Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Read Heather's post

Go, now: http://adayatthebeauchamps.blogspot.com/2010/08/not-ok.html.  Come back if you feel like it, but I can't really add anything to what Heather's written.

And there you have what I feel and what I think, said so much more clearly and eloquently.  "don't put me in your little club just because our skin matches. our hearts do NOT. please leave."

If you have ever said anything that is intolerant of another group, to me OR anyone in my family, it stops now.  I don't care if it is racist, anti-adoption, anti-Muslim, anti-homosexual, anti-anything...it stops now.

If you have ever sent an e-mail that is intolerant of another group, to me OR to my husband, it stops now. I'm saying this on here rather than calling people out personally because there are those with whom we are close who have done this--you know who you are, or you know if that person is in your home. If you wouldn't send it to me because you know I'd get offended, it should not be going to Jason. Jason would rather just delete them and not offend someone by pointing out the racism inherent in that kind of message. I'm not so concerned about anyone else when it comes to protecting my kids. I have accidentally opened those and if I have done it, the kids could do it. If it happens again, you will be personally asked to stop, and that's just going to be embarrassing for you.

If my black child could not marry your white child without your blessing and happiness; if my black, adopted child does not have equal status in your mind to my white, biological child; if you think that my black, adopted child is any less my own than my white, biological child, then we don't need to continue our relationship.

If you're offended by what I've written because you think I'm being "too sensitive" (I was called that recently when several people over the space of a couple of days implied that Melkamu was not "my own"), think about it from my point of view.  You are telling me that my son, for whom we went halfway around the world because we needed him in our family, isn't equivalent to my son who came from my body?  Can I tell you which process involved more determination and heartache to complete?  Can I tell you which process took longer?  Can I tell you that families don't go through that unless they desperately want that child with every fiber of their beings?  Can I tell you that biology doesn't matter remotely when it comes to my children? 

And can I tell you that I will protect my children with every breath in my body against people who spew racism and intolerance to other groups?  I will raise them knowing how to deal with it, not being afraid to talk about the issues, and calling people out when they need to.  Because they will be faced with it when I'm not there to protect them and I don't want them stunned by it.  But I'm not about to deliberately associate with someone who does that.  There are too many good people in the world to waste my time on those who think those things are worthwhile.

If either my post or Heather's post upset you for some reason, please look to your own hearts and stop trying to tell me what should be in mine.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And a follow-up to Anonymous

My last post received this comment:

"Our family's experience with Scouting has been very positive. Scouting plays out in the local church basement or school cafeteria, not in the boardrooms in Dallas. We have watched our son grow in skills and confidence as he has progressed through the Scouting program from Cubs to becoming an Eagle Scout. He has had had experiences that simply would not have been available outside of Scouting. It is a very meaningful part of his life.

We have found that our son's unit has been remarkedly inclusive ranging from boys in high honors programs to boys struggling with serious disabilities. The group has been very accepting and supportive of of all boys. The issues that concern you simply do not play out at the local level in most cases. You would find a significant number of Scouting families who value inclusiveness.

I would caution you not to believe everything you read or hear in the media. I would also caution you not to allow your own biases to automatically dismiss an organization without taking time to actually view it first hand. Prejudice can take several forms, can't it?"

I was going to just write a comment to that one but felt that this needs to be put into its own post:

Anonymous, I'm glad that your family is having a positive experience. So was my husband's. I'm glad that you haven't found the national rules (that are not just "reported by the media" but were actually enacted by the organization itself) aren't played out at your local organization. I read the link that you posted and saw that the same thing is going on in his local chapter. I'm sorry you didn't feel the need to sign your comment so that I could address you by name.

But as to your thoughts, let me explain myself further. If you will look at http://www.bsa-discrimination.org/html/bsa-0202-resolution.html, you will find the actual statements made by the Boy Scouts of America organization regarding homosexual and atheist leaders. While the website is not the Boy Scout website, it does not make it any less their statements that were released publicly. I find it hard to argue that it's the media blowing these up into some sort of inflammatory argument when they are the words of the Boys Scouts themselves. And as glad as I am to hear that local organizations are not following the national rules about this, it doesn't change the fact that the national organization made an anti-homosexual and anti-atheist policy.

