This Should Be Wordless Wednesday

30 11 2011

This post would be better off never written.  This should be a wordless post with a quick caption.  But I am feeling ornery (a 17 day visit from my mother-in-law will do that every time.)

Hairstyles of black children adopted by white mothers is a frequent topic of conversation on the internet.  I have an opinion about this – but at this point it isn’t worth sharing.  EVERYONE has an opinion about this – you stick with yours – I’ll stick with mine.

And yet I feel the need to say, if you judge me because of my kids’ hairstyles, I really did not want to be friends with you anyway.   If we never become friends because of my kids’ hair, you have saved me a whole lot of time and disappointment.  I am grateful that I didn’t spend the energy becoming friends with you only to find out later that you and I have different priorities.

In the meantime – PJ gave Little Dude a haircut.

So – JUDGE THIS.

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Sunday Slideshow

27 11 2011





One is Silver, The Other’s Gold

18 11 2011

I was away for three nights and four full days.  From what I can tell, my kids didn’t miss me.  When I got back to my house last night with my mother-in-law in tow my house was the cleanest it has been in weeks!  I am not sure if SAG’s goal was to make me look bad, but he sure did.  And yet, I was very pleased to be humiliated as long as my counters had no junk piled on them, there were vacuum lines in all rooms with carpeting, and the playroom was so organized there were dolls and a cow having a tea party at the kids’ table.

Here are some things I learned:

If these two women ran the world it would be a much better place.  I’ve known the one on the right since we were 11-years-old.  We have been good friends since we were 13.  I didn’t meet the one on the left until I was 14, exactly 30 years ago.  They are so different – from each other – from me – from anyone else I know.  I want to be more like both of them for a hundred different reasons.  They are my friends.  They are my sisters.

This man was an amazing American, and very deserving of his place on the National Mall.  (Okay, that is not the part I learned – I already knew that.)  You could write a very interesting PhD dissertation by tracking race, religion, economic means and nationality of the different people who visit the different monuments.

Dr. Martin Luther King said many inspiring things.  It would have been a very difficult and super cool job to be the person who waded through his speeches to find the best sound-bites to surround his new monument.

Speaking of quotes, the FDR monument is awesome both esthetically and because of what is written on the walls.  I loved it when I saw it for the first time two years ago.  I appreciated it so much more this time.  The quotes, oh my, the quotes – these are the words our leaders elected officials need to study.

A city with true diversity is amazing, inspiring, awesome, damn I can not come up with any new and appropriate adjectives really hip.  We ate Ethiopian, Cuban, Indian, ecclectic-yum, McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts (hey, my skinny pregnant friend was craving donuts who am I to say “no”?)

When I went to this McDonald’s to get my morning Diet Coke, I thought that the drive thru was broken.  When I went to a different McDonald’s the next day I saw that, in fact, some marketing genius decided that those of us who frequent McDonald’s are hoping for a more personal experience.  So now some poor schlepp has to stand outside and take our orders face-to-face.  Are you kidding me????

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.  After all I was in Washington D.C. – the world headquarters of research and smart concepts being turned into incredibly stupid implementations.

The woman behind the scarf is a blogger whom I have admired for a long time.  You probably have too.  She blogs anonymously hence the scarf – we really are not making fun of any particular religion, or fashion statement.

I got to celebrate her birthday with her.  She had just come from hanging out with Melissa Faye Greene.  We almost didn’t get to spend time together because she had to take a road trip to drive Jane Kurtz somewhere!  Yes, I was touched by the Ethiopian Adoption Community royalty, second-hand, but still, I was touched.

I don’t know how I know this song, maybe Camp, maybe Girl Scouts, I don’t know.  But after my fabulous weekend with two old friends, and a terrific lunch in which we were joined by two new friends… well, I can’t get it out of my head.

“Make new friends, but keep the old.  One is silver, the other’s gold.”

Yup, I feel rich.





Adoption Blogger Interview Project – Meet My New Friend Lara

17 11 2011

I decided to join the Adoption Blogger Interview Project because a friend said she was doing it.  I didn’t know much about the project.  The basic premise is to be paired with another blogger who writes about adoption, explore their blog, get to know them, email them some questions, and then introduce them to the readers of your blog.  I was excited about the idea.  I knew I would have a time crunch with my parents visiting, my four-day vacation and my mother-in-law’s arrival, but it still seemed worth it.

The thing I didn’t understand, but figured I had plenty of time to go back and research, was the format most people use and the way they connect the interviews to a larger theme. It’s clear that this project celebrates National Adoption Awareness Month. And I like the idea of connecting the different sub-communities within the larger community of adoption. Still, I have not had a chance to go back and read what any participants wrote last year. And, I am OUT OF TIME (so please forgive the messy formating – I just can’t fight with WordPress today).

