Posts Tagged ‘Adoptive Families Magazine’

Adoptive Families magazine’s annual cover photo contest.

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Calling all parents of adorable kids (and really, isn’t that every one of us?)! The deadline for Adoptive Families magazine’s annual cover photo contest is September 4, 2013. Snap those photos and download your images today! Details are here.

Good luck! ~


Adoptive Families magazine publishes “Mateo’s Family Tree”

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about an experience I had while in Mateo’s kindergarten classroom. The post resonated for many readers, who encouraged me to expand the short blog into a longer essay and submit it for publication. I did, and am delighted that Adoptive Families magazine accepted the piece. Click here to read Mateo’s Family Tree in the September issue.

The essay speaks to my belief that many children who are adopted need and crave information about themselves and their beginnings. And not only children. Adults do, too.

Here are the first three paragraphs, which I hope will entice you to read the whole thing:

Most days, my six-year-old son, Mateo, takes the bus to his suburban California kindergarten, but sometimes we drive, so we can read together in the classroom before school begins. I’ll chat with the other mothers on the playground as we watch our kids jump and run, their bodies radiating energy and happiness.

In a sea of mostly blond heads and peach arms and legs, Mateo’s black hair and light brown Latino skin stand out. I’m white, and so is my husband, but in our home, the contrast in color doesn’t seem so pronounced. It’s out here in the world, at school, even in diverse California, that Mateo and his sister say they often feel different.

On a recent morning, the excitement among the children was especially high. The teacher’s oldest daughter was pregnant, due to deliver any minute. I knew this because all week Mateo had been telling me, “Mrs. Spindler is about to become a grandma!” Our conversations on the subject provided me the opportunity to review the details of his family tree: He was born in another mommy’s tummy, in Guatemala, and my husband and I adopted him when he was six months old. And, according to the social worker’s report we received with his adoption file, Mateo’s birthmother lives with his biological grandma in a town three hours east of Guatemala City. But even that information is suspect. A few months ago, I hired a Guatemalan searcher to find Mateo’s birthmom. The lady who answered the door when the searcher knocked said no one lived there who had that name.


A commercial interruption…

Monday, August 8th, 2011

I still want to say more about this summer—Latin American Heritage Camp in Colorado; a visit to Guatemala where we met up with Service Trips to Guatemala with Leceta and Common Hope; and a week in Missouri that included our first-ever attendance at MOGUATE, a gathering of families with children from Guatemala.

But first, I want to officially thank Adoptive Families Magazine for naming Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir to AF’s 2011 Best Books List. The other four titles named are No Biking in the House Without a Helmet by Melissa Fay Greene; The Waiting Child by Cindy Champnella; The Kid by Dan Savage; and In Their Own Voices, edited by Rita M. Simon and Rhonda M. Roorda. I’m honored our story is included among such esteemed company.

Thank you, Adoptive Families!


Mamalita Book Tour

Friday, April 29th, 2011

With everything else going on around here–school, family, life–I almost forgot that I have a few upcoming stops on my Mamalita Book Tour.  I’ll be reading at the great Northern California independent bookstore, Copperfield’s, twice. Once, on Sunday, May 22 at 2 p.m. in Petaluma, with other contributors to the West Marin Review. And again on Sunday, June 5, alone, at 1 p.m., at the Montgomery Village location in Santa Rosa.

In late June, our family will attend Colorado Heritage Camp in the Rocky Mountains, where Mamalita is this year’s Latin American Heritage Camp book club selection. The discussion is scheduled for Friday evening, June 24.

After that, I fly to Iowa to read at the legendary Prairie Lights Books on Tuesday, June 28, at 7 p.m. (Yes, that Prairie Lights Books. Yowza!) My dear friend, Gretchen B. Wright, another adoptive mom and writer, lives in Iowa and will be hosting me.  You can read Gretchen’s gorgeous essay about her now-grown son, “Look at Him Now” in the May 2011 issue of  Adoptive Families magazine. It’s one of the best pieces written about adoption that I’ve ever read, anywhere.

