Two wishes

February 14th, 2018

Driving home from school yesterday, Olivia said she wished she could change two things. First, her last name so that it sounded, as she said, “more Latino.” And second, the fact that she and I look so different. “I hate that people see us and can tell I’m adopted,” she said.

Olivia’s at a new school this year–high school–a much bigger place where no one knows us and everyone does a double-take. The first day, a girl looked at the screen-saver on Olivia’s laptop, a family photo. “Who are they?” the girl asked.

“My parents,” Olivia said, and you can guess the rest of the conversation. These kinds of occurrences happen often.

I’m putting this out there because if you asked Olivia, she’d probably say she’s comfortable with being adopted, at peace with it. She’s a well-adjusted young woman who knows and loves her birth family as well as her family in California. Still, Olivia doesn’t enjoy constantly being singled out, stared at, questioned. Nobody does.

As we approached the driveway to our house, I told Olivia I could only imagine how tough it was sometimes to be her, that she didn’t ask for any of it. I said she was welcome to change her last name when she was 18–her first name, too, for that matter–reminding her it would need to be amended on her Certificate of Citizenship (!!!).

“What I can’t change is the color of my skin,” I said. Olivia said that was okay. She loves me anyway. ~



Winter Games in South Korea

February 1st, 2018

Dozens of young adults adopted as babies from South Korea will return there for the Winter Olympics. And one, Marissa Brandt, adopted as an infant to a family in Minnesota, will be playing for the U.S. Women’s Hockey Team. Read fascinating reflections throughout this Washington Post article, Olympics Draw Korean Adoptees as South Korea Confronts Past, on how it feels to return. (We can relate.)

And: Go Women’s Hockey!!!



Class project

January 29th, 2018

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and indoor

Because doesn’t everyone concoct homemade Gummy Worms for a class How-to project, while listening to the soundtrack from The Greatest Showman?



Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

January 22nd, 2018

I recently finished reading the novel Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran. The book tells the story of Soli, an undocumented woman from Mexico who is jailed and loses custody of her son, Ignacio, fostered by Kavya and Rishi, first-generation Americans who live in Berkeley, CA. Kavya and Rishi wish to adopt Ignacio while Soli fights for her son from prison.

In an interview, Shanthi Sekaran says she was inspired by the real-life news reports of Encarnacion Bail Romero. (You may remember Bail Romero, from Guatemala, living in the US, who was jailed in a raid; relatives kept her son, then placed him in foster care, where he was adopted by US citizens, the Mosers. A prolonged court case ensued; Bail lost custody permanently and, I believe, was deported.)

I loved the novel, as did the other students in my Antioch MFA cohort who read it. Well-written and plotted. Believable characters, realistic settings. Lots to discuss for book clubs.~

Lucky Boy by Shanti Sekaran.

Photo: Internet images



Happy birthday, Rigoberta Menchu

January 9th, 2018

Happy 59th birthday to 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner and K’iche’ activist Rigoberta Menchu. Today is a good day to post a clip from the 1983 documentary she narrated, When the Mountains Tremble. Menchu’s voice throughout is riveting, beginning with these opening sentences–”My name is Rigoberta Menchu… I’m going to tell you my story, which is the story of all Guatemalan people.”

My family owns the DVD, but the film is probably available elsewhere on line.

When the Mountains Tremble is directed by Pamela Yates, who continues to make important documentaries about Guatemalan history, including Granito and 500 Years.




My mother, the Rockette, photo

January 7th, 2018

Esquire posted 25 iconic photos of NYC at Christmas from the early century until now. One dated 1950 shows a bevy of Rockettes backstage, including my mother, looking gorgeous in fur as she peeks over a friend’s shoulder. My mother would have loved it. (Have I mentioned she was a Rockette? At Radio City Music Hall?)
Thanks, NJ neighbor Mary Beth C. for sharing the Esquire link. xoxox



Gayle Bradeis essay

January 5th, 2018

I’m sharing a beautiful essay by Gayle Brandeis, a teacher in my Antioch MFA program who read the piece during our December residency. The title, “My Shadow Son,” refers to a young man who, for 14 years, believed Gayle was his birth mother. The essay speaks to the strong drive felt by many people who are adopted to connect with blood family.

On Gayle’s public FB page, she identified the young man and shared his comments, including this paragraph: “[T]he real moral of this story is that in finding the history of my own birth family and in meeting my biological sister I have come to feel even more kinship with my true family (the one that adopted me). I could never have anticipated that revelation since I have already loved them with my whole heart since the day I was born, but it has been the most powerful revelation of my 32 years on this planet.”

Gayle’s YA novel, My Life with the Lincolns, is my son Mateo’s favorite book. Her latest is a memoir on my list to read, The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide.




New Year 2018

January 1st, 2018

I have so few photos of our family–all 4 of us–that I feel compelled to share this one, at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego. (Mateo figured out how to use the camera timer.) I’m (over)dressed for the Arctic, while Olivia’s in shorts. The other photo is of us with my youngest sister, Deanna, in front of the fountain in Balboa Park.

And Olivia and Mateo.

Happy 2018!



Reunion in China

December 14th, 2017

This BBC video about a 20-year-old woman, Kati Pohler, born in China and adopted by a family in Michigan has been out for a while, but I just got around to watching it tonight. Titled Meet Me at the Bridge, it’s powerful, powerful. What struck me most: the stark bigness of the emotions. Fear. Love. Bewilderment. Belonging.

Because that is truth.

Description from BBC:

When Kati Pohler was three days old she was left at a market in China. She was later adopted by an American family.

When she was 20, Kati discovered her birth parents had left her a note, and that every year on the same day, they waited for her on a famous bridge in Hangzhou.

Filmed and directed by Changfu Chang.

Photo above: Facebook



Antioch MFA

December 11th, 2017

It’s not the most picturesque campus, but oh how I love my low-residency MFA at Antioch LA. I’m here until Saturday, absorbing wisdom and fellowship. My idea of heaven.