Felicity Huffman's What the flicka-Adoption

Do you have a box of tissues nearby? If so, you may proceed with watching the most precious pregnancy announcement ever. 

Laura Dell uploaded the video to youtube, which shows her and her husband surprising her mother at work!

“My husband and I had been in the adoption process for about a year. My mom, who is adopted herself, knew that we were home study approved. She had no idea, though, that we had been matched, let alone that we had been placed. Needless to say, she received the shock of her life that day as she met her first grandbaby! She thought she was just getting an anniversary present.” 

In the video, Laura hands her mother a gift big which she opens to discover a onesie. Watch her joy radiate from her as she then meets her grandchild! So amazing.

‘ReMoved,’ a short film by Nathanael Matanick, brings to light the flaws of foster care that many of us may be unaware of. Told through the eyes of Zoe, a young girl growing up in a household with an abusive father and powerless mother, this video follows the tragic yet hopeful story of a child being raised in unthinkable circumstances.

READ MORE: “Are You One Of Those Women Who Couldn’t Get Pregnant So You Adopted?”

Matanick created ReMoved “with the desire that it would be used to serve in bringing awareness, encourage, and be useful in foster parent training, and raising up foster parents.”

READ MORE: The Checkout Line Makes People Ask Dumb Questions

Watch as ‘ReMoved’ offers an interesting and moving perspective on foster care, and seeks to bring awareness to the importance of proper foster parent training.

READ MORE: Adoption – Meant To Be Or Plan B?

I’m not going to live forever. You might be reading this and thinking “duh” but those six words are hard to type. Like many people, I don’t like to think about my own mortality. It’s funny how we’re so reluctant to think about death because nobody lives forever…unless you’re a Cullen.

The hubs and I just bought a new mattress. It’s the memory foam kind that comes with a 40 year warranty. Forty years. I’m 48. By the time I need a new mattress, I’ll be pushing 90 and most people would see that as a good run.

I’m not getting all morbid on you, people, but it occurred to me that there are things in life that I want to do that I haven’t done. Some people call it a bucket list. I’m sharing a few of those things with you here. For those of you who read regularly, my light-hearted and snarkaliscious writing will return. If you are new, trust me, I’m usually not this serious, but we all have our days.

Before I die, I would like to…

1.) Be a stay-at-home mom

I’m 48 and my twin towers of terror are 4. I hope to be able to retire in a few years and be home when they’re in elementary school.

2.) Publish a book

I started blogging in order to build readership for a book about adoption that’s sort of living in my head. One of my big dreams is for that book to be published and for people to buy it. That would be awesome sauce.

3.) Run a marathon

I’ve run several half marathons but people, there is a huge difference between 13.1 and 26.2. I always say I have one marathon in me, just to cross it off the list and then I’d happily go back to the shorter distances. The furthest I’ve ever run is 13.1 miles. Not 13.2. I need to find a nice flat springtime race and just go for it.

4.) Run a bed & breakfast

The hubs and I talk about buying property in the upper peninsula of Michigan and running a B & B up there. We’ve bought some fun things on our travels that would make for an interesting little inn.  Plus, I am surprisingly domestic and I just think that would be fun.

5.) Grow something and eat it

My domesticity doesn’t extend to gardening.  I’ve never been good with plants or had a garden. I’m not sure why I have set this as a goal, other than homegrown tomatoes taste better than grocery store tomatoes. You might ask “how hard could that be” but you haven’t seen what I did to my last petunia plant. It wasn’t pretty.

6.) Learn to dance

The booty shaking shuffle I do after a couple glasses of wine? I’m not sure if we can call that dancing. My daughter insists it’s embarrassing, which kind of makes it more fun for me, but I would like to get better at it. I’m not sure why. The look of horror on hubs’ face when I suggest going out dancing tells me it’s not a skill I would get to put in to practice often.

7.) Go someplace really exotic

If I could travel anywhere, I’d go to Easter Island, Chile or North Korea. I know, I’m weird. From a sociological perspective, I find North Korea fascinating, even though the chances of my actually ever going there are pretty skinny.

8.) Start a nonprofit

I made a business plan for a foundation that would provide grants to military families who want to adopt. Adoption is cost prohibitive for many families and I’d like to be a part of something that makes it easier for “average joes” to afford.

