Please Don’t Buy This For Our Family

Hallmark creates lovely Christmas ornaments each year, some in a series with a few new ones that are added to the line each year, some brand new ones. Generally speaking, they are lovely, well made, and of high quality. I enjoy looking at the variety of the ornaments especially because you can generally find one for at least one person in your family. Our family has a Christmas ornament tradition in that my mom buys a Christmas ornament for each person in the family each year, usually representing something about that person. For a long time, my ornament was something about the Redskins, my favorite football team. My husband might get a guitar ornament since he plays the guitar. We’ve also received a few ornaments representing our family.

This year, Hallmark is selling this ornament. 2016-forever-family-porcelain-heart-adoption-2-hallmark

Now, those of you not intimately associated with adoption might think, “This is such a lovely ornament” or “Your family is ‘meant to be’.” Or many other positive thoughts surrounding adoption and adoptive families. And to be clear, there are many positive aspects of adoption. But I also want to be clear that adoption is a very complex thing and is different for every single adoptive family. And that is why I’m requesting that you not buy this for our family. You can not reduce the complexities of adoption into a cute, albeit well-intentioned, phrase like “meant to be.” This focuses completely on the adoptive family and is dismissive of the adoptee’s first family as well as the adoptee. Was it “meant to be” that ties to the adoptee’s first family might be lost? Was it “meant to be” that the adoptee may have lost connection to her/his culture (language, dress, religion)? Was it “meant to be” that a first family be put through the emotional turmoil of making such a decision as making an adoption plan for the child? Was it “meant to be” that the first family deal with the loss of this child from their own family? As an adoptive family, we want to be sure to do everything we can to acknowledge and honor all parts of our son and who he is. We don’t want to do things that make him think we are ashamed of his first family or minimize any sense of loss he might experience. For a first mom’s perspective on this ornament, click here.


Potty Training Update

Ok.  Here’s the deal.  I see all these pins on pinterest about “How I potty trained my X year old in 2 days” or whatever.  And I was all excited about it.  Like this can’t possibly be that difficult to do, right?  I mean, come on.

Well…let’s be real here.  There is NOTHING easy about potty training, at least with this boy.  The potty chart has been working somewhat as he is enticed by the lure of the prize he gets when he completes a row on the chart.  BUT, he has accidents all the time.  I mean, we go for several days that are great, no accidents and then we have a day or more when he has lots of accidents.  No consistency.  He’ll go on the potty a few times and then the next time he has an accident.

So, I just want to be clear that Potty Training is a LOOONNNGGGG process and there is nothing easy about it.  Pins that say someone potty trained their kid in X number of days….I don’t believe them anymore.


Struggling with the terrible twos


I am sitting here in my living room which is directly below my son’s bedroom. I’m trying to watch the football game. He’s been in his crib for about an hour. He is making all kinds of noise and peed all over the bed and himself, which we of course, changed. He’s been doing this for at least two weeks. He’ll have a couple of days with good naps and then three or four days of just being a completely defiant two year old that outright refuses to nap. And he knows exactly what he is doing.

So, I thought, maybe if I give him some new rules about “rest” time that might help. So we talked about (1) Staying still and (2) Staying quiet. We talked about what each of those mean and he seemed to clearly understand. And we had two good afternoon naps. One for three hours (which is long) and one for about an hour and a half (normal).

And then there’s today. He’s already had three potty accidents before getting in the bed. He was in the bed at his normal time and we reviewed the rules. He refuses to follow them. And then he peed in the bed. So that makes four accidents so far today. So, of course, we have to get him out of the bed to get the wet sheet off the bed and change his clothes. Just utterly and completely refuses to take a nap. I don’t think he’s the kid that is trying to give up his naps yet, since he does take them every few days. But like I am going to lose my freaking mind with his defiant attitude. Up until this point, he has been a very compliant, normal baby and toddler. I totally get how some parents can lose it with kids that are this age because I have almost lost it with him and I probably have responded much more emotionally than I should have with him too. I have no idea at all how single parents do it because if I couldn’t vent to my husband about this, I wouldn’t know what to do.


