Friday, June 27, 2008

On the Move!

Today during tummy time, Steven started pushing himself backwards. It wasn't the direction that he wanted to go, so he wasn't necessarily happy about it, but it was fun to watch. He did the same thing yesterday, but he didn't have much space to move, and he started to get upset, so I picked him up. Today was the farthest he's made it before crying.

Happy to have all his toys "near" him.


Getting ready to try to move forward to get more toys.


Not the direction he wanted to go!



Getting further away.


Wondering why mom's not helping him out.


Waiting for help.


Even further away!


So tired of it all!


Almost completely off the blanket.


It's looking hopeless.


How did I get this far away from my toys??


About to hit his head on his booster seat and have a mini meltdown.



**Notice his gorgeous crazy quilt?? His Aunt Beth MADE it for him! We LOVE it!!**

Sitting Up!

Steven's become an old pro at sitting up. I don't think he's fallen over at all for the last two days. Yesterday, he seemed really interested in his leap frog alphabet, so I moved all the letters down to the bottom of the refridgerator and let him play with them. He had a great time flinging them off the fridge and waiting for me to put them back on for him. Oh what fun!

He was so intent on playing that I had a hard time getting him to look at me. He ignored me when I called his name, made sounds he usually thinks are hilarious, and tried everything else. I did get him to look at me twice, but then he was back to business. It's a lot of work to figure out how magnets and gravity work!








Thursday, June 26, 2008

Steven's Dedication

On Father's Day, we dedicated Steven and ourselves to God. We had a series of vows that we said, and then Steven received a really nice certificate and a little New Testament. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the ceremony (but family members that do--please send them to me!), but I have some family ones from afterwards.

It was really nice to have my dad do the dedication even though he is on sabbatical. Steven kept turning to look for him--he definitely knows grandpa's voice!

The outfit in the pictures is not what he wore on stage--he wore his Easter outfit which was quite snug (and too hot for the weather), so I changed him afterwards. I didn't think about changing him back, probably because he was asleep at the time. Unfortunately, I was quite sick that day as you can probably tell in the pictures :(




My family minus Lauren (who had already gone home).


Us with Mark's parents. Unfortunately Uncle Andy had his eyes

closed in both of the family ones.


When we told our neighbor about his dedication, she asked if it were like a baby baptism. I paused for a while to think about it, and then I said, no not really. The purpose of baby baptism is to make sure that the infant goes to heaven when he/she dies. Unfortunately, that's not a decision we can make on our child's behalf. Steven has to make that decision himself.

In the dedication, we promised to teach him about God and raise him according to the Bible. Baptism and dedication have two drastically different purposes, but only the dedication's purpose is compatible with what the Bible says.

Here's a copy of our portion of the vows:

The Convenant of the Parents

Pastor: Since it is your purpose to present your children to the Lord, and to pledge yourselves to "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord," please answer "We do" to the following promises:

Recognizing the dignity and responsibility of parenthood and of your dependence upono God for strength and wisdom to faithfully fulfill the duties of parents, do you present your children in dedication to God, seeking His blessing and guidance for your children's lives?

We do.

Do you, in the presence of this congregation, promise to strive by prayer, example and teaching, to train your children in love towards God, family, and others in the spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord?

We do.

Having presented your children in dedication to God, do you dedicate yourselves to the will of God and in the spirit of this commitment live Christlike lives before your children, relying upon the grace and wisdom of God to so commend Christ by your example?

We do.

Having heard these intentions and assurances, we entrust your children tot he gracious keeping of God, our Heavenly Father. Your children will not remember this day; therefore, tell them early of the commitment and the prayers made this day on their behalf.

**After this, there were vows for the church members to agree to, but I don't have a copy of them. They included promising to support us as we raise our children and pray for both us and our children. I love how that makes it a true community commitment!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Still Sleeping

It's 10:14, and the little buddy is still asleep. He woke up a little while ago but fell back asleep while I was making his breakfast and feeding the critters. My little buddy loves to sleep in, and I love it too!

