Thursday, December 17, 2009


A favorite family replay from 2004...

Molly cooked us a wonderful pancake breakfast this morning, to celebrate the first day of Christmas vacation. The conversation turned to gift-giving (and getting!) and card-sending, and what needed to be accomplished this week.
"I need to send Aunt Jennifer a Thank You note for the purse she gave me" Molly said.

"I've already sent her a Thank You for my gift" Hanna said. All eyes turned to the 5 year old. "I sent her a Wish Note."

"What exactly is a Wish Note?" I asked, with eyebrows raised.
"It's when you stand very still and send a person a Thank You in your head" Hanna answered. It was a nice try, performed with chutzpah, and I congratulated Hanna on her creativity.

Wish Notes. A great concept! I am wish-noting you a very Happy Holiday as I type, along with grander wishes for children in need of families, and an end to their deprivation and neglect. I believe in the power of a good wish note, and the good energy of people who send them. If I don't see you over the holidays, I am sending you a *hug*-- did you feel it?? I wished it. And I'm seriously concentrating on wishing you a truly wonderful 2010...

merry merry,


Thursday, November 5, 2009

iWrite: tweens & teens write about life and adoption

Recently, in Minnesota, I had the opportunity to run my workshop "iWrite: tweens and teens write about life and adoption" for a group of 26 China adoptees. For 90 minutes, my multi-age workshop participants excitedly shared their creativity, contributed personal comments, and realized the power of owning their life stories. Group energy opens windows and doors for for even the most recalcitrant workshop attendees, and the lure of expressing their personal reality in a new notebook was simply too hard to resist!

It is very positive, and very powerful, to witness a gathering of tweens and teens 'recognize' the possibility that has been handed to them--it's as if they were finally doled out a voice and told they could use it any way they wanted. Based on the series of workshops I've been presenting, I wrote an article for an upcoming issue of Mei Magazine. I told tween / teen readers-

"Ignoring the story of your early life in another place and time isn’t the best solution, even if that option feels really convenient. It’s your life, a vital piece of who you are, and you get to…


Really. Your story belongs to you, and you get to decide who to tell, how to tell it and how to write about it--your personal ‘voice’ is allowed to explain, explore or embellish the facts, all of the maybes and even the unknowns. You might not have a lot of information about your pre-adoptive months or years, but your feelings and your perceptions about an earlier time in your life are yours to keep, think about and especially, to express."

Last night, I read the chapter excerpt from the new EMK Press book for teens, "Pieces of Me" and was so impressed with the words of the book's contributors. Bert Ballard, the book's editor, reinforced what I've been discovering in my workshops with kids, and what I can share with parents: our adopted children often feel a disconnect with their own life stories, and could use a few expressive tools of discovery. Writing, reading, artwork, music--whatever gives kids the 'connect' to tie their before-and-after adoption selves together, can strengthen a tween or teen's whole persona.

Groups of adoptees in a workshop setting can be a tough audience; I've learned that our kids don't need "adoption talk" crammed down their throats--they need the tools to say what they need to express, and our freeing parental encouragement to own all of their pieces.


scroll down for more

Our New Baby

Honestly, I would never have been in the Humane Society so soon after losing Skippy if my youngest daughter wasn't crying herself to sleep every night, clutching a glass jar containing Skippy's collar, his toy mouse and a few sad tufts of fur... ohh it was grim!

We needed the daily burden of not-being-met-at-the-door-by-our-cat lifted, so that's how I found myself bonding through a crate at MHS with a skinny little tiger kitten. He gazed at me with a great deal of aplomb, reached a long scrawny paw through the wire to grab my finger, and gently held on.
Yep, I was his.
Welcome, Tobi!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Loves Kids...and Mice

I had a cat once that made me crazy and saved my sanity...

In 1996 my family received our referral of a tiny baby in China. A few weeks later, expecting travel confirmation, I ripped open a letter from our adoption agency. We were informed that a Bureau reorganization within China had put our adoption on indefinite hold, and that it could be many months before we were able to bring our daughter home. I had an infant, but I couldn’t see her or hold her or nurture her. I couldn’t soothe her when she cried, I couldn’t be there when she needed me. I couldn’t control what happened to her.

I went quietly nuts.

From the outside, I looked like a fully functioning human being. Inside, I had worn myself hollow. My friend Georgiann, a wise adoptive mom and veteran of several failed private adoptions, looked into my eyes one day and gave me counsel equaling a slap in the face with a leather glove.

