Musings and Personal · Writing · Writing Prompts

Words on Wednesday – Share Your Writing Success

Welcome to Words on Wednesday, a link up for writers on the first Wednesday of each month.

For each link up, I post an optional topic, but you can write about whatever you like as long as it pertains to writing in some way. This includes promoting your work!

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The optional topic for today’s Words on Wednesday optional topic is to share your writing success. It can be as huge as signing on with one of the Big Five or as small as receiving a compliment on your work.

Okay, I admit I chose this month’s topic to toot my own horn.

But let me back up. Recently, I’ve been feeling pretty discouraged about my writing. I assume other writers are like me – either positive they’re writing the next best seller or they don’t think Mother Teresa would compliment their work.

But then I got an offer to become part of the Conscious Talk Magazine family, which is a new online magazine.

This was a badly needed ego boost.

I will be a columnist for Parenting & Family, Sex & Relationships, Book Reviews, and Writer’s Life. I will also submit poetry from time to time. So, with this job, I have a wide-reaching, eclectic gig.

As Glinda says in Wicked, “I couldn’t be happier.”


I look forward to hearing all about your success stories!

I started this link-up to create a support system for writers. With that in mind, please read and comment on at least one other post (suggest the one linked up before yours). The more you participate, the more our writing community will grow! Sharing the link up with your writing friends is another great way to meet other writers.

Because WordPress.com doesn’t support linkup programs, please paste the link to your blog post into the comment section below. Or, if you don’t have time to write a complete blog post, share on Twitter and use the hashtag #WordsOnWednesday.

 

 

Musings and Personal

Adoption Trauma, pt. 1

The other day, I read and participated in a Twitter conversation about adoption trauma.

Here’s the background of the conversation:

A person retweeted a blog post from the Twitter page of Adoption and Fostering which posed the question Is adoption trauma? The author then listed reasons as to why the answer is yes.

The person who retweeted this article disagreed. He works as a developmental psychologist with children affected by abuse and neglect, who enter the foster care system. His assertion was that adoption heals trauma.

Of course, this is a highly emotional subject and as you can imagine, some strong words were exchanged. I’m not writing this post to get into a debate or piss anyone off, but share my point of view.

Rather, this Twitter exchange got me thinking about adoption and trauma, so much so that I’ll probably post more thoughts on this subject.

But before going any further, we need to define trauma:

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According to the English Oxford Dictionary trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

As a foster-adopt mother, I get a bad taste in my mouth when I hear someone say adoption is trauma. I am raising two girls, both of whom have experienced trauma through neglect, intrauterine drug exposure, and perhaps other adverse early childhood experiences. I spend each day trying to undo their subconscious reactions to the trauma they lived through.

But when someone says adoption/being adopted is a distressing experience, I don’t have that knee-jerk reaction. I am willing want to follow up with “Why do you say that?” or “What do you mean by that?”

I’m not advocating anyone change the words they use to describe their adoption experience, but rather we all try to understand the meaning behind the words.

After all, we’re all in this together.

 

Adoption · Musings and Personal

Why I Chose Adoption

One of May’s topics from Erin Bohn’s Adoption Talk Link-up was Why did you choose adoption? I went with her other topic, What’s the Best Advice You’ve ever Gotten, but today I’m going to address why my husband and I chose to adopt.

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WHY WE CHOSE ADOPTION

Many people adopt because they’re unable to have their own biological children; however, that was not the case for my husband and I. Our hearts broke knowing there are children in the foster care system who age out of the system without knowing the permanency of family.

Shenandoah Chefalo talks about this in her memoir, Garbage Bag Suitcase.

Andrew and I wished to provide a home for a child (or two, as it so happened) in the system.

Admittedly, it was partly selfish, too. I hated being pregnant. I had a rare condition called cholestasis, and a very difficult delivery (almost 48  hours of labor, four hours of pushing), and had no desire to go through that EVER again.

People say you forget all about the pain and discomfort after it’s over.

I didn’t.

In my defense, though, we made this choice before I got pregnant.

As cheesy as it sounds, I always wanted to make a difference in the world. It was the motivation behind every career I dreamed of as a child: nun, psychologist, occupational therapist.

And now, writer.

Many adoptees get upset because they don’t want to be viewed as a charity case. I don’t look at my daughters, or any other adopted person, as a charity case.

