Friday, December 25, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

Merry Christmas, y'all!

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Kid

I just finished reading "The Kid" by Dan Savage, and I loved it.  It's an adoption memoir--one of my favorite genres.  Or would that be a sub-genre?  Anyway, this one has a bit of a twist, as the adoptive parents are a gay couple and the birthmom is a "gutter punk."

I learned a lot from "The Kid".  For example, I've always wondered why it's politically incorrect to say that someone "put up" a child for adoption.  That's the term I had heard my whole life, and it never occured to me that it was hurtful or to wonder where it came from in the first place.  Well, according to Dan Savage, it has its origins in the orphan trains, when city folk would place adoptable children on trains headed out west.  At each stop, the children would be "put up" on platforms and the rural folk would come look them over to see which ones looked like they'd be good farm hands, and those were the children who were adopted.  It's no wonder that term is seen as offensive.

In "The Kid," I thought Dan Savage did a wonderful job in being frank and funny and brutally honest.  Read what he has to say about why open adoption is important:

"But to see Melissa's pain at the moment she gave up that baby, and to feel pain ourselves at that same moment, drove home the logic of open adoption, its absolute necessity. 

"In a closed adoption, we wouldn't have witnessed the moment our son's mother gave him up.  That we saw what we did, however painful, is to the ultimate benefit of the kid in the car seat.  The idea of starting off as his parents without experiencing what we did was suddenly unimaginable.  One day, D.J. may worry that his mother didn't love him.  Because of open adoption, we'll be able to sit him down and tell him about this day; we'll be able to describe the moment Melissa gave him to us, and how hard it was for her.  We won't have to guess at what it was like, or tell him that we're sure his mother loved him.  We know she loved him; we saw it.

"And seeing how hard it was for Melissa to hand us her baby, and knowing that we would never have been a family if she didn't trust us with him, how could we even think of denying her the right to see her baby as he grows?  Having seen what we did, how could we begrudge her visits, pictures, or phone calls?  After what she had given us, how could we deny her anything?"

Adoption is ultimately based on loss, and as adoptive parents, we often forget that.  Someone else's loss is our gain.  And it's not just the birth families that feel loss; our children feel loss too.  That's not to say I don't think adoption is a good thing--I think it's one of God's perfect miracles, like taking two wrongs (infertile couple and unwanted pregnancy) and making a right.  But at the same time, I believe that it's good for us as adoptive parents to be a witness to the loss and the pain underlying our miracle, to recognize and honor it, to never forget it, to not pretend it isn't there.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Find My Family

So, last week, I watched a new TV, "Find My Family," fully expecting to be outraged.  I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  I missed it this week, so my opinion is based solely on the first episode, but I thought that the show was pretty good.

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, the show reunites adult adoptees with their birth families.  In the first episode, an adult adoptee knew that she had an older birth sibling.  The show found not only her older brother, but also a younger sister that she did not know about.  In the other storyline, an black adult adoptee who was adopted by a white family was reunited with her birth mother.  Both stories were heartwarming and in my opinion, portrayed adoption in a positive light.

I think any time you put people in an emotional personal situation on TV, there is some element of exploitation, but again, I think the show took the high road.  Do any one see it this week?  What did you think?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fall, Y'all

Fall is my favorite time of year.  That first morning that I wake up to a chill in the air, I swear I get all giddy inside.  I pull out my thick warm socks and my winter robe and my chili recipe and I am in heaven, I tell you.  I love the crisp, cool days and the autumn leaves and the football and the pumpkins and the Halloween costumes and Thanksgiving.  Lord, do  I love Thanksgiving.  Doesn't it seem fitting that our country, home of the Free and the Brave and the Fortunate, would set aside a day when the whole country would give thanks for our blessings?  And then follow it up with a day of greed and conspicuous consumption?  Only in America!

This has been a hard year in so many ways but I have much to be thankful for.  My beloved sister-in-law is in the fight of her life against cancer but is WINNING!  While she has lost so much (her hair, her independence, the use of one of her legs, and much more), she is with us and planning for the future and for that we are grateful beyond belief for we cannot imagine a world without her in it.  My kid is happy and healthy, my marriage has survived some difficult times and seems all the stronger for them, I am blessed beyong belief by a wise and wonderful group of friends.  What more could a girl ask for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Look

Bear with me while I play with the look of my blog.  From the beginning, I wanted a cupcake to go with my "sweet" theme and Mr. Sweetie's complaint gave me an excuse to find one.  I love the cupcake but am not so sure this has helped the readability of my blog.  And now I've lost all my gadgets!  Definitely a first world problem.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Question

Does anyone have trouble reading my blog?  Mr. Sweetie was complaining that it is difficult to read, but I just suspect he is allergic to pink.

Dear Lord, Forgive Me

I allowed my child to dress up for Halloween as an OSU cheerleader.  (When she first said she wanted to dress up as an OSU cheerleader, I suggested the cow costume.  She and Mr. Sweetie were Not Amused.)  Where oh where did I go wrong?  From the time she was a newborn, I have been singing her name to the tune of "Boomer Sooner."  And yet, the child has rejected my beloved Alma Mater for a place where it's Halloween every day of the year. 

As if this wasn't bad enough, last weekend Lil Sweetie made an obscene hand gesture (the "hook em horns" sign).  Gasp!  I danged near fainted but pulled it together enough to sing to her the "Don't Send My Boy to Texas" song.  What more can a mother do?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

On this date in 1997, Mr. Sweetie and I stood up in a restaurant (the dearly departed Terra Luna), surrounded by a few close friends and family who thought they were there for an engagement party, and got married. 

