A Rock and A Hard Place

13 05 2013

What if you had to chose between bringing your newly adopted Haitian son home to the USA sooner, or being able to tell the truth about a fake adoption agency exploiting Haitian women, innocent children and hopeful Prospective Adoptive Parents?

What if you were having to pay almost $9,000 of your adoption expenses for a second time because you were unwilling to turn your back on corruption?

What if your son, stuck in Haiti, had a variety of health issues that you were struggling to get to the bottom of and the people who held the answers refused to give them to you?

What if the Haitian courts ordered those people to give you back the documents that were rightfully yours and they refused?

Would you take the easy route?

Would you lay in bed with the covers over your head and give up?

Would you fight?

Oh, how I want to believe I would fight.

I am honored to know a woman who is fighting.

She needs our help.

Click here to read her story.  Click here to see how bad it can be.  Click here to see what we can do as a community to support this warrior mother.  Click here to see we can do to get Baby AJ home sooner and still expose evil.



Tu-Tu Tuesday

7 05 2013

comp Dancing 006

Shaking Out My Keyboard

1 05 2013

I literally just shook out my keyboard.

It was disgusting.

It also made me want to get an “everything” bagel, because that is what all the crumbs and dust reminded me of.

And I just ended that sentence with a preposition.

So maybe I am not as ready to come back to writing as I thought.

But I got some things to say.

And I hope they are more profound than, “Hey, all, you all, shut the hell up.”

Only time will tell.

As for today….

It is the anniversary of the day after the day I met Little Dude.  Does Hallmark have a card for that?

It is the anniversary of the day I took this picture.

who me

(In case you were late to this party, two years ago on the one year anniversary of traveling,  I published my entire Ethiopian Travel Journal.  You can access it through the travel journal tab at the top of this post.)

These People

24 04 2013

In no particular order:

Paul Simon

Lyle Lovett

Amy Tan

Ani DiFranco

Jane Goodall

David Sedaris

Jon Stewart

Malcolm Gladwell

Helen Keller

Diane Rehm

Who you got?

(and if WordPress still refuses to allow you to comment but you want to participate – email me semiferalmama@yahoo.com)

Thank You, Brad and LL

11 04 2013

I consider where I live, college-town, Missouri, to be the pseudo-south.

I wrote the opening line of this post then realized I really do NOT know enough about Missouri’s slave and civil war history.  So I stopped writing and got down to reading.  I decided to actually read more than just other people’s opinion about the song “Accidental Racist” (a newly released collaboration of LL Cool J and Brad Paisley – lyrics available here).  I decided to read history.  Now, I am not going to claim it was in-depth research – it was Wikipedia.  But I am going to claim that I now know more than I did a few minutes ago.

I went and examined a little bit of history to see if it could shed some light on my current day perception of race relations in Missouri.

And, it did.

And for that I am grateful to Mr. Paisley and Mr. Cool J.

I am a white mother of a black son who thinks about race all fricken’ day long.  But I have never taken even 10 minutes to read the racial history of the state I am raising my trans-racial family in (hangs head in embarrassment).

I read modern-day writings on race.  I read modern-day rants on race.  And I feel all over the place.

I feel lucky we live in a community where we see other trans-racial families every day.

I feel grateful my son will go to an elementary school that has a significant African-american population and is also considered a great place for education.

I feel dumb-struck when I am jogging and see that one of my neighbors has a rebel flag hung in his garage.

I feel fightened when it is 5 am and my family stops at the single gas station open for miles only to find ourselves parked next to a pick-up truck that’s roof liner has been replaced with a rebel flag.

I feel angry when I notice a tattoo of the rebel flag peaking out of the extended arm hole on a young man’s t-shirt at the gym.  (I also feel grateful that tattoos hurt – I hope that one hurt a lot.)

The rebel flag, yeah, that is something that provokes strong feelings in me.  And it is the jump off point for “Accidental Racist”.

I always believed I knew what the rebel flag stood for, and it does not jibe with Brad Paisley’s claim of southern pride.  I guess that is okay.  Maybe the meaning of a symbol is actually subjective enough to be considered an opinion not a fact.  To some degree I think that is what Paisley and Cool J are proclaiming in their song.  And, everybody is entitled to an opinion.  But opinions are best when backed by education and experience.  (To read a variety of educated opinions about the song, go here.)

I am sure everybody who has heard the song has an opinion – most not as educated as they think.  I am sure there are even more people like me.  People who haven’t actually even heard the song (country/rap cross-over duet – I think I’ll pass) but who researched the lyrics and then formed opinions.  Maybe they even read an opinion piece about the song – probably written by somebody who looks like them – or is in the same place on the political spectrum as them.  My hope is that each of those people, (those with deep interest in race relations – and those who normally never think twice about it) –  will spend a some time educating – or re-educating – themselves in an effort to back their opinion.

