Monday, December 31, 2007

A Year of New

So this is the time of year that everyone makes those New Years resolutions and within 10 days promptly forgets them. Wouldn't it be amazing if just once everyone decided to learn something new this year. Or began to think in new ways. Or made new friends of different races or religions. Personally, I would like to see some New Year's lists like this:

1. Read a on-line foreign newspaper to discover how news is covered in different lands and what people there are thinking.

2. Volunteer for one day with an organization that diametrically opposed to something you hold near and dear. See if you learn anything new and in the process discover something new about you.

3. Learn something new about the person sitting next to you in church, on the bus, or at the gym. Act on that information in a way that benefits that person or others.

4. Let your child see you look at them in a new way with love and delight in your eyes. Let them see how you viewed them the first time you laid your eyes on them and let them see that tenderness everyday.

5. Learn a new skill this year that can help others. Whether it is glass blowing or auto mechanics someone, somewhere will someday benefit from your new knowledge.

6. Look for new ways to rectify injustice in your town. Speak up when others refuse to do anything about racism, or unequal access or education.

7. Give of your natural skills and abilities. Teach others what you know and value.

New. Its wonderful, enlightning and scary but it might just lead to something remarkable.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is Forever Really Forever?

Recently in the news there has been the story of the diplomatic couple who adopted a daughter from Korea when she was four months old. According to the family she really never bonded with them and has an "illness" which sounds supeciously like severe RAD. They have left her in Hong Kong and she was placed in foster care system.

Many adoptive parents are outraged at the fact that she was "given away" by her parents and feel that this type of behavior on the part of the parents makes it appear that adoption really is not equivilant to parenting a biological child. While this story is beyond sad had these parents had the training and understanding of what abandonment and being placed with several people in the first months of life can do to a brain perhaps this story could have had a different ending. A happy one. Unfortunately, agencies time and time again tell parents myths like "Oh your baby will bond to you within two weeks" or "Children who come home as infants don't experience bonding problems" or "Foster care is better can institutional care so the kids bond very well to their new families" And really who can blame them...they are a business and like all business they have a product to "sell." If they were honest and said something to the effect of, "Well, we figure about a quarter of the kids will experience some sort of attachment issues," well they would probably chase away their "customers." And of course they will never allow that to happen.

Now I know many adoptive parents will be outraged at the use of the words "sell" and "customers" but lets face it, that is exactly what some adoptess have said they believe adoption is all about. For if these agencies truly wanted to find homes for kids they would allow people with lower end incomes adopt, committed gay couples and the like adopt children. Why is it that only fairly well off couples are deemed deserving of a child? In the case sited supposidely the family was very well off and the child had nannies who looked after her. And this is suppose to be better than a parent who may have less money but more time?

Having had more than one child with RAD I can say it ain't easy. I was not prepared for it and my agency did a lousy job of telling our PIP class what it was, what to look for, etc. But can an agency ever really prepare you for a child who wants little to with you, even one as young as four months? Probably not because no one likes to believe that children who have lost everything can hold onto those fearful feelings for a life time. I mean most of us can't remember what we had for dinner last night so it is inconceivable to most people that a small infant can react to losses so intensely and it can remain with them for so long. Impacting their lives on a daily basis. And frankly most adoptive parents refuse to see RAD or PTSD for what it really is. They prefer to live in la-la land calling their children "strong willed" or using other more "acceptable" terms. Yet, some kids will go on to develop a much more severe form of RAD than they might have because some parents refuse to see RAD for what it really is. They call their children "strong willed" or other more acceptable terms. But it is my understanding that many will have difficulties with relationships over a lifetime if they do not get the help that they need.Often they self medicate through alcohol or drugs, or distance themselves from their adoptive parents and spouses, or have trouble with authority, etc. That's why I believe it is imperative for adoptive parents to understand that their child is at risk and to seek help if they have any question in their mind that their child is having difficulty with attachment. Which brings me back to my original thought.


Many adoptive parents are outraged at the fact that this child was "dumped" by her adoptive family,thereby, giving adoption a bad name and promoting the myth that adoption is not the same as biological. With their holier-than-thou attitudes these parents proclaim "I would NEVER do this to my child." There seems to be the idea that she was dumped because she was adopted and it would never have happened if she had been a bio child. But I don't think the parents gave up because she was adopted but I do think the outrage is there because she is adopted. Had she been a biological child in the same situation we probably would never have heard of it because it happens constantly. I think she was relinquished because her behaviors were probably very harmful to herself and others. And until you have lived it you cannot even begin to fathom the path that these behaviors take. From self injury to deliberate injury of others, pathological lying, destruction of propery,etc. everyday is a challenge to ensure the safety and survival of the child and the others in the house.

Someday, if the agencies are honest they will begin to look for the children who are waiting for their forever families and identify those who have tell-tale signs of attachment issues. And then they will begin to implement programs for care takers to help these children develope appropriate and healthy attachments to those around them. The agencies owe it to their kids and their families to institute these types of programs so that a forever family stays that way.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Special Place In My Heart

"I have a special place for you in my heart," I murmurred to Karson while holding him tight.

"Where Momma, where is that special place?" he replied.

"It's here," I replied, pointing to the top. "It's where I think of you when you are not here. It's that place that holds my precious memories of you."


"And it's here," I replied pointed a little higher. "It's where I dream of you at night when we are apart and my mind wants to see you again while I sleep. It's the place where I hold onto special dreams."


"Oh, it's also over here," I said. "It's near those parts of me that sing quiet happy songs to myself everytime I think of you. It's that place where I keep my special songs."

"Where else, Momma? he asked. "Where else?"

"Well, its the part closer to my legs so I can run to you whenever you need me," I said."It's that place that gets me to you when I am needed."

"And its over here near my arms so I wrap you in them and hold you close to me when we both need a hug to sustain us and keep us closer," I told him. "It's my hugging place that keeps millions of hugs ready and waiting whenever you need one."

"But most of all that special place in my heart it watches and waits," I said.

"For what, Momma,?" he asked. For what?"

"For you to have your own special spot in your heart that takes you to places that you have only dreamed of and to places that teach you and show you that it is never to late to live out your hearts desire."

"And when will I get my own special spot,?" he asked.

"Oh, you already do but it only opens its door to you after your own child walks into your heart and turns the lock with their own special key that no one else has. The key to the special spot is love, my darling. Yes, the key to it all is love."

Copyright 12/9/07 by Cheryl L. Dieter

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Perhaps We Are All Blind

The other day I was reading a blog written by a woman who was visiting a far away land. She was commenting that she went into a Buddhist Temple and just stayed for a second. She found it sad that people were on their knees praying to these golden Buddhas and felt they were idols of worship. I commented to a friend that it made me "sad" to see her write that. I also find it ironic that Christians do not see themselves as doing the same thing when crossing themselves in front of pictures of Jesus or praying to a cross but that is another topic altogether.

I told my friend that I was "sad" because the woman was so closed to anything but her beliefs that she could not allow herself to take it all in and look at the beauty of what was in front of her. I have been in numerous Buddhist temples, Hindu places of worship, Christian cathedrals and in all of them I have felt the spirit of Him/Her at work. I was able to see the beauty of what the religion and her people were trying to convey about the world and their place in it, their sacred relationship with their GOD,and how the people were using their beliefs to try and make their world more understandable to themselves and others. In fact, in every one of these buildings I was able to experience a real sense of tranquility and feel the "spirit." Frankly, I have never met a Buddhist who has said, "I went into a church the other day and saw people singing, praying or looking at a picture of Jesus and it made me sad." It amazes me how so many Christians can have such an holier-than-thou attitude.

What I think Christians tend to forget is that the Christian religion is full of idols or symbols as is each and every religion. It has to be that way because those symbols, are in fact, the language or the history of where it came from, it's philosophy, etc.

I guess what is "sad" to me is that people cannot find an appreciation in those things that are meaningful to others on their spiritual journey and that they cannot see the beauty in place, spirit or various rituals. I may not agree with other people's religious persuasion but I can certainly step outside of my own bias to see and appreciate the beauty, the history and the symbols in other individuals religion. It does make me "sad" that others cannot. Truly, it is not only the blind who cannot see.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ever Since Ky Left

I have really had a hard time even thinking about blogging. But in the spirit of trying to start again I decided to post this funny from today.

I say this to Kullen who is putting his hands all over an apple I just cut.

Me: Go wash your hands.

Him: They are clean

Me: How many times have you touched your dinky today without washing your
hands.

Him: (sounding outraged) I didn't touch my dinky.

and then again manhandles several slices of apple. I pop one in my mouth.

10 seconds later

Him: I did touch my butt though.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just One Friend

When I was younger I was really much braver than I am now. I miss that part of me but with maturity somehow we realize that things that we once could skate around can now put us down.Flat. Things like autism.

I feel like I have been sorely lacking hope this past week. Usually I
do great with all of this but everyonce in a while I let the scaries
win out over the positives.

