When I Lived in Aleppo

Early in our marriage, my husband and I liquidated or stored most of our meager belongings, hopped a plane, and landed in one of the beigest places we’d ever seen. We set out on our first adventure together — teaching at an international school in Aleppo, Syria (known regionally as Halab).

aleppo citadel before war
The gateway into the Citadel, the city on the hill, snapped during our first month in Aleppo. Click here for more breathtaking views from The Guardian. Today the Citadel, a UNESCO World Heritage site has been damaged in the war that broke out in 2011.

I want to share with you what that was like. I want to remember what it was like. There is virtually nothing else I can do to help Aleppo today, other than prompt you to think about it, about the very real people who are trying to survive there, who are dying there, who are burying their dead there.

I knew warm and kind people there. I had fun times there. Even the icky things left me with fond memories of there. Continue reading When I Lived in Aleppo

#flipthescript 13: Healing & Hope for an Adoptee

The subtitle of Anne Bauer’s memoir is An Adoptee’s Quest for her Origins because one of the main reasons she wrote The Sound of Hope was to “get people to realize how damaging it is to make adoptees feel guilty when they want to know about their origins.”

Three years ago, we wrapped up her book tour, and today I’m republishing an interview with memoirist and adoption reformer Anne Bauer as part of the #flipthescript series, in which adoptees take over the mic.

adoptees flipthescriptImage: Tracy Hammond

NJ Adoptees Can Soon Get Their Original Birth Certificates!

Sound of Hope adoptee memoirAre you still an active champion for the rights of adopted persons, specifically original birth certificates and open records?

Yes! I keep in contact with NJCARE (NJ Coalition for Adoption Reform & Education) which is a grass roots organization that supports honesty in adoption through educational outreach and legislative advocacy. I’m pleased to report that “persons born in New Jersey and adopted within or beyond its bounds, or persons born elsewhere and adopted in New Jersey, age 18 and over, will be allowed access to a copy of their original birth certificate from January 1, 2017, forward” (source). Continue reading #flipthescript 13: Healing & Hope for an Adoptee

#flipthescript 12: A 1970s Adoption Story

A friend from high school reached out to tell me that her biological mother had died. She told me that the whole thing had been a nightmare and that I should write about it. 

Here is Cheryl’s story, part of November’s #flipthescript series in which adoptees take over the microphone.

adoptees flipthescriptImage: Tracy Hammond

How I Got Informally Adopted

Cheryl: My memories start at age 5. My mom, Connie, had four more children after me: Viki, twins Mark and Mike, and Richard.

Connie was a partier and was gone most nights. My siblings and I were hungry, we were dirty and we were neglected. I once almost killed my little sister Viki by giving her a bottle of baby aspirin because Connie was out lookin’ for love.

Eventually social services stepped in. Connie kept Viki but gave up the twins and  Richard to Colorado Christian Home. As for me? A couple who eventually became my parents had seen me at their church, where Connie would send me to beg for money, food, whatever. This couple informally adopted me with Connie’s blessing. Connie kept trying to get money from them for years. Eventually  my adoptive parents got a lawyer and fought for me.

Continue reading #flipthescript 12: A 1970s Adoption Story

#flipthescript 11: Abuse to Adoption to Addiction to Affirmation

Only recently did Michael Schwerman realize that being adopted at age 12 by a step father was not nothing — as he’d always thought — nor was the difficult relationship he’s had with his mother. He’s figuring out that instead, the circumstances around his adoption and rejection shaped his life and affected his future.

Adopted people are taking over the microphone in this space during November for National Adoption Awareness Month.

adoptees flipthescriptImage: Tracy Hammond

The Adoption

I have very few memories of my bio dad, Lyle. I know that he served in Korea, was a little league coach, and led a quiet life.  He was a general laborer who lived paycheck to paycheck. He and my mom split up when I was little.  My bio dad was a good man, despite his drinking and womanizing. Of course it made sense I’d follow in his 6’6″ footsteps.

My mother remarried in 1974 to a salesman from Chicago whom she met in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. My step-father, Ron, had swept her off her feet with his big city ideas and plans. She would never have to work another day in her life for he believed that the man of house provided for his family. He adopted me in 1976 when I was 12, which means Lyle, for some reason, had given up his rights to me.

The Abuse

Like Lyle, Ron was a basically good man. Fair, yet firm. Protective, even. Who did he protect me from?

Continue reading #flipthescript 11: Abuse to Adoption to Addiction to Affirmation

Open adoption parenting & mindfulness