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]

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]

Moving Mountains if You Must

December 6th, 2010

1280641_55403345International adoption isn’t the easiest way to create a family. There are major decisions to be made beyond the decision to adopt internationally. There is a country to choose, then an adoption agency to pick. Once those things are decided, there are the interviews, mounds of paperwork to complete, documents to be notarized and apostilled. More paperwork to be gathered, documents to be sent from one part of the country to another. And then there is the waiting game. As I was adopting my two daughters, I felt like I existed in an altered state of hurry up and wait. But I learned a lot about myself during my two adoptions. I’ve always considered myself to… [more]

Are Visit Trips Necessary?

December 19th, 2009
Categories: Homeland Visits, Travel

Are Visit Trips Necessary?Ah, the question of visit trips: to take them or not to take them? Sometimes there's just no choice in the matter. Depending on your child's birth country, you might be required to take a visit trip prior to the traveling you will do when your child returns home with your family. Some countries require a lengthy stay or multiple visits. But what if you aren't required to take said visit trip? Ultimately, my knee-jerk response is "go if you can". Aside from the fact that it might be your first opportunity to meet your precious child, you'll be able to experience more of your child's birth country with every day you spend abroad.  Above all, it can be a time… [more]

When Cultures Collide

September 7th, 2009

As a modern western woman it is easy for me to get mad at societies that do not allow women freedoms that I have enjoyed my entire life. When I read this article on the Sudanese women who went to trial for wearing pants, I was outraged. The normal punishment for "indecent" dress is whipping. The fact that she may have a fine or prison time is actually a better outcome than many have had. Issues such as this, or woman being imprisoned for being raped, showing her face or arms, Female Genital Mutilation (more to come in the future on this subject) and attending school are real issues of human rights. Most Americans would agree with me on this… [more]

Homeland Travel

July 1st, 2009

For those of us who have adopted Internationally, a Homeland Trip to your child's birth country is normally something that crosses our minds. When looking through adoption magazines or surfing adoption websites you often see guided tours to China or Korea being advertised. When we were in Ethiopia picking up our girls I had a urge to return when they were teenagers so they could tour the country and see the culture once again before becoming adults. Our plan was to come back in ten years when our kids were 18,18, 16 and 13. The trip costs quite a bit and we never really thought about making several trips. Now that our kids have been home a year our thoughts have changed… [more]

Our Cultural Clashes May Annoy Us, But We Must Try and Understand Them

April 16th, 2009

I talk a lot about embracing your child's background or country. When adopting internationally it is important to get a glimpse of the culture "quirks" and mannerisms. This is not always comfortable for us. My experience yesterday is a great example of being out of my comfort zone. Since I did travel to Ethiopia last year and I have lived in South American I tend to like these cross-cultural experiences, I even find them funny. I do, however, understand how these times can be stressful on people and hope that you may gain some insight on developing countries through my post. I am also writing about this on the Transracial Blog topic, in more detail about the hair and the… [more]

Great Geography Games for the Adoptive Family

January 25th, 2009

If you are adopting internationally you may have noticed that a lot of people out there do not know geography! I had people ask me where Ethiopia was and they were surprised it was in Africa. Many people still think that Africa is a country not a continent! As adoptive families we often find ourselves educating people on adoption facts and geography facts. We also have a responsibility to know about where our kids are from. The following games not only help us learn, but can be used to teach your children as well. The Out of the Box company has some great games to help people have fun while learning about geography. I bought the 10 Days in Africa for my family when we were… [more]

Travel insurance: Don’t be silly

October 30th, 2007
Categories: Travel

With Rebecca, Erin and Mary all writing recently about adoption travel, this story out of the UK on "The 25 Most Bizarre Travel Insurance Claims Ever" seemed appropriate blog fodder for the day. Anyone who has traveled far or often or both has stories to tell about uproarious incidents they've either seen or done while on the road. I have personally saved an Australian doctor from a potentially nasty encounter with a Crab-eating macaque (macaca fascicularis) in Borneo ... he kept smiling and waving, thinking to placate the angry, strong and well-toothed male, and smiling really makes monkeys mad ... sheltered a young American couple after a wild boar trashed their tent in the process of finding and… [more]

Worries while waiting: Bird Flu

October 11th, 2007
Categories: Travel

I don't know if it's because I'm an international adoptive parent who has suffered the agony of the wait, because I write about adoption every day so am constantly aware of how many people are at any given time somewhere in the process experiencing the anxiety, because I have traveled a lot and now live in a developing nation, because I'm worrier in general, or because studying history has left me with a deep well of fear, but the H5NI virus, Bird Flu, scares the padookie out of me. Thoughts of the global spread of Avian Influenza do not fill my days now that my kids are home, but during the period between referral and travel they darned well did. Even… [more]