“You’ve got to GIVE UP control when going through the adoption process,” Georgiann told me. “This is out of your hands. You have done everything you can do without negatively interfering in the process--now you need to trust.”

So I took a deep metaphorical breath, went adoption-zen and channeled my depressed energy into a tiny kitten that needed a home. Yes, I already had a six year old child; yes, I had an adult cat--but I needed a baby to pull me through and I found a baby cat willing to take me on.

He was lively and smart and tenacious--he ran up walls, opened door-knobs and turned on light switches. When it was breakfast time IT WAS TIME FOR BREAKFAST and he walked up and down my body with his heavy Maine Coon paws until I fumbled my way out of bed to get him his kibble. He leaped on the dinner table and chased the children and was happiest in the middle of a gang of toddlers bent on terrifying kitty-play. This cat owned our backyard and half of our street and he had duties to perform to protect his people and his kingdom. He would howl to get out and he would sit under my window at 5:00 a.m and yowl to get back in. I would frequently snap and utter his cat name in vain, but it didn’t matter. He was incessant and stubborn and daring, and he loved us with all of his big lion-like heart.

He adored the baby we brought home from China and he was thrilled when we brought home her little sister almost four years later. He was part of the family bed and late night feedings; he kept me company during my divorce; he watched over us during our move and met each one of us at the door after a day at school or work. He worried when my eldest daughter went off to college, and stayed reassuringly close if one of us fell ill.

After 13 years of tending to us, he died in my arms. And with him went the constant undercurrent of his furry care and concern. Yeah, he was ‘just a cat’, but he life-lined me and I owed him. I had some lessons to learn before I held my baby from China in 1996, and he was both a step toward letting go, and a step toward loving.

This is much too heavy a legacy for one cat to have to wear, however, so my daughters and I trimmed the profundity down to a simple epigraph that summed our old boy up. We have sent it on to Cat Heaven with him, and we feel sure the recommendation should open some doors:

"Is okay with crazy; loves kids and mice."




scroll down for more...

Thursday, August 27, 2009


My friend Krista is dropping her college freshman daughter off at school on Sunday. This highly competent, single working mom has been hit upside the head with a plank: her youngest child will be gone in four days, which means her own life is irrevocably changing. My friend dreads the emptiness she senses just past Sunday…she realizes the opportunities inherent in ‘change’ but Krista has been emotionally gobsmacked; she was not prepared to have to explore her past and present feelings, and she has been completely immobilized by the Big Dinosaur Sitting in her Living Room…

My lifelong friend, Suzanne, flew up from Texas to clean out the house her parents built and lived in for over 50 years. I lived eight houses down from Suzanne for most of my youth, and her parent’s home was as familiar to me as my own. Suzanne’s dad died several years ago, and her mom is now living in assisted living down in Texas. Halfway through the pack-up process, Suzanne tucked herself back into her old twin bed and simply refused to get up. It was a Dinosaur Crisis! Suzanne had stumbled into a pre-history ambush. Every photo, memento and 8mm movie spun Suzanne back to her childhood, and finally forced her to witness the changes in her family (and herself) that had occurred over the last twenty-five years.

Why do we adults believe that we can handle ‘change’ with shopping lists and a few packing boxes? Our adopted children may be on to something--their hypervigilant over-reaction to transition and change may provide them with more emotional preparation than our grown-up disregard for change’s profound effects will ever provide for us. As adoptive parents, we offer a sad or scared child a safe place to talk, grieve, celebrate and plan. Perhaps we need to recognize how change provokes these connective needs within ourselves, too.

Graduation parties, weddings, funerals, baby showers, ‘gotcha’ days, coming-of-age celebrations, even kindergarten round-up; these rituals help us structure our experiences, but don’t quite finish the job of processing. Immediately after my dad died a couple of years ago, a therapist friend gave me some meaningful advice. She said, “You need to take care of yourself right now, and for the months to come.” It was so simple--but it was the heads-up I needed to understand the physical, mental and emotional impact of the grieving-integrating process I was embarking on.

It took three of us to rent Suzanne a storage unit, move her boxes and get her out of bed. Maybe we all need to form posse’s to accompany friends through our personal Jurassic Parks, and help support each other’s encounters with past history and Big Changes.

