Posts Tagged ‘Guatemalan adoption’

Corruption in Guatemalan adoption

Monday, December 9th, 2019

Here’s a link to “A Painful Truth,” a thorough and thoughtful article about now-adults adopted from Guatemala as babies or children, who have discovered their adoptions were corrupt. Such a revelation probably is not news to anyone reading this, but it’s worth taking a minute to think about.

As for me, I’ve trained myself to live with the complexity that is Guatemalan adoption. Our children are here now and they need us. Terrible things happened. Both are true.

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15

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Smart, funny, creative, kind, exuberant. Mateo is 15!

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Antigua summer 2019

Thursday, November 14th, 2019

When is Guatemala not on my mind? Never, probably. Scrolling through my phone, I found these photos from Summer 2019, all from Antigua. xoxo

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“Fierce Love” memoir by Kim Gjerde

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

 

I’m thrilled for my friend, Kim Gjerde, whose memoir Fierce Love: One Woman’s Remarkable Journey to Adopt her Daughter from Guatemala is now available on Amazon. Kim’s experience is one many can relate to. Here’s my blurb on the back cover:

“Kim Gjerde’s riveting account of adoption from Guatemala kept me turning the pages, eager to see what happened next. This book holds back nothing—the trusting innocence of Kim and her husband, the unscrupulous players they encountered along the way, and their steadfast devotion to their beloved daughter. If anyone still wonders why adoptions between Guatemala and the United States remain closed, read Kim Gjerde’s Fierce Love and understand.”

Lots to discuss for book clubs. Order your copy today!

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Be prepared.

Friday, September 6th, 2019
This morning, as I gave Mateo bus and lunch money, I noticed his wallet was stuffed with Qs. (Qs=Guatemalan currency, quetzales.)
“Why so many Qs?” I asked.
“In case I get deported,” he said.
This is the world we live in, people. For kids like mine, US citizens with brown skin.
Crazy, except that it’s real.

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Love Never Quits by Gina Heumann

Thursday, September 5th, 2019

I love reading memoirs about adopting from Guatemala, so when I saw my friend Gina Heumann post on FB about a book she’d written, I bought it immediately. Love Never Quits tells the story of Gina and her husband, the two boys they adopted from Guatemala, and the challenges they faced and overcame as a family. The younger boy suffered early trauma which manifested as behavior diagnosed by mental health professionals as Reactive Attachment Disorder. But this diagnosis did not come quickly. Gina tried for years to find help for her son, until, finally, she did.

The biggest takeaway for me in reading the book was how little is understood about adoption by mental health professionals, still, after so many years. And by adoption, I mean being relinquished by your mother; possibly living with multiple caregivers, in an orphanage, or on the street; and/or possibly being neglected or abused before landing in a secure, loving home; and, after all that, being required to adjust–as a young, frightened child–to an entirely new life. Reading the book also reminded me how ill-prepared *we* were as adoptive parents: how no one told us what we might face, how alone and misunderstood we would feel while facing it, and how difficult it was to find trained professionals qualified to counsel and guide us.

I met Gina Heumann at Heritage Camp for Adoptive Families (something else many of us do in our attempts to build bonds with our children) and was impressed with her dynamism and energy. Brava to her for writing about her family’s struggles and how they overcame them. May Gina’s story deepen the understanding of adoption’s complexity.

For more information about Gina Heumann, visit her website.

 

 

 

 

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Our front door

Friday, August 30th, 2019

Every summer when we visit Antigua, Guatemala, I make Olivia pose with me at the door of the charming little house where we lived together while waiting for her adoption to be finalized, back in 2003. Here we are in August 2019. Mateo snapped the picture. xoxo

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Adoption as universe

Saturday, August 24th, 2019
I’m catching up on my reading, including back issues of the New York Times. In this July 19 Modern Love column, “Don’t Put All Your (Frozen) Eggs in One Basket,” author Ruthie Ackerman writes about her yearning for a baby while married to a man who doesn’t want children. The plot thickens and ultimately Ackerman freezes her eggs, hoping someday to create her longed-for child. She writes movingly and eloquently of her feelings of disappointment and profound loss when, as the article subhead explains: “With ‘fertility preservation,’ I thought I could have children on my own timeline. I was wrong.” There’s much to relate to in her essay, and I encourage you to read it.
But the ending stopped me. The part where Ackerman writes: “Donor eggs are an option. Adoption too.”
After reading those lines, I wanted to sit down with Ackerman and say, “Oh, honey. It’s not that simple. Adoption, I mean. Not the process itself–that’s procedural stuff you’ll get through. But the very fact of adoption. Talk about complicated. For your child, every day of her or his life. For your child’s birth family. For you and your extended family. For every single person involved.”
Mind you: My children came to me through adoption, and my children are the best things, the very best things, in my life. I would not trade a single decision or action that led me to them. I’m a huge advocate for adoption.
At the same time, the person I am now–17 years as an adoptive mother–would say to the person I was then–naïve, as Ackerman is necessarily naïve, how can she not be?–
“Please, please understand: Adoption is bigger than an offhand, two-word sentence.
Adoption is a universe–ever-expanding, infinite. You need to know that going in.”

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English and Spanish

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

All around the world, people speak more than one language, but in the U.S., increasingly, speaking Spanish or anything besides English feels like a political act. We live in California, where my Guatemalan-born children frequently are assumed to speak Spanish. My daughter Olivia, who speaks quite well, describes this assumption as “triggering.” The other day, Olivia and I were chatting to each other in English while waiting to make a purchase at Macy’s. The cashier, a bilingual speaker, addressed Olivia directly and asked, “Hablas español?”

Olivia responded in Spanish, “Yes, a little,” and engaged in a short conversation to prove her cred. But the exchange bothered her. Later Olivia said, “The cashier wanted to see if I was one of ‘you’ or one of them ‘them.’ Why can’t I be both?” This happens to Olivia all the time: At her new large public high school, where teachers and students assume she’s fluent; in restaurants, where staff will speak to her in Spanish and me in English; in the aisles of the grocery store and Target, where strangers approach and ask her questions in Spanish. (“Do I look like I work here?” Olivia sometimes wonders.) For our kids from Guatemala, as for the politicians and other Latinos profiled in this excellent Washington Post article, Why Don’t You Speak Spanish?: For Julian Castro and Millions of Latinos, the Answer Is Not So Simple, speaking Spanish is considered a litmus test, a mark of authenticity. At the same time, in the United States, being bilingual often is viewed with suspicion and contempt.
Witness these sentences: “You’re in America. Speak English.”

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Gemma Givens

Friday, July 12th, 2019

 

I’m posting a link to an excellent profile of 28-year-old Gemma Givens in UCBerkeley News, Staffer’s search for birth mom reveals dark history of Guatemalan adoption. Adopted in 1990 at four months of age, Gemma Givens is founder of Next Generation Guatemala, an international community of people adopted from Guatemala.

So much of what Givens says in the article resonates, especially this: “I felt like I was foundationless, or that I was floating, or I was a ghost, or I was a genetic isolate, which, in a way, I was… Whose face do I have? Why am I so short? Why is my hair so thick? … On good days, I felt super proud and entitled and arrogant about that, like, ‘There’s no one like me.’ And on the worst days, I felt crippling depressed because I’m all alone in the world. Of course, I’m surrounded by love and family and friends, but in a really existential way, I’m completely alone.”

For more information on Gemma Givens or Next Generation Guatemala, see FB, the Next Generation webpage, or contact nextgenguate@gmail.com.

Photo credit: UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small

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