Trauma in Adoption?

Have you ever heard anyone talk about trauma in adoptions?

I haven’t. I haven’t really looked either. Adoption, in general, is a holy process that is spoken of with respect and sacrifice.


Trauma is a big word recently. We’ve been talking about it in my school for a couple of years now. I see it tagged quite a lot in videos and articles. Undoubtedly, everyone has suffered instances of trauma.

I like this take on it.


I’ve been listening to Kyle Cease, often in my mornings. He makes me laugh and then think. I listened to this today. In particular, the part about a baby not understanding the passage of time and being away from their parent hit me pretty hard. When my son was born, I gave the nurse instructions to bring him to me if he cried. She brought him four times in the first hour. Exhausted, I told her to go ahead and keep him for the night, give him formula if needed. I was awoken the next morning by a nurse rolling my red-faced and howling son into my room.

“Wow, you have got a screamer!” she said.

I felt my heart drop through the floor.

“He cried all night! The only way we could calm him down was if he was in the swinging bassinet. I bet he’s hungry this morning.” She continued, without seeing the utter devastation she was raining on me.

She handed me my baby and checked my vital signs, cheerily filling me in on how loud my poor boy was. I tucked his little face into my neck and cried along with him. I never sent my kids anywhere in a hospital without me or their dad again. Never again.

image1 - Copy
My mother didn’t have the luxury of choice.

For a few minutes this morning I sat in my quiet bathroom and just thought about a baby that was born, rather traumatically, pulled with forceps. She was born into a room with a lot of mixed emotions, sadness, regret, embarrassment, and fear. The cord was cut, the baby quickly examined for any defect. Deemed in good health, the squalling newborn was hastily wrapped and taken to the nursery to be sorted into a plastic cradle and lined up with many other unhappy babies.  I was never touched by my mother or grandparents. Two days later I was handed over to a well-meaning woman who didn’t smell right.

I don’t say that to be mean or ungrateful. It’s just the truth. I didn’t understand it until I held my own baby. I didn’t realize how much comfort was derived, just from being held by mom. How even a half asleep and fussing child will immediately settle when tucked close to that native skin. That genetic scent that belongs to the body you grew in.

It’s one of the first questions I was compelled to ask my younger brother.

“What perfume did she wear?”

I wondered if it would smell the same on me? I’ve never owned Chanel No 5, but I love its scent on the inside of my wrist.

My father also comes to mind when I think of that lost baby.

My father had less choice in the matter than mom.

Saturday was the twenty-fourth anniversary of his death. I didn’t know about him then or any other October until this year. I’m so thankful for my older siblings who have taken the time to share their memories, photos, and notes about him with me. They’ve given him life, humor, and humanity. They’ve changed him from a black and white picture to a man I wish I could have known.

I desire it so keenly at moments, I have to stop and catch my breath.

I’m only punishing myself, putting off the trip to meet my siblings. They are part of my dad, still here on the planet. I’ll admit here that where I would have rushed to meet my father or mother as soon as I knew where they were, I’m a little more trepidatious about meeting siblings.

It’s all here inside me. Everything I learned growing up. It doesn’t matter how old you are, some situations are always going to trigger your five-year-old self. The concern, worry, and fear are maximized without dad there to love me unconditionally.

I’m not saying he would immediately have loved me.

I’m saying there is something about your own child.


Learning how to Love Myself

I’ve struggled writing this post, more than I imagined I would. My head fighting with my heart.

My heart won.


In the run-up to our back-to-school, BTS released their third compilation album Love Yourself: Answer. My free time was about to dissipate at an alarming pace. I’d heard their music playing all summer and my girls were talking in hushed, hopeful tones about the possibility of a concert in Chicago. They were being so careful not to push, not to hope too much. One quiet afternoon when they had disappeared into their room to practice choreography and giggle over YouTube videos, I sat at this very computer and opened YouTube myself.

I was immediately greeted with a list of suggestions for BTS videos. It took mere seconds to locate the video’s I’d seen them watching all summer. Just a picture of the group with three sets of lyrics shown, Korean, Korean phonetically, and English.

I wanted to know what these boys were telling my daughters.