Yes, prejudice can take many forms. If we look at the definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, we see that it means "a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics". Therefore, I don't think that my policy on Boy Scouts can be termed prejudice because a) it's not a preconceived judgment (I had assumed that our boys would be Scouts until I learned of these policies), b) I've provided you with the "sufficient knowledge" in the form of the Boy Scouts' policies above to show that it's not based on my own "biases", as you called them, and c) I don't have an attitude of hostility against them based on supposed characteristics. I don't think it's a hostile attitude at all simply not to let my children join and not to buy popcorn from those children who have.  However, even if you do feel it is hostile, it is based on the published policies from the Boy Scouts themselves.  That's not "supposed characteristics", that's factual information.

I don't feel that Scouting is the only way to learn the characteristics of which you speak. By being good parents who find ways to get our children involved and active in the community, Jason and I can make those opportunities for our children. I find an important characteristic for my children is to learn to stand up against prejudice when we find it--whether we have a vested interest in that or not.

I'll end with a poem you may have heard by Martin Niemoeller that I think speaks beautifully about our family's policy on this:

"First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a communist;

Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a socialist;

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--because I was not a trade unionist;

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--because I was not a Jew;

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak out for me."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Boy Scouts and why the Morrey boys won't be joining

Patrick came home from school one day early last week wearing a sticker that said something like Join Cub Scouts!  Meeting on Wednesday.  "Please Mama, can I be in Cub Scouts?" he asked me when I got to the daycare to pick him up.

I knew this would come up with him this year.  He has two close friends who are joining Cub Scouts and I knew that he would hear about it.

"No, I'm sorry, you can't.  I do have a reason, and I'll explain why when we get into the car."  Cue whining, but thankfully it's a very short walk to the car.

"Why?  Why can't I be in Cub Scouts?"

And I explained that the Boy Scouts have a policy of not allowing gay people to be leaders of packs (this link has several different stories--the one about Scouting is the second one).  I think I said specifically Boy Scouts don't let men be leaders of a Boy Scout troop if they love another man instead of women.  I said that I don't want to give money to an organization that thinks that who you love is more important than being a good person who wants to get involved.  I explained that I don't want to support a group that doesn't treat people equally just because of that. 

Patrick, to give him huge amounts of credit for maturity at 6 years old, thought it was a stupid policy also and did not ask again.  In fact, when his friend asked if he was going to be in Boy Scouts, he simply said no.  He didn't whine.  He didn't think it was unfair.  He recognized that homophobia isn't something that we can support and was perfectly OK with it.  I could not have been prouder of my boy.

I know a huge number of families who have their sons in Boy Scouts.  That's their decision.  I personally won't knowingly support a homophobic organization.  That means that I still love your family, I still love your children, but I won't be buying popcorn from you even though I'll buy Girl Scout cookies from your daughters.  If we have a daughter someday, she can certainly join Girl Scouts (if you read the above article it summarizes the differences in the Boy Scout and Girl Scout policies with regards to the sexual orientation and religious views of leaders).

I'm sad that the boys won't be able to be in Boy Scouts.  Jason was a Scout for a long time and I know he loved it--he talks very fondly about their camping trips and other activities.  I was a Girl Scout for a long time and it was great.  I know the boys would really enjoy it, but I can't condone homophobia.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Treasuring every minute

I will be back to finish up the pictures from Alaska sometime later this week or weekend, but I have to say--this is an awesome time for our family.  I walked over the pick up the kids from daycare (Patrick goes there after school) and we took our sweet time walking home.  Along the way, we stopped to watch a bush that must have had 10 butterflies in it, just fluttering from flower to flower.  We looked at a peach tree, an apple tree, and a crabapple tree.  We saw a dead garter snake and stopped to look at it more closely.  The enthusiasm of kids for every little thing, even when it was 90 degrees and humid and all of us were sweaty, just lifted my heart and made me so glad to have them in my lives.  I even delayed cooking dinner because they wanted to play Legos when we got home, and I just wanted to soak in some more of that sweetness.  (Plus, I make an excellent Lego spaceship ;-) )

It's really been nice to have Jason working normal hours also, because we get to spend a lot more time together as a family and as a couple.  We all eat dinner together every night now, which is wonderful, and he's home early enough to help Patrick with his homework and read stories and wrestle with the kids before dinner.  We're better about getting the kids to bed on time when we're both home, so there's more time for us to talk or watch a movie in the evenings also.  We're planning a family camping trip in a couple of weeks and another in October.