On Tuesday, July 5 at 6:30 p.m., I’ll read at the Clairemont Branch of the San Diego Public Library. The San Diego Library system has been incredibly supportive of Mamalita, and I’m very grateful.

From Thursday, August 4 to Sunday, August 7, our family will attend MOGUATE, in the Ozarks of Missouri. The camp is described as “A gathering of families blessed with children from Guatemala.” The kids are thrilled and I am, too. Mamalita will be the book club selection. What a bonus!

Finally, in August, I will return to the Squaw Valley Writers’ Workshop for the Published Alumni Series. I always say that the Squaw Workshop changed my writing life—I attended in 2006 and 2007. To be included in the Published Alumni Series is an honor beyond words. The panel discussion moderated by Andrew Tonkovich will be held in the Olympic Village on Tuesday, August 9 at 3 p.m. The readings start at 5:30 p.m.

Details below. Hope to see you soon~

Sunday, May 22, 2011 at 2 p.m.
Copperfield’s Books Petaluma
140 Kentucky Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

Reading with other contributors to the West Marin Review.

Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 1 p.m.
Copperfield’s Books Montgomery Village
2316 Montgomery Drive
Santa Rosa 95404

Friday, June 24, 2011
Colorado Heritage Camp
Latin American Heritage Camp
book club selection
Snow Mountain Ranch, Fraser, Colorado

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
Clairemont Branch Library-San Diego Public Library
2920 Burgener Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110

Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August 7, 2011
In the Ozark Mountains, Missouri

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 at 3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Community of Writers at Squaw Valley
Published Alumni Readings
Olympic Valley, CA 96146
Reading with fellow Squaw Workshop alumni. Panel discussion moderated by Andrew Tonkovich at 3 p.m.


Thank you, adoption writers and bloggers

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

During the years I was writing Mamalita, I heard a lot of helpful advice about what to do and what not to do when writing a book. One of the most helpful lessons I learned was the importance of ignoring the critic on your shoulder as you sit in front of your computer, toiling, the one who whispers in your ear “You can’t do this,” or “No will want to read it,” or “You shouldn’t write that!

What I learned was that I had a story to tell. My job was to tell it.

But I must admit, there was a tiny part of me, a slim sliver of my subconscious, that worried how Mamalita would be received by the adoption community. Did any other adoptive mother feel the way I did, the first time I held my daughter in my arms? Was I the only person who became a screaming, hysterical lunatic when told her baby’s DNA test was lost? Did other parents feel a knife to the heart when their child didn’t recognize them as mommy or daddy? Would anyone out there relate to our story?

That’s why I was so happy when Adoptive Families magazine recommended Mamalita as a “richly written book, part thriller, part love story, part exposé… a cautionary tale.” Or when Lisa S. at said she “read it one breath.”

This week, two other adoption blogs for which I have enormous respect, American Mamacita and Creating a Family  weighed in. Kim of American Mamacita said:

“As I read along with Jessica’s adoption story of Olivia – including her epilogue in which she recounts locating Olivia’s first mom and their reunion and on-going contact – I could not help but compare our own kids’ adoption story and reinforce our plan to locate their other mom as well.

If a book makes you want to act, to advocate for transparency, or even ‘just’ to be more open and sensitive to your own kids’ adoption experience, that’s a book worth reading. And this is that kind of book.”

Finally, Dawn Davenport of Creating a Family chose Mamalita as the adoption book to give for the holidays. Dawn wrote:

“I loved this book because of the way O’Dwyer handled the ethics of international adoption. It is tempting as an adoptive parent to become defensive, to gloss over the ethical dilemmas inherent when wealthy people from developed countries adopt babies from poor people in undeveloped countries. It is equally tempting for ‘reformers’ to over simplify the ethics and the solutions. The reality is that often international adoptions are a blur where the white and black hats are not at all clear. O’Dwyer captures the gray with a refreshing lack of defensiveness or editorializing, allowing us to ponder what we would do if faced with the same situation.”

Oh, to be understood! Especially by people whose opinions I value. Thank you, thank you.


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!


 ”[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