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The Work Kyle Forti Started With ‘Foster Together’ Continues On Despite His Death

Colorado’s political world was shocked and saddened by the death of Kyle Forti. The Republican political consultant, who was popular on both sides of the aisle, was in Kenya with friends and died when the helicopter he was riding in during a scenic safari flight crashed. There were no survivors. 

“It has the power to really smack you down,” said Forti’s wife Hope. She wasn’t in Kenya. She had just found out she was pregnant with their second child. They also have a five-year-old son.  

It wasn’t until after the 29-year-old Forti’s death that a much wider circle of people discovered his passion outside of politics — foster parenting. And now months later, his family and friends continue his work without him. 

Foster Together connects volunteers with foster families. A recent private home fundraiser brought together a mix of politicos, former candidates and elected officials to mingle with foster parents and children. All gathered to learn more about Kyle’s work.

CLICK TO KEEP READING AT NPR?

-By Bente Birkeland/ Photo: Hope Forti

Calcutta is My Mother: the Healing Journey of a Transracial Adoptee

For decades — lifetimes, really — the adoption narrative has been woven primarily by people like me: adoptive parents. To adoptive parents and to society at large, adoption can seem like a win-win construct. Longing parents get a baby/child, and the baby/child gets a forever family. All win, no loss. But in recent years adoptee voices have joined together to also influence the adoption narrative. One of those voices belongs to Reshma McClintock, the subject of the documentary Calcutta is My Mother, creator of the website Dear Adoption, daughter, wife, and mother, and former Denver-area resident. Calcutta is My Mother is the latest contribution an adoptee-led effort to encourage people in general — those who have direct experience with adoption in some way, and those who don’t — to better understand of the complexities of adoption. For all those Hallmark-moment gains to take place, there first has to be tragic, devastating, irreparable loss. And a way to heal from it. Often, that loss is not seeable by the non-adopted. Reshma says in the film that it felt as though her life started in the PDX airport because that’s where the story started for her parents. But her body knew (see The Body Keeps Score by Bessell Van Der Kolk, M.D.). Reshma’s body has always known that something hugely impactful had happened to little baby Reshma prior to arriving at PDX. Decades later, Reshma still had a need to breathe into her lungs the hot stifling air of Calcutta. She had a need to touch with her hand the wall of the orphanage she left as a 3 month-old baby. She had a need to experience in her entire body a day in the life of a typical Calcutta-born woman. She had a need to sit amid the graves of the babies who didn’t survive their short time the orphanage. Hallmark movies don’t talk about such needs. They don’t highlight the loss that made the gain possible, necessary. But real stories like Calcutta is My Mother do. We non-adoptees are able to see how validating, affirming, and healing it can be to have the chance to gather one’s pieces and grieve what was lost. I encourage you to watch this film to better understand the complexities of adoption. The Spring Tour continues (currently scheduled for Seattle, Dallas, and Phoenix), and you can keep up with the film’s Facebook page to find out where and how you can see Calcutta is My Mother. In the meantime, watch the official trailer. And make it a point from now on to listen to adoptees.

~~~~~

adoption bookLori Holden, mom of a teen son and a teen daughter, blogs from Denver. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available through your favorite online bookseller and makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life. Lori was honored as an Angel in Adoption® in 2018 by the Congressional Coalition of Adoption Institute.

Calcutta is My Mother / An Adoption Story of Loss, Gain, and Identity

Adoption has been embedded into who I am as far back as I can remember. I’ve recounted my story too many times to track: Abandoned in a Calcutta slum, cared for in an orphanage for 3 months, and finally adopted to the United States where I grew up in a safe, loving home.
 
Pregnancy was the catalyst for my longing to reconnect to the heritage I lost. Motherhood has a way of sparking interest in the future and causing us to ponder our own beginnings. My (adoptive) mom answered questions about her pregnancy with my brother and told me everything about my life as an infant beginning when I was 3 months old. Although she provided a wealth of information, I was keenly aware of the information missing. I wondered about those first 3 months and the months prior as I grew in my Indian mother’s womb. 
 
No one had answers for me. Blank space. Blank forms. Blank memories. 
 
Growing up, I never felt misplaced in my own family. My experience was of profound bonding with my parents and brothers. However, because my family is white, I stood out; this provoked inquiries which inevitably led to the adoption conversation. It was uncomfortable to be pointed out in front of strangers. While my parents saw this as an opportunity to affirm my place in the family, it made me feel excluded more than anything; something I was never able to articulate as a child. 
 
When Rubina was born, for the first time in my life I looked at and touched another person with whom I shared genetics. She was me, I was her. For mommas, meeting our babes is life altering, but for those of us disconnected from our biological family, there is an added layer of intensity. 
 
I fell in love motherhood; I love the way it reveals my strengths and weaknesses. I love that my daughter and I are bound by an untouchable, biological connection. I love watching her grow and seeing myself in her; in the way she squints when she’s deep in thought and rolls her eyes when she’s being feisty (she’s nearly 8 now and the eye roll is real).
 
When Rubina was 3 1/2 I was asked to be the Subject of a film documenting my first return to Calcutta. 
 
The experience of filming Calcutta is My Mother, of returning to my homeland and immersing myself in her culture was overwhelming and emotionally taxing. What began as an attempt at cultural connection actually led me down a path on which everything I knew to be true unraveled.
 
The film recently premiered to a sold out audience in Portland, Oregon. I love the film. No, it isn’t easy seeing my double chin(s) on a movie theater screen or sharing some of my most intimate and devastating moments with an audience, but there is so much value in what was captured. I urge anyone who is adopted, is part of an adoptive or first family, or knows an adopted person (so, everyone) to see this documentary (everything you need to know about the Denver screening on April 13 at noon can be found at CalcuttaFilm.com).
 
Motherhood is the gateway to so much discovery into who we truly are, as women. Becoming Ruby’s mom helped me tap into the kind of Indian woman and mother I want to become.
 
Reshma McClintock is a transracial adoptee from Calcutta, India. She is a wife, mother, writer, speaker, and advocate for adopted people. After her experience as the Subject of Calcutta is My Mother, Reshma Founded Dear Adoption, a website highlighting the voices of adopted people and their work. She also Co-Founded Family Preservation365, an organization working to end unnecessary family separation. She and her family recently moved from Denver, CO to Seattle, WA.

Child Trafficking: Kids for Sale

CNN investigation has uncovered that mothers think they’re temporarily giving up their children to be educated but instead, they are sold to adoptive families who think they’re taking in an orphan in need. CNN’s Randi Kaye reports. 

Colorado Adoptive Families: Have You Signed Up For 2017 Adoption Camp Yet?

We in Colorado are fortunate to have a variety of adoption camps held right here each summer. Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families has been forging connections within and among adoptive families for 26 years. Which camp is right for you?

My Son Speaks Adoption Language at School

“Your mom doesn’t look like you at ALL,” said the second-grader to my son.

From my perch on a chair much too small for my bottom, I looked at the girl’s desk to find out her name, written in teacher-tidy print. Joy.

“That’s ’cause she aDOPTED me,” Reed told his classmate across the table.

And that’s how Take-Your-Parent-to-School day began.

