Monday, January 27, 2014

A Book Launch, an Interview, and a Chance to Win a Free Adoption Reunion E-Book!

I am SUPER excited to announce the publication of a new book to which I had the honor of contributing a chapter! Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Ageedited by Laura Dennis, is an anthology that gives voice to the wide experiences of adoptees and those who love them, examining the emotional, psychological, and logistical effects of adoption reunion. In connection with the launch of this book, I am participating in an interview project that paired contributors with one another. I had the great pleasure of being matched with Jessie Wagoner Voiers, who blogs at Then I Laughed. Jessie is an adult adoptee in reunion and also a mother to six children (one through an open domestic adoption and five by way of marriage).

Please read my interview of Jessie below and then leave a comment for a chance to win a free e-book version of Adoption Reunion in the Social Media Age. The winner will be selected using the good, old-fashioned method of drawing from a hat and will be announced here on Friday (February 14, 2014).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Post in Which I Ignore My Mother's Shushing and Talk About Race

Confession: I am one of those White liberals who wishes the world were colorblind. But it isn't. And neither am I.

I wasn't colorblind as a child in the 1970s in White, White Maine when I saw her down the aisle from me in that department store. There she was, a girl like me--same age, same size--but with brown skin! I could hardly contain my excitement. I wanted to meet her, to know her. I wanted to ask her about her brown skin! I ran to my mother and exclaimed in a loud voice, "Mommy, Mommy, there's a brown girl over there!" My mother was horrified. "Hush!" she whispered in a harsh tone. "We don't talk about that." Later, in the car, she explained to me that the girl wasn't brown, she was Black. I argued with her. She must have seen wrong. I had seen a girl with skin that was clearly brown, not black. But my mother explained that the correct word was "Black." Also, I shouldn't talk about it. Skin color was not something to be discussed.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Mother Unqualified: Revisiting Adoption Language

When I first started blogging one of the first posts I wrote was called “My Birth Mother Doesn’t Like the Term Birth Mother,” in which I explored the different ways my mother and I held that term. I’ve shifted significantly in my position since then. There is still a part of me that likes “birth mother,” simply because it was the word that I first learned for her. It is the word that stands for all that she was to me in the years when I could only guess at who she was. Simply put, “birth mother” was the word that kept me tethered to her through all those years of separation.

These days, I usually use “original mother” or “first mother” in my writing when I want to specify which mother I am referring to, but I think of her as my mother, unqualified. I am comfortable with duality. I have two mothers and two fathers. One mother and father are my parents because they raised me; the other mother and father are my parents even though they didn't. It’s a position that’s hard for some people to understand, but it’s my reality and I am fiercely protective of it. It has taken me many years to get here, but I stand solidly on this ground now. I get to define what family means to me.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Connected, Part Five: Maybe. Maybe Not.

We've almost all had the experience of walking into a room of tense people and immediately feeling our own bodies tense, or of finding someone else's joy or laughter contagious. But how far does inner connectedness extend?

When my then-foster-now-adopted daughter first moved in with us, I experienced several months of intense anxiety. In some ways, my stress was understandable; our family was undergoing a dramatic transition. In other ways, my reaction seemed disproportionate. I sometimes found myself wondering in those day if the emotions I was experiencing in my body were truly all my own. Was it really my fear, or hers? Was her active trauma triggering some kind of mirror response in me, reactivating my own old trauma?
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