Bullocks to the naysayers

 Denene Millner at MyBrownBaby  has a different take than I've been reading elsewhere regarding Sandra Bullock's adoption. I enjoyed the post and with her permission am sharing it here:

  MyBrownBaby: Then I'll Say It: Congrats, Sandra Bullock—AND baby Louie!

 Sandra Bullock's announcement that she is the proud mom of a new baby boy got a lot of attention yesterday for a lot of reasons, but it wasn't just because she kept little Louis' adoption a secret while she dealt with her soon-to-be ex-husband's creeping. Seems that folks are in a tither over the fact that Sandra's son is a brown baby. For sure, my "google alert" for "African American baby" was full of Sandra Bullock stories, as if she's the first, last, and only mom of an African American child. And then there was this from the Twitterati:

Sandra bullock loves black ppl. Blind side, Regina King in Ms Congeniality & now she adopted a black (american) baby. Clap 4 her LOL

Did Sandra Bullock adopt a black baby? I thought that fad had pass in Hollywood just like small dogs in LV bags.

Wish I cud adopt a black baby like Madonna, Angelina Jolie n Sandra Bullock...OH WAIT... I can produce dem frm ma own lovely uterus :)

Sandra Bullock is taking this "Blind Side" thing too far...

I mean, good grief: I get the fascination, I guess; Sandra is white, her son is a black boy she adopted from Louisiana, a state she fell in love with after putting in some Hurricane Katrina volunteer work... blah, blah, blah. But really? Are we still seriously questioning whether it's okay for white parents to adopt black children? In a country where black folks make up 12 percent of the American population but 31 percent of the children waiting to be adopted? And the last possible child to be adopted by anybody—no matter the color—is a dark-skinned black boy? Why the vitriol? She's not about to take little Louis and grill him for dinner; she's vowing to love him strong and raise him right. Why, for God's sake, is this cause for concern? Debate? Snarkiness?

Of course, transracial adoptions can have their complications; there'll always be questions about whether the children are getting enough exposure to folks who look like them, or whether the parents will be sensitive enough to the unique needs of black children. And while I agree that white parents who adopt black kids should be just as passionate about their children's cultural education as they are an academic one, I'm not ever going to suggest that black children should languish in the bowels of the foster care system until someone who looks exactly like them comes along and opens their homes and hearts to them.

I was lucky: My parents, both African American, took me home when I was but a little baby—four days after someone, presumably the woman who gave birth to me, left me on the doorsteps of an orphanage. I am forever grateful to them, and eternally in love with them for loving me unconditionally, and raising me with grace. I would feel the same way about them if they were white.

I'll bet you that 40 years from now, Louie will say the same.

So I'll say it, even if way too many are focusing on sillier things: Congratulations, Sandra—welcome to the mommy club.

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Thumbs down on responsible adoption

Damn....I made the following comment on a news story regarding federal agencies calling on provinces to suspend adoptions from Nepal because a report from the Hague Conference on Private International Law raised concerns about fraudulent adoption and child trafficking. And...I got a "thumbs down" ...*sniff*, *sniff*.

I truly believe this but the problem is the adopter can't know for sure. If there's any doubt the federal government should do exactly what it's doing which is to suspend all adoptions. Corruption in adoption is a serious issue worldwide and if OUR government is actually doing the right thing, something which is in the best interest of children, c'mon! We should not only support it but also applaud it.

The purpose of the Hague Conference is to do just exactly what it's doing, identify fraudulent adoptions and child trafficking. What is the point if provinces ignore requests to suspend adoption from suspect countries??

Please, if you're seriously concerned about the children than do not push to adopt from Nepal. Be responsible in adopting children anywhere. Be absolutely certain there is a need for the child to be adopted and that you're prepared to be an adoptive parent meaning; you know how to care for institutionalized children, you understand the affects of FASD, you've considered children you already have in your care and their well-being, you've honestly examined your reasons for adopting, you're aware of the abandonment issues some adopted persons ultimately have, you've obtained as much biological history as possible to share with your child and intend to be open and honest with them regarding their adoption and plan to support their possible desire to search and/or reunite, you're prepared to honour open adoption agreements, that you are committed to parenting this child forever, no matter what.

It really is something we should all care about.

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Spare the rod ..... pleeeeease

So, a local radio station discussed this article in Time on "a new study published in Pediatrics, researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet that children's short-term response to spanking may make them act out more in the long run."

The first woman who called in was a retired school teacher who gave parenting classes. She was against spanking but went further to say that parents have abandoned all discipline. That they were spending too much time reasoning with their kids instead of just being in charge. Saying no and meaning no. Being consistent. She said lots more, all of which was pretty on target and sensible, kind of made me smile to listen to her great advice.

