Archive for May, 2009


I don’t know if you can see it here, but if you look closely, there’s a trapeze where the grass is, and a net, and even a person on the trapeze.

This is a section of the Baltimore Inner Harbor and a trapeze school has been operating here every summer and fall for quite some time. I’ve been wanting to get a group together and try it.  However, I just learned today was their last day… they’re moving to Washington to an indoor space.

So much for me learning to be a flying trapeze artist. I will now have  to settle for the trampoline I just discovered behind my new friend Abby’s house…


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Certain questions and comments can make an adoptive parent-to-be cringe.

Lord knows, I’ve probably said these things at some point… it’s easy to do. Most of us mean well, but we’re just not aware that some statements are not helpful. Here are four things not to say — to me anyway!

“You know what’s going to happen now don’t you…? You’re going to get pregnant!” (said with excitement)

Yes, this happens… people finally decide to adopt and then bingo, there’s a baby in their belly. But the statement seems to imply that (a) you’d somehow prefer to be pregnant rather than adopt, or that (b) adoption is the second-class way of parenting. It kind of dismisses the excitement of becoming a parent by adoption and focuses on pregnancy as the ideal goal. Even if this does happen to some people, the comment isn’t helpful.

“Have you guys thought about adopting _________________ ?” (Fill in the blank here with just about anything other than what you’ve actually decided.)

I can’t count the number of times this has been said to me since we began this process. To say we put a lot of thought, research, and prayer into all this is putting it mildly: international vs domestic, Korea vs Ethiopia vs other countries, baby vs toddler, toddler vs older child, this agency vs that agency, etc, etc.

So after you feel the relief of making all these decisions, it’s not helpful to have someone listen to your choices and then say, “Oh, that’s great… but have you guys thought about foster care because blah, blah, blah.. ” or “Have you thought about Guatemala because I just met the cutest kid from Guatemala!!” or “Have you thought about such and such agency because my friend used them last year…” The list goes on. I wish more people knew that by the time you’re doing paperwork, you’ve made these decisions and don’t want to look back — rather, you need support for the choices you’ve already made.

“I’m just wondering why you’re not adopting from this country. Aren’t there lots of needy kids here?”

Yes, there are, so why don’t you adopt them? That’s what I want to say.

This is an understandable question on one hand… Some people want to know why you’re not adopting domestically. Others are simply against adopting out of one’s country or race. All I can say to the latter group is that we’ll have to agree to disagree. But this goes back to my points above… These decisions are never made lightly. What’s best for one family is not best for another. What draws one person doesn’t draw another. What’s in my heart is not in yours.

There’s also an assumption here that there are tons of US kids available for adoption. Not really. Every state is different, and there’s a whole other set of risks and complexities to domestic adoption.

“We’ve thought of adopting too, but we want to try having our own children first.” OR “My cousin adopted and then they had two of their own.”

This is probably the most common faux pas. What people mean by “own” is biological/birth children — I get that. Still, this is something that makes an adoptive parent wince. Are children by adoption not our own? Sure, they’re not our flesh and blood, but they’re born in our hearts and fill our imaginations and are every bit our own.

There are other things that aren’t helpful but I’ll save those for a Part II. (Bet you can’t wait!)

By the way, if you’ve said any of these things to me or anyone else, don’t fret, I still love you.

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Last Wednesday, my friend Nora was born into heaven. I like that way of putting it, and in her case, I think it’s true. She was very much in love with God and ready to let go of her earthly life and enter eternity.

In life, Nora was an admirable woman — lovely and gracious, devoted to children as a Montessori teacher, kind, mature and faithful. In her dying, she was an inspiration. After her pancreatic cancer returned with a vengeance, she accepted it as a pathway to God and began to prepare for the biggest event in her life.

Nora moved me in her dying. Although I don’t know every thought or feeling she experienced along the way, she didn’t seem bitter or resentful that she was dying while some of her closest friends were marrying and having babies. She didn’t seem to ask “why me?” or get angry at God, or pity herself. She embraced dying as though it was just as important as living, and she used it as an opportunity to grow even closer to the Lord she already knew.

I was blessed to be able to attend her funeral on Friday, held at a beautiful church outside of Philadelphia. There were many tears. I found it particularly hard to witness the grief on the faces of her siblings and her closest friends. But I hope it was consoling for them to hear both priests — one who ministered to her over the last 8 months and one who’s known her for 15 years — call her “a living saint,” full of love for God, and truly ready — even excited — to move on to this next part of her life.