Understanding the powerful, emotional ramifications of change, and why we trigger so profoundly over both the important and the mundane (old letters between our parents, a toy we gave our 18 year old when he was in first grade, family camping trip memorabilia), opens a door and helps us find a place to put our memories, or our remorse, or the overwhelming love for individuals who have ‘left’ us. Feeling the sting of personal change, transition, or loss may also help us generate more empathic responses for our adopted children when they express (or act out) bittersweet feelings over losing their entire first lives with other families.

Dinosaurs are scary symbols of what we need to either slay or befriend (there is no escaping Jurassic Park, or the previous life choices we have made). Understanding our deeply buried, ‘ancient’ connections to events occurring today, gives us a different perspective on our surprising over-reactions, and unfreezes our ability to act.

Last month, I took my kids back to Dinosaur Ridge outside of Denver, where we gazed at real footprints made by dinos about 150 million years ago during the Jurassic Period. I like the visual symbolism of the Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, and Allosaurus footprints we saw walking the ‘Dinosaur Highway’; they remind me that beings may be gone but never forgotten, that extinction--of anything--is a process, and that remains of the past are supposed to be witnessed, studied and touched…


scroll down for more...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Back to School FREAK OUTS

Ten years ago, when my middle daughter entered preschool, I entered the mystifying, frustrating world of parenting an adopted child with major school anxiety--a world where the anxiety didn't abate with lots of mother love or the quick fixes proposed in regular childcare books or magazines.

It was Mommy Education at it's finest (meaning: I was handed a difficult opportunity to become a more knowledgeable, empathic parent and I wasn't AT ALL thrilled with the situation!). I learned what I needed to know the slow, hard way, and I was able to help my child ever-after...but it would have been so much easier to understand what I was dealing with upfront. I needed an adoptive mom mentor to sit me down with a glass of wine, and explain the over-the-top kid freak-outs surrounding school, change and separation.

So, pour yourself a whoppin' glass of Merlot and read on for the two-minute heads-up I wish I'd had in August 1999...

"Anxiety and difficulty with Transitions (such as starting School) often go hand in hand. When I talk about making transitions in my workshops, I am talking about Empowering a Child to Face Change. A child’s easy transition to new circumstances is based on an infancy and childhood of complete trust. While transitioning seems like a natural skill, it is really an outgrowth of temperament, a child’s trusting belief in a safe, secure world, and her unshakeable faith in her invincible parents! An adopted child has experienced loss and understands the terror of vulnerability; she knows that change isn’t necessarily a positive event, and deeply fears that it could mean losing parents, friends and home. It has happened before. Change forces anxieties to the surface. Understanding the real, underlying source of the anxiety is a child’s first step to coping with it.

Talk to your child about her or his anxiety and teach your adopted child that it is rooted in LOSS. Help her to understand WHY she feels and reacts the way she does. This is the first step to empowering her—helping her to consciously make OVER-RIDE CHOICES about her behavior and her physiological reactions. How does debilitating anxiety affect her: flight, fight or freeze? Let her know that she can still act and still make choices even when she is afraid. Knowing ‘why’ she feels the way she does will help her re-frame her self-image, and may eventually help her to push through fear triggers. Role-play possible scenarios in advance, so your child has an arsenal of responses to fall back on...

Let your child know that bravery means ‘doing or acting’ even when a person is afraid, and be sure to reinforce her bravery over any small steps forward--even if the step forward is accompanied by a half-step back."

It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Well, it's not an easy process. But with work and time (and outside professional help, if indicated), our children can heal. With our help, they can learn to cope, and they can select and internalize the tools to recognize, acknowledge, then obliterate, their fears.

My traumatized preschooler has grown into a spectacular 13 year old, and has a keen awareness of what she needs in order to feel comfortable in this world. She will be starting high school in the fall, and is experiencing a normal level of anxiety--along with anticipation and excitement.

Oh wait...did I say high school??? Someone, quick, please pour me another glass of wine... :)


scroll down for more...

Saturday, August 8, 2009

NEW: Toolbox Movie Review!

Adoption-related movies are currently HOT and I sure wouldn't want to miss a trend. Orphan (the movie) made an especially heated entrance this summer. until the famously camp 'surprise ending' spoiled a chunk of our a-parent outrage.
[Click here for bizarre SPOILER]

Adopted the Movie has been gathering steam and rave reviews, and appears to be making a positive, ongoing impact on our group adoption-consciousness [Click here for intelligent CLIPS]

Sooo, I've decided to get in on the adoption media splash and add my own knee-jerk reactions to movies pertaining (sort of) to our adoptive families. Introducing...

