Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

My Mother's Day celebrating was pretty awesome this year. I got time to myself (I'm pretty sure this is most moms' #1 requested gift for Mother's Day), a copy of the Lion King on Bluray to start my Disney Bluray collection (what I asked for), a cookout with friends, and I got to take a few pictures at the park. I loved it. I couldn't ask for anything else.

Excerpt from my journal:

"It's Mother's Day! I definitely feel differently today than I did a couple years ago. I'm not feeling broken, at all. I'm not hurting when it comes to feeling so helpless about creating my family. It feels like that huge brick wall that was keeping me from being able to have kids of my own and to be called a "mother" has been demolished... and there's just a little speed bump left behind. Having one child lifted the majority of that burden. I feel healed. I feel confident that with a little planning and saving, and a little patience... we can add as many children to our family as we want to. That knowledge is very freeing and I don't obsess over the "what if's" anymore. I feel very calm and at peace with that part of my life. I feel very satisfied with the way adopting Kal-El turned out and I am very, very happy with my little family of 3. That being said, we do want to adopt again. It's been something we're turning over in our minds and trying to work out the details for. We're not ready... yet. But it is a goal - something we're aiming our lives towards accomplishing. ... I'm blessed and I owe God everything."

Celebrating Adoption Walk 2012

On the day before Mother's Day this year, I went to an event they had in Provo to celebrate adoption and Birthmother's Day. This was the 3rd year I went and I love going! It's so much fun to be surrounded by so many supporters of something I so whole-heartedly support and have dedicated so much of myself to. Two years ago, I went as a hopeful adoptive mom and I wrote on my runner's label that I was there in honor of "my future babies." Ha ha. Now I have a gorgeous little boy and his beautiful birthmother that I go and walk in honor of. I love it!

I had so much fun, and Kal did too. And I appreciate my good friends who don't have the same connection to adoption as me, but totally show up to events like this in support of me and my little family. Makes me happy! I ran in one of the races, although I sucked. Kal loved his balloon that he got to release, was mesmerized by Cosmo the Cougar, and ate his first donut. Have I really deprived him for so long that he's only now experiencing a donut? Ha ha. Guess I'm a health nut. Poor kid.

Anyways, it was so fun and I know Kal's going to enjoy it more and more as he gets older and can run around and make friends. And we're so thankful to his birthmother. Always will be. :)

Birth Certificate Frustrations

 Kal, stylin' in his basketball shades...

I don't want to come off as uber frustrated or complaining, because I'm not even in a bad mood or anything. Ha ha. Just feel like writing out a minor annoyance... venting a little bit.

Kal was born almost 15 months ago. His adoption was finalized over 8 months ago. At which point in time we were told "information about how to obtain his birth certificate should come in the mail in a few weeks." Sounded great to me! Let's get all these small details taken care of. Piece of cake, this adoption paperwork thing. He's legally ours already. We got all the court papers to prove it. Now it's just crossing some t's and dotting some i's.

It's gonna be so nice to see a birth certificate with my husband and I listed as the parents and the name we chose for him displayed prominently on a legal document! Something about having that document in my hands would make everything seem so permanent and real to me. Not that it isn't, but I just want to hold it in my hands and savor it (ha ha) and, of course, put it in his baby book.

Months went by. It wasn't pressing to get Kal's birth certificate, so I waited. Surely information was coming in the mail, right? I contacted the agency. Oh, yeah - it should be coming in the mail. Just wait. Ummm, ok. I waited some more.

It wasn't pressing to get it until I was getting ready to file our taxes. Almost 4 months ago, we talked to the adoption agency and our lawyer about what the holdup was. It would be nice if we could do our taxes, but we needed a social security number for Kal in order to claim him. We need a birth certificate before we can get a social security number. Soooo, what's the deal? Why is it taking so long?

Oh, it was just a miscommunication. We never paid for the birth certificate. What? How did something like that get overlooked when I kept bringing it up to the agency and our lawyer back when we were finalizing? Isn't that why we're paying people? So that things are taken care of and paperwork goes smoothly? Okay, fine - so we paid for it and the information was sent to Georgia Vital Records. "It should take a few weeks and the birth certificate will come in the mail."

Months went by. "Ummm. Hello, lawyer - what's the problem now?" We hired a financial adviser to help us understand the Adoption Tax Credit, and we were so excited about getting a nice return, but we filed an extension because we couldn't claim Kal yet. So annoying. It's already gonna take forever to get our money since we can't e-file if we're claiming the Adoption Tax Credit and the government likes to go as slow as possible when they owe you money. (As a side note, everyone who claims the Adoption Tax Credit gets audited pretty much, so that'll be another fun thing to go through...) So I called the lawyer again and all of a sudden "a few weeks" turns into, "Oh, well this doesn't surprise me in the least. Lots of states take a really long time to issue birth certificates, and Georgia is one of the worst. Just hang in there. There's nothing anyone can do but just wait."

