Beach. Pool. Turtles. Crabs.


More fun in the sun today, but equal fun by moonlight!  We spent the morning at the pool, visited Sea Turtle, Inc., in the afternoon, and walked the beach after dark.

We're staying at the Pearl in South Padre -- you would have thought from their excitement that the girls had built this sand castle themselves:

If you go to the Pearl's facebook page and "like" our photo of the sand castle, and we get the most likes, we win something -- I can't remember what!  I can't say I much care, but the girls would appreciate your "likes!"

The pool area at the Pearl is really nice, and though both my girls are too tall to be in the kiddie pool, they are obsessed with the tiny frog slide, sneaking over there any time no one was there.

I figured as long as there were no little ones for them to bowl over, we could bend the rules just a bit!

Sea Turtle, Inc., is a rescue organization in South Padre, and have been really instrumental in the come-back of the endangered Ridley turtles.  They locate their nests and protect the eggs and also bring in injured turtles and re-introduce them into the wild after they're healed.  They don't have many on site right now, but the girls especially loved the baby ones.
The big turtle in the picture above is a green turtle, not a Ridley.  The worker gave the girls lettuce leaves, and when the turtle saw them, it came right to the viewing window to have its picture taken!  The girls could then throw the leaves into the tank and watch the turtle gobble them down.  Great fun!

After dinner this evening we went for a walk on the beach.  Boy, it was windy, and no way were we going in to swim, but we had a great time walking in the surf and watching for crabs.  We saw dozens, none of which I managed to capture in a photograph, so you'll have to take our word for it!

The girls also enjoyed others' hard work, jumping in every hole dug during the day and circling every last remnant of sand castles.  And of course, they loved looking for clams digging themselves into the sand after the waves deposited them on shore.  It's the little things, isn't it?!


Looking forward to another day of sun (and moon) and fun tomorrow!

Life according to Crystal


Crystal Chin, 23, came to Canada from Taiwan at age 10 and can’t remember a time when therapy wasn’t a constant in her childhood. Crystal has profound insights about growing up with a disability in a culture that values normalcy.

Crystal on therapy: My experience was extreme. I was doing therapy every single moment. My mom would drive me to physiotherapy every day, five days a week. Then my dad would come home and do an extra hour of physio with me at night, after work. My mom was a stay-at-home mom and she would do stretching with me and focus on doing up buttons and zippers. My parents wanted to integrate every single bit of therapy into everyday life. For example, they'd help me all the time with how I was sitting and correct me if I was holding my spoon wrong. I had no idea swimming was considered a leisure activity. For me it was aquatic therapy.

As a kid, you’re constantly finding out what’s wrong with you and I think even a typically-developing child would get some sort of inferiority complex from that! I’m just not good enough. I can’t even hold a spoon. I can’t even hold my pencil. There has to be more to a child’s identity than going to physio every day.

I think for kids who are ambulatory, or close to being, therapy is tantalizing for parents. No one can say when their child is going to reach his final level of function. There’s a sense of “If we can just do x, y, z. You’re so close.” But for the child it may only improve function to a slight degree. “This is my final product. Can you just leave me alone?”

Crystal’s advice to parents: Have a more balanced life, be your child’s parents, not their therapists, and go out and have fun. There need to be times for therapy, but there should also be times when I’m allowed to be a kid and we can be just a typical family. Remember that you can't get time back. Sometimes my parents look back now and I think they realize what a different childhood I had from my younger sister. Remember -- you can't give a child back their seventh year.

Try really hard not to compare your child to other children. I always found it interesting that when I was young my parents would say “You’re great!” But then I spent all my time being taken to different doctors who were supposed to fix me.

It didn’t really occur to me that I needed to be fixed until I started school. I got to see how other children were developing and that made me worry a little bit. So why can’t I do this? They can do it. In a way, in the beginning, I really wanted to be fixed. I wanted to be like the other children and I really wanted to have a life. It wasn’t until my early to mid adolescence that I had had enough. I wanted to take time off therapy at home and focus on other things in my life. My parents couldn’t understand why. I thought I’m 15 and I want to learn how to cross the street. What is laundry, and how do you do it? I want to use the microwave. It’s important not to get stuck on one developmental step like walking. It’s important to look at the whole picture.