The Occasional Adoption Toolbox Movie Mom Review...
where Family Fun meets Star Magazine

I ordered "Bad News Bears" (1976-PG) for my 10 year old from the kid's section at Netflix. We sat down recently to watch it together...I was expecting to see Walter Matthau's grumpy mug, and had a very bad creeper feeling when the opening shot of the Bear's baseball coach captured him pouring whiskey into his beer can...and far worse, Walter Matthau was looking a lot like Billy Bob Thornton...

It was Billy Bob.

Dang, they went and updated the original, lovable Bad News Bears baseball movie (re-make: 2005, PG-13). Waaay too much swearing, even for me, and lots of Hooters girls and references to crack. But still mildly entertaining, if you don't mind explaining numerous scatological/sexual references to your young child (yes, well). Billy Bob actually does a great job as the has-been big-leaguer turned pest-exterminator, showcasing that same, dark underlying energy that his ex-wife, Angelina Jolie, exudes without much effort.

Girlfriend: Angie and Brad will never last. Brad doesn't have the darkness and Angelina will eventually get very bored. Really, how could Brad hope to follow the previous Angie & Billy Bob partnership? Sure, Brad and Angie have birthed and adopted 18 children together, but it's tough to top a couple that wore each others tatts and vials of each others blood.

Adoption Toolbox film review rating for the newer Bad News Bears: Amusing but Wildly Inappropriate for children. I give it one finger up (yeah, the one they use frequently in the movie)


Scroll down for more...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sisterhood & The Secret Life of Girls

Trusting each other can be hard
Send me a message from your heart
Together, forever
Sharing and caring
That's the secret life of girls, that's the secret life of girls...

Last weekend, Chinese Heritage Camp Too in Denver, Colorado, offered programming for high-schoolers for the very first time. The first really significant wave of China adoptees (largely girls adopted in 1995-1996) are hitting upper school age, and adoptive parents and heritage camp coordinators are scrambling to find ways to maintain the tracks laid in Families with Children from China support groups a long while back. The tsunami is rumbling; over 60,000 children have been adopted from China over the last 15 years, and the leading edge has turned into teenagers!

Thirteen young Chinese-American women from all over the USA came to Colorado Heritage Camp with their families, and promptly entered into camp's teen-world-with-a-twist. China adoption was the common tie, and it provided the easy unspoken connection that held this disparate group of girls together.

"When i was at camp i felt like i belonged - asian girls with white parents - i wasn't different and it was a nice change. Even living in a diverse area, i don't see many adoptees on a daily basis, so it felt good" my 13 year old wrote in her journal. "We came from really different places and had lots of different personalities...but it didn't matter."

You pick me up when I am down
You make me smile when you're around
All the memories are so sweet
Like the party from last week
That's the secret life of girls, that's the secret life of girls...

SISTERHOOD was the teen theme, and the girls spent part of Friday meeting with college women from the local Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority. SPZ is the only Multicultural Asian Interest Greek organization at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the sorority sisters talked and answered questions about their own experiences as college students, and as Asian American women.

Bonding was solidified on Saturday, when the teens were spirited away to the mountains where they faced "the ultimate Colorado outdoor experience" on the Challenge Ropes Course! The entire day was designed to build trust, teamwork and creative problem-solving, and the girls were incredibly supportive of each other. The tiniest step on the high ropes was cheered, and a participant's ability to overcome high-anxiety was totally appreciated by this group of kids who all understood the meaning of everyday bravery.

The teens also learned how to express themselves through songwriting, and 'group-wrote' lyrics and music around the Sisterhood motif. Jasmine Pyne, a member of the teen group, used her previous, professional experience as a singer to lead the girls through the steps involved in creating words and music. The teens performed their song, "The Secret Life of Girls", accompanied by Jasmine's dad on the acoustic guitar, at the camp's closing ceremonies over Dim Sum. If we parents needed proof that our babies were growing up, it was there on the stage in front of us...our daughters were proud to present their own collaboration, and happy to be up there with each other. There is strength in numbers, there is Sisterhood in adoption, there is power in coming together.