~~~

Now I knew, in the abstract, that school presents new challenges for adoptees to navigate. I just didn’t know, really know, that such challenges would be presented to my children.

It was over before I even saw it coming. I was secretly pleased at my son’s choice of words. Did you notice he didn’t say, “That’s ’cause I’m adopted”? He said, “That’s ’cause she adopted me.”

It’s a subtle difference. I have always hoped that my children would see adoption as a word to describe what their parents DID rather than who they WERE. Verb versus adjective. Not self-definition.

But is that a distinction that we adoptive parents cling to, shoe-horning space between the two phrases just to make us feel like we’re doing something right by using sensitive and sensible language?

Or, as some adoptees say, does it matter not a whit? Tomayto/tomahto, is adopted/was adopted?

~~~

“Why do you think Joy said that?” I whispered to Reed later as the class walked single-file to Library.

“I dunno,” he shrugged. “Maybe because your hair is darker than mine.”

“What do you think of that?” I probed.

“I think people have different hair.”

We arrived at the library and that was that.

Lori Holden blogs from Denver at LavenderLuz.com and is a contributing writer to The Huffington Post. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, written with her daughter’s birth mom, is available in hardcover and e-book through Amazon or your favorite online bookseller. Lori is available to deliver her open adoption workshop to adoption agencies and support groups.

A Taste of Colorado Contest: Win 1 of 10 $50 gift cards!

Denver’s Labor Day Weekend mainstay is back! A Taste of Colorado is Friday, September 2 through Monday, September 5 and we’re giving away 10 $50 gift certificates. And, as always, this food, music, arts & crafts, and entertainment festival in downtown’s Civic Center Park is free admission.

So, what family-friendly offerings will you find this year? 

Food

More than 50 of Coloradoans’ favorite restaurants and food establishments will gather at the Festival, featuring small portions to full meals.   A few participating companies include Barbed Wire Reef, Bawarchi Biryari Point Indian Restaurant, Baur’s Restaurant and Listening Lounge, Bayou Bob’s, Chuey Fu’s Latin Asian Grub, City Pop, Colorado Corn Company, Cuba Cuba Sandwicheria and Grammy’s Goodies. Tickets are sold in strips of 15 for $10 and must be used to purchase food and beverages.bungee

KidZone and New Music Playground

The KidZone is a family-friendly area offering free, hands-on craft activities for children of all ages.

Budding musicians and enthusiastic sound-makers of all ages will love the instruments found at the Music Sound Station. New this year and created by a local artist out of found and recycled materials, families can try their hand at music making with drumming tables, chimes, melody pipes and a PVC pipe xylophone.  KidZone hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Fri., Sept. 4; and 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sat., Sept. 2 through Mon., Sept. 5.

Kids Crafts Tent

Kids and parents are invited to check out the Kids’ Craft Tent and join the fun! Kids will have a blast expressing themselves while creating a banjo they can strum, a tambourine they can tap or colorful maracas they can shake! Make a joyful sound!

Baby Oasis

Nursing mothers and families can visit the Baby Oasis, a convenient area located in the KidsZone for parents to nurse, change diapers, and relax in a private environment complete with a rocking chair. An assortment of supplies will be provided, including diapers and baby wipes.taste

Have a Kid-sized Portion of Something Tasty and Exotic

Kid-friendly food vendors will be located along the perimeter of the KidZone selling hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn, and more. A Taste of Colorado is also an opportunity for parents to encourage their children to try new foods from places like the Brazil, China, Cuba, India, and the Caribbean, as many of the restaurants offer “taste-sized” portions for one to four tickets.

Carnival Rides and Games

Enjoy Carnival Rides and Games, located on Lincoln Street and Colfax Avenue, Saturday through Monday, presented by KOOL 105. EARLY BIRD wristbands can be purchased for $15 from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., Saturday through Monday, and are good for unlimited amusement rides on the day of purchase until 5 p.m. ALL DAY wristbands can be purchased for $25 from 10:30 a.m. until two hours before closing Saturday through Monday, and are good for unlimited amusement rides on the day of purchase until closing. Wristbands are only available at the Midway ticket booths on Lincoln Street. Individual rides are also available for generally two to ten tickets per ride. Saturday & Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.; Monday: 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

