Posts Tagged ‘adoption’

You May Say That I’m A Dreamer…

September 6, 2017

 

Many years ago, I had a dream. I would take a child, most likely a little girl who had been abandoned by her birth mother and placed on the steps of an orphanage, and raise her with all the love and advantages I could possibly offer. That dream became a reality in 2001 when we brought our daughter home from China, where she had spent the first 13 months of her life in a welfare center near Nanchang, in the Jiangxi Provence of China.

She was beautiful, and even at a year old, she was verbal, pointing at animals and foods and saying their names in her native tongue. She was fiercely loyal, crying when her caregiver from the orphanage left her and mourning her departure throughout our time in Nanchang. Our pediatrician assured us that her inconsolable outbursts, despite the discontent of the other hotel guests showed that she was able to bond and that she would in time, bond with us as well.(She did.) She told us that children who are able to thrive in the worst of conditions are innately fighters, able to overcome the obstacles that appear in daily life. That these kids tend to have exceptional grit and rigor. She hit the nail on the head.

Throughout her life, our child has been a fighter. When faced with challenges, she says “bring it.” When faced with adversity, she confronts it, sometimes with tears, but ultimately with strength and resilience. She adds value to our lives in a way I could never express, but even more importantly, she adds value to her community, through hard work and service to others, and will no doubt contribute to society as an adult.

Today, as I read that our president wants to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) my heart breaks. I remember sitting in that dingy room in John F. Kennedy airport in New York, holding my squirming and crying baby after a grueling 20-hour flight to her new home, listening to the cacophony of languages around us as we waited to be allowed to bring our immigrant child into this country. A few months later, the government issued a ruling that children adopted by American families during a specified period of time would be granted automatic citizenship. Our daughter was issued an American passport and no longer needed to use her Chinese issued papers and green card for identification. There is no official record of her birth.

She has lived the American dream; one where she has access to a loving family, a safe home, abundant food and clean water, a top tier education and the opportunity to be the best version of herself possible. Other than the fact that her parents are Americans, how does she really differ from the “dreamers’, some of whom may have been in that room with us on that very day at JFK when we brought her home? How does she differ from those who share that same desire to achieve, to rise up above their humble beginnings and fulfill their greatest potential? How bland of a country would America be, without our rich tapestry of cultures that weave together a society filled with bountiful flavors, styles, music, and customs?

Yet with the stroke of a pen, our president can take away the life these people dreamed of when they came to America. He can order nearly 800,000 young people back to their former homelands. Many of these people are living productive lives, whether they are working in our kitchens, picking our food, serving in our military, or tending to our health. These are the dreamers.

You might say that I too am a dreamer. I dream of a world where people are treated with respect and dignity and granted the opportunity to contribute to society in a way that is uniquely theirs. I dream of a world where we are judged solely by our actions and not by our race or religion. And I wake up to the realization that my child, had there been a very slight twist of fate affecting her parentage, could now be facing deportation back to the country that shunned her in the first place. And that is a nightmare.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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Book Event

May 24, 2013

If you are in New York, please join us for a special reading from the book “Carried in Our Hearts: The Gift of Adoption” by Dr. Jane Aronson, and a vast array of contributors, including yours truly. Barnes + Noble will be donating 20% of their proceeds to Dr. Aronson’s wonderful foundation Worldwide Orphans, who help make the lives of the children left behind more fulfilling.

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I hope to see you there! Warning: It’s BYO Kleenex. These stories are sure to touch your heart!

Carried in Our Hearts

May 8, 2013

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Tonight I had the opportunity to attend a book launch party for “Carried in Our Hearts,” by Dr. Jane Aronson, with essays by many  parents and children who have experienced first hand, the joys and traumas of creating a new family through adoption.

I am honored to have my story, originally posted here, be a part of this beautiful collection.

If you are seeking for a last minute Mother’s Day gift, take a look at this book, sure to melt the heart of any Mom, regardless of how her family was formed.

