Becoming Us: Adoption

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child

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10 Things You Should Know Before Adopting a Child
What is it like to be the parent of an adoptive child? For us, a transracial family, formed through international adoption, this is what has been like for us, five years in. Here is a list of 10 things you may want to consider before sending in that adoption application.   We are conspicuous. Even though we live in Los Angeles, in a very diverse neighborhood, we stick out. People stare at us. People make comments, some nice, and some ridiculous. A trip to the grocery store can feel like a game of dodge ball, “Yes, I am their mother”, “Yep, they are real brother and sister”, “I’m sorry, that is a very personal question”, and refreshingly “Thank you, I think they are adorable too”.  Read more »

Is Motherhood More Bitter Than Sweet?

Motherhood is more difficult than I thought it would be, a lot more difficult.  Read more »

Thankfulness, Insecurity and Adoption: A Messy Lesson

My daughter Meazi’s second grade class visits an assisted living facility every month.  Read more »

The Sleep Habits of Orphans

From the time my kids have been home, they have demonstrated some strange ideas on sleeping.  Read more »

Bulgarian Cuisine: Adopting a New Culture

A few months ago, my husband and I had the pleasure of eating like Bulgarians for a night, thanks to our generous host and hostess, Nick and Milena Koshar.   The Koshars are from Bulgaria but have lived in the U.S. for nearly two decades now. We were connected with Nick and Milena through what I like to call the adoption woodwork effect. That is, by way of the adoption journey, you meet all kinds of new people or are connected in a new way to people you already knew  Read more »

What is Home for My Adopted Son?

I’ll never forget the day I pulled into our driveway and my then two-year-old son, who really only knew a dozen words at the time, looked out from his car seat at our small white house in Los Angles and said, “Home.” He had only been with us for about a year and a half at the point. “This is good,” I thought. “Yes, Melese. You are home.”   This past Christmas I planned a special day for my kids.  Read more »

The International Adoption Experience: Living in the Great Unknown

I’m a compulsive list maker, and I write (full-time) for a living. Deadlines and “to dos” are always with me. The pressure of an approaching deadline can be stressful, but when that blog post, research project or magazine article is delivered, the relief is a beautiful thing.   The international adoption process though? It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.  Read more »

Mommies Always Come Back (except when they don’t)

Three years ago, I met my children at an orphanage in Ethiopia. We had been told that our daughter Meazi was two years old, and that her baby brother was eight months old. When we met them we knew we needed to either call the Guinness Book of World Records and report “The world’s most brilliant toddler,” or talk to some doctors and dentists to figure out Meazi’s actual age.  Read more »

Dear Infertility Patient

Dear Infertility Patient, I sat in that seat you're sitting in. Comfy, isn’t it? Nice, rich, dark leather? Ask the receptionist for some water. They put lemons in it, very refreshing. Oh, see that door behind the front desk? That is the door the celebrities use. That big movie star with the new twins, she snuck in through there. Before you get started I want to tell you a couple of things, a couple of things that I wish someone had told me many years ago.  Read more »

Why Adopted is an Overused Adjective

Lately, I’ve been traveling a lot for work. I invariably embark upon each trip thinking I’ll use the countless wasted hours waiting for delayed flights and shuttling to and from airports to catch up on emails or prepare for a presentation. Only I don’t like flying very much. To compensate for my anxiety, I load up on treats—glossy-paged treats filled with celebrities engaged in activities the editors at US Weekly, People or InTouch would have me believe resemble the reality of my own day-to-day life.  Read more »

How a Love of Ginger Tea Helped our Multicultural Family

Ella had been in America for about six months. We were making a connection but there were struggles. Adopted from Ethiopia, Ella was enjoying her new country but grieving over the loss of her homeland. She had endured much loss in her seven years, seeing her mother die and dealing with the inevitability of her father dying of the uncontrolled HIV virus in his system.  Read more »

Adopting a Culture: One Family’s Journey to Becoming Ethiopian

When we first decided to adopt, we initially considered China.  We chose that country, in large part, because it was familiar. We knew a number of families who adopted little girls from there.  When that comfortable choice was not an option because of changes to the program, we were faced with the uncertainty of choosing from those countries available to couples our age.  Read more »

Why the Tooth Fairy is American in our Multicultural Home

With six kids from six to 14 years old it is often hard to keep up with all the teeth falling out. Even my 20-year-old last year had four wisdom teeth pulled and seriously resembled one of the Twilight characters, pale with a few drops of blood emerging from the side of her mouth. I have a litany of tooth fairy excuses that I have resorted to when I forget a child’s tooth has fallen out.  Read more »

Explaining How Babies are Born to my Adopted Son

Last week, we learned that our son Jin has been telling his teacher that he has a baby sister, named Quesadilla. Jin does not have any siblings. He has what in my opinion is a spectacular imagination. For Jin, nothing is what it seems--a purple block is a salt shaker, a salt shaker is a strawberry smoothie and his blankets are his babies. He cares for these babies, feeds them, and rocks them to sleep.  Read more »

What do Baklava and Doro Wat Have in Common?

When I was growing up, cooking and baking were a way for me to escape the problems of the day and ultimately find a new vantage point.  I remember lonely Friday nights during middle school where I would get lost in baking cookies.  During the measuring and mixing, I would stop obsessing about my status at school or the day’s slights.  When the cookies were cooling, my perspective would have altered just enough so my world seemed a little brighter and my problems almost manageable.  Read more »

My Inadvertently Open, Ethiopian Adoption—A Steep Learning Curve

In the beginning it was about wanting a baby. I desperately wanted a baby. Every single cell in my body was screaming to be pregnant. My late twenties and all of my thirties were dedicated to the goal of getting pregnant. I loved my husband and was sure that this pregnancy, and its inevitable outcome, a living child, would be the greatest fulfilled expression of love between us.  Read more »

A Pakistani-American Adoption Journey

Marisa Eide’s first date with Imran Ashraf was at an Ethiopian restaurant. Imran thought the date went really well so he asked Marisa out again and she happily agreed. They’ve been inseparable ever since. After dating for two years Marisa, who was born in California and Imran, born in Karachi were married on a crisp summer morning in Berkeley in 2005.  Read more »

International Adoption is Never That Simple

A few months ago, InCultureParent asked a group of adoptive parents to provide a list of .  Read more »

Is it Possible to be Too Multicultural?

People who see us together call us the United Nations family. We are stopped constantly by people who ask, “Are these all yours?” I confidently tell perfect strangers that my family represents four different countries. Our diversity is something that I am very proud of. However, it is difficult to continue to teach your children about their history and their culture while at the same time introduce them to their new culture and family.  Read more »

Reunited Outside the Orphanage Walls

Tanya’s car pulls into my parents’ gravel driveway. She is honking the horn, and waving her hand out the window. Meazi, Melese and I have been outside waiting for them to arrive from their five-hour drive from St. Paul, Minnesota. Peeking in her car, we see her boys Mintesinot and Tesfaamlak sitting in their cars seats, identical to ours, one with a cow pattern and the other with a butterfly pattern.  Read more »

9 Things You Should Never Say to Adoptive Parents

With many multicultural families formed by adoption or expanded by adoption (and obviously not solely multicultural families), we thought it’s important to address some etiquette surrounding adoption. Most people probably have friends who have adopted, but there are still many misconceptions about adoption. Sometimes people don’t know what’s ok to ask and what’s not ok.  Read more »

8 Rules of Adoption Etiquette

With many multicultural families formed by adoption or expanded by adoption (and obviously not solely multicultural families), we felt it was important to address some etiquette surrounding adoption. Most people have friends who have adopted, but there are still many misconceptions about adoption. Sometimes people don’t know what’s alright to ask and what’s not.  Read more »

Multicultural Siblings: Identity and the Land of In-Between

When you join two cultures through marriage, like my husband and I, you know your children will live in the land between, never truly belonging to one or the other. From observing my Dutch parents growing up and my Greek husband as an adult, though their cultures and paths were quite dissimilar, they experienced this suspension between their birth culture and the one of their everyday lives, as a bi-product of immigration.  Read more »

Honoring Your Child’s Heritage When He’s Too Young to Care

When my husband and I decided to adopt internationally, we entered the process fully aware that adopting a child of a different race, ethnicity and culture would mean being intentional about how we’d honor his race, ethnicity and culture in our family. As we embarked upon one of the first adoption rites of passage—the home study—our social worker asked us about our parenting philosophies: How would we discipline our child? What was our plan for childcare? And, how would we teach our child about his heritage? Like most non-parents, we answered these questions with naiveté.  Read more »

Death of a Parent and Ella’s Troubled Hair

The first time I laid eyes on Ella was via a picture from her Ethiopian orphanage. I immediately thought that she was perhaps the most beautiful little girl I had ever seen. She was six years old and had perfectly braided hair gathered into a bun on her head. The orphanage had very little resources but a local hair salon came on Saturdays to wash and braid the hair of dozens of little girls.  Read more »

Primary School Privilege

I get an urgent call from one of the other Kindergarten moms. She tells me that there is a child that she wants removed from the classroom. My mind races a little as I think about what a strict school it is, so strict in fact that my daughter Meazi recently received a time-out for whistling. (Apparently she was also a "whistling instigator," inspiring several other kids to express themselves in this exuberant manner).  Read more »

Finding Aster

I began to think about Aster's birth mother long before the nanny handed her to me. It took many months for my daughter's biological mother not to enter into my daily thoughts. I felt such deep sadness for this child who, we were told, would never have the opportunity to know the woman who birthed her. She supposedly had no other blood relatives, so seeking out her birth family would never be an option for Aster.  Read more »

Family Evolution: The Meaning of Multicultural

I grew up in a multicultural house. My mother was born in the Netherlands. My father, although also of Dutch heritage, was born in Indonesia and spent much of his early years split between those islands and Australia. He brought with him foods, languages, a love of large birds and a unique accent. I was born in New Jersey but my parents raised me Dutch.  Read more »

To Korea, With Love: Grieving the Loss of the Foster Family

In the two years that my husband David and I had been trying to adopt, I had thought a lot—a whole lot—about the day we'd first meet our child. I had envied friends' photos of meeting their children, wondering what it would be like when (and at times if) we adopted our child. I had romantic notions that we would be crying with joy, holding our child, who would likely be confused and upset, but somewhat placated by the food and treats we would have brought him or her.  Read more »

Family History

In the ten years between my wedding day and the day I met my children, I spent a lot of time fantasizing about all of the traditions we would celebrate once I finally became a mother. The celebrations I imagined looked a lot like those from my own childhood. There would be Christmas stockings stuffed full of Clementine oranges, chocolate coins, and Bonnie Bell lip smackers; dyed Easter eggs hidden in an obvious way around the living room; piñatas and paper donkey tails poised in the backyard for a birthday party.  Read more »

On Beauty and Adoption

A simple fact of adoption is the likelihood your child will not physically resemble you and your extended family. No well-meaning aunts at the holidays will observe how your son got Grandpa's nose (poor thing) or how it was lucky the children got their father's straight teeth, because it could've just as easily gone the other way. And in your own quiet moments, you may look at your little one, and although your gaze is full of love and wonder, you may have no existing frame of reference for his beauty because it is unfamiliar to you.  Read more »
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