Remembering Trauma

January 10, 2011

It wasn’t until the 10 PM news that certain April 10 that it hit me. The opening shot was the stairwell at work. A familiar sight: the stairway that I walked two to twelve times daily — except for those little paper markers so out of place. On TV the policeman being interviewed on the stairs chuckled as he said it was the first time he’d been glad to be short – all the bullets hit the wall above his head. Then my tears finally started. I had experienced an at-work shooting. The sight of all those little paper markers identifying bullet casings finally made it real.

It wasn’t real when I heard the first shots; I rationalized that it must be the backfire from a passing car engine. It wasn’t real when I heard loud voices down the hall in a language I didn’t recognize – two men yelling in extreme agitation. It wasn’t real when I heard the spray of bullets in the stairwell. Incredibly, it wasn’t real as I sat huddled in the residential building behind the office, waiting to be interviewed by the police.

Shock was the protection that guarded the psyche and let me go through the motions without the emotion. Woodenly, at the end of the police interview that day, I hugged other workers, all glad to be alive, and then drove home. I waited for the 10 PM news, to see how the story would be treated by the local press.

Was it like that today for people who shopped at the Oracle Road Safeway in Tucson? Did they watch woodenly as bright blood upset the tranquility of a perfect sunny Saturday morning? Did the sound of sirens and the sight of rescue helicopters taking away the injured bring them to reality? Or did they hold it in, in shock, until they saw it on the news?

In counseling, we say that any new trauma brings back the memory of all old traumas. It explains the mystery of why, as I worked with young women through the years who placed their babies for adoption, more often than not their mothers were the ones who wept. The grandmothers’ tears were built on the foundation of their losses; their daughters were just beginning to rack up their count. Tonight I think of all those not-as-young women, and wonder at the years’ stack of their losses. And their tears.

Finding My Marbles

May 25, 2010

From my journal of 2001: All my life my mom has used the phrase ‘losing my marbles’ as a metaphor for going crazy. At 90, Mother says it about as often as I call her on the phone. Her memory is what she’s losing, and it’s sad to witness. But while Mother is losing her marbles, I’ve been finding them!

It all started when my neighbor Sheila invited me to see John Edward, the famed medium; she had tickets to his local talk. It was about a year after Sheila’s husband Richard died, and we had had several discussions about the After Life and whether we believed in connections with those who’ve gone ahead. We both held hope, but professed a healthy skepticism.

At the event in Scottsdale, John Edward scooted around the room like a psychic Phil Donahue, microphone in hand, foreshadowing his performance on his TV show, Crossing Over with John Edward. At the end of the evening, he said to the audience of about 750 that we might be disappointed because no one had come through to speak to each of us, then he led us in a group relaxation exercise, then advised us to think of a loved one who had ‘crossed over’ and ask them to give us a sign: something concrete: something to hold in the palm of our hand. He said it could come within a few days or a few months, but we would know when it happened. In the exercise I tried to think of various people, but the first person who popped into my head was my dad, who had died in 1984. I put on my standard skeptic role and went on with my life, not telling a soul of this experiment.

Several weeks later I stepped out of my car at mid day in the parking lot at Costco, and spied an iridescent marble on the ground. I picked it up and put it in my purse, thinking of 8 year old Shon, whose mother had told me that the Big Boys took away his pouch of marbles when they moved to a new apartment complex. When I came back out of the store, I found another marble like the first, and put it with the first, confirming mentally my plan to give these to Shon to start a new marble collection. Within a couple of weeks I had lunch with Shon and his mom; afterward, he played with the marbles, allowing his mom and me to talk in peace.

I thought nothing more about marbles. For awhile.

Then about a month later, I pulled into my driveway in a rental car, pending a business trip the next day. Because I parked behind my own car in the driveway, when the door swung open, I was in a different location than my usual place. In the dust next to the cement was a half-hidden piece of glass. Still sitting in the car, I reached down and picked it up. When I saw that it was a cat’s eye marble, blue in color, sitting in the palm of my hand, something clicked.

When we were little, my sibs and I played with a toy from Daddy’s childhood: a big cat’s eye marble about 1 ½ inches in diameter. It was chipped by the time we were around, and flat on one side, but we liked to heft it and look at the swirl of colored glass captured inside the globe. Sitting there in the car, I thought, “Could this be the sign from Daddy?”

Since then, finding marbles has become a regular thing. I found a marble in the parking lot next to my car at work. I found a marble while on the way to pick up lunch at a conference. I found another one alongside the roadbed while on a walk.

When I next visited Mother in Texas, I opened the kitchen drawer to look for a flipper to turn my fried egg, and a light blue marble – the color of Daddy’s eyes – rolled loudly from the back to the front of the drawer! When I went to Alaska (a state my dad had wanted to visit, but never did) I woke at 3 AM to see the Big Dipper framed in the door of the tent where we slept – exactly like the Alaska State Flag! When I got to the bath house to relieve myself (the reason I had awakened) there was a bud vase on the counter that held not flowers, but cat’s eye marbles. A week later, after meeting with a new client, a Mexican National whose husband had perished as they crossed the border in the 120° heat, leading her to make a voluntary adoption plan for the baby she would not raise alone, I was astonished to see a lone marble lying on the floor of her kitchen. When I asked how come it was there since there are no children living in her apartment, she commented (through the interpreter) that it must have been left there by the little boy whose mother was her friend and lived in another apartment nearby.

When I find my marbles, I always feel loved, and like my dad is sending his approval. Sometimes, I keep them. So I have marbles tucked away in my purse, in my desk at work, in the container here at my home desk that also holds paperclips. Sometimes I leave them alone, like the one in the client’s kitchen or the one in my mom’s kitchen drawer.

MARBLE JOURNAL

My friend Diana suggested I start a ‘marble journal’ so I can record these reminders that I am loved. Here goes . . .

11-26-04 At Mother’s, in Texas. The clock next to Mother’s chair hasn’t been working; the reason was that the extension cord mounted next to her chair was plugged into itself. After she went to bed, I found that to fix it, I had to pull Mother’s chair away from the wall to reach the wall socket. There, buried in the carpet under Mother’s chair, was a light blue marble—the color of Daddy’s blue eyes! I was comforted by a sign that he’s watching over her.

1-13-05 Following Mother’s funeral, we sibs began to break up the household: boxing things to save, to take, to store for future retrieval. We family members were all working different rooms, different areas of the house. We found marbles in various places: in her bobby pins, in her junk jewelry tray, inside a drawer. Mid-afternoon, my sister Nita (who knew I was ‘finding marbles’) walked in and handed me a soft case meant for cosmetics. I opened the clasp, and inside there were about 40 marbles, many of them cat’s eye marbles. I carried them home, and they are near my computer in my home now.

