April 19, 2012

Review: The Book of Jonas

Time for another BlogHer Book Club review! We read The Book of Jonas, the debut novel of Stephen Dau.

The Book of Jonas gives us glimpses into three very different, but connected, lives. Jonas (originally Younis), is a Muslim teen refugee from a Middle Eastern country left unnamed in the book. After his family and village are destroyed by a misguided United States military operation, he runs away from the trauma both physically and emotionally as he tries to adjust to life in the U.S. Christopher is an American solider who was part of the raid that killed Jonas's family, and who Jonas says saved his life. Although he's been missing ever since that night, we see his inner wrestling through his journal. Finally, there is Rose, Christopher's mother, who channels her despair over not knowing what has become of her son into activism, in part to avoid having to come to terms with her own loss.

You could say it is a story about the effects of war and the how people have to live with choices they're forced to make, or about the different ways people struggle after devastating events. But ultimately I think it is a book about people searching for release, whether that release is absolution from guilt or from the pain of not having answers. The sections of the book (Processional/Remembrance/Communion/Confession/Atonement/Benediction/Recessional) bring to mind a gathered community of faith. That sense of gathering and the way the characters' stories interconnect suggest that the release they all seek cannot come in isolation, but only as they reach out and are open to receive.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my BlogHer Book Club participation. All opinions expressed are my own.

April 17, 2012

Mother Letters

A long time ago--in 2007, before Mari, even!--I wrote a letter to a woman I've never met. A husband was collecting letters about motherhood as a Christmas present for his wife, who was about to deliver their fourth child. So I wrote something sweet and encouraging one night and sent it off to him. It was just one of those nice things you do for people on the internet. (ETA: It turns out they received over 600 letters. I had no idea it was so many!)

It turns out that the two of them went on to put some of the best letters and artwork into an e-book that was released today. The e-book is called Mother Letters and my letter is in it. I get a buck or so if you buy it from one of these two links: either for the Kindle or in PDF. I haven't seen it yet--I actually don't even remember what I wrote and I'm hoping it's not too embarassing--but I wanted to let you all know!

April 13, 2012

OAB Happenings This Week

One of the nice things about the new Open Adoption Bloggers blog is the chance to highlight guest bloggers. The first fabulous guest post was by adoptive mom Rachel from White Sugar Brown Sugar, who offered seven tips for respecting online privacy in open adoption. Not everyone agreed with the tips, though--you might want to check out the post and comments and add your own thoughts.

The 36th Open Adoption Roundtable was also posted this week. The prompt was about open adoption agreements and the effects they (or their absence) have had on bloggers' relationships. Some interesting, and varying, responses have come in so far.

April 11, 2012

Who Deserves to Be Heard

The annual Circle of Moms page view grab competition for Top Adoption and Foster Care Mom Blogs has started up. I was nominated (thank you to whoever honored me that way), but don't worry, I won't be begging for your daily votes again this year. As fun as it was to see my name on the list in 2011, there were no real benefits as far as traffic over the year, so I wasn't going to bother writing about the game in 2012.

Then censorship reared its ugly head. Cassi is a first mother who writes about reform, ethics, and her personal experience at Adoption Truth. Her blog was in the competition and doing well. Until, without warning, it was removed from the voting list by Circle of Moms. In an email, the contest organizers told her they "had to remove [her] blog from the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms competition. As described on the contest page, the Top 25 Adoption Blogs by Moms contest is open to 'mom bloggers who write about adoption or foster parenting in a supportive, positive way.'"

I've lurked on Cassi's blog for years. Her experience wasn't positive and she writes from that perspective. Why would anyone expect her to be "supportive" of adoption as it currently stands? She advocates for reform, cautions against the ethical pitfalls in domestic adoption, and writes frankly about how adoption affected her and her adult son. (As do others in the competition, but hers alone was singled out for removal.) Is her voice somehow not needed in the larger conversation about adoption because it is not "positive"?

I'd argue that voices like Cassi's are the most important, in many regards. Speaking for myself, they give me a view of adoption I do not get anywhere else--not in the mainstream media, not in the most popular adoption books, not in most of the training materials I've been given. It is the people who vulnerably and honestly share about the complexities of adoption--those often labeled "anti-adoption" or "negative--who have most influenced my views of adoption.  More than just my views--they have influenced my practice of adoption, my choices as an adoptive parent, my relationships with my children. All for the better. And they are effecting change on a larger scale in terms of adoptee rights and the ethical adoption practices, too.

This is also a clear example of adoptive parent privilege at work (more on how I understand my privilege as both an adoptive parent and a non-adopted person here and here). If I, as an adoptive parent, had a difficult experience--if, say, one of my children's moms had decided to parent after all after initially placing her child with us or if I were struggling in a relationship with a first family member--and wrote about how awful I felt about adoption in that moment, I highly doubt I'd be labeled as "not positive and supportive" of adoption. In fact, I'd probably be given a lot of encouragement. If I support adoptees' birth certificate access or other reforms, I'm not dismissed.