My response as a white, adoptive parent

There has been much discussion on social media and in the news over Colin Kaepernick and his reason for sitting during the national anthem and why he says he will continue to do so. I have many thoughts about this and they are mixed, not all one side or another, because it is a complex issue.

First, as a family member of a large number of veterans, it bothers me that he chooses to sit during the national anthem. It makes it appear that he is not grateful for the freedoms for which those veterans have fought or served in the armed forces of this country. As someone that could not personally have done that, I am so grateful for those that have chosen to do that. But, I don’t think he is ungrateful to veterans for their service. I think he is actually grateful that they have done that so he can choose his means of protest and standing up for a particular issue that he feels strongly about.

Second, when he says that he isn’t going to “stand up to show pride…for a country that oppresses black people,” he is not necessarily saying that he himself has been oppressed. He is saying that there are systemic problems in the nation that need to be addressed. When people say things like “But we have a black president” or “But we have a black woman as leader of the Department of Justice” or similar statements, they fail to take into account how having people in these positions does not make all of the other systemic issues simply disappear or get better magically. He is using his position as a professional athlete to give a voice to the concerns of others that don’t have the same platform.

This leads to another issue that people have raised regarding the oppression of black people, his being adopted by white parents. How does this equate with there not being oppression of minorities? Just because one set of white parents adopted a biracial child, who has now become a professional athlete, doesn’t mean that the systemic issues don’t exist. He may have experienced racism or prejudice in his life or he may not, I don’t actually know. But even if he hasn’t he can still speak up for the issues that he sees around him.

Some people have questioned what has he actually done to fight against this oppression he is claiming as his reason for the protest. Maybe, just maybe, this is his first step in confronting and fighting the systemic issues of oppression he sees. Maybe he is trying to find other ways to work towards equality for minority communities that he is part of and talking about.

Historically speaking, there is a lot to unpack…

Why is his method of protest questioned? He has learned about an issue that is affecting many people living in the United States, systemic oppression, and has chosen to use his platform as a professional athlete to speak up against that oppression. Many other athletes and celebrities have done similar things. This is not the first time an athlete has not stood during the National Anthem (Mahmoud Abdul-Raef aka Chris Jackson of the NBA to name one). Johnny Cash chose to wear all black clothing as a means of protest and recording an album about the issues confronting Native Americans, which radio stations refused to play, at least for awhile. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested multiple times and put in jail for various ridiculous offenses, but his method of protest is lauded by people while Malcolm X, who was also fighting the same issues as MLK, Jr., just in a different way, is demonized. Who gets to decide how someone else should protest?

As a white adoptive mom of a black son, I must be an ally and advocate for my son. He will surely benefit from my white privilege while he is with me, living in my house, etc. But what happens when he is a teenager and is walking somewhere alone or with friends? What happens when he goes into a store and I’m not with him or his dad isn’t with him? What happens when he’s driving and gets pulled over? I used to believe these things didn’t happen anymore and that we had come so far since the time of my parents and grandparents (segregation, Jim Crow, etc.). What I have learned is that similar things are happening even today across this country. Our prisons are full of minorities but crime is not committed at any higher rate among minority communities than white communities. We must be aware of these systemic issues such as police brutality, sub-par funding of education for communities of color and those in poverty, crime rates versus arrest rates, and the list goes on. I must also teach my son the issues that he might deal with, prepare him to deal with them, and encourage him to find his own perspective and his own voice so that he can use it.