I highly recommend the surprise wedding.  The only people who knew we were getting married that night were our pastor, the restaurant owner, and us.  It took very little planning and effort, but it was really special.  I don't think anyone there will ever forget it! 

So, twelve years later and we are still going strong.  I don't know exactly why we work, but I have some clues.  One is that Mr. Sweetie is generally the most easy-going, laid-back person.  He is easy to please, difficult to tick off, and very good at going with the flow.  (How many cliches can one person work into a sentence, I ask you?)  Which leads me to another reason why we work--we complement each other.  He is easy-going; I am wound too tight.  Which means he regularly talks me down off a ledge and I make sure that the bills get paid on time. 

I have several dear friends and family members who are either newly divorced or are going through a divorce.  And I know it is hard for them to get back out there.  God knows it was for me.  (This ain't my first rodeo.  Mr. Sweetie's neither.)  But one thing I learned this time around is to give the good guy a chance.  I can't say that it was love at first sight for me, although it was like at first sight and respect at first sight.  (Don't worry, Mr. Sweetie would tell you the same thing about me.)  But I genuinely liked Mr. Sweetie and could see that he was a hell of a guy.  So I gave him a chance.  And I'm so glad I did!  It's like Cynthia Heimel says:

"You never get anywhere until you figure out the difference between passion and compassion.  Love affairs that begin in passion burn themselves out real quick, like blue stars.  You gotta watch out for them, hon, they can burn you up too.  But then there's the love affairs that begin in compassion, those are the ones you want to find.  They just build and build into real passion and then, well, then it's like you can just drive into the sky, right up into and right past those blue stars."

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday.  I turned 47 years old!  47!!!  When did I get to be that age?  And when do I start feeling like a grown-up?  I keep thinking one of these days I will wake up and I will know what I'm doing.  Inside, I feel like I'm about 33, or whatever age it is when you feel like you are starting to get your poop together but aren't quite there yet.

I've been thinking about 50.  Only three years away!  I feel like my first 25 years, I spent being too nice, being a doormat for anyone who wanted to wipe their feet on me.  Then I got up off the floor and have spent the last 22 years being SuperBitch.  The pendulum swung too far to the other side.  I figure I've got another three years to figure out how to live in the middle.  As my friend Carie says, "There is some liveable space between 'bitch' and 'bowl of jello' and I aim to find it."

National Adoption Month

November is National Adoption Month.  In celebration, here are my thoughts and personal experiences with some adoption myths:

Myth Number 1--Adoption takes forever if you want a newborn.  My experience:  We applied to the adoption agency May 17th and brought a newborn baby home June 14th.  (As they say in the weight loss ads, results may not be typical.)

Myth Number 2--Adoption costs a lot of money.  My experience:  Our adoption cost approximately $12,200, $10,000 of which we got back as an adoption tax credit.  Two hundred dollars of what we paid was for medical fees that our HMO should have covered for Lil Sweetie's newborn care in the hospital after she was born.  However, our crappy HMO went bankrupt and the adoption agency asked us to pay the medical expenses even though we were not legally obligated to, so that the adoption agency would maintain a good working relationship with the hospital.  So we did. 

Myth Number 3--Adoption fees are unethical; it is in essence "buying a child."  My experience:  Adoption fees cover all kinds of expenses of the birth mother and the adoption agency.  Our adoption agency helps many women who decide to parent their children.  It provides support groups for birthmoms who struggle after placing a child for adoption.  It serves as a go-between for semi-open adoptions like ours.  It provides educational and social events where adoptive families can meet other adoptive families.  It provides search services for adults who were adopted and wish to search for their birth families.  I have no regrets or concerns about the adoption fees we paid...we have gotten way more than our moneys worth of services for that fee.

Myth Number 4--Adoption itself is unethical.  My experience:  Actually, I think there is some truth to this one.  It all depends on the adoption professional you choose to use.  Our local adoption agency is incredibly ethical.  Pregnant women who come to them in crisis are offered options and support, regardless of whether they choose to parent their child or place the child for adoption.  I love that the adoption agency continues to provide services to Lil Sweetie's birthmom seven years later.  However, some adoption agencies and lawyers pressure women to place their children for adoption, and do not offer any support or services to the birthmom once she has terminated her parental rights.  I would advise anyone considering adoption as either a birthparent or an adoptive parent to choose your lawer or adoption agency wisely.

Myth Number 5--Birthmoms are either young girls who got themselves in trouble, or crack whores.  My experience:  Birthmoms are teenagers, women in their 20's and 30's and 40's, military personnel who aren't yet ready to parent, rape victims, drug addicts, deeply religious women who have never tried drugs or alcohol, women whose families are complete.  There is no typical birthmom.

Myth Number 6--The birthmom will come back and reclaim the child later.  My experience:  Birthmoms don't want to or aren't able to parent the child, that's why they place the child for adoption.  And at least in Oklahoma, the adoption laws do not allow an adoption to be "undone" unless the birthparent can prove fraud or duress.  Generally speaking, in Oklahoma, if the termination of the birthparents' rights is done correctly, the adoption cannot later be set aside.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Bathroom Redo

Quite some time ago, we discovered a leak in our bathroom.  The leak had been going on behind the walls for some time without our knowledge, so when we discovered the leak, we also discovered a nice little science project inside our bathroom walls.  Lovely!  Next thing we knew, we were looking at a complete bathroom remodel, whether we wanted one or not.

Lucky for us, a very dear friend is quite handy and offered to serve as our general contractor, which would save us buttloads of money.  (That's a technical, contracting term.)  However, our VDF (very dear friend) has a real job so we knew that the remodel might take a while.