So, I am just going to wing it. I am going to pretend this is a completely basic introduction/get to know you exercise like at the beginning of a seminar where you have to talk to the stranger who randomly sat at the table next to you, then introduce her to the rest of the class.

Even if I fail at this assignment because I didn’t actually understand the rules, I have to say, I enjoyed reading the blog I was assigned – Pocket Full Of Prose. Lara, the blogger, is a professional copy-writer and her skill is obvious. Her life and my life have many similarities and many differences. For the most part, I tried to explore the areas where her adoption and our adoption are similar and where they are different.

My questions or explanations are in bold. Her responses are in italic. I took her answers verbatim, except where she included an emoticon and my software ate it. I do not know how to replace her emoticons. But if you read her comments and sense a little irony, word play, or general silliness imagine that she finished the sentence with a happy face. One thing is clear, Lara is a really nice person. If you read anything she wrote and think there is an edge to what she has said – please – imagine the happy face. I know she probably put it there and I know it was in her heart.

We came to adoption because we believed there were children in the world who needed families, and we were a family with room for another child. Lara came to adoption through infertility. I asked her a few questions about this.

You openly discuss your fertility issues on your blog. What do you wish fertile people understood about infertility? What is the one thing (ten things?) you wish a fertile person would never say in your presence again?

I wish fertile people understood that adoption cures childlessness. It does not cure infertility. I still have fertility-related pain. I still grieve and mourn and wonder “what if?” Insensitive comments still hurt. I also wish infertile people understood that I am very happy and at peace with my choice to build my family through adoption. Don’t pity me. Don’t think I would do anything to be fertile. I have closure, I am happy!

Things I wish a fertile person would never say in my presence again:

  • Now that you’ve adopted, you’ll get pregnant!
  • Don’t stop trying, miracles happen and someday you’ll have your own.
  • I could never give up my baby.
  • Are you afraid your adopted child will have problems?
  • Aren’t you afraid she’ll search for her real mom?
  • Why didn’t you try IVF/sperm donation/surrogacy/voodoo rituals?
  • You got a baby the easy way!

We looked at all types of adoption and chose International as the way to build our family. I asked how Lara and her husband came to make the choices they did.

We definitely considered international adoption. We chose domestic adoption because of a couple reasons that others may or may not agree with, but it was right for us. Being infertile, I really wanted to experience having a newborn. I also really liked the idea of having an open adoption. I also feel that open adoptions can help navigate some of the ethical problems that can come up during any adoption (we KNOW that both birth parents willingly chose adoption), it was more affordable (money-wise and travel/time-wise) than most international adoptions. We are pursuing our second domestic infant adoption for the same reasons. Because so many domestic agencies won’t represent families beyond a second adoption, it is very likely we will turn to international adoption then.

Lara blogs frequently about “Open” adoption and has an on-going relationship with her daughter, Joci’s, first family. She and her family are also actively pursuing a second domestic adoption. I asked her to talk about the nature of open adoption.

We love our open adoption. That took me by surprise. At first, I thought it was something that we should do, ethically. Then, I saw how amazing it could be (through blogs like The R House http://www.therhouse.com/ , Feigning Fertility http://www.feigningfertility.com/ , The Happiest Sad http://www.thehappiestsad.com/ , and many more). And once we had an open adoption, I was so surprised by the massive amount of love that came out of nowhere for my daughter’s birth family. It is something I don’t think people can understand until they have experienced it for themselves.

Ideally, I would want all my future children’s adoptions to be of a similar openness. I think it would be really hard for one child to receive phone calls and gifts from birth parents on a birthday and the other child not to have that. We have indicated that we would accept any adoption, and that statement will hopefully increase our odds to adopt. Perhaps I am too hopeful and naïve, but what I’ve heard is that more birth parents lean toward open adoptions. And I also think they can change their minds. Jocelyn’s birth parents wanted a semi-open adoption (know our names, meet us in the hospital, then no contact) but we convinced them otherwise. J So, I don’t know that we are compromising that much by saying we would be open to anything. If we get presented with a situation that just doesn’t feel right for our family, we can always pass.

Lara’s family is currently NOT conspicuous. Most people probably assume they came together through the common route of biological reproduction. As a transracial adoptive mother, I frequently think about strange situations that can arise due to our conspicuous family (although in our case they rarely occur.) This got me wondering about awkward situations that arise when people assume an adoptive family is NOT an adoptive family.

