Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Name Game

Recently, some friends of ours gave us a book "What NOT to name your baby" We are having a lot of fun flipping through it and reading what names are not recommended and why.....

The sad part is this: many of the names on my short list for our future son are in this book.

Clearly, my judgment is not to be trusted when it comes to names.

And so, I turn to you, friends in bloggerland, for help (and amusement)....

How about we indulge in a friendly round or two of the name game?

1.What are your favorite boy names?

2. What are your least favorite boy names?

3. What name would you absolutely NEVER name a child because it reminds you of someone that you detest?

4. What name are you fond of because it reminds you of someone you love?

Further thoughts on Transracial Adoption

Before I get into the topic of this particular post, let me first say thank you to all of you who took the time to share your thoughts on my previous post. You all have given me a lot to think about, and I cannot express how much I appreciate your advice and input.

Below are some concluding thoughts on this topic (at least for now, who knows what I might think up in the afraid, be very afraid!)

R and I have been involved with a local families with children from Asia group for the last two years (attending last year's and this year's Chinese New Year Party) and are optimistic that being a part of this group will be an enjoyable experience for years to come-both for us, and for our child(ren). We also live about three hours away from an urban area that has a large asian (mostly Hmong) population as well as a large hispanic population. Given that we have close friends who live in this area (not to mention it is the closest city to us that has decent shopping!), we will be intentional about attending the many multi-cultural kid centered events available there. We are also aware that we need to be careful to not follow our child(ren)'s lead in regards to how much, how often, and to what extent we engage in cultural and adoption related activities and events. Of course, we will incorporate our child's birth culture into our lives as much as possible in the ways of books, art, music, food, etc.

Fortunately, we have the blessing and pleasure to have met a local family who has 11 children adopted from China, Bulgaria, and Vietnam: the children from Vietnam were adopted at a "older" age, and retain a love for the culture as well as having retained some of the language...these children are excited to know we are adopting from Vietnam and we hope to create stronger friendship ties with this family as time goes on (we met at the FCA CNY party this year).

While still not the ideal held up by the "experts in the field", we are reasonably confident that, all things considered, we are in the best place possible for us to be at this time. I take comfort in responses such as E (go click on "Looking for George" and read her post on this topic- I am too technically ignorant to put the link in the blog itself) reminding me to take a common sense approach to this issue and to not lose sight of the big picture- the primary importance being our children's needs and being, for lack of a better term, a "happy family."

**Oh, and one final question in relation to this topic: anyone have any experience or knowledge about culture camps? Do you plan on attending one? Why, or why not?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Transracial Adoption- Food for Thought

Excerpt from The Morality of Adoption: Social-Psychological, Theological, and Legal Perspectives:

"We must acknowledge, however, that a critical consciousness about race and racism has to be learned. It is possible, and is indeed quite common, for White people to grow up in the United States with little or no contact with people of color, no suggestion that social reality is perceived differently from social locations other than their own, and/or no awareness that racism still operates at multiple levels in contemporary society. In fact, many of the messages aimed at Whites in mainstream public discourse support and foster the view that racial inequality was eradicated by the civil rights movement, and that the United States is a "color blind" society....When transracially adoptive parents take the opportunity to educate themselves and their children, to (re) locate their families to racially diverse communities, and to grapple with the sticky, often painful, issues that arise in multicultural families, their children benefit tremendously. Indeed, this is a critical factor for transracial adoptees. [ p86]

Hmmm.....I admit that I am one of the many "Whites" who grew up in the type of community the author refers to in the above excerpt. And, having moved back to the area where I grew up, our child(ren) will grow up in a similiar environment. The primary difference, of course, between my experience growing up in an almost exculsively white, rural area and his (theirs) is glaring obvious: they will grow up in this area being a non-white person.

I would be lying if I said I do not worry about the effect (consequences?) of growing up in this area may/will have on our child(ren).

I would also be lying if I said that I am willing to relocate to a more racially diverse area. I accept that it is probably the best thing to do (the above author is not the first to point out the benefits of relocating to a more racially diverse area).....but to do so would require a tremendous amount of sacrifice and plain ole good luck. Doing so would also require moving away from mother, sister, brother in law, niece, nephew, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends- familial and social relationships that I believe are also vitally important relationships for our child)ren).

The question I struggle with is this: Do the benefits of relocating to a more racially diverse area outweigh the benefits of living in a community in which there exists an extended kinship network as well as significant social ties - i.e. the "village" it takes to raise a child? (ahem. this is not intended to open up a discussion of Hilary Clinton- who, by the way, was not the first to use such terms in relationship to the societal/communal obligations to its collective children)

Am I being selfish for not wanting to relocate? Am I putting my own comfort (i.e. wanting to stay close to family/friends here) over my future child(ren)'s well being?

What do you think? Do you live in a similiar "non-diverse" community? If so, what have you done (or, for PAP's, what do you intend to do) to foster connections to the ethnic roots/community of your child's birth culture?

