Tag Archive: adoption


Transracial Adoption pic

Adin and Rita with the beautiful Alou

This blog post is based on a status update I made recently on Facebook. I have adapted it for this blog. Thanks, Brett, for giving me a place to share my voice on this topic.

Over the years I have been quite active with blogging, sharing my colourful thoughts about everything from the opening act at the U2 concert to my opinion on Apple vs Android. However, since becoming an adoptive parent 3 years ago I slowly became less vocal. I am not 100% sure why, but I chalk it up to the fact that I have learnt that pointless and uneducated opinions simply clutter up the world. Continue reading

Advertisements

hands

I never fully realised what an impact one little girl could have on a community, just by being herself.

Adoption has always been on my heart. I can remember asking my parents, repeatedly, for years, for a baby sister for Christmas. Preferably adopted. It’s obviously something that I’m meant to be involved in. I got my baby sister when I was thirteen. And then a baby brother when I was nineteen. And there have been a string of safety placement babies through my parents house ever since. Continue reading

sonja

I am a mother of three beautiful children.

But I am not a birth mum. Continue reading

hand

i have been looking forward to this series for a while.

A while back a number of my friends shared some of their stories relating to Adoption which you can read over here, which is already in some ways a topic that is rarely spoken about. But when it comes to adopting a child from a race or culture group different to yours, then i imagine there are a whole lot of other factors that can also come into play.

In South Africa, there are so many babies that are born into the world without parents, or perhaps without parents who have the resources to raise them well, and so adoption feels like such an important opportunity. i have asked a number of people who have gone through the process to share some of their stories with us. i imagine there will be a whole lot of similarities to any regular adoption story, but also that there will be some nuances and specifically different aspects. i look forward to hearing these stories and getting to share them with you.

Meet Sonja Meyer – The wonder of adoption is that this little one that I have never met before is instantly connected to me.

Meet Abi and babygirl – I have had people of every race tell me it warms their heart to see an interracial family.

Meet Adin and Rita – We all have some bias in the way we were raised and the norms we are accustomed to.

If ever a post was going to get me into trouble, this is probably it.

i’m not talking directly about things that i hate or completely judge [although, perhaps some of them] but by and large and firstly things i simply do not understand. Things my brain can’t get around. Things that don’t make sense to me. And maybe they make sense to you and that’s okay – maybe some of them shouldn’t and possibly some of them should make more sense to me – that’s what the comments section is for – healthy friendly engagement and why i am completely ridiculously wrong and how could i say that? But before we rush to that, let’s take a look at 10 Things I Don’t Understand, realising there may be more.

huh

So amongst the many things i do not understand, exist these 10:

# i don’t understand pineapple on pizza. i thought i’d ease you into this list and this is not a moral dilemma in any way, shape or form but simply a preference. Raw, juicy pineapple? Amazing. Cooked pineapple? Not too far behind raiSINs on the ‘Food i really hate’ list [although to be fair i could probably stomach a cooked piece of pineapple if i was trying to be polite, whereas with raiSINs… bleargh!]. i think this may have come from or been enhanced by my gran forcing us to eat stewed fruit as a punishment dessert when we were growing up. It wasn’t. That was truly awful [stewed peaches and plums and whatever else] and we often hid it in the skins of the gem squash [excellent combo meal!] Moving on…

# i don’t understand litter. All litter, really, but especially smoker’s throwing cigarette butts out of the car wiindow. i don’t know what goes through the mind of a smoker when they do this, but over the years i have developed a hypothesis that i fully believe in my mind to be true, and it’s that they don’t categorise cigarette butts as litter. i honestly believe there are smokers out there who feel pretty strongly about litter and would never drop a paper anywhere and would shout at someone else who dropped something in public. But then, into the car, smoke a cigarette and suddenly i’m done and cigarette out of the window. Totally different thing. That’s what i think is in the minds of some smokers anyways.

