Posts Tagged ‘Guatemalan adoption’

forever friends

Saturday, June 16th, 2018

Olivia and Mateo are in Boston with my wonderful sister Deanna and her family while I’m in Los Angeles for my fourth MFA residency at Antioch. Here they are with forever friends–in 2012, and today. I love our GuatAdopt community. xoxo

 

 

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Annual gathering of GuateAdopt families

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

Here I am at the front door in my huipil from Coban, Guatemala, as our first guests arrive for our annual party for adoptive families with children from Guatemala. Our community is what makes this party amazing. About one hundred people attend: Kids everywhere, while parents share stories, fellowship, and food.

I’m always happy when I read about other folks/organizations around the country also hosting gatherings. It’s very special to watch our kids grow up together while we grow as parents. We love our community!

photo by Susan Hurst.

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Interview on birth country connection

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

A week or so ago I posted about Sliding Into Home, the new YA novel by my friend and fellow Guatmama Nina Vincent. One of the themes in Nina’s book is connection to birth country. Nina interviewed me on the subject, posted today on her blog. Thanks, Nina!

Here’s an excerpt:

NV  I know that you have made it a point to have your children learn Spanish. Can you talk a little bit about why you felt that was important?

JO’D  The first year we went to Latin American Heritage Camp in Colorado, we attended a panel discussion led by young adults who’d been adopted from Central and South America. The audience was filled with adoptive parents and the question was asked, “What’s your advice for us? What’s one thing you’d like us to know?” And to a panelist, each of these young adults said, “Teach your children Spanish. Even if your kids rebel and resist. Keep trying.”

Language is power. It’s the way we connect with one another. You’ve heard the expression: “We speak the same language.” When we go to Guatemala, it’s great to be able to communicate directly with people. Speaking another person’s language often leads to deeper understanding of that person.

What’s interesting is the way my kids’ attitude toward Spanish has evolved. When they were younger, they studied the language because they didn’t have a choice. They took Spanish in school; they studied for a month every summer in Guatemala; and for five years, Olivia attended a two-week Spanish immersion camp in Minnesota (Concordia).

All that learning was directed by us, their parents.

But as teenagers, they’re out in the world as independent operators. Because of the way they look, strangers start speaking to them in Spanish. Kids at school who are bilingual speak to them in Spanish. My kids want to speak Spanish if only because everyone assumes they do. To become fluent is their goal now, not mine.

And let’s face it, being able to speak another language is totally cool.

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Road trip to Arizona

Friday, April 13th, 2018

Over Spring Break, we drove 1,000+ miles through the state of Arizona: Phoenix, Sedona, Slide Rock, Grand Canyon, Four Corners, Riverbend, the Navajo sacred lands of Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly, Painted Desert, Petrified Forest, and the Big Crater somewhere outside Flagstaff. It was the first time we’d been to most of those places, and let me tell you, the landscapes are breathtaking. Arizona is gorgeous!

Every day was magnificent, but the kids especially loved our Jeep tour through Canyon de Chelly with our Navajo guide, Oscar Bia. Olivia said she liked visiting Arizona because it’s so different from California. “It’s like going to another country,” she said. “Except everyone speaks English.”

 

 

 

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Two wishes

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018


Driving home from school yesterday, Olivia said she wished she could change two things. First, her last name so that it sounded, as she said, “more Latino.” And second, the fact that she and I look so different. “I hate that people see us and can tell I’m adopted,” she said.

Olivia’s at a new school this year–high school–a much bigger place where no one knows us and everyone does a double-take. The first day, a girl looked at the screen-saver on Olivia’s laptop, a family photo. “Who are they?” the girl asked.

“My parents,” Olivia said, and you can guess the rest of the conversation. These kinds of occurrences happen often.

I’m putting this out there because if you asked Olivia, she’d probably say she’s comfortable with being adopted, at peace with it. She’s a well-adjusted young woman who knows and loves her birth family as well as her family in California. Still, Olivia doesn’t enjoy constantly being singled out, stared at, questioned. Nobody does.

As we approached the driveway to our house, I told Olivia I could only imagine how tough it was sometimes to be her, that she didn’t ask for any of it. I said she was welcome to change her last name when she was 18–her first name, too, for that matter–reminding her it would need to be amended on her Certificate of Citizenship (!!!).

“What I can’t change is the color of my skin,” I said. Olivia said that was okay. She loves me anyway. ~

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New Year 2018

Monday, January 1st, 2018

I have so few photos of our family–all 4 of us–that I feel compelled to share this one, at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego. (Mateo figured out how to use the camera timer.) I’m (over)dressed for the Arctic, while Olivia’s in shorts. The other photo is of us with my youngest sister, Deanna, in front of the fountain in Balboa Park.

And Olivia and Mateo.

Happy 2018!

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Kallie and Maya

Monday, December 4th, 2017

We met Kallie and her daughter Maya in 2003, as we like to say “on the calle” in Antigua, when Maya and my daughter Olivia were babies in arms and Kallie and I each had moved to Guatemala to finish their adoptions.

Now teenagers, Maya and Olivia remain close friends–”oldest” friends, in fact–and Kallie and I share a bond that’s forever. Our families met up this weekend and remembered those days, and our other dear friends who fostered. xoxo

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Road trip

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

The Friday after Thanksgiving we drove up the California coast from San Diego, destination Santa Barbara. We planned to see the exhibition Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960-Present. I had checked the SB Museum of Contemporary Art website to confirm the museum was closed Thanksgiving Day; however, in my enthusiasm, I may have missed it was closed the Friday after, as well.

The photo above shows us standing outside the locked doors.

But the day was not lost. Santa Barbara is a gorgeous city and the kids loved shopping in the Black Friday mix. We also toured the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a National Historic Landmark, and surely one of the most beautiful public buildings in the U.S. Meanwhile, we continued up the coast as planned, through Solvang and to Cambria. Today, we toured Hearst Castle.

Thankful. ~

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This happened

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

This happened that hasn’t happened in a while. A cashier at a café looked from me to Mateo and back again and asked: “Where’d you buy him? Macy’s or Nordstrom?”

Sometimes I’m not up for the teaching moment and this was one of those times. Mateo was out of school because of his concussion. A big hot chocolate with whipped cream was going to be his treat for being so brave during the EEG. The best laid plans.

During nights that I’m organized, I write in my journal about what occurred that day, and find I often write about comments made to my kids, or things they heard, that they tell me–about adoption, about being from Central America, about our family and their birth families, about building a wall. These things have become my obsessions because whatever affects my children affects me.

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and, speaking for myself, this is my awareness: there is not one facet of my life that is not affected by adoption. Adoption permeates my thoughts, my behavior, my subconscious.

Adoption awareness cannot be contained in a month. Adoption awareness is forever.

BTW, Mateo is fine, recovering nicely. xoxox

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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.

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