People question Kaepernick’s parents and wonder what do they think about his choice to sit…maybe they support their son, maybe they helped him to find his voice and are glad he is using it to highlight an issue that he is passionate about. Apparently his birthmother has made some statements (though I have not read them) in critique of his decision. Ultimately, she is entitled to her thoughts, opinions and feelings, as he is. Hers do not nullify his. However, maybe she could have found a way to communicate those feelings to him privately rather than in the public eye of social media. As a teacher and now parent, public humiliation is not generally a tactic that works well for disciplining a child, correcting their behavior, or in this case having a meaningful debate about your differing perspectives. As a mom, I would not want to do something that would knowingly damage my relationship with my son. Yet I can not speak to the perspective of a birthmom. I don’t know what their situation is, what lead to her decision, what their relationship is like now, or anything like that. I wonder how this will affect their relationship with one another now.


Our Sesame Place Trip

Sesame Place Entrance

Sesame Place Entrance

In Langhorne, PA is an amusement park specifically designed for little kids, Sesame Place. It opened in the early 1980’s and I remember going there as a kid, so I definitely wanted to take Eli there. With our Pampers Rewards points, I was able to get 2 one-day admission tickets, so we only had to pay for one admission ticket. Because I didn’t know how Eli would react (he hasn’t really ever seen the larger than life size characters), I thought we could try it for one day and then if things went well, we could decide to go back again at a later date.

I had checked the weather prior to driving up and figured that Monday would be a great day due to temperature and it being forecasted to be partly cloudy to overcast so it wouldn’t be blazing hot. We drove up on a Sunday evening, after Eli’s nap, and arrived at the hotel a little after Eli’s normal bedtime. He did have some issues going to sleep in the hotel room, but we figured that out and made do. Anyway, by driving up on Sunday evening, that gave us all day Monday to be at the park, do the activities, ride the rides, and get our money’s worth. Then, we stayed the night at the hotel again on Monday night and drove home Tuesday. If you live close enough, I would recommend this plan for a few reasons (listed later). Some tips….

Dine With Me - breakfast, lunch, or dinner (must make reservations ahead of time/online)

Dine With Me – breakfast, lunch, or dinner (must make reservations ahead of time/online)

(1) Dining with Elmo and Friends – You can do breakfast, lunch, or dinner with Elmo and Friends. Breakfast is less expensive than lunch or dinner and also gives you extra time in the park before the park opens to the general public. The breakfast is at 8:45 am and is over by 9:30 so you have 30 minutes of time on some of the rides that are open and running (not everything is open). This is a good time to do the water rides and stuff that will get packed later in the day. This is also a perfect opportunity to get time with characters one-on-one as each character comes to each and every table, interacts with the children (and adults) at the table, and lets you take pictures with them. Elmo is the only character that stays in one place and you have to line up for. There is also a staff person taking pictures at the Elmo line for purchase later. BUT you can take your own pictures with Elmo, too.

(2) Wear your swimsuits and water shoes (and swim diaper for non-potty trained children) to the park – Even if you do the breakfast experience, WEAR your swimsuits. It is SOOOO much easier to do that than to try to change clothes in the bathroom. We brought swim diapers but forgot them in the hotel room so we had to buy one from the store at the park and they sell them individually. Swim diapers are REQUIRED for all non-potty trained children on ANY of the water rides they are allowed on. Do not worry about trying to take your own life jacket…there are plenty available at the rides that require them. After you finish the water rides/activities, you can change into dry clothes/shoes later. I would also recommend watershoes for everyone. Though some rides don’t allow them, you can take them off and use the shoe storage provided at that ride/activity.

Ernie's Water Works

Ernie’s Water Works

(3) Ernie’s WaterWorks & Big Bird’s Ramblin’ River – GREAT for the little ones that aren’t big enough for the water slides and other water activities. Spacious, LOTS of water, sprinklers, sprayers, a tunnel, etc. Big Bird’s Ramblin’ River winds around this area. Also a good ride/activity for little ones…they can ride with an adult. The staff at this activity are extremely helpful. My husband did this with Eli and he got in the inner tube first and then the staff person handed Eli to him. Then, at the end of the ride, the staff person (different from the one at the beginning) picked up Eli and put him on the sidewalk area so my husband could get out of the inner tube. There is a second entrance to the river ride by the cabanas, but it seems if you use this entrance, you don’t get as long of a ride (different colored inner tubes).

