15

November 26th, 2019

Smart, funny, creative, kind, exuberant. Mateo is 15!

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Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption

November 19th, 2019

I get emails from the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and today this video arrived. Joe Toles grew up in foster care and aged out at 21. Now, he’s the adoptive father to 7 sons. The lines from his story I love most: “We have a home base.” And “Everyone knows that they can come home.”

Here’s the video. Which you must watch!

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Antigua summer 2019

November 14th, 2019

When is Guatemala not on my mind? Never, probably. Scrolling through my phone, I found these photos from Summer 2019, all from Antigua. xoxo

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“Fierce Love” memoir by Kim Gjerde

November 7th, 2019

 

I’m thrilled for my friend, Kim Gjerde, whose memoir Fierce Love: One Woman’s Remarkable Journey to Adopt her Daughter from Guatemala is now available on Amazon. Kim’s experience is one many can relate to. Here’s my blurb on the back cover:

“Kim Gjerde’s riveting account of adoption from Guatemala kept me turning the pages, eager to see what happened next. This book holds back nothing—the trusting innocence of Kim and her husband, the unscrupulous players they encountered along the way, and their steadfast devotion to their beloved daughter. If anyone still wonders why adoptions between Guatemala and the United States remain closed, read Kim Gjerde’s Fierce Love and understand.”

Lots to discuss for book clubs. Order your copy today!

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Birth family visit summer 2019

October 18th, 2019

I’m posting here a few photos from our trip to Guatemala this summer, with Olivia’s birth mother and grandmother, at Lake Atitlan and in the church at Panajachel. I won’t speak for anyone else, but these visits are the most emotional days of my year. (Also, as you probably know, I post family photos “from the back.” xoxo)

Olivia’s now 17. We reunited with her family for the first time when she was seven, and have been lucky enough to visit every year since then. Each family, child, and situation is different and everyone makes decisions that are right for them. With Olivia’s family, this feels right.

 

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Boston

October 8th, 2019

I had a wonderful visit with my sister Deanna and her family in Boston. We drove down to Kings Point for a memorial service for alumni, including our Dad, who died last summer. He would love to know a plaque with his name sits under an arbor on that beautiful campus. Lobster roll at Farnham’s, a day strolling in the charming seafront town I always forget the name of, lots of De’s amazing home-cooking and David’s roasted coffee, and time with my nieces, which is never enough. Oh, at the Peabody Essex, a trunk show of Iris Apfel’s jewelry. (I may have purchased an oversized pearl necklace wrapped with chain mail. Possibly an Iris-esque tunic. Who can resist?) I’m feeling blessed.

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Be prepared.

September 6th, 2019
This morning, as I gave Mateo bus and lunch money, I noticed his wallet was stuffed with Qs. (Qs=Guatemalan currency, quetzales.)
“Why so many Qs?” I asked.
“In case I get deported,” he said.
This is the world we live in, people. For kids like mine, US citizens with brown skin.
Crazy, except that it’s real.

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Love Never Quits by Gina Heumann

September 5th, 2019

I love reading memoirs about adopting from Guatemala, so when I saw my friend Gina Heumann post on FB about a book she’d written, I bought it immediately. Love Never Quits tells the story of Gina and her husband, the two boys they adopted from Guatemala, and the challenges they faced and overcame as a family. The younger boy suffered early trauma which manifested as behavior diagnosed by mental health professionals as Reactive Attachment Disorder. But this diagnosis did not come quickly. Gina tried for years to find help for her son, until, finally, she did.

The biggest takeaway for me in reading the book was how little is understood about adoption by mental health professionals, still, after so many years. And by adoption, I mean being relinquished by your mother; possibly living with multiple caregivers, in an orphanage, or on the street; and/or possibly being neglected or abused before landing in a secure, loving home; and, after all that, being required to adjust–as a young, frightened child–to an entirely new life. Reading the book also reminded me how ill-prepared *we* were as adoptive parents: how no one told us what we might face, how alone and misunderstood we would feel while facing it, and how difficult it was to find trained professionals qualified to counsel and guide us.

I met Gina Heumann at Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families (something else many of us do in our attempts to build bonds with our children) and was impressed with her dynamism and energy. Brava to her for writing about her family’s struggles and how they overcame them. May Gina’s story deepen the understanding of adoption’s complexity.

For more information about Gina Heumann, visit her website.

 

 

 

 

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Our front door

August 30th, 2019

Every summer when we visit Antigua, Guatemala, I make Olivia pose with me at the door of the charming little house where we lived together while waiting for her adoption to be finalized, back in 2003. Here we are in August 2019. Mateo snapped the picture. xoxo

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Adoption as universe

August 24th, 2019
I’m catching up on my reading, including back issues of the New York Times. In this July 19 Modern Love column, “Don’t Put All Your (Frozen) Eggs in One Basket,” author Ruthie Ackerman writes about her yearning for a baby while married to a man who doesn’t want children. The plot thickens and ultimately Ackerman freezes her eggs, hoping someday to create her longed-for child. She writes movingly and eloquently of her feelings of disappointment and profound loss when, as the article subhead explains: “With ‘fertility preservation,’ I thought I could have children on my own timeline. I was wrong.” There’s much to relate to in her essay, and I encourage you to read it.
But the ending stopped me. The part where Ackerman writes: “Donor eggs are an option. Adoption too.”
After reading those lines, I wanted to sit down with Ackerman and say, “Oh, honey. It’s not that simple. Adoption, I mean. Not the process itself–that’s procedural stuff you’ll get through. But the very fact of adoption. Talk about complicated. For your child, every day of her or his life. For your child’s birth family. For you and your extended family. For every single person involved.”
Mind you: My children came to me through adoption, and my children are the best things, the very best things, in my life. I would not trade a single decision or action that led me to them. I’m a huge advocate for adoption.
At the same time, the person I am now–17 years as an adoptive mother–would say to the person I was then–naïve, as Ackerman is necessarily naïve, how can she not be?–
“Please, please understand: Adoption is bigger than an offhand, two-word sentence.
Adoption is a universe–ever-expanding, infinite. You need to know that going in.”

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