Lawsuit, Sperm Bank, Lesbian Couple, Mixed-race Daughter

Lawsuit: Wrong sperm delivered to lesbian couple

Maybe it’s just me but it seems this lawsuit is more about their daughter’s mixed race rather than the sperm banks error. Especially since the couple (aka parents) have included all of this in their legal complaint and lawsuit. Funny how a person can live in a world (sometimes blindly) and be indifferent to the vast racial disparities and scrutiny’s and not really care until it directly impacts ones own life. 

Now all the mixed-race and trans-racial families say together…awe…

“Raising a mixed-race daughter has been stressful in Cramblett and Zinkon’s small, all-white community, according to the suit. Cramblett was raised around people with stereotypical attitudes about nonwhites, the lawsuit states, and did not know African-Americans until she attended college at the University of Akron.

Because of this background and upbringing, Jennifer acknowledges her limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans and steep learning curve, particularly in small, homogenous Uniontown, which she regards as too racially intolerant,” the lawsuit states.”

Confidence

I wish I knew how much of our confidence we are inherently born with and how much we gain from our environment.  And I’ve wondered what can promote or decrease the level of confidence we have.

Confidence is generally described as a state of being certain either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective. 

Self-confidence is having confidence in oneself. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confidence

I love the 2006 Academy Award winner for Best Animated Feature film, Happy Feet.  Many insightful aspects and metaphors stood out in this movie but there is one thing that stands out among the rest; Mumble’s confidence.  Even though he appeared to be different, he doesn’t allow his differences to hinder his confidence.  When others criticized his dancing feet and pointed out his lack of vocal skills to his parents he remains sure of himself.  When his parents began to question whether or not their son was “normal”, Mumble quickly dispels their doubts and reassures them that he is okay and nothing is wrong.

Can you imagine being different from everyone else, not fitting in to the perfect mold that has been carved out by your environment or maybe your family.  Being told that you are not normal because you appear to be different or that your skills do not match the criterion that has been established by the leaders.  Seems kind of crazy, doesn’t it?  But to some extent, this happens every day.

I’m not a big fan of the term “Gifted and Talented (GT)”.  I think the title given to students at such a young age (as early as first grade) is misleading.  It gives the impression that only some are bestowed the honor of gifts and talents, as if they are the chosen few.

We are all born with spiritual gifts and talents.

Several of my son’s  friends were selected to go into the GT classroom after Kindergarten.  My son, however, was not.  And that was fine; except when the kids and even the parents would announce often about their GT status.  Example: “My son’s GT classroom, her GT teacher, the GT students,” instead of, “my child’s first grade class, his teacher, her classmates, the students.”  And this was during casual conversations where no distinction was needed at that particular time.

I don’t have an issue with students who are educationally advanced being placed in a separate advanced placement classroom and classifying them as academically advanced, which in my opinion is a more accurate assessment.  Students who are able to process information on a faster level should be free to advance among their like-minded peers.  But when other kids are made to feel as though they’re not gifted and talented or their gifts and talents do not matter as much as some of the others, that is when I take issue.

Jaren often talked about his friends in the GT classroom with decency and respect.  He never appeared to be jealous.  If anything, it made him work harder on his academics.

I remained neutral at home, refraining from any positive or negative remarks about the GT classroom.  I wanted Jaren to be happy and secure in his classroom environment.  I knew he was gifted and talented.  I didn’t need his elementary school to define that for me or my son.

When Jaren was in the fourth grade, he took the initiative to ask his counselor if he could take the GT assessment tests.  Previously, either the staff or the parents of students made these request.  I had known about Jaren’s desire to be in the GT classroom so this was not big surprise to me.  His counselor sent home some paperwork for me to read and authorize.  I signed the form and spoke with Jaren’s counselor.  I explained to her that this was Jaren’s idea.  However, I also assured her that I was supporting my son’s choice.

I prepared Jaren as much as I could.  I knew this was important to him.  But I also knew that there were two possible scenarios that could happen.  I wondered if my son was prepared for either.  We prayed about it and I reminded my son to do his best.

