Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Lia and Kia are home with me today too exhausted to function... for kia it's understandable... here's her schedule last week:

-- Thur.: School, Stage manager for 3rd grade play performance
-- Fri night: School, Stage manager duties, plus sleep over birthday party
-- Sat.: finish at party, 2 soccer games, stage manager for 2 more performances
-- Sun: 2 soccer games then help clean-up tournament (our team ran the damn thing... 4 fields... 34 teams... 68 referee man-hours, 150 players, and 300 parents... and some random dogs -- it was fun but a lot of work)
-- Monday: Crash.

We made about $1000 selling concessions over the 2 day extravaganza which doesn't count the hours of shopping required pre-fun. (As one witty parent put it... if we each donated $100 we would have made $1,200.... in just 10 minutes) and we took a pass on the Star Spangled Banner, although Eliza volunteered to sing it if she could sing where no one could see her and if we gave her a microphone. Diva.

Lia on the other hand only had a swim meet... 2 hours of warm up to swim 2 events... 100 breast stroke and 200 breaststroke... 1 event sat. 1 event sun. call it 5 minutes of actual competition... in Pacifica. 180 minutes of driving and 6 hours of sitting around waiting for your event. Lia getting 3 hours of exercise per day in preparation?....priceless.

Eliza, being Green, played 4 soccer games and had a playdate... then made it home to sleep by 9pm both nights and this morning leaped out of the house ready for school at 7:45. The fact that she was singing at the time is not Green at all. Just a little added bonus she got to show she resembles me somewhat afterall.

Right now we are storyboarding our website in POWERPOINT?! This is insanity. I am looking for someone to "flatten" the site so we can use the design view in DW and change content... the coders will recode it for the production version.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Obama and Google Age Discrimination

Obama is listening to Google executives, which could be good for technology. But will Google's access to the halls of government lead to tacit acceptance of age discrimination? The search giant, who's public mantra is "Do no evil" has been slapped with a discrimination suit that has revealed damning statistics in Google's employment practices (if you're old).

In July 2006 ZDnet reported that Google had been slapped with an age discrimination suit for terminating the employment of one of the few executives over 40. In a statement to the press, the attorney's of defendant Brian Reid said, "Google executives overlook age discrimination laws in an effort to foster a corporate environment that emphasizes 'youth and energy.' The strategy has led to a work force with an average age of under 30 and with less than 2 percent of employees over 40, according to the claim. Google employed just more than 1,600 people in 2003."

According to the SF Chronicle One of Reid's supervisors, "Urs Hoelzle, who was 15 years younger than Reid, told him that his opinions and ideas were obsolete and "too old to matter," and that he was sluggish and lethargic, the court said. Some colleagues referred to him as an "old guy" and "fuddy-duddy......

"As part of the lawsuit, Reid presented a statistician's study of employees and managers in his department at Google that found older employees consistently received lower evaluations than their younger colleagues, and older managers got bonuses that were 29 percent less than those awarded to managers who were 10 years younger." (Article published Oct. 5, 2007)

Google handled the case badly according to an analysis posted on Nolo's employment blog

The California State Supreme Court will review the case according the SF Chronicle January 2008 follow-up article .

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Surviving the catastrophe

Ok... just in case Sarah Palin given all her Foreign Policy Expertise manages to create worldwide chaos, I'm ready with solar cooker plans...
Here are a few that I want to try. Wonder if they get hot enough to cook a Fred's steak?

Sarah Palin and Armageddon

OK Class, let's review for a minute... Does everyone know what "self fulfilling prophesy" means? (Come on, you did read Homer's Odyssey in highschool... didn't you?)

ANYWAY... here's an example... if someone believes that Armageddon is a good idea... God's Will even... and that someone is close to the little red button that blows the world away... this can't be a good thing for people who are striving for reason... it's kind of like everyone forgot that the Enlightenment happened.

