Saturday, June 28, 2008
"Jesus loves the little children. All the children the of the world."
That was always my favorite song to sing when I was in Children's Church and when I used to teach it. I don't know exactly why I shared that but this picture just made me think of that song. Plus in my house I have a biracial child and a child who wishes she was anything but white!
I was actually going to tell the story about how we came to be where were are now. Our Family Love Story. But then I saw this picture and decided to ponder race for a bit. I guess I don't want to really ponder it as much as I was thinking of a funny story about my personal experience with race.
My oldest, Marie, is biracial. She is caucasian and hispanic. We are not exactly sure what her exact hispanic origin is so I kind of float with whatever she decides she is for now. There is a very large Puerto Rican community in this area so she has many Puerto Rican friends so most of the time she likes to be identified as such. She had a Mexican friend and a few Honduran friends....so for a time she was both Mexican and Honduran. See where this goes the more diverse the community is? She so desperately wants to identify ethnically that I have decided that it is more detrimental to go with her flow than refuse her this choice. She is aware of the fact that we are not clear on her ethnicity and I embrace her and love her no matter what her ethnicity.
It has always been fascinating to me that she is so eager to embrace her hispanic heritage. She is half caucasian and yet she never acknowledges this. In fact because Marie identifies herself as wholly being hispanic my younger completely and utterly caucasian daughter identifies herself as being wholly hispanic also. In Rose's case I believe it is to more closely resemble and emulate her older sister.
As Marie grows and matures she is more able to discuss her need for an ethnic identity as she also concedes that when she is around people that more closely resemble her physically, she finds herself feeling out of water. White people see her as being spanish and spanish people see her as white. She has a white family so they perceive her as being white.
Before I adopted Marie I never thought of these things. I thought that loving a child was enough and would make these things inconsequential. And I certainly never thought this would be an issue with a hispanic child. I mean she isn't that much darker than me and is almost of the same coloring of my husband. She had a white mom so it wasn't as though she would be too bummed at having white parents. We even moved to a community that was predominantly hispanic so that she could acclimate easily.
When people see that we have adopted a biracial child they always say, "isn't that nice of you" and they look with that look of....I don't know what it is exactly...but people give you this pity look like awwww she isn't white aren't you a good person...or I had someone I worked with say to me that I should be careful adopting a hispanic girl because they were promiscuous and dressed like harlots....it was their culture....I was stunned ...who says that about your kid? I am a grown up I can take that....
Marie always gets questions like "why did you let a white family adopt you" and it is hard to be 12 or 13 and not be accepted by the white community because you appear to be spanish but the spanish community sees you as white. So you fit nowhere. I never imagined that could happen. So ethnic identity is very important and to encourage it is crucial. They have to be confident in who they are as a person. And no their color doesn't matter or shouldn't but the reality is that it is part of them. So loving them is loving and embracing their color and their ethnicity. It is important whether we think it is or should be.
I like to share funny stories....And this is one I think is funny.
Last December around Marie's 14th birthday, she was invited to her first "teen" birthday party with boys and girls. She was sooooo excited and in the afternoon we went to get the young man who invited her a present. My husband and I were in the front seat and Rose was in the back with Marie. Now, so you know, Marie and Rose are glued to my hip when I am home. They always beg me to drive them places and beg me to take them with me.
Anyhoo..... We are driving along.....
Marie proclaims "Daddy, can you drive me to the party tonight?"
"just because I want to bond with you daddy" Marie using her doe eyes.
"i want to drive you there so i can meet the family"
"daddy, can't you meet the family?"
So now my feelings are completely crushed. I always take her to birthday parties. I always meet the parents and I always hang out for a bit with the other adults. I have always done this for her. What is wrong with me?
"no that is MY thing! I am taking you"
"No I don't want you to go...I want DADDY!" She is now being almost hostile.
"Marie, what is your deal? I always go...."
"Mommy, I just want Daddy!:
"No why can't I go...Are you embarrassed because I am fat?"
"Then what?" I just couldn't believe that she was dissing me! What could I possibly have done to embarrass her so I thought for a moment.....
The boy who was having the party was hispanic and everybody at the party was going to be hispanic...AHHHHHH....I am not hispanic....
"I know is it because I am white?"
"What?" Her eyes looked down to the floor and she smiled. When she smiles it always means that I have yet again found out the truth!
"it is because I am white...You don't want your friends to know I am white!" My smile became huge. I was actually quite proud I had become the victim of teen embarrassment. I mean it is inevitable that during their teen years, you will do something that will embarrass them. I just didn't realize the thing I would do was something that I had no control of!
