Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Open Adoption, A Long View

My daughter at one-day old with her maternal great-grandmother. Her Noni, in Eugene, Oregon 1998.

Pearl at 2 months. Lazy summer days watching her grow.

June 21, 1998 was the first time I met the young woman who had chosen me and my then husband to parent her unborn child. She was 19 yrs old and 9 months pregnant and she had chosen us from a pool of waiting couples, families, and people hoping to become parents through "Open Adoption", a fairly new concept 2 decades ago.

Growing up in a northern community in British Columbia, Canada, I knew many adopted people. I could see how families were made in a multitude of ways, there was no shame in raising a child who was not your own. I knew I wanted to be a parent and when after ten years of marriage at 34, I was not able to become pregnant, I quite happily turned my attention to adoption.

I learned that adoption is a complex process fraught with intense emotion and bad information. When I began looking into it I ran up against quite a lot of bias and horror stories about all the ways it might go wrong. I spoke to multiple agencies who championed the process from many different angles with many different approaches. There were female children in India and China who were available for adoption, there were kids with extra needs, there were religious organizations doing the hard work of finding stable homes for waiting kids. None of these appealed to me despite some very convincing, almost militant representatives. The problem I had with the international adoption model was just that, the distance. I worried about the impact being taken so far away from home might have on a child. I knew I probably couldn't maintain that important connection to home a child from far away would need. I wasn't suited to a special needs adoption either. The kindest part of my journey was speaking to women who had adopted children with special needs and hearing them vehemently say don't take this on if it's not for you, totally without judgement. The world is a better place because of those families who often take on several children with special needs at a time. They are generous beyond compare. Then there is the issue of race and the notion of time. If you wanted a baby quickly, bi-racial was the way to go. If you wanted an all white child it might take longer.

When I looked into my heart I knew I would only raise one child and I wanted the experience to be the best it could be. Through an acquaintance I found Open Adoption and Family Services based in Oregon and I began the process with them in November of 1997. OAFS were leaders at that time in promoting an open model that supports the birth parents in their choice of adoption, a framework is created between parents and birth parents where the whole child is celebrated.

That June day in Eugene when we met my daughters birthmother she glowed with the fullness of the life she was about to give birth to. We sat in a restaurant downtown and talked about her plans for her life and her child's life. She did have plans to have a family at some point but not at age 19 on her own. She was young but steadfast and we talked about what the openness might look like in our case. She wanted to be a special friend to her child and she wanted her extended family to know her as well. Sitting there together as strangers, we imagined a future full of unknown scenarios and bravely moved forward. On July 16th, a perfect healthy baby girl came into the world met by a waiting family with a plan to surround her with love.

Noni, and Pearl at 20.

My daughter turned 20 on Monday and she spent this birthday with her birthmother in California. A perfect full circle moment. I'm so proud of what I have been able create with this beautiful kid and grateful for the great group of people she has around her. I dreamed it and a clairvoyant 19 yr old made it all happen. I did my best to make her proud. Thanks B!

For other stories on this topic click here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018


I only said Fuck once today while I was out

I said to sum up an exchange

"it was a real Fuck-you move"

and it was, there was no other way to say it

but still I could have just used initials

resisted that urge to be vulgar in fresh company

that's me I like to get to the point

show a little nerve, present a mask of grit 

it's kind of an ugly word but I was describing an ugly scene

a careless act on an otherwise perfect day.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Note from Spring

I am happy to report I walked my way safely through winter
and now it is spring again, and it's wonderful. full stop.
Walking the dog around the property the other day
taking in the jungle sounds of these pacific foothills.
As she relieved herself, sniffed random leaves, and rolled in the cedar duff
an obstacle revealed itself, as well an opportunity
and a solution, to a practical problem, bumped into
each other, ostensibly it's a dog walk, that I take everyday
the practice that I have built my existence around protecting
the walk that enables the continued health of my body and mind
which I ask a lot of everyday to pursue all of the things that sustain me.
So what happens when the dog cannot take the walk
that walk, the just about 3 miles daily, the one where I can go
flat out fully striding with her at my side. It happened recently,
she cut her foot and was lame for a week. Without her
I felt off balance and down-right lonely. But I walked fast those days.
It will become too much for her, on hot days it's too much now.
So I resolve to walk her around the property, doing little circuits
in the meantime, we'll meander rather than march. I'll keep an eye on things
as the seasons change along with everything. Day by day,
give us this walk, our daily walk.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Peace Pigrim

My new hero. Meet Peace Pilgrim who began walking January 1, 1953 and continued until her death in 1981.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Portrait of the Artist Series, 2011/2012


I  forget to be generous with myself about what I get done. I am just a messy bossy human hoping for a good kick at the can, I have a lot on my to-do list. Doing some reflecting this January, thought I'd revisit these paintings and prints after a trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery last week. I made the first one after watching The Royal Tennenbaums but then it became a little habit and selfies were huge suddenly as Facebook rose in popularity. I guess I was already feeling the ennui of social media. These represent my first step toward developing an art practice.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Smoke, real and imagined.

