Archive for October, 2010

More reviews for MAMALITA. One calls it “Part thriller, part love story, part exposé”

Friday, October 29th, 2010

What a great feeling to have readers respond to Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir. “Guateangel” wrote a review on Amazon that included this sentence: “As an adoptive mother who adopted from Guatemala I want to thank you for writing down everything many of us were afraid to speak about.” Thank you, Guateangel, for sharing your reaction. If Mamalita can help one person reflect on and possibly sort out her complicated adoption experience, I’m thrilled. 

This past week, Mamalita garnered some wonderful national press, as well.  I’m especially happy about the review in the November/December 2010 issue of Adoptive Families. Soon after Olivia joined our family, I began subscribing to AF, and over the years, I’ve appreciated its helpful, insightful, constructive advice.  The review is written by adoptive parent Tesi Kohlenberg.

Here are a few review excerpts. Where available, I’ve included the corresponding link so you can read the review in full.

Thanks for helping me spread the word about Mamalita!

REVIEWS FOR MAMALITA: AN ADOPTION MEMOIR

 ”[A] richly written book, part thriller, part love story, part exposé… [A] cautionary tale.”
Adoptive Families Magazine

“Regardless of age or intent, this is a riveting read.” –Marin Magazine

“Kafkaesque… An important and timely book about one woman’s harrowing experience adopting a child from Guatemala.” –Shelf Awareness: “daily enlightenment for the book trade”

“A scathing critique on a foreign adoption system and the harrowing account of one woman to fight against it.” – Kirkus Reviews

“[H]arrowing and moving… deftly handled.” –Publishers Weekly

ShareThis

The “Mamalita” book tour goes to Durham, NC and Iowa City

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

One of the best outcomes of publishing a book about adoption is hearing from and connecting with so many other people in the adoption community. Today I received an email from a woman I met in Guatemala City in 2002. Reading Mamalita brought up many memories for her, and she wanted to let me know about her strong reaction. For both of us, sharing our experiences felt healing.

That’s why I’m so excited to add two new venues to the “Mamalita Book Tour”: I’ll be at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NC on January 19, and at Prairie Lights in Iowa City on Tuesday, June 28. I’m honored to be reading in these outstanding independent bookstores.

And please remember my Book Launch at Book Passage in Corte Madera, California, on Saturday, November 13 at 7 p.m.

The Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir Book Tour:

Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
1-800-999-7909

Book Launch! At Book Passage, Corte Madera.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Upstart Crow Bookstore
Seaport Village
835C West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92110
619-232-4855

Reading and signing books in San Diego.

Friday, December 3, 2010 at 10 a.m.
Santee Branch Library
9225 Carlton Hills Boulevard
Santee, CA 92071
619-448-1863

Reading and signing books in San Diego’s East County.

Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Writing Mamas Salon
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
1-800-999-7909

Reading and signing books at Book Passage with fellow Writing Mamas Cindy Bailey, Jennifer Gunter and Dawn Yun.

Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
Beverly Public Library
32 Essex Street
Beverly, MA 01915
978-921-6062

Reading and signing books on Boston’s North Shore.

Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Borders Bookstore-Back Bay-Boston
511 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
617-236-1444

Reading and signing books in Boston.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011, at 7 p.m.
Bookworks
4022 Rio Grande Boulevard NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107
505-344-8139

Reading and signing books in Albuquerque.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011 at 7 p.m.
The Regulator Bookshop
720 Ninth St.
Durham, NC 27705
319-337-2681

Reading and signing books in Durham.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 at 7 p.m.
Prairie Lights Books
15 South Dubuque Street
Iowa City, IA 52240
319-337-2681

Reading and signing books in Iowa City.

Hope to see you at one of these venues soon

ShareThis

Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute issues research study on post-adoption services

Monday, October 25th, 2010

A few months ago, the story about the American adoptive mother who put her Russian-born son on an airplane with a note saying she was effectively “sending him back,” made international headlines. The story outraged many, who wondered whether the woman would have made a similar decision with a biological son. 