5-13-05 When I was on Nantucket Island visiting a family I helped form, I was assigned to Tink’s bedroom. It was peaceful to sleep with windows wide open, a sea breeze blowing through the room and to hear the foghorn at night. On my first morning there, I was lazing on the bed, looking at my surroundings. There, in a small vase, was a bunch of marbles. Later in the day, I told my marbles story to Tink and her family.

4-12-06 I went to Missouri to visit my brother and sister-in-law for my birthday this year. We were at the Lewis and Clark exhibit in Nebraska City, and there was a bag of marbles for sale. I didn’t buy it; just seeing it there made me feel better.

6-24-06 Today Sheila wrote that she wants to get together when she gets back from her summer trip to NH. She found a marble and saved it for me. “I figured this time I am the messenger.” (I used to take her son Drew change I found, which Sheila identified as their message from Richard.)

8-31-06 My surgeon confirms that the gall stone she removed from my diseased gall bladder last week was round and black, 1.7 cm in diameter. “It looked like a big black marble,” Dr. Laura said cheerfully, with no knowledge of the meaning of that statement to me. I feel I have lost my ultimate (self-made) marble.

9-21-06 I met my Flagstaff friend, Janet at The Cheesecake Factory and we had a nice visit while we ate supper. I told her my marbles story, a followup to her forwarded email which incorporated marbles that appeared and disappeared in the text. As we left to go to our cars, we made a rest stop. Exiting the restroom, I noticed the graceful handle on the exit door that incorporated six or seven marbles in the design

7-10-07 Heather went with me to Payson on a business trip. While I worked, she took the car and explored the town which she had never before visited. When she picked me up, there was a marble she had found next to the car in the parking lot at the hotel that morning.

2-18-08 On a work holiday, I decided to pull weeds while the ground was soft from recent rains and the weeds were tender. Soon I was sitting on a palette of wilted weeds while I pulled the plants within arm’s reach, enjoying the smell of the earth and the sun on my shoulders, and a mockingbird sang from a nearby tree. I was thinking about my mom, who spent many hours of her last years contentedly pulling weeds in her yard. I spied a marble buried in the mulch. It was a blue cat’s eye marble, with one side sheared off so that it doesn’t roll. It was just the shape of the big marble that we used to play with as kids.

2-21-08 I drove to Casa Grande today, to meet with the family from Nantucket who had come to Arizona to visit Jackson’s birth family. Tink handed me four marbles from her collection, so I traded her two I had in my purse. It felt good to have my marbles story validated this way.

6-26-09 In Montana, at Gloria’s rental house, we were climbing the back stairs to go inside. From the landing, I noticed some color in the thick grass. When I investigated, I found a bright yellow marble!

8-5-09 At my new office, setting up new furniture. One of the lamps has metallic marble pulls at the end of each chain. An office suite-mate gave me a small, hinged-lidded trinket case, perfect for displaying the gift from Janet, from the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show.

First Mother’s Day

May 7, 2010

Mommy, what was it like on the day I was born? Oh, Little One, the sun was shining and the flowers were in bloom! The world was crisp and new!

Mommy, what was it like on the day they told you I would never be normal? The clouds gathered, Little One, and blocked the sun from my tear-filled eyes. For awhile, I thought the sun would never shine again!

El Paso, Texas. Mother’s Day. The newborn baby would remain in the hospital for another two weeks while tests were done. The New Daddy was determined to not be like other daddies – anxious and worried — so he took the car and went to Juarez with friends. Defiant, The New Mother took a short-cut through the scrub desert, down the steep sides of a sandy arroyo and up the other side, to stand on the veranda of the Army hospital and peer through the nursery window at the tiny baby girl. The New Mother’s arms ached to hold the baby she had not yet touched – if you don’t count cradling with her insides for nine months of pregnancy!

How strange it must have been to be on the inside of the hospital, looking out at this chubby woman in a pink tent dress, her only dress that fit. It might have made someone uncomfortable to see the tears rolling down the cheeks of The New Mother, but no one offered a word of solace or advice. The New Mother peered in at the baby, sleeping with an IV needle in her freshly-shaved scalp, the needle pumping in medication to control the seizures that started shortly after delivery. Whenever the baby moved a smidgen, The New Mother tilted her head like any new parent, to glimpse a nose, an ear, and identify whose looks the baby inherited.

An hour was all the time allotted to The New Mother to observe her child on this Mother’s Day. Then, it was home again, through the sand, with grit accumulating between her toes in the pink, open-toed sandals that matched the tent dress.

Such emptiness. Such utter loneliness. The New Mother wailed her misery. She cried in anger and frustration. “IT’S NOT FAIR!” In self-loathing, the New Mother pulled scissors from her sewing basket. What would she do? Without looking in the mirror, she cocked her head sideways and whacked off her shoulder-length hair below her ears. More wails. Now what had she done!

A knock came at the door — the door with the ill-fitting frame inside the 18” thick adobe walls, where the wind let in the sand. The door made a scraping sound as The New Mother opened it. There on the threshold stood a wizened Old Crone – the only words to describe this hunched-over dark woman with a shawl over her head and shoulders. She spoke not a word of English, but consoled The New Mother in soft Spanish. The New Mother was at last soothed and relieved. Closing the door, saying adios to the only person who came forth to say she cared on this, her First Mother’s Day.

Alchemy

February 13, 2010

I’ve been a little blue today and I think it is because Valentine’s Day is just a day away. I remember an earlier Valentine’s Day when I was a college freshman. I borrowed my boyfriend’s car to go to a florist’s to buy him a dozen red roses; it was 1962 and girls didn’t do such outrageous things in those days. Then I picked him up outside his dorm for him to take me back to my dorm. As we sat in the car to say goodbye, he got serious and told me that he’d been thinking that we should break up! Startled, I said, “I feel like a fool. Here’s why I borrowed the car today.” I reached behind the seat and pulled out the roses. “I bought YOU flowers for Valentine’s Day. You might as well take them. Here!”

We didn’t break up. Not then. Painful as the breakup was when it did come ten years later, I wouldn’t trade anything for the years we had together. We shared a lot of diverse experiences I would never have had otherwise, and I grew up a lot. I had my two girls with him — the one who died the year that we divorced –I never put that sequence together until now! — and the one who today is my best friend, my daughter Heather.

Look! I just took a sad memory and turned it into a bittersweet one!

Blog for Choice

January 23, 2010

In my thirty years as a pregnancy counselor at adoption agencies, I met many women who had been forced (by social convention, by family members, by partners) to place their babies for adoption. Because of their stories, I developed a renewed support for keeping abortion a legal option for women.

