[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.]
However, I learned that it was forbidden for Michael to leave the confines of Lima. And, even before I learned this detail, given the activity of the Sendaro Luminoso (The Shining Path) and coca trafficking in that area, even if we could go, it was very strongly discouraged.
I wanted to be able to tell him about his heritage. I could find almost nothing in LIma…except a map that showed his province. (Of course, today his village has a website!)
When Michael was about twelve we took a winter vacation to Santa Fe to visit friends who live there.
One night several people joined us for dinner. As the conversation unfolded we learned that one of the people had actually been to Michael’s village! She had been on a two-week journey to that part of Peru as part of her shamanic training.
The next day we went to visit her. We spent time looking at all of the photos she had taken while she was in the region where his village is. And we paid special attention when she showed us photos of Michael’s village. She had gone there to visit and learn from the village shamans.
Then, as we were about to leave, she gave Michael several of her photos. What a gift!
Will he go back someday? We don’t know. The thinking he shares with me is about knowing it’s a small village. Everyone knows everyone else. What would be the impact on his birth mother? Did she ever even return to the village? What if a visit exposed her history unfavorably? What would he really gain?
The real territory of pain for him is in not having…or ever being able to have…ANY information about who his father is/was.
[Photos gift of visitor, collage set on photo of the surrounding cloud forest, San Martin, Peru, 1999]
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 http://www.barbarashipka.com
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: