October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

There's a special Halloween message from Puppy to all of you at the secret blog. Email me for an invite at heather [dot] pnr [at] gmail [dot] com. (Don't be shy if you're interested--I just don't want to post pictures where the world can see them.)

Happy Halloween!

October 30, 2007


For Puppy's first birthday, I made him a little book titled "Who Loves [Puppy]?" It's full of pictures of him with the people who make up our family--grandparents, godfather, aunts and uncles, and his first families. I wanted a way to make their faces familiar to him, even though we don't see many of them very often.

We were reading it last night before bed, flipping through the pages and having him identify different people. When we got to his first mom's page he got so excited. "K___! K___! K___!" he sang, pointing at her picture.

Something clicked for him during K's visit last month. He's still too young to truly understand family relationships--that Nana is Mommy's mommy and that sort of thing. But he gets that K is special because she is family. He welcomed her into his select inner circle over that weekend (perks include extra hugs, reading books in your lap, sharing favorite toys, and hearing your name repeated over and over).

I was glad to see it and to see her respond to him and know that it had happened on his timing. It made me think that maybe we're on the right track.

October 29, 2007

3BT #5

Three beautiful things on a cold autumn evening:
  1. Pulling a quilt up over a sleeping child, curved like an apostrophe in the corner of his bed
  2. The faint hint of a neighbor's wood stove in the air when you step outside
  3. A breeze pushing through the last dry leaves on a tree, a sound almost like that of soft rainfall
What beautiful things are around you today?

October 26, 2007

Sixteen Things About Wednesday

Can't pick out a narrative from the last couple days, so a list it is:
  1. I tried on a few several six different outfits Wednesday morning.

  2. I picked up T from work to drive to our appointment and realized we inadvertently dressed in matching outfits. I seriously considered being late to the appointment so I could go home and change. I also considered dying on the spot of pre-emptive embarrassment.

  3. I wore the necklace.

  4. I spent most of the morning thinking about my appearance to avoid thinking about the fact that we were about meet someone who may become a permanent member of our family and how incredibly odd that is.

  5. Just before walking into the counselor's office, I heard Ms B's voice on the other side of the door. When I realized in a few steps we would meet I experienced a moment of pure panic.

    The panic was short-lived and it was a pretty comfortable meeting. She described herself as a very private person, which is certainly something I can relate to. So I appreciated the extent to which she opened herself to us and I did my best to match it. I was impressed by the determination she has exhibited at various points in her life.

  6. She brought two friends with her, a married couple. They had read our profile materials, which include pretty much everything there is to know about us short of n@ked photos. (The materials are a combination of the home study, autobiographies, health histories, and reflections on our family life and approach to adoption.) They are so revealing that I can't read through them to myself in one sitting because I feel so exposed. It was terribly vulnerable to sit in a room of people who all knew more about me than most of my friends, yet know next to nothing about them. I think it is fair considering the situation, but--dude, I'm ok if I don't do that again for awhile.

  7. Even more so than the first time we did this with Puppy's first parents, T and I were aware that it was the two of us entering into her decision-making process. This may be part of her pulling together the pieces of an adoptive placement. Or we may be part of her trying on the idea of adoption and ultimately deciding it is not the best course for her. Either way, we have this sense that we have a certain role and it's very much just one piece of the larger whole. There is a huge body of experience and history which brought her to this place, and there is of course so much going on right now in her life that we are not privy to.

    The reverse is also true: she is a piece of the larger whole of our adoption process and our evolving family history. I think I once conceived of adoption as this linear storyline in which T and I were the central characters and meeting an expectant mom like Ms B filled in the "meeting 'our' 'birthmom'" slot. But this time it feels more like the overlap of two circles in a Venn diagram, ours and hers.

  8. There wasn't any instant connection. I didn't walk in and think, "Oh, she's the one!" But c'mon, this is me we're talking about. If I ever say something like that no one will blame you if you notify the authorities that I appear to have been replaced by a pod person.

