October 28, 2011

Pumpkins and Joy

Tomorrow we have a pumpkin carving date with Beth. She's hosting us at her new place, which is a source of pride on all sorts of levels. I'm excited! It feels like an awfully long time since we last saw her.

Over the last year she's been calling now and then just to talk to Mari. Not that she doesn't chat with us boring adults, too, but she sometimes calls just to hear Mari's voice. Beth would maybe get a word or two out of her in the beginning, but now that Mari is a wise three-and-a-half-years old, she is way more chatty on the phone. It has been fun to watch that progression. It's like witnessing hints of their future relationship.

In their last chat, Marian told Beth that she's going to be a dinosaur for Halloween. She tells you this with great pride, always adding that she will scare you. (If you see her in costume, please act scared. Her sense of her own ability to generate terror as a three-foot high dino is slightly exaggerated.) Beth told Mari she was looking forward to seeing the pictures and I thought, why not just take the costume along and have an early Halloween tomorrow? Mari loves her costume and when she puts it on she comes at you, "claws" bared, with a baby roar and the most infectious, enthusiastic grin. It is those tiny moments that are some of what I most enjoy about being a parent. Beth may not be able to be trick-or-treating with Mari on Monday evening, but at least she can share a moment of Mari's Halloween joy with her.

October 27, 2011

Meet AmFam of American Family: Part II

Today is the second part of our interview with AmFam, who writes about her experience entering into an open adoption with her youngest daughter's first family in China (among many other topics) at American Family. You can read part one here.

She is answering readers' questions about her family's open adoption every day in November and has officially given folks permission to ask things they are afraid might be too rude or personal. So if anything from this interview has you wondering, ask away.

October 26, 2011

Meet AmFam of American Family: International Open Adoption

This latest interview from the Open Adoption Bloggers list is a real treat for me. AmFam's blog, American Family, has been a favorite of mine for years. She writes the way I wish I did: intelligently, sarcastically (one of my favorites: Emergency Code Whitey), and with a willingness to speak her mind on all sort of topics (see above). She and her family are now breaking new ground in international adoption, having successfully searched for and connected with their adopted daughter's first family in China.

I'll be publishing her interview over two days. Read on for the first installment...

October 23, 2011

Announcements (+ a Giveaway)

  • If you live anywhere near Ohio, I'm jealous that you live close enough to go to this event on November 13 with Brenda Romanchik marking the one-year anniversary of the Ohio Birthparent Group. The morning session is exclusively for birthparents and the afternoon is open to absolutely anyone. Ms. Romanchik is an open adoption advocate and pioneer (and author of those booklets Beth found so helpful during her pre-placement decision process). She is totally on my short list of folks I would love to hear speak in person. Of course it might be for the best that we live too far away to attend; Todd would probably end up rapping for her, too. But you shouldn't miss it!
    Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011
  • There is a new, crisp button option for the Adoption Bloggers Interview Project. You're welcome to swap yours out; code is here. Many thanks to Becca and her design skills for saving me from my graphic ineptitude.
  • Registration for the Interview Project closes on Friday. So hop on it if you haven't already! We're at 79 registrants as I write this.
  • We have lots of domestic (newborn) adoption bloggers from various corners of the internet signed up. I'd love to rope in some more international adoption and foster care bloggers. Remember, it's not just for open adoption bloggers this year! It's all about making connections with bloggers you might not normally read.

    So this week please spread the word about the Interview Project, especially among bloggers who might not have heard about it yet. Write about it on your blog or in forums you frequent. Share a link on Facebook/Twitter/Google+. Leave a comment on a friend's blog inviting them to participate.

    To sweeten the pot, I'm giving away a $25 Target gift card to someone who helps share the Project love. Leave a separate comment on this post with a link to your blog post/tweet/forum post/etc. pointing folks to the project. Leave as many comments as you'd like, as long as each one links to something different. Anything you've done to share since the project launched on October 12 is fine to enter, too. Giveaway closes on the 28th when registration ends; I will choose a comment at random by November 2. Further necessary but boring giveaway blather here.

October 20, 2011

Children's Books about Open Adoption

My apologies for two book list-y posts in the space of a week. But Dawn at Creating a Family asked for recommendations for open adoption books for kids. And you know I love to talk me some books!

There are actually several children's books out there which feature kids having ongoing contact with their first families. Of them, these three have won top prizes in my extensive in-home research (sample size: two).