And then....THEY started calling. Those people who think spanking is necessary. That they were spanked and they turned out just fine. Know what? Me too. I was spanked, I think I turned out fine too.

So has my son. In fact, turned out real good, without ever having been spanked once.

We actually had a pretty big fight yesterday, well, for us it was massive because we just don't fight or raise our voices. Needless to say we were both very upset after. We discussed what happened later in the evening, why it had escalated to what it did and just exactly what each of our roles were in the argument, and then we went for sushi (I paid). But, before we did, my son said it's lucky we're able to fix things like we did, that we can get back to where we were in our relationship, that we'd done no permanent damage. I told him we could do that because we've established respect and trust.

I don't think spanking is respectful. I don't think spanking instills trust.Yet, I know those are 2 of the most important ingredients in a successful child/parent relationship.

I don't believe there's even one valid reason to spank, to hit a little kid cause they did something you don't like. And you don't hit big kids...'cause, well, they're too big, and they might hit you back.


In the best interest of the child

 Here's something I've just come across. Hadn't heard of it before and quite frankly can't believe it. A Canadian child being held in the U.S. in foster care ....for nearly 2 years!!

 Calgary family tries to get son back

"There is no clear cut answer to this problem."

I disagree, I think there are very clear cut answers to this problem.

Some of them being that average, everyday people should not be allowed to adopt older children unless they (the adopters) have been thoroughly assessed psychologically and educated on what can happen and how to deal with it.

That if they do adopt, they will be financially responsible for the child until he or she is of age, whether or not they end up having to institutionalize or re-adopt them out.

That if a person is deemed capable of dealing with the likely struggles of an older child there should be no other (biological or adopted) children residing in the home until it has been established that the adoptee is not suffering from any conditions that affect his or her ability to learn and function safely in society.

There should be no profiting financially from adoption. This in itself would go a very long way in eliminating corruption and serve to protect children from being stolen, bought, and or placed in inappropriate or dangerous homes.

Nobody held a gun to this woman's head to adopt. She's just as responsible as everyone else who failed this child and how she chose to handle it is criminal. If anyone put a biological child on a plane to nowhere with only having arranged to have a stranger meet him and deliver him to a government agency unexpected, there wouldn't be any question.

I find it hard to believe that a person wouldn't realize that a child of 7 who'd been living in an institution would very likely have some behavioral/developmental issues. I think that prospective adoptive parents do know that this is likely but choose to either ignore the facts or to believe that it will be different for them.


See no evil, hear no evil

 I'm a proponent of talking about things with kids so they're prepared.

When reading one excellent post on talking to kids about the Russian child who was sent back to Russia alone I cringed a little when the poster discussed hiding the television news with the hope that the children would remain untouched by the story. I remember something similar when Michael Jackson died and my nieces, especially the older one, were mesmerized by the muted CNN coverage playing in the background on my sister-in-law's tv.

I can't remember the specific questions that were coming up but my approach to questions from kids are to answer them. So, in my attempt to do so, I was silenced by "the look" from their mom. It was explained to me in hushed tones over their heads that they were too young to understand, that it would be upsetting to them.

My question to mom was didn't she think it would be better if we discussed it with them before they talked about it at school with their friends? For whatever reason, mom did not think it was a good idea and so it was left, left to the imagination while the tv remained on muted in the background, CNN being quickly passed over when channel surfing for the rest of my visit.

For some it makes no sense to compare this situation to the Russian child who was returned by his adoptive mom but things like this are relevent to the people involved, what their experience is. These two girls' dad died when they were around 6 and 3 years of age and they were very present when their grandpa died a couple of short years later. They're no stranger to loss, they know death happens, and in our world of ever present media any kid over the age of  four or five can easily be exposed to the news story of the day.

I remember driving with them once and having the oldest ask me what would happen to them if their mom died, just out of the blue. I couldn't tell them their mom wasn't going to die, they know better, so I told them that if that happened I would get to them as soon as possible and make sure they were taken care of, that it wasn't something they needed to worry about. You could feel the relief from the backseat. I did go on to say that it wasn't likely their mom would die anytime soon, that she was healthy and would more than likely be bossing them around for many years to come.

I know it's sometimes frightening to tackle talking to kids about tough stuff, about things we may not even want to think about never mind talk about, but it's best if we try. Our words may not always be perfect, and maybe we'll need to take a few minutes to think about just exactly what we want to say before we do, but something is better than nothing, is better than being in denial about what our kids talk and think about.

Do I think our kids are forced to think and know about things too early in their impressionable lives? Oh yes, I do and it's sad, but, pretending it's not that way doesn't help anyone, especially our kids.

I wonder if this sad story of the Russian boy is affecting more than the kids who've been adopted, if kids all over are wondering if they can be sent away on a plane if their mom and dad don't want them anymore?