  9. She brought us some copies of pictures from her last ultrasound that she wanted us to have. There was 2-D ultrasound picture and some 3-D ones. I guess 3-D ultrasounds are pretty standard now? In the 2-D picture I thought the baby's nose was a foot, so obviously I rocked my response there. The 3-D ones are...creepy. (T on the way home: "Can we not put those on the refrigerator next to the food?") I think there is a reason babies grow where we can't see them. The baby did look all snuggly and relaxed, so I guess all is good on that front. It was very kind of her to share those with us.

  10. At one point I quoted myself verbatim from a blog post and completed my transformation into a living, breathing cliché.

  11. We went out to lunch afterward with Ms B and her friends. The friends monopolized the conversation, to the point of answering questions I asked B directly. I woke up the next day pretty frustrated about that. Not that they were there--Ms B had the right to invite along whatever support people she needed--but that B, T and I were facing this major decision that didn't directly involve them and hadn't been able to have decent conversation after we left the office.

  12. We exchanged phone numbers so we could continue to get to know one another. We hope to see her again sometime next month. The next agency-coordinated meeting with all three of us would be in January.

  13. The agency is working separately with the baby's dad. He has been reticent, not necessarily about the possible placement (or it wouldn't have gotten to this stage), but about openness and being much involved in the process or going to counseling. This is weighing heavily on my mind.

  14. There was some information we received on Wednesday that factored into our decision to move forward. I'm still working out what is appropriate to share.

  15. Ms B's daughter (that's right, I said daughter) is due February 8.

  16. If MaybeBaby joins the PNR clan, we'll be a transracial family.

October 23, 2007

19 Hours

I was 33 when we adopted DJ, and I thought I knew what a broken heart looked like, how it felt. I didn't know a damn thing. You know what a broken heart looks like? Like a sobbing teenager handing over a two-day-old infant she can't take care of to a couple she hopes can.

Dan Savage, The Commitment
T and I went out for dinner on Saturday to prepare for our meeting with Ms B tomorrow. Over Indian food we discussed adoption ethics writ small--not legislation or international treaties but the dozens of small choices we'll make this week and perhaps in the weeks ahead. We sorted through our priorities, reaffirmed our limits, brainstormed ways to communicate our values to Ms B and the agency case worker. I heard us slipping into the pattern of honest yet carefully chosen words we'll all be using on Wednesday.

I read Dan Savage's The Kid this weekend, a little break from real life. (Because clearly the way to avoid being antsy about your own adoption process is to read about someone else's.) It is one of the most honest accounts of a domestic open adoption that I've read from an adoptive parent's perspective. Which meant I was cringing, laughing or on the verge of crying through most of it.

I once read an interview in which Savage said he and his partner were debating whether or not to adopt a second time. There were multiple reasons for their hesitancy, but one was not wanting to relive the experience of leaving the hospital with someone else's child. In his own words from The Kid, "No one warned us about the moment when you pick the baby up and walk out of the room, leaving the birth mom sobbing in her bed. We were unprepared for all the planning and check-writing and seminar-going to end in a moment of such blistering pain."

I read that section again and again before finally putting the book down. The details didn't match what happened when we picked up Puppy. It was a sidewalk, not a room; no one was sobbing outwardly. But none of that really matters. It doesn't change the fact that driving away from K with her/our baby in the back seat felt at that moment like one of the most terrible things I've done to another person. I've come across more than one parent who has considered not adopting again or going a different adoption route because the thought of being a witness to the physical relinquishment a second time is too troubling. I understand their position, and I respect them. It's because I respect them that I've struggled inwardly to understand why I am doing it again. How do I watch someone's heart break then willingly be party to it a second time?