In response to this story and others like it, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute issued a research study titled “Keeping The Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed.” (The Evan B. Donaldson Institute is the policy- and opinion-making leader in adoption in the United States.)

The study acknowledges the real and undoubtedly heartbreaking challenges faced by some adoptive families, at the same time it underlines the critical need for hope and for help. I, for one, applaud the Institute for focusing its attention on post-placement adoption services.

You can read the entire report here. Below is a short summary.

“The report stresses that the vast majority of adopted children function normally — and their parents are highly satisfied with their families. But it also points out that just over the past 15 years, nearly a million boys and girls were adopted by Americans from foster care in our country and from orphanages abroad, and the majority of U.S. adoptions continue to be of those types (by far, mostly from state child welfare systems).”

“‘What it means is that these children live with the emotional, psychological and developmental consequences of having been abused, neglected or institutionalized before they were adopted,’ said Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman. ‘The good news is that most of them, and their families, are doing just fine; the bad news is that the ones who need help too often aren’t getting it.’”

http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/2010_10_promises.php

ShareThis

“Mamalita” Book Trailer

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

Technology is not my strong suit, which is why I have attached here a link to my “Mamalita” book trailer instead of embedding it. But rest assured, the link will lead you to the right place.

Thanks for watching. Please feel free to forward to anyone else who may be interested.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wevi-IGJfRA

ShareThis

The “Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir” Book Tour

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

I’ve added one more venue to the Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir book tour. This one is on the North Shore of Boston, at the Beverly Public Library, 32 Essex Street, Beverly, Massachusetts. The reading takes place on Thursday, December 9, at 7:30 p.m. Details about exact room location will follow. (Thank you, again, Deanna, little sister extraordinaire….) Still working on readings in Iowa City; Durham, North Carolina; and one in the Philadelphia area.

The Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir Book Tour:

Saturday, November 13, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
1-800-999-7909

Book Launch! At Book Passage, Corte Madera.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 7 p.m.
Upstart Crow Bookstore
Seaport Village
835C West Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92110
619-232-4855

Reading and signing books in San Diego.

Friday, December 3, 2010 at 10 a.m.
Santee Branch Library
9225 Carlton Hills Boulevard
Santee, CA 92071
619-448-1863

Reading and signing books in San Diego’s East County.

Sunday, December 5, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Writing Mamas Salon
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA 94925
1-800-999-7909

Reading and signing books at Book Passage with fellow Writing Mamas Cindy Bailey, Jennifer Gunter and Dawn Yun.

Thursday, December 9, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.
Beverly Public Library
32 Essex Street
Beverly, MA 01915
978-921-6062

Reading and signing books on Boston’s North Shore.

Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 6 p.m.
Borders Bookstore-Back Bay-Boston
511 Boylston Street
Boston, Massachusetts 02116
617-236-1444

Reading and signing books in Boston.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011, at 7 p.m.
Bookworks
4022 Rio Grande Boulevard NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107
505-344-8139

Reading and signing books in Albuquerque.

Hope to see you at one of these venues soon!

ShareThis

“Mamalita” now in a bookstore near you

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Yesterday morning I heard from my friend Paula that my book, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, was in stock and on the shelf at our favorite local indie bookstore, Book Passage in Corte Madera, California. As soon as I got the kids off to school and did everything else that needed to get done before I could do anything as self-indulgent as go look, I grabbed my car keys and drove over.

The bookseller at the store was very nice and pointed me to the table in front where the appealing cover of Mamalita might catch the eye of someone standing in line on the way to the cash register. (Thank you, Book Passage!) After that, he directed me to the “Parenting” section, where my book was shelved with other books about adoption: Susan Caughman’s You Can Adopt, Janis Cooke Newman’s The Russian Word for Snow, and Scott Simon’s recent Baby, We Were Meant for Each Other. Very good company, I’d say.

One of my goals in writing Mamalita was to tell a real story about adoption, and in doing so, to contribute something lasting to the conversation about the subject. The thought was subconscious, but strong:  “This is what happened to us. What does our experience tell us about the experience of international adoption?” My book existing on the shelf is the first step to our story, and the story of others like us, being heard.

