Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Search for Family

I started my search for biological relatives. I sent 25 messages to strangers on Facebook who share my birth mother’s maiden name – Arvin.

I am hoping one of these strangers will offer clues about my birth mother, a woman I’ve never met. I wrote a nice, polite letter of introduction with the few facts I have about this woman – her name, place of birth, age when she had me.  So far, I’ve only heard back from one Arvin. She said birth mom is not related to anyone in her family and hinted at a possible family tie in Kentucky.  I am pursuing people in that state along with Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

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Courtesy of Flickr/psycho_pixie
(Probably) not my family members

Continue reading The Search for Family

Adoptees Sought for Research

Researchers at Montclair State University are looking for adults who were adopted for a research project. They’re especially interested in hearing from people like me who found out they were adopted late in life.

If you are a late-discovery adoptee and have 25 minutes to spare, check out their online survey. The researchers are trying  to get a handle on the emotional impact of adoption discovery on adults. How did finding out you were adopted affect your sense of well being? Were you hurt by the news? How did you deal with it?

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The survey is interesting. It made me think back on the time 11 years ago when I got the call from my sister, Melissa. Turns out we both had been adopted. What a bombshell! I was dazed by the news.  Our adoptive parents were deceased so we couldn’t confront them.

While learning this shocking truth left me feeling unsettled, the information didn’t damage me. I was (and still am) happily married, with a little boy, dog and a career. Life was good (and it still is.) That’s not to say the news had no impact. The revelation punched holes in my life story. I question where I came from, and wonder what my birth mom’s situation was when she brought me into the world.

If you want to find out more about this project, call Amanda Baden, the lead researcher at Montclair State University, at 973-655-7336. You can also email her at badena@mail.montclair.edu.

Just The Facts About Adoption

People who have no experience with adoption might get the impression from the news or TV that it is always a drama worthy of Hollywood or at least a made-for-TV movie.

Yes, there are cases like the Baby Veronica custody battle, a story that could easily inspire a Hollywood tearjerker. The Baby Veronica saga is exceptional.

The Cradle, an adoption agency in Evanston, Illinois, tries to set the record straight about adoption. I talked to The Cradle’s Joan Jaeger about the agency’s Volunteers for Adoption Education program.

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Joan Jaeger                            

Lynne: What do the volunteers do?
Joan: The volunteers are a group of people who have been personally touched by adoption — birth parents, adoptive parents or adopted people. Some high schools bring us back every year, even twice a year. We have some teachers who have written us into their curriculum. We’ve gone to one of the community colleges, too. On occasion, we’ll go to a junior high school.

We share a little bit about what adoption is and the personal stories from the volunteers. We always try to have all three parties to the adoption together (the adoptee, the adoptive parent and the birth parent), either live or through YouTube. If any one is not there in person, we pull up our YouTube channel, pick our play lists and hear from the person who is not there in the classroom. It fills in those blanks.

When someone is telling their personal story, it can make a huge difference in a student’s life. Those are the comments we get back from teachers, how helpful it was to hear straight from the mouths of people who’ve lived through the experience.

Lynne: How many volunteers do you have?
Joan: Probably 60 to 70 active volunteers.

Lynne: How long has The Cradle been doing this?
Joan: Over 30 years.

Lynne: Why is this programming necessary?
Joan: Adoption is one of those things everyone thinks they know about. You ask them basic questions and find out what they know is based on a made-for-TV movie or MTV. That’s not the typical reality. It’s helpful to share this information. It’s helpful for adopted people to be in the classroom to have their experiences validated. It’s helpful for anybody to better understand the reality.

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A volunteer talks to a class about adoption

Lynne: Why do school children need to know about adoption?
Joan: The MTV shows target them. Things get overglamorized in the press. Some things get twisted in a way that isn’t real.

Lynne: Is there a lot of misinformation out there?
Joan: Oh sure. For example, there are some odd ideas about what open adoption is. People have this perception it is joint custody or co-parenting. It’s not.

