June 26, 2011

A Boy of Gentle Spirit

We offer the kids many small choices throughout the day, in the grand tradition of Love & Logic and oodles of other similar parenting approaches. "Buddy, do you want to leave the playground in five minutes or in three minutes?" "Would you like to brush your teeth first or put on your jammies first?"

Eddie now has five years under his belt of hearing such statements. And clearly the technique has sunk in, though perhaps not the principles behind it. The other day while in the kitchen I overheard him calmly explain, "Mari, these are your choices. Do you want to give me your balloon or get hit in the face?"

(She gave him the balloon.)

June 21, 2011

It Ends Today, Thank Goodness

Last time, I promise! The Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs vote ends at 5:00 PST today. I'm in 26th place. Gah!

My blog domain hosts the OpenAdoptionBloggers.com listings, so any exposure for my blog helps get attention to your blogs, too, in search results and such. So we'd all win, in a way.

You can vote for my blog here and for any on the list here. (You can vote once on your computer and once on your phone and again on different browsers. Just saying.) Please vote--thank you! You rock!

ETA: We did it! By the skin of my teeth: #25. Thank you!!

June 20, 2011

Open Adoption Symposium This Fall

Registration is now open for the open adoption symposium Opening Adoption: Realities, Possibilities & Challenges on September 23-24 in Richmond, Virginia. Yay! You should come!

A bit from the conference website:
Presenters and attendees will have opportunities to discuss, from multiple viewpoints, adoption as a lifelong process. We do not intend for this symposium to only discuss open adoption nor to only discuss adoption from a positive or negative perspective. We will have a wide range of perspectives to give a full view of the complexity of the issues and to allow attendees an opportunity to consider adoption from another perspective other than their own.
The list of sessions is up, too. The lovely Barb and I are doing a workshop on the second day looking at the role social media can play in adoption education and support:
Open Adoption in an Online World 
In just the past decade, blogs and other forms of social media have augmented open adoption: providing tools for maintaining relationships between birth and adoptive families, offering new ways to find support and advice from a community of peers, and creating cross-triad opportunities for education and activism. Yet the role of social media is often overlooked when discussing post-adoption support. We will share how social media has influenced our real-life adoption experience and explore the possibilities and limitations of bringing open adoption online.
Jim Gritter and Adam Pertman are giving keynotes, which will be a treat. But most of all I am looking forward to spending time with some of the online friends I already know will be there. Some of my favorite brains, gathered in a small setting, to think creatively about open adoption? Yes, please.

June 19, 2011

Daddy Time

Shout outs today to all the men who invest in children's lives, whether said children are "theirs" or not, whether they are still waiting and hoping for "their own" someday or not. And much love to everyone who is parenting with or missing an absent father.

Todd always knew he wanted to be a father. Of the two of us, it was he who came into the marriage with baby names already picked out. When we were making Father's Day card for Todd, I asked the kids to dictate some of what Daddy likes to do with them.

Eddie said, "He plays Legos with me. He puts me to bed. He has breakfast with me. I like that he tickles me."

Mari said, "I tickle him and tackle him. Tackle him! Poke him! Play with him! Sit on him! Piggy back rides with Daddy."

Happy Father's Day, Todd! I hope you make it through playtime with Mari relatively unbruised.

June 15, 2011

Nudge Nudge

Just a reminder that you can vote once each day for my blog (and others') at the Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs deal.  Simply click on the badge over in the sidebar to vote.

I haven't been tracking my exact standing. Then Todd helpfully called out the other night, "You're only losing by two! Not bad for someone who doesn't have any friends voting."

Thanks, dude.*

You can vote for my blog here and for any on the list here. Definitely consider taking a minute to support the voices of the adoptee and first parent writers in the running, who are typically appallingly underrepresented on lists like these. Thank you!

* Turns out he was talking about the fact that I blog anonymously, so I'm not asking my family or offline friends to vote. He's wonderfully supportive of all my bloggy activities; I'm just poking fun here. Hi, Todd!

June 14, 2011

It's a Portland Meetup!

