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Where is her Real Mommy?

03/06/2014

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Where is her real mommy?

I knew questions like this would come but it still caught me off guard. The three year old girl didn’t ask me directly; it was a question for her mom who was telling me later—and perhaps also asking. We’re loose acquaintances so she doesn’t know our story. That mom had suggested to her daughter that she ask Alianna. I told her Ali wouldn’t know how to answer that question. I left it at that. I could have said so much more and I’ve been mulling over what I should have or could have said for hours now.

The question bothers me partly because of the word real. Anyone who knows about adoption etiquette knows that’s a buzz word. I’m her real mom. Her biological mom is her real mom. Neither of us is fake or pretend. We’ve both very real and we’ve both very mom. Alianna is my real daughter and we’re a real family. It also bothers me a bit that this mother and daughter discussed the possible reasons for Ali’s adoption… “Maybe her real mom was sick.” The answer to this question is too complicated for a three year old and too personal for a loose acquaintance.

I’m pretty gracious with adoption questions and I don’t expect everyone to have the right words to use. However, the reason this poorly-worded, intrusive question made me sick to my stomach was the thought of a three year old peer asking it to my two year old daughter. Ali is confident and out-going but she would have no idea how to answer this question in 2.5 year old terms. I hate to think that it would give her a moment of panic… Is my mom not real? Is she not my real mom? Is she lost?

The three year old girl must be observing that often families match skin and hair colors. (Or has someone pointed it out to her?) We were in a fairly diverse setting but apparently transracial families and adoptive families are not common in her circles. I asked Ali later if she’s noticed that we don’t look alike—that she has brown skin and black curly hair and mommy has lighter skin—I stopped myself there because the look she was giving me said, No kidding. Why would or should we look alike?  I might as well have been asking if she’s noticed the sky is blue and the grass is green. Then I realized that adoptive and transracial families are very common in our lives. It’s probably never crossed her might that we “should” look alike. There is nothing unusual about her family from her perspective at this point in her life.

Since I’ve been over-analyzing this conversation, I’ve come up with a response for this three year old girl in preschool terms. Here it goes:

I am Ali’s real mommy. She had a different mommy before me. She grew in her first mommy’s tummy. Her birth mommy loved Ali very much but she wasn’t able to take care of her so some helpers found Ali new parents—us. We adopted Ali into our family and we’ve been her parents ever since.

If she wants to know why her birth mom couldn’t take care of her: She was dealing with some really big grown-up problems and she needed to learn how to take better care of herself.

If she wants to know who the helpers were: They’re social workers who work for agencies—Child Protective Services and the Department of Childrens Services—that watch out for kids to make sure that they’re safe and their needs are met.

If she wants to know what adoption is: It’s when a judge decrees that we’re a real, official family—real parents and a real child—forever and ever.

If she wants to know where her birth mom is now: I don’t know for sure. She still lives in Nashville but we don’t see her very often.

(Picture at the top is Alianna with her birth mommy—her other real mommy. Blurred for her privacy.)

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Off Day(s)

05/23/2013

I woke up yesterday in a fog with my alarm clock and my back up alarm clock both going off. I (attempt to) get up at least an hour before everyone else so that I have time to shower, take the dog out, have a cup of tea, spend some time with the Lord…not necessarily in that order. However, because of sleeping through my alarms I was greeted bright and early by a little boy holding an empty sippy cup that he had just retrieved from the kitchen cabinet. I fumbled around and filled it up for him and told him a needed a few more minutes to rest. Five minutes later he returned to my doorway holding an oatmeal packet. Ok ok. I’m up. Jason is out on tour for a few days so it’s just me and the two kiddos. I managed to get them both up and ready and we got out of the house on time. I only forgot 5 things. I remembered 2 of the 5 before we were too far away so I swung back home for Buzz’s afternoon snack and the flowers I bought for his day care teacher.* (The other 3 things I forgot to do were: turn down the temperature on the thermostat, start the dishwasher and take a sweater to work… in case anyone cares.) My mom was watching Ali and texted me in the early afternoon that my baby girl had a fever of 103 in addition to her really snotty nose.

It was definitely an off day.

