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    Our Adoption Journey (Part 9)

    We had gone “on the list” in the spring. By the time the Christmas season had rolled around seven months later, we were starting to get frustrated. Phony birthmothers, no leads from our agency, and the stress of the holidays all combined to cause us to decide that we were going to take our focus off of adoption for the time being. By pushing all of the stress of the wait aside, we thought we could better focus on family, friends, and fun over the holidays.

    We like to “do up” the holidays at our house. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. It’s not uncommon to find two fully decorated, themed Christmas trees in our house with accompanying accessories around the house. My partner is a fan of outdoor lighting, and each year he creates an original work of art in front of the house. One year he wrapped a large tree with literally hundreds of red and white lights to make it look like a candy cane. Another year he hand-sawed pieces of plywood to...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on Jul 8 2010 2:20PM | 0 comments

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    Our Adoption Journey (Part 8)

    During the required classes that our agency had us attend, we discussed lots of ways waiting families could deal with the long wait to be matched. We got lots of great ideas for how to make the time pass more quickly and for how not to become too hyper-focused on when “the call” was going to come. People suggested vacations, weekend getaways, picking up new hobbies, joining groups, going out more – all terrific ideas.

    Of course, we like to do things a bit differently, so we ended up doing what I’m guessing any logical person in their right mind wouldn’t even consider – we adopted a newborn puppy. In hindsight, what were we thinking? Raising and training a newborn puppy when our newborn infant could be arriving at any time? We already had one older dog and two cats. What were we thinking?

    But walking into Petco, seeing the adoption fair out front, seeing our cute, little puppy with her eyes barely open, and feeling the heavy symb...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on Jun 30 2010 5:10PM | 0 comments

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    Our Adoption Journey (Part 7)

    A few weeks after the first potential birthmother stopped contacting us, we got an email on a Friday night from another potential birthmother. This woman told us she had seen us on our agency’s web site and thought that we might be a good match. She went into great detail about her background, her education, her values, etc. and even included a picture of herself. We saw that she lived locally, which made this situation even more appealing. The closer the birthmother is to us, the less expense we have in terms of traveling to her, staying in hotels, etc. This woman only lived about 30 miles away.

    She had included her cell phone number, and so we called her back. Again, we both got the feeling that this was going to be a good match. The conversation was easy-flowing, we laughed a bunch, and we all seemed to be coming from the same place in terms of the adoption. She told us that she’d call us Monday night to make plans to meet in person. We again contacted our ...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on Jun 23 2010 11:58AM | 0 comments

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    Our Adoption Journey (Part 6)

    (NOTE: Apologies for the length of time since my last posting. I am a teacher, and the end-of-school-year frenzy took over my life for a few weeks. Now I am in Summer Break mode, so expect to hear from me more regularly!)

    After all the paperwork had been filed, classes had been attended, and checks had been written, our agency officially put us “on the list”. For our agency, that meant that when potential birthmothers who matched the situation we were looking for contacted them, they would show these people our “Dear Birthmother” booklet to try to make the match.

    Also, it meant posting an online profile and pictures of us on the agency web site. Prospective birthmothers can browse these listings and contact a waiting family directly via email or phone call. Our agency had suggested we pay for an 800-number that rang on our home phone, and so we set that up and added that number to our online profile.

    About a month after we “we...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on Jun 17 2010 9:57AM | 0 comments

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    An Enabling Mom - Guilty on some accounts

    Does anyone else get texts from their college kids like these: "where do I pick up the yearbook?" Or "I'm lost, can you tell me how to get to the UPS store?" (mind you, I'm 3000 (!!!!) miles away!!)

    No, "are you near a computer? Would you mind mapquesting this address for me?" The texts always come at me with a sense of urgency. True confession, if I am near a computer, 9 times out of 10, I'll Google map the location or today, I even went to the Quad's homepage and found out where the yearbooks could be picked up. What a nice Mom OR what an enabling Mom!  :)

    With the ease of communication these days I'll admit, it's pretty easy to further enable this Gen Y crowd. A quick text back and forth and their problem is solved! I wouldn't have dreamed of calling my mother and asking her for directions. A) a collect call, B) she lived in CT and I was in school in CA, she did NOT have a road map or phone book for Palo Alto and C) it would not even have...

