Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My "real" life:

To those of you who have adopted through foster care, and survived to tell the tale I commend you. Foster-to-adopt is a journey not for the faint of heart. It is a confusing, painful, emotional, unfair and beautiful path. Loving a child with all the intensity a mother can give, but being given no biological or legal connection binding her to me. In the eyes of the law we were only her “foster” parents. Now I mean no disrespect to the word foster, it truly is a wonderful title to have. But the love we shared exceeded the word, and I ached to be rid of it.

One day we were waiting for her name to be called at the doctor’s office. This was something I dreaded, the nurse coming out with her chart and calling out the birth name of my dd. Reminding me publicly that even though she had been mine since she was six weeks old, and even though she had only seen her birth mother for 1hr in the past 7mths, she was still legally not just mine. However on this day the nurse came out looked at me and said “I think it’s about time we call her by her real name, its Stella right?” Such a simple thing to say but my eyes started to well and I had to fight back tears. This woman was the first to publicly validate me, to confirm that this is my REAL daughter even with out biology and with out paper. She truly is my real daughter! Although I still long for the day when I no longer have to report my life to an overworked caseworker, and sit in a room with judges and lawyers who decided the fate of my baby without having met her. This one woman’s thoughtful words eased my path.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

What would you have done?

“Mom,” my then 8 year old daughter Cady said to me at the over crowded McDonalds Playplace. “The boys are yelling 'run away from the black boy’ at Everett.” My sister in law, who was home from college for a visit turned to me and said “I thought I heard something like that while you were in the bathroom but I wasn’t sure.” I looked again at Cady, she was clearly upset and expected me to do something. I could see my happy two year old Everett, busily, running, climbing, finding his way up, sliding down, and doing it again. He was the only AA child playing this day. Minutes went by as I watched Everett. If there was something going on he was completely oblivious and then I heard it, words that turned my blood cold “Hurry!!! Here he comes, run from the black boy!!!” It was distinct, loud and clearly directed at Everett. More voices joined in each mirroring versions of the same. Some of the boys were too young to know what they were saying, however, some were not.

I got up stood in the middle of the room. Without thinking I reacted. I know my voice was raised but it was also shaky and I am sure I appeared upset, I was. I addressed the parents in the room and asked them to please stop the game some of the children were playing. I looked around the crowded room, one mother had her head down and she was giggling. I have a nervous giggle sometimes at the worst moments, but this just infuriated me. Another mother looked at me in horror as if to say, 'I’m sorry but I’m clearly too embarrassed to address this at this time with my children….' only I don’t know what she was thinking, I never will. Some of the boys playing the game were her children, I knew it and she knew it. Everyone else seemed to be looking anywhere but at me, as if I wasn’t there.

Nobody got up, nobody asked their child to stop. I heard it again “run away from the black boy!!!” giggling and screaming as they began to run. Enough, I thought. I turned to the pack of children and explained this is not a nice game to play and that they were not to talk to my son that way. They didn’t even look at me just kept on. Another boy yelled at the top of his lungs “run away from the black boy!!!” He then proceeded to run from my 2 year old baby as if he were a monster. I walked towards him, slammed my hand HARD on the plexi glass to get his attention, pointed my finger at him, this time I yelled. “Do NOT talk to my son that way!!!”It worked,I had caught their attention.

As I thought about it later I am positive most of the parents there that day would not have wanted their children to talk like that, yet they did nothing.Did I shame them? I didn’t mean to, I only wanted to stop it. How was I to do that without embarrassing anyone? That was impossible. But how could I have handled this without anger? I always have to wonder what upset Cady more, the boy’s unfair game or her mother’s reaction? I want to reflect assertive but controlled responses.

Another important lesson I gleaned not just from this experience but many others: We cannot ignore race with our children, all of our children, not just our biracial or AA children. Even if your family is CC, you have to talk to your children about race and racism. I feel that not dealing with these issues is part of why this game happened in the first place and why it continued. In an ideal world we would all be “color blind” but we don’t live in that world....yet.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Live Better?

