Friday, June 10, 2011

The Good News!

First, I apologze that so much time has passed since the last blog.  And I appreciate the people I work with at Heart to Heart for being so understanding.  I have had a few personal challenges this month and was unable to blog.  Thank you for hanging in there, dear readers, and thank you to the amazing women at Heart to Heart - especially Donna - for your patience and understanding. 

Now back to business!

We have been working hard with Meg, our 10 year old (and first adoption in our family) to express her feelings.  She has had a hard time with identifying feelings and then she stifles til she blows a gasket.  So we have made a concerted effort to encourage her to stop and think about what she's feeling, put a label on the feeling(s), and TALK about them.  She can get/be as mad and angry and sad and frustrated as she wants.  She can do whatever she needs to to blow of steam, But she has to identify her feelings first.

It's been a work in progress. But we are making baby steps.A few days ago Meg called me and said, "Mom, Mati* (*my 9 yr old) hurt my feelings."

She did it! She put a label to her feelings!! Wahoo!!

So I said, "Meg, I'm so sorry your feelings were hurt.  What happened?"  Apparently my three daughters, Chloe age 11, Meg age 10, and Mati age 9, were all on the bus coming home from school when the incident occurred.  Meg said:
"We were on the bus and some girl said to Mati, 'Are those your sisters?' And Mati said yes.  The girl said, 'Those two?" pointing to Chloe (Caucasian) and Meg (AA).  And Mati said yes.  Then the girl said 'Why is one brown and one white?' And Mati got to say, 'Because Meg is adopted.'  And that hurt my feelings because she said it first! And I wanted to say I'm adopted - first!"

Did I hear this right? Meg had her feelings hurt because Mati said it first.

I said, "Oh Meg. I'm so sorry Mati shared your good news before you could.  I'll talk to her about that.  Mati may just be jealous that you're adopted and she's not."

  Let me just insert here that we have had some funny conversations with Mati regarding adoption.  She went through about a year of asking, "Who's my birth mom?"  and I had to just say, "Me! I'm your birthmom.  Sorry...."  Every time she'd ask it was as if she was hoping the answer would change.  I feel good about that because adoption is such a positive thing in our home that everyone wants to be part of it!

OK back to the conversation about the bus ride home. Then Meg said, "Why did the girl say, 'both of them?' Why would she think we aren't all sisters?"  Big pause.  "Is it because Chloe and Mati are white?"

I said, "Yes."

Meg: "So she didn't understand just because we don't look alike?"

Arrrggghhhhh! It was so sweet and innocent.  She did not undertsand why that girl would question their sisterhood. And then...she assumed it was because Chloe and Mati are white - not because she is brown.

Again, in a way, I was proud.  Because Meg is proud to be brown.  And here's how I know that:
  • Meg is convinced anyone who goes tanning just wants to look like her.
  • She will often take my face in her hands and say, "Mom, I bet you wish you were brown like me, don't you?" And believe me, people, the answer is always yes. 
  • She takes great satisfaction during the summer in always having the best 'tan'.
  • She is convinced every boy in her class has a crush on her.  And she'll say things like, "Tyler has a crush on me - probably because I'm so good at soccer." Or, "Brayden says I'm beautiful - probably because I'm brown." Or, "Marcus wants me to be his girlfriend, probably because I am the best skateboarder and he likes my braids."
Now don't get me wrong here - remember that I'm not sharing all aspects of life - and in our family we work as hard on her feeling beautiful on  the inside as the outside.  But admit it, my Adoptive Parent Friends, we do have to address the brown-ness and make sure our kids are secure in it being a wonderfully positive thing.  And we do it often. Because as I've mentioned in other posts, there are already those who make negative comments - even though it usually isn't intended to hurt.

So when she questioned why someone would questions their sisterhood just because they are different skin color, it was interesting to me that she didn't say "...because I'm black...", she thought it was because Chloe and Mati are white. So my husband said, "Meg, people often notice only what people look like and make judgments. I wonder how many people think, 'Wow, look at all those pasty people in that family!' " And Meg lost it.  She was laughing so hard she couldn't breathe! Then he went on:
"Or maybe they say, 'Hey look at that bald, chubby dad..." or "Look! That mom is in a wheelchair." or "Hey, that baby wears glasses!"

Meg just giggled and giggled.  Because we just got it out there.  No, it wasn't politically correct.  But it was true.  People do think those things when our family walks into a room.  And they think other things about other families. Is it 'right'? Probably not.  Is it human nature? Probably so.  But my husband and I feel like if we acknowledge what's out there - no matter how uncomfortable it may seem - we empower the children - especially Meg - to handle what comes their way.  And we feel like if we can put a positive - or even humorous spin on it - we can empower her, as well as our other children, to respond to things, come what may.

Maybe we aren't handling it the way Dr. Phil would say is appropriate. But again, we all have to find what works in our homes; we have to work with our family dynamic, the child's personality, the child's developmental level and emotional capability, etc.

But bottom line? Meg just wanted to share her own good news:  SHE'S ADOPTED.  AND PROUD OF IT.

You go, girl!

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