Maybe we will all learn a little something.  Even if all the things we learn are random and not directly related to each other, even if we never come to a consensus, we will have advanced our understanding of race in this country, as individuals and as a whole.

Maybe that wasn’t Brad and LL’s plan.  But maybe it was.

I Love New Yorkers

3 04 2013

After spending more than seven hours in the Ft. Lauderdale airport on Monday, I found myself trying to check into a Fairm0nt Inn at 9:00 pm with my family in tow.

For a variety of reasons including cancelled flights and incompetent airline staff, I had been standing in lines for more than three hours straight.  My kids were actually holding up well with SAG, two old iPhones and a variety of kind-hearted strangers pitching in on entertainment duty.

We ended up at the back of the hotel check-in line which was dominated by families in the same boat as us, most of whom I had been developing relationships with throughout the evening, none of whom had kids as young as ours.

There was only one person at the front desk of the hotel and she was working as quickly as she could to check us in.  However, check-in for each of us with airline vouchers was taking about twice as long as a normal hotel check-in (which for some reason takes almost as long as a Space Shuttle launch.)

At one point, the front-desk clerk asked if there was anyone in line who already had a confirmed registration.  There was one couple, who she moved to the front and processed RELATIVELY quickly (okay, not quite as long as a Space Shuttle launch, and faster than each of us, but still silly slow.)

Despite the fact that we decided to take a cab to the hotel instead of waiting for the mini-van shuttle, we were still the end of the line of missed-flight refugees.  Each check in took so long, soon other vacationers and business travelers were queuing behind us.

Eventually, I heard the woman behind me, (Karen) talking on her cell-phone.  She had discretely called the hotel directly to ask that help be sent to assist at the front desk.  I started watching the women who was working solo behind the front desk and began to suspect she had actually answered the phone.  Was it possible she was actually the ONLY employee currently in the hotel?  And the two of them were chatting?

After Karen hung up, we got to talking.  Her husband then came in from outside, where he had been on the phone, discretely calling the Marriot head-quarters and seeing if THEY could do anything to help. (Their call-center, based in India, wasn’t actually able to provide any assistance – go figure.)

I was in love with this couple, who I soon discovered lived in New York.  These were people who saw the problem and tried to FIX IT without being rude to anyone.  Without complaining or being over-bearing, they just tried to make things happen.  Unfortunately, they failed.

I informed Karen that if they had confirmed reservations they could actually go to the front of the line.  She replied that she would never do that to me and my family.  She was empathetic to what all the missed-flight-refugees were experiencing, even if it was inconveniencing her.  We chatted about the awkward irony of the front-desk clerk answering her call and a variety of other things, as the line slowly inched forward.

Finally, there was just one more family in front of me, a mother traveling with her three teen-age daughters.  Their flight was suppose to have left at 6 pm, their rescheduled flight was at 6 am, it was now 9:40 pm, her kids had not eaten anything, and yet she had stepped in to show my kids pictures of dogs when she saw my patience wearing thin.

At this point the front desk clerk looked up and said, “If any of you have confirmed reservations you can step to the left.”  The SEVEN people in line behind me ALL moved to the left.  After more than 45 minutes my family was now LAST IN LINE, AGAIN.  And seven individual adults plus Karen-from-New-York’s family had moved in front of us.

Karen-from-New-York, was now at the front of the new line.  She turned and said to the rest of the confirmed reservations guests in line behind her, “I hope you don’t mind, but I think we should let her go first because she has been in line for hours at the airport and she has small kids.”

Three people immediately spoke up.

“We all have been in lines.”

“I have to work in the morning.”

“I have to be at work at 5 am.”

The anger and resistance from the group was palpable.  Even though they had been in line BEHIND ME to begin with not a single one was going along with Karen’s suggestion.

I started to shake and muttered, “I am going to cry.”  I bent down and told PJ, “Please go get your Dad and Little Dude.”

I wanted to tell him what was going on and walk away from the situation for a minute.

The woman in front of me with the three teenagers kept her head down and continued to fill out her paperwork.  I am sure she was afraid to get caught up in the brewing storm and just wanted to get her kids upstairs and into bed.

I said to the confirmed-reservations mob, “This woman’s flight was supposed to leave at 6 pm, they now have a flight at 6 am.  I think they deserve to go to their room.”

Now the line of confirmed reservations folks were on fire… “Why doesn’t this hotel have more help?  Why isn’t anyone doing anything about that?”

I pointed to my friend from New York and I said, “SHE did try to do something about it.  Almost 45 minutes ago, SHE called this hotel and asked for more assistance to be sent to the front desk.  She did that FOR YOU.  And HE called Marriot’s 800 line.  THEY actually did try to do something about it.”

