Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve Potpourri - A Little Bit of This & That

My Baby Girl Turns 8 Today

Today, my youngest daughter turned 8. She is a Jewish girl with a Christmas Eve birthday. As is our tradition, we begin the celebration the night before. She asked for a chocolate ice cream cake with Hershey Kisses.

We eased the "8" candle into the frosting and added two extra candles. One for my darling girl to grow on. One as a way for her to honor her first mother, her Korean mother. "Before you make a wish for you, make a special wish to her because she is thinking of you, too."

Unlike my son who is my deep thinker and often ponders the circumstances of his Korean family and his adoption, my little girl lives very much in the present. She is the ultimate believer in "Be Here Now." I wait for the big questions, but they don't seem to be much on her mind. I gently encourage the big questions with books or teachable moments from TV, but nope, just not on her mind.

How different our children are as they find their respective paths to self and self-awareness. Okay, I say. I'm here when you're ready.


The Rules of Otherness

I found this on one of the multiracial Jewish listgroups I belong to. (Jewish and non-white and adopted can make for a major load of "otherness.") I like 'em as they reflect much of my own beliefs. Call them Rules of Thumb Governing "Otherness" when it comes to our special families. They refer to school, neighborhood, religious institutions and community at large.

1. I don't want us EVER to be the only Jewish family.

I could be one of a handful, but not the only. When I was first married to my ex-husband, we looked for places to live. Charles County, MD in 1977, close to my husband's work and with cheaper rents, didn't have a single synagogue. We took a pass.

2. I don't want us EVER to be the only multi-racial family.

Our kids need to see themselves and their families reflected in the larger world outside.

3. There has to be diversity already. My children can never BE the diversity.

I think this is the most important rule of all. Asking our children to carry this responsibility is unfair and burdensome. Childhood is hard enough without having to play ambassador, too. Race matters and love is not enough. Period.

None of this is easy. It means evaluating job offers/transfers, schools and neighborhoods in a way you may have never thought about before. It means asking your church or synagogue about the diversity of the congregation. With all of this, we as parents still risk "not getting it" or "getting it wrong." But try we must.


Why wishing me "Merry Christmas" is fine, but "Happy Holidays" is better.

So much discussion online, in the newspapers and TV about the "Happy Holidays" vs "Merry Christmas" wars. I have no idea why the more inclusive "Happy Holidays" somehow undercuts someone else's personal observance of whatever he or she may celebrate, but there you go. To my mind, "Happy Holidays" includes New Year's so I'm thinking no matter what, I'm wishing somebody something good in December.

Doesn't that count? :=)

As Hanukkah (mercifully!) concludes this evening and Christmas begins, I'm wishing you and yours "something good" -- enjoy this fun and festive Christmas song video from from Korea. Cute tune, cute kids.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I Have A Little Dreidel ...

Since our first born was old enough to have a little friend or two, we've always made the first night of Hanukkah a night for the kids and their non-Jewish friends. It's fun, festive, and gives the non-Jewish kids a chance to experience a different kind of holiday.

This evening, our oldest had 1 friend, our son 2 friends, and our youngest daughter also had 2 friends. Hubby made latkes (potato pancakes), we served doughnuts (fried food is the centerpiece of the holiday) and played Dreidel with chocolate coins in gold foil.

Now you have to appreciate the mix in my house: couple of white kids, couple of East Asian kids, and a couple of Korean kids. Some Christian, some Hindu, some Jewish. I listened and watched them all play Dreidel using the hebrew names for each spin.

Say what you will, I love this country :=)

I found this on YouTube. Wishing you and yours a swinging, rocking Hanukkah!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

When Did We Stop Caring About Children Not Our Own? Bus Stops & Mom Behaviors

I turn 52 next month. I've been a parent for over 14 years now. I've spent the last 10 walking my kids to and from the elementary school bus stop. Where we used to live, I was one of two parents who made the daily trip. In our new community, I am one of half-a-dozen or so parents who escort their little cherubs on and off the bus.

Yet, I remain the only parent who "parents" the kids whose parents aren't there. I'm the mom who reminds a child to zip a jacket or ask him where his jacket is when the weather turns cold. (Sometimes I even do the zipping.) I'm the mom who yells, "Nobody move until the bus stops completely" before the kids start swarming the morning bus. And I'm the mom who tells the kids, including my own, to get off the neighbor's lawn so he'll have something green come Spring.

The other moms are nice people. I enjoy speaking with them. But they don't engage anyone else's child but their own. (I even heard one mom mutter, "I don't care. He's not mine.")

There's no question in my mind that my behavior is rooted in my 1950s/1960s upbringing where every mom on my block parented every child on the block. That's what grown-ups did back then. It was part of the job.

But not today, not anymore. I suppose I do this a little out of fear. G-d forbid a child should slide under a bus wheel while on my "watch" -- how could I live with myself if that were to happen? Tell the cops it wasn't my job since it wasn't my kid?

So, I've accepted that this job is simply part of my overall karma. I am the bus stop monitor who zips jackets, and wipes noses, and keeps kids off the neighbor's grass. I will be out there, rain or shine, until my youngest no longer rides the elementary school bus. That's 3 years from now.

Will there be another mom to take my place when my job concludes? You tell me.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Michael Richards is no Andy Kaufman

Since I spent some time railing about Mel Gibson's vicious anti-semitic rant, it's only fair I comment on the latest "celebrity gone mad", Michael Richards. His deeply racist, hateful spew was captured on someone's cellphone camera. (I won't show it here, but you can see it just about anywhere.)

Here's what we know:
  • Richard's career has been moribund since Seinfeld went off the air
  • He didn't work stand-up in his early days. He was a sketch artist (If you're of a certain age, you might remember him from the short-lived SNL clone, Fridays. Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm) was also on this show.
  • The heckler who first taunted him wasn't African-American.
  • A few days prior to the well-publicized meltdown, Richard's performance included vicious attacks on women and Jews (Richards is Jewish.)
Some comics pushed the envelope with great regularity - Andy Kaufman, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Sam Kinison. These guys were genius. (I might add Sascha Baron Cohen (Barat) to the mix, as well.) Great art, comic or otherwise, forces us to examine our deepest selves and it isn't always pretty. In fact, most of time, it can be deeply disturbing.

But at some point, the comic alerts his/her audience to the joke. Richards, if he was attempting to walk in the giants of this comic art, failed miserably. If he wasn't, then he needs help. With his rage, his racism, and his misogyny.

Many moons ago, when I was very young, I did stand-up comedy. (Trust me, even with death, divorce, and childbirth in my history, stand-up comedy is harder.) Being heckled is part of the job. How a comic handles it marks him/her as a professional ... or not.

I liked Richards, thought he was a terrific physical comic actor. A first-rate second banana. But a little of him goes a long way. Now? A little of him is way too much. Richards should seek out his friends for help and intervention and stay off the stage until he gets himself together and into some serious therapy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

White Privilege Checklist: What's Your Score?

I've often said (and repeats) that when we adopt transracially, we are no longer a white family with a child of color. We become a transracial family.

But that's at home. When we're out and about in public, there's us white APs (if you're indeed white) and our Asian/AA/biracial children. Consider this checklist below and the privileges that are afforded us because of our majority/mainstream status:

White Privilege Checklist

Peggy McIntosh, Associate Director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, describes white privilege as an invisible package of unearned assets, which I can count on cashing in each day, but about which I was .meant. to remain oblivious. White privilege is like an invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, code books, visas, clothes, tools, and blank checks. (McIntosh, 1989).

___ 1. I can arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

___ 2. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

___ 3. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

___ 4. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization", I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

___ 5. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

___ 6. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the food I grew up with, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.

___ 7. Whether I use checks, credit cards, or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial responsibility.

___ 8. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing, or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

___ 9. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

___ 10. I can take a job or enroll in a college with an affirmative action policy without having my co-workers or peers assume I got it because of my race.

___ 11. I can be late to a meeting without having the lateness reflect on my race.

___ 12. I can choose public accommodation with out fearing that people of my race cannot get in or will be mistreated.

___ 13. I am never asked to speak for all of the people of my racial group.

___ 14. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk with the"person in charge", I will be facing a person of my race.