I know I should be happy. Both boys have average IQ's, they both have each other, they are very bright in many areas. We really have a lot to be thankful for. But sometimes, when I see Ka chasing kids out on the playground and he looks odd and he
just isn't truly interacting with the other kids (just reacting to them) I just feel so sad...like I know pain is coming his way and I have no way of stopping it.

And sometimes when a parent acts like my kids are somehow not as good as theirs or harder to take than theirs I melt inside. Sure, it's first grade. Kids and parents will be forgiving at this age but the older he gets the less forgiving they are. And when I look in the crystal ball sometimes I just see tears. I don't know if
they are mine or his but either way I wonder if there is enough kleenex
in the world to catch them all.

Finally, I hope both boys can make ONE friend. One is all I ask. And I encourage all of you whose children do not have special needs to encourage your children to make friends with the kids who do. It is heartbreaking to watch one of my son's try to make friends and how difficult it is for him when he does not pick up social cues. He is a good friend and a sweet boy but the other kids see a child who runs "funny" , sometimes makes "funny sounds", sometimes pats people down and tries too hard. He struggles so hard to just be like the other kids. He is soooo smart but cannot comprehend when kids are making fun of him and he is the butt of a joke. So please send him good vibes, wisdom in making good choices, and insight into how the world and relationships work. Oh you can send them to me too because I really have never understood either.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

How To Go Gray In 10 Seconds

So this week I was in the car with Kullen driving down the highway at 65 mph when he opens the door to the van. Now I had the locks on and that didn't deter him. Nope just reached over and undid the lock and opened the van door. I yelled at him to shut the door and luckily he did. A tragedy narrowly averted! Found out he also undid the child proof locks while I was putting the groceries in the car. Needless to say we had a big conversation about that!

Monday, June 11, 2007

I can't believe I am writing about ice cream

It started innocently enough. I went shopping today attempting to
find some food that my boys could eat. In case I haven't mentioned it my boys are allergic to just about everything. I kid you not. You won't find peanut butter in this house. Nor will you find any corn or corn products (corn syrup or cornstarch which 99% of foods contain) You won't find wheat, soy, rye, barley, oats, or buckwheat. You won't find cashews, pine nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans or sunflower seeds. The only nuts you will find is us!!!
You also won't find bananas, strawberries, peas, green beans, carrots, shrimp, coconut and many other assorted foods. Needless to say shopping in a typical food store is fairly inexpensive because THERE IS NOTHING TO BUY!

Luckily for me, but not for my waistline the boys can have dairy. Well, today I went over to the ice cream section and in that section there is Breyers Natural Ice Cream. Breyers makes a couple of flavors my boys can eat that don't contain soy
or corn syrup. Peach is one, chocolate is another. Vanilla is out as Karson is allergic to vanilla...how can you be allergic to vanilla???? Well today they had chocolate but now I am in a big quandry because they are having an irresistable sale...it's the old BUY ONE GET ONE FREE gimmick that was designed just for shmucks like me. Needless to say, I can't just get one when they are $5.99 for
one and $5.99 for two...can I? I mean who in their right mind would. (I knew you would support me on this one!)

So what do I pick out...a new flavor for Dave and Kylee...Fried Ice
Cream. I am NOT going to eat any until Dave says, "Just take one bite you
will love this stuff." That should have stopped me right there!!! I mean who can take just one bite of ice cream especially when someone is touting its virtues? Not me...I have NO willpower. I know it is suppose to be located on Chromosome 19 but I swear I am lacking that gene. Someday when genetic studies are cheap and common place I will finally have the proof I need.

Anyway, I swear this is the best ice cream flavor on the face of the earth. Oh
my goodness, I want to attack anyone who goes near it so here I sit
at 11:46 p.m. sneaking a small 1/2 scoop and I really want to down
the whole container. Don't go near this stuff...It is way too good.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Jumping Inside My Head

There are times that I wonder what it would be like to jump into my boys heads. I mean both have autism and I wonder...do they think like me? If not, what thoughts are running through their brains that are not running through mine? Do they look at me and wonder these things too?

You know, lately I have been following the story of Baby James. A 1.5 year old who was adopted from Korea and within 5 weeks of being home his parents found out he had cancer. A particular form that is very aggressive. And I think, I don't know how they do it. And I wonder if I would have the courage that it takes to do it day in and day out when the news is never very positive. I wonder if I would just give up and let someone else take on the day. And then it strikes me that I wonder how many people feel that way about my life? The one I am happy with. The one that is chaotic and stressful and the one in which the outcome of all this mothering remains hazy. And it dawns on me that many people would say they couldn't do it. And the truth of the matter is that most of us can live our own lives because they are what we are used to but cringe at the thought of living another. Because there is comfort in the familiar and satisfaction in the knowledge that what we have created somehow fits us in ways that we might have been unprepared for but in fact is what we need. And so when I wonder if I could do it I try to remember that I already am for someone else could not fill my shoes in the perfect way my own feet do.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Returning

Ever since we returned from Belize I have been unable to get back to blogging. Seems that once I lose my way I have a hard time finding the path again. So I will just write a Kullenism as said by 5 yo Kullen.

Kullen:I am scaring myself today
Me: Why are you afraid?
Kullen: I'm becoming a teenager again!

Yep bud that is enough to scare anyone isn't it!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

What Does God Know?


Over on one of the adoption BB the subject of G*D came up again. Specifically, how G*D gives us the children we were meant to have, how we were paired with our children through G*D's will and his perfect timing. How G*D planned that our children should end up in our specific family. And this type of talk always confuses me. Because it gives credit to G*D for all the good that comes into our lives due to the adoption of our children yet does not place the "blame" at G*D's feet for our children's first families imploding in on themselves.

Oh I know that people say that it all comes down to free will. That people makes mistakes and that G*D makes sure that beauty comes out of painful situations. But I ask myself if this is indeed true why didn't G*D do a better job of choosing a parent for my boys. I mean afterall, I am not the most patient person. Why didn't God choose a mother for these boys who had the patience of a saint? Or why didn't G*D pick a family that had unlimited financial resources so that my boys could have a special OT gym in their basement. I mean, geex, I don't even have a basement!!! Or why is it that G*D chose a family for them that met the eligible income requirement for international adoption? Why not a wonderful two parent family who both work at
7-11 but would read 10 books a day to their kids, and help them build birdhouses every week. Why wouldn't he give people who are less financially sound the same opportunity to experience the joy of raising a child as I have been given? For if the truth be told my kids will be lucky to do three arts and crafts projects during their life time with me as their mother. And if it is true that we all have lessons to learn and that is why we are chosen why is it my kids responsibility to suffer their fool of a mother? Why should they be the guinea pigs for me to practice improving myself upon? I struggle with the fact that some adoptive parents are of the opinion that they were more "right/qualified/entitled" to parent their mutual child than was his first mother.Why? Why would G*D allow hurt and hardship to enter my son's birthmothers life in order that I get my desires satisfied while her desires are pushed aside.

Or another question. Why me, a quasi believer as opposed to a strong conservative Christian or Jewish family? I mean if G*D is wanting people to enter into the kingdom of heaven with him and knowing how my kids lives have already endured such loss; then why wouldn't he put them with a family that will provide all the underpinnings to ensure that their child gets to sit at the right hand of G*D? A family who prays together everyday, worships G*D and doesn't say his name in vain.

Or is it not like this at all. Does G*D really have no say so. The pile on the SW's desk is just a pile. But that G*D believes that when he gives us the gift of a child that it doesn't matter if that child is in the middle of the pile or the bottom. It doesn't matter how our children come to us just that we do they best job we know how when we get them. That we are there for them...that HE is there for them...and that is all that really matters anyway.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sets



The other day I was in a store when I came across the "old" metal type of lunch box like I used to take to school. Only this one was new and it had no thermos. I'm sorry but that is sacred...lunch boxes and a new thermos are suppose to go together.They are a pair and they belong together. Some things are like that...they are just meant to be a set.

Sometimes I look at my son and wonder how he will feel about his adoption as he ages because we don't look like a matching set. I'm like the Barbie Lunch Box. My strength keeps him protected and safe from falls. I act as his cocoon by holding him and carrying him. And the fact that we are not a matching set never seems to bother him until that day someone in school points out that I am a Barbie Lunch Box and he is a Superman Thermos. And in that second it may occur to him that many people think that Barbie and Superman don't go together. That they were never meant to be. And that, in fact, he belongs in the Superman Lunch Box because they look the same and therefore they should be together based on their shared attributes. And I hope when the time comes I remember to tell him that matching sets are not always what is important. That sometimes what really matters is the fact that they needed to be together whether they look the same or not. The lunch box needs the thermos so that a thirst is quenched while the thermos needs the lunch box to help feed a soul. That together they work as a team. That they are a set and while they may not match they still are able to get the job done...together...matching or not.

And this is why you don't write when you have had no sleep!!!!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

There Are Some Days And Then There Are SOME Days


One day this week I decided to make my husband happy and take my van through the car wash. Let me explain that my husband always has an impecable car whereas mine, well lets just say I consider cleaning my car when and only when the kids can write their names in the dust on the INSIDE of the car.