Way back in August, when I was at home lying on my left side due to the bubble in my eye, a team of workers came over and destroyed our bathroom.  Not that it was very nice to begin with.  Here's how it looked before they started:

And here's how it looked when they were done:

And that's how it looked for the rest of August.  And September.  And October.  There are some very good reasons, all of which we understand, and yet, we just want a nice place to shower and pee.  Is that too much to ask?

Lately, work has started again.  Hallelujah!  Our VDF has promised us a completed bathroom by Christmas.  Another very dear friend is a talented artist and has made us a custom mirror that is our "inspiration piece" for the bathroom.   (Is it possible to watch a little too much HGTV?)  Here it is:

Try to ignore the relection of the TV and entertainment center and just look at the pretty mirror.  The photo does not do the mirror justice.  Here's another pathetic attempt to capture it's beauty with my poor photography skills:

It took me forever to pick out tile but I finally did.  Here it is:

The charcoal gray tile will go on the floor.  The light gray will go on the shower walls.  The glass tile is intended to be a decorative accent to tie the two together.  I have no idea what paint color we will use.  The bathroom is small and dark so I want to use something light, but you enter the bathroom through the sage green master bedroom, and I would like the rooms to complement each other but not be matchy-matchy.  Any thoughts?

Help! A Monster Ate My Blog!

Original artwork by Lil Sweetie. 
She appears to be heavily influenced by Picasso, which is weird since she has never heard of him.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

A Spider Ate My Blog!

Original sculpture by Lil Sweetie

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Here's Blood in Your Eye

Just an update...
  • The doc says my continued vision problems are just due to a lot of blood in my eye.  (Oh boy!)  It should resolve in time. 
  • Mr. Sweetie is home!  Mr. Sweetie is home!  Life is so much better when Mr. Sweetie is home.
  • My beloved sister-in-law is doing better.  The chemo appears to be shrinking the tumor.  She still has a long road ahead but things are looking hopeful.
  • Work is going better.  I had a big win this week.  A weird win, but a win nonetheless.  To quote one of my favorite movies:  "I love winning!  It's like, better than losing." 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Weird Weekend

Things that probably should not have happened this weekend:
  • Lil Sweetie singing "I like big butts and I cannot lie, you other fellas cannot fly, when a girl walks in with a pretty good chin and farts in your face."
  • Dreaming about Rhinestone Abraham Lincoln.  All I remember is rhinestone-covered replicas of the Lincoln Memorial, a dread "the emporer has no clothes" feeling around my friends who were very enthusiastic about this endeavor, and (with apologies to Glen Campbell) singing "Like a Rhinestone Lincoln."  I still can't get that stupid song out of my head.
  • A drastic reduction in my vision in my right (bad) eye.  It's like I'm looking underwater.  I worry that I may have another tear to my retina.  Fun times.

Gone Too Long

Mr. Sweetie has been gone so long.  Absolutely weeks and weeks.  (Ok, only in Sweetie Pie time.)  He is in Houston helping out his sister who is receiving cancer treatment.  A noble and worthy cause, one for which I am gladly willing to sacrifice. 

However, I am not cut out for single parenting.  I lose patience with Lil Sweetie, there is no one to step in when I lose my cool and need a break.  I don't ask for much, but just to get to go to the bathroom without being forced into cookie negotiations through the door.  When Mr. Sweetie isn't around, it's the little things that fall by the wayside.  The laundry is never completely done, the mail stacks up, the dogs start to stink.

I know that some people do this all day, every day.  There should be a Congressional Medal of Honor for single parents.  And the families of our troops, who add the worry about the safety of their loved one to their never-ending list of things to do.  Other days, I am too sweaty and petty to care about anyone's pain but my own.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Stinky and Dogboy

Pet Parade

This is Dogboy. He is so ugly, he’s cute. He is a great dog, the Cary Grant of dogs. He is suave and debonair and always carries a handkerchief. He hover-sits so as to not wrinkle his trousers. He is extremely low maintenance. He would rather die than potty in the house.

This is Stinky Weaselton. She is the Amy Winehouse of dogs. Don’t invite her over, she will get drunk and throw up on your rug. She pees out of spite. She was Catherine the Great in a former life and has a vastly exaggerated sense of entitlement. She demands your attention every minute. She has every bad habit a dog can have—she’s a barker, she’s a digger, she’s a chewer and a trash picker. We thought of the people we hate most in the world and put their number on her tag, but we can’t get her to run away. She’s an a-hole.

An Important Question

As children, we color, cut, and paste regularly. We squeal with joy when an adult pulls out the glitter or paints. We skip, we laugh, we dance. When something moves us, we mooove. We don’t stifle the urge to laugh, to cry, to wiggle our bodies to the beat.

As adults, we say, “I’m not an artist...I’m not a dancer...I’m not an athlete.” We decide that glitter is messy and a waste of money. We take up hobbies and take lessons and practice, practice, practice, striving always to improve, turning our hobby into work. We pass by playgrounds without any temptation to swing upside down from the monkey bars. We never skip. When moved, we choke back laughter or tears. We stifle the urge to wiggle to the beat.


I Call B.S.

