Friday, April 27, 2012

I have new posts on   Come on over and join me!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

New blog site!!

I am continuing my writing on WordPress!  Please go to to continue the journey of Noah and the rest of the family!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Parenting ala Sherwood Schwartz

My love affair with Gilligan's Island began back in the late 60's.  I don't remember too many episodes that aired on prime time, except the one where the castaways thought their island was haunted.  I remember hiding behind the couch for the entire episode,  just barely peaking over the top during the exact toothpaste commercials that aired the week before.  When I was a little older, I would unwind from exhausting days at Lincoln Elementary School by watching Gilligan on KTVU.  By the time I was in college I could nail Gilligan's Island trivia.  I was the Go-to-Gilligan girl during Trivia Night at the local pub.  Even today I can watch the first seconds of the show and explain the entire episode.  Little did I know while watching those 98 episodes again and again and again (2156 minutes...36 hours...multiplied by who knows how many times I have caught the show on re-runs) that Gilligan's Island would be the silent partner in my parenting of Noah.  Okay, I'll say it right here...Gilligan may not have ever got the castaways off the island but he sure as heck rescued me!

Parenting Noah these past almost four years has been an adventure.  And I don't mean adventure as in the happy-go-lucky theme park adventure.  Our family has travelled a long winding road covered with pot holes, fallen branches, and road kill.  Up to a year ago I was on the brink of pulling the mini van over, jumping out of the drivers seat and storming back in the direction I came from with my hands waving in the air yelling, "I GIVE UP!" But then, something happened.  Netflix.  Netlix and Gilligan's Island.

Jeff and I started watching Gilligan's Island with Sam and Noah about a year ago to help them wind down that hour before bedtime.  We began with episode one and each night we would checked off two episodes in our quest to watch all 98.

Always the inquisitive one, Noah asked that first night, "What's this show about?"

Smiling, I responded as I was confident I would never have the chance to voice the synopsis of Gilligan's Island to such innocent ears again.  Holding back on my hearty-har-har singing I began to speak with dramatic animation,  "Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, A tale of a fateful trip that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship.   The mate was a might sailing man, the skipper brave and sure.  Five passengers set sail that day on a three hour tour.  The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed.  If not for the courage of the fearless crew the Minnow would be lost...the Minnow would be lost.  The ship set ground on the shore of this uncharted desert isle with Gilligan, the Skipper too, the millionaire and his wife, the movie star, the professor and Mary Ann. Here on Gilligan's Isle."

Noah grinned at me with a wide open smile.  Yep, I had him at 'Just sit right back'.

So we started watching Gilligan's Island and as we did I realized how extremely frustrated I got with Gilligan for messing everything up. Every. Single. Episode!!  I don't know if it was my hyper-mothering-I'm annoyed with you- radar or what, but Gilligan just really started to bug the heck out of me...big time! I would pull my hair and yell at the tv.  Then I noticed when Noah would do things that got him in trouble I would have the same reaction!   I would start to pull my hair and...yell.  When I would return to the TV to watch another episode I started to witness the unconditional love the castaways had for each other.  Even though Gilligan messed up over 90 rescue attempts, they continued to embrace him in their island family.  Everything he did, even though he messed up, he did to be helpful.  He was never mean spirited.  Or cruel.  He did what he did for his people because I know he wanted off that island as much as Ginger or Mary Ann or the Professor did.

And then, like a ton of coconuts, it hit.  I am raising my very own Gilligan.  He washed the car with a bucket of suds and pebbles because he wanted to surprise me with a clean car.  He put a hard boiled egg in the microwave because he wanted to find a more efficient way to reheat and peel hard boiled eggs.  He wanted to help with laundry and added "a lot" of soap to make things "super clean" and didn't know it would flood the room and burn up the motor.  There are at least 98 more episodes of Noah's troubles and then some!  Now, whenever he does something that tries my patience I silently sing the Gilligan's Island theme song before I react.

Awhile back I shared my thoughts with my husband Jeff.  Then I asked him, "With Gilligan as our son...are we ever going to get off this island, Skipper?"

He laughed and smiled, "No Mary Ann, I'm afraid we're stuck on this island for the long haul."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

I wrote this essay several years ago for a Korean Adoptions newsletter, soon after Sam came home from Korea. It is dedicated to my dad...a veteran and my hero.              


