30 May 2011

Do Cultural Celebrations and Heritage Events Do Enough to Help Form an Identity?

"Culture keeping is a source of great anxiety for me: Am I doing enough to connect my internationally adopted children with their roots? Am I doing the right things? I struggle to avoid comparing myself with other adoptive parents who seem to do more culture, and try not to judge those who seem to do less."

This is something I've been thinking a lot about. I mean A LOT. How in the world am I supposed to do what's best for my transracially adopted child - connect her with her heritage? I do believe that the adoptive family's heritage becomes the adoptee's heritage, but to ignore their original heritage is damaging to the child. Most African-American people do not celebrate their own African heritage so why should you? Don't think African Americans have a culture/heritage you can share with your child? Maybe you think they do, but you are not sure how to go about finding it.

"When the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's 2009 study of nearly 500 adult adoptees, Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption, touched on similar themes, the findings hit home for me. Their research revealed that although attendance at heritage camps and ethnic festivals is certainly worthwhile for adopted children, these activities aren’t enough. What did the authors find to be more beneficial? Having ongoing relationships with others who share their ethnicity and frequent and sustained involvement in cultural activities."

So attending an African dance concert once a year does not let you off the hook. I've never thought so, but it's good to see there was a study done on it. Actually this is one of many studies. So what do you do as a transracial adoptive parent? Well, to tell the truth I'm not entirely sure. I know that I want to include my daughter's heritage in our lives DAILY, but am at a loss as to how.

My son (biological) gets his heritage daily without much effort on our part. There's no though to it because his heritage is also OUR heritage. I would love it if one day I had learned enough to be able to include my daughter's heritage daily in our lives with as little effort as I do with my son's. I aspire.

Click here to read the whole article quoted.

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28 May 2011

Gotta Have The Green Stuff?

It's no secret that most people who adopt through an agency have more money than most. It's just a fact because it takes a lot of money to adopt if you're not gonna go through foster care. When we started looking into adoption we were surprised, a bit shocked, intimidated, and even a little hurt at how much adoption fees are. We knew we were meant to adopt but just didn't know how in the world we were going to be able to afford it. Now don't get me wrong. I am not "poor-mouthin'", as Momma calls it. I'm just sharin'. Back when we were starting the adoption process I would have loved to have read about a middle class family having to sacrifice to pay for adoption fees, but who were still able to do it. That's what I'm doing here. I'm gonna tell you how we're doin' it.

Spud's not one for fundraisers. He thinks it's begging for money, and of course no husband wants others to think he cannot provide for his family. Me, with the personality I have, wanted to do anything I could to help raise the funds. I found it nearly impossible. In fact, I just recently found two fundraisers that we both felt comfortable with. Money can be such a huge issue in a relationship. You cannot let it be. Okay so now I'm jumping around. Back to how we are handling the adoption fees.
We had to pay with credit. No other way around it. We felt our daughter was coming soon, and felt that she was coming through a certain agency, and had no time to plan to pay the fees any other way. Even if we would have had time I don't think we would have done things differently. We used the equity in our home and opened a second credit card account. Spud hates, and I means despises, debt. We had to change our views and look at it as something unavoidable for our family, like a house payment. No way you can pay cash for a house. For our family, adoption was a definite just like having to have a house. It's a wonder what something as simple as changing the way you perceive certain things can do for you.
So we made a payment plan (paying way over the minimum payments each month), and every day we make sacrifices to pay off the adoption fees ASAP. I'm not saying we go without food and other essentials. I'm saying we eat cheaper groceries, go out to eat less, make clothes last a little longer, use less gasoline, and other things like that. It's the same things other people sometimes do when they buy a new car. Just "tighten the belt" a bit. We could probably do even better at it.
Point is, it can be done. Do not be discouraged as we were. It'll take time and sacrifice and planning, but it can be done. You may have to move to a smaller home. You may have to drive an old car. No matter what you have to do please know you will look back and not regret a thing! You will be happy for the sacrifices you made. Family sacrifices are good for a family! What a learning and growing experience! And when the fees are paid off you can buy a new car, go to Disney Land for a week, or do whatever you weren't able to do for the year or two or three it's taken to pay off the fees. Then you can adopt again!
Let us discuss the tax credit. It's currently just over $13,000. You have to assume the debt initially until you can get the credit. You can only claim it in the year you finalize the adoption. For example, our daughter was born last year, but the adoption was finalized this year when she was six months old. So we couldn't claim it on 2010's tax return (the one we submitted this year). We are claiming it on our 2011 taxes (next year) and will get the credit in 2012 (on our next tax refund). A $13,000 tax credit will pay for almost half of a private adoption agency's fees. It depends on the agency, the birthmother's needs, and, sadly, the race of your child. For some it will only cover about a third of the cost.
If, even though you've moved to a smaller house, drive old cars, tighten the budget, and still cannot see how your family can afford adoption fees, then, to me, that means your child will not come from a private adoption agency. I believe the children that belong to your family will come in a way your family will be able to handle. Maybe your child is coming to you from foster care? through the state? through an acquaintance? I am one to believe that our children already belong to our family and we have to figure out how to get them here. (Not that I'm forgetting birthmothers. I would never do that. I have high respect for birthmothers. Another post maybe?) I do not know how our next child will come to us. It could be any of these ways or some completely different way. We're working on figuring it out.