When Lil Sweetie was a babe, people told me it was important to talk to her, that it would help her develop her language skills.  So I talked to her constantly, giving her a running play-by-play of what we were doing, what I was thinking and feeling, what we were seeing, etc., etc., blah blah blah.  I have now decided this theory is utter B.S. because I now have a 7-year-old who chatters constantly.  CONSTANTLY.  I am now treated every waking moment to a running play-by-play of what we are doing, what Lil Sweetie is thinking and feeling, what we are seeing, etc. etc. blah blah blah.  Why wouldn't she think this is normal behavior?  It is often very entertaining but on occasion, I could really use a few moments of peace.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Keeping Up Appearances

I used to try my darndest to always look put together.  I shaved my legs every day, even in the dead of winter.  I didn't leave the house without my hair and makeup done.  I was raised to be a Southern lady and that's what I did.

I never felt like I was particularly successful at it.  I always felt like I had a run in my stockings and lipstick on my teeth.  But I made the effort.

Nowadays, I have decided that it is ok for my outsides to match my insides, for my appearance to look as frazzled as my mental state.  Consequently, I have been going to work with no makeup.  No one seems to have noticed.  But I have had a lot more time in the mornings for reading and relaxing.

I'm not sure what the lesson is here.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More Therapy

Here are some more things I have been playing around with.  From this first one, I learned that photos and gel medium do not mix.  Next time I want to use a photo, I will make a color laser copy of it and try that.

This next one I have shown before, but I thought it was missing something.  Milly was right, it need something gold and so I added a gold cross I had in my scrapbooking stash.  It doesn't show up well in the photo but I think it helps provide balance.

This one is just something I was playing around with.  It's not my favorite.

This one happened by accident and I like the way it turned out.

This one is a nod to that quote by Ghandi, "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

This last one is another happy accident.

I've always thought of myself as "not artistic" but now I've decided that everyone is artistic.  Don't get me wrong, I have no delusions.  I'm just trying to embrace the fun and play and creativity that I see Lil Sweetie use everyday.  I think it's a shame that so many of us give that up as adults and I'm trying to reclaim some.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why is Open Adoption Attractive?

JemJam asked an interesting question.  She says, "It seems that an open adoption would be complicated and emotionally exhausting, could you enlighten me as to why this is attractive?"

One reason why open adoption is attractive is that in US domestic adoption, the birthmoms generally get to pick the adoptive family. If the adoptive family is strongly opposed to an open adoption, they may eliminate themselves from consideration. I hate to put it that way--it's sounds so crass. But when you are desperate for a child, it seems a small price to pay to agree to send someone some photos or to meet with them on occasion.

But the most attractive thing about open adoption for me, is that I truly believe that it is what is best for my child.  Lil Sweetie does not remember a time when she didn't know she was adopted.  She has had a photo of her birthmom in her room since she was a baby.  We have detailed medical information from her birthmom, and her birthmom has been good about calling the adoption agency and asking them to pass on additional information on occasion.  As questions come up for Lil Sweetie, we have access to answers we might not have otherwise.  
Contrast that to the way most adoptions were handled when I was a kid.  I remember hearing horror stories of kids who did not know they were adopted until a mean older cousin told them at a family gathering, or they came across their adoption papers in snooping through their parents things looking for their Christmas or birthday gifts.  Adoptive families had little or no information about the birth family, including medical information.  There is even a book (Identical Strangers by Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein) about twins who were placed for adoption with different families who were never told their child had a twin.
In addition, open adoption is better for the birthparents.  Ashley doesn't have to wonder about how Lil Sweetie is doing; she gets regular updates.  As I stated in my earlier post about open adoption, Ashley is somewhat of a stranger to me, but I love her fiercely.  She did a very brave and beautiful and difficult thing when she placed her baby for adoption.  If sending her photos and letters on occasion makes this difficult thing the tiniest bit easier, I feel like I owe her that.
But mostly it's about my kid.  Lil Sweetie doesn't have to wonder about why her birthmom decided not to parent; she has a letter from her birthmom that explains it.  She doesn't have to wonder whether her birthmom loved her, I can tell her how bitterly Ashley cried when she let her go.  She doesn't have to wonder where she gets her lefthandedness from.  She doesn't have a fantasy that her birthparents are secret royalty that will come back to claim her and place her in rightful place upon the throne; she knows who she is and where she comes from.  That, to me, is what makes open adoption so attractive.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Creepy Mom

Please, please, for the love of all things holy, PLEASE do not tell me how hot you think one of the Wiggles is, how attractive you find Zac Efron.  It's inappropriate and wrong and more than a little bit creepy.  Besides, Corbin Bleu is the hot one. 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Listening To...

"I didn't know your mother
But this is what I have been told
That she cried and she cried
When she gave you up at three days old
She was from the countryside in Cambodia,
A farmer's wife with too many mouths to feed
She wanted you to see a better life

Love takes the best of you, Love takes the best of you
Love takes the best of you, Love takes the best of you

Now you don't look like me
And baby we don't look like you
But our love is so complete
It don't matter eyes are brown or blue
There are people in this world
Who won't understand this family
We'll protect you where we can
Sometimes you'll have to stand and help them see

'Cause love takes the best of you, Love takes the best of you
Love takes the best of you, Love takes the best of you

Every night when I watch you sleep
I want to watch over you forever
Keep you safe with me
And I wish I could promise you a beautiful world
That would never break your heart
Maybe that's what we are here for
We try and fix what comes apart

Love takes the best of you, Love takes the best of you
Love takes the best of you, Love takes the best of you"

~ "Love Takes the Best of You" by Catie Curtis

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Open Adoption

I’m a big fan of open adoption, but I will be the first to admit it ain’t easy. We have a semi-open adoption with Lil Sweetie’s birthmom, which means we send her letters and photos and gifts through the adoption agency but do not know her last name or contact information. Or that’s the way it is supposed to work, anyway. The hospital left the bracelet on Lil Sweetie when I brought her home from the hospital and so I know that she was once “Baby Girl X”. The adoption agency said that happens a lot.

