Transracial Adoption from one black girl’s perspective

Good Stuff

2013 Update, Upcoming Events, stuff and things

Clearly *ahem *, its been a looooong time since I’ve updated you all here at “A Birth Project”.

As you know, I’ve been writing “A Birth Project” since 2005!! The blog has opened up worlds of deep personal connections, as well as opportunities for me and I’m so thankful for this space. I’m most thankful for you, readers, who continue to subscribe, share my performance work and writing with your people, and supporting me.

I’m still here and still doing my artist, advocate and academic work focusing on adoption and race, and still putting it down for my adoptees and foster care alumni worldwide. There is so much going on, its hard to keep up with regular updates. I do plan to begin regular blogging again, but shifting just a bit.

In the next few months there will be a few changes here at ABP. I’m transitioning over to my new website, and also have taken on a guest blogging position at a new site. (More info on that later.) I will be keeping ABP up, so that people can have access to the archives and the extensive writing work that has been done here and I’ll be posting here for a few more months as well. As the transition goes, I’ll keep you updated!

Two of the best ways to keep up with my work right now are joining me on my Facebook page and sign up for my NEWSLETTER. It comes out once every two months or so.  Here is the most RECENT ONE – FEBRURARY 2013 UPDATE.  It has information about my upcoming readings, events and performances.

Look out for the upcoming 2013 “Ungrateful Daughter” Tour, we’re shooting to head to NYC, Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and a few other places. If you want me in your town – email me!

For now, check out my most recent publication, “A Short History of Kissing”  in Issue 7 of “Eye to the Telescope”, edited by Bryan Thao Worra.




I’m featured on “Land of Gazillion Adoptees”!

Just wanted to share that I was recently featured on Land of a Gazillion Adoptee as a guest.

Check out the podcast here!

We had a great conversation. I hope you all enjoy it. I had a chance to talk about fear, activism and artistic work. I’d love to hear what you all think!

VONA 2011

2011 is a year of completion for me. I plan to finish the multiple projects I’m working on. For Ungrateful Daughter, I will have a workshop / talkback show in October and then have finished and it up for my first full run at the beginning of 2012, I want my first poetry manuscript to be finished as well and of course, my dissertation. Its a year of closures for me.

This week I’m attending VONA for a week focusing on working out the poetry collection I’ve been working on for ever. Last year I attended VONA in the lovely and powerful Ruth Foreman’s poetry workshop. I fell completely in love with the VONA community, and with the energy of being in workshop space with other writers of color (and not being in a teacher role!). What I left with were two things (1) the (re) reminder of something I know and have known since I was very young, that I am a writer. I forget sometimes, because I’m a teacher, a leader, an activist, a scholar, a performer, and all the zillion other things I do, but the reason I am ANY of those things is because I was a writer first. Because my writing self is the biggest part about me that is, and more than that is also the me that I claim. and (2) that what I do as a writer, a black girl black woman, mixed girl mixed woman writer — means something and it means something important. I left last year’s week at VONA with a huge sense of validation. I work my ass off. I deserve everything I want. I am worthy of love and connection. Since I actually work to create the life I want, both in my activist, academic and my creative writing work, writing new worlds, I deserve the life I want as a writer and artist! It is not only important for me, to claim what I am worth and what I deserve as a human searching for connection, love and joy, but it is important for me to claim all of these spaces for other little black girls and other black filipina mixed up transracial adoptee women who cannot speak, are not allowed to speak or are frozen in fear. The poetry I write is important. The voice I have means something. Its not just navel gazing or therapy. thats horseshit. I’m changing worlds here.

This year, I’m blessed to be in Willie Perdomo’s “Building the Poetry Collection” section. I have this chapbook I’ve been working on for years and years, its been named like 3 different names and I’m looking forward to how this will push me to consider it as a whole collection, not just poems I put together. I look forward to it being published and me sharing it with you when I’m on the road with Ungrateful Daughter. So far in the workshop, its answered some great questions around the diversity of the collection, reconciling multiple poetic voices and consistency. I’m very very interested in hearing what people have to say about my work.

During this week, I’ll probably be revisiting some pieces of my work here on the blog and also writing up and sharing some new ones with you all.

Oh! by the way, the “Adoption, My Voice, My Body” writing workshops were amazing. I’ll have some comments from participants up soon on the Workshop Page! I can’t wait to do it again and also to travel with it and share it with everyone.

My First Frittata

My FIRST frittata!!

without parmesan on top, fresh out the oven. Red potato, mushroom, onion, garlic, red chili, red bell, eggs and rosemary. (salt, pepper, cayenne & thyme)

with parmesan on top. yum.


Fire Arts Festival Oakland

some video I stitched together from the video setting on my still camera. These artists amaze me EVERY year. and Im always impressed at the scale of this kind of work! music by my friend Cal. i promise its fresher if you look at it full screen. Enjoy!!

