Monthly Archives: October 2011

Trick or Treat…


Please don’t.

Please don’t support UNICEF this Halloween season, or any other. If your kids are soliciting to fill those little cardboard boxes, please skip my house. We don’t and won’t ever support UNICEF. No hard feelings towards you, only UNICEF’s mission.

I grew up believing that UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund, formerly the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, established December 11, 1946 to “meet the emergency needs of children in post-war Europe and China” and expanded in 1950 to include “the long-term needs of children and women in developing countries everywhere”) was a champion of children’s rights, safety and welfare. After adopting, I discovered otherwise.

UNICEF has been in the process of undermining international adoption for some time and they’re making great inroads.  UNICEF was a partner in “reforming” and shutting down Guatemala’s program (2008), leaving more than 3000 children in limbo.  Children who will likely never have loving, stable, and permanent families and homes.  Sorry folks, but that kinda honks me off. It hits rather close to the bone, when I consider that my son was born in Guatemala…

UNICEF’s position is that a child’s birth country and culture trump a stable, loving, and permanent home and family in any other place (adoption).  But at what cost to the child and their country’s future? I argue that UNICEF’s position has dire consequences, of which we haven’t yet begun to see. Children who live in impermanent foster care or are institutionalized until they age out and live on the streets are often without the life skills they will need or have ability to contribute to society.

Institutionalization has major repercussions (I teach classes about this very topic.). Elizabeth Bartholet, the Morris Wasserstein Public Interest Professor of Law and Faculty Director of the Child Advocacy Program (CAP) at Harvard Law School, wrote an enlightening paper on the human rights position of international adoption.  You really should read it.

This Halloween, whether you celebrate it or not, whether you have children or not, please consider the millions of children that UNICEF is turning its back on.  Leave those boxes at home…


Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, Guatemala, International Adoption, The International Mom


We’ve been inundated with fits of young-girl giggles and wrestling matches. I’ve witnessed my kids all over each other, savoring the closeness of being together—all six of us—for the first time in seven and a half weeks. Holden is home, if only briefly and it is good for all of us, to be “us”…

I was straining not to step into the security zone as I eagerly waited and finally saw my oldest walking towards us in the airport concourse. A grin was plastered across his face as he spied us. Holden carried his duffle bag in his right hand, backpack strapped to his back, one ear-bud in and the other dangling down towards his left shoulder. He looked taller and older in the time he had been at school. His hair was definitely in need of a trim.

Finally, I was able to touch him, to stand up on my tippy-toes, throw my arms around my son and kiss him. I was crying and didn’t want to let go, but it was important that I share him.

“I missed you so much, Mama,” Holden kept repeating.

Mark gave him another big teary hug and Greyson threw himself into Holden, requiring a mid-air catch. Aubry wrapped herself all over him, guiding him to our parked car with an arm around his waist and a satisfied smile on her face. Josi was less demonstrative, but her happy and quiet closeness was palpable. A close friend, who was also present to welcome him and was picking up another close friend arriving in another concourse, was all but forgotten as we made our way home.

Homecoming is incredible, but it is also bittersweet—tinged with sadness because Holden will leave to return to college. And his departure once again reminds us that we are now in this new chapter of parenthood, parent-child, and sibling-sibling relationships. We are really letting go. He is growing up and away, but hopefully he will always return, feeling welcomed and oh-so-loved.

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Filed under Family, Growing Tweens & Teens, Rite of Passage, The International Mom

Apples and Oranges

The death of Apple co-founder, innovator and muse Steve Jobs has been much discussed by our family, for several reasons. One is that the kids have, for the most part, grown up within the Apple pop-culture phenomenon. They have a number of Apple products among them and are consumers of Apple-ization.

Of course, the kids were concerned about the future of their beloved Apple products.  Would everything continue to be smooth and wonderful since he has died? Until yesterday, they really took the ease of technology and media for granted. The questions began upon the news of Jobs’ death: about iTunes, support, ease of use, and future Apple programs and technology offerings.

My kids have grown up in time of instant gratification: pictures, as well as videos, can be viewed, edited and shared immediately after being taken. Schoolwork and projects can go back and forth between school and home on a thumb drive.  The Mac is turned on and Skype pops up. Holden is on screen and a face-to-face conversation ensues. Far better than letter or phone, and almost as good as “being there.” Well, kinda…

The second, and probably more important, reason was the fact that Jobs had been adopted. And that was the story that we shared last night after celebrating the big guy’s birthday (my husband, Mark). Steve Jobs was adopted, domestically and as an infant. And my kids were FASCINATED.

Adoption changes lives; the changes are permanent and intergenerational. Adoption does not mean a child is necessarily better off, but it does mean that that their life and others’ have been irrevocably changed.

The kids wondered what would have happened if Steve Jobs’ birth mother had decided to parent him? Would Jobs have understood and appreciated the American work ethic? Would he have understood how things went and worked together (tinkering around in his machinist father’s garage, which impacted his drive for ease of use in Apple products)? Would Jobs have had the opportunity to attend and then drop out of college (fully aware and appreciative of the financial sacrifices his parents had made and not feel that they were getting their money’s worth), thereby taking a calligraphy class that would impact the future design aesthetics for Apple products? Would Jobs have been “driven” by and made the decisions he did because of the way he was raised?

One can never know. After all, it’s hard to compare apples with oranges.


Filed under Adoption, Growing Tweens & Teens, Identity, Loss, The International Mom