April 26, 2011

My Favorite Movie is Books

Well, hello there! Remember when I used to have a blog? For which I actually wrote posts and everything? Good times.

Life has been chugging along at its typical pace. Work is busy, but no more so than usual. Everyone in the family is healthy. No relationships in crisis or major events looming on the horizon. My days are very full, but that has always been true. Post topics spring to mind every day. Nothing obvious, in other words, to explain why I have not been writing.

It’s kick in the pants time! Conversations are always more fun, anyhow. Ask me anything. The floor is open for questions.

Here is a question from me to you: What is a favorite movie of yours? Recent or old, doesn’t matter. My Netflix queue is rather sparse and bedraggled.

* A big gold BFF star to anyone who gets the post title reference.

April 12, 2011

Meet Rachel from White Sugar, Brown Sugar

For this fourth installment in our open adoption bloggers interview series, I turned again to the random number generator. Up popped one of the newest additions to our blogroll: Rachel, adoptive mom of two young daughters and author of White Sugar, Brown Sugar.

April 09, 2011

Saturday Fluff

Five words that make me wince:
  1. moist
  2. belly
  3. saliva
  4. cockroach
  5. maggot
I typed that list with my eyes closed so I wouldn't have to see the words sitting there on the page. I wish I were kidding.

My father can't stand the sound of "crotch" and "trousers". Is this an inherited family quirk, or does everyone have an aversion to certain words?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go clear my mind with some of the more perfect English words. Like "lettuce". And "crisp". And "salutations". Ahhhh...

April 08, 2011

For Better or For Worse

Ten(!) years ago today Todd and I threw ourselves a wedding.
I wore my mother's dress
It was meant to be held outdoors, something you can do in Southern California in the middle of April.

The day before the wedding it rained. It rained and rained and rained. The pouring buckets sort of rain that Los Angeles gets on occasion. Not exactly what we had planned for the ceremony we had spent months imagining. But what are you going to do? The setting of the ceremony wasn't the point. The point was gathering with all these people we loved and getting the hell married already. So we staked out a new ceremony plan inside in the boring space where the dinner was to be held, did the rehearsal, and went on our way, determined to stay on point--the real point.

I woke up to sun the day of my wedding. The rain became a footnote in the Wedding Story, one of oh so many things that didn't go quite as planned that weekend. We laughed a lot that day.

Holy cannoli, we look so young
This is where Todd will likely break in to remind me that I actually sobbed for hours that the rain was ruining our wedding or something. But this much more practical response is how I remember it and I'm sticking to it because I've come back to this again and again in my adult life. Most things don't go the way I imagined, things both large (parenting) and small (nearly every haircut). When I've hypothetically actually yesterday afternoon fled to my bedroom so as not to lose my temper with the kids at the end of a long day and meanwhile said kids are in the hallway attempting to pick the lock--well, let's just say it's not always an enriching childhood of art projects and organic gardening we've got going here. (At least they were cooperating with each other in the lock picking project.) But I can always come back to the point of it all, try to make them feel safe and unconditionally loved, messy and improvised as that effort may be. I've been trying to practice that more and more lately: reminding myself of the capital-p Point and finding a way to make it there, letting the details fall as they may.

All that to say, in a strange and roundabout way, happy tenth anniversary to you, T.

April 07, 2011

My Answers: Yes, No

Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?

I could pull out a story or two, but the upshot would be this: when someone in my life is treating me (or my family) like poop, I don't like it. It makes me grumpy and sad. And when the poop treatment comes in the context of our open adoptions, with their high stakes of maintaining birth family connections on the kids' behalf, then my grumpiness and sadness gets ratcheted up to eleven. Any generalized parenting anxiety flies together into worries about effects on the kids or fears of Mari and Eddie growing up and heading off into the sunset with their first families without so much as a look back at us. I fret, deliver strident monologues to an audience of one (Todd), and don't sleep well. So, yes, sometimes it feels like far too much.

(There are some lovely people among our kids' birth families, people who are incredibly dear to me, patient with my shortcomings, and have only good intentions. Please don't think that I'm lumping all first family together here. We just have a couple of extended family members who struggle to have healthy relationships in general and that carries over into their relationships with us.)