Monday, September 1, 2008

beauty minerals: raw, glo, bare, natural or pur? vitiligo and living a real life anyway

A few months ago I fell for my first "Free click here" yahoo mail ad... heck... if nothing else, this experience has proved that advertising is a lot like parenting -- as in: repeat yourself enough and eventually someone will unload the dishwasher.

But now 4 or 5 months later I have used-up all of my free $8.00 shipment of makeup (Like housework, exercise and eating, I wear makeup in binges -- luckily enough the practice of binging doesn't extend to drinking ... not yet anyway).

Here's the question: Should I buy more?

It's a bit of a loaded question because I have vitiligo. The effect it's had on my face is pronounced enough that more than once every few months a kid will screw up enough courage to ask me: what's wrong with your face? As a result I have grown from someone people would call elegantly handsome in the Angelica Houston mold, to someone who looks just horsey... like a paint or appolousa. So, there's a lot to sort through in answering the question. How normal do I want to look and how much am I willing to put into the effort. I still don't know for sure. Who am I fooling anyway?

Palin's daughter -- Does Trig Exist?

Who knew this election was going to be so about such real people.
A teenager who gets pregnant? Who knew. Frankly it's a refreshing change from the usual upper middle class politico teenager stuff -- partying with celebs, DUI, drugs, wild road trips, humanitarian PR trips... stuff out of the reach of the usual teen drama.
In contrast, this is so back woodsy... something that could happen to anyone anywhere... It's like the movie Juno.
But where is Trig? Does Trig exist?

Saturday, August 30, 2008


a side passion is rail travel. I just can't understand why we can't replace route 17 with a rail line... a like minded article is here

Faux Fred's Steak Marinade Escapade

About 13 years ago we fell hard for Fred's Steak from Scwaub Meats in Palo Alto. Anyone who has ever seen Fred's will understand why my daughter calls it black meat. Anyway, at the time at maybe $10 a pound Fred's was an affordable luxury and worth every penny.

That was a time before the dot.bomb hit our lucrative consulting businesses ... before our two income family became a no-income family. Maybe it's a Feng Shui problem, but we've never really recovered the go-go '90s lifestyle. Although I keep hanging wind chimes in the Northwest Sector but the veil of middle class debt barely lifts above my credit limit for long. But enough about that. We've got health insurance and we're covering the mortgage. The kids are getting a better than average education and I can afford enough gas to get them to soccer meets.

So as Joni Mitchell wrote: "My dreams have lost some grandeur coming true." Now that I look at clouds from both sides now, what more can I ask?

Fred's Steak ... that's what I ask. Today Fred's costs something like $20 per pound at Schwab.
At this price, like gasoline, it's been reclassified from affordable luxury to rare luxury. Probably better for the environment anyway. (And without sounding like sour grapes, at this juncture it does occur to me to ask: "who are they selling to?" And maybe more importantly: "how do I get on that meal plan too? And the ever popular: "Maybe I should have gone to Stanford when I had the chance rather than pursuing a love of archaeology."

Luckily enough this week, apropos to nothing, I've been inspired by that all-american pioneering can-do spirit...maybe it was my week at girl scout camp this summer, the unusual heat yesterday, or the sale on Tri-tip at Piazza's Market. Whatever the inspiration I'm trying my hand at that great Silicon Valley hobby: reverse engineering. If it works for integrated circuit boards, it should work for recipes, n'est pas? As I write, my sale tri-tip is marinating in a salty primordial goo made from a recipe I found on the internet and a few other things. It includes the following:

red wine
olive oil
balsamic vinagar*
soy sauce*
miso paste*
worcestershire sauce
chili sauce
garlic cloves

*this seems like a red herring I think for a recipe that was purportedly devised by a Los Gatos butcher in 1950..... when did basalmic vinagar, soy sauce and miso make it to mainstream america anyway?

