Posts Tagged ‘Mamalita book tour’

Dillon International’s Guatemala Heritage Weekend, and Antigua.

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

This weekend, Mateo and I will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I’m speaking at Dillon International’s Guatemala Heritage Weekend. I’m honored because Dillon is one of the nation’s oldest, most established adoption agencies, whose stated mission is “providing the best lifetime of care for each homeless child we are privileged to serve.” Mateo is thrilled, too, because he will get to play with friends he met last summer at MOGUATE, a confab of families with children born in Guatemala which was founded by the amazing Cindy Swatek (below left), and held annually in  Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.

In fact, it was another mother from Moguate, Susan Carter (below, far right), who recommended me to the folks at Dillon. (Susan managed the mercardo at Moguate, where, I confess, I undoubtedly numbered among her best customers.) So, as you can see, the world of adoption from Guatemala is small, and every day, gets smaller.

Which I view as a great thing!

Example: In February, my sister, Patrice; Olivia, and I made our annual trek to Guatemala to visit with Olivia’s birth family and experience her beautiful birth country. We’ve done this for the past several years–read a few accounts here and here and here– and each year the trip has been special in its own unique way.

Unique about this trip is that for the first time ever, we met up with two other adoptive families, whom I had met in Boston during my Mamalita book tour. Sharing the experience with the other families–Carly, Christina, and their husbands and kids–made our usual wonderful experience even more so. The kids bonded instantly, and we grown-ups did, too.

I cherish my connections formed through adoption, not only to my children’s birth country and their birth mothers and siblings, but to other adoptive families, too. E.M. Forster once famously said, “Only connect.” If you’ve connected with me in any way through adoption, please know how grateful I am for your friendship. Wherever you live, I hope you’ve also found a community.

See you in Tulsa!~

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Reading in Mill Valley, CA on Thursday, August 18; and at the Wordstock Festival in Portland, OR in October

Monday, August 15th, 2011

I’ll be reading in my neighborhood this Thursday, August 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley, California. The reading is part of the O’Hanlon’s “Local Women Writer Series: Readings and Conversations.” Our theme is “Hellos and Goodbyes.” Other readers are Blair Campbell, Karen Benke and Katy Butler. If you live in the Bay Area, please stop by to say hi!

Thursday, August 18, 2011, 7 to 9 p.m.

O’Hanlon Center for the Arts
616 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941
415-388-4331
Local Women Writers Series: Readings and Conversations
Cost: $10, $8 OHCA members
Theme — Hellos and Goodbyes. Readers — Blair Campbell, Jessica O’Dwyer, Karen Benke, Katy Butler

While I have your attention: I’m delighted to announce I was invited to the Wordstock Festival in Portland, Oregon, on a date TBA between October 7 to 9, 2011. Details to follow.

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Why I wrote Mamalita

Monday, July 11th, 2011

During public readings from Mamalita, I’ve met many people who harbor strong opinions on the subject of adoption, pro and con. Now, before I read from the book, I talk about why I was compelled to write it. I’d like to share those thoughts here.

Eight years ago, I was living in Antigua, Guatemala with my then-fifteen-month old daughter, Olivia, whom my husband and I were trying to adopt. We had been enmeshed in the process for more than a year, ever since I first saw a photo of Olivia on an adoption website and had fallen in love.

I wasn’t the only American would-be mother living in Guatemala who was trying to sort out a stalled adoption. We were a group of eight, with nothing in common except our overwhelming desire to become mothers and the belief that our bureaucratic nightmares should not be allowed to happen to anyone else. That year, more than 3,000 Americans adopted children from Guatemala. Each one of those families had a story, no two the same.

Soon after I returned home with Olivia in January 2004, international adoption became headline news, none of it good. The private adoption system in Guatemala was singled out as particularly corrupt. Front-page stories described payments made to birth mothers, coercion of women to become pregnant, and the trawling of countrysides by “finders” to trick young girls into relinquishing their newborns. Adoptive parents like me were depicted as privileged Americans who swooped in to snatch kidnapped infants. Even UNICEF pronounced that it was better for a child to remain in his country of origin than it was to be adopted by foreign parents. The news got so bad it was impossible not to feel under attack.

But that was only a part of the story. The story I experienced was that of adoptive parents who felt great love for their children, pushing back against a system that seemed designed to manipulate emotions at every turn.

When I lived in Antigua, the others mothers used to say, “Somebody needs to write a book about this.” My entire life I’d been searching for the one story I had to tell. Even as I was living the experience, I knew Olivia’s adoption saga was it.

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A short hiatus

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Dear Friends:

I’ve decided to take a short hiatus from my blog for the next week or so, in order to be more present with my family during the Fourth of July holiday and the days following. Knowing myself as I do, I may post a few pictures, but otherwise I’m going to walk on the beach; eat hot dogs; watch fireworks; and spend time with my mom and dad, sisters and brother, and my own immediate family; without once simultaneously thinking of how I can write about the experience.

