Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Just so I remember...

My sweet little boy is growing up so fast...

  • yesterday morning he said "mommy you are gross" (and meant it!) b/c I said he would need to go to school (school is still not popular in our household...more on that later, but it is my biggest parenting regret to-date, if I had a do-over he would have just stayed in daycare for another year)
  • my baby still says "baby bunchling" (baby bunting), "kipp you up" (pick you up), "you" (me), kavillion (pavilion), ga-wasses (glasses)
  • His favorite books are Bread and Jam for Frances, A Bargain for Frances, and Corderoy's Christmas.  He loves Frances so much that he continually reenacts the books throughout the day and his favorite foods are bread and jam, spaghetti and meatballs, and he asks for breaded veal cutlets everyday...he can't wait to try them (he'll be waiting a while as we are a veal-free house)
I will say this a thousand times, and a thousand times more...my son is amazing.  I am so blessed and grateful to be his mommy.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

There is no cabbage patch

I've been wanting to write this post for a while, but have not seem to have the words or the time.  Today, stuck at home with the post-"Super Storm Sandy" flu seems as good a time as any...I guess in some way, this is my response to Orphan Sunday"...

At it's very core, I think that we all want the same thing...

We want children to grow up in loving homes, ideally with their first families, but possibly with a different family if their first family is not able to raise them.

We want children in loving families who love them and can take care of them.

We don't want children to experience death, abandonment, hunger, thirst or disease.

We don't want women and men and families to suffer from a lack of water, medical care, resources, health or whatever else is necessary to raise their child...

We don't want barren women (and childless men) to remain childless when there are children who need families...

We don't want any of these things.

At first glance, adoption seems like a great solution.

A child whose first family is not able to raise them, gets a family.

A first family who can not or chooses not to raise a child can make a plan for their future.

A barren couple can become parents.

It's beautiful...it's simple...it's right...

But here is the thing, there is no cabbage patch!

Children, they don't sprout from the earth as preemies, infants, or toddlers with a random name (like Evan Rhett or Franny Frances like the ones in our family were called), a cute signature on their bottom, and simple papers that say they are yours.

Childless couples (or families with children) are not selfless.  They want to experience the joy of parenting.  They want to love their child and have their child love them in return.  They don't want to spend the rest of their lives caring for a child who is not able to be independent, or who hates them, or who tries to hurt them or their other children.

First families, they are real.  Their stories are often full of searing pain, loss, death, grief, difficult/impossible decisions...and often coercion; extortion; patriarchal, cultural, governmental, and social pressures, and financial gain (which could be as simple as a pair of shoes or a loaf of bread which can make the difference between life and death for other children or members of their family).

And the pain...the pain is real for everyone...children who have experienced more loss than most of us will experience in a lifetime, first families who have made impossible choices and often experience profound life-long grief...and the childless who ache for a child to love and parent and teach and raise.

There is no cabbage patch.  Adoption does not come in a clean, branded box with a plastic lid and a clear little piece of paper.

These are real people, real pain, real death, real challenges.

Babies don't grow in a cabbage patch...toddlers don't grow in a cabbage patch...preschoolers don't grow in a cabbage patch...and "older" kids don't grow in a cabbage patch.

But here's how it is like the Cabbage Patch phenomena...

People are lining up, fighting with each other, desperately waiting years, to adopt an infant...a toddler...a girl....they are so cute... everybody wants one...it's cool...it's "christian duty"...it's the call to care for orphans and widows...

Churches across the US and probably other parts of the world are shouting this from the rooftops today on "Orphan Sunday".

Here's the thing...

There is no cabbage patch.  Adoption is not neat, it is not clean, this is not a child who has been birthed in a clean, pastoral cabbage patch and then placed into a sterile little box sitting on a clean shelf in a department store.

This is a baby...a child...a young adult...whose life has been literally torn asunder.  They lost their first family, and now are impossibly, improbably, incredibly expected to be part of yours.

There is a first family who has been, is, and will always be part of their life.  There are children who have spent years, literally YEARS wasting away in institutions because they don't look like cabbage patch dolls.  They are not little, and cute, and healthy...maybe they are big, or not so cute.

There is no cabbage patch.  As adoptive parents, we have to figure out how to explain our child's history...their whole history...(at least as much as we can possibly find out) in age appropriate ways.  To help them make sense of their past and their present and their future.  A future which doesn't include any cabbages, but involves a complex weaving of all their families into who they are.

