Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I have become more aware and curious lately about the tendency in adoption culture to criticize the term “adopted.” Over and over again I’ve come across bloggers bemoaning the fact that outsiders openly identify their children as such. They feel slighted by any reference other than simply “daughter,” “son,” or “parent.” I’m sure I’ve offended more than such parent with my simple profile to the right. The fact I’ve labeled Reagan as our “first adopted daughter” has probably led many to believe that I am in some way ignorant or insensitive about the new reality that is our family. I would naturally like to believe that such is not the case at all. I am simply stating a very obvious fact. We are multicultural, and it is clear from the first glance that Reagan does not match the rest of us (at least on the outside!). I think it’s only natural for people to be curious about her, about us, and the adoption process. It’s strange to me that the same parents who cherish and have embraced the institution of adoption are so quick to shy away from any reference to it. From what I’ve gathered, it seems that many adoptive parents believe such labels can be derogatory – as if their status as parents, or their children’s status as legitimate members of the family, are somehow threatened by the term “adopted.” Their motivation, I believe, is honorable. They want to protect their family from scrutiny, or any sense of feeling “less than.” However, here is where I feel they are doing their children a disservice: By so quickly dismissing the term, they are actually reinforcing the notion that being adopted is less acceptable than being born into a family. I contend that adoption is even more precious than birth! While I would never deny that Alyssa and Parker are priceless treasures, and that the time I enjoyed with them in my womb was special, we prepared for Reagan in even more dramatic ways. We hoped, prayed and sacrificed for her years before we knew she existed. When people try to insinuate that adoption is an easier way to parenthood, I am the first one to insist that pregnancy and childbirth (even 3 hours of pushing!) is far less painful – both emotionally and physically. While most adoptive parents seem to worry about whether their adoptive child(ren) might feel slighted compared to the homegrown variety, I worry that the opposite might be true. I’ve considered that perhaps one day Alyssa and Parker might be insecure in the fact that they weren’t chosen in the same way that Reagan was. Though I’m sure there will be some challenges in parenting her as a result of her past, I pray that she will grow to be proud of the fact that she became our daughter in a very unique way. “Adopted” is a term that I hope Reagan will come to love, and view not as a curse but as concrete evidence of our love and sacrifice for her.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
...to be a minority in our own local elementary school. Naturally, living in Southern California, our county has a high Hispanic population, but our suburb is more predominately Caucasian. Our home is in an odd pocket of a neighborhood situated between a very affluent area and one that is decidedly less so. All of that to say, I expected that maybe half of the students in Alyssa’s class would look like her that the other half would not. I was wrong. In actuality, she is one of only 4 Caucasians, and two of them are twins – that makes a total of 3 white families! Of course there is nothing wrong with those ratios, but it’s not at all what I thought elementary school would be. For many reasons I am grateful for an ethnically diverse educational environment. I’m glad that Alyssa and Parker will be exposed to different cultures and a new language. I hope they learn how to interact with people who are not just like them, accept and appreciate both their similarities and differences, and maybe even pick up a little Spanish (in addition, of course, to that which they’ve learned from Dora!). I am especially glad that when it’s Reagan’s turn to go to school, she won’t be the only non-white student. However, selfishly, I had hoped that school would provide opportunities for me to get to know and develop a ministry among the other moms. Thus far I’ve found that quite challenging since the majority don’t speak English and yo hablo un poquito Espanol (and yes, my accent is just as bad as my grammer and spelling!). They actually had two different back-to-school nights (one in English, one in Spanish) and a translator on hand for the assembly on the first day. Alyssa’s homework has instructions in both languages, and every flyer that comes home is two-sided. In speaking with moms who have been around longer than I have, I get the impression that it’s almost as if it’s two distinct schools – a kind of de facto segregation. Of course, all of the instruction is in English, and the kids are in no way segregated – even the children from Spanish-speaking homes become bi-lingual very quickly. It’s the parents that are separated by language, and I don’t know what to do about it. Of course, there are other English-speaking moms, and I’m doing my best to reach out to them, but what’s a girl to do? I’d love to say that I would just sit down and learn a new language, but being able to make myself understood and actually developing a friendship based on my ability to communicate in Spanish are two totally different things. Perhaps I should just embrace this as an opportunity to experience a little of what Reagan will face every day of her life. Looking different, feeling different. Or maybe there are other options. Any ideas?
Monday, September 17, 2007
My boys, both of whom have been ill lately, are finally well! Don't they look especially strong and handsome in their coordinating "gun show" shirts? Both are here displaying their "guns," which, though slightly smaller due to weeks of virtual starvation (Dan lost 10 pounds in as many days) are still quite impressive!