It is just such a wonderful time for our family and I can't get enough of it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A word from our author

Heh, I guess they're all my words but still, just a quick public-service announcement to everyone on behalf of a family formed by marriage, birth, and adoption (that would be us):

If you celebrate a new baby for a family by giving a gift or making them a meal, please do the same for any family that adopts a child, regardless of how old the new child happens to be.  Trust me, a meal is often the preferred option.  I have made countless meals for friends who've had children through birth and adoption, and they always need them.  The addition of a new child is challenging on the family dynamics and often, mealtime comes up before you've had a chance to plan it.  Then you have hungry, whiny children who may have both had and put you through challenges that day, with no plans and no quick meal.  I'd venture to say that it's even harder than when you have your first newborn--the newborn's food is easy to prepare (especially if you're nursing!).  A hungry toddler who very well may have serious food issues doesn't and perhaps can't understand why they have to wait.

When we had Patrick, we were some of the first of our friends to have a baby.  Many of our friends were single; as a result, we didn't have anyone really bring us any meals.  Our families who came to visit and made meals, especially those that we could freeze and eat later, saved us on several occasions.  Still, it was only Jason and I who had to worry about meals at the time.

By the time we brought Melkamu home, we knew many people who had children.  I'd probably brought dozens of meals to families with new children--some adopted and some by birth.  It never occurred to me to treat them differently.  The night we brought Kamu home, some wonderful friends came by and stocked our kitchen so that we wouldn't have to worry about food all weekend.  It was tremendously helpful.  After that, nothing.  I happened to mention to a friend that I wondered how much of it was because Kamu is a second child and how much is because he's adopted.  (As a side note, she put out the call to her friends who knew us tangentially and they brought us meals every other night for two weeks.  I don't think I told them, but I actually cried with gratitude for their generosity on several of those nights.)  Many people called and wanted to stop by to meet Kamu, but almost none of them offered any help at all.  I was floored at how people that I'd brought meals to (some of them multiple meals, as they'd already had more than one child between when we had Patrick and when we brought Kamu home) would say "Oh, I can't wait to meet him!" and offer no help at all.

Part of it was my fatigue and part of it was the fact that Kamu would scream as shrilly as possible when he was put down, but there were several nights when I physically couldn't cook dinner.  Aside from the screaming, he would grab my legs if I put him down and it wasn't safe for me to cook at the stove with him there.

I didn't bring meals to people in expectation of payback when we brought home our child.  I didn't bring meals to people so that they would feel they would owe me something.  I brought meals to people because I knew how hard it was to have a new child and how meals are so easy to forget in the midst of more immediate concerns of attachment and bonding and sleep deprivation and frustration.  It is such an easy gesture on my part that would make a big difference to parents with a new child.

And I'm not trying to say this to make people feel bad if they didn't help us.  I swear, I'm not.  But I've recently known several families who've brought home children and had no help whatsoever; meanwhile, I almost never hear of families with a brand-new child who have no help at all.  Everyone swarms to help when you have a cute and cuddly infant.  Few people poke their heads from the bushes to help when you have a frightened and uncertain toddler.  Having been in both positions, I would say that our family needed far more help when we had the toddler come home.

While there is certainly a different physical aspect to giving birth versus adopting, there is a definite physical component to adopting.  The family may be physically ill from being in a different country or the travel itself, there is most definitely sleep deprivation even after the jet lag ends, there's the emotional trauma of the child that can lead to physical trauma (some children will fight their new parents hard enough to truly hurt--Kamu did this a few times and I've known other children who did it far more often than he did), etc.

All I'm trying to do it impress upon you the importance of helping equally. If you would offer it to a family that gave birth to their child, offer it to the family who adopted their child. It may be doing some grocery shopping for them (they'll gladly give you money and a list!), making a meal, mowing their lawn, washing and folding some laundry, picking up their dry-cleaning, taking their dog for a walk (it's probably feeling a bit neglected ;-) ), whatever.

