Posts for Forever Family Category

How 2 Moms Celebrate Father’s Day

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - June 18, 2017

We celebrate the Uncles

who take her to Crab Cove, to ice cream, to bowling

who send her postcards from their travels and buy her dresses for Christmas

 

We celebrate

The 2 Dad Families in our lives

who remind her that our family is not so different

that she has good friends a lot like her

that men can be loving and nurturing and funny and smart and strong

and make the best french toast

 

We celebrate

Mr. Corey who made her believe she could do math

Helped her through missing Mamas at school

And spent extra time with her 4 days every week for 2 years

 

We celebrate her birth dad

who she doesn’t see

but gave her life

who she doesn’t know

but is very real

who kids ask about and she has answers ready

because we practice

 

We celebrate the men who help her feel seen

Protected

Safe

and

Sound

 

On Father’s Day

We Celebrate

Our Villiage

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Being 8

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - June 15, 2017

 

Being 8 is sitting in the car

Without a booster seat

It’s being able to scooter in front of the house

From here to there

With a friend

While Mamas stay inside

And peek through the window

Being 8

Is no longer needing

Morning snuggles

Most days

Cause you are too busy in your own bed

Memorizing Hamilton lyrics

Or finishing up that Chapter Book

On Your Own

Being 8 is understanding

Cause & Effect

Finally

So chores and morning jobs and “Yes, Mamas”

Are no big deal

They lead to fun and Yes and more of what you love

Being 8 is all about

Playdates

Where you design cookbooks

With recipes like, “Allison’s Amazing Applesauce”

And “Lynn’s Lovely Lemonade”

Being 8 is safe

Being 8 is free

Being 8 is choice

Being 8 is just the tiniest bit sad for Mama A

Because it means you will never again be 7

You will never be again 6

6 is the age that you were born to us

Our baby years with you only lasted a very little while

And you are already

8

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Mama, What Does the Waitress Think About Our Family?

Forever Family, Love Wins - Allison Kenny - June 13, 2017

I remember

Sitting

in a frozen yogurt shop

on a hot day

in Oakland.

 

The woman behind the counter

(a Wonderland of fruit and candy toppings)

kept smiling at us.

 

We get a lot of smiles.

3 beauties with skin

different shades

laughing loud,

holding hands,

singing songs

in public.

 

“Mamas, does the waitress think one of you are my Auntie?”

“I don’t know, Babe. How come?”

“Maybe, she never heard of a family with two Mamas before.”

“Oh…maybe.”

 

We went right back to singing.

 

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She Calls Me Mama A

Forever Family, Love Wins - Allison Kenny - June 12, 2017

They Want to Know-

Those Mom and Dad families

Feeling Curious

Wondering

Imagining

What Family is Like

When the Labels

Don’t Fit

When the Boxes

Aren’t Checked

Mom and Dad Families

Wonder

 

Who Takes Out the Trash?

And Who Does

Her Hair?

Who Can She Tell Her Secrets To?

And Who Cares For Her When She’s Sick?

 

How Many Moms Do You Have?

Kids At School Wanna Know

Two

She Says

Lucky!

Kids Know

What’s Up

They Know Love Wins and Would Never

Vote Otherwise

 

Mom and Dad Families

Have Questions

The Big One

The One They Ask

Most

Is

What Does She Call You?

 

What is the Name for

Families Like Mine

The Name is Yes

The Name is

Respect Our Rights

The Name is Equal

The Name is Awesome

The Name is Love

 

Also, I’m So Happy To Tell You

To Help You Picture Us

Families Like Mine

Beautiful

Real

As Important As Your Family

I’m So Happy to Tell You

 

She Calls Me

Mama A

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25 Things I Learned as a Special Needs Mom

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - April 12, 2017

  1. Every milestone is worth celebrating. It doesn’t matter how small.
  2. Perfect is not real.
  3. Sometimes, my self-care is THE most important thing.
  4. Take the long view. Big picture is everything.
  5. This, too, shall pass. It always does.
  6. Humor goes a long way.
  7. Be responsible for the energy I bring into a room.
  8. Be gentle.
  9. Notice what my face is doing.
  10. I get to be human. I get to be human. I get to be human.
  11. Forgive myself.
  12. Forgive my kid.
  13. Other kids and families might do things differently not better, not “normal” just different.
  14. Advocate for my kid with persistence, patience, and love.
  15. Saying no is really important.
  16. Saying yes is really important.
  17. Get on the floor and play.
  18. I’m not in control of, well…barely anything.
  19. People act out when they are afraid.
  20. I act out when I am afraid.
  21. People stare. Smile back.
  22. I am a superhero.
  23. My kid is working as hard as I am.
  24. Hold onto joy every time it shows up.
  25. Get help.
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Raising Girls Who Know They Matter

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - April 6, 2017

 

Before my daughter came into my life, I worked for a decade as a theater teaching artist. Children ages two to twenty-two of every race, gender, ability and learning style taught me to be a compassionate human. I got used to thinking on my feet, tuning into their particular needs, and speaking from my heart. All of this prepared me for parenting.

