cultivate (kuhl - tuh - veyt)
v. 1) develop 2) nurture

graft (grahft)
n. 1) transplant 2) bud 3) union

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Day In The Life Of An Ordinary Family

I know we seem different. After nearly three years of this way of life, I have reached a point of forgetfulness. Until we go out in public, that is. Behind closed doors, we are us. We all wake up in the morning, hungry for breakfast and the day's adventures. We grumble about beds to make, laundry to fold and toilets to scrub. We brush teeth and hair. We do school, puzzles, and art projects. We play games, blow bubbles, and skip rope. We teeter on two wheels for the first time, waving aside training wheels and a steadying hand. We struggle, get angry, repent, forgive. We pray, rejoice, weep.

Oh, and one of us is black.

Our adopted daughter doesn't black grumble. She doesn't black skip, or black weep. We don't buy only bright colored clothes that "will look good with her skin tone". If the girl wants to wear a dark brown dress, I say go for it!*

We are us.

That's not to say there aren't differences. We go through more lotion, oil and hair conditioner in one month than you do in six. There is no such thing as quickly running a brush through her hair (I'm doing good to get it done in under half an hour). We live in a world of sleep caps and braids and beads, and also dark earwax.

It's a fine line for transracial families; Celebrating without fixating. We want to celebrate the beauty of coils and cultural style, folklore and music. We want to shout from the rooftops that Sophia is one incredible girl, and part of that is wrapped up in something as simple as melanin. We also want to avoid fixating on her differences. Fixation quickly leads to isolation. She is not an alien to examine under a microscope. She is not on the witness stand and doesn't need to answer your litany of (bizarre) questions, that, let's be honest, go over her head anyway. She's still mostly "colorblind". No really, I promise you. She recently looked though some family pictures and asked if the baby in the picture was her. Heh. Only if bleach baths and hair relaxers were routine when you were in diapers.
"No, sweetie. That's not you. What's one big difference between you and that baby?"
"Ummmmm. I'm...bigger...?"
That you are, dear. 

Transracial families (by adoption or marriage) fall into an awkward category. Girlfriends want to know what it's like to be married to a black man. Kids want to smoosh the afro, and strangers remark about how you can't see the pupils of her eyes (or make other kooky statements). Honest curiosity, girded with respect is widely accepted among transracial families. We're not a scary tribe. We are simply us

Oh, there will always be criticisms cloaked in carefully crafted sentences: "Why go to all that trouble when there are orphans right here?" Translation: This is about you wanting _________ (an exotic child, an adventure, to be like Angelina). And to the naysayers suggesting we chose international adoption, because we wanted something exotic. Let me tell you, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, exotic about carrying a frightened child you barely know through an airport, all the while feeling parasitic diarrhea splashing onto your shoes. If that is exotic, then sign me up for a trip to Boringville.

It's almost as though there is something to the old adage, "If you can't say something nice..." There's also something to the adage, "It takes all kinds." It truly does. It takes all kinds of people to create families. It takes all kinds of passions, interests, weaknesses, and yes, even skin color to build some families. 

We. Are. Us. And we are uncommonly ordinary. Normal in a different kind of way. We're a zorse in a land of zebras.** Same and different. 

There are so many social designations for my daughter's skin tone. There will come a day in the not so distant future that my sweet Ethiopian daughter will come to me and say, "Mama, I'm confused. Am I black, African, Ethiopian, African-American, Abyssinian, chocolate, or negro?"

And I will smile and say, "Sweet girl. You're mine."

A Grateful Zorse,


*Aside from the fact that the child could wear a mourning shroud and still light up a room.
**An Honorable Mention goes to The Professor for suggesting the analogy, "Like someone twerking in a ballroom." I don't know whether to laugh, cry or edit the blog. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

You're Invited To My Clink Party

Thank you so much for coming! Here, let me take your coat. Feel free to warm up by the fire. Help yourself to some coffee and hot cocoa in the kitchen. Do grab a plate of yummy cake and cookies on your way by. 

Now that your body is warm and your belly is happy, let's get this party started!

Let's raise our mugs of deliciousness, and toast to the interwebs!


Hey! Speaking of interwebs and clinks, I'm starting a trend. Instead of wasting valuable time and energy saying "Click the link", I'm coining the phrase "Clink". So, welcome to my very first Clink Party! I'm so glad you came. Refill anyone?

This Clink Party is held in honor of National Orphan Awareness Month, which just so happens to be going on right now. Last November, I wrote several posts on this topic, and instead of reinventing the wheel, I'm linking my posts below (along with a few other posts dedicated to adoption).