Death is strange. Surreal. Not part of God’s original plan. In spite of my own faith, I’m afraid to die — I’m no where near where Nora was. But I’m so grateful to her for being such an extraordinary example of how to not only live by faith, but die in faith. Thank you, Nora.


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Me and Michael


This picture of me is not so hot, but I had to put it up because here I am in a semi-tight squeeze with one of the best known authors around today — Michael Pollan.

Saturday night I helped run a reception for Pollan before  he spoke at the Pratt library. He’s the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and most recently, Food Matters. He’s also a professor of journalism at Berkeley. (And he used to be editor of Harper’s.) Although he was an investigative journalist with an interest in botany, Pollan only accidently tumbled into the world of food after he wrote an article in The New York Times which then turned into a book.

His stuff is right up my alley, of course, being the Slow Food girl that I am. (If you’re wondering what the heck Slow Food is, check out my links on the right.) Mostly, though, Pollan is damn good writer.  And he’s done a lot for the real food movement across the country.

I’m really not one for celebrity pics, nor am I easily impressed. But I had my camera, and he was right there, and I love his books, and I have a personal blog now, and so, hey, why not?!

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The Ethiopian court has temporarily suspended passing any adoption cases of children abandoned in Addis Ababa. The story, as I understand it, is that a policeman relinquished fifteen young children on the same day to one or more adoption agencies and when those cases all came to court at once, it looked very suspicious.

There is corruption going on in Ethiopian adoption, as there is in most  third world countries who allow international adoptions. Columbia and Korea seem the least infected — Korea, because it’s a first world nation, and Columbia, because the system they’ve created for ethical adoptions is apparently top notch.

We are with a very ethical agency — WACAP. And their in-country staff couldn’t have a better reputation.  Still, an ethical agency can’t control every last aspect of a child’s journey to relinquishment in a place like Ethiopia. Some adoptive parents hire private investigators to confirm the details surrounding their referral, or to uncover more info after the adoption is complete. Great things can come of this — more about your child’s background and circumstances. So, investigations are not just to uncover troubling things.

But sadly, some parents are now in a very tough place. They accepted referrals to children they believed would be theirs and were waiting to pass court. But because their kids happened to be “abandonments,” these cases will not go to court — at least not right now. So who knows how long these parents and children will have to wait?

Things like this give adoptive parents-to-be anxiety. First, you worry you can ever be sure your adoption was completely ethical. Second, you fear Ethiopia may close their country to adoptions, which would leave you out a whole lot of money and no child on the horizon. Other countries have closed because of corruption — Guatemala and Vietnam, for example — with no signs of opening back up anytime soon.

This is the uncertainty that is international adoption. Until you have that babe in your arms, you just never know what can happen. It’s risky business, and you’ve got to find some way to surrender the worries while putting one foot in front of the other.

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Is this a gorgeous bike or what? l saw it this weekend at the vineyard we visited.

I have a thing for cool motorcycles, and I don’t know why. I’m not a risk taker when it comes to speed or heights or jumping off cliffs or out of planes. In fact, I have a hard time just thinking about being on a plane.

But a few years ago I noticed myself noticing motorcycles a lot — especially Harleys and vintage bikes. I think it’s the aesthetics, and the free-wheeling independence they seem to represent.  Or maybe it’s memories of my mother reading Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. A college boyfriend did have a sports bike, which I rode on fairly often — but it was the kind a 20 year-old male buys to feel like he’s a bit of a hot shot.

Years ago in southern California, I walked into a pretty lingerie shop near the beach.  Behind the counter was the owner — an elegant 50-something year-old woman. And behind her was a large photo of a fantastic Harley.

“That’s quite a cool bike,” I said.

“Yes, that’s my baby,” she said.

I’m sure my eyes got very big.

“My ex-husband got me hooked on riding,” she said. “My favorite is a ride on secondary roads at sunset — there’s nothing like it. It’s my favorite way to unwind.”

I thought that was super cool.

My fascination with bikes will probably stay just where it is. Because the reality is, I seem to have a fear of anything that comes with a motor. Besides,  my husband would never allow me to hit the trails on a bike lest I hit a tree or get crushed by something bigger than me, which is just about most things. But a girl’s gotta have her fantasies.

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My in-laws are here. Mary Jo and Jack arrived on Thursday from Blue Grass country.

We’ve had a few things to celebrate: their belated 40th anniversary, Mother’s Day, and everything that’s happened since we last saw them, which for me was a year ago. We’ve had more than a few good meals.

Here’s the trio when we stopped at Woodhall Winery this afternoon, after a visit to Gunpowder Bison ranch.  It couldn’t have been a more gorgeous day!


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