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    Posted by Mrs. Beppie Weintz Cerf on Jun 4 2010 4:12PM | 0 comments

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    A Song for Mrs. Pietrzyk

    I recently received an e-mail from my high school to inform me that my music teacher, Mrs. Patricia Pietrzyk, was retiring after 28 years of service to the school.  Mrs. P is an amazing woman, with the comportment of Audrey Hepburn and musical talent (and proper British accent) reminiscent of Julie Andrews.  I was a little saddened to hear the news; I felt bad for all the incoming students who will never be touched by her grace.

    In adulthood, I fully realize and recognize that I have very limited musical talents of my own.  I can't sing.  I can't snatch melodies and harmonies out of thin air.  I can't coax beauty out of violin strings or reach the heart with piano keys.  But Mrs. P made me feel like I could if I wanted it enough to study really hard.  To practice with intense focus.  To love music as only people who make it, and not just listen to it, do.

    Now my son is getting to that age where he can sit still long enoug...

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    Posted by Ms. Eileen Hung-Kwong Tse on Jun 2 2010 12:16AM | 0 comments

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    Our Adoption Journey (Part 5)

    As we continued our wait to be matched with a birthmother, I found myself developing several fantasies of what she might be like and what her life might be like. At times I saw her as a cute, confident young college-aged woman who “made a mistake”, wanted to get back on track with her life, and wanted to do a nice thing for a waiting family. At other times I envisioned her as an educated, strong, professional, single woman who didn’t have the time to raise a child. At other times I saw her as a young, frightened girl whose parents were leading the adoption choices for her.

    During this time, our agency required us to attend several classes with other prospective parents. These classes were actually meetings where all of us waiting couples sat around a big table in a conference room and, with the help of a facilitator, discussed our feelings, fears, hopes, and questions around adoption and the process in which we all found ourselves. I had been looking for...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on May 26 2010 6:05PM | 0 comments

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    Our Adoption Journey (Part 4)

    Along with the paperwork and Dear Birthmother letter, our agency also assigned a social worker to us. We were told that the social worker was required by the State to come to our home for four visits – two where we would be interviewed together and one where we would each be interviewed without the other one there. 

    These visits were not only to get to know us and meet us, but also to check out our home and make sure that it was a safe, family-friendly place to raise a child (i.e. no meth lab in the garage or no exposed wiring in the nursery). These visits were part of what is called a Home Study. Our agency takes all of the piles of paperwork to be filled out, along with a report written by a social worker and submits this all to the State to certify that we are indeed a qualified family to adopt a child.

    Because I’m “the worrier” in our relationship, my mind immediately went to all of the things the social worker could possibly ask u...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on May 17 2010 10:20PM | 1 comments

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    Just Call Me "Shorty"

    The time is rapidly approaching when Cameron will be taller than I am. In my own defense, I seem to have shrunken a half inch from what I used to always think I was, which was 5'11¾" - no, I never rounded up to six feet because of some insecurity about not quite reaching that magic "six feet" number.

    I've always assumed Cameron would end up taller than six feet, since Pamela is somewhat tall (5'7" or 8" - don't remember), and I'm actually something of an anomaly among the Beene men, with most of them at 6'2" or taller. (My brother is shorter than me, but he definitely takes after my mom's side of the family, which tends to be shorter.) It has never bothered me knowing that, someday, Cameron will have the upper hand on me (literally) in our driveway 1-on-1 games. Heck, he's already showing signs that he'll be able to outrun me pretty soon, so I better get used to it, right?

    Can you guess which one Camer...

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    Posted by Mr. Marty Beene on May 12 2010 3:35PM | 2 comments

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    Our Adoption Journey (Part 3)

    As our friends, family, doctors, employers, and everyone else in our lives filled out all the paperwork, we turned our attention to something that we thought would be more fun and creative – the “Dear Birthmother” letter. Basically, this is a “letter” that the agency sends to any birthmother who it feels is a match for the adoptive family. You probably remember that checklist I referenced in my last posting. The agency gives something similar to the birthmother too and then uses both sets of responses to match people to the best situation for them.

