Friday, March 22, 2013

What's Race Got to Do With it?

"Mrs. Woodson, is your baby going to be African American?"
"Well, we are adopting an African baby, but when we bring them home they will be an American citizen. So then yes, they will be African American, but if you're wondering if my baby is going to be black,yes they will."
"Oh okay."

That was a simple conversation I had with one of my students a few months ago. She was obviously trying to be politically correct and was just innocently curious about the color of my baby's skin.

I have been wanting to write a blog post about race for quite a while but have debating when and how to do it. After a conversation with a dear friend this week and some other events that happened this weekend, I decided to do it now. To be quite honest, I am not exactly sure where this blog will end or what its total purpose is but we will see....

If you know me and Jeffrey, you clearly know that we are an inter-racial couple, Heck, even if you don't know us you probably gathered that info from the giant picture on the top of this blog.

I'm not sure where I want to start, but I think I want to start with our adoption training. Jeffrey and I were required to go to several different classes in the paperwork portion of our adoption. One of the trainings was specifically about adopting a child from a different race/culture. Now, first of all Jeffrey was the only black person at the training and we were the only family adopting from Africa. The instructor pointed out the obvious that people may not think that our baby is my baby due to our skin differences, and that many people would probably assume that our baby was Jeffrey's biological child.

This really doesn't bother me at all, but it does bring up a lot of questions. A while back, I was talking to a few friends about how it is different to raise a baby not only from a different race but from a different culture. I don't remember the exact question I asked, but I remember them responding with the answers that they don't really think race is a big issue today. I remember thinking yeah "You're white and have no idea". Lets face it, even in a world where we have an African American president and many celebrities and athletes who we all adore who are from different races and cultures, AMERICA STILL HAS BIG RACE ISSUES.

Jeffrey and I both have super supportive families who have stood by us and have stood up for us. I also know that it was difficult for some our our extended family to adjust to even if they never said something to us personally. We have had several people ask us if we have ever faced issues with being a bi-racial couple. Obviously, we aren't facing issues that people in the 1960s faced but we have had some difficulties. We usually end up telling people that the people who usually comment are people who don't even know us. Sadly, we have lost a few friends over the fact that they did not agree with our interracial relationship, but the people who really love us and know us wouldn't ever question our relationship. When we first started dated, we were young and I was probably a little more insecure and aware of others. I noticed people looking, but after a while I seemed to stop noticing.  We are so blessed to go to an extremely diverse church and have several friends and family members of different races/cultures. I think I'm probably just so wrapped up in what we are doing that I ignore the people who are just passing by, but this past weekend was different. We were at the St. Louis Galleria walking around, and I noticed some dirty looks coming our way. I thought maybe it was just me, so I didn't say anything and Jeffrey actually commented that he had noticed a lot of people giving us rude looks. It was surprisingly the younger people.

Jeffrey and I have always been really open about talking about our racial differences. We have talked about how we really want our children to understand issues about race and know who they are. I have heard many people say that they don't see skin color or that they don't look at Jeffrey as black but just a person, but to me that is such a sad image. Jeffrey is a beautiful strong black man, and I am proud of who he is. I want my children to grow up knowing that mommy and daddy don't look the same, but it doesn't mean we are any better or worse. It is what makes us who we are and what makes the world so beautiful. We have discussed how we want our children to be proud of who they are. I know we will face some challenges with the fact that one of our babies will be bi-racial and one of our babies is going to be Ethiopian. I know everyone who adopts internationally does not look like their children, but I am happy that Jeffrey will be able to relate to our baby. Yes, I know that Jeffrey is not African, but I feel like African American people do face issues that I don't think I would be able to relate to. I am happy that he will be able to talk to our baby about things that he has faced as a black man in America.

I know I'm getting deep here and probably making some of you uncomfortable....Keep reading.....

We really want to teach our baby about his/her Ethiopian culture and allow him/her to ask questions and feel comfortable to talk about where he/she was born. We think the fact that we are going to have an Ethiopian baby is absolutely wonderful and beautiful and we don't want to hide that or deprive our baby from that.

As far as when we have a biological child, I want our baby to know that they can be proud of who they are and the fact that they have a black dad and a white mom. I understand that questions and issues may arise, but I think the biggest thing is to be open with your children about this topic of race even if you don't have an interracial family. Talk to your kids about others!

Okay so where am I going with this? I know if I left it right here, several of you would let me know that we shouldn't be defined by our race, and I would have to say that you are totally right. But I would also have to say that race shouldn't be something that we ignore or act like we are all the same. Race and culture should be celebrated and explored.

