Wednesday, June 28, 2006
So that meant going through all the non-Tyler stuff. Included in that were a bunch of clothing items of mine, primarily from the 80s. Talk about a trip down memory lane! I have the dress I wore for my high school graduation. My favorite "date" clothes from my high school days, including black Gloria Vanderbilt jeans that are circa 1982. A stone washed Jordashe denim mini dress from 1987 (tags still on it). A pale blue cotton prairie style full-circle skirt with buttons up the front circa 1986. On and on...
Something about that prairie skirt and seeing my black jeans, I suddenly found myself welling up with tears. Why was I crying over a bunch of old clothes? I think it was the sudden rush of memories associated with them. People wonder why I hold on to things that no longer fit me and that are 20+ years out of date. I'm a sentimental fool, that's why. I cried over having to throw some of those items away (they had gotten discolored or were damaged). Some items I had no problem earmarking for GoodWill. They were old work clothes.
But those "fun" clothes... The outfits that marked significant milestones in my teens and early 20s; I can't throw those away. I can't give them away. Some of them would probably sell on eBay to kids who like vintage 80s wear. Maybe I could pass them on if I knew someone was enjoying them to the same extent I did back in the day.
I don't know. I'm still torn. What should I do with them? I fear once these items are gone, the memories associated with them will fade. What would you do?
I wish I could really wear this skirt rather than just drape it over my legs. I'd give anything to have a waist that small again.
Every guy I dated in the 80s saw me in this outfit at least once. I loved this soft gray angora sweater with the pearls and my black jeans that looked painted on. Add my gray suede elf boots and I was HOT.
My periwinkle floral graduation dress is on the right and so stone wash faded it almost disappears on the left is the Jordash mini dress I never lost enough weight to actually wear (I put on a few pounds my first year in college and that started a downhill spiral of weight gain I never recovered from.)
This bat wing shirt was so ugly it was cool. Anyone remember the Adam Ant inspired over the top Native American wear of the mid-80s? All the beading on this top...not a single bead is missing. And those HUGE shoulder pads. Hilarious!
And the Army wear craze! Everything was camo, khaki and army green. I looked great in those dark olive shades. This dress had a sort of militaristic but feminine flare. Dig the sexy lacing up the bodice!
P.S. To the comment in my previous entry...about my voice. I am recovering from tonsilitis so that is NOT how I normally sound. In that recording my voice is too deep and I sound congested and phlegmy. Nice, eh? LOL!
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Fun course, eh? I'm such a geek for black light. This is my first experiment with a YouTube video. Hope that worked.
Then it was on to the games! Ty and John played a few rounds of air hockey, then shot some hoops, then hit the foozehockey table, and finally had a lovely pretend dinner (cooked up by Tyler) in the play room.
One thing I noticed (and you will too if you go look at the Shutterfly album) is, Tyler has a game face! The expression on his face after he launches a basketball toward the hoop is hilarious! What concentration!
We rounded out the evening with a visit to Yokohama Japanese Steak House for some hibachi dinner. I love watching the action as our chef prepared the meal right in front of us. I think this place has the best hibachi of all the steak houses we frequent. Later we stopped at 7-11 for a "squishy ice" treat (as Tyler calls it) - gotta love those Slurpees.
Super fun family time will continue next weekend, hopefully, with the arrival of Independence Day! Last year's local carnivals and fireworks were a bit of a bust. This year we plan to venture further in search of July 4th fun.
Friday, June 23, 2006
There was NO hesitation. Ty jumped right in and enjoyed the water park. He stayed on his favorite slides, at first, but I was able to talk him into a little exploring by day 2. By the time our 4 day trip was winding down, Tyler had a new favorite area to play. This is a pool he was so terrified of in December he wouldn't even walk within sight of it...the WAVE POOL!
I am so proud of him I could burst! He's had such a terror of the ocean and waves for the longest time. Does he look scared now?
Ty giggles hysterically as the waves hit.
I'm glad to be home, but I miss our room at the lodge too. Vacation went by too quickly.
Adoption Search Update: We had stopped the mail while we were away and consequently had a large stack waiting for us today. In the stack was an envelope from the Department of Vital Statistics in KS. My original birth certificate has arrived. Drum roll, please? My birth mother's first name is............Elizabeth. No birth father is identified (it just says Name Withheld.) At least now I know where she was born and where she was living at the time I was born. A VERY small town about 50 miles outside of Topeka...population 170 as of the 2000 census.