T and I took some time last year to talk over all our different options, from foregoing siblings to pursuing a different type of adoption to saying health-be-damned and going for a bio kid. They are those crappy kinds of conversations in which there are no right answers. We went into our first adoption with some sense of the ethical trickiness, but none of how impossible it is to change the very nature of relinquishment. All the openness in the world doesn't mitigate the blistering pain, it just makes the adoptive parents witness to it. With adoption the way we did it there is no way to distance yourself. We were caught off guard by how it divides everything else into before and after.

Some people say they could never do what Savage did, what I did. They could never be the one to carry a child away from its mother. What it came down to for T and me was this: if our children are adopted, then that moment happened whether or not we were there. Whether we adopt from the state system or internationally or in a private adoption, that moment of blistering pain still happens. Maybe it's a kid being pulled into foster care, or a young parent dying of AIDS, or a father leaving a baby in a public place to be found, or a new mom leaving a hospital empty-handed. But someone's heart still broke. By virtue of adopting we are indirectly party to that; it is just a question of how many steps removed we will be.

It's more complicated, of course. This is just one tiny piece of what it means to do an infant adoption in the U.S. The reality is that there are ethical issues in all forms of adoption--they are just unique to each form. For us, working inside a culture we understand, in a system we have experienced first-hand, in the process we think allows us the most control made more sense than navigating something new and unknown. Ethically tricky, yes, but the trickiness we'd be best equipped to handle. Once we decided to adopt again, using a different form of adoption just to avoid that experience didn't seem right.

So tomorrow Ms B becomes a flesh-and-blood person to us (and us to her). It is one thing to prepare for a hypothetical situation with a hypothetical person. It is quite another to look into the face of a woman who is considering placing her child with you and have some sense of what awaits her if she does.

Whatever happens, tomorrow will be an interesting day.

October 20, 2007


Adult adoptees have a civil right to their original birth records.

That right is still denied or abridged in an overwhelming majority of states.

Here is why we should all care:

If you're as moved as I was, be sure to leave a reaction over at YouTube. The video is an entry in a national competition which has the potential to bring a lot of attention to this important issue.

October 18, 2007

How Nice for You

It was a ... well, awfully nice surprise to find out that mama2roo passed on the Nice Matters Award to me. I wasn't at all surprised to hear that mama2roo had received it not once, but twice. Whenever I go to leave a comment on someone's blog, more often than not I find mama2roo has already been there with a word of encouragement, agreement, or sympathy.

In the blog world, civility often goes uncelebrated while biting rants garner attention. There is a place harsh writing, because sometimes it communicates in ways that softer words can't. Certain issues call for unvarnished honesty. But I'm happy to be able to pass this on to three bloggers (among many) who make the internet a more civil place--even when they're ranting.

Cloudscome @ Sandy Cove Trail
Cloudscome is my model for writing passionately about sensitive issues--from injustice to racism to adoption--without invective. There is a post she wrote about what it was like to begin visitation with her eldest son's father when her son was small (I can't find it or I would link to it). She wrote it without bitterness or resentment, but with complete honesty about how difficult it was for her. Whenever I am tempted to vent on-blog about a frustrating relationship or a perceived wrong, I think of that post.

Tammy @ You Just Never Know Where Hope Might Take Ya
This was the first post of Tammy's that I ever read. I knew right away that I wanted to hear more from her. She continues to impress me with her compassion. Her family is in a lopsided adoption, in which there is openness on her side but not on her kids' first parents' side. Despite how disappointing that has been for their family, she never plays the blame game.

Poor_Statue @ Not Mother
Poor_Statue didn't invent the front porch principle (blogs are like front porches--if you want to take a stand/get rude/rant then do it on your own porch, not your neighbor's), but she was the one who introduced it to me. And she stands by it, which I think is part of why her words carry so much weight with so many people.