Our children will have black and white grandparents, a Japanese great grandma, Hispanic relatives, and many family friends who are made up of a whole lot of other stuff =) . Will our children ask us about their family? Will the notice the differences? I don't know, but I really hope they do. I want our kids to see the beauty of our family and other families that may look different than ours. I think the most important thing for our kids to know is that we treat everyone with love and respect regardless if they are different from us.

So did this blog really accomplish what I wanted it to....maybe. Did it make you think? Did it make you possibly more aware? I know some of you will disagree with what I posted and that is completely fine. I have just been thinking a lot about race and felt like writing about it. 


Saturday, March 16, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEFFREY!

Since Jeffrey's birthday is on a Monday this year, we are celebrating it a little early. Tonight the two of us are going out and then tomorrow we are going to lunch with The Jones family and the Woodson family.

Even though this blog is mainly about the adoption, I feel it's okay to give the daddy some love =) If you know Jeffrey, you know he is a man who is very unique. Beyond his sense of fashion, Jeffrey stands out as a man who loves the Lord and loves people. I am so thankful he was born.

I am so thankful that baby Woodson has such an incredible daddy. He is helping this mommy through the rough waiting period, and he is so excited for the baby to come. Even though he isn't as vocal about it, I know that he is just as ready as I am.

I can't wait to celebrate many more birthdays with him. He is definitely a person worth celebrating! His life brings joy to so many others! I am proud to be his wife.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JEFFREY! I LOVE YOU!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

THANKS


Sorry I am a little late in posting this, but I was hit with a stomach bug this week. I just want to take a moment and say thank you so much to all our friends and family who came and supported us last Saturday.

Our trivia night was such a huge success! We didn't count the exact number of people, but we are estimating that around 260 people were there! IT WAS CROWDED! We raised just under $5,000! We were so blessed.

Leah's goal for the trivia night was to raise enough to pay for our plane tickets, and we definitely made a big dent towards our goal.

It was so great seeing so many of you who we haven't seen in such a long time, and I apologize that we didn't really get to talk to all of you as much as we would have liked to.

We hope that you all had as much fun as we did!

We want to give a special shout out to those of you who donate items for the auction and those of you who won auction items! Thank you to our family and friends who helped setup, tear down, and make the night happen through selling drinks, running papers, grading, and more.

We also want to thank the Bauers who reserved the hall for us.

THANK YOU TO LEAH WHO MADE THE WHOLE NIGHT POSSIBLE! Not only did she organize the whole thing, but she did a great job as the MC. 

Before I end this post about the trivia night, we also want to thank those of you who were unable to attend but gave monetary donations to us through our blog, the mail, or in person.

Some of our guest! Winning table right there!

Proud Parents
Grandparents and Miss Michelle grading
Uncle Jon took care of the slides
Nate deep in thought
Aunt Leah and Mommy

Concentrating on trivia

 
Miss Ranae at registration
MC
Uncle Gary must've got one right!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

TRIVIA NIGHT!

Tonight is our first adoption fundraiser! We have been so blessed by all the support we have received. We are looking forward to seeing friends we haven't seen in years and meeting new people! We have had so many people help make this night possible that we can't really name them all.

We want to thank all the businesses and friends who have put a basket together for the silent auction. We at first considered not even having a silent auction because we were worried we wouldn't be able to get enough donations, but we have almost 30 baskets/items to auction off tonight! We could not have done this without the help of so many people coming together for our cause.

We also want to thank all of you who reserved a table and invited people to come. Without you, this night would be nothing. We believe that we will still have a few walk-in tables, but as of right now, we have a total of 28 tables! We are in awe! It means so much to us to know that you took time and effort to find people to come and be a part of your table. THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

We have to GIVE A HUGE THANK YOU to our sister, Leah, who has serisously put so much time and effort into making this night a success! Between working a full time job, house hunting, and going to school, she managed to spend a lot of her free time visiting local businesses and asking for donations. She also organized the majority of the night getting the venue, coming up with questions, and inviting so many people! THANK YOU, LEAH! WE LOVE YOU! SHE WILL ALSO BE YOUR AWESOME MC TONIGHT!

We want to thank our friends and family who are helping us put on this night. Clearly without you, we would not have the ability to put this large fundraiser on. Thank you for helping us with set up, clean up, grading papers, running papers, selling sodas, and working the computer! You are all such a big part of this night.

This past Wednesday, we were sharing with our small group from church just how amazed we are by the amount of people who are standing behind us. As we were talking, we mentioned how we truly feel so loved and supported. Yes, it is a great thing, but beyond us we really feel like many of you are doing this for the cause outside of the fact that you love us. We truly believe you are doing it for the same reason we are adopting. You know that there are many children all of the world who are in desperate need for a mommy and daddy, and you want to help make an impact. Thank you for helping us in the cause to make one less orphan in the world.

