Sharing My Late-Life Adoption Journey

Yesterday, 11 April 2021, I created a gofundme account in an effort to raise money for a memoir I am writing about my experiences with International—and interracial—adoption when I was 55-years-old and again at 59. As regular readers might know, my wife Linda and I adopted our oldest daughter, Aimee, in September of 2002, when she was 14 months old. We again adopted in September of 2006, when our younger daughter, Alyssa, was 33 months old.

Each of these adoptions took over two years to complete and were both nerve-wracking and fulfilling experiences. We were required to travel to the People’s Republic of China each time, staying at the China Hotel, in Guangzhou, which is in the Southeast of the country, not far from Hong Kong. Each time we went, we managed to get in a little sightseeing prior to our daughters being introduced to us.

Our first time we flew to Guangzhou (it took 15 hours) where we had a three-hour layover, after which we flew to Beijing, which was a three and a half hour flight. The second time we flew directly to Hong Kong. We stayed in Beijing for six days, visiting some of the things tourists are wont to see, e.g. The Great Wall, The Forbidden City, etc. We stayed in Hong Kong for only three nights, then took a train to Guangzhou. After our time in Beijing, we flew back to Guangzhou. Each time we arrived, we were met by a team of “assistants” from the organization that facilitated our stay, our travel arrangements, the interpretation and completion of numerous documents, and the transfer of money for the various services we used to complete our adoptions.

I have posted a few times regarding our adoptions, but I’ve been reluctant to share too much about our girls, as I felt it was their story to tell. However, the time has come for me to share my story as best I know how. I had a discussion with the girls yesterday, and they gave me permission to do this.

As a result, I opened the gofundme account I’m referring to where I am seeking a total of $6,000, which I believe will help me concentrate for the next six months on writing this memoir while continuing to assist my girls in achieving their independence. My youngest, Alyssa, is just finishing her Junior year in High School, and it has been exceptionally challenging. She has some issues, which I will write about in this memoir, that required an IEP (Individualized Education Program) and presented some not-so-unique problems that continue. My older daughter, Aimee, is attending (virtually) classes at Moorpark College, but is having difficulty deciding on what direction she wishes to go in.

I am offering copies of this memoir to anyone who donates, no matter how much they give. For donations of $50 or more, I will provide a digitally signed, personalized copy, and for donations of $100 or more, I’m offering a 30-minute telecon via the platform of their choice (Zoom, Facebook Rooms, etc.) I will make the book available in any one of several formats, including .mobi for Kindle.

This is a new experience for me and I’m not completely comfortable with asking for money. However, I need to supplement our limited income and, at nearly 74-years-old, especially during a pandemic, it’s difficult to find ways to earn money and still have the energy to write and edit my story. Whether or not you can afford to donate, I would greatly appreciate it if you could share the gofundme link, which is gf.me/u/zp7gaw. You can click here to get to it as well.

Thank you for reading and, I hope, at least sharing my campaign so I can share my story.

Rick

Although I’ve been blogging for over 15 years, I never wanted to use it to make money. For much of the time I was either working full-time at Rocketdyne or pursuing clients for my business providing social media marketing services to small businesses. Now that I’m approaching my 74th birthday, and have no intention of returning to a regular job, I’ve decided to seek ways to earn a little bit of supplemental income. If you find my writing interesting or useful, please consider a donation to help me continue writing, instead of becoming a Costco greeter. Thank you.

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Preserving My Past

This is kind of a #FlashbackFriday#FF, since I missed #ThrowbackThursday#TT, though it’s more of just an addition to my life story as made possible through the wonders of Facebook and, especially, the Timeline. Since its inception, I have seen my Timeline as a way to share contemporaneously, as well as retrospectively. I have used it as a way to share both my present and my past, the latter being primarily with the thought my two daughters will one day be able to see who I was, in some sense from the beginning. If others enjoy it, that’s a bonus. Hell – I enjoy it myself once in a while and it gives me a reason to slowly digitize some of my favorite actual, printed photos, which would not be shareable other than in person if I didn’t scan and post them. This seems like as good a place as any; better than most.

The picture I am here sharing was taken quite some time after I owned the business that resided in this small, unassuming space. Nevertheless, the size and location haven’t changed since January of 1967, when my father (fearing I was on the road to becoming a bum) purchased what was then DEB’s Snack Shop and I began managing it. We were partners. My job was to spend 14 hours a day there and his job was to show up once a day and get pissed at me for something I neglected to do or didn’t do properly, as he way it. He was very good at his job and so was I, though you wouldn’t have known it by how well he performed his special task.

