My newest munchkins have been with us for a few weeks now. They are settling in well. In other words, there is a lots of screaming and tantruming as they learn our family routines and rules, there have been many time "ins" and a few time "outs." (Time ins when their behavior is clearly based on their fears of loss, time outs when I am witnessing normal preschooler behavior around learning basic social skills.)
There is the chaos of weekly therapy appointments to squeeze into our already tight schedule. School enrollment and the various testing that occurs with children such as mine to ensure that they can be successful in the classroom is taking up most of my days. Then there are the requirements of social services that the children must be seen by the pediatrician and dentist within 2 weeks of the placement. Well, fortunately the fine print really says the appointments have to be scheduled within 2 weeks, the actual appointment can be scheduled a little further out. Then there is the meal planning for a large family. Digging out the crock pot has helped, but we are definitely not eating healthy right now as we try to figure out what is going to work for us. Then we have the monthly social worker visits and guardian ad litem visits to plan around. Yes it is a lot to organize and not let my other children fall through the cracks and miss out on their important activities as well. But, we are managing and this kind of chaos seems to be something that I even thrive in. I jump in with both feet and write all over my calendar and enter info into my iPhone. I would drown without these basic household management tools. But, please know that I am not complaining. Nope...I am just a mom and all of us moms struggle with these issues.
Speaking of just being a mom, I know I am not alone in hating the dreaded "they are so lucky" comments adoptive parents are forced to hear. I know it is always well intentioned...but really? My children were lucky? They were lucky to have been removed from their birth families? They were lucky to spend time in foster care? I am the lucky one. I was given a chance to love them. Of course, the lucky comment is followed by the "you are a saint" comment which again, might be well intentioned, but drives me up a wall. I am no saint I can promise you that. Feel free to ask any of my kids if they feel "lucky" to live with "Saint" Mom. I don't expect them to feel grateful or lucky. I expect them to be angry, feel hurt, scared and abandoned. I anticipate years of them not trusting me, and hating me when I stand firm on house rules. I don't tolerate my kids in a "saintly" way, I love them as a mom because they are my children.
My children. I like the sound of that. So much so that it cuts me to the core when other people question my role as mom. As I stated earlier, we seem to stick out in a crowd. Ever since k4 joined our family, I would be asked "are they all yours?" to which I would smile and say yes. With the addition of K8 and K9 now, that has changed. I have always struggled to understand racism, but for the first time in my life, I FELT it. It was subtle and I am trying to not make too big of a deal of it because I seriously doubt that the person was even aware that her comment put me in a defensive position about my children's race! But there it was. We were playing in the park, my caucasian, hispanic, korean and bi-racial children. It was a beautiful day full of the children's laughter and smiling faces. As I walked across the playground to check in with the youngest kiddos, another mom looked at me as said "are you a foster parent?" Again, not necessarily a racist comment, but let me explain. In 12 years of adopting children of various ethnicities, I have NEVER been asked that question. People have always assumed I adopted them (or had many men in my life...) but the children were clearly identified as MY children. This was the FIRST time I had been asked about foster care. I didn't think much about it at the time and simply answered, "no these are my kids." But it gnawed at me for hours. Later I finally talked to Robert about it. I pointed out that at the time, I was surprised but as I thought about it, I was offended at the question! Not that there is something wrong with being a foster parent, in fact I admire the people that can give their hearts in that way. No, I was offended that it is only when I have bi-racial children that I would be asked such a question. Is it because they are black that the assumption is foster care? Are my beautiful bi-racial children not worthy of adoption in the eyes of this woman? I will never know for sure what exactly went through her mind. But it makes me sad to know, that to some people, my children and I will have to defend our right to be a family. And defend I will, because I am just a mom. Their mom.