9.) Meet my sons’ birth mothers

I know this isn’t likely to happen but it’s something I wish for just the same. My kids are from China and their birth mothers left them at an early age. We don’t know their birth stories. We don’t know medical histories. We don’t know the answers to the questions our kids are going to have later on. If I could have any wish granted (other than wild success and eternal svelteness) it would be to meet these women.

10.) Go gray

I haven’t seen my natural hair color (except for a half inch of root that shows before I run for the box of Nice n’ Easy) since 2004. I was born blonde but I’ve worn it red since I was 19 (which was exactly a long effing time ago) but as the years have gone by, I know it’s probably mostly gray. I’d love to be one of those women with fabulous silver hair. Maybe I am…I haven’t been brave enough to take the plunge and ditch the box color.

11.) Be secure with my body

I’m not sure if this involves losing some weight and/or toning my tummy or just learning to be kinder to myself, but I’d like to get to the place where I’m not obsessively pinching an inch or looking in mirrors. I think it’s a balance between improving myself and knowing when to accept myself.

So, there you go. My bucket list is pretty simple. I’m not that complicated of a person and with the exception of meeting the birth mothers, these are things that are in my reach. Well…maybe not the tomatoes. I really do suck at gardening.

This post was originally featured on Jill’s blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. Photo via

I often wonder about my boys’ lives before they joined our family (for newer readers, my boys were adopted at 26 months and 41 months, respectively). I wonder how they will see their adoption stories when they are older. I wonder in vain because I’m not going to get answers right now. Their pasts are a mystery and their tomorrows are unwritten.

I have heard other families talk about how adoption was “meant to be” or “God’s plan”. Whenever someone talks about God’s plan I think of a song I learned when I was little called the Purple Puzzle Tree. The song is about how events in life fit together like puzzle pieces. I’m not sure the significance of purple; maybe it just fit with the tune.

I’m not going to shove my views down anyone’s throat but I’ve always believed God knows what is going to happen next even when we don’t. Sometimes I wonder how far out this puzzle is planned. Are there twists along the way that change how the puzzle fits together? Is the layout fixed and decided in advance but unknown to us? When I hear someone talk about how their adoption was meant to be I wonder how they can think this way. In the case of my children, I look at it like this:

Their birth families could not or would not parent them;
They lived a chunk of their early lives without a family to call their own.
These are not things appropriately labeled “meant to be”. Maybe better described as “Plan B”.

Think about it. And forget, for a moment, all of those people who present their adoption stories as ladybugs, red threads and unicorn farts because they’re full of crap. They’re telling you what you want to hear or what they want you to hear. Maybe these “adoption is a miracle” and “meant to be” families haven’t considered that there is another side to the coin, but chew on this, people:

Adoption is about loss;
Adoption is also (usually) about happy endings and building families, but at the root, there is no adoption without loss.
We don’t always stop to consider these things. Maybe because it’s uncomfortable. Maybe because “meant to be” is more socially palatable.

We don’t know a ton about Doodlebug’s early story. We know his “finding ad” was published when he was approximately 4 months old. [A finding ad is an ad placed in the local Chinese newspaper announcing abandoned children, inviting their families to come forward. This formality must be satisfied for children to become wards of the government. Ages at finding are estimated, so there may be wiggle room with the actual birthday]. Doodlebug was placed in the custody of the local social welfare institute upon finding but lived part of his early life in with a foster family. We don’t have full details but based on the pieces we’ve been able to put together Doodlebug was with this family for the majority of his life until we showed up when he was 26 months old.

We don’t know anything about his first 4 months with his birth mother. We don’t know what led to her decision not to parent him but we assume it had to do with his limb difference. Although people’s perception of the one child policy in China isn’t always accurate, children with obvious physical imperfections are often considered unlucky or undesirable. They are often left in public places where they will be taken in by the authorities.

I have always wondered if Doodlebug’s birth mother wanted to keep him. I wonder what their time together was like for those first 4 months. Although many people can easily find fault with her actions, I feel nothing but gratitude for this woman whose name I will never know.

I am his mother but another mother came before me. One who carried him for 9 months and nurtured him for 4 months. Did she agonize over the decision to give him up? Did she put her mental health and well-being in jeopardy to choose as she did? Does she think of him every July? Does she think of him every day? I’ll never know the answers to these questions but I’m going to go with “yes”. I’m not going to diminish her role in our puzzle by saying I was “meant to be” his mom. To say this means that the powers that be meant for this child not to stay with his birth family. Is that what God (or destiny, or karma, however you look at things) intended? I feel it is presumptuous for me to make that generalization.