No matter how many times I tell my daughter’s pediatrician that she was adopted, he always asks genetic questions. I find it annoying—make a note on her chart, will ya?

When she was an infant, my daughter had very vivid blue eyes (they are now more grayish) and mine are green. I was checking out at a grocery store and the clerk commented on their amazing color. She said, “She must have got those eyes from her daddy.” I smiled and said, “She sure didn’t get them from me!”

Another time checking out at the grocery store recently, the clerk exclaimed, “Wow, she is just a little mini model of you. You two look exactly alike!”

I find those kinds of comments humorous but I am not sure how to react. Do I agree? Should I divulge the truth and tell them there is no genetic relation? I often just smile and nod.

I personally feel one of the greatest things that could come out of National Adoption Awareness Month is all members of the triad working together to think about ethics and doing our best for children that have been adopted. Unfortunately, right now, I am seeing lots of crazy finger-pointing, name-calling and divisive blog posts written in the name of satire or education or, well, I don’t know what.  It makes me sad because these blogs just make things harder on the next generation of adoptees.  And, like it or not, there is a current generation of adoptees. 

I took this opportunity to ask Lara about the areas of Ethics and Adoptee Identity Issues.

What things are you currently doing that you hope will help your daughter avoid some of the identity issues common to adoptees from previous generations? What additional things do you plan to do in the future?

We have an open adoption. We talk about Jocelyn’s birth parents by name and pray for them every night. We have visit them in person when we can (they live about 300 miles away). Joci has pictures of her birth family in her room. I made a photo album/book about her adoption story. I really hope that when she gets old enough to understand everything, she can see that I have done everything in my power to provide her pathways to her past and ways to answer her questions. I might not be able to answer them all and I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope she will understand that I never hid or hindered anything, and that I will always support her in her questions, searching, grieving, and growing.

 As Joci gets older, I would like her input on her relationship with her biological family. Perhaps she will want more contact, more phone calls, private letters. Perhaps she will want less. Her feelings will probably change back and forth. I hope to help her navigate those feelings and take charge of her relationships with them.

On Ethics:

I have been wanting to post about ethics for months and months and haven’t yet. Ethics are tricky. They aren’t as black and white as we all hope they would be. I do believe it is vitally important to be ethical and that the end doesn’t justify the means.

Things I think about a lot:

  • A mother does not have to obtain consent from the father if she aborts a fetus. Some proposed bills suggest requiring the father’s consent for adoption. What are a man’s rights in the knowledge and say of what happens to a child he fathered? Should they be different for adoption versus abortion versus a mother choosing to be a single parent?
  • When it comes to parental rights of a fetus/baby, do mothers and fathers have different rights?
  • How long should a birth mother have to wait after the birth of her child before she can relinquish rights? Can a time frame be too short to allow for a fair decision? Can a time frame be too long and cause excessive distress and pain? Can a time frame negatively affect the well-being of the child who must bond to another family?
  • Should birth parent counseling be mandatory or optional? Should a birth parent be forced into counseling if they don’t want it and feel it is unnecessary? Should all birth parents be required to attend counseling because they may not fully understand the impact of their decision?
  • How long after placement should a birth parent be allowed to contest an adoption and for what reasons?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I have opinions and ideas, and I can argue different answers to the questions. I will never shy away from trying to find answers to ethical problems in adoption.

I had one catch all question, because, do I really need a reason? How about – I wanted to!

I think that most of my blog readers are either people I know IRL (although that number isn’t huge as I have kept my blog on the down-low to some extent) or people who are involved in the international adoption community (probably mostly mothers of children adopted from Ethiopia.) With that audience in mind, is there anything you would want us to know about your adoptive situation?

I want everyone to know two things.

First, adoption is an option. I hope every woman who finds herself in a crisis pregnancy knows this and whether or not she chooses adoption, I hope she knows it is one of her choices.

Secondly and more selfishly, at least half of all domestic adoptions are arranged privately outside of agencies. Word of mouth is HUGE here. So I would love for readers who are new to me and my blog to keep that in mind. If they happen to know anyone who is thinking about adoption—please speak up. Not just for me, but for thousands of amazing, hopeful adoptive parents out there.  (Editor’s – that is ME – Semiferal – Note:  Lara has a separate blog specifically about their family as they try to once again grow their family though adoption.  It can be found here. )

Finally, I wanted to explore two things Lara and I have in common other than adoption: blogging and acupuncture.

