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In a Fog . . .

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I sit at the patio table and watch the sunrise.  I am still caught in my dream . . .

I have returned to The Agency, to visit.  Everywhere I see young mothers with newborns, some with their mothers in tow.  I’ve just come to visit!  There’s a staff meeting;  I open the door  to ask:  “Where’s Jeanelle? Where’s Becky?  I need a pregnancy counselor out here!”  Melissa smiles at me and says, “They aren’t here yet.  I’ll send them when they get here.”  I turn.  A light-skinned bi-racial woman holds her baby; I realize I knew her when she was Black!  I don’t have time to figure this out.  I say, ‘Follow me,” and we head to the conference room, the one with a big table.  There are other mothers and their mothers gathered here, each holds a newborn.  Two men are sitting at the table, laughing and smiling.  “Excuse me, why are you here?” I ask.  The swarthy man turns to me, beaming, says, “We’re Israeli.  We are friends of ____.  They said when we came to the States, we should go to the agency to see where they got their baby!” ( He doesn’t look Israeli; he looks like the East Indian pharmacy tech who hands me prescriptions at Costco.)  “You’re in the wrong place,” I tell him.  “Go back to the front desk and ask for an adoption worker.”  He and his friend vaporize, as possible only in dreams.  A young blond woman holds her baby up to me.  “You don’t have to do another adoption!” I say to her.  “But I promised I would!” she tells me.  I am prepared to tell all these women they are strong, they can mother their own children, they do not have to do another adoption.  Elliot reaches through the dream skin and gently tugs on my big toe:  “It’s 6:30.  Time to make pancakes.” 

 

I sit at the patio table.  I’ve finished my pancakes and my coffee is cold.  I am haunted by my dream. I still have work to do.

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Written by bethkoz

December 18, 2011 at 12:29 am

Review of TV Documentary, Sperm Donor: 74 Kids and More.

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Caught an interesting program on BRAVO on Saturday; Sperm Donor: 74 Kids and More.  Years ago a student worked his way through law school in the Boston area by making deposits to a sperm bank, earning $900 per month.  Now in his early 30s and planning his marriage, Ben signs up with a Donor Sibling Registry to see if he’s actually got children ‘out there.’ He finds 74, with the potential of even more(!)  There’s no obligation that Ben meet with any of these offspring, but being a good and gentle Ben, he agrees to make himself available to answer questions about medical conditions at the very least.

A woman in northern California has discovered Ben is the donor of her two children: a girl, age 8 and a boy, age 4.  With the support of her parents, she decides to take the children from CA to MA for a weekend visit.  She prepares the kids:  the daughter nods and smiles smugly when asked:  “Do you think you look like him?”  (The viewer sees that she does, as does her brother!)  Her mom tells her that this man is getting married soon and they are going to fly to Boston to meet him.  The daughter asks in all innocence:  “Does this mean he’s breaking up with you?”   So much for ‘old enough to understand.’

Meanwhile, the donor is explaining to his bride-to-be.  “How many more are going to come looking for you?”  No doubt she’s imagining the phone calls to set appointments with 70 or more children who want to ‘get to know him.’  The skepticism in her eyes tells us she’s discovered there’s more to Ben than she’s prepared to face.

In a lighter vane (and on the same program) the Donor Sibling Registry has connected two girls who are half siblings through their SD dad.  Both girls were raised as “onlies” and have no siblings. The older one, now in her early 20s is touched to learn that her younger half sib has been orphaned by the early death of her mother, and decides to fly to Arizona to play Fairy Godmother:  to take her sister shopping for her prom dress, get her nails and hair done, and see her off to the high school prom.

In one poignant scene, the sisters stand before a huge mirror, comparing faces.  “We have the same smile!” exclaims one.  As the day wears on, they notice gestures and other similarities, and although their facial features aren’t so much alike, they do have similar coloring.  This relationship has a chance of developing into something meaningful.

