textualdeviance: (Default)
So, in assembling this photo collage for our adoption agency profile, I went looking for pics of the two of us.

A while back, my mom gave me a CD full of pics she'd had stored--old family pics, a bunch of stuff from her camera, etc. I'd not gone through them--my mother takes tons of pics and most of them are pretty repetitive. But I wanted to see if there were any shots she'd gotten of us that I hadn't seen.

I did find some interesting pics--not of us, but of the rest of my family. Some interesting old ancestor pics, and a few of me and my dad. There was a little bit of "huh. These are my people, I spose." Not nostalgia, really, but wondering whether there might be any merit to including them as part of my family now that I'm adding a child of my own.

And then I opened a folder called "great pics." Which was full of all sorts of horrible racist "jokes." Like really, really horrible ones. So horrible I don't even want to describe them.

Oh.

Given that we're still considering a transracial adoption, and may well end up with at least a mixed-race child, I just ... I wanted to throw up, quite frankly. The idea of exposing my kid to people who would think that kind of hateful garbage is funny is nauseating.

The weirdest part is that there's already a PoC kid in my family. One of my cousins on my mom's side has a daughter (now a teen) whose father is half black/half Japanese. She's gorgeous and sweet and a nice kid. And I wonder exactly what the rest of the family says behind her back. I know that my late grandfather, on seeing her first pics, said something to the effect of "that child's going to be black!" in a horrified tone. But beyond that, I'd not heard anything. She's featured in plenty of family pics, etc., so it seem like she's accepted, but who knows what people really think or say when they think they're in like-minded company?

And honestly, if having a POC grand-niece hasn't cured my parents of their racism, will having a PoC grandchild help? I doubt it. I'm guessing my dad probably won't be around much longer--not long enough for my kid to really know him. But my mom may even outlive me, so I'm going to have to find a way around that. If my child and her birthfamily--who will be part of our family--aren't white, how are my parents going to handle that? And what will be the effect on these new family members whom I want to feel loved and welcome, to know that the extended family of the adoptive parents is so awful?

The obvious solution--and the one I've been operating from for quite some time--is to simply keep my family at a distance, so their toxic hate doesn't affect me or the other people I love. I already have PoC friends, and the idea of having my family around where they can say stupid things to them is horrifying to me, so that's just not an option.

But when it comes to my kid, there WILL be questions. She'll have birth grandparents, and with luck, those will be good people, but we won't be able to give her that experience on our side. Trying to explain to her why we don't see our bio families is going to be excruciating even if she is white. She'll have to understand, for instance, that we're not out to M's family because their religion doesn't allow them to accept us the way we are. And that's going to be hard enough to deal with. She'll otherwise be surrounded by all sorts of queer and queer-friendly people, so she'll know that we and the people we choose to have around believe it to be perfectly normal, natural and worthy of support. She'll know that the vast majority of people in our lives believe in voting in a way that supports human rights. But there will still be this one segment of her adoptive family--a big one--that doesn't, and I'm lost for how to explain that to her in a way that won't mess with her head. She'll know about homophobia, of course, but to know that her own family is part of that problem? Depressing, to say the least (just as it is for me.)

And then to add racism on top of that ... I just. Ugh. We ourselves can be role models to counteract the homophobia. But we don't have the framework around race established well enough to offset that, and I'm terrified of not being able to give my PoC child enough support in that area.

Generally speaking, we already believe in the idea of chosen family, and adoption is just a part of that. We'll be establishing the idea that family is the people who love you, regardless of whether they're legally or biologically related. And, out of necessity, we'll have to explain that sometimes the people we're legally or biologically related to aren't actually family. We'll have to make it clear that just because DNA or a piece of paper says someone is connected to you doesn't mean they love you. Love is demonstrated by actions, not words, and people who have not chosen to act in a loving way aren't qualified as family. But there's SO much cultural framework built up around blood family that undoubtedly this is going to be upsetting for her, and that breaks my heart.

