January 31, 2011


Today is my birthday! I am 36 years old today, so here are 36 things you never needed to know about me:
  1. I was born in the tiniest state in the Union.
  2. My mom's pregnancy (the one that resulted in me) was both unplanned and (at least initially by one of my parents) unwanted. These things happen when you're young-ish and on vacation and drunk off your patooties.
  3. Now I've probably made my folks sound like irresponsible, reluctant parents. But in fact they were incredible and I find myself holding myself up to the standard they set in my own parenting. And I've never in my life seen them so much as tipsy. Perhaps ending up with a baby took the thrill off of that particular activity.
  4. Given that (a) my mom didn't realize she was pregnant at first and (b) it was the 1970s, it wasn't the most pristine prenatal experience. So it was interesting to be faced with those godawful preference forms during the adoption process and realize that checking off  "no alcohol during the entire pregnancy not even a drop no way" would mean refusing to adopt me. And I'm one amazing cookie.
  5. I've worn glasses since I was four years old. Walking out of the opthamologist's ophthalmologist's office that first day, I said, "Oh, Mommy! The trees have leaves!"
  6. I'm a little perturbed that "opthamologist" isn't recognized by spell-check. ETA: Or, spell check just shrugged at my completely incorrect spelling.
  7. One thing I like about being terribly nearsighted is that I can sort of turn off the visual world at night. When I take off my glasses everything around me disappears into a softly multicolored blur.
  8. Left to my druthers, I think reading would have been my only after-school activity in elementary school. "Bookworm" is putting is mildly.
  9. For pets I had a series of hamsters, one mouse, and a fish won at the state fair that lived for way more years than any penny goldfish should.
  10. As a teenager I donned sequin-spangled spandex and performed with a dance troupe in a Japanese shopping mall. Oh yes, I did. Our opening act was a country singer.
  11. One of our routines was to Neil Diamond's "America". Oh, good heavens, the two-decades-post shame.
  12. Beginning in junior high and running throughout high school, I kept a list of every outfit I wore. So that I wouldn't wear the same thing twice in x number of weeks. (The number of weeks got longer as time went on.)
  13. Last week I wore the exact same outfit two days in a row. Teenage me would have been horrified.
  14. I'm a little afraid of dogs. Even the tiny yappy ones.
  15. I cannot stand the sound of other people chewing.
  16. I almost always choose fruity desserts, like pie, over chocolate.
  17. My favorite cake is lemon coconut. My grandfather died when I was three and a few years ago I found out that lemon coconut was his favorite, too.
  18. Black licorice is vile and you will never convince me otherwise.
  19. I wear Danskos. I love my Danskos.
  20. My graduate degree was in Biblical studies and theology, if anyone ever wants to throw down some theology geek talk.
  21. No, I have no idea what I'm going to do with my degree. I think I mostly missed being in an academic environment.
  22. Also it's pretty much expected in my family of origin that you'll get at least one graduate degree. So I did. Family dynamics are interesting.
  23. I bought a ticket to go to the BlogHer conference in August.
  24. I am beyond excited to meet some of my online friends in person.
  25. I am already wanting to hide at the thought of my introverted self being surrounded by all those people and the weird fixation on shoes that pops up in every communication from the conference organizers.
  26. I started blogging not to better myself or chronicle my life or contribute something good to the world, but out of spite. Worst. Reason. Ever. Thankfully I got over that pretty quickly.
  27. My favorite color is yellow.
  28. I love tulips and daffodils.
  29. I'm calmed by clean spaces, but am hopeless at actually keeping a space clean.
  30. I am a night owl.
  31. Right about here, I'm wishing I were only turning 30. Thirty-six turns out to be an awfully long list.
  32. I still spend more time than I'd like to admit wondering whether our official family is finished at four.
  33. Mari is almost three and getting more independent every day. We went out to eat on Saturday and both kids kept themselves occupied and happy through what turned out to be a longish meal. It was so nice. "But, but, but," says my brain, spinning in a hundred directions.
  34. My ratio of posts-written-in-my head to posts-published is about 4:1.
  35. I am munching on salt and vinegar kettle chips as a birthday treat.
  36. For my birthday, I want mhowardkarp to deem me a righteous smartypants. Could there be a higher honor?

January 21, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #23

It's the third week of the month, so it's time for another open adoption roundtable.

This one will be a little different because (1) the prompt is actually at another blog and (2) a number of you have already written your posts.