October 17, 2007


K's visit ended at the airport Monday morning with an exchange of hugs and a "Love you!" tossed over her shoulder. It was a good weekend. K interacted with Puppy more than she ever has in past visits, and he returned the favor with lots of attention and smiles. Her confidence around him seems to be increasing, which I think makes Puppy more comfortable, as well. He had a great time with her. He would wake her up in the morning by wandering into her room saying, "Hi, K__! Hi, K__!" It was very important to him that she be included in various activities; he would always make sure she was coming along as we moved from place to place. I think it helps to have visits in the familiar, safe place for Puppy right now. T and I were able to give them more chances to be alone together than we would have otherwise. Their relationship--at least from my perspective--is at a nice place for his age.

My goal for this visit was integration: continuing to bring our worlds together by having K meet some of the folks who populate Puppy's daily life and giving them a chance to meet her. It was important to me that she see Puppy in his little social network, enjoy who he is amongst friends. There is something about seeing your child play and (usually) share with friends that gives parents warm fuzzies. Puppy's birthday party was a natural place for that to happen, with the adults mingling while kids ran underfoot. There was also an impromptu dinner invitation that resulted in a relaxed Saturday evening watching football with family friends. So I got more than I hoped for in that regard.

All in all, I think it was a successful visit.

Now for the navel-gazing: It exhausted me emotionally. I am terribly introverted, so having overnight visitors tends to drain me. There are also some specific things about my interactions with K which require a lot of emotional energy. One night when T and I had retreated to the privacy of our bedroom, I broke down in tears. I was feeling empty and tired of navigating all the different needs and wanting to just enjoy Puppy's birthday. I heard myself say, "Sometimes I just want to be [Puppy]'s only mom." I was so embarrassed to have said that, especially with K probably feeling the same thing a thousand times over in the next room. But it wasn't about wishing the adoption weren't open (I don't) or that Puppy weren't adopted (he wouldn't be Puppy) or even about feeling threatened in my role by K (I'm not). It was about wanting things to be simple when they're not.

If I were someone else, I would tell me not to be embarrassed. It was where my heart was at at the time, and I needed to deal with it so it wouldn't affect my actions toward K. But I need to figure out some way to honor those feelings and work through them in a way that doesn't leave me feeling so isolated. More than anything this weekend I wanted a peer I could call who would tell me, "I've felt that way, too. It's ok. You're doing fine." Or tell me to get over myself if that's what I needed. The point is I wanted to know there was someone who had been there before me. (T was wonderful and supportive and had some great insights, but he just isn't affected by our visits in the same way that I am. Which makes my sense of loneliness more acute.) I read stories of so many adoptive parents who express nothing but joy over their relationships with their children's first parents. They make me happy. They also make me wonder what is wrong that sometimes this is all incredibly draining for me?

I've been hesitating over this post, not wanting to look like a self-centered tool. I can't seem to wrangle the words to express what I am trying to say. But I want to put it out there so that if someone else has found herself there she can know that she isn't alone.

October 11, 2007

Popping In

T is driving to the airport after work today to pick up K for her birthday visit. I am markedly less nervous than I was before her spring visit (which was our first overnighter). Still anxious enough to stay up late cleaning last night, but not so aflutter that I couldn't sleep. If K is nervous, she's not revealing it to us. She's been counting down the days on her Facebook page.

Part of the calm is knowing that we done this successfully once before. But it is also due to some recent progress in our relationship. I don't know how to be appropriately vague without making it meaningless, but some good things have happened recently. I am happy with where our relationship is right now and the direction it's headed. In the beginning T and I were operating with this idea that we, as the adoptive parents, shouldered all the responsibility for making the openness work. It didn't take long for us to realize that a healthy open adoption requires some sense of partnership between the two sets of parents, some initiative on both sides. (I think it's some of the difference between child-centered open adoption and other forms of open adoption.) That's not an easy adjustment to make mid-relationship, and obviously not one that can be done unilaterally. But it's been happening, partly organically and partly with some changes in how we approach certain things. And that feels really good.

It is strange to think that two years and six weeks ago we led completely separate lives, and now we're part of the same family.

I have so many things I've been wanting to sort through here--naming, my feelings as our meeting with Ms B approaches, holding together the good and bad in adoption. But they will have to wait. It's relaxed play day tomorrow, apple picking on Saturday, and birthday party on Sunday. My fingers are crossed for a good weekend.

