Sissy Boy….

Every father’s nightmare….

I think that is the fear behind boys having “girls’ toys”

Brian is not one of those dads, thank you Jesus.

I remember when i was in Ghana, one of the other volunteers was an adoptive parent, that had also been a foster parent for many years. Due to the lack of electricity and technology in the village we were staying at we had some pretty long deep conversations with our group and night.

She was telling us about a boy that was taken away from his birth mother by the state. The little boy loved pink rain boots, the mother would never let him wear them in fear of him becoming gay. This was completely unrelated to why her parental rights were temporarily taken-away, but it was sad. The little boy went into my fellow volunteer’s home and got to wear his pink boots every day for a few glorious months. He felt like a million dollars wearing those shoes and they gave him confidence that every little boy should have. Then he was sent back to live with his mother. I’m sure the boots were taken away.

We will never know what happened to him, but it was a great lesson for me on how to parent my children. Aram came out as every testosterone-driven man’s dream (aside from his strange obsession with Lady Gaga)…Samuel is more like me. He loves things that are colorful and sparkle. Part of it is from his culture in Ethiopia, but really that is just who he is. He likes looking at pretty things.

We let the boys pick out their toothbrushes, and Aram picked Lightning Mcqueen (not surprising), and Samuel picked Ariel from “The Little Mermaid.” This was a tough one for Brian…I’m not really sure why, but he sucked it up and now I think he enjoys seeing Ariel’s colorful head in our bathroom every morning. I know it is definitely refreshing to have more of my favorite Disney characters in this house.

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Nuttier than a Fruitcake

That is me. And that is why I gave my blog a new look.

I’ve decided since my previous post on race how truly irritated I am.

There is a group on Yahoo for parents of children adopted from Ethiopia. The group is so large it is maelstrom of nonsense. When I first joined we were looking into adoption. The group single-handedly made me put my adoption on hold and almost scared me out of doing it forever. Not because of the scary truths of adoption, but because of the weirdos that do adopt! The posts were awful, and any time anyone that made sense tried to post back they would be brutally chewed up and spit out all over the forum walls. Oh, I shudder at the thought.

So, I finally realized that because the group was so big it led to this crazy pandemonium. Too many conflicting views of the world and how to live it- (even how to speak)…..

I was recently invited into a “secret” facebook group about adoption. At first I forgot I was in it, but then i started paying attention and asking questions in my “secret” group of other mothers that I couldn’t ask the outside world. What happened? Major backlash. Why? The same problem…..too many conflicting views (but it didn’t help the woman attacking me was borderline psychotic)…. I don’t think I’m insensitive to people, but I definitely am insensitive to politically correct nonsense that some people hold so dear. I appreciated that people were defending me, but I still left.

If you’re scared to ask questions about observations in the world in a correct forum- you’re never going to get your answer. I think the lack of knowledge about people is what creates the segregation we see in our society today.

What does Oprah say? “If you know better, you do better”- that is what I’m trying to do. Ask uncomfortable questions that can be answered and discuss them. It may not be pretty, but the outcome is worth it.I stated very boldly in my post, we can’t pretend racism doesn’t exist, but we can talk through the nonsense of race to get past it.I think the problem with those crazy PC people is that by saying everything correct we are pretending that there is no divide, and it only makes it worse. Lack of expression of faith or personal beliefs is also something I cannot stand about the crazy PCers. We are not robots, stop trying to make us act like them.

So, I left the group immediately to stop the nonsense at it’s early stage. Other people I know are still in it and probably find it useful (as well as the yahoo group, there are even good resources on there)…..just not for me.

Basically, I’m left now with a new state of crazy. I finally 100% realize I will not please anyone in any specific demographic. People are going to disapprove of you no matter what and you will never get 100% approval from any 1 group. So, you better believe in what you’re saying.

I am not racially sensitive, I’m just not. Maybe it is because between the two of us, Brian and I are very racially diverse- We make up 10 countries and four continents (Asia,Europe, South America, Australia (random!), and with Samuel we make five with Africa, and if you count the fact that we are North Americans, that makes six! So, I find it insignificant….also, I do experience racist comments all the time. Being in Los Angeles and an inconspicuous half-Armenian, I’ll get direct comments about my ethnicity from people who find my heritage “gross”- or say we are all “criminals” it goes on and on. I even told someone once I was Armenian and they immediately tried to make me feel good by saying, “you don’t look or act like them, they are weird!” It reminded me of when people say Samuel doesn’t look “African”- I’ll also get the other end and have Armenian people segregate me because they say I don’t look it or speak the language, and i must be lying.

