Thursday, February 19, 2015

"I thought you wanted to adopt a girl?"

The fact that I, as a 38 year old responsible adult, have not one, but two tutus would confirm this very thing. (One custom made by a designer in New York, I might add. Because that's how adults get their tutus.)(Hi Sal!)
We've had our adoption license open with the state for a year now and we've gotten several profiles of waiting children sent to our inbox. Some individuals, some sibling sets. Some boys, some girls.

As we've read through the profiles with girl(s) included, I've noticed a wave of "mom of a daughter" fantasies. That's a thing apparently. I find myself having to reread the paragraph I just read because all the sudden I'm braiding hair while we watch Anne of Green Gables with muffins in the oven and her nails are freshly painted. I can't remember what I just read about her medical history because we were just heading to a "Girls on the Run" practice after we left the house rolling our eyes at the silly frat house we just escaped. And by the end of the profile (that I'm not really reading) I'm meeting her for coffee on her college campus and you guys! You should see her outfit. Doctors aren't supposed to be that fashionable.

At one point Russ and I decided we would only put our names in for girls or sibling sets with girls. It was that important to me. But then I realized a few things.

First? I only have boys right now. And I'm completely fulfilled as a mom. Even if we never add to our family again, boys or girls, I'm over the moon for my kids. Borderline obsessed, actually.

Second, and most important, when did I make this adoption about me? That's not why we got into this. That's not why we busted through so much paper work and so many home visits. If we're really doing this to give a child a family, then that's it. No addendums. It's not "We love (adopting girls) because He first loved us." Not to mention how our priorities have shifted once we read these stories and saw these faces. All the sudden, things I valued don't matter so much anymore. Reading through the profiles became a question of "Can we meet their needs?" vs "Can they meet my needs?"

Don't hear what I'm not saying. Off the top of the head I can think of at least three families who had biological kids of all one gender who then adopted the opposite gender. People feel called to specific things all the time. But that's not what this is for me, for us. My "mom fantasies" are just that. My daydreams don't equal my "calling."

Yes, being a mom of a girl would be SO FUN! But that's also how I felt about that perm in 2002. I don't know if the team will choose our family for these two boys next month or if another family would meet their needs better, opening our home to other waiting children. But if they are God's next step for our family, then I'm guessing I'll have everything I need.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mohr, party of 6?

Russ texted me from Home Depot, "How many hooks should I buy for the boy's bike helmets?"

I froze. This felt weightier than it probably sounds.

Two? or Four?

Friends, about a month ago we submitted our home study for a sibling set of two boys.

Im'ma let that sink in.

2 + 2? =FOUR BOYS. Plus the tall one.

We've submitted our home study a few times over the past 9 months for different kiddos and it didn't work out for one reason or another. We've never made it to the "staffing*." But this time we have.

But so have two other families.

We can't give a whole lotta details, just pray vaguely for "next month" that "some kids" would be placed in the right home. (not necessarily ours, see below) Feel free to ask questions about the process and we'll answer them as best we can. Feel free to not ask questions about the kids, ha!

{*Staffing (from a blog post last January): The team (any where from 8-12 people) narrows it down to three families and hosts a "Staffing". A "staffing" is a meeting where they look at the specific child and his/her needs and decide as a team which family would best fit that child based on the interviews of those families, ranking them 1,2,3. Birth families are not involved at this point. We could be interviewed for staffings for months or even years and still not get picked. And that's okay.

Please understand this process through the state is child-centered, as it should be. If we don't get picked, it's not our opportunity to be offended. No matter how you view us, we may not be the right fit for a child, whereas another family may be. We want the team to be critical about these decisions, as it's in everyone's best interest, especially the child.}

So, yeah, four boys.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On Pregnancy, Infant and Child Loss Remembrance Day.