Crystal on self-esteem: Gaining a positive identity was more of a process. You don’t just wake up one day and have it. I always felt I was really ugly because I couldn’t sit up straight and I remember a physio pulled me in front of the mirror and made me point out all the things I see about myself. I pointed out everything CP-related: “My knee is bent, I can’t stand up straight, my knee is rotated, I don’t have any balance.” Then the physio pointed out all the things she saw, and they were all positive. “I see this 10-year-old girl who is always smiling, always positive and working hard despite the things she can or can’t do. You’re so cute. You’re wearing pink glasses and a red dress, and your pink shoes match your glasses.” There were certain triggers like that where I’d say “Oh, maybe I can look at myself differently.”

Crystal on social vs. medical advances: We need to advance in the medical field, but we need to advance in how we see things, how we think about things and the way we treat people. What are our values? Where do they come from? Why do we think the way we do? I can take the alphabet, and make it into words, and take the words and put them into sentences, and the sentences into paragraphs and the paragraphs into pages. Good for me. What about people who will never be able to do that for different reasons? What happens to them? Why does society deem them as persons of less value? Everyone has rights, no matter what their capacity. But the way the system is set up, if the person can't advocate for themselves, they don't have access to their rights. It’s not a question of medicine. It’s a question of what we value.

Photos by William Suarez

SPI!

Greetings from South Padre Island!  I have the misfortune of having to attend a work conference here (boo-hoo!), so brought along the girls and Mimi.  After a nine-hour drive and a short meeting for me, we hit the beach for an evening walk.  The girls really loved discovering sea creatures -- ghost crabs and coquinas clams along the shore.  You would have thought we were the only people on earth to have seen the little clams dig themselves back into the sand as the waves uncovered them, which led to many experiments when we returned to the beach this morning -- piling them into the sand sieve and watching them try to dig themselves through the plastic being one of their favorites!




We spent about an hour on the beach before my conference started, and then Mimi took over with beach and pool duty. 




After lunch, we had great fun at the SPI Birding and Nature Center, walking their boardwalk and seeing lots of birds.  Since Maya's class did a section on birds for Science this year, she's been bird-obsessed.  We saw great blue heron, little blue heron, willet, red-winged blackbird, tricolor heron, and who knows what all else!  Oh, yes, we also saw an alligator!  Zoe was pretty pleased since she was apparently the first person of the day to spot one at the center. Forgot the camera, so you don't have to suffer through more pictures of that!

On to dinner, and then probably more pool and beach time this evening.  Tomorrow morning is when my real conference work begins, and then over by noon and more fun in the sun!  I'm pretty sure Zoe and Maya approve!

Netizens' Reactions to Adoptee Searching for Birth Mother in China

A website that focuses on social media in China, Tea Leaf Nation, looks at Jenna Cook's search for her birth mother in China, as China watches through social media.  Read the whole thing to learn the back story, but I found this part about the reaction of Chinese netizens especially interesting:
I am happy that Jenna managed to spread the word regarding her project, and I hope that she manages to find the information she needs. Most netizens share my enthusiastic support for her project, and gave her their full-fledged blessing and approval. Although generally supportive, netizens also voiced their concerns. Many wondered why she still wanted to find her birth parents, given that they had abandoned her in the first place.

Jenna responded via her Weibo, “They gave me my life. I feel very grateful… [When I find them] I want to see how they are doing, and to give them my love. I will try my best to help them.”

Her kindness and forgiving attitude touched the hearts of many. @左海游子 wrote, “You are a kind girl. You are repaying misdeeds with kindness. You still love your birth parents so deeply, and have not forgotten the family who took care of you. Your story is so touching. I sincerely wish that you’ll be able to fulfill your dream of finding your parents!”

Some netizens were more skeptical. @鱼不离水 voiced his opposition: “I advise that you stop trying to find your birth parents. I believe that they don’t have nearly the compassion and broadmindedness of your adopted mother, or else why would they have abandoned you in the first place? Even if you find them, it will only bring them regret and humiliation. Why bother?”

@范凯俊 elaborated, “In China, things are often more complicated. We have an old saying: ‘the birth mother is not as dear as the adopted mother.’ [生母不如养母亲] When you were born, the old concept of favoritism for boys was especially widespread. Your birth parents might have abandoned you for that reason. It’s possible that the truth will disappoint you.”

While some netizens condemned Jenna’s birth parents for their supposed heartlessness, others took a more sympathetic view. @我的春天来了 posed the question, “What if your birth parents were in a awkward position themselves? Suppose that you were born out of wedlock. In that case, your birth parents might have their separate families now, and your sudden appearance would turn their lives upside down. In China, parents usually only abandon their children when they have no other choice. What parents can stand losing their own children?”