Family Portrait

This is my submission for 2017
a year in review
taken near the summer solstice
it represents my small family
my primary relationships
place, people, objects
she is hidden and emerging both
my best project nearing completion
he is not pictured but present
I am the smoke

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Why a Sewcialist?

It seems silly to stand on your back deck taking pictures of yourself, but there you go. We live in crazy times. I think slow fashion is a great mindset to cultivate so I thought I would chime in as I get so much inspiration throughout the year from all the talented makers out there on the internet.

I'm a tall active person, I need clothes that can really support all that I do in a day. I stopped looking at much retail fashion because very little of it really fits me properly and as a tall person there is nothing worse than wearing something that makes you feel like the Hulk. So I am cobbling together my own look and through the process learning a lot about my body and what makes it look and feel good.

Clothing should be comfortable but it can also be inspiring. I feel protected in my clothes and I also feel powerful. When I get this outfit on, on a crisp fall morning I feel ready to face the day.

This outfit is a mixture of me-made, custom made, and inherited. This corduroy Miette Skirt with me-made tights wants you to take it for a walk. When I was a kid I never had tights that were long enough, it was a humiliation. Sewing my own leggings is practically a healing act.

The hoodie and top both in Hemp are by Intertwined Designs customized for me. There are quite a few options for custom made stuff these days and whether you are supporting a small local business or a custom shop overseas, rest assured these pieces are going to be long lasting.

I knitted the kerchief scarf using Spincycle Yarns and my own whacky no pattern approach to things. The jade necklace was a gift from my lovely mother in law.

My shoes were previously owned by my brother in law who died in late February. I walk in these shoes most days and I think a bit about him when I lace them up. Walking is an essential daily activity. Some people pray, I walk.

The dog is a volunteer. The best kind.

Here's what I had to say two years ago about Slow Fashion October

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Labor Day

Jonathon Borofsky, Hammering Man outside SAM in Seattle Photo ©Rowan Moore-Seifred Feb 2015

Labor Day, Everson Wa.
The weather is hot and winds from the east are blowing wild fire smoke over us.  The weekend was full of traversing the border, visiting friends and laying around stunned by the heat and that feeling of summertime sadness. The beautiful season is winding down and I am looking forward to moving ahead but I must be present in this moment now and sit with the sadness. There is a lot to reflect upon.

Labor Day makes me think of the Hammering Man by Jonathon Borofsky. I saw his exhibit at MOCA  (Mar 17, 1986 – May 18, 1986) in Los Angeles when I was attending school there. My friend Mike and I went. I think we were both pretty impressed with it and reading about him now, I am struck by this:

CMM: When you stopped working and started counting, what prompted that?
JB: I had just left graduate school and moved to New York City [in 1966]. I was digesting the New York scene. There was Pop Art and Minimal Art. Both seemed very beautiful to me. Yet each had a weakness or flaw. I was a young artist, searching for his own uniqueness. I ended up in my studio a lot, thinking a lot, writing thoughts down. Less making of things and more thinking about things. I looked for a way to simplify the thought processes. I began to do little 1, 2, 3; 1, 2, 3, 4; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5—writing of number sequences on paper almost as a way to pass the time and not have to think so deeply. Later, I made a decision to count from one to infinity and did write those numbers on paper. After about a year or two of doing that solely with nothing else, counting for a few hours a day as my art activity, I began to go to painting and sculpture again. I made this connection...instead of signing this painting I made today with my name, I'm going to sign it with the number I was on on this particular day when I stopped counting.

We camped at Alouette Lake with friends and witnessed the eclipse together. I am so grateful for my long and evolving friendships. It was our 16th trip this time.

The sky was clear and the sun felt altered, brighter but deeper. Then the moment of cool when the sun is blocked. All that energy stopped for a few seconds.
We waited and tried not to look at it. The lake glistened. My heart glistened.

I hoped the dog would not be blinded. I had no sunglasses for her. She seemed instinctively to know what to do.

Bringing old friends camping with us was my favorite activity of the summer. 

It was a great season in my garden, I learned so much and had many little successes. I visited this Bellingham Wa garden of my friend Binda Colebrook. A lovely place to walk around and muse about plants.

It's sad when summer comes to an end but there is an excitement about getting started again. I connected with quite a few people over the summer who expressed a lot of anguish about the American political situation. In fact it was impossible to avoid it at almost any gathering. I see that people are feeling angry and hopeless and it's all too bad I feel. All this wasted energy feeling fearful. It pulls us away from the real work at hand.

I think our real labor is to be human and to help one another, to lift one another up. I have felt the malaise of the times but I am working to reject it through my daily art making practice.

The Hammering Man photo up top reminds me to keep creating the reality I want to exist in. A notion lost to the young man in the photo who ended his life a few months after this was taken. Life is already a lottery win so why not experience every minute of it. There are no second helpings.

Happy fall, happy new year!

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