So just as the water starts I realize that the sunroof is a little bit open. So I push the button to close it and I end up pushing it the wrong way so that the sunroof opens all the say and I cannot shut it. Chemical cleaners start spraying throughout the car and all over me and the kids. Finally I get the sun roof shut and as I look at my seat I see that the cleaner has left spots all over it. Now I don't know if it is because of what was in the cleaner or the fact that my interior was so dirty that ANYTHING would have cleaned it.

Later in the day, Karson using his usual forrest of toilet paper plugs up the toilet and water is going everywhere and then Kullen comes up and pinches me on the butt as I am using the mixer and chocolate cake batter goes flying throughout the kitchen. But seriously that is nothing in the scheme of bad days. Here is the worst I can remember.

One morning I wake up to find raw sewage coming up the bathtub. Lovely. I call the plumber who cannot make it out until the afternoon. So at this point I decide that a walk on the beach is in order. So I load the dog into the car and off we go. We get to the beach, I get the dog out, and slam the door thereby locking my keys in the car. Finally after 1/2 hour on this deserted beach a man comes driving up in his little two seater convertible and I convince him to give me a ride home...with the 90 pound dog sitting on my lap the entire way home. When I get home I remember that Dave asked me to take a very important letter to the post office and it has to go out TODAY. Since the mail is taken at noon I decide I better get down their quick. After a 2 mile walk in the broiling sun I arrive at the post office (which by the way is one of three public buildings in town) and realize that I left the letter at home. So I run home, literally, almost dying in the process and then go back to the post office only to see the truck leaving as I round the bend. At that point I head home, YET AGAIN, and find the plumber driving up the road I reach my driveway. Yep that is me always a day late and a dollar short. Unfortunatly it didn't just cost a dollar to fix the problem. In fact the plumber is down in the basement/laundry room. He says that "everything is fine" and he will be back in a moment.So I decide to flush the toilet that is filled with the raw sewage. About ten minutes later I decide I cannot postpone the inevitable because I have to go to the bathroom in the worst way. And it isn't pee. So I go and flush the toilet only to have the plumber scream. Seems he came back unbeknownst to me and had a piece of pipe off above the toilet and was looking up when my "little gift" came down the pipe line. I can honestly say it was one of the most embarrasing moments of my life.And not only that when I flushed the first time all the raw sewage flooded the basement. Lovely. I got to clean that up too. Then when my husband came home we want out to the beach to get my car and one the way out his car has a flat tire. The jack is...in my car because I neglected to put it back. So we hike down to my car where we realize that I thought he had brought the keys and he thought I had. After another 20 mintues waiting for a rescue the SAME guy in the little red sports car shows up and we get driven home...except this time it is my on Dave's lap. We get the key and have a neighbor drive us back where this time everything works out the way you think it should. That would have been the end of this story if I hadn't told Dave that I was going to run out to the pizza shop and bring one home because I was just too tired to deal with dinner. And as I back down the driveway I run into his car which then rolls down the driveway. Some days it just doesn't pay to get out of bed.

Oh and then there is my cousin Kathy. A professional moving company was moving their belongings into their new house on top of a hill when all of a suddent the moving van starts rolling down hill and crashes into a neighbors house. Literally the van crashes INTO the house. So now all of a Kathy's worldly goods are sitting in a strangers house where they must remain for several days until the insurance adjustors can sort everything out.

So when you think you have had a bad day...think again.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Beginnings and Ends


Today I took down the crib. It's a done deal. No more kids for it to hold. No more kids for it to protect. It all seems to final...like a story coming to the end.
We put that crib up the first time over 16 years ago. It served four of our five children well. It is a light wood one with 14 slats on the sides, a stain of spit up in the left hand corner and on the end a dab of pale yellow paint that ended up there while I was painting Kellis' room. It's a crib that has been used as a trampoline as the kids got older and occasionally a "time out" space when someone needed to get their act together. More often than not it was me who needed it but I knew I would never fit.
Kylee was the first to use the crib but more often than not she ended up sleeping with us and after she was put on the apnea monitor the crib rarely saw any action.
Karson was the next one to use it and we were determined he would. Everyone chided us "you aren't going to do THAT again, are you? I mean sleeping with your child well it just isn't healthy." Of course, we never understood that an internationally adopted child who comes to you at over 6 months of age might just need to be with you even in sleep. So we put him in that crib every evening even though he woke up 5-7 times during the night in an attempt to reassure himself that we would still be there for him. Eventually, exhaustion set in and he ended up in our room.
Kullen was the third child to use the crib. He came home from Korea at 10.5 months and by the time he was 12 months old he was using it to practice vaulting and high jumping. Because our fear of a life threatening injury was so great he ended up in our room too.
Kellis is the last to use the crib. She was also the first to actually use it until at 2 years old she realized all the other kids were sleeping in beds and she wanted one. I have kept the crib up for the past 6 months even though she has not used it. There was just a part of me that didn't want to admit that we are done. Our family is complete and we are getting old.It is hard sometimes to acknowledge that "this is it" even though we know it is. Because it means the end of the known. The end of what feels comfortable. The end of something new entering your life. Endings are just that...the end. Its like closing the covers of a book when you have reached the last page. But like a good book the crib's story stays with yus, gives us things to ponder and some good passages to look back upon. And like a good book there is often a sequel which in this case is our grandchild who is due in September. A maybe...just maybe...that crib will be used once more. Because when you think about it-beginnings and ends-they really are the same thing aren't they.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Nineteen Years...Can It Be?

Monday and Tuesday was our 19th anniversary. Two days you ask? Well, we were married in Germany where we had a civil ceremony on the 25th and a religious ceremony in an old castle on the 26th. At the time we were living in Las Vegas and traveled Germany with our friends Dana and Piet who were living in the Netherlands. They witnessed both weddings and Piet who is fluent in 5 languages translated for us. Unfortunately, the minister used that nasty 4 letter word, OBEY, during the ceremony and I absentmindedly agreed. Dave loves to bring that up upon occasion.

Anyway, the night we were married in the castle we were eating a memorable dinner when a young woman walked over to our table and introduced herself as the Baron's daughter.
"You came all the way here to get married," she asked in disbelief.
"Yes, we really wanted our love to last as long as the castle," we replied.
"That's funny. We went to Las Vegas," she said.
Oh the irony of it all.

Everyday I count my blessings that I am married to this wonderful man. Sometimes when I think about how fortunate I am I remember that song from the Sound of Music that goes "But somewhere in my youthful childhood, I must have done something good." Well, that is how I feel about having Dave in my life. Sometime, somewhere I must have done something good.

I wrote this about 5 years ago. I still feel the same.

DAVE


I can write about just about anything but Dave because no words I
might use to describe him and what he means to me would ever do him
justice. It's like trying to describe a shining diamond. While one
can attempt to describe it's brilliance as it sparkles in the light
you would still miss some aspects of its perfection just by not being
in its presence. You would miss the subtle flickers of color cast
around the room; the blues,pinks and yellows. You would be unable to
count the thousand little points of light that dance around the room.
It's just one of those things that you have to be around to fully
appreciate it's incredible beauty. That is how I feel about Dave.

Dave is my inspiration. He is whom I strive to emulate. He is kind,
considerate, compassionate, joyful and he has a soul that is at peace
with itself. He pushes me to try to be the best I can be and he
teaches our children not through mere words but from example. Dave is
also dedicated to our family, to making the world a better place and
to living his life in a manner that is ethical and sincere. He is a
wonderful father to our children and is always helping them find
their way to themselves.

For years I struggled in a job that gave me little in the way of
satisfaction, creativity and fullfilment. It was Dave who gave me the
encouragement to try writing for a living and in doing so allowed my
life to return to me in unexpected ways. His support (both financial
and emotional) has allowed me to learn about myself, warts and all.
Thanks to him I have been able to follow my own twisted path to
enlightenment and happiness. If I died tomorrow, I would die happy
because I am one of the fortunate ones to have experienced true love
from a man that has often put my selfish wants and needs above his
own. A man who heart knows no bounds and for whom love is endless and
complete. Dave is my diamond.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sorry. To busy to write something original tonight so I went with something I wrote in 2000. I read this on Iowa National Public Radio and it also appeared in Heartwarmers.


I wrote this two years ago when Dave's Grandma was 94. Like many people her age she was finding it difiicult to take that path leading towards her "twlight years." These days Grandma is living in a retirement home, yet, she refuses to give into the idea that she will never drive again. I hope that when I am her age I will be as determined as she is ... it will make life much more interesting. In writing this story, I have taken certain liberties with the spoken word but the content remains true to Grandma's life.



SHIFTING INTO IDLE

By Cheryl L. Dieter copyright 2000


Everyone knew it was time for Grandma to stop driving. Everyone, that is, but Grandma. At 93 her health was deteriorating and she was beginning to forget things but these "insignificant" matters were not going to stop this Iowa "silver fox" from getting behind the wheel. If you think taking car keys away from a teenager is difficult you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried getting them away from the over 90 crowd. Since sending Grandma to her room or withholding her allowance was not an option, we didn’t have much bargaining power. Not that we didn’t try. We cajoled and we nagged. Various family members even took her car keys but mysteriously another set would appear out of thin air. And amazingly Grandma could always find this new set even though she couldn’t remember which key actually started the car.

