Monthly Archives: January 2008

Sara McLachlan Rocks!

The singer Sara McClachlan is my new hero for the day! Watch this video to see why I admire her so much. She isn’t asking for any money…she’s showing you how she wisely spent hers.

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My gaseous son

You’d have to read this previous post to know what I am talking about here. Caleb was at church yesterday and as we were chatting with the missionaries in the foyer, he turned to me and said, “Mom, I need go fart”, and ran for the door facing outside. The Elders didn’t hear him and said, “what on earth are you doing?” as he faced away from us. He of course felt a need to holler across the room, “I need go fart.” Sigh…at times I think we are making progress in social skills and then this happens. Well, I guess it is progress as he didn’t grace us with his odors standing right next to us. Quietly leaving the room and heading for the bathroom, however, has not crossed his mind yet. Of course missionaries being the young men that they are thought this was hilarious. One of them turned to me, however, and said, “I think you’re right. He does need a life!”

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Martin Luther King, Civil Rights and Racism

holding_hands.jpg

“I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down, other-centered men can build up.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

The quote above was on my signature line for every e-mail I sent for a couple of years. I believe it whole-heartedly, and I believe in what Martin Luther King, Jr., stood for; change through peaceful means–namely civil disobedience– rather than violent means.

I know there are people who try to negate everything good that MLK stood for by saying “He was an adulterer, he was a Communist, and he was wrong when it came to his statements on the Vietnam war.” Perhaps he was. In my heart, however, that does not negate all the good that he accomplished.

Because of Martin Luther King and others —Ruby Bridges and Rosa Parks as well as thousands who go unnamed–the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed that outlawed segregation in the schools and other public places. The National Voting Rights Act of 1965 followed a year later.

Martin Luther King fought tirelessly for civil rights and as a result of his and others’ actions, my daughter will never have to worry about segregated theaters, restaurants, or even water fountains. I cannot comprehend living in such a time when the South was so strongly segregated, and thankfully the concept will always be foreign to her as well.

At seven years of age, slavery– and all the other horrific acts that were done to people of African descent in America–is still something about which she is totally naive. I wish I could keep her that way, but sadly I cannot. Slavery and the lack of civil rights for African American people are part of our history. A very ugly part of our history, but very real nonetheless.

Unfortunately, the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 did not eliminate racism. Racism is very sadly alive and well, and yes I know it goes both ways. I have been discriminated against and looked down upon for having “white” skin by people of color. I have seen frowns or glares change to smiles when my daughter is with me compared to when she is not. I have “white privelege” merely because of the color of my biological ancestors’ skin. I wish it were not so.

I didn’t adopt children of color to make a political statement. Far from it. I adopted my children because a very loving Heavenly Father led me to them and let me know they were meant to be mine to raise during this earth life. at-guiyuan-temple.jpg I hope in some small way, however, that my multiracial family is a start. A start to show others that the color of our skin truly does not matter. That we are all God’s children and he loves us all equally.

I have had people tell me, “But your daughter isn’t really black.” Oh she isn’t? Well, no her skin is truly brown, not black, but I know what they mean. She doesn’t “act black” in their eyes because she is being raised by a “white” family. However, she will go out into the world on her own someday and those who have never met her will not say, “Oh there’s that girl who was raised in a multiracial family with parents who were white.” They will see her as a person of African descent and make their judgments accordingly depending on whether or not they hold racist attitudes in their hearts. Because of this, I must raise her to be comfortable in her own skin. To feel a sense of unity with those who look like her.

My first priority, however, is to teach her that she is a child of God. Hand in HandThat we all belong to a loving Heavenly Father who is there to answer our prayers in times of need and to understand as it says in 1 Samuel 16, that the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance but the Lord looketh on the heart.

Like Martin Luther King, I too have a dream. I dream that my children also “will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”Where my Chinese sons will not be expected to be math whizzes just because of their facial features and skin color. Where they won’t be told that they have to do martial arts as one friend told me “because it is in their genes.” Where my daughter will not be held to a lower standard by school teachers, also because of her facial features and skin color. It is not their skin color that makes them who they are, but the content of their character. As a parent, it is their character which I can do something about. Their skin and facial features I had no part in…those were merely beautiful gifts given by God.

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Filed under Adoption, Random thoughts, Transracial Adoption

Children’s prayers – an Attitude of Gratitude

girl in prayer My children’s prayers can be sweet and innocent at times and other times they can be hilarious. Micheline has smiled ever so sweetly across the table at Ben as she signed the blessing on the food and asked God to please let Ben be nice and not angry. Manipulation through prayer? It’s a technique she has perfected and one we are working on teaching her to cease.