We're Deporting Adoptees

At Huffington Post, Adam Pertman of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute writes about the Kairi Shepherd case:
Imagine that your daughter, whom you raised from infancy, was convicted of forgery. You certainly wouldn't be surprised if she were prosecuted for that felony and, while it would be heartbreaking, you'd expect her to be punished, probably even imprisoned. Now let's add one more element to this real-life scenario: How would you feel if the penalty imposed on your 30-year-old child -- who suffers from multiple sclerosis -- was deportation to another country where she knows no one and doesn't speak the native language?

I am not making this up. It is happening today. It is obviously devastating to the woman facing a jarringly disproportionate punishment for the crime she committed, but it is also much more than that. It is a vivid example of the unfairness and inequality that sometimes exist in the world of adoption.

What may be most unnerving is the fact that this is not an aberration; while it is hardly commonplace, it has happened again and again. And there has been virtually no media attention, or public outrage, or embarrassment on the part of immigration officials, or concerted effort to reform law and policy so that people who were adopted into their families are placed on a level playing field with their biological counterparts.

Splashing in Love

She splashes in the water and giggles with delight. The day is hot and she loves to swim in the little pool. She turns around in circles and gets her face in the water. As she comes out, face drenched, water pouring out of her mouth, and wet wisps of hair sticking to her cheeks I think to myself, “What joy she has, how much her life has changed.” Because two years ago she was wasting away in an orphanage in Eastern Europe, waiting for the day where she would be transferred to a mental institution. The place where she would be today – rather than splashing in the pool – because of her disability.

I am guest blogging at Our Family for His Glory today. To keep reading CLICK HERE.

And leave me a comment if you get a chance. 


African Child Policy Forum: Rise in IA from Africa Alarming

The BBC News on a report from the African Child Policy Forum about the rise in international adoption from Africa:
The number of children from Africa being adopted by foreign nationals from other continents has risen dramatically, a report has said.

In the past eight years, international adoptions increased by almost 400%, the African Child Policy Forum has found.

"Africa is becoming the new frontier for inter-country adoption," the Addis Ababa-based group said.

But many African countries do not have adequate safeguards in place to protect the children being adopted, it warns.

The majority of so-called orphans adopted from Africa have at least one living parent and many children are trafficked or sold by their parents, the child expert group says.

More than 41,000 African children have been adopted and taken out of home countries since 2004, the ACPF report says.

More than two thirds of the total in 2009 and 2010 were adopted from Ethiopia, which now sends more children abroad for adoption than any other country, apart from China.

"Compromising children's best interests while undertaking inter-country adoption is likely and adoption can become a vast, profit-driven, industry with children as the commodity," the African Child Policy Forum report said.

The group's director, David Mugawe, said that adoption in some parts of Africa had indeed become a business.

"It's got an element where adoption has now become commercialised. And so it's an industry that some orphanages are benefiting [from] - and they are promoting adoption basically to be able to sustain and maintain the orphanages," he told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

Messages from Moms (Part 2)

Today I share about how the church responded to Nichole's birth and diagnosis of Down syndrome at Diving for Pearls. CLICK HERE to read the second part of my guest post.

If you missed the first part, you can CLICK HERE.

(If you are up for it, leave a comment in Katie's site)

And just for the fun of it, here is a recent family photo.


Happy Memorial Day!

May 28 is Memorial Day and my brother's birthday. In honor of him, my father, Adam's grandfather and everyone else who has ever served in the military, I think it's time to repost the "sheep dog" entry. Thank you, sheepdogs, for fighting for freedom.



Jill Edwards is one of the students at the University of Washington who did not want to honor Medal of Honor winner USMC Colonel Greg Boyington because she does not think those who serve in the U.S. Armed services are good role models. I think that this response is an excellent and thought provoking response.

General Dula is an Air Force 3 Star retired. Gen. Dula's letter to the University of Washington student senate leader.

To: Edwards, Jill (student, UW)
Subject: Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Miss Edwards, I read of your 'student activity' regarding the proposed memorial to Col Greg Boyington, USMC and a Medal of Honor winner. I suspect you will receive a bellyful of angry e-mails from conservative folks like me. You may be too young to appreciate fully the sacrifices of generations of servicemen and servicewomen on whose shoulders you and your fellow students stand. I forgive you for the untutored ways of youth and your naivety. It may be that you are,
simply, a sheep.
There's no dishonor in being a sheep - - as long as you know and accept what you are. Please take a couple of minutes to read the following. And be grateful for the thousands - - millions - - of American sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.

Brett Dula Sheepdog, retired
----------------------------------------------------------



ON SHEEP, WOLVES, AND SHEEPDOGS
By LTC(RET) Dave Grossman, RANGER,
Ph.D., author of "On Killing."


