Adoption and Parenting: Musing / Thruout

[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 Village in Peru

Lamasby Barbara Shipka

When we were in Peru and while the judges were on strike, I had this ‘brilliant’ idea that the two of us could take a trip to San Martin, the province where Michael’s tribe lived. It’s on the east side of the high Andes, on the way to the Amazon basin. It’s jungle called ‘The Cloud Forest.’

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]

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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:

Categories via 'Label'

Adoption and Parenting: 18+ 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.]

Thx! Luv, M.

full moonby Barbara Shipka

It rained all day yesterday (Saturday) and was completely cloudy into the evening. Past sunset. So I didn’t even consider trying to see the Biggest Full Moon of the year.

Around 9 pm my son, Michael, and one of his friends decided to go see ‘The Avengers’ (which I just learned had the largest opening weekend box office $$ take ever).

About five minutes after he left, he sent the following text: “Big Moon out right now!”

How very sweet and thoughtful! A recognition and affirmation of my interests.

I sent a text back: “Thx! Luv, M.” Immediately after that, I grabbed my camera and went outside.

Not my best photo, for sure. But I love it as a reminder of how such a sweet moment is shared…Michael, the Moon, me. It seems that the clouds decided to part for us/me and our/my desire to see the Big Moon.

Shortly after that, the clouds returned…until now. It’s Sunday evening now and the sun has just emerged for the first time in a couple of days.

BTW, Michael thought the movie was ‘epic.’

I thought the moon was ‘epic.’

Lovely when Life offers us such sweet and effortless experiences of win/win!

[Photo by Barbara, Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 5, 2012]

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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:

Categories via 'Label'

Adoption and Parenting: 12 – 18 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.]

Which Box to Check?

Marching Band2

by Barbara Shipka

his·pan·ic/hiˈspanik/
— adjective: relating to, characteristic of, or derived from Spain or Spanish-speaking countries
— noun: ( US ) a person of Latin-American or Spanish descent living in the US
usage: This is the word most generally used in the US to refer to people of Latin American or Spanish ancestry — from the World English Dictionary

Somehow, for me, that definition doesn’t seem to fit very well for someone who is really Native American… But the US government has no category for Native Americans born in South America.

My son is from a small intact tribe of people who have lived in the Cloud Forest on the east (Amazon) side of the Andes for at least 500 years. Their tribal language is still their first language. More…

He doesn’t speak Spanish. Tried studying it but hated it! (Any connection to it being the language of the oppressor? Mom wonders…) He switched to Japanese and loved it…including a high school summer in Japan.

All through school we struggled with which box to check…

____ Hispanic

____ Native American

____ Other

None really fit.

But, he’s decided to let it go. These days he checks Hispanic…

[Photo by Barbara, High School Marching Band, Minneapolis, 2008]

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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:

Categories via 'Label'

Adoption and Parenting: 6 – 12 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.]

Appreciating Magnificence

big horn sheep3

by Barbara Shipka

We had been on a winter road trip and had just left Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where we spent Christmas 2001. We even found arestaurant that served both rack of lamb and pizza for Christmas Eve dinner!

Now we were heading east and south toward home. It was a beautiful blue-sky day with the sun shining on the new snow that had fallen during the night. Windless…several inches of snow sat atop fence posts and the occasional mailbox.
I was breathless in awe at the rugged, articulated beauty of these mountains! Perhaps the most spectacular I had ever seen!

As we drove along, I wanted to share recognition of this abundant beauty with Michael. He was about 10 at the time. He sat in the backseat, occupying himself listening to The Chronicles of Narnia on tape and reading along. As a result, he wasn’t looking out the window so I asked him to pause the tape and said, “Michael! Just look at how incredibly beautiful these mountains are.”

His response? “Mom, we have been looking at mountains every day since we left home! You know what I think? These mountains are just more rocks with snow on them!”

Wow! That these glorious giants might be seen as “just more rocks with snow on them” had NEVER occurred to me…

I mused for some time after that. I wondered what brings me to having experiences of some physical places which are so compelling that I am moved emotionally by their magnificence. And I wondered whether there was something I could/should do to bring Michael to a “place” of appreciation.

