October 31, 2008

Back on Track

Okay, it's time for me to get back on track and focus on what I'd intended this blog to discuss: adoption related issues, and in particular, transracial adoption stuff.

Just so you know, November is National Adoption Awareness Month and November 15 is National Adoption Day. Let's begin with a brief history.

Apparently "adoption is an ancient arrangement" practiced by Greeks, Romans Egyptians, etc., though the concept of adoption was not legally recognized in the US until the 1850s* (Trivia question: what state enacted the first adoption statute? Massachusetts).

Moving on...my hope, through this blog, is to help bring adoption to the forefront of people's minds, help people understand (and appreciate) appropriate language when referring to children/people who have been adopted, and see adoption as a viable--and wonderful--option for building a family. Phew. I have a lot of work to do.

So, what kinds of things could you do during Adoption Awareness Month? Too much to post in one blog, but you can start with becoming more aware about adoption in general. Talk with someone you know who has adopted a child. Learn about their experiences, their fears, and their unforgettable moments.

Most importantly, know that families are made in all kinds of ways (two moms; two dads; one mom, one dad; single parents, grandparents as guardians)--adoption is just one very wonderful way to build a family.

*The History of Adoption: http://www.researchetcinc.com/historyofadoption.html

September 22, 2008

Barbie: Friend or Foe?

So my three year old daughter recently learned that there were a bunch of my old Barbie dolls hanging out in the attic, and begged me to get them down. I think three is a little young for Barbies, but she loves dressing her baby dolls and so I said okay.

I'm really not even sure where she learned about Barbies, though I can guess it was daycare. But, oh boy. When I mentioned the "B" word to my good friend (a woman), she was none too happy, which got me thinking.

And I'm going to come right out and say what I was thinking: I don't have any issues with Barbie. I truly believe that I have one of the most positive and healthy self body images of any of my women friends, and I grew up playing with Barbie dolls.

Yes, Barbie's proportions are all out of wack, of course they are; she's a plastic doll. Never once in all my years of playing with Barbie did I look at her and think: "Gee, Barbie, I wish I could look just like you." In fact, that never even crossed my mind until people started getting all worked up over Barbie, her size, and her looks. I grew up with black, Latina, and white Barbies (with red, brown, and blond hair), by the way. As well as the original Ken doll who has actual hair--that is almost shoulder length and brown--and is really pale (not oddly tan like today's Ken).

I do recognize the extreme importance of promoting positive, healthy body images, especially for our young girls (though boys are suffering from body images, as well). This is a huge "hot button" issue for me. But I believe these are learned first from our mothers (and even our fathers). My mother didn't stand in the mirror naked beating herself up over her weight or size. In fact, I never heard my mom say much of anything about her body, other than we need to respect our bodies.

Too many girls out there (and a lot of women I know) don't have this same experience, and that's unfortunate. Instead, women's poor body images are being blamed on things like Barbie being proportionally incorrect--and that's not the whole story; there are so many other factors involved. And to attempt to solve the issue, we need to look at the whole picture.

All I know is that it never occurred to me that I should try to look like Barbie or that there were even women out there who did look like Barbie. She's a plastic doll. Maybe I'm in the minority with this.

I just enjoyed putting Barbie in interesting scenarios (crime fighting, horse back riding on all my plastic horses, parading her around the "Cat Collar" bar I liked to pretend she worked in) and changing her clothes 15 times in an hour. If there was anything negative that came from my Barbie playing, it would have to be that I often can't seem to stay in one outfit the whole day long. I'll probably need to work with my daughter on this.

I realize I am over simplifying a very complex matter. And maybe I'm a little sensitive to how other women will react when I mention I let my daughter play with Barbies. But all I'm getting at is that I will make damn sure that my daughter understands Barbie is not real, nor are her proportions, and help my daughter in every way I possibly can to feel good about who she is, what size she is, and what color she is, all while allowing her the freedom to have imaginary playtime with a plastic doll.

Next up: Are Bert and Ernie really gay? Groan

August 27, 2008

Riding the (Emotional) Roller Coaster

It takes a strong person to adopt. I'm not bragging--I have a wonderful daughter through adoption--I'm just telling it like it is. I'll admit, I've always considered myself a strong person, but really, I had no idea what that meant. There's something about the emotional journey you go through when preparing for and anticipating the homecoming of your child. Waiting is hard for most people; it's especially hard waiting to grow your family and having no idea when that might happen.

We recently had an adoption fall through. That's not uncommon--just one of the realities of adoption. But this particular child, our daughter's birth sibling, was near and dear to our hearts, and it was especially devastating for this adoption to fall through. My strength has really come into question during this whole ordeal. I got angry and full of self-pity. I wanted to blame someone. I was hurt. I'm still depressed. But I know deep down that the baby that was meant to come home to us will, in time. That's what I mean about being strong. When adopting, you just have to believe that what was meant to be will be. Otherwise, you probably could never get off this emotional roller coaster ride.

I can't image someone being able to fully understand what it's like to adopt having not gone through it themselves. People don't realize how things they say about birth moms come out. They don't realize what it's like to possibly not name your child. They don't realize the emotional toll or financial burden placed on a family.

I'm not sharing all this with the world in the hopes of receiving pity or to make anyone feel bad. Our daughter is the greatest thing that could have ever happen to us, and bringing her home was made possible through adoption. But I do hope to help educate people and highlight some adoption related issues throughout this blog. That's one of the reasons I wanted to start it.

Stay tuned for more on the whole adoption thing in the near future.

August 05, 2008

Living the Dream (how cliche!)

So, my background is in communications/PR/marketing, and anyone in that industry knows that when the economy turns, companies (stupidly) cut marketing dollars, and, well, lay-offs occur. Over the course of the 11+ years I've been in this industry, I've gone through three. Most recently, this past May.

The good news is that I'd been wanting to do something else anyway, and this last lay-off was the catalyst I needed to do what I really want to be doing: writing full time.

Writing has always been a part of my 9-5, and I've written (and been lucky enough to get published) a fair amount freelance articles, but now I get to stay home and work on my novel, while doing some freelance writing.

Yes, I feel a tinsy bit of guilt, and yes I am still looking daily for a new job, but I am loving my daily routine right now: get up, take the dog for a power walk (you know, get the heart rate up), shower, eat breakfast and enjoy a cup of tea, and then sit down at my computer to write. I am so happy, it's ridiculous. The only reason I don't feel more guilty, as my husband takes our daughter to daycare each morning, before heading off to a job he's not in love with, is that I know all of this will soon change, and my dream with be over, temporarily.

We are expecting baby number two--through adoption--any day now and when that baby comes, sleep will become my dream "job." For now though, I will continue writing my novel, fast and furious, and see where it takes me.