Preparing For a Tough Exchange

In so many ways, Julia is a young soon-to-be twelve year old. Though she’s in middle school, she’s unconcerned with fashion, boys, or other pre-pubescent experimenting.

My daughter Julia, adopted from a Siberian orphanage at 8-months old, is on track intellectually but is still catching up emotionally. She is a wonderful violinist and a gobsmacking artist and an honor student, but she hasn’t yet learned how to make a BFF, nor, and I suppose I should be thankful, she had not attached herself to a clique. My husband and I are her whole world. [Read More…]

By |August 27th, 2014|Categories: Adoption, Commentary, Daily Living, Mothers Over 50|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Seven Tips for Navigating the Adoption Process


Imagine putting your most treasured desire into the hands of a stranger. Someone you have neither met or seen, with the understanding that days, weeks and months may pass before you hear from them.  You are constantly battling the urge to email them to see if your dream is any closer to coming true, but it’s all you can think about.

Building your family through adoption is a matter of trusting in the unknown. Whether you are a waiting parent, hoping to be selected by a potential birth mother or planning to adopt internationally, there is no easy way to make this a reality. Below is a list of suggestions on how to feel like you are making informed choices. [Read More…]

By |August 13th, 2014|Categories: Adoption, Commentary, Daily Living, Mothers Over 40|Tags: , |0 Comments

Reflections of a Stay-at-Home-Mom (SAHM)

SAHMI became a mom at 45.  It wasn’t by design.  I met my husband at 35, married at 38, and we tried to start a family six months after we married.  To our surprise, that was no easy task.

After three invitros, two inseminations, a frozen embryo transfer and after mixing in four years of acupuncture, various shamans and healers, along with several miscarriages and a too-long process to adopt a baby from China, we finally became parents six ½ years later when we brought our son home from Ethiopia in August 2010. [Read More…]

Troubled Child Adoption

Troubled child adoption is about loving enough to accept not being trusted. I learned that by watching my wife’s example. I’ll give you fair warning… if you need compassion and are left to choose between my wife and me, go with my wife. If I don’t like you and can justify my position, I’ll throw you under the bus. Then I’ll eat my dinner and drink a Coke before sleeping through the night like a toddler. My wife is different. If you screeched obscenities at her before hurling yourself under the runaway death-trap, Amy would crawl beneath it to drag you out.

My adopted daughters don’t understand that, though. From their earliest moments, their developing and pliable minds were taught that they could never trust a mother. As much as I’d like to blame that demonic abuser for the suffering of my daughters, in honesty, it’s probably not her fault. [Read More…]

By |June 10th, 2014|Categories: Adoption, Commentary, Daily Living, Mothers Over 40, Mothers Over 50|Tags: , , |1 Comment

My Daughter’s Mothers

Jiawen Day 3My three daughters were all adopted from China at older ages.  Despite the immense losses each of them have carried, they have loved me and accepted my affection and care without question.

It doesn’t mean they have not hurt inside or pushed back at me.  But they have called me Mama from the get-go and always reached out when they needed me.

My second daughter has a different story.  We found her family early on.  Her life in a state-run orphanage in the historical city of Nanjing ended at age 7 when I flew there to get her.  I presumed she had been one of countless abandoned infants and spent many years with her orphaned peers.

I met Jiawen on an unusually warm evening in March, 1999.  Although the flight was predictably excruciating, I was ecstatic.  I was pulsing with adrenalin and I felt very confident, having done this the year before.  I spoke Mandarin, and China was no longer a wildly foreign place.  [Read More…]

Adoptive Moms and Mother’s Day

Jane Samuel and daughterWhen is a mom really a mom? When do we get to stand up and take the recognition being handed out in the Hallmark card aisle and the pews at church? In the newspapers and May issues of women’s magazines? In the perfume and jewelry departments? In the breakfast-in-bed rooms and brunch-serving restaurants?

In my younger-I-know-it-all days I would have answered, “When you give birth and raise that child you get the card, the flowers, the hugs and kisses.” Then life experience expanded to include miscarriages and adoption. Despite feeling just as fully a mother on those occasions, my perception of myself did not always match the outside world’s opinion of me. Indeed I would be rich if I had a dime for every time I was asked if I was my Asian daughter’s “real mother?” [Read More…]

Mother’s Day Month – Essay #1 – The Term “Real Mother” Confuses Us

Amy-and-Sarah-1024x737Mothers’ Day has always been a tough one at our house. My wife, Amy, came from a home where she was abused by her father and her mother did nothing to stop it, as long as he provided the meal-ticket.

At fifteen, Amy went into foster care where she was used to raise younger foster children while the parents partied. My daughters suffered unimaginable abuse at the hand of their birth-mother in Russia. My youngest son, Denney, also from that country, was betrayed by his birth parents, too.

Sarah was five when she joined our family. She was plenty old enough to know what was going on and to play a part in life-altering decisions. She’s now fourteen. Recently Sarah came to me and said: “I miss Mama Oksana.” (That’s the name we have always used for the birth-mother of our daughters). “I used to hate her. Is that okay?” Tears filled my eyes as I wrapped my arms around her and told her it was not only okay, but good. Then I told her I loved her and that I was sorry it was so hard. [Read More…]

The Wait


Dust is collecting on your bedroom furniture-you notice when you drag yourself out of bed an hour after your alarm has gone off.  You start circling the kitchen, trying to decide if you’re hungry or if you should wash the stack of dishes you’re pretending aren’t there. Mid-afternoon thinking is should you make another cup of coffee to perk up as you check your email for the tenth time.

By 9pm you want to go to bed as you’re exhausted but it seems too early, at 10:30 you have a second wind and decide to watch one more TV show. Come 1am you finally go to bed and promise that at the sound of your alarm you will get up, exercise, and shower before you start your day. And then the cycle starts again. If this sounds familiar, you might be a waiting parent.

[Read More…]

Books for Adoptive Moms and Their Children

As I navigate this crazy journey of being an adoptive mother, I have found that books have been one of my most valuable resources. For me — books are what give me guidance, sanity and a little bit of solidarity. For my kids — books help them feel empowered as they grasp unique situations and concepts.

I’d like to share with you some of my favorite books that focus on building a connection with your child as you celebrate their stories and uniqueness:

1. The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis: Since I can’t have the Wise and All-Knowing Dr. Karyn Purvis following me around my house and helping me deal with every situation, this book is the next best thing. If you read no other book about adoption, READ THIS ONE. It will help you build compassion and connection (hence the title) with your child.

the connected child [Read More…]

By |March 10th, 2014|Categories: Adoption, Commentary, Daily Living|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Open Adoption: When What I Knew Was Wrong

When Roger and I embarked on the journey of adopting a baby several years ago, everything we “knew” about adoption was from decades past:

  • You waited on a long list until the agency matched you with a situation. Top of the list of criteria for the match? Your place in line.
  • You tried to make the building of your family as close to “normal” (read: biological) as possible. You didn’t talk much about the adoption, either inside or outside of the family, and you certainly didn’t have any contact with birth parents. The goal was to make it seamless, almost as if adoption were never part of the story. [Read More…]
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