Thursday, December 30, 2010
We take all 3 boys to the barber school for a number of reasons: 1.It's $5! 2. There a mostly black men for Etienne and Zeke to hang with 3. It's $5!!!! Last Thursday was no exception. We've been going to the same barber school for over a year now, and they've been so kind and helpful to teach us how to properly (and respectfully) care for the boys' hair. Etienne had an older man, probably in his late 50s, cut his hair this trip. Etienne LOVES any attention to his hair, which is partly the reason for the 'fro, because it's high maintanence. The moment E sat in this man's chair, the criticism started. First it was that we don't cut his hair frequently enough, then that we should just choose a style already, and finally that Etienne wouldn't cry if he wasn't afraid of getting his hair combed. Etienne was crying, sobbing, because the man was pulling roughly and raising his voice at us. The comments started vaguely but worked their way to saying that we don't know how to care for our son and it's my fault he is crying. By this point, I was forehead to forehead with E, covered in hair, praying and singing to him. I mostly tuned the man out, but I could definately feel every eye in the place on me. I left ashamed, angry and in tears. It was clear that this man believed a white woman has no business with a black son. After a good cry, Ryan convinced me that I needed to let his superviser know what happened. We spoke later, and I hadn't a word out before he said "I've seen your HAPPY Son and I was afraid of what I was witnessing today. I so sorry that you felt judged." His apology was genuine and it comforted me. As a friend said later, "God cares even about hair cuts." He used a horribly hateful experience as a bonding moment for Etienne and I as we cried together. He gave me the opportunity to talk to Molly and Blake about it (they saw the whole thing) and we prayed for that man's hurt/hate. So we tried for lemonade. I am wondering how other transracial families deal with this. Do we boycott the place or show up again with forgiveness? Should I have addressed his racism? I hope that with my actions I displayed only love for my son and that that man saw a new perspective in what defines family. (PS, for the record, the teacher said E's hair was the "healthiest in the joint."
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I confess, I watched the season finale of "16 and Pregnant," (again, don't judge) because Adoptive Family Magazine had given it praise on it's reflection of adoption. That was a mistake. Ryan found me in bed, crying under the flannels, overcome with grief. MTV didn't glamorize teen pregnancy and their reflection of a birth mom's decisions was respectful and totally pro-adoption. The truth is, the show made me feel like I have not given Etienne and Zeke's birth moms enough thought or grief. Two years ago, when we were waiting for a referral, I said random prayers for our birth moms. A year ago, when we were just trying to survive moment to moment, I never thought about those women in Rwanda. Now, after being home 15 months with E and Zeke, I can't even think about that last moment without aching. How that would have felt to set your child down; knowing you would never feel them or smell their breath or hear them cry again. That the life you had forced you to walk away. Not long ago, a woman from our church, who has a heart for God and I love dearly, said something along the lines of "that will be hard for the boys to know that their mother couldn't love them enough to keep them." It was like a punch in the stomach. I guess I just assumed that people in my generation understood that the act of placing a child in adoption is the most sacrifical gift of love a parent could give. I realized that our duty to our 2 birth moms in East Africa will never end. I will defend their love for my boys until everyone gets what love they have.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Blake: "Hey, Mama, I'm pretty sure when I was in your stomach and you ate food, it landed on my head." Etienne: "ME TOO! When I was in in your tummy!" Me (in my head, ohmygosh, this conversation is actually happening!!): "Buddy, you weren't ever in my tummy, just in my heart. There was a lady in Rwanda that had you in her tummy and she wanted me to be your mama." Zeke: "That's a good idea!!"
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
We have had over a week of mostly NORMAL behavior with Etienne! I am going to share our plan of attack (don't judge) only because I am keenly aware of the other sweet Rwandan kiddos out there they may just be getting over the Honeymoon phase of being adopted. To catch up, Etienne had previously been potty trained. Over the summer, he digressed big time with a lot of attachment issues. One of them being peeing and/or pooping in his underwear. He reserved this joy for mama only. After a lot of prayer and some advice from professionals, we decided to continue to put him in underwear but each time he peed/pooed we took away ALL big boy privledges. We decided not to discipline but to tell him how much we loved him and if he needed to do baby behavior, then he would have to do baby sleeping/activities, etc. The other trick that we have had great results with is that we have held him or worn him on our back immediately after each discipline. Pulling him in rather than letting him return to what he was previously doing. Please know that I am fully aware that I am not an expert or do I think we have it figured out. We have NO IDEA what we are doing. That is the beauty of letting God lead. He has put some resources in our pocket and we have totally let go of any parenting instinct we thought we had. It is a crazy ride that is giving us a few more awesome days and less time crying in the pantry.