Hello readers, the few that followed me over from the previous platform. As you can see, I am still working on updating this blog and have formatted it more like a website with hopefully easier navigation than the previous blog. It has been a long time, and I’m not even sure where to begin to bring my life up to date – but there have been some big changes.

The biggest change is that I have completed my dissertation and PhD. I have no idea what to do with all that “spare” time so I immediately jumped into a half-dozen projects that I know I will cause me to throw up my hands in exasperation in another couple of months. But hey, I figure I know how to do “busy” pretty well by this point. The other big change in my life is that I have accepted a job as an Assistant Professor at a university and will be moving to Washington state late this summer. I am very excited about this move, but it comes with some sadness as I will be leaving a very supportive and beloved adoption community in Minnesota. Fortunately, I know several people in Washington state including some dear friends, which makes that transition a little easier.

Big transitions like this are hard at any age, and considering I’ve lived in MN since my adoption at about 3 years old, that’s a big change for someone who has basically been in one place for over 40 years!

I plan to continue my research on intercountry adoption, following up on my dissertation research that focused on adoptive parents that placed an intercountry adopted child with disabilities in out of home placement (click here for more information on this). In addition, I hope to blog more often about adoption, in particular my thoughts about what I’m reading, viewing, and the discussions I am having with others about adoption. There will be lots of adventures ahead! So hi, and thanks for continuing to read along.

Interview with Deborah Jiang Stein about adoption themes in literature


Happy New Years to everyone!

Here in the upper Midwest we are experiencing the Coldpocalypse. -21 degrees as I type, with -40 windchills throughout much of my state. I am feeling incredibly fortunate to have a warm house with heat, food in my fridge and an employer who told me to work from home today. 

FB_sepia_headshotI am also fortunate to have friends and fellow adoptee professionals such as Deborah Jiang Stein, author of two incredible books (Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus and the upcoming Prison Baby) with whom I can have invigorating conversations. 

Deborah invited me to have one such conversation about adoption themes in literature. Please read it at her blog here

While I don't believe in making "resolutions" I DO hope that 2014 sees more blogging here. I really miss it. And despite what is likely my most busy semester in the last decade coming up here, there are a lot of exciting things happening in my world that I hope to have time to share.

So Happy New Years to all!

Six words: The adoption version

Several folks on my facebook feed this past week linked to The Race Card Project that was created by journalist Michele Norris. For The Race Card Project, people are encouraged to describe their experience of race using only six words. The submissions are powerful and heartbreaking and uplifting. I read through several pages of them and found myself at times nodding my head in affirmation and sometimes surprised (in both good and bad ways) by what was submitted.

Norris' The Race Card Project is not the first "Six Word" idea. I've participated in a local one for my city and neighborhood, and the first one I heard about was the Smith Six-Word memoirs.

It made me think that maybe it would be interesting to have an adoption version of the Six Word Project.

So here it goes – what would be your six word description of adoption from your experience? Please put them in the comments.


I'll start it off with what I submitted for The Race Card Project because it sums it up my thoughts about adoption and race simlilarly.




Ok, your turn.

Interview at Rileys in Uganda blog

I did an interview with Keren Riley from the Riley's in Uganda blog. You can see the interview in full (and since I have so much to say it's pretty long) at Keren's blog.


Riley's in Uganda blog

For those of you who may be interested in family reunification and orphan care and thinking about/problem solving child welfare issues in the African context, you should check out the facebook page the Rileys created, Alternative Care in Uganda.

Thank you Keren!

Mid-summer musings

It's hard to believe July is almost over. I'm sitting here anxiously looking at the mammoth stack of books to read and articles to outline for my preliminary exams this fall. Somehow a few months ago it seemed doable and now it just seems ridiculous. So much for the idea of having a relaxing summer to study!!

To give folks an update on what I've been up to – I'm now about halfway through my doctoral program. I've been really fortunate to be employed at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the University of Minnesota – (to see what I've been working on, click here). As part of this research assistant position, I am really focusing on the other end of child welfare from my usual position – the adoption side. Instead, I've been working on research that deals with the front end – child protection. I was able to go to Washington DC for a Children's Bureau grantee's meeting and meet with other states and jurisdictions doing similar work in improving child protection systems around the United States. It's really been deeply thought provoking for me and a much needed step away in some respects from adoption since for many years it felt I lived and breathed and worked adoption 24/7.

I'm developing my dissertation research idea as well. The most difficult part is that I want to do it all – I have SO many questions that haven't been answered by research yet, and there are days I just wish several million dollars would drop in my lap so I could fund independent research projects! But since I'm just a mortal graduate student, I have to make do with trying to narrow down a few dozen ideas into just one project. To begin with, anyway!

There are many days I wonder what to do with this blog. I am pulled in two different directions on this one. On the one hand, I feel I don't have anything to say anymore on this blog. Not that I don't think about adoption all the time, or have things to say about the books and articles and media stories – I do – but I just don't desire blogging about it any more. And there are lots of other adoptees who are blogging up a storm, and I read those blogs when I can, and I see that a lot of adoptive parents are reading them, and that is a wonderful thing.

