Category Archives: Adoption

The Gift of Childhood

It’s winter here where I live, but I’m a summer-to-fall soul. As much as I appreciate the beauty and quiet of the freshly fallen white blanket that covers the earth where we live, I ache for warmer days and more light. Every once and a while I find myself pining for my childhood.  The scent of hay, pungent sweet clover, the sound of bees—they bring the memories racing back, knocking me over with their almost tangible presence.

As a child I spent my summers outside, from just after breakfast until long past when the fireflies began their evening dance.  I only took breaks to eat, coming home to the sound of our meal bell or to light at one of the many neighbors’ picnic tables in our rural community.  There were summers where the majority of nights were spent in tents—at our house or one of my girlfriends’.

I was soothed (and still am) by the certain way the meadow grass sounded as the gentle warm humid summer breeze caused it to sway.  I spent a lot of time time laying in the meadow, invisible, dreaming and imagining, watching the clouds above me morph into fantastical images, only to dissipate and become something else.  I eagerly scanned the heavens for the next set of fluffiness, excited to see how they would tantalize and mesmerize my youthful perspective while I was enveloped by the symphonic orchestration of scent and sound going on around me. There was nowhere else I would rather be and that it is where I still travel in my mind to center, balance, and soothe. Be.

On the days I hung with my rowdy all-boy brothers, I waded into the creek, skipping stones and finding those slimy stinkers (crawdads) with my fingers, suffering a number of good pinches over the years. I wasn’t about to be upstaged by my brothers, so I joined in—catching garter snakes (one had umpteen babies after we brought her home), fish, crickets, and tadpoles (some of which made it into froghood). My mom welcomed it all. Took it in stride.

My brothers and I created forts, safe and contained fires, and carnivals. We made planks to jump our bikes and skinned our knees and elbows in the process—all without the protection of helmets or pads. I climbed trees, often sitting high above for hours watching over my small world and learning a lot about gravity and balance. I also rode bareback, fearless, with only twine from a hay bale to steer my great steed. I came to understand about the quick reflexes of rider and horse and why it was necessary to keep a roving eye on my surroundings when galloping though the trees. Every day was an adventure. I couldn’t risk enough. I was free!

As a parent I wish I could find the confidence to give my kids the same gifts my mom gave me and my brothers—peace and quiet from the “noise,” more permission to take risks, and the ability to experience nature, to be free from fear. I try, but feel I come up short.

The fear developed within me, arriving as a parasite on the wings of parenthood. When H was born I felt the full weight of parenthood—to protect fiercely, a love so profound I felt I would suffocate in it, a responsibility to raise a child with a strong moral compass, a commitment to taste a childhood similar to mine. I felt the same with J, A and G as well.

My kids enjoy being outside, however they don’t stray too far without me. I’ve shared my fear and I know they’ve lost true childhood experiences, those independent of their parents, because I do so.  They hike, camp, ride bikes, but they do so with me or another adult, and that’s sad. I will say this though; A is like her mama. She loves nature and regularly catches frogs, toads and snakes and brings them home. And I smile inside and feel better, but I still wonder… Where in their memories will my kiddos travel when they are adults and feel the need to center themselves? Will their childhood experiences have been enough to ground them?


Filed under Adoption, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Rite of Passage, The International Mom

From the Inside Out

I’m not a big shopper. I find it endlessly tiresome and frustrating, preferring to binge-shop with my lists of needed items in hand (after taking inventory) to alleviate multiple trips. Or shop online. I did roughly 90% of my 2011 holiday shopping online. I can do it efficiently and be cost-effective.

I’ve found venturing out to shop the after-the-season sales and clearance racks, in hopes that the clothing will “fit” the following year, to be extremely worthwhile. Well, that is until one of our kids hits The Major Growth Spurt; then I’m doing all I can to keep that child clothed.