John and I had another fun round of "Google" to see what we could find out about the the scant facts we now know. No sign of her on Classmates for the local high school...but there is a girl named Phyllis (same last name) who attended a year behind her (if we've done our math right). Elizabeth was 17 when I was born. Perhaps she never finished high school (at least not locally).
It's all speculation at this point, but it was interesting finding out about the area.
Included with the birth record was a list of alternate information and support groups for adoptees. First on the list was a state government agency contact name and the words "For information about adoptees that were either born or adopted in Kansas" and "Free Service" after the phone number. Hmm! Naturally, I called immediately. A lovely woman named Tina told me that she could send me a copy of my adoption records (court documents and such), anything that the State of Kansas has on file. All I have to do is fill out a form, get it notarized and send it with copies of my ID, amended and original birth certificates. I can also elect for them to conduct a search for birth family...for FREE.
I must say I am pretty darn impressed with the State of Kansas and how they treat their adoptees. It's like we are long lost family that have come home again. I can't believe the state actually funds an office whose sole purpose is to research/copy old adoption records and set up reunions. I guess a need for that is created when you pass laws to become one of the few totally "open" adoption states...any adoptee over age 18 can request their records.
Thank goodness I was born and adopted in Kansas. I feel so sad for folks who spend years searching but get no where because of the laws in the state they were born.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Chances are if you're from the Boston area and you are female, you've heard of the semi annual wedding dress sale at the big Filene's Basement in downtown. Filene's Basement used to be a bargain hunter's delight...on a regular day. You never knew what you might find on the racks. But once or twice a year the main floor space would be cleared to make way for racks and racks of wedding dresses.
These were off-the-rack extras, designer samples, overstocks, runway display dresses that had been worn once or twice, last season's left overs...a pretty broad selection, in other words. The real kicker to this sale? Most of the dresses could be purchased for under $100 (that's 1990 dollars, folks. They are probably more costly now.) That's right...dresses that would have sold at retail for six or eight THOUSAND could be found at this sale for rock bottom prices.
So now you begin to understand the appeal of this sale.
I'm a fairly practical person and my best friend at the time was VERY cost conscious. We both agreed it was stupid to pay full price for a dress that would only be worn once. So we made a plan to attend the sale. I had to be careful not to let my plans slip to my mother. She would have had a heart attack. She already had grandiose plans of shopping for my bridal wear on Newbury Street, just she and I. More on that later...
Kathleen and I drove into Alewife and parked my car at our favorite parking deck. We hopped on the T (MTA subway) and rode the red line the few stops into Downtown Crossing...the diamond and retail district. Loads of great shopping! We had a game plan all mapped out. When the store's doors opened at 8am, she would go one way, I would go the other. We'd grab as many dresses in my size as we could hold then we'd meet back by the front door.
We were lucky. We knew some girls who had been to the sale. They gave us some important tips and warnings. 1. Get there early! People start lining up hours before the store opens. 2. Wear comfortable shoes! No heels. Too much risk of tearing a dress as you try them on. 3. Wear a leotard or sport bra and bike shorts. There are NO DRESSING ROOMS. 4. Make a bee-line for your size on the rack, grab as many dresses as you can hold and RUN! (I understand they have changed things slightly and they no longer sort the dresses by size. Makes it more fair for the late comers.)
Yes, that advice came in handy. There were already a large number of people waiting in line when we arrive just before 7am. The crowd was a little pushy/shovey, but in good spirits. At ten minutes til 8, people began to chant "Open up!" and "Let us in!" We knew security wouldn't open the doors any sooner than they absolutely had to. At 8am sharp, it was like a starter's pistol went off. The locks on the doors clicked, the doors were thrown open, and the Running of the Brides commenced! Seriously...it was like being in Pamplona for the bulls.
Just like a synchronized swim team, Kath and I split up in the sea of eager shoppers and went looking for the right racks. I was able to scoop up about 8 dresses and I fought my way back to the front of the store. Kath arrived with about 4 more. You can't be shy at the Basement sale! I peeled off my coat and outer layer of clothes and began trying dresses on over the cat suit I wore. Some women had brought a team of helpers. They had sheets they held up to form impromptu dressing rooms. A pretty good idea, except the press of people pushing by would sometimes knock those "walls" down and leave the poor girls exposed.
A couple of the dresses we picked up we discarded almost immediately. They were the wrong style or just plain ugly. There were always girls waiting to scoop up rejects (the girls who didn't arrive early enough). We got pretty chatty with the other size 14s waiting patiently for our castoffs. When I tried on the 6th or 7th dress, the girls all got quiet. I waited for my turn at the triple mirror and realized why Kath was biting her nails and trying not to cry...the dress fit me perfectly. It was totally NOT what I went in hoping to find, but I couldn't deny what I saw in the mirror. It looked amazing.
