Happy Mother’s Day!
I have much to be thankful for on this day and everyday. As I celebrate my children and husband who have made me a mother, I also wanted to take a moment to remember those who are experiencing loneliness and sadness today.
I am thankful on this day, and every day, for N’s birthmother. I do not take for granted that it was through her loss that I gained the joy of becoming mother to my little girl. I pray for her, and I grieve the loss both her and N feel for one another. I pray I always approach the subject of N’s birthmother with grace and sensitivity, and that as N’s mother I will always honor her first mother who conceived, labored, and birthed her lovingly into this world.
Today I pray for my friend’s who grieve their lost children. Whether through illness, miscarriage, or infertility, I know many mother’s find this day painful without their children around to share it with. During my sleepness nights with Ian, through the crying and teething and nursing difficulties, I would often think of a friend of mine back in Portland who gave birth to her daughter 5 months into her pregnancy. Unfortunately, her tiny baby did not survive. How painful to walk into that hospital with a full womb, only to have to walk out with empty arms! Remembering her gave me perspective to be thankful always, even on those difficult days and nights that seemed to drag on for forever.
And lastly, on this day, I think of and pray for my friends who have lost their mothers. Just the thought of losing my mother brings tears to my eyes… I can’t imagine the loss and grief of those who are mourning their mothers. I know whether its been years or months or just days since their loss, that every mother’s day brings both celebration and sadness for these families. I have dear friends in Portland who recently lost their mother, and I know this day, the first of many holidays spent without their mother and wife and friend, must be such a hard day for them.
So, to all of my fellow mothers who have the privilege of being celebrated this day, I applaud you and celebrate you!
And to those who are finding this day to be a painful reminder of loss, I celebrate you and your stories, too.
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It’s official: our girl has been in this earth & in our lives for a year. I’ll keep this brief so I don’t get emotional :).
“It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it, myself.”
– Joyce Maynard
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I’ve been doing a lot of praying, soul-searching, researching, asking, and reading about race in America since becoming a mixed race family. One thing that infuriates me in regards to race is how (many) white people disregard the importance of race by claiming to be ‘colorblind.’ Racial identity might not feel important to you if you are white, but we can’t deny we have benefited from being white, and to deny that racial inequalities exist only prolongs the cycle of denial and ‘white guilt.’ I am not perfect in any way, and I have so much to learn and can’t do so all on my own, but I acknowledge it is important to be honest and not just claim racial diversity/acceptance/understanding is important without acting on these things myself.
I really enjoyed this article about transracial adoption. They key, I think, is to be able to have open dialogue with people of other races/cultures without being so damn defensive.
Some paragraphs I felt were key:
Transracial adoption is awkward to discuss at first, because although it is designed to chart a radically integrated future, on the surface its structure repeats the segregated past. Just look at the basic structure of a family and apply race to the equation. The most crude way to put it: Whites are in charge, children of color are subordinate, and adults of color are out of the picture.
Gratefulness is the most powerful silencer in the adoption world. Even if a transracial adoptee breaks the silence to make a criticism about his or her experience, the immediate response always is: Would it have been better if you’d never been adopted? It’s a rhetorical cul-de-sac, a false runaround that continues to stifle conversations about more complicated subjects, like what’s the difference between a family that’s tolerant and one that’s actively antiracist, or why are there so many children of color adopted in the first place?
Click this link to read the article in full: Black Kids in White Houses
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As a transracial adoptive family, there is a source of information and wisdom I have found very important to tap into. Beyond the books and seminars, reading and studying the lives of other transracial adoptees has expanded my awareness of issues of race. Many adult adoptees share (through blogs or books) their past experiences of childhood and adolescence, & while many of them had very positive upbringings there are more still who speak of their ongoing struggles with race & identity.
Trying to be intentional about being a family who ‘walks the walk’, my husband & I have always felt it important to exist outside of the ‘white bubble.’ I grew up in a foreign country, and while I never experienced negativity for being a minority (at least not that I remember), I do remember what it felt like to be the only white person in certain group settings. After my family moved back to the states, although I was now racially in the majority, I can still recall feeling like an outsider (for our experiences DO shape us).
I grew up with friends of various racial and cultural backgrounds, and luckily it wasn’t until I was in junior high that I recall my first run in with racism. I struggled with being ‘too white’ in a predominately African American school, but when I transferred to an all white private school I was suddenly ‘not white enough’!
Biologically my family has 3 biracial members (caucasian & African American). The youngest, my son’s age, has no awareness or concept yet of racial identity. But the older two, both girls and ages 17 & 12, have struggled in different ways as they try to establish their unique identities. The oldest, who just graduated high school, embraces her African American culture only. She dresses a certain way, listens to rap, corn-rows her hair, and only has black friends. The younger girl has only embraced her Caucasian heritage. She straightens her hair, is highly involved in church and school activities (both her church & school are almost exclusively white), has all white friends and does not seem to identify with black culture at all. To be sisters they both have drawn very different conclusions to their question of ‘where do I belong?’ and ‘who am I?’
It has been a learning experience for me to watch them grow and develop differently, and I try to apply the lessons they’ve indirectly taught me as I parent a child of color.
Let me make my point: as parents of children of color let us not be foolish enough to disregard the need they WILL have to find their unique ‘identity’ in their specific race/culture. As a Christian, of course I do not think our outward appearances should be primary in defining oneself. But I can not deny that racial identity is very important to people of color & different cultural backgrounds. As a white mother with a black child, I will not raise my daughter as a ‘white’ child. She’s not white! By being unintentional in matters of race with both of my children, I would only be teaching them that their uniqueness is not important enough to receive my attention. I can’t ‘unintentionally’ teach a black child about black culture, because I am not black.
Love is NOT enough when it comes to raising an adopted child. Love is very important, but it must be met with trusted resources, support, wisdom and understanding. If you are blessed to have a child of a different race or cultural background, then you and I must be the ones who make ourselves the minority at times. Intentionally seek out friendships with those who share the same race/culture as your child, frequent the diverse city parks, enroll your child in a diverse school, attend a multi-racial church. In doing so we are showing our children that we honor and celebrate differences, and that racial identity is just as important to us as it is/will be to them.
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We went to court Monday morning and were granted full parental rights! We are now at the close of this adoption journey. We have been blessed beyond our wildest imaginations! God is too good to us; what a gift that we are parents of this beautiful little girl! We look forward to adopting again!
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