**Update--He got up for the day at 12:30!! And he went back down for a nap by 3:00. I hope he doesn't wake up 6 inches longer!**

Monday, June 23, 2008

Updates

Well, Thursday was by far the best day of our garage sale. Fridays are generally slow, but Saturdays usually make up for it. Unfortunately, that didn't happen this time. I think that people were scared away by the weather reports for severe storms (which didn't really materialize, at least not during the hours we were open). I still made some money and was able to buy some summer clothes (since I don't really have any!), which was my goal. We also made some money through the bake sale, but not as much as I had hoped for.

There were two big highlights from the sale though. Last week, I found a super nice exersaucer at a garage sale and bought it dirt cheap ($2.40!!!). I thought my mom might like it for when she watches Steven, but she didn't really want it. I couldn't think of any friends who really needed it, so I decided to try to sell it (which was my back-up plan all along). I decided to price it high ($15), since I wasn't sure if I really wanted to sell it. I figured I would take $10 but price it at $15. Much to my amazement, I sold it for $15 on Friday! I made $12.60 on it!!

My other super deal was on Thursday. I closed up a bit early, and my mom, Katie, Steven, and I checked out the other garage sales. One house wasn't really having a sale, but they had two items out front with a sign on it directing you to ring the doorbell if interested. One of the items was a bike with a baby seat on the back. I'd been looking at baby seats, and I couldn't believe how expensive the one at toys r us was (although it did include a helmet). This one was only $12 for both, so I went to talk to the lady who happened to be outside. She said that I could have the seat for a few dollars, but then we realized how hard it would be to get the seat off. She ended up selling me both the bike and the seat for $6!

The best part, though, is that at another garage sale a few doors down, a man bought the bike off me for the same price I had paid for it! (And he knew that's what I had paid for it!) I took it home, and the next day he came over and took the seat off (Mark hadn't gotten to it the night before), paid me, and took the bike home for his 80 year old wife who wanted it. I can't tell you how excited I was!

On Friday night, we went to a bike shop and bought Steven a bike helmet, and tonight we took him for his first ride. It was quite interesting! I don't feel too confident on a bike, esp. since it had been about 6 years since I had last ridden one, so I rode around a bit without him on the back before putting him in the seat. Mark steadied the seat as I started off, and he jogged next to us as I tried it out with Steven on the back.

We all rode around the neighborhood after that, with Mark riding behind me to keep an eye on Steven, and I stopped a few times to make sure that his helmet was doing its job (it was). When we got home, I was a bit alarmed to see his head down, helmet resting on the bar on the front of the seat. Then I heard him snoring! He was out cold, snoring and drooling!! We cracked up and then put him in his bed. Mark said that Steven seemed to enjoy himself and was just looking around at everything.

Unfortunately, we didn't get any pictures or videos. We'll have to do that next time we're both home. I'm just thrilled that Steven and I have a way to get around now that I don't have a car!

God is so creative in the ways He provides. It's easy to overlook the things He does for us, but when we watch for them, it's amazing. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Garage Sale Day!

Today is the first day of our neighborhood's annual garage sale weekend. Mark and I were up late last night cleaning out the garage and dragging things up from the basement. Our garage is generally pretty clean (helps to have a 2.5 car garage with built-in storage!), but we've amassed quite a few large toys for the little buddy this year that take up a lot of space.

So far, he has TWO Little Tikes Cozy Coupe cars (both free in the neighbor's trash!), a Little Tikes picnic table ($3, and not really faded at all!), a ride-on toy with push handle, two Little Tikes ride-on toys (25 cents each at a garage sale!), a Little Tikes wagon (my absolute favorite!! I use it to carry groceries to the house.), and a Little Tikes work bench with tools ($3!). Wow, now that I've listed it all out, that's a lot of stuff! No wonder it took so much moving and reorganizing last night! His next size up car seat is also out there, as was his pack and play (never made it inside after our trip to Iowa for Easter!). We've also let things spread out a bit since we only have one car now.