When Russ and I found out we were pregnant in 2002 we told the world as best we could, before social media gave us a microphone. We've never been super shy about what's going on in our lives so our community knew we'd been struggling with infertility. I'd venture to say word of our pregnancy spread quicker than it would have since so many were praying for us.

And then we miscarried.

I remember where I was standing when a friend stopped and said, "I have some babies in heaven, too" and then walked away.

I remember getting a card in the mail from an acquaintance that only said, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28."

I remember these two instances because they caused more pain than comfort.

I wanted the first friend to stop and talk. To share with me what it was like to move forward, missing her babies and celebrating her other children. I didn't want to get over it. I wanted to wallow in it a bit, honoring what had been lost. I wanted the second person to offer a relationship, to help walk me through the fog while pointing to truth. Not just throw a verse on a card and send it. I needed support. I needed a rich meal and all that was offered was a saltine cracker.

In 2011 an acquaintance who decided to place her newborn for adoption asked us to consider it and we said yes. This time using our social media microphone, we told the world our great news.

And then that ended.

I remember dear friends letting me live at their house for days while I fell apart. (Russ was in China on business at the time)

I remember a dear friend writing a note with a lot of profanity attached to a bag of thin mints and leaving it on my door, calling later to chat.

I remember a friend taking me to lunch to talk through it.

I remember emails from dear friends full of scripture and their stories and their hearts.

I remember being carried through that deep grief.

In both losses, I remember specific moments of being carried and other moments of feeling alone; moments of knowing I couldn't get through that day without that person's help and days when I felt isolated in my pain.

It is because of this that I'm excited for the world to know about a new ministry I've been humbled to be apart of creating.
Over the last (at least) 6 months four of us have been praying, texting, google hanging, planning, laughing and crying over this ministry.

Need to be carried? Need to know how to carry another? This is the place for you.

Check out our website.

Check out our Facebook page here.

Check out our Instagram here.

Check out our Twitter.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Few Steps Til Ya Nail It (DIY Stair Facing)

^See what I did there? Kinda stole the joke from my friend A. Lester. She won't mind.

You guys! Look what I did! I had an idea and it actually worked! Not like the easter bunny rolls of '14…

Months ago a friend gave us a bag of burlap coffee bags (after Russ asked him if he could save us a few from his work)(Cuz he loves me) One day while we ran by the rehab I was standing near the front door looking at the messy stair case and it hit me. COFFEE BAGS ON THE STAIR FACINGS!

I consulted a few peeps (Shout out Sal, Selby, Amanda!) and got some solid advice. Putting it all together, here's what I did.

1. Hug your hubs for getting you coffee bags. Two hugs since some are from Guatemala!

2. Wash the bags. (Prepare yourself for the smell of wet burlap. It only competes with the smell of a finger that's been digging in a dirty belly button.)

3. Lay the bags out to dry and spray the ish out of them with Febreze.
4. Iron them.

5. Measure the stairs. (The rehab is over 100 years old so every stair was a different size. )

6. This is the expensive part. I bought a slab of super thin wood for $12 from Home Depot. The guys at HD cut if for me to start and then once Dez measured the rest, our contractors cut the remainder for me.

7. I picked the sections of each bag I liked, cut them with a 1/4inch extra around the edge and hot glued my fingers while once in awhile gluing the burlap to the wood. (Each section of wood was numbered according to which stair since they're all different.)

8. Set up the boards, moving a couple similar sized ones around to break up patterns, take a pic and text it to your friends! (also, we're using finishing nails to secure them.)

Saturday, September 6, 2014


Not to, ya know, over dramatize anything but today I got a sample of a new product that CHANGES THE WORLD.

And I cried when I used it.


Do you see this?

ITS A DARK BROWN BANDAID!!! Look again. I'll wait.

And then? And then! Look at this:


Yes, we have ninja turtle bandages and batman ones too but now? Now we have a choice!

I'm not sure I've been this excited about something since at least Britney's last comeback!