Let's Play Together show

Let’s Play Together show

(4) Shows – See at least one show. We saw Let’s Play in Abby Caddabby’s theater (near Big Bird’s Ramblin’ River). It was a cute show about friendship with lots of music and dancing. The theater is outdoors but does have large fans (not running when we were there, but they do turn on when the day is REALLY hot).

Rosita dancing on the first row of bleachers

Rosita dancing on the first row of bleachers

If you sit right behind the “reserved” sections of the theaters, the characters will be up close and personal. We were a bit higher up in the seating as we got there about 5 minutes before the show started. It wasn’t hugely crowded the day we went, though I’m sure it is different on the weekends. Elmo the Musical is in the air-conditioned theater near the carousel.

(5) Food – Other than purchasing the dining experience, you should definitely take your own food. You are allowed a cooler (10 x 10 x 12) so you can take sandwiches, snacks, fruit, drinks, etc. We did this for lunch, but not dinner. The food at the park is of the amusement park variety (burgers, pizza, chicken fingers, fries, etc.) and they don’t have milk as a drink option with the children’s combos (which I think is weird for a park designed for children). Others have suggested buying the souvenir cup and then you can get it refilled for .99 throughout the day, which is another option, I’m just not sure it’s worth the money you spend on the cup at the first purchase, unless you drink A LOT throughout the day.

(6) Tickets – If you are purchasing tickets, purchase ONLINE prior to going to the park. They are $10 cheaper and you get a second day admission. With this type of ticket, they will take a picture of the ticket holder (so you can’t transfer it to someone else) and then check the picture against the person in front of them on the second day. There are other deals online through the Sesame Place website as well. This is also where we purchased the dining experience.


(7) Characters – There are characters in the park throughout the day. The more popular characters are available at different locations and for longer times. Many characters are at the 123 Smile With Me studio (somewhat indoors) and this offers more snuggle time with the characters than what you would get on Sesame Street (where lots of characters are) or other locations in the park. You can check the schedule for the characters at 123 Smile with Me on the App. You can see some characters just walking around. We encountered LOTS of characters on Sesame Street when we returned to the park after Eli’s nap time. The lines at these characters moves pretty quickly so it’s worth waiting in line for them. Like at Disney, you can get the characters to sign an autograph book (you can buy them in any of the stores) or bring your own. Eli’s not old enough to know what that is so we didn’t do that.

(8) Plan (but leave time for play) – You can look up the times for the shows, characters at 123 Smile, and other activities on the Sesame Place website or you can download their app. The app is especially useful on the day you are there, as it will use your location and then when you are looking for a specific ride or whatever, you can find it by name, and then click “Take Me There” and it will show you exactly how to get there from wherever you are in the park. But don’t overplan or everyone in your group will be stressed out and not have very much fun at all.

(9) Hotel – We stayed at a hotel close by. It offered a shuttle service from the hotel to the park and back, so we didn’t have to pay for parking. However, it did not offer complimentary breakfast. While this was not an issue the day we did the breakfast with Elmo thing, I would have liked it the next day before we left to drive home. Instead we went to an IHOP close by for breakfast. I would recommend finding a hotel that does have complimentary breakfast, and definitely one that offers the shuttle service (many of the hotels in the area do as they are well aware that many people at the hotel are going to the park). Having the hotel was really helpful for us so that we could keep Eli on his somewhat normal schedule with his nap time and bedtime, etc. You know your child and if they can deal with no nap. Eli can be a pain without a nap, so we needed to be able to have a place for him to nap during the day.

We will definitely go back again, now that we know Eli is good with the characters and being in an amusement park, etc.

Disclaimer: We did not receive any compensation for this review from any parties involved.  All of the opinions shared are mine alone.