Honor never grows old, and honor rejoices the heart of age. It does so because honor is, finally, about defending those noble and worthy things that deserve defending, even if it comes at a high cost. In our time, that may mean social disapproval, public scorn, hardship, persecution, or as always, even death itself.

The question remains: What is worth defending? What is worth dying for?
What is worth living for? – William J. Bennett - in a lecture to the
United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997.

One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another. Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year. Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million. Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation.

They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me, it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers, and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.

"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep
without mercy."
Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf." If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf.

But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to
kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours. Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa." Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them. This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door.

Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Remember how many times you heard the word hero? Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle.

That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones. Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." When you are truly transformed into a warrior and have truly invested yourself into warriorhood, you want to be there. You want to be able to make a difference. There is nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: Slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself. Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When he learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd dropped his phone and uttered the words, "Let's roll," which authorities believe was a signal to the other passengers to confront the terrorist  hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents. -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men. - Edmund Burke

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice. But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never
have rest, safety, trust or love. But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

For example, many officers carry their weapons in church. They are well concealed in ankle holsters, shoulder holsters or inside-the-belt holsters tucked into the small of their backs. Anytime you go to some form of religious service, there is a very good chance that a police officer in your congregation is carrying. You will never know if there is such an individual in your place of worship, until the wolf appears to massacre you and your loved ones. I was training a group of police officers in Texas, and during the break, one officer asked his friend if he carried his weapon in church. The other cop replied, "I will never be caught without my gun in church." I asked why he felt so strongly about this, and he told me about a cop he knew who was at a church massacre in Ft. Worth, Texas in 1999. In that incident, a mentally deranged individual came into the church and opened fire, gunning down fourteen people. He said that officer believed he could have saved every life that day if he had been carrying his gun. His own son was shot, and all he could do was throw himself on the boy's body and wait to die. That cop looked me in the eye and said, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself after that?" Some individuals would be horrified if they knew this police officer was carrying a weapon in church. They might call him paranoid and would probably scorn him. Yet these same individuals would be enraged and would call for "heads to roll" if they found out that the airbags in their cars were defective, or that the fire extinguisher and fire sprinklers in their kids' school did not work. They can accept the fact that fires and traffic accidents can happen and that there must be safeguards against them.

Their only response to the wolf, though, is denial, and all too often their response to the sheepdog is scorn and disdain. But the sheepdog quietly asks himself, "Do you have any idea how hard it would be to live with yourself if your loved ones were attacked and killed, and you had to stand there helplessly because you were unprepared for that day?" It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.

Denial kills you twice. It kills you once, at your moment of truth when you are not physically prepared: you didn't bring your gun, you didn't train. Your only defense was wishful thinking. Hope is not a strategy. Denial kills you a second time because even if you do physically survive, you are psychologically shattered by your fear, helplessness and horror at your moment of truth. Gavin de Becker puts it like this in "Fear Less", his superb post-9/11 book, which should be required reading for anyone trying to come to terms with our current world situation: "...denial can be seductive, but it has an insidious side effect. For all the peace of mind deniers think they get by saying it isn't so, the fall they take when faced with new violence is all the more unsettling." Denial is a save-now-pay-later scheme, a contract written entirely in small print, for in the long run, the denying person knows the truth on some level.

And so the warrior must strive to confront denial in all aspects of his life, and prepare himself for the day when evil comes. If you are warrior who is legally authorized to carry a weapon and you step outside without that weapon, then you become a sheep, pretending that the bad man will not come today. No one can be "on" 24/7, for a lifetime. Everyone needs down time. But if you are authorized to carry a weapon, and you walk outside without it, just take a deep breath, and say this to yourself..."Baa." This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between. Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. The degree to which you move up that continuum, away from sheephood and denial, is the degree to which you and your loved ones will survive, physically and psychologically at your moment of truth.

"If It Weren't For The United States Military" "There Would Be NO United States of America"

(This essay is not my own but was published on my first blog in June of 2008. I was teaching in a homeschool co-op and the students had alot of questions about the war in Iraq. My brother was deployed with the US Army and I asked him what he would tell my students. He sent me this.
The images are taken from Facebook, authors unknown.)

Theater Artists Find Depths in Search for Families

From the Twin Cities' StarTribune, a profile of two Korean adoptees, each performing one-woman shows about their experiences:
Twin Cities actor Sun Mee Chomet was playing Lady Macduff in "Macbeth" at the Guthrie in 2010 when she got a call from Korea saying that her birth mother wanted to meet her. This fulfillment of her years-long process to know more about her biological family hit Chomet hard. She cried that day in her dressing room.