Before Roe V Wade came along there were maternity homes, and a general attitude of forget-this-happened-you’ll-have-other-babies-who-will-take-his-place. (For a great read about those days, see The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler. )

My own interactions with birth mothers from the years before Roe V Wade:

1. One day in about 1981, a hesitant voice on the phone said: “Ten years ago I gave up a baby for adoption through this agency . . .” When she didn’t continue I said, “Yes, how can I help you?” “You mean you’re going to talk to me? I expected you to slam the phone down!” Tears of relief flowed as she realized she was going to be listened to.

2. A woman who called from Florida on her child’s 21st birthday, said that she didn’t know if she’d had a boy or a girl, so she and her family always spoke of “the baby.” “It feels weird to say ‘The Baby’ turns 21 today,” she said. I asked her if she would like to know the first name of that baby, and she was amazed that I offered to tell her. I took her phone number, looked up the information and called her back to let her know it was Linda who turned 21 that day. “You don’t know what a gift you’ve given me!” she said.

3. About six years later a woman called and said that fourteen years earlier she had placed a baby for adoption through the agency. The day she signed papers, when he was only three days old, her worker told her they didn’t have a family for her baby because he was mixed race. “I’ve never forgotten him and I have worked hard to better myself, and if my child is still in foster care, I could take him back now.” I was startled; for one thing, it wouldn’t be that easy, but I wanted to give her some information. I took her phone number and went to the files. Her baby had been placed in a loving adoptive home the next day after she signed relinquishments, but no one had told her this. I called and apologized profusely for the lack of courtesy that she had been subjected to. “I thank you for letting me know that he has a good home,” came her response. I invited the birth mother to write a letter to be placed in the file in case her child contacted the agency. I don’t know if she did, or if he did, but I hope so.

As soon as Roe v Wade was announced in January of 1973, the adoption rate dropped dramatically. If they opted not to terminate the pregnancy but to give their child life, these pregnant women were faced with another decision: whether to raise the child or to make an adoption plan. None of their options was easy to take, but being in control of their lives and their bodies, made a difference to their psyche. They had an active role: to choose their outcome. And having the power to make the choice made all the difference in the world about their feelings when they chose adoption!

And that’s why I don’t want to return to the days when abortion was an illegal and criminal act and adoption felt like a punishment to mother and child.

The Rush is On!

January 21, 2010

Amidst all the terrible news from Haiti, an awakening of interest in adoption is taking shape. I’m getting calls (as are other people in the adoption world, I am sure!) from a variety of people — Where can I go to adopt from Haiti?

Yes, there are vulnerable children. Yes, there are many families who would love to adopt a child. Yet, I extend a caution, to ‘think before you leap.’

An excellent way to crystalize thoughts before taking this enormous step would be to get a copy of: Inside Transracial Adoption by Gail Steinberg and Beth Hall. Until the end of February Perspectives Press is making this book available for only $10 to those who write “Facebook” on the shopping cart memo line. Go to: http://www.perspectivespress.com.

Happy reading!

Review: Spirit Babies.

January 19, 2010

I was at a conference when I noticed a woman standing in front of a display in the exhibitors’ room. Suzanne Arms read her name tag. “Are you THE Suzanne Arms?” I blurted out. A photographer and author, Suzanne Arms’ best-known book is Immaculate Deception, published in the mid 1970s, which chronicled inhumane treatment of hospital births and heralded the home birthing movement. In 1983, Suzanne Arms wrote about birth mothers in To Love and Let Go; ten years later she followed up with some of the same women and wrote: Adoption: A Handful of Hope (published in 1995) reporting how the effect of adoption on the lives of these women. These were the first books I found that honestly dealt with the emotions of birth mothers and offered the practice of open adoption, which was just beginning to be discussed in the adoption literature. Over the years I bought and gave away many copies of those two books on adoption.

On this conference date, Suzanne had a display of books and materials she was hawking to the convention of child birth educators. She piled books into my willing arms, and I was happy to start reading them later in the day. One that caught my fancy is Spirit Babies; How to Communicate with the Child You’re Meant to Have by Walter Makichen, published in 2005. The author is a self-proclaimed clairvoyant medium who specializes in healing work. Sometimes this involves working with couples who can’t get pregnant. He says he looks at the aura of his clients and identifies a ‘visible oval’ which is the spirit of a child who wants to be born to this couple. He communicates with the spirit babies asking what is keeping them from being born. It may be the fears of one or the other potential parent; he gives the couple breathing exercises to do and encourages them to have discussions with these spirit babies, inviting them into their lives. He illustrates with case histories of couples he’s worked with who later report to him their successful pregnancies.
So I’m reading, fascinated, but at the same time my own inner voice is crying out: “But what about adoption?” and then I saw that he has a chapter on adoption, and another on abortion. He is not judgmental about either of these choices, rather, he reports that how spirit babies feel about the decisions of adoption and abortion have more to do with the prior experiences of the spirit babies.

I consider this a ‘woo-woo’ book, and not everyone will be open to the subject of the spirit world in a way that may be completely foreign to the reader. The author gives a clear explanation of his view of this world, reincarnation and karmic contracts. Whether you’re a believer in this realm or not, it is a very interesting read.

Vicarious Thrills through Social Networking

January 18, 2010

Joining a social network is a little like having a telephone with a ‘party line.’ For those of you too young to know, a party line was a way to serve sparse populations in the expansion years of telephone service. The expense of the infrastructure (all those wires strung on miles of telephone poles in rural areas) were borne by several families sharing the same line. In our case in West Texas in the 1940s and 1950s, there were eight families on one line, all sharing the same number but each having a different ring. This required more than a little common courtesy to allow the other parties their privacy, which was universally NOT adhered to. If you happened to pick up the phone when the line was busy, you heard both sides of a conversation. Ah, the thrill of a conversation heard while muffled by your hand held over the mouthpiece!

Social Networking is a little like that, except that we can, within certain broad parameters, pick and choose who can ‘listen in’ and how much of our ‘posts’ (or conversations) others may see.

It has been my fascination this last week to ‘listen in’ on adoptive families waiting to bring home children they have already adopted who are still in Haiti. Because of the way international adoption is handled, adoptions are processed in the country of origin of the child. Each country handles the process differently, and the receiving country has to approve of the legal action as well. (This is not so different in domestic adoptions, except the process requires input from the sending state and the receiving state,) Haiti has a long process from start to finish during which time the children wait for two or more years before they can come home to a country they’ve never seen and can hardly imagine. Because of the earthquake in Haiti, there’s a good chance that this long wait is about to be shortened for those Haitian children whose adoptions are already ‘in the pipeline.’

