Metaphysics in Adoption

By which I mean….in the processing of adoption and the trauma that comes with it.  Always, big or small, young or old, domestic or international.  There are metaphysical questions and pondering all the way through.

See, you all didn’t know you were immersed in such big thoughts now, did ya?

Nope, neither did I.

I’ve been an adoptive mama for almost fourteen years.  I’ve grown along the continuum of thoughts and ideas about adoption.  I’ve ranged from the not totally naive and ignorant (my mom was adopted; I had some exposure within my own family, but still, you dont’ know until you know…ya know?) to the much more experienced, sometimes jaded, but older and hopefully wiser zones.   I’ve adopted, as most of you know, newborn, infant, toddler, older, domestic, international, transracial, special needs, gifted, known trauma, virtual twins, singles,…the list is a long one.  But every now and then I still am just gobsmacked regarding the depths of what this is all about.  I’ve written so many words on adoption.  All of those words are still true for me, even as they sometimes conflict and even as I might be in a different place now, or then.

Today it occurred to me that really, adoption has a very metaphysical layer to it.  Seriously.  And when you’re homeschooling because you’re working on some of those adoption and attachment issues (while not wanting to blow off the whole educating your kid concept), the metaphysics might just rise up and smack you right in the face.

Once again, today was a rough day with the school stuff and my son.  He was just kind of amped and antsy and tough on the connection angle.  I was working the steps of connecting and redirecting and having moderate, sporadic success with his attention, focus and engagement.  I quickly braced for a ‘working day.’  And so we did.  We took breaks from our activities, we redirected, he got his energy out with big physical activity like basketball and whatnot.  It all helped.  But, there, just under the surface, it was bubbling.  Those BIG feelings.  The ones that are just too big and too hard to contain.  The ones that usually come out with just a few small extra wrong nudges, or one ill timed angry tone or sharp sentence.  These big feelings came out as anger, again:  uncontainable, billowing, loud, physical, pushy, mouthy anger.  They were spoiling for a fight.  Nothing was gonna stop ’em, they were like a freight train.  So, thats when, if you’re smart and on you’re game, you step out of the way.  And if you’re tired and not totally on point, you make worse by not disengaging quietly and waiting it out even as you stay present.  These are the ones that rumble and roll, loud and jangly.  It’s kind of like a slam dance.  And yeah, it’s not elegant and it’s loud and can hurt toes and feelings sometimes.  T

This time, his dad talked to him on speakerphone, helping redirect with that dad voice and words.  After he hung up, we started over…but quietly and with a measured distance.  Still too raw, those BIG feelings.  Needing space.  Not a few minutes later they billowed out again.  Rage.  Shouting at me, hard angry words about the reality of me as mom.  Meaning, the accusations of me questioning my reality as mom.  Then, heartbreakingly, the wide eyed words of the deepest hurt lost little boy.  And the wracking tears.   My own heart split in two, again,  I held him and rocked him, sitting there on the step in the afternoon sun.

But now, the rage was gone.  The cracked open space had room to talk. Directly, we talked about how that feels and how it’s a hard hurting thing. Those deep feelings, they are real and ok to have and ok to talk about.  We shuffled through some of those hard places, brushing against them.  The leaves brustled around our feet as the words sank in and the time, I swear, stilled for a few moments.

I felt beyond time and place, I felt our hearts beat together again in this hurt spot.  As my southern sister put it, “All that time brings the safety to make the unconscious, conscious.”  That’s what we have here.  It’s the opening up of space and time and hearts and hurts.  It’s a metaphysical equation.  It’s the beauty in homeschool, for this young boy.  It’s the hard work of adoptive parenting.  It’s the growing and healing of a broken heart in a beautiful boy.  My son.

Some might fault me for writing about this, that someday he might read this.  But, it’s not just about him.  This stuff, the hurt, the BIG feelings, the time and emotions billowing and stilling, ebbing and flowing…it’s all our kids.  It’s adoption.  It’s not considered much, not enough.  But it’s a key component of adoption: metaphysics. Metaphysics studies the essence, the deeps, the origins, the why’s, the hows.

We are called into the deep of it, to see and hear and feel these things, each of us. For our kid’s sake.  Consider the metaphysics of adoption. The essence…..indeed, the heart.

white mom, black son: the raging heartbreak of Trayvon Martin

I try to choke down the news, the nightmare, of Trayvon Martin this past week.  This is such a big thing…..and I feel but a shadowy glance of what his mother must feel…but feel that mother heartbreak, I do.