I love Megan's Birthday Tree. Megan's first mom has a tree at her house that she planted when Megan was born. She decorates every year for Megan's birthday and sends a photo. When she's about to move, Megan is worried that her birth mom will forget about her without the tree to remind her. It's a touching story that keeps Megan at its center and lets her have lots of different emotions. (Read my full review.)
Pugnose Has Two Special Families doesn't really have a plot; it's more of an explanation of open adoption basics. Pugnose the mouse talks about how he came to be with his adoptive family and all the ways his birth parents are part of his life. It's sensitive and sweet. I appreciate that Pugnose's first dad is an active part of the story. (Read my full review.)
Eddie pulled Rain or Shine out on his birthday eve last week to read before bed. A fitting choice, since it's all about a boy, Finn, whose adoptive and birth families celebrate his birthday together every year. There are also some small moments which acknowledge, from a kid's perspective, that first parents aren't always able to be present.  (Read my full review.)
Two others that I've been wanting to check out but haven't gotten my hands on yet:

Nutmeg Gets a Letter is a book from the U.K. geared toward kids adopted from foster care. Nutmeg the squirrel is sad when his birth mom's letter for his birthday arrives late. I'm interested in seeing how it addresses dealing with disappointment (something Eddie is feeling keenly right now); it also talks about the value of peer support from friendships with other adopted children.
Sam's Sister is the rare children's book that's told from the birth family's perspective. The main character is a little girl, Rosa, whose mom places her baby brother, Sam, for adoption. The story starts during the pregnancy and goes into a post-adoption visit between the families.
Have you read any of these? What did you think? What would you add to the list?

October 19, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #31

With Halloween just around the corner, I thought this prompt would fit right in:

Write about open adoption and being scared.

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 share 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.


The responses, so far:

October 18, 2011

Catching Up on the Reading Challenge

I have been plugging away at this year's adoption reading challenge, but have been terrible about posting reports. Here are three more of my challenge books:

There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's ChildrenI don't pretend to know anywhere near as much about international adoption as I do about domestic adoption. (What I do know mostly comes from newspaper articles and what I've gleaned from your brilliant brains online.) This book pulled together a lot of different strands. There Is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene is the story of Haregewoin Tefarra, an Ethiopian woman who stumbled into caring for hundreds of children left without families who could care for them because of the AIDS crisis. It bluntly shows why international adoption cannot be discussed in a vacuum or in black-and-white terms--or solely through the lens of personal narrative. It is one small piece of a much larger picture of enmeshed injustices, crises, and global power struggles. Things we all know, but which aren't often presented so coherently. Totally engrossing; I stayed up late while on vacation to finish it.

Lucky GirlAuthor Mei-Ling Hopgood was born in Taiwan and adopted by a couple in the U.S. when she was seven months old. In her early 20s she reunites with her (very large) Taiwanese family. Lucky Girl is the compelling story of their reunion: figuring out relationships and boundaries across national and familial cultural differences, thinking about self-identity, and grappling with how what she learns about her origins fits into that.
Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses, a MemoirPaula McLain remembers living in a series of foster homes with her sisters in Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses. I was less enthusiastic about this memoir; I found myself wishing she'd turn the same critical eye on herself as she did on the other people in the book and dig into her own motivations and reactions some more. By the end I felt like I knew a lot about what had happened to her and not as much about her. But it was still worth reading.
I have to admit I've been slacking on the fiction piece. I signed up for the six non-fiction/six fiction books challenge track deliberately to get myself to search out some excellent adoption-themed fiction. But I've been dragging my feet on that. When adoption fiction goes bad, it's just really, really bad, you know? But I still have several novels left to read, so if you have a recommendation, please share!

October 12, 2011

Interview Project: Have Your Say

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2011
[Ack! I had no idea how terrible this
looked in Firefox! It's being fixed!]
I've been waiting a year and a half to write this post.

On March 21 of last year, thirty-two pairs of open adoption bloggers interviewed each other on their blogs. The Interview Project, as it was dubbed, exceeded every expectation I had going in. The participants blew me away with their enthusiasm and insightfulness. Connections were made, blogs gained new readers. It rocked--because you all made it rock.

As soon as it was over, I knew we had to do it again. And that we needed to make it bigger--open it up beyond the open adoption community to the whole of the online adoption world

When the one-year anniversary of the project rolled around this spring, it felt too soon to do it again. I thought we'd wait for the two-year mark and go for it then.

Then November--aka National Adoption Month--kept creeping closer on the calendar. Originally (and still officially) designated to promote awareness for the need for adoption from the foster care system, National Adoption Month has been diffused to include all adoption and used by just about every adoption agency and professional for their own marketing. Every year we're bombarded with media pieces and events that try to compress adoption into shiny, tidy soundbites that don't match the complex realities of adoption as I've witnessed it (and often exclude birth parent and adoptee perspectives altogether).

