Tag Archives: marriage

Same Sex Marriage 

Sometimes justice is served. Sometimes things go right. Sometimes it seems we wait forever to get what we should have had all along. Freedom to marry the person you love is a human right.

I’m naively surprised the decision was 5-4. The same way I’m surprised by how many people still fight to display the confederate flag. I’m saddened that there are so many people who want to keep the Constitution the way it was written, forgetting, or maybe remembering, that when the Constitution was written there was slavery and women couldn’t vote. I don’t want to go back to those days.

We, as a country of individuals from all walks of life, need to learn to love and respect, and perhaps embrace our differences.

I’m especially pleased that the SCOTUS made this landmark decision on the anniversary of the day I met the love of my life!

Next, how about the Supreme Court rules that every adoptee has the right to their original birth certificate.

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Why are There So Many Adoption Secrets?

As most adoptees, I wanted to know how I came to be. “We chose you,” did not answer any of my questions. I wanted a story. My birth story. Hell, I never even knew what time of day I was born so I could do an astrological chart. Why did my adoptive parents keep the story of my birth a secret? Why are there so many secrets associated with adoption?

Times have changed. Mila Kunis is pregnant with Ashton Kutcher’s baby. They are not married. Olivia Wilde is pregnant with Jason Sudeikis’ baby. Not married. Jessica Simpson, Snookie, and the famous Kardashians had children without ever getting married. Savannah Guthrie announced at her wedding that she was pregnant. Women have always gotten pregnant with or without benefit of marriage. However, in the old days, shotgun weddings were common. Not so much today.

In the olden days, and, unfortunately, for many families today, getting pregnant without being married was considered a sin. It confirmed sex took place. And that was bad. Of course, the only difference between girls and unmarried women who get pregnant and those who don’t, are those who don’t are better at using birth control. So why is there such secrecy in adoption? Why are there so many birthmothers searching for the babies they gave up and why are so many adoptees searching for their birth parents? Why has the system made it so difficult to find each other? To find an answer, we need to understand why babies are put up for adoption. Why are so many girls coerced into relinquishing a child. Is it shame? Greed? Love? I’m trying to understand how a child can be taken from its mother against her will. Here are some possible scenarios.

I get it. A sixteen-year-old girl gets pregnant. She doesn’t want anyone to know. She’s embarrassed. Maybe she was fooling around with a boy. Any boy. Maybe it was a one night stand. Maybe they were at a party. Maybe she had too much to drink. Maybe it was her boyfriend. She’s afraid he won’t like her anymore if he finds out she’s pregnant. Maybe he is planning on going to college, and if he figures out that she’s going to have a baby, he’ll want to do the right thing and stay home and get a job. But that would ruin his life. He’d never get a chance to become that doctor, lawyer, president that he could have been if he didn’t have to cut his schooling short to stay home and help raise a child. Maybe she puts her baby up for adoption to protect him. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him. She tries to move on with her life. Can she?

Or, this sixteen-year-old girl can’t tell her mom. Her mom goes to church each week. Her mom goes to confession, attends pot-luck dinners. She sells her cupcakes at the church fundraisers. What would her mom say if she knew her daughter got knocked-up? Her mom would be embarrassed.

Okay, this sixteen-year-old girl, when she can no longer hide her growing belly under her oversized sweatshirts, even in the summer, finally gets the nerve to tell her mom the secret she’s been hiding, gets whisked away to her aunt’s house in Iowa to have the baby in secret, so no one will know and ruin her reputation. I mean, ruin her mother’s reputation. Her family’s reputation. This girl doesn’t want to give away her baby. She is coerced into doing it so she won’t bring shame on the family.

What world is this? This might have been reality thirty, forty, fifty years ago. But today? Now that sixteen-year-old girl is a mom, maybe a grandmother. No one could possibly blame her for anything she could have done as a child. As a teen. She desperately wants to find the baby she gave up for adoption. But she can’t. It’s a secret. That birth certificate, with her name on it, and possibly the father’s name on it, has been sealed for many years. She doesn’t know who adopted her baby. And she doesn’t know where to start looking. She’s hoping, praying that someday, the child she was forced to give up, is looking for her. She posts to Facebook every day, using the same last name she had when she put the baby up for adoption, hoping to be found. Praying for a reunion. Maybe this child was lucky enough to have adoptive parents who will show her her adoption papers. Will help her find the birth mother who let her go. Maybe not because she wanted to, but because she felt she had no other choice. She couldn’t bring shame to her family.