And it’s not all smokers [although, to be honest, i don’t understand smokers either – have you not seen those videos?] but it is something i see a lot while i am driving and after being-on-cellphone-while-driving is the thing most likely to inspire me towards road rage. Yes that is me behind you holding down my hooter [horn for the Americanese] and flashing my lights. i was SO PROUD of my friend Megan the time i heard she got out of her car and picked up the cigarette butt and handed it back to the person although i do understand they are not the best of Facebook friends or anything…

So cigarette butts is the chief offender, but really all litter. i really don’t understand it. Especially when i see you drop a paper within a meter of a rubbish bin. [Veins in my head want to pop!] i so much appreciate the people who [often at ridiculously early or late times] work at cleaning our roads and making our cities and suburbs look beautiful. It changes the psyche of the people living there, when the place is relatively clean and tidy. i experienced this in our time in Philly. People who got up every day in a neighbourhood a lot of people didn’t care for, and spent time in the street with their broom and dustpan, cleaning the sidewalk, building dignity and pride in the place they were in.

STOP THROWING YOUR LITTER ON THE FLOOR. Seriously, put it in your pocket if you must until the next time you are near a bin which will be soon. This is one of the ones i am probably a little more judgy about.

# i don’t understand people who don’t know how to use four way stops [and tbV would add Traffic Circles with a cry of “Come on, people!” or something]. Maybe more weirdly, i don’t understand why i do know how to use a four way stop/traffic circle cos some of that ‘secret driving knowledge’ stuff that doesn’t go into the tests [i feel like four way stops are in the tests though, right? And circles?] gets passed on by the parents/teachers who do know it and doesn’t get passed on by those who don’t. Although i think today everyone has to get a certain amount of official driving lessons which we didn’t have to, so maybe over time that will help solve it. But i doubt it because people do not seem to know how to do four way stops and traffic circles. And it makes us have to shout at you in our car where you can’t hear us at all, so please stoppit!

join

#  i don’t understand how Adam Sandler continues to make movies that people watch. This probably falls into the personal preference section as well so half of you may agree and half may not and i can’t imagine anyone getting angry at this one, except maybe Adam Sandler. But i used to really love his stuff like ‘The Wedding Singer’ and ‘Happy Gilmour’ but then somewhere along the line he just got bad, and seemed to get badder and his last few movies [Jack and Jill, That’s My Boy, Blended] i could barely watch the trailers they were so painful. i feel like the same happened with Will Ferrell where i got to the point where i have to actively remind myself when a new movie comes out with him, ‘Don’t watch it!’ because with him at least the trailers tend to be good but the movies are awful. i think it has happened with a lot of Hollywood Funny Guys [which is why maybe it’s been such a great time for the women to have better opportunities like Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig who i think is incredible and others – can’t wait for Female Ghostbusters]. Maybe the writing has just gotten a lot worse or maybe there is a serious case of having lost the funny. Anyone you used to think was funny but has not made a good movie for a while?

# i don’t understand the culture of the joke insult. i really don’t dig it [judgy one, beware] at weddings when people make ‘jokes’ slash digs at marriage as an attempt to be funny. And because it happens so often at weddings it has seemingly become a cultural thing and so everyone does it because everyone else has done it and we laugh because everyone else laughs. On a day when we are celebrating two people we love and the public commitment they are making to each other, into a union like marriage which has so much attacking it [in the media and beyond] that it really needs all the help it can get. But beyond that, i was at a function the other night where at least three people doing speeches took a dig at the person they were celebrating or thanking. And yes, i get it, you think it’s a joke and it’s funny and it’s the culturally done thing so again everyone is laughing [not me, i’m not laughing, you just made me sad, stoppit!]. But if we are truly celebrating this person or thankful for them, how about we keep to positive words and vibes. That whole idea that every joke contains a truth is very real and often there is a bit of a barb or a dig hidden [sometimes quite deeply and sometimes you have to be in on the bigger picture] in the joke and for me it just takes something away from the moment.

# Which segways quite nicely into this one: i do not understand the make-your-best-friend-look-and-feel-like-a-tit bachelor party vibe. i know this will feel to some like a style or preference one and to some extent you may be right, but this is one i feel quite strongly about, especially in some areas and as i have only experienced this as a guy, i’m not sure whether it applies to women in their versions of this party [so maybe someone could comment and let me know]. i have heard absolute horror stories [usually involving paintball] of bachelor parties the night before the wedding where the groom was so bruised and in pain that it can only have detracted from the wedding and honeymoon. i heard a story of a guy who was drunk and put on a train and missed his wedding and while that sounds like an urban myth or an upcoming Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell collaboration [note to self: Don’t watch that movie!] i have heard other true stories that are as vile. A guy who was convinced his arm was broken and had it in a cast for the wedding and his whole honeymoon before realising it was ‘just a joke’. Although not to future grooms – maybe not getting drunk and hanging around with people you can’t trust is a helpful tip.