    I should explain something here. The reason I used “letter” in quotes above is because the Dear Birthmother “letter” can come in many different forms. On one visit to their office, our agency showed us tons of examples of the “good” ones. Some people created the format the agency suggests – one piece of paper with material on both sides. These letters inclu...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on May 10 2010 6:01PM | 0 comments

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    Mother's Day - The Day For Mothers Not To Be Mothers

    My Facebook feed this morning was peppered with well wishes for a happy Mother's Day, along with various posts about how my fellow mom friends are spending their special day.  Going to the spa.  Having a girls' night out with friends.  Getting a day to go shopping by herself, for herself.  As for me, all I really wanted was an opportunity to catch up on sleep without being interrupted by my adorable but high-maintenance moppets. 

    I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, Mother's Day meant letting mom sleep in, making breakfast for her, giving her that card you made during art class, and then doing some special things just for Mom.  Like taking her to a movie.  Or performing a little song or dance for her.  But it was about spending time with her (and being on your best behavior).

    It's ironic how most mothers these days want to spend their special day far, far away from the little creatures that made them mothe...

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    Posted by Ms. Eileen Hung-Kwong Tse on May 9 2010 10:13PM | 0 comments

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    Our Adoption Journey (Part 2)

    Little did we know that starting our adoption journey would entail so much paperwork! As soon as our first check cleared with the agency, we were sent a huge manila envelope filled with more pieces of paper than I could ever have imagined.

    There were forms for our doctor to fill out to certify that we were both in good health. There were forms for our bank to fill out to show how much money we had. There were forms for our employers to fill out to prove we were gainfully employed and to show how much we earned. There were forms for three non-family members to fill out to let the agency know we were good people with good intentions. There were forms that we had to give to the FBI to verify that we were not criminals. There were forms we had to take to a fingerprinting service so that our fingerprints could be put into a database and compared to others there in case we were criminals.

    And those were just the forms that OTHER people had to fill out. For our part, we ...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on Apr 29 2010 9:58PM | 1 comments

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    Show Me the Money

    Our little family recently returned from a trip to Disneyland and the beach, which was great fun. Sally was in a great mood the whole time. Well, with one exception. On our first day at Disneyland, every time we passed a toy, a balloon, cotton candy, or princess dress (OH, the princess dresses...) she wanted us to buy it.

    On our second day of vacation we had "the talk" that going on a trip was a big treat and we would not be buying lots of stuff. That worked and she stopped asking. But that first day . . . we just had no idea we'd be facing Buy-me-itis.

    The whole adventure got us thinking about how to teach her about money. She gets the fact that money buys things--that much is obvious. Could it be that 3 1/2 was not too young to start learning about saving and making choices on how to spend money? Turns out--from my extensive Google research--it is not too young.

    We'll soon start giving Sally an allowance. We're still considering whether or not it...

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    Posted by Ms. Summer Moore Batte on Apr 27 2010 9:06AM | 0 comments

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    No More Leftovers

    One of the negative things about having an active teenager around is that I get less food. I started noticing this about a year ago. Prior to that, Cameron had often stuck to a pattern that he had developed as a very young child in which he would eat like a horse one day, but barely notice food the next (at least that's how it seemed). In those olden days, we would cook a nice dinner, and there would almost always be seconds for me if I wanted them. Even better, there were usually leftovers, which meant that I would have something good for lunch the next day. I like seconds and leftovers, so this was great for me.

    But about a year ago, more or less, he started to seem hungry in a more balanced way, such that we almost never had to suggest that he eat his entire meal. I was still able to get my seconds and leftovers most of the time.

    Then, about the time high school started this past Fall, everything changed. Seconds? Not likely. Leftovers? You're kidding, right? I...

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    Posted by Mr. Marty Beene on Apr 22 2010 12:39PM | 0 comments

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    Our Adoption Journey

    I always knew I wanted to be a father. From as far back as I can remember, my “ideal plan” for my future always included having kids. Once I realized I was gay, though, much of that plan was put on hold. I obviously knew that gay couples couldn’t have children on their own, and so I grudgingly accepted the fact that kids would not be a part of the plan.

    I met my husband in 1994, and as our relationship progressed the idea of kids would pop into my head now and then. I would always push the thoughts back knowing that there wouldn’t be anything I could do to act on them.

    Then, on Father’s Day 2002, my husband and I went to see a film that changed all of that. We attended a screening of Daddy and Papa by filmmaker Johnny Symons. In this documentary, several single and coupled gay dads were profiled. Some of them adopted their kids, some fostered their children, some went through a surrogate, and some had biological children from...

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    Posted by Mr. Alec MacKenzie on Apr 21 2010 6:12PM | 2 comments

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    Who's taking the classes? You or your kid?