I am not going to denounce Wal-Mart but it does seem like the majority of offensive comments I have heard, have been at this particular establishment. It is ironic because Wal-Mart is supposed to be the place where you “live better.” It‘s also ironic that just the other day I was speaking to a friend saying it had been sometime since anyone had said anything inappropriate to me. Then I was shopping, minding my own business when, a rather sketchy looking gentlemen started starring at me and my sprouts?!? I deliberately did not make eye contact with him and I started to push through the isle when he shouts out “what’d you bring your neighbors kid shopping”?!?!?!? With that I just continued down the isle, but come on really? Really!? Now granted in the realm of rude, offensive comments this is pretty low but, still annoying and hurtful. Thankfully the children with me were not old enough to understand what had happened.
I will say that I find most people to be full of questions but pleasant. These kinds of run-ins are few and far between. It’s the one bad apple that has to go and muck it up, trying to rain on your parade and make you feel small. To that I think we should smile at these people and remember that:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"She's the brownest in our family"

Last Friday was the first day of preschool for my four-year-old son, Jack. As Jack and I walked into the lobby, all eyes were on us. Not just because we are a transracial family and I have transracial twins, (Stella is eight-monts-old and Eli is four-months-old and they are both 16 lbs) but because I had an infant carrier in one arm, Stella in the other arm, and Jack clinging to my leg while we tried to get through the doorway. Once we get into the lobby, I became painfully aware of how disheveled I appeared. My first mission was to pry Jack off my leg without dropping either baby. Then I attempted to make small talk with the other parents who all appeared to have had time to shower. One of the parents I chatted with decided to introduce them self to Jack:

Parent: Hello, what’s your name?

Jack: Jack.

Parent: This must be your baby brother.

Jack: Yes and this is my baby sister. She is the brownest in our family.

Parent: What?

Me: Oh (nervous laughter) nothing.


Parent: oh.

While it is true Stella is the brownest in our family, somehow Jack announcing this in his outdoor voice seemed to make everyone uncomfortable. Why? I think this is because CC people tend to be afraid to talk about race publicly; lest we appear racist. In telling the story later to friends and family, we all got a good laugh, but in the moment it happened, the room went dead. All in all this was a much better first day of preschool than last time. That time, Jack clung to my leg with a death grip, and me and my pregnant self ran over the director’s foot with my stroller. Oh yeah, and did I mention the director had just undergone an operation on her foot?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Welcome to our blogspot!

Hi! We are two stay at home mom's on a mission to support our transracially adopted families. Both Tasha and I (Lori) will update this blog from time to time. Neither of us are English majors so we apologize for mistakes. More importantly we both want this to be a safe place to discuss our unique family needs. We plan on having some heated debates, Tasha and I enjoy back and forth. Look forward to some good stuff in the near future. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Below you will find two extensive interviews. The questions were sent in by transracial families. We want to extend our gratitude for our two courageous adoptees who were willing to answer us honestly and to those who asked the questions.

As Tasha and I discussed the interviews we felt strongly it is important to include negative assessments and feelings towards a transracial adoptive experience. Abusive issues such as Ben described don't necessarily apply to us yet at the same time Ben makes several points that all transracial adoptive parents need to know. Again thank you to Ben and Ola for sharing your experiences.

View from an adult transracially adopted woman's perspective

Will you first tell us a little about yourself and your family?

Ola: When I was two years old, my twin sister and I were adopted transracially out of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I also have a sister five years younger, who was born to my adoptive parents. When I was almost seven, I moved to Calgary, Alberta. I had a rough childhood when it came to fitting in, belonging to a group, and being able to relate with anyone. As I looked around me to see what I could find that I could relate to or with, it became apparent that there was not a lot that was out there for me. I have struggled during this life for many years, not knowing who I was and where I belonged. I found that many other adoptees that I spoke with had similar experiences of not belonging and of feeling lost within their worlds. I decided that the children of today needed to have a resource that could help guide them through the issues that so many transracial adoptees appear to go through. Being that the stories stem from personal experiences of my being an adoptee, I believe that the children will be able to feel a connection with my being the author who actually went through the same feelings, questions, emotions, and problems that they will go through. The books that I have to offer to the children are a series that I wish I could have had as I was growing up. Having the opportunity to work through the ups and downs of all the various questions, feelings, and emotions that are explored in these books will help the children as they grow, rather than when they are grown.

Heidi Kristall (Inland Empire, CA)
What would have helped you as a younger child? What do you wish that your parents would have added or done differently in regards to race?