"When we parents are long gone" said Richard Fischer, teen program co-coordinator with his wife, Annie, and publisher of Adoption TODAY Magazine, "my hope is that our daughters will have each other."

Our daughters all went straight to the practical teen reality of staying connected. My 13 year old added: "Dim sum brunch was all pictures (i think i'm still half-blind) and passing around cell phones to capture each others info ("can you text?!"). AND if any of you guys are reading this, i miss you and luv you!"

Through the fights and the tears
All that matters - we are here!
That's the secret life of girls, that's the secret life of girls...
That's the secret life of girls!

New! Click HERE to play mp3 song download

(Lyrics and music by TEENS of Chinese Heritage Camp Too, Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved

Monday, July 27, 2009

So what's the BIG DEAL?

Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

What’s the Big Deal? A week ago, in an incident teeming with allegations of racism, profiling and the abuse of police power, one of the most educated and respected men in the USA was arrested for breaking into his own home.

Mr. Gates was royally pissed off for coming under suspicion for HWB (“Housing While Black”), and according to the Cambridge police incident report, yelled “This is what happens to black men in America!” to arresting officers and onlookers.

Consider this: Gates has been lauded and honored for his integrity and has credentials at Harvard; Time Magazine chose him as one of their top 25 most-influential people in the nation. Yet, many commenters chose to believe that Gates handled the situation poorly - that he had over-reacted by expressing his anger and frustration over a humiliating experience, that he should have borne his mistaken accusation like - well, like a white guy would have ("gee, thanks for stopping by Officer - I’ve really got to get this front door fixed! Thank goodness we have a Neighborhood Watch!”)


Why wouldn’t we believe one of the most intelligent, most honored, most scholarly men in our country when he actually yells foul? Why on earth wouldn't we believe a man with Gates’ background, reputation, and work when he publicly identifies and calls-out racism? Would it be our cultural eyes-averted reaction to race, and our denial of the potential for racism and white privilege in Gates' situation?

The Big Deal is This: Transracial adoption makes the Gates story personal. I discussed the Gates story with my daughters from China, and I plan to mention it in my workshop at Colorado Chinese Heritage Camp next weekend. Adopting the Asian 'model minority' only means that imbedded, culturally acceptable racism - the invisible tiger - is harder to see, and harder to deal with it when it finally shows.

What are you so mad at?
I was only joking!
I didn’t mean any harm!
Just keeping the neighborhood safe…

Gates, a 58 year old black man needing a cane to walk and suffering jet lag following an overseas flight, stood his ground on his own front porch and identified the tiger’s stripes loud and clear. He was arrested for ‘disorderly conduct’ on his own property.

May we all be aware enough to teach our children of color what racism looks like (especially when it hides behind Niceness) and how to call it by name. And may we be brave enough to examine our own 'socially acceptable' first responses.

Honestly, I'm not sure what my initial reaction would have been if I had been a resident of the Cambridge neighborhood watching the ‘break-in’. How much racism do I secretly own? I need to remember that every time I ‘make nice’ to gently bigoted remarks, or try to reframe a racist incident, I am driving a silent wedge between me and my daughters.

And that is how the tiger works…


Friday, July 24, 2009


LOCAL NEWS ITEM: "Creative Endeavors Gift Shop at the Community Center invites area seniors age 50 and over to sell their arts and crafts at the shop."

This one stopped me cold. I will admit, at age 53, that I could be in age-denial. But arts and crafts at the senior center? I mean, WHERE EXACTLY DOES THAT FIT IN? I have a 10 year old for god's sake. Now, my 10 year old might actually like to do crafts with me, but it hasn't happened yet and likely never will. We are too busy going to raves together and renting R-rated movies...well, that's our attitude, anyway.

CONFESSION: In a sick fit of guilty self-flagellation, I ordered Family Fun magazine from our school's fundraiser last year. This magazine turns me to stone. I open it up and am completely horrified by my own inadequacies...yet I read on!

"Who ordered this?" my 19 year old asked, seeing Family Fun on the table one morning next to my coffee cup and Donettes.

"I did", I answered. She raised her eyebrows at me.

"But Mom, this magazine is about crafts and scrapbooking and baking cupcakes," she explained.

"I've decided there's still time to parent your sisters more productively than I parented you, " I said pointedly.