Having your children held in another country for years after they are legally yours is a very difficult thing to endure. I’ve watched my online friends hold garage sales, book sales, gift wrapping paper drives and all kinds of ways to raise money for their trips to visit their children during the wait and / or to send clothes, toys, diapers and formula to help other orphans who are waiting for their forever family. Their posts have the effect of bringing their friends (and other party line readers) to vicariously live out the hopes and dreams of adoptive parents everywhere. Basically, this has been an education for many of those friends. I’ll bet the questions common to adoptions everywhere: “Can you love a child not born of your body?” “Can you love a child who looks different from you?” are being answered every time these waiting parents post an update. When they waited those first horrific hours, hoping for a word of safety about their absent family members, we held our breath, too. When they asked for prayers for the safety of their children, we prayed. When they asked us to write our congressmen and women to encourage the State Department to approve emergency visas, we made calls and sent faxes. Now, just days from the children’s arrivals that we hope and pray for, we are banding together en masse to bundle good wishes and gift cards into the hands of the parents who will have to travel somewhere not yet determined to meet their children and bring them home.

Historically, there was another time the nation watched from the sidelines for planes bearing children to be adopted to our shores. At the end of the Vietnam war, as the government in Saigon fell, children and babies were placed on ‘the last plane out of Saigon’ where they would fly across the world to a new life.
Those Vietnam Baby Drop children grew up. One of them has recently edited a book for and by teenaged adoptees. In an upcoming blogpost I’ll review Pieces of Me: Who do I Want to Be? by Robert L. Ballard (EMKPress, 2009). In the meantime, we’re praying for the safe arrival of this precious cargo from Haiti.

The Client

January 16, 2010

Most of you know that I did pregnancy counseling for many years before I started my private practice. Let me tell you this story of The Client.

It was unusual for a married woman to ask for a pregnancy counseling session, but then this was not a typical pregnant woman. Overwhelmed and just a few weeks away from delivery of her second child, The Client had come in for help in handling the burdens of her life. She had decided to work right up to the last minute before the due date because it kept her mind occupied. Otherwise she said she would worry that this second baby would be like her firstborn, a profoundly retarded blind child who at 3 ½ years was unable to sit alone, feed herself or be potty-trained. If the second baby was handicapped, what would it do to the shaky marriage she was barely holding together? Her husband had never accepted that there was something wrong with their daughter who took Dilantin-in-suspension to control seizures. The medicine didn’t mix well – more seizures at the top of the bottle and by the bottom of the bottle their daughter was sluggish and slept all the time. The husband was in denial, preferring to believe it was the medicine that caused the problem.

Yes, The Client desperately needed someone to talk to about her fears and concerns. She couldn’t afford to pay for counseling but she couldn’t afford to go without counseling! Finally she found an agency with a sliding scale payment system, something she could afford.

Her counseling had a good outcome. She got a referral to a day program for her firstborn – an ‘Infant Stimulation’ class; a state van picked her firstborn up every morning and took her to a classroom where she learned to eat for someone other than just her Mommy. The new baby arrived and thankfully was born without problems. The Client welcomed joy back into her life as she prepared to guide her ‘normal daughter’ to be an intelligent and creative child who loves life. With a little encouragement from her counselor, she enrolled in graduate school, and earned her Master’s degree.

And so, every year when United Way makes its annual appeal, I am the first to sign up, designating my donation to agencies that provide low cost counseling. Yes, I was The Client who needed counseling and emotional support to help me through a rough time in my life. And just maybe it had something to do with my becoming a pregnancy counselor.

Informed Consent: Ignorance vs. Alternatives

January 14, 2010

Recently a co-trainer in adoption education mentioned that at a recent training she encountered participants who said that merely mentioning adoption to a pregnant person was trying to ‘sell it.’
I’m of the opinion that all options should be discussed so that the person facing the choice has a clear understanding of the options.

In the 1980s the Reagan Administration instituted a ‘gag order’ that declared health care workers at pregnancy clinics receiving government funds were absolutely prohibited from discussing abortion with a pregnant patient, even if she asked about terminating her pregnancy. In an op-ed piece at the time, the writer said that by not mentioning any option, there was an implied negativity associated with that option. If it’s so bad that you can’t even say the word, then there must be something wrong with abortion even if it was her legal right to know about terminating her pregnancy, the writer said.

Something clicked inside me. As a pregnancy counselor at the time, I had pondered how rarely the word adoption was mentioned by health care people, while abortion was frequently offered as a solution to an unplanned pregnancy. By mentioning ONLY abortion as an alternative to carrying out the pregnancy, it was implied that abortion was the preferable choice.

Once there is an unplanned pregnancy, there are no outcomes without heavy residuals: Abortion, often a secret to the outside world, still weighs heavily on the person who experiences it, just as adoption may, particularly because it is harder to hide adoption than it is to hide abortion. Even parenting as a choice has its drawbacks, like the pain felt by the mother who cannot provide an active and loving father for her child. In my opinion, knowledge of all her options is the best approach to counseling a woman facing this difficult turning point in her life and the life of her child.

Haiti; We Live in A Smaller World Today

January 14, 2010

I was driving home from my office yesterday when I heard news of the devastating earthquake in Haiti. I made a beeline to the computer as soon as I got in the house, to check with my FB friends Lena and Bob, who are in the process of adopting two little boys from an orphanage in Haiti. Sure enough, Lena was online asking for prayers for her boys and their country. I checked back periodically through the evening hours, as they put together an impromptu prayer meeting at their house, posted links to early online postings from Haiti (one in French), and posts from other waiting adoptive parents they’ve met.

Finally, at 11:02 PM, a msg from a Haitian missionary :
UPDATE: Just got back from upper Delmas area – Abbey and the children from 3 Angels are all fine St. Joseph’s home for boys is demolished but the boys got out safely.

All day today I’ve thought of other connections to Haiti in my life:

The daughter of my best friend’s sister went to Haiti twenty years ago, as a twenty year old college student. She was doing missionary work there when she was killed in an automobile accident. Life has been very hard on her family, after the senseless loss of their firstborn.

Then I think of children from Haiti who have been adopted by friends and families of friends: I thought of Stephanie, of Jemellie, of Kenson and Kenley, Haitian brothers I knew in foster care. How are these young people, all adults now, feeling today? Are they thinking of their homeland and wishing they could help?

In reality we are a small Universe, and we all share passage on this Planet’s Journey. It is right to be concerned for our fellow passengers. Times are tight, but we’ll all feel better when we reach out a hand to help. Suggestion for donations: http://www.ThreeAngelsRelief.org

The Best Pay

April 14, 2009

The paycheck is never the main reward for any of us in helping fields; otherwise, we would have chosen another field! But in today’s mail I got the best kind of pay. I thought it was an early birthday card, this small envelop that arrived four days before my 66th birthday. Instead, it is a Thank You card from a former client, with this message:

Beth. It was so meaningful that you sent me a card and let me know I am still on the right path!! I have started my undergraduate courses and will be finished in 2/2011!! It ls in Human Service / Management. I want to give back and help survivors of abuse like you helped me!!
Love always and God Bless, Charity

“Then She Found Me” – Book vs Movie

March 4, 2009

Back in May 2008 when I saw the movie “Then She Found Me” starring Helen Hunt and Bette Midler, I was impressed with the extensive adoption issues covered: infertility, ‘adopted child’ vs ‘home grown’, being found vs searching, the poignancy of the adoptee’s longing for a child of her body rather than through adoption, the anxieties expressed about search. When the credits ran, I noticed that it was based on a book. A friend said she had read it and it was different from the movie.

