Tag Archives: love

A Tale of Two Families

Our circle trip began late this July. We were on a mission, two families in ten days … my family in Tennessee, and my husband’s in Canada.

The trip began gleefully with a music mix from my friend, Amy. The first day of driving was shortened by a stay at an Indiana horse ranch. After a couple of nights and a trail ride, we were back on the road to Tennessee.

At first, I had extreme hesitation. While I love my family, I do not love the closed minds and prejudices in Tennessee. We began with the stark contrast of Adult World and the huge cross along the interstate.

 (If you cannot view this, please see it here: http://mothermade.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-tale-of-two-families.html)

The anxiety began to creep in and cover me just as the kudzu drapes and kills the trees in Tennessee. Racist memories from my childhood flooded my mind. I took deep breaths so as not to alarm my kids. Since having children, I worry about their well being, and more specifically, their racial identities.

The conversation in the car began.

“Who are we seeing in Tennessee? Are we going to Papito’s house (my father)?” the kids asked.

“We are not going to Papito’s house. We’ll be staying in Knoxville, where your dad and I met. And you will be meeting your Puerto Rican cousins today,” I answered.

“When are we going to Canada? How long do we have to stay in Tennessee?” the kids continued.

“We will be in Tennessee for a few days, and then we will meet up with your cousins in Canada,” my husband answered.

The conversation then moved on to my husband’s family. Canada is home to his aunt. She and her husband own a lake cottage where we had planned to meet my in-laws for their 50th wedding celebration; however, due to my father-in-law’s recent health decline, my husband’s sister and her family would be the only Brits coming to the party. The kids asked about their relatives across the pond. They all talked happily about similarities. My husband spoke of how our daughter reminded him of his sister at her age. Other biological family traits were bestowed on the kids, and they beamed.

I felt myself receding. My kids weren’t interested in seeing my Puerto Rican family as much as they wanted to see my husband’s. Granted, we haven’t seen my Puerto Rican family in more than five years. Plus, there is the language barrier. But I must admit, I felt slighted. My son does not identify with his Puerto Rican family, but my daughter does. I want desperately for my children to feel the love that I have felt from my family.

The Puerto Ricans, also known as the “Gonzos,” are my family. When someone asks me where I would like to live, I say Puerto Rico. With this side of my family, I feel sudden comfort and security. The Gonzos talk about my son’s resemblance to our great-grandfather. The Gonzos kiss and hug and dance. Boy, do they dance.

We met my father and my cousins, Missiel and Kike, in Tennessee and went to Dollywood. Missiel and I reminisced about their childhood visits to Tennessee and teased Kike. I learned my Spanish pronunciation from my cousins in our backyard. My children stood on the periphery. Missiel and Kike have two children each. Kike’s daughter followed my daughter and wanted to bond with her.

The boys played a little at first.

And my father encouraged more play together as they all sifted for treasure.

While things were going well, most times, my kids still clung to one another.

Then, we found the perfect ride to unite all children … against the grown-ups.

 (If you cannot view this, please see it here: http://mothermade.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-tale-of-two-families.html)

As the boys played and joked, Missiel leaned over to me and said, “Noah is a Gonzo! He and Andreas have the same motions!” All the tension and anxiety within me suddenly slid off, and I felt just as I always have when I am with my family … loved.

The Sisterhood

Summer brings sunshine, happiness (from the sunshine) and movies! This summer in the spirit of my daughter (aka #feminist9YO), I have vowed to see movies with female protagonists, or as she calls them, “movies with strong female characters.”

This week, it was The Heat.

*spoiler alert*

In it, Sandra Bullock’s FBI character reveals that she was a foster child and a young girl who had few friends. When this played on screen, I cringed. “Great, another Hollywood slap in the face for child welfare,” I thought. I had reported on the abuse adoption received in The Avengers here, and I braced myself.

However, this movie plays out quite differently. At the end of the movie, Melissa McCarthy’s character signs Bullock’s character’s old high school annual. When the audience was able to read it, her words took my breath away. In that moment, when McCarthy’s character refers to Bullock’s as her “sister,” I felt the acceptance that the character felt. My vitamin D-deprived psyche shed some negativity.