When the doctor ordered her to stop driving Grandma took matters into her own hands. "They didn’t require licenses when I started driving so I really don’t need one now." became her new motto and "If I can’t drive I might as well die," became, yet, another battlecry.

As determined as we were to get Grandma to stop driving, she was even more determined to keep her license. When it came time to renew her license, instead of asking a family member to take her to the Department of Motor Vehicles, she asked a neighbor; conveniently circumventing those of us who would have told the inspector not to renew it. In short, we soon realized that we were losing the battle of the car keys to a woman who had lived through four wars and the depression. In retrospect, it was hardly a surprise.

One particularly hot summer day, I called Grandma. When she answered the telephone she sounded so sad and forlorn.

"What’s the matter, Grandma?" I asked.

"I can’t start my car," she exclaimed.

"Grandma why were you trying to start your car? You know you’re not suppose to be driving," I said, about to give her the full lecture on the dangers of driving.

"Now before you get in an uproar and start telling me stories about dangerous old lady drivers who wipe out entire families who are on a trip to the ice cream shop, I want to explain," she snapped. "There are times that I need to feel like I’m still able to do the things I used to do. I need to feel useful and alive again. At those times, I take my keys and start up the car and sit behind the wheel and just let the motor run. I listen to the hum of the engine and remember the people I’ve seen and the places I’ve been. And sometimes, when I feel particularly daring, I take new turns and forbidden roads just to prove to myself that while I may be an old dog, I can still learn new tricks. You know, sometimes sitting in idle just letting your motor run is better than the trip itself. You should try it someday."

And you know, Grandma is right. Sometimes just sitting in idle and letting our motor run is the best the best medicine we can take as we drive down the crazy, fast-paced lanes known as the highway of life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Bleeding Hearts


In this month’s Oprah Magazine (April 2007) there are three stories concerning adoption. In one story author and adoptive mom, Carol Brennan, writes about when her daughter met her birth mother.

“ She said again how hard it was for her, giving me up. An undertone in her voice confirms that, diverse as the millions of adopted children are, this they have in common: the need to hear and hear again that they were not relinquished easily.”

Those words hit me like a bolt of lightning tonight. Perhaps I am ready to hear.

There appear to be two camps in adoption. One that says to tell the truth if you know it but to never say anything you don’t know as fact just to make things easier for your child. For instance, I have read and been told never tell your child that it was difficult for their birth mother to relinquish them unless you know for a fact that it was. This is because you don’t want your child believing made up truths in case they do meet their birth parents and find out differently.

The second camp seems to say that if your child asks if their birth mother loved them you answer “Well, yes she loved you very much because she took the time to make an adoption plan for you. She wanted to make sure that you were raised by a family who loved you very much.”

I have struggled with this question often but when my five year old asked my gut instictively went with the second answer, “She must have loved you very much.” At the time he needed to hear that as much as I needed to say it, even though I thought I never would. He needed to know that his birth moms love for him was not fleeting and inconsequential just like my love for him will never be. He needed to know that his core is built around the love that he has experienced, both transient and for the long haul. And that both are valuable because the short amount of time he experienced his birthmothers love helped contribute to who he is. And perhaps she is even in it for the long haul although he may never know for sure. Maybe she even prays for him every night.

When you think about it who doesn’t need to hear that they were loved and wanted? Who doesn’t need to believe that those who carry us, those who live with us and those who know us would not easily forget us? Because if they were able to just forget us it calls into question what the real purpose of our lives are and what is important. Is it just living life or is it living life in such a way that others wish to tell your story?

When we divorce we do not think that “getting over it” should come easily. We don’t want to believe that the person who loved us could just walk away and create a life with another person a day later. We want to know that our love is not easy to leave. That the love we give away is meaningful to others and that the feelings that are intertwined with it just don’t vanish overnight. We want to believe that love lasts a lifetime even though it may not be available to us throughout each moment of every day. That is one reason why heaven is so appealing. And it is why our “first love” remains so dear to us so much so that many people go in search of it many years later.

So why would my child want to hear that they were relinquished and then forgotten? Why on earth would I ever want them to think that their first mother just “got over them.” Love doesn’t work like that because in real life it is also filled with regrets and missed opportunities.The highs and the lows...the ying and the yang... that is what love truly is. Hopefully love doesn’t work like that in adoption even though I suspect many adoptive parents might wish it would. For love has meaning, truth and clarity wrapped within it. And love doesn’t just vanish in an instant. Instead love follows us, sustains us and lies with us and within us forever carrying us when nothing else will and all else fails.

So my child you can relax and you can rest assured that you are loved. It may be in different ways but your mother's have both loved you.

Monday, March 5, 2007

When Did I Cease To Exist?


Today I went to the store not wearing something that 10 years ago I swore I never would... makeup. And I paid for it dearly just like I thought I would during all these many years of not venturing out the door without, at the very least, a good coat of mascara. As far as I was concerned my lack of an encounter with the sales girls confirmed my suspicions that no makeup=no service. So I just stood there at the counter while two young sales clerks had a gossip fest that would make Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons proud. And finally I started to get annoyed. But here is the thing. It wasn't so much that the girls were ignoring me that upset me but it was the fact that I was all but invisible to them. HUH? Since when did this cloak of inconspicuousness begin to envelope me? I mean it seems like just yesterday I was 25 and men would whistle and sales women couldn't wait to give me the time of day. So when did I become invisible?

I wish I could pinpoint a time, a day or an event that I could look back on and blame. A day which I could say "Ah ha. It was the day you stopped dying your hair," or something significant like that. Yet,if the truth is told, I do have a vague idea of when this slide into nothingness began. It was around my 40th birthday. When I gained weight and crows feet all in the same year. The year the Dow dropped precipitously and so did my boobs.It was the year my collagen supply diminished and my shoe size increased as everything in my body suddenly let go and "loosened" up. Instantly I was no longer youthful nor desirable to Madison Avenue or the man on the street. Society began to dictate no more cute low cut dresses, open toe shoes or fishnet hose for me. In fact, the sales girls in some sort of giggly, jiggly, conspiracy started steering me towards the matronly woman department. You know the place. It's where they sell swimsuits with huge explosive pink flowers and aprons to cover your ass, sensible shoes without heels and White Shoulders perfume. And come to think of it, after turning forty I never again received free samples of tanning lotion, sculpting gel or feminine deodorant spray in the mail. Now its just, AARP news, denture cream and life insurance as touted by Ed McMann that clutters my mailbox.

This invisibleness I have taken on is not of my choosing and somehow it doesn't seem fair nor does it suit me. I mean come on when my mother was 40 she was OLD. I on the other hand, well I am hip, still a little sassy and can still have a decent conversation with "the girls" about sex that would make even Oprah squirm. In fact, I almost jumped into the sales girls conversation when it started venturing towards men's body parts. But instead I laughed out loud thinking about how young, inexperienced and naive they were. It was then that they turned, and gave me "THE LOOK" that told me they thought that dementia was settling in and making a permanent home in my brain.

"May I help you?" asked a 19 year old bleached Blondie named Brittany with a permanent Botox IV drip inserted under her skin as she sashayed over to where I stood.

"I believe you can. I want the biggest jar of anti-wrinkle cream you have," I said with a smile.

She gave me the "poor pitiful you there is nothing that can help" look as she placed my purchase in the bag.

"Oh and I threw in a free sample of the newest and most technologically advanced firming cream on the market," she said patting me condescendingly on the hand.

And it was at that moment I grew comfortable in my aging skin. For in that second, I knew without a doubt, that invisible and forty-five was a thousand times better than insecure and nineteen. Sure she may have the world by the tail but give it a few years and she would soon be directed to the matrons department by girls just like her. Only she would be scared, not confident. She would be feeling dread, not optimism. For luckily "Age" has been speaking to me with a comforting nod to the future while for others, "Age" digs her stilettos in, fighting to remain in the past. It was obvious Brittany would be one of those.

I took pity on her. I reached into my bag and placed the new miracle of science back into her hand.

"Darling you take it," I said with a laugh. "In fact, take all of it," I laughed shoving the bag into her hands. "Believe it or not someday you will need it."

And with that, I turned and headed over to the hat department. There I found a vibrant scarlet red one; it's upturned brim spotted with leopard material. It sits in my closet waiting as I bridge the gap between young and old, wise and wishful, content and always searching. Next to it rests information on The Red Hat Society where I know I will fit right in, no longer invisible. Because no matter how old I am or how many highway mileage markers line my face I will still have my verve, my zest for living, a sense of humor and my nerve. Red and purple have a way of making sure of that.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

She Loves Me...She Loves Me Not

She Loves Me...She Loves Me Not
By: Cheryl L. Dieter Copyright 7/26/2005

I stare at my new daughter’s chubby cheeks and beautiful brown eyes laden with sleep. Everything is perfect in our relationship. I love her and she loves me. End of story. There is no happy ending that could make life better than it is right now. As I watch her breath in and out so effortlessly, I shed a tear knowing that in the not so distant future it is doubtful that anything will be quite this easy between us again. How do I know this? Easy. My eldest daughter is fourteen.

