The adoption took time, the love arrived instantly…

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You may not know this but, I’m adopted.

In honor of November being National Adoption Awareness Month and Saturday being National Adoption Day, I thought I would share a bit about my own adoption story…

I was adopted when I was four months old from Guatemala.

I grew up in a home with five siblings—three brothers and two sisters.

Some times, although not all, people will see my family and me out in public and have this look about them that says, “They’re related?”

Going along with this, I more times than not get asked the same question individually, to which my answer is always ‘yes.’

But how? Their puzzled face reads.

Most of the time, especially to this day when I get asked, I just simply say yes and leave it at that. I don’t offer them the details of my whole life story.

It’s not that I am ashamed of being adopted by any means, but, there’s just some people who I simply don’t feel the need or want to share my story with, especially if and when I get the vibe that they’re being just nosy.

Being an adoptee is a great thing.

Not that being not adopted isn’t great, but I love, when I want to, being able to share my story with others, especially those around the world who may be contemplating adoption at some point in their life. I want to raise awareness about the option of adoption.

Being adopted can bring unsolicited advice and comments from time to time, most of which I can usually shrug off while, other times I think, “Why on Earth would someone ask me something like that?”

I’ve gotten the typical comments of “Your parents didn’t love you,” You weren’t wanted,” and other variations of the like.

Of course, at times, especially when I was younger, those words might have hurt. Now, as a grown woman, I practically laugh because for my biological parents, I’d say it was one of the most loving things they could do for me. I don’t know them, but I can only imagine that both my parents and other adoptee’s parents want what’s best for them, something to which they perhaps thought they couldn’t provide.

What my birth parents did was selfless. It was loving. It was likely the hardest decision they ever had to make.

Of course, this thought brings along the unsolicited question of: “Would you ever want to meet your birth parents?”

That’s a tricky one.

On one hand, yes, I have certainly thought about it, but from having my own conversations with family members and other adoptees outside of my family, it’s not at the top of my priority list.

My family now and which I grew up with, is my family. Now, naturally I am a curious person and have wondered a time or two if I have more siblings, and if my birth parents are even alive, but for the most part, other than to find out medical history, perhaps, I don’t have a burning desire to meet my birth parents.

Why?

Well, because like I said above, my family now is my family. And I personally just think it would be weird, awkward, uncomfortable. Now that doesn’t mean I have any issue with other adoptees seeking out their birth family but like I said, for me, it’s just never been a burning desire of mine. I will say this though, I do hope to one day travel to Guatemala and learn more about my culture.

Going back to what life was like growing up adopted…

Well, one particular incident is what led to my best friend and I becoming just that: best friends, to which we remain today all these years later—despite her moving away in the third grade, us going to different colleges and us now living three hours apart.

My best friend, like me, is adopted. So cool, right? But that’s obviously just one perk of her being my best friend.

In second grade, I can’t recall who the student was but a student was making fun of me for being adopted. At that age, looking back now, where do kids even come up with this stuff? Of course I was upset and my friend, my best friend Erin K., stood up right away and defended me. And since then, we’ve been inseparable.

While most of my life and memories have been positive and happy, there have been some far and few in between like that time in second grade.

Another one came via telephone a few years back, much older than I was in second grade. One of my mom’s “friends” (I say this loosely because, I don’t consider her the definition of a real friend but, that’s for another time, LOL) called our house. I answered and she immediately started talking to me as if she thought I was my mom. I quickly interrupted her and told her I wasn’t my mom, to her which her response was:

“You guys sound so much alike, which is weird since you two aren’t genetically related.”

My jaw dropped to the floor. I couldn’t believe someone, especially a grown adult who is supposedly my mom’s friend, would even think to say something like that and think it’s OK. She’s lucky I didn’t just hang up on her right then and there.

But, overall, like I said, being an adoptee has been awesome. I love that I have a diverse family because it makes me appreciate those different than me that much more.

I am the youngest of six kids. My two sisters are our parent’s biological children/Caucasian, while my brothers are adopted/from Korea. Talk about diversified. 🙂

Nowadays I find the look on people’s faces more funny than rude, and whenever people ask me where I’m from and I say, “Michigan,” for the sake of not having to divulge my entire back story, I get the puzzled look to which I respond by moving ahead in the conversation.

For the most people, people will let it be and let it go, while others question me and ask, “No, really? Where are you really from?” I just smile and say, That is where I’m from. 😉

So, if you’re someone out there reading this and didn’t know much or anything about adoption before and what it means for us adoptees to be adopted, I hope this opened your eyes. And I hope it inspires you to broaden your horizons and seek out other adoption stories in honor of #NationalAdoptionAwarenessMonth.