The Fire Arts Festival runs until Saturday Night July 18th until like 1am ish. Its kid friendly, but expensive. Free for West Oakland residents. check out THE Crucible .

RIP Michael Jackson Part 1

MichaelJackson-OffTheWallSince yesterday I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with so many feelings around Michael Jackson’s death. I’m in the process of writing a blog from my perspective on this. Michael Jackson had a major impact on me as a black child who was a singer and performer growing up in an all white setting. I have much to say. soon.

I will miss him and will always love the music, passion and love he brought to the world.

until then read these:

Davey D
Looking Through the Window: May Michael Jackson Rest in Peace

Adrienne Maree Brown at Colorlines Blog
Michael Jackson – Who’s Loving You?

Jessie at Racism Review
Michael Jackson RIP

The Meaning of MJ

New Year Check In

I’m still here readers! Ive just been caught up in ‘catching up’. I had a wonderful holiday. Visited the fam up in WA state, did some research on the birth father search, watch a lot of movies I hadnt seen and read a few books I’d been wanting to read. I’m currently finishing the cleaning up of my office after the end of the semester grading frenzy, trying to get it together before teaching begins again.

2008 is gonna be so full of work, fun and of course, more TRA love! I’m excited about all of the projects I’ve got goin – the planning of the first AFAAD mini-gathering, the research and writing on my first academic publication on adoption and human trafficking, more poetry publications, applications for artist residencies, trying to finish my play and of course –  most importantly finishing my dissertation.

I’ve been so thankful to have done this work in adoption for the past years. But my success at it has come at the expense of finishing my PhD. Ive got to get done.

soooooooooo . . .I promise I’ll be around and that ABP is going nowhere. I’m just in hiding for a bit, re-prioritizing and reshaping my writing time to put my diss first.

I promise I wanna talk about Juno! :)

Upcoming Performance!

I got a new solo piece I’m showing at the Monday Night Marsh in SF! I hope you can make it out.

This piece doesnt look at transracial adoption in a specific way – but what is does do is try to think about how the nature of adoption and foster care plays upon the notion of “abandonment” and causing a permanent scar upon the person who is adopted or in foster care.  What happens to someone when their first link to love and security is broken and severed permanently? How does that impact their ability to love deeply, create intimacies and maintain committed relationships?

sounds deep i know – but its actually gonna be funny! I hope you can come thru. I’ll be sharing the stage with 4 other amazing solo performers for a full night of theater.

multiple singular voices

7:30 at the MARSH, SF
1062 Valencia Street (near 22nd Street) San Francisco, CA 94110
The Marsh Theater

MARTHA RYNBERG “Late Bloomer” Image, identity, judgement… all
housed in one body.

LISA MARIE author of the solo show “Ungrateful Daughter”
shares a new solo short. What’s it like to be the best girlfriend
ever? Lisa Marie can tell you. Her newest piece investigates how to
maintain your cool, and move through relationships without any
baggage, or attachments – because that’s what we all want – right?

COLLEEN TANI NAKAMOTO “SOFT TISSUE” What makes a woman a woman?
Which comes first – her body, her desires, her memories? What lives
in her soft tissue?

MzDEBRA “From A to B” Be prepared to put on your attentive
listening hat, because mzdebra has a lesson for you. It’s all about
how to get from A to B, and it’s important. There’s a good reason
cave people didn’t use emoticons, and it is not because they couldn’t.

JULIA JACKSON “Tip the Board” A hilarious and touching look at the
age-old, yet uniquely American question, Who is Black enough?”

5 Question Interview Meme

I, too – am an egomanic and, apparently, a major procrastinator. I’ve been hit up to do this interview meme by my gurl Susan over at ReadingWritingLiving. If you are interested in having me hit you with 5 questions – let me know and I will write 5 questions for you!

1. I have not seen you in the classroom, but I bet you are an awesome teacher. What kinds of things do you like to do with your students; what engages them in your classroom?

I have to say, I freakin love teaching and I’m actually kind of bitter about classes or workshops I take now with horrible teachers. Mostly because I’m convinced my success/ failure in school at all levels (kindergarten through my PhD work) has been incredibly impacted by my instructors. I am convinced that one of the major things that makes a great teacher is the ability to understand yourself as also in a constant state of learning. I am an ‘expert’ to an extent on many issues, but there are many more things to which i have no experience or knowledge. It is my belief that instructors who shut themselves off from learning from their students, actually close doors that can lead to their students making powerful, critical connections.

hell.. I can talk about this forever.