Our Journey to Sophia (Part One and Part Two)
Two Year Ruminations
Good Arms Are Still Wrong Arms

Grab a warmer from the coffee pot.

Perspective Shift
The Day My Heart Broke

Those ones are tough. Stop for now. The links aren't going anywhere. Digest. Pray. Weep. Seek.

Loving Whales and Orphans
A World Without Orphans: A Picture of Hope

We are the hope. May it spur us to action beyond ourselves.

What Can You Do?

And for a little silliness: Oh The Things People Say and Oh The Things I Want To Say**

I'm so glad you stayed! Before I walk you to the door, will you please accept a small party favor?



*Although...I have a feeling that filled mugs make more of a clank sound when used for a toast. 
**Alright, fine! I've said some of them. Most of them. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Write Over The Wrong

I may or may not have just hugged my oldest a smidge too tightly and a moment longer than usual as I fought back tears. What the heck?!?

It's November.

And I'm a wee bit wrecked.

I can see you're a teensy bit lost.

Last November, I chalked it up to her and my Adoption Awareness Month blogging series. I'm nothing if not consistent. Apparently. November, 2013 rolled around and I am, yet again, blindsided by nostalgia. I've not written in a while and my brain is bursting at the seams with words needing a place to call "home". I'm at risk of emotionally vomiting all over you. I'll choke it down, but you might want to grab a bucket, just in case.

A year has flown by. An. Entire. Year.

Our oldest is a determined soul. This month the CEO set her sights upon turning ten. And she did it. The nerve. To the mother of a 20-something, 40, 50, 70-something, "ten" is merely a cute lil' drop in the bucket. But to this mama...oh for the love. Must she? We celebrated her entry into double digits by giving her a weapon. Aren't we such saps? 

Our youngest is much like the CEO. Eerily similar. As in, a thick slab of déjà vu wrapped in "been there, done that" paper. Ergo, it stands to reason that she would also possess a lot of nerve. Enough nerve to turn one year old in another week. Goodbye baby, hello toddler! Allow me a tiny pity party, m'kay? Could you please pass the cheese to go with my whine.*

The other night all of this collided in my tired brain (Stick with me. I promise this is going somewhere). Jubilee was a basket-case, and couldn't fall asleep (hello shades of Mikayla). As I sat there rocking her, I watched her cycle through the I-want-to-sleep, relax, no-I-don't, stiffen, sit-up-and-scream routine. Charming. However, every time she relaxed, she melted into my arms and we connected. Because she's mine. I considered each of my children, and despite the one in my lap screaming (and the memories of a certain sister doing the same), my heart was held fast by a different daughter; One whose story is the broken story of millions of others. 

Months old, and unable to fall asleep. There are no mother's arms; Just the chilled bars of a crib. Cries may eventually be met with arms, but they are all wrong. Overnight, so much became wrong, and it only got more wrong from there. Wrong arms, wrong sounds, wrong words, wrong faces. Then, more wrongs until nothing was right anymore. Wrong scents, wrong tastes, more wrong faces, wrong world. And even though these faces smile with tears coursing down pale cheeks, and hug me tenderly, they're...wrong

Turning ten, turning one. Both of those daughters have never known the wrong arms.** Some days they resist them, but they have always been right. For Sophia, my arms are good. They are reliable, trustworthy, safe, satisfactory. But they may never be right. Much like the scream-relax-scream-relax bedtime routine, there are stretches of time where stiffening the heart feels so much safer. And then there are the precious moments of connectedness, where a little chocolate girl rests in my arms. Trusting me with her heart, secure in the knowledge that she is, indeed, mine. I will store up those moments to replay on the days of depletion, where wrongness fights for center stage. 

Dear friends, I love my family. I love how adoption is woven in the tapestry of our lives. However, it is crucial that we acknowledge a very real part of adoption; That every, every, every adoption story is wrought with sorrow and wrongness. The prologue is often painful and fearful. Chapter One begins with grief and deep wounds. For many families, the chapters of mourning drag on and the plot weighs heavily on their shoulders. For others, sunny prose is just around the corner. 

For 147 million children, the story has yet to be written; There is only a dreadful prologue, and no one pressing pen to paper. No one embracing them to witness a mighty story unfurl. Don't skip to the ending of someone else's book. Pick up a blank volume and write over the wrong

What will your story be?


*Did somebody mention wine? I'll take a glass of Riesling, thanks.
**Just for the record, neither has the seven year old.