Archive for January, 2011

Got adoption competence?


Rose and I listened to the Problem with the Puddles in the car on the way to Green Bay today.  “Why were you going to Green Bay on a Wednesday?” you might ask.  (I have no idea how to punctuate that sentence.  Someone save me.)  Rose and D both are loosely represented by an agent who asked them to audition for a Superbowl “Got Milk?” ad.  Rose got it.  So we went to have Rose’s picture taken with the Packers quarterback.  He was super nice and lovely with Rose, for the record.  You will only see this ad if the Packers win the big game.  Otherwise it will never appear anywhere.

So.  The Problem with the Puddles. While it is a fun book to listen to (for a young child – I didn’t like it nearly as much as most of the kids’ stories we’ve been driving to in the car these days) and was fairly interesting, I really did not like the way adoption was presented in the story.  I am not generally an over-sensitive person about this issue, and maybe it was just the narrative style, but I felt like the decision made by birth parents to relinquish a child seemed callous and uncaring, and while the adoptive parents were presented as loving their child, they felt like adoption was a secret to be kept.  Generally it was a silly portrayal of adoption in a book that was exceedingly silly, but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

A lot of adoptive parents and adult adoptees get up in arms about the language used and representations of adoption in popular culture.  I am usually not one of the people worrying that the b-list horror movie, Orphan, will freak people out too much to consider adopting a child.  (Spoiler alert: Turns out the girl isn’t actually a girl but some sort of tiny adult psychotic.)  I loved Despicable Me, despite its portrayal of the orphanage as a terrible place and the homestudy process as a breeze where you can pretty much walk in somewhere and walk out with a kid.  It isn’t grocery shopping here, people.

I guess my problem with The Problem… was just that I was sort of taken aback by the overall tone around the adoption theme.  Adoption was a burden.  It was a secret.  It was the opposite of what it has been in my life.   It couldn’t be a secret (not that I would want it to!)  I feel like I am part of what one adoptive parent I know calls a “conspicuous family.”  A lot of people have questions.  (Although, it has been funny that over the last couple years, probably five women that I’ve gotten to know and would now consider friends have said “I didn’t know Rose was adopted!”  So maybe we’re not as conspicuous as I sometimes feel, since my family is all beautiful shades of brown.)   And adoption has been so far from a burden for us.  It has presented a couple of challenges, but every kid has some challenges.  It remains the biggest and best decision Charles and I ever made.  A blessing.

It might be my sensitivity to the issue (like if you’ve ever got a number stuck in your head and you start seeing it everywhere) but really mixed portrayals of adoption pop up constantly in the books I am reading, especially ones I am reading to the kids.  While I am fully aware that you can’t monitor and censor all the stuff your kids read, (see: Dillon learning to read and blowing the lid off the Santa secret) this is one area where I wish I could get a better handle on it.  The book cover said nothing about adoption – it was ostensibly about two dogs that were left behind finding their way back to the family that accidentally drove off without them.  (Hmmm.  Metaphor?  You decide.)

Rose, for the record, didn’t register any objections to the book.  And now, for your viewing pleasure, a rare picture on the blog, but we have to milk our moment of potential fame for all it is worth…

Rose and Rodgers

Rose and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers

Girl Scout Cookies


Hey, Rose still needs to sell 25 boxes of cookies to meet her goal, so if you need some girl scout cookies, let me know!

Women’s Studies 101


This morning, over breakfast, Charles stuck his tongue out at the kids (luckily he wasn’t eating breakfast yet) and the kids cracked up.  And Rose said only babies stuck their tongues out and Daddy was a man.  And Dillon said sometimes girls stuck their tongues out and that was kind of immature behavior.

And I said, “Be careful ascribing behaviors to boys or girls.  It is almost never okay.  The only  example I can think of where it is ever okay is-”

Charles interrupts “Peeing!”

I continue, “The only two examples I can think of where it is ever okay are peeing and the role in reproduction.  What you are doing is called stereotyping, and that is pretty dangerous behavior.  People have been using stereotyping to keep each other down pretty much forever.”

And we proceed to have a great discussion about gender stereotyping, and self-fulfilling prophecies, and institutional discrimination.  (Using more of the concepts and less of the jargon.)  I was thrilled at how much D understood, though I shouldn’t have been since I am sure these are things they talk about – at least a little bit – at school.  He especially understood when we talked about how these expectations for behavior hurt boys.  He’s a sensitive kid and he knows it, and I am sure he’s been made fun of for crying or whatever.

I am constantly amazed at how big my kids are getting, how much they understand, and what they are capable of.  They are brilliant and beautiful and I am grateful for them every day.

Ok – have to de-sapify this post a bit so here’s a dose of parental reality and levity.  D stayed home sick today, and I’ve missed a lot of work lately due to kid-related illness, doctor’s appointments, or whatever, so I brought him in to my work and he laid on my office floor in a sleeping bag (mostly playing DS and iPad and reading) while I worked.  And he was great, aside from trying to talk my ear off about his pokemon, requiring a gentle reminder now and again that I actually did need to get some work done.  But the challenge was when he had to pee.  My office is in a big corporate building, with a shared restroom.  So I walk him down to the men’s room and wait outside the door.  For a really long time.  And just when I am beginning to worry about him, a guy goes into the restroom.  Then I wonder if I should have stopped the guy and asked him to find out if D fell in or something.  But this was a total stranger and didn’t even necessarily work in the building.  And then I start to worry even more.  Just when I am about to find someone to fish my kid out of the bathroom, he comes out.  I am sure he was just playing with the automatic sinks and soap and stuff, but it was more harrowing than a trip to the restroom ought to be.

Puppies, kittens, and other small critters


Rose’s dearest Christmas wish was for “a real, live puppy.”  Possibly named Rocky (this was even prior to the addition of new cousin Rocco to our family).  If I had wanted to affirm the existence of Santa – Rose is a believer, D hasn’t since being able to read chapter books [shake fist at library] – and if I was crazy – I would have gotten her one for Christmas.  (Grammar nerds, can I even use dashes like that?  That’s just a cumbersome sentence.)

When we saw Santa coming out of a neighbor’s house, Rose was SO excited, and I had to stop her from running across the street to see him.  The neighbor knows her, and asked in his best Santa voice, “what do you want for Christmas, Rose?” and she affirmed that she wanted “a real, live puppy.” None of these stuffed toys we were gearing up to get her.

Unfortunately, she didn’t get her wish.  I had long ago made a pledge to never again in life get a puppy in December.  It is the worst time to try to potty train a dog.  A few days after Christmas, Grandma Vickie gave Rose a couple of beanie baby dogs that had been around since Anna was into those.  And Rose was gracious, but she kind of complained that she hadn’t gotten her real puppy.

I said, “But Rose, we have two dogs, and Dharma and Django might not like having a new puppy in the house.  We only have two kennels, where would the puppy sleep?”

And Rose turns to her grandma and says, “Do you want one of our dogs?”  Of course I object, and we laugh about it.

But a couple of weeks later, she’s still bringing it up.  She got a little dose of baby animal fun with some foster kittens that Kate and Sophie had in their apartment.  The funny thing is, she really likes Dharma and Django.  At least, she sweats the heck out of them all the time.  She’s constantly trying to involve the dogs in her games and other activities, she loves taking them outside and feeding them and taking care of them.  She’s actually pretty responsible, and would be the perfect pet owner if I didn’t occasionally have to say, “when Dharma is hiding under the couch it means she doesn’t want to play right now” or “don’t put that on Django’s head, please.”

Three dogs would definitely be too much, though.  At least, you should tell Charles that is what I said, and we’ll see what happens once it gets warm again…