Way Back Wednesday

Adoption blog, star date March 2009

What's Way Back Wednesday?

The Wilsons are going where?

Yep, that's right. We're going to Africa. Before you start start flipping out, let me clarify by saying that we are going to Africa only temporarily, and we are going to adopt a beautiful little baby girl.

Why beautiful? Because God made (will make) her.

Why a little baby? Because we feel like maintaining natural birth order is important to both Sassafras and Pearl. We wouldn't have a problem with bringing home a big beautiful girl, but Sassafras would and that's enough for us.

Why a girl? Because kids in almost any country in Africa are suffering, but girls are REALLY suffering because there is such little respect for women. The US Representative in Pearl's country has even spoken out to the African people about violence against women.

Now the big question that's on most of your minds...WHY AFRICA? Because God said so, that's why.

We have talked casually about adoption for a long time, even before we got married. Only two people knew this before I posted it here, but it took us so long to get pregnant with Sassafras that we had actually already received and partially completed an application for adoption right before we finally saw a positive sign on a preg test!

Once (years ago), there was a little kindergartener at my school whose foster family was mistreating him and DHR was involved. It broke my heart and I wanted to bring him home. We even tried, but because at that time we were only 24, we were ineligible to act as foster parents.

Again (about a year before Sassafras), we were talking with a family about the possibility of adopting a very unexpected baby they were struggling to care for. All that to say this...adopting is not a big deal to us.

Some people say they couldn't do it and treat the child exactly as though they were biological. Don't get me wrong, we know this is going to be no walk in the park, but we also know that this is clearly something the Lord has for us in His plan for our lives, therefore, we are going to be obedient!

At this point, we are trying to gather our plan of attack, so to say. We've talked with the international social worker at our agency several times, and have been to at least one informational meeting. Don't even ask me how much time we have put into our own independent research for this thing.

However, it does seem to be that with every question we get answered, there come about 3 more in its place, so this (from the get-go) is going to be both an educational process and a faith journey for our family.

You may be wondering what we need. I'll tell you. We need you to pray for us. Pray already for a smooth process, for Pearl's health and safety, for Sass to be the best big sister in the world, and for safe travels while we are in Africa.

Please continue to check back here for updates, and strap yourselves in...it's gonna be quite a ride!

*Oh my, was it ever. Worth it, though. Worth every single bit.


Let's talk hair

The most important thing I could and want to pass along on this topic is the incredible significance of truly loving your child's hair. 

Second to that is, without question, that moisturizing is essential. Pearl's hair is the tightest, most coarse texture of hair that God makes. At 4C, her curls need intensive moisture to remain healthy and vibrant.

Moisturizing is bigger than just one step in the process. Pearl's hair is very, very thirsty, and we moisturize (and re-moisturize) a few times throughout the day.

The Products

Now, the conversation about moisturizing products can be a lengthy one. Every black woman I have engaged in a discussion with (or been approached by) regarding products has essentially told me something different than the last woman or the next. Every single woman, regardless of her ethnicity or hair type, has her very own unique opinion about which products are the best. No one's hair is exactly alike (props, Creator), and no one's favorite products are the same either. Having said that, realize that everyone thinks the stuff they use is the best and only answer to whatever issue you may be facing with your kid's hair.

The reality is that you are going to spend a small fortune in hair products.

To find out YOUR favorite products, you'll have to experiment...try different types of moisturizers/cleansers/styling goos and varying combinations of it all. The smart thing is to connect with other mamas in the same boat and pool your resources. I guarantee you that I have bottles and bottles of stuff that I've bought and hated over the past few years. Hit me up if you want to borrow some of it. Likewise, share and share alike.

Keeping that in mind, below are some of the moisturizing products that I have come to rely on as the best nourishment for my sweet Pearl's curls. They're all Amazon affiliate links, which is where I tend to find the best prices. Sally Beauty Supply carries all but the Carol's Daughter line, but even with a membership card the prices are almost always better on Amazon. Locally, you can only get Carol's Daughter from Ulta or Belk. Target will occasionally run a B1G1 sale on the Shea Moisture brand (I've yet to determine a pattern on that but if you know the secret, please do tell), which is a huge help in building your collection of products you love as well as stuff you want to try.

Remember that these items are just for moisturizing; cleaners, conditioners, detanglers, tools, styling aids...all of those are entirely separate categories.

Questions? Comments?

Way Back Wednesday

*Adoption blog, star date January 2011

What's Way Back Wednesday?

One of the many unknowns in adoption is your child's medical history. You don't know if his or her biological parents had cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, chromosomal disorders, genetic blood diseases, or diabetes.

I did not like this particular aspect of adoption, not one bit. I thought that not knowing what health problems Pearl might get in the future, and her lack of medical background would cripple our efforts at caring for her health. I thought it would be hard filling out papers for the pediatrician, dentist, therapist, whatever and not having a single thing to mark down for her medical history. I thought it would be hard on us and on her, not knowing if minor symptoms were indicative of major illnesses to which she is genetically predisposed.

I thought not knowing her biological inheritance would be really scary.

Hey, so it's really not. It's not scary at all.

I mean, when you think about it, so what if your grandmother had cancer. (I am NOT being flippant about people having cancer. Please know me better than that. I AM being flippant with medical histories.) That doesn't mean you will have it. So what if your father didn't have diabetes. It doesn't mean that you won't. What I'm trying to say is that in the grand scheme of life, a medical history just really isn't all that essential. It actually simplifies paperwork. Instead of checking or unchecking a zillion boxes on a form, I can just write "unknown" and go back to playing with my kid instead of filling out a sheet of paper that would just help a doctor make assumptions about her anyway.