I look at it as being practical. Why would I go through the hell of pregnancy, labor and delivery again when there are children in the foster care system who need homes?

And that why I chose adoption.

Adoption · Musings and Personal

An Unplanned Adoption

The journey to adopting my daughters could be summed up in with one sentence:

In his heart a man plans his course but the LORD determines his steps.
(Proverbs 16:9)

When Andrew and I began the adoption process, we were looking to adopt a child around 5-8 years. Because we had learned in our foster-adoption classes that older black boys were the least desirable* and most difficult to place, we filled out the pre-placement adoption paperwork with that in mind.

What we planned to do and what we did ended up being two completely different things…

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Paige, a white baby girl, was three months old when we began visits, and five months old when she moved in. Even though she had severe drug withdrawal, she was still considered the most sought-after type of child.*

Payton, her older sister, came to live with us just before she turned three. As a young white child, she was also considered highly adoptable.*

Andrew and I did not have problems conceiving nor did we desire another baby, which was why we didn’t want to adopt an infant, or even a three-year-old.

So, how did we veer so far from our planned course? 

Ruth: The mother of my daughters.**

The whole story started when I became Ruth’s birth coach. My plan wasn’t to adopt Ruth’s baby but that’s what happened. And then we adopted Payton, Ruth’s older daughter when they were unable to reunify.

I was thinking about all this tonight while walking my dog because Ruth and I met for coffee today. Things are still up in the air about how and when we will open up the adoption; however, there is one thing we both know without a shadow of a doubt.

It was God’s plan that we meet and be the mothers of these two beautiful girls.

* These aren’t my words but what we were told in our foster-adopt classes and by the social workers.

** For the most part, I’ve decided to forgo any sort of qualifier when referencing Ruth. She is the mother of my daughters, just as I am the mother of her daughters.

Adoption · Musings and Personal

Adoption Meanings

The following is a post from my other blog, which has since been taken down. I thought it worthwhile to share as we approaching the one-year mark since this occurred:

 

Today is the month of school for my kiddos. You’re probably expecting a blog post about my kids, all their milestones, my hopes and dreams, etc.

But that’s not what I’m writing about today.

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I want to introduce Bonnie, the dog we adopted from the shelter.

I named her Bonnie for two reasons:

  1. The shelter named her Tawnie, which I didn’t like, so renamed her Bonnie, which rhymes.
  2. It is also to honor my beloved cat Clyde, whom I lost three years ago.

I’ve used the new addition to our family to talk about adoption.

“We’re giving Bonnie a home because she needs someone to take care of her. She will be part of the family and live with us forever.” (barring the cats acting out…)

Although I didn’t state directly how Bonnie’s situation correlates with theirs, I hope the message got through on some level.

Adopt has numerous meanings but these three are especially fitting for the situation surrounding Payton and Paige, and Bonnie:

  1. To choose or take as one’s own; make one’s own by selection or assent.
  2. To take and rear (the child of other parents) as one’s own child, specifically by a formal legal act.
  3. To take or receive into any kind of new relationship.

Number one reminds me that adopting Payton and Paige was not an accident or unplanned event, it was a choice. We chose to help them, help their biological family, and expand our family through adoption.

Number three points out that not only did I enter a new relationship by becoming the mother of two little girls, they went into a new relationship with a different mother.

 

Even though the second definition is technically how all three of them became part of our family, I find myself preferring the first and third definitions more.

Because adoption is more than a formal legal act, it is a choice to enter a new relationship.

 

Adoption · Musings and Personal

Dear Birthmother – A Mother’s Day Card

PicsArt_04-24-10.51.05Dear Birthmother,

I think of you every Mother’s Day.

I’ve always wanted to give you a card expressing my love for you. Unfortunately, no such card exists. So I decided to write one.

After all, aren’t the homemade gifts the best?


Happy Mother’s Day to my Daughters’ Mother

I see you reflected in their eyes

glimpses of your sunshine in their smiles

As a child connected to her mother by umbilical cord

I am connected to you by love for them

both of us a life source for these radiant flowers

wipe their tears with your fingers

embrace them with your arms

watch them play with your eyes

hear their giggles with your ears

I feel you through the miles

these moments of connection

between you, me, our daughters

You are my sister

as they are sisters

and like all sister bonds

ours is

Mysterious

Beautiful

Bittersweet

Happy Mother’s Day to one of the strongest, most beautiful and inspirational women I know.

