October 2008

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alex's life book

  • In early 2006, I began creating a life book for my daughter, Alex. Click here for links to articles describing my experience.
  • And for those of you who are more digitally inclined, in late 2006, I recreated key pages of Alex's lifebook for an article I wrote for AlphaMom, using Scrapblog.

    You can see the final digital result (and leave comments, if you'd like!) here.

what's been on my nikon lately

  • And you can view my favourites here.

if i'm not here, i'm here

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You will be glad to know, the reverse is true too. I was adopted in a closed adoption process and people always ask me "Do you know who your parents are?" I always answer "Yes, they are the people who loved me and raised me as their own. My biological precursors are a mystery though..."


Karen thanks so much for sharing...you are so right about being careful who you share it with adoption is something i know in my heart that i will do some day but its something i don't tell everyone because of the negative responses i get.


I thought your readers might want to know about a grassroots effort I'm putting together for people who are in or have experience with (in the case of adoptions that sometimes close without one family wanting it to remain open) open adoption. It's for all members of the triad: first/birth families, adoptive families, and adoptees (including extended family) and was inspired by an interview I did with Sharon Roszia of the Kinship Center in California. They have a successful open adoption support group that's been running for 18 years!!! Pretty great! The site is meant to point people in the directly of local post-adoption support groups since so many agencies are not able to provide this. Instead, we -- the families who are touched by open adoption -- can begin creating these spaces for ourselves. Hopefully this web site will inspire people to do so. You can find it at:


It's true that a) there's only so much you can learn online, b) it's valuable to find those who share similar experiences and c) knowing why you're in this process and not only follow your heart, but your instincts makes sense.

I generally hold my cards close to my chest, it's been through our adoption process that we've had to open up a bit more than usual and, yes, deal with whatever reaction comes our way...

Thanks for the input. Valuable as always.


Just a heads up that Actually you WONT find all that you listed at the Adoption Forums because, quite simply, their owner removed the Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transgendered forums from the site due to a conflict with his Mormon beliefs. This resulted in a mass exodus of support people from the site. There ARE other options however another large forum http://soulofadoption.com/forum/index.php is available (and not nearly as restrictive in posting rules as the adoption.com forums). You can ask about specific agencies there, as well as facilitators etc. Great resource for ALL those involved in adoption.

Also, for pre adoptive parents, my strong suggestion would be to READ - particularly not from just your own perspectives. Read from birth parent perspectives (even hard ones), read from adoptee perspectives, read from adoptive parents you strongly disagree wtih, and some you don't. Challenge yourself. Hate the idea of open adoption? Read from those that love it, are in it and live it. Can't fathom transracial adoption in your family? Read from those who live it daily, and the kids raised like that.

Some first mom authors I could suggest Skye Hardwick - her site http://www.lifemothers.com/ is a great starting point. If the writings of Courtnay Frey are still online, they are also awesome. Sad. But awesome.

There are TONS of blogs out there of people who are adopting internationally, adopting domestically, adopting through foster care, adopting transracially. Lots of stories, lots of ideas. FIND THAT SUPPORT.

And then, my last piece of advice - be honest with yourself. Soul searchingly - heart tearingly honest with yourself. DO NOT make promises you will not be able to keep (eg open/closed/visits/no visits etc) because you will hold the life of another in your arms.
DO NOT consider older child adoption (as in older than 6 months) if you are not willing to STUDY, RESEARCH, LEARN, IMMERSE yourself in attachment issues.
Do NOT consider international adoption unless you are willing to understand that massive losses that will entail for your child, accept them and understand that you are no longer an American or Canadian family - but are now a multinational family.
And don't consider transracial adoption unless you are willing to do all that it takes to support your child in that journey. To be willing to learn what it is to be a minority person.

(Adopted two boys - transracially, internationally, as toddlers. We now have a fully disclosed open adoption. As well, biological mom of 2 more boys)


Sorry - apparently a bit long winded there but adoption information is sort of my passion (or obsession depending on your perspective)

Anyways, to finish my signature - I am an adoptive mom of two boys that joined our family in Canada 7 years ago as toddlers born in the USA. They are AA, we are CC. We also have two biological sons, one born before our boys came home and one born after. Both are younger.

We also have developed a fully disclosed, open adoption with their first family, and also have ongoing contact with their second family (foster parents).


"Attaching In Adoption" by Deborah Gray is an awesome book for anyone adopting past the newborn age. After successfully adopting two Korean boys, we then attempted to adopt a Black newborn domestically. Sadly, that adoption fell through, and we then learned about Ethiopia. We are so blessed to have our Ethiopian daughters. Ethiopia is a wonderful country to adopt from right now. Costs are reasonable, and there are soooooo many kids in need of good families. You can see my 2 beautiful Ethiopians over on my blog!

Mary, mom to 8, 4 adopted

I write all about Ethiopian adoption at http://ethiopia.adoptionblogs.com/


All good advice...

Research, learn and talk to everyone you can think of that has been through it (we avoided some mistakes by talking to others and made some we hope to help others avoid). I want to echo Fizzle's advice and remind people to trust their instinct or that little voice inside you that tells you if something is right or not. There will be other babies and other familes and you don't have to take the first situation that comes along. it is better to have a situation that fits the expectations of both families in terms of contact, finances, etc.

Good post.


I think my advice would be, "don't lose hope." Both of my children are adopted and they both kinds of arrived when we didn't really expect it.


Hi Karen,

Thanks so much for all the information you've provided (and commenters too!). It definitely helps those of us who are at the start of the adoption process find our way a little easier.



Oh! What a darling picture of your daughter!

As a Mom of four adopted and one biological child, I think you have given really great advice.

We didn't do a lot of research prior to our adoptions...we just knew we we wanted to adopt instead of having children biologically. We did what worked for us and what was the easiest path to children.

Excellent post.


Perfect advice! I couldn't have said it better, your advice helped me so much about 2 years ago when we were waiting, I'm not sure if I really let you know how much I appreciated it.
I too often forget that we adopted our son, when people that don’t know we adopted ask me about labor I say "Oh yeah most people physically give birth to their children, we adopted Gavin!"


Oh, I would probably add, ask whatever agency or facilitator you are working with to give your contact information to another couple who adopted through them. This was so helpful to us because the couple we were paired with was able to warn us of some of the pitfalls, share personal experiences and a big plus was, most of the online stuff and books are more geared towards mothers, and my husband was able to talk to another man who shared his experiences.


Ah, see, now I cry.

Absolute kismet for me that you posted this. All these questions are slowly rising from a difficult health situation and I know I have to start answering them soon. Thanks. Two weeks in a row, you've touched my life.


This has nothing to do with your post or even your adoption, but I was wondering if you could share your perspective on this article:



Meera --

Yeesh. Yeah, okay, I'll share my perspective. Stay tuned.

Thanks for sharing the link.



Such a timely entry! My family and I just celebrated Julien's (2nd) adoption day! I feel much like you regarding the labor of adoption. Instead of the 'adoption process' you went through, I fostered, then adopted. The frustration, anxiety and chaos seemed to disappear (rather, morph) the day the adoption was complete. Now I am frustrated, anxious and chaotic for different reasons(!)
Keep doing what you're doing. You're a GREAT resource and inspiration for your readers.


Three things I would add. You have decide if you are going to adopt internationally (which country) or domestically, if you want a newborn or older child and if it is a domestic adoption if you want an open or closed adoption. It makes a difference in the adoption agency you would use and how much it is going to cost. The US does have a $10,000 adoption tax credit which can help offset some of the expenses. We had a closed, domestic, newborn adoption and couldn't be happier. It was closed because that is what the birthmother wanted, we are fine with that. If we need medical info I know how to get in contact with birthgrandma.


Why didn't you suggest speaking with firstmothers about their experiences?


Jenna --

You just did (however, to clarify, the Adoption Forums has a section dedicated to birthmothers -- when I stated the forums were "a great way to see how various people have dealt with issues which may arise with your adoption," I mean *all* people. In fact, each of my suggestions above apply to learning more about birthmothers, as well as adoptive parents).



We have adopted sons from South Korea.

I would add to think about how much information about birth families you will be able to get. In international adoption, the amount of information varies from none to lots. We wanted health histories, so we arrived at S. Korea as a good fit for us.

I would also add to choose carefully with whom you share the children's early information, such as orphanage/foster situation, reasons for relinquishment, etc. We shared some information with family members and were astonished at how casual they were with this very private information! It is your CHILD'S story to share - not yours, after all.

Research, research, research. Interview numerous agencies if you can. Ask to talk to recent clients. Ask what they liked about the agency, what needs work.

Get the Real Stats about Domestic and International adoption; Many, many adoptions fail to make placement after being matched, supporting the birthmother, etc. I do not think most domestic agencies are honest about how many birthmothers change their minds and decide to parent after birth. Which is fine; but it leaves prospective adoptive parents devastated. You need to know the odds going in.

Read! Patricia Irwin Johnston has many books on adoption. Adoptive Families magazine is great. There is a great on line resource in Even B. Donaldson's Adoption Institute http://www.adoptioninstitute.org

And good luck! Adoption is the best thing that's ever happened in my life. Twice!


I'm aware of the content on the forums; I'm a moderator. I was just curious as to why you specifically left out any wording about firstparents in your advice. While it is VASTLY important for those adopting to ask other adoptive parents questions and read their been-there-done-that blogs, many a thing can be learned from firstparents' blogs as well. Also, adoptees have a lot to offer not necessarily on the process of adopting, unless they have done so in their adulthood, but on the effect of closed vs. open, issues, etc. These are important things to consider. However, firstmothers are also aware of the legal processes; what to avoid, what to push for, etc. You can learn a lot from opposite sides of the triad. That's so vastly important to remember.

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