I have a good bit of stuff in the garage sale, but it's not as much as I thought it was. After our last garage sale last year (we had three, the last two being adoption fundraisers), we took two van loads of stuff to Salvation Army. I guess that I'd forgotten that. There are a lot of books out there though. I'm finally parting with A LOT of my books from grad school. (I was a literature major, so you can imagine my collection!) Anyone interested in lit anthologies from every possible category??

I've also having a bake sale to raise money for friends who are adopting two baby boys from Haiti. I've haven't been able to do as much with that as I would like since we had company all last week and I was sick the first half of this week. I hope to have more stuff to put out for that on Saturday. I'm praying I can raise a good amount of money for them! I'm also praying that the forecasted rain doesn't come until after I'm done for the day.

Well, I should be getting ready for the garage sale instead of just sitting here writing about it :) If you live around here, stop by and see me. Our little sub has 27 garage sales this weekend!! I'll let you know how things go!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Strawberry Festival

On Saturday, we went to a local strawberry festival with Mark's family. It was a bit of a bust, but we still had a fun time. Steven just hung out in his stroller and dozed off and on as we walked around. Mark's siblings got some cute pictures of him with his sun glasses, but we didn't :( I'm hoping they'll remember to send them to us!

One tired little buddy.


Happily reading his Who Loves Baby? book and talking to the pictures.




Tired after being out in the sun and crowds.


New Toy Basket

I've had Steven's toys in a small basket for the last few months, but now that he has more toys (and bigger ones), it wasn't working anymore. I found a large basket at a garage sale for only $2, and after I cleaned it off, I loaded up Steven and his toys. At first he had fun. But by the end, he wasn't such a happy little baby.

Once he got out and was able to play with all of his toys, he was a happy little boy again. He can now sit up, so a lot of these toys are ones that we are just pulling out. Mark said that everyday must be like Christmas to him since he's constantly getting new toys. (Of course, new means from a garage sale, mom-to-mom sale, or the baby shower. I can only think of one toy we bought new with our own money, and that was before he was born!)

Look at me with all my toys!



So many toys!

My puppy dog looks bigger than me!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Finally!

Thank you for all your comments!It was so interesting to hear what everyone else thinks. I'm finally ready to post my thoughts on the article. I'm finding it hard to gather all my thoughts and post them in a coherent yet concise way. That's part of why it's taken me so long to post.

In a nutshell, I agree with the basics of the article. I think that "color blindness" does not work, does not benefit the child. I used to think that this is what I was: color blind. I'm not. If I were color blind, I wouldn't be doing so much research on raising a black boy. I wouldn't be searching for books about black people and for picture books that include children of all races. I wouldn't be buying black baby dolls. I might even be living in Pennsylvania instead of Michigan. Basically, I would just act as if Steven were the same race as I: white. That would not be fair to him.

It would not be fair to him because he isn't white. As much as I might pretend that there is no difference between us, it would still exist. I would be ignoring his rich heritage, and I would not be adequately preparing him for life outside our house. As much as I hate it, racism exists, and the people who face the most discrimination are black males. I don't know what he will face, and as hard as it is to think about it, I have to. I have to research it and talk to other moms to find out how they deal with it. I have to prepare for conversations I will have with my son to prepare him for the probability of it and to equip him to deal with it.

This is hard for me to think about. Our world has changed over the past few years, but we're not where we need to be yet. I haven't done too much research on this yet, mainly because I am focusing on other aspects of raising a black boy. However, I'm starting to lay the foundation for it by identifying sources and building relationships with black parents whom I respect.

Right now, I'm focusing on more positive aspects. I've been reading children's biographies of black role models, such as Jesse Owen and Jackie Robinson. I went to a Scholastic warehouse sale last month and bought almost half of the books in their African-American section, including chapter books on those two men. I also bought picture books that feature black kids and have been reading through them. I'm impressed by them--they are well written, engaging, and illustrated well. I'm definitely not "settling" by buying these books.

