You Still Have Time

7 01 2012

I am not going to randomly pick the Haiku winner until tonight.  (Probably about 9 pm CST.)  So there is still time to get your Haikus posted.

I just received six more by email.  That lowers the odds for everyone else who has already entered.  Just saying – you might want to Haiku a few more times today.

Here are some more topic ideas:  spring weather in January, politics (I haven’t received any with political themes), Genna (Ethiopian Christmas) or even sex (I have a feeling that some people write Haikus about sex).  You can always comment anonymously and if you win, you can contact me by email.  Your Haiku secrets will be safe with me.

So far the most common themes are illness and not wanting to Haiku.  Despite your reluctance, you have made me laugh and touched my heart.  Thank you.


Haiku Now – Please

5 01 2012

Reminder Haiku

Only two more days

To play.  You know you want to.

Haiku – It is fun



Peer Pressure Haiku

Don’t be afraid, please.

You will thank me once you try.

The cool kids do it.



My Issue Haiku

What is it with me

And Haiku? why do I care?

No explanation.



Guilt Haiku

So easy to please.

Just one little poem from you.

Makes me feel much joy.



Threatening Haiku

If you don’t Haiku

I will give you a time-out

Or not. Oh well.  Damn.

I Can’t Stop Haiku-ing

30 12 2011

I was recently challenged by The Lost Planetista, a REAL LIFE ARTIST, to create a Haiku.  I had to be reminded of exactly what a Haiku was.

Oh how I long to be the woman who curls up with a book of poetry, a cup of tea and a cat on my lap.  Instead I am the woman who hates tea, doesn’t have time to read because she is too busy changing the litter-boxes and honestly, if it is tougher than Shel Silverstein, she probably won’t understand it.

Still, I rose to the challenge and wrote some bad poetry.  Now, here is the strange thing – I am addicted.  I am thinking in pentameters.  I can’t stop counting syllables.

Five – Seven – Five

Five – Seven – Five

“Wait a second, Honey, Mommy is concentrating.”

“Con-cen-trate-ing – Four, it doesn’t fit.”

So, I am issuing a challenge.  Write a Haiku, about your kids, your adoption, your New Year’s resolution, your rude neighbors.  Anything – write a Haiku about anything.

Post it here.

There will be a prize (randomly drawn because if I can’t WRITE poetry, I certainly can’t JUDGE poetry).  But I must receive at least 20 submissions (because I am the Groupon of my own blogging world).

I would love it if you would invite others to participate.  I will keep the contest open until Melkam Genna – Ethiopian Christmas, which is celebrated on Saturday, January 7th.

The prize will be a new, hard-cover edition of “This Is A Soul:  The Mission of Rick Hodes” by Marilyn Berger.  This book is life-changing.  It is sooooo good, but your poetry does not have to be.

Did I mention the Haikus don’t have to be good?

To show you just how bad they can be, here are two examples of my brain on Haiku.

December 30, 3 am

By day a small child

By night a restless, snorting

Water Buffalo

Reminder To Self

Still so very young

Stretching her mind, her skills, my

Patience, She is Three

My first blogging contest – and it is poetry.  I think 2012 is looking awesome already.


Adoption Blogger Interview Project – Meet My New Friend Lara

17 11 2011

I decided to join the Adoption Blogger Interview Project because a friend said she was doing it.  I didn’t know much about the project.  The basic premise is to be paired with another blogger who writes about adoption, explore their blog, get to know them, email them some questions, and then introduce them to the readers of your blog.  I was excited about the idea.  I knew I would have a time crunch with my parents visiting, my four-day vacation and my mother-in-law’s arrival, but it still seemed worth it.

The thing I didn’t understand, but figured I had plenty of time to go back and research, was the format most people use and the way they connect the interviews to a larger theme. It’s clear that this project celebrates National Adoption Awareness Month. And I like the idea of connecting the different sub-communities within the larger community of adoption. Still, I have not had a chance to go back and read what any participants wrote last year. And, I am OUT OF TIME (so please forgive the messy formating – I just can’t fight with WordPress today).

