Thursday, April 9, 2015

Interracial Adoption: Does it take a village?

Does it take a village in interracial adoption?...

Before Sam came home, I had grand dreams.  I had this beautiful, wide-eyed baby coming home to join our family.  Everyone ooo'd and awed over his pictures because -frankly- he is that stinkin cute!

Did race cross my mind?

Sure.  Of course BUT... he's not really black - he's Haitian, not African American.  He will have been raised by white parents.  He's my son and my love will protect him from prejudice.  He will see enough persons of color around and will be fine in our setting. 

[OK, stick with me here because Sam hasn't been the only one who has been on a steep learning curve this year!!!  I didn't really say these things but, in hindsight, I wonder about my mindset.]

Boy, was I ignorant and fooling myself!!

What I have come to learn is that I need help.  My husband and I, alone, cannot raise this child to be a successful, well rounded, black man.

I need a village!!

Because in a few years, when Sam walks down the street or enters a store, people will not see my son.  In reality I, as a white woman that has only lived in my suburbia, know diddly squat about being a black person or, more importantly, how to raise this precious child with his beautiful skin and dark eyes into an adult that knows how to interact in our world.  In just those few short years, my little toddler will be growing into a man.  Strangers will stop ooo-ing and aweing over him and start averting their eyes to avoid eye contact.  Store clerks may follow him in stores as he shops.  Police officers may misjudge his actions.

This is reality.  I must learn how to prepare him for it.  We owe it to Sam and to our family to try and gather as much knowledge as we can.

Good gracious, how in the world am I going to do that??!!

I'm going to try to create my village!  I will need to reach out to those new and old friends that have a lot more experience than I do.  I dream of creating a small/home group with families that will be on the same learning curve through life as we are on.  Books and Facebook pages with this topic will be a great source too.

Any further suggestions on how to build our village?  Books?  Groups?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Finding Water In My Wilderness

Have you ever felt like your very soul is stuck in a wilderness?  Do you feel abandoned and are desperately needing water to quench your heart?

Friends, there are deep wells that can find us when we feel abandoned in our wilderness and this past weekend I was able to give my mind, body and soul what I have been needing... a break.  Plus, some time to be REAL with other moms that get all of this... all of ME and my 'new normal'.
I know that I've said this before but adoption is HARD at times.  And not just the part about parenting a child from "hard places".  The adoption process itself is grueling.  We can go months without word of progress (some have gone up to a year without any forward movement).  Others will move forward while you sit.  Stagnant.  Without much hope.  All the while, your child is in another country.  Growing up in other's photos.  The pain can be crippling, all-consuming and irrational. 

Once the blessing/blessings are home, the range of emotions can be significant.  Yes, we are ecstatic and relieved to finally be D-O-N-E with the torture that is known as the international adoption process.  However, you are now in a whole new level of craziness!  Seriously.

Even though I am blessed with one awesome support group of family and friends, they can only offer their loving support and empathy to me... but not quite GET me.  'Get me' in the way that we can ugly cry together and totally understand that exact feeling

There are still times (even 9 months later) that I feel like a ping pong ball with my emotions that range from pure bliss and complete peace to utter loneliness and near-rage.

I have been feeling like a vessel without a home.

A wanderer in the wilderness.

How could anyone else understand these feelings?

Who would grasp -truly grasp- my struggles and hurts?

This is what has been going through my head over the last several months and I finally was able to worship, break bread, talk and cry with a group of 50 women that could truly grasp everything.  All of ME!  Wow!  What a relief.  What a cup of water in my wilderness!
We met at a secluded Christian retreat in Brandenton, FL.  The weather was beautiful, the atmosphere intimate and the attire was strictly/extremely casual (we're talking yoga pants and pony tails!)

Throughout the 3 day retreat, we would come together for worship (again, to cry and PRAISE with a room full of women that are in my same -sometimes sinking- boat was amazing!)  Then, we would split up into our small groups that were randomly formed on day 1.

This, folks, is where the rubber hit the asphalt.  Where our fears of rejection were checked at the door and we knew that we could be REAL.  Where our -sometimes ugly- stories would be HEARD.  That these women have KNOWN these exact struggle and they would LOVE us because of it.
It was freeing, therapeutic and oh-too-short!

Saturday -day 2- afternoon, we had a topic specific small groups.  I chose the marriage group but others included:  loss during adoption, overwhelmed, in-country trauma, infertility and waiting.  Our group talked for about 2 hours on many MANY different topics relating to our marriages.  Trust me, my husband is thankful!
I was excited to share my room with a local (local to me) mom that I knew but hadn't gotten to know very well since we met 4 months ago.  We were like a couple of teenagers and stayed up until 1am each night gabbing.  I'm thinking that this is the cause for my nap during our break time on Saturday.  Possibly.

After a CRAZY fun game of Dirty Santa (also known as a Chinese gift exchange) and some awesome worship time on Sunday, we had to pack up and head home.  What a mix of emotions this was!  I missed my babies.  I really really did but I was already missing this amazing group of ladies.  It was pretty AWESOME to be in a room full of moms and be completely understood.

**In full disclosure:  I was also going to miss sleeping in, my lovely afternoon nap, not cutting up someone's food before I could eat and not wiping any stinky bottoms!


I arrived home to my beautiful family feeling refreshed.
Did that last?  Nope, not very long!  But hey, this is my crazy, wild life and I'm going to strive to live it and love it!  Plus, I now have some new found friends and more tools to walk it with GRACE!