How can I even begin with all this?  I have wrestled with this all week;  what happened,  what is happening, how to process it, for myself, my prayers, my family, my kids.  Wrestled with writing about it.  Or not.  As I have nothing profound to add, I keep thinking, “Don’t.”  But, as I process by typing….I need to.  So, onward type….

I am a white mom.  I am a white mom to five kids of color. I am a white mom to eight kids in all.  But, make no mistake, what is important today is that I am a mom to two black sons.   I am a mom to one young black son who will grow into a rather large black man.  This boy, my own sweet son, he is on my mind as I read the news, pray for his mom and family, and try to sort my furious whirlwind sorrow over this.

Trayvon Martin.

I knew.  I have known.  I have known and thought and considered how my own sweet young boy might be perceived as he grows into his height and build and ages up.  And I have been trying to begin his instruction for that time: “Strong men are gentle.” “Strong men are kind and good.” “Strong men control their actions.” I knew I would have to give him more particular instructions as he became an older teen.  Some of these instructions I gave to my two older sons, my white sons: “If you are pulled over, keep your hands on the steering wheel.” “Do not talk back, just say ‘Yes Sir, no sir. Be respectful and direct.”  But now, I realize that soon, too soon, perhaps even now, I have to begin to introduce some different rules to my son. I have to train him to see another possibility: that he might be presumed to be criminal simply due to his deep beautiful brown skin.  As many writers point out, he might be guilty of “walking while black.”  And that makes my heart break, and it makes me churn with anger….no different from other moms.  I might be a white mom. But I am a mom of black sons.  And that makes me worry and pray in a special way for my children.

The death of Trayvon Martin makes me so angry; hurt for his family, hurt for the injustice, hurt for this innocent kid….. It’s unspeakable.  And yet, of course, we must speak.  I’m not adding anything to the dialogue spreading like wildfire around the net.  The outrage over this story is building; it’s set in motion what we can only hope to be justice.  And yet, even with that justice, the investigation, and yes, hopefully, the arrest of the Zimmerman…..I feel conflicted.  I do not want to join any bloodlust chorus for revenge.  Revenge is hollow, empty, nothing.  Justice is needed.  And so, I will unite my prayers with those across the world, for the repose of this innocent’s soul.  I will unite my prayers with those across the world for the comfort and peace and courage for his family and friends and community.  I will unite my prayers with those around the world for justice.

Because here is what I think.  I think this was a racist act (the reported racist slurs make my blood boil).  I think this was unconscionable and unspeakable senseless violence.  I think an innocent kid was murdered.  And the only way I can reconcile all this is to say…..Zimmerman, he is a broken man.  How can he not be? That is not, even for a a moment, to dismiss what he did, or have that be an excuse.  There is no excuse.  But, he is a man seemingly filled with rage and paranoia and racist bile.  But, even so, surely, now, surely…he  must realize what he has done?  I haven’t  heard if he has.  But surely, in his core, he knows.  He knows.  He must.  Trayvon was a child.  That alone, should shatter him.  That, right there, is where I need to look in order to be able to choke back my own rage towards him and try, try to find a way to pray for him.  I need to find – to beg for – the Grace to pray for his remorse.  My husband points out that he needs our prayers too.  And so, I pray for that grace…to be able pray for Zimmerman too…..for his justice, yes, but also for the mercy of deep true remorse and understanding in his soul.

The news on this keeps breaking through the cacophony of our busy days.  And it should. We all should be outraged.  We all should shout for justice.  We all should be shocked.  And we are.  But, while we all weep and pray and should and do and will continue to pray for Trayvon and his parents and family…as the call for justice rings out ……I pray we find a way to change our nation and heal the rage and ignorance that simmers just below the surface.  Because until it does heal and change….

my anthony

…all of our sons are at risk.  Perhaps not of such precise shocking immediate violence.  But certainly they are at risk – or indeed perhaps they are guaranteed – of a loss of their innocent hearts as they learn the hard lessons of being a black young man in America.  As a mom of a young black boy in America, Trayvon is ‘my son.’ He is all of our son’s.  God have mercy on us all.