___ 15. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I haven.t
been singled out because of my race.

___ 16. I can easily by posters, postcards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys, and
children.s magazines featuring people of my race.

___ 17. I can choose blemish cover or bandages in .flesh. color and have them more or less match my skin.

___ 18. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

___ 19. I can walk into a classroom and know I will not be the only member of my race.

___ 20. I can enroll in a class at college and be sure that the majority of my professors will be of my race.

As a Jew, change race to religion and I can personally relate to some of these questions. (Invariably depending on the news of the day, I was sought out for the "Jewish" opinion at a mid-size publishing company I worked at years ago.) I grew up in a decidedly non-Jewish neighborhood, as well.

But unlike the race you wear on your face, I can choose to "hide" my faith/ethnicity.

Being recognized as the "other" means you're not the norm. As a writer it's easy to spot. When an adjective is added to a common noun, like "male nurse, woman truck driver, adopted child", you can see what society views as normal and what it does not.

Take the test, share it with your spouse and other family members and friends. Hey, do it at Thanksgiving and you're really get the conversation going :=)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Birthmothers: Unspoken Side of Adoption

Look for this new documentary sometime in 2007:

"Resilience finally gives birthmothers who had to give up their child a voice about being single mothers, international adoption practices and society.

The documentary allows them to contemplate this serious, but often ignored and misrepresented, social issue in Korea. The personal stories about how and what happened are sometimes shocking and very emotional to the women. Only a few of the approached women had enough courage to participate. ``There are some birthmothers who are ready to speak up. The ones who participated usually met their child again.’’ The sensitiveness of the topic is illustrated by one young woman being filmed in silhouette."

Although it has a very religious tone which may be oft putting to some readers, the book, I Wish for You A Wonderful Life offers another useful glimpse into the perspective of our children's Korean mothers.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Jewish Moms & Chinese Daughters

A good article with resonance for those of us with Korean-born sons and daughters.

Jewish Moms, Chinese Daughters
By Merri Rosenberg
Reprinted with permission from the Spring 2006 issue of Lilith Magazine. To read more or to subscribe, go to

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Vanished! One day you wake up and your beloved has disappeared ...

We think we know what it's like to be uprooted from all we know, but we don't. At least not most of us. And of those who might know, almost none have experienced the dislocation and confusion of losing everything familiar to begin, yet again, anew and afraid.

Except for our children.

This article is taken from Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections. Please read and pass along.


A Different Perspective

Imagine for a moment ...

You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by "soul mate," for this person understands you in a way that
no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.

The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the
world...the person who will be with you for the rest of your life. The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face. But it's not him! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man?

Where is your beloved? A Different Perspective continues here ...

Carrie Kitze, Publisher
EMK Press

Books that hit home for adopted children and informational guides that help parents on the journey! Find our new parent book “Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections” at AdoptShoppe.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Ghost Stories from Korea

Why NOT a ghost story or two from Korea!
Korean Ghost Stories

Be safe, have fun, and Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Yeah, what she said - The Last Word on Madonna

Wow, what a terrific article from ... I think this essay just about sums it up for me.

Don't justify my love
Madonna will soon find out it's tough enough to be an adoptive parent without being accused of "baby buying." - by Mary Kane

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Can you stand one more comment about Madonna?

More words have spilled about Madonna and her pursuit to adopt a Malawi toddler than I can remember in a very long time. I think this has made more folks hot than her Sex coffee table book, her Kaballah beliefs, or her fixation on the crucifix.

Be that as it may, here's what I think (for anyone who cares):

Madonna, or any celebrity family for that matter is entitled to adopt a child as long as all US and native country adoption laws are fully adhered to and satisfied. (My understanding is that she and hubby are adopting under US jurisdiction.

I haven't heard Madonna talk about the lengthy homestudy process, or the paperwork, or any of the usual frustrating process stuff most APs struggle with prior to having their child join them. It certainly does appear that she swooped in with her $$ and celebrity, plucked a child out of his orphanage, and flew home with him. If so, she does the process, already a problematic exercise, and the children she wants to help, a huge disservice.

And my G-d, she wants to "save" this little boy.

There are millions of AIDS orphans in Africa, children with no parents and no kin. Why not choose a child with no one to call his/her own? Why choose a child with a father who wants his child, just lacks the means to support him?

I know she's offered several millions of dollars in support. How about building clinics, schools, and rather than just throw money, how about schools to teach adults various trades? (Give a man a fish and he eats for a single day. Teach him how to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime.) Then parents/families will be able to afford to keep their children rather than force them to consider orphanage care.

I have no doubt that this little boy's father agreed to have Madonna take his boy to be educated and have a good life as a loving sponsor. I also have no doubt he didn't understand the legal ramifications of adoption and that he was agreeing to relinquish custody forever.

Whether or not the "Material Girl" is a fit parent isn't the issue. (She may or may not be. That's for the homestudy to evaluate.) Did she abide by whatever law governs adoption between the US and Malawi? I have no idea. But even if she did, was she -- and were the government officials involved -- ethical in appearance or execution of this process?

No, I think not. And if Madonna really understood the Jewish tenets of Kaballah, she'd know that appearance -- what the community would think seeing what appears to be an unethical act" -- is practically as important as the act itself.

I have no doubt she means well, that she was deeply moved by the poverty she saw in Malawi. Who wouldn't be. But bottom line, this little guy has a father who loves him. The ethical thing would be to help Dad provide for his son. Then they could both learn to fish and eat for a lifetime, side by side.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Bonding & Attaching with your adopted child from Korea

Lots of parents who adopt from Korea may mistakenly believe that they and their children are somehow completely immune from attachment issues. Thinking that because the majority of our children live with foster families in a more personal and intimate setting that the children are magically protected.

Truth is most children will grieve their initial loss of the people and environment they leave, even infants, but generally most children will securely attach over time with their adoptive families. Our youngest daughter arrived at 4 months of age. She was mad and outraged at her upheaval. It took several months to coax her out of her anger. I often thought that G-d was good, since I was already an experienced mother who knew not to take my little peanut's wrath personally. She was just royally pissed off. In time, she began to trust her permanence, my permanence in her life. Today she is a happy, confident and well-attached little girl.

But some children do get stuck in their grief and confusion and do not securely attach.

This information is for those parents who may be struggling with this thinking "Korean children don't suffer attachment disorders." There is a new Yahoo Group, Attach Korea you may want to investigate. This group is for those parents dealing with moderate to serious attachment issues. (Be prepared to prove it, too.)

But for general information, here are some recommendations provided by parents themselves struggling with attachment issues:

BOOKS (** you can find these at AdoptShoppe)
  • Different But Equal,by Patricia McLaughlin
  • Toddler Adoption: The Weavers Craft, by Mary Hopkins-Best **
  • With Eyes Wide Open, published by Children's Home Society of Minnesota **
  • Adopting the Hurt Child: Hope for Families With Special-Needs Kids, a Guide for Parents and Professionals, Gregory C. Keck, Regina Kupecky
  • Helping Children Cope With Separation and Loss, Claudia Jewett
  • Holding Time, Martha Welch
  • Raising Your Spirited Child, Mary Sheedy-Kurcinka
  • When Love is Not Enough, Nancy Thomas
  • Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today's Parents, Deborah Gray **
  • Parenting the Hurt Child, Gregory C. Keck, Regina Kupecky
  • Becoming Attached, Robert Karen
  • Parenting With Love and Logic, Foster Cline, M.D. and Jim Kay
  • The Out-of-Sync Child, Carol Stock-Kranowitz
  • Parenting Your Adopted Older Child, Brenda McCreight, Ph.D.
  • Our Own: Parenting the Adopted Older Child, Trish Maskew **
Here are also two sites with excellent information:

A 4Ever Family
(started by someone on the Korean-Attach list)


Don't be afraid or ashamed to admit when you could use some help.
Get the information and support you, your child and your family needs.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

WorldWide Orphans Foundation Gift Registry

I received a postcard this week from Dr Jane Aronson's ("The Orphan Doctor") WorldWide Orphans Foundation about their new "gift" registry and I thought it was a terrific idea.

You have the chance to bid on critically needed equipment, services, and supplies for children living in Ethiopia, Vietnam, Bulgaria, and all over the world.

