Trusting Grandma

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author: Marcy Payne

She was five days old when we got the call that she had been born. After a brief run-down of her medical history we were asked if we would be Belle’s parents. Her Birth Mother had chosen us as the ones she wanted as her baby’s parents but, because she had given birth before she could tell the Social Worker, we weren’t notified until our daughter had been born and in the hospital for the subsequent days.

Birth Mom had left the hospital when Belle was just a day old. I am fairly certain this was not an easy thing for her to do, but I have always wondered how she could just leave her baby all alone with only the busy nurses to hold her every once in a while.

We have never met her, but we have met her parents. We call them Grandma and Grandpa C. Her parents are dear people who love our Belle and are eager to hear from us and get the pictures we send. For nine years, I have always sent the pictures and letters to their home and know that they will get to the right place. Often, I have stated that we would love to hear from Birth Mom but have never gotten anything from her. Grandma C does tell us every year that her daughter appreciates seeing Belle grow up through pictures.

A couple of years ago, Grandma C asked if it would be ok if Birth Mom could email us. I told her that it would be fine but that she would have to communicate with me instead of Belle for now. I wanted to filter anything that could be troubling for Belle. We never heard from her. I admit I was nervous about how it would go, but I was willing to take a chance.

This year, I was very late in sending pictures and a letter. Grandma called me and asked how we were. She mentioned that she would love some pictures if we could send some. I told her how sorry I was that I had not done that yet. This was an indicator to me how important it was for me to get pictures and letters to all of our birth families. I asked her if Birth Mom would like to email at all, since it had been mentioned previously. She told me that it was probably not a good time in her life to be in contact. I sensed sadness and acceptance in her voice. I told her that I trusted that she would know when the time was right and let me know if anything changed. Unfortunately, a history instability and substance use was still an issue.

Belle is getting more curious about her origins, especially knowing that there is a full biological sibling still with Birth Mom. What a complicated thing for a child to process! I am so very thankful that we have an open relationship with the Grandparents though. We couldn’t have asked for nicer people to be in contact with. I answer the questions that I can and tell her that we can ask Grandma C if she would like to have more answers. This year, Belle sent a picture that she had drawn, to her Birth Mom.

Someday, I am sure we will wade through reunion and contact and I am fairly certain that it will be a bumpy road. With contact already established with Grandma and Grandpa C, it will not be as awkward as I know some reunions can be. I just pray that I will “let go” when I need to and know when that time is right to establish a connection that could be tumultuous.

Marcia is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife, who rarely stays home and doesn’t act at all like a pastor’s wife. She and her husband, Richard, are blessed to parent four children, all of whom came through the miracle of adoption. Two were adopted through private domestic adoption and two through the Foster-to-Adopt program with the Alberta Government. Marcia likes to blog about their life adventures at Love my Life and The Irreverent Reverend’s Wife. She is an aspiring writer and speaker. Marcia is a regular contributor to Adoption Magazine.

The Promise Box Giveaway

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I received this book for no cost in order to complete a review. All opinions are completely my own.

The Promise Box Giveaway on Adoption MagazineThe Promise Box is a novel that takes place in an Amish community in Montana. I did a full review of the book over on my family blog The Chaos and The Clutter (and am giving away four copies over there if you would like to increase your odds and enter over there as well) but I thought my readers over here might be interested in this book as well because it has an adoption subplot so I am giving away one copy over here.

I liked how the book tackled some of the more difficult aspects of adoption such as secrecy and the pain it causes, searching, reunion, and painful truths. Tricia Goyer (the author of The Promise Box) is an adoptive parent herself and I feel that she handled the hard issues well. I enjoyed the book immensely.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

No purchase is necessary to enter or win. Facebook is in no way affiliated with this giveaway. By entering this contest, you agree to not hold Facebook responsible. The winner will be notified by email within 24 hours of the giveaway’s closing and must reply within 48 hours or another winner will be selected.

Happy Birthday Dave Thomas!

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Happy Birthday Dave Thomas

July 2 is Dave Thomas’ birthday. He passed away in 2002 but his legacy continues to impact children and families because of his work to shine a spotlight on adoption from foster care. Dave Thomas was the founder of Wendy’s and had been adopted himself when he was just 6 months old.

He established the Dave Thomas Foundation in 1992 which promotes adoption in Canada and the United States. Dave spoke to Congress about adoption tax credits and adoption legislation and created public awareness campaigns. His vision was to ensure that every child had a safe and loving family.

The Dave Thomas Foundation continues to provide information, resources, public services announcements, adoption grants, and awareness campaigns. They began the Adoption Friendly Workplace and each year, their television special A Home for the Holidays shines a spotlight on kids who are waiting in foster care and has been responsible for finding homes for children who would otherwise likely never have had a permanent family.

Today, we celebrate the life of a man who has forever changed the world of adoption and has impacted many lives. Happy Birthday Dave Thomas!

Veronica Rose Supreme Court Decision

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I will post more specifics later but I know there are people who have been watching this case very closely and I wanted to let you know that a decision in the Veronica Rose case has been handed down by the Supreme Court in favour of the adoptive parents. You can read the specifics here.