I think that the message most people and churches promote, especially on "Orphan Sunday" is that it's our job to provide a home for a cute baby.  It's not.

It's our job to show God's love to widows, to orphans, to the least of these.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love and truth are inexorably linked here. Love and patience.  Love and selflessness...

I think that the message on "Orphan Sunday" and throughout the year, should focus more on love for all members of the adoption triangle (children, first families, and adoptive families--and the most loving option might not/often is not adoption, especially for infants), on demanding transparency and ethical and loving behavior from agencies and in-country staff, and on advocating for children who are truly the least of these; children who families are not lining up to adopt; children and first families who are vulnerable, but for whom adoption is not the best option; and actively speaking out against the cabbage patch version of adoption.

These are God's precious children just as much as I am...as you are...as my son is...their first families are also God's precious children (regardless of whether you agree with their lifestyle choices or decisions)...their siblings, their grandparents, their friends from their first country...all God's children...all an integral part of your child's heritage.  They don't disappear when your child is adopted.

Children who have first families who want to parent and can with just the slightest support: http://vulnerablechildren.ca/

Children and widows for whom incountry adoption is a great option: http://bringlove.in/

Children with RAD: http://www.ourlifeupstate.com/

Children with disabilities:http://www.projecthopeful.org/           http://reecesrainbow.org/

Children who have spent years in institutions literally wasting away in cribs (graphic images): http://www.nogreaterjoymom.com/2012/11/if-not-us-then-who.html

I think that it takes some really special, really loving families to parent these children, to support these first families, to deny the cabbage patch, to truly love orphans and widows...but I know they are out there.

Ababa and I continue to discuss what a second adoption could look like for our family and we are not on the same page yet and won't move forward until we are, but I do know that loving children and widows starts in acknowledging the truth, recognizing there is no cabbage patch, and advocating for the least of these....it might not be adoption...and if it is adoption, it really might not be a cute little baby with a funny name and a signature on their bottom.  That is the message I wish that churches would acknowledge in this "Orphan Sunday" movement.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Easy Ways to Help Storm Victims

We are fine--have power, water, no flooding, etc. A few trees are down in our neighborhood, and there is minimal wind damage (awnings and street signs blown around). We feel very fortunate to live in a high part of the city.

I am back at work as of yesterday and subways started limited service today.

It is hard to know how to help, but a few easy things you can do from home are to order items at Target or Amazon and have them shipped to shelters/non-profits that are doign great work right now.

Here are some ideas/contacts...from Shaun in the City

Please forgive any errors.  This post has not been edited and these are my raw, real-time thoughts.)
Do not bother any of these people unless you are prepared to help right away. They are swamped, stressed, and don’t have time for BS.  If you don’t have to call them or email them at all, don’t.  Just follow my instructions.  If you have to reach out to them, OK, but treat them like gold.
If you need to contact me, email me @ shaun@hopemob.org.  This is best. You can also text my cell @ 678.641.5016.
Over 100+ homes were burned down in Queens.  The families there need SO MUCH help.
“We need:  Clothes, boots, underwear, socks.  It wasn’t that cold last week but now it is.  People evacuated and didn’t bring warm clothes.
We also need toiletries — feminine hygiene products, razors, baby wipes, diapers, soap, maybe those personal face wipe things.  on a secondary level — kids might like toys. things to comfort them.”
I’ve made a trusted contact there.  Her name is Katie Honan.  Her email address is katie.honan27@gmail.com.
All supplies can be taken directly to St. Frances De Sales Parish and directions can be found here.
400 formerly homeless people in desperate need.
“Your help over the next few days will be much appreciated.  While we would love to organize volunteer programs, the communication situation makes this impossible.  Instead, we would welcome donations of basic items, such as bottled water, flashlights, blankets, canned goods, peanut butter, tuna fish, granola bars, bread, fresh fruit, nuts, crackers, juice, and other items that don’t require refrigeration or a lot of preparation.
We are accepting food donations at our East Village Access program site at 242 East 2nd Street (between Avenue C and B) on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday between 10AM and 3PM.
New Jersey
Families in Newark have run out of diapers, wipes, and basic baby supplies.  If you can take them today that would be awesome.  My friends @ Covenant House are amazing.  The address is: 330 Washington Street | Newark, NJ 07102
You can mail them these diapers from our Amazon registry here.