This week I found and ordered the book from Amazon. The author’s blog linked through the Amazon site acknowledged that the movie was different from the book, and the author, Elinor Lipman, was magnanimous about the changes made by Helen Hunt, the actress who spent ten years getting the movie produced.

Now that I have read the book, I see the changes that Helen Hunt brought to the project. She didn’t loaf while she tried to get the film funded; she delved into the field of adoption even more, and fleshed out the issues of adoption even better than the book.

The one major change which is better in the book is the birth father’s identity. In the movie version, there were several different stories told by the birth mother, and this viewer was left wondering which, if any, of the stories was true. In the book, it is clear who the father is, and his role is handled respectfully too.

Read the book or see the movie, now out on DVD. Both are good ways to educate ‘civilians’ (i.e., those not directly involved in adoption) to the issues faced by adoption triad members and their extended families.

Exploring A New E-Book @ Tapestry

February 27, 2009

Tapestry Books sent out an announcement that they have an e-book, “A Birth Mother Perspective on Open Adoption” available on its website.   Actually, it is a Two-in-one of first person accounts by birth mothers Patricia Dischler and Melissa Nilsen.  It’s good to for an adoption-focused site to give space to birth mothers, the often silent side of adoption. For a limited time, this is downloadable for free. Take advantage of the offer and connect to these two articulate women and their personal stories.   Included are links to each author’s blogs.  Take a look.

Best Seat in the House

February 20, 2009

So, I’m sitting next to Rachel One as we watch Rachel Two on the stage. Cheryl and Tony are behind us, proud parents taking pictures of their Star on the Stage.

From the corner of my eye I see Rachel One silently mouthing the words to all the songs, and it’s then that I recall that she was in this same musical as a high school student. Now her daughter is in the same play. The serendipity is not lost on any of us.

As their social worker, I was a part of the placement of Rachel Two 15 years ago when she joined the family of Cheryl and Tony as a newborn. In the years before they opened their adoption and began arranging their own meetings, I was the conduit for gifts and photos. Since then Rachel One has shared her pictures and so I’ve seen Rachel Two nurtured by Cheryl and Tony, as she developed those singing genes gifted by Rachel One and her extended family.

The house lights come up; I hurry to wipe away tears of pride. I turn to see the glistening eyes of THREE proud parents — birth mother, adoptive mother and adoptive father. I am honored to be here.

Review: “Odyssey of an Unknown Father” by David Archuletta

February 4, 2009

Don’t be taken in by the tease on the back cover: “This book will teach you [prospective adoptive parent] what to look for to spot fraud or unethical maneuvers in the adoption process and to avoid this terrible scenario when you welcome a child into your home.” Sadly, it doesn’t follow through on that promise.
What it is: This is David Archuletta’s personal story as an alleged father whose former partner committed perjury by signing an Unknown Father Affidavit [in New Jersey] in spite of his having been somewhat involved in the pregnancy until she left her Colorado home to do an adoption — but the reader has to make it through a third of the book to learn that. Convoluted sentences, mis-matched syntax, sarcastic comments that don’t relate to the material — it’s difficult to find the meat.
Mr. Archuletta has two important messages to deliver: don’t assume that adoption is the best solution to every unwed pregnancy, and the baby’s father has important information to share, including (in his case) potentially dire medical history. Mr. Archuletta should not have been left out of this important decision for his child. Whether his involvement might have meant a different outcome or not, his rights were discounted.
Mr. Archuletta’s story should be a reminder to adoption agency workers and adoption attorneys why a best services practitioner should refuse to do an adoption when a pregnant client refuses to identify the father. To do less is to risk loss of licensure.
HOWEVER, this is one of those books that takes one situation and generalizes it to all adoptions. It well may be that Mr. Archuletta’s real intent was to scare prospective adoptive couples away from adoption all together. If that’s the goal, he may have succeeded, but not in the way he planned.
You know that saying in legal circles that “The person who serves as his own attorney has a fool for a client”? Well, meet the book publishing version: “The self-publishing author who acts as his own editor shows himself as a fool.” By the tedious end of this book, the author comes off as a wigged-out psychopath on a rant against his own personal injustice. Where I once had a modicum of sympathy for his cause, he’s done his cause a disservice by going on and on and on and on. David, get an editor!
Beth Kozan, Phoenix

Review: “Reading Adoption” by Marianne Novy

January 30, 2009

This is a unique read, much out of “the usual” in adoption books. The author, as an adoptee, admits to having been sensitive along her educational journey to themes of abandonment, parental exchanges and orphans. But unlike other students exposed to the Greek plays, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Thackery and the Bronte novels — for Marianne Novy, the dark brooding stories of human foibles awakened knowledge of shared fate.  Ms. Novy has written a book that interweaves her professorial knowledge of literature with her personal story of search and reunion.  Her extensive exploration of Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Tree and Pigs In Heaven gave me a glimmer of what it would have been like to have found someone to discuss these books when I read them — and longed for that discussion!

And to think, I was under the impression that adoption books started being written about thirty years ago!  I was wrong, as Ms. Novy points out.  The theme was all around me.  And that is her point.  Our view of adoption, of the roles the players “should” play, is unconsciously influenced by what we read, even if we don’t realize it.

Let this be a good ‘heads up’ for all of us educators in adoption (and we are all ‘educators in adoption’), to be aware of the subtle influences on all students!  A great read!  Thank you, Marianne Novy, for opening my eyes!

Beth Kozan, Phoenix, AZ

Reviewing: “Without a Map, a Memoir” by Meredith Hall

January 13, 2009

The year was 1965; the place was a small town in New Hampshire. A 16 year old high school student with plans to go to college finds herself pregnant after a brief summer liaison. The ensuing unraveling of her life begins with the admission to school staff that indeed, she is pregnant. The swift reaction of her parents, her family, her church, her community is unexpected. She finds herself shunned, sent away and given no option but adoption for her baby. A casualty of “pretend it never happened,” Meredith Hall spent the next 21 years a lost and wandering soul. Although she never uses the word “forgiveness,”  she does recount the years of rebuilding her life. 

This intense memoir tells in poignant prose the extent to which an erasure of those nine months of her life affected who she became. And who she became is a strong female writer, a voice of that era caught in the cusp of social transition. It’s as if one of Anne Fessler’s interviewees in “The Girls Who Went Away” published in 2007 stepped out of the book to tell her personal story.

