Judged

Ok, ok, so this may be the sickest post I have ever posted.

Yes, I have erased my child’s face…just to prove a point.

Periodically I leave Zoe’s hair down and natural. It is beautiful, so beautiful in fact, my partner and I joke before going out in public and ask each other, “Do you want an average day of compliments or do you want an over the top day?” Over the top means we are goin’ natural. Meaning, every white woman we come into contact with, as well as every white man, will GUSH over Zoe’s hair and how beautiful and healthy and stunning it is.

BUT

I will run into judgement when I enter the black community. Case in point, the mall…

I felt judged by every black woman I passed at the mall this weekend with Zoe and her natural hair. I hear the whispers. I hear the comments they make to each other about me, “THAT baby’s hair ought to be in BRAIDS!”

And I ask, WHY?

Naturally beautiful

Advertisements

S. Street Does it Again!

Hey Where’d this Black Kid Come From?

Hey kid! What'd ya never see a black kid before?

There is this thing I have been noticing. I cannot help but observe behaviors, it’s what I do. Usually it is in dogs but I have found this weird parallel between dogs and kids…anyway…so far this is not one of those times…

Where we live it is a pretty mixed neighborhood. Our block has many children, all white but the block to the south of is has many black children. And my children go to a day care at a very mixed race college so 50% of their friends at school are black. But I notice that many of the places we frequent do not have many black kids. And I notice this thing go on and can’t tell if it is a black thing or not.

Let me describe:

There is an indoor kids playground we go to that we call the BBY. It is in the burbs and usually we have the only two black kids, sometimes there is one other black kid. But there were some kids playing in a playhouse, about 3 of them, Carter walked in and they stopped and just stared at him. Now, I don’t know if they all knew each other and they were looking at him, like “Hey, who is this kid? We don’t know him.” or if they were stopped dead in their tracks because he is black.

I have noticed it many times, just cannot recall them all right now.

Then there was our Day out With Thomas up in Green Bay, WI. Hardly any other black children were there and when I got to my computer to look at the pictures from the day I spotted the “look” I am talking about.

What do you think? Is that just a look kids give each other or is that a, “Hey, where’d this black kid come from? look?

What Would You Do?

Here’s a little game I like to play from time to time called, “What Would You Do?”
All completely hypothetical (wink wink)…

Todays, WWYD…

What would you do if your foster daughter came home from a visit with her birth mom (first visit in over a month).

And your daughter is 18 months old…

And it is 36 degrees out and snowing…

That's right size 4! Reminder daughter is 18 months old

Reminder today in Wisconsin it is 36 degrees and snowing

Who Do You Think You Are?

On Oprah today she had a great show about geneology and a new shoe starting friday called, “Who Do You Think You Are?” where celebs trace their ancestry. It got me thinking more about my children’s ancestry. Every now and then I go back to the medical/family history report that the birthparents filled out with Childrens Services. Everytime I read it I swear I pick up something new.

I started to trace the kids family tree and now I think going as far back as I can might become a new obsession of mine. But then, what do I do with it? I guess it’s one of those things I just hang on to until they are old enough and mature enough to want or handle the info.

So far from what I can tell is that they have 3 other full siblings (besides themselves) and 8 half siblings.

Looks like I would have a lot of tracing to do. And they have all been adopted which means their names are changed.

Oiy…

Imaginary Conversations with Birth Mom Today…and Biological vs Civil Right to Parent

Z was supposed to have a visit with birth mom today. And we had a scheduled CST meeting. I knew there was no way mom would make it to both meetings. Because, well, when you are jobless and have NOTHING to do all day it is really hard to make it across town in an hour and a half…

yeah, that’s sarcasm

Once I knew she did not make her court appointed visit (second week in a row. Last week she cancelled because it was “too cold”. For who? This is Wisconsin. You mean you get the option of opting out of “parenting” when it is cold?) I started having all these conversations in my head about what I would say to her if she was at the CST meeting or if she came late which is usually what she does.

My big conversation would have been like this, (after she walks in her usual 30 minutes to hour late):

“I’m sorry, but in the world I live in, the real world we need to be places on time. The world does not wait for us to arrive. If you have a sick kid and a Doctors appointment at 3:00pm and you show up at 3:20, guess what? You no longer have an appointment…and your sick kid does not get seen. I know it’s hard for you, being responsible for just yourself and all. YOUR only responsibilities are to:

  1. Wake up on time
  2. Participate in some type of hygiene
  3. Get to your appointment on time

My responsibilities include:

  1. Waking up on time
  2. showering, brushing teeth, getting dressed
  3. getting my children milk
  4. getting children changed and dressed
  5. getting children fed
  6. letting dogs out
  7. feeding dogs
  8. getting kids out the door and to day care
  9. working a full time job
  10. dragging my ass to the ghetto to go to a CST meeting that YOU arrive late to!

Yeah, I was bitter today. I was not in a good place. I get so wound up over this, I want to be done with this. Two years with this family and I have about had it. Granted I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about them so I can tell the kids quite a bit about the people who brought them to us…even some good things.

My whole tirade brought me to a philosophy that will cause me to now piss off a lot of readers (if I even have a lot of readers)…

Light bulb moment….Having children is a biological right NOT a Civil Right…this is my new opinion…hear me out…

We require people to get a license to operate a car. We make them prove they can financially purchase the car (if you get a loan etc.). We make them have insurance before they can drive. We make them prove in a written test and by physically operating a car that they can adequately drive a car safely. We make them learn the rules of the road. And if you are medically unsound, you cannot operate a car.

All because a car can be considered a “deadly weapon”, something that could cause someone else great bodily harm.

BUT there is NO test, no license to prove you can parent.

WHY NOT?

