Saturday, December 31, 2016

Evelyn - 8!

She turned 8 in September.  It's 30 minutes until January.  The end of this year has been the famous dumpster fire of 2016 though, so we aren't going to talk about that.

So here is her birthday interview.

Who is your best friend?  Nikyla, Mae, and Paige

What is your favorite color?  blue, yellow, and green

What is your favorite animal?  big cats

What is your favorite thing to do?  gymnastics

What is your favorite thing to wear?  shirts with skinny jeans and sweaters

What is your favorite food?  salads and hamburgers with french fries

What is your favorite show?  gymnastics movies

What is your favorite thing to do in Iowa?  play with my cousins

What is your favorite thing to do with daddy?  go on dates

What is your favorite thing to do with mommy?  snuggle

What do you want to be when you grow up?  an art teacher like Ms. McGrath

What do you want people to know about you?  I like to do gymnastics.

Our big second grader is growing by leaps and bounds.  She loves her siblings dearly when she's not trying to injure them.  She's a really great help with Malachi and loves playing house with him as her baby.  She's pouring her heart into gymnastics, getting fluent with reading, and is a social butterfly always wanting to hang out with friends. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

In Which I Attempt to Respond to the Election

We live in at minimum, two Americas.  I've known this to be true since the time we started truly delving into what life would be like for us to raise a Black child, but I've never seen it so clearly as I do this week.  And it is a strange reality to have one foot in each of these worlds, particularly in the Church.  Because if the division is clear and decisive anywhere, its in our churches.

This is most clear this week as we watch the response to the election results and having to say the words "President Donald Trump".  On one hand I see White Evangelical Christians.  This is the group I grew up as a part of and still have plenty of connection with.  They overwhelmingly voted for Trump, some estimates say numbers as high as 80% did.  And these are direct quotes from some:

  • We need to look 'em in the face and laugh.
  • You guys lost.  Learn it, love it, live it, and leave us alone.
  • The Right has seized their chance to take a stand - speak against the righteous accusations founded in "social justice".
  • A vote for Trump was a vote for the freedom to promote truth.
  • Thankfully there will be more babies to adopt now.
  • The media has painted him only one way.
  • God cannot bless our country through Hillary.
  • We cannot pre-judge Trump.

And I read these words and see these responses over and over and over in various forms and levels of vitriol on my friends and families social media comment sections and I want to openly weep.  And I do sometimes.  Because how in the world does any of that represent Christ?  How does any of that speak to the hurting, the broken, the beaten down, the marginalized, and the forgotten?  How easily and quickly do we forget the very words of Jesus, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed."

And thus I come to the two Americas.  Because you know what I don't see from any of the people of color in my world who are believers?  ANY OF THAT.  None of it.  I see mourning.  I see prophetic lament.  I see willingness to step into the pain and brokenness and sit with those who are afraid and lonely and oppressed.  This is what I see:

  • White evangelicals, you could have stood up and said that following Christ and the body of Christ is greater, but you chose to pursue power.
  • When you say let's move forward without even a hint of an apology for all that has been said and done, you are re-traumatizing people of color.
  • Until the White church is ready to have internal dialogue about the idol of "whiteness" they will fail to have a credible Gospel witness.
  • Stop telling people they'll be ok.  There are a lot of people in this country that Donald Trump, himself, has promised won't be ok.
  • Division isn't healed by ignoring issues, but being honest about what divides.

But these are not the voices that the majority of White Christians are listening to.  And you know why?  It goes all the way back to post-slavery America where White Christians refused to let Black people have a non-marginalized place in the church, so they left and formed their own churches.  And still to this day Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week.

So not only were the voices of the marginalized not heard by the majority of White Christians before the election to have that influence how they viewed the candidates, we had White pastors around the country championing Trump's cause.  So Christians of color in this country are crying out in lament with good reason while White Christians are quite literally telling others to laugh in their faces.

White Christians are proclaiming "God is on the throne and is in charge!" while Christian immigrants are wondering how to keep their family together when Trump starts his mass deportation plan.  They proclaim "Give him a chance!  Pray for him!", all while refusing to fully step into mourning with and praying for the children who had to go to school this week and read, "go back to Africa niggers!  Trump is making America great again!"  They say, "well at least we will have conservative Supreme Court nominees to try to overturn abortion!" while the woman who just got pregnant is looking at her insurance being stripped away when the ACA is repealed and knows she can't afford to sustain her pregnancy if that happens.