Or, there was another sixteen-year-old girl who got pregnant. She too couldn’t tell her mom fearing her mom might want to make her have an abortion, or might make her have the baby and give it away. She keeps the pregnancy hidden. Too long. By the time her mom finds out, it’s too late for choices. She has to keep the baby. Her baby. She grows to love her baby. Doesn’t want to give it up even though that would bring shame to the family. What does she do? Her mom takes the choice away from her. Her mom decides to raise the baby as her own. The sixteen-year-old girl becomes a “sister.” How can she ever tell anyone later? Besides, who’s going to ask? The baby does look like a family member.

Another sixteen-year-old girl. She finds out she’s pregnant and can’t tell her mom because she was adopted. That meant her mom couldn’t get pregnant. She couldn’t imagine how her mom would possibly react knowing that, more than anything, her mom wanted to have a child, and couldn’t. She can’t tell her mom she got knocked-up when her mom tried for years to get pregnant. She secretly gets an abortion, a choice easier than confronting her mom.

Another sixteen-year-old girl. She finds out she’s pregnant and can’t tell her mom because her mom’s new husband is the father. Rape. The girl runs away. If the police find her they will just try to bring her back home. No. That house is no longer her home. She keeps the baby, but refuses to tell her who the father is. Anyone would understand why this should be a secret. She just tells her child, she doesn’t know who the father is.

An eighteen-year-old girl finds out she’s pregnant. She talks to her mom. She tells her mom she wants to have this baby. The mom goes off the deep end. They just spent $25,000 on her first year of college. This is no time to have a baby, the mom insists. Don’t be a fool. You have plenty of time to have a baby. Now’s the time for you to get your degree. Finish your education. Then, when you have graduated, are married, settled down, then you can start thinking about a baby. Don’t ruin your life. This college freshman, no longer having the courage to ask for her mom’s help, gives in. She gives the baby up for adoption. For a piece of paper. She never stops thinking about that baby. Missing her. Asking herself, was this degree, this piece of paper, worth it? Her answer is always the same. No. She wants to find her baby. Or at least know that her baby is safe. Healthy. Happy. She starts looking. Even after she has more children, each one reminds her of the one she can’t hold in her arms.

A forty-year-old woman finds out she is pregnant. Miracle? Maybe. Surprise? Definitely. Unfortunately, this woman is married. And her husband has been away for months. Many months. She doesn’t know when or if he is coming back. But he’s the father of her other children. They are a family. Should this fling break up her home? She gets the news. Her husband is returning home. Can they try to work things out? He’ll be better. He promises. She tries her best to hide her pregnancy from her children. When the baby is born, she puts the baby up for adoption. Who gets the baby? The baby-daddy. Now, we’ve got the birthmom keeping her pregnancy hidden from her husband, who is returning from God-knows-where. And we’ve got the baby being raised (adopted) by the wife of the man who cheated on her. Obviously, this adoptive mom can’t tell the baby how she came to be since that would be admitting that her husband cheated on her. It would mean divulging a secret that has been buried down deep. All the while, the adoptive mom sees the “other woman” in her baby’s face each and every day. The adoptive daughter truly understands the Cinderella story. She lives it every day.

And this is just the start. Shame. Shame. Shame. Secrets destroy families.

Call Me Ella - An Adoption Memoir

Click for sample or to purchase book.

National Adoption Awareness Month

As we begin November, National Adoption Awareness month, I’d like to take a moment to point out something that may not be obvious to everyone.

Yes, adoption is a wonderful thing when it creates a family where there wasn’t one before. A childless couple can share their love with a baby, toddler, or older child who might have otherwise  been homeless.

A child gets a loving family. People to take care of them and meet all their needs, physical and emotional.

I also want to point out that this is the ideal situation. As every family has its own issues, so does an adoptive family. A teen in rebellion may yell, “I did not ask to be born.” An adoptive child might yell, “I did not ask to be adopted.”

This doesn’t mean the adoption failed, or the adoptive parents are bad. This is a normal part of growing up.

Adoptive parents must learn to accept the adoptee as an individual. An individual with a different heritage. This child won’t be a “mini me”. This child will have their own unique characteristics which must be embraced, cherished.

Also, the adoptive parent needs to know that the adoptee has a unique history. A history that is different than your own. They might ask about their ethnicity, as well they should. Their heritage and their medical background are very important. Please, answer their questions as best as you can. If you don’t know an answer, try to find one. Learn about your adopted child. Cherish them for the unique individual they are.

Remember, this child also has a first family. A birth mother/father who might or might not want to know about their child. Who might someday want to be a part of their life. The child might want to know about their birthparents. That’s normal. Let the child ask these questions. Help them find answers. If your adopted child is brought up in a loving environment, there should be nothing to fear. Every child wants to know who they are. Where they came from. Let them ask the questions. Answer their questions with respect for the child and for the child’s first family.