Ola: Something that would have helped me as a younger child would have been more supportive parents. My parents didn’t put a lot of time or effort into ensuring that I felt okay as an adoptee, let alone a transracial adoptee. I wish that my parents had actually acknowledged my race as something that I had to deal with. I didn’t realize that I would go through the racism that I had to because my parents never made it an issue or concern for me. There were times when my parents would snap at people with angry comments about my being an adopted child and that embarrassed me more than helped me feel good about one, being adopted, and two, being black. Being that I am black, I think that race is a huge issue for a child to have to all of a sudden deal with on her/his own. Having the support, words of encouragement, and love from my parents would have helped me face the racism and, ultimately, my own identity, a lot easier than I was able to.

Shannon Watson (Chicago, IL)
What pressure, if any, do you feel to conform with the ideals of any of your racial backgrounds? (For example, if you are AA raised by a CC family, do you feel pressure to be "more black", or Asian raised by an AA family, "more Asian") And if you do feel that pressure, how do you handle it?

Ola: As I was growing up, the pressure that I felt to be “more black” was actually really important to me when I would meet other black people. I didn’t understand the foods that they ate and sometimes the different clothes that they wore or their accents. I remember that most black people that I met had a different attitude towards me when I said that I didn’t know what they were talking about when it came to certain foods or music. Having been raised in a very white, country music city, the exposure to anything black was virtually non-existent and I didn’t have the support of parents who were willing to show me anything that had anything to do with black culture. As I continued to mature, I found myself drawn more and more towards things that were black - clothes, foods, books, art, music, movies and even starting to collect items for whenever I would have children of my own. I felt it was important to make sure that I had some things that made me feel like I was black, that I “got it.”

Kelly Haden Farrington (Baltimore, MD)
How important do you feel it is to have a sibling of the same race in the family?

Ola: Having a sibling of the same race can be very beneficial for a child if done in a way that helps promote some sort of bond between them. I was adopted with my twin sister and even though we lived together, we were separated so that we would be individuals. So essentially, we both had to deal with our own problems when it came to racism, being left out, bully attitudes from those around us, and a sense of isolation. I was hurt by the fact that we were not able to rely on each other when it came to those times of isolation that I felt at school and at activities. Even though my sister and I did not have each other for the support that I would have liked, we did have each other to relate to when it came to dealing with any hair and skin issues. Having someone that can relate with a child who is different than the parents is very helpful for the children, especially when growing up in an area that is nor very populated with people of the same race as the child.

Natalie Runyan (Wichita, KS)
What are the main things you feel like you missed out on as a child, teenager, and adult, culturally and otherwise? What are some of the best and worst things your parents ever did, said, etc in regards to race and adoption? If there was one thing your parents could have done differently, what would you have them do?

Ola: The main thing that I felt like I missed out on as I was growing up and becoming an adult was true love from my family. I know that they loved me but I was always shoved away, told to be quiet, or told to go away. I never felt like I was wanted in my family. Culturally, I missed out on all of it. My parents didn’t have the resources that are available to parents nowadays and so they didn’t do anything for me that would help me to develop some sort of connection to any culture at all. I was not exposed to anything as a child or a teenager so I had to find it on my own as a young adult. The hair issues that I went through didn’t seem to matter to my mother and so it was really up to me to look into finding out about the variety of hairstyles that black people wore. Looking back, I realize that my family did not do me any favours when it came to my hair. I did not have the opportunities that young black girls have today with parents that are willing to take their children into black hair salons to get their hair done. My hair was a mess until I finally had enough money of my own to go and get something done about it myself. I don’t think it was until about eighth grade that I saved all of my baby-sitting money to get my natural hair in braids, no extensions - for me it was amazing to have a hairstyle that was so new and the experience of being in a shop with black people was a huge culture shock for me - to see and hear so many people that looked like me talking about hair, food, clothes and such was great. I knew that this is what I needed, this is what I was missing in m life experiences and I didn’t want to lose that. From that day on, I knew that I would be going to black hair salons for my black experiences. It wouldn’t be until I was in grade eleven that I would try my hat at braid extensions and then I was in heaven. I found a style that I could leave in for months and it stayed looking great. My mom’s reaction to my hair was never one of real interest - her comments were always that she liked my hair better when I would cut it short, shaved off really. It was never one of happiness towards my being happy with what I liked.

