Archive for the ‘Older Parent Adoption’ Category

This evening, as the kids and I watched the “Wizard of Oz’, I had a sudden recollection that ties the generations together for me.

The movie came out in 1939, the year my mother turned seven-years-old, and made quite an impression on her.

It began what was to be an annual run on American television in 1956. I was five that year, but we watched it as a family every year of the ‘50s from then on.

I don’t remember ever not having a TV in the living room; sitting in front of that tiny (by today’s standards) screen in the huge wooden cabinet on the oval braided rug as my mother … either perched on the brown, skirted couch, cup of coffee in hand no matter what the time of day, or standing behind the ironing board with a bowl of starch water at hand … did the ’50s version of multitasking. It was a position I must have mastered very early. Color TV had yet to arrive, so black-and-white was all we knew. Ricky and Lucy’s apartment, Sky King’s sky, everything the Mouseketeers got up to … all were sans any shade but variations on gray.


The 1939 Poster

And that was fine … most of the time.

The exception to the whole being-okay-with-B&W thing came with the opening bars of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. My mother’s WoO had imprinted itself on her brain before the age of television, when films were only seen in ‘movie houses’ where a show cost a dime … unless you wanted to sit in the loges … and grownups could add a bit of atmosphere with clouds of cigarette smoke.

By 1939, cinemas also offered films shot in Technicolor, something this movie was made for:

Notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture. It also featured what may be the most elaborate use of character make-ups and special effects in a film up to that time.

The fact that this beloved experience was reduced for us kids to NO color annoyed my mother no end, apparently, so she did a running commentary to enhance our viewing pleasure … or hers.

This is where, all of a sudden, everything goes into brilliant color!

That is the YELLOW brick road!

The witch has GREEN skin! (No mention that she looked just like our Aunt Mary when seen in B&W until we were much older.)

Those flowers are poppies … bright red poppies … and are so beautiful.

The whole city is GREEN!

That’s the ‘Horse of a Different Color’ and as it walks around the color changes from green to purple and more!

And so on …

All these years later, I found myself tonight explaining my mother explaining the colors to me to my kids as they watched a hyper-hued DVD of the road and the witch and the poppies and the horse, realizing as I did that time sometimes moves in circles.

Now … if I can just find those damned ruby slippers. I know they’re around here somewhere …

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Because that’s how we do things here, Sam gets a YouTube vid for a birthday gift.

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With thanks to all who filled in the PP survey, and who asked for more about my kids here … here’s a vid I put together in tribute to the beauty and sweetness of Cj … my youngest, my baby, my darling little girl.


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Sam got a cool camera for Christmas from Uncle and Auntie … thank you!!! … and shoots and shoots and shoots. He has quite a good eye and takes some amazing pix, which has been no surprise considering his talents.

What has been a revelation, however, is what Cj accomplishes when she’s behind the lens. Of course, her model is top-class …

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I had so many comments … both on the blog and privately … on yesterday’s post that I reckon some addressing is due.

First, I’d like to thank everyone who has voiced the opinion that my voice is still valid in the adoption world. That is tremendously encouraging. The fact that even Coco lent encouragement is huge for me … thank you, Coco … and I’ll tell you why.

The online adoption community is notoriously fractious, and in my years of writing on the subject I have made no few enemies … some who have taken their level of vitriol so far beyond the realm of polite reason that mud blobs with my name on them stuck to the net will outlive me.

So much of this has felt counterproductive from the early days of my writing on the subject, and I refuse to pussyfoot my POV, as healthy debate has always seemed a good way to forge links that might eventually provide foundations for bridge building.

A conversation with Gershom, an adoptee who wrote what for all intents and purposes … and title … was anti-adoption, ended up in a dialog that encouraged everyone involved to participate in supporting the right of adoptees to their identity, and I’m pleased to say that she and I have developed respect for each other … a friendship, even

Coco and I also have had issues, but although we differ greatly in attitude, we have found the common ground and mutual respect that will eventually provide the only means to true reform that will protect those needing protection without cutting children needing families out of the equation completely.