But have I ever wanted to chuck it all and walk away from the people involved? No. It would be trading one heaviness for another, and at what cost? If I had to put words to my deepest desires in the hardest of those poop times, it would be that things could just be simple. Not that I could erase first family from our lives, but that somehow we could all co-exist in this overlapping, messy family without the emotional complexity that adoption brings.

Obviously it's not a realistic wish. I'm not claiming it is. But it's where I always end up in the hard times: "I just wish it could be simple."  I do my best to acknowledge my sadness or anxiety or frustration, but not give in to them; Todd and I make our decisions based on our commitment to raising our children with ongoing, respectful connections to their families of origin. We believe in the value of openness and have already witnessed enough to know it's worthwhile. So far that's what keeps me pressing into the openness when things are hard, instead of pulling away, even with its complications.

April 05, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #25

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 back here so your readers can browse other participating blogs--and link to your post in the comments here. Using a previously published post is 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 or at the Open Adoption Bloggers Facebook page.

During a January roundtable, when we answered a set of questions posed by an adoptive mom in a closed adoption, almost every one--even those in thriving, healthy open adoptions--pointed out that sometimes open adoption is flat-out hard.

I thought it would be worth exploring that difficulty some more and sharing our experiences. I know that it's those hard times that have been the most lonely for me in our family's open adoptions. It was easy to convince myself that, unlike me, my adoptive parent peers were nothing but secure, facing any challenges with graceful confidence. Finding out that wasn't true--and gaining perspective on what might be going on for the other constellation members during those same rough times--has made a world of difference.

Let's tell our stories. Our topic for this round:

Has open adoption ever felt like too much? Have you ever wanted to walk away?


The responses:

April 04, 2011


Marian is going through a baby doll phase. She is rarely found without one in her arms. They come with us in the car, around the house, to the grocery store. In any store or playroom, they draw her to them like a tractor beam. The other morning I told her the two of us could do anything she wanted, anything at all: ride the carousel, go to the park, get tasty cookies from the bakery. The (toddler-height) sky was the limit. "Play with babies," she said immediately.

I went through something similar, once upon a time.
Me, age three-ish
When I was three years old my mother made me a doll, a soft and simple little thing. It was a gift for Christmas or my birthday; I can't remember now. She had brown eyes and yellow hair, just like me.  My mom took scraps of fabric leftover from clothes she had sewn for me or things I had outgrown and made a wardrobe for the doll that matched my own.

I named the doll Jennifer and fell in love. I loved that she looked like me. I loved that my three-year old hands could easily dress her. I loved that her clothes matched mine. I knew that it was made for no one else but me. She was played with and carted around, her clothes buttoned and unbuttoned, for years and years until she was stained and floppy. Eventually she was packed away in my parents' attic with my other special toys.

When Mari started her baby doll phase, my mom and I thought of Jennifer and her big buttons, the perfect size for little hands. And so for Christmas, Mari (and Jennifer) got a friend, complete with a wardrobe made from Mari's outgrown clothes.

Not surprisingly, Mari thought her new doll was wonderful and was especially taken with the fact that it was just like Mama's old doll. The two dolls are a pair in her mind, not to be separated. If she is playing with one, she makes sure someone else is tending to the other, and she insists they share the same box when her playthings are put away.

There is a certain sweetness in seeing her tiny fingers fumbling as she buttons on an outfit made of clothing I once wore so long ago, in taking in her delight at the doll that is just like her and remembering my own long ago joy.  Watching the echoes of my childhood in my own children is quieting, connecting--comforting in a way I did not know to anticipate when parenthood was still just an imagined dream.


I am blocked. Blockity block blocked. Writing has been replaced by second-guessing and self-censoring.

So I'm declaring this my PerBloPoWe (Personal Blog Posting Week). Forcing myself through the block with seven posts in seven days, in the spirit of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month).  And this will not count as today's post. Because is there anything more boring than someone blogging about blogging? No. There is not.
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