I'm dreading the moment--and there will be one, I know it--when my kid realizes that there are people who don't like her--or even hate her--because of her skin color, or because her parents aren't straight, or because her mom's fat, or because she's adopted, or because we're not religious, etc. And it'll be even worse if it's not just random strangers who dislike her, but people she's legally related to. I will likely choose not to really expose her to those people, so she won't develop a bond with them and thus be hurt even more by their prejudice when she discovers it. If they're effectively strangers, that revelation will sting a lot less.

But it's still going to hurt, and I'm still furious that my kid is inevitably going to suffer just because there are so many ignorant, hateful, small minded people--some of whom I have the misfortune to be related to.
textualdeviance: (Default)
Six weeks into my summer sabbatical, and enjoying it, for the most part. Currently parked in the back yard on a lovely afternoon enjoying the fresh air and sunshine and birdsong and dragonflies and bumblebees. And my spiffy laptop and our awesome wireless. ;) There's something really calming about having my own green space to chill out in--at least when the weather's nice. Even enjoying doing a bit of tending of my little kitchen garden. This year, in addition to the herbs, we have tomatoes, two kinds of peppers, lemon cucumbers, yellow watermelon, Hubbard squash and raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Oh, and a little tree that's supposed to produce something called a limequat. So far, the only thing that we've harvested is strawberries--the plant we have is very prolific--but we have tomatoes and peppers growing, the blueberry bush is absolutely bursting with stuff that should be ripening in the next few weeks, and everything else has at least flowered. Hoping there's enough summer left to get at least something out of most of them.

***

I think I've gotten past the initial panic about not having enough time to do everything before I have to go back to work/start raising a youngun (more on that in a bit), so now I'm just taking it easy and doing what I want/need to do as the mood strikes me.

Writing, family, kid-buying, blah blah )

***

Gotta admit: I'm actually enjoying 40 so far. It's kind of like having a license to not give a shit what the world thinks anymore. Yeah, they still do care, but I'm out to pasture as far as the must-be-decorative pressure goes just based on age alone, so the rest of it doesn't matter as much. I think I've been a brassy old broad since I was 20. Nice to finally be the right age for it. :)
textualdeviance: (skwirls)
These types of holidays are always hard for me, because I haven't had the best relationship with my parents over the years. There are a lot of reasons for this--which I've gone into in a fair amount of detail here from time to time--but suffice it to say, we're at a tenuous peace at the moment, and I hope things stay that way.

In all this time, though, I've watched many of my friends' relationships with their fathers, and have seen many become fathers themselves. Even though I don't buy into the gender divide thing when it comes to parenting, it's still enough of a part of the culture I exist in that observing these relationships around me--observing men as they come to grips with redefining themselves--is quite an education.

I've learned a lot from this that I feel I can bring to my own parenting, if we manage to make that happen. The "mommy" role is something that's never called to me in any way, and it's taken me years to realize that that doesn't mean I don't have a parenting instinct at all. But neither, of course, do I have some of the typical "fatherhood" instincts that have so broken so many of my friends--and me, too, in some ways. The drive to assert masculine dominance and fight off any hint of showing weakness has destroyed so many children, and also the men who can't seem to make themselves stop doing that to them.

My own dad has had his own issues with this, of course, and it definitely is part of the reason things have tended to be strained between us. But I think I can honestly say that the lion's share of our problems are more just personality, philosophy and lifestyle differences (backed up with strong wills and a tendency to be stubborn and cantankerous on both parts) rather than him trying to do what he thinks men and fathers are supposed to do. My dad has made a ton of bad choices over the years, some of which have hurt me quite deeply, but he's also done a lot better than a heck of a lot of other fathers I've observed, especially in encouraging my own strength, education, literacy, tomboy nature, etc. Though my mom tried quite a lot to get me to act like a proper girl, he never really did, and has always supported and even encouraged that part of me. It's ironic, but even though some of the worst things that happened to me were in part due to mistakes he made, the strength of character he gave me also helped me survive them.

I don't expect us to ever have the close relationship we did when I was younger. I'm too scarred at this point, and both of us are far too set in ways that are inherently opposed. I don't think either of us needs that drama. But I do have some good things that I take from his parenting, and think I'll eventually apply to my own. And maybe that's enough.
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textualdeviance: (Cascadia)
One of the movies I watched recently had a plot involving the common trope of a country boy gone city, whose family resents him for it. There's the typical accusation of how he undoubtedly thinks he's too good for his country folks now, never visits, etc.