Calling all Portland-area adoption bloggers! KatjaMichelle and I are getting together for an adoption blogger meetup on Saturday, July 9 at 2:00 p.m. at Old Wives' Tales. If you're a blogger, commenter, or even a lurker, this is for you! We want to take this cool thing we've got going online and bring it into the offline world. Kids are totally welcome--Eddie and Mari will be on hand to play.

Let me know if you have any questions. RSVPs aren't required, but a heads up by email or in the comments would be nice if you're thinking of coming. Please help spread the word and I hope to see you there!

June 13, 2011


My mom has been going through my grandmother's keepsake chests with her. The tangible memories of not just her ninety-seven years, but also those of my grandfather, who died over thirty years ago now.

Yesterday they discovered that he had saved every letter my mom wrote to him. Letters from summer sleep-away camp, from her college years, from the early years of her marriage until she moved back in with them and went to grad school while my dad was deployed to Vietnam. One letter each week, like clockwork.

We dipped into them at random last night. It was incredible to trace the origins of my parents' relationship, stories I've heard my entire life, here dropped in tiny tidbits amidst talk of classes and sorority life. She meets my dad, they date. ("This Sigma Chi," she calls him for weeks, referring to his fraternity. "Does this Sigma Chi have a name?" her parents finally reply.) They break up. She spends a summer abroad and falls in love with a local boy; she's convinced they will marry. That ends (you're shocked, I'm sure). She and my dad get back together. They get engaged. Much wedding planning ensues. Post-wedding, she chafes against the restrictions of life on an army base. She writes of trying to learn how to cook.

I only have the faintest memories of my grandfather, although I'm told we loved to be together and that I remind people of him in many ways. He died when I was just three years old. Touching those stacks of carefully bundled letters felt like making a new memory. I now know he was someone, like me, who saved things, tokens of occasions or relationships which were important to him. I know that these letters mattered to him. I know that my mom mattered to him.

Beth, Mari's first mom, spent the first year of her life in foster care. She doesn't know much at all about that time, since she was so young. But she has a letter from her foster mother that tells what she was like as a baby. It's understandably precious to her. She's mentioned the letter many times in the three years we've known her, always in almost reverent tones. I wonder if her foster mom looked ahead to these years when she wrote it and knew how much it would mean.

Eddie has been bugging me lately about finishing his baby book, ever since we came across it while cleaning up a bookshelf. He is a child who adores hearing stories about himself. I've promised him I'll work on it this summer, and I will, but it's pressed me to think about finally getting off my duff and making lifebooks for Eddie and Mari, too. I'm embarrassed that I haven't done them yet; way, way back in the earliest days of Eddie's adoption, when I was clinging so fiercely to the idea that open adoption was entirely different than other forms of adoption, I dismissed the whole idea of making a lifebook. (More embarrassment!) He has relationships with his first family, I told myself. He has the actual people and the stories we already tell him. He doesn't need a book.

I missed the point. I saw the book as a lopsided substitution for the connections open adoption lets my children have. But that's not it at all. We hold onto momentos and create stories all the time involving people in our lives. We do it because they are in our lives. I'm pushing myself work on books for Mari and Eddie in the hopes that, in some small way, they will say to each of them that I want to be alongside you as you pull the different strands of your life together. I have this information, this story, and I want to put it together in this way because it belongs to you, too. I want you to be able to hold it in your hands now and years from now and know how much it matters to me. How much you matter to me.

June 05, 2011

BlogHer Tidbits

Tidbit the first:

Adoption Bloggers @ BlogHer 2011If you write about adoption and are headed to the BlogHer conference this August, don't forget to add your name to the growing adoption blogger list! This will be my first time going to BlogHer. I have no idea what kind of madness it is trying to connect with people or if there is even a snowball's chance of accidentally bumping into someone, but I'm really really hoping I get to meet as many of you who'll be there as I can. It's always fun to put faces to (screen)names.

