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Monthly Photos: Six Months

17 Jun

Late as usual, but totally worth it I think. The Bird was six months old on June 10. He is so darling that it almost makes us think we could have another baby (don’t get too excited, grandparents). Then we remember that we probably wouldn’t be so lucky next time. The adoption process could be much harder OR we could just have a crankier baby, or a baby who is not a good sleeper, or one who has colic.

You can see the full size picture here.

The Bird is getting extremely active. This month he fell in love with his Johnny Jump-Up. It hangs from the door in the kitchen and we created a playlist that amuses us. Among the selections:

Jump – Kris Kross

Jump Around – House of Pain

Jump – Van Halen

Brown Derby Jump – Cherry Poppin’ Daddies

One Jump Ahead – Aladdin soundtrack

We love to watch him in that thing and it makes us wish they made an adult-sized version for us. We could build one like this:

He can also roll over like a champ – sometimes both ways, but usually just onto his stomach. That’s his preferred method of sleeping now, much to Don’s dismay.

In other news, I have REALLY REALLY awful poison ivy. Or oak. Or sumac. Or, apparently, even Virginia Creeper.



Detached Earlobes and Other Traits

3 Oct

Where did your hair color come from?


I have detached earlobes and can roll my tongue. My hair was blonde as an infant, then strawberry blonde when I was a toddler, then light brown (it’s blonde-ish again now, but I can thank the Cam Lai Salon in Georgetown for that one). My eyes are light blue, almost grey.

Who cares?

Well, a couple of science teachers I had in middle school and high school apparently.

There were several school assignments I had over the years that were hard or impossible to complete because I am adopted. Bring in your first baby picture was a little weird since my first picture shows me at 8 months old and my classmates all had newborn pictures to share. Illustrate your family tree wasn’t hard, because I have a small, easily documented family … but it did remind me that, in fact, my family tree was created through adoption. Without fail some kid in my class would ask, “Where is your mom?”. I was super confident in my family relationships, thankfully, so I would point at my mom’s position on the tree and say, “She’s right there.” That would lead to the inevitable, “No, I mean your real mom.” And I would say “Yeah. That’s her. Right there.”

Granted, these assignments could have been a lot harder. If, for example, I had been adopted as an older child, I might not have any baby pictures at all. If my family had a relationship with my birth family, the heritage tree project could have been confusing.

The assignment that I really couldn’t complete at all was the genetic mapping projects that came later. Find out who gave you your detached earlobes. Chart out the recessive and dominant traits in your family. That’s completely lost on an adopted kid who doesn’t know her birth family.

While I remember these frustrations, they didn’t end up being significant events in my life. That’s just me, though. I was curiously not curious about my origins growing up. My dad was my dad. My mom was my mom. I was of German heritage. Who cares who else in my family can roll their tongue?

However, I think they could be a lot more meaningful for some adopted kids – the ones with natural curiosity about their birth origins or with the complex family structures that often go hand-in-hand with adoption.

I recently stumbled across this resource to help adopted children work on tricky school assignments like the ones I describe above and others. It has some great tips for how to work with the teacher and how to help your kids actually complete the assignment.

Here’s one final memory I have of an assignment I had that was hard to complete. During an all about me project in middle school, I had to list my birthday- including the day and time of my birth. This was, of course, before the Internet. For some reason, we didn’t know the time of birth is recorded on one’s birth certificate, so this whole section had us stumped. My mom shrugged and said, “Make it up.” I decided Friday late afternoon would be a good time to be born. Years later, as an adult, I happened to notice that my birth certificate says I was born at 7:41 a.m. or something (of course, this is my re-issued birth certificate that says the parents who adopted me actually gave birth to me, so who knows if that thing can be trusted*). A few minutes ago Google told me that December 15 was a Sunday the year I was born. Oh well.

Whether you’re adopted or not, do you remember having to do these assignments? Do children still get assignments like these?


* That reminds me that I want to write about how weird birth certificates are one day.

That Show About Adoption

5 Sep

Brandalynn and the couple with whom she has placed her child

So I’ve watched all the episodes of that Oxygen show, I’m Having Their Baby. I pronounce it a very solid “eh”.

First the good – and there was some good. As a prospective adoptive parent, it was good to see another angle on adoption. It’s painful, heartbreaking. And every woman on the show struggled with her decision.

The shows featured 12 women, I think. Three decided to parent, although in a follow up interview one of those woman announced that she ended up placing after the first month. So nine placed at the hospital and one additional one placed later. The birth moms were different ages (from teens to 30-somethings), single, married, black, white, Hispanic.

I cried during every episode. And I was grateful to see each of the situations.

That said, there is a lot wrong with show. More wrong than right.

Let’s start with the name – I’m Having THEIR Baby. In fact, she’s not. She’s having a baby definitely. Her baby, even. But she’s not having it for them. She might not choose to parent, but that doesn’t make the child she’s carrying any less her own. Any less her partner’s. This is not a surrogacy.

