Adoption and Parenting: Before

[Every Friday for the first two months of 2013, DWLA will feature a story from Barbara Shipka’s blog about her personal experiences with adoption and parenting.  We will sample a story from each of eight categories: 1) Before; 2) In Peru; 3) We’re Home; 4) 2 – 6 years old; 5) 6 – 12 years old; 6) 12 – 18 years old; 7) 18 + years old; 8) Musing / Thruout.  Barbara’s son Michael’s video was showcased in Gifts to the World.]

The “Call”

by Barbara Shipka

At this point, it had been almost five years since I decided not to adopt. You can read more in “Before Before.”

I hadn’t thought much about adopting in the intervening years.

And then things started happening…both all at once and over time. How / why did it happen? Michael’s soul ‘calling’? My willingness to open again? Or both? Or perhaps it’s all the same? Whatever. Divine intervention as I see it.

Now, though, in addition to everything else, I had a concern about being an older parent. I’d be the oldest mom at school . . . stuff like that. I’d be older than my grandmother was when I was born! I was receiving coaching on effective presentations from a colleague who was a professional coach in that area. It was going well. But I got way bigger coaching than I anticipated. She and her husband were in the midst of their second international adoption. She was my age and he was several years older. Their coaching was, more or less, “Go for it!”

Also, little things happened throughout that fall. Like I was sitting at the bank one day and picked up a weekly news magazine. I came across a one-page essay by a man in his fifties. In the photo, he had an infant son on his back. His smile of love and gratitude blew me away. He was quoted as saying something like, “Sure, I’ll be seventy when he’s in college. AND I’m so glad I’m not missing out on this right now.”

What topped it all off was the physical feeling I had in my body. It was located in my chest and throat–simultaneously a physical feeling and a heart-level knowing.

All of this happened just as I was preparing to take a trip to Thailand and Indonesia to visit friends over Winter Break. I was leaving the next day.

Given the strength of what was going on in my body and the ‘coincidences’ happening in my experience, I decided to call my social worker at the adoption agency before I left. I asked if we could reopen my file. She was thrilled and said that, yes, she’d take care of everything. We would meet when I returned.

I, of course, didn’t know until some time later, that Michael was born that very day.

[Art by Barbara, “Blessings for the Journey,” © 1999, Quote by Swami Chetanananda in “Songs From the Center of the Well.” Used with permission.]


Barbara is a single mom and was in her mid-forties when she adopted her son, Michael.  He was 10 weeks old at the time. Together, they spent many months navigating through the rather overwhelming legal processes for adoption in Peru.  Today, as a junior at the University of Minnesota, Michael is majoring in Native American Studies.

For much of her career, Barbara has been an executive leadership coach and organization effective consultant for Fortune 500 companies.  Another part of her career has been working in education and with non-governmental organizations in Europe, The Middle East, Africa, and The Caribbean.  Over the last twenty years, in addition to becoming a mother, she has also become an author and artist.  You can learn more at

These blog posts are snapshots from Barbara’s collection of stories about her experiences of their life together from March 1991 to today.  Visit her blog, Adoption and Parenting, to read more of her stories.  When you arrive, click on “Label” under “Home” where you see the tabs Recent…Date…LABEL…Author.  This will rearrange the stories into 8 categories:

Categories via 'Label'


  1. That was just the beginning yet that felt so real and sincere. Looking forward to the next ones..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: