February 09, 2012

Review: The Weird Sisters

The latest BlogHer Book Club installment is the debut novel The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. Three sisters, who honestly don't really like each other all that much, return to their childhood home in a small college town when their mother is diagnosed with cancer. The part of the blurb that drew me in? The family--with its Shakespeare-professor father--are all voracious readers.

It is a fluffy book, in that everything-turns-out-right-in-the-end way, but the good sort of fluff: easygoing, engaging, and not too frivolous. The three sisters play awfully neatly into the birth order stereotypes of oldest-responsible/middle-lost/youngest-irresponsible, but that's kind of the point of the story. They need to see the ways they have taken on those roles without thinking and to realize they can grow beyond them.

It's told collectively by the three sisters. The first person plural narration ("We came home because we were failures") took several pages to get used to, but I liked the effect it had of making the family itself a character in its own right in a way. Because isn't that true of our families, especially our families of origin? They somehow become take on a realness in our minds that is more than just the collection of individuals; the family as an entity has a life of its own. I can think of my mother, my father, my brother as separate people, but there is also the influence and pull of Our Family, its shared quirks and flaws and memories.

There was also one bit at the end that stuck with me, "There are times in our lives when we have to realize our past is precisely what it is, and we cannot change it. But we can change the story we tell ourselves about it, and by doing that, we can change the future." It made me think of what many of us do when we write, when we blog. There is a way I think we are sometimes working to wrestle our lives into stories we can not just live with but embrace. That has, at least, been true for me.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this review by BlogHer but the opinions expressed are my own.

February 08, 2012

Around the Internet

A few bits from around the internet:

Item #1:
Open adoption blogger Lori is working on a book about open adoption parenting and looking for stories from the community to include. Through February 10, she is collecting insights or cautions about problems in open adoption relationships, especially around boundaries, communication, and contact agreements. If you have an anecdote from your personal experience to share, use this form.

Item #2:
I wanted to point you to a powerful post on Offbeat Mama about identity and open adoption from a prospective adoptive parent thinking about openness from his perspective as a transgender man:
We can't help our histories — they are what they are. But often, the world comes along to tell us who we are because of those histories. When that happens, I will hold my child's hand and yell back at the world. Our given names, our taken names, our birth certificates are simply pieces of our stories. The whole story is so much more. I am not just a man who transitioned genders. I bake cakes, I climb mountains, I sewed my wife's wedding dress, I work towards providing equal access to higher education for all students. And, if given the chance, I will parent a child. 
That child will be so much more than an adoptee. She will dance or sing, she will love math or books, she will play the trumpet or the drums, she will have her mother's passion, her father's relentlessness, her first family's strength. She will always know where she came from, where she is headed, her whole self. From the moment she enters my life, I will honor, love, and protect that self with my entire being.
Item #3:
I also loved "Not on the Menu" by Jay over at Two Women Blogging as she parents her adopted daughter through some big emotions and admits that she, at times, asks herself if open adoption is worth it.
Wouldn't it be easier if we didn't have to deal with this? Wouldn't it be simpler if we said "we are your parents" and left it at that? Isn't this all just more confusion?
She comes to the same conclusion I've told myself time after time when things have gotten hard.

Item #4:
If you live in Southern California and like thinking about the cultural, political, and sociological meanings of adoption, this conference in March, Mapping Adoption: Histories, Geographies, Literatures, Politics, looks fantastic. I can't find the list of speakers I read somewhere earlier this week, but it is swoon-worthy. Early registration ends on February 28.

Do you have something you'd like to point us to? Leave it in the comments!

February 05, 2012


Beth called the other day to tell us that she's started to search for her first mom. (Beth was adopted from foster care when she was one year old.) She was born in one of the handful of states which recognize adoptees' right to their original birth certificates, so she has long known her birth mom's name. But she said that lately she's been thinking about what Mari has because Beth is still part of her life, and thinking about what she can't give to Mari because of all she doesn't know about her (their) family of origin.

Closed adoption is never just about the present. The decision ripples through generations.

I am hopeful for what this might mean for her, for Mari. Nervous, too. This feels weighty. Her first mom would be in her early 60s now.

I've noticed that Beth has started referring to her as her "birth mom" lately, which is also what she calls herself when she's talking about Mari. Before now she would talk about her "bio mom," as if drawing a line between that adoption and this one, between what happened to her first mom and what happened to her.

February 01, 2012

New OAB Blogs - January 2012

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 will help folks connect.

Here are the blogs added in January:

My Angels From God: The adoption journey of a birth mother in an open adoption who became an adoptive mother in a semi-closed adoption and then a biological mother.

I'm Still A Good Mother; A Birth Mother's Journey Through Open Adoption: Stories of my experiences as a mother in recovery, parenting more children after having older children adopted through foster care, and my amazing relationship with my daughter's adoptive family. Also, the benefits of what we like to call "post-adoption reunification."

Olive You Forever: I am a mother of a teenage daughter who chose to bless another family with her daughter she named Olive through open adoption. I guess that makes me a Birth Grandma and I am proud to say so!

A Journey of Love: Learning to live in an open adoption relationship while navigating life!

My Angels From God: The adoption journey of a birth mother in an open adoption who became an adoptive mother in a semi-closed adoption and then a biological mother.

Mommy Musings: Reflections on all aspects of parenting -- the fun, the frustration, the funny and everything in between, including our adoption journey parenting two children who joined our family through domestic infant adoption.

A Thing Called Hope: Our journey towards open adoption, struggles with infertility and loss, but most of all our hope that our dreams will come true.

Journey to Extend our Family: The chronicle of a young Canadian couple navigating their adoption journey.

An Infertile Blog: Started as an infertility blog but since we stopped trying a few months ago and have started the adoption process, that's mostly what I'll be writing about now.
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