I feel a little guilty about that, but you can’t unring a bell. I just try to be extra-special careful not to reveal the name of Lil Sweetie’s birthmom to anyone. Only a few very close friends even know her first name, and I think only me, Mr. Sweetie, and my mother know the last name.

We have had one meeting with Lil Sweetie’s birthmom, Ashley (not her real name). She requested it when Lil Sweetie was about 6 months old. The meeting was at the adoption agency and a social worker was there to help us along but it went fine. We ate pizza and cookies and Lil Sweetie played on the floor with her toys and looked adorable, and I took a jillion photos of her with her birthmom, and that was it. I was afraid that Ashley might cry and it would be difficult, but her reaction seemed to be more of disbelief, like she couldn’t believe that this creature had actually come out of her body. There are two things that I remember vividly from that meeting. The first I am ashamed to admit, but I was secretly pleased that Lil Sweetie seemed to prefer me over Ashley. How ridiculous is that? As if it were a competition! Ashley will always be Lil Sweetie’s birthmom and I will always be the mother who raised her. Both roles are important. I know that intellectually, but emotionally, I guess I had a fear that some instinctual bond would draw Lil Sweetie to her birthmom and leave me out in the cold. Silly!

The other thing I remember vividly is that Ashley said that Lil Sweetie looks just like Ashley’s mom. I am so curious about this woman! I would so love to see a photo of her. I would so love to know what her deal is, as she has refused to acknowledge that Ashley has a daughter she placed for adoption. But that is a whole ‘nother story, one that I am not privy to.

When Lil Sweetie was about 4 years old, Ashley requested another meeting. We agreed, and it was all set up. Mr. Sweetie and I took off work because the meeting was going to be held during business hours at the adoption agency, and we arranged to pick up Lil Sweetie early from pre-K. Because Lil Sweetie was old enough to understand more of what was going on, we let her know that we were going to see her birthmom and let her be somewhat involved with the planning. I thought it might be a little awkward, so I let Lil Sweetie pick out party supplies and cupcakes, thinking that would give us something to do. We also packed up Lil Sweetie’s scrapbook thinking Lil Sweetie could show it to Ashley and it would give them things to talk about.

Well, at the last minute, Ashley called the adoption agency and cancelled. I have to admit I was livid. On one hand, I can imagine that meeting your 4-year-old birth child would be extremely difficult and would bring up a lot of emotions. But my job is to look out for Lil Sweetie, and I was terrified that this would scar her in some way.

But Lil Sweetie handled it like a trooper. We went ahead and picked her up early and told her we wanted her to be the first to know that Ashley had had something come up at work and could not make the meeting after all. Lil Sweetie’s biggest concern (that she vocalized, anyway) was whether she was still going to get a cupcake. I think at the age she was, she didn’t understand enough to feel rejected by Ashley’s cancellation. I think she just picked up her cues from us, and we acted like we were little disappointed but ok with the cancellation and so she was too.

I do want to mention how great our adoption agency was. I spoke to the Director about my concerns over the cancellation, and in my anger, I have to admit that I mentioned that all our correspondence with Ashley was one-way, that she had never sent a card or note or anything to Lil Sweetie ever. The Director assured me that she would not allow another meeting to be scheduled without first meeting with Ashley and making certain that she felt she could go through with it. She also told Ashley that it wasn’t fair to Lil Sweetie for the openness to go only one way. One of the many things that I love about our adoption agency is that I feel they are extremely fair in advocating for both the birthmoms and the adopted children. I also think it is amazing that years after Lil Sweetie’s adoption, they are still here for us, facilitating our open adoption and offering advice when we call with adoption-related questions.

Even in light of the cancelled meeting, I still am a big fan of open adoption. I think it is healthier for Lil Sweetie that she knows her birthmom’s name and has photos of her. So far, Lil Sweetie has not wanted to write Ashley on her own, but she often tells me things to say to her or questions to ask when she knows I am writing her. She helps me pick out gifts for Ashley and often gives me a picture she has drawn or some schoolwork she wants to include in our package to Ashley. I just think it is good for Lil Sweetie that her birthmom is not some scary concept to her but rather a real person with a name and a face.

I won’t lie and say it is easy. It is odd. In some ways, I have such love for Ashley. She did a beautiful thing when she gave her child a life and a family. I know it was terribly difficult for her, and yet she did it anyway. I love her fiercely for that. I feel almost maternal towards her. On the other hand, she is very much a stranger to me. I know her favorite color and what kind of pizza she likes and I have a vague idea of what she does for a living, but that’s it. This makes gift purchases extremely challenging! I get frustrated for her when she makes bad choices in life. (We hear vague references to what is going on in her life through the adoption agency.) I want her to make good choices and have a good life, both because she did an extremely difficult and beautiful thing and I think she deserves it, and also because I want her to be someone that my child can be proud of. So it is very odd having such intense feelings for a person who is basically a stranger to you.

So, our open adoption is far from perfect. Still, the only regret we have is that our adoption is not MORE open. Most adoptive families we know feel the same way. If that doesn’t speak well for open adoption, I don’t know what would.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Play Date

I've been feeling so verklempt lately. Yesterday I had another procedure on my eye for a tear in the retina. It was very Not Fun. So today, I had a play date. With myself. No, not that kind, you filthy monkey! I made stuff with paint and glue. I am not all that artistic, but I've decided that the process is the point, not the outcome. I had fun painting and pasting and at the end, I felt decidedly less verklempt. And that, was definitely the point.