Jaren had to take three GT academic tests.  He was required to pass with a specified grade percentage on at least two of the three tests.  Jaren’s counselor called me and said Jaren qualified on one of the three tests and also came very close on a second test, missing by only a few points.  I let Jaren know how very proud of him I was for trying his best.  Mostly, I was proud of him for having the confidence to ignore the boundaries that had been previously established and seeking a goal that mattered most to him.

That’s self-confidence!

When Jaren was in the fifth grade, he, along with a few other students in his classroom competed in the Spelling Bee contest.  Previously, the contest was reserved for the GT students only.  But Jaren’s fifth grade teacher requested that her students be eligible to compete.  That year, the two top winners came from this non-GT fifth-grade class with Jaren taken second place!  I was honored that his teacher believed in her students so much so that she wanted to break the tradition that had been previously set out.  She wanted all the students to have an opportunity to excel and show their skills and talents.

Confidence is having the courage to make a request and feeling like you already know the answer is going to be yes.  It’s walking on a stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people and feeling as though your presence will inspire those listening.  It’s having the assurance to rally your team to great success.  And maybe, it’s believing no matter who you are in this world, you matter.

Courage

As parents, we have so many decisions, choices and responsibilities that not only affect our own life but every person we are raising.  Whether we play full-time parent or part-time parent, we become the Corporate CEO of our family; see what has worked in the past and what can be improved upon, what new methods have been invented, throw out the old procedures, introduce some new technology blended with proven techniques and you have the makings of a well-intended, optimistic parent pursuing a positive and colorful future for their family.

I’ve shared some difficult experiences that I had while growing up, on this blog.  And while those experiences impacted me greatly, my parents also provided a good family structure, like chores and a bedtime curfew, having dinner at the kitchen table almost every weeknight, and sitting around the living room watching All in the Family or Good Times.

Manners were important to my parents (mom and step father).  They implanted a strong sense of responsibility in their kids to show respect for oneself and for others.  They had rules and lessons that helped instill good values in me from which I have added many of the same lessons to my own parenting practices.  However, there was one rule that I felt didn’t produced positive results and I needed re-evaluate it; fighting.

Fighting was not tolerated by our dad.  To him, it didn’t matter whether we started the fight or not.  No fighting.  Period!

This was not a difficult rule for me because I feared fist fighting greatly.  I did not once during my twelve years of high school, tell someone who was bullying or criticizing me how I felt, no matter how mad or hurt I was.  I felt insecure and lacked courage.  I would allow my family, friends, love interest and acquaintances mistreat me.   My self-doubting personality led me to feel victimized, as if I had no control over my circumstance or outcome.  Maybe I didn’t feel worthy enough to defend my position or maybe I felt those who were supposed to protect me failed to do so which left me feeling somewhat undeserving.

My son, on the other hand, was born with an assertive personality and wasn’t shy about expressing his thoughts.  He had strong convictions and had enough bravery to back them up.  I wanted to be sure I cultivated these qualities in Jaren that were lacking in me.

Naturally, parents want to protect their children.  But we can’t provide protection 24/7 from the outside world.  We have no control over what others may say to our kids, or what happens when we are not there.  I felt like Jaren may be faced with different obstacles than I had growing up.  For one, I was somewhat concerned that he may come face to face with racial issues.  I wanted to make sure that I appropriately prepared him and assured him that he has every right to stand up for what he believes to be right and ethical.  I explained to Jaren that there will always be someone who won’t like you for “some” reason.  You’re too tall, too short; too thin, too round; too dark, too light; too smart, too slow; too rich, or too poor.  I told him to not get hung up on that “one thing” someone might say or criticize you about.  If they didn’t like you for that one thing, then they would find something else about you they didn’t like.

Jaren got in his first scuffle during pre-school on the playground one day.  One of the boys was pestering one of the girls in their class.  The girl told the boy to stop repeatedly but he kept doing whatever he was doing.  Jaren went over to see what was going on and then asked the boy to leave the girl alone.  The boy pushed Jaren.  Jaren in turn pushed him on the floor and then began to punch him.