Until next time…

XO,

Anamaria

Review: What Was Mine [novel] + other random thoughts

what-was-mine-9781476732350_hrEarlier this week I finally began a book I had bought about a month ago at Target that was marked 20% off. At first when I read the summary on the back of the book it sounded right up my alley, until I did a double take and realized it was probably better suited or relateable  for someone who has kids. But, I gave it some more thought and ended up buying it anyway.

I had the day off today so I decided I would do my best to finish the book since it was much shorter than the last one I had just finished on Sunday. Well, I did finish it today and I definitely have some mixed thoughts about how I feel about the overall book, and have strong feelings about how it ended.

The book is about a woman who kidnaps a four month old baby from Ikea whose mom walks away briefly for a work phone call, and ends up raising the baby as her own. She makes the decision to kidnap her after having tried for years to have a baby of her own, even suffering a miscarriage, as well as trying adoption. And then on top of all of that she and her husband separate.

The chapters alternate from the different viewpoints of the characters in the book. The woman’s name who stole the baby is Lucy. The biological mom’s name is Marilyn and her daughter’s real, legal name was Natalie, but, Lucy changes it to Mia. There are other characters who narrate the book, too, such as Mia’s nanny Wendy, Wendy’s husband, and child, Lucy’s ex-husband, and Marilyn’s husband, and children.

Overall, the book was written in a way that for the most part kept my attention and wanting to find out if and when Lucy would be caught for having kidnapped a baby and raised her as her own for 21 years. But, as I read on and it got to the part where *SPOILER ALERT* Mia finds out Lucy’s secret and she then questions her identity, it made me feel… indifferent. She acknowledges that Lucy is the mom she’s known her whole life but, after finding out she isn’t her “real” mom she feels a sense of betrayal and feels as though she no longer has a mom to turn to–neither Lucy or the mom her gave birth to her.

Here is why I feel indifferent. I understand the feelings of Mia, as it is definitely understandable and she has every right to feel the way she does. Now I know she is a fictional character and it’s a fictional story–but–situations like hers have very much happened in real life before and the way she feels, people in real life have and can definitely feel too although maybe not necessarily in the same manner.

For example… And I am not referring to myself in this scenario, but, for other people out there who have been adopted, or raised by someone other than their biological parents from when they were less than a year old (and therefore the people who raised them are all they know) they may have felt similar feelings that the character Mia did.

My problem is, however, that the character of Mia completely writes off Lucy when she finds out the truth. I get it, and like I said above she has every right to be angry at the news itself, but, to never want to be able to forgive her mom (although *SPOILER ALERT* she ends up doing so) and resenting her for lying to her all those years, she fails to recognize that while her “adoption” by Lucy wasn’t legal, she fails to recognize that she still was able to grow up in just as loving of a home had she not been kidnapped. She just assumes she now has no one to love her and lost her identity as soon as she found out she wasn’t who she thought she was.

Okay, so now I’m starting to not be able to make sense of the thoughts I had in my head before sitting down to write this but, what I am trying to say, is that this character was so willingly and able to disown her “mom” Lucy and go off and live with her biological mom, Marilyn, across the country, and a woman whom was essentially a stranger to her. I obviously don’t believe in kidnapping babies–whether fictional or real life, lol–but, Mia fails to realize that while what Lucy did was against the law, and bad in the eyes not just of the law but morals of the people around her, she kidnapped her to take care of and raise her–not to harm her. As I read on in the book I realized Marilyn was not a bad mom overall, she just made a human mistake of walking a little too far away to take a phone call, but, again, it’s fiction so.

I just felt that while Mia had every right to be angry and upset and feel like her identity was gone, it shouldn’t have been presented that way. Being a(n) (real) adoptee myself, I can’t imagine myself, should I ever be in that situation if I were to ever find/know my biological parents, that I would feel like my identity of the woman I today was gone. I was raised by my mom and dad since they adopted me when I was four months old.

Whoa, sidenote, I just realized I was the same age as the fictional character in the book. Anyway…

I don’t know a life any different, and while I wouldn’t be opposed to meeting or knowing more about them sometime down the road, it’s not something I’ll be sad and angry if I don’t. My identity and say, my culture and its history, is different than and not tied to who gave birth to me. I am in no way lessening the important role birth parents play in adoptions but, this book just seemed to me, to have it backwards. I tie my identity to how and who I was raised by and with. I tie it to my own likes I acquired on my own growing up. I of course tie it to my Guatemalan roots as well, as that is a part of me, but, it’s not all of me. I was raised in America.

Which brings me to a completely different point and in no way related to my loose review of the book…

I shake my head and literally have no words when more often than not in recent time have I been approached asking in some form, where am I from?