Jessica from O Solo Mama is an adoptive parent via international adoption (and a fabulous writer). She's been listening to us tell our stories (especially those who participated in last year's interview project) and thinking about open adoption--why it sometimes seems to work, why it sometimes seems not to work, what's really going on for those of us living it. The other week she asked seven questions of those of us in open adoptions. Seven really, really good questions.

Rather than reposting the questions here, I'm sending you to her blog. I think it's important to read them in the context of her entire post.
  • If you've already answered O Solo Mama's questions and would like to list your post here, leave a link in the comments.
  • If you haven't answered them yet, go read the questions, write your response, and come back here to give us a link.
They've sparked some thoughtful discussion already and I'm looking forward to reading more!


January 20, 2011

So You Want To Throw a Lego Party

My computer went and broke itself. (How dare it, right?) It's with the computer nerds-for-hire (hopefully) being fixed. Meanwhile it's rather tedious to peck out long posts on my iPod, so we're going to do some exploring in the drafts folder. I hope you enjoy this bit of birthday fluff.

Like many a child, Eddie is a lover of Lego. When it came time to pick a birthday party theme he deliberated for roughly a nanosecond before picking Lego. So Lego it was.

My personal rules for young kid parties are: keep it small (you get to invite as many friends as you are old, so Eddie invited five), inexpensive, and busy. Keep those shorties occupied!

I make no claims to being a brilliant party planner. You'll find no sunlit photographs of beautiful dessert tables worthy of an Ohdeedoh feature here. I just figure that someone else may be looking to throw a DIY Lego-themed party for a preschooler and might appreciate some inspiration. If so, read on!

January 12, 2011

Meet Sara from Unofficial Mom

For the inaugural open adoption blogger interview, I plucked a name at random from my spreadsheet. Up popped Sara of Unofficial Mom! Sara began writing in April of 2010 about her life as an adoptive mom of her baby daughter, nicknamed Pie. Today is Pie's first birthday, so what better day to meet this blogger?

Read through her interview and please leave her a comment saying, "Hello!"

Tell us about yourself and your connection to open adoption

I am an adoptive mom as well as the aunt to an adopted niece and nephew. My brother adopted his children from Vietnam, so his adoptions are as closed as they get, but with the arrival of my niece and nephew, the idea of adoption was planted. It was something my husband and I had talked about even prior to our fertility issues. When we started down the adoption path, I’ll be honest, I wanted a closed adoption. I didn’t think through all of the benefits to an open adoption, I only thought of the horror stories you hear about the first families coming back into the picture and how horrible it can be.

We truly fell into this adoption and how open it is. After years of waiting to adopt with no progress, we decided to start accepting that we would never have children. Then my husband goes out one night to get a burrito, runs into a former co-worker who happens to mention that his girlfriend is pregnant and sarcastically asks if we want a baby. Um…YES! The rest went really quickly. Seven weeks to the day, our daughter was born. And the further we get into the process, the happier I am that we have access to her first family, and even more so, that she will have access to them.

What has been the most unexpected or surprising aspect of open adoption so far?

I think, without question, my biggest surprise has been my total conversion to an open adoption supporter. Even through the final weeks of the pregnancy, knowing that simply through the circumstances of having known the couple prior to the pregnancy, that we would have an open adoption I was uneasy. I just didn’t know how I would handle having to share my daughter. But that’s not at all how things are. I have my daughter. I love her like nothing else I have ever known. They also have their daughter, and they also love her. And it just so happens that my daughter and their daughter is the same person.

How did you start blogging?

I got into blogging, like so many people, to document things for my daughter. I wanted to have a place that gave me more space and more freedom than her baby book to tell her stories. From that, it has evolved into a place where I can vent or celebrate, where I can connect with others, where I can write for the simple joy of it. It has become such an important part of my life and I have made some amazing friends because of the blog.

What influence has the blogging/online world had on your family's adoption?

Blogging has been an amazing outlet. It has provided me with a place to brain dump when I’m working through issues related the adoption. And it has provided me with access to other people who may have gone through the same situation and have advice or simply want to offer support. The online world has been a great tool for us as well. We have a Facebook page set up for our daughter where we post pictures and updates for her first family. It’s a really easy way to stay connected with them.

If you could go back to the beginning of your adoption experience and tell yourself one thing, what would it be?

Relax. This adoption and the rather unusual way we came to it really feels meant to be. It feels like all of the planets aligned and this child was supposed to be our daughter. It was a miracle. So I think there really wasn’t a need to be as stressed about it as I was. Coming home with a newborn for the first time is stressful enough I didn’t need to add my own crazy to it!