Karen’s husband turned around and looked at the crowd and said, “So, you’re saying you have a problem with it??”

It was pure New York and I almost laughed except I was too tired and too in awe.   Let’s face it, I am not afraid of confrontation as illustrated here.  But that, well, it was confrontation on a level where I have just never gone.  But, in my humble opinion, was totally appropriate for the situation.

The group was momentarily silent – maybe they were in awe, too.

Maybe they were embarrassed.

I pointed at the three people who specifically said they had problems and said, “Well, HE has a problem with it.  And HE has a problem with it.  And SHE has a problem with it.”

By then my husband had arrived, and having no idea what was going on and just seeing me pointing at the strangers laughed and said, “Are you starting a fight?”

I explained to him that we were now at the END of the line, and every single person in the other line who had been behind us, all of whom had arrived at the hotel at least 25 or more minutes after we had already been in line, were now IN FRONT of us.  He just took the kids and moved away quietly.

A few more minutes went by, during which I faced forward trying not to cry and replaying the events of the afternoon and evening over in my head.  I contemplated why I wasn’t pushier at the airport to begin with, as more aggressive people ended up on earlier flights, making their connections.  I mulled over the decision I made to argue with the airport personal that it was NOT okay for my 3 and 4-year-olds to spend the night on the airport floor and insisting they give me a hotel voucher.  Maybe we should have slept at the airport, after all, the hotel voucher had now cost me $30 in cab fair and most importantly my faith in humanity.

I was lost in thought and my continued attempt to remain calm as the woman with three daughters finished up and the hotel employee began to deal with Karen’s family.

Almost immediately, she stepped back in front of me and told me I was next.

I said, “I don’t have confirmed reservation.”

She said, “I know.  You are next.”

I am not sure what Karen-from-New-York told her, if anything, but I was now back at the front of the line.

I made polite small talk with her as we filled out the paperwork and she gave me my keys.  I knew none of it was her fault.

Despite the pleasant exchange, I felt completely defeated   As I walked away with my head down, I heard the woman-who-goes-to-work-at-5-am say something about graciousness.  It took all the grace I had not to kick her in the shins.  It took all the grace I had not to stare her down while explaining I didn’t owe her anything as she was more than happy to cut in line in front of my children.   The only reason she hadn’t was Karen-from-New-York and the over-worked hotel staffer concluded it wasn’t the best policy.

Instead of joining my husband in one queen bed, I chose to wedge myself between my kids on the other bed.  They were too tired to argue about the fact that they were going to sleep without any dinner.  They were happy to snuggle in tight with me as I lay squished, vacillating between crying and laughing.

“So, you are saying you got a problem with that?”

I love New Yorkers.

Sunday Snapshot

20 01 2013

Little Dude and The President

Not A Product Girl

10 01 2013

I am not a product girl.

I did recently invest in some fancy-pants product for Little Dude’s hair.  Holy big-bill, Adoptive Mama’s.  Apparently the first question on any adoption application should be, “Are you prepared to spend the equivalent of your child’s education fund on his/her hair product?”

It is really, really, really, really hard for me to invest $25 into a bottle of co-wash only to decide it doesn’t work that great.  On the other hand, I do like product experimentation.  I am a fan of “trial-size.”  Even better than trial-size is freebies-at-friends’-houses.  If I come to your house, I will NOT bring my own shampoo or any other hair stuff.  I will want to try yours… (free trial-size in your bathroom just waiting for me).

Here is an idea… maybe I should start knocking on the doors of our African-American neighbors and asking them if we can use their bathrooms.  Then I will quickly wash/style Little Dude’s hair while they wonder what the hell we could possible be doing in there….  Pretty sure this plan will not help us fulfill our other goals of developing more friendships with African-Americans.  Which is more important, friendships with people who look similar to my son, or how my son’s hair looks???  (Another important question for an Adoption Application perhaps?)

As I said, if I do stay at your house, I will show up empty handed when it comes to my hair, but I will be toting a big jar of “Angels on Bare Skin” by Lush. It is the only product that I am loyal to in my own beauty regime.  Please do not judge the product by the way my face looks in pictures.  I assure you, my wonderful combination of wrinkles and pimples is due to the fact that I often forget to wash my face post work-out.  What my face WOULD look like without this product… well, I don’t even want to think about it.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lush, they are a U.K. company and all of their products are made with fresh ingredients.  Unfortunately, their marketing is too hip for someone like me to understand.  And they refuse to use race or really, really specific descriptions to describe what their products are best for.  So, I recently bought an $8, teeny-tiny bottle of shampoo from them that will not do anything for Little Dude’s curls.  I have since discovered if you want to actually know if their products would be good for African curls, you need to go to the Customer Review part of their website (exhausting) or get a copy of their newspaper style catalog.  (Too much work for this Mama.  However, I can assure you, I did muster up the energy to send them a complaint email with some helpful suggestions for ways they could improve their marketing materials.  You are welcome, Lush executives, er, um, team-members.)