This gives me hope. Hope that even the tiniest of details will be better for my boys as they grow up in this confusing world. Now, NOW, they have access to bandaids that match their skin.

They aren't purchasable yet but it's coming! You can bet your pumpkin spice latte, it'll happen soon. Spread the word, friends! The company is called Tru-Colour Bandages, making this world a better place, one boo-boo at a time. (Not sure why no one hires me for PR stuff.)

Follow them on The Facebook for updates and a chance to jump in on free sample season! Tell 'em Katie sent ya! (not really, they have no idea who I am…) But seriously, spread the word.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

I'm a Fixer. Like Olivia Pope. Only not. (a Stitch Fix post)

STITCH FIX! So fun! Let's talk about it!

Friends have been using this service for awhile and I didn't really see the value in it for me. It seemed to be for women who:
A. Didn't like to shop
B. Don't know how to shop
C. Didn't have time to shop.

None of those are true for me. I'm obsessed with clothes, for better or worse. There's a reason that my offerings of time and talent to the foster/adoptive community involve…clothes.

However…The one thing they *can* offer me is unique pieces. Delivered to my doorstep. Hello Convenience, don't you look saucy today!

Here's how it works:

You create an account and a style profile. A style profile includes not only your sizes but takes you through a series of styles, asking you to share your opinion.
(this part was my fav!)

You choose what type of clothing (casual vs business, etc) you want your fix to focus on and give an estimate of how much you'd like to spend on pieces. Finally, you choose how often you want the fixes delivered and it's all set. Each fix charges you $20 for a styling fee BUT! if you end up keeping any pieces, that $20 goes toward your purchase. You can get them delivered as often (I think as often as every two weeks?) or as little as you'd like.

You get 5 pieces in your box. With each piece you get suggestions on how to wear it, dressed down or up. Here's an example of my first fix:
(The fifth piece was a necklace)

My pieces ranged from $28-$78. I chose to keep just one this time around but asked for a different size on a second piece.

You try your pieces on and you get three days to return it in an already provided self-addressed stamped envelope. I literally folded up the pieces I was returning, put them in the bag/envelope provided, sealed it and stuck it in the mailbox. Done and done.

Here's the thing: I'm a bargain shopper. I can find the most amazing deals and have to stop myself from bragging about how little stuff costs when people compliment an item I'm wearing. Price was my biggest hesitation on this endeavor. However, I'm not using this service to find a whole new wardrobe. I'm not using it to stock up on basics. I have all that. I do have a hard time finding unique pieces. I don't get (nor do I need) to just stroll through boutique shops finding cute one-of-a-kinds. But when I do find something like that, it's usually more than what I'd spend on a V-neck from Target.

I'm really happy with my first fix and hear that as you provide feedback (hated this piece, this one was too long, etc) your stylist gets better and better. I have a feeling I'm going to become their biggest fan! Ha!

If you decide to try it, feel free to use this link to sign up and I'll get a one-time referral credit. Holla! Or if you have a friend that's already doing it, ask them for their referral link. Whatever. Just go get cute stuff!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Your white friend is telling you that white privilege is real.

*Deep Breath*

First of all, I have no business writing on this topic. It's way out of my league for one thing. Secondly, I'd venture to say we've globally heard enough from the "white mom of a black son." This isn't a blog post for the world though, I'm not trying to be the voice for this group or for this issue. It's mainly for MY peeps, MY community, the people I grew up with, the ones we used to attend church with, go to school with, work with, etc. I need you to hear this from me instead of an article by a person you don't know.

St. Louis is a mess right now. It's disrupted my faux-utopia and I can't stop thinking about it. I can't even begin to touch on the realities of what's happened to Mike Brown and in Ferguson or what it all means going forward.

And before 8 years ago I could have acknowledged it with a "this is awful" and moved onto something else. We're physically far enough away from Ferguson that I could get away from it all.

But now I can't. I have two brown boys that I love more than anything. And they won't always be holding a white lady's hand or being carried on her hip.

