For the Love of Dance

One of my greatest passions is dance.  I hear the music, and my body begins to move with a mind of its own.  Imagine my great joy when I observed my baby girl (now 2 years old!!!) dancing to the Charter commercial on TV the other night.  It seems that she shares a musical inclination with her mama.  How many moms are blessed enough to have a daughter that enjoys the same activities?

Dancing in the sun

Dancing in the sun

I can already see it: 10 years down the line, Joyce and I connecting through the magic of music and rhythm.  When all else fails, I know there will be at least one thing we can enjoy together.  Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.  After all, not all interests stay the same as children grow older.  I wanted to join the Marines when I was younger.  Not a very rational ambition, considering my health disorders and aversion to violence.  I also wanted to be an actress.  While I still enjoy theater, I have no desire at all these days to star in movies or any sort of televised program.

A thought came to my mind as I wrote that last paragraph.  Am I overjoyed at the prospect of my daughter feeling the same rush of emotion and pleasure from dance that I feel?  Or do I simply feel overwhelming relief and happiness because we have something that connects us, besides blood?  One of my greatest fears is Joyce drifting away from me, no longer wanting to participate in activities with me because I’m her mom.  Yes, I know that moms are not supposed to be “friends” with their children, but why can’t we?  Why can’t we have an interest that belongs to the two of us, something we enjoy together?

The pleasure I have when I see my daughter’s face light up as she dances is indescribable.  Because I know the happiness she’s feeling, the freedom of physically expressing the emotions that music invokes in her spirit.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Those who have a passion for music and dance know what I’m talking about.  And anyone who has experience in child development knows how imperative music can be for a child’s physical, emotional and mental progression.  Music is similar to literature in the fact that it involves all aspects of development — social skills, language skills, motor skills, intellectual skills, emotional skills and literary skills.

Ready to dance at the 50's Celebration

Ready to dance at the 50’s Celebration

For me, dance has always been my release and escape.  No matter what I feel — anger, grief, anxiety, excitement, happiness — dancing helps me express my emotions, or assists me in dealing with them.  Writing does, also, but only dance gives me the freedom of not struggling for words.  I’m the type of person that hears my favorite songs and stops whatever I’m currently doing to start singing and dancing along with it.  The type of person that will dance in public without a care in the world.  And I want my daughter to have that same confidence in herself, that same ability to find jubilation in a wholesome and fun pastime.  I’d rather have her dance until she drops than run around with the wrong crowd, doing things that could negatively impact her for the rest of her life.  I’d happily dance with my baby girl until the day I die.

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Baby Food Adventures

My baby girl loves to try new things, especially when it comes to food.  Scott and I started giving her tastes of our food around 3 months, although she had been wanting to since 2 and a half months old.  For some reason, Joyce wants our food much more than her regular baby food.  Since she cries every time I sit down to eat, I usually prepare a small bowl of Gerber sweet potatoes with rice cereal or mashed bananas with mixed berries.  Every attempt to feed it to her, however, is met with a stubborn “Na!” and an angry hand slapping the spoon away.  Eventually, I surrender.  I collect a tiny spoonful of mashed potatoes and gravy and minuscule bits of meat.  I give her a few pieces of corn or green beans and let her eat to her heart’s content.

Her newest accomplishment in the realm of meals is drinking water from a cup.  No sippy cup for this 8-month-old!  She will drink in big gulps, almost chugging the water.  I hold it to her lips for a brief second before removing it, otherwise she’s choke from trying to talk and drink at the same time.

Happiest little girl I could ask for.

Happiest little girl I could ask for.

Joyce received her first teeth around 7 months, so she’s constantly teething.  I found that baby food with more chunks (such as meat or fruit) seems to ease her pain a bit.  I buy rice husk Mum-Mums, arrowroot cookies, fruit puffs, and teething biscuits for her.  During the summer I would giver big chunks of melon with the rinds still on them.  She would gnaw and suck on the fruit for hours, often falling asleep with it clutched tightly in her hand.