The best book I've found so far is Let's Talk About Race by Julius Lester. I think EVERY parent needs to buy this book, not just ones raising minority children. I would tell you more about it, but it's in the little buddy's room right now, and since it is 3:30 a.m., I'm not going in there to get it :) I'll eventually post a list of books I think all parents should buy for their kids. If more kids were educated on race and different issues related to both race and adoption, our children would grow up in a much better world.

I've also research out Kwanzaa, and some day I'll devote a post to it. It is a celebration of family, community, and culture. It is not a religious holiday. Beginning this year, our family will be celebrating Kwanzaa.

I have chosen to do all this things, but, sadly, many parents who adopt transracially don't. Sometimes it's a matter of not having time, not having an interest, or simply just not thinking of it. I believe that most parents would be interested in learning about their children's culture and heritage, and that is why I believe that classes/workshops for adoptive parents are essential. Some agencies already do this, but many don't (including ours). They wouldn't have to be long and drawn out. The most important thing would be getting parents to start thinking about it and giving them resources to help them. I would love to take a class like this! It would also be great to include a panel discussion of people who have adopted/are adopted transracially.

The last main issue is recruiting more minority adoptive parents. This is so important. I'm not saying that transracial adoption is bad (obviously!), but there is such a shortage of parents for black babies, especially boys. Did you know that people from other countries come HERE to adopt our black babies because there aren't enough homes for them here in America? That's horrible!

Steven's birthmother, Ebony, requested a black family for him. Her social worker told her that there weren't any with our agency in the entire state of Michigan, and she didn't want to have her son adopted out of state. In fact, at that time there were no families willing to take black babies at our local office. That is how we bypassed the waiting list and were matched before we were even approved. By March, that had changed--there were five families on the waiting list willing to take a black baby :)

I know that some of you are thinking about how wrong it is for Americans to adopt abroad instead of adopting babies here that desperately need homes. I have talked to people think this, and I have found one common trait in them--they have never adopted a child. It's a lot easier to talk and criticize others for their decisions than it is to step up and adopt a child yourself. I believe that it is a highly personal decision. There are children all over the world who need homes, and I admire and appreciate every person who helps them.

I do not look down on those who choose not to adopt transracially. Again, that is a highly personal decision. Mark and I realize that our lives will never be the same, and we will face many challenges as a result of our decision. Not everyone is able to handle that. The time it really hit me is when I realized that our children and grandchildren and other descendants will not look like us. This life isn't for everyone. I encourage everyone to consider it, but I don't look down on those who don't do it. We've had to set limits on what we could do/not do. For example, we weren't open to a baby exposed to drugs and alcohol or who had a family history of mental illness. We just knew that it was something we weren't equipped to handle.

Okay, I could go on and on, but Mark just stumbled out of bed to find out what was more important than sleeping, and I promised him I'd wrap it up and go to bed. I'm hoping that what I've written is coherent even if it's not concise :)

If you want to leave a comment, go ahead, but please, be nice :)

To read another adoptive mom's thoughts on this article, go here: http://urbanservant.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 2, 2008

What Do You Think?

I'd love to know what everyone thinks about this. I know it's long, but, please, read it and leave a comment!! I'll let you know what I think in a few days. You might be surprised by what I think (apparently Mark was!).

Do Whites Need Training Before Parenting Black Children?

NEW YORK (AP) -- Several leading child welfare groups Tuesday urged an overhaul of federal laws dealing with transracial adoption, arguing that black children in foster care are ill-served by a "colorblind" approach meant to encourage their adoption by white families.

Recommendations for major changes in the much-debated policy were outlined in a report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

"Color consciousness -- not 'color blindness' -- should help to shape policy development," the report said.

Groups endorsing its proposals included the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the Child Welfare League of America, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and the National Association of Black Social Workers.

At issue is the 1994 Multi-Ethnic Placement Act -- and revisions made to it in 1996 -- governing the adoption of children from foster care.

