Category Archives: NaBloPoMo

Meeting Hollee McGinnis of Evan Donaldson Adoption Institute

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Tonight my local adoption group hosted Hollee McGinnis of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. A most-interesting presentation indeed — and I’m not just saying that because she drew my name as winner of the raffle for a signed copy of Adam Pertman’s Adoption Nation. Really.

I’ve got more to say on the evening, but I just want to read over my notes and properly digest it all. More to come.

(And as an aside, yes, NaBloPoMo kicked my tush. Sigh. But I keep on keeping on.)

Photo credit: Pam Hasegawa

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Ethics, Birth parents, Closed Adoption, Discussing Adoption, Family, NaBloPoMo, Open Adoption, Parental surrenders, Parenting

On placecards and turkeys

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Heading off this morning to make pies with Thomas’ mother. I’m not much of a fan of the kitchen, but I am all for helping out with the Thanksgiving preparations (despite never having actually made a pie before). Word is she and I have five to make so we need an early start.

Tom is thrilled because he loves his mom’s pies — and they are super delicious — so I told him not to worry, I’d pay super-close attention and be sure to remember all her tricks and secrets.

And then I’d come right home and teach him to make them himself.

One thing I enjoy a bit more than being in the kitchen is tinkering with creative projects — like this for my daughter’s day care (her first classroom was the Pink Elephants) — so when I was tabbed to make place cards for this year’s dinner with my husband’s family, I wanted to do something more than put pen to paper. Considering that recent years have numbered close to 40 people, this year’s smaller gathering of 22 made my task a bit easier.

Not sure what my mother-in-law had in mind when she asked me to make them, but as you can see, the final result involves lots of cinnamon sticks, ribbon, pinecones and lotus pods. And for the kids’ table? Pinecone turkeys, what else!(Thanks to my mom, who was determined to figure out how to transform a pinecone into something fun for the kiddos. And this isn’t even her gathering. Props to her!)

Now, I’m off to make a pie or two. Or five.

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Filed under Family, Firsts, For fun, NaBloPoMo

For the List Lover in You (Kids’ Books ’07)

Publisher’s Weekly has released its Best Children’s Books of 2007 and School Library Journal has released its Favorite 63 books from the many it reviewed this year — and just in time.

With cold weather (we had snow showers yesterday with the biggest-I-kid-you-not snowflakes I’ve ever seen), some holiday home time over the next few days, a stockpile of aged wood in the backyard and my always-willing-to-please fireplace, I’m one happy book-list lover.

It’s always interesting to see the newest authors and illustrators, and things I may have missed during the year. So, with wool socks on and a big ol’ cup of steaming tea in hand, you know where to find me.

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Filed under Children's books, NaBloPoMo

I think I can, I think I can (celebrate)!

Thanks to a fellow blogger and adoptive mom for reminding me that there are reasons to celebrate adoption. (Sound strange to some? Let me explain.) Although this is National Adoption Month, “celebration” hasn’t been a word I’ve been throwing around much.

After all, adoption is a very serious subject. There’s so much to consider, so much involved, so much to understand. There is loss. Inevitable loss, from first parents and first families to culture and more. And facing that loss, with my daughter in the forefront of my mind, is hard. It weighs so heavily on me. Add in the matter of ensuring that this and any future adoption be ethical and whew, boy! So much to think about, worry about, carry around in myself.

So for me this National Adoption Month has been about using my own experiences with adoption to educate. It’s been about taking advantage of those conversations, working to make a difference in how others perceive adoption, working to ensure that Maeve’s first mom is respected and that others understand how open adoption really works. In fact, I wrote about how I planned to spend this month in my latest AFTH column. And I stand by all of that. The month’s just half over — there’s plenty o’ educating to do!

But there is also room for celebration, too, and my sincere thanks to Judy for the most-needed reminder.

I carry around with me all the hard parts of adoption because I love my daughter. I love her so much that the hard parts impact me because I cannot help but think how they will impact her as she grows. These concerns don’t rest very often, and when they do, guilt creeps in and takes hold.

But, given all the concerns about the myriad hard parts of adoption, the truth of the matter is, adoption is how Maeve came into my life. There are beautiful parts to adoption. No, that’s not all there is to it, of course. Not by a long shot. But there is beauty and happiness in it too, and those moments mean so much.

After all, adoption gave me the most beautiful, funny, sensitive, silly, determined little girl to nurture and love each day. I am lucky enough to share my life with her and hers with me. She is my amazing daughter. My daughter through adoption.

Recognizing this — I mean actually taking the time to breathe it in and feel it — doesn’t take away the importance of all the other things wrapped up with adoption and doesn’t negate the loss involved. No, but I think it’s alright to relish the happiness she brings, that I hope I bring her, the happiness and joy in being mama to a little girl that makes my life seem like it’s playing in full technicolor.

Having this beautiful soul in my life is, quite simply, cause for celebration.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Ethics, Birth parents, Discussing Adoption, Love, Maeve, Making a difference, NaBloPoMo, Open Adoption, Parenting

Diva in the rearview

Driving home tonight with Miss Maeve in the backseat and my mother at my right in the passenger seat, I commented how quiet Maeve had recently become.

Glancing down at the clock, I reasoned that since it was just about her bedtime, and we’d just spent a good handful of hours out and about doing some good ol’ fashioned girls-gone-shopping topped off by dinner out, she surely was well on her way to dreamland. The snoring would begin any moment and since we were just around the corner from the house, I began to consider the task ahead of me: gently removing her from the car, a delicate diaper-change and then some juicy kisses as I would tuck her in, snug as a bug in a rug.

