Posts Tagged ‘MOGUATE’

Moguate 2015

Sunday, August 9th, 2015

When we decided to adopt from Guatemala in 2002, I never imagined how profoundly adoption and the country of Guatemala would impact every facet of my family’s lives. Case in point: Two weeks ago, we flew home from Guatemala and drove to Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri for the annual gathering of adoptive families with children born in Guatemala, known as MOGUATE. The name blends the abbreviation for Missouri, the home state of founder Cindy Swatek, and the shorthand version of the country we love.

This year was the ninth annual gathering, with more than 100 people attending. The format is casual, with lots of pool time and informal conversation about parenting, family, and travel to Guatemala. Special activities were planned for the teens, who traveled in a happy pack. This year, Dorothy Kilmer gave a fascinating final presentation on the traditions of Quinceanera (which included a crowning) and ALDEA board member Sonya Fultz spoke about the important work ALDEA does to deliver clean water to villages in Guatemala. All proceeds from the raffles and silent auction were donated to ALDEA–nearly $10,000.

My family attended MOGUATE the first time in 2011, when Susan Carter invited me to discuss our adoption story, Mamalita. We returned this year because our kids love being with other adoptive families. As I heard an older teen say, “It’s one place you don’t have to explain anything.” Maybe you can relate.

If you live anywhere near Missouri, check out MOGUATE’s FB page and website for next summer’s confab. And thank you to Cindy and Matt Swatek for creating a place of support for our adoption community. xo

Photo credit: Mark Acker


Our adoption peeps

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

One of the best parts of writing a book about adoption is that I get to meet a lot of people connected to adoption. Two years ago at Heritage Camp in Colorado, I met my now-friend, Caroline, who said she, like me, lived in the Bay Area, and would I be interested in attending a meeting of her adoption-group book club to discuss Mamalita?

Naturally, I accepted. (And by the way, if you live anywhere remotely close and would like me to talk with your book club, please send an email because of course I will!)

When I arrived, the most lovely, smart, and interesting array of women welcomed me into their fold for an afternoon chat-fest. The conversation started with my book, but soon drifted to their stories and journeys; feelings about parenthood, children and families; and our lives now. You know how, occasionally, you meet someone and you just ”get” each other? This rarely happens for me. When it does, I pounce.

“Are you accepting new members?” I asked. “Because if you are, I’m in.”

Tim, Olivia, Mateo, and I have been meeting with the organization for more than a year now, once a month, usually at someone’s home. Everyone brings food to share. We mingle, nosh, and catch up for about an hour while our children run around, then a small band of hardy souls—Dads, mostly, but also Moms–herd the kids to a backyard or playground for another two hours while the book club dissects the latest selection. Afterwards, we re-assemble for dessert.

The absolute best part of belonging to the group is watching our children’s friendships develop. Both Olivia and Mateo love to play with the other girls and boys, not only because they’re all adopted from Central America, although that’s a wonderful benefit, but because they have fun.

Last Saturday, one of our number, Michele, hosted our big annual gathering at her family’s church. Another member, Dara, constructed a homemade pinata to represent a Guatemalan bus, and everyone brought food, crafts, and good cheer. Our fearless leader, Sheryl, organized.

Wherever you live, find a community! If one doesn’t exist, create one. That’s what my friend Cindy Swatek did in Missouri, with her fantastic MOGUATE. Trust me: the effort, schedule reshuffling, and travel time will be forgotten as you sink into the comfort that comes from being among people who share the specific experience of being touched by adoption.




Missouri and Moguate Summer 2011

Friday, August 19th, 2011

My mother reared five children and I still don’t know how she did it. Around this time of year, she likes to remind me of her favorite cartoon from that era: The final frame depicted a mom throwing flowers at a departing school bus as it carried her children to their first day of school. I laugh every time she tells me.

Which is just another way of apologizing, yet again, for being delinquent in posting. Summer! It’s nonstop! And we’ve been all over the place. Believe me, I have loved every minute of school vacation–the kids are the perfect age for traveling, filled with wonder and enthusiasm, up for anything and everything–but our activities haven’t left much time for blogging.