“That sign says Black Lives Matter, Mommy. What about me? Does my life matter, too?”

I remember the day my little girl asked me this question. She was almost seven and was learning to read more every day. She was in that exciting threshold between reading nothing and reading everything. Spacing out as we moved through the world and noticing every billboard, menu, and sign. This was a big opportunity for me, too. She was asking me, her White Mama, to unpack the Black Lives Matter movement while we waited in line at our favorite mac n cheese spot.

A big part of why my wife and I choose to stay in Oakland, CA after adopting our little girl was to make sure conversations like these were part of our everyday experience. We’re commitment to living on a street with folks of all races, sending her to a diverse school, and making sure she has teachers who look like her. My wife grew up as one of few Black people in an all-White suburb. This was hard on her. She wanted something different for her daughter.

READ MORE on RAISING RACE CONSCIOUS CHILDREN

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25 Things My Mom Taught Me That I Want My Daughter to Know

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - March 8, 2017

 

  1. Join in. When you are part of a community, show up and help.
  2. Fridays are for take-out. Period.
  3. It’s okay to laugh so hard you cry. Or pee.
  4. Swim as much as you can.
  5. Ride horses in the summer even if you are scared.
  6. Pie is a great way to celebrate most things.
  7. Learn how to make chicken soup from scratch.
  8. If you fall in a lake, just laugh at yourself.
  9. Pray. It helps.
  10. Notice who needs help around you.
  11. Mothers are always there for their kids. Period.
  12. School is your job. Work hard.
  13. Find out which activities make you happy and do them.
  14. I will love you no matter what you do.
  15. Take charge of a group, even if you’re shy.
  16. Hold babies every chance you get.
  17. Blankets and scarves snuggle better if knitted by hand.
  18. Let people celebrate you, even if it’s hard.
  19. Singing makes things better.
  20. Make something and enter it into a contest.
  21. Read everything you can.
  22. Get excited about giving people presents.
  23. Decorate your house for every single holiday.
  24. Learn the names of trees.
  25. Let your kids be whoever they are and don’t judge them.

More: If I Took Care of Myself Like I Take Care of My Daughter

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How I Told My Daughter That She Has Special Needs

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - January 25, 2017

We are sitting at the dining room table for yet another teary session of math homework. She has used up all her focusing tools- chewing gum, lighting a peppermint candle, choosing which problem to start with…nothing is helping. Then I see the light in her eyes change. They grow dark and serious in that intense way I know so well. She is fighting for truth.

“Mom, why can the kids around me do math but I can’t? I learn it but I can’t remember it. The other kids remember. Why, mom? It doesn’t make any sense.” There is shame in these words. And desperation.

I’m not planning to have this conversation today. I didn’t wake up knowing that I would be called on to deliver this news in a way she can digest it. My wife and I are still digesting it ourselves.

We go through periods of intense grief and even anger about her special needs. Spending time with other people’s kids can trigger it. After a morning babysitting my dear friend’s toddler, I spend the afternoon sobbing. This three-year-old has social skills that are more advanced than my eight-year-old. We travel to Texas to visit cousins and breathe through frustration as my daughter’s anxiety and hypervigilance exhaust everyone in the house. We go to IEP meeting after meeting and are overwhelmed by how many professionals are engaged each week in supporting my kiddo’s learning. After weeks of her violent PTSD fits, we refocus on caring for ourselves so that my daughter’s needs don’t take over our entire lives.

More like this: Even though My Wife & I Get Away, Our Daughter Makes Us Pay

But here she is, asking for the truth. So, I share with her what gets me through my moments of fear and grief and doubt and anger. I share with her the truth about her resilience.

“I’m telling you the truth. Are you listening? Do you remember how you were born very tiny and that you came out early? One thing that happens when babies are born early is that their brains don’t get enough time to develop. This is not the baby’s fault! This is nobody’s fault. It happens to many babies who are born early. It means your brain has worked extra hard to develop and grow ever since you were born. And guess what? Your brain is doing very well. Very very well. That’s because you have a powerful quality in you. You are FIERCE. That means you are somebody who doesn’t give up. Even as a teeny little baby, you were so fierce that you fought to live. You fought to grow. And now, you are fighting to learn math. It is harder for you. You are right about that. But working hard and not giving up are wonderful qualities to have. You also have mama’s who love you and teachers to help when things feel hard. You are not alone.”