Trust me, those families that you help will be more grateful than you will ever know.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Oh, hello there! Fancy seeing you here. You probably thought I'd forgotten about you, didn't you? The truth is that trying to both teach full-time and be home full-time this summer pretty much kicked me in the...well, this is a family blog so I'll leave the appropriate body part to your imagination. Instead of my normal more-frequent posting in the summer, I haven't been here in 6 weeks. They've been a very busy 6 weeks and I have lots of stories to share, but I start back to work on Monday and I'll have to fit this in with the whole mom/wife/friends/work/singing/everything else that I try to do thing.

So without further blather, I will share pictures of our fantabulous cruise in Alaska with Mom and Dad M, Adam, and Jim!

We started in Vancouver, which was a lovely city.  We weren't there for long and so my only pictures are from our massive boat.

Poor Uncle Adam got jumped by the boys pretty much as soon as they saw him.  Actually, the boys spent a lot of time climbing on the whole family as much as possible.  Jason and I are just not as good at being jungle gyms as other relatives.

We cruised the first day and then spent the second day in Ketitchkan, Alaska, where there are numerous totem poles found all around the city.  Some have been replaced with replicas because, unsurprisingly, wood isn't the most permanent of materials in the Alaskan climate.  It didn't make them any less impressive!

The salmon weren't running yet but we enjoyed seeing the rivers.  (By the way, the kids will be in those outfits in pretty much every picture shown.  I swear that the clothes under the jackets were clean every day.  The highs were in the 50s and maybe low 60s all week.  And it rained a lot.)

We walked all over Ketitchkan, took the tram to the resort on top of the mountain, walked down to the fish hatchery (complete with the bald eagles at the left), and went to the culture museum. 

The fish hatchery was really cool!  We learned how they harvest the fish from the river, how they spawn them (thousands of eggs from a single female!), and how they release them when they're grown.

The next day, we were at Icy Strait Point.  Everyone else got to see whales there except me and the kids.  But with this kind of scenery, it was hard to get too upset.

We took little boats to the shore, where we learned about the fish-packing business (in a word, ick) and wandered the beautiful coastline. 

The kids had such a fun time getting a full week with Grandpa and Grandma M!  They could usually be found cuddled up with them (or, in Patrick's case, challenging them to a game of Uno).

We found a little rocky cove and wandered down to see the thousands of mussels on the rocks and little crabs and snails in tide pools.  Jason and the other menfolk went fishing that afternoon but alas, the salmon and halibut eluded them.

That day, it was briefly warm (and sunny) enough to take off our jackets and hats while we had fantastic chowder and fish n' chips for lunch.

We got to Juneau the next day, where we immediately went to the Mendenhall Glacier, one of my very favorite parts of the whole cruise (other than Dad's injury, which we really could have done without ;-) )--and I loved this trip, so that's saying something.  It was simply gorgeous there.  A bit chilly but beautiful.

Just look at the blue ice.  Amazing!  We took the time to make the hike to the waterfall right next to the glacier and it was so very well worth the muddy shoes and carrying Kamu halfway back.

We got back to the shuttle bus stop just as our company's bus left, so it was quite a wait until the next one.  Jason did serve as a mighty nice jungle gym when the uncles weren't around.  (Why yes, Kamu had just proclaimed himself too tired to walk all the way back from the glacier.)

Jason and the kids were tired, so we went back to the ship.  Then I got bored of being on the ship since Patrick was at the Fun Factory and Kamu and Jason were napping, so I wandered Juneau some more.

This one's for you, Uncle Mike ;-)

I'd better end there for now, as there are still several more days of the cruise to cover.  I'll try to get back here before another 6 weeks has passed!  In the meantime, Patrick has lost his first tooth and has the adult one already growing in, has 4 other loose teeth, and starts first grade on Monday!  Kamu is into size 5T, is the funniest 3-year-old I've ever met, and can't wait to see his friends at daycare.  Jason's still at his job and I start mine on Monday.  That's us in a nutshell for now!