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]

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]

Honesty in International Adoption

January 10th, 2010

Honesty in International AdoptionI've written in previous blogs about the heartbreak I feel when I hear adoptive parents of internationally-born children state that their child has no real knowledge or understanding of his/her birth mom. It bothers me to the core. I almost always speak up, but today I was almost rendered speechless. While my kids were napping earlier this afternoon, I read a blog entry authored by an adoptive parent of a son born in Russia; long story short, he and his wife decided they would never tell their child he was adopted. Still with me? Picking your jaw up off the floor? Yeah, I was too. I can't begin to describe the many, many, many reasons I feel it is vitally important… [more]

Discussing Adoption: Never Too Young

November 24th, 2009

Discussing Adoption: Never Too YoungIn past blogs, I've touched on the importance of celebrating and maintaining your child's cultural identity and heritage. Today, I'd like to focus on the role of discussing birth mothers in international adoption. I'm a bit of sorts after reading the following comment on one of the many internationally-based adoptive parenting blogs I read on a semi-regular basis: "We have never talked about [my son's birth mother] because he's seven and not ready to understand adoption yet. Besides, there's not as much of a push since this isn't a domestic [adoption] anyway." Wait, what? A seven year old is too young to grasp even the most general concept of adoption? You never speak of his birth mom? There's not… [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]

On Raising a Strong Woman..

August 24th, 2009

I just checked on my two napping sweethearts and came down here to snag just one more brownie (a product of our baking creations from Saturday’s kitchen adventures); I’ve just settled in to check my online haunts one last time before submitting to the list of endless household chores at my fingertips. I’ve had a post on issues related to race in the context of a family brewing a bit in my head and recent recollections of a few past conversations got the proverbial ball rolling. Well, that and Bear’s drawing from this afternoon, but more on that at a later date—that’s another post entirely. We are a family of now two-point-five races (counting our pending Ethiopian adoption). Three of us are white--really, really white. We… [more]

“Saving” a Life: When Well-Meaning Comments Leave a Bad Taste in Your Mouth

August 12th, 2009

“Oh, so your daughter is from Guatemala? How wonderful! She is so lucky to have you. My sister’s friend’s cousin’s daughter-in-law once went there in the eighties and she said it was anarchy and poverty. You saved that little girl’s life!” Ugh. The aforementioned excerpt—with the exception of the sister’s friend’s, etc. classification—is a word for word sentence I heard from a well-meaning stranger as I was having a “mom-and-daughter lunch” with Beauty about a year ago. I say well-meaning because I do believe this is true; I do feel she was sincere in her feelings and meant no offense in her words. That said, I can’t even begin to express how deeply I disagree with her statement on all counts. Regardless of the country of your child’s… [more]

Adult Adoptees and First Generation Americans Speak

July 31st, 2009

At the Ethiopian Heritage and Culture camp I went to last weekend we were able to ask questions to adult adoptees and first generation Americans many questions. This was a very valuable time for me to learn what is important to my kids once they are adults. Something they stressed over and over again was that as adults it was important to know about their heritage and they encouraged parents to keep their kids active in the their birth or families culture. They also laughed about not always wanting to learn about Ethiopia, but they were glad thier parents kept pushing it on them. This hit home to me because just a few weeks ago Mita was angry and said,"Why do you keep… [more]

OPEN International Adoptions

May 27th, 2009

Lately I have been reading and seeing more information about open international adoptions. This pleases me. I think that openness in adoption is a positive way for adopted kids to grow up. Of course there are varying degrees of openness, and in some situations open adoptions may not be a good idea (past abuse comes to mind here). I often bristle when I hear of parent's adopting internationally "so they don't have to deal with birth families". I try not to be judgmental, but without birth families their would be no adoptive families. As with domestic adoptions, there are many different ways to communicate with birth families. Letters and photos, pictures, phone calls and even visits are possible. Each country is different. If your… [more]