One part of the law directs state agencies to recruit more adoptive parents of the same race as the children. The new report says this provision hasn't been adequately enforced and calls for better funded efforts to recruit minority parents.

The more contentious part of the legislation prohibits race from being taken into consideration in most decisions about adoption from foster care. For example, white parents seeking to adopt a black child cannot be required to undergo race-oriented training that differs in any way from training that all prospective adoptive parents receive.

A key recommendation in the new report calls for amending the law so race could be considered as a factor in selecting parents for children from foster care. The change also would allow race-oriented pre-adoption training.

"We tried to assess what was working and what wasn't, and came to the conclusion that preparing parents who adopt transracially benefits everyone, especially the children," said Adam Pertman, the Donaldson Institute's executive director.

"The view that we can be colorblind is a wonderful, idealistic perspective, but we don't live there," Pertman said. "If we want to do the best for the kids, we have to look at their realities."

At the heart of the debate is the fact that the foster care system has a disproportionately high number of black children, and on average they languish there nine months longer than white children before moving to permanent homes. The latest federal figures showed that 32 percent of the 510,000 children in foster care were black in 2006, compared with 15 percent of all U.S. children.

Of the black children adopted out of foster care, about 20 percent are adopted by white families. The Donaldson report said current federal law, by stressing color blindness, deters child welfare agencies from assessing families' readiness to adopt transracially or preparing them for the distinctive challenges they might face.

"There is a higher rate of problems in minority foster children adopted transracially than in-race," said the report. "All children deserve to be raised in families that respect their cultural heritage."

Pertman stressed that his institute and its allies were not opposed to transracial adoption.
"We want to see more kids in foster care get permanent homes, and we want to see the parents who raise those children be prepared to do so," he said.

Professor Elizabeth Bartholet, who directs the Child Advocacy Program at Harvard Law School, believes that the concept of striving for color blindness is sound. She foresees problems if race once again becomes a key determinant.

"Giving social workers the chance to do that produced very rigid race matching," she said, referring to pre-1994 policies. "That's one of the reasons to say race can't be used at all; there's no other way to be sure it doesn't become the overwhelming factor."

Current policy allows standardized pre-adoption training but wisely prohibits specific screening for parents seeking to adopt transracially, Bartholet said.

"What cannot be done is have a pass/fail test that turns on whether you give the politically correct answers," she said. "If social workers are allowed to use training to determine who can adopt, there's lots of experience showing they abuse that power."

She also questioned whether attempts to boost minority recruitment would succeed.
"Black people are significantly poorer than white people and less likely to be in a position to come forward," Bartholet said. "Recruitment efforts bump up against that fact."

The Donaldson recommendations were embraced as "long overdue" by Michelle Johnson, a black woman raised by white adoptive parents near Minneapolis. Johnson now works on child-welfare matters for the court system there.

Her parents "were not the norm," she said. "They were exceptional in what they did for me. ... They were very humble in what they didn't know. There was lots of communication."

Too many white adoptive parents, she said, underestimate the enduring presence of racism in America and don't get training that would help them raise a black child.

"As a social worker who used to place children, I know very few families are ready to do this," Johnson said. "When families fail to realize they need assistance, it's dangerous."

Regarding recruitment, Johnson said child welfare agencies should strive to find permanent homes for black children among their extended families before placing them in foster care.

John Mould and Margaret Geiger, an Ambler, Pennsylvania, couple, have two white biological children and five black adopted children, now aged 15 to 23. Mould said transracial adoption is unquestionably challenging, but he worries about any changes that might make training and screening requirements too rigid.

"There are so many kids who need homes," Mould said. "The idea of trying to find the perfect matches -- you're not going to find them."

His adopted children have encountered some difficulties over the years, Mould said, but he believes they've developed resiliency and maturity as a result.

His youngest son, Eric Jones, 15, said the family's makeup sometimes complicates his life, but he's convinced that transracial adoption can succeed.

"White or black doesn't matter," he said. "What counts is whether the parents are ready to take responsibility."

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.