What else should we remember during National Adoption Awareness Month and during the rest of the year?

Who Moved My Cookies?

cookies cover 3Jessie Newman was a smart, sexy, successful Weight Watchers leader, who had it all, until she caught her cheating husband, in the act. After tossing him to the curb, she had to quit the part-time career she loved and wound up stuck in a dead-end job, watching her butt grow. Now, married to a prominent and handsome neurosurgeon, who happens to think she’s cute, cellulite and all, Jessie is ready for a change.

Although it kills Jessie to leave her family, when her new husband, Dr. Tad Newman, gets offered a job in our nation’s capital, this former weight loss guru, still reeling after her failed first marriage, considers this the opportunity she’s been waiting for to quit job she hates, drop the twenty pounds she’s packed on, and embark on a new career.

Happily married at last, Jessie looks forward to letting go of her former life and embarking on a journey of self-improvement. In Who Moved My Cookies?, Jessie sets out to start a new career during a time when companies are downsizing, not hiring. In between tackling online job applications, Jessie works on figuring out the perfect diet while fantasizing about fitting into those clothes she’s been saving since shoulder pads were the height of fashion, even if it means giving up meat and cookies. But not M&M’s. She has her limits. Most importantly, Jessie is determined to make this marriage work, in spite of the many hours her husband is now spending with his sexy new assistant, who just happens to become the subject of the murder mystery she is writing????

As a former Weight Watchers leader who helped thousands lose weight on the Weight Watchers program, I know what it is like to stand in front of the freezer, sneaking a few bites, licks and tastes from the half-gallon containers of mint chocolate chip ice cream and tubes of frozen cookie dough I kept hidden behind the frozen broccoli.

If you can relate to Jessie, or just want a really fun Bridget Jones- type of read, please take a look at Who Moved My Cookies?

Valentine Courage in a Bowl

Tickled I am
Though not fully pink
I laid down my pencil
And picked up my ink. 

I started to write
Jotting down notes
Dazed and confused
I don't get a vote. 

With hands that were trembling 
No fear in my soul
I tackled my feelings
Then dove for the bowl. 

My bowl filled with ice cream
Glistened with delight
It tempted and cajoled me
On this lonely night. 

Green swirls and brown
Chips in there too
Swimming in fudge sauce
Only the best would do. 

Liquid courage came next
Kahlua worked well
To ink down on paper
What the hell. 

With heart in my hand
Without fearing I'd fail
I signed sealed and stamped the words I love you
And sent them to mail. 

Whatever the result
If he loves me too
We'll know sooner or later
I hope sooner, wouldn't you?

Now time for sleep
My lover away
I pray for his answer
I worry what he'll say. 

We can't always get
The answer we want
Life's just not as easy
As picking a font. 

I long for the day
He answers my prayer
With a bushel of roses
Or scarf, showing he cares. 

I hate Valentine's Day
So much on the line
Hearing I love you
Will you be mine?

If its meant to be
It will
We all know that's true 
I told him my feelings
That's all I can do. 

My cell just beeped. 
A text from my man
"I can't wait to see you
I've made a big plan."

OMG what is this?
He just got my letter
He'll say that he loves me
He'll commit now, he better. 

He stands in my hallway
Drops down on one knee
Darling I love you
Will you have me?

Yes!


Give In

The cleft of his chin
The gleam in his eye
His never ending faith
I'll never know why.

The smile in his heart
The glow of his skin
The feel of his breath
Made me give in. 

Who knows the reason
Don't ever ask why
Ours is forever
Till the day that I die. 

Love don't come easy
We all know that
Say what you will
Or throw in the hat. 

Let go your inhibitions
Run from your fears
Be ready for sunshine
To wipe away the tears. 

Give in. 
Give in. 

I Think I Figured Out My Husband, Maybe

“Yes dear. Whatever you say, dear.” He does get suspicious when I respond in that manner, but I’m no fool. It’s taken me a long time but I’ve finally learned to choose my battles. When we had to move to Maryland for his job, I was surprised when he didn’t put up too much of a fuss when I suggested donating his old worn out “Frazier’s Dad” recliner to Goodwill. After arriving in Maryland I got to choose our new house. Or, I should say, he let me choose the house. We’re sitting on my sofa. The ugly one that is so comfortable I couldn’t part with. Yes, I’ve gotten my way more than a few times. So when he wanted to build a home theater, after a few lame protests suggesting a guest room would be more practical, I gave in.