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22 May 2011

Free Adoption Webinar

International or Domestic Adoption?
A LIVE Webinar hosted by Lifetime Adoption Center

Your FIRST adoption decision
will affect the outcome of your adoption.

If you're thinking about adoption you may be weighing the options you have between international and domestic adoptions. You may have become filled with questions about how you'll decide which to pursue.

For many, deciding to adopt internationally or within the US may be one of the hardest decisions along the adoption journey.
Join us Tuesday, May 24th at:
  • 7pm Pacific Time
  • 8pm Mountain Time
  • 9pm Central Time
  • 10pm Eastern Time
This FREE Adoption Webinar is easy to attend and will allow you to interact with the hosts during the call, if you attend ONLINE.
When you register you will receive details about how to attend LIVE this Tuesday. You can attend online or by phone.
This information will impact your adoption!
Register to reserve your spot today!
We hope to meet you there!

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19 May 2011

This Stuff Really Coats!

I did a review on Taliah Waajid's Enhancing Herbal Conditioner a while back. You can fin it HERE. I have something to add.

I ran out of conditioner for my hair so I grabbed my daughter's bottle of Taliah Waajid Enhancing Herbal Conditioner. It felt a bit weird in my hair. It didn't feel like the thick fluffy conditioner I'm used to. It felt more like rubbing orange juice in my hair. NOT a bad thing. Just different. Then I tried to rinse it out. This stuff really coats! Whatever kind of oil(s) is in it really works 'cause I couldn't get it out. After several minutes of rinsing I felt like it was as rinsed as it was going to get and actually thought most of it was out. I was wrong. After drying my hair (I know hair dryers are evil to hair, but sometimes you gotta do what's quicker) it felt greasy. I looked in the mirror and was shocked! My hair still looked wet at the roots this stuff works so good!

Moral of the story, or lesson learned is this stuff works amazingly! I had to promptly rewash my hair so it wouldn't look as if I never do, but think about what that means for my daughter's hair. Her hair is getting moisturized and protected with some amazing natural oils and stuff that is real hard to get out - just what her hair needs.

Have you found another conditioner that works this good? I can't imagine that you have.

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18 May 2011

Hair Pretties SALE!

The gals at Snapaholics are having another sale. I've gotten some awesome things from them including the snaps used in the most recent hairstyle posted. Just use the coupon code "almostsummer" and you'll get 25% off! Happy shopping!

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16 May 2011

Upwards Piggyback Piggytails Baby Crown

It's hair fixin; time again. Here's little miss chillin' while momma plays around with her hair to get an idea of what to do.

Ended up making some piggytails and piggybackin' 'em upwards in the shape of a baby crown.

Her hair is all brushed out and afro-ed here. Isn't it beautiful?

The next morning I styled it by spraying it with water and leaving in a handful of .