Meanwhile the biggest pushback I get from trying, begging, pleading with White Christians this week is that they aren't racist.  So be it.  Stand on that ground if you want, but you have to deal with the implications of your vote, White church.  You have to deal with not only your vote, but your leaders championing him and refusing to speak against his bigotry, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia.  You need to be protecting and housing Muslim families that are living in fear of being branded.  You need to be covering the costs of the pregnant woman who would rather not chose abortion but feels like she has no choice (and not just cover those living costs if she chooses adoption).  You need to be physically standing in the gap for our Mexican brothers and sisters who are afraid to walk out of their homes right now.  You need to be a safe place for the woman who is sexually assaulted and doesn't know who she can trust because her president and the pastors who championed him don't seem to care about the bodily autonomy and safety of women.

Stop trying to justify your vote as not racist, and see the far reaching implications that it had.  Then work your ass off to fix that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Annabelle - 6!

My sweet, sweet Annie.  I can't seem to quit calling you Annie even though at school you are firming in camp, "My Name Is Annabelle."

You are my feeler of all the feelings, shedder of all the tears, and lover of all the tiny things.  You gush over me washing your favorite dress for you and cry when you can't have the snack you want.  You are learning to read and write, so now that amazing mind of yours has started creating stories on paper.  How well your day at school went is firmly planted in how much recess time you get.  Not because you run around a whole lot, but because you spend your recess heading up the "Nature Club" - of which you founded - or finding small trinkets and garbage on the ground that become your beloved treasures.

My new, absolute favorite Annie story happened today.  I was trying to shoo you and your brother and sister out the door for school.  You came randomly wandering back into the house and I spun you around to send you back to the car.  In that moment you found a tiny potato on the steps to the back door.  When I continued to direct you toward the car even though you now had a potato in your possession, your eyes lit up.

This is because, my sweet lover of all the tiny things, your imagination sees life in everything.  And you saw life in that potato.  You named it Baby Potato.  It sat on your desk at school, it went out to recess with you, and took a nap on a bed of feathers under a tissue during art class after spending some time sunbathing in the light from the window.  My child, I could not make this up if I tried.  But to you there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary about making a pet out of a potato.

Without further ado, Annabelle's 6-year-old interview. 

Who is your best friend? Julia.

What is your favorite color? Pink.

What is your favorite animal? Meerkats (she pronounces it meer-uh-kats) and cheetahs.

What's your favorite thing to do?  Snuggle with mommy and eat donuts.

What's your favorite thing to wear?  Dresses.

What's your favorite food?  Ice cream...and CAKE!

 What's your favorite show?  You know, Elsa and Anna, so Frozen.

What's your favorite thing to do in Iowa?  Get a toy with grandma.

What's your favorite thing to do with daddy?  Go to the donut store and go get pizza.

What's your favorite thing to do with mommy?  Snuggle.

What do you want to be when you grow up?  A ballerina teacher and a singer.

What do you want people to know about you?  Well, I have a lot more favorites than those things.  I have favorite toys and favorite other things too.  I like to play Barbies.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Malachi - 6 Months

My baby!  He's so big!

Daddy and Abe are his favorites.  These brothers are already becoming the best of friends.  Abe will try to drag him all over the house if I'm not looking.

Really, he's so big.  Like... 20 pounds, 28 inches long, 95th percentile big.  And I love all his squishy goodness.

He's also getting so busy.  He's incredibly close to crawling.  He can scoot himself backward, get in the crawling position, and does killer planks.

This is a rare photo of him trying to sit.  Don't ask him to sit up.  Its not his thing.

His exersaucer is one of his favorite activities.  He will jump endlessly in that thing. 

He sleeps like a dream.  12-13 hours a night and 2 naps a day.

On his 6 month birthday he had 2 teeth, but now a couple weeks in he has 2 more working their way out.

He's loving the introduction of solid foods.  His favorites are green beans and peas.

He wears 12-18 month clothes and size 4 diapers.  I don't know what shoe size he wears because he never gets to wear them.  Fourth child problems.