Both of these relationships forged in fire where the inspiration behind the formation of Adoption Under One Roof, the community I helped found … then felt unworthy of continuing to contribute toward (although I hope and plan to reenter soon) … that was based on the idea of bringing all notes in the adoption triad together to learn to sing harmoniously, rather than harp on discord … or dis”chord”, as I think of it in these terms, “triad” also meaning a group of three notes on a chord, not simply opposing positions of those whose lives have been touched by adoption.

Of course, I also thank the adoptive moms that formed the backbone of my readership years back and continue to grow in numbers that form a protective circle around me as they close ranks and ‘get my back’.

And I’m pleased as anything to find new readers like Peter … an amazingly talented musician and writer with no adoption affiliation, as far as I know … adding his related experience to the mountain of support I find myself clinging to these days as I lurch my way up and out and toward the light that leads from the depths to the heights.

Thank you all.

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Magnar teaches Sam and Cj to groom a horse

Magnar teaches Sam and Cj to groom a horse

After 10 days with their dad, Sam and Cj are now home again, and home is once again a calm environment, albeit punctuated with girly giggles and the occasional squabble.

This reality, the one that has them having another place that’s home-like with the man who is their father, along with some woman I’ve never laid eyes on … and a baby on the way … is one that I never saw coming back when Mark and I were going through the adoption processes for them.

I’m not going to whine on here about ends of eras or dashed dreams or bumpy roads. In fact, I’m not going to whine at all.

I will, however, touch a bit upon how pulling rugs out from under the feet of children who began life with loss impacts, and how unfair it all still seems … to me, yes, but also, and more importantly, to them.

I was a child of divorce, so unlike my husband who conveniently assumes that “they’ll adjust” because “kids are resilient”, I know the consequences that come from abrupt shifts in the world, and I see the effects creeping in.

Although they are happy, healthy, smart and funny little people, emotional bruises are showing.

A few examples:

Cj now asks many times a day if I love her.

Every drive to school has her asking, “Will you pick me up?”

Sam refuses to mention one word about anything that occurred during his week away from home, as if it’s all one big guilty secret he must keep.

None of the signs I see are blatant examples of emotional upheavals, but all show cracks that weren’t there before their dad walked out. Their trust levels are way down, while their worry levels are way up. Stress, in other words, has come to their lives.

As long time readers have noted, I no longer write much about adoption, and since I used to post about 2,000 words per day on up to six different sites, this has been quite the drop-off.

The reason? I feel a bit a fraud touting the gifts it brings since I can no longer offer the bubble of security and protection I thought I was assuring when we brought them from Cambodia to Seychelles, promising, I thought, happy ever after.

Okay, life happens. I know this. And I also know the long term advantages of learning early that life is hard and that adjustments will have to be made as one makes their way down whatever path is put at their feet.

That was an easier take with my bio kids. For one reason, I was younger and less concerned by outcomes years down the pike. For another, they were the results of what had always been a crap shoot. Neither was planned, so their existence felt meant-to-be in ways beyond my scope.

Sam and Cj came to me through great and concerted efforts that involved much inward examination of motives and well-laid plans for futures based on foundations forged in determined ground that was to hold solid for them.

There is no lack of love around them … Mark does love them … and, in fact, they are getting love from sources that wouldn’t be showering it upon them now had circumstances not put people like Magnar in their lives.

And they are doing well, according to all observers, from teachers to friends to me and their dad. But they do, again, know loss, and that hurts them.

I may again take up the adoption torch and advocacy roll that had me so active, and in some quarters so hated, but I’ll enter that fray from a different angle now and with a cautious optimism that my kids will make it through the upheaval in their young lives and learn to live with a family much less the “Brady Bunch” than I’d hoped.

Not all sunshine and lollypops, for sure, and that’s a drag when learned at 5 and 3. But learned it must be, and I’m working like hell to keep the lights and goodies coming while helping them navigate the unfamiliar waters of a family broken.

Life is what it is, and theirs has already had such drastic twists and turns. I can only hope the result for them will be like it has been for my brothers and me … a capacity to roll with the punches and make lemonade.

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For anyone interested in my writing on adoption issues, I have recently found the energy to post on the topic again over on the Adoption Under One Roof site I helped found that’s now been around for seven months.

I’m in the process there of going over the details of my disappearing act and reasons for, my guilt, pain and all that jazz, so if that sounds like something you want to read about, please check it out.

I will NOT be doing that here, or at least not in the sort of depth I’m aiming in that direction.

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I must be beginning to heal … or, at least for today I’ve managed to work up a good head of indignation at the betrayal that has brought the end of my marriage.

One reason for breaking our family, out of the very few that my husband has managed to share with me, is that I was working too hard and not paying enough attention to him. 

Now, even though I could have some empathy for that as a reason to begin to distance oneself from a spouse, I can’t fathom that process happening without some discussion, but there was nary a word from Mark other than the occasional complaint that my dinner was getting cold as I was trying to post or that I wasn’t paid nearly enough for the number of hours I dedicated to my work.

If this work I poured so much of my soul into was without soul, if, perhaps, I was consumed by fluctuating money markets or with attending constantly to a process designed to grow more and more money for myself in an endless game of greed, I might also have some compassion for a mate who felt ignored by aggressive avarice.

The fact is, however, that through the adoption of our children I became a passionate advocate for international adoption. The millions of children without  families in the world are for the most part a voiceless lot, and given that there are no few people in the world very vocal about seeing to keeping these kids sentenced to a short life of misery under a banner misleading reading “Cultural Genocide” or something equally shortsighted or self indulgent, lending my efforts to remind that there are other sides to that coin with miraculous results seemed an effort worth pursuing and pursuing vigorously.

I personally know of a dozen kids who have wonderful families now whose shift from hopeless forever to chances and opportunities and love can be directly traced to my work.

I’m not trying to pull any “Saint” shirt on over my head with this, but it sure does piss me off that my husband, father to our two Cambodian-born children, has taken my work, my passion for the world’s orphans, my dedication, and turned it into an excuse for leaving our family for the Blow Job Queen of Trashland … fat face, big tits and all.

I think this just might mean I’m getting better.

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The discussion on open records and demanding that birth certificates are not only available, but also unaltered and containing the truest information available has be ratcheted up a notch with this story out of the UK about twins who’d been separated at birth meeting as adults, falling in love and marrying.

When Mark and I met, one of the strongest emotions I experienced was a feeling of recognition, an instant awareness that this person was important to my life, that a part of me I hadn’t even realized was missing had finally been found … I felt whole.

Having experienced the intensity of that love-at-first-sight connection, I can imagine how amazing the attraction would be if the soul mate had actually been a womb mate back when the soul was first forming. Coming to that relationship with none of the filters society and biology preps us with … and even non-humans react to the “incest taboo”, a fact I’ve seen for myself in populations of captive non-human primates and one that Darwin observed and wrote on … including not even the basic knowledge of the bio connect is a recipe for … well, for stuff that isn’t supposed to happen.

Some of those commenting on the Telegraph’s version of the story are suggesting DNA testing for all marriage applicants, but it seems a much easier, less costly and less intrusive addressing of the issue could be done by providing everyone with the information of exactly who they are.

DNA tests should not be trotted out as the modern form of identification unless we really want a world where people get into the practice of picking future spouses only after checking out that their genes prove them to be free of anything that could complicate matters someday in the future.

Frankly, folks, I find the thought of marching down the aisle into the arms of the love of my life with a report letting me know that he has a genetic propensity toward bowel cancer and baldness in hand just a bit less romantic a notion that I would like to embrace on my wedding day.

I would, however, be very happy to know if the man giving me away is biologically connected to me and assured that the one he is giving me to most certainly isn’t, and that seems a right as basic as any.

A couple of notes to readers:

I had almost three-quarters of a long post written when my computer did something fishy and ate everything on my desktop. The post was in response to Joy’s response to a comment on a blog from last week. I was in the process of thanking her for an amazingly heart-felt lesson on how adoption impacts her life with vivid descriptions of the physical manifestations she has suffered.

I am sorry not to give this the space it should have, but I spent all my energy on the first draft and I’m too wrung to reconstruct. I’ll hit the salient points, however …

Her writing went a long way toward bridge building, and I am very grateful for the time and energy she spent educating and informing those of us who have come to adoption from other angles. I am also hopeful that through such conversations as this … and it most certainly is a conversation people are listening to … progress will be made toward the day when everyone approaching adoption will be armed with ALL the information.

I do not see any readers here taking issue with Joy’s demand that no child should ever come to be adopted unnecessarily.

I hesitate to ask Joy if she thinks her adoption was unnecessary, since that would be voyeurism in the extreme, but do not doubt that many adoptees suspect that to be their case or know this as fact after reunion.

By sharing her story, she has taken great steps to help build a world where it becomes more likely that potential adoptive parents, understanding better her own personal pain, will demand that any child coming to them have absolutely no other option, and where birth mothers have a deeper understanding of more consequences of relinquishment. The more we all know and understand, the more power we have, and the less manipulation is possible. Education is the key.

Thank you, Joy.

The other note:

For those ready and willing to increase involvement in the run-up to the Adoptee Rights Protest, Gershom will be providing some direction for us as soon as she’s cleared the decks, and her desk, and can devote a bit of time giving us some guidance.

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There are some bits and pieces of international news that I need to pass along today, so that’s where the focus will be …

If Guatemalan adoption is of interest, please see the Guat Adopt Blog for information on the new Central Authority on adoption. They have an address for the office.

If Cambodia holds your heart, check out Beth Kanter’s birthday project … a challenge to raise money for The Sharing Foundation, which is tied to a larger fundraising effort.

The Sharing Foundation is an amazing organization that serves Cambodia’s orphaned and disadvantaged children. They run an orphanage, a Montessori preschool, language programs (Khmer and English), scholarship programs for high school and college, and lots more. Read all about it. If nothing else, give a little that goes a seriously long way with some kids who really need some care and support.

Here’s a story about a New Jersey girl who’s been honored for setting up an organization that helps Rwandan orphans, and another about a Welsh guy building orphanages in India.

There is a fascinating look at adoption from a Russian perspective here that offers up a lot of history with the present circumstances. Written by a Russian adoptive mom, the POV is not one often seen or heard, and well worth a read.

Two stories out of Africa continue to highlight the needs on that continent.

This from Nigeria looks at teen motherhood, and how society influences the consequences:

There is hardly a month when a government hospital does not record a case of teenage pregnancy. The standard of living of many teenage mothers show clearly that they have bitten more than they can chew. Many of them do not have money to purchase the needed materials for delivery, most are seen in tattered clothing looking forsaken and emotionally laden.

What many in the South Western part of Nigeria consider a thing of shame, is however actually an issue of tradition and an act of pride in another part of the country. In the Northern parts of Nigeria, girls are forced into marriage by tradition even before some enter the teen years.

Many become overnight wives and later mothers quite early in life. In this part of the country, not only tradition but also religion, play an important part in the early journey into motherhood by the teenage girls. Instead of being disowned or punished mercilessly for getting prematurely pregnant and distrupting their parents’ future plans for them as common in South Western Nigeria, young girls are encouraged and led into marriage even before many start ovulating in the North.

The whole article makes for compelling reading.

This one from Zambia is disturbing, and states that: Nothing short of a Herculean effort is required to help the growing legion of orphans in Zambia to lead normal lives.

There is, sadly, no consideration of international adoption in the mix of approaches suggested for addressing the needs of any of the children of Zambia, although UNICEF figures are trotted out that say one in four Zambian kids is an orphan … to the tune of one-and-a-quarter-million of them … and half are under the age of nine.

Children, both girls and boys, turn to the streets in search of a better life but the reality that confronts them can only be described as grim. Street life creates extreme vulnerability to violence, exploitative and hazardous labor, sex-work and trafficking.

In fact, internal trafficking of children has become rampant in Zambia.

Talk of a “holistic approach” that takes in “provisions for nutrition, health and cognitive development, and educational and psychosocial support” sounds good enough, but it won’t be taking even one kid off the street any time soon, and given the reality of Zambian life it sounds like just another case of serving up that pie-in-the-sky that fills newspaper space, but not bellies.

Those who disagree with my thoughts on international adoption as part of a solution for some of the world’s kids may be happy to hear me admit to how clueless I can be on events in America these days … after all, clueless in one area must mean I’m an idiot all the way around, heh? …but until I read this article on pregnant teenagers and how they are no longer news, I had no idea that the Jamie Lynn Spears I’ve been skimming over the name of for a while now is the sister of Britney.

Oh, my. Perhaps there should be a rethink on icons …

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