This is not an adoption charity. The foundation's focus is on children without families who remain in their birth countries. It is a way to "give back" to children just like our own children who in great need of just about everything.

The bid prices range from $20,000 to $100. It's understandable that we APs may want to support causes more related to our own children's birth countries, and we should certainly do that. But I think it's also important to think more globally about children's issues and that is why organizations like WWO are so important.

WWO First' Annual Gift Registry -- Surely there is something there we can all "bid" on.

Share the link and let everyone know!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Chuseok & Sukkot - Together Again for the First Time (or not)

Something about the fall harvest makes us grateful. That's why the Pilgrims modeled their feast of "thanksgiving" on the biblical holiday Jews celebrate as Sukkot (soo-KOTE) or the Feast of Tabernacles.

More About Sukkot

Tomorrow is also celebrated across Asia. In China, it's called the Moon Festival and celebrated with special shaped cookies and cakes. In Korea, it's called Chuseok. It's all about family and celebrating the harvest.

So whether you'll be celebrating one (or both), enjoy!

More About Chuseok

How to set up the ritual table:

Monday, October 02, 2006

New Cultural Coloring Pages at

Adoption Shout-Out!

Martha Osborne is celebrating the 10th anniversary of her popular adoption site, RainbowKids. She's recently revised the look and feel of the site and, as part of the changes, added an extensive section of cultural information for children.

Download the coloring pages and check out the new design.


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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Certificate of Citizenship - Timeline

After spending the last few years waiting for USCIS to declare adoption finalization papers acceptable proof and formal documentation of US citizenship (and it's still not), I decided to get my youngest kidlet her Certificate of Citizenship.

We submitted her paperwork and check for $215 in late May. We received her COC today via certified mail. About 4 months. (In comparison, we waited 18 months for Spencer's (1999) and had to involve our US Congressional office for assistance.)

Sometimes things do go right. Now we're off to SSA office with COC in hand to have her SSA account changed from "resident alien" to US Citizen.

Remember - this is NOT an automatic process. Get your child a US Passport or COC and make sure you march down to SSA and get your child's status updated.

Without documented proof of Citizenship, SSA will not update the status. And if you or your spouse dies before the status is upgraded, your child will receive reduced benefits.


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Interesting Site & Resources -

Saw this in my web travels today. Check out: and read how it got started ... Check out the Asian-American Village Section ... and then their list of adoption/transracial resources

I'd bookmark this one for future reference!

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Thursday, September 28, 2006

A different take on Diaspora

Diaspora means "a dispersion of a people from their original homeland." A new film from Israel explores a community of Vietnamese "boat people" who rescued near Japan came to live, work, and raise their families in Israel.

I think there's a lot here that would resonate with internationally adopted persons.

Vietnamese "boat people" go Israeli, then visit their home in documentary

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

From NPR - Our Chinese (Korean, Kazakh, Ethiopian) Jewish Daughters

Got this link from APC today ... a Jewish dad comments on the High Holidays and the increasing number of international adoptees in the Jewish community.

Jewish Chinese Adoptees on NPR

(The segment also discusses George Allen and Madelaine Albright and the late discovery of their Jewish parentage. Although not brought up Jewish, both of these folks are and remain Jewish by traditional Jewish law since both come from Jewish mothers.)

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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Another Example of Why Ethical Adoption is So Critical

A poster on ThirdMom shared this link from New York Magazine.

"We gave him up to save his life"

For five increasingly horrific years, the adoption agencies insisted that Chad Ostrowski's memory of a father in Korea was fantasy. When Anne Marie and John finally learned the truth about their beloved boy, they made the ultimate sacrifice.

I was appalled at this situation for a number of reasons. Primarily, tho, that the father's girlfriend was able to place a child not her own for adoption ... how does that possibly happen? I do know that in years past, grandparents, sometimes in secret, did bring children to orphanages for adoption placement. But a girlfriend? How does something like this happen?

But obviously it did, at least this one time. And I'm quite sure, it has happened more than this time, as well.

This article depicts a tragedy at so many levels it's hard to know where to begin. I can only hope that Chad, his APs, and his Korean family can find a way to love and support each other through such immeasurable pain and find light in such dark and murky circumstances.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Celebrating the Birthday of the World

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
L'Shanah Tovah!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Korean Adoption Changes - Aussie View

This Australian article - Adoption Heartache for Hundreds - has been receiving a lot of online attention. A couple of things to keep in mind:

Australia only works with Eastern, and over the years the number of files (they call them allocations) has continued to decrease. (Similar to the US). The number of files for this prior to the announcement of the rule change has been quite small. Eastern notified Australia that they will not accept any files for the first 5 months of 2007 and will then review the situation as they wait for the 5 month ruling to come in. (One thing I didn't know is that Australia only allows the adoption of healthy children, no children with special needs.)

My sources tell me there is NO real news to report for US families at this time. Families who have already received referrals remain in process. When I learn more, I'll keep y'all posted.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Completely OT - My New Massapequa Blog

Like I don't have enough to do, but ...

I heard from an elementary school classmate last week, and it got me a little nostalgic. So I decided to make my little hobby public and shareable.

Let me know what you think and if you enjoyed the scenes of my hometown.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My Heart, My New York

"And we laid down and wept, and wept, for these I am.
We remember thee, remember thee, remember these I am."

Friday, September 08, 2006

Good Info for KADs Thinking About Search

This is taken from Holt's Korean Agency site but should provide useful info for all KADs thinking about conducting a search for birth parents:

Holt Korea - KAD Info

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The ulimate KAD tee

I saw this on a KAD list group. Think I should carry it in AdoptShoppe or just order now and save them for my kids? I think it's a terrific, in-your-face idea. (I may be a middle-aged mom, but I think like a fresh-faced provocateur.)

Two very cool T-Shirts for adoptees are being re-printed.

Design #1: -all black with "got adopted?" printed in white letters on the front (in the style of the "got milk?" ads)

Design #2: - all blue with white lettering: -

On the front of shirt:

On the back is:

I am an Asian transracial adoptee I am a U.S. citizen. I speak English I am not oriental I am not Fresh
Off the Boat I am not a foreign exchange student I am not a Kung Fu master I am not a genius at math or science I will not love you long time I am not your stereotype What are YOU?

Latest information from Saul Tran Cornwall, the designer of the T-Shirts:

-$20.00 per T-Shirt (includes tax, shipping and handling) -make checks payable to Saul Tran Cornwall -mail checks to Saul Tran Cornwall at 511 1/2 Federal Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102 -be sure to specify which design (#1."got adopted?" or #2."What are YOU?") - what size (SM, M, L, XL. etc.)! - include the shipping address for T-Shirt

Saul's complete contact information is: Saul Tran Cornwall 511 1/2 Federal Ave E Seattle, WA 98102 Mobile: (206) 200-8082 Email:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Honorary Whiteness and the Meaning of American

From yesterday's Washington Post Op-Ed Page ... a response to George Allen and his Macaca mess. A great essay.

On Becoming A 'Real American'
By John J. Thatamanil
Sunday, August 27, 2006; Page B07

From adolescence on, I heard a constant refrain from my Indian
father: "Don't ever believe that you're really American." I found
his advice peculiar, especially as I had been living in America
since age 8 and had largely forgotten my time in India. To him, it
didn't matter that the only language in which I could think a
complex thought was English. It didn't matter that the only music I
listened to was Michael Jackson, the Bee Gees and Billy Joel.

My father's dictum infuriated me, in part because I took his comment
to be racist. Did he mean that only white people count as real
Americans? What about African Americans, let alone Indian Americans?
I have insisted ever since that in America, what makes someone an
American is citizenship, not race or ethnicity.

This month -- after hearing Sen. George Allen call an Indian
American, born in this country, "macaca" -- I better appreciated my
father's sober wisdom. What he meant to say is now apparent: "You
will never be accepted as truly American." Education, meaningful
work and financial success can get immigrant minorities only so far.
For some, whiteness will always be a prerequisite for being
American. Conveying that message might not have been Allen's intent,
but it certainly was the effect.

