Friday, October 9, 2015


Last week Rob and Fiona's cousin messaged me and said that she was starting a business and was looking for my help. She is becoming a travelling stylist and wants to specialize in doing hair for black  kids in group homes, or foster or adoptive placements.  She wanted to know if there were contacts I could point her towards to get some clients.  I was happy to be asked. I think this is a GREAT idea and I will help any way I can.

I know how many hours I spent on you tube learning how to do Lissa's hair. And there are still many things I am not facile with, but I make it my business to keep learning.  There are people who don't want, or perhaps can't invest that amount of time and effort into learning the hair care. This does not mean that those kids that they are caring for or parenting don't deserve to have hair they are proud of and feel well groomed.

I got right on it and N messaged me tonight that she all ready had her first client from a contact that I sent her.  OK so that made me pretty happy for her.  Here's what made me pretty happy for me. . . N posted on FB about her new business and how excited she was about her first new client.  Someone asked her how she got started and she said . . . "I reached out to a family member."

It is not a secret that I have worked hard on first family relationships.  I have written before that adoption means families grow by more than the child(ren) who are now mine.  They are also sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, cousins,and those family members have a place in their lives and in mine.  I love them. I care about them. We are in pretty frequent contact. It wasn't easy.  All of us reached and grew past places of comfort and made new paths and connections together.  We share holidays, celebrate milestones, and at the end of the day--we are family.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

It Takes a Village

That is a familiar phrase--we've all heard it. And for a long time I was sort of a quiet scoffer at it.  I felt like I had no village helping me raise my kids.  My mom lives so far away that she has never been a nana who did sleep overs or watched the kids while my wife and I had a dinner out.  As a matter of fact, I have no babysitter on tap as watching the littles would mean also knowing how to deal with my autistic 30 year old son.  Those are two radically different skill sets.  And after all, I chose to have this family--wasn't it on me to take care of them?

Yet I was thinking the other night that the concept that we are doing this alone is false.  Not only false but laughable.  Rob just started a new job last night in his chosen field.  He got the job in part because of his personality and qualifications but also because my friend and neighbor is good friends with the manager of the restaurant.  Getting him to work from the train will be my personal logistical nightmare, but getting the job lead?  That was someone from our village.

Monday night is a perfect storm of committments at our house.   KC and Lissa both have dance.  Lissa has Girl Scouts as well.  Rob needs a pick up at the train.  My friend needs a ride for her daughter to and from the dance school so she can take her young son to sensory therapy. I am able to help my friend. The Scout leader helps me by giving Lissa a ride to the Scout meeting after dance. (her grand daughter dances with Lissa.)  My wife gets Rob at the trains station, allowing me to run my friends daughter home after she and KC finish their classes.  A village, encirling me, encircling my friend.

At church, my oldest needs some special help to avoid being disruptive to the service.  He would vastly prefer not to sit with me--having the small independence of sitting elsewhere is very important to him.  A kind, autistically savvy woman in our congregation has made it her mission to be Chet's seat buddy, cuing him as needed and helping vastly with his feelings of self worth and independence.  Yes, a village.  And I will celebrate mine and not take if for granted any longer!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Black Lives Matter

I feel lucky when I know people who can say with far more eloquence than I  why the phrase "all lives matter" bothers me so much.  Yes. All lives matter. But we are talking about the lives that are minimized, jeopardized and flat out ended daily in ways that "all other" lives are not.  It is a worry for me as a mom of kids of color.  I send my strong handsome young teen off to the Big City for college with a smile on my face and worry in my heart.  I watch my phone for the text that he is ready for me to pick up at the train.  I worry that the natural "immortal" feeling that teens have (and yes, I remember feeling that way too) could translate into a situation far more dangerous to him than any of mine were to me.

I worry that I have not prepared him adequately enough for being black in a world that does not see him the same way it sees me.  I know that to some extent my presence over the years has lent him an inadvertent corner of the white privilege blanket.  He isn't likely to be accused of shoplifting if he is standing with his white mom.  The same is not necessarily true if he is hanging out with skater pals in the big city.  This is not to say we have not had some issues; there have been. But by and large, the world has been pretty kind to him.

I am lucky that I have friends of color because my white friends don't see what I worry about.  They think "black lives matter" is obvious and that "all lives matter" is more reverential to life and speaks to inclusiveness. My efforts to explain are dismissed. "But YOUR son is so friendly and polite; nothing would happen  to Rob"  I hope with every facet of my being they are right. Statistics say other things though.

But a 12 year old playing in a park is not exactly a huge threat. Yet he was shot and killed without a word.  My Rob is kind and smart and handsome. He also works out and hangs out with kids who skateboard and may look "sketchy" to a certain segment of the population.  They will not see his smile. They will see his strength, his blackness, an implication of a threat that does not exist.If a 12 year old at play can be gunned down, what about strong 19 year olds?

Family members who love my kids have told me my worries are meaningless. That because I brought my kids up "right" I don't have to worry.  They seriously think all the other instances are a result of bad parenting?  Rendered speechless, I grew silent about the subject on line. And I grew angry at myself because if I as my kids parent can be rendered voiceless and powerless, how must so many other parents feel.  Parents who have lost children and who have found their children vilified in the media, their home lives and values questioned.

So, yes people. BLACK lives matter.  And please. Go read Kevin Hoffman at  Because he says it all with much great clarity than I do.