A Gift to You – The 12 Days of Adoption


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NOTE: Those of you who’ve been following my blog, welcome back. Greetings to new readers. Winter finds me (at last) finishing a long-in-development sequel to All the Wrong Places. Enjoy one of my favorite posts from the pasts, as I work today on editing Clara and The Hand of Ganesh. Being thankful is a strong motivator, I have learned, in this lonely process of writing. Below, a song of gratitude. Adoption is a mixed blessing, but a blessing nonetheless. Here’s wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season!

Love and Blessings, Elaine



Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on life through adoption colored glasses. Please let us know what you’re most grateful for this holiday season!

Enjoying winter outdoors is a gift.


Adopting Autumn


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Sometimes we grow so busy, we forget to enjoy the changing of seasons. Yesterday, as I walked the arroyo near my house, I received a wakeup call. Crisp air, trees nearly bare, dazzling blue sky. On the arroyo floor, a previous hiker had left a message in the sand. It spoke directly to me, a reminder to cherish Autumn.

To Autumn
John Keats


SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease;
For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 15
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day 25
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river-sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.


Join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on adoption and life. Your comments are invited. November is National Adoption Awareness Month, and submissions are being taken for guest blogs on all aspects of adoption. Length no more than 500 words, photos accepted, short bio needed. Send queries to elaine.coleman2013@gmail.com

Decades of diaries became my memoir, The Goodbye Baby-Adoptee Diaries

Poetry Monday ~ For Veterans Day


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NOTE FROM ELAINE: Both my original and adoptive dads were WWII veterans. As an adopted child, one of the so-called “goodbye babies,” I am a product of that bitter combat. Since the publication of my adoptive father’s wartime correspondence (From Calcutta with Love, Texas Tech University Press, 2002) I’ve been studying both world wars. Today, in honor of all our country’s veterans, I bring to you one of my favorite poems from the first global war. World War I ended 100 years ago. The fight involved 32 countries and took the lives of 10 million men. Sadly, the “war to end all wars” did not. Instead the harsh years of 1914-1918 spawned new wars. May we learn from history.

Poetry by Lt. Col Dr. John MacRae, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row
that mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved, and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
to you from failing hands we throw
the torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die,
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders fields.


Join author Elaine Pinkerton on alternate Mondays for her reflections of adoption and life. Your comments are invited!

Looking at the world through adoption-colored glasses.

An Adoptee Abroad: Ecuador


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“What place would you advise me to visit now?” he asked. “The planet Earth,” replied the geographer. “It has a good reputation.” — Antoine De Saint Exupéry


Before hiking, I visited the magnificent Basilica de Quito

Last month I had the opportunity to visit South America for a couple weeks.  Previously I had only been as far South as Central Mexico, and visiting a country named for the dividing line between the North and South hemispheres of the planet was something I could not resist doing.  Ecuador is the Spanish word for “equator”, and while the capital city of Quito does not lie exactly on the line of the equator it is at the center of the country as its cultural and governmental hub.  Beyond the cultural attractions and daily metropolitan activities are many active and dormant volcanoes that provide hiking and climbing opportunities to those so inclined.  One of the lesser volcanoes is Rucu Pichincha, after which the Pichincha Province is named.  Its summit is at 15413 feet, but a tram ride takes you to above 13,000′ feet from a tram station very near to the city center.


I decided a trip to Quito would not be complete without heading up the tram ride and trying the hike.  A fifteen minute or so tram ride ensued. This afforded views of the sprawl of Quito stretching from north to south in the Pichincha valley and brought me at last to the high station.  Disembarking, I could sense first the cooler air and following that the lack of oxygen, as everything seemed to require more energy.  The first thing you see on the nature trail is the what is supposedly the world’s highest catholic church.  A few more minutes of hiking brought me to a corral of horses and mules that are used for those that want to take the lazy route higher up.


Feeling only slightly lazy and interested in getting a bit of a workout, I continued up the trail.  Rather steep inclines are followed by flat areas which offer a little bit of rest for the lungs, although the altitude definitely became apparent as I gained elevation.  After a little over two hours of hiking, along with requisite breaks, I reached my high point at above 14,400 feet.  I was at the base of the rocky section of the volcano.  As the final portion required scrambling and was inherently dangerous for those not adapted, I decided to adapt to a sitting position and took in an excellent view of the city, various Andean volcanoes, unique plant growth, and spotted what looked like a hawk riding the thermal air currents high above me.  The experience of the Rucu trail was enjoyable and ultimately very rewarding.  I felt as if I had a good taste of the Andes range, as well as an excellent view of the city from above.  In addition I hiked to the highest elevation I had ever reached, admittedly with some help from the tram ride.


Elaine Pinkerton is a Santa Fe, New Mexico author whose works include fiction and nonfiction. Seeing the world through adoption-colored glasses, she blogs on alternate Mondays about life, travel, hiking and  Comments invited!

5 Ways to be your Own Best Friend


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Some days it’s hard to realize you are gaining on it.

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing, and face us with the reality of our powerlessness, that is the friend who cares.
-Henry Nouwen, Dutch-born priest and writer

For the most part, I enjoy a sense of progress in my adoptee’s journey toward wholeness. Some days, however, I feel like Sysiphys, the character in Greek mythology who pushes a massive boulder uphill, reaching the top by sundown but the very next morning being forced to start again at the bottom and push uphill all over again.

As I talk with friends about challenges they are facing, I realize that I am not alone. One does not have to be a “recovering adoptee” to find life full of problems to be overcome, tasks to be accomplished and conundrums that seem to have no end. And while I am blessed to have wonderful and compassionate friends who are never to busy to listen to my latest thorny scenario, one solution I’ve found is to be my own best friend.

Having said that, I’m offering five ways to nurture and appreciate yourself:

1. Let the past be the past. Do not hold grudges against yourself.
2. Remember, when troubles seem to be ganging up against you, that “Mama said there’d be days like this.”
3. Be true to YOU. As far as your self-definition is concerned, be an island. Quit comparing yourself unfavorably with others. Jealously isn’t called the “green-eyed monster” for nothing.
4. Work on fine-tuning your sense of humor. Learn to laugh at yourself.
5. Remember that YOU are not your thoughts.

Life is like a river. We can either enjoy the journey, rowing gently down the stream, or we can let our emotions control our thoughts, feeling a vague dissatisfaction and lack of contentment. One very powerful way to row gently down the stream is to treat yourself as you would a dear, cherished friend.


Join Elaine in her monthly blog posts. Wide-ranging topics, from travel, hiking, nature, daily living to personal development. If you are involved in the adoption triangle (adoptee, adopted parent or birthparent) and would like to contribute a guest post, please contact her. We’d love to hear from you!

Coming Home to Myself


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‘This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Polonius in WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’s “Hamlet” **************************************************************

How can you be true to yourself if you grew up not being allowed to know who you are?

As an adoptee, hiding behind the mask of being “normal,” of masquerading as the “real” daughter, I could never live my life authentically. Early on, I assumed that there was something shameful about not being born to my mom and dad. The best way to behave was to strive for perfection in everything.
! No matter how I tried, however, it was never enough. In lieu of facts, my imagination took over. I was competing with that other daughter that my parents couldn’t have: A ghost of a girl who looked like my adoptive parents and resembled them in ways that I simply could not. I had to make them proud, to prove myself.
! At age five, I had (symbolically) been “born again.” That old life was just a warm- up and I was supposed to forget about it. Never ask about those first parents. Don’t think about those years before being “rescued.” If I wasn’t successful in my role, I could be sent back to careless people who never should have been foster parents. Maybe it was fear that kept me from pressing for answers about my
first years.
! That said, I had wonderful adoptive parents. They
helped me accomplish and excel in many ways. Striving is
not necessarily a bad thing. I did well academically,
worked at age 16 to save money for college and
graduate school, embraced writing at an early age as
what I really wanted to do. My ambition was boundless. In
many ways, that has served me well.

October hike up Atalaya Mountain – Santa Fe, NM
Being in nature has helped me shed old paradigms.

The downside is that I never “arrived.” Instead of being
able to savor my successes, I kept raising the bar. Only
now can I relax and quit being an overachiever.
Do I have advice to those who cannot accept their
adoption? I can offer only some thoughts I would like to
share. Knowing ones parents certainly has value, but if
that knowledge must be incomplete or even missing,
avoid people who sap your energy. Vow to do something good for yourself every day, even a small act. Try a week of being your own best friend., and see if you start feeling better, especially about being an adoptee!

Ruminations and Rumi


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The past six months have been a roller coaster. (Read about stage one of this journey: https://tinyurl.com/yxzgdz3l) Moving, then changing my mind and un-moving. In other words, I decided to sell my house and move to a condo, then changed my mind (fortunately getting back the earnest money). The bottom line was that I would not have come out financially ahead. Too much deferred maintenance lowered the value of my house.

But even more powerful than the financial reality, there was an emotional facet to this about-face. It would have been wrenching to leave the back yard deer, the fruit trees, my labyrinth, the coldframe gardens, the view of the mountains, close neighbors who are also friends.

What followed took me by surprise and yet it made perfect sense. The next step, facilitated by my younger son: a refurbishment of the house I chose to keep. The exhausting though beneficial part is that I’m saying goodbye to too much “stuff.” Garage sales, donating, and just plain pitching   Some days I awaken with exhaustion. The ceaseless toil of clearing out the clutter wears me down…All the schlepping of papers, books, photos, office supplies and more from rooms that will get new saltillo tile and be painted from top to bottom. Other days I awaken with elation…the house will be beautiful. Like new. (When the refurbishing is done). Other days I find myself resenting the fact that I let everything slide and did not realize I should have been maintaining the house all along. Rumi’s poem “The Guest House” describes my emotions perfectly. If only I can be welcoming to all of those feelings, I will have accomplished a lot. After all, the adoptee’s journey is about being at home in ones own skin.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
 Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
 some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
 Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house 
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
 He may be clearing you out 
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice. 
Meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes 
because each has been sent
 as a guide from beyond.– Jelaluddin Rumi

*********************************************************************Although he wrote seven centuries ago, the Persian poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic Rumi provided insights that serve us well today. The “guests” are emotions and thoughts to which one awakens each morning. Rumi advises welcoming them all rather than disdaining some as unwelcome pests and others as “right” and correct. It is true that we enjoy those guests that empower, buoy us up, and make us feel successful, capable, happy. But as I’ve traveled the adoptee’s road to discovering who I really am, I’ve found that we need to accept all the feelings and learn to live with them.
The emotions that appear in our personal guest houses can, after all, serve as guides from beyond.

*********************************************************************Join Elaine on Mondays for reflections on life through adoption-colored glasses.


August Attitude Adjustment: Not Moving After All


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What a crazy summer! It seemed everyone around me was “downsizing.” I joined the movement. In June, I decided to sell my house and move somewhere smaller. By July, the offer I’d made on a nearby townhouse was accepted. I was in the process of packing to move. Meanwhile, even before the old place was officially on the market, I’d been getting a few tentative offers. Nibbles.

Home-Where the heart is

Along comes my son and his family for a visit. They see the new place and hear about the too-low offers made on the old home. After studying the numbers, my son pointed out that I would not come out ahead. Hard to believe at first, but when deferred maintenance was taken into consideration, the house would actually not be making money for me. Financially, I would just about break even. A two-day family discussion: Ultimately, we concluded, it would not be best for me to move. Rather, I’d invest in refurbishing the old home.
August finds me adopting an entirely new attitude. No longer will I mind the indoor and outdoor maintenance. I’ll take full advantage of the hoop gardens for growing vegetables and herbs; I’ll walk the labyrinth every day; I’ll harvest fruit from the apple and pear trees in the fall and turn the bounty into juice, pies, and cobblers. I’ll commune with the occasional deer coming to visit. I am realizing that I hadn’t really wanted to be uprooted.
The home makeover begins next week. That means that I’ll be moving out of one end of the house to the other. The section that needs paint and new flooring has to be vacated. This has led to massive de-cluttering and a donation-a-thon. Thankfully, the work begins outside, with re-stuccoing. So I have a tiny bit of leeway in clearing out of the renovation end. On the other hand, the-clock is ticking.


Join Elaine for Monthly Blogs on the world as seen through Adoption Colored Glasses

Goodbye, old Home


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I’m saying goodbye to my home of 45 years. Hard for me believe, but I’m selling the house that’s taken care of me all these decades. The housing market here in Santa Fe, New Mexico is excellent. I can do without five extra rooms to heat and clean, without two acres to tend and without closets for a family of four. Last month I located a nearby townhouse, still in my same neighborhood, but with charm and virtually no maintenance, I decided the time had come. My realtor and I made an offer and it was accepted. The die is cast…

I’ve loved it but I’m leaving.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I’ve been endlessly decluttering. Or at least since January. Purging and more purging, but still way too much of everything. But the need to upgrade my current house to put it on the market: that’s a motivator. As the saying goes, I am putting the pedal to the metal.