In a lot of stories with this plot, it resolves by the city boy learning the value of family, and that his city life has robbed him of his soul, blah blah. This one? Not so much. In fact, it was entirely the other way around. It was made clear that the reason the city boy left in the first place was because family drama pushed him away, and when he returned, he returned only to that drama, which almost ruined the relatively calm city life he'd had. The experience of "going home" again only reminded him that he made the better choice by leaving, and reinvested him in the life he'd built for himself beyond his roots.

While the movie was kinda cheesy in general, I was actually impressed by how the plot went there, since I'm so used to being shamed for having left my hometown/family, and it also got me to thinking about how inherently dysfunctional small-town life--or indeed, any sort of insular community--can be.

Sameness =/= safety )

If you scratch the surface of any seemingly prosaic world, you'll find potential dangers. Which is why the only real safety is in leaving your front porch and seeing the rest of the world and all the people in it, and giving yourself at least one other place to go if the place you are now fails you somehow.

Taking these ventures outside your door doesn't mean you're leaving everything else behind for good. It doesn't mean you don't like the old life, the old people, the old hobbies and cultures and familiar places. It just means that you understand that a life built on eternal sameness doesn't guarantee happiness. The fewer options you leave yourself, the more likely you are to be bereft if/when the only thing you have goes away. I have felt that profound sense of emptiness before, and I don't ever want to feel it again. I will, of course mourn if the big things in my life go away, but I don't want to have a sense that they are the ONLY things in my life, and thus if they go away, I'll have nothing left.
textualdeviance: (skwirls)
Thinking a bit more about the adoption thing, one issue has been nagging at me: Is it really fair to bring a child into a family of only two people?

M and I have a great deal of love to give, and would be very dedicated to any child we took in, but neither of us have great relationships with our families of origin. In fact, I can't think of anyone I'm biologically or legally related to with whom I actually have a close, loving relationship. I get a few birthday cards here and there, but really, those people don't actually know me, and wouldn't like me if they did. So... No.

We do have some good friends, of course. I consider D and K to be family, definitely, and there are plenty more people we love whom we'd readily add to that list if we got closer, but for capital-F Family--people we could be certain would be in our child's life for the long haul--it really is just us.

The popular concept of family--the dozen or so people gathered around at Thanksgiving or whatever--just isn't a part of our lives, and won't be. We've already lost all of our grandparents, so our child would never know great-grandparents, but they wouldn't know grandparents, either, except in passing. No aunts, no uncles, no cousins. They'd meet a few, sure--M's siblings, for instance, wouldn't be unknown to them--but they'd really be little more than strangers, not people with whom they'd really be close. On a day-to-day basis, we'd be it.

On a practical level, I don't see this getting in the way too much. Yeah, most birth mothers would probably prefer to give their babies to couples with a larger family, but I'm sure there might be some who wouldn't worry about that. The only issue is just my own concern with it, and whether we'd be emotionally shortchanging a child by having such a small circle of loved ones for them to come home to.
textualdeviance: (ASLWTF)
K's about to become a grandmother. She turns 40 in July.

Her 22-year-old kid--my goddaughter--is due in Feb.

The idea of my pseudosister having a grandkid before I've even had a kid? Is messing with my head.

Granted that K started early--her first pregnancy was at 15--but still.

ETA: Some navel gazing on this )
Feb. 24th, 2009 03:34 pm

*breathe*

textualdeviance: (skwirls)
I just sent a short mail to an adoption attorney.

I honestly don't know if that's really the right place to start, but it'll at least give us a better idea than what I've come up with so far, which has been a giant morass of agencies and agents for agencies and useless directory sites and... blah. No way to tell which ones are a scam, or which ones would balk at handing a kid over to a couple of queer atheists or whatever. The whole thing seems like a big pile of Ponzi schemes and snake oil sales drones.

I'm figuring it'll take months to get through all the paperwork and such, so I may as well get going on it now, even though I'm a little concerned about financial issues at the moment, what with the economy being a disaster.

