Thursday, April 29, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

Dear Kristen Davis:

I love you in the Sex and the City.

But, if you think you qualify as a "curvy" woman...I really have to ask, what planet are you on?

Or, more realistically, what planet is Hollywood on?

You are thin. Small, tiny, svelte, willowy, slender or lithe, even. Pick your OWN adjective. Leave curvy to me, m'kay?

Because, out here, in the real world...most of us would probably be trying to stuff a cheeseburger down your throat to keep you from blowing over in a stiff wind.

Kristen Davis says she's never going to be the thinnest actress


Truly, it's articles like this that make me want to hide in a parka beneath a down blanket and never reveal an inch of myself to anyone in public ever again. That's sad, isn't it?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Girl Got Pipes

I didn't get to see this last night, so I had to find it on Youtube this morning.

Crystal Bowersox's voice gives me shivers. You can see her performance here. It's definitely worth a few minutes of your time. (I am having trouble figuring out which video is actually sanctioned by FOX. I did not make this video, am not associated with the person who posted it, etc.)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Choosing to Remember

I was working the morning shift at the front desk of a hotel in Tucson, Arizona on the morning of April 19, 1995.

For reasons I did not understand then and do not understand now, an employee of the Federal government had been living in that hotel for several months. She had her two sons with her, who were attending the local public school.

The hotel had an atrium in which we served a continental breakfast. For some reason - sickness, conferences, perhaps - one of the federal employee's sons did not go to school that morning, and he was sitting in the atrium eating doughnuts. The television in the atrium was playing the Today Show, I think, but it might have been Good Morning America.

The lobby (where I was working) was empty that morning. The boy came running into the lobby from the atrium, worry and concern plastered across his face. "My mom!" he said to me. "My mom's work just got blowed up!" He grabbed my hand and pulled me into the atrium, where the news was showing footage from Oklahoma City. The newscasters kept talking about "the federal building" and the boy looked at the TV and started crying. "My mom works in the federal mom works in the federal building."

I watched the news in horror for several seconds, and then I asked the boy if his mom was in Tucson today, or if she had gone to Oklahoma for something.

"No, she's here. She's here in Tucson," he said.

I told him that the explosion was in Oklahoma, very far away from Arizona. Together we called the telephone number he had for his mother's office, and her staff tracked her down so she could talk to her frightened son.

I don't remember what happened after that. I know that I wanted to talk to my friend Ann, who was in graduate school with me, and whose parents lived in OKC. I know that I didn't get a hold of her until after I got home from work that afternoon, and when I talked to her, she said that her parents had heard the explosion from miles away.

I remember being glued to the television for days afterwards. I remember the initial belief that the bombing had been the work of Islamic Extremists giving way to news of the unthinkable - that the bombing had been the work of an American, a veteran.

In retrospect, what strikes me most is the emphasis that was placed on finding a suspect called John Doe #2. The sketch of John Doe #2 was EVERYWHERE for DAYS. And then, suddenly, we were told he didn't exist.

I accepted, at the time, that if the federal government was telling us that John Doe #2 didn't exist, he must not exist.

I was naive enough, then, to believe the media and the government would never lie to us.

Today, I am sad for the families of the 168 people whose lives were cut short that morning by the actions of a mad man and others unknown.

I do not believe that Timothy McVeigh acted alone that day, with only the prior assistance of Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier. (McVeigh died insisting that he blew up the Murrah building alone. But we know that McVeigh was a monster, don't we? Why should we take him at his word?)

I think that there are others out there whose acts were complicit in this tragedy. I think it is a gross injustice that no one is looking for those others who were responsible.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hold Me Closer, Tony Danza, Count the Headlice on the Highway*


Yesterday, Lana and I were running some errands and picking up a gift for Husband's birthday.

As we were driving out of the mall parking lot, Lana said to me, very seriously, her voice grave as it came to me from the back seat,

"Mommy, I don't like your lies."

Considering that I had just purchased her a pair of monkey shaped earrings and that she and I had been laughing and happily sharing a cookie and cherry slurpee only moments before, I was taken aback.

"What?" I asked.

"I don't like your lies," she said, again, or so I thought.

"What have I lied about?" I asked, incredulously.

"You don't lie about anything, mommy," she answered, sounding confused.

"Then why did you just tell me you don't like my lies?" I asked.