October 10, 2007

No, No, No, Nooooooooooo

Puppy turns two this weekend. Two! In celebration of his age, he has wholeheartedly embraced the concept of "no" in the last week or so. Just in the past twenty-four hours, he has said "no" to:
  • taking off his pajamas
  • putting on his pajamas
  • wearing a coat
  • me carrying his coat
  • me wearing my coat
  • the very presence of a coat in the car
  • eating breakfast
  • eating dinner
  • eating a cookie
  • the fact that it was raining
  • "Is your name [Puppy]?"
  • going upstairs
  • getting into the bath
  • getting out of the bath
  • going to bed
  • having his diaper changed
  • anyone leaving any room at any time
  • wearing shoes that aren't orange
  • being strapped into his car seat
  • wearing shoes in the car
  • reading any book but the truck book
  • T watching a football game
  • me changing my shirt
  • the rabbits sleeping
The fact that saying "no" almost never actually works hasn't slowed him down in the least. Most of the time there wasn't even a question being asked, he just felt like expressing his opinion about the matter at hand. It's a phase, right? A short one?

October 09, 2007

Further Thoughts on Language

The discussion of "first parent" vs. "birth parent" pops up from time to time in online discussion groups; lots of adoptive parents seem to have very strong opinions on both sides. (For the record, I (a) use both in real life, (b) am not particularly interested in forcing anyone else to do so, and (c) don't think my opinion as an adoptive parent is the one that really matters in this debate.)

I can understand being initially unsure about the term "first mom" as an adoptive mom, because I had that experience myself. New language sometimes forces us to see things from a slightly altered perspective; that is one of its benefits. I think it is good to engage in discussion about what makes us uncomfortable and why, and to honestly critique whether that discomfort stems from personal anxiety or legitimate disputes with a term. Those things are worth talking about so that we can all move forward.

There is one argument against "first mom" that I'm seeing more frequently that I find a little puzzling, though. It usually goes something like this:
Maybe "first mom" makes sense if a child is raised by her birth family for awhile before the adoption. But I was present at my daughter's birth; we took her home from the hospital. There has never been a time in her life that I've not been her mother. So "first mom" is fine for some families, but it doesn't apply in our case.
I am acquaintances with a woman who lost a son a few years ago. Something unexpected happened late in her pregnancy, and she birthed him knowing he would not live very long. For the duration of his brief life outside the womb she and her husband held him and loved on him, tried to make sure he was safe and cared for. She never set foot outside of the hospital with him, never bathed him or buckled him into a car seat or sang him to sleep. But she considers herself a mother, one who no longer has her child with her. I don't know anyone who would contradict her.

K didn't leave the hospital with Puppy, either.* But she took care of him while she was pregnant and after he was born she made sure that he would be safe and loved. If my friend was a mother to her son, then surely K was a mother to Puppy. The fact that she eventually placed Puppy for adoption doesn't negate all she had done up to that point. Neither does the fact that her mothering of him overlapped with my own make hers any less real.

I think the key, for me, is that a person's story begins before they are born. So even for those of us who adopted our children as newborns, we have not been there for the entirety of their existence. If we can acknowledge that, then we should also be able to acknowledge the ones who were there and the mothering they provided.

* I hope no one thinks I'm comparing adoption to death. I meaning to say that the length of time one parents doesn't determine the legitimacy of the parenting.