Please forgive me if I’m a little too excited to see Mamalita, finally, out in the world. It’s my first book, and I’m not a young writer bursting onto the scene. As the Book Passage bookseller said, when he saw me tearing up, “Publishing your first book is like giving birth.”

So I’ve heard. Or, for many of us, adopting your first baby.

ShareThis

Thoughts from a 15-year-old girl adopted from China

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Leceta Chisolm Guibault, an adoptive mother to two teens born in Latin America, posted this letter by a 15-year-old girl adopted from China on a Guatemalan listserve. 

Introducing the letter, Leceta said, “I have no doubts that she is not alone in her feelings. Note that her family has been very open and proactive. She has attended Jane Brown’s workshops, adoptive families groups as well as a homeland tour. Then puberty hit.”

The letter seems to illustrate (at least) two things: First, how feelings toward adoption evolve as a child grows and matures. And second, how challenging the experience of adoption can be and is for our children, despite our best efforts.

 With the permission of Leceta (who got permission from the 15-year-old girl), I am printing excerpts of the letter here.

 “I’m kind of struggling with my adoption… I don’t get why it’s all coming to me right now. It’s not like I haven’t gone through all the adoption workshops or anything like that. I’ve been really involved in everything adoption but all of a sudden I’m asking the same questions but differently. Of course I still wonder if my birthfamily thinks about me but now I wonder if they realize the amount they have affected my life just like the way I live it. They obviously think they did the best but do they think about how it negatively affects me from day to day. I look in the mirror still and ask myself if I look like them but now I look in the mirror (which happens a lot more now) and wonder if they had simple things like a birthmark or something…”

“[E]verything I thought I was at peace with I’m like not anymore. They are the reason for so many of my insecurities and they don’t even know it. Is it bad that I don’t even consider them real people? Because I don’t. I can’t picture them just like I couldn’t picture China before I saw it for myself. Obviously I know I didn’t come from my adoptive mom but sometimes it’s like maybe I don’t believe that. It’s so weird… I almost hate my birthparents sometimes… Is that like wrong because I feel bad about it. I want to find them I really do but I don’t know if I can emotionally handle if I can’t and I don’t want to fail. I know it’s next to impossible so I’m just really confused… [F]or some reason I feel like I can tell you this but not my own mom …”

ShareThis

Adoptions from Ethiopia rise while other countries close their programs

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

As many of us who follow international adoption know, Ethiopia is on the verge of becoming the largest sending country of orphans to the United States. It is also being used as a model of “fair” adoption practices. This comprehensive article by David Crary of the Associated Press outlines reasons why.

Adoptions from Ethiopia rise, bucking global trend
By DAVID CRARY (AP) –

NEW YORK — As the overall number of international adoptions by Americans plummets, one country — Ethiopia — is emphatically bucking the trend, sending record numbers of children to the U.S. while winning praise for improving orphans’ prospects at home.

It’s a remarkable, little-publicized trend, unfolding in an impoverished African country with an estimated 5 million orphans and homeless children, on a continent that has been wary of international adoption.

Just six years ago, at the peak of international adoption, there were 284 Ethiopian children among the 22,990 foreign kids adopted by Americans. For the 2010 fiscal year, the State Department projects there will be about 2,500 adoptions from Ethiopia out of fewer than 11,000 overall — and Ethiopia is on the verge of overtaking China as the top source country.

The needs are enormous; many of Ethiopia’s orphans live on the streets or in crowded institutions. There’s constant wariness, as in many developing countries, that unscrupulous baby-sellers will infiltrate the adoption process.

However, a high-level U.S. delegation — led by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., and Susan Jacobs, the State Department’s special adviser on children’s issues — came back impressed from a visit to Ethiopia last month in which they met President Girma Wolde-Giorgis.

“What’s encouraging is they want to work with us, they want to do it right,” Jacobs said in a telephone interview. “Other countries should look at what Ethiopia is trying to do.”

