Saturday, May 2, 2009

My Claim to Fame

I'm famous! Okay, not really. But I've been in Adoptive Families magazine and in our local newspaper. Not a big deal, I know. But it's a start. I would love to write freelance someday and I'm hoping I can get my foot in the door with the adoption route. So the first photos are from an Adoptive Families (a national magazine about adoption-related issues) article about lifebooks. The yellow highlight is where I'm quoted. I happen to be very passionate about lifebooks and I teach a class at my local DCF office. Then there's a picture from Mateo's lifebook on the bottom of one page. I'm going to write out what the quotes are so you can read it for yourselves. I wish I could find the entire article online but I can't. And I don't have time to type the whole article out. You'll just have to buy it if you want to read it. They carry the magazine at Barnes & Noble or you can subscribe at

For an adoption storybook designed for a very young child, less is definitely more. "One or two photos from each place or person is enough," says Justice Riccardi, who adopted her son domestically.

One of the biggest challenges was finding the right words to explain why my son's birthmom can't take care of him," says Riccardi. "I wrote that she had 'big grown-up problems that made it hard for her to care for you or any other baby.' I also repeated the phrase 'babies need food, clothing, toys, and a home,' and added that his birthmother could not provide those things."

Justice Riccardi designed eye-catching pages using photos and stickers on bright backgrounds. Before slipping the pages into plastic protectors in a binder, she made a color copy of the complete book. "We used a three-ring binder, and placed the pages in protective plastic sheets. We also made copies, in case our son spills on it," Riccardi says.

As part of my job (with a non-profit agency that recruits and supports foster/adoptive families in my area) I put an ad in a local paper. Then I got the idea to do a regular column where I can highlight a positive story about foster care or adoption. I started with our story (or a very short version of it), and this is how the column turned out. Our ad is on the bottom. I think it looks great and I'm very happy with it. I'll write that story out too. It's pretty short.

An Adoption Story. When Mateo’s social worker drove up to our house that warm August day, my stomach fluttered and tears welled up in my eyes.

“Come meet your new son!” she yelled after opening her car door. I could see the little feet kicking in the car seat in the back of the car. The social worker picked him up and held him out to us. I couldn’t believe how tiny he was. Mateo was only 14 months old but had a lifetime of worries. He smiled at us, while we talked to him and held him. Of course, he couldn’t understand that we were his parents and he’d be staying with us forever. He was our son! Our first child, our love, our hearts.

I remember the first time Mateo hugged me. He was a happy little boy, but not necessarily affectionate. It took him some time to trust us. To trust that we wouldn’t leave him and that we loved him unconditionally. But one day at a playgroup, another little boy pushed him down, and Mateo came running to me, arms open, and rested his head on my shoulder. I almost started crying myself. It finally felt like he loved us, just as we loved him.

After the adoption was finalized, we had a big party. Many people were there, family and friends, and even Mateo’s first foster mom joined the celebration. We had cake, and a blow up jumpy house, and lots of food. It was a great time and proof that Mateo was as much a part of our family as any biological child would be. I hope that he can look at those pictures one day and know how welcome he has always been in our family. Even though our skin doesn’t match on the outside, family is about what’s on the inside.

I am also on public access television all the time on a show called "Families in the Making" where I was interviewed twice about being a foster/adoptive parent. So I may not be famous, but I'm getting closer. Just watch. Pretty soon I'll be chillin' out with the Jolie-Pitts and chatting about nannies. Angelina, if you're reading this, give me a call, k?


Matthew said...

I love this...I'll have to go to the library and look at the most recent copy...what a great idea...thanks for sharing and wonderful ideas!

Matthew said...

Okay, really...I should check to make sure that I'm signed in and not my husband...I, Melodie, left that above comment, not Matthew, my sweet husband.


Crystal and Bryan said...

That's awesome!!

janiece said...

Totally cool! Ahhh, the truth--the more you know the more you understand and you are helping the massess to understand!

mayhem said...

Very cool. What kind of feedback have you gotten so far?

I really need to do lifebooks for my kids, but it intimidates me and seems like too big a job so I've avoided it. For the last four years...

Adopting1Soon said...

That's great! And it's a HUGE DEAL! In fact, weirdness, I was on Adoption magazine's website this very morning deciding whether I should subscribe. Well, I guess I will if you're going to be in it!