So, I am just going to wing it. I am going to pretend this is a completely basic introduction/get to know you exercise like at the beginning of a seminar where you have to talk to the stranger who randomly sat at the table next to you, then introduce her to the rest of the class.

Even if I fail at this assignment because I didn’t actually understand the rules, I have to say, I enjoyed reading the blog I was assigned – Pocket Full Of Prose. Lara, the blogger, is a professional copy-writer and her skill is obvious. Her life and my life have many similarities and many differences. For the most part, I tried to explore the areas where her adoption and our adoption are similar and where they are different.

My questions or explanations are in bold. Her responses are in italic. I took her answers verbatim, except where she included an emoticon and my software ate it. I do not know how to replace her emoticons. But if you read her comments and sense a little irony, word play, or general silliness imagine that she finished the sentence with a happy face. One thing is clear, Lara is a really nice person. If you read anything she wrote and think there is an edge to what she has said – please – imagine the happy face. I know she probably put it there and I know it was in her heart.

We came to adoption because we believed there were children in the world who needed families, and we were a family with room for another child. Lara came to adoption through infertility. I asked her a few questions about this.

You openly discuss your fertility issues on your blog. What do you wish fertile people understood about infertility? What is the one thing (ten things?) you wish a fertile person would never say in your presence again?

I wish fertile people understood that adoption cures childlessness. It does not cure infertility. I still have fertility-related pain. I still grieve and mourn and wonder “what if?” Insensitive comments still hurt. I also wish infertile people understood that I am very happy and at peace with my choice to build my family through adoption. Don’t pity me. Don’t think I would do anything to be fertile. I have closure, I am happy!

Things I wish a fertile person would never say in my presence again:

  • Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll get pregnant!
  • Don’t stop trying, miracles happen and someday you’ll have your own.
  • I could never give up my baby.
  • Are you afraid your adopted child will have problems?
  • Aren’t you afraid she’ll search for her real mom?
  • Why didn’t you try IVF/sperm donation/surrogacy/voodoo rituals?
  • You got a baby the easy way!

We looked at all types of adoption and chose International as the way to build our family. I asked how Lara and her husband came to make the choices they did.

We definitely considered international adoption. We chose domestic adoption because of a couple reasons that others may or may not agree with, but it was right for us. Being infertile, I really wanted to experience having a newborn. I also really liked the idea of having an open adoption. I also feel that open adoptions can help navigate some of the ethical problems that can come up during any adoption (we KNOW that both birth parents willingly chose adoption), it was more affordable (money-wise and travel/time-wise) than most international adoptions. We are pursuing our second domestic infant adoption for the same reasons. Because so many domestic agencies won’t represent families beyond a second adoption, it is very likely we will turn to international adoption then.

Lara blogs frequently about “Open” adoption and has an on-going relationship with her daughter, Joci’s, first family. She and her family are also actively pursuing a second domestic adoption. I asked her to talk about the nature of open adoption.

We love our open adoption. That took me by surprise. At first, I thought it was something that we should do, ethically. Then, I saw how amazing it could be (through blogs like The R House , Feigning Fertility , The Happiest Sad , and many more). And once we had an open adoption, I was so surprised by the massive amount of love that came out of nowhere for my daughter’s birth family. It is something I don’t think people can understand until they have experienced it for themselves.

Ideally, I would want all my future children’s adoptions to be of a similar openness. I think it would be really hard for one child to receive phone calls and gifts from birth parents on a birthday and the other child not to have that. We have indicated that we would accept any adoption, and that statement will hopefully increase our odds to adopt. Perhaps I am too hopeful and naïve, but what I’ve heard is that more birth parents lean toward open adoptions. And I also think they can change their minds. Jocelyn’s birth parents wanted a semi-open adoption (know our names, meet us in the hospital, then no contact) but we convinced them otherwise. J So, I don’t know that we are compromising that much by saying we would be open to anything. If we get presented with a situation that just doesn’t feel right for our family, we can always pass.

Lara’s family is currently NOT conspicuous. Most people probably assume they came together through the common route of biological reproduction. As a transracial adoptive mother, I frequently think about strange situations that can arise due to our conspicuous family (although in our case they rarely occur.) This got me wondering about awkward situations that arise when people assume an adoptive family is NOT an adoptive family.