As off-putting as it is to think of having 70 or more half-siblings, this documentary brings the human element to a fact of modern family-making.  Nothing short of seeing the physical similarities between Ben and his biological offspring in the first story and the deep longing for family in the second can prepare someone for the issues that real families made by extraordinary methods must face.

Thanks to the company that brought this documentary to life! Watch for it on cable!

Written by bethkoz

November 15, 2011 at 6:31 am

Just Another tribute to Steve Jobs, adopted person.

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I’m sobered tonight by the announcement of the death of Steve Jobs today. His Stanford commencement speech in 2006 is inspiring and should be seen/heard by more. In it he speaks candidly of his adoption, and how he landed with the family he was given. Watch this You Tube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA

Written by bethkoz

October 6, 2011 at 5:40 am

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Review: Good Girls Don’t by Patti Hawn

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If you are female, and older than, say sixty, I’ll wager you instantly ‘get’ the title.  Good Girls Don’t . . . have sex before they marry.  It’s a line used to control us wanton women when our hormones began to itch.  That line solidified the implicit message that It’s the girls’ duty to control the male.   In those lively days before The Pill and Roe v Wade, we girls accepted that line, and the social controls that lead us blindly down the path of convention.  A pregnant girl in the late 50s and early 60s conformed by allowing themselves to be herded off to a maternity home, to place the ‘unwanted love child’ for adoption. 

 What hooked me was the author’s recall of the intensity of love at 16 and the convention of the day.   Feeling responsible for ruining her boyfriend’s life and her family’s reputation, Patti Hawn acquiesced to the expectation to do ‘the right thing.’ When her body revealed her secret, off she went to a maternity home until the birth of her baby.  Patti had her baby, then found work rather than return to school.  It’s the way things were done. 

 Patti was pregnant again within a year.  With the help of her mother, she finessed a marriage to the father of her second child just before the baby’s birth.  A divorce followed, and Patti kept this baby and resumed her life.  Nevertheless Patti was unhappy.  She floundered in one meaningless job after another.  She struggled as a single parent.  Finally Patti followed her younger sister Goldie to California where she established herself in a career on the  fringes of the film industry.  Patti had fun; she lived the Hollywood lifestyle of successful yet detached female who dared not let herself love again.  When she did let a man inside her protected world, death took him suddenly and unexpectedly.

 Finally, on a journey of self-discovery Patti traveled to Tibet to ponder mountain climbing.  Her epiphany was to decide to reclaim the part of herself she gave away at 16; she needed to find her son.  What and who she found forty years after relinquishment tested her mettle in a new way.  Dealing with the reality of her son’s life caused her to realize she still has no control except to accept what is. 

 This book came into my life at the same time as the news that my first love had lost his life in a car accident in our home state;  I read this book to escape from the reality of that death.   How much of my personal journey was wrapped around reading this book is difficult to parse.  I can only say that this book gave me permission to recall my own first love, and reading this book allowed me to mourn his loss.  Thank you, Patti Hawn, for helping me recall those days and to celebrate that we, as females of the 60s, have earned our strength to accept que sera sera, whatever will be will be.

Written by bethkoz

August 27, 2011 at 7:07 am

Review: I Beat The Odds by Michael Oher

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Like many movie goers, I was swept up by the magical story of “The Blind Side” the 2009 movie that brought Sandra Bullock her Oscar for the role of the foster/adoptive mom of Michael Oher, the professional football player for the Baltimore Ravens.  But with many years’ experience in child welfare, I wanted to know the child’s side of the story– and this is the book!  The story of the foster child, nearly homeless, who found the right family to help him reach his goal – to amount to something in spite of his rocky beginning in life.

 As told to Sports Illustrated writer Don Yaeger, this book tells how Michael decided at an early age to resist the streets of Memphis’s poor section, and to find a way out of the ‘hood.  His chosen path was athletics.  He found a way to play baseball, basketball, track and – yes—football and to work to achieve his goal.  His determination shines through this book, and trims away the ‘cutesy’ from the movie.  Yes, Miss Sue is there; yes, so is S. J., the younger brother (who last year emerged as his own man in the field of basketball) and Collin (the sister whose life revolved around cheerleading),as well as the parents, Sean and Leigh Ann – all the characters from the movie are there, but Michael is clearly the star of this telling of his story.

 Which is as it should be.  He encourages other children of the ghetto to hold onto their dream — that they CAN amount to something in a positive way.  I gave the book to a young client fighting her way to respectability at age 17.  Her review was:   “This is better than the movie!  It tells the ‘real’ story!” So take it from me and Lupita:  This is a great book for teens!

Written by bethkoz

August 27, 2011 at 6:07 am

Gratitude at Christmas, 2010

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Based on Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Gratitude Journal, I began the practice of writing five things I’m grateful for at the end of every day at least fifteen years ago. Finally I let go of the need to write them down, and now tick off of at least five things to be grateful for as an internal mantra to calm myself and get ready for sleep.

This has been a rough year – Elliot was in the hospital on January 1, 2010 and now is back there, with four hospitalizations between; Heather’s unemployment of 22 months was briefly interrupted by a seasonal job which ended last week and now she’s sick with a cold and tonsillitis — but as I got ready for sleep last night, I easily found these five reasons to be grateful:

1. For all the times Elliot’s in-chest defibrillator has gone off this year (11 times; six just yesterday!) I have not personally witnessed a one. I’ve always been out of the room, or out of the house when the surge of electricity saved his life.
2. Though we aren’t having our Christmas dinner on Christmas Day this year (Elliot is in the hospital; Heather is sick at her house), all the necessary food is ready and waiting for willing hands to prepare.

3. Coming in my front door, I feel loved. The door itself is adorned with a new wreath that Stacy and Alan sent. This year’s Christmas cards are taped to the hall closet doors, to let us know we are loved by family and friends from all over the globe.
4. My reasonably-priced cell phone plan that allows me to access the internet and to txt to those young family members and friends who most easily relate through txting.
5. Memories of Christmases past – trips from Arizona to my West Texas homeland, seeing Christmas lights on houses and luminarios on every downtown rooftop in Tularosa, NM. Meeting up with other family members now scattered across many states ending our pilgrimage at the Christmas Tree at Carr’s Chapel on Christmas Eve. The house of our childhood filled with laughter and presents. The weather often laced the trees with ice or snow, and the kids pretended they were smoking, blowing their warm breaths into the chill night air. There were the years that cousin Gayno brought fireworks that we set off in the dirt road in front of our house, watching Roman candles shoot up into the foggy sky. Unwrapping presents together on Christmas Eve, enjoying Mother’s home-made Boiled Custard (a recipe dating from the Civil War), which guaranteed there’d be Angel Food cake for dessert the next day, to use the egg whites. Waking up to Santa’s overnight visit, no matter which generation was the recipient of Santa’s largesse. Driving back from Texas to Arizona on New Year’s Eve, fireworks visible for miles across the prairie land, one small town after the other!

Written by bethkoz

December 27, 2010 at 7:06 am

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Damaged books!

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Ah!  Something burst in the ceiling at my office, above my credenza.  Five books were ruined by the ensuing flood!  Today I went online to look up the prices for replacements.  I was amazed at the prices of two of the books, which are out of print (I think) but available as used or library copies.  They were all children’s books, which I had on display:  A is for Adopted by Eileen Tucker Cosby.  Life sure feels different living in a separate house from my brother by Pamela and Camela Rollins.  Lucy’s Feet, by Stephanie Stein.  Sacred Connections by Mary Ann Koenig. and Active Interventions for Kids and Teens by Jeffrey Ashby, Jerry Kottman and Donald DeGreat.  I’ll soon be back in business!

And grateful that nothing else was ruined!