Here are a few photos. The one above, taken by adoptive dad Mark Acker, is of the group from Moguate, a gathering of families with children from Guatemala. The name derives from Missouri, where the organization is based, and Guatemala, of course. Founded by the hilarious and charismatic Cindy Swatek, Moguate is held at the Tan-Tar-A Resort on the Lake of the Ozarks the first weekend in August. If you live anywhere nearby, I suggest you go. The weekend’s main activities are ripping down the waterslide, cooling off in the giant swimming pool, and eating pizza. But in the meantime, we adoptive parents share life stories, and in their own way, our kids do, too. In a summer of wonderful activities, Moguate stands out as a highlight.

While you’re in the Lake of the Ozarks, check out the kid-friendly activities in the area.  One of our favorites was the Meramec Caves in Stanton, Missouri. The hour-plus walking tour ended with a recording made by the late great chanteuse, Kate Smith, belting out “God Bless America.” We didn’t try the zipline, but we did sample the dark-chocolate homemade fudge. Outstanding.

I insisted we drive to Branson, and because our kids are fascinated by books about the Titanic, we visited the Titanic Museum. The exhibition included vintage photos, letters, and objects, as well as a re-creation of the ship itself. I don’t know who enjoyed the experience more–the kids or my husband and me. For those few hours, the Titanic’s ill-fated voyage felt very real.

Driving back to the airport in St. Louis, we stopped at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, to view the newly restored and spectacular murals by Missouri-born artist Thomas Hart Benton (above). The excellent guide at the Capitol tipped us off to a locally famous ice cream parlor, the Central Dairy. In honor of my southern-born mother, I ordered a double scoop of her favorite flavor, black walnut.

That one cone alone made the trip worthwhile.


Both Ends Burning Campaign to stage march on Washington DC

Saturday, August 13th, 2011

Two weeks ago, our family attended MOGUATE, a gathering of adoptive families in Missouri and neighboring states. While there, I met an American mother, Y, with a daughter, Z, from Guatemala. When Y accepted the referral of Z, her daughter was a baby only a few months-old. Today, Z is a four-year-old girl.

Z has been home with Y and her husband and son for seven weeks. The case dragged on for four long years.

Y is a member of the Guatemala900, the families who have been trying to finalize the adoption of their children since the shutdown of adoptions from Guatemala in December 2007.  Y told me that the turning point in their adoption process occurred after she participated in a march on Washington, DC. After that, someone, somewhere, in a position of authority, reviewed Y’s case, recognized the paperwork was legal and in order—simply, for no real reason, stalled–and moved it forward. This being a case in international adoption, complications naturally ensued. But at least an end was in sight, and, finally, came.

Every day that a child is in institutional care is a day that child pays for later down the road.  I’m sorry, but from my observations, conversations, and experience, it’s that simple.

On Friday, August 26, from 2 to 5 p.m., the Both Ends Burning Campaign will stage a march on Washington, DC, Step Forward for Orphans. The event will take place on the National Mall-Childrens Carousel near 9th and Jefferson, Washington, DC.

If you are in the area, or can get there, please add your voice to the plea of parents everywhere who are waiting for their children.


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!


Summer 2011 in Missouri

Friday, August 5th, 2011

My husband often teases me that wherever I am is the next place I want to move. Right now, that place is Missouri. We’ve been here for the past week, first for a family reunion of Tim’s family in St.Louis, and now at Lake of the Ozarks for the fifth annual gathering of MOGUATE.

Yes, it’s hot. To put the heat in perspective, 95 degrees feels cool, as long as the humidity is less than 95 percent. But the landscape is beautiful, the people are nice, and the food is outstanding. I hadn’t realized you can fry anything, even ravioli. Now I know you can. We’ve been eating BBQ, brisket, broasted chicken, biscuits, green beans, and corn on the cob. I feel like I’m back in my grandmother’s kitchen in Virginia, where my family spent summers when I was a child.

Here are a few photos, of cousins at the family reunion, the St. Louis Zoo, and the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois. More pictures to come, as soon as I can find my camera.