When he's not happily trying to crawl or bouncing in this exersaucer, this is where he is happiest.  

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

How Not To Respond About Kaepernick: A Quick Tutorial on Talking About Race, Social Media, and Adoption

I don't have to start with a long retelling of the chain of events, right?  It basically boils down to: National Anthem, Kaepernick sits for the second game in a row, camera notices this time, he gives an explanation for his personal choice, and social media explodes.

And I'm not going to give amazing renditions or why this was ok or not.  If you're still trying to formulate an opinion or understanding, this article lays out my feelings (Kaepernick wants Justice not Peace) and here's some Christian-focused thoughts on nationalism and patriotism (What Christians Can Learn from Colin Kaepernick).

What I want to address now are some recurring themes I see in the discussion of the issue.  Because this event has led to lots of talk about race, privilege, and adoption and I really like to talk about those things.  Ask me about any of them and I will pull out my soapbox if given the opportunity.

Here's what I'm seeing be brought up:

  • Why this?  He has so much money why not do something that will actually help?
  • If he cares so much about Black people, what is he doing for them?
  • Here's a whole list of problems that are perceived as Black problems (poverty, crime, absent fathers, education, etc) does not standing for the national anthem help with those?
  • He's so lucky to have been adopted, why can't he just be thankful?
  • Its so much better for him here than anywhere else in the world, he should be thankful and proud to be American.
  • This is so disrespectful to veterans.

Not an exhaustive list by far, but hits some main points.  So lets tackle them (football pun intended).

Why this?  He has so much money why not do something that will actually help?

We don't even know if he intended for the cameras to catch him or make a big fuss about this, it was a personal choice and conviction that he acted on.  That being said, if we assume that he did intend for this to be a public protest, we have to keep some things in mind.  Change in this country is rarely abrupt.  It takes time, energy, focus, and patience to see the social progress we strive for.  One of the first steps in that though, is raising awareness.  Colin chose a peaceful and purposeful action, and raised awareness at that game.  He used his time in the spotlight to succinctly explain his rationale for why he did what he did.  Raising awareness is actually helping.  Because without it we don't get the slow wheels of change moving.  

If he cares so much about Black people, what is he doing for them?

Well first off, he is a Black person, so this question feels odd.  He is just as likely to be a victim of what he was protesting as the rest of the Black population in this country.  So what he's doing is protesting that treatment.  That's doing something.  Secondly, its not a question you would ever ask of a White athlete who was making a stand about something.  Can you imagine Peyton Manning ever being asked what he's doing for White people?  Nah.  

Here's a whole list of problems that are perceived as Black problems (poverty, crime, absent fathers, education, etc) does not standing for the national anthem help with those?

Those problems?  Poverty, schools, urban blight, etc are all products of the same beast that created a legal system that is wrought with racial bias...which is what Colin is protesting.  They are all products of the history of this country that I couldn't possibly spell out in its entirety in this one post of mine.  If that doesn't make sense to you, I would recommend the following books to movies to start you off.

Beyond that reality, its patently false to paint the Black experience in America as one fraught with poverty, crime, or broken families.  Painting an entire race of people with such a broad brush diminishes their humanity and individual realities.  There is some statistical truth, particularly surrounding wealth and education, that show stark disparities between the Black and White experience in America, but they can all be tied to racist historical and present realities, not a failure or inadequacy on the part of the African American population individually or at large.  

On that note, I specifically want to address the common racist trope that Black fathers are absent fathers.  The reality is that Black fathers are more likely to be involved in their children's lives than any other race of father in America.  Given the high rates of mass incarceration for Black males (another area with extreme racial bias both in who gets charged with crimes and how long they are sentenced), this is staggering.  

For more on mass incarceration, check out The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

He's so luck to have been adopted, why can't he just be thankful?

When it comes to adoption, adoptive parents are the lucky ones.  Our children get to decide for themselves how they feel about adoption, because adoption isn't simple.  And while plenty of adult adoptees are happy, thankful, and a whole range of positive emotions, that's not the only possible experience with adoption and those feelings may coexist with loss and sadness.  And regardless of how an adoptee feels about their adoption, this situation has nothing whatsoever to do with his adoption.  He is a grown man making a stand about his and others' lived reality in this country and any thankfulness he feels or doesn't feel about his adoption doesn't have to play into how he choses to express himself.  