When people ask me, Where are you from? I respond: Michigan.

This answer, for the most part, satisfies people but, then you get the occasional, and seemingly more now lately, people who look baffled and question me even more. Take for example, my Uber encounter last weekend when I was back home.

I get in the car and the driver starts making conversation with me and he asks where I’m from. I tell him from the area and to his dismay, he presses on, and asks if I am Mexican.

Number of times in the last month I’ve been asked some variation of that question (or, if I speak Spanish, which I do not): A HANDFUL. 

I took a deep breath, trying not to lose my shit after wanting a simple, no big deal, and QUIET ride home from the bar, and respond, “no”.

Of course, he looks dissatisfied and questions me asking where am I really from, as if somehow, for some reason, I am lying. Then to satisfy him and shut up him, even though it clearly shouldn’t matter nor should it be any of his damn business, I tell him where I was born.

As you’re reading this you may be wondering why I would get so worked up and annoyed by such a simple question. Here is why…

The Uber driver, like others I have encountered over the last month, are making an assumption about me based on how I look. I clearly do not look Caucasian, I get that, I do. But, you know how many people I myself come across who clearly aren’t Caucasian and don’t assume or ask about where they’re from as a way to pry and be nosy, instead of the usual small talk like when I say to people in Indiana, “Oh I just moved here.” To which they reply, “Oh, where did you move from?” To which I answer, “Michigan”, and alas that’s the end of it.

But other times, such as during this Uber ride, he didn’t ask me to make small talk. Or, perhaps he did, as it was a ride home from a stranger but, to me, it doesn’t seem appropriate for small talk. It’s just like when people automatically start speaking to me in Spanish or ask me if I speak Spanish and when I say no they look all confused.

I get annoyed by that because I don’t look at people who aren’t of the majority race and ask if they speak what I speculate could be their native language, or even just their race. It’s not how I was raised and I just don’t see it as polite. It’s other people making an assumption based on how I look. And I am no in way saying that being Mexican or any other nationality or race myself would be a bad thing, it’s just not who I am and I don’t appreciate that people are so quick to assume things about another.

But that’s enough about that.

Just something I thought I would touch on going along with my brief review of the book I read.

That’s all for now. It’s #TGIT so that means it’s almost, kind of, time for my TV shows to come on.

Until next time…

XO,

Ana

19 Kids and Counting? How about zero kids and counting…

I don’t like kids.

There, I said it.

Now, before you get your boxers in a bunch and write me off as the world’s meanest woman. Hear me out.

It’s not that I necessarily think kids are the most awful things to exist on the planet (okay, maybe sometimes)–after all, I myself, and the rest of you, used to be kids once. But, I just don’t think they’re for everyone.

I have said for as long as I can remember that I simply don’t want kids. I’ve thrown out every possible reason why and people always seem to give me this judgmental stare. Like, how dare I not want kids when I am a woman and *most* have children. (I say most loosely because, well, there are a ton of women in the world and I am not sure exactly just how many have children already or are expecting.)

I then get asked why not, and how being a mother is the greatest thing in the world, all the while I am looking back at said person just waiting for her to be done talking.

Sounds terrible, right? But seriously, bear with me. I promise I am not a total baby hater, or mother hater for that matter.

I am simply at a time in my life where a) I am still young (even though I may say otherwise from time to time) b) I still live at home (that post-college life) c) I am SINGLE! (Pretty big one right there… Although, not saying that just because I get into a relationship I am automatically going to have kids) d) I am not yet fully established in my career and as a single woman, my main focus is and has been, my career.

I have always told myself that my career will be my number one focus until I achieve it. Now obviously once I achieve it and move on to the next chapter of my life (i.e. a relationship and-maybe kids) then that will be just as main of a focus in my life as my career.

But seriously, I don’t get why I get the stink-eye or other weird look when I say I don’t want kids. Of course, people tell me all the time that I could change my mind, and I assure them “NO” but, I’ve been thinking lately, that maybe–just maybe–one day I could change my mind. This new thought came to my mind after I found out one of my brothers and his wife are expecting a baby boy come July. I thought maybe someday I want my nieces and nephews (along with my new future nephew) to have a cousin(s) to play and grow up with. Of course, there are already cousins to play with, but also the fact the other women in my family–like my sisters and niece–have had their own kids as well. The point is, I just got to thinking and thought, maybe I shouldn’t write kids off completely.

Now I must explain, part of the reason I say (literally) “I’m so good” on having kids is because I do have so many nieces and nephews already–I am surrounded by kids. I mean, I have been an aunt since I was TWO AND A HALF YEARS OLD! TWO AND A HALF! And ever since then they’ve just kept on coming, lol. Plus, being the youngest of my five siblings in addition to having so many nieces and nephews, I just never felt like I was missing out on a ton by declaring I don’t want kids.