Knowing they were rappers, I wasn’t expecting anything good. Thus, I was not at all prepared for what I discovered. I chose the song Love Myself cringing about what this might be about. I was familiar with the tune and focused on the English lyrics translation. (There are other translations but all of them similar. This is the first I read.)

It’s harder, loving yourself, than loving someone else. Honestly let’s admit what we must admit, the standards you make are harsher for yourself.

My fingers fumbled the mouse to the pause button before I hit the chorus. I looked around, making sure no one had come in while I had my ear buds in. Grabbing a kleenex, I looked back at the blurry screen. I wanted to swear. I wanted to sob. I wondered what song last hit me this hard? I clicked the play button again.

You’ve shown me I have reasons
I should love myself (oh)
My breath, the path I walked, it all answers for me

The me from yesterday, the me of today, the me for tomorrow
(I’m learning how to love myself)
Without missing a single part, without leaving a single gap, everything of me

I hit the pause button again, reaching for another kleenex. This time I did swear. “What the #*#& is wrong with me?!” Stepping away from the computer, I had a little talk with myself. It went like this.

GET A GRIP! This is a fluke, a bunch of Korean boys in their twenties. What do they know? You’re overreacting.  Your daughters love these boys like there is no tomorrow, but you’re er, older. What is wrong with you? You’re acting like a teenager. You always overreact with music. You need to get a hold of yourself. This isn’t appropriate. This isn’t you.

I stopped myself there with one simple statement that came straight from my heart.

“This is exactly, me.”

It just whispered through me, and I sat down and pushed play again.

It’s possible that there won’t be an answer
In a way, this may not be the answer either
Even just loving myself, I needed someone else’s approval
Even now I’m still finding myself but I don’t want to die anymore
Me, who used to be sad
Me, who used to be hurt
It’ll make me more beautiful

I sat there listening, wondering, thinking about the crazy changes this year brought. How many times I’ve revisited that idea that if I only knew who I was, I would be a whole person again/for the first time. All these new people I’ve found and was now afraid to meet. Constantly thinking about all the ways I’d disappoint them. I wasn’t whole at all. Why? Because after all these years, everything I’ve done, everything I’ve missed, I’ve never loved myself. I’ve only tried to make you love me. Make you fill that empty crater. I’ll love you like no one else can if you will just, please, fill me.

From the beginning of the start, and the end of the end, there is one answer ey
Why do you keep trying to hide inside your mask? (hey)
Even the scars that were formed from my mistakes are my very own constellations (ey)

Everything I’ve done, good, bad, ugly, it’s now my sky. It’s beautifully tattooed on my soul. It goes everywhere with me. If I opened my heart, you could never be cold. I would lay back in star-shine and smile.

Why am I still trying to hide behind the mask of what I think you want? What about what I want?

This isn’t the first time I’ve thought about changing myself to change my world. But this is the first time anyone had sung so poignantly to me about it. This song gave me so much hope, so much peace. It reminded me of the power music has to move me. Not just to make me smile, or dance, but to urge me to exist in a better way, to trust my heart, ignore my ego, to believe the answers are inside me

This is the song that erased my doubts about the trip to Chicago. All the old woman fears, can I drive that far alone? Do I want to spend my money on that? Do I want to be stuck in my car for twelve hours with two teenagers, even ones I like? What if —–eek all the things that could go wrong! My mother would never have driven so far to waste so much money on one evening of music. It’s not even in English! Thirty thousand screaming girls. Driving in Chicago, you are SO out of practice. You are not eighteen anymore!

Still in me, oh
That awkward part of me but (woah)

You’ve shown me I have reasons
I should love myself

Yes, still that awkward part of me that bought scam tickets. Yes, the dumb luck that allowed us to see the show anyway. Oh, wow, to hear this sung live, to sing along with so many happy people, in Korean and English. To see their (BTS’s) reaction when a stadium filled with Americans sang to them, their own song, in Korean. How amazing to wonder, for the first time in many years, if I could even hold another drop of joy inside me without exploding like some crazy firework. Many have asked if I would ever consider doing it again, knowing now the cost.

In a heartbeat.

I hope you’ll take a moment and listen to the link. I’ve learned, I still can’t predict what’s around that next corner!


Love Myself

I open my eyes inside this darkness
When my heartbeat is unfamiliar
I face you in the mirror
Your fear-stricken glare, recycled questions
If you look at it in a certain way, it’s harder loving yourself
Than loving someone else
Honestly, let’s admit what we have to admit
The standards you make are harsher for yourself
Inside the center of your life is a thick growth ring, it’s a part of your life and what you are
Let’s forgive ourselves now
Our lives are too long to just throw ourselves out, I believe in myself inside this maze, because when winter passes, spring comes again

From the eyes of the cold night
I try to hide myself
As I keep tossing and turning ey
But did I fall so that I could be hit by those countless stars? Hey
I’m the only target of thousands of those radiant arrows

You’ve shown me I have reasons
I should love myself (oh)
My breath, the path I walked, it all answers for me

The me from yesterday, the me of today, the me for tomorrow
(I’m learning how to love myself)
Without missing a single part, without leaving a single gap, everything of me

It’s possible that there won’t be an answer
In a way this may not be the answer either
Even just loving myself, I needed someone else’s approval
Even now I’m still finding myself but I don’t want to die anymore
Me, who used to be sad
Me, who used to be hurt
It’ll make me more beautiful

That’s right, that beauty is there, my feelings that know that beauty is here                         Is on the road to loving myself
my most needed work
Now for me, just for me, attitude for me is the behaviour I need for myself
I’ll show you what I got
I’m not afraid because that’s my existence
Love myself

From the beginning of the start, and the end of the end, there is one answer ey
Why do you keep trying to hide inside your mask? (hey)
Even the scars that were formed from my mistakes are my very own constellations (ey)

You’ve shown me I have reasons
I should love myself (Au woah)
my breath, the path I walked it all answers for me

Still in me, oh
That awkward part of me but (woah)

You’ve shown me I have reasons
I should love myself
(I’m learning how to love myself oh)
my breath, the path I walked it all answers for me

The me from yesterday, the me of today, the me for tomorrow
(I’m learning how to love myself)
Without missing a single part, without leaving a single gap, everything of me

Whoa, Whoa, Whoa!


I find Jin’s favorite word, the only way to describe the trip to Chicago.

Let’s start in the pit.

You know who you are.

I had my girls with me.

You saw their faces.

You smiled at them.

You knew what was coming.

You took my money and walked out with a smile on your face.

You wouldn’t care, I know, about their crushing disappointment. That one daughter curled up in the backseat of my car and couldn’t speak for almost three hours. You’d laugh at our nervousness, driving up to the United Center the second night. KNOWING we had tickets that would scan just fine this time, still we were nervous. You did that. You stole a piece of their joy. You looked in their faces and sold them despair with an earnest smile.

It was a lesson. A lesson and a miracle. The second show wasn’t sold out and I had a credit card.

The three of us will talk about this for years to come. We talked about how we reacted in the moment, how we perservered and ultimately won. It was scary, and sad. As a parent, I was afraid I’d done harm, afraid I wouldn’t be able to fix this one.  I was lifted by my youngest in a crucial moment. We both carried the other until she came back to us.

It was costly.

It was a lesson.

In the end, I would do it all again. We would do it all again.

We know, now, how powerful, how resiliant, we are together.

Bring it.






Sick, already?

I’m heading into week six of school and I’m sick already. Totally sucks. I hate losing my weekend to self-care. My oldest daughter had a bit of a cold last week and with the weather change from 80 degree temps to 60 degree temps, I’ve got a full-blown head cold. Part of it may well be from working in Kindergarten with all the new germs. Keeps my immune system on her toes.


Usually, a good solid day of sleeping and fluids will put me just about right again. Which tells me, yes, I need more rest and fluids in general.

My reaction to a weekend of self-care is also telling. I want to WANT to take better care of myself and not feel sheepish telling my family they’re  on their own this weekend. Truly, they are old enough, and will be fine. I want them to understand I’m not asking for their permission or pity. I’m sick and I’m going to take care of myself…off you go.

This last week of September, I’m taking part in a focus group to find a new school superintendent. I’m more excited about heading to Chicago this coming weekend with my girls!

Which brings me to my little contest.

We had three guesses, two from new readers which was SUPER exciting! Thank you Alma, Sue and eyoung24 for bravely offering up names. My bias, as the kids say, is Jimin.


