August 30, 2010

Set the DVR

Beginning tomorrow evening, the PBS series POV is airing three documentaries looking at transracial/transcultural/transnational adoption. I'm tuning in!

I had the chance to preview Off and Running (which airs next week) this past winter and definitely recommend it. Not just to those involved in transracial adoptions, but anyone thinking about the complicated topic of identity formation (which should be all adoptive parents!).

I've read mixed reviews of Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy, so it will be interesting to watch it for myself. The full slate is (synopses from the POV website):

Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy (8/31)
What is it like to be torn from your Chinese foster family, put on a plane with strangers and wake up in a new country, family and culture? Stephanie Wang-Breal’s Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy is the story of Fang Sui Yong, an 8-year-old orphan, and the Sadowskys, the Long Island Jewish family that travels to China to adopt her. Sui Yong is one of 70,000 Chinese children now being raised in the United States. Through her eyes, we witness her struggle with a new identity as she transforms from a timid child into someone that no one — neither her new family nor she — could have imagined.
Off and Running (9/7)
Off and Running tells the story of Brooklyn teenager Avery, a track star with a bright future. She is the adopted African-American child of white Jewish lesbians. Her older brother is black and Puerto Rican and her younger brother is Korean. Though it may not look typical, Avery’s household is like most American homes — until Avery writes to her birth mother and the response throws her into crisis. She struggles over her “true” identity, the circumstances of her adoption and her estrangement from black culture. Just when it seems as if her life is unraveling, Avery decides to pick up the pieces and make sense of her identity, with inspiring results.
In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee (9/14)
Her passport said she was Cha Jung Hee. She knew she was not. So began a 40-year deception for a Korean adoptee who came to the United States in 1966. Told to keep her true identity secret from her new American family, the 8-year-old girl quickly forgot she had ever been anyone else. But why had her identity been switched? And who was the real Cha Jung Hee? In the Matter of Cha Jung Hee is the search to find the answers, as acclaimed filmmaker Deann Borshay Liem returns to her native Korea to find her “double,” the mysterious girl whose place she took in America.
You can also watch them online for a limited time, using the show links above. Off and Running is now on Netflix, too. Are you planning on watching any or all of them? Do adoption documentaries interest you?

August 29, 2010

Our Time With Kelly

We spent the afternoon of our last day in L.A. with Kelly, meeting up at a park with an interactive water feature where the kids could cool off and be entertained. We ended our time by eating dinner together on the grass (the kids and Kelly chose McDonald's; Todd and I ate the fast food of the gods).

Puppy was comfortable around Kelly, despite not having seen her or really heard from her for over a year. He smiled and went right up to hug her legs when we first arrived. Earlier in the day he had come up with some questions he wanted to ask his first dad ("What was your favorite thing when you were four? What did you do for your fifth birthday?") and later in the afternoon he posed them to Kelly, too. He looked at pictures of his younger sister (Kelly's daughter) and declared them funny. Everyone says Puppy looks a lot like Ray--which he does--but Puppy and sister-baby really look alike.

Kelly spent a whole lot of time tapping on her phone, often a ways away from where Puppy was playing. I freely admit to some very minor meddling this time to encourage interaction. Just small things: Puppy would ask me to push him on the swings and I'd suggest that Kelly push him instead, for instance.

A few hours together every year or so is hardly the stuff of a close relationship between Puppy and his first mom. I have no illusions about that. We're hampered by living in different states, of course. But there are ways the connection could continue to grow between our trips down south, yet for the most part our attempts to communicate by email, phone, and post go unacknowledged. Talk of visits up our way doesn't materialize into actual plans. This is all Kelly seems to be able or willing to offer to Puppy right now. So we do what we can to maintain an atmosphere of openness and see what grows.

August 25, 2010

Picture Password

I'm happy to share the picture password with all and sundry. But I have to have a way to send it to you! If you don't have a Blogger profile with an email address, please email me with your password request instead of leaving it as a comment. Thanks!