Healthy but sleepy boy born on the 19th day of April, 1990 at 9.07 am

My boy is going to be a non teen in two days. How cool is that.

As I think about him and the man he's become, I feel many things.

I feel love. I feel proud. I feel relieved.

I don't feel regret. I don't feel old. I don't wish I could go back to the days he was a baby or toddler. I made it my goal to grow with him, to be able to let go just the right amounts at just the right times.

I've hauled out his baby book that isn't as loaded as you might imagine an only child's baby book might be. What is in it though are my words from different times throughout his life. An excerpt from when he was "2 3/4 years old" reads  Right now you're very close to me and miss me quite a bit when I'm gone. It won't be very many years till you won't so I'll enjoy it until then. My plan is to enjoy you now so when you start to break away it will be o.k..

So far, my plan has worked pretty well. Of course there's a gray area now but I deal with that in my regular way which is to remember what I was like at his age. At his age I was in a very different place. I was well into living on my own and supporting myself, something which I've stated elsewhere was one of my life goals. Although this difference between my son and myself at his age now is significant, there is still much that's the same. I was just as irresponsible and procrastinated as much as he does. I paid bills late and my apartments were a disaster area. When I moved out of my first apartment I had to wash the accumulation of dirty dishes in the bathtub because there were so many and once had to pay to get my phone reconnected because I'd been too lazy to go pay the bill.

So now, I temper my expectations of my son by being as realistic as possible. Yes, he's a grown man. No he's not self supporting. Yes, I was on my own working full time. No, I wasn't in university with the intent to get a degree. Yes, I partied all night, every night and had a great time going out with a bunch of different guys. No, my son is not a party animal, in fact he's a self proclaimed "nerd" (a fact as a mom I vehemently disagree with, of course) and has a girlfriend who I can very well see him being with for the rest of his life.  

Here I need to address something which my sister pointed out to me after reading one of my posts about spanking:    

She told me I'd made it sound like he'd been raised by monks which couldn't be further from the truth. He was not raised in a bubble and was exposed to his fair share of bad influences which he somehow managed to choose not to emulate. He's had his piercings (something I didn't object to once he was 18 and have since been removed of his own accord) and is finally on the verge of acquiring his long awaited tattoo, a reproduction of one of my brother's tattoos that holds deep meaning for my son. It will be interesting to see how that goes because one thing's for sure, my boy is not good with pain!

Anyway, for now, even though my boy is grown, I'm still mom and still thinking and figuring out how to do things right. How to not be too intrusive yet still have expectations, how to support without enabling, how to balance friendship and respect in my role as a parent to an adult. Wow, what a thing that is to write out loud.


Roxanne's Law

OTTAWA - A Conservative MP wants to make it a crime to threaten or intimidate a woman into having an abortion.

Winnipeg MP Rod Bruinooge says his bill, "Roxanne's Law," is necessary to communicate to the public that coercing or attempting to coerce a female to have an abortion is unacceptable.

Bruinooge became interested in the issue after hearing about Roxanne Fernando, a young woman who was murdered by a friend of her partner after refusing to have an abortion in 2007.

Bruinooge said his bill does not re-open the abortion debate and abortions will still be legal.

The following is a message I sent to this MP.

I'm curious if it's too late to add to or amend this bill and if it is, would it not be worth proposing a similar law regarding coercing women into giving their child up for adoption, or perhaps even go as far as to make it illegal to pressure or coerce a women into keeping and raising an unwanted child. I believe all three scenarios exist and can have life long or, in Roxanne's case, life threatening consequences for all parties involved.

I guess it should be illegal to pressure a woman to do anything regarding her pregnancy, period.

Hmmm... I now don't know what to think of this idea. It's been presented by a pro-lifer.


Enough already

"Had you not met the child you are raising, would you miss her?" -This has got to be one of the most ridiculous questions I've ever seen.

"Would she seek you out or cry for you had she not been adopted by you or not been adopted at all?" - Oh wait, this is the most ridiculous question.

Kids sitting in foster care or orphanages (or stuck with crap parents who resent their existence) are most certainly crying out for someone to come along and adopt them and love them and care for them. Before it's pointed out to me that adopters aren't interested in older kids, that they just want babies, than it's the biological parents that should shoulder the blame for not surrendering these abandoned, sometimes abused, older children when they were babies!

Adoption isn't always "rainbows and unicorns" but it isn't always coercion and human trafficking either.

What people seem to forget is that there are kids born to parents who DON'T REALLY WANT THEM. With any luck they are then raised by good people who do.

This online adoption community is made up of adoptees and biological mothers who refuse to admit this.