    Choosing classes. Not you, Mom! Your kid!

    Some of my nearest and dearest are being hovercraft parents! Or enablers or...I've got to chime in about this, it's not good. 
    Now, I will be the first to admit that I am an enabler. Hovercraft parent? No! I tend to make the lives of my family members much easier by doing things for them that they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves. Why? I guess the first answer to that is: I like to. But if I were really being honest, I'd probably have to say because it's often easier or faster or more efficient or I suppose there's a little bit of thinking, if I do it, it'll be done right (not easy to admit). As I'm typing I'm thinking.... control. Yikesie. I guess that's what it really is, control. 
    I've been an enabler for a long time, ever since my kids were little munchkins. You can't help yourself. At least I couldn't. And as the years have gone by I've continued and then it's "tough to teach an old d...

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    Posted by Mrs. Beppie Weintz Cerf on Apr 19 2010 2:02PM | 0 comments

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    Ice Cream is IN!

    My son completed his allergy panel last week, and while he still tested positive for a skin reaction to milk protein, he had no reaction when we tried milk in his oral challenge.  I am thrilled to report that he was able to consume four large spoonfuls of plain ice cream without any kind of reaction.

    Dairy was our last major food allergy to overcome, and I'm not going to lie, it was the biggest one.  Of course, that's what I said when we got the OK from the doctor to give him wheat.  Then eggs.  But I've really been looking forward to the day when he can have dairy.  It means that he can eat pizza and ice cream.  It means I can go to a regular grocery store and get regular yogurt.  He can go to a birthday party and not be the weird kid who doesn't have any cake and brings his own food.

    Now we have a different challenge, which is untraining him from staying away from all these foods he's learned not to touch the last 4 years.&n...

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    Posted by Ms. Eileen Hung-Kwong Tse on Apr 14 2010 10:52PM | 2 comments

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    What's happening this summer?

    It's early Spring Quarter, freshman year (sophomore year, junior year) so it's time for a conversation about the summer. With any luck you already have started this conversation, but fear not, it's never too late!

    Are they planning to return to last summer's job? 

    Great, have they mentioned that to their boss? 

    Want to do something different? 

    Also great, but this requires more work.  

    Not every college summer needs to be filled with prestigious internships, regardless of what your neighbor's sons or daughters are doing. 

    • What does your child need?  
    • Want to accomplish?  
    • Is t his </...

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    Posted by Mrs. Beppie Weintz Cerf on Apr 6 2010 11:04AM | 0 comments

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    OK, Let's Try Something New

    One of the fun things about parenting a teenager is that they really start to develop their own interests more than when they were younger. We have always tried to introduce things to Cameron that we thought he might like, hoping a few of them might become passions for him, or at least lead him to other activities that he might want to pursue. So far, he has always enjoyed dancing (see my earlier blog entries), but he has also found during his first year of high school that he loves playing in the band and loves running. Both of these were things I enjoyed in high school, but we didn't push him into them at all - we just said, "Hey, they have a band, you might like that," and "I liked cross country and track, you might, too; or not."

    Last week, I went to his third track meet of the season. The first two meets were "invitationals," in which hundreds of kids from dozens of schools show up, hoping to win medals or t-shirts or to merely run the time they were shooting for. Th...

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    Posted by Mr. Marty Beene on Mar 30 2010 1:12PM | 0 comments

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    Dead Week, Finals....Spring Break!

    WooHoo! Spring Break is just around the corner. Can you feel it? The mood on campus is shifting... the sun is shining, the days are longer, kids are in shorts and flip flops, the rain coats and umbrellas have been stashed... the common theme to conversations and texts are "I can't wait for break!" "I really don't want to write that paper."  "I've got to buckle down and study." But, Spring is in the air and the distractions are looming. 

    When I think back to this time of year at Stanford, I remember boats started appearing around Lake Lag, kids were out on the lawns of Palm Drive and Branner throwing frisbees, girls were spread out on blankets with books in swimsuits, but who was really studying?  More like people watching! Who was really motivated to study for finals? Not many of us. Well guess what? Some things never change.
    Now as a parent of one of these kids and the recipient of some of these calls and texts, it's hard to be anything but empathet...

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    Posted by Mrs. Beppie Weintz Cerf on Mar 10 2010 3:41PM | 0 comments

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