A trend I'm noticing as shrapnel of this whole event is the validity of white privilege. Not to distract you from the main issues of the main story, but I do want to address it.

My fear in all of this on a personal level is that everyone has filled in the blanks of the story already, no matter what facts come out. My fear is that people stop listening to those who finally have our attention, writing them off because of bad behavior. My fear is that the behaviors of a few have somehow cemented your beliefs (via your grandparents beliefs) of the many. My fear is that you don't believe in white privilege because look what "they" are doing to themselves.

I wrote an article about my process awhile back and never published it. Rather than rewrite my thoughts, I'll just post it here, even though it's a little dated.
“What color are you?” I asked my 6 year old latino son after he brought up an innocent story from school.
“What color is Dez?” I pointed to his african american brother.
“Dark brown.”
“What about me? and Daddy?” I asked gesturing to his white parents.
“You’re pink. And daddy’s hairy.”

When we started the adoption process for Desmond, the social worker finishing our home study asked how comfortable we were creating an environment for success as a trans-racial family. Feeling confident we knew what we needed to, we nodded and went to the next question. We got this, no problem.
How to Succeed as a Trans-racial Family in 4 Easy Steps (as we understood it):

1. Don't dress Dez in anything with monkeys on it.
2. Provide toys and books with matching race of each child in our family.
3. Learn how to work with his hair/skin.
4. Keep positive role models of his same race active in our life.

For the first 18 months, that was all we needed. Then Trayvon Martin was shot. Media exploded with story after story of how racism still exists. I stopped reading about co-wash products for 3B/4A curl types and started reading about The Black Male Code. I couldn't process it. I couldn't wrap my mind around those realities, those conversations. And I couldn't put my finger on why I kept getting so overwhelmed until I read an article on White Privilege.

It clicked.

I was sitting in the dissonance of my white privilege and Dez's black male code.

My boys will encounter struggles where I encountered favor.

Like a lot of adoptive families, I'd never really looked at either issue. Now parenting couldn't move forward without wrestling them both. I don't think I even realized that white privilege was a real thing. (Another example of my white privilege.) And my childhood only addressed racism in history class.

Our boys are growing up constantly hearing how amazing they are, how beautiful their skin is, how great their hair looks. They're hearing about successful people of all races in national news and local stories. They're being raised to be proud of who they are in every aspect and to love this country. They're growing up in a diverse school in a diverse neighborhood. The people they're practicing their dinner table manners with are of all colors.

But they're also being raised in a time when some don't think Marc Anthony should be allowed to sing God Bless America, and Nina Davuluri shouldn't be allowed to become Miss America. In a time when twitter and Facebook are places where racists find friends. They're being raised two miles from a zoo where a woman this week walked her children around the primate house pointing out how the animals look just like President Obama. In a city where a white policeman wrote a threatening, racist letter to a black policeman. Near a city where another foster mom accidentally booked a hotel for a getaway the same weekend as a KKK rally. It's still here, this racism crap.

As a nation we've come so far yet I'm still incredibly nervous to send my children out into it.

The balance will be tricky, teaching them to be mindful of their surroundings, about having to prove to strangers what type of person you are, about how their white friends can wear certain clothes that they maybe shouldn't, how they could get singled out simply because of their skin color while simultaneously keeping them from bitterness, anger, suspicion and paranoia of the general public.

At some point in their lives they will get pulled over, they will go to the mall with a group of friends, they will stay up late having fun with their friends, they will walk down a dark street (Or a street in broad daylight as was the case for Mike Brown), they will want to return an entree at a restaurant. These are all situations where two clicks into a google search, you could find articles on race being a factor of what went wrong. And these are all situations I've encountered and had no issues. I've spent my life easily getting out of any trouble I've brought upon myself, authorities seem to giggle at this silly white girl and send her on her way.

