Thursday, July 5th, 2018

The Reunion with my Birthmother

 

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceThis article was published in the adoption magazine Roots & Wings in 1993 about my adoption reunion with my birthmother. (I know, “adoption reunion” is an oddly over-descriptive term to use in an article in an adoption series. Blame the tyranny of SEO!)

In the spirit of truth and authenticity, I’m reissuing this cache of 90s articles as I wrote them them, with minimal changes. If there’s some embarrassing punctuation or a cringingly awful mistake, I will make those corrections. If there is a glaringly obsolete reference or fact, I will either update it or clarify it [with a bracketed comment like this.] And I may bend a wee bit to the aforementioned tyranny of SEO, so that as many people will find this article online as possible.

Hmm, what “inside scoop” can I give you on this one? Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, June 27th, 2018

Adoption Slogans or Honest Talk About Adoption?

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Of all the articles I wrote about adoption, this remained one of my favorites. In a short piece it touches upon many essentials related to adoption’s psychological issues. It was published in the California Association of Social Workers quarterly publication.

The impetus for this piece was a cover article in the L.A. Times Sunday Magazine about hopeful prospective parents’ experiences with (then far less advanced) reproductive technologies—some successful, some not. An adoptive father (that is, someone for whom reproductive technologies were unsuccessful) was quoted as saying that he had wanted to try absolutely everything they could before adopting… and once they had done that, then he was willing to adopt.

The implication came through loud and clear: for him, as for a vast majority of parents, adoption is <gasp> second choice. On the one hand, I found it sort of refreshing that he was so honest. On the other, I thought of the perky adoption slogans that I grew up with and in my characteristic (mostly private) black humor I thought, “I wonder if that’s what he’ll tell his adopted child: We did everything else possible before we agreed to adopt you.

Of course it was a rhetorical question. But there was something there to explore and share.

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Adoption Issues & Me: It Began 25 Years Ago

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Adoption is cool again. Talking about adoption, I mean. Adoption issues. And writing about adoption issues. Speaking the truth about adoption. So in this, the 25th anniversary of my baptism into the world of adoption reform, I’m circling back to do it again in this new century.

The most interesting part of it now, at least for me, about revisiting and reissuing my articles? It’s that I bring (what’s called in the research world) a longitudinal perspective to the adoption issues I once wrote about so prolifically. In English, that means simply due to the fact that I’ve continued to live with and navigate adoption issues over the years since first plumbing them in my writing and speaking, I have gained a perspective that only comes with the passage of time and living life with abiding curiosity (plus intermittent bouts of therapy, natch). Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Wired Wednesdays: Protecting Children from Device Addiction

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace

Adoption Insight by Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for PeaceOf the many aspects of our digital dependence I’ve been writing about for over a year now, the most troubling by far is device addiction. The entire online machinery is designed to foster device addiction in us, and–more troubling–in our children, whose developing neural landscapes are more vulnerable to being fundamentally shaped by engineered device addiction.

If you’ve been following Wired Wednesdays, you already know this. But for folks who haven’t been looped in with me on that, I’ve put together a sort of Cliffs Notes blog post that pulls together threads from several installments over the past year.

I wrote it for New Earth Nation, where I’m on faculty in the School of Health & Wellness at their university. Ryan, the cool millennial who maintains the blog, included this message after he published it: “Yet another truth bomb from Dr. Marcy Axness! This one really caused me to look at my own device use and I’m already seeing a difference in my usage and self awareness around this. 🙂 Thank you so much.” Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, April 4th, 2018

Wired Wednesdays: Curses, My Phone Won’t Wink

Digital-Dependence-Parenting-for-Peace

My ex-husband*, our two grown kids and I recently switched from AT&T to Verizon for our cell service. [*A marriage may end, but a family cellular plan goes on!] In the process I got a new free LG smartphone.

As I was familiarizing myself with my new phone—blessedly similar to my former Android—I was bummed to discover that it doesn’t have a notification light. You know, that little blinker that alerts you that you have notifications? Even from across the room?

I couldn’t believe it. I went online to read reviews of my smartphone, and sure enough, I saw that this was other folks’ main (and mostly only) complaint about this phone: no notification light.

Well, it only took a day or so for me to realize I was relieved to have suffered this kind of personal tech “regression.” My device would no longer be winking and blinking at me, beckoning me to “Pick me up, light me up. Press my buttons. Let me manipulate your brain chemicals!”

And as timing would have it, I stumbled upon this article that same week.

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

Huzzah! Now I had expert corroboration that my missing blinking smartphone light Read the rest of this entry »

Monday, March 19th, 2018

The Missing Vagina Monologue: Own Your Super-Power!

The Missing Vagina Monologue | Marcy Axness, PhDI’ve been burying the lead, as they say, for some months now: I have joined the faculty of New Earth University, an international community that brings together creative curriculum, conscious collaboration and meaningful resources into a gorgeous, paradigm-shifting learning model.