Potty Training

A few weeks before Eli’s second birthday, he started to express an interest in being a big boy and using the potty, so we ran to the store and bought a potty and one for my parent’s house (they live pretty close by so we figured it was a good idea to have one at their house too). Well, that was about it so the potty just sat in the bathroom and we used it as a stool for Eli to reach up to the sink to wash his hands and such. And that’s just how it was for a few months. And then

One day, between approximately 8 am and about 9:20 am or so, he had not wet or soiled his diaper. This was between the time I get him up out of bed for breakfast and when we usually get dressed for the day (while watching Daniel Tiger, his favorite show). So, I decided to get the potty and bring it out to the living room so he could sit on it while he was watching the show, to hopefully encourage him to use the potty. He used it a couple times. But we hadn’t really been prepared for this whole potty training thing to be happening so, I did put him in a diaper for the later morning and we were going out for a few hours with some of my former coworkers, so it wasn’t really a good day to start potty training anyway. However, he did not wet or soil his diaper during his nap (he had a soiled diaper earlier in the morning) so when my husband got him up from the nap and realized this, we decided to put him on the potty again to see if he’d use it. And sure enough, after about 15 minutes of sitting on the potty, he peed. We made sure to make a big deal of each time he went on the potty like a big boy.

That leads us to really focusing on the potty training thing the next day. We weren’t scheduled to go anywhere until the evening for a dinner with some people from our church, so I thought, we can just stay home and he can wander around the house playing while being half naked. And that’s what we did. In addition, I made a Potty Chart with the supplies we had at home. I took four pieces of construction paper (red since that is Eli’s favorite color these days) and taped them together. Using a black sharpie and a straight edge, I made a large rectangle, and then divided it up into 8 rows (it just so happened…did NOT plan that). Then, made 4 of the rows for pee and 4 for poop. He decorated with stickers we already had at home. As he uses the potty, we put a sticker in a box. Once he fills up a row, he will get a prize. I’m not really a fan of the food/candy prizes, so we are going to go visit the dollar bins at Target and the Dollar Store and see what we can find.

Eli's Potty Chart

Eli’s Potty Chart

We’ll see how this goes in the coming days.


Yet again…

In the past two days there have been two black men killed by police officers in two different cities in the United States. It scares the living crap out of me, as I parent Eli. As I sit here, writing this, he is upstairs napping in his crib. Everyone tells us how cute and precious he is, how adorable he is, how much fun he is, and the list goes on. These are things that people tell most parents about their children. When I take him to the playground or to the park, he plays and has a good time trying to play with other children, as he is at the stage now where he is aware of others and is learning how to engage with them. For the most part, I take a back seat and let him figure it out, as that is part of his social and emotional development. Obviously, I am physically there and am observing him, making sure he is not hurting others, redirecting when he needs it (or another child needs it), etc. But, I am becoming increasingly aware that things will be changing soon and that I will need to be so much more vigilant to make sure that Eli is not punished or whatever for things that white children of his same age/development are also doing. As long as treatment is the same, I have no problem. I will have a problem when he is singled out for the same things.

But, I also am becoming so much more aware that we will also have to educate him about how to react and what to do when (notice I said when not if) he is pulled over or confronted by police or other authority figures. I am grateful that we have black men and women in our circle of family and friends that we can seek advice from regarding this as we, as whites, have never had to worry about this sort of thing. My husband nor I have ever had to worry about getting dirty looks in a store when we come in to shop, getting followed surreptitiously by store employees, getting pulled over or confronted by police while black, and the list goes on. Yes, we will have to have “the talk” with him about this.

And don’t tell me that if we just teach him to comply, follow directions, etc. that everything will be alright and he won’t be one of those statistics. The case of Philando Castile disproves this argument (as do so many others). He was sitting in a vehicle. He was carrying a gun, for which he had a permit, and informed the officer of such. His identification was requested and when he went to reach for the id, he was shot and killed. And he’s just the latest in a long list of black men to die.