Home of the Free because of the Brave
           To define patriotism is to describe a person’s love of their country and their willingness to sacrifice for it.   Koreans and Americans are quite similar in their allegiance to their motherland.  Korea has a long history of turmoil and oppression and amazingly during each period of unrest they have risen above adversity and become stronger.   Koreans and Americans have a lot in common but one of the most profound commonalities is their patriotism.              
            As in America, Korea is rich in celebrations of significant days in history that made Korea the phenomenal country it is today.  This summer, while we celebrate our independence, Koreans will set aside a day for citizens to remember those who died for their country, their Memorial Day which falls on June 6.   They will celebrate Constitution Day on July 17 , the anniversary of the 1948 proclamation of the Constitution of the Republic of Korea.  Finally, Liberation Day will be celebrated on August 15, recognizing the official surrender of Japan to Allied forces in 1945 ending the 35 year colonization of Korea by Japan.  Korean’s will celebrate their patriotism this summer.
            I look at my adopted son Sam and I am reminded of my dad.  Not in the obvious physical sense but in the strong connection the two have to Korea.   In 1949 my dad was drafted into the army and soon, after the Korean War broke out, on a ship setting sail for Incheon, Korea.    He served two tours of duty as a forward air controller during the Korean War.  In the two years he was in Korea he experienced severe frostbite during the battle of the Chosin Reservoir, was the sole survivor of his unit in a fierce battle that left him battered and alone for days behind enemy lines, and cautiously walked across a shattered bridge spanning the Han river to witness the complete and absolute destruction of Seoul.                         
            On June 10, 2002...forty nine years to the day my dad departed from Korea for the last time I boarded a plane for Incheon, Korea to bring home his grandson, Sam.  I expected the trip to be emotional...I was bringing home our baby...but I never expected the wave of emotions that consumed me as I stood on the same soil my father stood 49 years earlier fighting for the independence of the Korean citizens.  There is a  Korean War memorial wall at the War Memorial Museum in Seoul.  Guests are invited to sign the wall.  In the bottom right corner I inscribed, “Neil J. Murphy 1950-1952”.  It is the only physical proof within the borders of Korea of my dad’s service; however, Sam is living proof that my dad and thousands of other Korean War Vets did not fight in vain. 
            My dad’s story is just one of thousands of stories of the Korean War.  As each page of the calendar turns the heroes who tell these bold stories are passing and their stories are silenced.   An inscription on the Korean War Veteran’s Memorial in Washington D.C. summarizes the reason why these veteran’s are called heroes.

                                          “Our Nation Honors Her Sons and Daughters
                                                        Who Answered The  Call
                                                            To Defend A Country
                                                               They Never Knew
                                                      And A People They Never Met.”
            Have you ever thought for a moment about the long road it took for your adopted child to be placed in you arms?  I am not talking about the piles of papers and running around in the adoption process.  I am talking about the long history of adoption in Korea starting with Harry Holt’s incredible journey to adopt 8 orphans of the Korean War in 1954.   The children we embrace today are a result of a conflict that happened over fifty years ago.  The freedom my dad and thousands of other veterans from around the world fought five decades ago is the same freedom that has allowed our families to be formed through Korean adoption today.  It is so very important for adoptive parents to understand the history of adoption in Korea.   Our children are with us today because of a war fought long ago.   Our adopted children are the living legacies of the Korean War Veterans. 
            When we adopt we are quick to thank the agency, the social workers, the mailman, even the lady behind the FedEx counter, but in your lifetime have you ever looked a Korean War Veteran in the eye and said “Thank You.”  Maybe now is the time, before it is too late.   This summer, if you are attending a patriotic event on or around the Fourth of July and you cross paths with a veteran of the Korean War shake his hand and say thank you. Let him know that he did not fight in vain.  Introduce your son or daughter to him. Without his patriotism you would not have the child you love so dear today.  Koreans and Americans fought side by side many years ago in a war that by some is defined as the “The Forgotten War”.  As parents it is our duty not to forget the sacrifices made during this conflict.  Our children are descendants of a proud and honorable nation and by fate have been adopted into an equally proud and honorable nation.     
            My dad never had the chance to hold Sam.  Five days after I told him we were adopting from Korea he died of lung cancer.  Ironically, one year later to the day I last spoke to my dad, a baby boy was born in a hospital in Seoul,  South Korea.  A baby boy who will grow up knowing his Papa was a hero and the true definition of a patriot.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Granite Question Mark

One suggestion I would have for any adoption agency advocating for an older child's adoption would be to issue to the adoptive parents a statue of a granite question mark, a very sharp chisel, and a sturdy mallet.   On the day the statue is delivered...before your new child is home... that piece of rock is polished, smooth, and just about as perfect as perfect can be. That of course is also our ideal of who our future child will be... polished and just about as perfect as perfect can be.  