Not long before the phone call, Chomet, a Korean-American adoptee, had appeared via webcam on "I Miss That Person," a Korean reality TV show for adoptees. The show is a hit in a country from which an estimated 200,000 children were adopted by Western families over the past 50 years. Many are seeking to reconnect with their birth families, hoping to fill out everything from health histories to emotional voids.

"There are 10,000 Korean adoptees in Minnesota alone," she said.

Chomet's reunion with her birth mother was a complicated dance of Western expectations and Korean tradition. Her mother is now married to a man who is not Chomet's father. The daughter will not be able to spend a night in her mother's home until after he dies. Still, Chomet learned many things about herself during her reunion with her mother in Korea. For one thing, her mother wanted to become an actor -- a dream cut short when she had Chomet.

The actor, writer and director said that she felt a familial ease being around her mother and aunts, and got a deep sense of belonging. (Her birth mother's husband was kept at bay during their meetings.)
"Going into the search, I envisioned, as many adoptees feel, that meeting my birth mother would make me feel more whole," she said. "If anything, I felt some deep emotions starting to surface that I wasn't aware were there, including shock."

* * *

Writer and performer [Katie Hae] Leo, 40, was not as successful as Chomet in her search for her Korean birth parents.

Leo, who grew up in Indianapolis in a white family with three other adopted children, made two attempts, one hopeful, the other halfhearted. In 1998, Leo visited Bucheon, the former agricultural village where she was born and where, the story goes, she was left on the doorstep of a police station. She placed ads and searched records. She got no results. She returned to Korea in 2007 as part of a large gathering of international adoptees, again unable to find her biological mom.

"The search is fraught with a lot of emotional baggage," she said. "I feel self-conscious about not speaking the language, although I look like I should. I'm fearful about how I would be received. It's all so daunting and a little scary."

All she has is stories, some of which she has made up.

"The story that I was told when I was growing up was that my mother was a teenage prostitute," Leo said. "To me, that sounded Dickensian. She did the best she could for me by giving me up."

In her 20s, Leo wanted to find out more about her ancestry for identity reasons.

"Now," she said, "I need that genetic knowledge for my health. I have a neurological disorder that the doctors say is genetic. I need to know more about it."

Smart and Beautiful

My mother always told me it was better to be smart than to be beautiful. “If you are smart, eventually you will be able to afford to be beautiful,” she said. A successful career could result in enough money to buy the right clothes, get the perfect haircut and any plastic surgery I want. According to this wisdom, all I needed were the brains, and someday, I would be a dashingly beautiful lawyer.

I was an only child until I was six years old. My mother and I walked the streets of Mexico City visiting every museum and historical place. She worked at a TV station and I would come along and watch the magic of filming TV shows, along with the horror of Big Bird taking his head off to reveal a sweaty, ugly, scrubby man. But all the same, I was learning.

I was reading classics at an early age: Jane Eyre, Little Women, and my favorite, Mark Twain. Bilingual at an early age, my mother began to feed me those classics in English as well, although Mark Twain was never a book I willingly picked up to read in English.

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My article, Smart and Beautiful was published today at the Memoir Project, CLICK HERE to keep reading and leave me a message!

And mom, thanks for being strong for me. You are my hero.


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I am Mom and I have had ENOUGH.

I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival buttonWelcome to the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.


This Carnival is dedicated to empowering ALL parents who practice and promote and peaceful, loving, attachment parenting philosophy. We have asked other parents to help us show the critics and the naysayers that attachment parenting is beautiful, uplifting, and unbelievably beneficial and NORMAL!

In addition to the Carnival, Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy are co-hosting a Linky Party. Please stop by either blog to share any of your posts on the topic.

Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Post topics are wide and varied, and every one is worth a read.

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Excuse me? Excuse me?! Hello, I am talking to YOU! Yes, YOU! Did you just say that this woman, this mother, who is sitting here nursing her toddler is committing child abuse? Child molestation?

You did? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You really said that? Really? Well, I NEVER.

And YOU! Yes, YOU. Did you just tell this mother that the bottle of formula she is feeding her baby is poison? Really? YOU SAID THAT? What on God’s green EARTH made you say THAT?

Oh, good gravy, not birth! Please, stop bickering to each other about birth! Yes, I know you had a  homebirth with a midwife. Yes, I understand that you think all babies should be born in a hospital. I GET IT. Just PLEASE STOP ARGUING.