Plus, it helps me to not worry about what she "might get" and instead focus rather intently on who she is and how she is right now. I like that Pearl's physicians have to think very carefully and specifically about every one of her symptoms. Her lack of medical history actually means that she gets some pretty individualized attention. I like that doctors can't make assumptions about her based on her biology, but rather are forced to look at her as a little person and treat her as uniquely as she deserves to be treated. 

Let's talk hair

Although maybe sometimes all I want to do is buy my groceries, I am grateful for the scores of opportunities we are given to talk about adoption. 

The ladies, (of varying ethnicities, some who say it out loud and others who just want to), all wonder about Pearl's hair. What do I DO with it? Do I KNOW what I am doing with it?

So let's talk hair. 

The most important thing I want anyone to know about Pearl's hair is that I.LOVE.IT. Her tiny little black curls are among the most beautiful physical traits I've ever seen in any individual. I tell her often how pretty those curls are and how thankful I am that God made her hair so perfectly hers.  

Long ago, when we knew we were paper pregnant and that God was sending us to a girl, I decided that despite what I (Mrs. Lily White) knew and was comfy with in the hair department, I was going to do whatever it took to make sure my African daughter loved hers. 

And y'all. That part? It hasn't even been hard. I haven't had to work to convince Pearl to enjoy her hair because deep down to my marrow, I truly delight in it. Not because it's different. Not because I just want to survive it. Not only because I want her to love it. I truly love it because I love every bit, every cell, every atom of my girl.  

When I run my fingers through her curls, I marvel at just how tight they are. I'm in awe at the surprising length of it when a piece is stretched from scalp to end. I adore the cutie patootie way her headbands always offset her rich skin and growing poof. I am positively infatuated with how good her hair smells after a wash or styling.

White people don't get to smell like cookies, y'all. 

Dealing with four very different sets of girl hair in my house is like running a computer lab blended with Macs and PCs. Each head of hair has its own unique quirks and elements I completely adore. Obviously, Pearl's African locks are the most unique in the house, and over the past two and a half years, I've been thoroughly schooled. Maybe you're a transracial adoptive mama, too, and what I've learned the hard way can help you and yours in some small way. Maybe you're just curious because all you have at your house is all PC or all Mac, and to you I say wow. I bet your hair gear is way better organized than mine.

Although every African American individual's hair has its own unique characteristics, texture, and tightness, I'd love to share a bit of what I know so far about my Pearly Pearl's curls.

Ready? Let's talk hair. 

Way Back Wednesday

*Adoption blog, star date November 2010

**We had been home for about 2 weeks when I wrote this post.
What's Way Back Wednesday?

I once read from an adoptive mom that as hard as the adoption process is, the real work begins after you get home with your new child.

Obviously our process could have been way worse, but it’s true that we had several difficulties along the way. It was a rough process. But even with all of those glitches, some days I have to agree with that mom. Some days are really hard work.

Today was a hard day for Pearl. She has been showing some signs of teething, and seemed to have a bit of trouble with her tummy as well. We are still waiting on results from the International Adoption Clinic, so she could have more going on in that wee widdle body than we realize. The girls and I had spent the morning out running errands, so her nap was pushed back by about an hour. That added to the, um, grumpiness.

She woke up about 45 minutes into her nap crying. I waited a few minutes to see if she would whimper herself back to sleep, but the crying only escalated. Finally I went in to get her, and my sweet baby girl went positively berserk. She wanted me to pick her up, but then she went all noodle-like, as if she wanted me to put her down. I readjusted the way I was holding her several times, and she just cried harder. Her diaper was fine, she’d had lunch plus 8 oz of milk, so hunger shouldn’t have been an issue. I tried again with a bottle, and she took an ounce or 2 but then went nuts again, screaming and thrashing around. I finally sat in the floor with her, which made her madder. I laid her down on the cute little daisy rug in her floor and patted her back. She grabbed my hand and flung it away. She scratched at me. She tried to bite me. All the while, she was getting madder and madder and madder. Eventually she would crawl back over to me and lay against me, but if I tried to put my hand on her she would scratch at me again.

I just kept telling her I was so sorry she was so sad, and that I loved her. I told her I loved her at least a hundred times sitting on the floor with her. I wanted her to know that I am her mommy, and even on the bad days, I’m not going anywhere. Even when she’s ill as a hornet and madder than a wet hen, I’m not going anywhere. Even when she scratches me and tries to bite me and thrashes around on the floor, I am not going anywhere.

 I tried one more time on the bottle, and this time she took it and settled down. She let out a burp just before I gave it to her, so maybe that was her trouble. Maybe it was the teething. Maybe she was overtired. Maybe she just wanted to pitch a good fit and see how I would react. Maybe this is an indication of deeper attachment issues. Maybe it was a combination of some or all of those troubles.

Only time will tell.

 As crazy as the moment was, I was actually quite calm. I remembered that Sassafras had some pretty good fits at this age, and there was always an explanation for it...we just had to figure out what it was. I remembered all the things we learned about in the adoptive parent seminars, and how adopted children experience so much grief during their period of transition to their new home. I remembered that from our perspective, Pearl is in a better place than she was, but that in her perspective, she has lost all that she knew and everyone she loved.

And maybe she holds me responsible for that.

I remembered that Pearl has every right to feel angry and hurt and sad and lost, and that my job is to help her feel through those emotions. Because, of course, I’m not going anywhere.

-Added a few weeks after the event:
Since this day, Pearl has been the sweetest, most pleasant little baby girl in the world. Even though at this moment I was worried that we were headed for more hard days, knowing what I know now, I believe this was a major turning point in how Pearl viewed and related to me as her mother. I honestly believe that in this messy, hard moment, Pearl tried and tested my commitment to her, and found me worthy of her trust. God used these tears to knit our hearts together even more tightly than before. And because of that, we have many, many more GOOD days ahead!