I am “Plan B”. And I can live with that.

Doodlebug has experienced a hell of a lot of loss in his young life. He lost his birth mother at a very early age. He lost the only family he knew at age 26 months when one loud redhead showed up, smothered him with unsolicited affection and declared “I’m your mommy”. (That was me).

These losses haven’t had too much of an impact on Doodlebug’s big picture to date, but he’ll probably feel it at some point in his life. There will come a day when Doodlebug realizes that we look different. He’ll understand that other mommies came before me. He may be angry. He may be resentful. He may be curious. He may not give a rat’s ass. Regardless of how he feels, he’ll ask questions someday:

Did my birth mom love me?
Why didn’t she keep me?
Can I call her?
Can I see my foster family?
When is my real birthday?

I’m not sure I will have answers. I’m making this stuff up as I go along. But I do know this: any derivative of “meant to be” would be a lame response and I owe him better. I want to believe Doodlebug’s birth mother loved him. I want to believe his foster family loved him and viewed him as more than a source of revenue. When he asks me the hard questions will “I don’t know but you’re where you’re meant to be now” be good enough? How can I tell a child that lost 2 families in order to be in this one that this is “meant to be”?

I couldn’t love this child more if he shared my DNA – of that, I am absolutely certain. We are going to give him the best life we can. He’ll have more advantages than he had in China, but is it for me to say he’ll have a “better” life here? Who decides what “better” means? Me?

We chose the best adoption scenario for our family. We wanted to add to our family. We knew there were children in China waiting for families. Doodlebug was one of those children. We stepped out in faith and raised our hands to be his family. At the end of the day, being in this family was part of his purple puzzle tree and part of mine. Whether it was planned out that way all along or whether there was a fork in the road along the way somewhere that caused our paths to collide and Plan B to materialize…I really couldn’t tell you.

The next time you use the phrase “meant to be” in reference to an adopted child, I challenge you to stop and examine the other side of the coin. Think about the hardship that child had to endure prior to adoption. Think about the loss felt by the birth family. Take away your “I could never” notions when you think about the birth family. They made a hard choice that is probably not easily forgotten. I feel nothing but gratitude for my boys’ birth mothers. I don’t understand their actions. I might not agree with their decisions. But they have given me a blessing at great personal cost.

Adoption has been a blessing for my family but the loss factor isn’t something to make in to a fairytale. There are still happy endings but it’s not all ladybugs, red thread and unicorn farts.

This post was originally featured on Jill’s blog, Ripped Jeans and Bifocals. Photo via

My brother is adopted. My nephew is adopted. Three of my cousins are adopted. It was a normal part of “how you got kids” when I was growing up. I got married at the tender age of 42 and the fertility ship had sailed. When the question of adding children to our family came up, hubs and I decided adoption was the answer.

Here are four things parents who have come to parenthood through adoption can identify with:

You know you’re an adoptive parent when you have an arsenal of canned responses to any question or comment that resembles the following:

“…are they all yours are they brothers I mean real brothers what happened to their real mother how much did they cost can’t you have any of your own do they know they’re adopted are you afraid they’ll turn out to be crazy my friend’s sister adopted from Russia and that kid was cuh-ray-zee we adopted a dog so I totally get what you’re going through now that you’re adopted you’ll get pregnant they’re so lucky…”

Your mileage will vary based on your mood, time of the month, and your perception of the “asker’s” motives. (Someone genuinely interested in adoption is probably going to get a different response than straight up nosy old biddy in the frozen food section).

READ MORE: The Checkout Line Makes People Ask Dumb Adoption Questions

You know you’re an adoptive parent when you spend the night before Mother’s Day quietly celebrating another woman who is the reason your kids call you mommy.

You might have an open adoption. You might know nothing about the woman who chose life for your child. You spend time before church, brunch or opening presents made from pipe cleaners and elbow macaroni thinking about a woman who made sacrifices so you could be a mom. You might know her name, her face or her Twitter handle (although I think the latter would be awkward). You might know nothing. Regardless, this woman holds a special place in your heart and you think of her every Mother’s Day.

