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Protesting the Election?

I’m really quite intrigued and curious about the protests that have been occurring since last Wednesday as a result of Donald Trump winning the presidential election. While I think that many people were understandably shocked and stunned by his election, given the thoughts of political pundits and the things that Trump himself said and did throughout the campaign, I wonder about the protests, student walk outs and such that are now occurring.

While I believe people in this country have the right to protest, I don’t understand the end goal of these protests. When Dr. King was leading protests during the 60’s there was generally an end goal in mind. It could be to desegregate the buses in Montgomery, to end segregationist policies at lunch counters (which PS he did not start, but was certainly involved in), to end segregationist policies in Birmingham, to oppose laws and city ordinances that violated the constitution (of which outlawing protests or demanding that people have a permit for doing so was one), to end disenfranchisement of blacks (and others), and so on. What is the end goal of these protests? To not have Trump elected as president? If that is the case, we are past that with the end of the general election last Tuesday. What do they want to have happen?

I’m also confused about the turnout of these protests, but the lack of turnout for the general election. While there are various ways to have your voice heard in the United States and protesting is certainly one of them, another way is voting. Did the people protesting vote? If so, fine. But from what I have seen only 49.6% of registered voters participated in this election. Now, over the past several elections, that seems to be a pretty good turnout. But if essentially 50% of people did not vote in this election for president, what’s the deal?

But this also begs another question which is what are these protests actually about? Are they really about his election to the presidency? Or are they about something else entirely? Are they really about the idea that his election has emboldened others to exhibit hateful behaviors that have long been hidden under the radar? That now some people feel they have the ability to exhibit these behaviors and not suffer any sort of consequences? I mean, from what I’ve seen, there has certainly been an increase in racist and hateful behaviors, even in my local area, which is quite diverse racially and ethnically. While I believe that these will be dealt with appropriately (hopefully), it seems that SOME people think that somehow this behavior and these kinds of attitudes are now ok. So, is that what the protests are actually about? That they are protesting the idea of these kinds of behaviors and attitudes being ok now? I wonder.

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Reflections and Thoughts on the Election

Some days I wonder what I will post about on here and as is evidenced by the sporadic nature of posts, some days I just don’t have much to say. Today is not one of those days. It has taken me several hours to figure out what all I am thinking and what I want to say in response to the 2016 Presidential Election. And I have a myriad of thoughts about it. On an emotional level, I am saddened, hurt, furious, on the verge of tears, cautious, hopeful, and a whole lot of other emotions that I’m not sure how to even put into words. And being the mother of a 2 year old African American boy, I have lots of other thoughts and emotions. But surpassing the emotional level, I have to reflect on the things I know to be true, and the things I have read, and the things I have learned over the course of my life to help me through this.

A bully has been elected to the office of President of the United States despite his long history of bullying behavior. Yet, across our nation in our schools, we strive to teach our students to not engage in bullying behavior, to report when they do see it or are victims of it, and to stand up against it. How can we continue to teach this to our children, when the bullies see that their behavior can be rewarded in this way? Trust me, I am 100% positive that we, in the schools, and many many parents across this country will continue to teach anti-bullying behavior and to respond to it when we encounter it and that gives me hope for humanity. But, I’m sure that it will become more difficult to combat it when the bullies see another bully in the highest office of the land.

A man that has little to no respect for women and admits to sexual assault of numerous women, and thinks it is funny, has no place in my worldview. Having never experienced sexual assault (Thank God!), it makes me furious and sad that other women (and men) have had to experience that. I’m well aware of the fact that other presidents have had inappropriate sexual relationships (affairs, whatever you want to call them) with women that have not been their wives. HOWEVER, I’m pretty sure that NONE of those ever bragged about it. Lied? Sure. Tried to cover it up? Sure. And those things are wrong!!! But to outright brag about committing sexual assault is why so many women don’t report the assault they have experienced. Because, as is evidenced by recent stories (Stanford swimmer, etc.), to be a white male that commits sexual assault is to be slapped on the hand and allowed to continue their lives while their victims experience emotional and physical trauma, PTSD, injuries that they have to deal with the remainder of their lives, depression, trust issues, and the list goes on.

What does his “Make America Great Again” slogan mean? When was it great? I mean, you are reading the words of someone that is incredibly grateful to live in this country where I have not had to experience things that people in other parts of the world have experienced. Where I can practice my own religion without fear of being arrested or killed. Where I can live essentially where I want to (as a white woman). Where I can make decisions about my own profession (choose what I want). Where I can choose where to send my son to school…public schools, private, homeschool, etc. Where I benefit from the men and women that have served in the Armed Forces to protect the United States and other parts of the world. Where I can choose the candidates that I want to vote for and exercise my privilege to vote for that person. Where I will fight for your right to exercise the same privilege, even if I disagree with you. But, I don’t understand his slogan. What does it mean? When does he want to go back to? And what are the policies that he’s going to put in place to make that happen? How are they going to affect my friends and family that don’t fit into the white population?

