Archive for April, 2010

The Fabric of Guatemala

Friday, April 30th, 2010

During my visit to Guatemala last February with Olivia, I bought five yards of white cotton fabric at a shop in Antigua. The fabric was hand-made in Cobán, a municipality located in the central part of the country that is best-known for the spectacular waterfalls at Semuc Champey. In addition to its natural beauty, Cobán is a center for weavers who make a certain, delicate cotton fabric unlike any other made in Guatemala. I learned this through my friend, Gretchen, another adoptive mom who was in Guatemala and who led me to the shop. 

As I write this, the white cotton fabric is being made into a dress for Olivia to wear next weekend at her First Holy Communion. This afternoon, we’ll go to her final fitting. When Olivia was baptized, I wore a multi-colored, hand-woven shawl from the region where she was born. For her First Communion, Olivia also wanted to wear something to reflect her Guatemalan heritage. When my friend Gretchen mentioned the Cobán fabric, we knew it would be perfect.  (more…)


Brad Pitt and Me

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

I just learned about a new group on Facebook called “It’s none of your business why we didn’t ‘just’ adopt from here.” 

While the group’s name might be seen as a little strident, I understand the sentiment. How many times have my husband and I been asked why we “didn’t just adopt from the United States?” So many that I’ve lost count. I’m not alone in this. Every adoptive parent I know who has adopted internationally has faced the same question. 

When we first started the adoption process with Olivia, I never dreamed I would one day be quoting Brad Pitt. But a few years ago I read an interview with him, and (predictably), he was asked “Why did you adopt from another country? There are so many children here who need homes.” Brad Pitt’s response rang so true that I remember it still: “Our children find us, wherever they are.”  (more…)


Top of the World

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

On Sunday afternoon, we hiked up Ring Mountain. No planning was necessary. At two clock, I said “Let’s go,” and by 2:10, I’d thrown together a couple of energy bars and a water bottle and we were on our way. Nothing else was required beyond stepping out our front door, turning left, and walking uphill. Hiking Ring Mountain is one of our family’s favorite activities. Tim and I first carried Olivia and Mateo there in backpacks.

We can thank the tireless efforts of environmental activist and botanist Phyllis Ellman for Ring Mountain, who led the battle against land developers to keep the property public. The parcel was bought by the Nature Conservancy, and in 1995, deeded over to the Open Space District. Now thousands of hikers like us enjoy its vistas and trails. (more…)



Sunday, April 25th, 2010

I don’t know what’s it like where you live, but in Marin County, California, parents register their babies for preschool moments after they’re born. I understand why. Everybody else does, too. What that means is that when Olivia joined our family at almost two years old and I tried to register her for the next year, preschool directors shook their heads with sympathy and said, “No room.” (more…)


Baby Jogger

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

As so often happens, a decision to tear out the old wall-to-wall carpet in our bedroom and downstairs office has turned into a massive cleaning project requiring multiple trips to Goodwill and the Salvation Army. We’re giving away everything: clothes, toys, kitchen supplies, appliances. A friend in need has taken furniture and shelving. On Monday, a truck will load the leftovers and haul them to the dump.  (more…)



Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

About Mateo, I say “He wakes up happy.” He’s always been that way, ever since we first met him as a baby in Guatemala City. If we each have an essence, Mateo’s is “joy.” He radiates positive energy and goodwill and exuberance. My friend Julia recently called him “merry.” The label fits. 

Why is that? What makes a person who he is? So far, I know very little about Mateo’s biological family. Does he inherit his temperament from his other mother? Is his biological father a humorous man? Does Mateo’s approach to life have anything to do with my behavior, or the influence of my husband and daughter? What makes Mateo, Mateo? (more…)


Heritage Camp

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

One of the very few places in the world where our family does not stand out as different is Colorado Heritage Camp. For the uninitiated, heritage camps are designed specifically for adoptive families of all kinds. The camp we attend is geared toward families with children from Latin America; camps are also designed for families with kids from Africa and the Caribbean, Cambodia, China, India and Nepal, the Philippines, Korea, Russia, and Vietnam. (more…)


Zoo Again: The Same but Different

Saturday, April 17th, 2010

In the seven-plus years I lived in San Diego, I never went to the zoo. Single and childless, I considered the zoo a family place. I’ve since made up for lost time. This week alone, we’re on our third visit. Thursday morning, Tim gave a lecture at the Naval Hospital in Balboa Park. After dropping him off, the kids and I drove straight to the zoo. 

The zoo is one of many places I frequent now that I’m a parent. In the almost eight years since we adopted Olivia and Mateo, my stomping grounds are playgrounds, water parks, and bowling alleys. In the past six months alone, I’ve made more visits to zoos than in all the previous years of my life combined.  (more…)



Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

No visit to San Diego is complete without a trip to the Zoo and yesterday we made the pilgrimage. April happens to be the month when many baby animals are born. The ones most fascinating to Olivia and Mateo were the wild boar babies who played a nonstop game of chase, and the baby ducks, who behaved just like the characters in Make Way for Ducklings and followed their mother over to the food court to scavenge for dropped potato chips and bits of muffin.

The kids could spend the entire day riding the Skyfari Aerial Tram between the Polar Bear Plunge and the Elephant Odyssey, but our agreement is that we have to get out and walk, too. We saw tigers and monkeys, cheetahs and orangutans. As usual, we stopped by the panda bears. Not much action beyond napping pandas, but it’s always nice to check in. Last year, we saw a panda stand up, turn around, and lie back down in the other direction. Afterwards, I told the kids they may have just witnessed the most panda activity they will see in their lifetime. (The most in my lifetime, anyway.)  (more…)


The “2-to-1 Fade”

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Among its many claims to fame, San Diego is a military town, as I learned when I lived there in the 1990s. The Marines are at Camp Pendleton and the Top Gun pilots at Miramar. Coronado, where I rented an apartment, is home to the Navy SEALs. It’s almost impossible to go anywhere and not be aware of the military. Aircraft carriers dot the shoreline, fighter planes fly in formation overhead, and men and women in uniform perform drills on the beach.

Until I moved to San Diego, my primary experience of the military was through my uncle and his family. When I was a little girl, they visited us in New Jersey from their home in Ft. Hood, Texas, where they lived when they weren’t overseas. What I remember most from those visits was the haircuts of my four boy cousins, military-issued buzz cuts, less than an inch long. In San Diego, I saw those same cuts again, a symbol as ubiquitous as desert camouflage and combat boots.  (more…)