KidzStage 

Family-Friendly Entertainment There will be plenty of music, magic, dance, circus, clowns, and puppets on the KIDZSTAGE presented by MIX 100.

Friday, September 2, 2016

11:45 am      The Salida Circus Presents: 2016 Summer Circus Olympic Games
1:00 pm        Scott McCray’s Funny Magic Workshop
2:30 pm        Steve Weeks¬¬ – Family Music Performer
3:45 pm        Magic and Comedy with Scott McCray
5:00 pm        Steve Weeks – Family Music Performer
6:00 pm        To Be Announced
Roving Performers – Salida Circus Performers, Magician Scott McCray

Saturday, September 3, 2016

10:45 am      Doc Murdock’s Magical Delights
11:45 am      Hula-Hoopologist Miss Jaecey – Hoop Dance followed by a Hula Hoop Contest and Games
1:00 pm        Jim Jackson’s Firehouse Circus
2:00 pm        To Be Announced
3:00 pm        Murdock’s Magical Potpourri
4:00 pm        Mr. Rocky Spitz – Kids’ Music Show
5:00 pm        Jim Jackson’s Firehouse Circus
6:00 pm        Mr. Rocky Spitz – Kids’ Music Show
Roving Performers – Mr. Bones, Birgitta DePree’s Roving Queen of Summer, Doc Murdock, Miss Jaecey

Sunday, September 4, 2016

10:45 am      Gene R. Gordon’s Magic, Mystery, and Fun Show
11:45 am      Hula-Hoopologist Miss Jaecey – Hoop Dance followed by a Hula Hoop Contest and Games
1:00 pm        Poppy the Clown followed by Paul Borrillo’s Juggling Workshop
2:00 pm        To Be Announced
3:00 pm        Gene R. Gordon’s Classic Magic and Comedy Show
4:00 pm        Merry-Andrew Afoot One Person Children’s Theatre Presents: Stone Soup
5:00 pm        Music for Kids with Eric West
6:00 pm        Merry-Andrew Afoot One Person Children’s Theatre Presents: Stone Soup
Roving Performers – Mr. Bones, Paul Borrillo, Gene R. Gordan, Miss Jaecey

Monday, September 5, 2016

10:45 am      Mr. Kneel – Beat Box Workshop
11:45 am      The Wick School of Irish Dance
1:00 pm        Ann Lincoln’s Variety Show followed by Ann’s Juggling Workshop
2:00 pm        To Be Announced
3:00 pm        Mr. Kneel – Hip Hop for Families
4:00 pm        Sven Jorgensen: The Sventastic Circus Extravaganza Part I
5:00 pm        Ann Lincoln’s Kids Comedy Show – Lots of Laughs!
6:00 pm        Sven Jorgensen: The Sventastic Circus Extravaganza Part II
Roving Performers – Mr Bones, Sven Jorgensen, Wild Bill Patterson Juggler/Stilt Walker

General Information

Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Monday: 10:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

LOCATION: Civic Center Park, Downtown Denver (intersection of Colfax and Broadway)

INFO LINE: (303) 295-6330; www.ATasteofColorado.com;  www.facebook.com/ATasteofColoradowww.instagram.com/atasteofco/; twitter.com/ATasteofCO.

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away 10 $50 gift cards for A Taste of Colorado! You may enter as many as five times below. wheel

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Adoptive Families: Have You Signed Up For Adoption Camp Yet?

We in Colorado are fortunate to have a variety of adoption camps held right here each summer. Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families has been forging connections within and among adoptive families for 25 years. Which camp is just right for you?

My family has already registered for this year — it’s our third in a row. The first year, both my kids and I made new friends — people who know what it’s like to be in an adoptive family. Each subsequent year, we look forward to seeing our new friends, doing campy activities, and learning more about identity and the ages and stages of growing up.

As an adoptive mom, I get a lot from the special speakers brought in to help me navigate the sometime turbulent waters of adoptive parenting. (Here’s a sneak peek at the adult workshops for Domestic Adoption Camp.) Topics may include behavior and nutrition, forging better connections with your kids, getting the support you need at school, what you need to know about search and reunion, transracial issues, culture exploration and other subjects adoptive parents want to know more about.

Plus, simultaneously, the kiddos are bonding with each other and learning more and more about their own journeys, helped along by counselors who have walked their path.

Registrations deadlines are coming up soon, so check into your camp today!