The more I thought about it the more excited I got about dropping the interview project into the middle of National Adoption Month. Let's have our say while having some fun, making some connections outside of our internet corners, hopefully finding some new blogs to read in the process.

Let's do this! Mark your calendars for the 2011 Adoption Blogger Interview Project on November 17.

October 10, 2011

My First Time

I had a hazy memory of writing about the first time I heard about open adoption before and I was right. Four years ago (before Marian!), I wrote:
I'm remembering the first time I heard about open adoption. T and I, freshly engaged, were visiting friends who had recently adopted. Over dessert in their living room, they told us the story of waiting and matching and being at their daughter's birth. It was a semi-open adoption and they lost touch with her first mother almost immediately after placement. I thought then that they had lucked out--they got to be there at the beginning of their daughter's life and didn't even have to bother with her birth mother after that. (My cheeks burn, remembering now.)

As I sat on their couch and sipped my coffee I had no idea that years later the thought of losing touch with my son's first parents like that would make my heart skip a beat.
I have such strong memories of that whole evening, from the shirt I was wearing to where we sat as our friends told their story. I remember my friend saying with such absolute joy, "I love adoption!" It all seemed so uncomplicated to me then, so neat and tidy. The way I saw it at that point: my friends were overjoyed to be parents, the little baby would grow up in an amazing family, her birth mom was apparently confident in her decision, and they'd always be able to tell their little girl how much her birth mom loved her because they had been able to meet her.

I really had no idea.

I understand folks who only see joy in adoption because that's all they've been exposed to. Because that used to be me. Being exposed to adoption's complexity and still insisting on only acknowledging the joy? That is harder for me to grasp.

Read other bloggers' recollections of learning about open adoption at the latest roundtable.

October 05, 2011

Open Adoption Roundtable #30

Roundtable time! This one is another chance to think back on the origins of our open adoptions.

Do you remember the first time you heard about open adoption?

If you need some further prompting: What were the circumstances? What was your reaction? If you grew up in an open adoption, do you remember the first time you heard the label applied to your relationships?

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 share 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.

The responses (so far):

October 04, 2011


Me, to Marian: "You used to be Baby Mari, but not anymore!"

Eddie: "Now you're Baby Awesome!"

October 03, 2011

New OAB Blogs - September 2011

The open adoption blogs list grows every month and sometimes additions get lost among all the awesomeness. Hopefully these monthly round-ups of the new blogs from the month before will help folks connect.

Here are the blogs added in September:

life, love, lanie - Reflections of a birthmother (as of May 2011) in her 20s as her open adoption journey unfolds.

One More Day - A Birth Mother's Story of Open Adoption

Which Way Is Home - Born in the womb; raised by the streets. Jail to college. The Not So Secret Life of an Adoptee.

Even Miracles Take Time: Journaling as an adoptive mama in an open adoption....my perfectly imperfect family <3

Throwaway Pancake - Musings about the balancing act of life as a 40-something working mom and wife with two itty-bitty adopted kids, a sick fascination with half-marathon medals, that last 10 pounds to lose, writing a screenplay, and shoes.

LivingLifeOutLoud - Domestic Open Adoption

The Days of Our Lives - Living in the Emerald City, loving Jesus, and on the road to growing our family through Domestic Infant Adoption.

October 02, 2011

Virginia: In Which My Husband Raps for My Personal Hero

I've been back from the open adoption symposium in Virginia for two weeks now and I'm still not sure how to start talking about it. It was like the best of our internet world brought to life for three wonderful days. I even managed to make it through my presentation without humiliating myself (I think). (Thank you to everyone who came and stuck it out during the last session on the last day!)

One of the many highlights was the keynote address by open adoption advocate Jim Gritter. He spoke on what he calls hospitious adoption: the idea of open adoption as a series of acts of hospitality. (We definitely need to unpack that one some more, don't you think?) Listening to someone whose work played a part in the very shape of my family life was pretty incredible.

The evening of his keynote, Todd and I were hanging out in the hotel lounge with internet friends. And Todd decides to bust out with a rap he wrote after hearing the speech. Yes, a rap. About hospitious adoption. (Todd...does that sort of thing. I can't explain it.) Then, somehow, he's over at Jim Gritter's table performing it for him. I was simultaneously horrified and impressed.

There is even video, so you can share in the moment, too. If you dare.

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