He is so beautiful. I think that might have been the first thing I said to my girls about K-pop. As I got a little deeper in, he became three-dimensional. He’s, in turn, charming, silly, a scaredy cat, funny, touchingly sensitive. One thing that strikes me about these boys is their humanity.

So, in celebration of our upcoming concert trip and to thank my readers, all three of you will be getting a book with a little surprise from the concert. Thanks so much for playing with me! I’ll be contacting you for your information.

Now, back to my bed and Gypsy Cold Care Tea…….



BTS is coming

In April, my oldest daughter asked me to take her to a concert in Chicago at the end of June. She had to spell it for me. Wanna One. I’m sure I gave her a weird look. Seriously.tired-377438_1280

In May, I had never heard of a BTS, and the girls were still hoping for Chicago in June.

In June, I realized this music stuff had something to do with my oldest daughter’s new Korean fascination. Certainly it had influened her recent hair color love. She’s tried the turquoise and is currently flying the red flag. She looks freaking adorable. I’m not even going to start on what it’s done to clothing preferences.

About this time, I also realized our move would make the June trip to Chicago impossible.

In July, I looked up from my boxes to watch my two daughters practicing choreography while watching YouTube on the TV. They moved in pretty amazing synchronicity, using dance moves I’d never seen. They told me it was K-POP and they loved it. They were sorry to miss Wanna One but understanding.

I said, “Maybe that means there’s something better coming.”

Both girls looked at me and yelled “BTS! BTS IS COMING”


I didn’t know what a BTS was.  Don’t worry, they were going to fix that.

In August, they started showing me videos and playing K-POP songs all day at home, every time we got in my car, and quizzing me on the names of the members of the group. By the middle of August, a few BTS songs had wandered onto my own playlist. By the time work started up again, Airplane Part 2 was my alarm clock song. It still is. My daughters tell me I now have to learn the chant all the girls say at the concerts….lmao. No.


When I took a bit of time to listen, read the lyrics, watch the incredible dancing-it didn’t take long to hook me. I mean each one is more beautiful than the last! Their version of rap and the lyrics to their songs are nothing like what we have here in the US. I can’t tell you how happy that makes the mom in me. I know there are issues in the K-POP world, just like anywhere, but I love watching my girls dance and sing in Korean. Give me that any day of my life over Kei$ha and Pitbull telling my girls –

I have ’em like Miley Cyrus, clothes off
Twerking in their bras and thongs, timber
Face down, booty up, timber
That’s the way we like the what, timber
I’m slicker than an oil spill
She say she won’t, but I bet she will, timber

This was younger daughter’s favorite song before BTS.

It’s September, I can name each of them on sight, almost on sound of voice. Today I contacted my brother in Chicago to see if we could stay with him the first week of October. I’m gulping a bit at the price of tickets but after doing a little research online, I’m going to wait a bit before buying. I don’t know much about buying concert tickets but it’s pretty fascinating what people do to make money off them.

This may sound silly coming from a woman my age, but I find myself looking forward to this concert with almost as much excitement as the girls. Similar excitement, a few less hormones.  It will be my very first concert as well. My mom thought they were too dangerous a place for girls in the eighties. In a way, she’s the one who started this whole thing. When my oldest asked if I would take her I told her, “My mother would NEVER have done that.”

“Why? What did she have against fun?”

I just laughed. My mom didn’t have fun. Her idea of fun was picking raspberries at 5 AM every other summer morning, all summer.

Thanks for the lesson, Mom. I won’t make the same mistake.


Just an added bit of fun –

Remember when we had a favorite member of a band? John in Duran Duran or some such? Now they call it their bias. My girls each have a bias in BTS. It’s silly but I’ve actually found a favorite of my own. I know, it’s like being a kid again for a minute and pretty silly. However, the first person to guess my bias will receive a copy of my first book, Solitude. I’ve only recently made it available in print. I haven’t even got my copies yet, but one of them is reserved for one of you!

I could give you hints but it wouldn’t help you at all!😂 I will tell you daughter 1 adores V and daughter 2 adores JungKooK. I’m certainly not going to overlap bias with them! I have some err, no, I don’t have any. I do prefer one of the others though.

Who is Carly’s bias?



I’m resisting making a lis

Favorite BTS Songs

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Fake Love





Seriously-someone come stop me!