Sometimes when we are really in a hurry to get someplace and just need a quick prayer, one of the kids will decide to say a prayer that goes on forever, blessing everyone and everything in sight. I have been known to hurry them along by piping up with a whispered “In the name of…” clueing them in that it is time to end the prayer in Christ’s name so we can all say “Amen”.

My friend Anna shared with me yesterday that her 3 year old grandson has also picked up on this technique of blessing everything within his sight. He has been known to thank God for the table, chairs, lights, you name it. His parents-unlike me-are far more patient and allow him to continue until he is done. Well, Grandma bought him a LeapPad for Christmas and he is learning his ABC’s. At dinner the other night, he decided to not only thank Heavenly Father for his LeapPad, but for his alphabet…one letter at a time. “We thank thee for A, we thank thee for B,” and on it went through all 26 letters.

I would bet that his prayer might have been one of the first times that the Lord has been thanked letter by letter for the alphabet, but after pondering this, shouldn’t we all thank the Lord for our ABC’s? You wouldn’t be reading this right now if it weren’t for the alphabet. All of those Harry Potter books or John Grisham novels? Never would have been written, much less sold. Most important of all, we wouldn’t have scriptures today. Scriptures that give us the word of God and guide and direct us in our lives. Scriptures that teach us how to avoid the same mistakes that others made in the past. Maybe tonight when we kneel down to pray, we ought to remember to thank God for ABC’s. But if it is during family prayer, do your waiting and listening family a favor…don’t do it letter by letter. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Deafness at the Expo

I had a hilarious experience today that I promised would not show up on the cochlear implant forums. I didn’t promise, however, that I wouldn’t blog about it. Names have been changed to protect the innocent… ๐Ÿ™‚

One of my sons is profoundly deaf and has had a cochlear implant for 6 1/2 years. I am a volunteer for the company who markets his implant, which so far translates loosely to getting a free volunteer appreciation dinner at a decent restaurant once a month. Hey, it’s a night away from the kids, and I get stimulating adult conversation as a bonus. Volunteers are supposed to keep a log of our time if we desire, and can earn points with the company which can be used to purchase merchandise such as batteries or cables, but since my life is pretty harried, I rarely have time to do much formal volunteering.

Today, however, there was a senior citizen expo in town that actually fit my schedule, so I consented to go work the booth. Most of it consisted of talking to seniors about hearing loss and explaining how a cochlear implant differs from a hearing aid. If you have a significant hearing loss and don’t benefit from hearing aids, you might be a candidate for a cochlear implant. Hearing aids merely amplify sound, including background noise, so many people spend thousands on them and then end up tossing them in their drawer because they hate the sound. Everything is louder, but their perception and understanding of speech hasn’t improved.

First a bit of background…Megan, who works for the company, has a cochlear implant herself. She has amazingly clear speech and hears remarkably well with her implant. Most people don’t even have a clue that she is deaf without it, nor that she even has an implant because it is hidden by her hair.

An elderly woman came up to our booth and Megan asked her if she was familiar with cochlear implants and began to explain a bit more about them. Understand that the exhibition hall was very crowded with lots of background noise including some music to which a women’s dance group was performing at the end of the room. This woman remarked that she didn’t have a significant hearing loss herself, but that her mother did. She mentioned that her mother had hearing aids but never wore them because she hated them. Megan jumped on this bit of information and asked a few more questions to see if this woman’s mother might be a possible candidate for an implant. Unfortunately, the woman was very soft-spoken and tended to put her head down a bit when she spoke. As she was replying, she said, “Well, she wouldn’t need anything now, because she is recently deceased.” Megan missed that bit of information. I have normal hearing and I barely heard the word “deceased.”

Megan’s next question? “Does your mother have a hard time understanding you when you speak to her?” The woman looked at Megan as if she had three heads. I started to get the giggles and had to turn away. Megan continued, saying, “Because if your mother can’t understand you when you are speaking to her, even with her hearing aids on…”

Meanwhile I was off to Megan’s side, stifling laughter and trying to discreetly sign to her “Dead. Mother is dead“. She caught the sign “dead” out of the corner of her eye, and realization hit. She had been asking this woman if her dead mother could understand her when she spoke to her? She offered quick condolences and the woman moved on. We both stood there with sweet smiles pasted on our faces until the woman was out of sight and then both turned around and busted a gut laughing.