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.  -John 15:13

I was happy that Jaren protected his classmate and happier when Jaren’s teacher said that he didn’t get in trouble because Jaren didn’t start the fight.  But at the same time, I knew I needed to have a talk with him.  We needed to lay down some ground rules.

I told him how proud I was that he wanted to protect the little girl.  I told him that he should always try to use his words first.  I said, “If someone says something to you that you don’t like, you have every right to tell that person how you feel and you may ask them to stop.  If they don’t stop, tell them that you will go to the teacher.  Always try to handle it yourself first.  If you can walk away from a fight, then do that.”  Lastly, I enforced, “I better never EVER hear of you starting a fight but if someone hits you first, you have EVERY right to defend yourself.”

Jaren came to the defense of a classmate once again, when he was in middle school.  A boy (that Jaren didn’t know) was being teased by several other schoolboys for being overweight.  Jaren walked by and overheard them.  The boy was nearly in tears.  Jaren knew some of the schoolboys and asked them to stop.  They walked away and as a result, no fight occurred.

“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

But the first time I witnessed Jaren stand up for his self is one that will forever be ingrained in my heart.  Jaren was only three years old.  I was still in the mourning stages from relinquishing my parental rights to my second son, Noah, who was placed for adoption.  My emotions were weak and my tolerance level was rather low towards my young energetic baby boy and at times I would spout off at him for every little annoyance.

Standing in my bedroom, I chastised Jaren for several minor things.  My son looked up at me with his heart full of sadness and said, “Mommy, you’re not being very nice to me.”  My heart dropped.  I felt awful.  My child was speaking the truth.  I sat on my bed as tears quickly filled my eyes and called my son over to me.  I hugged him and apologized.  I wanted to assure him that his thoughts, feelings and opinions mattered.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” -Winston Churchill Image

The Magic Show

Jaren has always been a unique and entertaining child.  There was never a dull moment in our household.

As a youngster, he had an inquisitive and peculiar mind which spawned him to say things that many times left me literally questioning his thought process.   When I brought an avocado home, he wanted to save the large round seed in the middle so he could plant it and grow avocados.  When we went to a craw-fish broil, he asked the host if he could take one home for a pet, which we did.  We named her Lulu.  Jaren also enjoyed singing, being on stage, and never minded being the center of attention.  He had a spiritual knowledge and insight far beyond his young years.  But all that creative energy sometimes left him restless and he went looking everywhere to exercise his mental interest.  On top of that, Jaren had asthma and allergies.  The medications he took to manage these conditions also contributed to his hyperactivity.

Kindergarten was a challenge for Jaren.  He suffered from some behavior issues that were mostly related to him not being able to sit still, focus, and follow directions.  And he was a talker.  At the beginning of the school year the students had a weekly chart that was marked daily with colored mood faces expressing each child’s behavior, that ranged from green(good), yellow(fair), orange(warning) and red(bad).  The charts were sent home daily so parents could acknowledge and initial the behavior noted for that day.   After the first couple weeks, Jaren rarely brought home a happy green face.  His charts mostly consisted of yellow and orange (with green and red being more rare).  It was somewhat discouraging.  Then I got the dreaded notice.  I needed to go to the school for a special parent/teacher conference.

Honestly, I was on defense at first.  I wondered if they were singling out my child for some social, political reason or if there was a real concern for my young son.

I drove to the school to meet with Jaren’s teacher, the counselor, and the vice principal.  I felt outnumbered.  I walked in sheepishly, trying to preserve my self-confidence and was ready to fight on behalf of my child.  Jaren’s teacher had all the examples that she recorded on paper of Jaren’s bad behavior moments.  The vice principal asked how Jaren was doing academically?  His teacher said he was a good student when he was capable of getting his work done.  Then, we were re-directed back to the issue of his class behavior.  They suggested I take Jaren to one of the local offices to have him tested for ADD/ADHD but maintained that it was my choice and that Jaren was still young and could very easily grow out of his challenging behavior.