How Does this Work?

I really want to know.

black stone on body of water during nighttime
Photo by Studio 7042 on

How does this universe see me? How does the energy everything is made from relate to itself? How are some people so sure they know the Secret yet others are equally sure that everything opens to you if you only have faith? Is my success already made and just waiting out there for me to reach it? How do I look up and feel anything but insignificant?

This past week has had it’s ups and downs. I’ve found myself thinking a lot about what is available to me – out there. Saturday afternoon as I drove back home after a morning full of errands, I found myself wandering around the streets of my neighborhood. I was hoping to spot a flash of gray and cream fur trotting through the grassy yards. I had to stop the car as tears filled my eyes and I wondered for the hundredth time if the universe knew where Luna was because I sure didn’t. My little Looney-Bird has a collar with a big metal heart inscribed with her name and my phone number and address. She’d been gone six days. Six long hot days, and through more than one violent thunderstorm. We’d gotten almost three inches of rain Thursday night. Every day I’d come home from school hoping to see her peeking out at me from under the porch. Meowing her displeasure at my absence and wanting to tell me all her escapades.


Even more so this particular week, as I had to have her little sister Jenni put to sleep on Thursday afternoon. Here I was sitting in my car channeling the vet’s office. Completely caught off guard by how much it hurt. I fumbled out an explanation to the very kind Vet and her assistant.

“I grew up on a farm, for heaven’s sake,” I said. “When any of our pets got hurt or sick dad would take them behind the garage and shoot them.”

They both nodded. One of them saying she grew up the same way, but it never got easier.

I nodded.

They left the room to make the neccassary preparations and I held my little cat and thought about my dad. The dad who didn’t know about me. The dad who couldn’t have taken a cat behind the garage and shot it, not to save his own life. The dad who loved cats his entire life. The dad who raised four children who love cats to this day. I thought about him, wondered if he might take care of little Jen for me. Thought about what I’d tell him, that she’s a nervous little thing, but funny and playful when she’s happy. That she loves Salmon treats and cuddling. I wondered about how this universe works.

When the ladies came back in, I wrapped my little cat in my son’s old shirt. The one we put in her little kennel to help her feel more secure; she loved him so much she crawled into his hoodie pocket within the first few moments they met. She looked at me with completely innocent little green eyes and I petted her while they shaved her leg and gave her an injection. She didn’t struggle or seem perturbed at all. It was rudely, thankfully quick. I had them cremate her, asked them to keep her wrapped in his shirt.


Her favorite shirt on her favorite human.


“She loved this old shirt,” I said, for the fourth time.

They offered to give me more time but I had to pick up the girls from their first day of school. So I just tucked the edges around her, thanked them again for their kindness and let them lead me out the back door with my empty carrier.

That empty pink carrier that’s sitting in the back of this car as I give up my search and drive home with a weary heart. The girls come out and haul groceries in. I clean out the fridge and put food away. Then it’s off and running again, kids to drop off, a last minute movie I go see because I want to sit in the dark and eat a WHOLE bucket of buttered popcorn and drink a LARGE Coke Zero and not want to hear about it from anyone.

My youngest wonders what we’re going to do with our cat tree now we don’t have any cats. I buy her an Icee and she stops talking. I wonder if the universe might tell Luna that I’m looking for her. Maybe my energy could yell at her energy in some cosmic Marco Polo?

I got up this morning and while I waited for my coffee I looked at the cat stuff. I’ll deal with it Friday, I decide. I’ve given myself Friday’s off this school year, hoping to better service my own soul and my writing. I’m alerted to a sound on the front porch. I think about all the times this week I’ve opened the door hoping to see my girl. I decide it won’t hurt if the neighbors get a peek at my purple mu mu. I step out onto the damp wood of the porch and call her. Look around. Wait. It’s her MO. Make the woman wait at least a minute. I call her again. Wait. My coffee chimes it’s ready. I turn back to the door. Pushing it open I almost miss the little jingle of a bright pink heart. There is no missing the adamant MEOW and the fluff of a tail around my ankles.

The poor girl got more love than she bargained for, and grounded for a week. Maybe she’ll forgive when I explain about Jenni.


Jenni’s idea of Heaven.