In the adoption/foster care world, we talk so much these days about loss … the loss of families, the loss of self, the loss of racial identity. I have cycled through this loss and am still circling back as my children cycle.

But this reminded me of the things that make me truly happy … relationships, and more specifically, my female relationships. The women in my life who have helped me through the loss, the hurt and the anger. My mother taught me the importance of friendships. Hers is the strongest I have ever known, and I model my friendships after hers.

My sister, while younger than me, has also enriched my life. I often find myself looking to her for guidance. She is my sounding board.

So many wonderful women have held me up and given me strength. I consider my “little sisters”: Jenny (my Frances Ha, another excellent movie), LaDawn, Nicole and Jessica. I cherish my relationship with Marlene, who I called my “other mother,” as she nurtured me when I began my life as an adult in the workforce.

There are my other sisters, Kathy and Kayla, and my twin sisters, Katherine and Adrienne, who have tutored me in all things Asian and helped me form my Feeling racial identity. They reassured me that my common childhood anxieties were theirs too.

All these women have cycled through my life, and while they are a big part of my life still, they live so very far from me. Our lives are so busy and finding the time to talk is a challenge. The Wisconsin winters and my move here lead me down a few dark paths, but now, another sister has entered.

This sister has a positive outlook. This sister has an appreciation of my feelings on adoption. This sister is also adopted. There is much to be learned from this next chapter of sisterhood. We all need a “sister.”

The Real Decision Begins

Last month, I wrote about the Supreme Court case, ADOPTIVE COUPLE, PETITIONERS v. BABY GIRL.  This morning, the Supreme Court reversed the South Carolina court’s decision. You can read the full Supreme Court decision here.

Now, the real decision begins. Baby Girl is older and has spent time with her biological father. While the decision shows that the lower court was wrong, the matter of Baby Girl’s well being is in the hands of the grown-ups involved.

Missteps have been made on all sides, but can the grown-ups come to a place of mutual agreement? Will Baby Girl be surrounded by the love that drove them all?

Regret

Tonight, after a long day, I took my family to a Poetry Slam. It was inspiring. My daughter loved it. My teenaged son was silent. In the car, we clashed. He went off to bed, and I said, “Good night.”

Before nodding off, he sent me this video via email.
 
I am flawed. I regret not holding my tongue. I regret not being the adult. I regret not saying “I love you.”

Asian Attraction, Part 3

Another two installments of the “seeking asian female” series called “They’re All So Beautiful” has hit YouTube.

Here’s the third episode:

This one is interesting as it asks Asian men to join the conversation about Asian-Caucasian couplings. Some Asian men express frustration in the attraction that Asian women have for Caucasian men. In response, an Asian woman says that dating an Asian man would be “like dating my brother.” Personally, I have felt the same and refer to my two best, male Asian friends as my “Big Brother” and my “Little Brother.”

In addition, one man described Asian women in this way (I believe my husband could attest to this.), “quite belligerent, demanding, controlling, and not afraid to say what is on their [sic] mind … not afraid to act independently on what they feel.” This completely contradicts the first installment that asked Caucasian men what they sought in Asian women.

The most disturbing segment of this video (in minute 4:43) is the Caucasian women’s subtleties in descriptive language of Asian women.  These two women continue to describe the couplings as “white males and Asian girls,” and “Asian girls looking for white men.” Why refer to other women as “girls”? Demeaning, belittling, and just plain name-calling, in my opinion.

Installment four goes like this:

Here we dig further into the attraction that Asian women have for Caucasian men. The culture card comes up here. Stereotypes are being flung to all parties … Asian men, Caucasian men, Asian women!

One Asian woman says that what attracts her to Caucasian men is that they are independent (exactly what an Asian man called Asian women). Now we’re getting somewhere.

We learn that the highest percentage of interracial marriages are made up by Asian women married to Caucasian men. There it is. My love for my husband plays into a statistic that proves this Asian fixation.

Thankfully, Dr. Benjamin Tong, Professor at the California Institute of Integral Studies, comes to our rescue, saying:

“Love has nothing to do with selling out on a people, has nothing to do with disloyalty. Love is something that simply happens between two people, and it can cross gender and race lines … ”

I needed that, Dr. Tong, on this, our eighteenth wedding anniversary. Love is love.