What's the lesson to be learned from this episode? Must South Asians
and other immigrants resign themselves to second-class status -- at
least in the eyes of some? Of course "class" is the wrong word here.
Indian Americans are, statistically speaking, the wealthiest
immigrant group in the nation. We do experience discrimination and,
on rare occasions, violence, as some Sikhs did right after Sept. 11,
2001. But discrimination has not had marked economic consequences.
It is more often experienced by South Asians as a subtle matter of
failed recognition: We are either rendered hyper-visible, marked out
as different as S.R. Sidarth was made to feel by George Allen or, in
other circles, rendered invisible because we are accorded the status
of "honorary whites." Membership in that exclusive fraternity is
granted so long as difference is suppressed.

The Allen incident offers evidence that America is not now or likely
to ever be a color-blind country. How are South Asians to live with
this truth? Resignation is not the answer. Vigorous political
participation is. My youthful intuition that what makes me as
American as any Mayflower descendant is citizenship -- not race or
ethnicity -- was only partly on the mark. The piece of paper that
validates our identities as American citizens can do only so much if
we do little to struggle for recognition.

There is also a second lesson to be learned from this incident.
South Asian political engagement cannot be driven solely by the
private interests of a single racial or ethnic group. America's
obsession with color has a long history that South Asians forget at
their peril. Indian Americans and other affluent immigrant groups
would do well to remember the civil rights struggles of African
Americans and others without whom a racially inclusive American
nation would have been impossible. The Immigration and
Naturalization Act of 1965, which opened the door to people from the
Eastern Hemisphere, must be recognized as the fruit of a larger
struggle to expand the meaning of the term "American," a struggle
fought on our behalf before our arrival.

The aspiration to honorary whiteness -- motivated by the hope that
success alone will entitle Asians to equality within American life --
betrays the memory of that long conflict. Only by making common
cause with African Americans, only by joining with other immigrant
groups that have not been as fortunate, can South Asian immigrants
resist America's troubled racial history and embrace its best
aspirations for a truly democratic and inclusive future. That is a
legacy I hope to transmit to my 8-year-old daughter, who is herself
a lovely perpetual tan, a combination of my brownness with the
lighter tone of her Ohio-born mother, who is herself part German,
part English and part Native American.

In the near term, what this means is that Americans of color should
work together to ensure that politicians who can see the many shades
and hues of American life only as exotic, foreign or even un-
American have no role in shaping our common future.

The writer is assistant professor of theology at Vanderbilt Divinity
School in Nashville. He is the author of "The Immanent Divine: God,
Creation, and the Human Predicament. An East-West Conversation."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

How Low Can We Go

Pretty damn low, I'd say ... have you checked out what's in store for the next season of Survivor?

New 'Survivor' divides groups by race

"Get ready for a segregated "Survivor." Race will matter on the upcoming season of the CBS show as contestants will be divided into four tribes by ethnicity. That means blacks, whites, Latinos and Asians in separate groups.

The announcement was made on CBS' Early Show. Host Jeff Probst says the idea "actually came from the criticism that 'Survivor' was not ethnically diverse
enough." He says the twist fits in perfectly with what "Survivor" does, saying the show is "a social experiment. And this is adding another layer to that
experiment." Probst says contestants had mixed reactions to the racial divisions.

This time the new Survivors are stranded on the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. The castaways include a police officer, a heavy metal guitarist, an attorney and a nail salon manager. The new season of Survivor debuts September 14."

Have you ever seen the great movie, "Network" - I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore?" The film was a blistering satiric condemnation of network television in the 1970s.

Thirty some odd years later and it looks like a quaint documentary.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Racist, Anti-Semitic Hall of Shame

First was Mel Gibson. Well, okay, he is sooooo last week and has been done to death by folks far more eloquent than me.

Then, we have Senator George Allen and the Macaca Incident.

This fellow over here with the yellow shirt - Macaca or whatever his name is - he's with my opponent," Allen said. "He's following us around everywhere.

After mentioning that Webb was in California on a fundraising trip, Allen exhorted the crowd: "Let's give a welcome to Macaca here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia."

Then today, wowee ... a triple-threat, a vertiable hat-trick of celebrity biogotry at its finest. This time? Hooyah! Former Atlanta Mayor, Civil Rights Activist, and recently quit WalMart spokesman, Andrew Young. I'll let you read his rant verbatim.


Mel can blame his demons with the bottle ... Senator Allen simply plays stupid ... but Andrew? He wasn't drunk or stupid, so what's his excuse? Old age?

Pregnancy Metaphors for Adoption - Who Benefits?

Perhaps because I had one child by birth, I didn't view the adoption process in the same light as pregnancy, except for the excruciating waiting part. I didn't see the point of trying to breast feed an infant who was already 4-5 months old. I just didn't feel the need to replay the birth experience reframed via adoption. My interest was, plain and simple, in parenting.

Had I never been pregnant and/or birthed a baby? Then, I dunno. Maybe.

Check out this is a brilliant, insightful post from the KAD behind Twice the Rice.

As Good As The Real Thing

When you're done, print it out and keep it handy. Refer to it often. I promise you'll be a better parent having read it and taken its message to heart.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Push a button and get a tune - on my shirt!

From CNN Newswire --

South Korea wants musical clothes

I'm thinking the world is already too damn noisy, but hey, I'm old. What do I know?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Hate, it's everywhere

One of my kids yelled down to my basement office to tell me there was someone at the door. Cursing under my breath since it was a dozen or more interruptions of my morning, I mumbled to myself up the stairs.

At the door was a Howard County police officer. Our neighborhood and part of the greater Clarksville/Columbia community woke up to spray painted hate on their homes, cars, and property.

"Did you hear or see anything last night or early this morning, m'am?"

I didn't nor did my husband. I wish I had, though, so I could do more than just feel disheartened.

Our house was left unmolested but the ugliness of racial, ethnic, religious, and gender hatred is everywhere today, even on the handpainted sign with our community name.

I never think "why us" since why not us? I simply think, "Yes, today it's our turn."

And how sad is that...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Chinese Mother Considers the Adoption Option

I happened to see mention of this on the APC Yahoogroup list. This is an intelligent, thoughtful blog about tough subjects. This particular post was written by a Chinese woman who, unable to have children, pursues domestic adoption.

I believe you'll find it as moving as I did.

UPDATED LINK: My apologies as I had the wrong code here.

The Long Road to My Baby

Friday, August 04, 2006

Changes in the Korean Adoption Program - First, you breathe

The announcement of the Korean government's most extensive changes to its international adoption program in many years has caused, understandably so, much apprehension and anxiety among prospective and in-process adoptive parents.

First, let's all take a big cleansing breath. Good, now we can continue.

So far, here's what we appear to know:

** Korea is looking to promote domestic adoption, perhaps in part because it's looking at a serious population shortfall in the not so distant future. Therefore the bulk of its new initiatives are built to support keeping more of its children at home -- allowing singles to adopt, upping subsidies to adoptive parents, and campaigns to change the hearts/mind of Koreans about adoption as a positive way to grow families.

This is only for the good. However, in what I've read I've seen nothing about support for single women who want to raise their babies on their own. Perhaps this is the next phase.

** The biggest change right now is the delay in babies being made available for international adoption. To allow Korean families first opportunities to adopt, babies will not go into the international program until they are a minimum of 5 months old. This will mean that babies will definitely be older coming into the system. My guess is that the youngest babies will be a minimum of 8-9 months old before traveling to US and other international adoptive parents.

Now here's the flip on this. While the rate of domestic adoption for healthy infants has modestly increased, Korean families are not adopting children with special needs at the same rate. (I believe that US families adopt children with special needs more than from any other country. Someone please correct me if I'm wrong on that.)

So I'm wondering where this will leave these kids, infants or no, in the new scheme of things. I'm not sure if children with special needs will come under the same time delays. (My son was diagnosed with a mild club foot at birth. Not an issue for us, didn't even think twice about it. How many times, though, might he have been passed over not being "perfect" before being released for international placement?)

** Looks like adoption agencies, Korean and US, were thrown offguard by the speed of the initiative. SWS, from parent accounts, now has dossiers on hold until November. Eastern, Holt, and KSS continue to move the paperwork. Do stay in touch with your agency about all matters.