Of course, if all the cases of the waiting Guatemala900 are released, or adoptions reopen in Guatemala, I’ll dance with joy and inform you at once. Otherwise, please check my Facebook page, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, for links to interesting articles and short comments by yours truly. (more…)

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NY Times article about how Facebook is transforming birth family searches

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Anyone who has read my book or blog knows that I am advocate for open adoption. In my opinion, children deserve to know their biological roots and connections; birth mothers deserve to know where their children are in the world, and how they are doing. I know not everyone agrees with me about this: In the course of traveling the country to promote Mamalita, I’ve spoken with or heard about dozens of adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents who feel reunion is not right for them. I respect that.

Regardless of how you feel about birth family searches, however, they are happening, and like so many things, the way they are happening has been transformed by the Internet. Read all about it in this article by Lisa Belkin in the New York Times, “I Found My Mom Through Facebook.” Here are a few  sample paragraphs: (more…)

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Summer Vacation

Monday, June 20th, 2011

No lunches to make, no bus to run for, no shoes to find, no  totes to pack. The kids are sleeping late.

Yes, today is the first Monday of summer vacation.

Last night, Olivia and Mateo rode bikes and scooters until dark while Tim and I shot hoops–as in basketball. When’s the last time we did that?

This week, we head for Colorado and Heritage Camp, where Mamalita is the book club selection–available on Kindle and Nook for easy downloading–and then I go to the fabulous Prairie Lights Bookstore in Iowa City to read on Tuesday, June 28 at 7 p.m. My friend, Gretchen B. Wright, will meet me there–Gretchen and I met at a writing workshop at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala–as will other friends through adoption.

But first, a few photos. The playground at Mateo’s school, alive with students and teachers dancing to the Slumdog Millionaire anthem, Jai Ho. Olivia and Mateo presenting Tim with his Father’s Day gift, a miniature skateboard handmade by Mateo in a woodshop class, against a backdrop of their own design. And finally, Mateo drawing during his last day as a kindergartener.

Another year, gone.

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This week

Friday, June 10th, 2011

My husband has been in China on business for the past week; his trips always serve as a good reminder of how much he does around here.

Whew!

Because Mateo had never walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, he and I did that. On a sunny day, the view takes your breath way, but even when clouds fill the sky, the jaunt is fun. Noisy though! Very. (more…)

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Sunday Mamalita reading in Santa Rosa

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Please join me on Sunday at 1 p.m. to discuss my book, Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, at Copperfield’s Books Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa, California. At least one of my fellow “Antigua moms” will be there. If past readings are any indication, the conversation should be lively and memorable.

Sunday, June 5, 2011 at 1 p.m.
Copperfield’s Books Montgomery Village
2316 Montgomery Drive
Santa Rosa 95404
707-578-8938

And while I have your attention… In case you  haven’t yet watched my book trailer on YouTube, please do. Kevin Burget of Wide Iris did a phenomenal job of  communicating the story. Here’s the link to Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir by Jessica O’Dwyer. (Feel free to watch often and forward to everyone you know~)

Now, onward to one of the action-packed days of the year: Olivia’s ballet class, dress rehearsal, and end-of-year dance recital.

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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
707-762-0563

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
707-578-8930

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
319-337-2681

Tuesday, July 5, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
Clairemont Branch Library-San Diego Public Library
2920 Burgener Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92110
858-581-9935

Thursday, August 4 through Sunday, August 7, 2011
MOGUATE
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
530-583-5200
Reading with fellow Squaw Workshop alumni. Panel discussion moderated by Andrew Tonkovich at 3 p.m.

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The “Who am I?” question

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

During one of my readings for Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir, a woman in the audience, “Sula,” said she cried when she read the book’s dedication: “To my children and their other mothers, with love.” Sula and her husband had chosen to create their family via egg donation. My dedication, and the parts of the story that highlighted the role of Olivia’s birth mother and my subsequent search for her in the highlands of Guatemala, triggered something deep within Sula. She said because of my book, she now views the role of her egg donor in a different, more substantial way.

I was reminded of this episode today when I read this article by Tom Blackwell in Canada’s National Post, published in the February 2011 edition of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Newsletter. The abstract reads:

A pending case in Vancouver will determine if donor-conceived individuals in Canada will have a right to learn the identities of the people who provided eggs or sperm for their conceptions, Tom Blackwell reports in a January 28 National Post article titled “Genetic Rights: The Other Half of the Family Tree.” Although opponents of disclosure argue that raising the curtains on donor identities will decimate an already-small pool of gamete providers, the suit emphasizes the importance of finding one’s identity and roots, and points to the success of mandatory disclosure in Great Britain.

In the same edition, the Adoption Institute posted a report on adoption’s lessons for assisted reproductive technologies (ART), “Old Lessons for a New World.” The summary states:

The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute released this Policy Perspective brief in February 2009 which suggests that the knowledge derived from adoption-related research and experience can be used to improve policy and practice in the world of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as sperm, egg and embryo “donations.”  Old Lessons for a New World” identifies several areas in which adoption’s lessons could be applied, including secrecy and the withholding of information; a focus on the best interests of children; the creation of “nontraditional” families, particularly as more single, gay and lesbian adults use ART; the impact of market forces; and legal and regulatory frameworks to inform standards and procedures.

Clearly, as an increasing number of people turn to assisted reproduction as a method of forming families, the lessons learned from adoption will become even more critical.

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