There was not a dry eye in the room, as people read from the book, and recounted their international adoption experiences.

Dr.Aronson, who is not only a highly acclaimed pediatrician specializing in international medicine, but also the founder of World Wide Orphan’s Foundation, has taken on the role of mentor, fairy godmother and stork, to many families across the world. Her goal through WWO is to transform the lives of orphaned children and help them to become healthy, independent, productive members of their communities and the world.

Won’t you join me in celebrating the heartwarming stories of families who were formed not by blood, but by love this Mother’s Day?

Am I Mom Enough?

May 24, 2012

Time magazine recently ran a very controversial cover story about attachment parenting. The concept, introduced by Dr. Bill Sears, encourages parents to co-sleep, carry their babies in a sling close to their bodies, and breastfeed. The mother in the cover story is shown nursing a child who is about to turn 4, and the headline reads: “Are You Mom Enough?”

When our daughter was a baby, Dr. Sears was a prominent childcare author, as was Dr. Ferber, who wrote about sleep training. All of our friends were “Ferber-izing” their babies, and using his process of letting the children cry until they fell asleep, even if it took hours. His theory was that once they figured out that their parents weren’t coming to hold them or feed them again, they would learn to self-soothe and just go to sleep on their own.

As I poured through the volumes of child rearing books given to me when we were expecting B, I was struck by one thing. If you read enough of them, you will find one that agrees with what is comfortable for you as a parent.

We brought B home from China when she was just over a year old. Everything was unfamiliar to her. The sights, sounds, and smells were new, as were these 2 people who were to be her parents. In my opinion, it was more important for her to learn that we were there for her and would always take care of her, than it was for her to fall asleep alone. And boy did we pay for that! When all of the other parents were having quiet evenings together, and sleeping through the night, I was sitting in a rocking chair, softly singing (off key of course!) and offering bottles. This went on every night, all night. For a few years, I literally got about 3 hours of interrupted sleep per night.

I could hear the softest little utterance on the baby monitor, jump up from a deep sleep and run down a flight of stairs to pick her up, in what could well have set Olympic records for speed.  I rocked and rocked, and when my rear end became numb, I carried her around the house, hoping she would fall asleep. B slept in my arms, waking only if I tried to put her down.

Sometime around 6 a.m. Daddy would take over, and the two would snuggle up on the couch and fall into a deep sleep.
I would crawl to the gym and head off to work, only to return around 7p.m. to serve a “family dinner”, bathe her, read to her and start that whole nightmare all over again. It is amazing that I functioned, but mothers are invincible at that point.

Was it wrong to go through all that? Who knows? The road to becoming a parent was a long and emotional one, and I convinced myself that I was making up for all the lost time she spent without me in the orphanage.

I also assumed that this time was precious and short, and that soon she would not want me around.

I now have a sweet natured, smart and creative tween. Every night, I lay down with her as she falls asleep. She calls it our “mommy/ daughter bonding time.”

Earlier in the evening, when I ask about her day, I get very little response. “What did you do in school today?” I ask.  “Nothing” she replies.

“How was your field trip?” I ask. “Boring” she replies.

But later, while we lay together in her twin bed, she tells me all about the things that are going on in her life, and sometimes we giggle, usually at her father’s expense. She falls asleep pretty quickly now, and sleeps through the night.

Is it just as strange that I put a 12 year old to bed, as it is that someone else is breastfeeding a 4 year old? Not to me.

Just as no two children are exactly the same, there is no “one size fits all” method of parenting.  If it feels right, and the decisions are made with love and common sense, then I say, “Go with it.”

Am I Mom Enough?  Hell yeah!

Right To Life, or a Good LIfe?

March 1, 2012

With all of the “right to lifers” out there trying to control women’s reproductive rights, I am mind boggled by some conflicting practices.

If a woman wants to practice birth control by taking a contraceptive pill, some factions say that the employer, not the woman, should decide if this is reasonable.