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Adoption · Musings and Personal

Adoption Pet Peeves, Edited (part 1)

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Dear Adoptee,

I upset you a while back when I wrote a blog post titled, Adoption Pet Peeves. Believe me when I say that was not my intention. My hope is the edited blog posts will clarify my intent.

A section of the original post is italicized. I’ve added comments/clarifications in bold.

I’m starting with the part of the post that caused the most upset:

“I have been told that I’m a wonderful person for adopting a child through foster care; most people couldn’t do it.  Breaking news! Having a biological child is a crap shoot just as much as adopting a child through foster care. [I don’t sugarcoat things. My daughters’ parents are drug addicts/recovering drug addicts; the 16 scars from my heart surgery are ugly; my husband is bald. You get the picture.] In some ways, having a biological child is even more risky!

There is no return policy [I just added quotes to return policy so you know I’m not using this term lightly. I phrased it this way to make my writing succinct, not disrespectful.]  on your biological child but, believe or not, there is with an adopted child.  [I included believe it or not in the original post to express my surprise, not to promote adopting because you can dissolve it.]

A trial period of at least six months is required before you can finalize.  You also have two weeks post adoption to change your mind. [When this was explained to my husband and me when we signed the adoption papers, I was surprised. Guess I should have included believe it or not here as well.]

Regardless of this somewhat controversial fact, [I say somewhat because I believe the six-month trial period is a good thing. Children adopted through foster care have been through a lot. Making sure the family and child are a good fit is a good idea to prevent further upheaval in the child’s life.]

[THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH WAS MY WHOLE POINT OF THIS PART OF THE BLOG POST. It was originally written about five years ago as a note on my Facebook page. Its intended audience was friends who have no experience with adoption. My hope was the tongue-and-cheek wording would demonstrate how absurd it was to say I was a wonderful person for adopting through foster care.] I think there is something even more important to consider:  Why do you want children?  Is it for selfish reasons?  Or is it to unconditionally love and raise a child, regardless of challenges and joys?”

So there you have it, Dear Adoptee – the intention behind this post. Please forgive me for not taking into consideration how these words could effect you.

Dear Adoptee, I love you and support you on your journey.

Lynn Sollitto
Adoptive Mother

Musings and Personal · Writing

Perfection Kicked to the Curb

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I’ve been wanting to post here every Wednesday and on Born in My Heart every other Thursday.

Obviously, that hasn’t been happening.

My inner perfectionist is standing in the way. She doesn’t want any mistakes in the blog posts, any self doubt.

I need to kick shut her up or I won’t get anything done!

Here is a poem inspired by my thoughts of being a writer, sans inner critic.

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I breathe words

and speak forbidden tales

I hear voices of creation

nestled in my heart

I taste bittersweet ideas

that melt into sentences

I strive to touch hearts

with the subtle details

Inky blood runs in my veins

dripping onto paper

I am a writer

*My inner critic was trying to tell me I couldn’t post this until I created a title. Guess what I told her…

Musings and Personal · Writing

How Real Life Influences Writing

I’ve been noticing everyday things that have in turn created stories in my mind.

And, aside from my memoir, I’ve been thinking about how real life influences writing.

Many of my stories are inspired by fantasies of lives I wanted to live. Others are triggered by seeing something that takes my brain on a wild scavenger hunt to dig up details about what I’ve seen, and then turn it into a story.

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When I was driving home the other week, I saw a man on the side of the road. He was sitting on one of those lush patches businesses pay to overwater so they’re bright green, created to divide the business complex from the sidewalk and street.

He had white, messy hair and a backpack sitting next to him. I thought perhaps he was homeless. What brought this man from His Life to This Life?

My writing brain kicked into overdrive and I began imaging things that brought this man to his current situation. Perhaps it would make a good short story or piece of flash fiction?

Then, as I passed him, all thoughts of my story halted.

I had misjudged what I’d seen from a distance.

  • He wasn’t a man but a middle-aged woman.
  • Her hair wasn’t messy, in the traditional sense. It looked like she tried to blow out curls, which didn’t quite work, and she was left with a puffy head of hair reminiscent of the eighties.
  • Her clothes were clean and in good condition.

My entire story changed.