The global adoption landscape has changed dramatically since 2004. China, Russia and South Korea have reduced the once large numbers of children made available to foreigners while trying to encourage domestic alternatives. There have been suspensions of adoptions from Guatemala, Vietnam and Nepal due to fraud and corruption.

In contrast, Ethiopia has emerged as a land of opportunity for U.S. adoption agencies and faith-based groups. Several have been very active there in the past few years, arranging adoptions for U.S. families while helping Ethiopian authorities and charitable groups find ways to place more orphans with local families.

Buckner International, a Dallas-based Christian ministry, has about three dozen Ethiopian children lined up for adoption by U.S. parents, but it’s also engaged in numerous programs to help Ethiopia build a domestic foster care system.

In one village visited by Jacobs and Landrieu, Buckner has built a school and housing for teachers while beginning a slow assessment of the orphan population to determine which children can be cared for locally and which might benefit from U.S. adoption.

Randy Daniels, Buckner’s vice president of international operations, said the children who do head to adoptive families in the United States generally seem to flourish.

“They’re some of the warmest, most loving kids of any I’ve worked with in the world,” he said. “It’s amazing to how quickly they adjust to the families stateside, to the language, the culture.”

Buckner’s clients include David McDurham and his wife, Amy, of Mansfield, Texas, who adopted their daughter, Ella, from Ethiopia in 2008 and are preparing to pursue a second Ethiopian adoption. Unable to have a biological child, the McDurhams had been considering adopting from China. But that can now be a four-year process, and they became increasingly intrigued by Africa.

“They were just opening up the Ethiopia program,” said McDurham, a Baptist minister. “We were thinking, where did the needs of children and our needs coincide?”

McDurham said Ella, who just turned 3, is thriving in their Dallas suburb. They’ve become popular customers at a local Ethiopian restaurant and have forged ties with several other families who adopted from Ethiopia.

“We want her to see other families like hers — to know other people who have that same story,” McDurham said,

Other agencies active in Ethiopia — both with adoptions and developing local alternatives for orphans — include Bethany Christian Services and the Gladney Center for Adoption.

Gladney only registered with Ethiopian authorities in 2005 and since then has completed nearly 500 adoptions by U.S. families. J. Scott Brown, Gladney’s managing director of African programs, said the agency also is working with government-run orphanages in Ethiopia, trying to improve living conditions and develop job-training programs to benefit youths who won’t move to homes abroad.

“There are still some bad players in Ethiopia who need to be removed,” he said. “But if we can work closely with the government, this can be a leader for other countries to follow.”

Some Ethiopian officials remain skeptical of international adoption, but Brown said he’s seen doubters won over after visiting the United States to view firsthand how Ethiopian children are thriving in adoptive homes.

Landrieu, one of the leading adoption advocates in Congress, said Ethiopia deserves praise — compared with many developing countries — for recognizing that its orphans would be better off in a family environment such as foster care or an adoptive home rather than in an institution.

But resources are limited. She said there was only one judge assigned to process adoption cases and make sure that children are indeed legitimate candidates.

Heather Paul of SOS Villages-USA, which runs overseas programs supporting orphans and abandoned children, said it’s critical that potential adoptions be closely scrutinized.

“Having better regulations protects American adoptive parents too,” she said. “There’s no worse heartbreak than finding a child had been sold away.”

In contrast to Ethiopia, there’s uncertainty and frustration over adoption developments in two other countries.

In Kyrgyzstan, the government suspended adoptions in 2008 because of suspected corruption, leaving more than 60 U.S. families with pending adoptions in limbo. Plans to resume the process have been disrupted by recent political upheaval, though Jacobs said she remains hopeful that a new adoption law could be passed whenever a newly elected parliament is able to convene.

Adoptions of abandoned children from Nepal have been suspended by the U.S. government until Nepalese authorities implement procedures to curtail corruption and mismanagement. Jacobs said 80 pending U.S. adoptions are under review by the State Department.

The suspension has been criticized by some U.S. adoption advocates.

