Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adoption is onion?

After reading Untying a Birth Mother's Hands by Elizabeth Foy Larsen, I loved the author's telling of this reunion story: she was so  honest with her emotions and conveys the birth mother's thoughts just as well. It's as if I were sitting next to them. It's interesting to me how the adoptive parent reaches out to the birth mother - when the adoptee is six. I understand that the adults have a need to make connections and/or leave the door open. What stands out to me is that when the adoptee grows up, will she be thankful? Or will she have resentment because someone else made the decision on her behalf. Please read the article, if you haven't already.

This leads to me to my overall takeaway from the article: Adoptions are complex. More than anyone realizes.

Recently I saw a post on Facebook, tailoring Forrest Gump's famous saying into this: "Adoption is like a box of never know what you're going to get." While there may be some truth to that, I did not appreciate the cliche. It seems negative to me, like it's a game of chance. And it's just too pat of an answer to describe the complexity of forming families by adoption. At the very least, an adoption touches three people directly: the child, the birth mother and the adoptive parent. The two parents in that triad scenario usually have family members, and their own circles of friends, colleagues and acquaintances. So with one child's adoption, you are impacting a myriad number of lives. Not to mention all the friends that adopted individual has or will encounter in their OWN day-to-day life. Each of those individuals will have feelings, emotions and opinions about adoption: good, bad and ugly. That's why adoption cannot be put into a box...not even a box of chocolates! Hey, I love chocolates as much as the next person. Just don't compare it to adoption, okay?

If you want to get clever and cheeky with your adoption metaphors, how about this? The dialogue in the movie Shrek: comparing ogres to onions. For those who have not experience this Dreamworks movie, a little background info on Shrek: he (the ogre) struggles throughout the movie with the single-dimension stereotypes that people put on him, how he is constantly misunderstood and prejudged, which is why he lives alone in a swamp. Sometimes he actually lives out other's demonizing expectations of him. Ok, I'm waxing a little philosophical for an animated movie, but you get my drift. Watch the video dialogue below:

At least this comparison ACKNOWLEDGES that there are layers...and that it's not a perfect comparison as Shrek struggles to reveal himself to his friend Donkey. So I would modify Shrek's comparison: Adoption is onion. They both have layers. Admittedly, I'm also a bit cheeky and pat with that metaphor, but hopefully you get my drift. Adoption is never as simple as you think.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Exciting news on the horizon...

Hello dear readers,

As my blog analytics tell me, you readers have been faithfully visiting my blog, at least a few hits a day. I can only imagine: you click through from some other site reference or because a Google search led you here...only to find disappointment that I have not posted since March! Mea maxima culpa.

As my faithful friends and readers know, I work in education - but I'm no longer in the classroom. This means that my work schedule goes through the typical ebbs and flows of an academic year, but I also work through the summer. In addition to this, I've been quite involved with our local church youth group. As hard as I try, I have not been able to successfully post regularly during the spring seasons while at my most recent job. Ah, well, there's always Spring 2013.

Nevertheless, there are exciting things happening in my life and the world of adoption: plenty of articles being written and new connections being made around my most recent home in Western Massachusetts.

  1. I'm preparing revamping my identity formation presentation to deliver a brief opening keynote at a student diversity training program for Smith College (my alma mater). Very excited to be working with some amazing student leaders and adult leaders in social justice education and diversity.
  2. At the invitation and encouragement of a fellow Smithie, I attended a non-profit Board Fair where local non-profits were looking for volunteers and to find potential Board members. While I was there, I met the Director of the Hampshire County Big Brothers Big Sisters (as it turns out, we have at least one friend/colleague in common) who let me know that BBBS has started an adoption mentoring partnership, pairing "little" adoptees with "big" adoptees from the area colleges. Wow! It's so exciting to see this work happening in my own backyard. Stay tuned as to how/what capacity I will be involved with this pioneering program.
  3. The program above is made possible through a partnership with the Rudd Adoption Research Program, which has major initiatives throughout the year, including an annual conference (put that on my calendar for next year!). Sad to have missed the 2012 conference - it featured some amazing speakers and well-known professionals in the field of adoption.
So that's what's new and exciting on the horizon. Next up: thoughts on an NYT article my mother sent me...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Money changes adoption

Yet another interesting article about celebrity adoptions from The Huffington Post!

