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Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

theobike

Theo is riding his bike downhill … FAST!

He’s wearing his Spider-Man body suit and riding his shiny new Spider-Man bike in a moment of supreme Spidey overkill. But we don’t care. He’s out of the hospital where he spent the previous night in an asthmatic haze. And besides the dahlias and the sun are out.

We hear a voice. It’s Theo’s friend Bryan, age four-and-a-half.: “Hey Theo! Stop!”

Theo screeches to a halt.

Bryan, who is wearing a Spider-Man sweatshirt – call it small boy solidarity- yells (despite being right in front of Theo) “Are you the REAL Spider-Man?!!”

Theo looks at him quizzically (as in um … come on dude it’s me Theo). Bryan asks again “So? Are you the REAL Spider-Man?!”

Theo says “No. I THEO! I not the REAL Spider-Man!” (sic)

Bryan: “Well Black Spider-Man isn’t the REAL Spider-Man.”
[Sudden spike in blood my pressure … Huh? What? Whoa? Where is this going?]
Bryan: “Yea, Black Spider-Man is Ed.”

I’m speechless.

Theo looks at him slightly confused and says: “I got a bike! A Spider-Man bike!”

Have you ever had an interaction that left you completely speechless? 

–> This is the second time a child has called Theo Black Spider-Man

Addendum: I’m not sure who Ed is (random 4-yr-old comment perhaps) but Miles Morales is the first black/hispanic Spider-Man.

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It’s been a non-stop day; and Theo is still wired. He wants to play ‘crash it’ with his superheroes but I kibosh the idea in favour of a book. It’s been a while since we’ve read an adoption story. I pull out “God Found Us You” (by Lisa Tawn Bergen with art by Laura J. Bryant) despite my agnostic tendencies. I figure all adoption books are great jumping off points for discussion so we give it a whirl.

It begins with Little Fox cuddling up to Mama Fox and asking her to tell him again about the day he came home.

Immediately, Theo says, “Little Fox adopted?” I say, “Yes just like you.” Then he curls up to me and waits for me to go on. I’m so surprised, I keep reading, and for perhaps the first time, Theo listens to a complete story (with a few amendments by me) end-to-end.

Mama Fox begins by giving Little Fox an idea of what life was like for her before he arrived in her life. The story uses beautiful imagery to show her deep longing for a child. Little Fox snuggles up as his mother tells him how she dreamed of him, how he would look, smell and sound. Every day she thought of how wonderful it would be to hold him in her arms. She saw him in the leaves and bark of the giant oak and in the night stars. But she had to wait, and wait, and wait.

In a series of achingly beautiful scenes, the book shows Mama Fox watching the other mothers have children (bears, owls, rabbits), and it shows her howling alone on the cliffs watching for Little Fox to show up. Day after day after day, she waits. The trees lose their leaves, the snow flies, and she wants to give up but she never does.

Then Little Fox asks why he couldn’t stay with “the mother who had me.”  I worried that the book might steer into “God had his reasons” but Mama Fox’s response is quite wonderful. She says, “She must have had very big reasons to give you up. She must have thought it was best for you.” Mama Fox does not try to make up a reason when she doesn’t know all the facts or motivations.

Little Fox then asks: “Did she have fur like mine? Eyes like mine?” I mention to Theo that he has brown skin and curly hair like his birthmother whereas Mama Fox says (not knowing all the facts): “She must have been as beautiful as you are handsome.”  I like how the book honours the birthmother in the context of limited information.

Little Fox then asks if Mama Fox will be his forever mama. She says yes, “Always and forever no matter what. I will always love you and treasure you and celebrate the day you came to me.” Some people take issue with “forever mama” and celebration around adoption but it works for a small child who needs to know they are not only cherished but they are with you for life.

Mama Fox then tucks Little Fox into bed, and he is glad that he has a cozy home and good food and a mama how loves him very much.

At this point, Theo is sprawled on my lap making fox-like noises, and says. “Mama, you call me Little Fox?” I say, “Yes Little Fox … now time for bed.” “Okay Mama Fox,” he yawns.

* Like most adoption books, the story won’t match up perfectly with your own but I found it a great jumping off point.  This book refers to God a lot but you can easily omit the references so it still works for non-believers. It also works nicely for international, local, closed, open and single mother adoption.

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No burn suns here.

No burn suns here.

We’re lolling on the warm wooden bench in front of the ice cream shop soaking up the golden light. A white woman with a grey dog sits beside us savoring her exquisite dish of cardamom and vegan lemon ice cream. My own cardamom cone is long gone, but Theo is still slowly licking away at his vanilla cone, which is dripping all over his striped shirt and shorts.