This first one is supposed to be about Hope but the words smeared a little.

I like the effect of the smearing on the word "Fear" in this next one. I think it works. It needed something else so I added the postage stamp and now it makes me smile because I think "fear of postage" when I see it.

This next one is not about anything, but I like it. The background is sort of bright pink and tangerine and I really think the postage pops on it.

This next one is about Faith, and I cut the edge off when I took the photo. It's missing something, I think, but I haven't figured out what yet.

This last one features a horoscope I liked. I only believe the good ones. I doodled on this one a little, which is a challenge for me. I have absolutely no talent for drawing whatsoever.

I don't know what to call these. I started off trying to make Artist Trading Cards but the small size intimidated me so these are a little bigger. Altered Index Cards? I know, I'll call them therapy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

God bless Oklahoma

So yesterday, I was shopping at Target. I was on the household cleaners aisle with no one else in sight. Here's what happened:

Random stranger on the next aisle: Bless you!
Me: Thank you!
RS: You're welcome!

I just love living in a place where random strangers will bless you for no reason other than that you happened to sneeze.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

How Blue Can I Get?

I love the blues. LOVE them. I love how blues singers take a bad situation and just WALLOW in it, even as they sometimes poke fun at themselves for doing so. Singing the blues just cheers me up, it really does.

"I'm gonna lay my head on some lonesome railroad line and let the 2:19 train ease my troubled mind." Now that is some wallowin', don'tcha know!

So, lately I've been singing the blues a lot. My eye is still healing which is making many of my favorite things, such as crafts and reading, rather challenging. (Also, y'all, get up right now, close one eye and try to clean your bathtub. It can't be done with one eye! I never knew so many things required good vision!) My sister-in-law's situation has not changed, and I'm just frustrated as hell about it. (I can't imagine why getting treatment for cancer takes so dang long. I mean, I know the process can be a long one, but why does just getting starting take so dang long? I'm pretty sure people have been cured of cancer in the time we've been waiting for her to start treatment.) I'm worried about my other sister-in-law, who just went through a divorce, is juggling a job and two kids and a sick sister. I'm worried about my hubby. And my father-in-law. Lil Sweetie's birthmom is going through some hard times. The bathroom remodel has completely stalled. There are mice in my garage and the dogs have fleas and I'm pretty sure locusts and frogs must be right around the corner.

Life is just hard right now. It really is. And the weird thing is that it is hard right now for so many people I know. Although I don't actually believe in astrology, I'm pretty sure the stars are out of alignment. They must be. We are just going through a gigantic cosmic shit storm.

But that blues song I quoted above?* It goes on to say: "I won't be blue always, you know the sun is gonna shine in my back door someday."

*"Trouble in Mind" if you were wondering, recorded by such greats as Johnny Cash, Nina Simone, Janis Joplin, Muddy Waters...sheesh, who hasn't recorded it?

So just let me wallow for a little while. I'll be all right. (And just to clarify, I have no actual intention of laying my head on any railroad tracks, although I do enjoy singing about it at the top of my lungs.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Well, the doc says my retina has completely reattached. Hallelujah! I'm very disappointed that my vision is still not back to normal but the doc says that my eye is still healing and to be patient. Patience is not something that comes easy to me. I would like my vision to be back to normal NOW, please.

Today was my first day back at work. It went well. I am so blessed to have a job that I enjoy, working with bosses and coworkers I like and respect. The older I get, the more I appreciate the little things. No, that's not right. The older I get, the more I realize the little things are not little things at all.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A Feeling of Detachment

I always felt like I got cheated in the grandparent department. My mother's parents both died when she was a child so I have no memory of maternal grandparents. From what I've been told, my father's father was a rascally ol' toot when my dad was a boy, but by the time I entered the picture, Granddaddy had mellowed into a fine imitation of Santa Claus. The man spoiled me rotten. But alas, he died when I was in second grade so I didn't get to have him long. Maybe on some level he knew, and that's what all the spoiling was about.

So that left Grandmother, my father's mother. Not Grandma, not MeeMaw, no it was Grandmother or nothing, and you better make sure to enunciate the "d" in the middle or she would be sure to correct you. She was not the traditional granDmother at cookie-baking for her. She was tall and thin and always perfectly coiffed and dressed. She smelled of cigarettes and permanent solution (she was a hairdresser by trade, a career woman before her time).

She felt it was her personal mission in life to improve the people around her, which sounds admirable but is not much fun actually. Try writing your granDmother a letter, only to have it returned with the grammar, punctuation and spelling corrected for your betterment. Ah, fun times.

One of her quirks was that she was the self-appointed guardian of our eyesight, and she was always, ALWAYS telling us not to rub our eyes, lest we get a detached retina. Apparently one of her "patrons" as she called them, got a detached retina and it was her goal in life to prevent that fate from befalling anyone in her family.

Ok, so fast forward a bazillion years and we come to last Sunday, when I suddenly lost part of my vision in my right. Oh no, I thought, I've detached my retina! Well, low and behold if that wasn't the case. GranDmother is up in heaven tsking away and saying "I told you so" right now, I just know it.

So, I have had some horrible medieval torture devices used on me in the name of medicine and am now recuperating at home where I must rest on my left side for the next seven to ten days. Not as easy or as restful as you would think.

To top things off, my beloved SIL has a malignant tumor the size of a grapefuit and a benign tumor the size of a watermelon, both in her abdomen. She is in the hospital awaiting a battle plan. Prayers and healing thoughts are encouraged and appreciated.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whose Story Is It?

