Category Archives: Identity

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

Between Us

She connects you and me, two strangers, through the sacred bond of motherhood. We stand on either side of loss and grief. We stand on either side of her life’s journey.

I respect you. I empathize with you. I will forever be thankful for the difficult decision you made. Without it, she would not be with me.

I love my child and so it is I love you as well, because you are part of her. You exist within every cell of her physical being. You exist deep within her memory stores. I’m sure of it. Some day she may want to know more, but for now she feels secure in her ingrained knowledge.

She has some of your characteristics and some of mine. She is western and she is eastern. She is poise, wit, and grace. She is ethical, committed to goals, and thoughtful. She is physically and emotionally strong. She is wise beyond her years, an “old soul” who knows who she is and is comfortable with it.

You gave her life and overcame great obstacles to bring her into this world. You ushered her to safety, risking yours, so that she would end up within my loving arms.

I give her a home, unconditional love and guidance. I laugh with her. Cry with her. And now, I hold her hand as she steps over the threshold to discover the mysteries of herself as she embarks on womanhood.

I wonder how you feel, as the years speed by, about the decision you had to make. I know, as a mother, you think of her continuously. I wish I could convey to you that that she is fine—content, balanced, joyous, and beautiful. She is deeply loved and cherished by her family.

Every time I look at the moon and stars, in the deep quiet of the night, I send prayers and thoughts your way, believing you can feel my intentions and that they will find you healthy and happy. At peace.

She is our blessing. She is my heart and your soul. Born of you, adopted by me. Our daughter.



Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Claiming, Identity, Loss

Names and Identity

We all have at least one, because we have to be called by something other than, “Hey you!” A name which, in part, identifies who we are.

Our name is representative of our personal history, and our story.

Like most, I was given a name when I was born. My name represented who I was—daughter of Liz and Bob, sister of John, Jeff and Jim.

When I married, I dropped my surname and took my husband’s, representing my relationship to him. Although I was proud to be known as my husband’s wife (a new layer of identity), I felt somewhat wishy-washy, ambivalent, about my name change.

After decades of being Judy____, I was now identified as Judy Miller. That was an adjustment. I worked full-time and was concerned that my clients wouldn’t know me by my new moniker, so I hyphenated the two surnames. My understanding husband supported me; however my three brothers felt otherwise. They assured that our family name would be carried on through their sons, if they had them (they did). They didn’t understand that carrying on the family name held little importance to me; my name recognition was about business relations and the bottom line.

The importance and significance of names began to change when Mark and I were to become parents. We spent months of hours-deep thought and discussion into the naming of our oldest.

Mark and I went through this same process with each new addition into our family. Each time we thought about how our child’s name would be perceived by peers and adults; we tried to picture our infants as children, teens, young adults, parents, and grandparents.

We considered how their name might affect them in school, as an adolescent and as an adult. How their name might stand out, might not “match” them. How would they be perceived professionally? What would kids shorten it to? What nicknames might be created out of their name? How would kids taunt our child?

Celtic favorites were dismissed. We adopted our daughters from China and our son from Guatemala. We felt it was of utmost importance that we keep their birth/given names because they linked them directly to their birth identities. We also decided to give our kids family names—one from my side and one from my Mark’s, claiming our kids as our children and weaving them into our family. We felt doing this would be an initial step, the foundation of merging their birth and adopted identities, critical for a healthy future.

Each of my kids understands the significance of their names and how they came to be called what they are called. We continue to struggle with sports, school and government forms, writing really small to get an entire name on the line or in the box. But it is important to include all of their name it because it represents that child.

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Claiming, Family, Identity, The International Mom