Lana huffed. "I said, I don't WRITE good "Y"s, Mommy. I don't WRITE good "Y"s. When I am writing, you know? My "y"s don't look good."

Oh. Well, that was clear as mud, I guess. But, for the record, I don't see anything at all wrong with her "Y"s...


*Misunderstood song lyrics for Elton John's Tiny Dancer

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15, Blog For Adoption Day

Earlier this week, the Joint Council On International Children's Services issued this call to action in response to the tragedy surrounding 7 year old Artyem Saviliev.

We Are The Truth – an adoption blogger day: To ensure the world knows about every successful adoption, on Thursday, April 15, 2010 blog about your adoption or the adoption of someone you know. It doesn’t matter if your adoption is with Russia, domestic or otherwise international. Let the world know your truth!

This is my truth.


Motherhood is a hard landing.

My son came into our family in the usual way. His birth and early infancy were incredibly hard for me. I struggled with postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety*.

Sleeplessness, caused by Gabriel's intense dislike for sleep and my own anxiety-driven insomnia, drove me the brink of sanity. My thoughts became jumbled, fixated, dangerous. I believed my son would not be able to breathe if I fell asleep. Even as I recognized that such thoughts were ridiculous and impossible, I cannot stress enough that my belief in the truth of that insane conviction went to the very core of my being.

I took to sleeping with my hand curled into Gabriel's bassinet.

Or I sat in a rocking chair watching endless episodes of Law & Order re-runs, my hand resting on my baby's abdomen, so that I could physically feel him breathing.

My desire to insure his continued breathing battled with my exhaustion. The burden of keeping a child alive, the burden of having to be awake to make sure he was breathing became impossibly heavy. I resented what motherhood was asking of me.

I wished someone would come and take Gabriel away, that someone else could bear the burden of making sure he breathed.

Only then did I realize how ill I had become.

Fortunately, my family practice doctor is a wise man. Far wiser and more compassionate that my then ob-gyn.

(To this day I wonder if I had never shared my concerns with Dr. D~, if I had only shared my concerns with my then obstetrician...I worry what might have happened to Gabriel and I.)

After I was feeling better, I shared with my doctor that I didn't ever want to feel that way again. I didn't ever want to feel my sanity slipping away from me. I told him I didn't ever want to be pregnant again.

Dr. D~ agreed that never again being pregnant was one solution. He suggested not making any rash decisions.

Years went by.

I grew to love Gabriel with a fierceness I cannot begin to describe. But I still had no interest in becoming pregnant again. (In fact, on the evening of my grandfather's funeral in November of 2001, Husband and I looked nervously at a pregnancy test in our small bathroom, hoping for a negative result. Earlier that day, my great-grandmother looked me in the face and said, "girl, you're pregnant again." Thank God she was wrong.)

Gabriel was five before I could even rationally consider the idea of another child.

Husband and I made a decision, on the day after Christmas in 2005, that we wanted another child. And we felt sure that that child, our child, the child meant to join our family - we were sure that child was already here, already living, breathing...somewhere.

We set about to finding that child. And only two months later, when we found the child we believed was meant to be ours, we suffered a heartbreak. As it turned out, that child was a red herring. (A child who went on to meet the forever family who was supposed to be his and I truly wish them every happiness.)

What was helpful about that heartbreak was that it pointed us in the right direction, and I will always be grateful to that little boy for that.

Four months of painful choices went by. We were presented child after child by our agency. None of them was meant to be.

And then, we found our Lana. She was living in the same city as that first little boy. And when we saw her file, we took a leap of faith. Our agency approved us as a match to Lana only 3 days later.

When we brought Lana home, at the age of 4, six months wasn't easy.

It wasn't easy and it wasn't magical and it wasn't what we expected.

It was hard. She was angry. She missed her foster mother. She missed her foster sister and the little boy who was fostered in the same home. (Later, in one of Lana's first real English communications with me, she would hold up a photo of that little boy and ask me, "Where is my brother?")

Lana's heart was broken. My heart was battered. I won't speak for Husband's heart, but I suspect it was battered as well.

On that first Easter Sunday after Lana had been home about 2 1/2 months, I sat in a chapel with my mother, and I told her that I didn't like this little girl very much. My mother struggled with what face to put on (her clergy face or her mom face.) And then she said, "I guess it doesn't matter how our children come to us, it can be so hard. But time will fix this. That child is not broken. She may be damaged and hurting, but she isn't broken."