If a woman, (or a man for that matter) wishes to adopt an abandoned child, conceived by someone who can’t or won’t care for that child, they are subjected to major scrutiny to see if they are fit. When we adopted our daughter, abandoned on a door step when she was a mere 3 days old, we were finger printed 4 times, had a social worker visit our home several times, and had numerous “child abuse clearances” run on us,to see if were fit to be parents.

The conservatives believe that life begins with conception, and that abortion should be made illegal, regardless of the circumstances. Women, in their eyes are ostracized for wanting to prevent or terminate a pregnancy, but not for abandoning a child.

Today, the tabloids are buzzing with the news that Snookie, the hard partying star of the Jersey Shore, is pregnant by her equally hard partying boyfriend. She makes a living out of being portrayed as irresponsible, self -harming, and indulgent. On the show she stays out all night, is promiscuous and has trouble maintaining relationships. She over indulges in alcohol and has recently lost a remarkable amount of weight by using pills, instead of a healthy diet and exercise plan.

So, if life begins at conception, is it too soon to alert the child welfare agency about possible endangerment? Do we have any reason to believe that she has been taking care of herself, and her unborn child? Do we think that she is fit to be a mother? Is it any of our business to be concerned?

Giving birth and being a parent are not mutually exclusive. Anyone with a functioning womb can get pregnant and have a baby. It takes love, sacrifice and responsibility to be a parent. It’s hard work that doesn’t stop at the end of the day.

How do we rationalize that it’s okay to be an unfit parent just because you conceived a life?

Perhaps we all should be required to be licensed to become parents, to ensure that we are willing to do what it takes to raise stable, happy children who will later make positive contributions to society.

Which is a better alternative: helping woman pay for their birth control pills through their prescription plans, or allowing irresponsible parties to become parents?  Permitting abortion, especially where health issues or rape is a factor, or having people shirk their responsibility to their child later?

Should we be discussing the “right to life” or the “right to a secure, healthy,loving life?”

Join the conversation: What do you think?

photo: Glasshouse Images

Gotcha Day

February 4, 2012

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a little girl was taken on a journey that would change her life.

Even wrapped in 9 layers of heavy and tattered clothes, her cheeks rough and red from the cold, I knew she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

As simply as that we became a family. Her journey didn’t end in that gloomy grey hotel room in Nanchang; it had only just begun. What a wonderful journey it has been!

Happy Gotcha Day B! We love you!!

What a difference 11 years have made!

photos: Spencer Jones

Love is Thicker Than Water

August 1, 2009

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My husband felt the tug years before I did. That burning desire to have a child, and become a father. When I was finally ready for such a life-changing occurrence, we found ourselves unable to conceive.

It is a frustrating time when you realize that the uneducated, the poverty-stricken, and the unfit seem to be having babies left right and center, and you, a loving, married and highly successful couple with the means to give a child a wonderful and rich life are coming up empty.

After doctor’s appointments, and exploring the options in modern fertility treatments, the realization hit me: I didn’t care about procreating, I just wanted to be a parent.

Almost 2 years later, we adopted a beautiful baby girl from China.

I can’t imagine loving a child more. Bailey has been the light in our lives from the moment we laid eyes on her. During the long and heart-wrenching wait to meet our daughter, I fell deeply in love with the image in my mind of this wonderful little girl who would bring great joy to our lives. The magical moment when they brought her to us from the orphanage was one I will never forget: the moment that I became a parent.

We have always spoken openly about Bailey’s adoption, and how the person who carried her could not keep her, so she went to the orphanage and they cared for her until we could come for her.

Somehow, children seem to grasp both the simplicity and complexity of situations with a wisdom and clarity that is way greater than their years.

One day, when she was about 5, I heard her talking to a young friend about where she came from. Bailey very matter of factly summed up her situation by saying: “ My Mommy didn’t carry me in her tummy, she carried me in her heart.

Families are made in many different ways. Giving birth and motherhood are not mutually exclusive. Bonds exist when love is unconditional, and sometimes we find that LOVE, not blood, is thicker than water.

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