Neeldless to say, she won’t live that one down for a looooong time. Can you hear me now?

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Shades of Black

This is one of my favorite books. Both the photos and the text deliciously draw you in. Children with skin tones ranging from very dark to very light are all included.

Shades of Black cover

One editorial review states:

Originally published as a picture book, this book won the Pinkney’s many accolades and awards for their affirmative message. Now offered as a board book, this book will let even younger children enjoy looking at the delightful photographs of African-American kids.
What many may find startling is that the kids shown in the book range from dark ebony to almost white and every shade in between. Hair color and texture and eye color are all the things that make us different and also alike. The photographs are engaging and the message is clearโ€”it really does not matter what color you are, you are still beautiful. I really loved some of the descriptions and comparisons: “I am the creamy white frost in vanilla ice cream,” comes from a light-skinned African-American boy and his sister enjoying a vanilla ice cream cone. The text and picture on the opposite page feature a dark-skinned boy eating chocolate and the text describes him as “the milky smooth brown in a chocolate bar.” Using food as colors to compare against skin tones is really clever; Sandra Pinkney also compares hair to wool and grass and eyes to a variety of stones. A wonderful book for any home, school or public library. .
2006 (orig. 2000), Cartwheel/Scholastic, Ages 1 to 6. Marilyn Courtot — Children’s Literature

It can probably be found in most public libraries but if you have children of African descent in your home, it is definitely a keeper to have in your own personal library.

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What color are you?

Having a multiracial family, I find myself more cognizant of labels that people place on each other according to race. When Micheline first came home at age four, she knew her colors in Creole, and started learning them in English. She was confused when people would label her as black. After all, she knew the color black, and her skin was not black. She began to accept this label, however, until one day in the store when she said, “Mom that lady has black skin just like me!” The woman came over and gently corrected her and said, “No, honey, your skin is brown like mine.”

I’m not wild about the term African-American to describe my daughter because she is not from Africa. She’s from Haiti. So do we tell everyone she is Haitian-American? Just last week a woman called my daughter African-American and when I said, “Actually, she is Haitian”, she replied, “Oh, so she’s a refugee?” Not quite sure how she made that false connection; maybe she didn’t realize one can adopt from Haiti?

When Micheline was in a co-op preschool, one of the other mothers decided to “help” my daughter color a picture one day. I guess in an attempt to be racially sensitive, she colored the child on the page black. As in, really black. As in Crayola color black. Nothing could have looked more ridiculous. Micheline was even puzzled why this woman chose black because as she said, “Mom, I don’t look like that!” Needless to say, the next week when preschool was at my home, I sent each child home with a Multicultural 8 pack of Crayola colors. It consists of Apricot, Burnt Sienna, Mahogany, Peach, Sepia, and Tan, as well as black and white for blending. I found this great site to purchase multicultural art materials, because as they say on their site, “we have come a long way from the days when the box of crayons contained only one ‘flesh’ color.”
Here is a photo I found on my camera that my kids took just for fun. arms in varying shadesSome of the arms are of my children and one is of a neighbor. Whose is whose doesn’t really matter. Now just because the arm on the left is the darkest, is it black? Is the arm on the right really white? Heck no! Here is the current list of colors that Crayola offers in their boxes. It used to be acceptable many years ago to call people of African descent, “colored”. Aren’t we all colored?

Wouldn’t it be more fun to say, “Hey Mom, can I go play with Mackenzie? No, not the sepia one, the burnt sienna one!” ? Or, “Police say the suspect is a desert sand colored male, approximately 25 years of age.” Better yet, I love the color descriptions in the book The Color of Us. People are described as delicious foods such as the color of chocolate, pizza crust, cinnamon and even creamy peanut butter.

Unfortunately, I don’t see labeling people as peanut butter colored taking off, but you have to admit, it’s much more ingenious than the labels of black, white, yellow, red and brown! Seeing how I was teased once in high school by being called “mayonnaise legs”, it’s not hard for you to figure out just how fair I really am. Maybe after being in the sun and getting freckles, you could call me “french vanilla with a splash of nutmeg.”

It would be best if we were not labeled by color at all, but if you had to choose a color, how would you creatively describe yourself and/or your family? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’ll put the entries in a hat and send a package of Crayola multicultural crayons and markers to the winner.

p.s. We do have a black member of our family…he’s an 85 lb Rottweiler/Lab mix. I prefer to label him as licorice. ๐Ÿ™‚

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