This one asks the question: Do Stars Get An Advantage? They present a few opinions...but the main idea is while celebrities go through the "same process" as everyone else, money can help smooth outsome of the bumps in the road.

Ah, Cyndi Lauper's song resonates...Money changes everything...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Embryo Adoption?

Wow. You learn something new every day. I just came across a site (Nightlight Christian Adoptions) that offers  the service of "Snowflakes Embryo Adoption". As quoted from their website,
"Believe it or not, the miracle of giving birth to your adopted baby is possible." 
There are extra embryos, created for IVF treatments that have been frozen, waiting for a womb to receive them. This is where embryo adoption comes into place. After the background checks and health history, the doctor will make the frozen embryo transfer and the couple hopes that they become pregnant with their new adopted child...uh, embryo.

Again, I I'm not sure if I should be happy...or creeped out. I'm trying to keep an open mind here, especially since I've never experienced the loneliness, pain and disappointment that comes from infertility. Reading Secret Daughter has given me a little insight into this world.

What do you think about adopting (and carrying) an embryo? Thoughts, please.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Another celebrity adoption...

This short little article highlights People Magazine's story about Charlize Theron adopting an African-American boy. One more step in bringing transracial adoption into the public eye. The jury is still out for me whether these celebrity adoptions are friend or foe in the adoption world, as discussed in my earlier post.

How does this new addition to the "Hollywood Moms Club" make you feel?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In art, exploring her adopted life

photo credit: Michael Bryant/Staff Philadelphia Inquirer
Seeing stories like this warms my heart. Not only is Sarah Mittledorf an adult adoptee from China, she's from my hometown: Mount Airy (Philadelphia)! This article in the Philadelphia Inquirer explains how Sarah is creating a theater production about the Chinese adoptee experience. She was inspired after attending a public screening of Wo Ai Ni Mommy. There were plenty of adoptive parents and adoption professionals present at the discussion, but the voice of the adoptee was absent. My earlier photo post featured one other theater production about adoption - which took place in Minnesota. Since Sarah Mittledorf is based on the East Coast, perhaps I'll be able to experience her final work.

I applaud Sarah Mittledorf for her courage create a work such as this.

Any thoughts, readers?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Limits abroad, fewer foster children at home cut adoptions - Sentinel & Enterprise

Limits abroad, fewer foster children at home cut adoptions - Sentinel & Enterprise

Now that I am a resident of Massachusetts, this article caught my attention. It is interesting that there are fewer adoptions over the last decade in MA - read on to find out the many reasons why that is!

As always, I'm eager to hear your thoughts.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Podcast: Is love enough in transracial adoptions? - Wichita State News

Podcast: Is love enough in transracial adoptions? - Wichita State News

My favorite point that assistant professor Darron T. Smith makes is "It's never a question of love...The issue is, can white parents sufficiently humble themselves and do better socially and culturally for their adopted children."

The Norwegian saying goes, "once a teacher, always a teacher." I also believe that the BEST teachers are also continual students. That's why I love Mr. Smith's point about parents sufficiently humbling themselves. The best parents are continual students...always eager to learn and get to know their child(ren).

Thoughts, readers? As always, I love to hear them...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Just when you thought it was safe...

Hi Readers,

Sorry to get all "gloom and doom" on you, but I HAD to post this article about an adoption lawyer who ran an international adoption scheme, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and just received her term sentence. Basically, she was "harvesting" and "selling" babies. For more than $100,000...for each family. And she is only serving five months in prison. Wha....?!?!

I consider myself pretty informed about the adoption world, but this type of article is STILL shocking to me. To prey upon people who want to form families through adoption is the lowest form of low.

Read about it...if you dare.

And post your thoughts.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Adoption, fathers and network TV

Perhaps it's just my own perspective on adoption...the bias of my lens. But I think that network television is taking a chance on adoption-related themes. Glee's first season had Quinn as a pregnant teenager who decided to make an adoption plan for her baby. And after almost a whole season of not addressing the issue, Glee has decided to pick it up again - giving us insights into Quinn as a birth mother and Shelby as the adoptive mother.

Another case in point: I just finished watching the newest episode of Body of Proof. I tend to like the forensic-mysteries, like CSI...and Body of Proof is set in Philadelphia - so I get to feel nostalgic in addition to solving mysteries. What could be better?