I hadn’t researched what to say. I hadn’t prepared for this question. I just opened my heart up and felt around for what she needed to hear. Of course what really happened is that I said the words I needed to hear.

I think healing the dissonance between our fantasy of parenting and the truth of it will be a long road for my wife and I. But moments to ignite our empathy and focus on our daughter’s amazing gifts help. They help a lot.

More Like This: Dear Kids At School

I’m different and that’s awesome

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My Family Celebrates Adoption Day Topless

Forever Family - Allison Kenny - October 17, 2016

We were told in foster parent training that the kids we are placed with may have been sexually abused. So, it’s important to have privacy when anyone in the family is changing clothes or using the bathroom. This protects everybody and strong boundaries should be in place until your child is legally adopted.

“What if we’re at a street fair and I have to use a port-a-potty? I won’t leave my child outside,” I protested.

“Bring them inside and have them turn around,” I was told.

And we did. All year, a closed-door has meant “knock please.” Morning routines have included “please wait” as we cover ourselves out of the shower and have Squirrel turn around when we pee. Cumbersome. Weird. Especially as someone who believes in raising a body positive girl. But I also believe in safety no matter what. And until trust was fully built and we learned more about her history, I did not want to risk triggering our new daughter or breaking the rules of being a foster parent.

I knew we’d reached a higher level of trust when Squirrel began begging to see us naked.

“Please, Mama! Just let me see your boobs!” she’d whine in the mornings. We didn’t get to breastfeed her or hold her on our chests in the moments after delivery. I took her boob obsession as a great sign. We explained the limitation and how once we were all officially a legal family, it would be fine to change clothes in front of one another if we all wanted to.

After a fairly intense 2 weeks leading up to Adoption Day, I knew we could all use a good laugh.
So when Squirrel stumbled into our bedroom groggy-eyed on the morning of October 16th, I pulled off my tank top and stood there topless in front of her.

“Happy Adoption Day, Lovebug!” I cheered, striking a triumphant pose. She screamed with joy. Danced in circle. And fell to the floor.

“Mommy, look at your CUTE BOOBS!” She was thrilled. She ran to find Mama Lynn.

“Now YOU!” she demanded. Lynn complied with a little grumbling. Squirrel was delighted to be in a room getting dressed with her Mommies. What a perfectly normal thing for a family to do. But for us, it was our first time and it was special. It turned our Adoption Day into Mardi Gras…a tradition I’m sure we’ll keep up each year.

Once dressed herself in the special dress we’d been saving, Squirrel spun in a circle on our bedroom floor.

“Look at my Adoption dress, Mommies!” Then she pulled the dress up over her head. “And look at my little Adoption BOOBS!”

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I have maybe never laughed so hard.

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Curbside

Forever Family, Self-care - Allison Kenny - October 3, 2016

This morning was

Expected.

The refusal to get dressed

The screaming

The loud NO!

The “I don’t want to go to school”

Even the need to pack up her toothbrush, her glasses, her breakfast

The curbside drop-off

As she kicked and hollered

Puffy-eyed

Wild-hair

Snot everywhere

Shoes in a bag

Because she refused my help for an hour

My wife’s frustration

Totally expected

As she sat in the back seat

Bra-less

Her own feet bare

As she secured the seat belt again and again

For our angry daughter

PTSD fits

Are expected

After we get-a-way

for 2 days of

Self Care

Blue Waves

Crashing against the headland cliffs

11 hours of sleep

A night

Champagne picnic as the sun sets

So, it was expected

That today would be hard

The Homecoming

Turbulent.

It was Unexpected, though

When our daughter

Who had refused

Empathy

Support

Kindness

for an hour

Choosing to derail

and come undone instead

When this wild-animal-powerful-girl

Was lifted, kissed and placed

Gently on the grass

In front of her school

Curbside

It was Unexpected

To see the

4th grade Safety Monitor

Taking his duties

Very seriously.

He did not bat an eye

As we drove off

And she screamed.

We paused, of course

On the corner

To watch her put on her shoes

And go into school

Whether she wanted to or not

The 4th grade safety monitor

Held his post

Reliable

And helped my little girl

Find her glasses

Which she had thrown

In the Grass

 

 

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