On blogging:

I have always been an avid journal writer and fantasized that someday my journals would be meaningful to someone else. (I am a youngest child and adore attention—can you tell?) When my sister introduced me to blogging and helped me set up my blog, I was taken by the idea that people—strangers even—would listen to what I had to say. Through a little bit of blog hopping, I found a ton of adoption blogs. We were on the verge of giving up on fertility treatments at the time and seeing such positive adoption blogs helped us make the transition from giving up on one dream and pursuing another so much easier. Specifically seeing the open adoption portrayed by The R House blog (link: http://www.therhouse.com/) made me decide to have an open adoption—that surprised me. It has also surprised me by how many close friends I have made through blogging that I have never met in real life. I think I will stop blogging when I die. Well, until Apple comes up with a “beyond the grave” blogging app.

On acupuncture:

My friend and coworker tried acupuncture when she was undergoing in vitro and really felt that it helped. I tried it when I was trying to conceive. It didn’t have that affect but I couldn’t deny the chi rushes I felt or the calm, relaxed feeling. The philosophy of treating the person as a whole instead of tackling specific problems/symptoms really resonated with me after years of specialist doctors who never communicated with each other.

I stopped doing acupuncture after I was done with fertility treatments but started up again about a year ago. I just wanted to feel better and I was always concerned about the uterine fibroids that medical doctors said were harmless and were unwilling to do anything about. My acupuncturist said he could take care of them in 6 months. I was skeptical because my doctors said don’t ever just go away. They can be surgically removed, but will grow back because estrogen causes them, or they will shrink when estrogen is reduced (either through menopause or drugs that block estrogen production).

I gave acupuncture and Chinese herbs 6 months. After about 3 months, my periods became about 30% shorter and about 80% less painful. PMS was nonexistent. After six months I requested an ultrasound from my ob. The ultrasound only detected one fibroid tumor. My doctor swears that it must have been a bad ultrasound that didn’t detect the other fibroid because they do not go away on their own. I tend to have a different explanation.

I now tell everyone with chronic pain or a chronic condition to just try acupuncture. Give it six months. Just try. It could totally change your life, or you could just have a few relaxing naps. I am definitely a believer.

When you read enough of Lara’s blog you unexpectedly come across her poetry. Nothing scares me more than an amateur poet and when I saw the first poem entry, I got nervous. Then I read it. Then I was ashamed of my cynical nature and impressed by her gift. I asked her if there was any particular poem she wanted to share for this project. She gave me four options. I chose two.

The Movement of the Heart

Like the first beat of the heart

After the damage has been done

Like the beauty of the sunrise

After the hurricaned night

The touch after the burn

The dance after the fall

And love…after the tragedy.

It’s the movement of the heart

Sublime and hesitant

Sacred

And awkward

Taking to the dance floor

with steps so apprehensive

The movement of the heart

Forgiving and believing

Finding a way to fly 

Life as a Double Negative

I’ve always known I am a contradiction

Tonight I realized why.

I am a double negative.

Some people—most—understand my intention and meaning.

And there are those who cannot see past

the improper usage of grammar to recognize

that the true function of the arbitrary set of rules we call language

is to share ourselves with the surrounding world

All they see is that I cancel myself.

And into which category do I fall?

I am the ever-correcting critic

And I am the ever faithful romantic dreamer

And so I confuse myself.

I know not who I am or what I feel

I am always in nonexistence because I negate myself.

And that is life as a double negative.





I Was Selamed – Twice

16 11 2011

I was in Washington DC over the weekend.

There is a huge Ethiopian community in DC.  As per usual, I was seeing Ethiopians everywhere I looked.  Sometimes when I was really seeing, well, you know, the world is a big place.

It started with the cab ride from the airport.

I Selamed our driver when he put my bag in the trunk.  He responded kindly.

After getting in the car and telling him where we were going, things got a little rough.  I had to try to tell him a specific way to get there.  But I didn’t really know all the details.  It wasn’t a super pleasant exchange.  No one was rude.  No one was happy.

As soon as that conversation ended, I started another one.

“Are you Ethiopian or Eritrean?”

“The world is a big place.”

“Yes, it is.” (feeling very stupid and not sure what to make of THAT comment.)

My friend who is not the type to strike up these types of conversations quickly jumped in to try to save me.

“She has a son she adopted who was born in Ethiopia.”

“Well, I am Somalian.”

I said, “I am sorry for the troubles in your country.  I worry about your people.”

Do you think you hear the sounds of ice breaking?  No, more like the sounds of traffic outside the windows.

Still, I pressed on.  And I laughed.

“Well, I am not completely stupid.  I mean, I figured you were from the Horn of Africa.  I know it is a big continent, but it is not like I asked you if you were from Nigeria.”

That got a small smile.

I explained I live in a small city in the middle of the country with very few African immigrants and that I am always looking to make connections, blah, blah, blah.