No matter how many times I tell my daughter’s pediatrician that she was adopted, he always asks genetic questions. I find it annoying—make a note on her chart, will ya?

When she was an infant, my daughter had very vivid blue eyes (they are now more grayish) and mine are green. I was checking out at a grocery store and the clerk commented on their amazing color. She said, “She must have got those eyes from her daddy.” I smiled and said, “She sure didn’t get them from me!”

Another time checking out at the grocery store recently, the clerk exclaimed, “Wow, she is just a little mini model of you. You two look exactly alike!”

I find those kinds of comments humorous but I am not sure how to react. Do I agree? Should I divulge the truth and tell them there is no genetic relation? I often just smile and nod.

I personally feel one of the greatest things that could come out of National Adoption Awareness Month is all members of the triad working together to think about ethics and doing our best for children that have been adopted. Unfortunately, right now, I am seeing lots of crazy finger-pointing, name-calling and divisive blog posts written in the name of satire or education or, well, I don’t know what.  It makes me sad because these blogs just make things harder on the next generation of adoptees.  And, like it or not, there is a current generation of adoptees. 

I took this opportunity to ask Lara about the areas of Ethics and Adoptee Identity Issues.

What things are you currently doing that you hope will help your daughter avoid some of the identity issues common to adoptees from previous generations? What additional things do you plan to do in the future?

We have an open adoption. We talk about Jocelyn’s birth parents by name and pray for them every night. We have visit them in person when we can (they live about 300 miles away). Joci has pictures of her birth family in her room. I made a photo album/book about her adoption story. I really hope that when she gets old enough to understand everything, she can see that I have done everything in my power to provide her pathways to her past and ways to answer her questions. I might not be able to answer them all and I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope she will understand that I never hid or hindered anything, and that I will always support her in her questions, searching, grieving, and growing.

 As Joci gets older, I would like her input on her relationship with her biological family. Perhaps she will want more contact, more phone calls, private letters. Perhaps she will want less. Her feelings will probably change back and forth. I hope to help her navigate those feelings and take charge of her relationships with them.

On Ethics:

I have been wanting to post about ethics for months and months and haven’t yet. Ethics are tricky. They aren’t as black and white as we all hope they would be. I do believe it is vitally important to be ethical and that the end doesn’t justify the means.

Things I think about a lot:

  • A mother does not have to obtain consent from the father if she aborts a fetus. Some proposed bills suggest requiring the father’s consent for adoption. What are a man’s rights in the knowledge and say of what happens to a child he fathered? Should they be different for adoption versus abortion versus a mother choosing to be a single parent?
  • When it comes to parental rights of a fetus/baby, do mothers and fathers have different rights?
  • How long should a birth mother have to wait after the birth of her child before she can relinquish rights? Can a time frame be too short to allow for a fair decision? Can a time frame be too long and cause excessive distress and pain? Can a time frame negatively affect the well-being of the child who must bond to another family?
  • Should birth parent counseling be mandatory or optional? Should a birth parent be forced into counseling if they don’t want it and feel it is unnecessary? Should all birth parents be required to attend counseling because they may not fully understand the impact of their decision?
  • How long after placement should a birth parent be allowed to contest an adoption and for what reasons?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I have opinions and ideas, and I can argue different answers to the questions. I will never shy away from trying to find answers to ethical problems in adoption.

I had one catch all question, because, do I really need a reason? How about – I wanted to!

I think that most of my blog readers are either people I know IRL (although that number isn’t huge as I have kept my blog on the down-low to some extent) or people who are involved in the international adoption community (probably mostly mothers of children adopted from Ethiopia.) With that audience in mind, is there anything you would want us to know about your adoptive situation?

I want everyone to know two things.

First, adoption is an option. I hope every woman who finds herself in a crisis pregnancy knows this and whether or not she chooses adoption, I hope she knows it is one of her choices.