I guess we'll see what happens next.
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Mar. 4th, 2008 04:23 pm

Weird week

textualdeviance: (Cascadia)
M is staying at a hotel this week for pointy-haired boss management training. It's been disorienting to not have him home and to be driving myself to work. The cats didn't even sleep with me last night because they were hanging out downstairs waiting for him to come home.

Weird enough. Then yesterday, I get a call from my friend K (the one I've known since 3rd grade, who's kind of like a sister) saying that her hysterectomy (she has fibroids, poor lass) had been moved up. Oi. So I begged the boss for the day off, tried (and failed) to get some sleep last night and woke up early this morning to go out to the wilds of east SnoCo to be with her.

The surgery went OK, except that they poked a hole in her bladder while they were in there. So she has to be on a catheter for two weeks. Ugh. That's going to suck. Her hubby's staying home with her this week, but I may go hang out there this weekend to take some of the stress off of him. Her dad and his wife are also there, and it was definitely weird to be sitting in the waiting room with them, since I haven't seen them in... 12 years? Something like that. I barely know the wife (her dad remarried shortly after her mom killed herself 13 years ago) and I'm sure the biggest memory he has of me is the little smartass that his kid hung around with in grade school.

Very tired, and I feel guilty for skipping work today, even though I don't have a lot of stuff this week.

I'm also still freaked out about that arson thing, since we've been looking at property around that area to build on. And also, we went to that Street of Dreams last summer, too, so I remember those houses. (There's a good photo set here.)
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textualdeviance: (maui)
Woke up this morning to discover that M's little sister had lost the baby. Things were going fine all day yesterday, and then they suddenly weren't. They did an emergency c-section but weren't able to save the baby.

There's a hell of a lot on my mind right now. I'll probably do a personal or spawning filter post in a little while.
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textualdeviance: (DONE)
Apartment: Finally completely cleaned and locked up.

Graduation: Commencement walk completed. Now just waiting for one last grade.

Sister and her kids: Met, had very pleasant contact with.

Shawna: Exhausted and going to bed. Full details about the rest of these things tomorrow after the parents have been sent home.
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May. 4th, 2007 01:04 am

Ahh, home

textualdeviance: (Default)
Have a doc appointment tomorrow, so made it home for that. Sadly, M is not here, as he's still in Portland dealing with the family stuff. Still no real idea of how much memory loss she has. It seems to be coming in fits and starts, at least. Some of that may be sedation, since she's been under that frequently for various tests, including an angiogram.

I still feel behind, and tonight's production was punctuated by me screwing a few things up, which annoyed me. However, I must point out the piece by our columnist this issue. He's written a bunch of other stuff, but this is definitely one of his best. Makes me laugh right from the first graf. He has the makings of a Gen Y Dave Barry.

In the next three days, I must:

*Work up a presentation for my SPFH workshop. This may be challenging, considering that I have no idea what I'm doing for it.
*Study for my midterms (one Monday, one Tuesday)*Write my weekly participation notes for seminar (not hard, just time-consuming.)
*Finish an Excel exercise for my Adv. Rep. class (could sleep through that, considering I had to show the prof how to save time when selecting ~6700 rows of data...)
*Try to get caught up on my Adv. Rep. project, since I've done jack with it all week and the first draft of it is due two weeks from yesterday.
*Write up an outline for my thesis--due a week from today. May be challenging, given that I have done very little beyond gathering the sources from which I'm writing. The rough draft for it is due the day after the draft for my Adv. Rep. project. Oh, joy.
*Prep for and attend the Sunday budget meeting for the SPFH.

...in addition to the doc appointment, setting another one, doing laundry and dishes, trying to not go completely insane...

Yeah.

Five weeks left of the term, plus one final. While I'm glad the term's going by fast so I can come home (I put in my move-out notice this week! Gah!) I'm not glad it's going by fast so I can't keep up. Gah.
textualdeviance: (Default)
I had a hell of a time trying to get to sleep last night, and could not haul my carcass out of bed for love nor money until about 20 minutes ago. My reading notes for my seminar class were due at noon. I knew I wasn't going to get those in on time, but I also agonized about making 3-5 class, since I'm moving slowly, in pain (not sure why; probably my usual chronic inflammation and such) and have to drop off my rent check before 5.