Although I know ADD/ADHD is a real medical issue, I felt like the school was looking for an easy way out to help make their job easier.  Jaren was so young.  I thought it was too early to assess or label him as having ADD/ADHD.

I was hurt and mad and tried very hard to hold back my emotions.  As I was leaving, I walked with Jaren’s teacher down the hall.  I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer and told her that I was sorry.  I further explained that I had tried everything at home; talking to Jaren, punishment, taking privileges away, but nothing seemed to be making a noticeable or permanent impact.  I said, “I feel like a terrible mom.”

As single parents and working mothers, it feels like we do so much and no matter how much we do, we still can’t do enough, and our best isn’t good enough.  We have stretched ourselves to the max with little or no reserves for unexpected disruptions.  We are trying to uphold a family balance and sometimes the slightest breeze can throw us off course.

My child’s teacher’s response surprised me.  “You shouldn’t feel that way.” she said. “You are a good mom.  You’re here trying to help your son.  Think about all the parents who don’t show up.”  She put her arm around my shoulder and assured me that she and the school would work together to help Jaren.  I immediately felt comforted.

The counselor and Jaren’s teacher formed a new plan for my son.  From that day on, instead of Jaren getting daily charts and weekly rewards, they began giving him progress updates throughout the day.  He could look at his chart that was taped to his desk and see his behavior progress.  It gave him a goal to work towards.

One day, Jaren asked his teacher if he could perform a magic show for his class.  Jaren’s teacher thought it was a great motivational opportunity and told him that he needed to get a certain amount of good behavior reports.  If he did, he could perform his magic show for his classmates.

Jaren worked hard on his class behavior at school and practiced his magic skills regularly for me at home and all that hard work paid off.

To prepare my son for his magic show debut I bought him a cape and a top hat.  As I beheld Jaren standing in front of his animated audience, I watched a problematic kid be transformed into a charismatic star pupil that day.  He was focused and poised.  His classmates were truly entertained by his magic.Image

Thank goodness for teachers like this, the ones who allow all their students to shine in unique ways.

Magic Show

Adversity

When I look back on my life, it amazes me how far I have come in the face of adversities.

During uncertain times, we hope that no matter what, we can always count on our family for unconditional love and acceptance but sometimes it just isn’t so.  Such was the case for me when I was expecting my son, Jaren.

What began as a loving supportive family of my unplanned pregnancy, which included a distant baby shower for me (I lived in Texas, they lived in New Jersey) turned suddenly dreadful when my family learned of my child’s mixed ethnicity (African and European American).  My mother was noticeably distraught.  She seemed more concerned as to what she would tell all those who attended the baby shower and even wondered if they would want their gifts returned (by-the-way, they didn’t).  Apparently, they were okay with me being an unwed mother to a white baby.  But being a single mother of a bi-racial (half black) baby was another story all together.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

After my baby was born, some of my family members tried to put their prejudices aside.  Going home was always a divide between love and hate, right and wrong and I strongly debated if I even wanted my son to have a relationship with these relatives whose love for him was initially tarnished solely based on the color of his skin.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

From that moment on, I would not be invited to another holiday dinner or family event due to my step father’s prejudices.  My family made it very clear that they didn’t want to be caught in the middle.  My mother would provide halfhearted excuses and say things like, “That’s the way your father is and he isn’t going to change.”  My older brother and sister would personally tell me to my face that they didn’t think it was fair how I was being treated.  And like our mother, they were unwilling to stand up for me.  Whether they feared openly debating their perspective with our father or whether they were masking their own prejudices internally is unknown to me.  Either way, they all had it in their mind that since I didn’t play by the rules (no interracial dating), that I should have expected this reaction and be happy with what they were offering.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

When Jaren and I flew back home, my step father would go away for a few hours or an overnighter at their summer home so my mother could bring us home for a short visit.  We were on a tight schedule.  Orders were…me and Jaren needed to be out of my parent’s house and out of sight by the time my step father returned home.  I can remember the nervousness my mother had trying to get us packed, out of the house and into the car so she could drop us off at my brother’s or sister’s home.  She had a great fear of running into her husband before we left.  It’s a sad way to live, in my opinion.  And it always left me feeling slighted.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

