This Is Us

Every adoption story is different

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“If I’d known, I would have raised you. I don’t know if you would’ve had a better life. My parents would have wanted you too. They would have helped.”

My biological father said that to me when I found him two years ago. I was 50 — the same age my birth mother was when she died of colon cancer. She died before I found her. She told no one about me, not even my father.

I was born in 1968 to an unwed woman who did not know she was pregnant. Conventional wisdom assumed my life would be better if a married couple — a doctor and a homemaker who had adopted a boy four years earlier — parented me. …


What I learned as a Jew in Germany.

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The Los Angeles Times

More than six months had passed since the Coronavirus entered our lives and our airways. I ambled through the well-stocked aisles of Trader Joe’s. Empty supermarket shelves and panic-stricken faces jostling for toilet paper were distant memories. It was autumn, my favorite time at TJ’s. Give me all that pumpkin spice.

I noticed a tall and thick White guy with leather boots wandering the aisles. On the lapel of his weathered jacket were pins that seemed skinhead-ish. His mask barely covered his mouth. I could see his upper lip, and his nose was fully exposed. I texted a friend: This asshole is kind of scary looking, but I want to say something about his mask.


Chaos coping is an Olympic sport.

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Illustration by Alison 1414 via Shutterstock

I refresh my Twitter feed. Again. Trump, fraud, election, yada yada yada. Next, Instagram. I scroll for a while, liking the occasional post, wondering if I’ll ever have her fabulous wallpaper or their romantic Italian vacation. I recently went back on Facebook after deleting my account a year ago. Everything yet nothing has changed. Posts from the same four people over and over again. I check out the New York Times and the LA Times. Everything is terrible. Blah blah blah.

Ten months into Covid-19, cases are surging and Los Angeles is in crisis. Yesterday, LA County Emergency Medical Services issued a : to conserve a limited supply of oxygen, ambulances will take only people who for sure will survive to hospitals. …


A ain’t for apple, kids.

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Julia Suits for The New Yorker

This cartoon really inspired me. I mean, if there was ever a year made for the alphabet, it’s 2020.

I swapped out Ativan for Anxiety because, well, anxiety. Boredom works for B but C feels a little, dull. May I suggest Clusterfuck?

Susan Orlean’s Twitter feed would agree, D is for Day Drinking. E is tough. Election, duh. But Egregious pops into my head. So does Egg Salad (I’ve been panic buying eggs for 8 months).

F is too easy. FUCK FUCK FUCKITY FUCK FUCK. Also, Fatter.

G conjures images of icy Gin & Tonics as there have been a few. There’s also Godamn It! and Grief, which brings me back to Gin. But let’s not forget, GEORGIA!!


Weight, popularity, and the haunting wounds of adolescence

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Shutterstock

Waldo was the nickname given to me by my high school girlfriends. I wore my hair in an asymmetrical curly bob, blouses buttoned up to the neck, shoulder pads, and long overcoats bought at used clothing stores in Greenwich Village. I aimed for Molly Ringwald and Madonna in a town that aimed for Rush and Van Halen.

I liked Waldo, and my geek chic.

“Well, you know, they don’t really call you Waldo,” said Maggie.*

“What do you mean?” I asked innocently.

“Behind your back they call you Whaledo.”

“What?” I asked, hoping she couldn’t hear the shattering of my heart. …


If I could do it all again.

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Point Mugu State Park by me.

This week I climbed a mountain and remembered that amidst the suffering and pain and noise of my mind and this world, beauty exists and I know how to find it.

We headed north up PCH, passed the caravans of surfers on the side of the road, passed the way too crowded beaches, passed the plan we had made. We hit Ventura County and Point Mugu and its fog. On the right, there was a sign for a hiking trail at the Point Mugu State Park.

“Let’s do it,” I said as I turned the car, not waiting for my husband to respond. …


Dispatch from my couch, where I’ve been sleeping for 10 days.

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My son and husband have COVID and my daughter and I do not. I would describe their cases as mild, but when I listen to my son retch and vomit and moan in pain, mild feels like a euphemism for ‘not dead’. My husband lies to his family and says he’s fine, but admitted to me he’s forcing food down and finds it hard to breath in the morning. Okay, cool. How about you tell me the truth and we wade in the filth of this disease together? …


Don’t judge, we’re in a pandemic.

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The Creative Exchange via Unsplash

I’m not a big pot smoker, or “weed” as the kids call it these days. I smoked a lot in college, but in the thirty years since, I’ve gotten high just a handful of times. But now it’s a pandemic and so, well, yeah, you know.

Thanks to COVID, my 21-year-old daughter and her large shedding puppy moved back home. Bandit is part Labrador Retriever, part Great Pyrenees. The internet tells me that mix “sheds a lot.”

Cool. I hate shedding dogs. That’s why I’ve only had poodles. But I love my daughter more than I hate shedding, so here we are. There’s dog hair everywhere. The floor, the sofas, our clothes. …


A nest, some chicks, a few dogs, breakfast, and a global pandemic teach this bird hater a lesson.

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Santirat Praeknokkaew for Shutterstock

I don’t like birds. I don’t understand them as pets or hobbies, I’ve never hung a bird feeder in my life and don’t own binoculars. When I met my biological father for the first time and he was a birder I was like, ha! I didn’t get that gene. So no one was as surprised as me by what happened next.

The tree trimmers were leaving when my husband noticed a nest with three chicks on the dining table next to the tree.

What should I do with this?

Up to you. Said the tree trimmer as he got in his truck and drove away. …


I wish I had been told these things when my journey began. 5 Tips for managing the long road ahead.

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I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work; I completed a prestigious post-graduate fellowship at the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute, and spent more than a decade working with children and adolescents in outpatient and inpatient psychiatric settings. I was good at my job.

I knew shit.

And yet.

When my own children showed signs of depression, anxiety, and ADHD, I wrote them off as age-appropriate fears, teenage angst, immaturity. They’re Scorpios, they’re moody! I didn’t get my daughter help until I read a concerning post she wrote on Tumblr. But even then, I told myself “middle-school”. I didn’t get my son help until he was failing 8th grade. For years I told myself his non-stop motion was “determined athlete”. …

About

Mindy Stern

I got my first TV writing job at 48, took 26 years to find my birth family. It’s never too late, you’re never too old. Keep going.

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