Adoption and Parenting: 2 – 6 years old

[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.]

Ah, Rapture!

by Barbara Shipka

Michael and FiretruckMichael’s heritage is the jungle of the Amazon.

I adopted him when he was 10 weeks old and…eventually…he and I arrived in the US together.

When he was two and a half years old we went to a 4th of July Independence Day parade in a small town outside of Minneapolis. Lots of kids, floats, beauty queens doing the Queen’s wave, and FIRETRUCKS! With SIRENS!

Michael was sitting on my shoulders so he could see. A Firetruck blew its siren just as it passed right in front of us. My sense was that he went into a state of rapture and passion.

From there on, Life was about Firetrucks. For Christmas…Firetrucks! For his birthday…Firetrucks! Books from the library…Firetrucks! And then one day a Firetruck came to our neighborhood and he got to sit in the driver’s seat. OMG!

And, through all that, I wondered…

What would have ignited that same level of rapture and passion had he grown up in the jungle where there were no Firetrucks? I KNOW it would have been something. I just don’t know what. Nor does he…

[Photo by Barbara, Minneapolis, 1994]


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 is so thought-provoking, thank you for sharing. Great photo of your son in the fire truck too.
    Thanks for linking up to the Weekly Adoption Shout-Out #WASO

  2. My brother suggested I might like this blog. He was totally right. This post actually made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks

  3. Stacey B. says:

    This is such a fantastic site and I have enjoyed reading the majority of your posts. I am majoring in child, adolescent and family mental health and we are currently delving into the world of adoption. It seems that trans-racial adoption is a very difficult yet rewarding thing to do. It also is shown to be quite popular among celebrities yet I don’t think the media is painting the full picture. I just read a fantastic memoir by author Catana Tully entitled, “Split at the Root” derived from the author’s own personal experience of being adopted into a family of a different race and culture. This book not only highlights important issues for those who have or plan to adopt a child of a different race and/or culture but it also offers a compelling story about a young woman who spends most of her life searching for answers about her past, her identity, and where she belongs. I recommend it to anyone who is looking to adopt or perhaps to those of you who are already on this journey 🙂 It’s insightful and well written. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful, personal thoughts with me and I do hope my recommendation is helpful.

    • Stacey, thank you so much for your thoughtful post and your recommendation. I’ll look for the book. Right now I’m reading a memoir by a woman who was a foster child, living in over a dozen different homes. Very compelling reading. It’s called “Three Little Words.” Marisha, my daughter who writes this blog with me, is very interested in the psychology of adoption and believes that there should be more services specifically for adoptees.

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