Time is of the essence. My life has become all about de-acquisition. Packing to move. Room by room, I am emptying every shelf and cabinet. But then there’s the question: “What to do with EVERYTHING?” A garage sale here and there, some things put on consignment. A lot of donating. Once I started to dig, I learned who can use what. Barkin Attic, a charitable resale store that benefits homeless animals, has been wonderful. So far, I’ve given them two desks, a large bookcase, two couches and boxes of kitchenwares. The Barkin volunteer staff is very professional. Two muscular people and a U Haul truck arrive exactly when scheduled, give me a receipt for tax purposes and – voila- the stuff is gone!

Every possession is a responsibility.

Casa Familia, a local homeless shelter, has also been the recipient of my excess. Perfectly fine clothing, in good condition. Office supplies, cleaning stuff, cds. The public library in Los Alamos, NM, has a thriving Friends of the Library resale store. A volunteer named Kevin drove here to pick up 100 of my favorite books. Though it hurt to see them leave, I loved the fact that someone else would read and appreciate them and that the money made by the Library Friends would help.

Speaking of friends, last weekend, Richard and Kathy came over to help me pack. We all worked for hours and finally had to take a break. Richard relaxed in the recliner and I told him that he could have it. Turns out, the couple had been thinking of getting a recliner, and mine (barely used) was perfect. It fit in their car and off it went. One less item to shed.

Still mountains of possessions to review, metaphorical miles to go before I sleep…so I’ll bring this post to a close. The next yard sale will be Saturday, August 24. We’ll offer rock-bottom prices and some giveaways. Wish you could be here!

The Dad I Scarcely Knew


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Note: Adopted people have two fathers: the original and the adoptive. On Father’s Day I thought about Giovanni Cecchini, the original, all day. Lately, as I massively declutter, I’ve come across albums with photos of my original father and me the few times we met. I’ve come to realize that Giovanni, my original father, did the best he could.

The stated mission of my memoir The Goodbye Baby: Adoptee Diaries is to “let the past be the past.” In my concluding essays, I suggested that “bygones should be bygones.” Since the publication of The Goodbye Baby, I’ve had second thoughts about those “bygones.” In the case of understanding ones adoption, the “bygones” adage may not be entirely true. History has been coming back to me, and I’m seeing things differently.
During this season of Father’s Day and the upcoming Summer Solstice, I’m thinking a lot about Giovanni Cecchini, my birth father. These are not comfortable thoughts, but rather regrets and self-recriminations. My birth father and I were never really together, as WWII was raging when I was a toddler. He was always out at sea, and the ill-fated marriage between Giovanni and my birth mother Velma was unraveling even as it was just beginning.

At age five, I was adopted by new parents. My adoptive father Richard, until his death a decade ago, was a major influence throughout my life. A professor of guidance and counseling at the University of Virginia, he was my advocate and hero. I deeply admired him. Giovanni was a shadowy background player, someone I saw just a few times in my life

The occasions I saw that original Dad, I was so full of hurt and resentment that I blew it. After we’d made contact (I was 40; he was 75), I accompanied Giovanni to his birthplace, San Martino Sulla Marruccina, Abruzzo, Italy. We stayed with my aunt and third cousins, my own flesh and blood. I was thrilled to be in Italy, in the land of my father’s birth, and I was hoping that we could get to know each other. I expected him to be the father I’d always been missing. It became obvious that he was hoping to see the four-year-old little girl he’d left behind.

We were sitting one morning at the tiny kitchen table of Cousin Josephina and I asked, “What are your memories of my mother, of Velma?” Giovanni replied, “Well, to tell the truth, you kind of remind me of her.” Retreating into a curmudgeonly silence, he did not elaborate.

I took the remark as a slap in the face. I was hurt beyond words. Father/daughter interactions went downhill from there. The Italian cousins were delightful. It was wonderful meeting them, but the father I’d hoped to bond with eluded me. He put it this way. “Too much water under the bridge.” I did not see him after our trip to the old country and he passed away a few years later.IMG_1329

In retrospect, I would change that moment at the kitchen table in Abruzzi. I might have changed the subject, been more open and loving, transcended my “poor little me” attitude. And if only I had. In the case of these fragile reunions with birth parents, there may not be second chances. A saving grace is the relationship I have with Giovanni’s second wife Margaret. Family members, no matter how distant or difficult, are to be cherished.

(This post was originally issued in 2013.)

Your feedback in invited. Please comment, and join Elaine on alternate Mondays for reflections on life as seen through adoption-colored glasses.