I'm not saying adoptive parents should be silenced. Not at all. But we need to realize that often we are recognized and heard at the expense of others. First parents and adoptees/foster care alumni are held to a different standard--they are asked to do the impossible and somehow prove that they deserve to be listened to before certain people will listen to them. Because of the privilege at our backs, I think we as adoptive parents have an obligation to work to leave space for and draw attention to first parent and adoptee voices, especially those who expose adoption's complexities and dangers.

So, if you are interested, go to vote at Circle of Moms this year. You can vote once each day. But as you click I encourage to think about how you can draw attention to the voices who have to fight hardest to be heard.

April 10, 2012

Watch Out for Flying Pigs

The new, stand alone Open Adoption Bloggers site is up and running! I probably shouldn't admit this, but part of me thought it impossible that I would ever actually pull this off.

But it's up! It involved DNS codes and name servers and about 10,000 links that I still need to go through and update. But it is there. Please do go check it out. I sincerely welcome your feedback. If you see anything buggy or confusing, please let me know.

I want to give an enormous public thank you to Racilous from Adoption in the City. She put in a ton of time offering suggestions and helping me see the forest and not just the trees. She even made the header image so that it would match our badges.

The roundtables, "meet the blogger" interviews, and other projects will be posted there now.  In fact, the first roundtable is live today, asking folks to write about open adoption agreements. So please visit and subscribe!

April 08, 2012

Eleven Years

(This is a partial repost from five years ago. Somehow it seemed just right for this year, too.)

Love commits to the journey despite not knowing what lies ahead.

Love commits to the unknown ones who will join you along the way.

Love commits to the person you are and to the person you are becoming.

Happy eleventh anniversary, Todd. Parts of this journey have been nothing like what I expected, others have been exactly as I imagined. But I wouldn't trade it for anything.

April 05, 2012

My Bloggy Baby

Do you know how excited I am about this?

So stinkin' excited.

Before the actual baby showed up unexpectedly, this was my baby of the moment. The Open Adoption Bloggers projects were feeling a bit squished into my blog and hard to navigate. I'm not a designer of any sort, so the look of it isn't anything to write home about. But look at the menu bar! Such lovely organization. Roundtables, blogroll, interviews, "best of" honorees--all a quick click away. I'm hoping to have it all up and running this weekend (fingers crossed, knock on wood, pinch of salt over the shoulder).

If you have an OAB button or link to the blogroll on your blog, one thing you can do to help is to make sure it links to www.openadoptionbloggers.com and not www.productionnotreproduction.com. The code looks something like this, depending on which button you have:
<a href="http://www.openadoptionbloggers.com/" title="Open Adoption Blogs"><img alt="Open Adoption Blogs" border="0" src="http://i305.photobucket.com/albums/nn230/heatherpnr/OA_blogroll_v1GREEN.png" title="Open Adoption Blogs" /></a>
Look at the bit marked in red and if it says http://www.productionnotreproduction.com/p/open-adoption-blogs.html or http://www.productionnotreproduction.com/2000/01/open-adoption-blogs.html, please change it to http://www.openadoptionbloggers.com. Right now that still sends people to the blogroll page on my blog, but soon it will send people to the new site. If you need any help, please just let me know.

The other things moving OAB to its own site does is open up lots of opportunities to feature your writing. I have some great guest posts and book reviews lined up, and there is unlimited room for more. If you're interested in contributing to the site, let me know and I'll send you more details.

Wish me luck on getting this rolled out--I am not a techie!

April 01, 2012

New Open Adoption Bloggers - March 2012

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

Here are the blogs added in March:


From Birthmom to Adoptive Mom: I am a birth mom and an adoptive mom sharing stories from my journey through adoption. I am currently in a very open adoption.

Petitexplosion: A birthmother and birthfather doing open adoption together, living through the process day by day, and trying to devote themselves to each other, before devoting their lives to a baby.


Adoptio: Building a Catholic family through open adoption.

Our Adoption Journey...and Life with Kate!: Our journey through domestic infant adoption, and now life with our daughter, Kate!  We share the good, the bad, and the ugly (but mostly good)!

MargaretAdopts: The blog explores our adventures as soon-to-be parents to a nine-year-old boy and describes our experiences with the adoption process. We've been committed to the idea of open adoption since the beginning, but now we'll find out what it's like to live out that decision on a day-to-day basis.


No Due Date: We're on a journey to grow our family through adoption. We invite you to share in our journey, and help us in the search to find an expecting mother who is considering adoption.

Susan & Mitch (hope to) adopt: We’re following our dream to become parents by adopting a baby girl or boy through open adoption. Our blog shares adventures, experiences, and thoughts along the way.

Two Mommies Trying to Adopt:  I am hoping that this blog will act as a support for my partner and me as we try to navigate the road toward adoption. I will blog about the journey that we are taking and the emotions that occur along the way.
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