Why do we wait until something BAD happens for ‘ services to step in? What IF, instead of Home Economics in high school, you had to take a few serious parenting classes. And I’m not talking, the “keep your egg alive” crap here. That you had to get a license to parent. And if you did not, BAM children’s services takes your kid at birth.

Thats what I call early intervention. Because I am really sick of the state fighting for ‘parents’ civil rights to their kids. Because really, they likely never were a ‘parent’ to begin with. And I think once we got all convoluted in our thinking that just because our bodies CAN reproduce (our biological right) that we should fight to protect the parents rights before we fight to protect the childs rights.

DO YOU HAVE ANY idea how expensive it is for a state to go through the ‘ services route with a family? The number of professionals, lawyers, specialists, assistance that is provided? Do you know how long kids are left in limbo?

I know, I know, people are going to get all “But we need to be careful because the state could just come in and take our kids from us. There is nothing to stop them from making us a victim…blah blah big brother,blah blah.”

Bullshit! Children’s services does not take children for no reason. They do not have the money to do what they do now…they don’t work on commission, “Hey, Betty…how many babies did you detain today? ‘Seven!’ Wow, you totally are going to get the big bonus this month!” They are under paid, highly stressed people. Who want nothing less than to enter someones house and detain their “child”.

And I  am grateful to the birth mother of my kids, because out of her loss I gained. That whole paradox is still hard to grasp. But I think there are a whole lot of children who would be better off if we all had to be licensed like I do.

I have a license in my file cabinet that proves that my house is warm and safe. That I have utilities, running water, heat. That I have a refrigerator and food in it. That I have safe cribs for my kids to sleep in. That I have smoke detectors in every bedroom and on every floor of my house. That my closets and basements and garage have been inspected (every month for two years) to make sure I do not have exotic pets or torture devices in them. That I am emotionally, physically and financially able to provide. That I have insurance on my car. That I have health insurance for myself and my children. That my pets are all current on their rabies vaccinations. That I have a fire extinguisher. That I have emergency numbers posted. That I have locking bathroom doors. That I have bedrooms at least 8×8 wide for the children to sleep in. That I have a planned and mapped evacuation route for our house.

And I am not complaining…because really? Shouldn’t we ALL? You mean providing the above type of home is not on everyone’s list of “must do” or “must have”?

Driving a car is a privilege not a right.

Being a parent should be the same way!

Black/White It’s Alright

There is a blog I follow (what’s the word for a blog “friend”?) www.rageagainsttheminivan.com and today she posted about an experience her black boys had on the basketball court, they are 2 and 5 years old. This stirs up so many feelings for me as a mother of two african american (black, really because they are not african, they have no immediate african ancestry) adoptive children. I posted awhile back about a run in I had at Gymboree (I Had a Moral Obligation). And today reading this blog stirs it all up for me again.

You see, I see things like this happen already. We are blessed because our day care the children attend is an awesome day care on the campus my partner teaches at. It is also smack dab in the heart of downtown, and has a large african american population. So our children have  very mixed classrooms. But, we take our kids to so many places and have seen the looks.

There is a mall in Thousand Oaks, CA we go to quite a bit, it has an indoor tot area. We love to let the kids run some crazies out there. And I can see the parents look at our kids and then scan the area for the “black parents” that must belong to these kids. I can then almost see the sigh of relief when they realize we belong with them. It’s like they say, “Oh, good! The are adopted by white people, it’s ok.” But then, there is the added judgement that gets thrown in when they realize they are adopted by two lesbians…

I have parents wonder who our kids parents are at the children’s museum, and are always kind of shocked when its us. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people endlessly scanning the room when there are no african americans in it, wondering where the parents that belong to these children went.

I have run into children who say, “Is that your son?” When I say, “Yes” they say, “Cool”. I have run into kids who have said to Carter, “where is your mom?” When Carter points to me, he said, “Where?” Carter just kept pointing to me and then the little boy said, “The white one” to which Carter is just too young to understand that question. Staci ran into a child at one of the playgrounds who said, “Is that your little boy?” And when Staci said, “Yes” she said, “Oh, he looks like you.” Which is hilarious!

What to do? I worry about it a lot, our kids being ridiculed for not only being black but also adopted AND by lesbians to boot.

According to the 2000 Census over 46% of the children being raised by same sex couples are children of color. This gives me hope because according to a study done by Ellen Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, that studied and followed more than 500 children to adulthood that were raised by same sex couples, found that children of same sex couples do just as well as those raised by heterosexuals. But more astounding to me are these findings;

  • “There are interesting suggestions that these children are more tolerant of differences.”
  • “The children of lesbian couples also appeared to be less aggressive, more nurturing to peers, more tolerant of diversity, and more androgynous,” playing with toys for both boys and girls.

So, yes, it is up to us. To make the differences, to prepare our children for the world they are in. To think that the large majority of children being raised by same sex couples are of color and will be raised in an environment that is more tolerant of differences, less aggressive, more nurturing and diverse is so very hopeful and positive. Shame on others who are not raising their children as accepting.

We talk about it now with our kids. We say, “Carter, look at your beautiful black skin.” “Mommy is white, Carter and Zoe are black, Isa (one of their friends from Guatemala) is brown. And it’s ok. Everyone is different.” We talk about being adopted. They get none of this yet. But the point is, it will be their normal. It will not be foreign or scary. And it shouldn’t be. We talk about their hair and how beautiful it is, coarse and curly. As much as combing Zoe’s hair is a major battle and struggle in our home, I do not ever want her to feel that she has “bad” hair.

I know that Carter will also have greater difficulties because he is darker than his sister Zoe. The fact that I worry about them is a good thing, it is not a paralyzing fear but rather a cautionary fear that moves me to action. It moves me to make every encounter count. Every encounter with other children that are different  a learning experience and a positive one.