What's better is that this episode had TWO points of resonance for me in its plot. The first one is that Peter Dunlop (the show's medicolegal investigator...what a mouthful!) decides to make contact with his birth father. When Megan Hunt (medical examiner and lead character of the show), notices something "off" about him, he tells her that he's contacted his birth father. Their dialog goes something like this:
Peter: I met my birth father...but it was a very bad idea.
Megan:Why? What happened?
Peter: Long story short, it just wasn't the happy ending I'd hoped for.
Megan: Well, at least you know the truth and, believe me, that's...much better than not knowing.
Peter: Why does it feel like I made a huge mistake?
Megan: Because you did something really hard.  That doesn't make it a mistake.
I love how Megan understands Peter - it IS something really hard. It took a lot of courage for Peter to pick up the phone, call, and actually show up to the meeting with his birth father.

The second point of resonance is at the end of the show. Megan recollects the last moments spent with her own father. She says that every time she hears a song on the radio, it brings her back to the time she was 12 and spending a great day with her mom and dad. For a long time she was unable to listen to the song for the pain it caused her. "(But) You know," she says, "I would never want to forget that pain. It makes me who I am, you know? I can't imagine losing that."

As someone who lost their father 13 year ago...yes, Megan Hunt, I know exactly what you mean. That pain has made me who I am today. I am actually grateful for it. And I'm grateful that network TV is not afraid to take on more adoption themes in their programming.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chinese New Year: a question...

Thanks to my Google Alerts, I was able to find an interesting article from my "hometown area", just outside of Philadelphia, PA. The Montgomery News article highlights families who have adopted children from China - and now celebrate Chinese New Year with their family. The article starts by saying:
"Everyone deserves to know their heritage. For parents of children adopted from Asian countries, Chinese New Year is the perfect opportunity to offer a window into that rich heritage."
It's a feel-good piece about how families feel about their multi-culti family, how they appreciate the "culture" of their adopted child, and how they raise their children. I'm sure that it resonates with many people, many families who have formed their families by adopting children (oh, why don't I just say it...GIRLS) from China.

My question is: who initiated the exploration of Chinese New Year? Was it the daughters? Or was it the parents? How important is it to incorporate the adopted child(ren)'s homeland culture into the adopted family?

My friend over at the My American Meltingpot blog addressed a similar question in her post and an article for the Philadelphia Inquirer on Dec. 14, discussion holiday celebrations. The take-away was the importance of becoming a full multicultural family, not just on holidays and special occasions.

I'd love to hear from some adult adoptees from China who celebrated Chinese New Year with their adoptive families when they were young. I'm curious: was it a meaningful experience? Is it the source of some fond memories? Or did it seem contrived and awkward to have white parents put on a Chinese New Year celebration?

As a Japanese-Caucasian adoptee who was raised with Norwegian traditions and NO Japanese traditions, I'm not sure how it would have felt if my family decided to celebrate OBon in August or made o-sechi-ryori for New Year's Day. I think it's pretty cool that I can make krumkake - the Norwegian pressed-then-rolled cookie - and it's one of my favorites to this day.

Would love to hear your thoughts, readers.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Adopted: The Movie in NYC

I definitely have a long wish list for books, movies and all things "adoption." But "Adopted: the Movie" is pretty high up on the list. I've seen clips on the website, but have 1) never broken down and just bought the DVD for myself and 2) never lived close enough to see a screening of the movie.

And, now, my Google Alert shows me that Adopted is being shown in New York City for a six-evening series of screenings and themed discussions with adult adoptees (all for $20/night...the catch is you need to buy into the whole 6-night series). ARGH! Why am I not living in NYC:-)?

*sigh* I guess I'll have to wait to buy the DVD myself...or wait until they head north.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Adoption Reading Challenge 2012

One of my favorite bloggers, Jenna @ The Chronicles of Munchkinland is hosting an Adoption Reading Challenge - and I've signed up! Very excited about committing myself to more reading this year. I hope that Kobo has enough selection (love my eReader)...otherwise I may have to use my library to supplement.

Jenna also started a group on Goodreads, which helps us sort and share not only our reviews but our "to read" lists as well.

Here's the beginning of my challenge for 2012:
1) I've committed to Level 2: read 6 books in a year; 3 non-fiction, 3 fiction.
2) On my list so far:

  • Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (fiction)
  • Adoption Nation by Adam Pertman (non-fiction)
Hope you will join me! It's not too late!