Friday, March 11, 2011

Antwan, the warrior poet

Antwan's personality has always fascinated me. Anyone who reads my facebook, knows he's a walking "kid who says the darndest things." ( :  From the beginning, he has been strong-willed, but very sweet and gentle.  Brian used to call him a "warrior poet."  He's very strong and all-boy, but has the ability to show the compassion and sweetness that I never thought possible for a child his age. 

The moment that Lizzie arrived, he loved her.  He doted on her, protected her, and, just loved her.  As she got older, he wanted her with him, at all times.  If he was going in his room to play, he would call her in with him.  If she cried, he would look for a pacifier.  He was a natural.

This was beautiful, but scary when we didn't know, for sure, that we'd get to adopt her.  I worried about how Antwan (and William) would recover from losing her and, most likely, never seeing her again.  Thankfully, we never had to find out. 

He loves her and I love how close they are.  Being only 18 months apart, they'll only be one grade apart in school.  And, I think it's clear that nobody will ever mess with Lizzie, as long as Antwan's around. ( :

So, today I called, "Let's go outside!"  Antwan said "Wait, Mommy, I'm fixing Lizzie's hair!"
The only thing that surpised me was that Lizzie was letting him. ( :

Thursday, March 10, 2011

My son thinks I'm a dinosaur.

Before bedtime, William was reading through his favorite dinosaur book.  He loves dinosaurs.  Pointing at one, "Mom, do you think this looks like what you look like when you get mad?"
Me- "Maybe a little."
William - "You know, if you were a dinosaur."
Me - "Sure."
William - "I'm going to call it the Mommysaurus!"

Not the bedtime conversation I was expecting. ( :

Monday, March 7, 2011

How not to style a black child's hair.

Before the boys, we talked about the possibility of adopting black children.  We knew we didn’t care, on a personal level.  But, we worried about how society would react and, if it was a girl, we worried about how we would do the hair.
When the call came about the boys, we instantly knew that, no matter what, we wanted them.   We also joked that the hair would be easy since they were boys.  And hair care was fairly simple, before our Lizzie came along.  
We were so paranoid, at first.  A week after getting the boys, we were going to meet with our current landlord about renting his house.  We asked my niece to babysit because we were afraid that he would have an issue with us having black children.  Looking back on it, that seems so ridiculous, but, like I said, we were paranoid.  Of course, he eventually met the kids and thought nothing of the color and thought it was wonderful that we adopted them. 
So, we moved our boys into a very white area.  That wasn’t our original plan, but here we were.   There are very few black children in William’s school (currently only one other black child, in his grade).   And, definitely no other trans-racial families.  It was a little freaky.
Since then, I have learned that people are afraid to point out that the kids are black and are sometimes, uncomfortable, when you do.   But, at the core, most people don’t care.   I used to think that people were staring at us.  They were and they still do.  But, what I’ve come to understand is, they are curious, not judgemental.  Brian and I are white and we have 3 black kids.  And, yes, it is odd. 
We don’t get the confused stares in our area much now because everyone seems to know who we are.  We definitely stand out.  We joke that we’re local celebrities.  Cashiers will comment on how big they’ve gotten.  Random people at the park will talk to us because they recognize us.  On a very small scale, I get what it must be like to be an actual celebrity. (I have even found myself fixing my hair and make-up before going to the store, in case I'm  
So, back to the hair.  With the boys, if I just asked the stylist to cut it really short, it worked out ok.  And, it would look pretty good for a few weeks.   But, then came Lizzie.  Since then it’s been a learning process.   I have received so much advice from random black women that I’ve encountered.  The first question is usually, "what are you putting in her hair?"  I’m grateful for all the advice.  But, I still don’t know what I’m doing.  Well, I know what I’m doing, I’m just not doing it what I should be doing. ( :  This is evidenced by the woman who recently offered to braid Lizzie’s hair (after stopping me in a parking lot) and the cashier who wrote down some moisturizer names while I was checking out.  I find this kind of hilarious in a bumbling white-mom-kind-of way.  But, Lizzie’s hair still looks kind of bad. 
All I can do is continue to try different conditioners, moisturizers, oils, etc, and keep putting in the clips and the headbands.  All the while, I'm hoping she'll figure out how to do her own hair, at a young age and that she'll forgive me when she looks back at her pictures. ( :

In the end, there are many things to learn when you adopt out of your race.  I have learned that people are pretty amazing, that it really is hard to do the hair, and it's all worth it.  ( :

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Adopting Lizzie

I had to go to the courthouse, the other day, to try to replace some lost paperwork, from Lizzie's adoption.  I hadn't been there since the day that we finalized her adoption.  It was such a happy day, but I had definitely enjoyed not going back.  As soon as I walked in, I got an anxious feeling and had to remind myself that this was just a business trip.  There would be no court proceedings and no sightings of the biological parents.  Even though I knew that it was be unlikely that the biological parents would be randomly wandering the courthouse, I looked for them, the whole time, anyway.