No! No, I don’t want you . . . ENOUGH. Do you hear me, ENOUGH! You! Sit HERE. And YOU! Over there. Sit and THINK about what you said.
Yes, yes I am treating you like belligerant two years old who have not had a nap in a week and lived off Pop Rocks and Moutain Dew. That's what you are acting like! I believe in education and informed  choices- and I know both of you do too. But what is right for one family may not be right for another and if you want acceptence, you have to show it.
I am sorry I got angry.

Are you done? Calmed down? Good. Whew. I really, really don’t like it when you ladies fight. I love all of you and there is enough room at this parenting table for all of us. Mothering is hard, slogging work without us turning on each other.

Please, shake hands, make up and have a playdate. I am a mom, and I have had enough of these wars.


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Thank you for visiting the I Am Mom! Enough! Carnival hosted by hosted by Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama and Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants and check out previous posts at the linky party hosted by Joni from Tales of a Kitchen Witch and Jennifer from True Confessions of a Real Mommy:


(This list will be live and updated by afternoon May 28 with all the carnival links.)

  • Good Enough? — Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy writes about how Good Enough is not Good Enough, if you use it as an excuse to stop trying.
  • The High Cost of High Expectations JeninCanada at Fat and Not Afraid shares what it's like to NOT feel 'mom enough' and wanting to always do better for herself and family.
  • TIME to Be You! — Becky at Old New Legacy encourages everyone to be true to themselves and live their core values.
  • I am mom and I have had ENOUGH — A mother had had ENOUGH of the mommy wars.
  • Motherhood vs. Feminism — Doula Julia at juliamannes.com encourages feminists to embrace the real needs and cycles and strengths of women.
  • There Is No Universal Truth When It Comes To Parenting — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses how parenting looks around the world and why there is no universal parenting philosophy.
  • Attachment Parenting Assumptions — ANonyMous at Radical Ramblings argues that attachment parenting is not just for the affluent middle-classes, and that as parents we all need to stop worrying about our differences and start supporting each other.
  • Thoughts on Time Magazine, Supporting ALL Mamas, and Advocating for the Motherless — Time Magazine led That Mama Gretchen to think about her calling as a mother and how adoption will play an important role in growing her family.
  • Attachment Parenting: the Renewed Face of Feminism — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children embraces her inner feminist as she examines how the principles of attachment parenting support the equal treatment of all.
  • What a Mom Wants! — Clancy Harrison from Healthy Baby Beans writes about how women need to support each other in their different paths to get to the same destination.
  • Attachment Parenting: What One Family Wants You To Know — Jennifer, Kris, 4 year old Owen and 2 year old Sydney share the realities of attachment parenting, and how very different it looks than the media's portrayal.
  • We ALL Are Mom Enough — Amy W. of Amy Willa: Me, Mothering, and Making It All Work thinks that all mothers should walk together through parenthood and explores her feelings in prose.
  • A Typical Day Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment shares what a typical day with her attached family looks like...all in the hopes to shed light on what Attachment Parenting is, what it's not and that it's unique within each family!
  • The Proof is in the (organic, all-natural) Pudding — Kym at Our Crazy Corner of the World talks about how, contrary to what the critics say, the proof that attachment parenting works in visible in the children who are parented that way.
  • I am mom and I have had ENOUGH A mother had had ENOUGH of the mommy wars.
  • Time Magazine & Mommy Wars: Enough! What Really Matters? — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter encourages moms to stop fighting with each other, and start alongside each other.
  • Attachment parenting is about respect — Lauren at Hobo Mama breaks down what attachment parenting means to her to its simplest level.
  • I am an AP mom, regardless... — Jorje ponders how she has been an Attachment Parenting mom regardless of outside circumstances at Momma Jorje.
  • The first rule of Attachment Parenting is: You Do Not Talk about Attachment Parenting — Emily discusses, with tongue aqnd cheek, how tapping into our more primal selves actually brings us closer to who we are rather than who we think we should be.
  • Mom, I am. — Amy at Anktangle discusses how Attachment Parenting is a natural extension of who she is, and she explains the ways her parenting approach follows the "live and let live" philosophy, similar to her beliefs about many other areas of life.

From a Russian Orphanage to American Stardom

From the New Haven Register:
Mikel Beaukel’s story begins as he’s playing with puppets in an orphanage in war-torn Russia; the ending might be scripted by Hollywood.

He’s 20 now, featured in Pop Star magazine as one of its “fresh faces!” and he’s recording a disc of his songs while working toward that big break.

“Good grief, Mikel’s sexy!” Pop Star raved. “He is so hot!”