And the prof sent out mail saying he wasn't going to make it to class. Sweet. Not sweet that he's sick (he's... strange... but I don't wish him illness) but sweet that I have a reprieve. We're supposed to go to class anyway but... honestly, I'd rather spend the rest of the day working on my thesis instead of brainstorming for the midterm. Thesis? 50% of the grade. Midterm? 10%. Not a tough decision.

As it is, I'm a bit busy anyway, because I'm trying to use what I've learned in my last couple of psych classes to help M and his family understand what might be going on with his mom's memory issues. Turns out that learning about encoding and the hippocampus was useful.
textualdeviance: (maui)
M's mom was off the ventilator today. She's still somewhat sedated, but she's responding to people a bit. The concern of the moment is whether she's had some memory loss, as she had trouble recalling some recent events.

Her docs said that her collapse was caused by v-fib. The likely treatment, after more tests, will be to install a fibrillator.

M decided to spend the rest of the week in Portland, to help the family get some business stuff sorted out (mom usually takes care of bills and such.) I may go down next weekend.

More when we know more.
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textualdeviance: (maui)
We got a little bit of info tonight about M's mom: She's already started to wake up somewhat, and they've started warming her back up. While she's still sedated and hypothermic, she was able to respond to some basic questions and appeared to recognize family members in the room.

We'll know more tomorrow, when she's fully warmed up and the sedation has worn off, the full extent of any brain damage. But so far, it looks like the immediate risk--her not waking up at all--has passed. We'll see how things go from here, and hope that whatever caused her to collapse is fixable, too. We're mostly worried, now, that she'll stress out over being in the hospital and having more tests, and thus make herself worse.

There are several more things complicating matters, meaning there isn't really a bright, rosy dawn on this anytime soon, but at least it looks like the huge crisis has subsided at least a little.

I've been keeping myself busy, doing a heck of a lot of homework and the usual stuff for the SPFH. I think I'm in good shape for my advanced reporting class--all that's really left is to do a few interviews, assemble some data into reader-friendly packages and get through the midterm next week. All those things should be relatively easy for me.

My seminar class poses some more challenges--I'm rather behind on data gathering--but I should be able to catch up with that now that my AR class is sort of on simmer.
Apr. 29th, 2007 12:25 am

Bad news

textualdeviance: (maui)
M heard tonight that his mom suddenly collapsed. No pulse, no breathing. She was finally revived by EMTs. The hospital now has her in induced hypothermia for 48 hours to try to determine whether she has brain damage. If she does, there's a DNR order in.

We've known for a while that she was unhealthy, but she'd been doing somewhat better in recent months. She'd lost a lot of weight, was getting exercise, etc. However, she'd also still been avoiding seeing a doctor. She hates hospitals, and hates tests, etc. So, we've just been kind of aware of the inevitable for a while. I'd been hoping she could hang on until I was back home with M (and until her youngest graduated from high school, which he will be doing about a week before I graduate) but it's looking like that won't happen.

M has assured me that he wants me to keep plugging away, to get through this term, so that's what I'm going to do. I'll take the time off for a funeral, if necessary, but I have to keep focus on this. It's so close--I can't lose this, now. And delaying it only means delaying the time I get to finally come home for good.

Still, the rest of the term is going to be weird, at best. I guess I'll just do what I can.
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textualdeviance: (avatar)
So, I'm roaming around, avoiding sleep, and on an almost completely random page, I stumble on a pic of my ex and his new wife. Well, I shouldn't say new--they got together within a year after he and I split up.

I haven't actually seen the guy in something like 12 years. I barely recognized him. Though he looks a heck of a lot like his dad. And from what I can tell, time has definitely not been kind to either of us. I don't know why, but I'm strangely comforted by that.

So, tell me, dear flist--have you ever accidentally run into an old ex zillions of years later? Was it weird? And by ex, I mean someone you at least lived with.
textualdeviance: (thang)
Just a note to say happy anniversary to my mom and dad. Congrats on 40 years of putting up with each other!



Most couples don't even make it half that long these days, so it's quite a feat.

Aren't they cute? )
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