Can we please remember that there is still a child sitting in Russia, children sitting all over the world, without parents. Babies being conceived everyday to people who don't want them! They are just as entitled to be raised by a family who loves them as anyone else.

If later they then have some issues with the fact that their biological parents wouldn't/couldn't keep them well at least there's a chance that they have those issues coupled with the knowledge that someone loves them and cares about them, even if it's the evil adopters.

I for one am thankful that I'm not sitting here wondering what it would have been like to have been adopted by someone who loved me and cared for me.


Compassion...what's that again? I'll look up integrity, accountability, and responsibility while I'm at it.


My brain is full of upsetting thoughts. Between the young boy returned to Russia and the young woman who committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied I'm just shaking my head. At least the young Russian adoptee is alive, although I know some will argue that's not necessarily better, to which I can't agree. As sickening as the conduct of the adoptive family and the people responsible for placing him with them is, there's a chance this boy will get what would appear to be a third chance at stability although I agree that the odds are stacked against him.

What's gone on and is still going on with the case of the young woman who committed suicide is beyond imagination. When my son was pre-school and I was teaching him about bullying and meanness we discussed words and their impact. That when we are in school sometimes kids will be mean to other kids just because they wear glasses, or because they weigh more, or because of the colour of their skin. Maybe they'll make fun because of the person's name or the clothes that they wear. We discussed what to do when it happened, why not to do it, how it makes people feel. I relayed stories of meanness from my teen years, situations where I was the victim but also situations where I was the perpetrator, caught up in a teen frenzy of thoughtlessness, competition, and peer pressure. In fact, I recall quite clearly the last time I was mean to a fellow student, and the vow I made to myself to never be that way again.

Twenty years ago we didn't include the internet for obvious reasons but eventually it became a regular, important part of the discussion. In fact we discuss it to this day, with my son not only in the role of student but also of teacher and confidant. We've both had our moments of unpleasantness online which was and is helpful in order to have someone to commiserate with, to remind us of who we "really" are. I remember a time when my son was not getting along with a friend in school and how it had spilled over onto MSN messenger, with the friend doing much of the maligning. My son showed me a scathing email he'd written in retaliation and I remember the resulting discussion, how it was very important that in defending himself he made sure to also protect himself, that anything written could be very damaging and used out of context, that although every word was justified, if they were presented alone it would be difficult to believe he'd been a victim.

Pretending that all this nastiness and cruelty doesn't exist, or if it does, would NEVER be something my perfect darling would be involved in is not helpful, in fact, it's culpable! I say this because if you're not discussing teenage cruelty and bullying with your kids and their responsibility when it happens (because it will happen) whether it be online or off, or both, you're likely contributing to it.

I don't know how the whole situation with this young girl who committed suicide will unfold, but I do know it will become more horrific, even though it's hard to believe that's even possible. She will be dragged through the mud, count on it, as will her family and the young people who harassed and bullied her and their families. It's already happening, people are doing just exactly what they claim to be speaking out against. What kind of an example does this set?

Can anyone honestly say that all involved had done all they should for these kids?

And now, it's too late.


You can't win the lottery unless you buy a ticket, right?

Good afternoon,

I am aware this email will only be considered for review by the Prime Minister and it's my hope that the subject will be perceived as important and serious enough for not only his acknowledgment but for some subsequent and substantial form of action as well. I'm writing to bring awareness to an issue I've just recently become aware of myself. The issue I refer to is worldwide corruption in the process of the adoption of children.

I'm an adult Canadian citizen who was adopted domestically at birth. The circumstances and process regarding my adoption story are not in question. To the best of my knowledge it was and still is a suitable arrangement for all involved. I am not anti-adoption and believe it is a viable option when people are faced with a circumstance where they are unable to raise their child.

Having said that, in the past few months I've become informed and am now aware that all adoption situations do not turn out nor start out like my personal situation. Worldwide there are children being sold, stolen, adopted and "returned" or "regifted" in less than transparent processes, and placed with entirely unsuitable adoptive parents. There are adoptive and biological parents who are deceived and preyed upon and open adoption arrangements being reneged on. There are adult adoptees being denied access to original birth certificates and being given questionable to false non-identifying biological background information.

It is my hope that Canada could be the first to broach and become a leading force in a worldwide redress of adoption processes as they exist now. Adoption has become an industry in which people are making large sums of money off the vulnerability of children and parents. It is a process which should not be for profit and one which should also be closely monitored and regulated by an unbiased international entity that exists to ensure all concerned conduct themselves in a way that is in the best interest of children and their families, biological and adopted.

I think it's time some country stood up and addressed this outrageous system that treats children like commodities and it would make me very proud to see that country be Canada. I have always believed that we live in a country that values children, family, and human rights, not only of Canadians but of people worldwide.