In response to his election to the office of President, I am sad and all those other emotions listed above. But I also want to put this out there. We, those of us that opposed him or did not vote for him or whatever…we MUST NOT stoop to his level of name calling, making fun of people, and the list goes on. WE MUST rise above that. WE MUST show the world that despite this person being elected president, that WE as Americans, can still continue to make this nation great for ALL people. We MUST fight for those that we see that are victimized. We MUST show LOVE, HOPE, and PEACE to others.

For those of us that are Christians, we MUST follow the teachings of God and Christ. Here’s a few I can think of that might help us to respond.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:2-12)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37)

I also know that God commands me to pray for leaders in the government, regardless of my own personal agreement or not with them. I have not 100% agreed with ANY political candidate or President that has served since I’ve been old enough to vote. I have voted in every single election I have been able to. And I will pray for the leaders that have been elected in this 2016 election, including Trump. I will also act when I see things that are not in accordance with the laws of this land. We must not allow this election to show the worst in us, but the best in us. We must respond by holding our friends and family close, but supporting those around us, by working towards an equitable society.

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Expanded Thoughts on “Give an Adoptive Mom a Baby Shower”

A few minutes ago I posted a link to this article from another blog from an adoptive mom. This particular adoptive mom adopted her children when they were older and internationally, so there are some differences between her family and ours. We adopted domestically and when our son was an infant, rather than a toddler or older child. However, I resonated with some of the things that this mom stated.

One of the things that stood out to me about her post was that throughout it she comments how “adoption is different.” From our own experience, that is somewhat true for us. We’ve had various kinds of questions and comments from strangers like “Where’d you get him?” as if he’s some sort of exotic product we bought from some far off place. I’m sure the question is from the assumption that he was born on the continent of Africa. But that assumption seems bizarre to me given the fact that we have had those of African descent in this nation for over 200 years. Why would the assumption be that he had to have been born in Africa and not in the United States? Anyway…the point is we tend to think that asking these invasive personal questions is ok in cases of adoption, especially obvious adoption, but you wouldn’t ask some random stranger in the middle of Target if she had a C-section or gave birth naturally, if she had an Epidural during labor or if she did it naturally. Why? Because those are personal questions. You might have that conversation with a dear friend or a family member, but definitely not a complete stranger in the middle of a restaurant or while she’s running errands at Target or WalMart.

Let’s move on from that particular part of the article. Some other things resonated with me as well. She notes how it is important that an adoptive mom be made to feel like a mom just as a woman that is pregnant is made to feel like a mom. The main way she focuses on is that throwing an adoptive mom a baby shower is an important thing to help her feel like she’s just as much of a mom as any other mom. Now, you do have to take this as her personal opinion and feeling because not all adoptive moms feel this way. And we had AMAZING friends and family that did throw me baby showers. I had one from my family, one from a dear friend, and one from my coworkers. They were really nice and helped us feel like a family. And we did have them AFTER we brought E home. So, it was more of a “welcome” shower than it was a baby shower you would give a pregnant woman before the baby arrives.

She also wrote about how someone at her church or in her neighborhood wanted her to help out with meals for another mom that had just given birth. This was right after they had brought home one of their children, but this was an older child. Why didn’t this family get any meals to help support them as they were bringing home a new child to the family? Again, she says it’s because “adoption is different.” And I think sometimes people just don’t know what to do when there is a family in the neighborhood or at their church or at work that is an adoptive family. People are unsure of what is needed or what the family might need or want. And in her particular case, I think the neighbor lady had no idea how difficult it could have been for this family to be bringing home an older child and what supports they might need.

My suggestion, if you know a family that is pursuing adoption, is to ask them what they want. Ask them if they’d like a shower before the child arrives or if you should wait until the child comes home. Ask them if they will need meals provided and for how long they expect that for. Ask them what other sorts of support they might need. Some ideas are: babysitting so they can run errands, running the errands for them, cleaning the house, or even doing a load of laundry.

I will say that one of the frustrations I had when we first brought E home was the lack of meals provided for us. We were part of a somewhat small church at the time that we brought him home but a church that was very much about service and mission projects. Someone at the church created a signup for the meals and we asked for meals for a few weeks about 2-3 times per week. We were provided with exactly two meals. I’m not sure why that happened…Did people not know how much that would have helped us? Did people not know about it? Did people think that we wouldn’t have as much need for them? Who knows? I just hope that I remember how much it would have helped us and when we are able to provide that for others, that we do so.

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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.

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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.

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Struggling with the terrible twos

OH. MY. WORD!

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.

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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.