Stay tuned for the results...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mysteries of the Universe

>> I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.
> I had amnesia once -- or maybe twice.
> Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.
> All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.
> If the world was a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses sidesaddle.> What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?
> They told me I was gullible... and I believed them.
> Teach your children to be polite and courteous in the home and when theygrow up, they'll never be able to merge their car onto the freeway.
> One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.> The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.
> If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?
> Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.
> Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?
> Chaos, Disorder, and Panic: My work here is done.

Mysteries of the Universe

>> I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.
> I had amnesia once -- or maybe twice.
> Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.
> All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.
> If the world was a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses sidesaddle.> What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?
> They told me I was gullible... and I believed them.
> Teach your children to be polite and courteous in the home and when theygrow up, they'll never be able to merge their car onto the freeway.
> One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.> The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.
> If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?
> Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.
> Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken?
> Chaos, Disorder, and Panic: My work here is done.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Teen dating and abandonment

Ok... so we've gotten dd this far... 13 years... a good student... good judgement... knows how to ride a bike, is water safe, looks both ways before crossing the street... eats sensible foods (if they are rice, pizza or potstickers) ...turns in school assignments on time, talks to teachers, is mostly polite to most adults, makes good friends, puts words to her feelings (much of the time)... folds laundry, unloads the dishwasher, babysits her sisters responsibly, ..... but now ... this! The boyfriend... a really great kid who treats her well... but... THEY ARE 13 and inseparable. .. and this has been going on for A FULL YEAR. ... They start texting at 7am and only stop at 10pm when they fall asleep (with phones under pillows). When he's not around (his mother took his phone last week until he does his summer reading..) she is absolutely morose and even intractable. .. strang and durm (storm and stress)... high dudgeon.... What I can't figure out, is how much of this is normal teenage dispare... and how much of it is fueled by sdoption abandonment issues? Life is sometimes a hard road full of disappointment and fear and anger anger and angst, but as a parent... can I do anything to help? Where can I turn for advice? When she was 2 and thrashing around I could wrap her in my arms and hold her for hours, days, whatever it took until she felt calm... but now.. she's bigger and almost stronger than me... when she goes ballistic door jams get smashed.

Friday, June 27, 2008

How much did they pay for you... and other adoption horror stories

I read somewhere that starting at around age 7 non-adopted kids get suspicious about the whole idea of adoption -- at this age they start to put things together enough to understand that adoption on the most basic level means it's possible for parents to "give up" their kids.

Up until this idea takes hold, non-adopted kids never suspect that the parent-child bond can be broken. Non-adopted kids who have contact with adopted kids start to ask themselves questions like:
-- If it happened to you, could it happen to me?
-- What makes parents give their kids away?
-- Will my parents give me away if I am bad or if I disappoint them?
-- Did your real parents give you away because you were bad or ugly or ...

When this happens that the playground can hold a house of horrors for adopted kids. Sometimes the non-adopted kids ask the adopted kid "why" in an attempt to reassure herself (himself) that his/her parents would never give him/her away.

In second grade a boy on the playground hounded my oldest daughter was hounded. He'd become obsessed with the idea that her "real parents" "gave her up"... and her new parents "bought" her. "How much did they pay for you?" he would ask day after day (OK.. in all fairness I should tell you that he was also on the autism scale but that's a different problem)

It was a difficult time. No amount of explaining could resolve it. Finally after months of talking to his parents and the teachers and trying to "educate" him one day he asked her for the bizillionth time: "How much did your parents pay for you?" She snapped back: "More than anyone would ever pay for you. So it's good they had to keep you when you were born" That shut him up. We changed schools the next year and solved the problem once and for all. When you can't win and you can't hide, you better be able to run.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Musing on parenting 2 year olds...

This is a difficult year for any child/family and it's made much more difficult by the added anxiety and control issues that come with attachment issues.

Don't worry.. the No No No stuff often goes away..... but it takes about 6 months... and it comes back again when they are 4-1/2 and if they don' t get it all out of their system then.. .it comes back again when they are 12....and I hear again at 16 or 17 yrs. This is a long term project.