So far, I haven’t found anything she refuses to eat.  She loves veggies, fruit, meat, potatoes, rice, beans, oatmeal… everything we give her, she eats.  The only problem is she LOVES sugar — mainly chocolate.  The first time she tried ice-cream, I was in a small hippie store downtown called Totally Hippy.  I had gotten a small vanilla cone from the soda fountain, and I was carrying Joyce on my hip.  All of the sudden, she leaned forward, grabbed my cone and smeared it all over her face.  There is now a sign on the entrance door that reads “Children are no longer allowed to have drinks or ice-cream inside the store.”

I love how adventurous my baby is with food.  She will try everything, and I look forward to introducing her to some of the world’s more exotic foods someday.

Adoption is an Option

Adoption has become increasingly popular in the last decade; studies are performed on the psychological effects of adoption on children and their futures in adulthood.  Even though it may seem like adoption does nothing to a child except give him or her a chance at a new life, some people may be surprised to hear that there are some harmful side effects.  Adoptive parents need to realize how difficult adoption is for adoptees and that adopted children need special care and extra parenting.  Adoption may seem like a way to save a child’s life, but sometimes it does more harm than good.

I wasn’t adopted until I was almost five years old.  Unfortunately, it had taken that long for the state to realize that something was seriously wrong with my sister’s and my birth-mom.  Even though she was constantly arrested for drugs and repeated misdemeanors, the courts never thought that maybe she wasn’t doing such a great job at parenting her infant and toddler daughters The authorities didn’t seem to care how unsafe, and unhealthy our homelife was.  My sister and I were taken away and given back to her several times, even with the evidence of abuse and neglect.  It wasn’t until doctors told Child Protective Services about unmistakable bruises, burns and starvation that we were finally placed up for adoption.  Luckily, my sister and I were adopted by good people who cared for us and gave us everything we needed.  When my youngest sister was born in the prison hospital, my adoptive parents traveled up to Salem to bring her home to us and ended up adopting her also.  My adoptive parents raised us to be intelligent and well-mannered, women who are able to succeed in life.  In her article, “The Effects of Adoption on Kids”, Carly Seifert says “Many adoptees were raised in families where parents were educated, loving and supportive and had homes that provided material advantages they may otherwise have not received” (Seifert)

Seifert writes adoption articles for “Montana Parent Magazine” and GlobalPost, an online national news site. “The Effects of Adoption on Kids” focuses on the benefits that adoption provides to children, even as they grow into adults.  She quotes studies that prove that adopted children perform better in school and social situations than their non-adopted peers, and often live just as well, if not better, than non-adopted children. Seifert says that the only obviously negative effect that adopted children receive is grief from the biological mother not wanting them and confusion with their identity.  If I hadn’t been adopted, I wouldn’t be where I am now.  I probably would have followed the same path my birth mom did and spent my life doused in drugs and bad relationships.  The way my birth mom was raising my sister and I was a horrible way for any child to spend his or her life.  And because none of my birth family could take both of us in, adoption became the only solution possible.  Thankfully, we were placed into a healthy, loving home. They had already raised two biological kids, so they understood children.  Our adoptive parents focused on our educations and life skills.  By the time I was 13, I knew how to cook, clean, raise children, and teach myself school.  Because of my adoptive background, I know how to take care of myself and how to succeed in this world.  However, not everything is perfect.  Despite all the benefits of adoption, many adoptees do suffer psychological problems throughout life, especially during their teen and adult years.

Even though adoption worked out well for my sister and I, there were still problematic experiences, and crises in my adolescent and teen years.  Even now, as an adult, I struggle with PTSD — post-traumatic stress disorder.  The smallest unexpected noise, someone coming up behind me, being grabbed for no reason, hearing or seeing people fight and argue… a lot of ordinary, everyday occurrences can throw me into a panic attack for no reason.  A good story to illustrate this happened two years ago.  I ran away from home because my adoptive parents and I were having family issues, mainly because I felt like I had no place in this world; I felt unwanted and undeserving of anyone’s love.  One night I decided to try to make it on my own and I left.  I was between Williams and Murphy when a cop pulled up and told me to come over to his car.  When I refused, he stepped out of the car, walked over to me, and grabbed my upper arm.  Immediately, I freaked out.  I don’t remember what exactly happened because I blacked out, but I woke up in jail with bruises everywhere and several felony assaults on officers of the law.  I may be perfectly fine one moment, but as soon as my PTSD is triggered, I black out and try to defend myself from what my mind thinks is a threat.  I believe that if my past prior to the adoption had been addressed by my adoptive family, I wouldn’t have bottled-up everything to the point of exploding.