A glance in the rearview mirror, however, proved me wrong. (And suddenly had me feeling like I was on Miss M’s payroll. Her personal driver, bringing her home after a long day doing whatever it is that busy two-year-olds do.)

There was Maeve in her pink floral fuzzy coat, donning a new scarf knitted by grandma — wrapped and knotted ever-so-funkily ’round her neck and draped down her front, of course — a fleece pink hat keeping her delicious curls in check, and, despite it being very, very dark outside, there she sat, looking straight ahead, straight-faced and wearing her bright pink sunglasses.

Chillin’.

Hmm. (Like she didn’t know How Darn Cool she looked.)

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Filed under Adoption, Beauty, Children, Curls, For fun, Maeve, NaBloPoMo

Smell the fresh ink?

My latest column is up over at AFTH, and as usual, the link to it remains nestled in my sidebar. But in the interest of saving you a click or two, here’s what I had to say in :

Changing Leaves, Changing Minds

Some use the start of the new year as reason for reflection, as motivation for listing lofty resolutions dependent on powerful will. Me? I do this long before Dick Clark begins his countdown.

Maybe it’s the childhood ritual of beginning school, fresh-faced and ready for a new start, or maybe it’s because November brings with it both efforts to give thanks and raise adoption awareness. Either way, as the crisp autumn air nips at my toes, I’m contemplating what I — both an adoptive mother and wife to an adoptee — can do better.

This year not only will I continue to respect these roles of adoption in my life personally — which includes a commitment to my daughter’s first mother that she’s needed in our lives — but I will transform everyday situations into teachable moments that matter.

When discussing our open adoption, if folks mention Maeve’s first mother “taking her back,” insisting on co-parenting and existing only to confuse Maeve, I will, without waffling, dispel the untruths and undo the damage of Lifetime movies.

When asked about Maeve’s “real” mother “giving up” her child and whether she has “moved on,” I will explain we are both real mothers, that there’s nothing in her adoption choice resembling giving up on her daughter, and I will remind them that filling someone else’s arms with your child isn’t the same as losing a favorite stuffed toy.

I will applaud television networks and programs portraying adoption and its triad in an accurate and positive light. I will just as fervently contact those making adoption jokes or depicting birth parents as anything less than they are. When represented accurately, adoption’s mystery diminishes and our children benefit.

I’ll write municipalities I’ve long lectured in my mind, explaining that adopting a road is nothing like adopting a child. I will demonstrate not only how “sponsor” suits their needs just fine, but how their use of “adopt” makes my job of raising a healthy, well-adapted adult that much harder as I need to explain the difference between cleaning dirty roads and forever loving a child.

This Nov. 17, not only will I ensure adoption-related books are read in my daughter’s daycare and our library, I will volunteer to read them myself. And then I’ll encourage their use year-round, not just because a calendar dictates it.

I will make all these everyday moments really matter.

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Filed under Adoption, Adoption Ethics, Birth parents, Children, Children's books, Community, Discussing Adoption, Latest AFTH column, Maeve, Making a difference, NaBloPoMo, Open Adoption, Parenting, Promises

Opening adoption records

With all the hubbub today after the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute released its white paper, “For the Records: Restoring a Right to Adult Adoptees” — which recommends every state provide adoptees’ access to their original birth certificates — and news organizations picked up the report, thought I’d offer up the link to the full white paper here.

I’m also including excerpts of the report’s highlights below.

(But first I have to ask, Why on earth is this still such a big issue?)

  • Adopted persons are the only individuals in the United States who, as a class, are not permitted to routinely obtain their original birth certificates. This … raises significant civil rights concerns, particularly given the growing understanding of the need to know one’s history, heritage, medical and genealogical data.
  • Denying adult adopted persons access to information related to their births and adoptions has potentially serious, negative consequences with regard to their physical and mental health. As recognized by the U.S. Surgeon General’s office in its Family History Initiative, biological family medical history is vital to prevention, early diagnosis and treatment … [of] heart disease, cancer and certain mental health conditions.
  • As states have amended their laws to provide adult adopted persons with access to their birth and/or adoption information, there has been no evidence of the sorts of negative consequences predicted by opponents of changing these laws, including intrusive behavior such as stalking by adopted persons who receive their personal information.
  • Similarly, there has been no evidence that the lives of birthmothers have been damaged as a result of the release of information to the children (now adults) whom they relinquished for adoption. … Few birthmothers have expressed the desire to keep records sealed or the wish not to be contacted; indeed, in the vast majority of cases, the converse appears to be true.
  • Another assertion by critics of changing these laws — that abortion rates rise as a result of such access — is not supported by the experiences of states that have re-opened records (or have never closed them); in fact, the data indicate that reopening records may reduce abortion rates and may increase adoption rates.
  • For many adopted persons, the desire to obtain their records is entirely separate from any desire to search for their birthmothers or other relatives; they simply believe — as a human and civil right — that they are entitled to the same basic information about themselves that people raised in their birth families receive as a matter of course. Indeed, many who do get their birth certificates or other documents never search, while others successfully search (a growing phenomenon because of the internet) without any of their documents.
  • Research shows that knowledge of what happened to the children they relinquished for adoption plays a powerful role in the resolution of birthmothers’ grief, thereby suggesting that providing access to birth and/or adoption information can have other positive consequences.
  • There has been scant evidence that birthmothers were explicitly promised anonymity from the children they relinquished for adoption. Relinquishment documents provided to courts that have heard challenges to states’ new “open records” laws do not contain any such promises. To the extent that adoption professionals might have verbally made such statements, courts have found that they were contrary to state law and cannot be considered legally binding.

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Filed under Adoption, Birth parents, Closed Adoption, Discussing Adoption, Legislation, NaBloPoMo, Open Adoption