I checked the price tag. It was hard to weed through all the repricing and cross outs, but I was pretty sure the price in red was the right one. $64. Wow.
I yelled SOLD and the girls watching my progress cheered as I gave up the remaining dresses in our pile. From checkout to subway and back to my car was a bit of a blur, but when I opened my trunk to lay the plastic garment bag inside I suddenly realized I HAD MY WEDDING DRESS! I stared at the glimmer of sequins and lace and wondered how I was going to tell my mother. I'd bought a dress...without her. She was going to KILL me unless I came up with a Mission Impossible style plan to cover my tracks.
I've talked about the plan and how it backfired in a previous entry, but long story short, I planned to go through the motions with my Mother. Store after store of over priced designer dresses until her brain turned to mush. Then I'd just tell her I went back to XYZ on my own and bought that pretty dress we both liked so much. She's so afraid of getting older she'd never admit she didn't remember the exact dress I was talking about. I was home free!
Months later... She fell in love with the second dress I tried at the FIRST STORE we went in. She refused to look any further. She wanted me to spend over $6,000 of my own money (we agreed to split the cost of the wedding with my parents because they were a bit broke at that time). *cough* I barely managed to get her out of Pricilla's of Boston on Newbury Street before the big blowup. We fought all the way home. I never did tell her how much I actually spent on my dress. I also neglected to tell her where I bought it and who I was with. I would have never heard the end of it.
As it was, the wedding almost didn't happen. But I've told that story before too.
So even tho things got ugly, nothing will take away the fun of that day. It was crazy, silly, impulsive...and one of the last things I did with my best friend before she left this world. She never got to see me wear that dress down the isle, but at least she saw me in it once.
The most important thing about that dress? I wore it once on one of the most significant days of my life. June 21, 1992. Why yes! It IS my anniversary today. Thanks for noticing.
John thought I looked pretty damn good in that dress too, if memory serves. I love you babe! Happy Anniversary!
P.S. A couple links I found while doing a Google to see if Filene's Basement still does their semi annual sale:
A fun photo series from a recent bridal sale...just like the one I went to all those years ago.
An article from the Daily News.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
I just happened to do that very thing over the weekend. Here is my Father's Day still life:
Hence the title of this entry. This happened to be the start of a pretty nice Father's Day - breakfast in bed for John. Special thanks to my Mom for making home-baked sticky buns on Sunday morning.
Tyler has turned into such a ham. It's hard to get a photo of him withOUT a goofy expression on his face (I know you feel my pain, Nettie!) Ty was really proud of the Father's Day gift he made for his dad in school. It was a hand decorated "necktie" that has a tracing of Ty's hand with #1 Dad written on it and Ty's signature orange scribbles added for color. And yes, John actually wore his new tie out to dinner that night. Would you believe not ONE person commented on it or wished him a Happy Father's Day? Feh to stuffy New England peoples. Did I mention we were at my parent's house this weekend? No?
We had a nice weekend up at my parent's house. HOT, but fun. Tyler got to participate in a summer night family tradition...ice cream at Erickson's. Is there anything better than home made ice cream fresh from a local dairy on a hot steamy summer's night? You tell me. I can't think of anything better.
The wait, the crowds, the endless flavor choices... and they even give free ice cream to your dog (if you bring one). It's specially made just for pets and they put a Milk Bone treat on top. So cute! We saw one pampered pooch enjoying his doggy sundae. I wish I'd snapped a photo. But I was busy trying to capture Tyler's first taste of black raspberry ice cream with fresh whipped cream on top.
Oh yes...he loved it. :-)
Happy Belated Father's Day, peeps!
Friday, June 16, 2006
Tyler had his belt test in Tae Kwon Do today. He passed! He impressed us and I think he even impressed himself with his skills. I could tell he was nervous (we had one "Mommy, I want to go home..." moment, but he got over it.) Hopefully when class starts up again in the fall, he'll be even more in to it.
Way to go, my little blue stripe belt!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Other items included a Waiver of Confidentiality (an optional form) in case I wanted to leave notation in my file with permission for certain or any biological family members to contact me. I can specify bio-mom, bio-dad, siblings...etc. Or I can elect not to send that form and my search will remain one sided. I'm going to send the form and give permission to any/all interested parties. Uncles, Aunts, Cousins...feel free to give me a ring. I mean that sincerely.
Then there is the medical disclosure form. From what I can tell, this form comes into play if I hire a search firm or detective to conduct my search for me. This allows the agency to release my information to a third party I may choose to designate. I'll be skipping that one for now.