Lori Carangelo, president of Americans for Open Records, wrote an article on the negative side effects of adoptees for Adoption and the Opposing Viewpoints website.  She asserts that the loss of an adoptee’s birth mom, and therefore the adoptee’s identity, causes problems in the person’s psyche that may result in antisocial behaviors and emotional imbalances, such as pyromania, pathological lying or stealing, and extreme rebellion.  She quotes Dr. David Kirschner, who calls this disorder “Adopted Child Syndrome.”  Carangelo explains that the reason for this disorder is because the adoptee no longer has any secure connection to the world, so he or she perceives everyone in the world as someone who cannot be trusted.  She says, “Studies have shown that being adopted can affect many aspects of adoptees’ lives, from relationships to adoptive parents to bonds with their own children” (Carangelo).  Karl Stenske, an adoptee himself, has written a thesis and essays on adoptive trauma.  He wrote an article last year for “Adoption Voices,” a magazine that describes the consequences of taking an infant from his or her mother.  He talks about the two types of adoptees — rebellious and compliant.  The rebels may attempt to destroy their current family by running away or threatening their adoptive parents.  The obedient child may strive for perfection socially and academically or just hide away and try to be noticeable.  He points out a study performed in 2001, which showed the rate of attempted suicide among adopted and non-adopted teens.  7.6% of adopted teens had tried to kill themselves compared to 3 % of children who live with their biological family.  He ends his article by explaining the reason for this mental disarray, and uses the example of a young girl taken from her birth mother.  “She knows her mother, she knows her loss, sadness and hurt, she knows that those who hold her today may be gone tomorrow and that she will be the only one left to pick up the pieces that no one seems to think are broken” (Stenske).  He’s right.  Once that trust and security are gone, it’s extremely difficult to regain.  With all these problems that adoptees may face throughout their life, how can adoptive parents help them live happy, secure lives?

There is a study done by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute titled “Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption.”  While it does focus on interracial adoption,  the article gives good ideas for stabilizing adoptees and helping them with their identities.  The main thing parents can do for their non-biological kids is let them know that they are a part of the family, no different from the biological children.  The study says that adoptees “reported that they experienced bias based on how they entered their families, in all settings of their lives — from classmates to employers to strangers” (Donaldson 5).  The study also states that contact with birth family, not necessarily the mom, is the largest helpful factor in promoting positive identity formation.  Not everyone in my birth family was a drug addict and abusive; I believe my life would have been much easier if I had had contact with those who were blood-related to me…it would have helped me with  learning my identity.  With all this information, what is my overall judgement on adoption?

When there is no other option, adoption should be considered.  However, the adoptive parents should learn to understand and respect the adoptee’s eventual identity confusion and help him or her through the mental obstacles that may ensue.  Adoption changed the path my life was headed down.  There was no possible way I could stay with my birth family, as none of them were prepared to take care of me and my sisters, unless we were split up.  I still suffer with knowing exactly who I am and wishing my birth mom had tried harder to keep me.  No matter what my past like, however, I am ready to move on towards the future — something every adoptee must learn to do before they let their past define the rest of their lives.

Works Cited


Seifert, Carly.  “The Effects of Adoption on Kids.”  Global Post 2012.  Web. December 5, 2013


Carangelo, Lori.  “Adoption can be Harmful.” Opposing Viewpoints in Context 2006.  Web.  December 5, 2013


Stenske, Karl.  “The Psychology of Adoption Trauma and the Primal Wound: What Does a Baby Know?”  Adoption Voices Online Nov. 13, 2012.  Web.  December 5, 2013


Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.  “Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption.” Adoption Institute Online Nov. 2009.  Web.  December 5, 2013


To Be or Not to Be… A College STudent

Since I attend college, I suppose most people would assume that I support higher education.  As a matter of fact, I, too, ponder the age-old question that stumps parent and student alike: Is a college education worth the cost and time?  Am I simply wasting thousands upon thousands of dollars for a degree that won’t even make a difference in my future career?  Two essays with two completely different points of view discuss this subject at length and can assist anyone to make a decision.

