School Musicals and Homeland Visits

February 17th, 2012

My Chinese-born daughter has been cast as an orphan in a school production of "Annie." She sings the songs until they are constantly cycling through my head. "No one cares for you a smidge when you're in an orphanage," she sings. "Empty belly life. Dirty smelly life." The other members of the orphan troupe were never orphans. They're just playing them on stage. And of course, "Annie" is a 1930s period piece based on a comic strip, with cartoonish, larger-than-life heroes and buffoonish villains and fun, catchy songs, far removed from the Chinese orphanage where my daughter once lived. We've been back there twice. The first time, the babies were squirmy and curious. They reached for us and other visitors and nibbled on our fingers… [more]

Dealing with the Wait

December 6th, 2011

CribI was reading an adoption blog the other day, and the author basically said, "Sorry I haven't updated this blog for a number of months...We're still waiting for our referral...It's easier for us not to immerse ourselves in the adoption world while we wait." Huh. What a novel idea. Imagine not spending all your free time reading adoption blogs. Imagine not checking your agency's website for updates that you may have missed via email. Imagine not connecting with other adopting moms, particularly those from your agency, to share tidbits of information (which I'm sure the agencies just love). And if you're waiting for a referral, imagine not making a little wish, in the hopes that THIS is THE CALL, every time your phone rings. I… [more]

Going Home

October 13th, 2011

iStock_000009028466XSmallHome is where the heart is.  But, for my daughters, their hearts aren’t just under my roof. As internationally adopted children, I know a part of them still resides in their birth countries.  As they grow up as red, white, and blue Americans, Elle is still Russian, and Bunny is still Guatemalan. And I love that about them. We recently celebrated Bunny’s Adoption Day, the day we brought her home.  Although I punted on making tamales, I did have cake.  While we enjoyed her red velvet cake, she asked when Elle’s A-Day was.  It’s in June.  Then she asked when her daddy’s A-Day was and then when was mine. We told her we didn’t have A-Days because we weren’t adopted.  Then she questioned our citizenship.  Apparently… [more]

Lost Opportunity

October 6th, 2011

iStock_000014869787XSmallI am disappointed.  Disappointed at a lost opportunity. This morning, over a cup of coffee, I read this headline in the Hollywood Reporter. Jillian Michaels Warns Against International Adoption Unless You Have ‘A Lot Of Money’ In the current issue of Prevention Magazine, Michaels, a former trainer on The Biggest Loser, discusses the difficulties she’s had adopting internationally.  She left the TV reality show last December and this February announced she was adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Celebrity adoptions are not uncommon.  Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Vietnam.  Madonna controversially adopted a boy from Malawi.  Meg Ryan adopted a baby girl from China, and Katherine Heigl adopted a special needs daughter from Korea. When celebrities adopt… [more]

The Not-Exactly-Reluctant Husband

September 19th, 2011

Sleeping dadIf you're like me, you are thinking about adoption all the time. You're doing the dishes and thinking about filing the I-600A. Folding laundry is a time of reflection for your next blog post. Playing with your kids leads to daydreams about how great it will be when your next child is finally home. And thank heaven for DVR, because you have paperwork to do and Modern Family will have to wait. And then you look at your handsome, loving husband. He's watching the scores scroll across ESPN to find out the score of the Chiefs game that wasn't televised. And he's thinking about...football. That's it. Just football. So why is it that husbands--those who are fully on board with adopting--seem to be less… [more]

Personal Adoption Blogs

August 31st, 2011

DigitalWorldOne of my favorite ways to stay connected to the adoption process (especially when my own is uneventful at the moment) is to read other families' blogs. I have learned a lot about the process and expectations by reading about the journeys of others. And I have a renewed spirit about the process when I see someone has just gotten a referral or has arrived home with their new family member. I was thinking of starting my own personal blog, simply to keep friends and family updated, so I thought I would research requirements or recommended practices for personal adoption blogs. Here is what I learned:  

  • Foreign government officials often monitor adoption blogs. Really. Therefore, parents should be careful not to post negative or

Raising Money for an Adoption

August 24th, 2011

PiggyBankBefore I was a writer, I worked as a fundraiser for 10 years. Whether I was calling university alumni for their annual gifts or writing grants for water wells in Africa, I never imagined I would draw upon this experience to help fund the expansion of my family. Many families conduct fundraisers to offset the cost of adoption. I have compiled some of the more effective ideas I've seen in addition to some lessons learned from my former career.

  • First, create a blog and add a donate button to make it easy for others to support you. Friends, family, and even strangers will often lend their support. Advertise your blog on social media, with business cards, on t-shirts, or even through your church's Sunday bulletin. And

Dating Your Agency

August 9th, 2011

ExcellentPNGChoosing an agency is just like any other big decision. Your agency will be there, ideally, to guide you through the complicated and emotional process of bringing home a new member of your family. Take some time to get to know your agency before you commit. First, make sure the agency is licensed to conduct adoptions in the country you chose. For example, there are 22 agencies in the US that are licensed in Ethiopia to place children. Yet other agencies partner with the licensed ones to conduct adoptions. Acting as third parties, some of these agencies have higher fees, so it might be wise to work directly with the agencies licensed in-country. Ask if your agency is Hague-accredited. Even if you're adopting from… [more]

Welcome to Our Home (Study)

August 2nd, 2011

Cleaning_PNGMy husband and I completed our home study about a month ago. In preparation for the home study, I did what any prospective adoptive mother would do...I cleaned! And then I organized things. And then I cleaned some more. And then I cleaned things no human on Earth would think to clean. Then it occured to me that I had no idea what would actually happen during the home study. Would the caseworker really inspect the toiletries I had just organized in the baskets in the bathroom? Or would she give us a quiz on how to parent an adopted child? (Oh no. I've spent precious time cleaning when I should have been reading the parenting books that are collecting dust! I should… [more]

I Wish I Had Known

April 8th, 2011

wishingI recently came across an article on NPR, Fewer Russian Adoptions Since Mom Sends Son Back. I hadn’t realized it has been a year since Torry Hansen bought a one-way ticket to Moscow and sent her adopted son back to Russia.  I try not to judge others because no one can ever understand the true story behind the scenes.  Like most, I was outraged, but my focus was directed at the system rather than at Torry and her poor decision. When my husband and I started our Russian adoption journey 13 years ago, we were required to attend parenting classes at our adoption agency.  One session was about which particular country we wanted to adopt from.  One session was on the paperwork… [more]