Pick a few of your favorites to share with us:

Favorite post from your blog – This is a hard question, but I typically say it’s the two or three posts about my daughter’s birth. There are so many details in those posts that I don’t ever want to forget.

Favorite book – Whichever I’m reading at the moment. I have a very short memory for books. Even more so with the sleep deprivation of late.

Favorite non-adoption blog/online diversion -- I love PostSecret. It’s such an amazing phenomenon, and such a cool thing to show people that they are not alone in their secret. Other than that I read a lot of celeb gossip. I couldn’t tell you why…but it entertains me. Maybe because it’s so mindless.

Favorite thing to do in your free time – Free time? I don’t have too much of that with an almost 1 year old! But when I do, I’m a crafter. I love to make things and have a creative outlet since my job is so dry.

Favorite movie – There are so many. But if I had to pick one, it would probably be If Lucy Fell. It’s a really sweet, funny, quirky story that almost no one has seen, but my sisters and I quote incessantly.

Favorite meal - Any meal that involves my mom’s mashed potatoes. Or pizza. I’m a long-term vegetarian , or as my family says a cheese-etarian. But what isn’t made better by cheese?!


Many thanks to Sara and happy birthday to Pie!

Open Adoption Bloggers Happenings

I've started off 2011 with Open Adoption Bloggers on my mind--very excited about seeing what more we can do together this year.

One thing I want to do is get on a more regular schedule with the Open Adoption Roundtable. I'm going to try to post new roundtable prompts the first and third weeks of the month. So we'll all have two weeks to think and write over each question and you'll have a better idea of when one is coming up. (Feel free to send in ideas!) If you want to write on all of them, that's great. If you want to only write occasionally when a prompt piques your interest, that's also great. There is no one "right" way to participate, but hopefully the more regular rhythm will be helpful.

Also! Inspired by the fun of last year's Interview Project, in the second week of each month I'll post an interview with a different blogger from the Open Adoption Bloggers list. A "Featured Blogger of the Month," if you will. With two hundred-ish blogs now listed, I thought it would be a nice way to meet writers you may not know or learn more about ones you do. Watch for the first interview today!

January 11, 2011

Answering Two Questions About Open Adoption

On Sunday, Jessica at O Solo Mama posed some questions for folks living out open adoption. She called them ignorant questions, but I'd just call them honest questions. Heaven knows I have similar ignorant honest questions for folks who adopted internationally, since all I know of that experience is what I've read and heard.

If I'm summarizing Jessica fairly, she sees healthy open adoptions with ongoing contact and adults intentionally working together for the sake of their shared child and thinks that's great. But she also wonders if it's realistic to think that all (domestic) adoptions can or even should be that way. Anyone who's been a part of one knows that open adoption can be hard. And certainly there are people who get into them without who aren't properly equipped or supported. Adoptive parent break promises, first parents struggle with grief, etc. So, she writes, "I question whether most people have the stomach for open adoption or if it even best for most. Perhaps it is only best for those who can."

There are seven questions; I started off with two of them in this post. To give newer readers some sense of where I'm coming from, we're in full contact with all four of the kids' first parents and some of their extended family, in relationships that currently range from healthy to challenging.

I’m guessing kids are not hung up on how many relatives they have. Tell me that the thing that hangs up the public all the time about open adoption and other unconventional relationships—two mommies, two daddies, three, four, parents—is the least of your worries because it seems to me it is.

This honestly hasn't been an issue for my children (at five and almost three years of age). This is the only family structure they've ever lived in, so to them it's just how our family is. Eddie is old enough to understand that most children are raised by their birth parents (although he'd probably articulate it a different way). But we interact with lots of families for whom that's not the case, because of adoption or informal kinship foster care sort of arrangements. So in our life our family is different from the cultural norm but not unique: just one of multiple possible family structures. Eddie sometimes talks about Kelly and Ray as his other mom or dad, but it's very clear to him who's in the everyday parenting role.

We do have one first family wing who is hung up on this.  They feel pretty strongly that they are the true family and we're usurpers. They don't see how we could all co-exist in the child's affections. The kids thankfully haven't been caught up in that--it's all been between the adults--and I'm spending a lot of thinking about how to best respond as the adoptive parent. Because fully open adoption doesn't work if either the adoptive family or the birth family is denying the "realness" of the other.  But from the kids' perspective? So far having multiple sorts of parents in their lives isn't problematic or odd.