Next is a form to request my original birth certificate from the state. Been there, done that; so moving right along...
The final form is also optional. It's a registration form for the International Soundex Reunion Registry. Apparently, this is a not for profit reunion registry that has been around since 1975. I feel a little sad that I've never heard of such a well established registry before. I'll be looking into it, via the net, as soon as I finish up this entry.
I've been pleased with the ease in communication with the agency, thus far. They've been really prompt and helpful. I dropped a quick note back to the coordinator and included the following paragraph:
Oh, and I very much enjoyed reading the history of the agency on your website. It's nice to know that my infant self passed through an institution with such a long history of great service to the community. Thanks for helping children find forever families. I, for one, am very grateful for mine.
As I reread that last sentence, I suddenly realized it's really true. Yes, my family has their shortcomings. Yes, I've spent many years being very angry with various members and nursing deep emotional hurts. But over all, I had a pretty privileged upbringing and lots of happy memories. I think the good stuff really does outweigh the bad.
It's taken me 40 years, but I think I've finally reached a place where I can appreciate my parents (and just overlook their failures - past, present and future.) That is quite a personal revelation. Can it be? I'm just not angry any more. In the immortal words of Joey Lawrence...Whoa!
The next chapter in the story of my search...when/how do I tell my parents that I am searching. My mother has indicated, pretty much all my life, that if my brother and I showed interest in searching she would be deeply hurt. Her anger and attitude about this used to irritate me to no end. After all the reading I've been doing lately, I now know where she is coming from and I understand. Knowing, however, will not help me much. I'll have to tread lightly. More on that adventure in future posts.
Meanwhile, I have some forms to fill out and another trip to make to the Notary. Whee! The ride continues.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Kwon Do, that is! Hee hee! Look out for this little fella, he's dangerous!
But seriously, he has been a little hesitant about his Tae Kwon Do class. He has been going for a month now and seems to enjoy himself. But he won't go unless John or I are there to watch. We haven't quite figured it out.
On the plus side, I think he's getting pretty good! Check out my little photo shoot of Ty in action here.
I'm thinking he is sticking with it because he is trying to please us. That's sweet! But I want him to go because he is having fun. I can't help but think perhaps he'd be happier in a different type of class. Perhaps a tumbling or gymnastics class. We'll see.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
I read the second email and just couldn't believe what I was seeing. It's a very straightforward process with a simple fee structure ($10 for a records check, $50 to get a health history, $100 to get all available information and for $150 they will offer you 4 hours of actual search help to locate birth parents or other family.) It is a non-profit children's services agency, after all. I thought those fees were very reasonable!
The agency's adoption search coordinator also sent me a brief questionnaire in order to verify that I had received services from them and that they do, indeed, have records for me. She also promised to send out an information packet detailing their services along with a release form.
Holy crap! If I had known it was going to be this easy... I wish I had acted on my desire to search years ago when I was in my 20s. But then again, I didn't know the name of the agency I was adopted through; so I probably wouldn't have gotten very far. And there was no real internet to speak of then, either.
Perhaps the timing on this is just right. I don't want to get ahead of myself, however. No telling what information my file actually contains. There may not be enough information in there to actually conduct a search. I should be prepared for that.
I can't help but be excited and overwhelmed. I'll certainly know more after this search of my records than I know now. Right? At least that's something.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
As I sat here today thinking about what this birth record might tell me, I started to wonder what OTHER information I might be able to view. I'm not up on adoption legislation in the state of Kansas, unfortunately. So I thought I would do a little searching and asking around.
I started back at the website for the Office of Vital Statistics and shot off an email to the contact name there - the "Adoption Clerk". She was very prompt in her reply. Nope. They only deal with birth records. They don't have any other types of data. She suggested I call another office within the state government and gave me a phone number. I'll file that away for later use if my internet perusal comes to naught.
The next thing I did was search on Kansas Children's Service League. Turns out they are still in business! But they have a very different mission now then they did back in the 60s. The agency is actually 113 years old! They started out as sort of the nations first "foster care" organization. Rather than putting orphans and unwanted infants into the standard, institutionalized orphanages of the time; the League created a network of clergymen and volunteers who would provide temporary homes ("boarding mothers") for kids and babies until they could be placed for adoption.
They centralized their operation in Topeka in in 1921 and continued to advocate for child welfare. By 1940 they took on the mission of ending the bootleg traffic in babies who were being sold by unsavory individuals and agencies. Private adoption became a large part of their business in the 50s and 60s. But by 1970, the birth rate had dropped so low (because of the invention of the Pill and legalized abortion) that they had to move with the times and change their mission.