You might find now is a good time to get a copy of the book "your 2 year old" by Ames and Ilng - I also found great comfort in the book "Your Baby and Child" by Peneope Leach. When my dd was in the thoes of NoNoNo-ism I used to sing her a song... actually, I sang it more for my own sanity.... It goes to the tune of Row Row Row your boat... but really any tune will do:

No no No no no
No No no no no
no no no no no no no
no no no no YES!

yes yes yes yes yes
yes yse yese yes yse
yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
yes yes yes yes

Yes no yes no no
No yes no yes no
yes no yes no yes no yes
no no no no Maybe

Sometime we could even reach mutual giggles. not that often really, but it was nice when it happened. Lots of good wishes to you during this trying year. You will probably find out you can take a lot more than you think you can.. You are made of sterner stuff than you ever imagined... that's the real magic of parenting. Alexis

Saturday, May 31, 2008

School Days with Attachment Disorder

In the preschool room
the children
come and go
sweet and busy lo,
while Mary brought her little lamb
Lia brought her tiger.

Spider Cottage

The cottage grown
after 15 years
dark and foreboding
the dry grass roof harboring bugs
a spider's feast

A brewing
bigger than
a pot of tea
a storm
whipped up fast by the winds of mortality
unbroken by the hedge of family
that was lost in a long ago storm

watch close the lantern
in a wind like that
with a roof like that
gone all too soon.

In pictures there are roses
a picket fence
in life there are the thorns
and fast fires jump the hearth
and deep brooding days
and quick moments of sweetness
so small and tart and cool
they could be

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mud vs. Mud Slinging

Mud vs. Mudslinging

My youngest kid... the blonde; the one who isn't Asian... the one made in the USA and not adopted from China. This is the kid who attends the Chinese school. Someday I can tell you all the reasons for this... there was a logic as shaky as it seems sometimes in retrospect. At any rate... the issue of mud play came up on the school email and it is just too good to be true. The names have been changed to protect everyone concerned.

From: "Mei Lin"
To: :3rd and 4th grade parents list
Sent: Wednesday, May 14, 2008 6:45 PM>
Subject: Yew Chung recess today>>>>

Hi parents,>>>> This is so that you are aware. I was at school during afternoon recess
today and saw some 3rd graders playing with mud. I don't mean "sand & water",
it was "soil & water" (you know, that strip of dirt between the footpath next to the playground and the doors into our classroom, except this hole is towards the gate end).

I personally feel that it's extremely unhygienic immersing one's hands into the mud hole (which they made by adding water). Mr. S. was the only teacher at the playground so I told him that I'm concern there are germs like Salmonella in the soil and they might not wash their hands properly afterwards. His response was that he had never heard of germs/bacteria in mud, kids do play with mud... etc, etc.

So to cut a long story short, I told Megan not to play with the "mud" anymore. It's actually not the kids' fault. It was too hot to play on the playground and there was really nothing much for them to do. Anyway, just thought you might want to know.>>>> --Mei >

Wed, 14 May 2008 21:46:04 -0700,
"Lori Li Chan" writes:>
Hi Mei and Other 2/3 Parents,>>
Thank you for sharing today's incident with us. With the weather getting warmer these days, and the children probably not wanting to be out in the sun so long, I have thought about what other options are available to them. Coincidentally, I talked with Mr. Drabman about this issue today. He is fine with the idea of opening the library to the students during lunch break IF there's a responsible adult to watch over them. Most of the staff are on break at that time, so it is not fair for them to stay in the library to supervise the students. So I am wondering if, for the remainder of the school year (4 weeks), we can have a parent volunteer in the library from 12:20 to 1PM. With the number of parents in elementary, I think we'll need to be "on duty" only once until school ends for our children to have this added option. They can read books, play board games (available in the library), or have a cool place to draw and write.
Thoughts, anyone? Is this a feasible idea?>>Lori >>-----