I know that this has been a very heated and controversial case and that emotions are high on all sides so I will not be publishing any of the comments on this post. I ask that you join me in praying for Veronica and ALL of her family…that includes her biological family and her adoptive family. Veronica will have a big transition ahead of her and it will not be easy so I ask for your sensitivity and for your prayers for her.

Hair Confessions of an Adoptive Mama

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While we were waiting to pick our daughter up from Ethiopia, I couldn’t wait to start doing her hair. In fact, I brought beads and snaps and styling creams and moisturizers with me to Africa and started on her hair the day that I arrived. By the time we got back home, her hair was braided and beaded and I was feeling quite proud of myself!

Thanks to my friend Denise and helpful sites such as Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care, I went on to learn how to do rope twists and yarn braids. I even managed to put in some pretty great looking flat rope twists a few times, which was as close as I ever came to mastering how to cornrow, a skill that to this day eludes me.

When we would go out and people would ask my daughter who did her hair, I would swell with pride when she answered, “my mommy did”.

And then life happened. The past year has not been kind or easy to our family. A series of little and big crises led to me getting behind in everything in my world. That included paperwork, housework, appointments, homeschooling, self-care, blogging, work, and Dancing Queen’s hair care. All of it became a weight on me, a stress that I carried around and contributed to my feelings of failure as I got further and further behind in everything.

Dancing Queen’s hair care was put on the back burner and became a vicious cycle as when I got behind in it, it became so horribly knotted that detangling took hours and was painful for her. When actively working with a child on attachment issues, inflicting pain on them does not bode well for strengthening that relationship. I began to dread these detangling sessions. Her hair was also becoming thicker and courser with age and as the time in between hair sessions extended, the detangling took longer and longer and then after spending literally hours just doing the detangling, I was left with no time to style it.

It was becoming embarrassing to go in public with her as now when people asked who did her hair, I would cringe when she said “my mommy”. I was at a birthday party a few months ago and a black hairdresser was there and before I realized she was a hairdresser, she was asking me about Dancing Queen’s hair and I was making apologies for its in-between state (half in very frayed twists and half down waiting to be detangled). When she gave me her business card and suggested somewhat tactfully but not subtly that I bring Dancing Queen into her shop, I wanted to crawl into the floorboards and disappear.

Another bi-product of not styling her hair is that I took less pictures of her or cropped off the top of her hair in the pictures. I don’t even have a good example photo to show here of how bad things got.

My friends Rachel and Denise helped out with her hair in the past year when they could but they both have their own daughters’ hair to do.

Dancing Queen’s hair began to become a fairly significant source of stress. I put off doing it because she began to hate it so much she would complain and ask me not to comb it, but putting it off only compounded the problem.

I was literally losing sleep thinking about what to do with her hair. It was taking me more time to think about how to fix it than it was taking to do her hair.

As things in my life got busier and busier, I began to think about where I could cut out some non-essentials and even still, I refused to consider taking drastic measures when it came to Dancing Queen’s hair. And my stress level grew. And instead of loving her beautiful hair, I began to resent the time it was robbing me of. Where a few years earlier, I had seen hair time as a special bonding time between us, it came to represent something much more negative. She begging me not to detangle her hair and I was feeling upset at her reactions.

When I had cut out of my schedule as many things as I could and still did not have enough hours in a day, in a week, in a month…when I began to insist that she wear hats when we went out in public…when I had actual nightmares about braiding and beading and twists, I knew it was time to let it go. For now.

There may be a time when she and I can again bond while doing her hair. There may come a time when I decide to take her in to someone else to have her hair done (her attachment issues don’t allow for that option at the moment). But now is the time to let the hair and the guilt go.

thanks to Denise for patiently cutting her hair

When you are a transracial adoptive mom, there is a lot of pressure when it comes to the hair care. You feel pressure to maintain your child’s culture and to be sure that they are in an ethnically diverse environment. You feel pressure to prove that you can be competent at caring for their skin and hair and when you fail at that, there is tremendous guilt that results.

Natural hair care is time consuming and doesn’t come naturally to this white mama and I do think that it is my responsibility to learn to do it so that I can teach my daughter to take care of her hair. But there are other things right at this moment in time that are more critical to teach her.

I am letting myself off the hook (for now). I know that my daughter currently has other needs that are more pressing than having perfect braids. I am meeting her very critical need for therapy and attachment work and for things like food, shelter, attention, and love. I am also providing culturally relevant experiences for her. Right now, hair care will not be among them.

I am imperfect as a mom and certainly as an adoptive mom but I confess that right now, I will not be styling my daughter’s hair. And I’m moving towards being okay with that.

As for Dancing Queen, she is rocking the new ‘do! She loves it and loves the compliments it is getting her. I am able to keep it moisturized and looking healthier and she has been wanting to wear headbands and pretty dresses (she has never liked wearing dresses before). She has decided that she likes this look for summer and we are both relieved not to have any marathon detangling sessions in our near future!