Secondly and more selfishly, at least half of all domestic adoptions are arranged privately outside of agencies. Word of mouth is HUGE here. So I would love for readers who are new to me and my blog to keep that in mind. If they happen to know anyone who is thinking about adoption—please speak up. Not just for me, but for thousands of amazing, hopeful adoptive parents out there.  (Editor’s – that is ME – Semiferal – Note:  Lara has a separate blog specifically about their family as they try to once again grow their family though adoption.  It can be found here. )

Finally, I wanted to explore two things Lara and I have in common other than adoption: blogging and acupuncture.

On blogging:

I have always been an avid journal writer and fantasized that someday my journals would be meaningful to someone else. (I am a youngest child and adore attention—can you tell?) When my sister introduced me to blogging and helped me set up my blog, I was taken by the idea that people—strangers even—would listen to what I had to say. Through a little bit of blog hopping, I found a ton of adoption blogs. We were on the verge of giving up on fertility treatments at the time and seeing such positive adoption blogs helped us make the transition from giving up on one dream and pursuing another so much easier. Specifically seeing the open adoption portrayed by The R House blog (link: made me decide to have an open adoption—that surprised me. It has also surprised me by how many close friends I have made through blogging that I have never met in real life. I think I will stop blogging when I die. Well, until Apple comes up with a “beyond the grave” blogging app.

On acupuncture:

My friend and coworker tried acupuncture when she was undergoing in vitro and really felt that it helped. I tried it when I was trying to conceive. It didn’t have that affect but I couldn’t deny the chi rushes I felt or the calm, relaxed feeling. The philosophy of treating the person as a whole instead of tackling specific problems/symptoms really resonated with me after years of specialist doctors who never communicated with each other.

I stopped doing acupuncture after I was done with fertility treatments but started up again about a year ago. I just wanted to feel better and I was always concerned about the uterine fibroids that medical doctors said were harmless and were unwilling to do anything about. My acupuncturist said he could take care of them in 6 months. I was skeptical because my doctors said don’t ever just go away. They can be surgically removed, but will grow back because estrogen causes them, or they will shrink when estrogen is reduced (either through menopause or drugs that block estrogen production).

I gave acupuncture and Chinese herbs 6 months. After about 3 months, my periods became about 30% shorter and about 80% less painful. PMS was nonexistent. After six months I requested an ultrasound from my ob. The ultrasound only detected one fibroid tumor. My doctor swears that it must have been a bad ultrasound that didn’t detect the other fibroid because they do not go away on their own. I tend to have a different explanation.

I now tell everyone with chronic pain or a chronic condition to just try acupuncture. Give it six months. Just try. It could totally change your life, or you could just have a few relaxing naps. I am definitely a believer.

When you read enough of Lara’s blog you unexpectedly come across her poetry. Nothing scares me more than an amateur poet and when I saw the first poem entry, I got nervous. Then I read it. Then I was ashamed of my cynical nature and impressed by her gift. I asked her if there was any particular poem she wanted to share for this project. She gave me four options. I chose two.

The Movement of the Heart

Like the first beat of the heart

After the damage has been done

Like the beauty of the sunrise

After the hurricaned night

The touch after the burn

The dance after the fall

And love…after the tragedy.

It’s the movement of the heart

Sublime and hesitant


And awkward

Taking to the dance floor

with steps so apprehensive

The movement of the heart

Forgiving and believing

Finding a way to fly 

Life as a Double Negative

I’ve always known I am a contradiction

Tonight I realized why.

I am a double negative.

Some people—most—understand my intention and meaning.

And there are those who cannot see past

the improper usage of grammar to recognize

that the true function of the arbitrary set of rules we call language

is to share ourselves with the surrounding world

All they see is that I cancel myself.

And into which category do I fall?

I am the ever-correcting critic

And I am the ever faithful romantic dreamer

And so I confuse myself.

I know not who I am or what I feel

I am always in nonexistence because I negate myself.

And that is life as a double negative.


A Guest Post From The Woman Who Inspired The Post-Adoption Ethics Post

7 11 2011

My blog about post-adoption ethics (which you can find here if you need to) was originally inspired by a conversation I had with Tamara B.

Tamara and I became friends through adoption.

Since bringing home her son in May, 2009 she has returned twice to the Wolayta region of Ethiopia to volunteer.  During those times she was able to visit her adopted son’s biological family.

