Archive for March, 2010

Truth-telling and St. Patrick’s Day

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

There is much speculation in these parts regarding the comings and goings of leprechauns. “How do they fit under the door?” Mateo wants to know. “Do they swim all the way from Ireland?” Olivia has a classmate who swears she saw something green scooting out from the restroom yesterday. At recess, Olivia went to look for herself, and was disappointed when she came up empty-handed.

Like many children, ours believe in Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter Bunny, and, yes, little green men who speak with a brogue and wear pointed shoes. My husband and I encourage these fantasies: they’re the stuff of childhood magic. What kind of world would it be without reindeer that fly, fairies that fit through keyholes, fluffy rabbits that leave eggs filled with candy? A dreary one, indeed.

Then why do I feel uneasy as I spin longer and more convoluted yarns about the activities of leprechauns? Even as I tell Mateo, “It’s the pot of gold he’s after. Let’s set a trap with this paper cup,” I squirm at my own dishonesty. What happens when Mateo discovers I’ve been lying? That the little green man, the pot of gold, the rainbow–all of it is total fabrication? Will he question the validity of everything else I tell him? Where will he draw the line? (more…)


Birthday Party

Monday, March 15th, 2010

On Sunday, we went to the birthday party of a good friend we met while fostering in Guatemala, the girl we all called “Baby Maya.” Except Baby Maya is now “Big Girl Maya”: seven years old. She and her mom live about 45 minutes north of us, and we do our best to get together a few times a year: birthdays for each child, definitely, and often around Thanksgiving and Fourth of July. I see time passing in Baby Maya, in a way I cannot in my own children. At each new visit, she is bigger, stronger, taller, with longer hair. I notice those things in my own children, of course, but not as dramatically. (more…)


Date Morning

Friday, March 12th, 2010

My husband, Tim, swam with me this morning. I know that 72 laps together in a public pool is not exactly “date night,” but I’ll take it. After dropping off the kids, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge into San Francisco. Found a prime parking space, too, which rarely happens in the city, so you know the morning was charmed.

It’s Week Three for me back swimming and I feel like a million bucks. My shoulders are more relaxed; my back less tense; and my hands, often cramped from typing, feel like they’ve been massaged. Even my brain is calmer. There’s nothing like the isolation tank that is water to help one reconnect with deep thoughts. (more…)


Indigenous Immigrants to be Counted in 2010 Census

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

This just in from “The Huffington Post”:

“For most people, describing themselves on the U.S. Census form will be as easy as checking a box: White. Black. American Indian. But it’s not so simple for indigenous immigrants—the Native Americans of Mexico and Central America. They often need more than one box because their ancestry can cover multiple Census categories.”…

“Question 8 asks whether they consider themselves to be ‘of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.’ The next question asks their race. The Census recommends indigenous immigrants from Latin America choose ‘American Indian or Alaska Native’ as their race, then write in the name of their community.”

This is good news for those of us with children from indigenous families in Guatemala, because our children’s heritage is different from Hispanic. The word we will write in is “Maya.”  Good for the Census Bureau for recognizing this important distinction.


The international adoption question

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

I received a questionnaire from my book publisher that said, “There’s a lot of controversy surrounding international adoption. What do you say to people who believe that children from another country should not be adopted by Americans?

The question didn’t surprise me because people ask me that a lot. My answer remains the same: I ask that they focus on what’s best for the child. Approximately 145 million children worldwide are living and dying in orphanages or on the streets, with no possibility of finding homes in their own country. Many will die, or if they survive, will reach adulthood so damaged by their experience, so deprived of parenting, education, and other essential opportunities, that they will be unable to function as adults in the realms of family and work. Countless studies by developmental psychologists and pediatricians prove that a child thrives best as part of a family, wherever that family comes from. Adoptions in Guatemala have been closed to Americans for two years now, and there has been no increase in adoptions of orphans by Guatemalans. There are simply more orphans. Instead of criticizing international adoption, people might better focus their energy on solving the problem of children living alone in the world, and figuring out how to give them the best chance in life. (more…)


Learning Spanish

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Everyone assumes that because my children were born in Guatemala they speak Spanish. They do not. Am I proud of this? Of course not. To the contrary: I worry about it a lot.

Neither my husband nor I speaks Spanish fluently; when I lived in Antigua, I studied for a few months, enough to make myself understood and get by (as long as I was speaking in the present tense). Home now for almost six years, the little I learned is rusty. I don’t get enough practice. A good role model I am not, not that I haven’t tried.

For one year, we had a live-in au pair from Ecuador; Olivia attended an after-school program for two. But none of that is the same as speaking day-in, day-out, hearing it, living it, being immersed. Even more of a challenge is that neither Olivia nor Mateo shows any interest in the language.  Olivia, especially resists. A second grader, she studies violin after school and attends religious instruction. Spanish feels to her like one more burden, something else (groan!), she is forced to do. (more…)


The Pages on My Desk

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

The copy-edited pages of my manuscript, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, are sitting on my desk in a box, waiting for me to read through them again for any changes and approval. I worked on the book for five years, but haven’t looked at it since my agent, Jenni Ferrari-Adler, and I made final revisions and sent it off to a list of editors in May 2009, holding our breath that one of them would accept it for publication. In July 2009, Seal Press did.  Jenni called me on my cell phone with the news as my family and I drove down the 5 freeway to San Diego. Looking out the window as as I listened to her relay the details, I felt my future was as wide and limitless as the farm lands of Central California. Selling a book for publication had been my dream for as long as I could remember, and it was finally coming true. The photo above was my view as I heard the news. (more…)