The cab ride continued with talking between my friend and I, and a few interchanges with the driver in which my comments and compliments were sincere but also born from my need to fix the problem I had accidently created.

And, because I need everyone to like me, and he couldn’t get my credit card to work, I made lots of stupid jokes at the end which finally had him laughing.

When we got out of the car and he was getting our bags out of the trunk he said to me, “You know Somalia?”

I said, “Of course.  That is why I told you I am worried about your country.  Worried about the drought.”

He thanked me for my concern.

I felt like I could get a job at the UN – pissing people off then trying to fix the problem I created.

So, not an auspicious start in a city where I was hoping to bask in Ethiopian glory.

Fortunately, I was wearing this all weekend.

I bought this beautiful thing in Addis.  But I hardly ever where it.  Because Little Dude rips it, and any other necklace I wear, off of my neck.

Four days without Little Dude meant four days in my beautiful necklace.

I was stopped in a restaurant on my first full day in the city by a couple of Ethiopians who could tell the necklace was from Ethiopia.  This led to a great conversation and me showing pictures of my children.

On my final day, while eating lunch in the airport, another Ethiopian woman asked me about the necklace.  Again, we had a fabulous conversation.

I don’t want to generalize about the Ethiopian people, after all there are millions of them.  But I can say this.  My conversations with these random strangers filled me with hope.

I think the way I pronounce Selam, when translated from Amharic back to English probably sounds a lot like, “That’s a beautiful necklace.  Did you get it in Addis?”





Wordless Wednesday

9 11 2011





Reporting Child Sexual Abuse – A Step-by-Step Guide

8 11 2011

In case you are one of those smart people who I wish to emulate, the kind who doesn’t watch tv, listen to the radio or read news stories, you may not know that there is a major child-sex-abuse case in the media.  If you are interested you can read more here and about a million other places.  But I don’t necessarily recommend it.  In fact, if you prefer I can summarize it for you…

One man, who seems to have enjoyed a powerful position within a NCAA sports empire started a not-for-profit serving at-risk youth.  And, he was a pervert.  Over the course of more than 13 years he has been caught in the act of sexually abusing young boys MORE THAN ONCE.  LOTS of people knew.  Lots of people did their “duty” to report what they knew to their superiors, and to the authorities.  After that, NO-ONE did anything.  And more kids were abused.  And more kids were abused, And more kids were abused.  Shame on every last one of those involved.  You all make me sick.  There are no excuses.

So, for future reference, I am creating a step-by-step guide as to what to do should you come upon an adult sexually abusing a child.

1)  Physically separate the child from the adult.

2)  Punch the adult.  There are many options to this step.  Here is what I would personally do.  First, scratch the hell out of his face.  This serves three purposes a) collecting DNA evidence under your nails b) leaving marks for all the world to see including law enforcement officials c) it hurts.  Second, I would knee the guy in the genitals.  Because he deserves it and because it would feel sort-of fun.  (And my life would be  about to get complicated and not-fun-at-all so this might be the last chance to blow off steam for a while.)

3)  Look at the child and say the following, “This is NOT YOUR FAULT.  You did nothing wrong.  I will protect you from now on.”

4)  Call the police.

5)  If possible find another adult who can stay with you and the kid while you wait for the police.  This person is there to be a witness so if the case gets turned upside down in the future it will be clear you did nothing wrong.  Also, if the RAPIST (let’s stop calling this person the accused or the perpetrator and call him what he is: A RAPIST) is still there, the other adult can hold him down while waiting for the police.  Uncomfortable wrestling holds are strongly encouraged.  Basically you are making a citizen’s arrest so you can do anything a cop would do – okay, not ANYTHING a cop would do – but you do have plenty of leeway.

6)  Look at the kid again and say these words,  “This is NOT YOUR FAULT.  You did nothing wrong.  I will protect you from now on.”

7)  Call your lawyer.

8)  Do not say anything else to anyone until your lawyer arrives.  You can give the police your identification and point out the RAPIST.  But you probably shouldn’t say anything else.

9)  The exception to the no talking rule is the following… You must look at the child at least once every five minutes and say, “This is NOT YOUR FAULT.  You did nothing wrong.  I will protect you from now on.”

If you have any questions about this step-by-step guide I suggest you talk to your deity and/or an adult who was raped as a child.   (I can give you the email of a few of my friends who experienced this.)

Do you have a written policy at work or through an organization you are involved in that has a different step-by-step policy??  I don’t care.  And neither does your deity.  And neither does a child who has been raped.

It is time that ALL ADULTS stop this crap from happening.  We may not be able to stop the creep the first time.  But we surely can stop him after that.  There is no excuse.

There is no excuse.