Why am I just being told this? Why didn't anyone ever say, "Just so you know, you may not receive his birth certificate for a ridiculously long time. And without a birth certificate, you're not going to be able to get a social security number for him, and without a permanent social security number, you aren't going to be able to file your taxes in a timely manner and be able to claim him for things like the Earned Income Credit and the Adoption Tax Credit. You can get a temporary number, but you can't use that for most things. Also, if you need your taxes done for other reasons, like proof of your self-employment income if you want to buy a house, you're out of luck. Also, if you're trying to switch health insurance carriers, the new carrier isn't gonna want to cover him without those 9 digits. If you have to prove his identity for anything, you're not going to be able to. Thanks and good luck!"

If I had known that, I wouldn't be frustrated right now. How hard is it to type up a piece of paper and put it in the mail? How could it possibly take that long?

I've been working on "Things to do before Baby #2" and this is just one of those things holding us up that we'd like to get smoothed out first. This one thing is holding up a lot of things, actually. So I'm going to be super excited when that birth certificate comes in the mail. That'll be a day to celebrate, for sure!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Adopting Transracially

Zay giving Kal a haircut - gotta keep him looking fresh! Ha ha. :)

Awhile back I wrote about white couples adopting black kids. It was 3 years ago, before we got going with the adoption process ourselves. I had an interesting point of view back then... kind of naive, but very blunt about my thoughts. I still pretty much agree with myself. And I'm still pretty blunt with my opinions. But I'm much less judgmental about people and their choices in how to create their families. That's a very personal subject and you can't really use blanket judgements for an entire group of people, so hopefully I don't come across that way. I don't think I did or do, but one particular commenter got all riled up about what I said. Oh, well.

Mostly what I was trying to get across was that in the black community with black people who haven't been exposed to pro-adoption culture, there is a feeling of hesitancy when the idea of white people adopting black kids comes up. It rubs some people the wrong way. There's a feeling that black people should be taking care of their own. I get it. They've had to unite together to get through some very difficult time periods in American history (if you can call slavery or fighting for civil rights a "difficult time period"...). And the idea of white people swooping in to save their children is uncomfortable.

And in a way, it's true - black people should be taking care of their own. I don't mean only black people should adopt black kids, but what I'm saying is that more black people should be adopting. It's a stereotype - but it's based on truth - that black people don't adopt. And there's a lopsided number of black children up for adoption than white children (specifically black boys). Black children are cheaper to adopt in a lot of cases, black people don't adopt them, so white people who can't afford expensive white babies that are in high demand adopt the black kids. And then people get uncomfortable. Racial tension continues. White celebrities adopt black kids and terms like "trendy" and "brown babies as accessories" get thrown around.

Hopefully as time goes on, a few things will happen: pro-adoption culture will spread, more lives will be touched in a positive way by adoption, and transracial adoptions will become more prevalent (on all sides - not just white couples adopting black kids). Then maybe there won't be such a hesitancy and uncomfortableness with it. Maybe everyone can see transracial families as "neat-o" like the cute little girl on this blog! Ha ha. So cute! Until then, white adoptive parents of black kids do need to learn how to make it a better transition by learning how to incorporate their kids' heritage into their lives and not just "white washing" them, cutting off their roots, not exposing them to other black people, and saying, "I don't see why they would need to know anything about their birthparents' culture. They're my kids now." Race as a topic shouldn't be avoided, because their race doesn't disappear just because they grew up with white parents. And don't be fooled - color does matter.

Anyway, I've had my own issues with race when it comes to adoption, so I know I'm not perfect. The idea of adopting a white child threw me off at first because in my head I always imagined my children to be bi-racial - white and black. Zay and I joked about adopting a white daughter... we were imagining she and Zay at a grocery store or some other public place... and then she throws a tantrum, screaming her head off, Zay trying to restrain her or carrying her out of the store, while she yells something to the effect of, "You're not my real daddy!" How quickly do you think someone would call the police on him? Ha ha. What a scene that would be! I can't remember where I read it, but I read a blog about a black couple adopting a white child and how they have been followed around in public places... because people were concerned that they were trying to abduct her. Wow! I hope that hesitancy and suspicion eases over time as society gets used to transracial families.

I've learned that race doesn't matter for our family. For a brief second I thought it would, but it doesn't. Part of processing infertility in general is mourning the loss of a child who will be biologically ours... who will look like us... with Zay's lips and my eyes, etc. I also had to process the fact that the children we adopt won't necessarily all be the same shade of brown either. And I'm fully okay with that. It just took longer than I wanted for me to get to that point. I was so annoyed that it wasn't my automatic response, but I think I was being unnecessarily hard on myself.

I admit that it's easier with Kal being bi-racial. No one has ever asked me if he was adopted, because he looks just like us... so I haven't felt like I needed to explain myself or defend the validity of my family or anything like that, but now I know I'd be ready to do that in a heartbeat and his race is just one part of him and doesn't define him. I actually bring up his adoption all the time (since no one asks), because I'm honestly so excited about that part of his story and I like to talk about it! But people are usually surprised, because it's not so obvious as it could be. I don't mind questions and I'm not worried about anyone's judgment, so I'm confidant now that race will not be a factor in any of our future adoptions. I'm actually excited! And super ready to embrace bringing more culture into our family if  that be the case. :) In fact, we'd love to adopt internationally eventually. Not sure where, but from wherever our children eventually come to us... that race and culture will be a welcome addition to our family.