Fourteen is a terrible age. Not quite old enough to “know better” but just old enough to get in trouble for what you do know. While still the center of my universe, I am but a distant line in hers. And like a line drawn in the sand that constantly shifts with gusts and wisps of wind, everyday my daughter and I tiptoe back and forth across that line of independence vs. dependence, me vs. them, and love vs. hate. An almost grown up version of She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not that we once played together just a few short years ago with the white daisies and red roses grown in our own backyard.

She Loves Me... “thanks Mom for taking me to the mall.”
She Loves Me Not...I make her clean her room.
She Loves Me... “Come on Mom. I mean, I share more about my life with you than most teenagers.”
She Loves Me Not... “Why can’t you just leave me alone,” she yells as she slams the door to her room for yet another time.

As I see it, everyday my daughter and I start out with a fresh flower from an old plant. Sometimes the petals seem to fall off by themselves whereas others it takes days for the bloom to disappear. Some days the petals are plucked and thrown with a vengeance and someday they are removed gently and placed lovingly in a book to be preserved and examined on another day. But even on those mornings when the blossoms are gone before the first cup of coffee is steamed all is not lost. For although the petals are the most beautiful and dazzling thing about the flower, there is so much more to the plant than that. While the center is still young and vibrant and holds the seeds that offer new beginnings and hope; the stem, older and more sturdy, holds the newer parts of the flower aloft. And the roots, well, they provide nourishment to both the old and new parts combined.

This morning the flower was bare by eight but as I bent down to inspect the last petal that landed at my feet, I knew that all was still well. For the plant from which this flower came still continues to grow, blossom and mature just like my relationship with my daughter. And the seeds still continue to be spread and planted for some as yet unknown day in the future. But most of all when the last petal fell... She Loved Me...at least for now.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Karson Funnies

Every once in a while I have to post the funny things that my kids say.

So this morning as I am driving I am telling Karson about how Kylee is
going to Brazil as an exchange student, how she will come back for a year and then go to college. I then told him that someday when he is big he will go to
college to be a train engineer.

"Mom, do we have to talk about this now? I am only in kindergarten."

And yesterday when we are coming home from visiting with the doctor. He gives us a diagnosis of sinus infections for the kids.

Karson: We need big medicine mom.
Me: What do you mean, Karson?
Karson: I have big germs so I need big medicine. It is important so I get well.
Me: Don't worry the doctor knows what he is doing. He wrote a prescription for just the right medicine to make you better. He is a smart man.
Karson: But I am smart too and I know I need bigger medicine.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Lost and Found


Today all over the news one could find Olympic skier Toby Dawson being reunited with his first father. Toby was born in Korea and at age three was adopted by a caucasian couple in Colorado. After winning a bronze medal in the Olympics many Koreans claimed he was their son. Today he met his birth father who explained that he was lost in a crowded market while with his mother. His father said that he had searched orphanages but was never able to locate his son.

During tonight's broadcast Toby stated "I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere. I looked at my parents and I didn't look like them. And if I went to Korea I wouldn't fit in there. I was lost, stuck between two worlds."

And when he said that, while I understood, I mourned for my kids because I suspect that someday they will feel that way too. And why shouldn't they? I can only think on some small level that it would be like moving to Senegal. Even though you might live there for 20 years you still wouldn't be Senegalese, your neighbors would always think of you as "The American" and there are times you would be wondering about and missing what could have been had you stayed in America. Then add the fact that for twenty years you didn't look like the majority of people around you it is easy to see why you might easily feel like an outsider. Yet, in all likelihood, if you returned after 20 years to America you probably wouldn't feel totally American either.You would probably feel a sense of living in two worlds while adapting to one but never totally fitting in because your experience is just so different than the majority of people on this earth. Which is why I believe that it is so important for our children to have close friends who are also adopted. Because being transracially/transculturally adopted is really in a class by itself. You are in a sense an oddity...difficult to label...difficult to classify. And we all know how important it is for society to put nice, neat labels on everyone and everything.

So it is my belief that adoptive parents like me owe it to their children to give them opportunities to make them feel like they fit in somewhere, to give them the opportunity to freely express their conflicted feelings and to navigate between their reality and the ghosts "Of What Could Have Been." And even though we may do our best we should still be prepared for the fact that it may not be enough. Because there are times that you just cannot replace or repair, judge or compare, what has been lost with what has been gained because there is never a way of truly knowing what would have been best. Yes, it is probable that our kids will be stuck between two worlds and the only thing we will be able to do is let them know that we understand that straddling two worlds is hard, disappointing and scary but that we have faith that they can do it. It is the only thing we can really offer to them. That and our love.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Long Road Home

Opening your heart to the possibility of love can be a difficult proposition especially if you are seven months old and have already lost everything you've known. Three times.

Our journey began five years ago when we first adopted our son. For some children, joining a new family is fairly uncomplicated. The road to trusting a new set of parents is like the joining of two highways...you just get on, navigate a few new turns and before you know it you have arrived. Sure they may have run into a road block or two but they are able to trust with all their heart that their final destination is just around the corner so they gladly continue on.

Yet, for some children the ability to trust takes many years of navigating back roads, taking unexpected detours while traveling to unknown sites and places not bargained for. The journey is often long and tedious and sometimes you wonder if they will ever arrive. Tonight, I have hope that our son has arrived. And while it may not be to his final destination, I am thankful that he at least made it into our drive.

And so my son, whether this is the real thing or just a pit stop as we journey along this highway together; I am thankful that today you decided to open your heart to our love. For once you have opened your heart I believe that there is no going back, because the destination has changed from one of survival to one of trust and understanding. Sure there may be a few ROAD CLOSED signs scattered along the way but now you can make the detours without losing your way completely. For now you will know in your heart that the on ramps to our love are abundant, are clearly marked, and are just waiting for you to take them. And when you travel on them you will experience the comfort that comes from following a familiar path home. A road that leads you to a family that loves you no matter where your journey began or where it will take you. A road that brings you home to a place offering inner peace and unconditional love. It's a home we have stood in front of shouting directions to you as you whizzed by, lost, and trying to find your way. For years we have been waiting for you to turn into our driveway and now you are finally here. Welcome. We are glad you made it home safe and sound into our loving arms.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Bound for Brazil


My 16 yo daughter has been a hand full since she has hit the teen years. It is hard because we have raised her to take risks, to believe in herself, to be independent, to know that she can accomplish what she sets out to do. We have taught her to trust herself, to go after her dreams and to not be afraid to step outside of the box that we call home. Somehow when you raise a child that way it seems that when they reach teen status they move away from you quicker, dislike you more, and in general cannot wait until they are out of the house far, far away from you. And of course, there are days that you cannot wait until the back door hits them in the butt on their way out too. But really as exciting and scary as it all is, we have raised our daughter to be able to take on us as well as the world. Although it is difficult for us now we know that when she is an adult we will be glad she has grown into who she is and who she is truly meant to be. But right now, who she is, is a girl who wants to spend her junior year of high school as a foreign exchange student in Brazil.

I have always been impressed with people who have been willing to leave everything they know to try to learn more about another country and her people.You have to dig deep within yourself to face the unknown with a smile. Yet, I have a confession to make. As proud as I am of my daughter for even contemplating such an opportunity; there is the part of me that wants to hold her back. A part of me that wants to say "No way, you are too young." A part of me that wants to scare her and a part of me that wants to dare her. I feel conflicted, confused and frankly, there is a part of me that is afraid. I am afraid of losing her, missing her, afraid that we are getting too close to an age where our family will no longer be important to her. Sure she knows all my faults and points them out to me everyday. But I want her around to keep me honest, to show me new ways of looking at things and to just have the comfort in knowing she is right here with us forever.I love her and want to keep her near. And if the truth is told, today I am not sure that I want to hold open the door for her. Not just yet. Really, I want her to explore the world next to the safety of my feet like when she was a baby. I want her to once again ask the simple questions like "Why is the sky blue?" And I want to know she is upstairs in her bed; snug, safe and warm. I want her to explore our world, not one thousands of miles away. Yet I know that's not love. Love is more than keeping someone close. Love is more than halting another person's growth to keep ourselves feeling useful and alive. Love is really about two people gently leading each other onto themselves. It's knowing when to let go so they can discover who they are on their own. It is about being confident enough in your love for one another that you know that holding on is more detrimental than letting go.