I also sometimes feel like sometimes blogs just have an expiration date. And maybe in some ways Harlow's Monkey is past its prime. Should I be stepping aside so others have the focus now? It's been a good run, and while I have learned a lot and most importantly, met a lot of awesome people through this adventure, it might be time to just slowly fade away.

I knew it was time to think about ending the blog when instead of wanting to write a long post about some book I read or article I saw, I wrote out a title and then couldn't figure out how to write what I wanted to say. I'm typically not one of those folks who has a hard time blogging! I have a collection of a half-dozen "titles" with nothing of substance under them, and no desire to continue on.

I can't imagine shutting down for good; rather I'm looking at this as a permanent, temporary "retreat" where, from time to time, I may dust out the cobwebs out and show up for a while. I've tried blog breaks before, and I have even secretly used those breaks to test out whether I was going to quit altogether. But I don't want this site to disappear. I want to keep the resources up, because I'm amazed at how often people tell me they appreciate the resources. And I also want to leave open the possibility that some day I might want to start up again.

For the rest of the summer I'll be hard at work, and reading a ton, and trying to find some better family/work balance which has been nearly impossible the past 2 years.

Thanks to all my loyal readers over the past 4+ years! And until next time,

Jae Ran

Social Work Blog awards

Natalia at Active Social Work blog is hosting a Social Work Blog Award!


The categories are:

  • Adoption/Fostering: this category should include blogs written under the topic of adoption or fostering services.
  • Children and Families: this category should include blogs written under the topic of Children and Families social services.
  • Diary/Personal: this category should include blogs written by social workers or social work students who maintain a journal about their activities.
  • Educational: this category should include blogs written for or by social workers with educational value.
  • Informative/Policies: this category should include blogs of informative nature about social work policies, news, etc.
  • Adult Social Services: this category should include blogs written under the topic of Adult Social Services and includes palliative social work .
  • Mental Health: this category should include blogs written under the topic of mental health services

The submitting stage will last until the 1st of September 2010, followed by the voting stage until the 31st of December 2010. And the results will be announced on the 1st of January 2011.

Do you have a favorite social work blog? Go to Active Social Work to see the submission guidelines and send in your nominations!

Chinese Adoptee Links blog

I wanted to call attention to a blog written by Chinese adoptees. The blog is part of the Chinese Adoptee Links group and is called "One World: Chinese Adoptee Links Blog." I'm adding it to my blog list as well.

And now I will be taking another break. Honestly, I am getting really tired of the name-calling and pathologizing comments I'm receiving lately from folks like "Jane Sue" who can't seem to disagree without resorting to personal attacks. Besides, I've got 22 books to read, several articles to write, and another semester's worth of work and research to complete.

I've been at this for a long enough time now to know that it's easy and tempting to get emotionally triggered by something someone writes on their blog, and to want to lash out at them. I've done that in the past, and have had to humble myself and admit when I'm wrong. I've offered apologies for my emotionally-driven and poorly thought out comments. We all make mistakes, and the internet makes it easy to write and click "send" first and think later.

Some of the responses by "Jane Sue" were really misdirected. For example, the first comment she left was written as if I was the author of the Colorlines piece or had written a scathing critique of the Colorlines article, when all I had done was provide a link. I didn't offer my opinion on it at all, but somehow Jane Sue felt I needed to be scolded and ridiculed nonetheless.

Anyway, like my opinion or not, but don't call me a hypocrite when you come to the blog, read one or two articles you disagree with, and then proceed to psychoanalyze me and feel you're entitled to attack me personally because you think I'm wrong. Fine – I'm wrong (to you). Here's some advice – don't bookmark my blog, don't read it, don't get yourself all in a bundle. Move on, read your friend's blogs where they all think like you do and where you can talk crap about ungrateful angry adoptees who write critical blogs. Do that on your OWN spaces.

I don't mind REAL critiques – if you disagree, fine – I don't expect everyone to agree with me. But if you can't disagree without making a personal attack on me or other adoptees, then go away. Play in your own sandbox. All I'm asking is for people to be respectful.


I woke up to snow this morning, way too early in the year for snow!!

Somehow I've managed to keep up with the blog, thanks to the nifty technology of typepad's scheduling feature. Anyway, things at school and home are ramping up and that coincides conveniently with my adoption-related burnout, so I will be taking a little break here, not a forever one, but my postings will probably be few and far between for a little while.

The story that continues to annoy me just won’t end

Anita Tedaldi appeared on the Today show yesterday. I was watching the Today show when they made the announcement that she would be on, but had to go to work and school before her time slot.

Here is Lisa Belkin at the New York Times Motherlode blog writing about Anita’s appearance. This part made me laugh out loud:

“as a journalist, I fiercely believe that sunlight is almost always
better than darkness, and that shining a spotlight on all corners of a
topic is the only way to understand it.”

Keep on keeping on, Lisa.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

The Today show write up is here.
Lisa Belkin’s Motherlode blog story is here.