If you live in a racially diverse community, what are the benefits you (and/or your child) have experienced as a result of having access to cultural and racial diversity? How often do you actually interact with "people of color" and/or other transracial adoptive families?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Musings on Adoption and Attachment

Before I delve into my latest "deep thoughts" (ha, you laugh, but you may be surprised, every once and awhile I do have some deep thoughts!) I want to thank everyone for their wonderful, insightful, and helpful comments on my previous post concerning adopting two related children at one time. I find it tremendously helpful to hear your advice and thoughts- truthfully, I feel blessed to have connected with all of you in adoption blogger land.

Ok, ready for my "deep thoughts" of the week? Drum roll please..the topic of the week is attachment and adoption. A popular topic in adoption land, to be sure. We have all heard advice, read articles, read books, and chatted with others about how to encourage attachment in adopted children. Yet, what I worry about is something that isn't talked about much at all, and if it is, it is talked about in hushed tones: the feelings of unattachement that PAP's might feel upon finally arriving at that big day when their child is placed in their arms and is finally and truly and forever their child, only to discover that the happy ever after fantasy that they have nurtured and indulged for oh so many months is not turning into a hard and fast reality.

I am as guilty as anyone in that I don't like to think that anything other than the Disney fantasy I have constructed is even remotely possible. Surely all the longing, planning, decision making, and fanciful dreams of being the perfect mother of the perfect child in the perfect family can result in nothing less than a made for Hollywood ending: I will fall madly and instantly in love with our child, he will fall madly and instantly in love with me and we, along with R, will be the poster family for the wonderous miracle that is adoption. Surving the wait alone should be more than enough effort to gaurantee that ending!

A nagging voice in my head keeps me from jumping in to this fantasy with both feet: "ah kel, are you being realistic here? how can you be sure that being madly in love with the idea of this baby will automatically translate into being madly in love with the actual child? What about all the blogs you have read written by those few brave souls who dare to admit that they are not yet in love with their child, what about the blogs you have read about that horror of horrors- disruption? Don't you remember the night you stayed up until one a.m. (which reminds me, you really should question your tendency to be OCD sometimes) reading a blog by a woman who disrupted the adoption of her toddler daughter after being home six months? What about that?"

That nagging voice in my head (read: conscience, rational mind, anything but a real voice, cuz that would make me shizophrenic, which I can assure you, of the many things I am, I am not that) can be a real downer. Cruel, really, to drag me back from the precipice of my disney adoption fantasy.

So, the reality is this: it is possible, perhaps even likely, that I will not fall madly and deeply in love with our child upon first sight. It is possible that while I may love the idea of our child, It may take me awhile to love the actual child. It is also possible that I will have to "fake it until I make it"..that love is, as my theology professors are want to say, found and expressed by actions- not in feelings. I must (and I will, never fear) choose to love this child and have patience that the feelings will follow. But I suffer under no illusions that this process will feel good to me. If, by chance, the Disney fantasy does not evolve into a fast and hard reality, and I have to work at attaching/bonding with our baby, I suspect, and fearfully so, that it is going to be hard work. If, as they say, there is such a thing as "Post Adoption Blues", I had better prepare myself for experiencing it.

Yes, I know, I sound like Winnie-the-Pooh's gloom and doom buddy Eeyore ("looks like its gonna rain again"). On the other hand, if I pretend that I do not have these concerns and worries, how much harder is it going to be for me to talk about it if I do not have the Disney fantasy come true? And if I do not feel I can talk about it- out of shame, embarrasment, fear of ridicule by others - then I will be at further risk of despair by the simple fact that I have isolated myself by the very act of indulging in the disney fantasy so much that I have refused to consider there are other ways in which this "story" can go. If the dreadful "IT" occurs, I want to at least be able to talk about it with others- with all of you.

I have just finished reading Theresa Reid's book "Two Little Girls: a memoir of adoption." It is in part due to her candor about her struggle to attach to their second daughter adopted from Russia that has given me the "permission" to consider the possibility that I might struggle with attaching to our child. Indulge me for a moment and consider the following passage from Reid's narrative:

"I wonder: When will I care? When will I want to spend eternity with Lana as much as I do with Natalie? This is an extension of the question I have asked myself every night: When will I be compelled to go into her room and gaze in wonder at her sleeping form? When will I want to kneel by the side of her bed in the dark, drinking in her sweet warm smells, moving damp hair off of her face, kissing her precious flushed cheek?" [Reid, p258]

Reid, does, in the end, reach that point where she does fall deeply, madly in love with Lana. Near the end of her story, Reid muses:
" It is amazing, how the universe steered us toward this particular little girl- through a maze of baffling obstacles and our own human obtuseness and hesitation, steered us toward the perfect little girl for our family. It's enough to make a believer out of you." [Reid, p268]

The floor is now open for questions, comments, snide remarks.... Have you thought about the possiblity that your "happily ever after" might not come automatically? For those of you who have encountered some shape or form of "post-adoption-blues" and/ or struggled with not "falling madly, instantly in love with your child", how have you dealt with it? Have you felt safe talking about it with others? If any of you were to encounter difficulty in attaching with your child, would you feel safe to talk about it, or would you be too ashamed to admit that you did not have the Disney Fantasy Adoption that we all dream about?

Oh, and if you think I have gone completely off my rocker and have now entered into the land of the deranged OCD'er, say that as well. It won't hurt my feelings (much), although I can't garuantee that I wont obsess over the possibility that I am over-obsessing. ha.