Shopping for clothes becomes more challenging as the child enters teenagedom and has interesting perspectives about what looks good or appropriate. Six-inch platform stilettos, paired with a skirt that comes to just under the bucket and the half-inch-thick padded bra advertising young breasts above the low neckline, communicating, “I want to be more—older, experienced—than I am. Look at me!” on a tween or teenage girl screams a troubling and potentially dangerous message. Pants that hang and are belted below the bucket do not fit, look ridiculously stupid, can be hazardous to walk in, or embarrassing when pooling around the ankles in a mishap, say while going through airport security.

I worry about who kids want to emulate. I’m not raising Barbie dolls, streetwalkers, gangsters, or sheep. I will listen and consider, but have final say-so. Fortunately the big guy and I are on the same page. We hold the purse. We are the parents.

A began her growth spurt, therefore extremely difficult to fit.  J needed a few more options for school. So, we went shopping at the mall right after it opened to avoid the crowds. All six of us. Not so easy, especially with opinionated teens.

Store after store, no luck. What H or Mom liked, J or A didn’t. What J liked, Mom didn’t. G? He was like the orbiting sun, happy to be along on this fascinating family adventure.

J wanted to try on those shoes because she wanted to see what they felt like. And I asked her if it was worth chancing turning or braking an ankle and being out for the season. “No!” she said.

However, A slipped into a pair while I was talking to J. “Mom, you’re so short!” My twelve-year-old daughter shared as she towered over me, laughing.

We left and kept moving through the mall. At H’s urging we entered the inner sanctum of the dimly-lit-heavily-atomized-every-five-minutes-store, the one with the loud, pounding music and gargantuan photos that have been relegated to behind the counters because parents of kids wanted the soft-porn images taken out of the store windows. We kept the kids away from the counters…

Mark had been quiet. But I wasn’t worried because I knew he’d come through, and he did. In the back of the store stood my husband with A. Our daughter was wearing a very age-appropriate item of clothing that fit her well, with a little room to grow into.

A was beaming up at her dad. I could hear him tell her about respecting herself; that she was beautiful inside and out, and only becoming more so. What she had on was respectful to her body. He went on, explaining how nice she looked in it and gave her ideas on how to wear it and what to accessorize it with. And I cried because it was a special father-daughter moment not to be intruded on and my daughter was shining form the inside out as she basked in the attention and love of her father.

I’m going to encourage Mark to do more shopping with our daughters. He relates beautifully and compassionately with the girls. His male and father perspective can help to instill and reinforce their self-awareness and esteem as they grow into women.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Claiming, Family, Growing Tweens & Teens, The International Mom

Coming Clean on Temptation

You know, we talk and talk and talk to and at our kids. Mostly with hope that our children will listen to our guidance and will be spared from harsh life lessons. We sometimes feel like “broken records.” We often feel unheard. And surely we are never fully aware of just what our kids are taking in at any given moment and turning over inside their quickly expanding and editing brain circuitry and applying to themselves, others and the world as they experience it.

Tis the season to be at church. Of course we’re at church most Sundays, sans soccer season, since Mark is the band’s lead vocalist.  The Lord’s Prayer is part of the service. Always. I know the words by heart and have since I was a very young child, and I am sad to admit that I don’t necessarily reflect on the meaning or intent of what is behind the words as I speak them, because I’ve been reciting the prayer for decades. It has become a broken record for me…

But gosh, all of a sudden that changed. Greyson whispered to Mark, “Daddy, what’s temptation?”

While other church members dutifully recited the remaining words, Mark explained to our youngest that temptation is when someone is morally tested. When a person is given the choice between doing the right thing or doing something that isn’t right. Then he provided an example–one of money, how people are tempted to take money that isn’t theirs.

Now this was simply the first example that came to Mark, however Greyson realized he had something to get off his chest.

“Dad, I took all of your change yesterday.”

“Well, thanks for sharing that. You can give it back to me when we get home, okay?”

“Um; I put it in my bank. I didn’t count it… I’m gonna pray for forgiveness.”

“Good idea.”

Note: Greyson’s parents found this admission quite refreshing and amusing .


Filed under Adoption, Family, Growing Tweens & Teens, Parenting, The International Mom