The Year We Missed Easter

Emma and Mira at the airport

Eighteen years ago, we missed Easter. Twice.

On Sunday, March 27, 1999, we met Mira in Kazakhstan for the first time. All the next week we came to visit her, driving up a long and curvy, still snowy road from the capital city of Almaty to Esik, a journey of about only 40 miles but over an hour by car. I was taken back to the nursery only once (no male germs allowed). They always brought her out to the director’s office. She was so tiny—not much bigger than a newborn at three months. She’d been fed formula once a day. The rest of the time she was given diluted mashed potatoes; that was all they could afford.

Sunday, April 4 was Easter back home, but not in Kazakhstan. We found an ex-pat church to attend that morning, but as I recall, they didn’t …

The Perfect Gift

img_0195November and December are my kitty’s favorite months. Our tree goes up November 1. It might take a week or two to get all the ornaments up, but that red velvet skirt goes around the base right away, and she loves to lie on it. It’s also about nine feet tall, which means the base is about six feet wide, letting her get nice and deep under those branches. And then when we put the presents around, she can really hide.

Presents are tricky in my house. We have to use a code. We can’t just use regular to/from labels, or the wrapping would be opened at the ends, and boxes would be shaken within an inch of their lives. In previous years we’ve used a number derived from some combination of the letters in their names or their birthdays, like some kind of weird numerology. This year we tried …



photo by Emma Towriss

I always think of adding my kids to our family in terms of the holidays. Emma was born on Christmas Eve. Mira was born on December 21, but we met her on the day we celebrate Easter in the west and brought her home on Orthodox Easter, one week later.

And Dara and Johnny we brought home two days before Thanksgiving. I can never remember the date. I just remember it was Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving fifteen years ago. In the adoption community, we call that Gotcha Day.


Gotcha Day, November 20101

Dara and Johnny are what are called virtual twins. Virtual twins are biologically unrelated children less than nine months apart who are raised together. Dara and Johnny are nothing alike. Until recently she’s been a head taller than he, but he’s catching up quickly. Even when we met her she was twice as …

Tyranny, Time and Trust

Sand flowing through an hourglass on black background concept for time running out

So it’s 9:53 pm and I’m writing tomorrow’s blog post.

I procrastinate. A lot.

Or maybe I just have four children. Everything that is not bleeding, hungry, crying, yelling, or broken gets pushed to the bottom of the list, and a blog post tends to be very quiet. Invisible, even.

Until I realize it’s Thursday night and something needs to be up in a couple hours.

“Schedule your time,” they say. Writers need to block out large chunks of time to write, rewrite, research, market, publicize … it would take all my time to do it right, and I only have a few hours a day. Once the kids come home from school, quiet time is over, and I am no longer in control.

Striking a balance is nearly impossible. I never get it right. One week I spend too much time writing, and the next I can’t manage to …

Bringing Up … Daughters

Dara and Mira

Dara and Mira

Life with three very daughters is, to say the least, interesting.

When the kids came home from school yesterday Dara was wearing her volleyball jersey because they had a game last night. I mentioned that I thought it looked a little tight across the chest, even though it seemed to fit everywhere else. She said it was because she was wearing a regular bra instead of a sports bra, and that when she changed later it would look different. A long conversation about bras followed.
About then my husband commented loudly from the kitchen. “I’m not comfortable hearing this conversation.”
The girls just laughed.
“So move to another room,” I suggested.
“Well, I’m making something to eat, so I can’t.”
“You live in a house with four women. You should be used to this,” I reminded him.
“Yeah. You knew this was coming when you brought home …

I Am Not A Child Trafficker

Screenshot 2016-08-25 23.04.45This is how an anti-adoption activist replied to a tweet of mine saying a quarter million children from around the world had become part of American families through international adoption since 1971. I (stupidly) responded, asking if I should have left my daughter in a baby house without enough food. He replied with a link to his website, which was basically pages and pages of reasons why no one should ever, ever, ever adopt any child for any reason whatsoever.

I skimmed through the site, and some of the comments. Adoption was an act of violence, akin to slavery. Adoptive parents were white imperialists, hypocrites … and child traffickers.

emma holding mira

Emma holding Mira at the airport.

This was on a Sunday morning. I cried on the way to church. I cried during worship. I cried after church. I cried all day.

In my eighteen years of being an adoptive parent, I’ve …

Memorable Day #6: Ciao, Italia

16637733_s If you read this blog regularly (all six of you), you know that my oldest, Emma, went to Italy last fall to study. You also know that when I “sent her off” to college I didn’t really send her very far—only about 40 minutes away, and that we saw her an average of three times a week. So putting her on the plane was a far bigger deal.

9/11 in many ways split our history into two parts. Those over the age of maybe 25, who ever met someone or sent someone off at an airport, can probably remember going all the way to the gate. Those under 25 can hardly comprehend this fact. How could TSA possibly screen all those people? Well … they didn’t. There was no TSA. And no one was screened. People wandered in and out of airports willy-nilly. Because no one had ever thought …

D. M. Webb’s 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir

D. M. Webb, a friend of mine, has released 30 Days: A Devotional Memoir. Written after too many deaths and other losses, it is a very personal journey which she has shared to help others.

30 Days

30 Days

30 Days is a collection of devotions designed to reach out and uplift especially those who have dealt with death, divorce, and single parenting. But since it is garnered from the lessons learned from Daphne’s own spiritual journey, there is plenty of wisdom inside its pages for all of us.

The 30 “chapters” are two-three pages each. They begin with a personal story and a reflection, and lead to a Biblical application that can benefit anyone, regardless of circumstances. They are designed to be read one per day, but I must admit it’s hard to stop at one.

Back Cover: Do you desire to no longer be alone? Do you yearn for …

Defending Catelynn

Tyler and Catelynn (from their new book cover)

Tyler and Catelynn (from their new book cover)

I cannot believe I am going to do this.

I am going to defend a Teen Mom. You know, not a normal teen mom, an MTV Teen Mom.

I don’t follow this show, although I’ve watched a few episodes. But this story has blown up all over the internet, and I heard about it. So here it is: In 2009, Catelynn Lowell and her boyfriend Tyler Baltierra became pregnant. Over a period of months, they heart-breakingly decided to place the baby with a couple named Brandon and Teresa. Along with viewers, both sets of parents were stridently opposed to their decision. Catelyn’s mom yelled at her and even after the birth continued to voice her disapproval. The baby girl, named Carly, is now five and lives in North Carolina. It’s an open adoption and Catelynn and Tyler still see her.

January 1, …

Why Would You Want to Do That?

Mira close-upA case in Qatar this week made international headlines. An American couple of Asian descent has just been released after being trapped in the tiny middle-eastern country of Qatar for almost two years.

In 2012, the Huangs were relocated to Doha, the capital of Qatar, by his employer to work on a major infrastructure project for the 2022 World Cup. The Huangs have three children adopted from Ghana.

On January 15, 2013, their daughter Gloria died suddenly. Gloria was born into extreme poverty and was adopted from an orphanage. Despite the Huangs’ best efforts, Gloria still suffered from severe eating issues, common to children born in such circumstances, such as not eating for days, then binging and eating from trashcans or getting food from neighbors. The Huangs were detained by police that same day. Over the next twenty-three months, in a story worthy of a badly-written made-for-TV movie, the Huangs …