* * *

The beginning wasn’t pretty nor was it fun. “When my mother gave birth to my twin brother, Alex, and I,” Beaukel said, “she used a fake name so we could never contact her.”

After spending the first six months of their lives in a hospital, they lived in the orphanage for 3-4 years. This was in Moldova, which emerged as an independent republic after the collapse of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. While Beaukel was in the orphanage, war was raging outside.

* * *

Beukel uses the word “rescue” to describe his adoptive parents’ role in getting the twins out of there. “They used an adoption agency in New York. When they saw a picture of us, they fell in love!”  

Alluding to his parents, Carol and Bill Snee, he said, “They gave me everything; I came from nothing. I grew up in a beautiful town on Long Island.”

“Then,” he said, “Pierre came into my life.”

That’s Pierre Patrick of New Haven. You might remember him as the entertainment industry manager, record producer, writer and big-time Doris Day fan I profiled about eight weeks ago.

Beaukel had already attracted the attention of the Suchin Company, the management agency that signed him. “They recommended Pierre.”

As soon as he met and sized up Beaukel, Patrick was ready to be his manager. “I said, ‘Fine, let’s make it happen!’” Patrick recalled. “I AM well-connected.”
You know how I feel about the whole rescue thing, but he's the adoptee and he can tell his story however he wants.  I just hope his adoptive parents didn't tell it that way. . . .


Irish Couples Flock to Florida to Adopt

From the Herald (Ireland):
IRISH couples wanting to adopt are increasingly turning to Florida in the US, new data shows.

Some 17 babies were adopted from Florida last year, statistics released by Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald reveal.

In fact, more children were adopted from the US by Irish residents in 2011 than during the nine years between 2000 and 2008.

The International Adoption Association (IAA) said the proven track record of "transparent and ethical" processes in Florida has made the state a popular choice for couples.

A spokeswoman said: "There are many reasons for this but primarily because other families have effected legal and transparent adoptions from this state and the children are very young when placed for adoption."

It is easier to travel back and forth to Florida from Ireland than the west coast of the US, she pointed out.

There is also an agency in the state which works with Irish parents and in which the applicants have confidence.
So, it looks like Florida is the new Mexico. . . .

Celebrating Weaning

A few days ago, there was a Carnival Of Weaning. (Click on the link and scroll down for all the entries.) True to form, I didn't think of an article until... now. See, when the call came out, I shrugged it off because I really feel like I have said all I want to or need about weaning. I've breastfed three children beyond a year. I bottle fed one from eight months until 21 months. When it was time to wean them from the breast or bottle, we did it with love and respect, following their cues and our (mine, honestly) bodily cues and desires.

Cole has been weaned for about two months. I knew he would likely wean while we were in Washington for a trip. When I got home, he nursed. I was surprised, thinking he would forget but, given his launch into "nursing lift-off" (aka, the nursing position) and his insistence on nursing when I sat in my office chair, apparently, he had not.

The next day, he was insistent that I nurse him when I was sitting down. I tried, but it was like nursing him with a tongue tie. I heard clicking and he wasn't drawing the nipple back into his mouth. We tried a couple more times but it really hurt. He was done.

I am a little sad that this time in my life has come to an end. I bought some new bras, of course, but Adam and I did something else to mark the end of the breastfeeding and baby stage: we registered to become bone marrow donors.

I know, right? I am an organ donor; it says so on my drivers licence. I haven't been able to donate blood in forever since I have been pregnant or nursing. When the bone marrow drive came to our parish, it was almost too easy to sign up.

I was shocked when Adam agreed to do it. My hospital, needle AND blood phobic husband willingly have a needle shoved in his arm (if asked)? Get the smelling salts! I made up promise up and down that he would agree to donate if called. I didn't want him to be just a name on the file. He agreed.

Donating is super simple. We had to read through a form and then fill one out, paying special attention to the ethnic backgrounds. They looooved me since I have the most boring health history evah and I have a variety of ethnic backgrounds. (My dad jokes that my siblings and I are mutts and in this case, being a mutt is good!) Then we swabbed the inside of our cheeks for DNA and that was that.

Easy peasey lemon squeezey as Camille says.

Will they call me? I don't know. Will I donate if they need me? Likely, yes. Unless something else is going on that would make it too much of a hardship on my family for my to donate at that time, I will do it. I've always had it in my heart to be an organ or bone marrow donor and I am happy I am at a point in my life where I can consider it. My body has spent years giving life to and nourishing my children; perhaps I can help someone else too.