Historically speaking, “the talk” is one that has been passed down from generation to generation of black men (and women, too, though that one is probably a little different) to their sons and grandsons, nephews, cousins, brothers. I would imagine this is a similar talk that slaves gave to their children. That freed slaves gave to younger generations about how to live in a town, city, state, or country that was hostile to their new freedom. That those generations continued to give to the next ones as they lived through the Black Codes and Jim Crow, lynchings, etc. That they gave to their children during the Civil Rights Movement and achievement of the passage of the Civil Rights legislation. That those that marched, were beaten, were jailed, etc. gave to their children about what to do when confronted. That they gave to their children about going to desegregated schools with predominantly white teachers and administrators. That those generations now give to their children about being pulled over by police or confronted by authority figures. And that we and our black friends and family will give to Eli.

And please understand that I am just as concerned about other crimes being committed in the black community. I am concerned, as I have posted previously, about the enormous numbers of young black men being murdered in the streets of almost every city in the United States. I am concerned and outraged about the prevalence of violence committed by anyone and that it is viewed as a viable option – in fact the only response many times – to a problem or conflict. It is clear we have not done an effective job of showing that there are other responses to conflict, problems, arguments, etc. and that life – all life – has value. The issues are rampant and we need to find meaningful ways of confronting them and not simply wait for the government to do it. Because, really, they’ve shown that they can’t or won’t.

Here are the things young black men could (and have) been killed for by police officers:

supposedly selling “loosies” – single cigarettes from a pack – Eric Garner (which he was NOT selling)

selling music CDs – Alton Sterling – the store owner did not have an issue with Sterling selling his CDs at the store or outside of it – not a saint, but who among us is???

playing in the park – Tamir Rice – 12 years old

shopping in Walmart and picked up an air rifle off a shelf at the store – John Crawford III

riding in a car with a taillight out, with a gun for which he had a permit and informed the officer, reached for his ID – Philando Castile

And let’s give some cases where a white male was NOT shot…let’s see…

Shooting and killing 9 unarmed black individuals in a church – arrested Dylan Roof – then proceeded to take him to get some food because he was hungry

Shooting in a movie theater in CO, killed 12, injured 70 others, some severely – arrested James Holmes – did not tase or shoot Holmes during arrest

Unabomber, Oklahoma City federal building bombing…I’m sure I can come up with more given time…

As I was in the middle of writing this post, last night 5 Dallas police officers were shot and killed and several others wounded in a targeted, planned attack. This, too, is not how we need to respond to what is happening. Again, the large majority of police officers do their jobs well, treat people with respect, keep their own emotions in check, and have no issues during their careers. I am in no way saying that all police officers are bad or corrupt or power hungry or abusive or anything of the sort. They do a VERY difficult job that most of us would not choose, yet they have chosen it, and do so in order to keep their communities safe and protected. And it is admirable that they do this, day in and day out, with very little thanks from the community, often being second-guessed for everything they do or don’t do. Please hear me correctly. I AM SO GRATEFUL for the police officers that do their jobs well and serve and protect us across this nation. More than words can say.

We all must come together to speak up for those that don’t have a voice. We must show them how to use their own voice to speak out. There are so many that believe they don’t have a voice or that their voice doesn’t matter because they have been systematically shown, throughout history (both their own and the greater story of history) that it doesn’t. We must remind them of the movements in history where the voices of those that were oppressed, viewed as inferior or less than, etc. were able to make change. As a white person, I must use my privilege to be an ally and an advocate for them. I should not do it FOR them, but rather WITH them. We must come together and figure out solutions to these enormously complex problems. We can not allow these problems to further separate us from each other, but use them as a reason to work towards common goals.

Some common goals I can think of right now:

– Physical safety
– Judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin (MLK)
– Building relationships with people that are different than me in order to see people as God sees them
– Having open and honest conversations with others, especially those that are different than me, in order to figure out how we can work together towards solutions, being open to hearing something I might not like, in order to do better. When you know better, you do better (as the saying goes).
– Participate in marches, demonstrations, and the like in order to show solidarity with those organizing such events, to support them, and to give action where my words are