You know you’re an adoptive parent if you dread school assignments that involve the “family tree”.

Adopted children may (or may not) want to include the genealogy of their birth families. If they do, they’re singled out. They might want to include this info but might not have it. This assignment may conjure up hurt or feelings of loss and spark difficult conversations at home.

My kids were adopted when they were toddlers. I don’t have baby pictures, and this makes “baby picture day” uncomfortable.

READ MORE: Blinded

You know you’re an adoptive parent when quotes like this make you tear up:

“You may not have my eyes or my smile but from the very beginning, you had my heart”;

“Not flesh of my flesh or bone of my bone, but still miraculously my own, never forget for a single minute, you didn’t grow under my heart, BUT IN IT.”

And if that doesn’t give you at least a little tear, you must be in the Tin Woodsman “I don’t have a heart” club.

This post was originally featured on Blogher. Photo via

Remember when your teacher told you, “The only dumb question is one you don’t ask.” That is not always true. This is a true story about dumb questions.

The checkout line is part of everyday life for most of us. I guess there are some snooty-falooty people out there that have “staff” to run their errands. For the rest of us peasants, standing in line at the store is a reality.

Aside from the “un-fun” factor of waiting in line when you have better things to do, the checkout line is a weird no-man’s-land of a place where you’re sandwiched between people you don’t know at close range. Make eye contact or no? Meaningless, awkward small talk? All part of the experience.

Lately, I’ve become pretty slick at avoiding that eye contact. I am a fairly social creature, but often that initial eye contact results in small talk that results in The Questions. The Questions run the gamut between truly offensive and “I’m just tired of answering that.”

Most people easily figure out that my adorable Chinese boys did not come out of my… you know. People are quick like that. I have red hair and blue eyes and I’ve never been mistaken for anything other than a white girl.

Some people seem to need to take the extra step and ask if my husband is Asian, just to make sure. I have so far been pretty good-natured about this, but I can’t imagine questioning a stranger about their spouse’s ethnicity or even assuming there was a spouse in the first place.

I accept that people are curious about my family and that curiosity comes in varying degrees. I can almost hear the wheels turning in those checkout line people’s heads. If I make that eye contact or smile (hey, I’m a friendly person), then I’m potentially opening the door to conversation and The Questions.

On some level, I don’t mind The Questions. If I can clear up a misconception about adoption, I’m usually happy to do that. If I can give someone interested in adoption info to get them started, even better. But sometimes, I just want to be a shopper. Just a mom. Just an “average Jill” pushing a shopping cart.

I didn’t sign up to be the poster girl for international adoption. Why am I expected to stop what I’m doing and answer questions about my life? Because some strange person who happens to be in the same store as me is “just curious”?

There is a window between eye contact and The Questions. I can almost smell it. I wish I could give a knowing nod to those checkout line people before “say, can I ask you a question” tumbles out of their mouths. I wish I could say “I gotcha covered” and whisk a “FAQ” document out of my bag. In my daydreams I sweetly tell these people “it’s all in there.” Then I zone out, play Angry Birds on my phone, or try to stop my kids from ripping open boxes of Kraft mac & cheese with their teeth.

If I had such a “FAQ” document in my mommy bag, it would go something like this.

Answers to Dumb Adoption FAQs by Jill:

My boys are adopted from China.

Yes, they know. (We’ve actually had people ask if we plan to tell them they’re adopted. Here’s your sign, honey. They don’t understand everything but they know they were born in China and that their dad and I rode a big airplane to China to bring them home. They know their Chinese names. We’ll say more as they get older but I think that covers things for now).

READ MORE: Blinded

Yes, I am sure they are Chinese. (I have been told they look Korean, Japanese, and Mexican).

My husband is a white guy from Michigan, but the mailman might be Asian. We didn’t exchange a lot of information. It’s hard for me to talk about. (Makes you wonder, huh?)

Yes, they are brothers. Real brothers. I know what you meant. They are REAL BROTHERS.

Do I have any real kids or normal kids? All of my kids are real. If you pinch them, they will make a noise. (Don’t actually touch my kids, ok?) Normal is up for discussion. You should meet the rest of my family first.

No, I can’t have “my own” children. If you want to ask me more, let’s take this little chat beyond the checkout, k? And, if you expect me to talk to you about my ovaries and stuff, you’re going to have to buy me a drink. I think that’s fair.

