The Backwoods

Where we teeter between our love of modern convenience and the yearning for something long past; a world where neighbors knew your name and a “Friend Request” was eye contact and a smile.

Dan Shawnta

Dads…Who Didn’t Have To Be

Posted · 6 Comments

It’s after midnight, which makes it Father’s Day, and one of my old foster kids just sent this message: “can u tell Dan happy fathers day plz and think u i miss u all love u Keri.” It’s been nine years now since she was ours.  My heart aches for her life now.  But it […]

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All He Needs To Know

Posted · 13 Comments

My boy, Billy, turned eighteen in November and a month later his brain fell out of his head and rolled into a deep ditch somewhere.  I imagine his brain has company in that dark place and other parents know the pain of watching that fall. That transition into adulthood is a twisted path for many, […]

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The Contact

Posted · 21 Comments

This week Billy was contacted by his birth father via Facebook message.  They were Facebook friends for a while, though they never actually talked, until the man signed his comments with DAD one too many times and Billy, who says he only has one daddy, deleted him from his page. Billy showed me the message.  […]


Happy Birthday Robin

Posted · 23 Comments

Robin hit the magic age of fifteen today. There’s something about fifteen…not quite the landmark of sixteen, but somehow not a little kid anymore either. It’s a big day. In celebration of her day, I think I’ll tell her story. Robin came to us when she was six. Her brother, Billy had come to us […]


Battle Scars

Posted · 19 Comments

Tonight while making dinner, the boys were swapping scar stories, as boys do. Steven showed off a rugged mark of a playground fall and Luke talked about a scrape from an old porch board.  Anthony nodded his head forward to show them one in his hairline and said, “My birth dad told me one story […]


Revival–by Anthony

Posted · 18 Comments

It’s about 11:30 at night and Anthony just knocked on my bedroom door to show me a poem he’d written.  This work will make more sense if you’ve read other things about or by Anthony.  See a list of links at the bottom of this page.  Here’s what he handed me… My memories are broken… […]


Another Mother

Posted · 50 Comments

I’m sitting here at 11 p.m. the night before Mother’s Day.  Anthony, age 11, is here with me. He’s sleeping on the couch tonight so we’re talking. I asked him what he thinks about on Mother’s Day in regards to his birth family. As he spoke, I typed word for word (my kids are used […]


Behind Closed Doors

Posted · 21 Comments

It’s a sad, sick, twisted world when you have to have your children tested for sexually transmitted diseases…because they come from a place where it’s not only accepted, but considered “just part of their lives” to be sexually abused by family members…strangers…most everyone they have ever come into contact with. And it’s even sadder when […]


Blockbuster Babies

Posted · 38 Comments

My daughter Destini wrote this for a class this year…I thought it was really good so I thought I’d share. Destini is eighteen years old and a senior in high school.                 In most cases, “you’re going to have a new sibling” is a surprising, exciting, interesting, unusual experience […]


Damn Her

Posted · 40 Comments

  A while back I had Billy into the local clinic for a sports physical.  The doctor scanned his chart, did some quick work with his stethoscope, and said, “How long has it been since he has seen the heart specialist?” “A few years,” I said.  “They told me it was nothing to worry about.” […]


Adoption Day

Posted · 45 Comments

In February of this year our family grew by two when Steven and Luke came to live with us.  Tomorrow morning, the 19th of December, 2011, we welcome them into our family permanently in the Homer, Alaska courthouse. These guys aren’t complicated kids. They don’t understand the size of the world and they don’t know […]


The Root Of All…

Posted · 33 Comments

This morning Anthony asked if any of his birth relatives had been approved for visits…like an uncle or cousin.  When I asked why, he said, “I’d kinda like to know my roots.” Roots. By definition the root is the foundation.  It is the beginning, the base.   It is the fundamental cause or essence of something…the […]


When They Were Sisters

Posted · 3 Comments

Mya and Shawnta 2004   They sit at the tiny table, the two of them. One across from the other Cutching crayons In pink fingers.  Perfect little fingers.   The girl on the left is four, the right six. Sized almost the same Almost identical They are sisters in life—if not by blood.   The […]

Youve Come a Long Way Baby

You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby!

Posted · 28 Comments

  Four years ago…don’t be fooled by that cherubic face! Anthony got a citation at school today.  He walked in the door and without hesitation explained to me why it wasn’t his fault and the teacher was wrong. She always is. I’m surprised she still has a job with all the times she’s wrongly disciplined […]

Hello My Name Is

Hello, My Name Is….

Posted · 17 Comments

I’ve always thought it appalling that we are forced to name our children the moment they are born.  As if a newborn has any personality whatsoever.  I mean, what if we label a child as Sally but two years later she doesn’t seem like a Sally at all? My oldest went home from the hospital […]

The Feel Of The Food

The Feel Of The Food

Posted · 4 Comments

  This morning I followed a trail of broken, dry, Top Ramen noodles down the hall, across the living room and to the garbage can where the empty plastic wrapper lay crumpled on top of the garbage.  Yesterday it was an entire package of Coconut Dream cookies, bought for a trip.  Before that, eight granola […]

Hand In The Cookie Jar

Hand In The Cookie Jar

Posted · 1 Comment

When Mya was younger, she went through a phase where if it wasn’t nailed down, she’d shove it in her pocket and claim it as her own.   Not in stores, but within our house.  She stole candy, food, toys…and then she moved onto the big one.  Cold, hard cash. She started out small.  A piece […]

Whats One More

What’s One More?