Katherine Porter advocates for a college education in her essay “The Value of a College Degree”, published in 2002 by the ERIC Clearinghouse for Higher Education.  She suggests that, before making a decision for or against college, people should know whether or not a higher education will benefit them in the long run or whether it will put them in eternal debt.  She goes on to quote statistics which prove that simply earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree by at least 133 percent (par. 3).  Porter proves her pro-college argument by discussing other social, familial, mental, and economic benefits.  According to her research, a college degree increases a person’s chances of career advancement and economic stability.  A college graduate will enjoy better mental health and will have the ability to make wiser decisions when it comes to parenting and lifestyle choices.  She emphasizes the fact that, in order to enjoy these benefits, students must complete college; therefore, those with low motivation and commitment should consider a 2-year college instead of a 4-year university (par.10).  Although the cost of a college degree is high — almost equivalent to the cost of a brand-new car — Porter asserts that, “the individual rate of return on investment in higher education is sufficiently high to warrant the cost” (par. 5).

A different, yet humorous, side of the debate comes from Linda Lee, who wrote an essay entitled “The Case Against College” for Family Circle magazine in 2001.  Lee argued against college based on her experience with her son and his college education — or lack thereof.  In her essay, Lee explains why a college education is unnecessary in terms of a good career and financial stability.  She uses the word “obsessed” to describe how many Americans feel about receiving a higher education (par. 3).  She states that many people succeed without ever having a degree, especially in careers requiring physical labor.  She continues by saying, “On average, the brightest and hardest-working kids in school go to college….studies almost always pit kids with degrees against those with just high school” (par. 4).  Lee then tells the story of how her son attended college after high school, only to drop out because all he wanted to do was drink and party with his friends.  Instead of paying $1000 a week for her son to live a continual teen movie, she told him to drop out and get a job.  Two years later, he had a high-paying job that paid more than half the jobs his peers who continued college had.  She ends her essay with the insistence, “He grew up, as most kids do.  And he did it, for the most part, in spite of college” (par. 14).

Porter and Lee agree on one thing: If a student does not have the dedication to keep going in school even when he or she no longer wants to attend, then that student does not belong at a college.  To be in school, you have to want to be in school.  For those who cannot afford to attend college, the better choice for them would be to work themselves up the career ladder, instead of shelling out thousands of dollars that they don’t have lying around.  Porter and Lee’s arguments differ on many points.  Although Lee originally believed in a higher education, she now firmly emphasizes the fact that you don’t need a degree to be successful.  Porter constantly reiterates her belief that you must have a degree in order to land a decent career.  Porter also makes it sound like low-income families can’t send their kids to college, whereas Lee mentions that hard work will get anyone anywhere they want in life.

I agree with Porter when she says that collegiate parents are more involved in their children’s lives.  I spend a lot of time with my daughter because I want to help her development and I know she has the potential to be really smart.  Lee makes a great point when she says that her son could have gotten the college party experience in the Marine Corps, and been paid for it instead of having to pay.  Honestly, neither author wrote anything that I disagree with.  They both made valid points, although I wish Lee had used cited sources to back up her information.  Personally, I agree with Porter more, because I myself am in college.  I don’t want to start out at the bottom and work myself up.  I would much rather spend four years reading books and learning and then receive a degree that allows me to work where I want, in the position I want.

In my opinion, students needs to make the decision for themselves, instead of letting other people pressure them into going or not.  College isn’t right for everybody.  My husband never completed high school and never went to college, and he is able to get a better-paying job than I can — simply because the labor field pays more than any job I apply for.  Until I earn my degree, I won’t be able to get a high-paying job.  By the time I do receive my degree and go to work in my field, my husband will have a job that pays just as much as my “college degree” job.  Whether or not you go to college depends on where you want to work and how you want to do it.  My husband is a master mason, without going to college.  He learned under an apprenticeship for several years from a man who taught himself, and became one of the best-known stonemasons in Reno, Nevada.

