"Every child deserves a home." --Harry Holt

Monday, October 31, 2011

Is It Because We Are a Trans-racial Family?

The last 3+ months have meant a lot of adjustments to us as a family. We added a child, so that would be the biggest adjustment right there. No more last minute dinners out, or randomly deciding to check out a movie in theaters. Basically, it feels as though every outing must be carefully planned. Snacks? Diapers? Stroller? Beco? Sippy cup? Check, check, check, check. 

Not having a child previously, I honestly wasn't sure if much of the attention we now garnered in public were simply because we now had the cutest little girl accompanying us everywhere we went, or if much of that attention was because the adorable little girl's skin color did not match our own, or if it was because she has the type of personality that draws everyone in. Almost all of the reactions we get in public have been positive. Mid-west people are good people, so normally if they have something negative to say, they don't come right out and say it to your face. Generally, they are either passive-agressive or they respectfully say bad things about you when you aren't in earshot. :) The only 'negative' experience I've had was being followed by an elderly lady in Target. At first, I thought she just needed help with something. I asked her multiple times if there was something I could reach for her, etc., but she never responded and then wouldn't make eye contact. She literally followed Cupcake and I from one end of the store to the other, and didn't put a single thing in her cart. She didn't say anything negative or bash my cart with hers, but she just kept staring. After she followed me into the 4th or 5th aisle, I decided it was just creepy. I still don't know though, was it because I am white and my daughter is not, or was she just bored and a little lonely and thought the baby was cute and entertaining while she tried to rip things off the shelves? Whatever, it just kind of unnerved me.

I recently asked 2 friends of mine who also have small children if nearly every elderly person they see in public comes up to talk to them and often touch the baby. They both responded with a resounding, "YES!" So, we can pretty much put that question away. Most of the attention is just because I now have a cute child in tow. 

Today, we had numerous Dr. appointments at the not too far Children's Hospital and Clinics. We are officially caught up on our immunization schedule, HOORAY! The pediatrician that we have been working with was very thorough and wanted to check everything out, so we have been busy running to various appointments to make sure we have all bases covered. We finished up the last of that today, too and are pleased to report, Cupcake is even healthier than we ever imagined, double HOORAY! 

A little story to go along with the blog post title. We were running behind this morning, and the Hospital is about a 35 minute drive. The place is enormous and even though I've been there a handful of times, I always get turned around and lost. We decided that K would get out of the car and grab Cupcake to make us less late, and I would park the car and could take my time figuring out which floor/hallway/office we were supposed to be in. We were also a little concerned because we had a tight window of time in between appointments to leave one and check-in at the next. Ugh! So, I wasn't with K and Cupcake when they checked in at the first appointment. So, this anecdote was told to me in the car on the way home. 

K gave the check-in receptionist all of Cupcake's pertinent information. She asked him several questions, and the last one was, "What is your relationship to the patient?" He said he got a little miffed and answered a bit rudely, "I'm the father." He was thinking in his head, how rude and clueless some people are, and just because he is white and Cupcake isn't doesn't mean that God doesn't create families in the most beautiful way. He didn't utter any of this to the receptionist, because he was born and raised in the mid-west, so he used passive-aggressive in this situation (and obviously we talked about her behind her back in the car on the way home, lol!). In the end, he decided the question had nothing to do with the fact that we are a trans-racial family, because the receptionist asked the very nice Asian woman with the very cute Asian son, "What is your relationship to the patient?" Clearly, we are a little more sensitive than need-be in many of these situations. I cracked up listening to the story. The fact is, we ARE trans-racial. We can't and won't avoid the topic, but I think we need to calm down a bit. So, any other trans-racial families have stories to make us feel a little better about your vigilance on the issue? How about a negative experience you have had? Maybe you should just leave me a comment so I don't think I'm out here talking to myself? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Grandma P

**This is REALLY long, but it was cathartic to write, so there ya go.**

I hate to brag, but I think I have the BEST extended family around. It took me a long, long time to understand the difference between extended family and immediate family concepts. Even as a graduate student, in my family counseling studies I found the concepts fuzzy in my brain, and not just because I'm dense about certain things (well, that might be part of it). *A quick note, maybe THIS is why my group project got a B+ in that class, if so, my apologies to Christy, Jade, Sarah and Steph. Wait, I'm still fairly confident that it was because the adjunct professor didn't watch our presentation and was thrown off by all of the big words in our paper. Okay, I feel better now (Clearly, I'm still bitter about that B+).