Its so much better for him here than anywhere else in the world, he should be thankful and proud to be American.

Sometimes I wonder if people are really hearing themselves when they say this.  It's both an acknowledgment of racism (and its worldwide nature), and a down-playing of it.  It also shows a lack of understanding of the developed world.  Even if we remove from the equation that there are lots of great places to live in this world, telling someone that they should just suck it up because it could be worse is the opposite of empathy and progress.  The line that it could be worse has been used since the dawn of this country.  Slaves were told that at least they weren't still having to live in Africa for chrissakes.  This is not a new response and it has never been an ok one.  

This is so disrespectful to veterans.

I purposefully put this one after the last one.  There are veterans who are hurt by Colin's actions.  I'm sorry that they are hurting.  Me explaining the racist history of Francis Scott Key and the anthem itself, explaining that he didn't intend to hurt veterans, or explaining why the gesture of the singing the anthem doesn't have a direct connection to respect for veterans doesn't take away that hurt.  Facts and emotions are a messy thing to try to mix up in that way.  Colin clearly views the flag and anthem differently than some veterans do.  Its a different lens so it leads to different understandings.  Just as I want Colin's feelings and experiences validated, I believe its ok to validate the hurt veterans feel.

That being said, I do appreciate that he said he did not intend offense and have found it interesting to see the outpouring of support from many veterans on social media through the hashtag #VeteransForKaepernick.  Clearly, there are many veterans who do not take offense to Colin's protest, and in fact encourage it.

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Adventure in Meal Planning

Meal planning or anything resembling regular, balanced, healthy meals went out the window this summer.  Between my knee surgery, Evelyn have gymnastics for 2 hours twice a week, and another 2 nights having swimming lessons for three didn't happen.  It was more of a warming food or throwing something on the grill kind of summer.

But that left us in a rut, so I need to get doing something.  School starts this week though and things aren't slowing down anytime soon.  So I'm going to attempt emeals (no, they aren't sponsoring my post).  They now have a gluten free option so I don't even have to worry about modifying recipes.  Also, through Groupon, I got 6 months of nightly recipes and grocery lists for $28.  The time I would spend weekly putting together recipes for the week and writing out a grocery list makes that a great deal.

The emeals app gives me 7 recipes a week to choose from.  I can check them out, click a button, and my grocery list is updated to include everything I need.  I really find we only need 4-5 planned dinners a week because other nights are leftovers, pizza, or we aren't home.  So I like that I can just add the meals I want that week to my list.

I have no idea how this will go.  I'm not good at sticking with things.  But, my family has to eat, so I can't totally give up on cooking meals, so hopefully this will just be a guide to keep me on track.  I'm also looking forward to the idea of trying new foods and cooking methods.

I'll try to update once a month or so and let you know if its been helpful or worth it!

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Year Out From Michigan

A year ago yesterday a sweet, tiny bundle was born weighing in at 4 lbs. 1 oz.  We were told he was going to be our son.  We were rushing to drive north to Michigan to meet him.

A year ago today we sat in a place of utter confusion.  One minute we were being told he would be our son and I was snuggling him in the NICU.  The next we were told it was uncertain what would happen.

A year ago tomorrow we were told he wasn't going to be a part of our family.  We were so broken.  We were so hurt.  We had so much grief to process.

We are a year out now and the scene looks very different.  We have a little ball of pudge that joined our family many months later.  And we have had time to process what the past couple years have meant and what we could learn from them.

Thinking through these things brought me back to a conversation I had years ago with an agency that was sharing their rate of adoptions that didn't go through.  In the industry they are called "failed adoptions", and that's a term I've used plenty before, but its not one I feel comfortable using now.  The agency wanted us to know that they had a very low rate of women changing their mind after birth.  This was a selling feature for them.

This brings two things to my mind.  First, that can be a good thing.  It can mean that the mothers involved got adequate counseling and were firm in their decisions by the time of the birth.  But, it also makes me squirm a bit, because it can also mean that the mothers involved with that agency feel like they have to go through with their adoption plan.  And that is in no way ok.