Tidbit the second:

I did a couple more book reviews for the BlogHer Book club that you can check out if you're so inclined. The first was for for Geraldine Brooks' new novel, Caleb's Crossing. My mom and her friends are all abuzz about this book right now.
In the early seventeenth century on the tiny island now now known as Martha's Vineyard, twelve-year old Bethia Mayfield is growing up cloistered in a small pioneer settlement. Alone on a beach one afternoon she encounters Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, son of the leader of a local Wampanoag band whose lands are shrinking as English settlers press in. Across a language divide and against strict societal mores, the two strike up a secret friendship that spans a lifetime.
The second was for Jean Kwok's debut novel, Girl in Translation:
As anyone who speaks more than one language knows, something subtle always changes in the process of translation. Languages are so filled with symbolism and culture that a text can never be exactly duplicated in another language; every word choice brings with it the possibility of losing something of the original tone or meaning, or of inadvertently adding something new. And so it is with Kim as she shifts between her different worlds every day, morphing into different versions of herself at school and work and home. In each context she is Kim, but Kim translated: subtly different, with something lost and gained with each successive decision about how to present herself.
The BlogHer Book Club opened up its waiting list this week to everyone this week--you don't need to be part of their publishing network anymore to participate. It's a really well-run review program, so I thought I'd share the word with any of you book-lovers out there.

June 02, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #26

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.

Open adoption blogger Susiebook suggested we write about how to talk about siblings in open adoption. I thought it was a great idea: a chance to share some practical information with each other from our different experiences and perspectives. It may be that birth parents are parenting older or younger siblings, or that siblings were placed in different adoptive families. What words do we use to talk about that? How do we frame it? What questions or issues have come up?

How do/would you talk with children about siblings in open adoption? How do you approach this as a (first or adoptive) parent, or how was it handled in your family if you grew up with siblings who didn't live with you? For prospective adoptive parents or first parents without other children, has this been something you've thought about how you would approach?


The responses so far:

Lavender Luz (adoptive mom) @ Write Mind Open Heart: "'You know, Mom,' [my daughter] said as I peeled carrots for that night’s dinner, 'Reed’s not my REAL brother. He’s just a step.'"

Kelly L (adoptive mom) @ Surprised By Hope: "So how does one pick out a card for a birth brother, just turning 13, who's moved across the country and hasn't seen Sasha in 1 1/2 years. I want something to show him we still care, we want him to know Sasha, and hope they will have a relationship as she grows. So how can you sum that up and get a Big Brother card? One without phrases like...I love all the memories we create, pillow fights, baseball games, etc."

Debbie (first mom) @ Complications of a Mastermind: "I think that will be important -- letting my children know that I do love B and have always. They will know of him as their sibling still. I hope they do get to meet him and love him as I do. They will also know that their father WAS the right person, that I was prepared this time and that I will NEVER leave them (abandon, whichever fear they might be feeling)."

Lia (first mom) @ Lia--Not Juno: "I’d want my squinches to grow up thinking about Damian the way I thought about the Beatles – you know, 'they’re just some guys we know, of course we listen to their music – wait, you’ve heard of them too? No way! I didn’t know other people knew them!' As a child I took the Beatles for granted, and never knew they were a big deal until, probably, middle school. I want that to be how Damian is to any squinches I raise – 'yeah, I have a brother (or half-brother), his name is Damian, he lives with Paul and Linda and – what? That’s weird? I had no idea… don’t you have a brother that lives somewhere else?'"

Susiebook (first mom) @ Endure for a Night: "My understanding of the best interests of the adopted child (not thought up on my own, but heard from vaguely remembered experts) is that children own all of their stories, and that it is the parents’ obligation to give them all of their information—in age-appropriate ways, of course, and gently—but all of it. I’m not parenting Cricket, and I honestly don’t want to tell him anything. I want to send him to his moms if he has questions, dodging any awkward conversations until he’s taller than I am. But I want and need to tell Joey what happened, and why, and that it won’t happen to him and that I wish it had never happened at all. I am going to tell him all of that—I just want not to hurt anyone. That may be impossible."

Tammy (adoptive mom) @ You Just Never Know Where Hope Might Take Ya: "All that said, I also do say to both of them from time to time, 'you know what? That is a great question, and I know you want an answer. But would you be able to trust me with the answer until Daddy and I believe you are ready to handle it?' And most of the time, for the very hard things, they do trust us. And for that I am thankful. And I have written their questions down in a journal so I don't forget to answer them when they are ready. I check it every six months or so to see if there is a conversation we need to have. And I carry the burden of the 'keeper of the story' with seriousness. And hope and pray with each conversation that we say what our child should hear."