“When you close a country, you end up causing more problems than you prevented,” said Chuck Johnson, CEO of the National Council for Adoption. “What happens to the kids who aren’t adopted in Nepal? Some will end up as prostitutes and slaves.”

___

State Department: http://www.adoption.state.gov/

Buckner International: http://www.beafamily.org/country-ethiopia.shtml

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hWMUqkB5ZIgjSZRtjsnBfsWLOn0QD9IQAD0O0?docId=D9IQAD0O0

ShareThis

US withdrawal from Guatemala adoption program shatters families’ dreams

Monday, October 11th, 2010

This blog post arrived in my inbox via Google Alerts. The blog name is Dreamer of Much; the writer seems to be a woman named “Brenna.” (I say “seems to be” because it’s not entirely clear from the website and I don’t want to post misinformation.)

From the moment the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Guatemalan pilot adoption program, many families who had hoped to adopt from there were devastated. The news is especially crushing to those with a specific connection to Guatemala–according to Brenna’s blog, her family has done mission work there for years; she and her husband have met the children they hoped to adopt. One woman who reads this blog emailed me and asked “Where else will I go? My son is from Guatemala and he had hoped for a sister.”

My heart breaks for her and for Brenna and for everyone else who was hoping for a different outcome. 

The “Dreamer of Much” blog post:

“Picking up the pieces…of my broken heart. I found out this past week through an email and facebook, that the US has withdrawn its letter of intent to participate in the pilot program with Guatemalan adoptions. I randomly fall to pieces. I sobbed myself to sleep the night I found out. I had a few minutes of extreme weak faith and asked how are we going to get our kids home if our government continues to slam the doors… People have started asking if we are willing to “abandon” the idea of these kids and look more locally for adoptions. We have talked about it but neither of us feel ready to give up. These are our children. These are the ones God has called us to. I’m sure we could learn to love different kids but we don’t feel like we’re supposed to be “done” with these kids yet. So we will keep praying and waiting.”

ShareThis

Excerpt from the U.N.’s State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples report from Mayan Families

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

This information about the status of indigenous peoples in Guatemala is posted on the Mayan Families website.  Sobering statistics. I find it unbelievable that at the same time UNICEF was reporting a 50% chronic malnutrition rate among indigenous children in Guatemala, it was lobbying hard to shut down international adoptions.  UNICEF has now stepped away from working with Guatemala to improve the proposed system. How does that make sense?

Read excerpts from the Mayan Families website below:

[Earlier this year], the United Nations released its State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples report. Throughout the report, the UN reiterates the fundamental importance of providing greater educational opportunities to indigenous children.

“Indigenous peoples… face huge disparities in terms of access to and quality of education and health. In Guatemala, for example, 53.5 per cent of indigenous young people aged 15-19 have not completed primary education, as compared to 32.2 per cent of non-indigenous youth. Although infant and child mortality has been steadily decreasing throughout Latin America over the last four decades, child mortality is still 70 per cent higher among indigenous children. Furthermore, malnutrition is twice as frequent among indigenous children in the region.”

“Indigenous peoples also suffer from discrimination in terms of employment and income….[I]ndigenous workers in Latin America make on average about half of what non-indigenous workers earn.” Approximately 25-50 per cent of this income gap is “due to discrimination and non-observable characteristics, such as quality of schooling.”

“…[I]n Guatemala, indigenous peoples’ poverty rates are 2.8 times higher than the rest of the population.”

“In Guatemala, only 54 per cent of indigenous girls are in school, compared with 71 per cent of indigenous boys. By age 16, only a quarter of indigenous girls are enrolled, compared with 45 per cent of boys.”

The World Bank has reported that “the rate of stunting [height/age] for Guatemala overall is 44 percent, but for indigenous children the rate is 58 percent, higher than either Yemen or Bangladesh, and almost twice the rate for non-indigenous children.”

Finally, this from UNICEF, “Guatemala has one of the worst nutritional conditions in the region. Nearly 23% of children over three months and under five years of age suffered from general malnutrition, while almost one-half suffered from chronic malnutrition in 2006.”

ShareThis