So right now, I can look back at the adoptions in our past that didn't happen, and be thankful.  I can be thankful that the women parenting those babies are getting to parent those babies, because it is what they wanted to do.  I can be thankful the agencies, social workers, and attorneys we worked with were the type of adoption professional that leaves parenting on the table as a viable option for the new mom.  Because regardless of my love for those children, they were not mine.  It would not have been ok for their moms to think that because we maybe have more of what society would deem ideal circumstances in which to raise a child that we should be the ones to raise them if thats not what the moms wanted.

So I'm now in a place of wanting to see "failed adoptions" as "successful decisions to parent".  We must never, as adoptive parents or adoption professionals, remove from moms their rights to be able to parent and choose to only see these decisions through the lens of what we were hoping the outcome would be.  That doesn't mean that there isn't grief, processing, and hurt to work through as I surely know there is.  But it is a reminder to not get ourselves so wrapped up in a situation that we lose sight of where the focus should be.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Abraham - {4!}

We discussed the night before his 4th birthday that 4-year-olds don't get out of their beds in the night. Here's hoping our little night wanderer takes this to heart.

Because he's our big 4-year-old now!  

He's in love with swords, the Beastie Boys (blame his father), Minions, and chips.  He will hunt down the gum hidden in the house no matter how well you think you hid it.  He will play outside in the water or on his bike any chance he's given.  He adores our preteen and teenage neighbors and thinks he lives in their house (he will just walk on in and make himself at home without even knocking).  His baby brother is about the best thing to ever come into his life and the two are almost inseparable when Malachi - or hun-yun as Abe calls him - is awake. 

Since he's now 4, he gets to start the birthday interviews!  My favorite.

Who is your best friend?  Chase.

What is your favorite color?  Blue.

What is your favorite animal?  Trains.

What is your favorite thing to do?  Go to the train station and the donut store.

What is your favorite thing to wear?  Hawkeye clothes.

What is your favorite food?  Chicken nuggets.

What is your favorite show?  Leo (Little Einsteins)

 What is your favorite thing to do when we visit Iowa? Play with grandma and grandpa.

What is your favorite thing to do with daddy? Float at the hotel.  (I have no idea what he means.)

What's your favorite thing to do with mommy?  Nothing, because you're naughty.  (Awesome.)

What do you want to be when you grow up?  Eat cake.  (Solid life goal.)

What do you want people to know about you?  That I like my new light saber.  (I don't think Malachi shares that sentiment.)

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Two News Stories

I started the morning out at 6 am with Abraham climbing in our bed, falling back asleep, and snoring like an old man for the next couple hours.  Thus, even though I would have loved to still be sleeping, I snuggled my little old man instead.

After I gave up on being able to sleep amidst his noisy rumble, I grabbed my phone to catch up on the news.  The first story that was brought to my attention made me want to vomit.  A Black child with intellectual disabilities, adopted by White parents and growing up in a predominantly White area in Idaho, was the victim of horrendous racist violence at the hands of his classmates and without the intervention of his teachers.  What he endured was truly horrific.  So I snuggled Abe a little tighter, was thankful for our community and kids' school, and then decided maybe I would just keep him tucked in my bed and safe forever.

Later in the day I came across another story about Bill O'Reilly and his latest racist rant on Fox News.  It confirmed to me that Fox News will continue to be banned from ever being watched in my home, but found myself with anger growing inside me.  Here we have a man blasting an entire race of people as violent while at the same time that group faces all types of violence against them by individuals and institutions.

What really infuriates me is the connection between the two stories.  If Fox covers the story from Idaho, they will condemn the actions of the boys as wrong and racist; while simultaneously feeding that racist narrative into the hearts and minds of those watching the station.  You can't separate individual racist acts from the broader system of racism that permeates our country.  Its easy to condemn something that looks blatant and clearly wrong, but if you are unwilling to delve into what allows such racist attitudes to go unchecked before the overt act, then your condemnation doesn't lead to actual change for the victims of racism.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Malachi: 3 Months

You giggle, you roll over, and you gain weight.  You are amazing.  You love to sleep and lay on your back staring at ceiling fans.  You either want to nap in your crib by yourself and snuggled in super tight in the Beco carrier.  You travel amazingly well.  You've reminded me that its ok to hope.  You still wear 3-6 month clothes, but have graduated to size 3 diapers and top off at just over 16 pounds.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Malachi: 10 weeks

At 10 weeks old you are rocking some serious cheekies.  You hate when mommy squeezes them, but seriously, how does one resist that?