In my work, the concept of sovereignty comes up often. I like the word, and I like the concept—independence, self-governance. I often remind myself that Lil Sweetie is a sovereign being. (I borrowed that idea from an essay I read entitled “The Doing of the Toes.” It was delightful. I wish I could find it again so I could give proper credit or better yet, link to it. It was a wonderful essay. You should read it. But I digress.) Of course, being as Lil Sweetie has just turned 7, she is not completely self-governing yet. But I like to be reminded that she is her own person with her own thoughts and feelings and that I would do well as her mother to honor that in age-appropriate ways.

See, I have issues with boundaries. Due to my own issues, I never know where the boundaries are, where they should be, how to honor them. It’s a constant struggle. And one way in which I struggle with them is not knowing how much to share about Lil Sweetie’s adoption. It is my story and Mr. Sweetie’s, and certainly OUR story, meaning it belongs to all three of us to be sure. But above all, it is Lil Sweetie’s story.

And it is really important to me that she own her story, that she knows she has the right to choose with whom to share it. But I worry that I undermine that when I do such things, I dunno...WRITE ON MY BLOG ABOUT IT.

In my defense, one of my purposes in writing about it is to combat the misinformation out there about adoption. Granted, we had the world’s quickest and most easy adoption. Our experience is certainly not typical, but neither are those that are featured in made-for-TV movies.

Also in my defense, I would like to say that there are aspects of Lil Sweetie’s adoption that for various reasons are too personal or too sacred to be shared beyond the closest friends and family members.

I have been thinking about this whole subject a lot recently because Mr. Sweetie was interviewed by a local media outlet for a story they were doing about adoption. I had hoped that he would talk to Lil Sweetie about it before he agreed to the interview, because at 7, I think she is getting to the age where she should have a say about how much of her story we share. Mr. Sweetie chose not to. The interview was focused more on the good and bad of the adoption process rather than Lil Sweetie’s specific story and he knew it was going to be going in, so I am ok with his decision. But still, it brought up (again!) for me the whole issue of where the boundaries should be.

So, am I dishonoring Lil Sweetie’s sovereignty and right to her own story when I blog about it? What do you think?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

An Update on The Orphan

Molly has a link on her blog to a petition you can sign, asking Warner Bros. to donate some of the proceeds of the movie to help orphans around the world.

Love Letter to Oklahoma

Oklahoma has been very hard to love lately, what with it being one-hundred-and-freakin’-eleventy-‘leven degrees and all. But I love Oklahoma, I do. I didn’t always, but I do now.

In fact, a while back I was working on a little love letter to Oklahoma, and gosh darn if I can find it now. But Holly’s blog post reminded me of it and so I thought I would recreate it now.

Dear Oklahoma,

I love you, you know I do. You don’t always make it easy with the ice storms in the Winter and the tornadoes in the Spring and Fall and the unrelenting heat of the worst of your Summers. But oh Lordy, do you make up for all that with your skies! A girl can breathe in Oklahoma. I lived in Georgia for two years and I’m sorry, but Georgia skies are a pale imitation to Oklahoma’s, I don’t know if it’s all the humidity in the air or what. Oklahoma’s skies are the same vivid blue as her flag. And they go on forever. From anywhere in Oklahoma City, if you want to go downtown just spin in a circle until you see skyscrapers, then head toward ‘em. It’s that easy.

“Oh give me land, lots of land, with starry skies above,
Don’t fence me in,
Let me ride through the wide, open country that I love,
Don’t fence me in...”

And the sunsets! I’ve been to Hawaii twice, and Hawaiian sunsets don’t have a thing on Oklahoma’s, except for maybe the beautiful beach in the foreground. (Oh, that little thing!) If you tried to paint an Oklahoma sunset, there is just no way for it to look like anything but the worst black velvet painting, what with the blues and purples and pinks and golds and peaches and reds. Even the real thing just doesn’t look real, except that it is. You know you are an Okie when you get a phone call from someone you love saying, “Quick, run outside and look at that sunset! God is showing off today!”

Even the thunderstorms are awesome, when they are not spinning off tornadoes or pelting your roof and your car with hail. The sky turns that fearsome green and black color, looking all the world like the Wicked Witch. If the way your insides feel when you get diarrhea were a color, it would be just the same shade as an Oklahoma thunderstorm. The wind stops sweepin’ down the plain and it gets still and quiet and even the birds stop singing. Then BOOM!!! All God’s power unleashed. And the Earth puts off that thankful smell for the rain.

But the very best thing about Oklahoma is her people. Even though it ain’t easy being a flaming liberal in the buckle of the Bible belt, Okies are the very best people I know. Have you ever heard that saying, “As long as I got a biscuit, you’ve got half?” I don’t know who first said it but I’m just positive he or she was an Okie. Okies will give you the shirt right off their back, or the biscuit right off their plate, if you need it.

When the bombing happened in ’95, you couldn’t get within a block of the Red Cross for all the Okies standing in line for hours to give blood. I personally know several people who worked all day long at their regular jobs, then went down to the convention center where the out-of-state rescue workers were being housed to make sure they were being fed, rested, massaged, shaved, manicured, and basically had anything and everything they needed or desired. A former beau of mine had a concession in the convention center and stayed down there for a solid week, sleeping on a little cot when he wasn’t serving up slushies for free. He said the rescue workers had a terrible job to do and if it helped them one iota to have a free slushie, it was his honor to give it to them. My cousin and her kids baked the medical examiners tons of cookies and brownies for the same reason.