Halfway through reading this book, I did the math. Meredith Hall was 16 in 1965; so was my little sister, who also got pregnant that year.

My parents — with Sis in tow — appeared unannounced at the office to take me to lunch. Overjoyed to see them, but wary because they had never driven 50 miles to meet me for lunch, I drove the family car off the lot of the business where I worked as a secretary. In the backseat, my mother burst into tears. “Your sister has to get married.” “Be careful,” said my dad, “she’s driving.” (Like I couldn’t see this coming, I thought to myself.) My sister piped up: “But we wanted to get married anyway. This way, we just hurried it up a little.”

My mother was mortified. Raised on ‘what will people think,’ a generation of girls had come to put our parents’ reputation first — their standing in the community. “What must her mother think” my mother would say every time another peer got married and had an eight pound premature baby less than nine months later. “Her Mother!” I would silently think to myself. “What about HER!”

It’s hard to remember the binding morality of those days. Teenagers today hardly believe those seering days of control by image, although as I did private interviews of prospective adoptive parents through the years I would hear them say, “I never misbehaved. I wouldn’t have dared to; it would have killed my mother!”

So, are we better off as a society without that crushing burden of protecting our families’ reputation? Is the trend of pride about being a parent at 16, at 15, even younger — a healthier attitude? What about the fatherless boys and girls growing up wondering what they did to drive away an absent parent?  When I started doing pregnancy counseling in 1979, in my mind the student had four options: marriage, abortion, adoption, single parenthood. “I’m too young to get married,” my startled students would say, realizing the magnitude of sustaining a relationship over the years. Why didn’t they also think, “I’m too young to be a parent”? But they didn’t. These young women would blythly step into parenthood, more often than not to be disappointed by the friends who promised to ‘help’ them. I began to suggest to my clients: Ask them How will they help? Will they provide a ride to the 24 hr pharmacy to pick up ear-ache medicine at 3 AM? Will they buy formula for your baby? Will they provide diapers? Shoes?

The teen pregnancy recidivism rate is high; I pressed onward, informing the students of their options. Maybe in a few years one would say to me, “I remember you. You came to my school with a panel of teens who had placed their babies for adoption. I didn’t want to listen to you then.” And she would drop her eyes to her hands in her lap and say, “I never thought I would be where I am today.” She would explain how deserted and alone she felt with the decision of what to do with a second, a third or a later baby. All their ‘helpers’ were going on with their lives; had new boyfriends, were going away to school — these young women had learned that ‘helping’ meant ‘come and talk to me when you’re blue.’

The decision of adoption is still a lonely path. Getting to know other women who have made the same choice somewhat eases the pain, but it’s still an isolating event. In my new career as counselor to people with adoption-related issues, I listen as women in their 30s, 40s and even older — recall the baby they never met. As they prepare to search, as they wonder if they have the audacity to interrupt a life they said goodbye to years ago, I encourage them to open the door and seek the child, now grown. I have a new quote for them, from Meredith Hall:  “He looked for me.  I didn’t realize I should have been the one looking for him. He needed to know I loved him at least that much!”

And onward we travel that path, finding a few friends along the way to share the journey.

Letter to an Adopted Teen

January 4, 2009

 Dear Caitlyn (or Anthony, Rachel, Matthew, Lilah or Jake),

I remember your birth mother. 

 

When I knew her, she was small and quiet, polite and sad.  She wanted you to have things she couldn’t provide then.  That doesn’t mean she hasn’t changed, hasn’t grown up, hasn’t thought of you ever again since the day she signed her name to important papers in my office just days after you were born.

 

Even when other people in her life thought she should forget all about you – when her new boyfriend tore up the only picture she had of you and she asked me to look through all the negatives of babies’ pictures I kept, looking for YOU – she remembered you and hid the memory of you away in a private part of her heart.

 

For a few years she would call me around the time of your birthday.  She wanted to make a connection to the last person she knew who knew you, too.   She tried to follow the advice of some relative, to “forget you ever had that baby.”  When she couldn’t forget, she thought there must be something wrong with her.

 

Eventually she ‘moved on with her life,’ and the calls stopped.  I hope it meant she found other people that she could talk to about the baby she remembers.  I hope she worked out a compromise through the years in how to answer the social question:  How many kids do you have?  I hope she’s found a time to tell her son or daughter of your existence.  I hope that other child knows and will welcome you on the day that you decide you want to find your birth family.   

OR:

 

When I knew her, your birth mother was boisterous and outgoing.  She didn’t mind giving someone a piece of her mind.  She didn’t look like a minority person, so she could listen to catty comments someone at school made, in Spanish, about ‘those kids.’  Then when they’d strung out enough rope to hang themselves, she’d speak to them in their own language, letting them know what a fool they’d made of themselves.  She defended the underdog. 

 

She always had a sparkle in her eye when she spoke of you.   She talked about meeting with your mom and dad someday after you were placed with them, but she wanted to lose weight first.  She knew how important first impressions are and she wanted them to like her so that they’d tell her positive things about her, so you would love yourself. 

OR:

 

I didn’t know your birth mom, but she called one year to update her file.  She wanted to be sure that when you came to the agency to look up your background, you would find something other than the teenager who slipped out the window to go party with her friends, and ended up pregnant.  She wanted to be sure that you would find not just a ‘wayward teen’ but a woman who finished school, who got a degree and a job helping others; that she is a responsible person and a mom of three others, and that they know about you and will welcome you someday when you decide to find them.

 

Anyway, dear CaitlynAnthonyRachelMatthewLilahJake, please know that your birth mother is a person who did the best she could when she made the painful decision to part with you as a little baby.  She remembers what being a teenager is like, and how difficult it is to figure out who you are.  She still wants what is best for you.  And she always loved you.

 

Sincerely,

Beth Kozan,

Adoption Social Worker from 1979 to 2008

Brain Research cited on Discovery News . . .

January 3, 2009

Just in time for holiday visits to relatives, Jennifer Viegas published via Discovery News online a discussion of MRI research done on subjects while they were shown photos of relatives, strangers and morphed photos meant to look like the viewer. Findings were that a different part of the brain was stimulated when photos of relatives were viewed vs the part of the brain that is stimulated when strangers’ photos were viewed.

As someone looking at relationships through the lens of adoption, I wondered how such an experiment would turn out if the photos of ‘relatives’ were based on people not known to the viewer, in other words, is there a ‘recognition reflex’ — as some birth mothers swear to — that their babies recognized them, even though they had been separated for a significant time period. Hmmm. No answer, just a wondering on my part.

The article I read referred to the publication of this research in “the journal Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience”. I couldn’t find it on first effort.