I realized as I was scrambling out of work early to pick up Buzz from day care so I could get home to my sick little girl that I have so much to be thankful for. Ali was in good hands—wonderful hands—with my mom who is not just an experience mom and grandma, but also a nurse. I’m thankful for Buzz’s day care—it’s been so good for all of us and I really appreciate that the state helps to provide this service for foster families. I’m thankful for my dad who picks me up every Wednesday and takes me out to lunch. I’m thankful for my husband who is encouraging and supportive even when we’re states apart for a few days. I’m thankful for an encouraging card that came in the mail from a friend I don’t see often enough. I’m thankful for the senior art director at my office who was willing to help me out of a sticky situation with a logo design at work—I really value her advice, skills and gracious encouragement. I’m thankful for my neighborhood MOMS club and for the sweet ladies who have been taking time out of their busy schedules to bring us meals three days a week. It has helped tremendously!

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This morning, Ali and I took a short walk in the park after dropping Buzz off at day care. She was feeling pretty yucky but by the time we got home, she started acting like her usual spunky self again. I’m hoping it was just a short-lived virus and we’re at the end of it now. I’m really thankful that I am able to work at home a couple days a week so I could be home with my sweet little bug today.

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*I bought flowers for Buzz’s day care teacher because… SHE DID HIS HAIR!!! I had jokingly asked her last week while she was fixing a little girl’s hair, “Oh! Can you do his hair too?” She said she would. On Monday she noticed that his hair hadn’t been braided over the weekend (as we had planned with two different appointments that didn’t work out.) She did it! I am over the moon grateful. We were at the point of 2-year-old vs. adult power struggle and he would not even let me touch it. I think she’s going to agree to style it for me on a regular basis and I’ll gladly pay her.

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And Then There Were Two

02/26/2013

Oh, but not a foster placement. Boy did I confuse a few people on facebook! On the foster care front, our case worker is coming out on Thursday to check out our new home and move us back into open status, assuming all goes well. (GULP.) We could potentially start getting placement calls this weekend. (DOUBLE GULP.) Our home is as ready as it’s going to be, which made it easier for us to agree to watch our friends’ little boy Jaron for 4 days/nights with less than 24 hours notice. We joked that it would be good practice for life with two kids but dang… it was good practice! We learned a lot. It was almost as big of an adjustment as suddenly being parents to a toddler (our first placement). That was encouraging on two levels – 1. It was not as big of an adjustment. (We’re experienced now! Woot!) and 2. With our first major adjustment it got better after a week or two so I know that it would get better with two kids, also. The major difference, of course, is that we already knew and loved Jaron and his parents and we knew it would just be a few days. They also gave us a ton of directions on how to care for him, clothes, food, toiletries, etc. All of those things made it easier. It was still very stretching to have two almost-twin toddlers, and I know it was hard on little Jaron, too. One of the biggest things I learned: Being out numbered by munchins is no joke! It was much easier when Jason and I were both there to split the duties. He’d put one kid to bed, I’d put the other to bed. He’d carry one kid into the store, I’d carry the other. We both had at least 1 day where we were solo parenting both kiddos. Oy! But again, I know it would get better the longer we had to settle into a ruetine and get used to each other. Ali did really well sharing her parents. I hardly noticed any jealousy. There were a few periods when both kids wanted the one-on-one adult attention that they’re used to and I wasn’t able to meet both of their needs at once. They weren’t upset with each other but at one point while I was trying to warm up some leftovers for dinner (no way I was going to be able to cook!) and I had one kid clinging to each of my legs. It would have been comical if the shrieking/crying/whining wasn’t making me lose my mind. I even attempted to take a photo so I could laugh about it later but it don’t turn out. And I realized…What am I doing?! Just get the dang food in the microwave so I can sit on the floor and hug both kids at the same time.

So on to the fun stuff. These two are so sweet together.

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This boy is a messy eater! Lord, have mercy…He’s so stinkin’ cute though. Smiles and laughs easily.

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They two both get kissed a lot by their parents so they love to kiss each other as well. So cute!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Ali thought the chalk would make good lipstick…her latest obsession.

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Hi, Lucy! Yes, I still love you.

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Flashback… one year ago:

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