Unfortunatly, my blog post showed up the day she got on a plane to head to Ethiopia again.  She did not have time to respond to the original post or all of the thought inducing comments in real time.  When she finally got back to the States, she wrote a long comment.  WordPress rejected it.  Because that is one role the internet serves – to frustrate people when they need it the least.  I asked her to just send the comment to me, and hoped she would allow me to use it as a guest post.

My friend Tamara, she is a warrior fighting for the people of southern Ethiopia.  So if you want to disagree with her, go for it.  But do it respectfully.  Or you will see my feral side.

Okay, do I share what I really think and make myself vulnerable here???

Thank you SFM for posting the questions.  Some of them are exactly what I’d been asking myself and talked to you about before I left for Ethiopia a few weeks ago.  Now, I’m back and can maybe add my personal experience.  Granted, I still haven’t showered and I think I can smell myself after travelling for 45 hours, almost missing my flight in Amsterdam and falling asleep on the way home from the airport and being too tired to shower.

Now, while my kids sit quietly watching TV (you know how much I despise that), I’ll give a reply. 

Thanks again for posting this and then FB’ing me telling me about it.  I opened the blog post in Amsterdam and was able to read it, and not the comments, on my second flight home… maybe why I didn’t get any sleep on that leg.

Anyway, I was just in Ethiopia.  My adopted son, Judah’s, first mother (FM) lives just on the edge of the city where I stay when working with FOVC (Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children).  While there in June we saw FM and Judah’s two bio brothers.  They had nothing.  I gave them a pic of Judah and nothing else.  I left that day feeling horrible. 

I loved on his FM and told her again that I would bring Judah back when he’s older (he’s currently 3).  In advance of meeting her this time, I tried to think through a few options of helping her help herself.  After all, the whole reason I’m volunteering in Ethio is to do that for other widows.  How come I’d be willing to help tons of other widows (who may have given kids up for adoption) but not Ms. A?  Could/Should I use my privilege to get her training at the local sewing school?  Could/Should I have the org I volunteer for hire her to gather info for my crops project?

 I saw Ms. A on Friday.  And her two sons.  And they’re not just some random people.  We are building a relationship.  The boys who were a little scared of me last time, walked right up to me this time.  And while Ms. A is really bashful and doesn’t say a whole lot, the boys are learning English in school.  And they were able to tell me about their recent “craft” project in school, about how they remembered Judah.  And when I asked to purchase the craft projects, they said no but that they would give them all to me.  They didn’t expect a dime.  But I gave them a few birr, therefore purchasing it and not giving a handout.  Judge me if you want.

SFM’s last question resonated in my mind.  Twenty years from now will I be able to stand before my son and tell him that I didn’t help because it wasn’t ethical.  That the picture of the woman and two boys on our piano was all I ever did.  Praying for them is great but can’t I do more than that?

When a woman we love and pray for tells me that what she pays for rent and how every month she is threatened with eviction because she can’t pay the rent, it is SO HARD to stand there and do nothing.  It hurts.  When I ask how she feeds the boys and she tells me she begs in the village for food for them, it’s SO HARD to stand there and do nothing.  When I see their living conditions which are worse than “normal” and the sun is shining through the grass hut, I know that also means that rain and cold come through too, am I so cold hearted to do nothing? 

Does that mean I hand her 100 USD?  No.  Does that mean that encouragement is enough when I know I’m heading back to my privileged home in 3 days?  No.  When I hug the younger brother and he can only hug with one hand because he’s holding up his hole-y pants that are 6″ too short so they don’t fall off, can I just smile at him and go on? No.

I love reading these comments.  I, in no way, think that I have this all figured out.  Do I think I did it perfectly on Friday?  No.  Will I do more next time? Absolutely.  Like bringing the boys a few pencils and some clothes that will stay up.  Will that be enabling them?  Or will that give them enough hope  to continue on?

I volunteer in Ethiopia to help keep families together.  To give these widows some knowledge and assistance (sm biz loans) in providing for their families.  When I visited their farms and met their families, I was glad to know that their family has a better chance of staying in tact.  I want the same thing for Judah’s birth family since she was able to keep the two boys.