It was a very hard time for us when we got Lizzie.  It was hell, really.  Well, it was hell and heaven, for lack of a less cheesy way to express it. ( :  Lizzie was one of the three best things that happened to us and we were so grateful for her.  She was amazing and I loved everything about her.  And, I spent every moment, terrified that I would lose her.
So, this is what happened. 

Life was starting to settle down, a little.  At least, we were finding some sort of routine.  It was hard to keep up with two boys, but it was getting easier.  I was still working part-time and luckily, the people I worked with, seemed to enjoy it when the boys had to come along.

On September 9, 2008, I was sitting on a bench inside Walmart.  I looked at my phone and realized that I had missed a call from the agency that had matched us with the boys.  I had no idea what it could be, since we hadn't had any contact since finalizing the boys' adoption. 

I listened to my voicemail, they said that there was another baby born from the same biological mother and were we interested.  I guess it shouldn't have totally surprised me.  I had heard of this happening and even though, I had pondered the possiblilty, I didn't really expect it.  Also, the biological mother was the fertile type and had given birth to (and eventually lost) 5 children.  But, regardless, it was still extremely surprising. 

After talking to Brian, I called for more information.  She told me that it was a girl and she was 2.5 weeks old.  She said the adoption was basically a done deal and they would just have to go through the process, which would be expedited, due to the woman's previous time in the system.  I know that she believed that she was telling me the truth, but, unfortunately, she couldn't have been more wrong.

So, I told her I'd call her back the next day and Brian and I talked all night, even though, I don't think there was ever any doubt what we were going to do.

When I called, the next day, to tell her that we wanted her, I was terrified.  I was afraid that they would really bring her to us and afraid that they wouldn't.  I barely had my head above water and I was agreeing to take on a new-born?  We must've been out of our minds.  But, at the same time, she was their sister.  Therefore, she was already part of us.  I loved her already.  And, the idea of having the chance to let my boys grow up with their sister and not doing it because it would be hard; well, that's would just be wrong.  Obviously, amidst my internal freak-out, I was also excited.  She was a baby and she was a girl.  I was getting the opportunity to get the best of all worlds: my boys and a baby girl  And, I'd finally have a face to put to the name that we had picked out years ago.  ( :  (She's named after my grandmother).

So, while I waited for them to call back, I worried that they wouldn't.  But, they did.  She called and, casually, said they'd bring her tomorrrow.  Tomorrow?  Not only was the idea of taking on a newborn in less than 24 hours a little scary, but, also, we were unprepared.  We didn't have a crib, a car seat, nothing.  We were living paycheck to paycheck; and payday wasn't until the day after tomorrow.  Ugh.

That was when I was reminded how great people are.

All my friends were excited.  Everyone told everyone.  Before I knew it, friends of friends had gathered things for us.  By the next night, we had a car seat, clothes, bottles, a diaper bag, a loaned bassinet, a promise of a crib, and, a Lizzie.  And, she was perfect.

So, as I just tried to survive the days with three kids and no sleep, my done deal started to turn into anything but.  The visitations with the biological parents began.  First, every other week, then, when the judge wanted to insure they were given a fair chance, it was increased to every week.  At least every month, a case worker would come to check on Lizzie and look through our house and open our cabinets.  While, I understand and respect that there is a process and it's important that the biological parents are given the opportunity to get their lives together, it was very difficult since we had not signed up for any of that.  Plus, we knew so much about the woman's history and could see all the manipulations that were happening.

There was a lot of back and forth.  And, a lots of scarey moments.  But, in the end, after several weeks of dodging drug tests, both biological parents tested positive for drug use.  We weren't happy that they were on drugs and we weren't trying to tear apart a family.  But, we knew they were on drugs and that was not safe for Lizzie.  So, we were thrilled when the truth came out.

After that, things did get simpler.  Basically, they quit.  And, in the absence of any reason to show that they deserved her back, the parental rights were terminated.

After a year of anguish, we were finally able to adopt Lizzie on September 29, 2009. 

You don't always realize how much something is affecting you, until it's over.  I had forgotten what it was like not to have nightmares or to wake up in the middle of the night and not immediately start to worry.  After adopting Lizzie, I was able to sleep again.

It took a long time to believe that this was my life and these were my children.  But, they are. 

After that, we moved on to just being parents.  ( :