Thursday, October 29, 2009

You Knock Me Off of My Feet*

On the afternoon of June 25, our fabulous friends H and L had plans to take Gabriel and Lana to a baseball game. Said plan had the added benefit that Husband and I would be able to go out to dinner for our anniversary.

As we were pulling up in their driveway to drop the kids off, the news came over the radio that Michael Jackson had died in Los Angeles. We shared this news with H, who is a lifelong Michael Jackson fanatic.

She was distraught by the news. (I don't know that distraught is really a big enough word to describe H's reaction. She was very upset.)

She decided to go back into her house to get some Michael Jackson CDs to listen to on the way to the baseball game, which is how my son, at the age of 9, was introduced to Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, and how, on the day of his death, Gabriel became a Michael Jackson devotee.

Not because of the news coverage, which we shielded him from, but because of his innate love for music, and because of the particular music H shared with him that afternoon.

I think I have talked before about Gabriel, and music. Gabriel loves music. And he doesn't love the music that is on the radio just because it's on the radio (although he does love some of that, too. He likes what he likes because he likes it). We have never played "kid" music for Gabe - we just played whatever we wanted to hear, and some things resonated with him, and others didn't. (He loves bluegrass, but he also loves 80s hair bands...he's as musically schizophrenic as his parents.)

After H introduced him to Michael Jackson, he began playing it ALL THE TIME. He even went on Youtube and found old footage of the Jackson 5.

So when it was announced that there would be a movie with footage of Michael's rehearsals for what was supposed to be his comeback concert, H called me and asked if she could take Gabriel to see the movie. And I said yes, of course.

Which is why, last night, at 6:00, my son had a date. With H -to see This Is It.

This morning, I received an email from H, which I am sharing (with her permission) - because I just have to share it. This is what it said:

About half way through the movie, the footage shows MJ performing Jackson 5 songs on stage. The backdrop is ripped from the past with the big, bubbly psychedelic Jackson 5 graphics behind him. At this point, Gabe is warmed up to this movie experience and is singing unabashedly. He leans over to me and says, "You know. He really was born to sing these songs. This is what he was supposed to do." It renders me speechless. I smile at him, kiss the top of his head and put my eyes back on the screen thinking, "Who is this old soul sitting next to me?"

"How does he get his feet to do that?" (I heard this no less than two dozen times.)

"This is one of my top five songs." (Heard this a lot.)

"Where's the moonwalk??!!!"

Gabe: "What song is this, again?"
Heather: "Black or White. It's a song he wrote about how the color of one's skin shouldn't matter."
Gabe: 3-4 minutes later... "Well, you know it doesn't matter, right? It doesn't matter what color we are."

Upon exiting the theater, we see a older teen male dressed in the red leather Thriller jacket. He's waiting in line for the next show with about 40 others. This cat has a microphone in his hand and is totally playing the part. I discreetly point him out to Gabe and smile. "Man! Too bad he wasn't in the movie with us! I bet he would've danced to the music!"

It wasn't until we walked out out to the car that things turned somber. He was holding my hand and dropped his head. His voice cracked when he said, "The only bad thing is that we didn't get to see all that live...that he's not alive anymore." There were tears. Oh hell, we both got teary-eyed and sat in the car and talked about life and death and how at least we had this memory, this experience together.

Thank the sweet Lord for the search light. Across the parking lot to the right of our car was the big haunted house. They had the search light throwing a huge, twirling beam into the sky. Attention was diverted to "how cool!" the light looked and a discussion ensued as to why it was being used. I was saved by the search light!!


Thanks again for letting Gabe and I be kids together last night. I felt 14 all over again.

Love, H

All I can say is that I have a sweet, sweet boy, who is such a tender old soul.


*Michael Jackson, The Way You Make Me Feel

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Waiting Child - Breaking My Heart

This probably isn't entirely kosher...but my heart broke when I read this email from our local FCC chapter this morning. So I am putting the email, in its entirety, here. This little boy is the same age as my son, and I cannot stop thinking about this.

I was asked to share this. it is from the director of homeland Adoption Services:

Hi Everyone,We need your help. A child we know, a nine year old boy with scoliosis, has been waiting for his family to arrive. But, the family approved to adopt him cannot complete the adoption for reasons that have nothing to do with this child.

We are beyond heartbroken, because this is the second family that has backed out on this child at the 11th hour. He is a smart, kind and completely adorable little boy whose entire demeanor changed when he learned that a family wanted him. He was beaming in his update photos.

Now, if we cannot find parents for him, he will have to be told that no one is coming after all.If you know anyone who is paper ready, or almost paper ready, who might speak up for him, PLEASE have them contact us right away. Nancy and I are quite distraught over this, because we have met this child and spent time with him. He has waited so long and has been so hopeful. We thought he would be part of a family by now.

If someone can adopt him, there will be no agency fee and there is some extra funding available. We did some fund raising for this child because we really felt for him and we knew that not many families would be open to a boy of his age.