This little place consisted of 14 stools and about a 10′ takeout counter. It sat in a parking lot across the street from the main entrance of the May Company store on Hill St., between 8th and 9th Streets, in downtown Los Angeles. It was small, but it was busy . . . and quite lucrative, especially for a nineteen-year-old who had recently just barely escaped High School.

It was here I learned some of the more valuable lessons I’ve been fortunate enough to benefit from. Perhaps the most important of them was given by my father when he admonished me to never ask anyone who worked for me to do something I wasn’t willing to do as well. I had five employees and every one of them was older than me, one by around thirty years. Earning their respect was of the utmost importance. Now that I think about it, I was fortunate to be raised with respect for most everyone. Another valuable lesson, which made this primary business one much easier to aspire to.

I also learned what I have always considered my first real marketing and sales lesson. This place was a snack shop. Hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, burritos, ham sandwiches, fries, etc. We also opened up early enough for breakfast, so eggs, bacon, hash browns, etc. Of course, there were other items and most of the food was marked up 300%, that is the cost of the food item was generally 1/3 of the price we charged.

Then there were soft drinks, none of which were served in cans or bottles. We had a dispenser. The cost of a large soft drink was marginally more than a small one and the difference in cost of the cups was about a penny. The difference in profit, however, was spectacular, with the price of a large drink around two and a half times what the small one went for. I think it was $0.10 and $0.25. Let’s say I made $0.07 (in today’s money that would be $0.50) profit from the small drink. Since the cost of the large drink was marginally more than the small – let’s say $0.05 instead of $0.03 – I made a profit of $0.20 ($1.42 today) on the large drinks.

That’s the data behind it, but the real lesson was in behavior. Over a period of time, I did some experimenting. I didn’t keep a little notebook, nor did I design a devilishly clever test. People would place an order like “I’d like a cheeseburger, onion rings, and a Coke.” I merely responded in one of two ways and noted the difference in results. If I asked them “large or small” they would frequently opt for the small. However, if I merely said “large?”, they would seldom say “no”.

I don’t know how much more money I made by doing this, but I’m reasonably certain it was on the order of a few dollars a day. Extrapolated out over a year’s time, that would be around an extra couple of grand in today’s money. Not a bad result. Unfortunately, I didn’t last a year, but that’s another story. I have no regrets, btw.

PS – The name of the place in the pic is JEMP’s, which stood for Jerry, Eileen, Marshall, and Penny . . . the Silversteins. Jerry, who had worked at the Grand Central Market with my father for many years, bought the business at a discount when I kind of abruptly told the old man I was through with it. Shortly thereafter I found myself in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. This was the Summer of Love, 1967. The rest, as you no doubt know, is history.


Speeding To Work

You may have heard of jury nullification, where a jury has the power to ignore the judge’s instructions and renders a verdict based on its belief in how justice must be meted out.

Since I started my new job in Agoura Hills, which involves a 25 mile drive mostly on freeways (118 -> 25 -> 101) I’ve noticed what I’m calling driver (or speeder) nullification. Shortly after transitioning from the 118 W to the 23 S there are numerous battery-powered signs on both sides of the freeway that say the speed limit is 55 MPH. They also have radar capability which shows the speed of approaching vehicles. If those vehicles are going too fast the sign says “SLOW DOWN.”

My experience is hardly anybody goes slower than 70 MPH and a large percentage of the traffic is moving at 80 MPH, though they may slow down when they see one of these signs. Not to 55, or even 60, but slower than they were moving a few moments prior to approaching the sign. Almost nobody goes 55 MPH and I’ve yet to see a vehicle pulled over and being ticketed. Frankly, I don’t see how they can, because just about every one of them is hauling ass (including me.)

It’s interesting.


My Hometown Shines

According to a post in Facebook this photo was taken of the L.A. skyline the morning after the Christmas storm of this year, 2021. It’s been a while since the city of my birth has shown itself off like this.

If you look closely at the bottom right corner of the photo you can see a stepped, pointy building barely peeking out above one of the smallest buildings making up that skyline.