So, once your child arrives you are allowed one powerful blow to the chisel on the granite for every unanswered question reveled in regards to your child's history.  One blow...only one...regardless of how big or how infinitesimal that information is.  Because, really, what good would taking twenty whacks to a piece of granite really accomplish or change?   At first you'll be taking two, three, even ten whacks a day because that's just how it is the first several months. Their language is so primitive the only thing you will learn are his likes and dislikes, not a whole lot more.  

Then things slow down and there may be days you won't even have the need to pick up the hammer.  At this point the statue is looking a little dinged up, but still maintaining its integrity.  Soon your child will begin to express himself through our spoken tongue.  It isn't perfect but it is somewhat understandable.  The hammer is once again in hand several times a day as memories surface and are spoken.  Some are wonderful...some not so much.  Chisel away.  One blow...regardless of how big or how infinitesimal that memory is.   Because, really, what good would taking twenty whacks to a piece of granite really accomplish or change?

Then things slow down again and the hammer collects a fine layer of dust.  The statue is pushed aside, not so much a focal point anymore in your life or the life of the child.  You are cruising through this parenting thing.  You've got it down.  Nothing but smoo.... wait!  More memories surface.  Significant memories that alter your perspective of what is just and what is unjust in an innocent child's life.  You pull out the statue, grasp the chisel, clutch your hammer, and pull your arm back so far that the force of inertia when the hammer meets the chisel would break (you would think)  the hardest of surfaces.  Once the two meet a small ding the size of all the others appears.  Regardless of how much force you landed on the statue, the damage was no more different in size than the one you landed two years ago when you found out he was left handed.  You look at your statue...your question mark.  It is damaged from reveled history.  But for as much damage as has been inflicted on that question mark statue there are still parts that are polished, smooth, and just about as perfect as perfect can be...just like your adopted child.

History has damaged many of our children...some more than others.   But the bottom line is that regardless of how many dings and divots history has created in our child, it is up to us as adoptive parents to find the polished, smooth, and just about as perfect as perfect can be in our child.  It is our right, our duty, and our honor.

Friday, February 5, 2010

When Do We Dig Her Hole

Every day since Noah has arrived in our family, life lessons have been presented to him. Some of these lessons are more subtle than others. This past week my sister-in-law passed away after a long battle with cancer. Her death was Noah's first experience with death since joining our family 18 months ago. I was very cautious entering into the conversation with Noah regarding death, as I had no idea what type of memories this aunt's passing might ignite. For the most part of the day of her funeral I carefully watched Noah and his reaction to her death.

Fran's funeral was Thursday. She had requested a full Catholic funeral mass, with all the symbolism attached. Prior to the service I directed his attention away from the open casket. During the actual service he sat somewhat bored...typical of his reaction to every Sunday at church as the funeral mass very closely followed the protocol of our everyday mass. When the priest waved the incense over the coffin Noah still had his eyes cast down to the floor. Soon the perfume of frankincense and myrrh spread across the church. Noah turned to me with his big brown eyes and smiled widely, "Ethiopia!" he said excitedly. Now his interest was peaked. He obviously had attended Orthodox funerals in Ethiopia. He stood on his toes to watch. After the priest returned to the altar Noah turned to me and asked,
"When do we go and dig her hole?"

When do we go and dig her hole? When do WE go and dig her hole?

That a small church on the Olympic Peninsula...under the veil of a somber moment Noah learned another life lesson. We do not have to dig holes. When it comes to facing the death of a loved one, the only job we have is that of embracing one another. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just embracing one another.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A moment away from reflect on his big brother's birthday 8 years ago....

As I write, it is the early morning hours of February 3rd in Seoul. I have always spent the day before my adopted sons birthdays with thoughts to honor the women who gave birth to them a world away. So today my thoughts are in Sam’s birth land. Eight years ago today a young woman began to feel the pains of labor somewhere in the crowded streets of Seoul. Eight years ago today a young woman was in her final hours of hiding from her family a pregnancy she did not expect or want. Eight years ago today, in Korea, Yoon Jae-Bum became and orphan as his birthmom walked away from her newborn son in a city hospital. Eight years ago today a hero was born in my heart.

Nearly 96% of unwed pregnant women in South Korea choose abortion according to their Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs. 96%!!

Many people ask, “How could a mother leave her own newborn baby?” I could never...ever...ask that question of Sam’s birthmother. She courageously chose to face social indignation for carrying a child in her womb as a single woman. She chose to be that 4%. She chose to carry our Sam Jae-Bum...the beautiful gift she gave our family...Eight years ago today.

Happy Birthday Sam Jae-Bum.