But, like I said, whenever I say I don’t want them it seems like people write me off right then and there. Sure, maybe I say it a little harshly but, in my opinion, not everyone has to have kids. In fact, I believe some people really SHOULD NOT have kids and yet, there they are–having kids. But that’s a whole different story-blog in itself.

I remember telling my mom one time a month or so ago that as a woman, I shouldn’t feel obligated to have a kid. I feel like society puts this pressure (whether it’s intentional or not) for women to have kids. Plus, not only that, but when we see celebrities like Brangelina adopting kids left and right… Or the Duggars and their 19 kids… Etc. Etc. I can’t help but think some people are influenced by that. However, I am not. I mean, to each their own for how many children they have but IF I ever were to have kids I sure as hell would not want that many. If I had the money like Brangelina then MAYBE, but, NINETEEN like the Duggars–NO WAY! But again, to each their own. My whole thought on kids if you are going to have them–properly take care of them. They need shelter, clothes, food… But most importantly–they need LOVE. What good is the rest of the stuff if it isn’t in addition to being loved?

I think what bothers me is that there are people out there who believe that just because they have a kid (or kids) that they can and are equipped to take care of them.

Um, I’m sorry, but NO.

That is not always the case.

As a woman who was adopted, I thank my birth mother for making the tough, yet smart decision to place me for adoption so someone else could give me all the things she couldn’t (like food, a good home, stability, education, etc.).

But, again, that’s another story in itself.

My point is, women (and even men) shouldn’t feel like they need to have a child(ren) just because everyone else in society does or because they get pressure from family and friends. I am a believer that kids just aren’t for everyone and that is fine. And if it’s not fine with you well then, sorry I’m not sorry.

My other point is, is that maybe–MAYBE–I could see myself having a kid one day.* (*Far future, not any time soon.) Plus, people always tell me to “never say never” and you know, maybe they’re right. But, if I do decide to have kids one day then it will be when I am READY. Not just for the sake of it–not just for shits and giggles.

So just a friendly reminder that the next time you want to write someone off as a bitch, or horrible person, or whatever, for not wanting or not yet having kids, consider WHY they might not want one. (Just a thought)

I know I’ve been adamant, and well, even now as I type this, that motherhood isn’t for me–but maybe, just maybe, I may change my mind in the future. Because even though quite frankly, other people’s (outside of my family and close friends) kids annoy the shit out of me (sorry if that’s blunt but, it’s how I feel), I do love my nieces and nephews and see the joy they bring to my siblings (their parents).

So, here’s to the future… Trying to not remain so dead set on never having kids, ever, but, being open to the possibility, should one day I have all of my ducks in a row–i.e. dream job, dream house, dream man, etc… Or at least, you know, a decent job, house and man to start and raise a family with. 😉 God only knows what my future holds… Well, and me too technically. But anyway…

Until next time…

XO,
Ana

There Is Always Something To Be Thankful For…

November is the month of Thanksgiving.

So in honor of turkey day coming up at the end of this month and remembering what Thanksgiving is truly about, I want to share about the people in my life and why I am thankful for each and every one of them.

This past weekend, Halloween specifically, served as a reminder as to why I am truly blessed with the family I have. We may not be perfect–we may act a little nutty at times–and we may not see eye-to-eye on every thing but, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade any member of my family for the world. After how all, how boring would life be if we all got along every minute of every day? Agh, I can’t even imagine, LOL.

So let me first share why I am thankful for my family

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….  Also, I would like to point out that November is National Adoption Month, so it makes this month and post even more special and sentimental. 🙂

Why I am thankful for….

My mom and dad: Well, if weren’t for them I wouldn’t know what having loving parents feels like, or have shelter and the basic necessities of life. If it weren’t for both of them, I would not be the woman I am today. I’ll admit, I definitely don’t say ‘please’ or ‘thank you’ anywhere near enough, but, I am so beyond blessed to call them my mom and dad more than they will ever know. They taught me everything I know–well, maybe not spelling, LOL, but just about everything else. But the one, single most important thing they’ve taught me is to NEVER give up. I’ve had countless times where I said I give up, I’m throwing in the towel, but, they told me to keep pushing myself and eventually, what’s meant to be will find its way. I will never be able to thank them for everything they have done, do now an will continue to do–and I can only hope then that I make them proud. Thank you, mom and dad, for being the absolute best parents in the world. I love you both more than words could ever explain. Just always remember that–even though, you know, I am a brat most of the time. LOL. It’s how I show my love. Plus. some parts of my personality/behavior come from BOTH of you. I.e. My OCD-like behavior comes from mom, and my “truck driver” mouth as you, mom, call it (lol), I would say I get from dad. That, and he and I both watch shows you consider “scary/gross” like Criminal Minds. Love you both!