Once I got onboard with the idea, I jumped in with both feet, helping to plan the room. The room that would set our house apart from all other homes in the neighborhood giving it that WOW factor, if and when we decide to sell. Since beginning this project two years ago, we have been totally obsessed about the design, the look, and the feel. Should it be classically elegant like the renovated Palace Theater in Cleveland or sleek and modern like the Kennedy Center in D.C.? Would we prefer cold and bold shades of blue and black or soft warm shades of red and dove gray? Should we accent with gold leaf or go bold choosing art deco? We had no other topics of conversation. This became our life. Our dream.

Obsessively, we scoured the internet for pictures of home theater designs. Narrowing it down to three that were doable, the construction process started. My handy husband was doing all the work. How could I complain? He wasn’t out in a bar, drinking with buddies. He wasn’t sleeping on the couch or watching a ballgame. He was in the basement, night after night, banging away with his hammer. Using the complex miter saw he requested for his birthday. He had a project. He was happy. I was happy. Sometimes lonely at night, but happy.

empty room

I watched in awe as the room developed. From a blank slate to a designer’s dream, I cheered him on every step of the way. Proud of his woodworking skills, I kept quiet when our MasterCard bill arrived, listing $700 worth of plywood, realizing it would have cost much more had we paid a contractor. We were saving money. Feeling left out of the building process, I volunteered for decorating duty. Indulging my inner designer, I gleefully hopped from store to store collecting swatches and samples. Carpeting, wallpaper, sconces, paint chips, oh my…. I was in heaven. I enjoyed participating. And he liked my ideas.

construction

 

I ignored the bill for the carpeting knowing that this is an investment. Our house will be in demand some day. Home theaters are in. This will pay off. I even got into selecting the chairs. The special ones with the cup holders and tray tables. Wow! What will they think of next? I couldn’t help myself. We chose the motorized reclining chairs with the secret compartment for my stash of goodies. I can fill each arm with my M&Ms and healthy Fiber One bars. That reminds me, we still need to buy a refrigerator for our beverages. You can’t expect us to walk all the way upstairs for a drink.

theater

As the room progressed, the TV was the last purchase we would make, after the chairs arrived. We needed a big one. This was the tough part. Staring at 50 screens, they all looked alike. How do we pick? The entertainment unit he built could hold a 65” TV, maximum. We know movies will be in 3D and who wouldn’t want to check their facebook on a big screen? Yes, we bit the bullet and went all out, saving and additional 5% by opening a store credit card. At least this won’t be on my MasterCard. What the hell, this is no time to be cheap. And besides, we’re helping the economy. We’re putting people to work.

TV

The call came at 6:30 this morning. Our 65” Samsung was on its way. My husband stayed home for this big event. He had to help install it. He would make sure this last piece of the puzzle was in place. Where it was meant to be.

recliner

 

As I watched the grin grow on my husband’s face, it slowly dawned on me he’s not just pleased with how his home theater turned out. This grin is more. His face declared I won! I got what I wanted. What did he want? He wanted the one piece of furniture Candice Olsen never places under a chandelier in her Divine Designs. I realized, with this home theater, my husband got not one La-Z-Boy, but an entire room full of recliners. We are the proud owners of six, motorized, cup holding, relaxing, can’t get your butt out of, recliners. “Yes dear, you won! When you get your beer, please get me a Diet Coke. I can’t pull myself away from my chair!”

 

 

The Other “Woman”

I truly believe that my marriage has lasted this long and is better today because of Karen. I have never been able to read a map. Thanks to Karen, I don’t have to.

In the “old days”, my husband and I would have argued with each other about the best route to take. Now, relieved to be totally out of the loop, I can sit back and listen to him argue with Karen, our GPS voice. “She’s crazy, ” he said when she told him the route she planned to get him to the airport. “Isn’t this set for fastest time? This isn’t the fastest way. I’m turning left,” my husband yelled to the box. That’ll teach her, I thought to myself.

When he doesn’t follow her directions Karen doesn’t get all pissy or start a fight. She doesn’t threaten to cut off sex with him until he offers a sincere apology. I realized I can learn a lot from her. Karen goes with the flow. When my husband turns left instead of right our GPS merely says “recalculating, recalculating”. And she will repeat this over and over again, without raising her voice or giving attitude, until she figures out a new route. One that is undoubtedly better than the one she had originally planned. And even if the trip takes an extra ten minutes, she never says “I told you so.”

I’ve learned a lot from my GPS. I’ve learned sometimes it’s best to opt out of an argument and say “Yes dear. I love you!”