** Should you stick with the Korea program or perhaps move to another international adoption program? This is a personal call. But here's what I would do in various circumstances:

** If I had already started the process, I'd stay put.
** If I'm comfortable with the idea of adopting an older baby, young toddler, I'd stay put.
** If I can live with a little uncertainty about timelines, I'd stay put.

Ultimately, you need to look at what attracted you to the Korean program in the first place. If what we know now hasn't changed your original criteria, I'd stay put. Otherwise, you may want to consider other international programs.

And please, just keep breathing...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Sins of the Father (and no more about Mel after this)

Just to give y'all context for Mel's vitriolic, anti-semitic tirade ... check out what Mel's dad had to say about Jews, the Catholic Church, and a bunch of other stuff.

Mel's Dad

Who said the fruit doesn't fall far from the vine?

Monday, July 31, 2006

Braveheart? Yeah, right...

I just read Mel is getting help for his ongoing battle with alcoholism, but as another blogger stated so eloquently, "Is he getting help for his anti-semitism, as well?"

He did possess a fine ass some 20 years ago. Now he simply is one.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

More About Transracial Adoption ... Canadian Perspective

From the Toronto Star

Families by choice
It's challenging when adoptions cross the racial divide. Many kids and parents do fine, but observers have a problem

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Big changes for Korean Adoption Program in 2007

Lots of positive momentum to "normalize" adoption and encourage more Koreans to adopt.

Korean Government Changes to Adoption Program

Most significant impact to current program, at least on the first read, is that children must be made available for adopting domestically for five months before being made available for international placement.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Today's America Now One-Third "Minority"

Interesting article direct from the feds:

Minority Groups Now One-Third of U.S. Population

Variety of ethnic groups contribute to U.S. economic and cultural life

Can I hope that my latke-loving, kimchi-liking little KADs (and yours, no matter what they eat) will find the America of their adulthood a little more friendly?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Mutilation Designed to Protect

'Breast ironing' to stunt girls' growth widespread

1 in 4 girls in Cameroon suffer this abuse to protect against rape


Here's yet another example of where girls are physically abused or mutilated with the idea that it will protect them from rape or other forms of sexual intimidation. (On the flip side, there's always been plenty of mutilation going on in the name of female beauty ... can you say foot binding and breast augmentation?)

The good news is that this practice is being actively discouraged and parents are listening.

In the Orthodox Jewish community, men are not to hear the female singing voice (even if the voice is that of a wife, mother or daughter) as it may distract them from their Talmudic studies.

Balls, I say! I think every man needs to be responsible for his own, shall we say, personal excitement. Me? I'll be singing and so should every wife, mother, sister, and daughter.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Comedy that only serves to offend and demean

From today's paper from just about anywhere:

Have a comment? Of course you do! Feel free to let Mike Peters know exactly how funny he's not.

And oh, you can email the PR folks at King Features, too. They'd love a good story to spin.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dear Amy - My family is using their shower to raise adoption funds

From Newsday...

Baby shower can't finance adoption

Roberta's Note: I personally hate the idea of trolling for funds. This isn't the same as the expectant grandparents offering a special gift. This isn't the same as working a second job or cutting back expenses or making something to sell something.

Those are all generally fine to my way of thinking.

But the blatant, naked call for funds - Help us bring little BooBoo home - gives me the creepy crawleys. (I know very few folks who troll to fund IVF. "My eggs suck, help me find and bake new eggs. Send $$$ to PayPal.")

Before folks commit to adoption, they need to have a legitimate funding plan in advance. Not that you need to have all the $$ upfront, but you do need to be able to say, "Ok, total fees are X. We have Y. We will need to fund through Z, and AA, BB, CC over a XX month period."

It may take a village to raise a child, but via birth or adoption, making a family should be a private matter. Otherwise adoption veers dangerously close to an act of charity far and beyond the desire to parent.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

File Under: What the F***?

I'm always looking for new products and distributors for items I sell in AdoptShoppe.

I came upon a baby blanket wholesaler. Didn't care for what I saw, but then I came upon this. Note it's organized under Baby Blanket/Licensed Crib Throw. Although my mind raced with the comic possibilities, I'll let you make your own jokes.

Scarface = The Baby Blanket

Friday, June 23, 2006

Brangelina & Adopting, Yet Another Party Heard From

Oh, I dunno ... I'm having a hard time getting worked up whether or not Angelina and Brad make another baby or adopt one. Obviously, she loves kids. Guess he does, too. They have a ton of money so why not make a big family.

Does it only count as vainglorious if they adopt to make a big family or is making the babes themselves equally vainglorious? (Every day I'm a little sorry we didn't add one more child to our family. I had no idea how much I loved being a mom until I became a mom.)

Anyway, here is another attack on Angelina, Brad, and international adoption in general. The writer gets the basic facts right, but sheesh, the tone. Go ahead and tell her how much you didn't enjoy her article.

She'd love to hear from you, I'm sure.

How to Shop for Kids the Brangelina Way
Angelina's "looking at different countries" to find another child to adopt. We weigh some likely possibilities.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Thinking about Dads

** My father died in 1975 at 51 from a heart attack. With today's cardiac pharma and technology, I have no doubt he would have survived that first attack and might even still be with us. He was a stout, outwardly gruff man with a tri-color van dyke goatee and thick Hungarian accent. He was super-smart, soft as mush on the inside, a progressive-thinker, and one of the most tolerant individuals I've ever known.

Folks say I have his personality. Perhaps I do with a few more prickles. There isn't a day I don't think of him or use one of his "dad-isms" in a story or post. My kids love the stories about Grandpa Harry.

It's important to note that my dad didn't have his dad, my Grandpa Sam, in his life for the first 13 years of his life. Grandpa left Czechoslovakia for the US when dad was 6 months old. It took Hitler and a 13-year old who wanted to know his father to get my grandmother to finally leave Europe. After Pearl Harbor, my dad at 17 volunteered for the Army and remained in service until he was 22.

The whole dad thing was a mystery to him, but he was charming in his sometimes awkwardness. G-d, I miss him.

** My husband takes his fatherhood duties with great seriousness and responsibility, but the everyday of it still gives him pause. His own dad was and is a standoffish dad and grandpa. Little talking, little sharing, little much of anything substantial. So I play parent coach when necessary :=)

Last night (as we do every Saturday night) was movie night. We watched "Cheaper by the Dozen 2." At the end, a baby is born and a family regroups, recognizing children grow up and out. Hubby was all misty as he gets when the same scenario is played in other movies. Unlike his own dad, the dad to my kids "gets" it.

** My youngest children's birth dads. These are men who are generally cyphers in my children's thoughts. These men are relegated to wisps of biology as my children talk about their first moms with far more interest and regularity, even when I remind them it took 2 people to make them and try to bring the birth dad into the discussion.

But I'll continue to try, to make real the male side of my children's equation.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Eating Good in the 'Hood

This morning we all piled into hubby's Volvo for a trip to Lotte, a large Korean/Asian supermarket in Ellicott City, MD and we had a terrific time and in some ways it was a trip for hubby and me into supermarkets past.

If you're of a certain age, you may remember more neighborhoody grocery stores. Sawdust on the floor, narrower aisles, generally less square footage and the distinct smell of fresh food in the air. Very unlike today's overpackaged, overprocessed mega markets that have absolutely no smell at all.

Lotte has that old-fashioned grocery story smell and look. Live talapia, eel and grouper in the fish tanks. Live crabs in baskets. Tables overflowing with produce.

It was great. Most of the signs and labels were in Korean, Chinese and English as were the labels of most of the products so it made shopping something of an adventure. In addition to the usual produce and meats (we passed on the octopus this time) stuff, we added Korean candy, instant honeyed plum teas, and pineapple soda.

And dinner tonite was fabulous :=)

If you live within an hour's drive of Ellicott City, MD, throw the kids in the car, pack a cooler with ice, and check out the offerings at Lotte (they also have a small department store which we'll explore on other trip.)

If you haven't as yet explored Korean cuisine, here's a great introduction to the common foods, tastes, and spices. (And don't forget the candy :=)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

2006-06 School Year: Retrospective

Okay, last day of school. We moved from MD's second worst performing county school system to its best, into a school district that feeds into the state's #2 high school.

