January 30, 2010

Children of the Waters - A Novel with an Adoption Theme

I've been wanting to post about Children of the Waters for quite some time but I haven't had the time to dedicate to sitting down and writing. I now find myself with a napping baby and a steaming latte so I think it's now or never.

As way of disclaimer, a former colleague of mine, Carleen Brice, wrote this book. We had lost touch but have a mutual friend who was raving to me about her books. I figured maternity leave would be the perfect time to pick both of them up. Carleen's first book, Orange Mint and Honey was just made into a Lifetime Movie which will air on the Lifetime Movie Network on Feb. 21. It's a great book and I can't wait for the movie to come out but it's not as relevant to this group.

However, Carleen's second book, Children of the Waters, struck a chord with me and I am sure it will to anyone else who has been touched by adoption and IF/loss*. I've struggled with a way in which to write a review of this book without revealing too much of the plot so I'm going to be a little vague here and talk about the themes that the book covers.

Based in Denver, the novel focuses on two families impacted by adoption. What I find most interesting about this book is it focuses a lot on identity, race and culture. This book might be particularly interesting to transracial adoptive families. While not directly talking about transracial adoption, Carleen captures many of the struggles that I'm sure families in transracial adoptions face. The book explores the adoption topics of meaning of family, both birth and adoptive, secrecy in adoption, searching and reunification with one's birth family.

Carleen tackles race in our culture head on - what it means to be bi-racial in today's society, racial divides, a white mother raising a bi-racial child, racial profiling, prejudice, a teen's struggle with his racial identity and many other issues. The beauty of this book is that all of these topics are tackled and discussed in the midst of a very engaging and well-written story that holds your attention on it's own merit. This book raises many issues and would be a great read for any adoptive parent but especially those who may be in or contemplating transracial adoptions. (I will note that some of the language in the book isn't adoption sensitive but I think it's a fair representation of the characters in the book and society at large).

Another colleague of mine organizes the African American/Caribbean Hetitage Camp and is integrating this book into a book discussion during camp. If any of you end up reading the book, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts.

I'm clearly not a crack book reviewer but I did want to let everyone know about this great read. Even if you haven't been touched by adoption, this book is very engaging and well written.

For more information on the book and a complete description please click here.

*Loss does appear in this book and if it might still be a fresh wound I would recommend waiting to read this book.

January 27, 2010

4 Month Stats

I loved all the funny comments from everyone on my last post. Apparently head grabbing is a popular 3 month old activity. Of course, all was fine. However, for some reason I've been so busy I didn't realize she would be getting more shots. I'm sort of glad that this took me by surprise. It gave me one less thing to worry about. She survived her shots and let out the appropriate scream at the appropriate time. (I also noticed that my husband became a little obsessed with his iPhone at this particular moment).

As a side note, it is nice to have Joel so involved and for him to be at the appointment. In my opinion, men are half the equation but I know in practice that isn't always the case so I'm grateful that Joel's such a great dad. At several points in the appointment he was the only one who could answer some of the questions about her current feeding schedule because he's the one who is home now.

Anyway, here are the important stats:

Weight: 11 lbs. 14 oz (this was fluctuating wildly as she was kicking like a crazy woman) 20%
Height: 24.5 inches- 60%
Head: 161/8 - 50%

All is well. Baby is healthy. Mom is relatively more sane and dad, as usual, is rock solid.

January 26, 2010


In my job, I am exposed to a lot of very dramatic stories related to children's health. I basically spend most of January and February talking to parents who have been through the worst things that any of us can possibly imagine with their children- brain tumors, SIDS, cancer, open heart surgery and the list goes on. This, under the best of circumstances, can make me a bit crazy.

Being back to work as a new mom and having parents relay to me the worst moments of their life is very intense. I have to constantly remind myself to take a step back. Every story always starts the same, so and so was healthy and then we noticed blah blah blah and then so and so ended up in the hospital with horrible life threatening issue.

So, here is my crazy confession. Nora keeps grabbing her head in the same spot. Every day she grabs her head in the same spot. Crazy mom brain tells me that she has a brain tumor and I should mention it to the doctor tomorrow. Normal, sane Jen tells crazy mom that she clearly is fine and has no other signs of a brain tumor. This is the space I am currently residing. Crazy land.

