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Friday, December 7th, 2012
Last weekend, my family was visiting our cool Hollywood friends for casual festivities, having a few cocktails with a few creative couples when one dynamic duo (and I mean that seriously) launched into a heart-warming holiday tale about their Echo Park neighbors who finally adopted — after a brutal three-year wait — a lovely Ethiopian toddler who is perfect and quiet in every way.
They will celebrate a son, newly named Ben. Beautiful Ben. Can’t help but dream of his pretty face, long eye lashes. I feel scared for myself at how easy the images burn my eyelids. Did they travel across a desert for him? Were his family nomads in Ethiopia?
I lose track of the conversation and five minutes later, I blurt out loudly:
“Is there something wrong with him? Can he speak? Why is the little boy so quiet?” I ask, the ever-present adoptive mother questions. Too loudly, almost rudely.
My husband raises an eyebrow, like, “I cannot believe you just said that.” Thankfully the adopted kid and his ecstatic parents have not arrived yet but my husband gives me the death stare, and our mutual friend wonders out loud, ” Why does there have to be soothing wrong with a happy adopted 2-year-old?”
Without thinking, I launch into my tired adoption diatribe about reactive-attachment disorder, “so many kids nearing three years old have reactive-attachment syndrome and blah blah blah blah.”
“…and if he’s only two then there’s a bigger chance he was…blah, blah”
Party pooper. I’m sick of myself — are you? Everyone is shuffling around the cheese plate looking suddenly uncomfortable. Uh, yeah.
I stop in mid blah and nibble a few appetizers. Have another cocktail I may not need. Adoption envy ensues. I am quiet and helpful in the kitchen for the next 15 minutes and the new adoptive loving gorgeous perfect family never shows anyway because the little slow, quiet little Ethiopian son (kissing!) has a horrid cold.
Are you in the process of adoption? Are you filled with hope and longing when you meet other parents waiting too?
Tell me your own story in Comments below.
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Friday, November 30th, 2012
My family began searching for a younger sibling to add to our biological son Sam, who is six. My beautiful, sensitive, social smart kid began begging for a little sister when he was four years old and caused our family to reconsider only child status. I only ever wanted one kid because I love my work and travel to exotic places.
I married later in life and felt too independent to be tied down every single night with more than one child. Sam is easy and fun now at six years old — but it gets sort of boring too, doesn’t it? Parenting, I mean?
Anyway, at four years, Sam craved a sister and my husband agreed 100 percent and was never shy about his emotional need for a daughter; he thinks children should grow up with sibs and his friends are his sister and brother.
I only wanted Sam–he is perfect — why jinx it? At 45-ish, I don’t have an overwhelming urge to be pregnant again, although I loved every moment the first time around.
We began wanting another child for Sam, which is a pretty inappropriate reason — right? Have a kid for your kid? Bad reasoning, I know, I know.
But then a year rolled around of searching for international agencies we wanted to work with and plunk down an initial fee of about $15,000 for an international adoption of a toddler female. We were quickly ruled out of China and several Asian countries because we are too old. Then, we began narrowing our country search and learning about the Hague Convention and wanting to engage only with a country that has protective rules in place to safeguard against child trafficking.
And then, the recession hit.
Attention, parents: Sam no longer wants or needs a sister at all. In fact, Sam can’t stand the thought of girl toys and girlie pink clothes in his closet; the two would have to share a room.
Now, only a new boy will do. Changes everything. Darrin’s not as ecstatic about another boy, he already has one of those. But a tiny little girl to call his own hmmm, that changes things for us.
Stop. My kid who wants a kid now will only accept a little brother into our family. I wonder if we look flaky to a potential adoption agency because we’ve begun reconsidering the most basic move into adoption: a boy or girl!
During the holidays as we re-think past decisions and make plans for the future, what direction do you want to take toward adoption? Will you adopt this year? One slow step forward and… ?
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Monday, November 26th, 2012
If you are even considering an international adoption, much like my family is with a toddler daughter in India, you must thoroughly do your homework, document all your paperwork, legalize everything — and make sure you’re not stealing some poor mother’s newborn in a Third World Country without her knowledge.
It happens all the time, but international rules and regulations are halting such illegal practices.