You weigh in at 14 lbs. 4 oz.  and are 24 inches long.  You've busted out of all the tiny baby clothes you were supposed to wear for another month or so and fully fill out your 3-6 month clothes.

Napping happens two places.  You either want to be in your bed swaddled up, or in the carrier on mom.

Your favorite thing is when mommy sings to you.  You coo and smile and try to make noises right along.

You go to bed around 8 at night.  I sneak a bottle into you before I go to bed and then you will generally sleep until between 4-5 am before wanting another.  Then you sleep in until 8-9 am.

You put down a good 4-5 ounce bottle every few hours during the day.   When you are awake you like to lay on your back and check everything out around you.

Your brother thinks you are the most amazing thing on the planet and you are pretty fond of him too.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I'm Not Giving Up the Dollar Spot

Oh great.  More Target commentary, you say.  I know, I'm over it too.  But regardless, I need to throw this all out there.

Its for a few main reasons.  First, I'm passionate about the safety of women and children.  Second, I care deeply that no one should feel in danger for their safety, regardless of their gender orientation.  And thirdly, because it feels that once again the church has aligned itself with a position that ostracizes it from hurting people under the auspice of caring about something Biblical.

I will not boycott Target.  Not because I just can't pull myself away from the dollar spot, adorable home decor, and cheap kids clothes.  I will even use the bathroom there should the need arise.

The whole thing is all so, so strange to me. Either people are boycotting Target for accommodating transgendered people, in which case, they need to boycott a lot more than Target.  Plenty of companies openly accommodate transgendered individuals.

Or, they are boycotting because they say this rule makes women and children less safe.  The thought process is that this rule will allow cisgendered men who want to prey on innocent women and children to freely walk into women's restrooms.  In reality, the policy's goal is to help protect transgendered people who are just as worthy of safety and significantly more at risk in bathrooms than cis people.  [Cis or cisgendered means you believe to be the gender you were assigned at birth based on your genetalia.]  

Regardless of your thoughts on the legitimacy or not of being transgendered or what you believe the Bible has to say about it, the very real reality of transgendered people is that they are a target.  They are significantly more likely to be assaulted, both physically and sexually, by those around them and transgendered youth are twice as likely to attempt to commit suicide.  This is a vulnerable population, and as such, should be warmly welcomed and protected by those of us claiming Jesus.  

Boycotting a transgendered person being able to use the the facilities that fit their gender identity is a pursuit to change the rules.  Not only does it potentially change laws or rules made to keep them safe, it surely makes them feel as though they are not safe around you personally, because you are actively working against their need for a safe place to pee.  And if you boycott under the banner of religion, it makes your religion the enemy of their pursuit of personal safety.  

It is completely legitimate to want a safe place to pee as a transgendered person.  Its ok for a company to, as the result of state's law to take away that safe place, put a policy in place that reinstates that safety.

Its ok too at this point to come back to the concerns about the safety of women and children though.  Because those are beyond legitimate concerns.  Women and children are not safe populations either.  Statistically, theres a 50/50 chance that I will have to walk one of my daughters through healing from a sexual assault by the time she graduates college.  Talk about statistics that make you want to act and change things.

It is precisely because of that reality though that I won't put my time or energy behind boycotting laws such as these. If I have the energy and time to put behind keeping women and children safe, I will put my effort toward changing legislation about sentencing of sex offenders, increasing education of children on their bodies and safety, and pushing for more oversight in places like where abuse of children most often takes place (schools, religious institutions, and their homes being the primary places).  Because the reality is that this bathroom policy isn't what puts women and children in danger. It's the laws that don't exist to keep pedophiles behind bars as well as a systemic problem with making women not feel safe and supported in reporting assault. 

Currently, if a man is in the woman's room peeking at girls or assaulting women, it is illegal.  No rule at Target is going to change that.  

Lets say that a man goes so far as to rape a woman in the Target restroom.  The victim will then have to report the crime, something that only 46-66% of those assaulted by strangers feel comfortable and supported enough to do.  Then, statistically, only 7-9% of these Target restroom rapists will actually be arrested.  Only about a third to a half of those will end up with a felony conviction.  And not even all of those will spend A SINGLE DAY in prison.  No rule or law is going to keep even those few that spend a day in jail from re-offending.  