But even scaling it way back [to maybe where it gets down to preference?] to dressing up the guy embarrassingly [usually in women’s clothing, if much clothing at all] and making him embarrass himself in front of complete strangers [this is where it crosses the line for me when it moves to asking for girls’s phone numbers or kissing strangers or more] and fortunately because of my crowd of friends i have never been at a party where they thought a stripper was great preparation for marriage.

For my bachelor’s a bunch of my mates and i went away for the weekend and played board games and drove quad bikes and watched some big rugby match and shared stories and spoke life into me. It was phenomenal. For a recent wedding i was a groomsman for [in the traditional kilt-wearing way], we played mashie golf and lawn bowls and had a meal together and sang bad kareoke and took some moments to share positive stories and speak life into him and it was phenomenal.

The idea of your best mates spending time with you in a way that lifts you up and makes you feel good and celebrates you and your future wife? That i get. Anything less than that feels, well, less than that. But i imagine you have some thoughts..?

join2

# i don’t understand the difference between ‘Adopted Children’ and ‘Real Children’. Wow, this one has to get me intro trouble. But this is not one i feel judgy about [scroll down to sports stars salaries for that], i just generally don’t get it. With such a need [in South Africa at least, but i think many other places] for children without parents to be adopted, it would seem to me that everyone wanting a child could choose for five to ten years to stop having babies and move towards giving one a home. While i’m not overtly saying that having your own biological child is selfish, i do strongly think that the word ‘selfless’ jumps to mind when it comes to adopting. i love how adopting children seems to be a lot more prevalent these days or maybe it’s just that i know a lot more people who are doing it.

There just seems to be such a strong difference between ‘I want to parent a child’ and ‘I want to parent my child’ although any of my adoptive parent friends i imagine will tell you that they are parenting their child [even the ones that don’t resemble their parents even in skin colour]. i loved how Jesus at one point redefines family. He is told His family are waiting for Him outside and He looks around and motions to His friends and He says, “These are my family – the people around me who do the will of God.” And i believe that every time someone adopts a child they are redefining family, because there new family is nothing less than any other family. And it’s a powerful exciting thing.

Maybe i can’t fully understand because i don’t particularly want children [that should be the next point] but i think i understand enough. it seems to be a traumatic thing when a couple who are wanting a baby are not physically able to have one, but at the same time, how exciting it must be for a child without a family to discover that their is a family wanting them to be a part of it?

# i don’t understand why it is so important to you that i must want to have children. This is a really interesting one, because i really just don’t get it. tbV and i are both not particularly interested in having children. And when we tell people this, the general response is to try and convince us why we should be wanting to have children. Or arrogantly [yes, you!] suggesting to us, with a wink or knowing look in the eye, that it will change. Some people [many it seems] want to have children and some people don’t. There are probably a hundred reasons i could state, some of which would help you understand, some which might just make you angry and some which are probably pure selfishness or survival. Us not wanting to have children is a perfectly normal thing. You being a dick about it, is not. So stop it. Do i try to convince you to melt Top Deck in the microwave or on your car dashboard and eat it with a teaspoon? You really should, by the way. It’s amazing.

# i don’t understand how South Africa has a homeless problem at the same time as it has 1047 Golf courses [according to Golflink.com] – is it just possible that this rich white people sport [i am assuming the stats will back me up on this one] which i myself have enjoyed playing [in Mashie form] is a luxury that needs to go [in the face of water shortages and no room for people to live]

George Carlin does a pretty great [although expletive-filled] piece on the solution to homelessness which you can watch over here.

join3

# Here we go: i do not understand the exhorbitant fees some sports players get paid. Again, read the heading people, these are not the Top Ten Things I Judge In Life. But any time i mention this one people seem to go a little crazy face. Especially my Christian friends, for some reason [almost as if they didn’t read Jesus’ words on the matter… you know, ‘Sell everything and give it to the poor’ and before you point out to me [like an arrogant me would have done a year or two ago] that this is Jesus talking to one person [the rich young ruler] and not providing general teaching for everyone, i was suitably bummed when someone pointed out to me that actually He says it another time, in Luke 12:

32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Whoops, it’s plural there and He is talking to the disciples. Hm. What would Ronaldo Do? Actually that doesn’t matter. It’s What Will Brett Do that i need to be concerned about]