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10 May 2011

06 May 2011

Tell Me Again

About The Night I Was Born
by Jamie Lee Curtis, illustrated by Laura Cornell

The description on the front inside dust cover:

"Tell me again about the night I was born...
Tell me again how you would adopt me and be my parents...
Tell me again about the first time you held me in your arms...

"In asking her mother and father to tell her again about the night of her birth, a young girl shows that it is a cherished tale she knows by heart. Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell come togehter once again to create a unique celebration of the love and joy a baby brings into the world. TELL ME AGAIN ABOUT THE NIGHT I WAS BORN is a heartwarming story, not only of how one child is born but of how a family is born."

A little girl hold up her lifebook and wants to be told again about the night she was born. She knows it so well she goes through the story herself. "Tell me again how you and Daddy were curled up like spoons and Daddy was snoring... Tell me again how you got on an airplane with my baby bag and flew to get me and how there was no movie, only peanuts... Tell me again how you couldn't grow a baby in your tummy, so another woman who was too young to take care of me was growing me and she would be my birth mother, and you would adopt me and be my parents... Tell me again about the first time you held me in your arms and called me your baby sweet. Tell me again how you cried happy tears... Tell me again about our first night as a family."

This is a dang cute book. Adorable. Sweet. Funny. Some of the words will bring a tear to your eye and some will bring a chuckle to your lips. The illustrations are treasures. I could look at them over and over and see something new and hilarious every time. To mommy's "Slim Thighs in 30 Days" book on her nightstand to the naughty things the kids on the airplane are doing. To the woman in the hospital with screaming septuplets to the crazy people rushing through the airport. To the box of "BIONIC diapers, HOLDS UP TO 2 GALLONS" box of diapers to the dog laying in bed beside the girl with curlers in her fur and a life book of her own. You will love this book. We sure do.

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05 May 2011

"Spare The Rod, Spoil The Child"

This will have absolutely nothing to do with raising a transracially adopted child, but it is something that has come up recently in my life and I'd like to share my opinion on it. I share the opinion of William Sears, M.D., and Martha Sears, R.N. Here is an excerpt from one of their books, The Discipline Book:

Hitting Is Actually Not Biblical

Don't use the Bible as an excuse to spank. There is confusion among some people of Judeo-Christian heritage who, seeking help from the Bible in their effort to raise good children, believe that God commands them to spank. They take "spare the rod and spoil the child" (which is not found in the Bible) seriously and fear that if they don't spank, they will commit the sin of losing control of their child. In our counseling experience, we find that these people are devoted parents who love God and love their children, but they misunderstand the concept of the rod.

Rod verses - what they really mean

The following are the biblical verses that have caused the greatest confusion:

"Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive ir far from him." (Prov. 22:15)

"He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him." (Prov. 13:24)

"Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death." (Prov. 23:13-14)

"The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother." (Prov. 29:15)

At first glance these verses may sound pro-spanking. But you might consider a different interpretation of these teachings. "Rod" (shebet) means different things in different parts of the Bible. Our Hebrew dictionary defines it as a stick, whether for punishment, writing, fighting, ruling, walking, or other activities. While the rod can be used for hitting, it is also used to protect vulnerable sheep. Shepard don't use the rod to beat their sheep - and children are certainly more valuable than sheep. As Shepard-author Philip Keller teaches so well in his book A Shepard Looks At Psalm 23, the Shepard's rod was traditionally used to fight of prey and the staff was used gently to guide sheep along the right path, as in the phrase "your rod and your staff they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4). Jewish families we've interviews who carefully follow dietary and lifestyle guidelines in the Scripture do not practice "rod correction" with their children because they do not follow that interpretation of the text.

The book of Proverbs is one of poetry. It is logical that the writer would have used a well-known tool to form and image of authority. We believe that this is the point made about the rod in the Psalms: Parents take charge of your children. When you reread the "rod verses", use the concept of parental authority, rather than the concept of beating or spanking, when you come to the word "rod". It rings true in every instance.