In conclusion, there are many different views on college education.  No one can say whether college is good or bad for people, whether it makes a significant difference in their lives.  If someone wants something bad enough, he or she will make it happen.  


Works Cited

1. Lee, Linda. “The Case Against College.” Family Circle June 2001: 172. Print.

2. Porter, Katherine. “The Value of a College Degree.”  ERIC Clearinghouse for Higher Education

Eric’s Digest Online, 2002. Web. 19 Nov. 2013

Daddy’s Little Girl

“Baby, she’s almost here. Our little girl is almost here. Don’t give up.” My husband’s words gave me the extra push I needed to keep trying. Seconds later, I took my new daughter from the doctor’s hands and cradled her to my chest, tears slipping down my face. I looked up at my husband as he gently stroked our Joycie’s face. “You’ll make a great father,” I whispered.

Four and a half months later, I know that I was right. As soon as he comes home, Scott picks up his daughter and kisses her, whispering endearments and attempting to make her laugh. On the weekends, his whole focus is on her… singing to her, teaching her to talk, reading to her and playing with her toys with her. He works hard all day to make sure we have everything we need, and he buys her anything a little girl could want. His protectiveness with her melts my heart, yet makes me sad for every little girl who doesn’t have a good father.

I never knew my birth father. He left before I was born, and my birth mom never put his name on the birth certificate. Since I was young, I felt the sting of the unwanted child. I craved to have a connection with that mysterious man who helped conceive me, desired to know that he loved and cared about me. When I was adopted, I received that love that I wanted and needed. My adoptive dad loved me and my sisters with all the love in the world. We never lacked what we needed, and our dad involved himself in everything we did.

Memories abound concerning the hiking trips, the math lessons, the backyard football games, the daddy-daughter dinner or lunch dates, the family garden… all the special activities I participated in with my dad. My dad was different from many fathers in the aspect that he made an effort to give me attention every day and make me feel wanted. However, I never recovered from that abandonment by my birth father.

Psychological studies prove that a father’s influence on his daughter is just as strong as the mother’s influence. How he engages and reacts with his daughter helps shape her later in life. Active involvement makes a positive difference. The effect of men on their daughters builds their future choices and relationships as they grow older.

The contrast between my daughter and me is already obvious. She loves everyone and trusts even the weirdest-looking stranger. We hand her to anyone, and she lights up with a big smile and squeals in greeting. I, however, hide behind my husband when an unknown man shows up and says hello. I cringe when a man whistles at me or compliments me. Joyce giggles and smiles when someone tells her how beautiful she looks.

Knowing that my birth dad didn’t care about me or even try to be involved in my life, knowing that the person who should protect me abandoned me before he could, left me with a fear that men couldn’t be trusted. No amount of love from my husband can help me overcome that. I trust him with all my being, but no other man has the privilege of that trust. My daughter is different.

Scott loved his daughter before she was even born. He often rubbed my belly and talked to Joyce, telling her that he loved her and playing silly games with her. We went shopping together for baby supplies, giggling over cute outfits and researching the best products for our coming daughter. He talked about future camping trips, Disneyland vacations, Christmas mornings, birthday parties, school dances, and everything else he could do with her.

Rainie Falls hiking trip; Daddy carried Joycie.

Rainie Falls hiking trip; Daddy carried Joycie.

Now that she is a happy, playful four-month-old, her daddy constantly gives her attention. I have observed her around other people. She isn’t scared of anybody, she obviously adores her daddy, and she knows that she is always safe and protected. Not many babies possess that peace and trust.

A father’s attachment with his daughter plays a large part in her future. Studies show that a woman’s self-image, academics, criminal potential, and security are often based on her relationship with her father. Joyce and I do not share the same security and trust, a result of our different father-based experiences. She already knows, at this young age, that she doesn’t have to fear people, that her mom and dad will not leave and never come back. She goes on sleepovers sometimes with her grandparents, and she is fine the whole time. She doesn’t scream for her mommy and daddy, yet she is ecstatic when her parents return.

