February 26, 2010

Happy Birthday to Us!

One year ago today, our humble open adoption blogroll got its start. Now there are over 150 blogs listed! Call me clueless, but I had no idea there were that many of us blogging about open adoption--and I'm sure the list only scratches the surface. I've been introduced to so many writers I never would have known were out there. Loads of new blogs have made their way into my feed reader. (Too many, actually. The things is bursting at the seams.) I hope the same is true for you. I love seeing people coming over to the list from all of your sites and clicking out as they explore the blogs.

First a bit of business, then some fun: If your blog is on the blogroll, please take a moment to look at your listing and see if you'd like to make any changes. (You can search for your blog by using the "find" function in your browser.) Let me know about the updates here.

And now for the fun! In the spirit of the Great Interview Experiment, I thought we'd celebrate the blogroll's birthday with a virtual mixer: The Interview Project. Everyone who'd like to join in will be paired with a fellow open adoption blogger. You'll have two weeks to get to know their blog and send them some interview questions by email. On March 22, you'll post the interview on your blog and your partner will post their interview of you. It's a double benefit to everyone who participates: you'll get to know a blogger better and introduce them to your readers, and your blog will be introduced to their audience. Hooray for networking and cross-pollination!

Details and a badge you're welcome to grab are below, but the most important thing to know is that to participate you need to register by next Friday, March 5.

I hope you'll join in!

February 25, 2010

3BT #18

Three beautiful things on a winter day:

  1. The steady drumbeat of a hard rain on a shingled roof, turning the indoors into a warm, sheltering cocoon.
  2. Pesto. Enough said.
  3. Bare toddler bottoms trotting down a hallway post-bath, accompanied by squeals and giggles. Ah, for the freedom to run around naked without a care in the world again.

February 24, 2010

Open Adoption Roundtable #14

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be part of the Open Adoption Bloggers list to participate, or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table.

Publish your response during the next two weeks--linking back here so we can all find one other--and leave a link to your post in the comments. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

For this round Lori of Weebles Wobblog reached back through time to a post I wrote lo these many months ago after spending an afternoon with my daughter's first mom. In it, I wondered aloud if there was a common definition of a successful open adoption. Is it even possible to define, given the myriad factors involved? Here's how Lori poses the question:

If there's one thing we all might agree on, it's that we'd like our open adoptions to be successful. But what does "success" mean to you, when speaking about open adoption? Do you think it may mean something else to the others in your triad?

February 22, 2010

Nappy and the White Boy

Someone gave Firefly a copy of the picture book Nappy by Charisse Carney-Nunes for Christmas. It's a bit beyond her reading (listening?) level right now, but Puppy asks for it on occasion.

The other day he looked up from the couch, where he sat with the book on his lap. "Firefly's hair is nappy!" he said happily, pleased with himself for making the connection.

I admit it stopped me in my tracks, hearing "nappy" coming from my white son's lips. Even though I knew full well it was being used innocently, even positively, in this specific instance, my gut reaction was negative. I had a flash of him--the only white child in the church--blithely labeling his African-American peers "nappy" the next morning at Sunday School.

I realized I was caught between parenting goals: wanting to affirm his connection of his sister's tight coils to those of the black historical figures celebrated in the book; needing to start teaching him why he and I can't use that word the same way Firefly can. If I have any sort of strategy (to use that word loosely) at this point with tiny Firefly, it is to work on creating a positive association with "nappy," so that when she hears it applied negatively to her hair for the first time--and I believe it is a question of when, not if--she will already have a sense of familiarity with and even ownership of the word. But even there I tread lightly, knowing that there is no one shared perspective on "nappy" among African-Americans. The one thing I know for certain is that it is not a word I, as a white person, should throw around casually, if at all. While I had thought some about familiarizing Firefly with "nappy," particularly after we were given the book, I had neglected to think about my approach with Puppy. He was picking up the positive association but without any of the cultural context he also needed. (Perfectly understandable for a four-year old.)

"Firefly's hair is nappy," I agreed. "It's one of the ways to describe her pretty curls. It's a word we can use here at home with our family. But it's not one that we should use with people who aren't in our family."


"It's a word that some people use to be mean. They call hair 'nappy' as a way of saying someone's hair doesn't look nice. And when someone who isn't in our family hears you using it, they won't be able to tell whether or not you're being mean. You could hurt their feelings."

"People think 'nappy' is mean?"

"Some people do. They are often people who have straight hair and pink skin like you and I do, instead of curly hair and brown skin like Firefly. If we tell a curly-haired person that their hair is nappy, they might think we're trying to be mean at them.* When you're older it will be easier to figure out when you can use the word 'nappy.' But while you're little it's better if it's a family word."

My off-the-cuff response seemed to be enough for him that night. Later that weekend I overheard him making sure Todd knew that "nappy" was a family word, so I know he was thinking about it more. And he hasn't stopped reading the book, so I think so far he hasn't taken it as an over-correction.