This doesn't even speak to the plethora of other crimes men can and do commit against women and children that are prosecuted at no better rates.  

Anyone still think Target is the problem here?

No boycotters with signs or Facebook commenters about a law concerning transgendered individuals not being able to use the restroom will keep the next victim safe.  Creeps will find ways to reoffend.  The reaction to that should not be to try to find more ways to wall off women from potential predators, but to find ways to catch and more permanently wall of predators from victims.  To believe women who tell you or the police that they have been assaulted.  To prosecute the predators.  And to make them spend actual, legitimate lengths of time in prison in order to keep others safe.  

Want to keep women and children safe?  Forget Target and their policy.  Use the bathroom when you need to.  Work to change the real problem that exists.

Statistics pulled from multiple sites that all have similar numbers such as these.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

My Sons Were Never Orphans

A news story has been making the rounds in different circles I'm in.  Its the story of a self-labeled evangelical couple who adopted 2 children domestically (one Black, one bi-racial), and then adopted 2 embryos leftover from another couple's IVF that resulted in her giving birth to 3 Black daughters.

The article essentially boils down to the couple defining themselves through the labels of evangelical, savior of Black children.  So while I appreciated that within the article they speak of not being colorblind and understanding the implications race will have for their children, the White savior complex was too thick to wade through to make me feel comfortable even linking it here.

I posted this comment in a racial reconciliation group I participate in, but wanted to share it here as I feel that it sums up my thoughts on transracial adoption currently.

I discussed this article with a fellow White, transracial adoptive mom and a Black friend yesterday. We all got the same image of the White savior complex from the article. Mostly because it was all about the parents. Them wanting to define themselves by their faith and children.

I think the church has fed this problem significantly. They have created a Christian adoption complex that labeled domestic adoption as the "care of orphans" which isn't even an accurate label. There are true orphans in our country, and they are the children in our foster system who have had their parents' rights terminated yet there is no one to adopt them. Many age out of the system every year and have to navigate adulthood without parents or relying on their biological parents who were deemed unfit to parent.

My children who joined our family through domestic adoption were physically placed in my arms by their first moms. Never orphaned.

So when the church started holding up this (albeit very, very difficult both emotionally and financially) way of adding a child to your family as something to be exalted, it became something I don't think it ever was supposed to be. Supported, yes. Because it is such a hard thing to go through and because that's what we should be doing as the body of Christ, supporting one another through the hard things that we chose to do.

Add in the racial dynamics of who in our country is more likely to have resources to adopt, and you create a problematic situation where mostly White, well off families are adopting babies while their church is telling them they are participating in "caring for the orphan" and at the same time (in a lot of cases though not all) not preparing them for the racial dynamics the situation creates. The only training in preparing to parent a Black child tends to consist of learning hair and skin care, not how to teach your child to interact with the police or what to do when your preschooler is already racially profiled in the way their behavior is punished at school. There are no requirements to live in an area where your child isn't the only Black student in their class or on their street.

I know transracial adoption isn't being done well in this country when I have a mom message me from her suburban home asking me where she can find Black children for her Black children to play with. And when my answer of, "start with your Black friend's children, schoolmates families, or families from your church" renders no one. The fact that families can adopt transracially and end up in that place shows me how far we have to go in preparing families to adopt this way and how much we need to get away from the feeling I got from this article. It also provides me a solid reminder to not take it at all personally when POC are skeptical of our family and how we are doing things.

I take the Biblical mandate to care for orphans, to show mercy, to love justice, and to walk humbly before God very seriously.  And its because of that seriousness that I have no desire to misapply the label of orphan to my children.  There are plenty of ways within domestic infant adoption to follow the commands of the Bible outside of mislabeling.  I would much rather the focus shift to showing mercy and love to expectant moms who are making adoption plans, being humble when matched to not see yourself as a better option for the baby than the child's birth family particularly if the adoption doesn't go through, and seeking racial justice for all our children.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Forever a Family

This day was all about you big guy.

At 9:05 a.m. you were declared Malachi James Behrens.

You are so loved, so cherished, so wanted, and forever a member of our family.

This is about how the court hearing went for Abe.

We couldn't be happier.