I remember one incident that happened with my mother and race issues. MY sisters and I were going to the movie theatre with my mom and we were in line to pay. The person at the ticket counter asked if my mom was paying for all of us or only for herself and my younger sister. Well, my mom freaked out and said of course she was paying for all of us - we were her children too - just because we were black didn’t mean that we weren’t her kids - she was really angry with this person for even mentioning it. Another time, my mom and I were having an argument and I was upset with her for always having me do everything around the house even though there were three of us girls to do stuff. I think the reason that I will never forget this is because it really hurt when she said it. She said to me “The only reason I adopted you was so that I could have a slave.” I remember being so sad and hurt by that comment.

Tricia Obester
What were your experiences throughout school related to your adoption? Any positive/negative things your teachers did?

Ola: My sister and I were never sent to our preschool at the same time, nor were we sent to the same schools when it came time to attend. So, even though we had each other to be with when we were at home, we both had our own issues to deal with at school, on our own. Being alone at school was very hard for me and very sad. I don’t think separating my sister and I was very beneficial as it left me feeling alone, in my own world. At my school, I was picked on, teased and told that I couldn’t play with the other kids. I was pushed around and hurt by other children. I remember being singled out by teachers as well.

While sitting in an assembly, a boy in my second grade class kept teasing me and was calling me names. I ignored him for a long time but I finally got really upset. I was mad and crying and so I hit him. The teacher grabbed me, took me to the office and told me that I had no right to pick on other children and that I was going to get the strap from the principal for my bad behavior. I told her what had happened and she didn’t believe me. In the end, I was the one who got the strap and detention. My dad’s reaction was that of anger and I can’t even remember what my mom’s reaction was. I just remember feeling really bad for getting in trouble at school and then for getting in trouble at home. After that incident, I never shared another story about mistreatment at school with my family again.

It was very tough going to school where I was treated unfairly and was constantly singled out. I didn’t have any teachers that helped me through any of the issues I was experiencing because at the time, I don’t think the teachers knew enough about adoption or about transracial adoptees and what types of things that they can experience and need some guidance with. In grade six, another brown girl came to my school and we became friends. It was exciting for me to see that there really were other people like my sister and I. I didn’t recognize that my sister was a resource for me because we weren’t together to share our experiences at school. I rarely spoke about anything that happened to me as I was afraid of what repercussions may come from my family.

How important was it growing up for your parents to recognize and acknowledge your ethnicity? Did they make sure you had people in your life that were Korean. Did they celebrate Korean holidays, make special foods or anything like that?

Ola: When I was growing up my parents did not want to recognize and acknowledge my ethnicity. They did not have anyone in our lives that were of another race at all. I grew up among the whitest of white redneck cowboys in the prairies of Alberta, Canada. I had no body to relate to except what I saw on television, the one time I met someone in sixth grade, and then what I had to learn on my own. There were no celebrations regarding who I was, who I may be, or anything different in our house. Celebrations were the same at our house as they were next door. I had nothing to go on when it came to knowing anything about my ethnicity which was very hard and confusing for me as I became a young adult.

Being a grandparent, I was wondering if you would comment on the influence or importance of extended family members in your life, especially in developing the bonds of love between you and your family.

Ola: So, don’t get me wrong with the answers that I gave. I know that I was very fortunate to have the family that I had when I was growing up. I had a roof over my head, clothes to wear, books to read, gifts and activities to experience. Having said that, I would take it all back in a heartbeat if I could have had a family that had actually wanted me for me, a family that loved me no matter what, and believed in me and what potential I had and could have. MY parents thought they did the best that they could. I personally didn’t think very much of it was the best and now with my own children, I do so many things differently. I do not want my children growing up thinking that I don’t believe in them, love them or want the best for them. The attitude towards them will always be one of pride and confidence in all that they can do because I know that I missed those qualities in my parents when I was growing up. The book series that I have in the works will help all children to believe in themselves, in who they are inside, and to rely on what is right for them not what is going on around them. Not all children are lucky enough to have parents that care about what is happening in the everyday for their children. By having this series being available in schools and libraries, it will still give all of those children the opportunity to read them when the parents won’t provide them with their own copy at home.