This helpful website is to educate people about what orphanage tourism is and the devastating affect is having on the children of Cambodia, many of whom are not even orphans. Most governments and child care professionals regard the institutionalization of children in orphanages as the very last resort. Unfortunately, in Cambodia it is increasingly becoming the first, mainly due to the increased demand from travelers and donors for more and more orphanages. Others are nothing more than money-making scams that are specifically targeting unsuspecting tourists.
Considering International Adoption?
The group’s spokesperson said in an interview, “Few of these people that are trying to help are actually qualified to work with traumatized or vulnerable children, so what we end up with is an even more dire situation. We really want to get the word out about this important cause, and let well-intentioned people know that there are better alternatives and avenues through which they can help.”
“The fact is, most travelers, donors, and volunteers are completely unaware that they are fueling this problem or that they may be doing more harm than good,” comments the group spokesperson. Media Note: Because many of the most profiteering Cambodian orphanages have close ties with the government (some of those who have spoken out about this in the past have been threatened) this group prefers to remain anonymous for now.
“We encourage visitors to become educated about orphanage tourism, and to help us continue to raise awareness by sharing the information they learn here with others. The goal is to stop fueling the orphanage industry and find ways to support vulnerable children and their families, not split them up. The children of Cambodia, and around the world, deserve better.”
You can help channel the good intentions of travelers and donors towards initiatives that provide more positive support for children, and support family based care, reducing the separation of children and their communities.”
Are you considering international adoption of a baby or a special needs toddler? What countries are you considering?
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Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
Currently, there are 56,138 children in foster care in California with 13,394 children waiting for adoptive families.
Children’s Bureau has a highly-regarded foster care and adoption program that helps more than 500 foster children find safe, nurturing homes and facilitates more than 100 foster-to-adoptions each year. They are the good guys!
Their programs help children newborn to 18 years of age. Homes are needed for infants, sibling sets of brothers and sisters, older children and children of all ethnicities, especially African American children. Our foster and adoptive parents are given the support, resources and tools they need to help these fragile children to trust, love and feel much more confident about their place in the world.
Wyatt Lemaster was a newly adopted fifth grader who kept looking around in wonder, according to local Los Angeles news reports. “It means never getting taken away again,” the fifth-grader said softly during a moment of reflection at the the fifth-floor reception area of the Edmund D. Edleman Children’s Courthouse last week.
Adopted Families Give Thanks This Year
As we wait for another child, most likely a foster child like one of the kids here, we give thanks at home for all that we already have. Such abundance.
Take a few moments to revel in gratitude for all of the joys you have, for the way your body moves, for love and family and the sunshine in your life. Happy Thanksgiving holidays, and tell me your adoption story here:
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Monday, November 19th, 2012
The entire holiday season can be especially tough for families who struggle with issues like adoption, waiting for an international adoption, and also fertility issues. Dr. Jeffrey D. Fisch, Medical Director at the Sher Fertility Institute Las Vegas, offers his stress-reducing methods for all members of the waiting family.
He said, “So much of the season centers around family and children. It can be hard for waiting couples to be around other people’s kids when they are having trouble starting their own family.”
Here are five simple steps to help make the holiday season a time of anticipation and joy instead of anxiety and sadness:
1. Be proactive. Take charge of your own plans for the holidays–don’t overbook but don’t leave time to dwell on an empty nest, either. If you are having trouble conceiving on your own, speak to your physician or to a fertility specialist. If already in the process of adopting, but not yet successful, make a plan for the future to give you the strength to face the challenges of the season.
2. Keep busy. The less time you have to obsess about why it hasn’t worked yet, the better you will feel. Too much time online might not be a good thing. Get outside and be active. Increasing exercise and optimal health practices (ie: get enough sleep, do yoga for stress relief, etc) and eat healthfully.
3. Volunteer. This time of year many organizations need help. A small contribution of your time can help you feel useful and help to brighten someone else’s holiday. Thinking of others will take your mind and energy off of worrying about your own unfulfilled dream. Think “karma,” because if you do good things for others, good things will come to you, says Dr. Fisch.
4. Pamper yourself. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. At this time of year, remember that you deserve to be happy even if you are not pregnant yet. Treat yourself to a massage or to something special. Travel with your partner while you can; it gets harder once you have children.
5. Enjoy what you have. The holidays are supposed to be a happy time focused on the good things in our lives and on those close to us.
Give thanks for the friendships and family you do sustain all year long. Tell us in the comments below how you’re doing with your adoption this holiday season.
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