It reminds me of the day a little girl told Eddie that Mari couldn't possibly be his sister because they're not the same race. He just looked at her like she was speaking gibberish. Of course she's his sister, she's standing right there. They have that same certainty about their parents. Of course they can have two moms and two dads--after all, there we are.

Even if the adoptions were completely closed, their first parents would still exist. My children were born to one set of parents and are being raised by another. There are and will be layers to their emotions about that.  That part is adoption, not open adoption. Open adoption makes tangible what is true; it turns existence into presence. If anything, at this young age, I think knowing their first families as real people has hastened their understanding of adoption.

Do you ever feel like you should give this child back? Does the thought ever seize you totally as you watch your child with her bio-family: “ooops?”

I haven't. Perhaps part of that is due to the fact that, for different reasons, none of the children's first parents is in a place to raise a child any more than they were at the time of the adoptions. Some even less so. Watching them with their biological families, I'm glad that Eddie and Mari have those connections. I'm grateful they experience being with people who mirror them in so many big and small ways, even if it's not every day. I think about how those relationships might deepen and become more independent of Todd and me in the future as the kids mature. But I've never considered undoing the adoptions.

(There's another blogger I hope weighs in on this question, because her child is older and they now sort of informally share custody with his first mom. So it's not a completely off the wall idea.)

When Eddie's sister was born a few years ago and we thought that Kelly was going to raise her, I wondered if Kelly wished she could also now parent Eddie--if she was thinking, "ooops." (Even though she was saying the opposite.) But I've learned it doesn't do anyone any good for me to be second-guessing what others are feeling.

January 04, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #22

The Open Adoption Roundtable is a series of occasional writing prompts about open adoption. It's designed to showcase of the diversity of thought and experience in the open adoption community. You don't need to be listed at Open Adoption Bloggers to participate or even be in a traditional open adoption. If you're thinking about openness in adoption, you have a place at the table. The prompts are meant to be starting points--please feel free to adapt or expand on them.

Write a response at your blog--linking to http://www.productionnotreproduction.com/2011/01/open-adoption-roundtable-22.html so your readers can browse other participating blogs--and link to your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is perfectly fine; I'd appreciate it if you'd add a link back to the roundtable. If you don't blog, you can always leave your thoughts directly in the comments.

One year ago many of us answered the question, "How will you be proactive in the area of open adoption in 2010?"

If you participated in the January 2010 discussion, revisit your post and give us the one-year-later update.

And whether or not you participated last year, tell us about your open adoption hopes or commitments in 2011.

The responses:

Lady Stape (adoptive parent) at Stape's House: "So what does this mean for 2011? I want to focus my adoption conversations around openness and how important it is for everyone involved. There are so many myths about what adoption is like and what openness means. So pay attention in 2011. We are going to be 'opening' it up around here and learning more about what that means."

Cat (adoptive parent) at Cat's Litterbox: "This year, 2011, will be the year that Gus turns one. We will go to the mitten in May or June and he will see his birth parents for the first time since May 12th, and they will be amazed at how much he's grown and changed. They will smile, and laugh, and maybe even cry when they see just how beautiful he is, and how much joy he brings. And I will smile, laugh, and cry because they have shared this little person with me, and brought him into my heart."

Christi (adoptive parent) at Anxiously Awaiting: Looking back at a year which included a newly adopted daughter and finding her own adult sister who was placed for adoption years ago; looking ahead to a year of giving back to the adoption community.

Jane (adopted adult) at Adoption of Jane: "My hopes and commitments for Open adoption is to visit and volunteer at Orphanages during my trip home this year. I am hoping that my research now will allow me to speak to the correct officials in my homeland. I want to encourage policies be put into place allowing Adoptive Parents to bring adopted children back to visit without fearing for their safety."

Andy (adopted adult and adoptive parent) at Today's the Day!: Andy shares why she ended up doing the exact opposite of the two adoption-related resolutions she made last year.

Rachel (first parent) at The Great Wide Open: "It's hard being a mother. It's hard raising a child, but it's also hard to be completely, utterly, whole heartedly in love with your child that someone else is holding in their arms. At the same time, it's so easy to love him, and it's so easy to love the arms that are holding him, cherishing him, protecting him, and receiving so much joy in return from him. No decision I could have made would have been easy, and I suspect it's the same for many women who find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. I just want more people to know about the joys that an open adoption can bring."