2. I know that you are AKA “Ungrateful Daughter.” But you strike me as being a very joyful person. What are you grateful for in your life?

ha! Another long ass answer. I am grateful for the love and support from my family. When I say “family”, I mean not only my immediate family, but my partner, my best girl friends, my creative family, my writing family, my TRA familia – all them. Because when I say ‘ love and support’, I dont just mean it in that cheesy Hallmark way. I mean these people surround me with this incredible amount of love that I KNOW is what keeps me going when I feel like all i want to do is hide in my room for weeks. I am loved. I can do anything because my family believes in me. I can fly . . . want a ride?

3. If you could listen to only three songs for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Since Im a huge music lover and I support live local music, attend a ridiculous amount of performances – thats a hard ass question. How about 3 albums? (1)Zap Mama’s “Ancestry in Progress”, (2) Etta James “At Last” and (3) Miles Davis – anything. (but damn.. what about Mos Def and Ledesi? this is too hard!!)

4. If your adoptive family could know one thing about you that they do not know, what would it be?

Wow. I think they know alot about me already! Maybe that I love them (they know that tho!) ok.. maybe that even thought race is at the heart of some of our challenges as a family, addressing it head on and acknowledging it does nothing to change the fact that we ARE a family with a common history, shared memories and a deep love for one another.

5. If your birth family could know one thing about you that they do not know, what would it be?

That I dont want anything from them except stories, photographs and a history that I can pass to my own children. I hope they will be willing to open themselves to me as a presence in their lives. It doesnt need to be a constantly visible, constantly ‘there’ presence, but our shared history and blood ties us together. We have to figure out ways to have all of our needs as individuals met when it comes to this complicated situation. In other words, it aint all about you. 

Thank you!

Ive been gone for a few days. Taking a brief, but much needed vacation after TRA camp, then returning back after a great event for AFAAD. We had a good turnout and got our first donations! The film went over really well and we had adoptees, AP’s, siblings and foster parents come out and participate in the discussion. It was a great day! Thank you thank you to everyone who came and for those who gave donations to help us get up and running. Thanks of course to our amazing panelists Connie Galambos, Julia Oparah, Malaika Parker.

Things are cool over here at Ungrateful Daughter home base. Im gearing up for school to start again, and this will be my final year, Im detemined to focus all my energy on getting this dissertation finished! I’m unfortunately going to have to skim back some of the performance work I’ve been doing, but I hope it will only be for about 5 months or so. I MUST get done. Im tired of this thing hanging over my head, Im tired of being at UCB, Im tired of not having any kind of decent income and Im tired of not being able to write what I want to write. I want a house and a garden for heavens sake! Its not too much to ask. And yes, I think because I have no kids, I can afford a house in the Bay area. Watch me. I just need a big enough back yard to have my wild flower garden, my veggie garden and my herb garden! Ok.. so I want about 2 acres.. but Im willing to deal. lol.

Im thinking about all my TRA friends over in Korea right now – Im totally jealous and cant wait until AFAAD is pushing with full steam and making conference connections in the Caribbean and Africa! My heart is with you.

Disney’s first Black Princess

Its about freakin time!

Disney has finally stopped representing black people as animals (i.e The Lion King) and has stepped up to create a  new animated feature with its first black princess!

I’m not sure if she starts off as a frog or what the frog has to do with the story… (sigh), but I’m still looking forward to gathering up a gaggle of little girls to go and check it out. I hope they dont mess it up. She’s from New Orleans – so fingers crossed.

Speaking of black bodies and animation – (and the next blog Im writing for you!) I went to WonderCon in San Francisco and met a whole bunch of up and coming and old school black comic and cartoon artists. I’m really excited about their work in relationship to my dissertation work.

I also got to check out Nalo Hopkinson who did a reading at Revolution Books in Berkeley, author of one of the books I’m writing on for my dissertation, Midnight Robber.  She spoke about many things, but interestingly enough responded to a white mother, who asked a question about hybridity and identity and science fiction and referred to her mixed race daughter as an example of the future of race in the US. (READ: “race doesnt matter”)… I know you are waiting on the edge of your seats to hear what my gurl had to say.

New GLBTIQ Adoptee site

Yay! Another great looking resource that includes our queer brotha’s and sista’s from all walks of life. Please have a look see and support!

GLBTIQ & Adopted

Tea Head Tales

I’m not sure if I’ve shared any of my favorite things with you all yet – but one of the things about having an organic farmer for a mother,  I am suspicious of prescription medicine. No surprise here. Usually when I catch a cold, I do everything I can to fast, drink liquids and use natural methods to rid my body of whatever virus it has.

One of the things I’ve grown to love is tea. I love tea and I’ve got the best roommate ever who also loves tea. Hardly a day goes by where we don’t have one or two pots stewing in our house. yum.