Suddenly, he snaps out of his ice cream induced reverie and notices that the woman has a rash on her arm. Being 4, he touches her arm and blurts, “Excuse me! What you got on your arm?!” She doesn’t say anything so naturally, he soldiers on. Pointing at the sun, he says, “You got a burn sun?” She laughs and nods. He looks very serious and says “My skin is brown; I don’t get a burn sun.”

This is my 11th post for the September – 21 Moments Writing Challenge – 10 more to go.

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This guy!

A rambunctious bundle of enthusiasm, energy, chatter and joie de vivre!

Happy Birthday Theo!

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Read about The Day We Met 4 years ago.

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We first met Theo’s birthparents a few months before his birth, a sparkling May just over four years ago. His late July birth took place during the stickiest summer on record – a blur of thick wet heat, whirling fans, dripping sweat, icy drinks, joy and sorrow amid a confusion of  visits by birthfamily, friends, neighbours and family.

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Theo four years ago on a HOT day with us, his new parents.

Here’s are a few things I’ve learned in the ensuing 4 years (not all– just a few things).

Open adoption is not just a single relationship but many. We’ve had visits and conversations with various members of Theo’s birthfamilies but the permutations and combinations of people shifts and evolves constantly and will continue to do so over time as people move, regroup, breakup, meet others and so on.

We need to actively open our door. Just because we don’t hear from Theo’s birthfather or mother or grandmother or auntie does not mean they aren’t available, willing and interested in being connected. A recent visit with Theo’s birthdad, sister and mom proved this point.

Open adoption isn’t just about the child. Of course, the health and well-being of Theo is central to all decisions but I believe that it’s vital for (many) birthparents all the way up to grandparents to know and see that the child they placed for adoption is secure and loved. I’d hate to wonder and worry about the people that gave us the gift of parenthood. It’s a relief to see everyone grow in ease and confidence as part of an open relationship as well as, as people in their own right.

Open adoption increases (not decreases) my confidence as an adoptive parent.  I know my son better through seeing his birth aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents but I also recognize his individuality. You can see biology in his body, his physicality, and some of his interests but there’s not doubt that he walks his own path. I no longer feel self-conscious about being a transracial adoptive family. I have his birthfamily’s love, support and connection, and Theo has a tangible link to his culture and biology so that when he needs to, as Lori Holden would say, “drink from the well” of his history, he can.

Open adoption is emotionally taxing. Open adoption isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. Pre-visit lead ups are a source of huge anxiety with a side of intense house cleaning. Theo is only just 4. He still does not understand the magnitude of what adoption is. The penny has not dropped for him. I’m never sure if visits are good, bad or neutral for him. For now, he seems to enjoy the excitement of these ‘birthfamily’ visitors;  he knows they are special and they look like him. Further than that, he’s still not able to express his feelings. Only time will tell.

Open adoption can yield surprising and unexpected benefits. We now have a high-school aged birthauntie who lives close by on the babysitting roster. She’s got deep brown skin, curly hair a sunny personality and a smile a mile wide just like Theo.

Have you had any recent revelations about open adoption, adoption or anything related?

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File this under ethnic confusion/identity/humour.

Location: Vietnamese restaurant in East Vancouver

Customers: Mark, Theo, a good number of Chinese/Vietnamese customers and a smattering of white people.

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Theo: “Dad! Why is everyone in here white?

Dad: “Because they were born that way.”

Theo: “Why is mommy white?

Dad: “Because she was born that way.”

Theo: “I’m brown”

Dad: “I’m brown too.”

Theo: “Why am I brown?”

Dad: “Because you were born that way.”

Theo: “Why is my hand white?” (shows palm) …

Keeping things simple until we need to go further lest you think we are in denial; we aren’t.

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1. June is not always Junuary!  June in Vancouver is typically a horrifying blend of cold rain and darkness so this sunny June came as weather surprise. For the first time in years, we got to soak up the golden evening light in shirt sleeves clinking glasses instead of huddling around the  TV in wool sweaters.

2. Almost four-year-olds can go non-stop until dusk if the weather is fine. Theo’s internal sleep clock switched from 6:30 am to 8:30 pm to 9:00 am to 11 pm. Note to self: Do not enroll Theo in a morning summer camp again.

3. Super soakers (AKA water guns) are a great way to get your son to water the potted plants.

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4. Good weather means more time outside, which means more allergies, which led to another ER visit for asthma for Theo. Boo 😦

5. A husband with a broken ankle is no fun for anyone, especially Mark.

6. The face of adoption has changed dramatically. Not only is open adoption increasingly the norm locally but I was moved by a first-hand account of an international adoption reunion.

7. Kind words from Theo’s birth parents made The Happiness List.

8. Fatherhood is much more than ties and beer.

9. There’s no such thing as “just adopting.”

10. Summer needs children.

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Did you learn anything last month? Do tell!

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