Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."


6 Months

Thanksgiving as a holiday is drawing near, but thanksgiving as a way of life is 6 months old!

December 1st is the 6 month anniversary of the day we became a family.

We celebrated with a post-placement visit from our social worker yesterday. She asked me whether or not we still "check in" with each other on our little check list of attachment questions. You know what I mean, whether you ask them out loud or just internally, I think most adoptive parents run through the little list early on:

"Do I love her yet?"
"Do I think she loves me?"
"Would I give my life for her?"
"WHO is she?"
"Does it feel like she's been with us forever?"
"How would I feel if she suddenly were no longer here?"
"Do I long for how it used to be?"
"Will life ever feel normal again?"

Ok, is it just me?
Well, if it is, that's fine. I can be honest. These were the questions we asked ourselves and each other a lot in the first few weeks. It's an odd feeling when you get home (I think particularly if this is your first child) - to be floating on a cloud of thrill and relief, celebrating externally, dizzy with exhaustion and semi-paralyzed with doubt internally.

SIX MONTHS though. Things have changed. Things have stabilized. I can't remember the last time we asked any of the questions above. A new normal has solidified. A dorky, cheesy, straight from the sitcoms storyline. You know the one: new parents, drunk on love for their child, never go out on a date. When they finally get alone outside the house all they can do is talk about the baby. Her sparkly eyes! Her new way of turning her chin up and looking down on her subjects like a queen! Her newest word! How much she ate that night. Was it enough? Could she be hungry and need us to come home early? Was her forehead slightly warm? Should we be washing her hands more often? On and on and on. Until date is done and we rush back to stand over her crib and stroke her little sleeping face.

Yes, we can both remember the good old days (grocery shopping at midnight, sleeping in until 10am, staying out past 6:30pm, spontaneous date nights) but we'd never want to go back to being just two. What did we TALK about back then??!! ;)

I am so thankful for a holiday season filled with this little face. A face I can't fathom living without.




Holidays are approaching.

I've been thinking a lot about last year. I wrote this post, so sure that we were almost at the finish line.

It seemed to kick off a very difficult 3.5 more months of waiting and began the season of angst and ugly crying instead of yuletide cheer.

I know it's a little morbid, but I like to go back and revisit those days in my memory.

Such a different place now.


A New Day

Today is Ariam's first day at the shiny bright dream daycare. The one with the Chinese lanterns.

I cannot say that I've been feeling completely settled about the decision to move her.

But this morning we arrived and they had a "Welcome Ariam" sign on the toddler room door. As we walked into the main reception area everyone came out to say hi and make a fuss. Ari was so very pleased with herself and her grand reception. She granted many smiles and kisses. When we went into the toddler room she noticed the play kitchen immediately, made a beeline to it, and was still there when I said goodbye half an hour later.

She's such a big girl these days. It's hard. I wish I could keep her little forever. And yet I love to see her growing into such a happy sparkling little toddler. (Lately Ariam has been saying "happy" or "happy baby" when she's in a good mood.) :)

The new daycare has an online video camera. I'm about to log on and see what she's up to before I get down to work.div>



Releasing the past: Washington DC - Part II

Moving forward requires that we loosen our hold on the past.

Two years ago when J lost his job we left behind our home, our friends, and our city.

Starting over but never really putting the past behind us.

In September we finally went back together.
We said goodbye to a house that is no longer our home on a street that is no longer our neighborhood.

We said goodbye to Congressional Cemetery - no longer our daily walk.

We said goodbye to the monuments that were our landmarks each time we flew home.

We ate with our old neighbors,

in a yard surrounded by a fence that J built one hot summer.

During dinner I looked up at our old back window bathed now in a baby's night light glow. The window that would have been our nursery.

And we walked our city of memories, reliving the night we rode our bikes to the Lincoln Memorial and sat on its ledge watching a lightning storm.

We reminisced about our 9th anniversary kayak trip on the Potomac.

We laughed at the spot we once witnessed a huge Segway tour tourist collision in front of the Whitehouse.

We strolled through the Renway to pay homage to Wendell Castle's Ghost Clock. The one that tricked me the first time I saw it.

We rolled our eyes over the traffic between Union Station and Dupont Circle on a Friday night.
We inhaled the familiar scent of the Metro and the watched the reflecting pool.

We dunked Ariam's feet in the fountain in the park next to the Capitol where our dogs swam and where we hid Easter Eggs one fabulous Sunday.

We rode the carousel. The one I avoided looking at for many years.

There have been days of doubt. Days when I longed for the sanctuary of my bedroom there. Days when regret for things we had no power to change was so sharp I could almost taste it. Days of homesickness and sadness.