We love you.


Monday, March 4, 2013

License Renewed

Our adoption agency was happy to announce that their license to work in Ethiopia as an adoption agency has been renewed until 2016! I am so happy with our adoption agency; we did a lot of research before selecting one, and I have found that our agency has been honest, professional, and very helpful.

I have been tracking referrals of families with babies and the process really slowed down; well, basically it stopped all together. People were not being referred to children. From what I heard, Ethiopia has been kicking some agencies out of the country due to the fact that they are involved in dishonest actions. Thankfully, our adoption agency has a lot of favor with the Ethiopian government. I have read and heard stories that some people who were adopting from Ethiopia from different agencies discovered that their agencies were not approved and that they will not be able to get their children.

I AM HAPPY TO SAY THAT THIS WEEK, SEVEN FAMILIES FROM OUR AGENCY WERE MATCHED WITH THEIR CHILDREN! SEVERAL FAMILIES WHO WERE ALREADY MATCHED RECEIVED THEIR COURT DATES TO BRING THEIR CHILDREN HOME!

I am encouraged that things are finally moving in Ethiopia again. I am hoping that it will continue to move, and the arrival of our baby will be sooner than what the current numbers say.







Sunday, March 3, 2013

Not Easy-Different.

The other day, I had a pregnant friend tell me that I was doing it the easy way in referring to adoption. I know she wasn't meaning to at all, but this truly hurt my feelings because she clearly doesn't understand what I am facing. I simply said, " I don't know about that", and I walked away trying to fight back tears. I am not pregnant and have never been pregnant, so I don't feel like I really have the place to compare the two. We are hoping one day after we bring baby Woodson home that I will be pregnant, and I will give you my thoughts. I think that no matter how you come to be a mother that there our challenges that you have to face. Though they may look different, it doesn't mean that one way is easier than another.

I understand that I may not be experiencing morning sickness, and my feet aren't swelling (even though they probably will on a 16-18 hour flight). I understand that my belly isn't growing (well, maybe it is but that's another issue entirely). However, I do know that it isn't easy knowing that when your baby is first born, you won't be there to hold him/her, or knowing that the first months of his/her life will probably not be what you would have planned for them if you were there. It isn't easy knowing that you have no idea when you will be with your baby. There are many nights I cry in bed about this. If I could just know, I feel like it would be so much easier. I hate the thought of going to meet my baby and spending a week in Ethiopia, and then coming home without him/her until we get another court date. I don't think a lot of people understand the love that we truly have for this child already. Sure, I may not feel them kicking, and I may not get to hear his/her heart beat, but it doesn't make it any less real that I am expecting, and that I am totally crazy about this baby.

The paper process and the financial aspect of adoption alone can be extremely exhausting and overwhelming, but I mainly wanted to focus on the emotional aspect of it, because that is where it is truly hitting me the most. I don't want this blog to sound like I am playing a little mini violin for myself here, but I do feel like I need to let people know. Please be sensitive to people's situation. If you haven't been there, be careful to assume. This isn't just about adoption, but in life in general.

I hope you understand my heart in this post. Awareness is a powerful tool. Thank you for understanding and for your continued support and prayers. We love you.  


Friday, March 1, 2013

Perspective of Time

This week at work the ladies were all talking about how they just wish time would slow down. They all have children in various stages of life, but it seemed like it was an unanimous vote that their children were growing too fast and time needed to just slow down. As we were sitting at the table, I could not help but thinking that I was wishing that time would just fly by; I actually said it.

Lately, I have found myself just wishing time away.  I am struggling with being patient as we set in for this unknown waiting period. I am so just ready to meet my baby, hold my baby, and bring my baby home. When I came home from work after our conversation, I really started thinking about this time in my life.

Although I am so ready for Baby Woodson to make his/her arrival, I want make the most of this time in my life and enjoy what I have. Lately, I have been busy wishing time away that I have forgotten that I am still living life now, and need to embrace and enjoy this time in life as well.

This is the time in life where we can go on date nights every week and not worry about getting a sitter. We can operate on our schedules and not worry about naps, feedings, and bedtimes. This is the time of life where Jeffrey and I have a quiet house in the evenings and have plenty of alone time with each other. These are the last moments that we will be living by ourselves for a long time! Yes, life does still have many great things to offer us right now.

I think so many times we get wrapped up in the future that we forget to stop and enjoy the present. Life is great now, too. I am trying to keep this perspective as I wait. In this crazy journey, I will not wait for happiness, but I will travel this journey with it.

Pray for me, because it won't be easy!