~~~~~

adoption bookLori Holden, mom of a teen daughter and a teen son, blogs from Denver at LavenderLuz.com. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, is available in paperback, hard cover, audio and e-book versions. It makes a thoughtful anytime gift for the adoptive families in your life.

Mile High Mamas Author Dishes on Adoption

In celebration of  the third anniversary of the release of her highly acclaimed book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption, we are pleased to present this interview with Mile High Mamas columnist Lori Holden. Lori grew up in Denver and remembers the Broncos’ very first Superbowl appearance (make those miracles happen, baby!). She blogs at LavenderLuz.com and has been a Mile High Mama blogger since 2008.

 Lori, what led you down the path of adoption?
We came to AdoptionLand through the inhospitable region of Infertilistan. Though the journey presented us with Fireswamps, Rodents of Unusual Size, and other harrowing experiences, it was worth it to get to our destination: the Parent ‘Hood.

The topic of Adoption can be pretty contentious online. There are pro-adoption people and anti-adoption people and loaded words and entrenched beliefs. You said in a radio interview that you “got spanked” early on. How did that experience shape your views?

Oh, what a painful experience (but one worth going through). I had yet to learn the nuances of adoption, that it’s not always considered a win-win by everyone involved. Adoption involves loss, and adoptions have not always been done well — some might say that’s the understatement of the century. People have been hurt.

Back when I was new to the adoption online world I had posted something (obnoxious, as it turned out) that was rooted in the idea that “Adoption is Awesome!” — and an adoptee called me out on it in her space. She wasn’t talking TO me but ABOUT me. Her comment section blew up with full force of people who had endured adoption loss — primarily adoptees and birth mothers. Their words stung. Stung badly. I wanted to lash out and meet their hurt with my hurt. Did they know nothing about the pain of infertility? How dare they ridicule me. They didn’t even know me.

For a couple of days I seethed and licked my wounds, staying away from the site — after I printed the post and comments and tucked the pages away. Eventually I was able to read the paper version (visiting the site was too scary) and try to figure out where these people were coming from. It required that I put the hurt aside and just read. Just open up to understanding their experiences with adoption, which were different from mine.