I was ushered into existence on this planet somewhere in the middle of that group of buildings. California Hospital at 12th & Hope. At the time that building you can just barely see (it’s City Hall) was the tallest building in downtown Los Angeles.

As a young boy growing up in the fifties I was always envious of New York and Chicago’s skyscrapers. Now we’ve got ’em and I’m not sure it’s a good thing.

Sure is beautiful after a storm, though.

Photo by Gary Biasi

An Old Limerick

I was going through my Mac, which is now a backup computer for my HP laptop, which is being repaired because the hard drive died on me, and came across a limerick I wrote in December of 2013. Thought I would share it here, in addition to Facebook and Twitter. You’ll easily recognize the subject:

Fox newscasts, so chock full of hate
Render truth an impervious gate
They so often dissemble
We can’t help but tremble
With hope they will soon meet their fate


A Limerick For Tedward

I came across this interesting tweet from Texas Senator Ted Cruz (the Federal Government’s most reviled human being) and was inspired to pen a limerick in response. It was actually embedded in a response from someone I follow, so I had to go through a couple dozen tweets of his before I could find the original, which I’m sharing below.

I should point out that Senator Cruz may be the most disingenuous, execrable member of the Senate since Joseph McCarthy represented the State of Wisconsin, that wonderfully cheesy part of the nation that has gifted us Senator Ron Johnson, another worthless POS. Reading through a series of tweets by Senator Cruz was a bit disconcerting, as his ability (and willingness) to flat-out lie about almost everything is one of his strongest and most defining characteristics. I felt dirty after reading some of them.

So I spent about a half hour writing the limerick which appears beneath Tedward’s tweet. This included using a site for rhyming and, ending each line with a Spanish word in order to convey the meaning I wished to, which was—shall we say—an interesting endeavor.

There once was a displaced Cubano
Who fancied himself a Tejano
His efforts were juegos
Cause he lacked normal huevos
Plus we know he’s a fucking gusano.


Halloween 2021

Last night I took my youngest daughter, Alyssa, for what is likely to be her last time trick-or-treating … with me, at least. She’ll be 18 in a week, though she’s small enough she’ll probably be able pass for a child for decades to some (with a mask on.)

There was a local Facebook group that had lists of the decorated houses here in Simi Valley, including maps and guides if you wanted to drive around and sight see. We didn’t actually do that, but we did use a couple of destinations to check out. The first video below is from the neighborhood we went to where one family had created a haunted house.

Alyssa wanted to go through it, but she insisted I accompany her, which I did. They had set it up so that if you went through with a flashlight the actors weren’t supposed to jump out at you, but just wave. That’s what Alyssa wanted to do, but the first character we met jumped out at her and screamed, scaring the shit out of her. I admonished him and we got an apology when we exited. It’s a good thing I was with her or she would have completely freaked out.

Here’s Alyssa in her “costume.” She wanted to be a French businesswoman; an entrepreneur and this is the outfit she put together using clothing she wears normally, as well as a piece she had designated to be donated to a local charity but decided it fit her concept. I ordered her a beret from Amazon Prime to “top” the costume off.

Alyssa as a French Entrepreneur

Below are some videos and photos of some of the houses she stopped at. We didn’t get any photos of the haunted house, as we were too busy going through it and navigating the maze they’d created. Both neighborhoods we went to were a bit more upscale than ours. In fact, the second place we went was an equestrian neighborhood and I’d venture to guess the houses there were about twice as pricey as our home. It was also jam packed with literally hundreds of people walking from house to house. We returned to our area of town to finish off the evening and it was comparatively dead. All-in-all it was a fun evening for Alyssa. Later today or tomorrow we’re going to head over to For The Troops, an organization that sends packages of hard-to-get supplies and goodies to serviceman and women stationed abroad. It was Alyssa’s main reason for going out last night.

This was her haul of candy for the night, not including the dozen or so pieces we ate while she was conducting inventory. I must admit I ate my share and, fortunately, my blood sugar wasn’t too elevated this morning.


Cool (Groovy) Mailbox

I have been posting on and off for a few years to a Facebook page I have entitled “I Sing The Mailbox Eclectic.” I haven’t posted in quite some time, but I got a few nice pics today while biding my time waiting for my daughter to finish meeting with her teacher. This is the first.


