't mean "the same".

I pray all the time that Amani will embrace his color in this world that won't always see it as beautiful. I pray that all three of my children will embrace the colors God gave them.  And that they will embrace the colors that God gave others, not ignore them.  I pray that that my youngest will never feel as if he should have been white, or that his being black is not okay, or that it's a flaw we choose to overlook.

I am acutely aware that I am raising a black baby who will grow up to be a black man. I know that that means that he will encounter people who will judge him based upon the color of his skin. He is my child who is most likely to be pulled over by the police, the one whose behavior is most likely to be considered a reflection of his pigmentation, not his character.

In a world that will notice his skin in so many negative ways, please don't not-notice it thinking you are kind. He is black. That is a  POSITIVE quality of his, because God made him that way.

And it is beautiful.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Missed Opportunities

We aren't a stay-home-much kind of family. The kids and I go somewhere most every day.  And since we are out and about in the community a lot, there are lots of opportunities for people to see that one of my children doesn't look like me. Most of the time, folks don't say anything at all, or say something nice like, "he is so cute!"  Occasionally, they say something not-so-nice, although those times are not all that frequent.

And I've decided that I need some ready-made answers for some of the questions/comments that I'm getting.  I've been stumbling with responses, not really wanting to get into big-time discussions with random strangers, but leaving feeling as if I've missed the opportunity to educate someone about adoption.

Because most of the conversations go something like this:

Random Stranger: Oh he's so cute.
Me: Thank you. We sure think so.
Random Stranger: Is he yours?
Me: Yes. He's mine (with a smile).
Random Stranger: Where did you get him?
Me: He's from Ethiopia.

At this point I get one of two questions:
1. How long did it take to get him?
2. Do you know anything about his mother or his family?

I know that these folks are genuinely kind and sincerely interested. They think they are making light conversation with an adoptive mama of a cute little boy.  What they don't realize is that they have just asked me to discuss in public, in front of my children, the tragedy of my youngest child's life story. And they've just said within earshot of however-many of my children are with me, that I am not his mother; that we are not his family.

We decided long ago that we are not sharing the details of why Amani was adopted with anyone. Not even our closest family. The only people who know right now are me, my husband, our agency caseworker, and our attachment therapist. Well, and my friend Kim who was with me in Ethiopia because we were fighting together to bring both our boys home.  That's it.  Not because there is anything shameful about why he needed to be adopted, but because it is AMANI's story. Not mine. It is not mine to share. We will share it with him as he grows up and we will be there to help him decide who he wants to share that information with. And I certainly don't think random strangers are entitled to that information under the guise of "small talk."

But I don't always feel like going into all that with the random stranger who is talking to me from across the room at Kids Alley at the Science Center, along with anyone else in the room who might be listening.

So I've been mumbling something along the lines of "we don't know..."  in an apologetic tone, as if I need to be sorry that I can't satisfy her curiosity with more details.  And that's not even entirely true. There are things we know and things we don't know.  And even that is more information that I really wanted to share with the nice random stranger.

So I'm trying to come up with a very nice way of saying, "you know, adoption almost always comes out of a difficult situation involving grief, loss, and trauma. I am not going to discuss the greatest tragedy in my child's life with a random stranger in front of my children."  And I want to say it in a way that the other person has learned NOT to ask those questions of adoptive families in front of their kids but doesn't feel like I've just chastised them.

That's a tall order.

I'm still working on it.  Because I'm not at all happy with how I'm responding right now. And I think I am given precious opportunities to educate folks about adoption (particularly interracial adoption) when they make comments like that. And I don't want to miss those opportunities.

So.... let me hear from you adoptive families out there! What do you say? How do you handle it? Even if you do share your child's story (lots of wonderful adoptive families handle their children's backstories in different ways), how do you handle the completely random stranger wanting to know it?

Or maybe you are a regular non-adoptive-family person.  What would work? How would you like to be told that you've just unknowingly said something potentially harmful or hurtful?

If I get lots of good responses, I'll do another post and share them!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tumbler Giveaway!

I'm still trying to send my husband away (to Swaziland, that is) and thought I'd do a quick giveaway to help raise some funds for his trip.

I have a great Easter basket goodie...  a personalized insulated straw tumbler cup! My kids LOVE theirs (and I have been known to steal them and use theirs too... maybe one day I'll get around to making one for myself!)

Here's how you win: donate (a minimum of $5) to his Human Race account, then leave me a comment on this blog saying that you did. And guess what? All donations are being matched by Bank of America, so your $5 donation magically becomes a $10 one. Cool, huh? Imagine if you donated even more!

Click this link to donate: HUMAN RACE

Contest ends Wednesday, March 14th at 8pm. I'll announce a winner after that!

Here are some examples, but I can probably put pretty much anything on a cup for you! :) Winner will get an insulated tumbler with a lid and straw, personalized however he/she'd like!