I’m Raising Wednesday Addams

My four year-old son Sean reached his arms up toward me.  “Hold meeee,” he whined. He was sick last week.  Now I’ve got it, but with me colds and viruses always flip the asthma switch, so right now I’ve got the lung capacity of a fruit fly.  I figured this might be a good time to teach him about empathy. “I can’t hold you, honey.  Mommy doesn’t feel well.” “Pleeeeeease!” he said.  Then immediately, “I said ‘PLEASE!’”  He’s finally got the magic word down, but thinks it should afford him absolute power. “Sean, remember last week when you were sick?  Remember how bad you felt?”  He nodded. “Mommy took care of you and made you feel better.   Well, now Mommy is sick, but I don’t have anybody to take care of me.  I wish I had somebody to make me feel better.”  OK, my motivation was mostly that of trying to teach him empathy, but admittedly I was also feeling a little sorry for myself. Sean contemplated this for a moment.  It’s sinking in, I thought.  This is where he says, “I’ll take care of you.” “Well,” Sean said.  “If you died, then you wouldn’t be sick anymore.” “Uh, well.  Hmmm,” I stammered.  “I guess that’s true.” “And if you died, then you wouldn’t need a mommy anymore.”  He paused for a beat and shrugged.  “So that’s good.” Guess we’ll have to keep working on the empathy thing. I’m reminded of a quote by Yeats: “Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”  Sean’s biological ancestry may be Haitian and... read more

Make No Mistake: “Rehoming” is Child Trafficking

The Arkansas Senate unanimously passed two bills recently, addressing the issue of “rehoming” adopted children. These bills were introduced in direct response to the 2013 case involving Arkansas Republican Representative Justin Harris. You may remember the headlines: “Arkansas Politician ‘Rehomes’ His Children With Tragic Results.” In March 2013 Harris and his wife Marsha adopted two girls. Six months after legally adopting them and a year after they’d been in their home, the Harris family “gave” the girls to Eric Francis, a man that worked for them in the nursery school they own. According to the Arkansas Times, Eric Francis’ wife Stacey said that they met the Harris’ through friends and that the Harris’s “were looking for a new adoption plan for themselves.”... read more

Considering Foster Care?

Becoming a parent gave me a deeper understanding of how fragile and vulnerable children really are. It made me want to help children in circumstances where there wasn’t someone protecting them and nurturing them. My twins were only 18 months old so I was still utterly in the weeds. What could I do at this stage of the game? I didn’t know, but I wanted to do... read more

Getting Certified

We completed our foster care classes and to be honest they scared the heck out of us. Every class was fraught with stories of abuse that the instructor said no amount of love could fix. The class would break for lunch and my husband and I would head over to the the diner across the street. We’d sit across the formica table, eating our tuna salad sandwiches and staring past each other like two deer caught in headlights. Eventually one of us would say, “I’m freaking out,” and the other would say, “Me too!” Then we’d talk each other off the ledge. We concluded that the classes were there to “separate the men from the boys” as it were. The state didn’t want anyone who wasn’t serious about helping kids and wasn’t ready to face some tough obstacles. The question was: Were we men or were we... read more

You Want To Be A Foster Parent? Get Rid Of Your Guns

Being a foster parent means being responsible for someone else’s child. Maybe the parent was abusive or neglectful. Maybe the parent needed to go into rehab. Maybe the child’s uncle got paroled and came to live with their grandmother and the state won’t allow the children to live with the uncle in the house and the grandmother is afraid to turn him away. There are a lot of reasons children end up in the system. Sometimes they are reunited with their parent or relative, sometimes they are not, but however long they spend living with a foster family, the state needs to make sure that that child is safe. One way to do this is to be certain the child is living in a house without guns. Valerie and Brian Wilson have made headlines recently speaking out in support of Nevada state Assembly Bill 167, proposed on Feb. 17 by Republican Assemblywoman Michele Fiore, which would make it legal for foster parents to have guns. The proposed law states:... read more