My brother Tom: I don’t normally post sappy/sentimental posts about my siblings individually but, considering this is a month to be even more thankful than normal, I will share why my brother means so much to me. I can’t imagine having a different “Tom” for a brother. Sure, when he and I were younger we would argue the most but now that we’re older we hardly ever fight. Mom and dad think we’re fighting sometimes but most of the time we’re joking. Honestly, our relationship and interaction is quoting Mean Girls and other movies. I couldn’t imagine doing that with anyone else. I am proud and thankful to have Tom as my brother because he is hardworking and dedicated person. He’s also extremely caring and protective–especially when it comes to this family. I love you big bro–even though sometimes we do really fight and I yell how much I can’t stand you–know at the end of the day that I love you and wouldn’t trade you for anyone else!

My brother Adam: We’ve never been one to fight majorly, except on some certain occasions (lol), which I will not go into detail about, but, Adam, he’s like no other. Of course I mean that in a good way. Even though we don’t always see eye to eye on things, the one thing I admire and look up to him for is always standing up for what he believes in, being a hard worker and not taking people’s bullshit. He’s not only smart, but he’s extremely loyal both to this family and even his closest friends–who he treats just like his own family. He’s always there to listen when I ask him for advice, even though most of the time i do the opposite, lol, I know he means well with what he says and only wants what’s best for me. Plus, he surprised me a couple months ago when he told me how well he knows me–and that family is everything to me. Oh, he got me that time. But that’s because he’s that amazing of a big brother. Love you!

My brother Kyung-Hong: Where do I even begin? There aren’t enough words to explain how incredibly grateful I am to have you in my life as a brother. Even though you haven’t lived close (enough) to us in awhile,  you are never truly that far away. I love that I can always count on you, whether it’s a phone call or text, when I need advice or to vent. In fact, I miss our late night chats when you come to visit. Of course, times have changed since we were younger and you have Yoomi, Calvin and Genette, and most of the time I am out with my friends when you’re here 😦 but, it doesn’t mean I love you any less. You are truly an inspiration to me. It’s so amazing to see you follow through and achieve your dream of owning your own dental practice. I can only hope to one day do the same–achieve my dream of working in the news/journalism field with my dream/right-fit-for-me position. I love you so much and am so, so blessed and thankful to call you my big brother.

My sister MicheleWell, for starters, thanks to you I have great hair AND great teeth. LOL. But beyond that, I am thankful you’re my sister because (in my opinion), like Adam, you don’t put up with other people’s bullshit. You’re extremely caring and protective of not only your own family but mom and dad and us siblings as well. Plus, I’m thankful for you putting up with my shenanigans like when I called you late at night and made you come over when I was crying over a certain boy. LOL. Good times, right? I’m thankful you live down the street from us so I can see you, Robert and the kids often–not everyone is so lucky to have their sister/bro-in-law/niece and nephew live so close to them. 🙂 I am thankful for all the times we get to share together–especially up north and our bond over coffee and the grumpy guy at Starbucks. LOL! Even though there’s a whole 19 years age difference between us, I’m glad you’re my sister. Plus, you’re also one of two of my favorite gingers so there ya go! 😉 Love you!

My sister Sheila: The one thing I admire about you is you will go above and beyond for your kids. You will do absolutely anything to make sure they are protected and don’t have to put up with what they don’t deserve. I’m thankful you’re my sister because if it weren’t for you I wouldn’t have done as well with my math classes or classes that involved creative projects without your help. (Remember the Buddha in high school?) And like Michele, you’re protective of our WHOLE family, not just your own kids and Lon. I appreciate the fact you would do anything for any single one of us. Plus, you as a sister you give tough love–and by that, you tell me the truth, even though it may not always be what I want to hear–like when I dated a certain someone and I so badly wanted it to work and you told me it just simply wasn’t meant to me and I could do better. I didn’t appreciate it back then but looking back, I see you were right and I am glad I have siblings who care enough to tell me the cold hard truth that they know will truly benefit me and pay off in the end. Thank you!