Ahh, but who am I kidding. The only thing worse than reading Family Fun magazine is reading the magazine's "Mailbox" section. This is where I am forced to face the facts: there are moms out there who actually DO these craft projects with their kids, and they document their alien acts of Quality Time with photographs and lively captions.

YES, but...none of these Family Fun moms are 53. I recently read a "Throw a Family Reunion Camp-Out" article in the August issue, and it took me a moment to realize that the attractive 'mom' model featured in the article's inter-generational photo spread was actually supposed to be the grandma. I was sort of relating to her, too, and thinking she might pass for 35 if she got rid of the gray.

I guess my real problem isn't with my age (AARP offers the absolute best hotel discounts), or with my inability to engage in crafts. My problem is with the schizophrenic way our culture deals with older moms - like we are just not supposed to exist. Apparently, I should either be retired and selling my bird houses at the Creative Endeavors Senior Shop, or be 26 and directing the kids in making a "Woven Tie-Dye Wall" (I am not joking. This is the name of a real Family Fun project). Older mom demographics seem to mystify Marketing and Advertising; add an Asian child or two to the mix and I think they all just throw up their hands.

After I read an issue of Family Fun I practically fall to the sofa with inertia. I am not jealous of the young moms who do fun things with their children - I am jealous of their energy. I am tempted to start my own magazine for older adoptive parents, featuring lots of sugar and caffeine. I will offer articles on retirement-parenting, and on living cheap in Costa Rica on depleted investment funds. The magazine will be realistic, witty, wise, with big print. Sorry, no crafts.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WTH: Nice People

1) Lily, my 13.5 year old, belongs to our church youth group. She recently went through an intense, year-long Rites of Passage Experience (ROPE) with thirteen of her 8th grade cohorts - culminating in a wonderful trip to Boston. Great kids, great parents, exceptionally liberal church. One of Lily's ROPE friends, Emma, is a Korean adoptee - the only other girl of color in this small church group. Lily was born in China and (I must say this), the two girls look nothing alike.

I bumped into one of the other church parents and her ROPE daughter at Blue Lake Music Camp last weekend. Lily was in the orchestra, and the mom and daughter were at the camp performance to see a relative. "We didn't expect to see you here! Is Emma in the concert?" the mom asked. "Is Emma here?!" the daughter enthused.

"Well, I don't know if Emma is here, but LILY is in the orchestra" I answered. This went over as you might imagine. I watched nice people visibly deflate and fumble for words, and so I automatically did what I've been culturally molded to do: I tossed them a conversational lifeline.

"It's okay," I said. But it wasn't.

It diminished my daughter. It stripped her of her individuality. It was hurtful.

2) A couple of weeks ago I sat with another ROPE family at a graduation party. I really like the mom and dad, and their red-haired son, Grant, attends both church and school with Lily. Lily was disgusted with Grant, however. She told me that he was friends with her at church, but that he ignored her at school. Grant was apparently 'cooler' than Lily's group of largely Asian-American friends, and simply wouldn't hang with her when popularity was at stake. This was my white mom take, initially, BUT (and this is huge) I was looking at the situation via MY OWN high school pecking order perspective.

Big mistake. I tend to forget (still!) that RACE MATTERS.

Lily got what was going on, and set me straight. She was angry, and had every right to be.

At the grad party, Grant's mom asked me who Lily had gone to the 8th grade dance with. I mentioned a boy with an obviously Chinese name, and the dad nonchalantly interjected, "They all like to hang together, don't they?"

"THEY all like to hang together because little racist a*holes like your son treat 'them' like shit at school" is what I said.

In my head. About two hours later.

I am able to confront the haters and the skinheads, but I am obviously needing to learn how to better deal with the clueless 'nice people' - people I usually really like, people who have chosen to live in a diverse community, and who attend a liberal church alongside my own family. This is where transracial adoption leaves a's tough to educate a child on the actual, real-life mechanics of living as a child of color when you are a white parent on your own learning curve. It's not like I didn't know this - I've read the books and listened to the speakers and have even written the articles - but I am seeing COLOR DEFINE more as my daughter from China grows into teenhood and high school. It affects her peer group, her socialization, her dating.

I'm sure Lily has had her own What-The-Hell moments over the last school year. She is a popular and savvy child, but she has an Asian face and white girl 'insides'. So far, this double helix has given her a 360 understanding...which is 180 degrees more than what I currently possess.

So... I listen to my daughter, I validate her, and I learn.