Pivot

Friends, this blog has been basically dormant for a couple of years, for lots of reasons. Our family has changed – my kids have gotten older, and as they have their privacy is more important. That’s the line that I thoughtfully and intentionally crossed when I started this blog many years ago – I gave up my and my children’s privacy in return for awareness-building that led to badly-needed resources for them and will hopefully contribute toward badly-needed system change. This blog is directly responsible for getting our state’s healthcare authority to actually pay for very necessary inpatient psychiatric care for one of my kiddos, for example, so I’m glad it exists.  It’s also directly responsible for resentment on the part of at least one of my kids, which I knew was a possibility and I completely understand. I’d like to work toward a day when being obnoxiously public about what your kids need, and using your privilege to get that, is not a necessary thing for parents of foster kids, parents of adopted kids, parents of kids of color, or parents of kids with disabilities. Big party at my house when that happens. We will have a great band – promise. 

Along those lines, it’s time to pivot this blog. There are lots of families who need support and lots of very broken systems out there, and I’d love to use the momentum I’ve built to drive those things, and I’d love to hear from you how you’d like to help me do that. 

  • Are you interested in supporting foster/adoptive families? What questions do you have? How is your civic group, PTA, place of worship, happy hour group, or book club helping? What advice do you have for me in helping people do that? Post both in the comments here or email me.
  • Are you interested in effective, abundant mental healthcare for all? I am. If you’re in Oklahoma (like me), the most effective thing you can do is ask elected officials to support Medicaid expansion, which will result in, among other things, more mental health care “beds” or slots for people who need care. Oklahomans Decide Healthcare is a new group that is working toward Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma, and you can read about their efforts and how to become involved on their website. What’s happening in your state? I’d love to help you amplify good stuff, so comment below or email me.
  • Are you interested in ensuring people of color have the same opportunities as we white folk? Or do you think that’s already a thing? Convinced racism doesn’t actually still exist? I would love to respectfully and empathetically help white folk build the same perspective that raising children of color has built for me. For clarity – I don’t know what it’s like to be a person of color, nor will I ever. I do know what it’s like to be a progressive white woman who used to think I understood, and now I know I really, really don’t. How can I build that for you, white friends? What do you want to know, or confront, or call BS on? Comment below or email me, with your input.
  • If you’re in Tulsa, please ensure you’re following what City Council is doing around race, including the equality indicators (full disclosure – I led part of the Resiliency Plan for Tulsa) and the search for mass graves related to the 1921 Race Massacre. Like and follow the Demanding a JustTulsa Facebook page for more information as well. What is happening in your state? How can I help amplify positive movement where you live? Comment below or email me.
  • Are you interested in criminal justice reform? Or are you not sure what that means? Or do you think we should lock ’em up and throw away the key? I’ve unfortunately learned how little justice there is in the justice system, via my personal and professional life, and I’m convinced we will look back on this time in our nation’s history as our second round of slavery. In Oklahoma, we keep getting really close to real reform, but we’re not quite there yet. Follow Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, ACLU Oklahoma, and Open Justice Oklahoma for great information. For those of you who are employers, please work with ReMerge and Women in Recovery to hire their wonderful graduates. I’ve hired several! For those of you on the politically conservative side of the house, check out what the Koch Foundation has to say about criminal justice reform – they’re big fans.  Also, check out Right on Crime, Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform, and The American Conservative Union Foundation.
  • If you’d like to meet with me, ask me to write a piece for your blog or publication, or ask me to speak with your group, email me, please. I am adamant about using my own experience for good in the world. 

Big love, friends! Let’s do this.

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Pivot

To Look After Orphans

Several years ago I began hearing this over and over again – “I can’t believe you don’t know Michelle Kelley!” I heard it so many times, I finally said, “Would someone please introduce me to this Michelle Kelley person?” So, we met via Facebook, and we’ve been soul sisters ever since. At the time we both lived in Oklahoma City. (I’m in Tulsa, now.) We were both foster/adoptive moms. (She adopted two biological siblings, I have three.) We were both unmarried when we adopted. (She is still. I am again.) We’re both determined, professional women who are well-respected in the business community. We’re both outspoken when necessary. However, when it comes to politics and religion (the biggies!) we’re opposites sides of the same foster/adoptive parent coin. While I am a Buddhist-leaning Unitarian, Michelle is a Christian (as is most of the population of our home state of Oklahoma, by the way). And, while I’m a Democrat, Michelle is a Republican. In spite of this, we agree on an amazing array of ideas and goals, and when we disagree we do so respectfully. This arrangement makes as un excellent tag team on legislative issues regarding foster/adoption, and we’ve actually visited our state Capitol together for this reason.

This morning I awoke to a powerful Facebook post from Michelle that I’ve reposted here. If it resonates with you, and if you think Michelle is as fabulous as I believe her to be, please let her know in the comments below. It takes a village to do what she and I (and lots of other parents from lots of other political/religious/ethnic/sexual orientations do.) We need your support.

To those who call themselves Christian in my FB feed: I rarely get very preachy in my FB posts, but I can’t seem to help this. Tons of you have been sending me the short film “Removed,” because you are touched by the contents of the foster child’s perspective. The film, although an accurate reflection, does not hold a candle to holding your child while she describes being tied to a toilet or punched in the stomach. What I am most concerned about though, is not the film, but the lack of understanding by my sisters and brothers in Christ, of our responsibility, our calling to those who cannot help themselves.

In the last four years, our family has been met with disdain, my kids told to their face that they were not going to have a good life because they weren’t going to have a Dad. I was told that I was doing my children a disservice, because I couldn’t provide a father, nor could I be a stay-at-home mom. I’ve been called a narcissist, because I refused to allow unhealthy emotional behaviors shatter the peace that we have created in our family. All in the name of Christ.

Thankfully, Jesus reveals himself to me and my kids. We are incredibly grateful for the scores and scores of Christians and non-Christians who support us. Every foster child needs scores and scores of people to play different roles to help them be who God intended them to be – not just foster parents, but therapists, counselors, teachers, daycare workers, doctors, lobbyists, social workers, legislators VOTERS, etc. There is NO excuse not to be involved in some way. If you’re waiting to be called, then check your bible. James 1:27 reads “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” I’m not a theologian, but it seems pretty straightforward to me.

My point is, as a whole, we are getting it wrong. If you are confused on what should outrage you and get your back up about your spiritual beliefs, this “A Handy Guide to Christian Outrage” article is a good start.

Sermon over.

To Look After Orphans