It can be a tricky thing, raising my children of different races. Trickier than I think raising two African-American kids would have been, although I'm throwing guesses at the wind there. There are some specific things I need to pass onto each of them; chief among them for Puppy is what it means to be aware of his whiteness (among his other privileges). Teaching Firefly that "nappy" is her word to claim and define while simultaneously teaching Puppy that he can't do the same, at least not in the same way. There is a tension in trying to create a unified "us" as a multiracial family while also acknowledging that our family identity is different than our individual racial identities. Not overemphasizing that three of the four of us share whiteness, but not ignoring it either. Our multiracial-ness as family makes us visible in particular ways and sometimes changes how others interact with us. But parenting a child of color doesn't make me a person of color; being a brother to a black sister doesn't make Puppy black.** When any of us leaves the house without Firefly, our multiracial family identity becomes invisible to others.

It's not the first of these sorts of moments with Puppy and I know it won't be the last. I'm interested in knowing if others of you with similar family make-ups ever feel that same tension.

* This is a Puppy grammar quirk. You're mean at people, not mean to people. He insists on it. Don't ask me why.
**You might be saying, "Well, duh, Heather." But you see that sometimes here and there, white transracial adoptive parents who announce they're an African-American/Chinese/Ethiopian/etc. family now because of their child's background. I suspect they're trying to describe how their perspective on race and culture has changed, or their efforts to embrace their child's heritage. But I think they take it a bit far. I didn't trade in my whiteness the day Firefly came home.

February 16, 2010

Both Hands!

A little birthday clip from Firefly to hold you over until I post for reals (which will happen in the next day, pinkie swear).

This girl cracks me up. Every day.

(Feel free to hit me up for the password.)

February 09, 2010

My T-shirt Today is a Solid Grey

I'm generally not one to make statements with my t-shirts. (Save my "This is what a feminist looks like" tee, of which I am ridiculously fond.) And I'm a little resistant to most things that reduce adoption to twee soundbites. So it probably goes without saying that I don't have any adoption-themed shirts in my closet. Or in the kids' closet, for that matter. Just not my cup of tea.

But there's twee and there's offsensive. I thought we had hit the lowest point with that Adoption is the New Pregnant shirt* that came out a couple of years ago. Remember that? The one that manages to demean adoptees (you're a fad!), first moms (sure, you actually were pregnant, but whatever), and adoptive parents (we're just being trendy, plus all we really really want is a pregnancy) all at once?

Then the other night I had the misfortune of finding this:

offensive adoption tshirt

If you can't read the text, it says, "Parenthood is an act of nuture, not nature."**

My fellow adoptive parents, we're better than this. C'mon. Are we really so insecure that the only way we can feel good about our families is to tell the world, "Birth parents are nothing! We're everything!"? Then let's just print up some shirts that say "I'm the only REAL parent" and be done with it already.

I know (and am grateful) that Todd and I get to be Firefly and Puppy's parents. We're their everyday parents, their publicly recognized parents, their legal parents. I get that we are the ones parenting Firefly and Puppy. But we're not their only parents. They each had a mother and a father before we entered their lives. Every single person who was adopted did, even if those parents weren't very involved, were abusive, or (in the case of some dads) didn't even know about the pregnancy. The fact of their parenthood still exists; adoption changes the shape of it, but it doesn't erase it. It's like the most elemental truth of adoption: your kids had parents before you, regardless of whatever birth/biological/first/natural/genetic qualifier you choose to add. And that fact makes all the difference in the world. If it didn't, there wouldn't be umpteen books and blogs and magazines and workshops devoted to adoptive parenting. And no one would feel the need wear a shirt insulting birth parents just to feel like more of a parent themselves.

Thanks to open adoption, Puppy and Firefly are able to be nurtured by some of their first parents, too. They get a little bit of that nature/nurture combination that a lot of us non-adopted folks took for granted growing up. It matters to me, as their adoptive parent, that I can affirm their "nature" connections and make emotional space for them to think and talk about their first families. It's about affirming the whole of who they are, both nature and nurture (plus their own unique-to-them bits). About not sending the message that they are only allowed to think of themselves as my son and daughter. By saying "nature" is nothing and "nurture" is everything, this shirt tries to erase a big chunk of their identity.

The website copy says that it's a shirt for "all adoptive parents." But this is one who would never let it anywhere near her closet. And before an adoptive parent buys it, I think they need to answer the question, "Would you wear this in front of your child's birth parents?" And if the answer is no, why would you wear it at all?

* Under sizing, that website notes, "One size fits most bumps." For a shirt clearly designed for adoptive/adopting parents. Way to know your target audience, there.
** See also, "Fatherhood requires love, not DNA"

February 08, 2010

A Blanket Apology

To anyone who has emailed me, asked a question in the comments, or even just stopped by here expecting to, you know, read something in the last few weeks: my apologies. Life is bursting at the seams right now. Some happy reasons, some busy-at-work reasons, some blah reasons.  (Check the timestamp on this post if you dare. I'm up with two coughing, wheezy kids and haven't been to sleep yet.)  The busy-ness of life ebbs and flows and right now it's all flow.

All that to say that I'm not getting much time to keep up with my lovely internet friends. Or clean our house--although that one's going to have to change before Firefly's birthday party next week. What's the first thing that disappears from your schedule when life gets full?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...