Thanks for including me on this interesting thread... There's certainly a lot to think about here. I understand the concern about the potential hygenic problems posed by mud -- a friend and I just yesterday had a long conversation about the pros and cons of Calistoga mud baths that were all the rage in the go-go 90s (the attendent will hose you off while you stand there naked?! now there's a big problem on at least 3 levels ... think about it... you can get fungus from a pedicure... bathing in mud!? eeeeh.)....
A few observations:
...A quick search on the internet reveals that most mud-related disease in kidsa occurs with contaminated soil. Balancing this is the desire to avoid making kids afraid of everything in life. Courage is a life skill.
....A few years back, the Ryan, Kia and Michael made a mud hole in front of the current 1st grade class, and the science lessons I saw blossom from this experience seem to win in my mind over the small potential for illness. So far the 3 of them seem to have weathered this with their health undinted.
.... Frankly, I worry more about kids damaging their social-emotinal development with mud-slinging and by that I mean the mean-spirited whispering and exclusion kind of mud. Real mud seems tame in comparison.
... So with all this in mind I come down firmly on the side of playing in mud. We have cultivated quite a few mud holes in our yard lately, so I rather think Eliza was leading the charge. On the other hand, apparently I am one of those high-risk takers and indeed married a man who actually jumped from airplanes... So I defer to your collective judegment to avoid my daughter being punished by the herd for my sins.

Adopted sibs have attitude...don't we all

Because one of my kids is not adopted this hit me....