>The Race Card

>She did it.
My daughter, she played the race card.
I guess I knew it was coming.
And it’s not like we haven’t had all the usual discussions over the years, comparing skin tones, talking about history and social aspects of racism historically and now, current events etc…
So I was kinda hoping, in my heart of hearts, to get a “bie,” a pass, on this particular, barbed, targeted lob.
Oh foolish me.
Because this is part of, a huge part of, transracial adoption.
Some will argue that it shouldn’t be, that we should be ‘colorblind.’
To which I say, “Baloney.”
You can’t be colorblind if you have a multiracial family.
You shouldn’t be colorblind any way; but you sure better not be if you are raising a family of many hues.
Because if you are a white mom and are raising kids who have skin color that is different: brown, nutmeg, mahogany, ebony, dark, light, pink….whatever…..then you have to deal.

It’s easy to deal with when they are little and adorable and just so darn cute.
But, what’s so easy to ignore is the looming fact that kids grow up, into the people they are meant to be, and if you have a brown skinned baby, that person is going to be a brown skinned teen and adult.
As they should and will.  
And then you are going to, not might, not could, but you WILL get to deal with a teen that looks different than you.
Overstated, you think?
Think again.
It might seem like nothing, when that teen is still a baby or toddler and looks different than  you.
It might thrillingly radical or like you are making a stand for something, that we are all God’s children and such.  Well, yah…….
And might not seem like a big deal since you loooong ago, as a wee one, knit this now teen into your heart and soul and very fiber of your being and she’s just your kid who has a messy room and hates math but makes you laugh with the way she shuffles in to say goodnight.
But this teen is gonna be a teen with teen attitudes and fussing and pushing boundaries and all the usual teen standard issue, expected, and even on some levels necessary, drama.
But this teen, she’s got a little extra ammunition.
And if you don’t know it yet, you will soon enough…but teens, they like to stockpile what they can -ammunition – to lob at you when they are irritated or angry or feel like they are being unjustly asked to do, oh, anything.  Like dishes or homework or chores or ________ (insert request here).

Our kids are savvy.
By which I mean, kids these days, are very savvy and tuned in to the culture at large.
I swear they have a usb port somewhere on their person that is a direct connection to the http://www.worldOteendom……that feeds them a constant stream of teen and/or early adult content somehow.
This is to say that, no matter how limited and guarded you think you are about keeping your kids sheltered from the pervasive cultural attitudes that float about, from the net, from tv maybe, from MTV, whatever….some of it does drift in, more than you realize.

This teen, she’s actually a PREteen.
But she knows enough to know she could play the race card, she could give it a try if she’s angry.
So she did.
I asked her to fold her laundry.
I know!
Horrible.
She was so angry that she stomped and shouted at me, “Just because I am black doesn’t make me your slave.”
What?” I said.
You heard me,” she said, arms crossed glaring.
Nice try,” I said. And I should’a then just probably repeated, “So, fold your laundry please now,” and walked away.
But I”m not that good.
So, I said, instead, “Come with me.
And we went to talk to the cool headed Dad, who never really gets his buttons pushed by the girls (the boys did that, not so much the girls…you can see the fun we have ahead with four teen girls at home now, but I digress).  



I made her repeat her declaration; mumbled this time.
He gazed at her and said, “Nice try.”
Then he said, calmly and well, “You are our daughter. Ever. Period. You are the daughter I walked the floors with when you were swaddled.   You are the daughter we have kissed and fed and tickled and hauled to sports and schools and kissed your booboos and wiped your tears.  You are the daughter who is part of the team of this family and who has responsibilities because you are old enough to have them, along with the privileges that go along with that too.  You have brown skin and I have white skin and God gave you to us as our daughter, and us to you as parents.”
Now, please go fold your laundry.”

And so she did.
The race card.
Prepare for it.
It’s gonna happen.
This won’t be the last time, I’m quite sure.
Maybe it shouldn’t even be, maybe I shouldn’t wish for it to be the last time.
I write this post not to show that we did any good job with this fired lob.
I’m sure we could’a should’a handled it better and/or differently.
I write this post because so many families now have adopted transracially, and so many of those families still have only smalls.
It’s easy to forget or dismiss the reality that you are charged with raising every child to adulthood, not just into kindergarden and we are charged with teaching them how to navigate this world as a person of color.
And it’s not a nothing.
The world is not colorblind.
Not only should we as parents not be so, but we need to remember, always, that our kids are not either.