"Sorry, Mommy. I didn't want to hurt your feelings...But all the other parents are spanish....and dad looks spanish and he understands spanish...so I think he should take me....Don't be mad"
"Mad? That rocks...Thanks, Marie! I have never had personal experience with racism against me for being white....So thank you for the experience....." You just never know what will happen next! She teaches me so many lessons....Lessons I didn't even know I needed!
My husband and I both drove her to the party and she did let me take her in. My husband, in fact, should have taken her in because the grandmother was the only one there and she only spoke spanish. He was really the logical choice. I later found out that the only reason I was allowed in was because no one had arrived yet. When she left the party, she waited outside so I didn't have to go inside....Talk about peer pressure...hahahaha....The lessons I learn!
Just a way to finish this off in a way. I embrace and love my daughter's ethnicity. But it is only part of who she is. She is a beautiful, smart, funny, kind and wonderful young lady. I don't think that race, color or ethnicity has anything to do with what is valuable or good about a person. It is the same as whether you are a boy or a girl. There is no one who is more valuable or worthy of anything because of their skin. It is merely a part of the person and part of the truly wonderful gift God has given us as the human race. God has given us the gift of uniqueness and difference. Life would be too boring otherwise....
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I am waiting for the new day to start! So almost as soon as I was cocky enough to write a blog bragging about how awesome Rose is doing....She decided it was time to end the streak. It can be so very frustrating and disheartening when she crashes. I struggle a great deal with whether or not it is my fault that she crashes. I have to remind myself often that I can't take responsibility for her actions. She is old enough to choose what she does and how she reacts to things. And regardless of how she spirals, I am doing my very best to keep her safe and I love her.
Ok...So nothing interesting today...To be honest, I was up past midnight last night, putting out fires...And I had to drive a friend into Boston at 7 am so I am beat!
Be Well and tomorrow night when I am more alert...Back to my super long boring blogs!
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Today was a good day! It was a very big milestone for Rose. It was four days without a tantrum....Four days...I am sure in the "normal" world that is not big deal, right? Well, with kids like mine...you count hours not days....so that is 96 hours without a tantrum.
And it is super impressive considering the conversation we had last night about bio family. Which is always a tantrum starter. But we seem to be seeing the beginnings of a healthy heart. I heard rumors of this in Attachment Therapy but to be honest, I had little hope would happen. She has been too traumatized, too damaged. But perhaps God has been waiting all of this time to teach us a lesson in patience and in trust.
I have to say that she has been trying to get my attention for weeks with her tap dancing and all because she wanted to be the main focus of my blog. Yet it was her most basic of all gifts that have made her the topic of choice tonight.
The getting a healthy heart is really important. It means she is allowing us into her heart, she is trusting us more and relying less on her own devices. For instance, yesterday she asked me a very pointed question about her bio mom. The answer knocked the wind right out of her sails.
I believe in honesty, even when it is painful. The only way they will ever trust us is if they can always count on us to be truthful. Of course, we are never cruel or mean for the sake of being so but when you're dealing with loss and abandonment with a child who has been both...Sometimes the answers are hard and feel quite cruel. But our jobs as parents are to be there to love them and support them and help them heal. And a huge part of that is honesty.
So I knocked the wind right out of her sails....The conversation was actually very difficult for all of us and of course she did it at the Food Court at the Mall....Talking about bio family with an adopted child is very difficult. They have so many mixed feelings. They love you but they feel that is a huge betrayal of their love for bio parents. So when the subject comes up they become defensive and they appear to be turning on you. It is a wound that never seems to heal on anyone's part.
She sat a few minutes and looked me in the eye and said "I don't really like you anymore!" I winced a bit and waited for more....there wasn't more....we talked more in the car about it...because beyond being a glutton for punishment, I felt that I had to make sure where her head space was. She said " I don't like it when you tell me that stuff, it makes me angry..." Again I praised her for expressing those feelings and that I completely understood how she could feel those things. I went on to express my feelings about her safety and emotional health being my utmost concern. She still didn't like it but conceded I was right....
See she is really getting healthy!
Today...still no tantrum and she went through the day expressing feelings and even when she was ready to implode....together we chose to keep the healthy growing....
So, Rose here you go baby...This one is for you....You rock....We have many miles still to go on our journey towards being a healthy family unit but you are getting healthier and that is a true miracle for us all to share!
Oh and the ice cream is in honor of Rose....She would do anything for food....Ice cream included...
I promise I will get back to the food issue thing....Tonight I am just super content knowing that my little girl's making big strides....
To paraphrase Sally Fields one year when she won some big award...."She likes us...She really likes us!"