A visible difference is seen among fatherless girls and girls with a stable father-daughter relationship. Some girls demonstrate it through their behaviors with other people. A fatherless child may either be wary of everyone, or too eager to please. Some children show it through their progress in school. A girl with a father who actively participates in his daughter’s life and shows her that he is there to help is a girl who has the confidence and support she needs to succeed academically and socially.

Being raised in a loving environment assists girls form positive relationships with other people. Living in an encouraging, close-knit family shows them what a good relationship resembles, hopefully preventing them from falling into bad crowds. Women with an ever-present father in their childhood look for a man like their dad–someone who protects and works hard for his family. I lucked out, finding a man who loves his daughter the way my adoptive dad loved me, not a man like my birth father

who doesn’t want to step up and accept his responsibility.

Scott is a great dad, and he shows it in his love for his little girl every day. He does not know it, but interacting with her now will stay with her for the rest of her existence. She will always remember the joy of spending time with her daddy, snuggling up to him at bedtime, singing made-up songs with him, and practicing homework with his help.

I use me and my daughter as comparisons in this essay because I know that she will grow up with a sense of accomplishment and self-worth, a great relationship with her mother and father, a good group of friends around her, and the life skills she needs to succeed… the result of an inspirational bond between father and daughter.

Worried Sick

I woke up crying this morning.  My baby girl has a cold, which keeps her (and me) up most of the night.  As a mom, I feel so helpless for not being able to help her feel better, and the lack of sleep really wears me down.

The other night, I had my first “overprotective and beyond” moment.  Joycie began coughing and I rushed her to the ER, thinking she couldn’t breathe.  When they told me she simply had a cold, I took her to the pediatrician’s office… who told me the same thing.  Still panicking, I bought some baby Tylenol, which helped her sleep but didn’t remove the cold.

As a mom, does your mind EVER stop worrying about your children?  Stress has become my constant companion since I gave birth, refusing to leave for one measly second.  BLAH!  I feel like my mom, only younger.  How did she cope with 6 kids, when I can barely handle 1???

All the books in the world cannot completely prepare for life as a mother.  It’s a constant roller coaster, your emotions going up and down with no time in between to just relax and take a few deep breaths.  Thank God for coffee, otherwise I’d pass out randomly throughout the day and not wake up for a couple of weeks.

When I was pregnant, I was pumped.  I told myself, “Yeah, I can do this!  I’m going to a mom, the most awesome mom in the world.  My daughter’s never going to have any problems; her life’s going to be perfect.”  Uh, hello?  WAKE-UP CALL, REALITY CHECK!!!  I don’t think it’s EVER going to be that easy for ANY mom, especially a new one like myself.  The best I can do is hug my baby girl and tell her that she’ll be ok.  And then go buy another coffee.

Marriage = Trust

Marriage involves trust… a lot of it.  Especially when your husband goes to a bar with a friend to show him how to pick up on girls.  Any ladies agree with me???  However, when I married him, I gave myself completely to him — body, heart, and mind.  I trust him with everything.  (It’s the girls I don’t trust, haha.)

My husband is a flirt, I admit.  A part of me is nervous about it, but the other part of me is proud that my man can make women fall at his feet so easily.  When we first got together, I hated the way he could get girls to love him with just a few words.I even got revenge on him a couple of times to try to get him to stop.  Then I finally understood my problem… that little “green-eyed monster” our parents call jealousy.

My Scotty and Me

My Scotty and Me

Oh, I was jealous alright.  I couldn’t stand my man giving any other woman more attention than he gave me.  As I fell more and more in love with him, I realized how much easier our relationship would be if I could just trust him.  He has not cheated on me since he asked me to marry him, even though we’ve had our fair share of fights.  He never makes me feel like I’m not enough for him, or that other girls are better than me.  I’m the perfect woman in his world.

Every woman deserves to have a guy that treats her well and that deserves her trust.  I lucked out with Scotty.  It took me awhile to know that, but I finally do.  No matter what happens, I know that I can trust him.  Even when he goes to a bar where every drunken chick turns into a whore who doesn’t care whether or not a man is married.  I know that my man is coming home to ME.