View from an adult transracially adopted man’s perspective

The Color of Family: Will you first please share with us a little about your self, and your family..

Ben: Hello everyone. I am a 28 year old male. I was adopted from Korea at the age of 6. My adopted family is Caucasian. I am currently in the United States Army working as an Accountant. This is the first time publicly sharing my adoption experience and i am rather private about it, but I hope that what I say can have a positive impact on future adoptees and families looking to adopt.

Heidi Kristall (Inland Empire, CA)
What would have helped you as a younger child? What do you wish that your parents would have added or done differently in regards to race?

Ben: I was 6 years old when I was adopted and I have full memories of that day when I was taken away from my family. I knew I didn’t belong to the people that were adopting me and had no idea why I was there. I always thought that I would eventually go back to my family; I thought it was a temporary situation. What would of helped the most is to have someone there that could speak Korean or someone of the same ethnicity to relate to. Korean culture and American culture are very different. I don’t truly believe that my family had an understanding of those differences. Whatever that they saw as being different, I was scolded and hit to correct those changes to the American way. I wish they supported who I was and also taught me the American way at the same time. I had issues with this
image as I grew up.

Shannon Watson (Chicago, IL)
What pressure, if any, do you feel to conform with the ideals of any of your racial backgrounds? (For example, if you are AA raised by a CC family, do you feel pressure to be "more black", or Asian raised by an AA family, "more Asian") And if you do feel that pressure, how do you handle it?

Ben: Very good question. No doubt that what type of family you are raised in, you will act and think as that race. There is a saying among the Korean-American community "Twinkie". Yellow on the outside, white in the inside. I had lost all that had anything to do with my Korean heritage. Only the memories of what I remember and as time went on, even those became vague. Seeing I was the only Asian in my 99% dominant Caucasian school, it wasn’t too difficult to fit in. Since I acted Caucasian, my mind and personality fit in okay. It wasn’t until I moved my sophomore year to Augusta, Ga when I had to actually choose who to side with. In my new school there were lots of Koreans. Since the Caucasian students didn’t know me there and they were exposed to Asians, they automatically assumed that I was Asian and did not choose to associate with me. So it was then that I became Korean again and re-learned my culture. It didn’t matter to them that I acted like a "Twinkie" they were understanding and did their best to teach me. As I grew closer to them and started to understand my culture again, I felt like I was where I belong. Growing up I acted a certain way to fit in with the non-Asian kids, but never really felt like it was me. I felt out of place and had self-esteem issues because of it.Now I act more Asian out of comfort because it seems natural to me, but doesn’t mean that I forgot my other half of my upbringing. I guess I have the best of both worlds.

Kelly Haden Farrington (Baltimore, MD)
How important do you feel it is to have a sibling of the same race in the family?

Ben: I believe if at all possible, to adopt two siblings together. Being adopted by someone of the different race is pretty emotional and traumatic. It is best to adopt them as a baby, rather then a few years of age. I always felt alone in the world and nobody knew how I felt. Ive met several other adopted kids and no matter what race they were, we seem to have this understanding and bond that was unsaid. This is because we all go through the same emotions and we knew it without saying it. Just to have someone that understood how I felt would of made living life a lot better and gave me courage to be able to do it.

Natalie Runyan (Wichita, KS)
What are the main things you feel like you missed out on as a child, teenager, and adult, culturally and otherwise? What are some of the best and worst things your parents ever did, said, etc in regards to race and adoption? If there was one thing your parents could have done differently, what would you have them do?