This led me to reflecting on how often during this trip he had shown appreciation. For example, there was the farm we visited where he named the sheep the “Baa-Baa Crew,” the early morning sun, the mist and the flocks of birds over The Great Salt Lake, the mountain goat we stopped to watch as he stood right on the road, the bison grazing in the Black Hills…and I noticed his theme of animals. He was so appreciative in these situations, in fact, that each time he didn’t want to leave. I also reflected on how much he loves our dog, Bibi, and how well he had taken care of her throughout this trip. All of these years later, we are fortunate that Bibi is still a member of our family! (Addenda: Bibi left us at 17 years old on Sunday, March 27, 2011.)

So…I finished my musing with appreciation for Michael in general and, in specific, I was appreciating that he was able to accurately give me a glimpse into his honest experience at that moment. I was also appreciating that we are different and that we see the world in different ways. Magnificent!

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder!

[Photo by Barbara, Big Horn Sheep, Banff, Alberta, 2011]

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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:

Categories via 'Label'

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]

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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:

Categories via 'Label'

Adoption and Parenting: We’re Home

[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.]

We’re Flying!

by Barbara Shipka

As I see it, in this lifetime, the best way for Michael and me to be able to together was for him to be born into a country where adoption by foreigners was an option.

He ‘called’ to me. I had gone through the process to adopt years earlier and, at that time, decided not to. This time, it was somehow certain and inevitable. A ‘knowing.’

Nonetheless, even with that ‘knowing,’ during the months of challenging experiences in Peru, it was unclear that we would reach a positive outcome. There are even more stories to be told, but enough for now.

I will never forget the sensation in my heart and body as the wheels of the airplane left the ground of the Lima airport.

Hugging this little bundle of infancy, this soul newly embodied, in my arms, I reclined the seat.
[Photo of Michael and Barbara, first days together in Lima, Peru, Winter 1991]

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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:

Categories via 'Label'

Adoption and Parenting: In Peru

[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.]

First Mother’s Day

by Barbara Shipka

Michael was now five months old. I had been told the adoption process would take about two weeks. I planned for six weeks…just in case. Three different friends had come for two weeks each.

Now I was on my own as a new mom. I had gone straight from being a confident business professional to feeling totally incompetent. The experience left me breathless!

We had been in Peru navigating a challenging adoption process for almost three months already…with no end in sight. And now there were new complications in our process as my first Mother’s Day approached.

The outcome of the adoption was uncertain. Michael might now be allowed into the US. Then what?

And in the meantime, I felt lonely and despairing with nothing to do but wait as money and my consulting business evaporated. I sobbed as I tried to wash away my fear and self-pity.

A German entrepreneur was staying at the same small hotel as we were. He was overseeing the building of a school in one of the barrios on the edge of Lima. He knew how down I felt.

As the day of the school opening approached…which just happened to be Mother’s Day…Robert asked me whether Michael and I might like to attend.

Even though I’ve seen such scenes many times before, I was amazed at the physical poverty in the neighborhood! No running water, no electricity, etc.

Cholera had recently arrived so the price of admission to the school (including new school clothes…a la the photo) was for the mothers to attend a class on cholera prevention.

As the program began, Robert introduced us. One of the mothers got up and came over to me with a Mother’s Day gift! Here were these women who had NOTHING…giving ME a gift! Imagine! It was a butter dish.

In that moment, I understood at a very deep level how completely and profoundly I also was living in poverty. The difference was that my form of poverty was spiritual rather than physical.

More than 20 years later it still brings tears to my eyes to remember the grace and healing that occurred for me through that gift. Those mothers…who had nothing…giving to me. Such generosity! And, at a deeper level, they also gave me a sense of belonging to the community of motherhood.

[Photo by Barbara, Lima, Peru, Spring 1991]

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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:

Categories via 'Label'

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.]

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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:

Categories via 'Label'

Gifts to the World by Michael Shipka

Meet Michael Shipka

Filmmaker

Michael Shipka is a junior at the University of Minnesota. He was adopted from Peru when he was ten weeks old by single mother Barbara Shipka and raised in Minnesota. Michael’s birth mother Celmira was involved in the adoption process in Peru.

Michael made this film for a college project.  DWLA is so taken with Michael’s story and the pride he takes in his heritage. We think you will love this video as much as we do!

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