So although I may not always like it I know that I have to hold that door wide open for Kylee. Afterall, we taught her to go through that door in the first place and to embrace whatever she found on the other side. And although she will not know it, I will hold that door open wide, as I hide my tears and hold in my fears. For it seems like it was only yesterday that I held the door so she could get in as she stood on her tiptoes trying to reach the latch. I guess I didn't realize then that the time would come so quickly for her to step outside on her own. And although I may be tempted, I promise I will not let the door hit her on the butt as she makes her way out. However, I might just hide her keys so she can't go anywhere.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Crazy



Okay, lets just say I am too tired to post anything original today so I leave you with this story written last year

Crazy
By Cheryl L. Dieter copyright© 3/13/06

It was 58 degrees. The mercury was sliding quickly down the thermometer and as it did the tree limbs sank closer to the ground; trying to soak up its warmth for the evening. The sun dropped below the horizon as did the eyes of passersby as they drove on ignoring what it was they didn’t want to see. Life is like that sometimes. Often seeing is believing. Often we would rather believe in the power of things than deal with the truth of people. A truth so simple that it is hard to believe that it arrives with no fanfare, with no fancy packaging, and in a red and white windbreaker.

He had three shopping carts full of cast off cans, empty milk cartons and various paper sacks. A large piece of burlap tied with fraying brown rope stuck out a foot from the bottom of a cart. An extra shirt hung from the handle as if it had been nonchalantly tossed into a closet, only there were no other clothes in the space. Except for the shirt the area was bare one of the few places that had nothing hanging from it or packed within it. But it wasn’t his possessions that caught my attention so much as it was his dinner. For reasons unknown I felt drawn to him. Even a little compelled. I turned around, parked the car down the street and watched as life played itself out.

Walking over to the middle cart the man began removing carry out boxes of various shapes and sizes. Dumpster dinner was my guess. With great care he laid out a wrinkled newspaper; gently smoothing it as it touched the picnic table. He began to place the boxes on the wood in such a way that it appeared that he was setting up some great banquet for himself and seven guests. Then after putting each box in its proper place he opened it and said what appeared to be a blessing. Faith in its simplest form. I waited and wondered, “Would someone join him for the elaborate feast he was displaying?” but it appeared that I was the only witness.

He took his place by the first box on the left. Chinese. Probably beef and broccoli, mostly broccoli and very little at that. He stood up abruptly. Circled that table, shook his finger, and conversed with someone known only to him. Or maybe God. One never knows. Then he sat down at box number two which was directly across from his first entrée. About a quarter of a hamburger…lots of catsup. Wiping his face on his windbreaker he again abruptly stood up, circled the table, shook his finger and spoke aloud. Crazy. He must be crazy I thought. He sat down across the table from entrée number two and opened the Styrofoam lid. Unrecognizable. Lots of it. Isn’t that always the case.

Again and again the pattern repeated itself. The quick upright movement, circling the table, the talking and the sitting across from where he had just been. Crazy I thought again. But as I watched it occurred to me that from my perspective it was crazy but perhaps for him it was a necessity. It was getting cold. Maybe he circled the table to warm up as the cold food was going down. Maybe he wasn’t crazy after all. I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. Time to go. There were other things to worry about.

As I drove home it occurred to me that I had not seen the man with anything warm. No warm clothes, no warm food, no warm blanket. Not even a warm conversation amoungst friends unless you counted the invisible character that dined with The Man that evening. I wanted to make sure he was warm. It felt important. Yet, not important enough to invite him to my house or give him a ride in my warm car. Instead I went to the garage and looked for the warmest sleeping bag I could find amongst all the junk that garages seem to collect. A picture frame, several broken toys and a bent fishing pole all crashed to the ground as I tugged the bag from its hiding place.

As I drove back I prayed that he was still there. Would he be surprised? Happy? Grateful? Irate at my assumptions? Would he sleep well that night?

As luck would have it there he was, a lone figure against the darkening sky. The wind softly blew the frayed pages of a small prayer book that he was reading. I had a chance to really see him before he noticed me. His curly red hair hung to his shoulders, his beard was thick. He looked up in surprise as I rolled down the window.

“Do you need a sleeping bag?” I asked.

His eyes twinkled and the skin around them crinkled as he smiled.

“No, I already have too much,” he replied. “I know it’s getting cold but, no, I have just what I need. Thanks.”

I rolled up the window and drove home. I bawled when I thought about the truths hidden within his answer. How could a man with so little have too much? How could a woman with so much have so little? Why were my needs so big while his were so small? Could contentment really be found in three shopping carts? Crazy, I thought. Yes, he must just be crazy. And with that thought ringing in my ears I pulled into the driveway and felt compelled to clean out the garage. It was if my life depended on it, a woman possessed; two dumpsters full. And as I worked I wondered, “ If the man could see me now what he would think?” but somehow I knew. "Crazy," he would think. "She must just be crazy."

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Importance of Believing


Reading the title you might think that this post is spiritual in nature and in some sense it is. Because when we really listen and believe what they are telling us we give to a person's spirit something far more valuable than just an encouraging word. We give them a gift. A gift which serves to strengthen one's self and the freedom that comes when we legitimize another's experiences.

I have been thinking about this lately. A wonderful adoptee and I have had a discussion about this and then today another friend whose son is adopted really brought this home to me. When our transracially adopted children come to us and say, "Jenny doesn't like me because I am Asian," we need to hear them and not discount their feelings with a "Oh I am sure she didn't mean it that way" knee-jerk type of response. Our kids know what they feel. They are there to witness to multiple playground interactions while we are not.

So the question becomes why would we choose to doubt our child rather than embrace their feelings and provide an opportunity for discussion? Why say in effect, "I don't believe you or "you are too sensitive" rather than "Why do you think that?" or "I am sorry you feel she doesn't like you because you are Asian. That would make me sad and angry too." And while on occasion our children may perceive things incorrectly I think that by giving the benefit of the doubt to them rather than giving it to a stranger we are giving them something much more precious...the knowledge that their parents are behind them and that our belief in them supercedes what we have experienced for ourselves.

I have met so many a-parents who have said that they feel like by "buying into this way of thinking" that they are teaching their children that they can whine and blame all the bad things in their life on adoption or their race. That they will develop a "poor me" mentality. That what their kids really need to realize is that everyone is "different" and that they need to stop focusing on that, be happy for what they do have and to get on with life. The problem with this way of thinking is that it teaches the child that they should not depend on what their senses are telling them. That they should not trust their experiences and that those "ahh-ha" moments when life clarifies itself right in front of you, are in fact, just illusions. Yet, by negating our kids experiences we are really just telling them that if they just look close enough at themselves they will realize that there is something wrong with them, the way they think, and how they interpret things. So instead of teaching our kids that there is something wrong with them why not tell them what they really need to hear, "I Believe You." Three simple words when spoken alone have little power but when said together have the power to change the world. While "I Love You" can sometimes fall short "I Believe You" never will. And that is because "I Believe You" really affirms everything precious and true about a person. It says you are trust worthy, you are accurate, you can trust yourself, and that your experiences are valuable in helping you determine what can and cannot be trusted; a valuable and perhaps life saving skill of you are not a member of the majority.

So this week, when someone of color tells you an account of something that has happened to them, look them in the eye and say "I Believe You." It's a gift whose price cannot be measured.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh My!

Today we went up to the cabin and took a hike. While walking we saw deer prints and a set of mountain lion tracks! It was amazing. Living in the city you sometimes forget that nature has her own way of doing things. And that bear, bobcat and mountain lions really do still roam free. Dave brings his huge walking stick when we go hiking. I am not really sure that it would protect us should a mountain lion pounce but at least it makes us feel like we have a fighting chance.

On our hike our son (age 5) looks over to his dad and says " Daddy you are brillant"
We just looked at each other astonished...where did he learn that word? So Dave says to him, "What does brillant mean?" and he relied "It means you can do many things well." By golly, I think he is brillant!

Friday, February 9, 2007

The One


Marriage is like baseball. If you are lucky you get to play in a few extra innings, you make it to home plate more than you strike out and you have many winning seasons. I was reminded of this tonight when a guy showed up at our door to take our daughter out. He was wearing a baseball cap; his ears sticking out from the brim.He looked nervous kind of like the rookie on the team who is up to bat for the first time. And as I watched him look at my daughter I knew without a doubt that he is not "the one." He's a pitch hitter until she finds the one who hits the grand slam. I suspect that just by looking at her face I will know that he is "the one."

I can only hope that she picks well. That she finds a man like her dad. A kind, caring and compassionate man who puts those he loves in the forefront of his life. A man who tries hard each and every day, a man that is smart, funny and intelligent. A man that she finds as hot 20 years into their marriage as the day that she met him. The kind of man with whom "the rest of your life" truly means just that, and who, when he envisions the future sees her in every scene. I hope she chooses a man who dares to dream big dreams and has the tenacity to make them come true. And I hope that they both understand that it isn't the World Series events that pull you apart but the thousands of annoying pitches that you have to take day in and day out and that if you don't have a loving and positive attitude during practice that eventually you'll get hit by a foul ball . Anyone can survive the majors but it is really how you handle the everyday minors that count. And I hope that when it is time for them to create their own team that they understand that it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it is how you play the game. For it is only with an abundance of kindness and giving more than you take that you get to walk the bases together instead of striking out of the game.