This development really deserves its own post, and life has simply been too busy to attend to that. For now I’ll just share my latest blog at NEU–a deeply personal reflection on my disappointment 16 years ago upon seeing The Vagina Monologues, and my opportunity, finally, to put it in writing and perform it as a “Spotlight” monologue during our community’s recent V-Day run of performances. (We closed just last night!)

My thoughts clearly plucked a chord within many women in our audiences, as you can see in these Facebook comments. Their desire to pass it on to future generations is the best praise I could ever hope for! Here it is, for you:

Claiming Our Super-Power

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Master of Your iDomain: Who Controls Your Attention?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace At the end of each issue of my favorite weekly news digest The Week is a 2-page section called “The last word.” It features a substantive (polite word for “long”) piece of extraordinary writing. In the final issue of last year they ran this article on digital life and attention by Craig Mod, a must-read for folks mindful enough to wonder about the effects digital dependence has on something as intangible as your attention.

Neuroplasticity (the ability–nay, propensity–of our brains to change in response to experience) has been one of the most exciting scientific revelations of the past generation. It is what allows for some of our most inspiring human capacities, like emotional healing and personal reinvention.

And now, neuroplasticity is leveraged by digital engineers to guide your handheld device behavior by manipulating your neurochemistry. Think I’m being dramatic or leaning on hyperbole? Check out “Brain Hacking: Hijacking You From the Inside” featuring Anderson Cooper’s sobering 60 Minutes segment. (And if you tend toward conspiracy thinking, you might want to skip Mod’s section discussing his awareness of cunningly shifting algorithms during his Clash of Clans experience. Omg.)

I offer you this beautifully expressed article (originally from BackChannel/Wired) as a New Year’s gift — a palette-cleanser after a rough past year, and some inspiration (if even just vicarious) toward reclaiming sovereignty over something we’ve always taken for granted,  something unspeakably valuable: our attention.

How I Got My Attention Back

Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

iMPATIENCE and iMPULSIVENESS: Deadly Effects of Wired Life?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

This one’s personal, folks. It’s one thing to recognize the discouraging association between smartphones and impatience, and it’s a whole other thing to experience that impatience on a daily basis in a potentially deadly way.

Creeping along a clogged-up patch of the 101 freeway on a recent trip to Los Angeles, I was gob-smacked to see how many drivers around me were flagrantly texting – nothing covert or sneaky about it! Phones were right up in front of their faces, and apparently their one free hand — or maybe a knee — was steering.

I witnessed it in the lanes on either side of me, in the car in front of me, in my rear-view… seemingly all around me. It was like that classic scene out of any B horror movie: everywhere the bedeviled heroine looks, a monster looms!

But we were all moving in the same direction, we were all moving slowly, and I could change lanes to navigate away from these folks.

In the remote forest community where I live, none of those mitigating circumstances apply on the 2-lane mountain highway we all must drive to go anywhere. To the left is a particularly infamous little section called The S-Curves. But in reality, the entire road out of our village features continuous blind curves and therefore solid double yellow lines all the way.

The point of my discussion today isn’t the horribly dangerous epidemic of texting while driving, as in my above 101 Fwy example. That’s a conversation for another day. What’s been weighing heavy on my mind the past many months is the suspicion that our culture’s increasingly wired life is making (mostly young) people less patient and more impulsive in general — not just when they’re online. For example, when they’re driving our 2-lane road. Read the rest of this entry »

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

Digital Dependence: Our Ridiculous Addiction?

Wired Wednesdays | Marcy Axness, PhD | Parenting for Peace

This whole issue of how entranced and attached we are to our smartphones — and to the social media they link us to — is soooo challenging and touchy, isn’t it? I think because at some level we suspect that, even though the technology that has put them in our hands is extraordinarily brilliant, far from being a magnificent obsession, it’s a ridiculous addiction.

We don’t usually think in terms of ridiculous addictions. Addiction is serious. Addiction is complex. And boy is this addiction a tough one to detangle and get much of handle on.

We don’t usually think of addiction and humor going together. But in this case I think that sometimes humor can be a wonderful mirror in which we can begin to let our guard down and let some recognition in. As the saying goes, “More truth is said in jest.” Can humor help us recognize our ridiculous addiction?

Here are two recent amusing mirrors. The first are scenes from a recent episode of Grey’s AnatomyRead the rest of this entry »

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Talking to Children About Tragedy

Talking to Children About Tragedy | Marcy Axness, PhD

It seems parents are confronted with increasing regularity with this question in the wake of unspeakable tragedy: How do I tell my child about this?

Do we follow our natural instinct to protect them, and say as little as possible, couching what we do say in bubble-wrapped terms? Is that the way to help a child feel secure?

On the day of 9/11, a friend who was wiser than me said something along these lines to her (then 12-year-old) daughter after she woke her up that morning: “There’s been a big incident in New York. Two airplanes crashed into the Twin Towers.” As Laura explains to me now, “I only transmitted the sadness, and not a big amount of alarm.” Read the rest of this entry »