I’ve just learned that when you start mixing things up people are going to be confused and say things about what they don’t know. It will be insensitive, and frankly, stupid. Using words like “gross” isn’t ever appropriate, but something in their life experience made them believe that. The only thing you can do is show them that it is untrue. Getting mad doesn’t really help changing people’s opinions. Saying extremely intentional and hurtful things to someone is never okay, but when someone asks a question about something they don’t understand and it comes out insensitive- I think that is good. I think the best part of the civil rights movement was the commentary going back and forth. The complete ignorance that was one-sided was exposed for what it was, and it allowed things to move forward. When we look back at the videos of that time (or even of bigotry in the 1980s) it is almost laughable at how stupid people were. The truth is, those open forums that we are watching from the past were helping us realize this.

So, I’m exposing myself as a complete nut, today. I’m going to do things that make people uncomfortable. I’m going to expose my ignorance in a well-intentioned, but probably insensitive way. If you don’t like what you see, tell me! I’m not going to stop what I’m doing, but I’ll learn!….and if you’re uncomfortable- good. This is coming from the girl who breastfeeds her almost school-aged children in public. Craziness ahead.

Sheltering or Saving?

This is the question I have to ask myself when I make radical parenting decisions for my children.

I am obsessed with the NBC series, “Who Do You Think You Are?” That explores the family history of some very famous people (they use celebrities because they are familiar to the viewer)- The celebrity isn’t the excitement of the show, it is the stories they uncover in the past.

Lionel Richie was on this week. He explained that he came from a family that did not tell him there was segregation as a child (this was during the civil rights movement) and when the KKK came into town to protest they would put the kids to bed early. He said this sort of sheltering during his early years, along with the praise and uplifting of his parents made him truly believe he could do anything he wanted.

I think it is important to be open with your children, but some things they just won’t know when they are really young unless you tell them. There are a lot of people that say trans-racial parents should explain to their children early about racism, but I’m not so sure about that.  Samuel is four and why would any four-year-old need to know that there are people that hate him just because he has a bit more melanin in his skin than I do?

I take them everywhere with me, and the kids are going to be home schooled….so, yes…they are sheltered…but if sheltering them means that they can be given a chance to blossom and understand their full potential before it is destroyed- why not?

I heard a quote once from a homeschooling mother:

“A child is like a seed that needs to be cared for to sprout. They need to be sheltered from the cold until their roots have grown strong enough to handle the harsh winters.”

That completely changed my perspective. Why would we put children that are at their most fragile state in situations where they are going to be shaped by strangers that may not have their best intentions? And I’m not talking about school- it is more of a general statement.

In African countries (and most countries in this world) there is more hands-on parenting than in the United States. I feel like we’re losing that. We let our kids be cared for by strangers that will never take care of them the same way as we do, and we barely spend any time at all with them- between dropping them off at dance/sports/music/art lessons and letting them spend the rest of the time watching TV.

We allow our preteens/teens in their most insecure time to group together with their peers that are also insecure. This leads to bullying…. bullying is causing these kids to commit suicide, and the parents had no idea anything was wrong- but cared about what grade their child brought home.

African children are known for being the most compassionate children in the world. Dr. Wess Stafford mentioned that when playing soccer with the kids in Nielle, on the Ivory Coast, a child would fall and they would immediately stop and run and comfort the child until he stopped crying (something we noticed Samuel will do with Aram and children on the playground- now little Aram does it with him). When playing soccer at his American school the same year he noticed the children would keep playing in order to make a goal- as if the injured child was actually beneficial to their goal.

African children are taught the importance of school- so there is no excuse that homeschooling is the way to raise more compassionate children. A lot of the children also are taught that they can do anything- their parents never point out their impoverished surroundings. The spirit of the children (the ones that I’ve seen in Ghana, and definitely Samuel) are better than any children I’ve ever encountered in the US. The adults seem happy, too. And isn’t that what we’re doing? Raising people that will spend the majority of their lives (God willing) as adults?

So, if we need to shelter them from things that may bring down the spirit of who they are going to be…I say do it.

The Book That Changed the Way I Parent.

I accidentally bought this book while we were in the adoption process. I started reading it thinking it was about international adoption, and quickly became bored when I found out it wasn’t. Aram was around a year old, and the book wasn’t really triggering any kind of useful tools or inspiration at the time.

I decided to pick it up again one night after Samuel came home. I WAS HOOKED. I can’t believe the difference I felt for this book in just one year. The book is about children. The book is about Wess Stafford’s own childhood as well as his knowledge of children. The book does not give you ideas on how to parent. It is a story about his life in Africa and the joy he felt there as well as the abuse that he encountered when he had to leave for the school year at a westernized school. He teaches the unique difference in western children and African children. It helped me understand Samuel so much more. He also explains that the children are all the same, but the changes come from the culture and who is raising them.

I was about the speak with Dr. Stafford and he was as lovely as he seemed in the book. He gathered ideas and contacts for me that could help with the specific kind of aid I wanted to do in eastern Africa.

I am definitely pushing this book because it really was a life-changer for me.