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]

Scissors and Crayons

September 20th, 2011

iStock_000014990202XSmallSometimes international adoption can throw a curve ball when you least expect it. When Elle was in the lower grades of elementary school, she brought home an assignment.  They had been studying the 50 states in school and how the states related to the students.  The worksheet was a map of the United States with \instructions to color in the state where they were born. This presented a problem for Elle.  She wasn’t born in the US.  She was born in Russia.  She could have colored in the state I lived in when I adopted her, or she could have colored in the state that had recognized her foreign adoption, but neither of those choices seemed right. My husband and I stared at each other… [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 That's it. Just football. So why is it that husbands--those who are fully on board with adopting--seem to be less… [more]

Heritage Hard Core

April 28th, 2011

Banh ChungWe adopted our oldest daughter when she was 14 years old. She had previously been adopted by another American family when she was 13 years old but they disrupted their adoption a year later. During that first year in America, life was very hard on her. She didn’t know any other adopted children. Her first adoptive family had very little interest in maintaining her cultural heritage. She felt isolated, frightened and alone. We had heard about her situation and began visiting her. After a few meetings with her, my husband and I brought her home to stay the weekend at our house so she could get to know our two sons. Our sons were older child adoptions as well. They immediately… [more]

Where Do Babies Come From?

February 23rd, 2011

Stork & BabyNow that Bunny has turned six, I am anticipating the question all parents dread…where do babies come from?  Six years ago when Elle was getting ready to ask the question, I did my homework.  Rather than write an elaborate answer with technical terms and diagrams, I did the smart thing.  I bought a book with a lot of colored pictures…age appropriate pictures, of course. Actually, I bought three books, each containing the basic information with cute cartoon characters dressed up as sperm and eggs, and each geared towards a different age range.  I felt it would be easier to hand Elle a book, let her read it, then let her ask me any question she wanted.  My plan has worked well. … [more]

Flags of Heritage

January 6th, 2011

533821_41933236When you adopt children internationally, the adoption agency always asks how you intend to keep the link between your child and their birth country. At the time, I thought that was a silly question, and I had so many other things to worry about at the time. I don't remember what I answered, but it must have been enough to appease the agency, and the foreign courts. Once we arrived home, I didn't think much about my daughters’ heritage. With Elle, if you didn't know she was adopted, you would never guess she was from Russia. With Bunny, it is a bit more obvious considering her dark skin, black eyes, and ability to swing her hips to any music… [more]

Santa Was Adopted, Too

December 21st, 2010

1122208_20339657One of the things I love about Christmas is the Christmas television specials. When I was little, I remember counting the days until I could watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I loved these shows, but my most favorite show was Santa Claus is Coming to town. This weekend I was watching television with my kids when I heard the distinctive voice of Fred Astaire. I think I was more excited than my daughters. As S.D. Kluger started telling the story of Santa Claus, it dawned on me…Santa was adopted. Just like Elle and Bunny! For some reason this year, I really listened to the story. I know… [more]

God Must Have Had a Reason

December 8th, 2010

oppositesI’m sure we are all familiar with the saying that there is a reason for everything. I am a firm believer in this sentiment. Most of the time I don’t know or understand the reasoning behind it, but I rest with the knowledge there is one. When it was time to adopt my children, I think God was having a humorous day. He must have had the giggles when he decided which children I would receive. On one hand, Elle, my 12 year old from Russia, is tall, lean and blonde. Like a dog, I could tell how big she was going to be when I looked at her feet. Bunny, on the other hand, my five year old… [more]

A Family of Rainbows

November 18th, 2010

Family of Rainbows For as long as I can remember, I have always seen myself with two daughters, two little girls with white blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes.  I realize this dream was based on childhood pictures of myself, and I never gave much thought to how my husband’s looks would factor into the mix.  It just didn’t matter, because I was certain they would be blue-eyed blondes.  That’s how dreams work. Then life happened and the dream of having two little miniatures of myself faded away.  What I got was two little daughters, one with no hair and the other with black, wispy hair that stood straight up.  Once my daughters were placed in my arms, one in Russia and the other… [more]

A “Sore Thumb”?

March 4th, 2010

A "Sore Thumb"?With the addition of a new baby to our clan, we've been discussing the implications of race in our family. When we decided to adopt again, our original plan was to adopt from Ethiopia. Seeing how Beauty's creamy skin tone is a stark contrast from her parents' paleness, we just assumed we'd be a family with a variety of beautiful skin tones. Bella could--for all intents and purposes--pass as our biological child. We would never claim this as truth, of course, but she is as pale as we are--fair skin and rosy cheeks, blue eyes just like my husband. Bear and Bella could easily pass as birth siblings. And so again, Beauty stands alone. I've often considered what we could do to… [more]