Sadly, I do not know Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Jillian Michaels or the “Little Couple.” Yes, I know these people adopted from “foreign countries” too. But I still don’t know them. Really.

My children are American citizens. Yes, real American citizens. Yes, regular American citizens. (I am slightly worried there is some kind of citizenship category I don’t know about).

They will be able to vote when they’re 18 unless the laws change. And yes, I know that as naturalized citizens (real ones, btw) they won’t be allowed to run for president. (These are not things I spend time thinking about. Am I missing something?)

They speak English. We don’t speak Chinese.

They eat macaroni and cheese and most other “kid food.” I’m very lucky that they are not picky. I am not sure if they “used to eat cats and dogs.” Wow. Thanks for asking that. Something to ponder for sure.

We have no plans to enroll them in gymnastics, violin, or competitive ping pong. We’re not sure if they are going to be “really good at math.” Right now, we are working on how to share the toys and chew with our mouth closed. Maybe my expectations are too low, but that’s where we’re at.

I am their “real mother.” The subject of our sons’ birth mothers is not something we talk about outside our family. And that is a rude thing to ask, especially when my kids can hear you. How do you think questions like that make them feel?

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on “how horrible the Chinese are for abandoning their kids” and for letting us you know “you could never do that.” My kids are too young to grasp what this really means for them. One day they will and the subject will be introduced by me, not some clueless stranger in line at Target.

How did we “get boys”? Well, we did not “get” them. They are not trendy trinkets. China adoptions have changed a lot in recent years. Lots of boys are available for adoption.

How much did they cost? Hmmm…hey, how ’bout this: Is that your real hair color because your eyebrows are this really dark shade that doesn’t match your hair… and what is that thing on your chin? Is it a birthmark or just a zit? I’m just curious.

READ MORE: Post-Adoption Bitterness

We adopted from China’s “Waiting Child” Program, which takes 12-18 months on average. “Waiting Child” program is the official name for what some refer to as the “China special needs” program.

If you have just asked me “so, what’s wrong with them/him” and I have smacked you, don’t expect an apology. (I am always tempted to say, “What’s wrong with him? He doesn’t like dumbasses,” but so far, I haven’t said this. And to be fair, most people are slightly more delicate when asking this question. Slightly.)

If you are interested in specific info about adoption, including cost, we worked with Wasatch Adoptions out of Ogden, Utah. I’d be happy to give their details. They have a great website and if you have questions beyond that, call them. They are really wonderful about answering questions. Much more wonderfuller than me.

We chose to adopt from China because it was the best adoption choice for our family. If you asked me why I didn’t adopt from “my own” country because there are “so many American kids” I could have adopted, then I suggest you get smart about the foster care system in the United States. You are clearly unfamiliar with it. I adopted from my own planet, so there.

If you told me my kids are “so lucky,” thank you. I know you meant well and I tried to accept that compliment gracefully. However, I want you to think about what your words will mean to my kids when they are old enough to understand them (right now they are four-years-old). While I am a really cool mom and they are totally lucky, those kinds of comments might make them feel like charity projects versus just my kids. It might not, but something to chew on. Just so you know, I feel I’m the lucky one. When I am not stepping on itty bitty cars and when the boys aren’t hitting each other, that is.

These kids needed a family. I had room in mine. They are wanted and loved.

Parting shots: All of these questions are things I’ve been asked by strangers or people I don’t know well. These are some intensely personal questions, people. If you are doing the asking, keep in mind that curiosity doesn’t give you the right to info. If you are a parent who is in the process of an international adoption, well, I’ve just given you a peek at what you’re in for when you stop by your local Wal-Mart for a half gallon of milk and some doggie treats.

Be uber (uber, uber, uber, uber) cautious of asking an adoptive mom any variation of “can’t you have your own.” Those kids you’re staring at are her own. Besides, a family who has made the choice to adopt after struggling with infertility, miscarriages, or even the death of a child has suffered a loss (yeah, like that isn’t obvious).

We all deal with grief in different ways. The checkout line (or playground, water cooler, or church coffee) might not be the best place to ask a stranger (or even someone you know) questions about their ability to make babies.

You just might get more than you bargained for. I would love to see the look on someone’s face if I suddenly launched in to a discussion about the nitty gritty details of my lady bits. Just once.

This post was originally featured on BlogHer. Photo via