Racilous (first mom) @ Adoption in the City: "So when I think that all out, I realize the issues all start when I relate my love of J with my placement of him. I love J more than anything. I also felt I didn’t have any good options so I chose the best of the worst options, which was to place him. My circumstances led me to place. But the fact I placed him has no impact on the place J has in my heart. Similarly, because I placed J, I realized I never wanted myself, or any of my future children, to go through something like that again. So I have made a promise to myself that I would never put myself in that situation again."

Jay (adoptive mom) @ Two Women Blogging: "When Eve was eight, she put Mark's school picture on her bulletin board with a note saying 'MY BROTHER' and a big pink heart. She started asking more often - not to see Laura, but to meet Mark. We were stuck with the same response because we couldn't get past our own fear and anxiety about opening the adoption for real. We stalled. We equivocated. We kept saying 'Someday'. Finally, when she'd just turned ten, Eve looked at me and said 'Mommy, you always say that you're going to do it, but you never do. I want to see my brother'."

My name is Andy (adult adoptee, adoptive mom) @ Today's the Day!: "Liam has not asked the “difficult” question yet – Why did “K” keep “C” and “J” and not me? I think that it may be due in part to the fact that we talk openly and frequently about his family, the circumstances of his birth and adoption and how things change. I also think that having always talked about his siblings has made them just a part of his reality. There was never a sudden let’s-sit-down-and-talk moment of them being revealed to him."

DrSpouse (prospective adoptive parent) @ What am I?: "Contact with birth siblings is actually far more common in the UK than is contact with birth parents. It would be very rare here for adoptive parents not to have information about birth siblings, either older or younger, and adoptive parents here would understand that more (and do express frustration with the adopters of their child's siblings, who won't keep contact)."

Meghann (adoptive mom) @ Everyday Miracle: "Let me back up a bit, for those who don’t know our story: Our children are biological siblings, and they also have biological siblings who are being parented by their mother. Which means the sibling issue is a little more complicated for us, in many ways, than for your typical family-by-adoption—and in some ways, it’s also a bit less complicated."

Robyn @ The Chittister Family: "Jack is very proud of having siblings. He often laments that his brothers and sister don’t live with us. He finally sort of asked why that is – why S parents them and we parent him. I paraphrased a comment that I got on my Open Adoption Roundtable post from October 2010: S knew that adoption was the best choice. But it was very hard to let you go. It made her very sad. When she had Baby A and CJ, she just didn’t want to be that sad again."

Maureen (adoptive mom) @ Twenty Birds: "Ian’s brother is like our shadow-child. He is with us all the time, almost-visible, an almost-tangible boy who disappears when we think too much about him. A lost child we might never find. I want him one day to take on all the weight of corporeality in our lives, to become a flesh-and-blood presence. So Ian can play with him and talk with him and fight with him, like brothers do."

Mama C (adoptive mom) @ Mama C and the Boys: "It wasn’t until he was developmentally ready to get that those beautiful brown kids who were her beautiful brown kids, were also his siblings. I remember the first time it came up, when he was newly five. It was accidental and semi perfect. He was looking at their picture, and asked me whose kids they were. I asked him who he thought they were, and before we knew it, Sam has big brothers and a sister. To him it was the jack pot. He asked over and over if it was true, and was he really their brother too?"

June 01, 2011

Clicks Respectfully Requested

This is a tad awkward considering how absent I've been lately. (Look, there's an actual new post below this one!) But my blog is in the running for the Circle of Moms Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Parents, along with lots of other blogs I like.

This is the embarrassing part: there is voting involved. It's like a high school popularity contest in which everyone can see the results. Dear bloggy friends, I did not win at high school.

If you'd like, please click on the badge or this link to vote for me and any of the other bloggers listed. You can vote daily and for multiple blogs at a time. Meaning "vote early and vote often" actually applies in this case!
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