Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Fosters

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

We got a TV. A very large one, and cable access to go with. First thing Olivia and Mateo did was download the entire season of “The Fosters.” They’d seen excerpts on YouTube and wanted to watch in its entirety. Not for young children, but my 12- and 15-year-olds and I love it. Mateo said, “I like it because it’s about adoption and has Latino kids in it.”



We got a dog

Monday, September 4th, 2017

We got a dog. A three-year-old Wheaten terrier mix, from a shelter in San Diego. Charlie has been with us three weeks, and we cannot imagine life without him. The kids adore him. Tim and I adore him. We’re outside more; we’re laughing more. Charlie brings out the best in all of us.

Why didn’t I agree to this sooner? Mateo has begged for a dog for five years! Here’s a post from August 2014 with a letter wrote in 2012.

My post from August 2014:

One of the benefits of clearing out clutter is that stuff you forgot resurfaces, including this letter my son Mateo wrote me in January 2012. In it, he addresses a theme that remains ongoing: his pining for a dog. Reading Mateo’s letter helped me realize he’s wanted a dog for at least two years, a very long time in the life of a nine-year-old. Not that I’m planning to relent and get a dog. Just that Mateo’s desire is not new.

My son’s writing feels so energetic. His spelling and punctuation could use a copy-editor, but I love his voice.

Mateo’s letter, 2012:

Dear Mom,

I think Olivia an me shood get a DOG!!!!!!!!!!!

BECAUSE it will giv us xrsize.

If she didn’t want to do it I would do it for her.

Il give them a bath evry day.

If it’s a school day il do it after school.

If it’s a weekend il do it after brakefast in the morning.I’l take rely good car of the pupy.

“I promis promis promis”

Please Mommy i beg you.

yours Truly


– What can I say? We had a lot going on. But I’m a passionate convert: If you don’t have dog, think about getting one. Yes, a dog requires work, and yes a dog will be another job for you. But a dog will likely give you this as well: sweetness, loyalty, and unconditional love. That counts for something. xoxo





Visit summer 2017

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Last week, Olivia said, “Are you going to post one of those photos of me with ‘Ana’ from the back?” A picture from our annual visit with Olivia’s birth mother, and one of Mateo with Olivia’s Abuela. I love that we all meld together into one family.


Butterfly house and zipline

Monday, August 7th, 2017

In Panajachel, Guatemala, we visited the Lake Atitlan Butterfly Reserve. The kids zip-lined while I remained (happily) earth-bound.


Trip to El Tenador

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

I wrote this a few weeks ago, when we were in Guatemala:

We caught the shuttle from Casa Santo Domingo to the restaurant on the hill, El Tenador. (the Fork.) Admired the Quetzal and VW sculptures of Efrain Recinos and the Jaguar mosaic of Roberto Gonzalez Goyri. Toured museums dedicated to Guatemala’s 1967 Nobel Laureate for Literature, Miguel Angel Asturias, and Pope John Paul II, also ran around the grounds and aviary. The view from the restaurant is spectacular. We recommend the tacos. (Today was our third visit. We love this place.) (They also have a zipline: Not as dramatic as in Panajachel, a bit pricey, fun.)




Trip to Comalapa and fireworks on the calle

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

We made our annual pilgrimage to the Comalapa studio of painter Oscar Peren, visited the ruins at Iximche, and ate hand-made tortillas at Chichoy. One night in Antigua, we heard fireworks that sounded as close as our front door and when we ran outside, discovered they were. We’re home in California now, but Guatemala still feels close.


Ruth Sheehan of the Guatemala 900

Sunday, August 6th, 2017

Over the years, I’ve posted many times about the waiting families of the Guatemala900, whose cases were stalled when adoptions between the US and Guatemala stopped in December 2007. Ruth Sheehan’s son, “Paco,” was two months old when she filed her first adoption document in 2007. Paco is now ten, and his adoption still isn’t final. I rarely share fundraising pleas–there are so many worthy causes!–but this one feels close to my heart. I’m sure any amount will help.

Even if you can’t donate, please read Ruth’s story to understand her struggle and dedication. If you’re a person who prays, please pray for continued strength for Ruth and her son. If you’re a person who sends positive thoughts, please send those, too.


Pamela Yates in the Washington Post

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

In this Washington Post interview, “From Civil War to Civil Protest: A Director Looks Back on Three Decades of Filming Guatemala,” Pamela Yates discusses 500 Years, the third film in her trilogy of When the Mountains Tremble and Granito. I haven’t yet seen 500 Years, but When the Mountains Tremble is extraordinary. Released in 1983, it’s narrated by a young Rigoberta Menchu, whose voice–both literal and figurative–is mesmerizing. It’s fascinating to read this interview and hear Pamela Yates discuss her challenges in making Mountains Tremble, as well reflect on her current work and long-term commitment to Guatemala. What an accomplishment! ~


“Finding Oscar” on Amazon

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Last night, my 12-year-old son Mateo and I downloaded Finding Oscar from Amazon and watched in Antigua, Guatemala. An important, moving documentary about the 1982 massacre in Dos Erres, with period footage featuring Ronald Reagan and Efrain Rios Montt, and contemporary interviews with investigators, prosecutors, and relatives of victims.

By recounting the search for the then three-year-old boy who survived Dos Erres, Finding Oscar clearly lays out the complicated backstory of Guatemala’s 36-year armed conflict. At the end of the film, my 12-year-old son said: “Now I understand more about the history of Guatemala and the United States.”

Trigger warning: The film documents exhumation of bodies, violence, and loss.



New Yorker response

Friday, July 14th, 2017
A few weeks ago I posted my letter to The New Yorker about an article written by Sarah Hutto. Yesterday I received an email from Sarah Hutto clarifying her intention.
Hi Jessica,
My recent piece in The New Yorker is a satire of animal adoption listings often found on animal rescue websites, which I peruse often. It is a joke about writers being dysfunctional.
Hope this helps.
Sarah Hutto
I appreciate Hutto’s responding, although my reaction to reading the piece remains the same. In case you missed it, here’s my original post and letter, with link to Hutto’s article.

I’m almost finished my second residency of my low-residency MFA at Antioch LA and I miss my family. Maybe that’s why I was so disturbed by Sarah Hutto’s New Yorker column, “Writers Looking for Forever Families: Adoption Listings.” The column is supposed to be funny. But in my world, adoption is never a joke. I wrote a Letter to the Editor. We’ll see if they publish it:

To the Editor:

Sarah Hutto’s “Writers Looking for Forever Homes: Adoption Listings” reveals a lack of sensitivity so deep it left me shaking.
At its core, “adoption” means losing one’s parents, being separated from ancestry and blood. There is nothing funny about that. In addition, Hutto describes her characters as stereotypical losers–feral writer, smoker, bad eater, a man who bites. Substitute any other group for “people who are adopted” and listen to how the previous sentence reads.

The New Yorker owes an apology for this insulting column to every adopted baby, child, adult; every mother who made the decision to place a child for adoption; to adoptive parents.


Jessica O’Dwyer