Why Are We Like This?

My young friend came out to his parents today. It was his own Independence Day. He sat them down and told them in no uncertain terms. His mother cried. His dad was silent. He was scared. That scenario plays out in so many households. It’s a shame that in this day and time we have to worry about what people think about our sexuality. It’s a shame that our young people still think they need to live in a closet. It’s a worse shame that there are some places where closets still keep people safe. Our children should be able […]

Who Makes the Rules?

I am so tired of parent shaming, I might have to explode. What gives someone the right to criticize other people’s parenting styles? Who makes these rules that people seem to want to enforce at random? I’ve never seen the list and I’ll bet you haven’t either. Today was one of those days when the parent shaming statements were too loud to ignore. Someone didn’t like the way a four year old was dressed. His parents must be horrible. I saw the kid wearing shorts, shirt, socks, and shoes. He was dressed. End of discussion. Someone else didn’t like that […]

NO! ……

Our dear little angel has hit a milestone. Normally, we’d be so proud. We’d post it on Facebook and tell our friends. But, this one has a different ring to it. Finally, at three-and-a-half years of age, our little sweetheart has become defiant. Kassandra has had the benefit of growing up with lots of older siblings. She has lots of playmates and, unfortunately for her, a group of teens and young adults who are always ready to remind her when she needs to follow the rules. Now, in the past couple of weeks, Kassa realizes that she doesn’t like the […]

Can You Just Walk Away?

Today I went to the hospital where our son Michael lives. He’s in his mid-20s. We adopted him as a teen, but he’s been in our lives much longer. Michael has a long history of institutional living. He struggles with severe mental health issues and has spent more of his life in psychiatric hospitals than not. For most of us, it would be difficult. For Michael, it’s familiar and comforting in many ways. Parenting a child with a serious illness, whether medical or psychiatric, is tough. And, in many cases, the parenting responsibility doesn’t disappear as the children become adults. […]

In Praise of Adoption

Adoption! The word brings up so many thoughts, emotions, and opinions. As an adopted person, with many adopted children, I think I’ve seen just about all of the sides to domestic (US only) adoption. I was adopted through the Children’s Home Society in Virginia. My birthmother knew that she did not want to raise a child on her own, so I was an intentional placement. The rules at the time required that I live with my birthmother for a month, then live in foster care for two months prior to moving in with my adoptive family. I’ve met my birthmother. […]

Can I Have This Dance?

This week is adoption week for Kassandra. Yes, we’ve changed the spelling of her name. We’re rehearsing for the questions the judge might ask her. She confidently announces that, “I’m Kassa” or “I’m three years old,” all while holding up five fingers. Our adoption ritual is simple. We go before the judge, listen while he or she talks about how wondrous adoption is, take pictures, and then take the crowd to lunch. This is our 17th adoption and we’ve done it with every one. But, the biggest part of our adoption ritual is celebrating the adoptee. Less than half of […]

Family Traditions

The past few days, my house has been filled with a variety of renditions of the Happy Birthday song. It’s been a couple of months since we had a birthday in the house and Kassandra apparently really likes that song. This all came about after she and I went to a baby’s first birthday party on Saturday. It was such a special day. The birthday girl was adorable, and the house was filled with people in a party mood. Kids ran around, playing games. Parents chatted with each other. One of my older daughters was there, so while I held […]

There is Hope

Many of my children have mental health diagnoses. In fact, many children who go through the foster care system have mental health diagnoses, too. I remember when I was first starting off as a foster parent. Every kid in my home had a diagnosis. I began to notice a trend. Depending on their age, the kids all had the same diagnosis. The teens had Oppositional Defiant Disorder. The little ones all had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In our county, the same psychiatrist examined them all. I began to doubt the diagnoses and worked with our medical and mental health providers […]

Past, Present, and Future

Have you ever had one of those moments that you dread? You know the type I mean. You know you have to have this moment, but you really, really, really don’t want to go there. But, you know you should. It’s the type of moment that many in the LGBTQ community know well. Well, I’m about to have one of those moments. Three years ago, when we took custody of Cassandra, we questioned what might happen if something happened to us. Who would get custody of Cassandra? What would prevent her from going into foster care? And, the worst thing […]

Adoption: Double-Edged Sword

For the most part, I’m a fan of adoption. I’m adopted. My brother is adopted. I have three cousins who are adopted. I have two cousins who have each adopted two children. And, as you know, I’ve adopted 16 times. Adoption is more a part of my understanding of how to make a family than any other method. As my family, we adopted some through the state foster-care system, some through private adoption, and some through agencies. The only type of adoption we have not experienced is international. Our children were all born in the US. However, one of my […]