Spyderkl (adoptive parent) at Evil Mommy: "Letting go isn’t such a bad thing, really."

Cindy (first parent): "So it's not so much that I am proactive, I am predictable and expect my sons adoptive parents to be the same way."

Thanksgivingmom (first parent) at I Should Really Be Working: "My last resolution was to not be fine with being fine. If anything, I did the opposite here. Instead of speaking my mind and pushing back when things weren’t fine, I just accepted that it is what it is – and that has to be fine."

Kierstin (adoptive parent) at Our Family Building Adventure: Just two months into open adoption, Kierstin makes plans to share, read and blog in 2011

Susiebook (first parent) at Endure for a Night: "Heaven knows my hopes of a year ago are no longer steering my approach to the adoption—I’m more cynical and less hopeful."

Racilous (first parent) at Adoption in the City: Hoping and working toward family, familiarity, frequent visits and friendship in 2011.

A Life Being Lived (first parent) at Carrying a Cat by the Tail: An ambitious and thoughtful set of goals for 2011

Robyn C (adoptive parent) at The Chittister Family: "In 2011, I’m just going to keep trying to work on what I was working on in 2010. I really want to find a way to communicate with S and help her kids. I want to find an agency that supports all of the people in the adoption process, without discrimination or degradation. And of course, I want to learn more so I can be a better (adoptive) parent."

A (adoptive parent) at Not a Visitor: "As for hopes and commitments in 2011 - there is one big one on the table in addition to these. This is the year we'll decide about an A+A baby #2. If we do begin another adoption in the next year it will add a layer of complexity to our family dynamic and we will once again be hoping for openness."

Meghann (adoptive parent) at A Different Kind of Family: "Thinking about it now, I think the real reason for my massive suckitude is simply this: Fear. Fear of calling too often, or not often enough, or at a bad time. Fear of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing. Fear of pushing too hard, or not pushing hard enough. Fear of not being the perfect adoptive parent, the perfect 'partner'—for lack of a better term—in our OA relationship."

January 03, 2011

Top 10 Posts of 2010

I thought about going through 2010's posts and picking out my personal favorites from each month, like I did last year. But I've been rather bored of myself lately, so the idea didn't really appeal to me. Then other cool people listed which posts from 2010 of theirs were most-viewed. That sounded much more interesting!

I set aside the open adoption roundtable posts--which would otherwise dominate the list--and popular posts written prior to 2010 that are still getting clicks. Here was what was left:
  1. Open Adoption Interview Project: We celebrated the one-year anniversary of Open Adoption Bloggers by getting to know one another better. Thirty-two pairs of open adoption bloggers posted interviews of each other and more than a few new friendships were made. I loved this project! Definitely a highlight of the year for me. I've toyed with the idea of doing an all-adoption bloggers version--going beyond our open adoptionland boundaries--but I'd need some help from bloggers in other adoption communities.
  2. Climbing Toward After: An important relationship in my life imploded, kicking off one of the hardest periods of my life so far. It's been too private to write about, but I can say that the climb has become hopeful in recent months. The love you all showed me in the comments that day still centers me. Thank you.
  3. My T-shirt Today is a Solid Grey: In which I beg my fellow adoptive parents to cut it out with the offensive adoption shirts already.
  4. Nappy and the White Boy: Balancing the need to help my son understand his privilege as a white person with the desire to create an atomosphere of pride for my African-American daughter.
  5. Things I Don't Have to Think About Today: Looking at my own privilege as an adoptive parent and non-adopted person.
  6. Speaking of Machatunim: So it turns out that Eddie has a baby brother.
  7. At the Intersection of Transracial and Open Adoption: How the openness in Marian's adoption influences the transracial-ness, and vice versa.
  8. Adoption Book Club: The Blind Side: I still haven't seen the movie (I sort of inwardly groan at thought of Sandra Bullock movies. Is it just me?).  But I read the book! I suspect this post's popularity was due to Googlers, rather than my regular readers' keen interest in a book report.
  9. Dear Friends: My love letter to anyone feeling like an outsider on Mother's Day.
  10. "I've been waiting for you for your whole life": Rachel Coleman of Signing Time fame shares that she's a first mom in a really moving piece of writing. And then re-tweets a link to my post about it to her lovely Twitter followers. Thank you, Signing Time lady!
I was a little surprised that one of my favorite posts from last year, about the phrase "our birthmother", didn't make the cut. Guess I'm not the best judge!
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