Each episode starts with a subtitle containing the EM’s (expectant mom) name and something like “6 weeks until adoption” or “8 weeks until adoption”. This bugs me, too. Even the strongest of bonds an EM and a prospective adoptive family form can be undone. Until the papers are signed, it’s both dangerous and presumptive to assume she will place. Imagine if the EM went to see her social worker and was told, “So your adoption is set for six weeks from today.” She might feel undue pressure – especially if she’s young or lacks confidence – to place even if she changes her mind. Even if her instinct tells her not to place.

And that’s the last point I want to make about the show – the social workers assigned to the birth moms are extremely focused on the adoptions*. And, it makes sense, because that’s their job. But I can’t help but think that if they had been a little more focused on the current mental state of the moms they would have predicted those disruptions. And I sure wish some of the other birth moms had a little more support at the end when they feel torn apart and don’t know what to do. I fear that situation is pretty typical, too. A lot of people on the adoption forums say that once they arrived at the hospital, the birth mom specialists, the adoptions specialists and the social workers are no where to be found. Ugh.

So, did you watch? What did you think?

*Big caveat here since I recognize we’re only seeing a tiny, tiny portion of the interactions between the agency reps and the EMs.


Just Needed to Relax for a Minute

31 Aug


I have shingles. Again.

As I mentioned last year when this happened, they are caused by stress or other factors igniting the dormant virus that lives in the systems of anyone who has ever had chicken pox.

In my case it’s a combo of stress and increased prednisone doses when I have a fare up of my eye disease.

So to relax a little, I took an unplanned week off and headed to the beach. It’s hard not to be calm when one is starring at the ocean.

See you after Labor Day.

A Family’s Journey to China

5 Jul

Photo courtesy of
Chinese and American flags
courtesy of

On July 4 the Christian Science Monitor started documenting the journey of one of its editors, his wife and their 10-year old to China where they will meet their new daughter and bring her home. Their older daughter, Grace, was adopted from China as well.

Clara Germani explains why the paper chose to publish the family’s story, discusses the downward trend in international adoptions and provides links to a few other adoption stories they have published over the years.

The first installment of the Belsie family’s journal (written by mom, Gretchen) on the Monitor’s website.

Adoption: An American Tradition

4 Jul

We Got Annie, and Annie Got Fireworks.

I don’t think being adopted contributed to how much I loved the movie Annie (1982) when I was a little girl, but I can’t be sure. I think I still know every word to every song in the movie (including “Let’s Go the Movies”, come to think of it). The party Daddy Warbucks throws for Annie at the end, pictured above, set my little heart on fire. I mean, come on. Fireworks? At a house party?

Speaking of fireworks, it’s Independence Day.

Did you know that John Hancock, one of country’s founding fathers, was adopted? It’s true. Hancock’s father died when John was seven years old. After the death of his father, Hancock’s uncle adopted him.

So in honor of John, Annie, her fireworks and the birth of our nation, here is a partial list of other famous Americans who were adopted (not counting the fictional Annie or her dog, Sandy – also adopted):

Maya Angelou (poet and author)
John J. Audubon (naturalist)
Tallulah Bankhead (actress)
Ingrid Bergman (actress)
Richard Burton (actor)
Senator Robert Byrd
Truman Capote (author)
Harry Caray (baseball broadcaster)
Kristin Chenoweth (actress)
Eric Clapton (singer)
President Bill Clinton
Nat King Cole (singer)
Ted Danson (actor, adopted child and adoptive father)
Bo Diddley (musician)
President Gerald Ford
Jamie Foxx (singer, actor)
Melissa Gilbert (actress)
Newt Gingrich (politician)
Faith Hill (singer)
Scott Hamilton (professional skater)
Debbie Harry (singer)
Jesse Jackson (politician)
Steve Jobs (co-founder of Apple)
Eartha Kitt (singer, actress)
Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels (musician)
Frances McDormand (actress)
Tim McGraw (singer)
Sarah McLachlan (singer)
James Michener (author)
Marilyn Monroe (actress)
Michael Oher (professional football, story inspired The Blind Side)
Edgar Allen Poe (author)
Priscilla Presley (actress)
First Lady Nancy Reagan
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
Dave Thomas (founder of Wendy’s, children’s advocate)


Our agency has a much better list of people who were adopted as children or are adoptive parents.

Did any of these names surprise you?

The Invisible Red String

20 Jun

The red string of fate is the belief originating from Chinese legend that an invisible red string connects everyone who is destined to meet. According to the legend, the gods tie an invisible red string around the ankles (or pinkie fingers) of those that are destined to meet each other or help each other in a certain way.

The two people connected by the red thread will find each other, regardless of circumstances. The string may stretch or tangle, but never break.

Well, how about that?