Genesis 21:19 - Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

Just as God gave water to Hagar and Ishmael's parched bodies in the desert of Beersheba, He can provide an oasis for our weary hearts.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Recently, I wrote a blog post about 'going to' Disney on a tight budget.  Well our budget hasn't changed but our Littles were given a generous gift for their birthdays - a ticket to Disney World!! 

So cool!!

Since our house is bursting at the seams with stuff -mostly toys- we asked family and friends that wanted to give a birthday gift to our boys to consider sending gifts towards a Florida resident pass.

Don't know what a Florida Resident pass is??  Well, its one of the many perks of living in the Sunshine state (or you could also look at as our pension for dealing with all of the tourists that come to see the mouse!)  Anyhoo.  Florida residents are offered discounted rates and even some annual pass offers. 

For instance, we were looking at the weekday annual pass.  Since we avoid tourist attractions during the peek times anyway (weekends and holidays), this was a perfect fit.  In the end, it cost less than the cost of 2 tickets.  PLUS, we have a friend that could get us another discount on top of that!! 

Needless to say, the boys had a wonderful birthday party on October 18th.

We were able to get the kiddos and myself (daddy has opted out of Mickey Mouse festivities) with a minimum expense for our family.  The older two have offered to put their band classes on hold until next year so we can apply those costs towards the 'field trips' we'll be making (hopefully twice a month - at least!)

Last week was our first time going to the "Happiest Place on Earth"!!  How exciting!!

I was in tears the whole way down Main Street.  It was amazing to think that this little child had not even seen running water just 8 months ago and now he was walking down the magical streets of Disney World. 

This was also Jack's first time going.  He is my 'strong, silent guy' and just took it all in.

We had such a wonderful day!  My mom bought a ticket too. 
That will be perfect for those times that the littles will have to sit out on a ride.  One of us will go with the older 2 and the other will stay with the little guys.


Jack and Sam could barely see over the top!

Not all of the rides were loved!

The Littles even got to meet one of their favorite characters!!


Fist bumps and high fives for everyone!!
Two days later, on Halloween, we went with some of our best friends instead of stocking up on unwanted candy.  Saying we had a BLAST would be an understatement!!  Here are some photos of our adventures... 
Two moms and 7 kids... oh my!

We are looking forward to a FUN year at the 'Mouse House'!!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

There ARE Good People in the World

We have had our good ol' Toyota Sequoia for 10 years now.  She was bought while I was pregnant with Cole and has served our family very well.

Seriously.  Best vehicle ever!

Over the last couple of months, her old battery has been put to the test.  It seems that our family has had difficulty SHUTTING DOORS, turning off lights and such, thus leaving me with a dead battery to deal with the next day.  (and usually when my hubby is down in Miami and not available to help)

Thankfully, there has always been a neighbor, passer-by or even a lawn guy (true story) to come and resuscitate the old girl back to life.

Last Friday, I was taking the kids to Orlando and Stephen was working locally.  To save of gas money, I piled the herd kiddos into Stephen's little car and left our truck for him. When I was about half way to Orlando I got a call from Stephen that the old battery had finally, completely, thoroughly died.  Not even cpr (aka. a jump) could bring it back to life.

Thus, Stephen spent his day working from home.  Between you and me, I think he enjoyed a quiet day at home.  Just sayin'.

Late that same day, I received an interesting call from a neighbor...

He said that he had noticed our truck in front of our house and had heard about our battery issues.  He then said that he also noticed that the front 2 tires were quite worn.

Yes, these items are on our ever-growing to-do list.

But then he said that he had talked with his family and a local garage and they wanted to take care of ALL of these items for us!!!  WHAT?!

We were amazed and speechless at the offer!  ...and quite frankly, Stephen didn't feel that we could accept such a generous gift.

The neighbor then went on to say, "please don't say no.  You carry some precious cargo in that truck and I have it all worked out with the company."  How wonderful is that?!

So, at 6am this morning, they came over and got our ol' girl out of the drive-way.  She spent the day at the car spa!!!  When she was driven back to our house tonight, she had 2 brand new tires, a new battery, and oil change.  PLUS, they had replaced a faulty warning light breaker and flushed out the systems.

I don't even know if this other family grasps the gravity of this blessing to our family...

Pay no attention to the grumpy face on Jack... he had just woken up from a late afternoon nap
We are so incredibly THANKFUL!!  What a true blessing to our family!!
Now to think of a way to thank this family for their thoughtfulness....  Any ideas?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Hair today, Gone tomorrow

In our house, we have a lot of hair.  Even our boys like to sport the long 'do too!

Personally, its one of my 'things'.  I've always cut and colored my own hair and I also cut everyone's in the family.

I blame my mom... watching her be a hair dresser during my entire childhood left a BIG mark.  Well, at least its a good one!


I found it extremely difficult to have no say over Sam's hair while he was at the orphanage.  Those children's hair is at the mercy of the nanny's whim.  I cringed -some from fear- the first time that I saw him with a shaved head because I've seen the long straight razor that they shave them with.

Here are some of Sam's infamous 'dos while there:

And my personal favorite -NOT-....
Once he came home, I relished in growing it out, finding the right mixture of hair care products and styling it.  WOW, was there a lot for me to learn.

I think that I was doing pretty good too.  His hair were growing healthy and looked great when I styled it.
And then swim team season started.

The Littles spend the entire time playing in the pool.  I didn't realize that the chemicals were really drying out Sam's hair. 

Last week, a friend suggested that I try a sleeping cap for him.  It will help to hold in the moisture and to keep his twists held together more, when he has them in.

So here is our new tool in Sam's hair care.  We will call it his 'ninja cap.' [hat tip to some fellow Haitian adoptive mommas]

What do you think?