Others like to point out it is actors and politicians and business execs and why do i always pick on the sport people as if finding someone else doing it wrong means that the first person is not doing it wrong. i probably also believe that all those people [and more] and being paid way more than is morally defendable in a world where the majority of people are trying to survive on under two dollars a day i think it is.

i don’t think i need to defend my thinking on this – as others have often given me the impression i have to do – what i am declaring here is i don’t understand this, i don’t get it, i don’t think i ever will. Here, you have a million dollars for kicking a ball and buy yourself a luxury mansion and a sports car while a million people die in Africa that the wells that money could have provided water for remain unbuilt. i. do. not. understand. how. that. feels. okay. to. you. Oh well, capitalism.

That’s probably enough for now. What about you? If you had to compile a list like this, what would be the top, or maybe the top three things you would have there? Any of these resonate with you? Any totally make you angry or judgy [of me] or sad? Have your say in the comments…

[For 10 Other Things i just Don’t Understand, click here]

jackie2

I have taken a long time after telling Brett that I would write this, to actually sit down and put some words together. It feels strange to ‘tell our story’ because in so many ways we just feel like a normal family. Daddy, Mommy and baby. I’ve discovered in these last few months that much to my disappointment I am not a super-mother, I am very much the typical Mom who is doing all the stereotypical things Mommies do.

Did I freak out when she slept through the first time and kept going in to check that she was still breathing in the cot? Yes.

Did I feel immense guilt mixed with immense relief the first time I dropped her at day care? Yes.

Do I sometimes just watch her sleeping marvelling at this incredible bundle of beauty that God has entrusted to us? Yes.

I’m just a normal mom, with a little girl who is (in my beautifully biased opinion) the most awesome kid in the world.

But I suppose the journey of adopting her did involve a whole bunch of interesting emotions and debates in my heart and head that I can share – and here I do not by any means claim to speak for all adopted people or all moms who adopt. I have learnt very powerfully in this last while that there are no two adoption processes the same, no two adoptive children, no two sets of adoptive parents who have the same story. It is a very personal thing.

So firstly let me bring you up to speed since my last blog on adoption here in 2012. My hubby and I relocated to Pretoria, I have been called to a church, he has found a teaching post and we are both incredibly happy and settled and so decided the time had come to start a family. Adoption had always been on the cards, but I think we imagined that we would have biological kids first and then adopt – I’m not sure why.

Through a series of nudges from God, and God doing some crazy things in our lives (a beautiful story in and of itself) we met a little ten day old girl who we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was meant to be our daughter. And so ensued the legal nightmare of fighting to gain custody of her (her biological mother is Zimbabwean so we couldn’t get a birth certificate and thus couldn’t get custody), and getting other forms to eventually apply to adopt her. She was born on the 10th of December 2013, we met her on the 20th, and finally took her home on the 21st of March 2014. During the months of February and March we were able to take her home for the weekend and return her to the shelter on Monday. Taking her back was the closest thing to hell for me, and I’m so grateful that God limited that time to six weeks because I doubt I would have lasted much longer. The papers are all in, and now we wait 9months? A year? Who knows… in order for the adoption to go through and her to really become little Christine Grace Barker.

She has become our joy. She really has burst into our lives with colour and laughter and life. I have never known such a happy child. One of my fears in adopting was ‘how would I know whether I would love her enough? I mean the same amount that I would love a biological child?’ This was a totally unfounded fear. I cannot imagine loving anything as much as I love her. The love you have for a child is something incomparable to anything else. Powerful, fiercely protective, all encompassing. To the point that I worry now (along with the ‘typical mother’ I understand!!) how I could ever love another child as much as I do this one… I get reassured constantly by other moms that you can!!

But some of the things that have gone through my head are strange and I imagine different from other adoptive moms.

Firstly we have a copy of her biological mom’s passport. She happens to have been born 2 days before me. This messes with my mind and breaks my heart. Having journeyed with my own biological mother and understanding her heartache in giving me up, I wonder how she is doing. She is the same age as me and yet her life journey is one where at 30 years old she cannot keep her child due to poverty. How is it that we have been given such a precious gift and she has suffered such a terrible loss? She may be feeling relief, she may have buried any sadness, she might be grateful- trusting that her child will have something to eat tonight while she might not – I don’t know. But I pray for her – and I hope that good things come her way, that she receives comfort from God that her little girl is in safe hands.

