Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Teachable Moment

This weekend, a piece of anonymous hate mail was sent to my home (via U.S. mail) in response to a recent facebook post of mine, in which I implored parents to talk with their children about bullying and racism. I suspect that what I said in the facebook message struck a nerve with someone, because they felt the need to bring me down a few notches. The general gist of the letter was that it was hypocritical for me to "suddenly advocate for my black children", given that I'm such a crappy mom. I was accused of many things, including using my children to feed my professorial persona and boost my public image. (By the way, I thought long and hard about that accusation yesterday and came to the following conclusion: I TOTALLY use my kids to boost my image. Who wouldn't? They're flippin' AWESOME KIDS, and I'd be missing out on a huge opportunity if I didn't ride the coattails of their awesomeness for as long as they let me).

Anyway. Back to my main point. Many of the accusations found in the hate letter focused on things I have published in this blog, and that's why I'm here today. Many of you have read my blog (it has been no secret; in fact, I've linked to it on facebook), and know that I started it as a way to raise awareness of the impact of early childhood trauma, neglect and malnutrition on the brain and behavior. The blog was my way to give back - as a biologist - to an online community of adoptive families who face similar parenting challenges. Other blogs published by families within this community were literally a lifesaver to me and my family a few years ago, as we struggled to help our Haitian adoptees transition to family life and understand their behavioral responses to stress. For the record, there are very few resources out there (and very few experienced therapists in our community) for parents and children who face these challenges. There is also very little support, because much of the time, our kids' stress responses are blamed on our parenting skills. Thus, the blogs within this community helped to fill the void and serve as a source of support and information for adoptive families. I thought my knowledge and experience as a biologist and adoptive parent would be a welcome contribution.

I have been open and honest on this blog about the struggles my children have faced, in order to network with families facing similar issues, contribute whatever knowledge I have regarding the biology behind the behaviors, and find the resources I needed to help them heal. As a result of my honesty, I am now being accused of not advocating for - and in fact, bullying - my children. So I wanted to take this opportunity to say that I firmly believe that the BEST THING I have EVER done to advocate for my children was to network through this blog and others, to find them the help and support they need. As a result, my kids are in a MUCH better place now. Much of that outcome is due to the fact that they are just unbelievably amazing children to begin with. But I also believe they are in a much better place because I chose to step up, be their advocate, and find them the help that they needed to heal.

Nonetheless, this weekend's hate mail reminded me that not all people come from a place of compassion, and thus, I've decided to remove my prior posts that reference my family's experiences,  and make them available through password access only. This weekend's hate mail also reminded me that so many teachable moments remain re: adoption, poverty, childhood trauma, and racism, and thus you can expect to hear more from me on this blog.