Okay, shower time for this tired momma,
tamara b

You can follow Tamara’s adoption-turned-to-volunteering-in-Ethiopia blog here.

The One, The Only, Beautiful Judah


Blissfully Unaware

19 10 2010

One of the reasons I read blogs is to learn from other parents.  And I wish this was something I could give back to the blog-reading community.  But I rarely have profound experiences (or if I do, they are completely lost on me.)  However, one of my real-life friends is 5 and1/2 years into being a pink mom, to a brown son (adopted domestically).  She has been a sounding board for me the entire way through our adoptive and parenting journey.  She is an amazing mother.  And she just had an experience that I think is worth sharing.  So I asked if she wouldn’t mind guest blogging.  I expected her to write the who, what, when, where, why (wwwww) of the incident.  And I knew we could all learn from it.  But she wrote, oh, well, crying again… don’t worry, in a minute I will share what she wrote.

But I also want to provide a little wwwww because I learned from the way she handled it. (Sorry, B, in this case your son was a teaching tool – at least for me.)  In retrospect I think, “of course that was the way to handle it”.  But I am pretty sure I would not have done as good of job on my own.

Luke Skywalker (because that is what he would want me to call him) is in kindergarten and is the son of my friend B.  They live in a medium-sized, fairly homogenous (white), community in Oregon.  B is very, very conscious of choosing schools and other social constructs that will be supportive of her son.

Last week B’s neighbor told B that her son, also in Kindergarten, said that kids were throwing balls at Luke Skywalker and calling him the N word.  B’s first step was, well, to be totally upset.  But she quickly moved into action mode.  First she talked to the school principle and asked him to investigate.  Then she asked Luke open-ended, non-leading questions about how the kids play with balls, etc…  It was clear that if the incident did happen Luke was oblivious.  But B did not drop it at that, because obviously there was something going on.  So she tried to re-establish contact with the mother who first told her the story, but who now wasn’t returning phone calls.

In the end it turns out the event DID NOT HAPPEN, which means the neighbor kid made it up, which is also incredibly sad and confusing.  At this point B is stepping back and letting the school handle, as she calls it, “the teachable moment.”  The neighbor mother has called back but offered no further explanation or information.  B continues to role-play with Luke Skywalker on what to do if another kid hurts your feelings.  And Luke continues to believe that the principle just wanted to chat with him about how much fun he has at recess.

B has had other unbelievable experiences that helped prepare her for this incident.  Last year the grandmother of one of Luke’s classmates asked, “Can Luke Skywalker have a playdate with my grandson because he is afraid of black kids which he is learning from his prejudiced father.  But we don’t want him to be that way?”

When it comes to emotions, B lives in technicolor, experiencing the highs, lows and everything in between.  When it comes to action, B puts the emotion aside and does what needs to be done.  She always errs on the side of protecting her son.  She walks that fine line between preparing him and keeping him happily naive.  I hope I can follow in her footsteps.

Here is what B wrote when I asked her to blog about it…

My son is five.  My son is a Kindergartner.  My son has dimples.  My son is left handed.  My son can hit a fast ball over the fence.  My son is waiting to hear the cheers of the crowd as he slowly jogs the bases.  My son was taught how to skateboard in 20 minutes.  My son taught himself how to play the beginning of the Darth Vader march on the piano.  My son is learning how to do cartwheels.  My son has asthma.  My son loves meat.  My son asked Santa Clause for ground beef for Christmas.  My son has a certain laugh that he does while watching Charlie Brown.  My son just lost his first tooth.  My son is adopted.  My son was born in Texas.  My son is black.  My husband and I are white.  My son was handed to me at a strip mall where there was a blow up gorilla on top and it was the most amazing day of my life.  My son is NOT the “n” word.  My son is NOT a teaching tool.  My son is a little boy.  My son is MY little boy.  My heart breaks for the world that can not seem to look past the color of his skin.  My heart breaks for a fellow Kindergartner who knows to associate the N word with my son.  My heart is crying.  My heart does not know what to do.  My son walks away this time, blissfully unaware.  My heart does not know what to do.

Luke Skywalker and His Dad