Archive for March, 2012

Dillon International’s Guatemala Heritage Weekend, and Antigua.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

This weekend, Mateo and I will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I’m speaking at Dillon International’s Guatemala Heritage Weekend. I’m honored because Dillon is one of the nation’s oldest, most established adoption agencies, whose stated mission is “providing the best lifetime of care for each homeless child we are privileged to serve.” Mateo is thrilled, too, because he will get to play with friends he met last summer at MOGUATE, a confab of families with children born in Guatemala which was founded by the amazing Cindy Swatek (below left), and held annually in  Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.

In fact, it was another mother from Moguate, Susan Carter (below, far right), who recommended me to the folks at Dillon. (Susan managed the mercardo at Moguate, where, I confess, I undoubtedly numbered among her best customers.) So, as you can see, the world of adoption from Guatemala is small, and every day, gets smaller.

Which I view as a great thing!

Example: In February, my sister, Patrice; Olivia, and I made our annual trek to Guatemala to visit with Olivia’s birth family and experience her beautiful birth country. We’ve done this for the past several years–read a few accounts here and here and here– and each year the trip has been special in its own unique way.

Unique about this trip is that for the first time ever, we met up with two other adoptive families, whom I had met in Boston during my Mamalita book tour. Sharing the experience with the other families–Carly, Christina, and their husbands and kids–made our usual wonderful experience even more so. The kids bonded instantly, and we grown-ups did, too.

I cherish my connections formed through adoption, not only to my children’s birth country and their birth mothers and siblings, but to other adoptive families, too. E.M. Forster once famously said, “Only connect.” If you’ve connected with me in any way through adoption, please know how grateful I am for your friendship. Wherever you live, I hope you’ve also found a community.

See you in Tulsa!~


Craig Juntunen on Huffington Post

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

On March 13, Craig Juntunen, founder of Both Ends Burning, posted a pro-international adoption essay on Huffington Post, “We Need to Help Orphans Find Families.” If you’re reading this now, you probably know where I stand on this issue: I agree with Craig, so much so that I wish I had written these words myself:

Instead of letting this conversation get swept away in politics, let’s start with the universally accepted fact that institutionalization is an emotional — and sometimes a physical — death sentence for a child. During my travels to Haiti, I met Roberson, a 13-year-old boy who maintains the social, emotional and physical well-being of a 6-year-old. Roberson is unfortunatelyonly one of millions of orphans worldwide that fail to develop critical human functions due to institutionalization.

If we aim to save Roberson and other kids like him from a life behind the bars of institutions, we have to fix the international adoption system. Far too many eager families are simply deciding not to adopt because the system has become so burdensome. Today, the average wait for adoptive families to welcome their children home is 33 months, and costs average $25,000.

Leadership is the answer for these kids, but unfortunately, there is no sense of urgency among those who hold the power to make the necessary changes. For every Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), who relentlessly pursue justice for these children, there are many others who are content to let The Hague be their excuse for doing nothing.

There must be a way for us to improve the adoption environment without sacrificing safeguards and child welfare. We need to focus on getting kids safely out of institutions, in part by streamlining the time and cost of international adoption. If we can all agree that these children’s lives matter, then why aren’t we doing something to give them a better chance of realizing the dream of joining a loving family?

I share Craig’s frustration. Adoptions from Guatemala to the US closed in December 2007. Since that time, more than 300 cases remain unresolved, and thousands of children remain living in orphanages. And that’s just one country of hundreds.

Where is the leadership?


Soccer jerseys from Guatemala. Order yours today!

Monday, March 12th, 2012


Help your kids show their birth-country pride by giving them a genuine soccer jersey from Guatemala.  Not only will you put a smile on your little one’s face, you’ll also help, best known around here for their commitment to clean water for all people in Guatemala. 

Here’s the deal. For $25 , adoptive mom Sonya Fultz will buy a shirt and mail it to you on March 28th. That covers the cost of the shirt and the shipping–and leaves a little left over, to be donated to Behrhorst.  Everybody wins!

Mail your $25 check to “Friends Through Guatemalan Adoption” (local Cincinnati adoptive families group) at 939 Sleepy Hollow Drive, Monroe, Ohio 45050.

Please include the following information when you mail your check:

  1. Your mailing address if different from the one on the check.
  2. Your email address, in case Sonya has questions.
  3. Size of the shirt you want (2T/3T; youth 4-6; youth 8-10; youth 12-14; adult small, adult medium, adult large).

But you must act soon. Your check needs to arrive in Ohio by March 20th so Sonya knows the final count before leaving for Guatemala.

Thanks so much!




“Sing Me Goodnight.” Lullabies by Lisa Redfern, with two songs about adoption

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

In January, I received an email from a woman named Lisa Redfern, who read and really liked my book, Mamalita, and wanted to share with me some of her journey through adoption. Every sentence Lisa wrote was beautiful: Clear and straightforward, and very deeply moving. By the time I finished reading the email, I knew I was in the hands of an expert storyteller.

Then, at the end of her letter, almost as an afterthought, Lisa added this paragraph:

In 2010 I released my 8th recording, Sing Me Goodnight, a lullaby CD with two lullabies about adoption. ‘Waiting for You’ I wrote for domestic adoption and ‘Orphans Lullaby’ I wrote for international. You can hear clips of them on CDBABY:

Immediately, I went to the site to listen to the clips, and when I discovered Lisa’s singing voice was as clear and beautiful as her prose, I ordered the CD.  Finally, last night, almost three months later, I listened to all 13 tracks after dinner with my seven-year-old son, Mateo, as we baked sugar cookies in our kitchen.

We loved every song. Lisa dedicates Sing Me Goodnight to “Parents and children everywhere, especially those creating families through adoption.” If you’re an adoptive parent, or anyone else who has been touched by adoption, you will want to own this music. The CD contains traditional folk tunes such as “Hush Little Baby,” “Down in the Valley,” ”Tell Me Why,” and “Beautiful Dreamer,” but my favorite selections are the ones penned by Lisa, including the two about adoption. The lyrics and melodies are haunting and complex, much like adoption itself. Here’s an excerpt from ”Waiting for You”:

You’re the child I’ll raise as mine/I’ve loved you from the start.

I’ve been waiting here for you/And holding you in my heart.


Though my loss has brought me here/And loss brings you to me.

When we meet, we’ll build our life/It’s beautiful, you will see.

And from “Orphans Lullaby”:

In a foreign orphanage… when you cry out in need/You have to rock yourself to sleep.

They do the best they can/But there aren’t enough hands.

Wish I could hold you tonight/And sing an Orphans Lullaby.

After listening to “Orphans Lullaby,” Mateo brought up the subject of his early history, which he does only when something connects with him on a profound and emotional level. That emotional connection, to me, is the hallmark of a true work of art. We recommend!