Archive for December, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012


My children are 10 and 8, still holding on to their belief in Santa Claus, despite mounting evidence that the big man in the red suit might be only a myth. The holiday this year feels particularly magical: My parents, my brother, and all three of my sisters and their kids, have gathered in San Diego to celebrate together. My sister Adrienne, the chef among us, has been cooking for days: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or omnivore. You name it, Adrienne has it covered.

Last night, Olivia wrote her annual letter to Santa, which she and Mateo left on a small table in front of the fireplace, with a pile of carrots and a plate of homebaked cookies:

Dear Santa Claus,

Christmas is my favorite time of the year! I love being with my family and giving gifts. I hope it will not rain on Christmas. Mateo’s stocking is red and gold and my stocking is white and red. Mateo and I set out 9 carrots—one for Rudolph. Sorry the cookies are a bit burnt.

Safe travels,


P.S. Merry Christmas!

Sending warm wishes for happy holidays! ~


On loneliness

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012


For more than 10 years, after my first husband divorced me and I moved from New York to California, before I met Tim and we adopted our children and became a family, I felt very lonely around the holidays. True, my parents and siblings loved me (and still do), and so did my friends. Nevertheless, my isolation, never easy on many days, could almost crush me around this time of year.

That experience taught me how painful and harsh loneliness can be—in some ways, its own debilitating illness.

Today I feel very lucky to be surrounded by family—Tim and our kids, my sisters and brother and their families, my wonderful parents. But I’m remembering people who aren’t in the same state, and sending them a silent wish for better days ahead. xo


Perspectives on December 21

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

A slew of interesting articles have been published in anticipation of the imminent supposed end-date of December 21, 2012, as [mis]-interpretations of the Maya calendar abound.

Nevertheless, the hype around the date has boosted tourism to Guatemala. (And that’s always a good thing.) Below are three articles representing different perspectives on the subject. Enjoy!

Maya Text Cites 2012 as End of Cycle, not End of the World, Science on NBCNews.

Guatemala Looking to Cash in on 2012 Doomsday Theory, PRI The World.

Maya Apocalypse and Star Wars Collide in Guatemalan Temple, Reuters.


My essay in the NY Times Motherlode

Monday, December 10th, 2012

On Monday, the New York Times Motherlode blog published my essay, An Adoptive Parent Won’t Take the Blame. As a former Jersey girl who grew up reading the Times, I am honored.  As an adoptive parent who feels her voice often gets muffled by the screaming that surrounds the subject of adoption, I also am thrilled, big time.

The comments following the article are enlightening. As I expected, not everyone shares my point of view, and they’re forthright about their reasons why. But if that’s the price I must pay for speaking honestly and rationally, so be it. No complaints here. 

Here are the first few paragraphs:

I’m the adoptive mother to a daughter and a son, ages 10 and 8, both born in Guatemala. Three years after my daughter came home, in November 2006, The New York Times ran an article blasting Guatemala’s adoption system, calling the country a “virtual baby farm.”

Two years later, in January 2008, Dateline NBC showed hidden camera footage of my adoption facilitator plying his trade in the lobby of a Guatemala City hotel, in a segment titled, “The Baby Broker.” In Northern California where I live, a man from Central America recently asked me, “How much did you pay for your kids?”

More recently, a front-page article in The Times told the story of a Reno, Nev., family whose adoption case stalled when allegations of corruption shut down the system. Many of the comments left by readers made me feel like a guilty criminal, simply because I’m an adoptive parent.

The question for me is, “How do I make sense of something that is both the best thing that has ever happened to me — becoming a mother through adoption to my two beautiful children — and the most troubling — becoming that mother by accessing a system that is now known to be so corrupt that it was, in fact, closed in December 2007?”


Click on the link and read the rest to see if you agree with my conclusion.



The NY Times addresses the endless wait

Monday, December 10th, 2012

When the adoption system in Guatemala closed in December 2007, no exit strategy was in place. Now, we witness the aftermath.  Families in the US wait for children they feel are theirs, who have lingered in orphanages or foster care for the past five years.

On Sunday, December 9, the New York Times published a front-page article by Rachel L. Swarns, about a Reno, Nevada couple, Amy and Robb Carr, and their struggle to adopt their hoped-for son, Geovany. A Family, for a Few Days a Year recounts the Carr’s commitment to Geovany as they navigate their way through the labyrinth that is the Guatemala adoption system.

Maybe now that the New York Times has published a story about the five-year process endured by the Carrs and other waiting families known as the Guatemala 900—on the front page, above the fold, with a big four-color photo—change or movement will occur and the cases stuck in limbo finally will be resolved. Please, let it be so.

GUATEMALA CITY — The little boy flies like an airplane through the hotel, his arms outstretched. Then he leaps like a superhero, beaming as the red lights on his new sneakers flash and flicker, while the American couple he is with dissolve in laughter.

He calls them Mamá and Papi. They call him Hijo — Son. He corrects their fledgling Spanish. They teach him English. “Awe-some,” he repeats carefully, eyeing his new shoes.

To outsiders, they look like a family. But Geovany Archilla Rodas, an impish 6-year-old boy with spiky black hair, lives in an orphanage on the outskirts of this capital city. The Americans — Amy and Rob Carr of Reno, Nev. — live a world away. They are the only parents he has ever known.

They have been visiting him every year, usually twice a year, since he was a toddler, flying into this Central American city for a few days at a time to buy him clothes and to read him stories, to wipe his tears and to tickle him until he collapses in giggles at their hotel or in the orphanage.

Yet half a decade after agreeing to adopt him, the Carrs still have no idea when — or if — they will ever take Geovany home.

“There’s this hope in you that doesn’t want to die,” said Mrs. Carr, who arrived here last month with her husband, more determined than ever to cut through the bureaucracy. “In my heart, he’s my son.”

The Carrs are among the 4,000 Americans who found themselves stuck in limbo when Guatemala shut down its international adoption program in January 2008 amid mounting evidence of corruption and child trafficking. Officials here and in Washington promised at the time to process the remaining cases expeditiously.



A quarterback and his birth mother

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I’ve written many times about searching for and finding our children’s birth mothers, and how, for our family, that connection remains vital. But not everyone feels the way I do, as evidenced by this article about the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaerpernick, who was relinquished at six weeks, and his birth mother, who would like to establish a relationship with him as a grown man.

There are many 49ers fans who would love a moment of contact with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

But the one with the deepest, yet most tortured connection is Heidi Russo, his biological mother who gave him up for adoption.

When she watches him from the stands, she hopes that one day, they can again meet.

“Then the other half of me calms me down and I just sit there and cheer like the rest of the people,” Russo told Yahoo’s Jason Cole. “I kept looking at him, thinking our eyes might meet. He might finally see me. I kept thinking it happened, but he never came to see me after the game.”

For his part, Kaepernick hasn’t sought out contact, and Russo said she respected his decision.

But she has also met with Rick and Teresa Kaepernick, the couple she turned her baby over to six weeks after he was born.

“I knew they were the right people immediately,” said Russo. “The first thing Teresa did when she met me was give me a hug. They were such giving, wonderful people from the moment I met them.”

They also set the stage for Kaepernick to grow up in a comfortable, two-parent home which the then-19-year-old Russo could not.

“I know I couldn’t have given Colin everything he needed growing up,” Russo said. “But I ask myself a lot of the time, ‘Would loving him have been enough?’ . . .

Be sure to read the comments following the article; they demonstrate the range and depth of emotion surrounding adoption, for people who are adopted and for the mothers who relinquished them. Once again I’m reminded that nothing about adoption is simple, or easy.