October 03, 2007

Four Things

Four things I thought about adoption when I was a child:
  • For awhile I thought couples went into an orphanage and more or less selected a child off of a shelf. I used to play adoption agency with my friends. We'd line up all my dolls in pretty dresses, then one of us would be the adoptive parent and the other one would be the orphanage director. We even drew up little adoption contracts.
  • Because I knew all the words to the songs in "Annie," I felt I knew quite a bit about adoption. Clearly.
  • I thought adoptive children should be pitied for not having a real family and adoptive parents should be pitied for not having kids of their own.
  • I was glad I wasn't adopted.
Four things I've learned since then:
  • Movies and novels aren't the best sources of information about adoption.
  • A person's history from before they're adopted matters as much as their story after. Being adopted doesn't hit a reset button on their life.
  • There is still quite a bit of work left to be done to make adoption (both international and domestic) a more just system.
  • Adoptive families can be just as awesome as "regular" families.
Four silly things people have said to me about adoption:
  • "How did you manage to get a white baby?"
  • "You did it the right way--you got a kid and didn't have to be pregnant."
  • "It's almost like you're his real mom!"
  • "If you really cared, you would have adopted a foster kid or gotten an orphan from some poor country."
Four things that are hard about adoption:
  • Trying to act ethically inside a broken system.
  • Getting past cultural models of family, which don't really have a place for more fluid family structures like ours. Things made a lot more sense when I realized that we were a "non-traditional" family, despite our outward appearance.
  • Convincing people that open adoption isn't confusing, dangerous, or an act of charity.
  • Not knowing what Puppy is going to think about all this when he is grown.
Four ways my adopted child/placed child has surprised me (or how your adoptive/first parents have surprised you if you're an adoptee):
  • He has picked up some of our mannerisms. I had prepared myself to raise a child who was completely different than us. But he is like us in some ways and like his first family in other ways--and uniquely himself in still more ways.
  • He was white. I mean, we knew Puppy was going to be white, but we were expecting to adopt transracially.
  • He is starting to notice more about family structure than I thought he would at this age.
  • He makes parenting a lot more fun than I ever expected it to be.
Four things I wish everyone knew about adoption:
  • You don't have to be directly involved in adoption to care about adoption reform. If you care about reproductive rights, parental rights, family preservation, civil rights, poverty, racial inequality, or global inequity then you should care about adoption reform.
  • You can confront the darker stuff in adoption (loss, regret, need for reform, etc.) and still be optimistic about adoption as a whole.
  • Closed adoptions are a fairly recent invention in American history. Open adoption isn't some crazy new fringe idea.
  • All of us--adopted people, first parents, adoptive parents--represent a wide variety of backgrounds and circumstances. The stereotypes about us, both positive and negative, are pretty useless.
Do you have an adoption category/label on your blog? Consider yourself tagged!

(via Jenna via Mary)

October 02, 2007

Snowball Effect

Puppy wore the orange shoes to bed tonight. On the bright side, they did match his pajamas.

Reality Doesn't Always Bite

Probably the question I'm asked most about open adoption (maybe second-most, after "What is it like?") is why we do it. I usually say that we think it's the healthiest, most ethical approach to adoption. Which is true. But last week a friend pressed a little further on the "why"--why so open, why so adamant.

I thought about everything I've learned and pondered so far about identity, loss, relinquishment, the adoption industry, adoptive parenting, child development, etc. And I realized it all distills down to one thing for me: open adoption deals with reality. It's reality that Puppy has two distinct family trees. That other people can call him their son. That one of the most joyful times my life was one of the crappiest in his first parents'. That Puppy lost something when he was placed. Those things are real whether I want to confront them or not.

In defending the fact that adoptive families are as legitimate as non-adoptive families, sometimes people fall into pretending we're just like non-adoptive families. But we're not, and the process which formed us continues to influence our life together. I'd much rather deal with that reality than waste time tiptoeing around the truth with clichés and secrecy. Why would I ever pretend Puppy grew in my heart? Or that a legal process ends emotional ties? Or that first parents just move on? Open adoption confronts those kinds of things. Sometimes that's tough on me, but it's the openness that helps me deal with that.

So that's my new sound bite: open adoption deals with reality.

In other news, we're meeting with Ms B in three weeks. And K is coming into town to celebrate Puppy's birthday in two weeks. (He's going to be a two-year old!) Lots of adoption-y stuff going on in our house this month.