And it’s not just big disasters that bring out that kind of behavior in Okies. It’s just the way they are. I guarantee you that plenty of people in my neighborhood do not approve of the couple who fly their gay pride rainbow flag right there under the American flag in their front yard. But I also guarantee you that if my gay neighbors needed help, the entire neighborhood would set aside their tsk-tsking long enough to give them whatever help they needed plus a little extra just in case.

Okies speak to you when you pass them on the street. When a bunch of Okies get in an elevator, they don’t all face the front, they face the middle so they can have a little conversation, no matter whether or not they know each other. Okies still pull over as a sign of respect when they see a funeral procession. Not only do Okies still salute the flag, but they know every word of The Star-Spangled Banner (well, the first verse anyway) and stand up and sing along loudly and badly at the ball game, and will give you the evil eye if you don’t, too. Okies say “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Sir”, in addition to “fixin’ to,” “y’all,” “yeehaw” and “yesireeebob”.

I have a theory about why Okies are the way they are. Native American culture is a big influence here, and just about everybody claims some Indian heritage whether they are on the rolls or not. And the pioneer spirit is also alive and kicking. Both of those cultures relied on connections and interdependence—the neighbors, the tribe. If you were homesteading and a tornado took your house, your neighbors came and helped you build a new one ‘cause if they didn’t, you were gonna die. So I think it’s in our history and our culture and our nature and our blood to look out for one another.

I saw a storyteller here in Oklahoma City probably ten years ago. I can’t remember her name or where she was from, but I remember she was headlining both the storytelling festival and the boat and tackle show. From here, she was heading off to some Scandinavian country. She told the crowd that she was going to wear her Oklahoma City hat and when people asked her about good ol’ OKC, she was gonna tell ‘em:

“The city is spacious,
The people are gracious,
And they throw one hell of a boat and tackle show.”

And that right there just about sums it up, y’all.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Questions, Straight Up, No Answers

There is a new horror movie coming out soon called “The Orphan” and some members of the adoption community are up in arms about it. The story is about a couple who adopt an older child who is “not what she seems” and horror and mayhem ensue. The trailer originally included a line about how it must be difficult to love an adopted child “as much as your own” but the trailer was changed to take out the line after complaints from the adoption community. (And thank goodness! Why does that notion--that you can’t love an adopted child as much as a biological child--persist?)

But I digress...

I have mixed feelings about the whole uproar over “The Orphan”. Typically, it offends me for people to protest a movie they haven’t even seen. I’m all about thinking for yourself, people. If you want to protest a movie based on your own observations, that’s one thing. But to protest a movie because a magazine or your adoption agency or your preacher told you to…I guess I’m just the kind of person who wants to see for myself.

But on the other hand...

There is a huge problem with finding homes for older children who are available for adoption. I am not proud to admit that one of the reasons that we wanted to adopt an infant was because we did not feel equipped to raise a child with attachment disorder or other mental and emotional issues brought on by parental neglect or abuse. So our adoption choices were influenced by negative stereotypes and assumptions. I know we are not the only ones. Is it right for Warner Bros. to put out a movie that perpetuates these negative stereotypes and assumptions?

But then again, if your decision to adopt is negatively influenced by a fictional story, how motivated were you, really, in the first place?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

North to Alaska

So, lucky me! I just returned from a family vacation to Alaska! In addition to Mr. Sweetie and Lil Sweetie, I was accompanied by my FIL, my two SILs, my nephew and my niece. I know for some people, a vacation with the in-laws would be hell on Earth, but I am exceedingly blessed when it comes to Mr. Sweetie's family. I didn't know just how blessed until I spent seven days on a cruise ship with them! After seven days of constant togetherness, we are all still on speaking terms with one's that for family harmony?!

Here is Lil Sweetie in front of our ship.

We started in Seattle.

Our first stop was Juneau, but I did not get many photos there. I wanted to focus on the experience and not on trying to snap the perfect photo, hence the no photos thing. We went on a whale watching tour and were fortunate enough to see 5 whales, including a mom and calf, and a juvenile who played around near the surface for quite a while which gave us a great opportunity to see him and listen to him breathe. So cool! We also saw bald eagles and seals.

Next stop was Skagway, where we took a train up into Canada on Canada Day. (How cool is that?!) As you can see, it was gorgeous up there!

Can't you just imagine that cool, clear air?

I really want to go back. Immediately. I mean RIGHT NOW.

We also went to a place called Liarsville, which is set up like a gold mining camp. We got to pan for gold. Alas, Mr. Sweetie and I are going to have to come up with a new plan for retirement. Lil Sweetie scored enough gold to pay for seven minutes of college.

Next, we toured Glacier Bay. The water was the most wonderful shade of milky blue, and although I tried and tried, none of my pictures did the color of the water justice. They say the milkiness is due to the silt coming off the glaciers. We spent a lot of that day just hanging around our balcony, enjoying the beautiful views. Cruising out of Glacier Bay, we saw and heard a bunch of seals, and a whale breached near our ship.

Guess where our next stop was? You'll never guess. Go ahead, try!

We just walked around and shopped. One little shopping area was called Creek Street. Guess why?

Lil Sweetie tried on hats at The House of Negotiable Affection.

I just love me some boats at harbor. Yummy!

I warned Lil Sweetie not to hug the bears in Alaska, but alas, I forgot to tell her not to let the moose hug her.
Our final stop was Victoria, British Columbia. I wish we had stayed there longer. It was a lovely town. Unfortunately, the ship sails at the appointed time with or without you, and we chose "with".

Sunset over Victoria, B.C.
We ended up back in Seattle, and had just enough time to visit Pike Place Market before heading back to Oklahoma.

It was a wonderful trip!