Fun & Games With The Doggo

Nearly five years ago it had been decades since I lived with a dog. My last “good boy” was a Rottweiler who had been given to me by a girlfriend. She didn’t have the strength or know-how to handle him and she decided he would be better off with someone who could manage his size and strength and had some experience training dogs.

His full name was Kavon Heinse of Stoneflower. The first two names came from his lineage; he was a pedigreed dog and ended being the last one I would ever have. I just called him Heinse, and we spent a few years together before an inoperable lesion on his spine paralyzed him and I had no choice but to have him euthanized. It was a traumatic experience and, because I couldn’t bring myself to have another dog in my life for the longest time, it really affected me emotionally.

Fast forward about forty years and Angel, our rescue pup, came into my and my family’s life. With her, I remembered just how wonderful and special it is to have a dog to love and be loved by. Angel has come to fill a hole I wasn’t even aware I was living with. She also provides me with an “affection sponge,” giving me someone I can hug and kiss who won’t grow out of it as my children have.

I happen to be sitting out in the backyard the other day and Alyssa started playing with Angel. I had forgotten they had this stalking game they did and, as it was unfolding, I decided to take this video. This is one of the many things that make having a dog so special, IMO.

Angel Stalks Alyssa

NB: I can’t figure out why the link, but not the embedded video, is showing up here. I’ll keep trying to figure it out but if you click on it, you can see the vid I posted.


Back In The Saddle

I posted the following to LinkedIn two days ago. It was the first time I’ve posted there in approximately two years. I was very apprehensive about sharing some of these personal details on the site, as I’ve always used it strictly for business, but I felt it necessary to explain to my over 1300 connections where I’ve been for the last two years. I’m gratified to be able to say it was more than well received and I am now jumping back into the fray as carefully (and delicately) as possible.


Hey everybody. Well, at least the people who know me and, perhaps, have wondered where I’ve been. Two years ago, my youngest daughter announced she wanted to drop out of school. She was a sophomore in high school at the time.

Needless to say, I dropped everything I was doing and concentrated on helping her deal with the issues that were causing her to feel like giving up was the best course of action. As an older, internationally adopted toddler, she was saddled with some difficult learning issues and has struggled to get through her classes. Fortunately, she has an IEP (Individualized Education Program) which allows her teachers and the school to take those issues into consideration.

She is now a senior and is attending a school that is an independent learning academy. During the pandemic lock-down of our local schools, she thrived working at home. She has a problem with other children and having to work with dozens surrounding her has always been a challenge.

Her new school, coupled with a new medication for depression she started taking (and which seems to be working) has tamped down her anxiety, which means I’m not living moment-to-moment awaiting her next trauma and having to deal with it.

So – I’m just coming up for air after two years of trauma, exacerbated by the pandemic and my having been infected with Covid at the beginning of this year. I am still experiencing some long-haul symptoms, but am doing remarkable well for someone my age, with my comorbidities.

I may not be fully functional until next June, when she graduates (God willing and the creek don’t rise,) but I’m working on it and will be spending more time on LinkedIn as I seek a few clients/gigs. I’m deeply thankful I was in a position to spend as much time as I have with her, but I’m really looking forward to having more time to spend on myself and my continuing desire to be useful to others.


Let’s Keep It Real

Apparently, WordPress’s embed tool for Twitter forces publishing of the previous tweet if your publishing a response to it, hence the reappearance of Brian’s initial tweet from the thread. Having lost the account I created in 2006 last year, I am now approaching 900 followers, which is a few thousand less than I had. Some of those followers were from way back and, frankly, there’s no way I could recall who all of them are. Also, back then I was far more active in implementing social media inside the firewall of the large aerospace company I was then working for, as well as collaborating with an international group of practitioners who were interested in facilitating the same thing where they worked. So I’m gratified that, after a mere two hours my response has been liked by 83 people, retweeted four times, and even elicited a one word response, to wit: “I agree.”

The thread goes on for seven more tweets, the last two wrapping up the point he’s making:

In response to this thread I offered the following:

I do want to reiterate the point. In my opinion, too many people hear Margaret Mead’s quote and apply it to the changes they’re hoping to bring about. They’re not wrong, but I suspect their take on it is a little incomplete. I believe this is Brian’s point. A small group of “thoughtful, committed citizens” with bad intent and nefarious motives can also bring about change, and it won’t be anything near what progressives are working toward. Therefore, let’s keep our eyes on the prize and not delude ourselves, ever!


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