“Would you like to wear red shoes or blue shoes?” I ask my two-year old, dangling the options in front of him.

“Orange!” he chirps with a smile.

“Orange wasn’t a choice. Red or blue?”


The orange shoes: our family’s participation in the rampant Crocs trend. At some point during the summer, my son’s appreciation of them blossomed into a full-blown crush. No matter the weather, no matter the outfit, they are the only shoes he wants to wear.

On this particular morning, I make the choice for him, lacing on blue sneakers once he is trapped in his car seat. As soon as he comes home from daycare that evening, he makes a beeline to his true love. “Hi, orange shoes!” he coos. He’s thrilled to be reunited.

The next morning he issues a pre-emptive strike. Before I’ve even lifted him from the crib, he makes his wishes known.

“Orange!” he declares. “Shoes,” he carefully adds, making sure to close any possible loophole.

I appeal to the seasons. “Sweetie, the orange shoes are summer shoes. Summer is over. It is too cold to wear the orange shoes. Your feet will be cold.”

He considers that. “Socks,” he says firmly.

It’s not about the weather, of course. Autumn has only just begun, and he is right that socks with sandals (ack!) would keep him plenty warm. It’s about me—me and my vanity. In the summer sunshine the neon orange was cheerful and fun, the perfect finishing note to his brightly colored outfits. But with the sky turning grey and summer colors giving way to the drabness of fall, they’ve become a clear fashion liability. I worry what people will think of me. I want people to see my child in his affordable-yet-charming outfit and think I’m a good mom. A mom with taste and a touch of style. A mom whose child is always appropriately dressed. A mom who has her life (and her child) under control. A mom who doesn’t lose battles over a pair of shoes.

Before I became a parent, I said I would never quench my children’s creativity. I would encourage self-expression; I would never impose my own ideas. I would value them as individuals, not merely extensions of myself. I was also determined that they would always be impeccably dressed. I somehow never saw the obvious conflict headed my way.

I’m learning that becoming the parent I hope to be means not seeing every choice of his as a reflection on me. I want to be able to look at whatever weirdness and uniqueness and creativeness he comes up with in the coming years with an honest smile, saying, “That’s my son.” No matter what the rest of the world thinks. Letting him become whoever he wants to be means I must let go. And thanks to the inherent grace of parenting, I am allowed to start small. Tomorrow it may be going goth or bucking college to find himself. Today it’s just a tiny pair of mismatched orange shoes.

So on this day I tell him, “Of course you can wear the orange shoes.” We head off to the library for story time. It’s a windy, rainy day—coats have been pulled out of closets and sweaters donned. My son’s scuffed sandals get a few curious looks as we enter. I check my resolve.

At the end of the songs and stories, the children crowd around the librarian to have their hands stamped. I lose track of my son, his generic shirt and jeans blending in with all the rest. Then I think to look down. In an instant I find his cheerful orange feet working their way though the jumble of look-alike brown and blue shoes. I watch the orange shoes’ tiny dance of joy when his hand is stamped, see them turn to run back to me and jump into my arms. “That’s my son,” I think with a smile.

Maybe standing out isn’t such a bad thing after all.

*This post is my entry in the Write-Away Contest at Scribbit. The September 2008 theme is "Colors" and this memory seemed like just the right fit.*

October 01, 2007

The Hunt for Orange this October

Fall is here and it's time to bring out the favorite sweaters, worn-in jeans and funky accessories. Each year, I eagerly await the fall styles to appear at Old Navy and Kohl's.

This year, I'm having trouble finding anything orange. Is orange out because Halloween is near? Are we afraid to look like the Great Pumpkin? I understand that fear, but come on, I just want one somewhat orange piece!

So far I've found these:

The shawl-collar sweater in "sweet pollen".

The v-neck cardigan in "oxygen".

The twin set sweater in "rosemary green".

The wool v-neck in "regal teal".

A striped pleat skirt, not really orange.

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