Back on point, I think the real reason I struggle with these concepts is that my cousins might as well have been my brothers and sisters. My uncles are like 2nd dads, my aunts like 2nd moms, and my grand-parents were the parents of ALL of us. We didn't live in the same house (or town), but we got together often (and still do), we laugh at our own jokes, a trait from my Grandpa, we love fully and completely. My childhood memories are wrapped up in these people. At the center of it all, was a Grandma. She was a strong lady (and you would need to be if you birthed and raised 7 boys, on little to no money). She was a loving lady. She was a hard-worker. She made the BEST food. Notice how I've used the word, was? That's because she died last week. She fought a tough stinking battle with congestive heart failure, and it was painful. It was painful to hear about and see. Growing up, and until last week, I'm pretty sure that I had convinced myself my Grandma was going to live FOREVER, because part of me just never wanted to imagine my life without my Grandma. I'm not one for 'platitudes' and it sometimes annoys me to no end when people constantly say, "She is in a better place." Yes, I believe that to be true, but I'm selfish, and I'd rather have my loved ones on earth WITH ME! Really, just a 'sorry, I love you," is more than enough. However, I truly am relieved in many ways that my Grandmother's earthly pain has come to an end. She really is dancing with her 4th born baby boy in heaven, and that is an incredible picture in my mind's eye. 

So, the theme of my Grandmother's incredible prayer service and funeral was FAITH. The quote that best applies, "PREACH THE GOSPEL AT ALL TIMES AND WHEN NECESSARY USE WORDS." --St. Francis of Assisi. My grandmother lived out the gospel in her love and service to her family and others. The best example of how she did this in my life relates to the adoption of Cupcake, though I could mention things like the times she cared for me when I was sick so that my mother didn't have to use child sick days. I think you get about .2 of those as a teacher... blah. Not allowed to have sick kids, I guess. Wow, again, I digress... sorry!

Well, we started the adoption process at the end of February 2010. We wanted to tell the majority of our family in person, but we live far from most of them (which I HATE). So, we hate to wait until July to really announce what we were doing. It was HARD to keep it to ourselves. I was a little nervous about telling my Grandparents (which in hindsight is LAUGHABLE). We had told a couple of family members, friends and co-workers (what, I'm not a MACHINE?! I had to talk about it!) Unfortunately, we didn't always receive positive and supportive remarks in return when we shared our news (which was heart-breaking). I was nervous that my Grandparents, being from a different generation, and surrounded by all  mostly white people would cause them to have a negative response when they heard A. We are adopting and B. The child will be black. I so desired their love and support. Worrying about the race issue was REALLY stupid on my part, because when I think about it, I have cousins that are part-Panamanian, and an aunt that is part Asian. I'm not colorblind, but I hadn't ever focused on that fact before. The worrying about 'adoption' being an issue was really a waste of time too. If I brought someone I met at the gas station to our Christmas gathering, my Grandma would somehow have a Christmas present all ready for them, and they would be hugging and chatting with her by the end of the day as if they had always been part of the family. I think my Grandmother's attitude toward making everyone she met part of her family is where the seed of adoption was first planted in my heart. So, in the end, my Grandmother gave me the BIGGEST hug and kiss upon hearing the news. She asked for all of the details and expressed her great joy for us. 

I was incredibly sad not to make the 2nd trip to Ethiopia to pick up Cupcake, but my mother came to take care of me and ended up bringing me to my childhood home 9.5 hours away at my request because I didn't want to sit home and miss my husband and daughter when I could be surrounded by family members. This provided me the opportunity to spend some time with my Grandma while she was hospitalized. She was feeling ROTTEN, but that woman told EVERY.SINGLE.PERSON. that walked into her hospital room about how her new great-granddaughter was coming home from Ethiopia and she was so excited. The poor nurses were probably so sick of hearing about it! I received e-mails from people about how my Grandmother would show off Cupcake's pictures and light up when she talked about her. HEART-WARMING! My grandmother had this talent. We have a big family, but she always made each one of us feel special. She supported and prayed us on this journey, and I'll forever be grateful. 