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
...or cuter, than a sick little guy on the couch. Parker has been a little under the weather the past few days but seems to be on the mend. One benefit of childhood illness is that my bigger babies are actually willing to snuggle with me for longer than the obligitory minute or two per day. A benefit for them is that they actually get to watch more than a few minutes of television. Parker's favorites of late are Monster's, Inc. and Toy Story 2 so I've nearly got them memorized . He keeps his sword handy for Randal and Zurg appearances - he has a little sister to protect you know!
Monday, September 10, 2007
We are blessed to attend an incredible church with intense, Bible-based preaching, sweet fellowship, beautiful and uplifting worship, and innumerable other strengths, not the least of which is a lovely outdoor patio. It is from that patio that we have participated in those precious services over the past several months. We are able to hear the sermons and sing along with the congregation, while at the same time caring for a baby girl still bonding to her parents and a little boy enduring a lot of life changes. It is a great set-up and carries the added bonus of exposure to the southern California sunshine. However, it clearly is not the ideal way to worship. Yesterday marked our first Sunday inside the worship center since May, childless and undistracted. Reagan has transitioned seamlessly to the nursery and seems to really enjoy playing around kids more her size (though she’s still the smallest by far!). Parker had a difficult time saying good-bye, but quickly settled in to his class and said he had a good time. God has been so good to provide men and women who really love our kids, and I have no doubt that they are well-cared for in our absence. I hadn’t realized quite how much I had missed, however, until I sat down in a pew and found I was quite emotional. Sitting there worshipping along with so many other people passionate about my Savior is a privilege I often take for granted, but appreciated with a new fervor yesterday. So today I am still praising God for a great church with equally fabulous childcare!
Thursday, September 06, 2007
While it’s a fun game mid-afternoon when I can here the giggles from behind the door, it’s not so fun at 5am. This morning when Dan went in to kiss the kids before leaving for work, Parker was not in his bed. He did a frantic run around the house before waking me to join the search. We quickly located him in Alyssa’s bed, but not without a lot of serious heart pounding. As you can see, he’s snuggled in next to his sister, close enough to the wall that he was not easily visible from ground level. For reasons I was unable to gather from my little guy, he awoke sometime between my 11pm bedtime and Dan’s 5am wake-up time. He proceeded to hunt down a banned pacifier, help himself to a snack (a very crumbly granola bar), change into his favorite undies, and climb up into Alyssa’s top bunk. He’s never done anything like this before, and I pray will never pull a stunt like this again - this mama’s heart can’t take it! But don’t they look sweet together? Even with the your-flash-is-too-bright-mama scrunched-up face!
Monday, September 03, 2007
Though I’ve not always valued the sense of smell, becoming a mother increased my awareness and appreciation of this unique gift from God. As most people, I’ve long enjoyed the smell of flowers, a good meal, my favorite store, and even a cup of coffee, though I don’t drink it. I’ve understood from discussions with a friend whose sense of smell was very limited that it plays a critical role in our enjoyment of food. I’ve appreciated the way my nose warns me when I forget bread in the oven or am about to pour myself a glass of past-due milk. However, I had never really loved a scent until I came to know the scents of my children. As newborns Alyssa and Parker’s mouths smelled like sweetened milk, their bodies of Johnson and Johnson’s timeless lotion. As they grew, each took on their own unique scent, each uniquely precious to me. Alyssa is all girl, and her scent reflects it. No matter how rough her play gets, she rarely seems to require a scrubbing. Parker, however, will smell like a boy within hours of bathing – even if all he’s done is sleep! But each night when I bury my nose in their necks, I’m reminded of the overwhelming affection I have for each of them. There’s just something about the way they smell!
Which brings me to Reagan. I’ve loved my baby girl since we first started planning for her two years ago. My love intensified when we first saw her photograph and heard her name last December. I was overwhelmed when I finally held her in my arms on Mother’s Day. My affection for her has grown daily since then. However, it still doesn’t quite match that which I have for Alyssa and Parker. I think there are a lot of reasons for that – maybe I’ll go into them in another post someday – but my point today is this: I know I’m on the right track because I’m beginning to love Reagan’s scent. It is decidedly different from both Alyssa and Parker, though they are subjected to the same baths, shampoo and lotion treatments. I don’t think it is objectively much different than the way she smelled those first few weeks. All of a sudden, however, it is incredibly sweet to me. When I kiss her, I inhale a little deeper. Though her neck is almost non-existent, I’m starting to bury my nose in hers too. It seems a strange step in the bonding process, but to me a very real one, and presents yet another reason to praise God for the amazing little gifts He continues to bring into my life!