Monday, April 21, 2014

adoption, siblings, perceptions

Interesting. 15 year old K had an assignment for her photography class. The students were asked to create a series of photos within a theme, for 2 themes. K decided that one of her themes would be adoption. Wanted to take some photos of her siblings and herself and the family and put them out there "what do you see?" kind of statement. She said she doesn't think about it {her siblings as adopted and of a different ethnicity} but she knows people have questions as soon as they see her in context with her family. So she set up some photos this weekend: the kids all just sitting together on the lawn. The kids divided into groups, born in the family in one group and adopted in another. And then she (K) drew a chalk drawing of a "mommy" and had Bitsy curl up in the mommy's belly. 

It is an interesting discussion and a bit heavy for a 15 year old. 
I wish I could be a fly on the wall tomorrow and listen to her class respond.

One of the things that I do not think people realize is how much having a family with adopted siblings affects the children born into the family. I don't think I thought about it much before we brought our oldest adoptee home.

I remember K saying when she was 9 or 10 years old that she was Korean in her heart. It was sweet and I thought it was sweet and didn't think much else. 

But then a few years ago I read an article penned by a sibling. A child born into her nuclear family and a sister to a child adopted into a family, transracially, meaning of a different race/ethnicity than the adoptive parents.

For reasons I don't fully know, people seem to find it easier or more acceptable to ask my bio kids about the adopted kids, than they do to ask the adopted kids straight out. So K and Tiger and M get asked "is that your real brother?" "where did you get him from?" We talk about answering people and educating them at the same time.

When we brought home Little Hawk, the youngest, I had a very interesting conversation with the social worker about "whose story." Little Hawk and Bitsy share a bio mom. That is why the agency called us to let us know that Little Hawk was available for adoption. His social worker asked if Bitsy understood the relationship. Bitsy was 4 and 1/2 when Little Hawk came home (they are 3 years apart in age) and I said we'd talked about it but she didn't seem very interested. And then the conversation turned to MLyons who was 6 I think. MLyons was working on understanding the relationships in the family and what that all meant and she was vocal about it. The social worker was concerned "that is not her story."

I disagree.

It is.

They all live together. Little Hawk coming home was everyone in this house's story. Because we are a family. And so it is our family's story. That means it is MLyons story too and at that age she was working through what it meant to have a little sister who was adopted and whose birth mother had given birth to another child who was MLyons' sibling. Because that is what happened.

When K was younger I was more inclined to listen to the social worker "that is for Dragon to tell" I would say. I now believe that was wrong. Dragon is K's brother. People ask K about him. Because they are siblings and growing up together they are each others stories. 

It is K's story too.

And as she closes in on being the age that Dragon's mother was when he was born she will have things to think about and work through. And in her AP Human Geography Class things like "buying people" and "human trafficking" come up and she has to work through how that does or does not reflect international adoption. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

Happy Easter. Ours was fun, joyful and busy.

I do love bunnies

looking for Easter Baskets

breakfast with Nana and Mike

tried to get closer...

little guy cracks me up!
after breakfast we had dyed eggs and then headed over to Tim's parents for an early dinner. I left my phone at home so I am waiting on my in-laws to post photos so I can steal them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


driving away from the mountain you pass Hickman's
we usually gas up here

Saturday, April 12, 2014

An afternoon trip to Monticello

Monticello, April 2014

the gardens at Monticello, April 2014

We visited Monticello on Thursday. They were hosting a function, so much of the house was off limits to tours because they were setting up for the function and there were large catering tents in the yard. But it was still a wonderful visit. I haven't been in probably 20 years and my children haven't been at all. I just took 3 of the kids. Dragon was off with his friend, and the two littles wouldn't have paid any attention and would have made it hard for others to pay attention so we left them with my husband who was working from home.

Interesting. When Jefferson chose that Mountain Top to build his home on all those years ago he chose it for the view. But there is no water source. (!) Think about that. Pre-plumbing, no water source. I wonder how much slave labor went into providing the house and grounds with water?

on the way home. She picked up the Smithsonian Edition of Jefferson's Bible.
It is something to think about, that Jefferson could read in 7 languages. I picked up Ellis' "The American Sphinx." I've wanted to read it for some time. Of course, I'm still making my way through the introduction and I've already realized I'm going to need to read Ellis' book on Adams too.

It was a quick decision to go visit the house and not well thought out. There is much to see and do and it really should be a day trip. They have a cafe (we taste tested the cakes and coffee. not too shabby) and there is a cemetery that is not part of the foundation but that is run by Jefferson's decedents and apparently still "active." They had 3 or 4 burials last year. And Jefferson is buried there.

Most importantly though, the kids want to return. They want to see the whole house, and the oldest wants to take the garden tour. And they all learned something and have fun too. 

the art of selfie, and duckface. but it proves that I too was there!

Footnote: I'm in a mommy group within my alumni group on Facebook and a woman who is an Auntie but I don't believe a mom brought to our attention that we never are in the photos. And then she brought a blog post to our attention about the messages this sends our kids regarding their "invisible mothers" and especially the messages it sends our daughters. So above is my attempt to be in the photos and still be fun and not worried about how I look.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


there are these homes across from where I live. They aren't quite town homes. They are smallish, quasi colonial buildings all nestled together. I think there are 3 or 4 little streets making up this group of homes. Very quaint. I imagine myself in one all the time; they look bookish. Perfect for a girl, her dog, her books, a place to scribble...

The other day I mapped out my children's ages and realized it will be 14 years before my youngest finishes high school. If everyone goes the traditional route we will begin the college years in 2 years and we won't finish for 18. Some years we will have 3 in college at once. But there isn't a year in those 18 years when we don't have at least one in school. Maybe when that is all over, if there is anything left, I'll move into one of these homes. 

I am always restless in the spring and the fall. And think about silly things like that. I think it is because those seasons are about transitions and I grew up moving around. 

"April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain"
T.S. Eliot
linking to Outdoor Wednesday Linkup

Friday, April 4, 2014

spring fragrance

cherry blossoms!

My Facebook status this week: when you realize your seven year told the truth, she didn't spray perfume on herself. She sprayed it on the dog. Not that ridiculous tinkerbell stuff her grandmother insists on supplying her with, nope, the German Shepherd is lounging around a la Chanel CoCo Mademoiselle. Hope she's got big plans. It would be a shame to waste it.

I love the "confetti" they make on the lawn
linking to Outdoor Wednesday link up