Whenever we went home, the other grandkids would talk about Poppy, and Jaren would ask questions as to who Poppy was.  Jaren was curious about Poppy.  Often times, my mother would evade questions from Jaren, sometimes becoming flustered by his inquiries.  I remember on one occasion, she responded that Poppy was her husband, for which I gave her a sharp look.  I had to bite my tongue so many times; I’m surprised it didn’t literally fall off.  Truth is, Mom didn’t have any plausible excuses for her young grandson.  She would send pictures either by mail or email to us in Texas of Poppy and the other grandkids, depicting a wonderful loving grandparent and I wondered why my mother felt the need to share them with me and my child.  I finally had to request she not send pictures to avoid confusion.  No child deserves that.

I went along with the charade for my son’s sake.

I remember on one visit back home, me, my sister, her daughter, and Jaren stopped by the local custard stand.  We were sitting at a picnic table when my sister saw our parents in the parking lot.  My sister egged me to go over and introduce my son to his grandfather.  I think my sister wanted to end the divide in our family.  We walked over and stood alongside my father’s car window.  I had Jaren sitting on my hip and said, “Hello.”  My father looked straight ahead.  My sister did most of the talking.  He glanced once or twice at my sister and my niece but never acknowledged me or my son.  My mother sat in the passenger side, eating her desert, saying very little.  Once I returned back to Texas, far enough away, I learned how hateful, prejudice words were said about me and my mixed-race family by some family members and close friends.

Yes, I went along with the charade.  It was a game that I learned to play very well by their rules.    Any disturbances from the rules would have jeopardized the ties that bond and at that time, I was trying to hold onto whatever was available to me.  I thirsted for the love of my family and did not want to be left alone in a world with no family ties.  I wanted my son to have his extended family, even if they were fifteen hundred miles away, even if they were prejudice, even if they were willing to stand and watch one of their very own blood relatives be rejected and rebuked.

For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’  “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Matthews 25:42-45

Twelve years later, my step dad finally had a change of heart.  My younger brother and his wife were vital in the evolution of our family restoration.  I had the idea of having a 70th surprise birthday party for our mother.  I proposed the idea to my brother and sister-in-law.  They liked the idea and my brother said he would talk it over with our dad.  We needed to make sure he was on board.  I had gone along with the charade for a very long time, but to ask me to help plan something and then say that me and my mixed-race family would not be welcome, well, that’s another story.  I don’t know what my brother said to our father that day but our dad agreed to go along with the party.  This event was the first time that my son and I were at a get-together with our whole family and long-time friends in one place at the same time.  After twelve long years, I felt like a member of this family again.

If you asked me today if I am totally healed from this experience, I will tell you no.  I swallowed my pride and quieted my voice for many years as my wounded heart broke and my eyes filled with penetrating tears.  The ill treatment we received by the ones who were supposed to love us without seizing, with no apology or remorse still haunts me.

I wonder how much one person can bear, how many times one wounded heart can break and how much one soul can withstand before its spirit is weakened.  These are the questions that I may never know the facts and the answer may lie within each lesson.

In the end, I’ve learned a great deal as a mother.  But I would say what I learned from having my biracial family has taught me much more than I could have ever imagined.  It’s taught me to be strong in the face of adversity.   Image

I Dreamed of You…

You entered my womb without a sound,
Patiently waiting to be found.

Without effort, we bonded to each other
You become my child…I, your mother.

And I dreamed of you…

I provided nutrients, your living bowl
I became your life line….you, my little soul.

You snuggled inside, warm and tight
You became my courage, my inner light.

And I dreamed of you…

The time had come and you were complete
Our bodies worked together, we didn’t miss a beat.

I held you in my arms, thankful for my gift
You became my weight, I became your lift.

Noah's birthAnd my dream came true…

I hugged you… kissed you… and tenderly said good-bye.

I became your birth mother…you, my absent child.

And I dreamed of you…..