Despite being worn-out by Lush’s hip marketing, last week I decided to do my quarterly clean out of my shower.  Yup, four times a year, no matter how tired I feel, I muster the energy to throw away the dull razors, empty shampoo bottles and slivers of nasty soap that have accumulated in my bathroom.  When I am done, I feel like a super-organized, domestic goddess.


When I was clearing off my shelf, I was going to toss my empty “jar” (actually a cardboard canister because Lush loves the rain-forest) of Angels on Bare Skin.

two jars

You know the empty container that I was using to hold up the new, full container?  And then I realized, I just couldn’t do it.  I would miss Anthony too much.

Who is Anthony?  Well, another part of Lush’s pretentious enlightened corporate culture is that any product you purchase is adorned by a sticker featuring a portrait of the employee (who I am sure they refer to as a team-member) who made/packaged it.

For about six months I have been showering with a photo of Anthony.  And, what can I say?  Anthony really knows how to make a great skin cleanser.  Anthony inspires me.

this anthony

My newest jar of product was made/packaged by Leanna.  No disrespect to Leanna… she seems to be equally skilled in making product.  But somehow, she just doesn’t inspire me the way Anthony does.

this Leanne

Disclosure:  This post was not sponsored by Lush or by Anthony’s mother, although I am sure she is very proud of him.

Wordless Wednesday

9 01 2013

maybe this

Three Weeks To A New Habit

7 01 2013

They say it takes three weeks to form a new habit.  According to WordPress, it has been three weeks since I posted on my blog (and that was just a Wordless Wednesday).  So, have I officially formed a new habit of not-blogging?

How much have I not-blogged?  So much that thinking about my blog is making me feel guilty.  So much that when I want to visit other people’s blogs, I do not come to my blog first so that I can jump to them through my blog roll.  I have been avoiding my blog, like a friendship I am trying to end.  Like an ex-boyfriend who is standing in the corner at a party… I don’t even want to look its way.

Another friend has also been avoiding her blog.  Apparently many of her readers care.  Apparently many of her readers sent her emails, asked if she was okay, asked if she was coming back.  I guess my blog is the proverbial tree in the forest… it fell and no one heard a sound.  Did it make a sound?

Furthermore, I don’t even know if I want to come back here.  I made some mistakes with my blog and people I know in real life.  Recently I gave the address to a few people I probably shouldn’t have.  People who have met my kids.  People I don’t know well.  Also, I wanted to write about some things here that I couldn’t because of other people that I know who read this blog (If you think I am talking about you, you are probably wrong… in the words of Carly Simon “Your So Vain.”)

So, what’s a girl to do?

I have a friend who has a “successful” blog.  She blogs fairly infrequently but she is always getting swag, not to mention amazing trips because of her online presence.  Last summer, she got to go to Colorado on a yoga and wine drinking retreat.  She doesn’t really like/do yoga.  Although she does like/do wine.  I am jealous.  Maybe I need to get one of those kinds of blogs.   But I think I would want to start over.  I think I would be more concerned about privacy.

Do you read blogs that don’t include photos?  I usually don’t.  I like photography.  But I think if I wanted to have a blog big enough to warrant swag I would be more concerned about privacy.

I joined a FB group for bloggers in my state.  Most of the bloggers on there are making money or at least getting lots of freebies because of their blogs.  I checked out some of their writing.  It sucked.  Really.  Not only were their blogs boring, they were poorly written.  Poorly written and NOT funny, a combination that I find unacceptable.

Also, even though I rarely edit anything I write, blogging still takes time.  Time that might be better spend reading or exercising or hanging out with my family.

So, this is an entire post about blogging.  I think one of the first posts I ever wrote was similar…. 02025 (hey, look, my dog just added to my blog.  I can’t delete that.  I think he is trying to send someone a message.)

And, I am pretty sure if I read this post back it will seem like I have been drinking… but I haven’t.  And either has my dog.

Again, I am left with the question… what’s a girl to do?

Do I have anything worth saying?  How much will I miss this community that I imagine exists here?  Where can I publish my bad Haiku?

If I do decide to shut this down, I have an idea for what I think could be a commercially successful blog.  It came to me yesterday at the gym… Sweat Stain Rorschach Test.  I can think of a million businesses who might want to sponsor that bad boy.  So, if you don’t see me around here for awhile, you’ll know where to find me.  You can probably google it.   On the other hand, you might not want to.  I thought about googling it just to see if it already exists.  But I was afraid.  Anyone brave enough to google that, go for it, and get back to me.