Posted · 7 Comments

This afternoon, as Dan woke for his night shift 800 miles away, he received my text that we were taking in a seven year old boy for a few days. “He’s cute,” I said.  “I want to keep him.” I like to harass Dan with such statements from afar.  I can imagine his hair falling […]

The Unfixable

The Unfixable

Posted · 12 Comments

He was fifteen when he came to me.  And even on the first day I knew he couldn’t stay. I knew it wasn’t the right fit… he was broken beyond repair and a danger to the other children. I could see it in his eyes…he was ruined. I know that sounds callous…but it’s the reality. […]

My Lost Boy

My Lost Boy

Posted · 22 Comments

Written in February, 2007… Edited in June, 2011, for confidentiality…               As I step into the small room I am greeted with the smell of boy.  It’s a common smell to mothers.  Dirt and candy.  The boy’s room is like other eleven year olds; even if he’s not.  I plop his clean clothes down on […]

Shopping For Kids

Shopping For Kids

Posted · 5 Comments

I’ve done it again…found myself shopping for kids online. I don’t mean buying gifts for my current children; I mean actually shopping for kids. It’s true…I’m an adoption website addict. I’ve tried to stop, really I have. My husband has threatened to put a block on our internet to prevent inappropriate searches that include the […]

I Am From…

Posted · 31 Comments

In school this year, Billy was assigned to create a video called, “I Am From” that told the story of who he is.  Each slide was supposed to start with “I Am From” and there were requirements as to what kinds of pics he had to have.  Some modifications were made by his teacher, because […]

Fathers Day

Father’s Day

Posted · 9 Comments

With Father’s Day upon us, I’ve spent some time trying to put together a piece about what makes a “father” become a “dad”.  I’ve scribbled down some poetic mumbo-jumbo.  I’ve come up with some passable ideas.  But the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I became, wondering…what is the definition of a good […]

My Overcoming One

My Overcoming One

Posted · 1 Comment

The tiny boy with the bright blue eyes Looked up and said to me Can I live here a long, long time? Three months, if you’d agree. Three months? I said, to the blue eyed boy That isn’t long you see, For an eight year old to have a mom… A dad…a family. He looked […]

When Teacher Calls

When The Teacher Calls

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A while back I received a phone call from a teacher for no other reason than to tell me how well my child was doing.  Odd.  Normally when the caller I.D. pops up with school’s number, I cringe.  I consider not answering.  Let’s just say, my ringtone for the school is Daniel Powters, “Bad Day”, […]

Robin Wonders

Posted · 3 Comments

I rarely talk with my long term kids about their early childhood in front of the other kids.  For some reason I’ve always hesitated…I didn’t really know why.  But one day I told the story of when Mya was a toddler and she was afraid of the moon outside her bedroom window.  We all had […]

This I Believe

This I Believe

Posted · 4 Comments

My daughter, Robin, came to us when she was six years old.  We were her tenth family.  This year for a school project she created a piece for a website called, “This I Believe”.  This is her story, completely unedited. THIS I BELIEVE By Robin Riley Ninilchik Middle School, 7th grade There are kids in […]

And Justice For Ally

And Justice For Ally

Posted · 7 Comments

She felt the pull of death and it was welcome.  She lay silent, worn from screaming, her voice unheard as she lay in the shallow box.  She saw him coming, smelled him above her before he came into her blurred site.  She didn’t curl into herself.  She couldn’t.  There was a time when her body […]

Against All Odds

Against All Odds

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    Found in Cooper Landing, Alaska…fighting it’s way thru the asphalt   “Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s law is wrong it learned to walk with out having feet Funny it seems, but keeping it’s dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air Long live […]

I Made This For You

I Made This For You

Posted · 8 Comments

There are few words sweeter to parent’s ears than, “I made this for you!” said through sweet, smiling cheeks.  We’ve all gotten them…those precious gifts from our children made with macaroni noodles, paperclips and feathers.  Our children’s eyes gleam as they proudly hand us some creation they’ve spent anywhere from six minutes to six hours […]

A Simple Truth

A Simple Truth

Posted · 14 Comments

Tomorrow afternoon our son…will become our son. Legally, at least, though he’s been ours for four years.  I’m going to share a few words from a pre-adopt interview. Not to impede on his privacy, but because sometimes we forget that a child has a voice…if only we’d listen. When asked about his birth family: “I […]

I remeber her

I Remember Her

Posted · 3 Comments

I remember the way her hair smelled when I tucked her in under my arm.  How she snuggled so close, trying to crawl back into the womb from which she did not come. I can feel her fragile arms wrapped around mine, her tiny beating heart pulsing against my side as she lay her soft […]



Posted · 4 Comments

He called me mommy on his second day in my home. People said, “Oh, how sweet!”  Sweet?  Not really.  Totally emotionally dysfunctional?  Definitely. Imagine your own child, ripped from your home for whatever reason…any reason at all…and plopped into someone’s living room.  Then given a bed and told they live there now.  Now imagine your […]

Adoption Pending

Adoption Pending

Posted · 5 Comments

He came to us in the summer, four years ago with a chip on his shoulder, a mouth with no filter, and a yearning for something solid.  Just six years old, he’d seen things…oh yes, he’d seen some things. The parents’ rights have been terminated.  The threat of reunification is long past and his memories […]

I Live Here

I Live Here…For Now

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One boy turns to the other and says, “Just because you live here, doesn’t mean…” “I live here?” the second boy interrupts, a broad grin spreading across his face. It’s not the first time I’ve witnessed that moment, that dawning of understanding that there is a difference between ‘staying’ somewhere and ‘living’ somewhere….especially in the […]

Seventeen Kids And Counting

Posted · 6 Comments

We’ve had seventeen more kids since Dan the Man had a vasectomy.  No joke.  I remember so well our decision to have him fixed…how sure we were.  To concrete the deal, I was fixed also about a year later.  We weren’t messing around with the statistics on that one…double duty birth control is what I […]