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I began to wonder why this woman was sitting on the side of the road. Her presence made sense when I thought she (he) was homeless. It made sense to see a homeless person sitting with a backpack on the side of the road, no destination in mind, nowhere else to go. Why wouldn’t he sit down on the side of a busy street in the grass?

But what about her story? Was it something as dramatic as leaving an abusive relationship? Or something is bland as getting tired on her walk and choosing this place to sit down?

Was she a writer like me, looking for a good story? Perhaps her backpack contained a notebook and pen, but she hadn’t pulled it out yet.

Did she see me driving in my dusty Mazda 5 and wonder about my story?

Musings and Personal

My Birthday Sucks

 

The morning of my twenty-sixth birthday began with a phone call from my boyfriend. It would change my birthday forever.

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“Lynn, have you been watching the news?”

I don’t watch the news; it’s too depressing. He knows this.

What I was about to see would burn in my mind and give a whole new meaning to the news is too depressing.

“Why would I be watching the news?”

“Just… Turn on the TV.”

 

I sat on my bed and did as he said.  The television played footage of an airplane crashing into the North Twin Tower. The South Tower came down shortly afterwards.

I grabbed my head and moaned, “No…”

Immobile, I watched the news replay the horror of the buildings collapse. These towers were a symbol of the time in my life that made me, well, me.

I moved to New Jersey from a small town in Northern Wisconsin when I was eighteen. I lived twenty minutes from “the city.” (Friends constantly needed to remind me as to which city they were referring, as the whole area was one big city to me.)

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Each weekend I went by bus on the Garden State Highway, through the Lincoln Tunnel and into Manhattan. As we exited the tunnel, The Projects loomed above us. Continuing on, the Twin Towers rose up in the distance, the majestic king and queen looking over their loyal subjects.

I would stare at the towers, craning my neck to see them as long as possible. The people hiding behind their newspapers or leaning against the window with their eyes closed perplexed me.

How could anyone take that view for granted?

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The towers symbolized a time of finding myself. In my year on the East Coast, I gained confidence as I learned to navigate public transportation, drive a stick shift on highways with more than two lanes, and apply make up so expertly that I passed for twenty-one.

Most important, I realized that although I came from a small town, I was capable of doing large things.

This time in my life was a turning point: There was Lynn pre-New York City and Lynn post-New York City. The magnificent towers reminded me of this whenever I saw them.

Nearly eight years after I lived there, I watched them crumble into a pile of memories.

Later, I would mourn the lives lost.

I would donate money in a firefighter’s boot.

And I’d grieve for the towers that lived in this great city, inanimate, yet just as alive as any New Yorker.

But in that moment, as the world watched together, all I could feel was shock.

My birthday plans were to meet my boyfriend for breakfast and then go to school. I was on autopilot walking to the restaurant, eating, and driving to school.

The weight of this tragedy hung in the air.

Campus students walked around in slow motion, statues come alive and uncertain how to proceed in this new world.

The news was turned on in my English Literature class. There was no chatter in the classroom, no commentary about what we watched. The students were silent; their gazes fixed on the screen as the destruction played over and over, a recurring nightmare.

I began to look at things as pre-Twin Towers and post-Twin Towers.

My children’s births were post-Twin Towers. They’ll never get to see them, and this breaks my heart.

An old movie with the Towers could elicit a tightening in the chest.

A memory of my time in New York could tie a knot in my stomach.

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A year ago I visited Manhattan to celebrate my fortieth birthday. It was the first time I’d gone back since my coming-of-age experiences twenty-two years earlier.

My mom and I visited Ground Zero on our last day. As soon as we stepped into the memorial, the atmosphere changed.

Just blocks away, taxi horns honked and people yelled, but within the walls of where the Towers once stood, the air was solemn. People spoke in heavy whispers, respectful and reverent.

A well of emotion overcame me. 

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At the memorial, Reflecting Absence, I traced my fingers over the engraved names. The names reflected the diversity of all the lives lost that day – women and men who were not only American, but also Hindu, Jewish, Russian, and more…

…And Muslim.

The terrorists destroyed buildings and thousands of people, but they hadn’t destroyed what made and continues to make America great:

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Open arms that welcome anyone wanting to become part of our diverse family.

And we must remember this to honor those who lost their lives and those who are weighed down by that day’s loss.

We will stand together as a symbol of America’s greatness.