August 24, 2010

This Is What Open Adoption Looks Like

Click below to see photos of the kids being forced into visits before they're old enough to decide for themselves enjoying time with birth family members

August 20, 2010

Out of Office

Still on the road! Only have internet access in brief spurts! My kingdom for a smartphone! Lots to share when we arrive home!

August 14, 2010


Methinks the Adoption: Visits label is about to see a lot of use.

I've had a business trip down to Los Angeles later this month scheduled for ages. A couple of weeks ago we decided to turn it into a quick road trip with Todd and the kids, setting off a flurry of planning and packing. The three of them will get to spend a few days with Todd's parents in L.A. while I am off at a work retreat. And then Puppy will lead us all on a pilgrimage to Legoland.

Since both kids have birth family in California, it's also turned into Open Adoption Tour 2010. An Opadoptapalooza, if you prefer.

We're going to see Ray, Puppy's first dad, who last visited a year ago. I can't wait. It's always such a joy to see him in person, and to see Puppy and him together. It looks like we'll taking on the zoo together. If it didn't mean missing out on our chance to catch up as adults, I'd just plant myself in the shade with an iced tea and let Ray--with all his youthful energy*--take Puppy around in the melting heat to see the animals.

We'll also get together with Kelly, his first mom, who we last saw at Christmas 2008.  I'm bummed that Puppy won't get time with his younger sister (who doesn't live with Kelly right now), but happy that Puppy won't have gone two years without seeing Kelly. She seems to have had a harder time being an active part of Puppy's life since her daughter was born. He's definitely been aware of the shift. But we've kept up with the occasional phone call, pictures, emails and such on our end, even when they mostly went unanswered. That whole relationship is somewhat of a mystery to me right now, honestly.

And we reached out to one of Firefly's grandmothers, Kevin's mom, who lives at the midway point on our trip. She's still unconvinced of a number of things, including the idea that we're not on opposing teams in this open adoption. She's never met Firefly, much less us. I can't say my thought process went much further than, "We're driving through That City, we should try to meet her." But there is definitely a part of me that hopes being together face-to-face will take the tension down a few notches. I often say to people that open adoption seems strange when you're on the outside looking in, but makes a lot of sense when you're in the middle of it. I think she is still in the position of feeling like she's looking in from the outside in many ways. Hopefully this will be a step toward changing that.

And! We get to spend some time with the fabulous, insightful Luna on our drive down! I think I'm going to come away 30% more grounded and compassionate just by being in her presence.

Stay tuned...

* He's actually not even a decade younger than Todd and I. But I've been feeling old lately!

August 10, 2010

On Vacation

I spend the late afternoon in the corner of a couch, book in my hand, a sleeping Puppy tucked under my arm. He leans into my side, cozy under his blankie. When I gently extract myself to take care of something in the kitchen he stirs just enough to murmur, "Mama, please snuggle more."

In that dreamy, hazy sideways light that arrives at twilight, I chase a giggling Firefly down the beach. She laughs each time I catch her, her tiny legs moving furiously, so light that she leaves just the slightest hint of footprints in the sand. As the sun sets we climb the steep sandy hill toward home, the little girl proudly determined to walk to the top on her own.

Love is an everflowing gratefulness for moments you know you did nothing to deserve.

August 07, 2010

A Saturday List

Thirteen things I didn't know ten years ago:
  • That $160,000 Los Angeles bungalow was actually a steal.
  • The crusts aren't any more nutritious than the rest of the bread. (Oh, the lies my mother told me!)
  • There are worse things than being overweight.
  • I'd never grow out of my inner slob.
  • Changing diapers isn't that big of a deal. You do it so much you just stop thinking about it.
  • Brushing kids' teeth, on the other hand, is a remarkably annoying chore.
  • It's easier to brush a resisting child's teeth if you make them laugh.
  • It would turn out that I wouldn't be my children's only mother.
  • That wouldn't make my experience of family any less meaningful.
  • The strongest memories often come from the smallest, quietest moments.
  • Few things suck the joy out of life faster than giving into envy.
  • The internet--at that point just a source of information, email and mid-workday diversions--would also be a place where I would find real friends.
  • Blogging isn't just for writers.
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