Fade out with these words from “Silent House” by the Dixie Chicks:

These walls have eyes
Rows of photographs
And faces like mine.
Who do we become
Without knowing where
We started from?

Search & Reunion – Doing The Right Thing

December 4, 2008

As guest speaker this week for a group of Confidential Intermediaries through Arizona’s CI Program, I spoke on:  “Engaging the Agency in A Search.”  Arizona’s Confidential Intermediaries are trained by and certified by Arizona’s Supreme Court to do searches for adult adoptees seeking birth family contact and birth parents seeking contact with their now-grown children who were placed for adoption in Arizona.  One central point I made was that, although a CI can get enough identifying information through the Court that they can complete a search without visiting the agency, if there was an agency involved, they should contact the agency as part of the search.  There may have been contact through the agency after placement, and the file may contain updated information that can aide in the search.  Or there may be letters in the file that should be given to the party being searched for.  Here’s how I ended my presentation:

 I’ll end with a story of a search case that Barb worked on.  (Some of you know that Barb was the administrative assistant at Catholic Charities for three years, an adoptee who became a CI and handled the communication log for the agency.)  It was a case that she wasn’t obliged to search for but it was The Right Thing to do.   

Barb received a letter from birth grandparents whose daughter had placed an infant through Catholic Social Services almost twenty years earlier.  These out-of-state parents had sent their young adult daughter to work in Phoenix, she got pregnant, didn’t tell her parents and placed the child for adoption through Catholic Social Service.  Several years later, the mother’s younger brother was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition that the parents suspected their daughter also had.  As the family discussed who needed to be told about this genetically linked condition, their daughter tearfully admitted that she had placed a child, her parents’ first granddaughter, for adoption.  After learning about this child (who was at that time aged seven) the birth grandparents began a respectful letter writing campaign to the agency, sending a birthday card every year to their unknown granddaughter, to be placed in her file.  Now, the birth grandparents had retired, moved to the Valley, their granddaughter was ‘of age’ and could be contacted.  They had two questions:  Had their years of letters been shared with the adoptive family, and could the agency help them find their granddaughter?  When Barb pulled the birth mother’s file, bulging with birthday cards, she realized that while the baby was in temporary care with CSS, the baby had shown dysmorphic features, displayed a seizure disorder and, after being in a CSS receiving home for months awaiting approval for placement, had finally been placed with Arizona’s public agency, the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES), because CSS could not find a family for the child.  There was no evidence of correspondence in the file to these grandparents recognizing their plight or giving them any news of their granddaughter. 

 

Barb, a grandmother herself, wanted to reach out to them.  She came to me as her supervisor to ask if we could look for this child, now an adult, to let her know of her birth family’s love and concern?  Unfortunately the agency’s file only covered the child through the time of legal transfer to DES; we didn’t have the name of the family who took her.  We couldn’t tell from the agency’s file what the fate of the child had been.  Was she adopted? Raised as a foster child?  Did she  survive to adulthood? 

 

After hearing back from DES  that their file couldn’t be located without more detaild information, we searched through our file again.  The last item was a court order transferring custody from CSS to DES.  On the side of the order were the names of the individuals who were to receive a copy of the order. Along with names we did know, there was a name we didn’t recognize. In the case notes, a potential foster mother was discussed without naming her, just that she was a special education teacher and she and her husband were open to many different situations.  Following this hunch, Barb asked the Private Investigator who did some work for us to see if he would help look for this person.  Bingo.  Within an hour he called back with the news that this was the special ed teacher, also the adoptive mom, and he had a phone number.  Barb called this woman, discussed the situation, got written releases from everyone and then gave out phone numbers. 

A few weeks later on a Friday I was notified that there was someone in the lobby asking for Barb; Barb didn’t work Fridays.  I went downstairs to explain why Barb wasn’t there.  The visitors were the birth grandparents, who had come to say Thank You to Barb with a box of See’s Candy.  We sat and chatted about what it had meant for them to meet their granddaughter, a child with a more severe version of the family malady, but who is living an independent life thanks to the support and encouragement of her adoptive parents.  They were ever so grateful to the family who adopted their grandchild, and to Barb for going out of her way to help them find her.  At a meeting on the previous weekend, they had taken pictures of their daughter, their granddaughter, and the adoptive parents, and they promised to email a copy to Barb.  Receiving the photos let Barb know that she had done The Right Thing.  And the chocolate helped, too.

 

 

 

 

One Good Reason to Keep Roe v Wade

November 21, 2008

As an adoption worker who worked as a pregnancy counselor with women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, I have a strong opinion about keeping abortion a legal option for women.

Because two of the agencies where I worked have been in business for many, many years — including those days of secrecy in adoption before the social upheavals of the 60s and 70s — I also got to know birth mothers from the days of maternity homes and forget-this-happened-you’ll-have-other-babies-who-will-take-his-place.  (For a great read about those days, see The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the DecadesBefore Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler. )

My own interactions with birth mothers from that era include:

1.  One day in about 1981, a hesitant voice on the phone said:  “Ten years ago I gave up a baby for adoption through this agency . . .”  When she didn’t continue I said, “Yes, how can I help you?”  “You mean you’re going to talk to me?  I expected you to slam the phone down!”  Tears of relief flowed as she realized she was going to be listened to. 

2.  A woman who called from Florida on her child’s 21st birthday, said that she didn’t know if she’d had a boy or a girl, so she and her family always spoke of “the baby.”  “It feels weird to say ‘The Baby’ turns 21 today,” she said.  I asked her if she would like to know the first name of that baby, and she was amazed that I offered to tell her.  I took her phone number, looked up the information and called her back to let her know it was Linda who turned 21 that day.  “You don’t know what a gift you’ve given me!” she said.
3.  About six years later a woman called and said that fourteen years earlier she had placed a baby for adoption through the agency.  The day she signed papers, when he was only three days old, her worker told her they didn’t have a family for her baby because he was mixed race.  “I’ve never forgotten him and I have worked hard to better myself, and if my child is still in foster care, I could take him back now.”  I was startled; for one thing, it wouldn’t be that easy, but I wanted to give her some information.  I took her phone number and went to the files.  Her baby had been placed in a loving adoptive home the next day after she signed relinquishments, but no one had told her this.  I called and apologized profusely for the lack of courtesy that she had been subjected to.  “I thank you for letting me know that he has a good home,” came her response.  I invited the birth mother to write a letter to be placed in the file in case her child contacted the agency.  I don’t know if she did, or if he did, but I hope so.

We started a Birth Parent Support Group in 1983.  As these older birth moms called, I invited them to attend.  A few came once or twice, but it was a poor fit for them.  Their grief was not alleviated by the positive descriptions they heard from women of current times who had choices.  Unmarried women in the 50s, 60s and into the 70s felt they had no choice; society made the choice for them, and that choice was adoption.  Because they were unwed, they would be ostracized if they kept their babies.  And abortion in those days meant a trip out of the country or to a back alley in a seedy part of town.