So, was it worth it? Yep, hands down. It was the best thing we could do for our family. This is what the children discovered along with their mom:

** Eldest daughter discovered being smart and well-behaved wasn't enough to getting good grades and certificates of merit. (Last year, with a strong but not stellar academic year, she came home with a raft of certificates. Mostly for having a smile on her face and a sharpened pencil everyday, I think.) She found out that when you don't hand in your homework on time, you get a big fat 0. She was challenged and made friends and found a place to fit in.

** Middle child and son discovered how much learning can go on when the teacher isn't being constantly distracted with behavior issues. "School went really fast here, Mom." He had a solid year of learning and growth.

He made good friends, many who look just like him. Asian-ness, Korean-ness doesn't require a trip in the car to someplace or something. It's not a special event. It's all about next door, the neighborhood, the school and the community. Asian-ness is now the norm.

** Youngest child and #2? Well, she just had a good year making friends and adjusting to a more academically rigorous school system. She doesn't sweat the small stuff much, or the large. She's interested in learning to read/write Korean. We may hire a tutor for her and me. (Son isn't sure he wants to.)

No, it doesn't quite feel like home to me. But it hasn't been quite a year yet in the new digs. But there's no question this was the right move for my family, even if we don't have a Starbucks right in town and everything except the grocery store is always 5 miles or more away.

:: whine ::

I'd do the move again in a heartbeat.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

And now for something... well, I don't even know what

From McDonald's ...

Yes, this is the actual URL name:

Just leaves me speechless. (And judging from my last post, you know I'm not usually at a loss for words.)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

On ThirdMom's blog (please add it to your must-read blog list), I commented on a discussion about adoption, sex, and morality. This was further commented on by a few of the birth moms who have found a sensitive and sympathetic place to share their pain with mostly APs.

Some of what I said was a little misconstrued, I think. But while I have given birth to a child, I was never faced with the choice (a loaded term since for some the decision to place their child for adoption wasn't really a choice at all) of not parenting my child. I can only guess at the depth of that pain which can only be made akin to losing a child by death. And even that doesn't adequately describe it either.

I forget sometimes, that we can only evaluate others through the lens of our personal experience.

Let's talk a little about infertility/miscarriage

I started trying for a family in my mid-30s. Two very early miscarriages that left me sad but undaunted, and then my one and only successful pregnancy. At 39, we tried again. A molar pregnancy (feel free to look it up), and several miscarriages more. This time, each time, the ground would open up and swallow me whole. My sorrow was that I got pregnant easily so I stayed on the treadmill longer than I probably should have. Maybe this one, maybe that one.

The one that crystallized my grief was the one where a chromosomal report had been made. A boy, a son, still not to be.

During this time, I joined a number of post-miscarriage lists for support. Instead, I suppose in part because I did have one perfect little daughter already, I couldn't relate at all. Like we do on adoption lists, the posters would have their special signatures. Angel #1, brought to heaven [this date]. Okay, I can work with that, I thought. My signature simply said, "1 beautiful daughter, too many miscarriages to count"

But what finally did me in were those who had names for each potential son or daughter lost. Even if the pregnancy was only a few days old (called chemical in the infertility world), it merited a name.

Okay, I thought. I'm out of here and I moved to an over-40 infertility group. I spent about two years there. Some opted out for adoption, as I did. Others remained firmly and sometimes grimly on the IVF treadmill. Some like me, had one or two children at home, but wanted just one more. Others were still waiting to bring forth their own fruit.

I never did any IVF or similar. Thought about donor egg for about two seconds and dismissed it. As my RE (reproductive endocrinologist) told me, "Roberta, 95% of our technology is to get the woman pregnant. That's not your problem. Overly ripe eggs that don't divide properly are your problem. So what do you want to do?"

Hubby and I decided to ride two rails and begin to explore adoption and try one more time for a successful pregnancy. I went to "Intro to Adoption" classes 6 weeks pregnant and nauseated. I told my OB I wouldn't consent to one more prenatal exam until I had an ultrasound at 8 weeks.

I did. It was perfect, a little heartbeat and all. I was sick as a dog and hoped that this meant all was well. We went on vacation. Came back for my prenatal.

Next day I started to spot. At 12 weeks, I lost my last pregnancy. A month later, we began adoption in earnest. Not as a cure for my infertility, but as another option that would allow me to extend my desire to parent.

My personal refusal and stubbornness to define myself in terms of failure.

What is resilience? How do we learn it, how do we teach it? We learn how to compartmentalize and how to reframe the experience. (When I divorced my first husband, my mother used to go on and on about the failure of my marriage. I told her the marriage didn't fail. It merely concluded. Now that made her crazy :=)

My secondary infertility/miscarriages didn't make me feel like a failure, but boy, they surely pissed me off. Worse, were the sad faces, the whispers. The prayers to St Jude (patron saint of hopeless causes) from my husband's side of the family. Hey, knock it off already!

"What am I supposed to learn from this?" became a personal mantra. It's not bad, it's a teaching moment!

I couldn't ultimately relate to giving my lost little zygotes names, that would mean my whole personhood was being defined by personal loss. I couldn't ultimately relate to the relentless drive for a second pregnancy, because that too would have defined me by my cranky biology, aging eggs, and an unfilled womb. Uh uh, that wasn't going to fly for me either.

My mother was the poster child for emotionally stuck in a bad place.

In response, I became the emotional equivalent of "MacGyver" - no matter how bad it is, I have the resources and tools to get me out of yet another jam.

Yet in my fear, it was easy to tamp down raw emotions that didn't quite fit the MacGyver mold I developed for myself. I prefer to "do" myself through emotional hurt rather than ponder it, even when ponder is all you can do ... or should do.

Even while awaiting the arrival of our son from Korea, I had to do (I had already completed several needlework and bead pieces) and with that I began to write the first pages of what became

None of us can feel each other's grief. Both my parents are deceased, my husband's parents are still living. He has no idea of what it feels like to be an "adult orphan" (perhaps a posting for another time.) And why should he. This is an event for the future. Merely an abstract at some time ahead.

So how can I expect to understand anything at all about birth mothers who rail at me. Or they me. I can't unless they and I find what is common to our shared losses as well as shared gains. I can give my children everything except a genetic past and linkage, critical elements to who they are and will become. The contribution of every biological parent is the piece of themselves in each child. Deep in the DNA where APs like me can only view from a distance.

We can, we should reach to each other from the chasm of our individual pain. It's not about them or us ... it's not about whose contribution is more vital ... nature vs nurture ... the terms we're allowed to call ourselves and what others will call us. It's about wholeness for the children we share. By coming together for them, we can heal ourselves, as well.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Exploration of the Black/White Divide and Judaism

Our merry little family band started out as inter-religious. Me the Jew. My husband the retired Catholic. We agreed from the first date (yeah, it was some kinda first date) that since my Judaism was a core factor of who I was, upon marriage and children we would be a one-faith household.

Then we adopted two children from Korea.

Then we were a transracial, interfaith family with bio and adopted kids.

Today, we are a singular Jewish family -- some from birth, some from conversion -- with racial challenges.

Here is a series of articles about being Black & Jewish, Bi-Racial and Jewish, with a bit of Islam thrown in for good measure.

As Asians face somewhat different racial/ethnic challenges, but there's a lot here for us white APs, Jewish and otherwise to ponder.

Multicultural Interfaith Families

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Love the Statue of Liberty? Prove it!

This week, Homeland Security Chief, Michael Chertoff and his team decided that Tampa, FL and Charlotte, NC were more deserving of anti-terrorism grants than NY and Washington, DC. He's looking to cut these cities back by 40%.

His reason? NY and DC are low-risk security targets, no "icons" worth protecting.


I won't bore you with my personal list of DC and NY icons. Suffice it so say, "What has the Secretary been smoking?"

I'm a former NYer, if there is such a thing. If you live, lived, visited or just love the idea of NY, visit Senator Hillary Clinton's "Send a Postcard" site and dash off a picture postcard to Michael.

No matter how you stand on her politics, she has partnered with Congressman Peter King (R-NY), Chairman of the House Committee, to remind Secretary Chertoff what's at stake for New York and for all of us when Homeland Security funds to high-risk areas are slashed.