I will act like a normal human being tomorrow at the doctor. However, I am going to inquire about her obsession with one particular spot on her head without mentioning the word tumor. I will also let the doctor know that I work at a children's hospital which makes me slightly more paranoid and crazy than the general population. Other than that, I'm pretty excited to find out how much she weighs. I am asked how much she weighs more than I would have ever imagined but I just can't bring myself to get on a scale these days. (I think it's karmick punishment for gloating about not having baby weight- see earlier post).

All important stats on my lovely four month old will be posted tomorrow. (Hopefully, the pediatrician doesn't recommend that I find a new practice).

January 20, 2010

Failed Adoption

Exactly one year ago today I was an expectant mom waiting to meet our daughter and her birth mother, A, for the first time. If you know me or follow my blog, you'll know that I don't have a one year old. That adoption was not meant to be and A changed her mind before we got to the hospital. I'll likely not remember this date in the future, but, it does stand out in my mind because it was the day that President Obama was sworn into office and our almost-daughter was African American. It felt like such a momentous day to me on so many levels and it has stuck with me a year later.

My intention of posting this is to provide hope to everyone who is waiting or who has been through the heart break of a failed match. I now have a beautiful daughter, Nora, who will be 4 months old next week and I couldn't be happier. It's so interesting to see what can happen in a year. If nothing else, adoption teaches you that you don't have much control and your life can change in an instant. In our case, that was for the better in September.

January 16, 2010

Back to Work Lite

I made it through an intensely busy two weeks of work. Work is going well and I am enjoying being back even though it's exhausting. It's hard to get quality time with Nora as by the time I come home she's pretty grumpy and done. I've really been trying to keep my weekends free to spend time with her but to no avail. I had a child from our hospital pass and attended her funeral last weekend (so horribly sad) and we have an adoption class today. It's hard not to have down-time on the weekends.

Joel is still home on paternity leave. It's so nice to have him home and I consider this to be going-back-to-work lite. We're not both trying to get out the door in the morning with a baby and Nora gets to be at home with her dad. It's really an ideal situation and making my time at work so much easier. I've even been decent about trying to get out the door at work at a somewhat decent time. This time of year it's impossible for me not to work A LOT but I'm doing my best to try to balance everything.

We're going to visit Nora's daycare next Friday so that will be a bit of a reality check. It's a good place and I know it's our best option where we live.

One of Joel's stay-at-home responsibilities is sending me a photo via text each day. So, I've included a highlight from last week. I was in a meeting when I received it and it said: "Daddy bathed me and styled my hair". Too cute!!

January 4, 2010


Today was my first day back to work. I tried my hardest not to think about it all weekend. I even tried not to think about it this morning in the shower and tried to think about how fun it will be to see everyone and to have adult conversation. I didn't cry at all while I was getting ready or putting on my makeup.

I made my way downstairs and decided to make myself an espresso as it seemed as if Joel and Nora were still asleep. A few moments later I heard Joel on the stairs and he had Nora. He came down to make me a latte (so sweet!). I took one look at Nora and burst into tears. I thought I was going to make it out the door unscathed since Joel was staying at home with her. I broke down about two more times before I finally made it out the door. I kept looking at her thinking, "how could I be leaving you?". Hello, mommy guilt!

Work was fine and I'm sure this will become the new normal. I'm really blessed that I don't have the really hard day until March 9 when I have to take her to day care. Lesson learned: makeup will be applied as I'm pulling into work that day.

January 1, 2010


Happy New Year! I don't quite have the energy at the moment to review in detail the past year but it's been an interesting one. It began with a failed match and ended with my beautiful three month old. We've bought and sold a house and a car and my maternity leave is sadly coming to an end. It's certainly been a year of momentous changes for our family.

I'm really not excited to make resolutions this year so I have decided that instead I'm going to let go of things that I want to leave in 2009/the past. I'm stealing this idea from an amazing book by a friend of mine, Carleen Brice, titled Orange, Mint and Honey. In the book, one of the characters buries her worries and troubles in her garden. She writes her troubles on a piece of paper and buries them in the garden where they will eventually become compost to nourish her garden. This year I'm going to borrow from this concept and write down all of the things that I want to leave behind and begin the year anew, hopefully, without a long to do list of things that I'd like to change.