Lynne: What do students ask?
Joan: One common question our adoptees get is, “Don’t you have a lot of questions about your real mom? When did you find out you were adopted?” It’s interesting the kinds of questions they get like the “real” mom question. The person who’s been raising the (adoptee) is as real as anyone else. For your average adoptee, adoption is simply part of who they are.

Lynne: What are some other common questions?
Joan: (For adoptive parents), “Aren’t you worried the birth mom will come back and take the baby?” In real life, that almost never happens. Whenever there’s a contested adoption, it gets a lot of play in the media because it’s unusual. The one story in a million becomes the news. People assume that’s the norm and not the exception.

Go Ahead, Rub It In

When I’m looking for an idea for an easy meal, I often turn to spice rubs.

They are great for home cooks who don’t feel like chopping, dicing, slicing or any other serious knife activity. The only requirement is having a well-stocked supply of bottled herbs and spices, which I have.

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I keep plenty of herbs and spices on hand

The other day, I didn’t feel like shopping but I was short on protein. I had two salmon filets in the freezer and three mouths to feed. But there was a bag of frozen shrimp. If I made the filets with a couple handfuls of shrimp, I would have enough protein to feed the three of us.

I wanted to season the fish and shrimp the same way so I decided to try the spice rub used in Mark Bittman’s Four-Spice Salmon on my shrimp. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

This easy recipe, which mixes coriander and cloves with cumin and nutmeg, is a delicious way to season salmon. I had some leftover spice rub in a baggy in the fridge so I didn’t have to mix up a new batch. I sprinkled all the seasoning on the filets and shrimp and my husband, Tom, cooked it all in the same cast-iron skillet. In well under 10 minutes, the salmon and shrimp were ready to eat. Quite tasty.

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There was plenty of salmon and shrimp to go around

Should Birth Dads Have More Say in Adoptions?

The baby Veronica story, a messy case involving a tug-of-war between a Native American biological dad and the white couple who adopted the child, took another turn when a court gave the adoptive parents the go-ahead to regain custody of Veronica , according to CNN.

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Courtesy of Flickr/RNLJC&M

I don’t know the biological father, Dusten Brown, nor do I know Veronica’s adoptive parents, Matt and Melanie Capobianco. But the case tugs at my heart. I know Veronica, who is almost 4 years old, may be scarred by this adoption-custody battle.

This case is complicated in so many ways. One issue that struck me is the question of rights for birth fathers. How much influence do biological fathers in general have in adoption cases? The baby Veronica story suggests Brown may have been shut out of the critical decision, made by the birth mother, to give the girl up for adoption. Brown and the birth mother were not married.

Do you believe birth dads should have more involvement in adoption decisions? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Not Your Mother’s Three-Bean Salad

It’s hard to get excited about three-bean salad. Just mentioning it makes you think of a side dish served at a diner or classic American picnic food. Boring, right?

Before you stop reading, consider the health benefits of beans. On top of being nutritious, they are also cheap.

There are ways to make three-bean salad interesting. Don’t worry. Even when you take this salad up a notch, it’s still quick and easy to make. In my version, there’s no cooking required. I used canned beans from my pantry. By the way, I try at all times to keep a variety of beans in the pantry to minimize last-minute trips to the store.

bean salad ingredients
Most ingredients were already in my pantry

I made this dish recently for lunch at a friend’s house. All five adults and my 13-year-old son, Jake, enjoyed it.

Lynne’s Three-Bean Salad

1 clove garlic

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed

3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (optional)

About 4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 15.5-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 15.5-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste

Me chopping jalapeno
That’s me chopping jalapeno

Chop the garlic and jalapeno finely. Be careful not to handle the jalapeno too much with bare hands. (You may want to protect your hands by wearing gloves as you chop the chile.)

Add the jalapeno, garlic, dill, olive oil and vinegar to a large bowl. Add the beans and mix everything up so the bean mixture is well seasoned. Add salt and pepper to taste and, if you like, more vinegar. This salad is best when it’s chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Makes 6-8 servings

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My three-bean salad. Not at all boring.