After explaining why I am thankful for my parents and siblings, I would list every single niece and nephew I have but then this blog post would seriously go on for literally ever. But, I am VERY MUCH THANKFUL to have the BEAUTIFUL nieces and nephews I do. I can’t imagine life without any of them them. Plus, as much as I say now how I don’t ever want kids (but my whole family is adamant I’ll change my mind), I know I would be okay with not having any because I have so many wonderful nieces and nephews (AND two GREAT-nieces) to keep me occupied. 😉 So, I am incredibly thankful for my siblings for allowing me to be an aunt. Being an aunt is truly one of the best things in the world. 🙂

I am of course also extremely grateful for my (maternal) grandparents (and my paternal grandparents as well–even though they’ve passed, I know they’re always here in spirit <3) who are both still alive and are always around. I am thankful and incredibly blessed they are still here and doing just dandy in life. I’m even more thankful they were both able to see me achieve a huge accomplishment of mine–walking across the stage at CMU to receive my Bachelor of Science degree last December. It means the world to me to have them here for both the BIG AND LITTLE moments. I cherish every single time I get to spend with them. ❤

AND of course I am thankful for my brother/sister-in-laws and extended family like my aunts, uncles and cousins. ❤ ❤ ❤

Now to give thanks to some of my best friends… Obviously aside from my family, I have NO idea what in the world I would do without the following people in my life. We’ve experienced good times obviously, but, we’ve also experienced some tough times and it was through those our friendship(s) became even stronger. I can’t imagine not having these friends as a support system. These are the friends who I consider like family who have been there since day one of our friendship.

Erin: You are my number one, ride-or-die best friend in the entire world. My other half. ❤ I honestly am so blessed to have you as a friend and share a special bond (being adopted) and you standing up for me in the second grade when some kids were not being so nice about me being adopted. I don’t know what I would without you in my life. And even though you ended up moving two hours away in the third grade, our friendship withstood that. Not all friends can manage long-distance friendships but we’ve managed to do it for years now and for that I am proud and grateful. We never let distance, new friends, time, work or anything else get in between us. And even though now it seems like sometimes we go TOO long without seeing each other, we are always able to pick up where we left off. I would really be lost without you and I can’t wait to see you as my maid of honor one day when I get married. Love you so much, best friend!

Sarahann a.k.a “SarahAnn The Wonderful” a.k.a. “SA”: I can’t even begin to explain what it means to have you in my life as a best friend. I am so incredibly thankful we met and became friends in junior high. There is NEVER a dull time between us and we are always laughing at such random things. We can be silly with each other, but, you’re also the friend who lends a listening ear or shoulder to cry on if needed. You are the definition of a true friend and I am thankful everyday we have never once grown apart. I am also thankful for you and the others for sticking with me literally through thick and thin–like a time ago when I sacrificed my friend for a boy–you all were still there at the end and for that I will be forever grateful to all of you for that. Not all friends would do that and so that just goes to show what amazing friends I have. Thank you for being you and for being such an amazing person and friend all these years. Here’s to endless more years of friendship.

Maria: First off, lucky us for being able to be neighbors. YAY! Second off, you are not only an incredible person but you are a STRONG person. I would have never thought we as a group of friends (and of course your family) would have to endure such a difficult situation of you getting cancer in high school, but I believe our friendship is even stronger because of it. I can’t imagine a life without you in it because you are truly an amazing person. You have one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know and that isn’t always easy to come across in people. I love that we can trade clothes with each other and all cry with each other when we’ve had a bit too much to drink (i.e. Heidee and April’s apartment bathroom, LOL) and always pick up where we left off. While you no longer live in town, like I just said–we’re always able to pick right back up and for that I am thankful. Thank you for being such a great friend. I can’t wait to experience so many more memories with as we grow old together–because yes, we WILL grow old together–all of us. 😉

Cassie: You are truly one of a kind. I mean that in a good way too! I wouldn’t get nearly as many laughs in my life if it weren’t for you. You are always cracking jokes and being sarcastic and I of course believe every word you say. LOL. Plus we take awesome selfies together and say “Bye Felicia” on a frequent occasion. HA! But you are truly an amazing person on the inside and out and you too have a big heart that cares so much for others, which is what I appreciate most about you. I can’t imagine knowing another girl with your personality because there can only be ONE Cassie B. 😉 Thank you for showing me what a true friend is over the years I can’t wait to see what crazy new memories we make in the future. ❤

Ashley a.k.a. my “little” (sister): Oh my…. Where to begin? You are truly one of the most phenomenal people I have ever met. I knew the second I met you and realize you loved Disney that I wanted YOU to be MY little. I was going to freak and be super sad if we weren’t matched up. You’re truly the peanut butter to my jelly, cheese to my macaroni, milk to my cookie, spring in my step, flip to my flop… You get the idea, right? You are truly a beautiful person on the inside and an even more beautiful SOUL. You go above and beyond for everyone you know and you would give the world to make others around you happy. I love you so much and am so thankful you were chosen as my little sister–the one I never had but am thankful I do now. You are one of a kind and if there’s any advice I could give to you should you ever doubt yourself (not that you should) is: “NEVER LET ANYONE DULL YOUR SPARKLE.” It’s a quote I love and like to live by because you should always strive to do what’s best for YOU. I love you and am so thankful to have you in my life. Together forever, never apart. Maybe in distance, but never at heart. 