My mother was right. Time WOULD fix it. Time and love and care and patience. And Lana wasn't broken.

I cannot tell you the exact amount of time it took to fix it. I can tell you that after 20 months had passed I had a realization that my love for her was intense and equal to my feelings for Gabriel.

I'm not going to lie and tell you that this is an easy road. I am not going to tell you that Lana doesn't struggle with issues surrounding her adoption. She questions, she challenges, she demands reassurance that she is loved as much as Gabriel.

I struggle to be equitable in all things between my children, but I think most mothers know how hard it is to walk that tight-rope of fairness.

But at the end of the day, there is no other child, no other means of being a family, no other option - she is my daughter. She is Gabriel's sister. She is her daddy's little girl. We are complete, we are four, and that is the perfect number. For our family.

That is my truth.


Island Music

The resort we stayed at in Jamaica played this song several times a day...

I think they were trying to encourage the parents to make use of the (included) kid's camp and take advantage of some 'alone' time. (Nudge nudge wink wink.)

I had to google the lyrics to find it, but I love it. It puts me in a 'island mood'.

Check it out: Kevin Lyttle Turn Me On Featuring Spraga Benz

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Hope the Russians Love Their Children, Too*

My head is spinning, SPINNING, from this horrifying story.

I know the media gets things wrong, dead wrong, sometimes. So, perhaps we don't have all the facts yet.

But, it seems that a Tennessee mother, who adopted a Russian child six months ago, PUT HIM ON A PLANE and SENT HIM BACK TO MOSCOW, with a NOTE that said that she didn't want to parent him anymore.

And the sheriff of the county where she lives ISN'T SURE if ANY LAWS WERE BROKEN???

(Let me clarify a few things before I spout off.

1. I am not licensed to practice law in Tennessee.

2. I am not involved in this case in any way, shape or form.

3. I am just a lawyer and an adoptive mom who has a small adoption law practice, particularly in the area re-finalizing foreign adoptions.

4. I am not an expert and this is just my (educated) opinion. )

This article (linked above) implies that whether or not any laws were broken depends on whether the child was a US Citizen.

Generally speaking, a child who has been adopted by a US Citizen, and who enters the country on a IR3 visa BECOMES A US Citizen at the moment that child enters the United States of America.

It is my understanding that most Russian adoptions are finalized in a Russian Court, usually after the parents have already seen the child. This would lead me to believe that the child probably would have entered the US on an IR3 visa, which would indicate that he became a US Citizen as soon as he landed on US soil.

(Again, I don't KNOW anything about THIS case in particular. Perhaps he entered on a IR4 visa, which would mean he would have to have his adoption re-finalized in a US court and then applied for a birth certificate and then a Certificate of Citizenship before becoming a citizen.)

But, I would hazard a guess that the child IS a US Citizen. However, even if he entered the US on a IR4 visa, it doesn't make the situation any less nauseating, and I don't see how it has any bearing on whether or not a crime was committed. Is it a lesser criminal act to neglect or abandon a child who ISN'T a US Citizen? If a family of immigrants did this to one of their biological children while living in the US, it would still be a CRIME.

In my experience in viewing documents from Russian adoptions, the adoption is final in the Russian court before the Russian government allows the parent or parents to leave Russia with the child. (I am curious to know if there is anyone reading this who knows of any circumstances in which the Russian government allows the adoptive parent or parents to leave Russia without issuing an adoption decree? I am genuinely curious about this - if you are reading this and have a child adopted from Russia, drop me a comment about this? Did you child enter on an IR3 or IR4? Did your child receive a CoC as a matter of course or did you have to apply for one?)

Here's the thing - once a government - ANY GOVERNMENT - issues a decree of adoption, that child becomes the LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE ADOPTIVE PARENT. Exactly the same way that giving birth to a baby and walking out of the hospital with that baby creates a legal bond and obligation between a parent and a child. If this child's adoption was finalized in Russia or the US - HIS MOTHER WAS HIS MOTHER WAS HIS MOTHER - period. Full Stop. She was HIS MOTHER. With all of the legal obligations that motherhood brings with it.

So, in my opinion, the act of the adoptive mother of putting her child on airplane and sending him back to Russia is EXACTLY THE SAME, legally, as me putting Gabriel on an airplane and sending him away with a note saying I did not wish to parent him anymore.