As soon as Roe v Wade was announced in January of 1973, there was a new element of choice in the equation.  If they opted not to terminate the pregnancy, they were making a choice to give their baby life.  Then they could also choose to parent or to release for adoption.  None of these options were easy to take, but being in control of their lives and their bodies, made a difference in their world and to their psyche. 

We’ve learned a lot since 1973, and the sudden swing from adoption to not-adoption —  did they parent?  did they get married to keep the baby?  did they abort?  — we don’t know for sure, but they had a choice.

And that’s why I don’t want to return to the days when abortion was illegal and a criminal act.

Beth Kozan, Phoenix, Arizona

Surely some one out there wants to Talk Me Down.  Bring it on. 

Adoptees: Walking a little taller?

November 8, 2008

With the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in these United States, it’s reawakened a thought I’ve had all season.   What effect has this election had on adoptive families, especially whose children are bi-racial? 

I recall an NPR story after Tiger Woods had his first successful season in professional golf.  Several young people of bi-racial backgrounds were interviewed about the effects on their self image by having such a fuss raised in the press about Tiger’s race.  One young woman said, matter of factly, “It just means there’s finally someone who looks like me who has made it.”  Another person said, “What’s the big deal?  Most of my friends are mixes of several races!”   

This morning I caught the tail end of a radio sports program with interviews of several college football players who were teary telling of the significance of this election.  The commentators were gently teasing about the emotions of the Big Athletes, but nevertheless, it was touching to hear them speak of the possibilities this opens to them to be ‘more than I thought I could be.’ 

In training classes for prospective adoptive parents we’ve encouraged finding role models for their children.  Is President a high enough role model?  Or does it set the bar too high? 

How about Barack’s comment about looking for a dog to go to the White House with them, a pound dog who would be ‘a mutt like me’?     

Send in your comments!

Safe Haven in Nebraska ??

October 14, 2008
Today’s news brought the story of a mother from Michigan who drove her thirteen year old son to leave him at a Nebraska hospital because “I got tired of him.”  Months ago, when I first heard of Nebraska’s Safe Haven law, I thought:  “Whoops!  This is tragic!  They’ll have to fix that law!”
Safe Haven laws have now been passed in all 50 states, but Nebraska’s is unique; it’s the only one of the States to accept the abandonment of a child up to the age of 18.  Originally planned as a way to save newborns from being left in dumpsters, Safe Haven laws began to sweep the country fifteen or more years ago.  Most States limit the age of the child that can be left at Hospital Emergency Rooms, Fire Departments and other ‘designated sites’ to seventy-two hours old.  “No questions asked!”  It’s a ‘safe way’ to abandon a baby, and the mother cannot be prosecuted for abandonment.
At first glance, this makes sense if all we care about is saving a life.  However, little thought was put into the future of the abandoned child, the frightened mother, or the potential adoptive family left to raise a child, nor is there recognition of the legal rights of the baby’s father.   Most definitely, the saddest part is the legacy of a child growing up knowing not a thing about its past except the fact of abandonment. 
I contend that if the same energy had been put into educating the public about today’s adoption practice — how much it’s changed, and how non-judgmental an ethical adoption agent is — better outcomes for all would exist.  For more information, see Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, who thoroughly investigated the issue of Safe Haven laws in America.
As the news gets out, many parents of teenagers could be tempted to make that drive across the prairie to Nebraska!  Yep, now the word is out and Nebraska needs to change their law!
Beth Kozan

Being a good receiver or How we ungifted Christmas

December 17, 2016

Last week, Addie came home with the usual end of the week paperwork from her school.  It comes home in a big folder and I have included an agenda with big boxes that leave plenty of space for expla…

Source: Being a good receiver or How we ungifted Christmas

This Was Never About Bernie Sanders

July 6, 2016

“I need to write, but I don’t know what to write.” I told my girlfriend, Carrie. “I really don’t know what to tell people. I’m angry. I’m hurt and I’…

Source: This Was Never About Bernie Sanders

No Guarantees

January 14, 2016

Alan Rickman pictured himself as an old man, living in peace, surrounded by family. Who doesn’t?

Source: No Guarantees

Mall Walk and Roll

July 30, 2015

Mall Walk and Roll.

I have no black friends

June 20, 2015

I have no black friends.

A Note From Someone Who Cares

June 25, 2014

Something for all adoptive parents to store (you never know when you will need to read this!)

Christine Kavahei Brewer

Dear Adoptive Parents,

The time that you thought might never arrive has come! You are officially a parent. A mom. A dad. A family. But it’s not everything you expected is it? The crying and screaming in the middle of the night, the feeling of  not belonging in your own home? Those are all real feelings! They are normal. But you are special. Because of you…your beautiful child will have the opportunity to:

1. Have a family that loves and cares about them. Something that some children on this Earth will never be lucky enough to have. But YOU chose them. YOU chose to open up your hearts to someone you didn’t know.

But guess what? I am willing to bet you loved that child before they were ever placed in your arms. That you had plans and dreams for that child to one day do great things. To make…

View original post 381 more words

Where Are You From? or How I Chose Adoption as Career

November 18, 2011

I went to a writing workshop last week.  The topic was “Where are you from?”  I wrote that I am from the flat West Texas plains; I am from the salt of the earth, and I carry the saltiness of rebellion; that I come from listening audiences and the spotlight of a stage. And it went on (3 or 4 handwritten pages) from childhood to adulthood, ending with I am from the longing of parents who cannot make a baby and I am also from the loss of women who find themselves pregnant with a child they cannot keep, as well as from the seeking of roots by children who want to know their origins.

When I started to sketch out how I wanted to illustrate this ‘place’ from whence I come, I drew a flat horizon line, with rows of irrigated crops in one-point perspective. My intent was to add clouds to the sky and give them a silver lining. Then I picked up a Phoenix Garden magazine and immediately found a photograph of some fields near Casa Grande with reflected sky in rows of irrigation — at the EXACT ANGLE AND SCALE I had sketched.  There were other photos that I wove in:  a magician, plants, and in a segment at the back called “options for infertility” that was illustrated with newborn baby’s feet cradled in an adult hand. Pink feet became clouds in the sky and strings of silver sequins were the silver lining.

In the same magazine there was also an interview with local Radio Personality Beth McDonald of Beth and Bill, about continuing her program [now known as Beth & Friends] after Bill’s death from cancer. One of the interviewer’s questions was printed: “Death can remind us of our need to live.  What things do you still want to accomplish?” So I cut that out and placed it on the page because I, too, had a Bill in my life whose passing made me know I need to write and distribute my books on adoption. This is now in a journal book that will become part of a project for the Scottsdale Arts.