Kayla: It’s crazy to think that your original choice was to attend WMU instead of CMU but boy am I sure glad you made the change. I am so happy I was able to experience college with you by being roomies. I couldn’t have asked for a better roommate. Even though I am super sad you don’t live here anymore, I am SO, SO incredibly proud of you for following your dreams and creating your own life in TN. Plus, even though you live in a different state, at least it’s a cool one that I always look forward to coming to visit. LOL. I know you’re already doing big things but I have no doubt you’ll do even bigger things in the future and that is something I admire a lot. Thank you for being not only a wonderful roommate all those years at CMU but for being an AMAZING friend. I look back on our memories together and they are all happy, funny memories. Like “Quivers” for example. Oh, our many inside jokes. HAHA! I look forward to making even more memories together when we see each other here or there.

Courtney: Words cannot explain how thankful I am to have you AND Kennedy in my life. We’ve been best friends sixth grade and who would have thought we would be where we are today? 🙂 I admire you so much for being a positive role model to Kennedy and doing everything you can to make sure she’s taken care of. You are amazing mother and I am so proud of you for that. I am also proud and thankful to call you one of my best friends forever–and I’m super happy we’ll now live closer together. 🙂 Thank you for being such a wonderful, amazing friend and even more so, just a wonderful, amazing person in general. Never forget how strong, amazing, awesome and fabulous you are either! Can’t wait to see what memories we continue to make in the future!

Alison: We’ve known each other forever and while as we’ve gotten older we haven’t been able to hang out as much, I do and will always consider you one of my best friends. I am so thankful our brothers met and became friends so we could become friends. So many of my childhood memories involve you since we lived down thee street from each other. I have had too many laughs to count with you (and even your family–and going on vacations together; what fun!) and I am so thankful to have you in my life. Plus, I am also incredibly honored you asked me to be a part of your and Ryan’s special day next year. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us and what new memories we’ll make. I love you (and Ryan) both and I can’t wait to stand by your side during one of the best moments of your life. Thank you for being such an incredible friend. ❤ ❤ ❤

Okay, I could literally go on and on with a list of my friends who I am thankful for but, honestly, my fingers hurt from typing. LOL.

But, to all of my friends who weren’t specifically named (and you know who you are…. I hope!), know I appreciate my friendship with each and every one of you. We may not see each other/hang out or talk to each other as often as we like (adult life, ya know), but know I am extremely blessed to have you all in my life. Don’t forget that either. Love you guys!

So tell me… What are YOU thankful for this month? In general?

Feel free to comment and share.

Until next time…

XOXO,

Ana

REVIEW: ABC Family’s ‘The Fosters’ is a new kind of family welcomed by many

Last night was the season finale of one of my favorite shows–ABC Family’s The Fosters.

I knew right away from the previews of the show premiering that I was going to like it. What I didn’t know was just how much I was going to love the show. The story line is about a biracial lesbian couple who are parents to a son from one of the women’s previous marriages, two adopted former foster children and two additional foster kids, Jude and Callie, who they take in after Callie is released from a juvenile detention facility.

I’ll be honest, after the first episode I wasn’t sure if I would continue watching the show. Like I said, it was the preview of the overall season that really caught my attention. But, the first episode seemed like the story line could go in a somewhat uncharted territory for ABC Family and I wasn’t sure how well it was going to sit with viewers.

But, as the season went on I was so happy I stuck with it. I was first attracted to the show based on the story line. I can relate. I am an adoptee myself and the show touches on several different topics, adoption being one of them. Based on how well-written it is I would totally love to give executive producer Jennifer Lopez a big hug and say thank you! It truly is phenomenal so if you haven’t seen it yet I would highly recommend it.

The first episode of the first season is about a girl named Callie, who is released from a juvenile detention facility after serving time for getting into a physical altercation with her former foster dad. Upon her release she meets Lena Adams Foster, one of the main character moms, who agrees to let Callie (and eventually her brother, Jude) stay with her and her family temporarily (which later turns into permanently).

As the season progressed there was always some new surprise, new element, that I was pleasantly surprised it touched on. I think for some viewers the topics the show touches on might make them feel uncomfortable or like it isn’t appropriate for the ABC Family network, which I can agree to an extent, but, I love the show too much to care that much. Some topics have a more mature element and so for younger viewers they may notice and ask for clarification while for others it will go over their head. Either way, it’s up to a parent’s discretion on whether or not they want their children to watch the show, in my opinion.