One week after we returned from DC we bought a home here. It is not as big. It is not in the heart of importance. It does not come with a DC price tag or hold a prestigious location.

But it is real. It is ours. It is the home we should have started with in the first place. We are working a bit backwards but it is moving us forward.

We are starting over.
It is still painful but every day less so.

Some days I am amazed at how quickly we expect an adopted child to loosen her hold on the past and move forward. I have measured her transition in days and weeks and months while giving myself years. Amazed at how I lost a home and still mope and whine about it while my child lost everything she was born with and somehow is this brilliant happy being. Learning a lot from my 16 month old.


The Controversial and the Mundane

I find it interesting how something as mundane as choosing a costume for your child's first Halloween can actually be controversial.

I've been following a blog. I'm choosing not to link to it here and actually it isn't under the list of blogs I follow which is a good thing because my purpose isn't to send you all flocking over to it.

I don't know the author of the blog but have enjoyed her sweet accounts of her newly adopted Ethiopian child who has been home just about a month.

Now normally I do not get wrapped up in blog or facebook controversy. I don't have much time or interest in writing detailed comments or stirring up arguments. And I rarely if ever feel offended by a mundane adoption blog.

But, well I'm not sure how to ease into this so I'll just say it.

How do you feel about this?
Am I wrong in assuming that the vast vast majority of us know and understand that black (and I use that adjective broadly to describe both African Americans and people of color from and still living in the Caribbean and Africa) do not like to be described as monkeys, not even as a form of endearment?

I will admit that prior to becoming the mother of a black child many of the issues surrounding racial stereotyping were simply not part of my world. And I am sorry about that. Because I lived in Washington, DC and worked and socialized and went to school with a lot of black friends. Many of whom I probably offended in one way or another over time. I thought that it was ok in general to be ignorant as long as I wasn't being offensive ON PURPOSE.

Wrong. Dead wrong. Shamefully wrong. It is not ok to be ignorant. And it is doubly not ok to be ignorant when you are parenting a child of another race.

The blog author/mother was ignorant. And that happens. And I would give her a huge pass for not having done a bit more reading on race and identity and racism in the U.S. except for one fact. She was educated by a black commenter (and very sensitively and kindly I might add), re-educated by several more commenters who said they were close friends, and she still chose to post a final comment stating that she would consider the points of view shared but would not go as far as to stop calling the child a monkey or give away the child's monkey themed clothing received as presents. Because "clothes are expensive."

You know what else is expensive? Repairing damage.
It is emotionally expensive to repair the damage we do to the image of white parents parenting black children. It is emotionally expensive to explain to your adult black man of a son why childhood photos show that you dressed him like this despite being provided with the tools you needed to understand why it was not ok. Expensive folks. We are talking hard stuff here.

Because the argument that racism and stereotyping and slavery and racial divides and inequality are somehow in the past is not an argument that can hold up anywhere outside of white society. We are white. We are not.black. But our children are. And that is so very loaded and important and full of implications for how we choose to live our lives.

So I posted a comment. I gave her an out. I recommended she do some reading. I fully expected to see that she would come back a bit humbled, accept that she had made a mistake, and would be glad to have found out early in her parenting so that next year she can buy a giraffe costume.

It didn't turn out that way. And she obviously doesn't want more comments. So I am turning to my only other outlet - my own blog.

I just keep thinking this. What if a black parent were calling her white child "cracker" as a term of endearment? Because she enjoys eating crackers of course. What if she went on to dress said adopted white child as a big white Saltine for Halloween? Um. Wouldn't we all have a bit of a problem with this? Maybe not if it were a white mother and white child. But there is something about transracial adoption that changes things doesn't it? The historic power differential and racial tension between black and white in the United States. It may be old news to some but it is very real and still very close to the surface when we are talking about labels and words.

Hello people? Let's just accept that we don't know it all and humbly thank our readers when they point us on the right track. I think paying attention to black friends and commenters is especially important. Run a little litumus test. Before you dress your child of another race in a costume for Halloween just first consider what your best girlfriend of that same race might say.

Oh, what? You don't have a girlfriend of another race?
Maybe that is the problem.
And I don't say that to be snarky. I think a lot of us have a long way to go before we could consider ourselves beyond just "racially sensitive" (nice term for I know it's wrong to call a black person the n word but not much else) and get to "fully functioning white mother who knows exactly how to raise a black child so that he/she can function as a member of black society without confusion, shame, self-doubt or embarrassment."

Feel free to leave comments but if you say to me that "all that matters is what is on the inside. Or, as long as your intentions are good" you know I will laugh you right off my blog. My fifth grade teacher said it best when he told us "close is only good in horse shoes."

We have to get it right, not close, when it is our child at stake.


About Me

My photo
J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.