Like the scene in The Butler as they watch their eldest head off to college, no longer under their protection, I feel uneasiness about the times when they will no longer be with us. And honestly? I wondered if that was because I felt they receive some sort of extra protection being carried around by white parents. Like a racial version of an "It's okay, he's with me" card. I found myself wondering if that's why I hadn't wrestled through white privilege or the black male code yet. Like I'd subconsciously assumed the boys would escape racism because we had.

White privilege doesn't make it dangerous for my boys to walk down the street but it's evil twin, racial profiling, does.

At this point, they don't get it. Eliot thinks Dez will make a more successful ninja because being darker allows him to hide more easily. (And Dez? As I type this he's putting a piece of toast into the air conditioner, so we have other things to work on before we get to this.) They don't care about flesh-colored bandaids when a Batman one is also an option. They're not trying to get a job or date someone. Eliot didn't even notice that this photo op was odd:
I know the conversations are coming but they're not for now. And they may not even be for just us. They need a safe place to ask questions, questions that their white parents will not have the experience to answer.
We have storehouses of love for them, but we will only get so far as a trans-racial family if we don’t acknowledge aspects of their life that will be harder for them than we ever knew, if we don’t acknowledge our own perspectives being created through white privilege. And we know we’re just scratching the surface of what being a trans-racial family means, besides being pink and hairy, of course.
When my black son turns 18 and is walking down the street with a friend, I desperately need St. Louis to be a different place by then. The only way to get there is by educating ourselves and taking a hard look at our hearts to see what's in there. What have you said out loud in front of your children about the rioters? About the cop? There's a lot of unhealthy on both sides here.

I needed you to hear this from me because I need you to realize it's true. Once you realize it's true you can start listening, REALLY listening to the voices begging to be heard. It's not to make you feel bad or to assume all other races hate you because you're white. Open your eyes, open your ears. Use your privilege to stand against injustice.


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Given that it's, ya know, half way through 2014, I decided to add myself to Bloglovin'.

Miss you, Google Reader…It's taken me this long to grieve you.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This House.

We rented this apartment thinking we'd only be here a year.

That was SIX years ago.

In the meantime...

Eliot turned 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
Dez came home to this house. And then turned 1, 2, and 3.

Russ was in a band for three years, a graphic designer for two, a free-lance designer for at least five and a worship leader at two churches for all six.
I ended my successful Arbonne business, and worked in the electrical industry (??) for two years before Dez came along, making me a SAHM.

ReSource was started here and after only a year+ we've served almost 200 families/children. (and given out 7 bikes already!)
We struggled with 5 real Christmas trees in this house, getting into a fight every year.

Russ and I celebrated our 10th and 15th anniversaries here.

We packed and unpacked for/from 6 trips to Guatemala in this house.

We helped plant a church.

We've accumulated 8 tattoos while living here…
I've trained for 4 half-marathons in and out of this house.

Eliot learned how to ride a bike, tie his shoes and asked what a "crush" was here.

There's been 6 teeth lost, 8 family photoshoots, 3 baseball seasons, 4 soccer seasons, 5 first days of school, 5 stitches in a forehead and a newly super-glued nose.

We've lost a great grandmother and a grandfather during this time.

There were date nights in and babysitters for nights out.

Two boys were successfully potty trained here.

We've completed 4 home-studies, fostered one kiddo and had one infant adoption fall through.

The hardest two years of our marriage were in this house.

I finished writing a memoir. It took almost all of those six years.
We said goodbye to one sweet dog and hello to another.
In this house we decided we were finished trying for biological kids.

Traditions were started in this house.

There was countless dinner table moments, dozens of cookies baked and burned, snowmen built, water guns fired, pancake breakfasts.

Uncounted time-outs served, band practices, wrestling matches, baseballs hit, Friday family movie nights.

Two boys born 1700 miles and 5 years apart became brothers. In this house.

A man and his wife fought for their marriage. In this house.

It's been great, 38XX Shaw. Thanks for hosting us.