If someone who is pre approved to adopt would be open to adopting a second child on the same trip, that may be possible. He's in Jiangsu Province.

It is very painful to think that this child will be left behind...please let families know about him. If you think he could be your son, call us at 845-727-0500 or email homelandadoption (at) aol (dot) com

Many thanks,Pam Thomas

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I Run For Hope, I Run To Feel*

I am very proud of Husband, who ran his first marathon this morning - he went 3 hours 37 minutes at the Detroit Windsor Marathon.
* Melissa Ethridge, I Run for Life

Saturday, October 10, 2009

All the answers that I started with turned out questions in the end*

Lana has been asking the hard questions for about two weeks now.

THE QUESTIONS. The Big Questions.

The questions that have come from her these last two weeks...are the ones I have trouble answering. I'm not entirely sure what I'm "supposed" to say. It's one thing to read about these scenarios in a parenting book. It's another thing entirely to look into your child's face, to know they are looking for answers, and to know that sometimes the only answer is "I don't know."

The other day, she pointed at a photo of her foster mom and asked if she had grown in her belly. I told her no. She asked me "whose belly then?" and I told her what I knew about her birth mother.


I know this is difficult for her to understand. She remembers her foster mother. I am pretty sure she believed her foster mother was her biological mother. To the best of my knowledge (and believe me, I understand that it is a blessing to have the limited information that I do have), Lana's birth mother never saw her again after Lana was about six months old.

We have had lots of questions about her foster mother, but the questions about her birth mother are, for the most part, recent.


"Did she give me a name?" she asks. (I am surprised by this - the question seems complex to me.)

"Yes, she gave you a name. She gave you a name that was very close to her name. Her name means Jade Lotus. She gave you a name that means Jade Orchid."


Lana knows what a "Jade Orchid" is - I have an orchid made of white jade on a necklace, and she knows I wear that necklace for her**, she knows that an orchid is a flower, and that jade is the stone it is made of. She knows her name in Vietnamese and she knows it means this type of flower made of jade.***


"What is Lotus?" she asks me.

"It's a kind of flower, like an orchid is a kind of flower. A beautiful kind of flower."

We were lying in bed together (so often these hard conversations take place at the end of the day) - so she spooned her body closer into mine, but turned her face away from me. "Why did she even have me at all?" she whispered.

I said the thing that I thought she most needed to hear. "Because she loved you."


I expected her to question this. I just wasn't expecting it...yet.

The truth is, I don't know why she had Lana. I wasn't about to explain the concept of abortion or it's incidence in the place of her birth. Vietnam doesn't have a rigid "one-child policy" for me to point to. I have nothing, really, no knowledge, of why Jade Lotus chose to give birth to my daughter. Perhaps she was in love with Lana's biological father. Perhaps she was hopeful they would have a life together. Perhaps she couldn't afford to do otherwise. But, in my heart, it seemed the only answer that was appropriate to give a confused 6 year old girl who has concrete memories of two mothers and questions about a mother who gave her away when she was seven days old was, "Because she loved you."


Then she hit me with another big one. "Why did she leave me with her?" she asked, pointing to a photo of her foster mother, the other mother Lana remembers. The mother Lana lived with for three and a half years. The mother who still, on occasion, emails me to ask if Lana is okay, if she is eating, if she learning, if she is a good girl. The mother who, I don't doubt, loved Lana very, very much.


I think...I probably should have told her she left her with her foster mother because she knew her foster mother could take care of her when she (her birth mother) could not. But I don't know for sure. Jade Lotus either wasn't particularly forthcoming with information, or that information never made it into Lana (extensive) file.


What I did say was, "She wanted to make sure you were safe and loved and cared for."


What do we tell our children, when they look at us for answers to questions that we have no answers for? There is a school of thought that we should tell them the truth - that we simply don't know.

The truth can be harsh and ugly. There may come a day when those answers can be discerned. I do not have it in me to tell my child, my beautiful, joyful child, MY child - how can I give her any answer that does not lead back to the only answer that she needs to hear - "She had you because she loved you. She gave you to me because she loved you."

Even if it's not true - even if there were extenuating circumstances - I have to believe that the woman who brought this joyful, amazing person into the world - love had to have been one of her motivations. And if it was not...if it was not...well, if it was not, I don't ever want my daughter to know. I want her to always believe that she was loved. And if that's not the truth - what good would it serve her to know that, at the age of six?


*Alison Kraus, Gravity - many thanks to MAM for this post title

**I also have a St. Gabriel's medallion on a necklace, for Gabriel, obviously. I cannot wear them at the same time - I try to remember to wear one or the other of them if something important is happening for either of them.

***Any native Vietnamese speakers care to tell me if "Bich Lan" (Jade Orchid) refers to a specific kind of orchid - an actual flower? Any searches I have done on the term Jade Orchid have results in orchids made out of jade, as opposed to living orchids in any shade of green. I am intensely curious about it, though.

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