Archive for October, 2014

“Twin Sisters” on PBS

Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Twin Sisters, a PBS documentary about identical twin girls abandoned in a cardboard box in China and adopted to families in Norway and the United States, will be available for viewing until November 19 by clicking on this link. If you’ve ever doubted the power of DNA, this film will convince you we are who are from the moment we’re born, wherever we grow up. Our essence is hard-wired.

While viewing the movie, I thought about my children’s biological families. We searched for and found them in Guatemala, and every visit, I witness my children’s joy and ease at being among relatives who look, move, and laugh the same way my kids do. My children sense they belong on a blood level, and it shows. The girls in Twin Sisters behave the same way: whether running toward each other for a hug, holding hands, or brushing their hair, the twins “know” each other. That kind of familiarity, especially among children, can’t be faked.

Watching the film also confirmed for me how vital community is for adoptive families. Not everyone can find a biological sibling or parent. But we can all reach out to the adoptive family in our town, our school, our sports team, our place of worship. The longer I’m an adoptive parent, the more convinced I am that connection is key to the well-being of our kids, and us as parents, too. We need to be around families like ours. Our children need to be around others who share their specific experience.

The two sets of adoptive parents in Twin Sisters have given their girls a great gift: a relationship with each other. I hope the filmmaker plans a sequel. I can’t wait to see what happens next.


Kathryn Ma’s “The Year She Left Us”

Friday, October 24th, 2014


I just finished reading Kathryn Ma’s novel about a young woman adopted from China, “The Year She Left Us.” It’s a masterful story, brutal in many parts for this adoptive mother to read (recognizing myself as the well-meaning but undoubtedly often-misguided and annoying embracer of all things “cultural” and “adoption-related”), that captures the rage and hurt and confusion of protagonist Ari–a singular and unforgettable voice. Usually, I resist any book written by someone not directly related to the “triad,” but in this case, Kathryn Ma’s work is so powerful, I allowed myself to be taken in. Here’s a review from the NY Times, July 2014.


The giant kites at Sumpango

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Last year at this time I was en route to Guatemala to find out more about the country’s Day of the Dead celebration. My sister, another adoptive mom and I hired a driver and spent the day at Sumpango, the site of an annual festival of giant kite flying. As you probably know, one element of Guatemala’s Day of the Dead observance is flying kites–the belief is that the string serves as a conduit between the person holding the stringĀ  and those loved ones who have gone before.

Teams of locals spend months designing and planning their kites’ themes and designs. The frames are constructed from bamboo, and covered with colorful pieces of tissue paper, cut and glued.

Afterwards, we visited a cemetery, which was filled to overflowing with families eating, drinking, arranging flowers, listening to music, and in at least one case, dancing to marimba.




SF Chronicle on Adoption and the Border Surge

Monday, October 6th, 2014

I’m always honored to be included in any dialogue about adoption from Guatemala, including this article by Kevin Fagan in the SF Chronicle, Halt in Guatemalan Adoptions May Be Fueling Border Surge. The reporters did a thorough job, with quotes from Elizabeth Bartholet, David Smolin, Nancy Bailey, Bay Area adoptive parents, and two young men who grew up in orphanages in Guatemala.

Thanks for reading. ~


A note from Mateo

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Yesterday progress reports came home and this morning I found a note Mateo wrote to himself: “Sit still. Listen to the teacher. Be silly when it’s time.”

Reading his words reminds me that for Mateo, simply not moving is a challenge. He’s set himself a high bar.