That, in MY STATE anyway, would be a pretty clear case of child neglect and abandonment. Which is a crime (in my state). And I would expect that the State of Tennessee also makes it a crime to neglect or abandon one's own child (but, as I have said, I am not licensed to practice there.)

It's not that I don't have any empathy for this woman. I have parented a child who came home at an older age. I know, intimately, how frustrating, exhausting, and hard it can be to try to learn how to love a child who doesn't want your love and who really, really wants to go "home."

And I also know that Lana was, all things considered, an "easy" older child adoption. Lana, certainly, never drew a picture of burning my house down, or threatened to kill me in my sleep. She is not violent, she is loving and lovable.

But those first six months? Those first six months were hard. Really, really hard. I think, at one point, in my despair, I told Husband I felt like we had made a horrible mistake. I cannot stress enough that those first six months were hard.

But never once, not in my WORST MOMENTS, did it cross my mind to try to return a child like a broken jacket from the Land's End catalogue.

And again, I know, Lana was not a difficult child in the way that I know that hurt children (dare I say broken children?) can be.

I do not doubt that this child was difficult to live with. I do not doubt that this child scared his mother. I do not doubt that this mother felt like she was in a desperate situation.

BUT BUT BUT - again, I say - children are not merchandise that can be returned!!!!

Where was the social worker who approved this family's homestudy? Where was the adoption agency that facilitated this adoption? Did it never occur to this mother to call the social worker or the agency? Did it never occur to this mother to google the words, "broken adoption" or "disrupted adoption" or "revoked adoption"?

I know that adoption agencies loathe these kinds of situations. I know that social workers hate to see these kinds of failures. But I can guarantee that if she discussed the situation with either the social worker or the agency THEY WOULD NOT HAVE TOLD HER TO PUT HIM ON A PLANE TO MOSCOW!!!! They would have quietly whispered the word, 'disruption'. (Presumably after suggesting any other number of options, like, oh, I don't know, FAMILY THERAPY?)

Didn't anyone, at any time, tell her that this child could be adopted by another family? Did she have knowledge of the adoption community? (I know the adoption community doesn't like to talk about the failures, but we know they happen! I mean, don't we know they happen?)

I don't blame this woman for failing to learn how to love and parent a child she found she couldn't parent. (Though I do wish she might have tried for more than six months.) But what I DO blame her for is becoming yet another person to have failed this child in what is, no doubt, a long line of people and entities that have failed this child on a massive scale. If she no longer wished to parent him? She had an obligation to find someone who could. She IS his MOTHER.

And if he IS a US Citizen? If he entered the US on an IR3 visa? He should not be stripped of that privilege. If nothing else, he should be able to hold on to that.


*Sting, Russians

Because Paradise is Nice

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I've Still Got Sand in my Shoes,* or, Come to Jamaica and Feel All Right

Husband and I and the kiddos returned last night from a week in Jamaica.

We stayed at a family all inclusive resort (Beaches Boscobel) and we had a lovely time.

Delta Airlines did their best to completely ruin the vacation by screwing up our reservation, but we made it home yesterday evening. (I will post about that tomorrow, I think. If I post about it now, my head my explode, because I am still pretty angry.)

I do believe I may have gained back all the weight I lost (owing to the fact that I was offered rum in various forms all day long for an entire week, and who am I to say no??? Oh, and the food...well, that might have contributed something as well. You know what is AWESOME for breakfast? If you take some raisin bran, and then add whole milk, chopped pecans, sliced almonds, and shredded coconut....yum...especially if eaten as a side to a made-to-order bacon omelet and a mountain of fresh pineapple... And then there was the beef tenderloin, and the curried pork and the red snapper in coconut sauce and the coconut shrimp and the coconut rum and drinks INSIDE of coconuts and um...yeah. I need to get back on the treadmill STAT.)

I will say that going to a family all inclusive resort during the busiest week of the year for family travel (Easter week) - was a bit frustrating. I wish that we had more flexibility in terms of scheduling a vacation, but we are pretty much bound to my husband's school district's spring break, which is pretty much always Easter week. The resort was FULL, and I mean, FULL. But we did have a lovely time.

I will post pictures once I unpack the camera.


*Dido, Sand in My Shoes

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