I think I’m also a lot more chilled about the ‘adoption’ thing than other people simply because I’ve been there and it’s not this BIG BAD SCARY thing that you hide in shame… its normal. It’s simply an alternative way of doing family. People’s comments to us about adopting her communicate this all the time – the “You’re so brave…” kind of comments that really make my hair stand on end. And the funniest comment of “will you tell her she’s adopted?” I didn’t even grace that one with a yes, I simply said I’d let her think about that for a while. REALLY? So the kind of things I’ve read on adoption blogs of when to tell, how to tell, what to say – how not to make a big deal about it, but still make it ok to talk about – (there really is a lot of discussion about that stuff) doesn’t worry me at all. We’ll figure it out with her as we go along. When she starts asking about skin colour and why the kids stare at me strangely when they see I’m her mom – we’ll talk about it honestly at whatever age level will be appropriate then.

And lastly let me say that an ongoing struggle for me now is what next? Part of the reason we have adopted is that we believe in it. Statistics in South Africa are telling us that by next year there will be 5.5 MILLION orphans – 5.5 MILLION. How do we live with this kind of knowledge? 5.5 MILLION kids who could hugely benefit from a family, a home, a stable life. We chose to adopt, it wasn’t because we couldn’t biologically have – we really haven’t tried. Do we try? Is it ok to fall pregnant and thus prevent another child from taking that space in our household? Not everyone can adopt – I get that. But we can. So should we? There is a huge heartache in giving up the desire to see your husband’s eyes looking out of the eyes of child, a heartache in never knowing what it’s like to have a life grow inside you, a sharp stab in the heart every time someone insinuates that you’re not a ‘real’ mom because you didn’t give birth. And yet the knowledge that somewhere out there perhaps there is already our second child………. Waiting.

So we’ll wait for God’s leading on that one [Symbol]. He has been so faithful, so good, so gracious to us in the past. We’ll simply trust in that for now. And in the meantime, delight in the gift of Christine, our joy.

Be blessed. I pray that our story in some small way may be a blessing to someone.

jackie1

[For more stories about different aspects of the Adoption journey, click here]

Brett has been nagging, I mean asking, me to do a follow up post to the one we did on adoption to see what life is like two years after adopting our daughter Rachel. I have been putting it off, mostly due to legitimate reasons. We have became a family of four as I gave birth to our second daughter, Emma, and so life does have that frenetic/blurry/chaotic/kid edge to it that makes it hard to remember your shopping lists and when you last had a good nights sleep. But when I look around I see many moms with more kids, more difficult kids, and more on in their lives who can still churn out one blog post a week. So I had to ask myself; what is stopping you from taking one hour out of your day to write about adoption from the other side? Why are you hesitant?

And the answer is this: from the other side, adoption is normal, it’s every day, and I don’t see the difference.

Before we adopted there where so many questions floating through our heads; doubts, mixed feelings, insecurities, the unknown was big and looming and we were both excited and terrified at the same time. There was so much to say! And then those first few days and weeks were a whirlwind of emotion; fear and uncertainty, extreme love and joy as we got to know Rachel and she started to bond with us.

Fast forward two years and I forget she is adopted. I’m sometimes genuinely surprised when someone gives us a second look on the street. Why would you stare at my daughter like she’s different? She is just like me!

And so I sit wanting to write about being a mom. Because that’s what adoption is. Becoming a mother. On this side, with biological and adopted girls on each hip, I don’t see the difference. Both have vomited on me. Both have kept me up for hours in the night. Both needed rocking, shushing, cradling, cuddles and kisses to stop crying. Both had me sobbing in empathy with their first real hurt. Both have caused me to grin from ear to ear at their antics. Both swell my heart with pride.  Don’t get me wrong, they are different, and I have had to parent them differently, but the ultimate outcome is the same. I am mom.

So what do I have to say about adoption? If you want to be a mother, adopt. If you want to save the world, buy a superman cape. Because adoption, although it changes the life of a child that seemingly has no hope or future, is not about saving a child. It’s about starting a family, becoming a parent, having a child to call son or daughter.

There’s nothing ‘special’ about Rachel. She is a normal, shy, happy, silly, loving girl. And yet she is the most precious, adored and special girl in the world to me. Not because she is adopted. Because she is MINE.

[For more Adoption-related stories, click here]

Hamptons

%d bloggers like this: