Married, mother of three, living in the beautiful San Francisco Bay area
[Old enough to have seen The Police in concert when they were the new, hot band, and crazy enough then to sneak backstage.]
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN ON YOUR MOTHERHOOD JOURNEY?
My husband John and I met via the Internet 1998, back when online dating was still considered appropriate only for the desperate or crazy.
We started our family in a similarly unconventional way. We’d been married about a year when we heard Karin Evans, author of The Lost Daughters of China, being interviewed on NPR about China’s adoption program. That same day we decided to adopt internationally, assuming that we’d also eventually conceive a birth child or two. We imagined a loud, lively, diverse and perfect family.
Well, things did not go according to plan. Our first adoption attempt, from India, broke our hearts. The High Court of Andhra Pradesh shut down that state’s international adoption program late in our process, amid allegations of child trafficking and court challenges from self-described activists. By that point, we were already attached to our hoped-for daughter, Haseena. We knew her, we’d spent time with her, we loved her, and we lost her so dramatically and publicly that the entire experience still seems unreal. You can read some of the story here and here. It’s complicated.
The shock of losing our first child left us in emotional limbo for more than two years. Finally, we decided to try our local foster care-adoption option, only to withdraw after logging hours of training. To bring a child into our home, then to have the county possibly remove that child suddenly -- the emotional risk felt too great given our earlier loss. We researched international adoption again and applied to Bulgaria, for reasons that made sense at the time, where our application gathered dust. The pregnancy we always assumed would happen – didn’t. The struggle went on like this for six years. We began to question whether we were meant to be parents at all.
Thankfully, a few additional plot twists led us to our three smart, funny, big-hearted children. My oldest daughter, born in India, is now 9. To protect her privacy, I call her Didi online, the Hindi word for “elder sister.” She joined our family at age 5 1/2. I’ll always be grateful to the Indian friends who persuaded us to risk adopting from their country again. As one dear “auntie” noted during my pick up trip, “India brought you great sorrow in the past, and now with Didi, India brings you great joy.”
We owe another group of caring friends big thanks for encouraging us to look at Ethiopia’s program. Our son, Gobez, 8, and youngest daughter Lemlem, 7, are birth siblings whom we brought home as wild and crazy preschoolers. (I’m using nicknames again. Gobez means “well done,” and Lemlem means “blossom” in Amharic, Ethiopia’s national language.)
Life in our house is crazy, hard, fun, rewarding and messy.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR HARDEST “MOM MOMENTS” THAT YOU WILL ONE DAY LOOK BACK ON AND LAUGH?
Didi was almost 6 when we brought her home from India. At that stage, Gobez, then 4, and Lemlem, then 3, were still napping. I desperately wanted Didi to get with the program, but she resisted. Finally, one afternoon she led a bloodless coup; I said, “Sleep,” and instead under Didi's leadership the three of them bolted into the backyard, jumped onto the roof of the playhouse, and refused to come down. It’s been three years, and I still miss naptime.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT MOTHERHOOD?
I pictured building deep, nurturing relationships with my children as we played tag in the park or baked cookies blah blah blah. Some of that goes on, of course, but as they’ve gotten older, the outside world has devoured a huge chunk of our time together. I had no idea that motherhood would flood my email inbox daily, with requests for things like “class party fresh fruit kebabs with yogurt dip for 24,” or friendly reminders that "soccer should be your child's first priority." I also had no idea motherhood involved so much driving.
Time (see above.) Determining what is important and what is BS. Protecting our downtime together as a family.
MY “MOM SECRET WEAPON” IS…
a great husband.
My mama manifesto is…
... to strive to be kinder, more patient and more mindful when interacting with my family
... to help and encourage my children to grow into confident, caring, thoughtful adults
... to try to relax and laugh more, because honestly, so much of life is ridiculous
... to remember to be thankful
... to learn about and promote issues of international child welfare and child rights
... to support and promote initiatives that build happy, healthy and secure families worldwide