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!