Silent Sibling Being the Non-Adopted Child
May 05,2008 /
by Kirsten Rutkowski

Did she really just say that? Is she kidding? How do I even respond? Her comment repeats in my head. "Your brother is special. Isn't he, Kirsten?""Umm" I quickly try to think of something, anything to say. The classroom is completely silent and there are twenty sets of eyes, staring in my direction, waiting for a response. "I wouldn't call it that" I finally mumble, almost under my breath. It was the best I could come up with. "Well, why don't you tell us a little bit about him," my 10th grade religion teacher, Mrs. Smith, continues. As to ensure that the misery does not last any longer than it should, I give her the information she is looking for. "He's adopted. I guess that makes him special.""And how old was he when he was adopted?" Three months old."And where was he adopted from?" " South Korea ."I fidget with my pen at my desk. My face must be bright red. I am completely mortified. In high school, an incident like this is almost intolerable a complete social disaster. Letting the cat out of the bag about having a brother who is adopted internationally made me different, and different was just about the last thing I wanted to be in 1Oth grade. I am hoping the questions will end there. Of course, they do not. "So, how do you feel about having a brother who is Asian?" The lesson for the day was about diversity. I should have seen it coming. "It's okay, I guess." I knew I had to say more than that or she would just ask more questions. "People sometimes stare at us when we are out in public, which bothers me." Luckily, this comment satisfied her. She moved on to something else, probably probing some other poor, innocent victim in the class discussion. I stopped paying attention, reveling in the fact that I was no longer in the spotlight. I immediately deemed it one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, fearing word would spread throughout my high school before fourth period. Of course, I was completely overreacting, like any fourteen year old drama queen would. Almost everyone at our small, private high school knew that my younger brother, Keith, is adopted from South Korea . I was not revealing the answer to some great mystery of life. Even more, I had answered those same questions about 6 million times throughout my life from curious strangers and good friends alike. Interestingly enough, I have not given the same answers to these questions six million times over. The responses became monotonous and boring after some time, so my brother and I started answering creatively. A few times, my brother has informed the curious person that I was actually the one adopted into an Asian family. I always just smile and go along with the story he constructs about my "adoption." We have simply stated that the mailman is Asian, allowing the inquisitor to come to their own conclusions. Other times, we simply ask curiously, "What do you mean, we don't look alike?" tilting our heads and wrinkling our faces awkwardly, like we have never, ever heard the comment before in our lives. Of course, not all moments in the life of a silent sibling can be reduced to the melodrama of adolescence or private jokes to silence strangers. Every once and awhile, it can be difficult and upsetting. When I was seventeen, I experienced one of these powerful moments at the most unexpected of times. I was staring blankly at the sheet of paper in front of me. "This is supposed to be the easy part," I thought to myself. I had just begun, not even reaching the middle of the first page, but I was unsure of the answer. Had I simply forgotten? Was I never told the answer? Was it assumed by those in the know that I was fully aware of what should be written along the dotted line? Most importantly, my answer was crucial to being accepted into college. Yet, I was not sitting anxiously in a classroom taking the SATs or ACTs. Instead, I was sitting at my kitchen table, listening to a television show faintly playing in the next room. I was attempting to fill out college application forms. "Place of Birth" was the question and I had no answer. I yelled to my mother, who was ironing upstairs. "Hey Mom, Where was I born?" " Manchester , New Hampshire ," she yelled back, nonchalantly, as if I was asking her the time. However, her answer only brought about a flurry of questions, quickly running through my head. How did I not know my place of birth? If I did not know my place of birth until that point, did that mean it didn't matter? The most compelling issue for me was that I could tell you exactly where my brother was born. In fact, I had been there, and it was halfway across the world. The year before, I traveled with my parents and younger brother to South Korea to tour the country and visit the small city in which my brother was born. After being adopted by my family as a small baby, the journey to South Korea was very important to him. I was now concerned that we had never traveled as a family to Manchester , New Hampshire , so I could witness first hand the sights and sounds of the small city. We had moved shortly after I was born and I did not remember any of its intricacies. I suddenly felt incredibly envious. My place of birth was not foreign or exotic. In fact, it is so uninteresting it had been forgotten. My envy turned into upset, realizing that something that is so central to my brother's identity was completely lacking in my own. I was then forced to question my identity, a task that is grueling for anyone at any age. It took some time to realize that a large part of my identity was due to the fact that my brother is adopted from South Korea . Although in high school I may have thought it was the end of the world, I have come to realize I am so fortunate because of it. I have been exposed to experiences that I would not have otherwise even dreamed of being a part. I have eaten plenty of Kim Chee, attended numerous Korean Culture Camps, and seen countless Korean presentations, celebrations, and picnics. Furthermore, Korean storybooks fill our shelves and Korean artifacts decorate our home. I have even traveled to South Korea , encountering the culture first hand (or suffering from culture shock, as some call it). Although I felt as if I had Kim Chee coming out my ears at times and was speaking Korean in my sleep every now and then, I inevitably learned the great value of diversity with these rich experiences. After all of these rich Korean cultural experiences, my parents thought it would be a great idea for me to explore my own Polish cultural heritage. So, we traveled about two hours away to the annual Polish Festival in our state. It was truly enlightening, as the events of the day included seeing the largest Kielbasa in the world and numerous carnival rides. I was on the edge of my seat for the most thrilling part of the day a Kielbasa eating contest. I cheered loudly for the winner, who was an elderly woman, weighing no more than 100 pounds. Needless to say, it was not exactly the experience my parents were looking for, but quite enjoyable nonetheless. Although not an official member of the triad, siblings are fully engulfed by the world of adoption. In fact, having a sibling who is adopted internationally means being an ambassador to the world of adoption: answering endless questions from various, interested people, attending enriching cultural events, among many other tasks, both large and small. It often requires reporting to others who are not aware of adoption not only the basics, but also intimate elements of the everyday life of your family that would otherwise remain private. At times, the role of ambassador can be a heavy burden, especially since no sibling has asked for this life-long appointment. On the other hand, it can provide diverse, eye-opening experiences that most are not lucky enough to experience and even allow siblings who are brought together by adoption to bond in ways that biological siblings often do not. Despite how difficult or upsetting it can be at times, it is all worth it to have happy memories of playing "Home Run Derby" in the backyard, building snowmen during the snow days in the winter, and watching the same movie (like Home Alone and Mighty Ducks, for instance) over and over again. No matter what the circumstances, having a sibling is a wonderful thing. There have been many moments in my life when I have felt bad for those who are not lucky enough to have siblings they'll never know how much they are missing. Reprinted with permission NYS Citizens' Coalition for Children, Inc. http://www.nysccc. org/

Sunday, April 20, 2008

soccer.. swimming... life

I have spent far too much time in the sun on the soccer pitch... a 2 game weekend... and driving kids to and from the pool... to and from soccer games. Arranging to drive goal posts to and from soccer fields. Then driving kids home one of them who lives part time on a road so high ... up up up so high you can practically see the western oceans... so isolated. so alone. it looks like the house in Kubrick's Clockwork Orange.