My favorite is ginger lemon tea. One of the best things about living in a town like Oakland – (I hella loveOakland- don’t believe the hype!) is that I can buy huge clusters of fresh ginger root at my farmers market every Friday.

To make a pot of yummy ginger lemon tea. Put on the pot of boiling water. Cut up about 1 & ½ clumps of ginger, skin and all, (rinsed off), a ½ lemon. In the stewing tea pot put the ginger and squeeze the lemon out and then drop the lemon rind into the pot. When your water boils, fill your stewing pot and just wait!

My mom has a cool tea book and I just found a recipe for an extra ‘kick’ that will up the ante on my ginger root recipe. Ginger is excellent for so many things, digestion, tummy aches, and for relieving congestion/ flem. If you want to try this – use more ginger and add a sprinkling of cayenne pepper and a bit of honey  - it will help unstuff a stuffy nose!

Any other tea lovers?


The semester is winding down. Whew! I just wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday season and let you see this! I head out to visit my family soon – it should be a great trip this time. They just got back from cruise in the Caribbean, I’m tryin to firgue out what my mom wants for Xmas.  What I need to do is buy them a wireless router so I dont have to use their 56K modem to get online… yes I said 56K modem! – livin in the stix and stuff!

Enjoy this photo I found!

Santa pissed me off.


Its the last two weeks of the semester people. Ive got my own work I’m trying to finish, my huge stack of student essays that I have to grade and tons of deadlines for people that I’m working on for academic essays to get published and some poetry I’m sending out. I’m also working on creating the press packets for the Secret Circus and Ungrateful Daughter. Too much stuff.

Ive been fighting this cold and trying to stay indoors – ack. So I’ll be MIA for a bit until this semester is done.


I’m MIA for a few days while I’m in and around southern Cali! Meeting up with friends, other TRA’s and family!

 catch you when your bellies are full!

Beans are Gud

Let me just say – i can cook the hell out of some beans. Black beans, pinto beans, red beans, lentils, mung beans, edamame, chickpeas …. you get the idea. One of the biggest things I’ve learned about cooking is that of course as cheesy as it sounds – the best ingredient is love. I love food, and i love making my guests happy, so when i cook, i just make sure it tastes good to ME and it follows that my guests will feel the love.

I didnt learn how to cook from my mom. My mom is a hell of baker and canner. I grew up in Washington State where we grew alot of our food in the backyard. Nowadays my mom is a full on organic gardener with about 3 acres to play with. Ive shoveled manure, made compost, and done almost everything it takes to take a seed and make it grow. During the harvest season we would take the food we grew and freeze or can alot of the stuff. I know how to can come jams, how to make jelly, how to bake bread, cookies… yum!

But while my mom can bake the hell out of some zucchini bread and makes the best raspberry jam I have ever tasted… ummm… while i was growing up.. she was still learning how to cook. I learned how too cook from my first mentor, a black woman who taught me all of the major ‘soul food’ and Caribbean influenced items: Greens, mac and cheese, jerk chicken, yams, the proper ways to spice things and of course – how to make beans. For a black woman – learning to cook these things properly was and is very important to me.

so here goes. lisa marie’s secret to making the bomb beans. lol.. and really – its nothing at all.

1/2 bag of beans in a big pot (red, pinto or black beans)

Water and chicken broth up to about 1/2 the pot

1 big dried chili pepper

one whole red onion

about 4-5 cloves of garlic

1/2 small can of tomato paste

salt, pepper, cayenne to your own taste. (and this means checking it over and over during the 4 hours to continue to add all of these spices)

handfull of cilantro – chopped and put in right b4 serving.

some grated cheese (also put in at the very end) (not american or cheddar- something yummy like … not american)]

 So there is a great bean debate about whether or not you should soak your beans overnight before cooking them. My personal opinion is that unless you seriously only have an hour to make the beans – dont do it! I rinse off my beans a few times, and maybe soak them for about 20 mins, but every time i soak them over night and then rinse them off -its like ALL of the flavor just goes right down the drain. So basically, yes, unless you’ve got about 4 hours to make these beans – just hold off. Many times I make them the day before Ive having guests or if i’m having a marathon cooking day – i put them on first.

Ok – so rinse your beans, put them in the pot and add everything. Bring them to a boil, stir and reduce heat to simmer and just let the yumminess begin! Keep stirring about once every 15-20 mins or so. Check the water adn heat levels, you will probably add water about 2-4 times. If they look like they are starting to stick to the bottom – more water!!! You dont want the beans watery tho – what you want is the fabulous red or black sauce that naturally develops as you are going. Towards the last hour you want to continue to taste the beans to make sure they are soft. Hard beans SUCK. its like bad pasta. If you dont cook it long enough its gross.

at the last minute stir in the cheese (about 1/2 cup) and then throw in the cilantro for some added taste and enjoy!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 168 other followers