"What to Expect When You're Expecting" and Adoption

Yes, I knew there was an adoption thread in the movie "What to Expect When You're Expecting."  Hard to miss it, with multiple reports that J Lo, who had never ever thought about adoption before, sorta kinda maybe thought she could understand why people adopt after her character in the movie did the same, not that she is actually going to adopt, of course. But there's more info about the movie from SisterHaiti UgandaMama, who also puts it in a larger context of unrealistic expectations of prospective adoptive parents:
For several months, I’ve been thinking about a blog series on unrealistic adoption expectations. Off & on, I’d draft rough notes on the topic. But in the last week or so, I’ve really gotten motivated to move forward with the series. One of those motivators was seeing the new movie “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. I knew that one of the couples in the movie adopted a child and I was eager to see how that was portrayed in the movie.

Wow. What a disappointing, unrealistic portrayal of international adoption. I know it’s Hollywood, and we shouldn’t expect much, but still, this kind of thing only serves to increase the unrealistic expectations of first -timers thinking about adopting internationally.

(Slight spoiler here for anyone concerned.) The desperate-for-a-baby mother and the freaked-out father choose Ethiopia. Just a few days or weeks (!) later they get a referral for and a picture of an adorable, six week old, perfectly healthy baby boy. There’s an “awwww,” from the audience, of course. Months later they travel to Africa and arrive at the care center with a large group of other adoptive families (each and every family carrying an infant baby carrier!). There is a short ceremony where they all stand in a line and repeat an oath about caring for the child and keeping them in touch with their Ethiopian heritage. They then exchange a lit candle for their baby and are pronounced to be a family. More awww’s from the audience.

Easy enough right? Apparently many people assume so.

* * *

Friends, it is time to paint a more realistic picture of what international adoption looks like today.

I am not aware of any adoption program, anywhere in the world where healthy, adoptable infants are sitting in orphanages waiting for families.
An important reminder of what to expect when you're expecting to adopt internationally.

Opportunities Lost

I am linking up with Gypsy Mama for 5 Minute Friday, where you write for 5 minutes, no editing, no over-thinking, you just write! What you get is what you get!


Theme: Opportunity
 
I wonder how often opportunities come my way and I simply let them pass by because I am too busy, or too stressed, or too concerned with me.

Opportunities to reach out to someone that is need. Sometimes a smile is all I need to offer, or a listening ear, or companionship, just being there. 

Opportunities to make memories with my children. Like getting down on the floor to play, getting them dancing, or telling them stories (instead I am too busy, especially if there is a computer around).

Opportunities to connect with my husband. Taking time to really ask him questions, to listen to what is going on in his heart. Instead, I can treat him like a roommate.

Opportunities to do the things I enjoy. Like going o a Zumba class, or go out for a bike ride, or really make time to write.

Opportunities to be a light to a world that is dark and where pain and hurt are common. I can wallow in my own struggles and not look past me.

What about you, do you miss any opportunities?
 

Messages from Moms

I am doing a 2 part guest blog over at Diving for Pearls. I met Katie through my friend Jolene Philo who directed me to Katie's incredible ministry helping churches reach out to children with special needs. If you are not familiar with Key Ministry: a church for every child, I suggest you check them out. The Children's Ministry Consultant from our church denomination recently attended one of their trainings and she said the time was incredible valuable and she feel better equipped as a  ministry consultant.

Here is a snippet:


Three little bright-eyed girls hold my mother’s heart. They are gifts, treasured and precious lives entrusted to me. They love their bows and dresses, pinks and purples, dolls and castles. They play together, giggle, and hug. Yet, each of them is unique. If you were to come to my house, you would discover just how different they are from each other. Somehow, they fit together so well; they are perfect for each other; they are sisters.

Ellie is my almost-seven year old. She is my drama queen and creativeness pours out of her easily. She is advanced for her age at school, and next year she will most likely be joining that talented and gifted program.  Then there is Nina, my other six year old. She joined our family through international adoption before she turned 4 years old. At the time, her development was that of an infant, but with the love and support of a family she is now an average Kindergartner and we are astonished at how much she has accomplished in life. Due to her background, Nina struggles with some mental health issues, some we hope she will overcome as she continues to grow, and some that will be a part of her life. Nina also has Cerebral Palsy and she faces the challenges that come from her disability. And there is my rascal, Nichole. She is four years old and she has Down syndrome. She is the reason we chose to adopt Nina. She changed our hearts forever, teaching us about what really matters in life and re-establishing our priorities. 

To keep reading, click here.


If you missed it, I also wrote an article for SpecialNeeds.com and you can read that article HERE.