We're working on getting ready to try and adopt Baby #2 domestically through LDS Family Services. We're not ready to start the paperwork yet, but we're getting there. And when we do, I will roll my eyes at the "race preferences" checklist. :)

Easter 2012

Since it was just the two of us for so long (before Kal came along), our holiday traditions haven't been necessarily kid-friendly. Our only Easter tradition has been to watch The Passion of the Christ... not something I'd let Kal watch until he was much older. We still watch it, but we wait till Kal's in the bed.

We watched all the Blu-ray's special features this year too and I love this interview with Jim Caviezel, the guy who played Jesus, on how it felt to play Him:

Easter was really chill. We had a super quiet day at home this year. I didn't think Kal was old enough yet to have fun with an Easter egg hunt, and not coordinated enough yet to dye eggs, so we skipped out on that. I don't cook much - that's Zay's thing when he has time - but on holidays I like to try my hand at baking fun holiday-themed treats. I didn't get around to it when it was actually Easter, though. Dang. Although I have my eye on these super cute Springtime marshmallow cupcakes that I will make. Sometime in the irrelevant future... when it is no longer Easter nor Spring nor a holiday. Ha ha. When I feel like it. I'll just yell "Happy Easter!" after I finally do make them and call it good. :)

Just like I'm posting this over a month late! That's how I roll.

Our "Goodnight" Routine

 My boys. What cuties!

My absolute favorite part of our day starts about an hour before Kal's bedtime.

He gets super hyper and silly and is so much fun right around that time. We get out all our giggles. I like putting him in wrestling moves and then pinning him for the win - "One, two, three... ding ding ding! She won the belt! What an upset! Here we have it, folks! The new heavyweight champion of the world!" Ha ha ha. He squeals like I'm the funniest comedian ever. We crawl-chase each other back and forth all over the house and play peek-a-boo around corners. He beats up Moo Moo one last time for the day. I can just look at him funny and he goes into a giggling fit that leaves him breathless on the floor. Silly, silly boy.

Then I throw him in the tub. Bathing didn't used to be a daily occurrence, but I realized how much fun he had in the bath, so I just said why not? It didn't feel like a chore to me (just more playtime!), so I added it to the nightly routine. He has a blue rubber duckie that's his favorite. I tried to give him some little marine animal toys, like sharks and whatnot... and he panicked like he thought they were real and trying to get him. He pushed them all to one side of the tub and hustled his little butt to the other side and whined until I took them away. Ha ha. So, I'll stick with the squishy duckie with him for now. When he's done with bathtime, he unplugs the tub by himself. I just let him decide when he's done. He watches the water go down the drain and then I hold up a towel and say, "Stand up!" That's one of the things he understands now. He pulls himself up on the side of the tub and almost hops into my arms and does his excited leg-kicking thing.

I get out some footie pajamas (aren't those the best?) and he quietly watches me as I lotion him up. He's really tired when the hyperness is gone and he just quietly watches what's going on around him. I say, "Kisses!" and he opens his mouth super wide with lots of extra spit and plants one on me. I laugh and say, "Ew!" and he opens his mouth for another one. Ha ha.

Then I slowly take him around to every room in the house. I say "goodnight locks" and we lock the front door. "Good night Moo Moo, good night Zeus." He pets the kitties. I take him to all the light switches and I say, "Good night, living room..." and he turns off the light with one finger (he really intently tries to push the light switch down with one finger... it's so funny!) and we shut the door behind us. He likes pushing doors closed. "Good night, bathroom..." and he turns off the light. All the way to his room where he turns his own light off. I hold him and sing to him. If Zay's not working, this is when he comes in and we say a family prayer together. Zay gets to rock him a bit and talk to him. We put him in his crib. He immediately grabs his Elmo doll to squeeze his stomach. It says, "Elmo's so sleepy..." and music plays. I say, "Goodnight, Kal!" and close his door.

Not a peep. After that Elmo doll stops, I don't hear anything until 12 hours later when he's singing to himself in his crib and patiently sitting and playing with his stuffed animals until we come get him.

How in the world did we get so lucky with such an amazing sleeper? Only once when we were on vacation and he was sick did he get cranky about sleeping. Once. I can only hope and pray that a second child will be so easy.

And why should I ever complain about anything ... ever ... when I get to do this every night?? :)

*Cornrows by Alice Anne* - Part V

I haven't documented anything I've done recently when it comes to doing hair. The novelty of doing it and being excited about new designs and whatnot wore off after the first few years. Ha ha. Now I whip up braids so fast that I don't even think about taking a picture before I'm on to the next person. I really should make it fun for myself again!

But here are a few more pictures from the vault, back when I actually took pictures all the time:

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