This isn't about politics or grandstanding.It's about common sense. And yes, it's the right thing to do.

I Love NY.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Video Game Addiction - Centered in South Korea

Washington Post had an article today (I'd give you the link but you need to register with about the growing addiction of South Koreans to video games. In part, this is a reaction to the academic pressures teens face in a hotly competitive educational environment, but the addiction is creeping into the adult population, as well.

Tragically, kids are dying. They won't eat, won't go to the bathroom, and some have died from sitting in a single position for several days.

I think about the extreme pressure on these kids in Korea compared to my work hard, live passionately attitude with my own children. I expect genuine effort but not perfection. College not in a child's future? No problem, you still have to find your meaning and you still have to work. Use your brains, don't forget your heart.

My laissez faire attitude runs a little counter to the community where we live, as well. Very competitive for grades, sports, etc and some kids have committed suicide over the pressure.

I tell my oldest there's nothing wrong with doing your first two years of college at the local community college and work part-time. Chances are you'll be taught by a full professor rather than a Teaching Assistant. Save your $$ (and mine) and be more thoughtful about what you want to do and where you want to go.

(A business friend of mine had his daughter at a top 20 university. She majored in Creative Writing. $150,000 for a degree in creative writing. CREATIVE WRITING! I have no problem if one of my kids decides to go into the trades. G-d knows, the world needs plumbers.)

I think about my youngest kids and wonder if the Korean educational system might have crushed their exuberant spirit.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Another "Make More Babies, Please" Article

Now Russia, also facing low birth and high death rates, is bribing its women to have second babies.

From The Christian Science Monitor:

A second baby? Russia's mothers aren't persuaded.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Wishing Everyone a Happy Mother's Day

Nothing much or profound to share tosay. Today I think about my own mom who passed away 6 years ago in body, but left me orphaned in spirit many years prior ... I think about my youngest children's birthmoms who may or may not know today we celebrate Mother's Day ... I think about the speed in which the years pass, me tired and distracted by the details of daily life, and find myself confronted with children who grew by stealth in my haze and daze ...

My next door neighbor just had her 3rd child - her second child now age 13, her first born 14. The dad tells me how much harder it is to raise babies in your 40s. He fails to realize hubby and I had 2 babies in our 40s, practically back to back. I just smile and nod in agreement.

I think how nice it might be to have a fourth child, but at 51, wonder how fair that would be to him/her or to my family in its current five-ness. (I have close high school friends who are awaiting their first grandchild.)

I wish I were 43 again :=)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Korean Law Maker Wants to Ban International Adoption

From the Korean Herald

Lawmaker pushes ban on overseas adoption

I think the Korean Government specifically and Korean society in general should do more about helping families - meaning single moms - stay intact with financial and program support. Promoting domestic adoption is a great thing, but banning international adoption won't stem the plunging birthrate.

Monday, May 08, 2006

My homegrown baby turns 14

How did it happen that my first born beauty turns 14 today? Of course that makes me, um, somewhat older.

For perspective, my eldest daughter was entering kindergarten when we began the adoption process in 1997. She's getting ready for high school this fall.

Okay, maybe I've grown a little more older than "somewhat." I'm easy to spot, tho. I'm the mom -- feeling nostalgic who sniffled and choked down my high-fiber, oaty-fruity-flaxy, tastes-like-twigs cereal this morning, hoping regularity will keep me going strong for the day I'll be writing about my youngest daughter turning 14 ... and that's just 7 years away.

:: sniff ::

Monday, May 01, 2006

Fewer adoptions in the Bay State

From the Boston Globe:

Lots of factors mentioned -- including the aging out of Baby Boomers (I hadn't considered that)

China's policies lead to drop in Bay State adoptions

Only thing glaringly wrong is the mention of Korea tightening rules because of child trafficking. Korea has long been on the record that it would like to end international adoption of Korean children within the next 10-15 years.

Okay, I know I'm old

I found this concept icky and somewhat hilarious. On the other hand, if I were 25, I'd probably think this was too fun.

Pregnancy Piercings

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ann Tyler's New Book

I was going to write a weepy, sentimental retrospective in celebration of my youngest's daughter's arrival day from Korea seven years ago today. I promise, it would have made you go running for the Puffs box.

However, in today's Washington Post Book World, there's a review of Ann Tyler's new book, Digging to America. A story of two families living in Baltimore who meet while awaiting the arrival of their new Korean-born baby daughters. The kicker is that one of families are Iranian-Americans.

Here's the review.
Here's the first few chapters.

I haven't read Ann Tyler (*I'm more of a non-fiction kind of gal - ask me about The Great Influenza, a totally spectacular read about the 1918 flu pandemic.*), but now I just might.

If you're an Ann Tyler fan, I'd love your contribution on this thread.

Friday, April 14, 2006

As we celebrate both Passover and Easter

I wanted to share with you a very well-written article about religion today. I was very moved and hope you'll find it of value. Happy Holidays all!


From Wednesday's Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun

Reinventing 'religion' in America
By Scott M. Korb and Leon A. Morris
April 12, 2006

In the Book of Exodus, after hearing God's voice and with Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments, the ancient Israelites create and worship a golden calf, proclaiming, "This is our God."
An angry Moses breaks the stone tablets when he descends to the foot of the mountain. According to the early 20th century commentator Rabbi Meir Simcha Hacohen of what then was Dvinsk, Russia, Moses' shattering of the tablets was not an act of anger. Moses saw that if the people could turn a golden calf into an object of worship, they would likely do the same with the tablets. Faith itself could become an idol.

Today, faith is less threatened by the overriding secular forces in the world than by religion. Religion is increasingly becoming the product of its own undoing. Religiosity is often too narrowly identified with the realm of ritual practice alone - things such as Jews keeping kosher and Catholics showing up on Sunday for Mass - no small commitments, we admit, but only a partial and incomplete notion of religious devotion.

To be less generous, religion is more and more equated with closed-mindedness, triumphalism and, often, violent extremism. And in seeming response, some Americans have become more comfortable defining themselves as "spiritual" rather than "religious."

They build a faith that is tailor-made for themselves and their families rather than subscribe to a set of inherited principles that they imagine to be fundamentally dangerous. They keep their distance from the fanatics. And yet even those believers who feel comfortable calling themselves "religious" have begun to shape an eclectic and individualized set of beliefs that are ever more therapeutic and materialistic.

In each of these cases, the most central notions of our faiths - such as the dignity of our neighbor, created in God's image - are somehow cast aside as less central. We find distressing the results of the National Survey of Youth and Religion, published last year, which show that previously key elements of our religious imagination - repentance, selflessness, social justice, self-discipline, self-sacrifice and humility, for example - no longer hold a prominent place.

Worse, for too many, the hatred and violence we see escalating every day in the name of religion have created additional reasons for youths and others to reject such ethical values, seeing them as too intimately connected with the violent means that some believe will establish God's kingdom on Earth.

We desperately need new ways to think about what it means to be "religious." Hundreds of religious movements have articulated what might be considered liberal positions over the centuries with great profundity, yet, in large part, especially among progressives, religiosity remains synonymous with fanaticism and extremism. Today, those liberal notions of religiosity have failed to elicit sufficient passion; vibrant communities of faith that embody these ideals are rare.

As devoted members of long-standing faith traditions, we find it both unnecessary and undesirable to abandon our institutions, communities and sacred Scriptures to stake out a position of faith that is liberal and humanistic. Judaism, Christianity and Islam - indeed, all religious traditions - have the capacity to bring about more good than bad, more peace than violence, more universalism than chauvinism, if we understand them, and religious duty, in different ways.

As Jews and Christians approach the festivals of Passover and Easter, there is an opportunity to read even our central stories in ways that can smash the idols currently governing religious belief in the U.S.

The Exodus, for example, is about physical and spiritual liberation. As such, it informs how we treat the stranger and denies the deification of human leaders. As ritualized in the Passover Seder, it speaks of the power of story itself and how words can form a chain that links a hundred generations into a single narrative told over a single meal.

For Christians, the Resurrection is about finding peace through long suffering and new life in what seems like death. As ritualized throughout Holy Week, it speaks of our hope for justice in the midst of tyranny.