Copyright 2/9/2007 by Cheryl L. Dieter

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A Poem For Kylee

As my daughter enters her teenage years I am distressed to find that we are clashing more and more. At the same time, I am glad that we raised such an independent thinker who will go out an take on the world. I wrote this to let her know just how much she means to me and how proud of her I am. (okay...here's the mushy part that she will just hate) I love you Kylee. If I lined up all the girls in the world and had to pick just one to be my daughter... after all these years, I would still pick you!



A Poem for Kylee By Cheryl Dieter copyright 3/9/02

More Than I Could Have Ever Hoped For



Once I wished upon a star at night

For a daughter like you... so beautiful and bright

A girl I wanted, she’d be oh so dear

We’d be able share our laughter and our tears

Then I was blessed when into our world you came

And luckily our lives would never be the same

So this I’d like to tell you now

A few words that tell you how...

You’re more than I could have ever hoped for

You’re more then I ever dreamed

A child so full of light and love

The world has never seen

You make this earth a better place

Than it’s ever been

Just because your light shines so bright

To welcome others in

And on that starry night I wished

To see you as you are

Kind and thoughtful, your gentleness

Seen shining from afar

You’ve taught me things I’ve never known

Like wonder and great love

How life was meant to be fully lived

Mixed with laughter from above

You’re more than I could have ever hoped for

You’re more than I ever dreamed

The twinkle in your eyes so bright

It’s loved by all who’ve seen

The smile you carry throughout the day

Has brightened many lives

And this I say to you my child

Life would be incomplete without you by my side

And so as I look back in time

I thank those stars above

For bringing me such a wondrous child

And the greatest gift - your love

So when we have our days

When nothing seems quite right

Just know I thank my lucky stars

Each and every night

For you’re more than I could have ever hoped for

You’re more than I ever dreamed

The concern that you show to others

And your helpfulness I’ve often seen

So when my time is over

I’ll thank the stars above

That I have spent this time with you

Experiencing your great love.

He's Yours

All good things must come to an end. The last part of the adoption journey is finalization day. It's the day when your adoptive child legally becomes yours and also becomes an United States citizen. However, all adoptive parents already know that our children were ours all along...it just takes awhile for the judicial system to catch up with our hearts.




He’s Yours- A Finalization Story

By Cheryl L. Dieter

Copyright July 29, 2003



"I will not cry," became my mantra as we drove to the courthouse.

"You will not weep," I admonished myself over and over again as we climbed the gray granite steps to the building.

"I will not shed a single tear," I told my husband as the judge entered the court room.

Now, normally I’m not a crier but you couldn’t tell that to anyone who knew me for the last twelve months for everything about this adoption had made me cry. Absolutely everything. The day we got the call from Kathy that we had a son the tears started flowing. While pictures may say a thousand words hearing the sounds of, "I ‘ve got good news...you have a son" was worth a million bucks. I cried as if I’d won the lottery ... because I just had.

I cried when the plane took off as we headed to Korea to pick our new son up. I bawled the first time I saw his beautiful face and tears of joy mixed with laughter ran down my cheeks when I first glimpsed his "stick ‘em up" hair. I sobbed when I first held him and fed him his bottle. I cried buckets when it was time to take Karson from his foster mother and I cried at the airport knowing that I was taking this precious boy from the only family and country he had ever known. I blubbered the first time he called me "Mama", during his first steps, and when his first tooth appeared, as well as numerous times in-between. In short, the last year had been an endless river of happy tears but today I vowed I wasn’t going to cry.

Not a tear was shed when the bailiff swore me in nor did they fall as the judge examined the paperwork, making sure that everything was in order. I didn’t cry when she asked me to tell her his name, what he liked to do during the day and what kind of baby he was.

"So far, so good," I concluded. It was then, just when I thought I was in the clear, that the judge sideswiped me.

"Now tell me what it has meant to you to have Karson in your lives," the judge said quietly. "Oh-oh," I thought as I bit my bottom lip to keep the tears in check; the judge had unknowingly just crossed the line. I looked up at her and with an incredulous look on my face reflecting on the fact that there were no words I could ever use that would adequately express what in the world this boy, my hopefully soon-to-be son, meant to me. Yet, we had made it this far and as far as we were concerned we were already a forever family. I knew I couldn’t blow it now.

"The sky is bluer," I suggested quietly, thoughts swirling in my head.

"Since we have had Karson the mockingbird is more melodious, the colors of the rainbow are brighter, and a baby’s laugh is sweeter," I replied, as my voice cracked and I bit down on my lip just a little harder; tears on the horizon and threatening to take me out to sea.

"The sunshine is a little sunnier, the grass is greener, snowflakes fluffier, and the wind whispers softer," I stuttered desperately grasping for the right words that would explain just how precious our son was to us. "Our love is deeper, our hearts are stronger, each minute is more miraculous, our joy more profound..."

"You need not say anything more," came the voice from the bench with a tear glistening in the corner of her left eye. And at that moment time stopped and the silence became deafening. And then, finally, the judge looked over her bench, a soft smile gracing her lips and declared, "He’s yours."

And with that pronouncement I did the unthinkable...

I smiled...

I laughed..

I jumped up and down...

We posed for pictures...

And later that night...

I cried.

Graduation Daze

I wrote this piece just after my son, Ross, graduated from high school. It was a wonderful experience to be able to share in his joy as he entered a new phase in his life. Yet, it was also sad. Sad because of the days I missed just having fun with him instead of worrying about doing this or that. Sad because I knew he was having to step out and make his own life and with this new sense of maturity he would be making his own mistakes and nothing I could do would protect him from what may come his way. I can only hope that he crafts a life that is meaningful to him, one that brings hope and understanding to others, and that he experiences more happiness than pain. That is my wish for him and for you.





Graduation Daze

By Cheryl L. Dieter copyright May 2001

I still remember it as if it were yesterday. Twenty laughing, giggling, squirming little boys and girls dressed in their finest, smiling ear-to-ear, as their parents slowly filed into the classroom for the big event. Each wore identical blue construction paper mortar board hats with long, blue, adult-sized gowns held up by safety pins, belts, and scarves of a multitude of colors and shapes. Anything and everything was used in a feeble attempt to keep those young feet from tripping over their hems towards disaster. I can still picture the slightly frazzled look on Mrs. Kern’s face, as she clucked at her brood to stay in line, as only a kindergarten teacher can do. While the temperature was beginning to rise outside, inside the classroom looked cool and crisp decorated in the school’s colors, blue and yellow. ABC’s practiced to perfection hung about the room, as did pictures of houses, dogs, and families. Plaster handprints of each child sat proudly at each desk, tied with a bow as neatly as a five-year-old can master such a skill. And in the center of the space, the numbers,2002,written in childish scribble and scrawl, filled the blackboard like a distant horizon. So big and close were those numbers, yet at the same time, so very far away.

With great fanfare the Pledge of Allegiance was recited and relief spilled over the innocent faces of the class. Kindergarten graduation, had at last, begun.

Amanda Abernathy... Benjamin Cook...a look of anticipation shone brightly on my son’s face. Ross Hosman...he beamed as his name was called. He stood still for a second, then marched confidently to the podium, took the microphone in hand, and told the crowd what he wanted to be when he grew up.


"A marine biologist," he responded so swift and sure of himself, "because then I could have a boat and go fishing every day of my life."

Then he quickly collected his construction paper diploma in one hand and grabbed my hand with the other as he jumped off the stage full of dreams for the future and with nothing to fear.

And now, twelve years later, here I sit on a hard steel gymnasium bleacher with hundreds of other parents waiting for graduation 2002 to begin. Some parents laugh, others pull hankies out of their pockets, and some wear an amazed look of relief that their child made it through high school at all. Yet, in all of us, I can see that silent lingering question that begs the answer as to where has the time gone, have we taught our children well, and will they be able to handle what life brings to their door?


Finally, the school principal calls Ross’ name and once again he strides confidently to the podium, just as he did so long ago. This time, as he collects his diploma, he is still full of dreams but has developed the maturity to have already let some go. No, he won’t be fishing anytime soon for there is work to do and bills to pay. The plaster handprints have long ago given way to greasy fingerprints on the door jambs, the result of a blown engine on the old Chevy. There is also no time left for a game of Duck...Duck...Goose! and the other simple pleasures of life. And yet, perhaps the biggest difference between that graduation of so long ago and today’s ceremony, is that this time, as he jumps off the stage into life, although he is a little scared, Ross no longer reaches for my hand.

Shifting Into Idle

I wrote this two years ago when Dave's Grandma was 94. Like many people her age she was finding it difiicult to take that path leading towards her "twlight years." These days Grandma is living in a retirement home, yet, she refuses to give into the idea that she will never drive again. I hope that when I am her age I will be as determined as she is ... it will make life much more interesting. In writing this story, I have taken certain liberties with the spoken word but the content remains true to Grandma's life. As read on Iowa NPR and as published on Heartwarmers.