Ben: I could probably write an whole essay on your question. I have not talked to my American family since I graduated from High School. I moved out on my own and have been on my own ever since. Growing up was not easy for me. I had a very abusive mother that liked to hit me every chance she got. Wait, hit isn’t the word, more like beat up to bloody noses and getting kicked and picked up by my neck...I look back at those times I got hit, I would say that most of them are things that kids do just because they are kids. She was a strict Catholic and she was raised in an abusive family as well. So it only made sense to her to do the same. 12 years of physical and mental abuse was enough for me. I am just beginning to come to terms with it and to move on. When she wasn’t doing that, it was fun and a good family, but I was in constant fear all the time. So I feel I missed out a lot on being a kid. I had a newspaper route that I started at 9 years of age and woke up at 5:30 every morning that I delivered before going to school. With that job I paid for my own clothes and school supplies. I’m sorry for rambling on, I guess that question just got me all worked up, but to answer your question, the worse things they did was being abusive, always telling me that I’m lucky to be alive because of them, telling me that she could always hit me harder because she didn’t have that emotional connection by giving birth to me. The best things they did were, teach me how to have a hard work ethic, and taught me to be tough. I cant say they were all bad, because when I wasn’t getting hit, it seemed like a normal family, but anything they did for me, I felt obligated to pay them back rather than just accept as love and family. I never did drugs, never got a girl pregnant, I was just an ordinary kid. I didn’t deserve what I was given. I was just a kid. There were good memories, but it seems like the abuse just overwhelms everything else. where there was good memories, it didn’t seem real and more out of keeping the perfect family image to others. I missed out on a lot growing up. Never went to a prom in school, never had a girlfriend in high school, no spring breaks, no parties.. Even my going away party to Georgia, the mother of my friend had to beg my mom to let me go. I played sports, but any little thing I did wrong it was taken away. Anything I wanted, she would take away at any reason and chance. So the only way I could win was to not show any emotion and want nothing. That way I didn’t hurt myself or get upset and I was winning against her. Sorry for the long response, but lets just say I know if I adopted a child, I know what not to do.

Tricia Obester
What were your experiences throughout school related to your adoption? Any positive/negative things your teachers did?

Ben: Being the only Asian in my school was definitely awesome. My greatest memory was in 2nd Grade. My teacher and classmates had a huge surprise party for me for my citizenship day. I was given tons of cards, and food and it was my day. I didn’t think it was such a big deal but they made it out to be so. I was truly happy that day. All my teachers growing up in elementary school were the best, I sometimes felt I had special treatment. As I went into middle school, I had the occasional Asian and chink jokes, but for the most part. I loved school and had many friends. I liked school more than being at home.

Debbie Mann Brown (Dallas / Fort Worth, TX)
How important was it growing up for your parents to recognize and acknowledge your ethnicity? Did they make sure you had people in your life that were Korean. Did they celebrate Korean holidays, make special foods or anything like that?

Ben: I think they tried to do their best. I remember they enrolled me in Korean culture camp when i was 12. But by then, mentally it was as if I was a Caucasian person learning a new culture for the first time. It was foreign to me and reminded me more of my past and anger towards my Korean family. Funny thing was is in the beginning they did try to help me learn and expose me to the culture, but the more I learned and the more Korean I became, they tried to cut off my Asian friends and activities and didn’t support it so much at the end.

Anthony D'Alba wrote on August 12, 2009 at 12:36am
Being a grandparent, I was wondering if you would comment on the influence or importance of extended family members in your life, especially in developing the bonds of love between you and your family.

Ben: I loved my grandparents and extended family. I always enjoyed going to visit and never at anytime did I feel like I was an outsider or not really their grandson. I feel really bad that when I cut off from my adopted family that I disconnected from them as well. They truly showed me genuine love and I thank them for that. They did their best in trying to help me with my immediate family, but they didn’t have no real idea of what was going on. I would of loved to of been raised by them.

Ben: I hope I answered everyone’s question to the best of my ability. Sorry if i got off subject at times. My experience has shaped me to be the way that I am. I think being raised a Christian had a big impact on what I did and didn’t do. It was one of the few reasons I didn’t commit suicide at times I wanted to. I’m sure my adopted family tried to do their best and only my mother caused most of the hardship. Unfortunately she controlled everything and everyone. Now I look back and I would love to adopt a child as well. I would recommend you adopt someone of the same race, but ultimately if you choose not to, it will be great as long as you treat him and love him as your own. An adoptee's biggest insecurity is not feeling like they belong. Especially if there are other siblings of the immediate family. Also when he or she grows up, let them know that they were adopted and if they wish to find their real parents, support them. If they were truly loved, they will not have that much desire to do so. If they do, it is more out of having closure in their own life, rather than wanting to leave you as his or her family, so don’t be afraid to help out. Having found my biological family after 19 years later, I have closure and find out that i don’t really belong with them either. My experiences make me very independent, but look forward to having my own family and doing it the right way. Thank you.
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