If religion has been, at least in part, the source of its own destruction in this new century, we believe it can also be the source of its renewal. Faith can be more about meaning than truth. It can celebrate difference as part of God's ethical will. It can read Scriptures seriously if not literally. It can welcome tension and dialectic.

This Passover and this Easter, it is religion itself that needs to be liberated and raised from the dead. Our stories can lead the way.


Scott M. Korb, a Roman Catholic, is co-author of the forthcoming "The Faith Between Us." Rabbi Leon A. Morris is director of the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El in New York City. Their e-mails are and

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Playing Catch-Up, My Bad

Mea culpa! If you're a fan (well, of course you are. Otherwise, why are you reading this?) As John Lennon said, life is what happens while you're busy making other plans. Been a load of things happening on the home and workfronts (all good), so I'm playing a little catch-up. Here's a list in no particular order of what's been racking my brain:

** Clueless APs (adoptive parents) send numerous nastygrams to KAD (Korean Adoptee) blog for having the audacity to share her thoughts, all witty, wise, and good to hear, even when they discomfit.

** Jessica Simpson wants to adopt a baby. (Hey Jessica, you ain't Angelina, you ain't Meg Ryan. Please, please, please, see how things go with taking care of a goldfish first.)

** Another AP on another board had to go toe-to-toe with a clueless school principal about racial taunting, name-calling, etc directed at her son on the bus. Catholic school, no less. She even brought her priest. "Boys will be boys, your son better get used to it." and words to that effect said the principal. Friend found another school. I would have first filed a lawsuit, then found another school.

Glad The Sopranos are back for a new season. I need the hour of mayhem to make myself calm down. More to come in April, I promise.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Ladybugs - a menace?

As you may or may not know, the ladybug has become something of a mascot for the China Adoption Community portending good luck, the imminent arrival of referrals, etc. (We don't have anything like this in the Korea Adoption community. Maybe we need something.)

In any case, it appears that ladybug allergies are quite real and right up there with cat and cockroach allergies.

Here's the CNN article. (After reading this, you'll never feel quite so sanguine about finding a ladybug in your house.)

Ladybug allergy bugs more people

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Link to Mentioned Article

Here's the link to the Washington Post article mentioned below.

Mother Admits Killing Daughter

Saturday, March 04, 2006

this and this - and something outstanding

It's been a while since I last posted. In that time, an adoptive mother pled guilty to killing her 2-year Russian-born daughter, just one more tragic incident which highlights why 1/adoptive parents should have more screening, not less and 2/adoptive parents must have compulsory training/education prior to allowing the child to join them.

Pretty harsh I know, but my experience and gut tells me that too many adoptive parents - even those with children already at home - are woefully unprepared to parent adopted children. Especially those who are older, come from orphanage environments, and who bring with them a history of abuse, neglect, malnutrition.

Too many APs are clueless and some of this has to fall on the adoption agency. How many times do we read on the egroups where parents with children newly home write wondering when the child will sleep through the night - and this is after 10 days?

Agencies who insist on education - and the best ones do - can easily find themselves at a disadvantage to those agencies promising fast, inexpensive adoptions. Afterall who wants to wait 6-12 months with mandatory classes with Agency A when Agency B promises the moon instead?

If you're a prospective adoptive parent, seek out the agencies that offer classes, training, what have you. It will help you define and focus your journey and ultimately make you a far better parent.

Ok, that's my rant. Now here's the amazing part of our program. Crank up the music and prepare to be astounded.

This ain't your Grandma's Spinning Plate act on the Ed Sullivan Show

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Teen Moms Who Parent Their Babies

We hear much about how hard it is to raise a baby alone and/or with few resources. Here's an article about a few teen married mom in Korea and their struggle.

Teen married mothers grope for identity

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

More on Toby Dawson

Looks like someone has stepped forward believing he is Toby's biological father.

Korean Claims to Be Biological Father of US Olympic Medalist

There is some resemblance. But only DNA will tell for sure.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Ok, I'm not proud of this, but ...

I happen to adore "bad celebrity plastic surgery" - it just makes me feel a whole lot better about myself at 51, since (honestly) I look better at 51 than a lot of pop-eyed, tight-faced, botoxed celebs do at 40. (Although I do flirt from time to time with a little under-eye and mini-neck lift.)

I'll buy the National Enquirer everytime they run one of these issues. (Check out last week's issue, it's a doozy.)

I have a new favorite website - Awful Plastic Surgery.

Hope you enjoy this time waster as much as I do!

And how about Hines Ward?

Not an adoption story, but a different take on traditional Korean views on lineage.

From The Korean Herald - Editorial.

[EDITORIAL]Xenophobia on spotlight

Toby Dawson - Two Media Takes - US & Korean

Are you following Toby Dawson's exciting Olympic work? I thought you'd find these 2 articles of interest. One is from MSNBC, the other from The Korea Times.

From Orphan to Olympian
Adjusting to the American way wasn't always easy for Toby Dawson

US Skier Seeks Korean Parents

Saturday, February 04, 2006

In many ways, she was the mother to us all...

For women of a certain age, Betty Friedan was one of the most amazing, spectacular revolutionaries of the day. She galvanized a generation of women, myself included. Many of the civil rights women take for granted today came, in large part, because of Betty and her vision.

Rest well, Betty.
And thank you.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Dry Ear Wax - It's a gene thing

There's no question by two kidlets from Korea came to me with dry, flaky ear wax. Very common in Asian populations. (Piper had a truly spectacular build up as a toddler. The kind doctors talk about amongst themselves. The kind that can keep a kid from hearing well.

That's when I got the ear "scoop."

I have a Korean-type ear scoop thing that I use to keep the kids' ears clean. Very gently and not deep. And while it may be an Asian thing, my eldest daughter has it, too, so she gets scooped from time to time, also.

UPDATE! You can get your very own ear scoop at Dr. Leondards! Click the banner and do a search for ear scoop.


In any case, here's an interesting article about the whole deal - and it comes down to a single gene.

Read more about it here...

Gene found that determines type of earwax

Friday, January 27, 2006

And now for something completely different.

Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I don't want ANYONE but my kid's doctor checking his "pepper" ...

Penis-Pinching Teacher Fined W5 Million

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Another Reason for Adoption?

Not sure what to think or make of this situation at all. My children became available for adoption because their unmarried birthmoms were in an untenable situation. This? I just don't know...

New Immigration Strategy: Koreans Send Children to America for Adoption

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

For such a smart county, how did we get so stupid?

Okay, another rant from the "are you shitting me?" department...

Got a call from the school nurse that my eldest needed some Advil for cramps. (Stupidity #1 - with a well-meaning zero drug policy in place, teenaged girls with cramps can't keep Advil in their backpacks. I can't give the school nurse a bottle of Advil with my kid's name on it. I have to get a doctor's note so that the nurse can give my kid 2 Advil. When I was in middle school, I carried my own Midol. (Not that it did any good, but it was reasonable.)

Okay, here's my big Stupidity #2. Bring daughter her Advil. I told her to give the medicine about 15-20 minutes to take effect. I asked the nurse if she had a hot water bottle my daughter could have for a little while.

Now get this

Nurse: "We can't do hot. We can only do cold."

Me: :: silent :: You can only do cold. You can't do hot. So if my kid sprained something, you could do cold. But if heat were indicated, you couldn't do anything.

Nurse: Yes, that's right.

Me: Nothing hot.

Nurse: Yes.

Me: How about hot tea?

Nurse: No, we can't do that either.

(No tea? When I was a little girl back in the lame-o, we didn't know anything 60s and 70s, thr school nurse always had tea brewing. It was magic and comforting.)

So tell me ... when did we all get so incredibly stupid?

I left my kid at school to manage 15 minutes without a little extra help of a simple hot water bottle. I guess next time, I'll have to bring that, too ... and a doctor's note.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Dark Side of Adoption

From USA Today ...

Underground network moves children from home to home

If this article points to anything, it's that adoptive parents need and should be required to have specific training/education prior to their child's arrival and for some time after.

I hear from some prospective parents, and certainly monitor enough adoption boards to know, that too many of these well-meaning people DON'T HAVE A FREAKING CLUE about what they're getting ready to take on and it's the children who continue to suffer, over and over again.