SHIFTING INTO IDLE
By Cheryl L. Dieter copyright 2000

Everyone knew it was time for Grandma to stop driving. Everyone, that is, but Grandma. At 93 her health was deteriorating and she was beginning to forget things but these "insignificant" matters were not going to stop this Iowa "silver fox" from getting behind the wheel. If you think taking car keys away from a teenager is difficult you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried getting them away from the over 90 crowd. Since sending Grandma to her room or withholding her allowance was not an option, we didn’t have much bargaining power. Not that we didn’t try. We cajoled and we nagged. Various family members even took her car keys but mysteriously another set would appear out of thin air. And amazingly Grandma could always find this new set even though she couldn’t remember which key actually started the car.

When the doctor ordered her to stop driving Grandma took matters into her own hands. "They didn’t require licenses when I started driving so I really don’t need one now." became her new motto and "If I can’t drive I might as well die," became, yet, another battlecry.

As determined as we were to get Grandma to stop driving, she was even more determined to keep her license. When it came time to renew her license, instead of asking a family member to take her to the Department of Motor Vehicles, she asked a neighbor; conveniently circumventing those of us who would have told the inspector not to renew it. In short, we soon realized that we were losing the battle of the car keys to a woman who had lived through four wars and the depression. In retrospect, it was hardly a surprise.

One particularly hot summer day, I called Grandma. When she answered the telephone she sounded so sad and forlorn.

"What’s the matter, Grandma?" I asked.

"I can’t start my car," she exclaimed.

"Grandma why were you trying to start your car? You know you’re not suppose to be driving," I said, about to give her the full lecture on the dangers of driving.

"Now before you get in an uproar and start telling me stories about dangerous old lady drivers who wipe out entire families who are on a trip to the ice cream shop, I want to explain," she snapped. "There are times that I need to feel like I’m still able to do the things I used to do. I need to feel useful and alive again. At those times, I take my keys and start up the car and sit behind the wheel and just let the motor run. I listen to the hum of the engine and remember the people I’ve seen and the places I’ve been. And sometimes, when I feel particularly daring, I take new turns and forbidden roads just to prove to myself that while I may be an old dog, I can still learn new tricks. You know, sometimes sitting in idle just letting your motor run is better than the trip itself. You should try it someday."

And you know, Grandma is right. Sometimes just sitting in idle and letting our motor run is the best the best medicine we can take as we drive down the crazy, fast-paced lanes known as the highway of life.

A Simple Life

I wrote this piece on our horrendously long (26 hour) flight home from Thailand. I had often debated with other sociologists about the negative impact that those from highly advanced economies had on "so-called" third world countries and their citizens. Boone's thoughts on the matter enlightened me in such a way that book learning never could. I thank Boone for putting things in perspective in my mind and for sharing with me those things of importance in his life. Boone is a good man and I feel priviledged to have met him.

A Simple Life

By Cheryl L. Dieter copyright 1999

Two years ago when my family moved to the Midwest, we did so in search of a "simpler" life. After burning the candles at both ends, we felt it was time to slow down. We wanted to have the time to stop and smell the roses, and to enjoy the "simple" things in life. I thought I knew what those "simple" things were until we met Boone during a mountain trek while in Thailand.
Boone was 33 years old then. Gracious and quiet, he used to be a sustenance farmer. In his village he eked out a meager living cultivating rice and growing vegetables. His was a simple life, yet Boone wanted more. He wanted more than to just sustain himself, he wanted to have some money set aside for a rainy day. So Boone gave up farming and he dedicated his life to learning how to speak English in an effort to improve his life. Now he leads jungle treks for foreign tourists who pay a lot of money to forget their busy lives and experience the "simple life" of the hill tribe people in Northern Thailand.

I got to know Boone very well on our two day trek and I think he got to know me better than he wanted to as he carried my pack for most of the trek. I would like to say that I lead the group due to Boone’s pack carrying generosity. I can’t. He carried my pack in hopes that I would arrive at the remote village sometime within the same week as the others in the group. Going straight up mountains and then straight down did terrible things to my knees and by the end of the day I was beginning to think that knee replacement surgery sounded like fun; if it involved being evaced out by helicopter.

That night while sitting around the campfire in the thatched roof village, Boone and I discussed his former "simple" way of life. I asked him about the concerns that idealistic academics have expressed about the hill people losing their culture and their "simple" ways of life due to the lure of money from Westerners.

"They think we have a "simple" life," said Boone. "Those people should try to live such a life. What is "simple" about trying to keep your children fed on a daily basis? What is "simple" about having no money for clothes or to send your child to school? What is simple about watching a loved one die because you cannot afford proper medical care?" Boone told me that everyone wants a better life, a color TV and a satellite dish so they can learn about and discover the world in an effort to improve theirs.

Early the next morning when the rooster sounded the alarm, as I lay on the grass floor, every muscle in spasm, I contemplated my "simpler" life. Money could not buy me a cool breeze when I desperately needed it on the top of that mountain. It could not stop my heart from racing nor quell an aching thirst. Yet, money was able to buy me something else. Understanding. An understanding of why people risk life and limb to come to the United States in search of a "simpler" life. Never again will I just listen to the put-downs of those who criticize our new citizens who haven’t yet learned their new language. Because for them getting here was the battle. The language is just a minor skirmish.

Isn’t it ironic that while the people of the "so-called" third world are attempting to "simplify" their lives many of us in the states are attempting to do so, only from the opposite end of the spectrum. In truth, maybe simplifying is really just letting go of old beliefs, allowing new possibilities to enter our lives and stopping to smell the roses. Or maybe, it’s as Boone said. Maybe it’s as "simple" as a new color TV, satellite dish and a little money saved for a rainy day.

Monday, February 5, 2007

All For One And Not For The Other

I think about my one son...caucasian, blonde and tall. I think about my other son, asian, dark and small. And I wonder how will there lives be different because we refuse to acknowledge how racism impacts every part of society. My Korean born son is as much my son as my other but when he steps out on the street he will be viewed differently, perhaps even suspiciously. The "face" that he wears will be that of the white person he has been raised as but the face that will be seen will be that of his ancestors. Worse, being raised as a Caucasian ( because after all that is what I am and I know no differently) he will be thinking white, acting white, dreaming white while the world will be thinking asian, seeing him "act" asian, and "allowing" his dreams to be not necessarily of his choosing but what is deamed allowable for someone of his "color." Society sees one thing, I see another. Society will tell him one thing, and I will tell him another. But in the end it is what he will tell himself that will matter. And all I can hope is that I have taught him that his worth is not determined by others but, rather, by what he decides is important and valuable. And may he always know that value is not determined by what others deem worthy but instead it is measured by how many times one keeps putting one foot in front of the other despite knowing the odds. It is a shame that he will have to wear out twice as many shoes for his walk through live than will his brother. But I am determined to make sure that his shoes provide a lot of support and cushion him when the load seems unbearable. It is the least I can do.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Am I an ass?

Sometimes in life we know the direction we are going. Then there are the other times when a scarf is put over our eyes, we are spun, told to take a tail and pin it on the ass end of a donkey. I have always wondered why an ass? Now I think I know. Because we often make an ass of ourselves when we blindly go pell mell in a direction without giving it any thought. Have you ever thought about the number of times that we do a disservice to ourselves and others by refusing to take the time to stop, remove the scarf and giving ourselves the chance to acclimate to our surroundings? Let's face it the ass will always be there. But sometimes we wear ourselves out running after it instead of stopping and just looking at what we carry around behind us.

Copyright 1/29/07 Cheryl Dieter

Monday, January 22, 2007

Umbilical Cords

Ever since my son told me on January 9th that I am going to become a grandmother I have been thinking about umbilical cords. How they are in fact the pathway to life until one is able to burst forth and discover their own. And supposidly after birth that connection is severed. But is it?

The other night I was telling Dave that I had a pit in my stomach. That I felt something horrible was happening. Now at times when this has happened terrible things have happened. Sometimes they are just as I envision them but other times I get the message wrong. Like the time I thought my father was in the hospital because I thought he had been in an accident when he in fact was in the hospital for another matter.

So yesterday, I was feeling horrible. I knew something bad was happening but after a while I decided to ignore it and then I forgot about it. Turns out it was a problem with my oldest son and Dave said, " See you were feeling his pain." And I wondered. How do these things happen? Do we have some sort of invisable umbilical cord to our loved ones. And is love the nourishment that keeps it alive?

Okay goofy questions but what do you expect from someone so sleep deprived!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Funny things

I am exhausted but wanted to post some kid funnies.

Tonight was Winter Formal. Kylee had her hair and makeup professionally done. She looked absolutely beautiful. Her date for the dance came and brought her a wrist corsage and he had a lapel flower for his tux. Kylee was pinning it on him when Karson walks into the room and says, "Hey, are you going to marry my sister?" Well all almost died laughing!

Yesterday, Kullen says to me "I don't want to hang around like a picture."
Karson wanted me to get up and look for something he could not find and said," I am a playboy not a looker boy!"

You know sometimes it just amazes me that I have friends that are so awesome. Today several of them came to my rescue without being asked. They are precious and valuable. Each and every one of them. I feel so lucky to have such amazing people in my life. And they never would have been there if I had not adopted. So adoption has not just enriched my life by giving me the priviledge of raising some great kids it has also given me the support and love of some new friends that I treasure.