Old and Ugly

How am I? A raving lunatic
old and fat
and gray
and for the first time
married to a younger man

my clothes buldge in awkward places
I snap at Asian women
my daughters in law
and me resenting their youth
appalled at their children
how neat and tidy their clothes their hair
how easily they melt to orders
how little they question
how quickly they respond and don't resist

You can twist williow
if you leave it long enough to soak
in the marshy river bends
where the water pools
and bugs skitter
no fingers bleed

but not old oak
where the oak grows
deep roots
in the dry coast hills
branches snap in the hot wind
that fans fire
and trails of ashes
make way for next years grassland

Adoption and Redemption

Over 12 years of adoptive parenting my kids and I have had to face an ongoing discussion about why did this happen.... why did my mother leave me... it becomes an ongoing lifelong discussion with my kids... In facing "the elephant" with my kids (kids are now ages 7, 8, 12 yrs), I have to start with the idea that we live in a world that is incredibly different from China. In our world we expect to have all the food we can eat, more or less open government, an education, full Internet access, a relatively free press, at least one car, a house with a garage.... tons of fun toys and stuff that makes everyday life pretty easy. On a deeper level our Bill of Rights actually says that we have the right to pursue happiness (if not necessarily achieving it...we have the right to try). For all this we practice gratefulness.

But most importantly, we live in a culture that values and teaches individual freedom -- personal privacy -- free will -- the right and responsibility to make our own decisions about our own individual lives for better or worse (for example, Our popular press glorifies celebrity unwed parents... Angelina Jolie comes to mind..from that kids could get the idea that this is true everywhere... but it's not true in China).

Little of this holds true in China. China is a very old, very successful culture that has survived over thousands of years... on the other hand, it is rooted in traditions and values that our upstart Western culture just doesn't hold. Coming from our environment it's almost impossible to fully comprehend the pressures that Chinese birth parents face with an unplanned pregnancy. In China women tend to be first and foremost a member of the family and community... independent decision making isn't taught or valued in the same way. In fact, much in Chinese culture actually subverts individualism. Birth parents are often not the ones making the final decision about an "adoption plan"....

When the kids were young we kept it very simple and focused on how thankful we felt to the birth mother for eating healthy foods and taking care of herself so that she could deliver our daughters into the world and give them life. In the world of a Chinese woman bringing a birth to full term can be an act of tremendous courage. (We read aloud good historical fiction to help add details to this idea such as "Bittersweet" "Wild Swans"). How ever it happened that my kids got to safety as a mother how can I be anything but grateful?

As the kids get older this discussion becomes a chance to talk about personal responsibility, decision making, and a general philosophy of life. In my case that means telling my kids that the world is a miraculous place and every life is a holy journey... however it happened that we became a family I am grateful... that each of us has a responsibility to live that life with a sense of purpose... it's really a religious experience for me... full of depth, tragedy, redemption and wonder.

This work has been made easier over the years by the Chinese school we attend. We have learned so much from our friendships with the generous parents and teachers who have grown-up in China and moved to the US. They have given my daughter a bridge from our world to the world of her birth. In offering us their friendship and their stories they have helped my daughters create a sense of herself and flesh out their stories in their minds.

Adoption, like anything in life, can be really hard work sometimes... it requires self knowledge from parents and a willingness to grow and change. There is tragedy but there is also redemption. And in this there is hope. In this there is a future. We can't be perfect, we can only do the best we can with the information we have to do what is best for the children.