The show touches on the topic of adoption, the LGBTQ community, foster care, mixed families, etc. The part that gets me every time and I enjoy is the portrayal of the character Jude, who at a young age, is exploring his sexuality and how to share with people he is gay. I enjoy it in the sense that I am rooting for him 100%. This aspect “gets me” every time because his character goes through some difficult times as he comes to terms and understands his true sexual identity and how to express it to others in hopes they’ll be accepting. I think it’s a fairly accurate and realistic portrayal of what some gay and lesbians experience in real life–it’s something people can personally relate to and/or empathize with.

Another aspect is adoption. The two characters, Mariana and Jesus, who are twin siblings who are adopted by the Fosters family. Mariana specifically deals with some things I myself have experienced (to a certain degree) in real life–although things that happened more so in the second season than the first season. In this second season Mariana deals with her peers asking her about her birth parents and if she has any desire to meet them and why/why not; and she deals with feeling like she doesn’t truly know who she is 100% because she is adopted and doesn’t know much about her biological roots. I myself have dealt with people asking me questions regarding my biological parents and while for the most part I don’t mind, at times it can be too much. Not because I am ashamed of being adopted or about my birth parents (I don’t even remember/know them) or anything else, but because I believe some aspects of adoption are simply private that I don’t feel the need to always share with people or with the whole world in general.

In the show Mariana “lies” (or just omits some truth) about information regarding her birth mother. She has met her birth mother before but it didn’t go as planned. Her birth mom is a drug addict and only wanted to see Mariana so she could get money from her. For Mariana this isn’t something she wants to tell just anyone as it is something that would most likely be frowned upon by society, by her peers. She tells her friends she doesn’t know anything about her birth mom and later her friends find out that isn’t true and asked why she lied. Mariana tells them she didn’t feel like it was something worth sharing.

This is where I somewhat relate to Mariana. Not in the sense that my birth mom was a drug addict (I don’t know anything about her) but in the sense I have people ask me questions from time to time, out of curiosity, if I know anything about my birth mom or dad or anything else. I get it’s mostly people asking because they’re curious but there are some times when I feel people ask to be nosy, rather than curious, and ask questions beyond what is normal curiosity. For the most part though people just ask me things because they’re curious. Like where I was born, how old I was when I was adopted.

For me I don’t have this life goal to know everything there is about my birth parents or siblings. That doesn’t say I am anti-finding out information about them but that’s something where if it happens then it happens that’s great, but, if it doesn’t then I guess it doesn’t, and that’s okay too. I think this surprises some people, particularly people who don’t have much experience with adoptees or adoption in general, because I think in their mind they would want to know, they would HAVE TO know. I however, do not. The family I have, that I grew up with since I was four months old IS my family–no ifs, ands or buts. This relates to the show because this is how Mariana feels too.

Later in this second season a guy named Mat takes Mariana to a Mexican culture festival and Mariana gets angry at one point thinking he only brought her to the festival because she is Mexican. Mariana knows she is Mexican but said because she didn’t grow up in the Latina community that she doesn’t have any real ties to what the festival offers. Also, in the season finale that aired last night, she meets with her birth mom again, thinking this time she really wants to meet with her and talk, only to have the meeting actually take place and Mariana going off on her mom. Mariana tells her birth mom she doesn’t know who she (Mariana) is because she didn’t raise her and that she (the birth mom, Ana) is nothing to her.

I felt bad for the mom in the show, as I think Mariana could have handled the situation better but again, this is something that happens in real life. Not all adoptees have this mind set but some do. Back to what I said above ^ the family I have IS my family. That doesn’t go to say I wrote off my biological mom or dad or siblings but, I don’t know them personally and they don’t know me. They’re strangers to me just like a random person on the street is. 

Overall the show provides something for every type of person–whether they’re adopted, a member of the LGBTQ community, a foster child or parent, a divorcee or child of a divorcee, etc.–there’s something every person can enjoy about this show. Like I said earlier some of these elements may be too mature for some kids now but that doesn’t mean this won’t be something they learn about as they get older. If you haven’t watched it yet I would highly recommending watching both the first and second season and hopefully the third if/when it airs. It’s a phenomenal show and one of my favorites that I can’t get enough of–second to Pretty Little Liars. Thank you to ABC Family for giving The Fosters the chance it deserves and sticking true to your motto: “A new kind of family.” That’s exactly what The Fosters is.

For more information about The Fosters check out the links below:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2262532/?ref_=ttfc_fc_tt

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Fosters_episodes

http://abcfamily.go.com/shows/the-fosters

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fosters_(2013_TV_series) 

Until next time…

– Ana