Now? The state of Kansas decided to privitize their foster care system and guess who is in charge of the hundreds of thousands of kids in the "system"? KCSL! Talk about coming full circle! I hear Kansas has one of the best run foster care agencies in the nation. Nice to know someone has got it right!
The point? Oh yes. I found a contact name at the Topeka branch (they have offices all over the state now) and I sent her an email too. They handled my adoption in 1966, so it only made sense to me that I should ask them for information about my records. Right? I'm still waiting to hear back from them.
Meanwhile, it's back to the net to research adoption law.
P.S. I also registered with Adoption.com. They have a reunion database for people who are looking for birth parents and birth parents who are looking for the babies they put up. Sadly, there is no one registered in there looking for me. I'm not discouraged. Not everyone is internet savvy.
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
This Monday Morning Photo Shoot is brought to you by...the letter M! M as in Morinaga and Meiji; manufacturers of my favorite Japanese candies. Mmm! I just got a fresh supply today, via mail order, from an Asian grocer in San Francisco. Yes, we have a few Asian food stores around here; but they seem to specialize in Chinese and Korean goodies. It's hard to find my favorite treats.
One treat that is sadly lacking from this current batch is my beloved Botan rice candies. They come in a little box like my milk caramels pictured at the right, but the box is red and white. I haven't been able to locate them in years. Perhaps no one imports them anymore because they might not be a good fit for American palates. Each semi-sheer white candy is wrapped in an edible square of rice paper. The paper melts in your mouth. It's really very cool. How many candies have you ever eaten that you could consume them, wrapper and all?
Hopefully I'll find them again, one of these days. If any of my regular readers happen to frequent any Asian food marts...keep your eyes peeled at the checkout stand? If you spot Botan Rice Candies, pick me up a dozen or so boxes. I'm good for it.
Meanwhile, Tyler has gone bonkers for all these sweet and tasty treats. I may be ordering more sooner than I expected. [insert wry grin here]
Oh, and for those curious sorts who wanted to see my new "do". Here ya go. I washed that gray right outta my hair!
Sunday, June 04, 2006
What I did do? I cut and colored my hair! Finally, no more gray! I chopped off about 5 inches and my new shade is Sedona Sunset. Yep! I went red. Well...reddish brown. But that's WILD for me. My hair has been the same color for decades. Ever time I've passed a mirror in the last couple hours I do a startled double-take. Is that really me??? I can't wait to see how red this looks in sunshine.
If the sunshine ever returns. It's been raining here for days.
Friday, June 02, 2006
Well, here's the phone.
Faint sound of a woman's voice saying "Hello?" reaches my ears.
"Hi, my name is Tyler. Is Ethan there?"
Faint sound of a surprised woman saying "Sure! Hold on one sec..."
What followed was the cutest conversation ever. Tyler and his pal Ethan exchanged pleasantries and inquired after each other's health (with hardly any prompting from me). They talked about Halloween and how far away it is. They chatted about missing school (both are ill at the moment). They talked about eating dinner and then Tyler tried to say goodbye, but I kept hearing Ethan's voice faintly saying "Oh! Hey Tyler?" and the conversation would continue.
"OK? I'll see you at school. Bye then. OK. Bye. Bye, later."
And so ended Tyler's first solo phone call to a friend.
*sniff* He's getting so big.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
That's me. I recently found out one piece of information I had regarding my adoption was incorrect. I wasn't adopted through Catholic Charities. My mother confessed I was adopted through The Kansas Children's Service League.
Getting information out of my parents regarding the details of my adoption has been a difficult and life-long struggle. They've always been so secretive about the circumstances. I understand that my mother's greatest fear was that, one day, the woman who gave me up would show up on their doorstep asking for her baby back.
I'm 40 years old now. I think my mother is finally starting to realize that the odds of that happening are unlikely to nonexistent. I'm also starting to realize that if I want more details on where I came from, I'm going to have to make much more of an effort. I need to start by requesting a copy of my original birth certificate from the state of Kansas. That entails a form, a fee, and a visit to a notary. Not that complicated. But I've had that form in hand for 5 years now.
40 years old and the thought of meeting my first mother both thrills and terrifies me. The thought of finding out NOTHING terrifies me even more. I'd better get moving. She isn't getting any younger. I estimate she would be about 58 years old now. Chances are good that she's still around.
So. Here I go. Gonna print out that form again. Just in case it's changed in the last 5 years. Yep. Gonna go print it.