In August, we surprised my Grandparents with a trip home so they could meet Cupcake. The look on my Grandmother's face when we walked through the door with Cupcake will forever be one of my favorite memories. You wouldn't have guessed that she didn't feel well in that moment, because her face lit up and her eyes danced. It was the last time I say my Grandmother in person, and I will always remember the hug she gave me when we were saying our good-byes. I'm certain (now) she knew it was the probably the last hug she would give me. She gave me a giant squeeze and kiss. She whispered in my ear that He answered our prayers with Cupcake coming home, and she told me that she was certain I would have a beautiful life and be a fantastic mother. Thanks, Grandma. I will forever treasure your words and hugs. Love you!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Cupcakes like Pumpkins

There were a handful of things that I pictured the Mister and I doing as parents. Getting up at odd hours of the night, and having mashed up, cooked carrots in our faces weren't exactly what I had in mind, but they have moments of parenting hilarity. I hadn't thought about this particular event for awhile, but was reminded this weekend. In 2008, K worked for a pretty fun and interesting department within his company. When someone asks me what K does for a living, I have a hard time explaining it, because frankly, I do not really understand what he does at work. I've been trying to figure it out for a good 6 years now. I digress. Anyway, the one thing I really enjoyed about K's work assignment in 2008 was the effort to involve spouses and families in their work community. An evening in October 2008 was spent at a nearby Pumpkin Patch. We watched pig races, went through the corn maze in the dark (which was creepy and took 2.5 hours), and enjoyed a nice dinner. I was reminded this evening of this ache I had on that October night in 2008. We had a fun night, but I kept thinking how I couldn't wait for us to enjoy those events with our kidlets. I'm pretty sure that every person hoping to be on the cusp of parenthood experiences those feelings at some point, in some way. 

All of that to say, we re-visited the very same pumpkin patch/farm this weekend WITH Cupcake. It was perfect. The weather was perfect, and so was the the afternoon just being a family. This weekend, one of my dreams came true, and I'm grateful. 

Ignore my head. Not so good at hiding, apparently...

Waiting for the piglet races. Kevin Bacon won. Cupcake started making this AWESOME piggy snort for the next 20 minutes. Can't get her to repeat it now, though...shucks...

Clearly, she wasn't a huge fan of the human scarecrow


This is the face she makes most often when she sees a camera. LOL

The Pumpkin Blaster was definitely K's highlight. Boys...

Family photo...too bad I'm eating my hair and Cupcake isn't looking...oh, well.


Earlier this week, I posted on my Facebook wall about a momma desperately trying to find a family for 5 precious kiddos. SHE desperately wanted to make them HER family, but for various reasons, it didn't look like it was going to happen. This momma was heartbroken. I could feel it in the words I read. It broke my heart. I think any person that has desperately wanted to be a mom or dad, or any person that has lost a child in some way, or any person with a beating heart, would have felt the pain radiating. 

Turns out, those 5 babies DO have a family. Hurrah! The sad momma isn't so sad anymore, because they ARE HER babies. Crazy, amazing. You can read about it here. So, in the coming months, those 5 babies are going to need airplane tickets to the US of A. That's what we like to call 'spensive. This momma, makes a little something called Babycakes. We use it every night on Cupcake's body, face (and sometimes hair), and then zip her up in jammies. She is smooth and soft every morning. We have had ZERO dry skin issues. The best part, Cupcake is pretty inquisitive like most 1 year olds, and she has gotten a quick lick or two of the babycakes, but the lotion is organic. I don't recommend her or any child eating it, but it's safe should they happen to get into it. I have a hard time keeping 'Diogee the handicapable dog's' tongue out of the jar, too. Again, I know the ingredients won't hurt him. So, the profits from Babycakes is now going toward adoption expenses, so it is kind of a win/win for buyer and seller. According to an app. on my phone and every department/big box store I've walked into in the last 2 weeks, Christmas is coming. Gifts with a purpose behind them are FUN. So, there ya go! Get all babycaked up.
I'm ashamed to admit that I perpetuated the commercialism of Christmas today, but I was sucked in by the idea of buying Cupcake a Christmas dress, and I had enough coupons to get it for almost 60% off. I'm WEAK...


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