While Christians and Jews believe that the Scripture is the inspired word of God, it is also a historical text that has been interpreted in many ways over the centuries, sometimes incorrectly in order to support the beliefs of the times. These "rod" verses have been burdened with interpretations about corporal punishment that support human ideas. Other parts of the Bible, especially the New Testament, suggest that respect, authority, and tenderness should be the prevailing attitudes toward children among people of faith.

In the New Testament, Christ modified the traditional eye-for-an-eye system of justice with his turn-the-other-cheek approach. Christ preached gentleness, love, and understanding, and He seemed to be against any harsh use of the rod, as stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:21: "Shall I come to you with the rod, or in love and with a gentle spirit?" Paul went on to teach fathers about the importance of not provoking anger in their children (which is what spanking usually does): "Fathers, do not exasperate your children" (Eph. 6:4), and "Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will be discouraged" (Col. 3:21).

In our opinion, nowhere in the Bible does it say you must spank your child to be a godly parent.

Painting The Virgin Spanking The Christ Child by Max Ernst

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04 May 2011

Curls & 'Fros

A couple of weeks ago was a take-a-break week for Destiny's hair. No twisting or rubber bands. Then we got busy and take-a-break week lasted another week. Here are some pics. The first picture shows what her hair looks like most of the time just around the house. I have looked at other black hair blogs and haven't seen many pictures of undone hair so I thought I'd share one myself. The second picture was taken at a community Easter egg hunt and shows a simple headband style. The next picture is a close-up of her gorgeous curls we achieved by leaving in a handful of and combing through with a very wide-tooth comb. The fourth picture was taken Easter morning. Instead of a headband, which she tends to pull off, I opted for a Springy little flower clip. I rubber banded a small section of hair first so the clip would have something to clip on to. The first two bath pictures show what her hair looks like after a no-shampoo, only water (and whatever soap is in the water), wash. Shared the last bath picture to show (a) how long her hair is, and (b) how cute she is with that look on her face. The last four pictures were taken the afternoon after the morning I coconut oil slathered her hair and combed out the fuzzies. Doesn't she look beautiful in an afro? Notice the red satin wrapped around her crib mattress to help protect her hair from breakage. Her hair is certainly long enough to braid. I have attempted it, but she's just too young to be able to sit still well enough to get a decent braid or two in. I'm gonna keep trying though! I can hardly wait for braids and beads. Instead I came up with something new. Check back soon for those pictures!

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03 May 2011

Transracial Adoption: A Family's Experience and Advice...

...to those considering adopting transracially

What a great video! "Straight from the horse's mouth." A couple of things jumped out at me. First, that transracially adopted kids stand out, and standing out in any way is very difficult for teenagers. I always knew this, but it was interesting to hear about it from someone who had been through it. Second, the transracially adopted young man says that a transracial family MUST have neighbors and friends who are the same race as their transracially adopted child. Ooo. That really struck a cord. We aren't even close to providing that for our child. Decisions, decisions. Stay here for ourselves, or move for our child. Thoughts about this video?

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02 May 2011

Tangled, My Thoughts / The Color Brown

In a previous post I shared an article where a lady wrote about finding adoption related themes in Disney movies, and especially in "Tangled". I received some very enlightening comments. Most said they did not relate the movie to adoption at all because Rapunzel was kidnapped, not adopted. One lady commented that she was more worried about how the long, golden hair would affect her daughter's self esteem.

I have finally seen the movie. Overall, not thinking about the possible adoption aspect, I wasn't impressed. I guess from the comments of others and from the clips I've seen of it I expected it to be more modern, less damsel-in-distress. It was not. Just another typical Disney story. Bummer.

There was one part of the movie that made me go, "What?" It was when Rapunzel and Flynn (that was his name, right?) enter a bar full of "ruffians".

Flynn: "You smell that? Take a deep breath through the nose. Really let that seep in. What are you getting? Because to me it's part man smell, and the other part is really bad man smell. I don't know why but overall it just smells like the color brown. Your thoughts?"

Now let me say I'm not fishin' for something to complain about. I understand what was and wasn't meant by this comment, but it jumped out at me and just really bugs. Annoying.

Did you notice it? What do you think about it?

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