It was transforming. And it completely changed not only the way I view adoption, but also how I navigate conflict online. I am grateful to each person who took part in that skewering for their part in my evolution.

What adoption books did YOU find helpful?

I read Sherrie Eldridge’s 20 Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew when my kids were little and it was helpful. Later I read many of Jim Gritter’s books, including The Spirit of Open Adoption, LifeGivers (for which I led a book tour), and Hospitious Adoption.

And though it was hard to read, there’s a lot of value in Nancy Verrier’s The Primal Wound (which was the subject of another book tour). Each of these influenced the book I wrote with Crystal, my daughter’s birth mom: The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption.

What made you decide to write an adoption book? By the way, congratulations that your book is on suggested reading lists at adoption agencies around the country. Why do you think it’s resonated so well for readers? 

loriCrystal and I somehow figured out how to be in a healthy relationship together. We’re not the only birth-and-adoptive-moms to do this, by any means, but when Crystal and I began teaching classes locally about HOW do do this freaky thing, we ourselves had to figure it out. How DID we move from the Either/Or mindset that traditionally goes with adoption (either she’s the mom or I am) to a Both/And heartset?

Crystal and I had to deconstruct how our relationship first formed, which included two big leaps of faith in the early days (one for each of us), and analyze how we had continued to be clear and honest and respectful with each other, dealing with any internal insecurities that arose in a healthy way, and continually setting healthy boundaries with each other.

By the late-2000s, people were beginning to accept that we SHOULD be doing open adoptions. We aimed to write a guide that showed HOW. Along the way, we realized that openness is about more than just contact between birth and adoptive families — it’s also about how open we are within ourselves and with our children.

As for how well the book has been received, I think it’s because adoptive parents really WANT to do the best they can for their kids. They’re relieved to know that moving from an Either/Or mindset to a Both/And heartset isn’t so difficult after all.
 

You talk about the importance of listening to adult adoptees. Why do you advocate for this?

 

I didn’t want to get my children to adulthood and THEN find out things I should have known about parenting an adoptee. There is value in listening to adult adoptees because I can understand perspective that my kids might also have, challenges they might endure, feelings they might harbor. I’ve read memoirs like The Sound of Hope and Adopted Reality, and each has helped me understand what adopted people need from their parents, as well as what helps and what hurts.

Adding in my son, we now have relationships with four birth parents — plus birth grandparents, birth siblings and other birth relatives. What helps me navigate these relationships is having insight from others who have experienced adoption from different angles. Of course, no one view represents everyone, but by listening to many voices, one can begin to put together a mosaic.

So basically, I simply want to understand all sides of adoption. Doing so helps me have healthier relationships, helps me better understand my children at various developmental stages, it addresses the curiosity I have about experiences I’ll never have, and it helps me to be more compassionate to all involved in adoption.

Where else can people learn about the complexities of adoption?
 

A terrific ongoing resource for understanding adoption perspectives is the weekly radio show — archived — called Adoption Perspectives and based here in Denver. It offers interviews with fascinating guests, conducted by Rebecca Vahle, creator of the hospital-based Family-to-Family Adoption Support Network. CreatingAFamily.org is another super-helpful resource for community and thought-provoking adoption issues. Treasure troves, all of them.

We at Mile High Mamas are all about treasure troves for parents. Where can people get your book?

It’s available on Amazon in hard cover, paperback, and ebook. And I’ll announce right here that my publisher is coming out with an audiobook sometime mid-year.

Congratulations, Lori, and happy birthday to The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption!
Thanks to you and all Mile High Mama readers.
 

 

Lori Holden blogs from Denver at LavenderLuz.com and is a contributing writer to The Huffington Post. Her book, The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, written with her daughter’s birth mom, is available in hardcover and e-book through Amazon or your favorite online bookseller. Lori is available to deliver her open adoption workshop to adoption agencies and support groups.

Family gives the gift of adoption in this heartwarming video

Santa’s got nothing on this Oregon family!

Michael and Sarah Perks’s Christmas present from last year has gone viral as one of the most precious gifts they could give their three foster children: the gift of being a forever family.

 The family received the formal adoptions papers just a few days before Christmas so tucked them into a box beneath the Christmas tree.  Corbin, now 13, was especially be moved by their gift and gave his dad a  hug. “You’re officially a Perks,” Michael told Corbin.