A Guest Post From The Woman Who Inspired The Post-Adoption Ethics Post

7 11 2011

My blog about post-adoption ethics (which you can find here if you need to) was originally inspired by a conversation I had with Tamara B.

Tamara and I became friends through adoption.

Since bringing home her son in May, 2009 she has returned twice to the Wolayta region of Ethiopia to volunteer.  During those times she was able to visit her adopted son’s biological family.

Unfortunatly, my blog post showed up the day she got on a plane to head to Ethiopia again.  She did not have time to respond to the original post or all of the thought inducing comments in real time.  When she finally got back to the States, she wrote a long comment.  WordPress rejected it.  Because that is one role the internet serves – to frustrate people when they need it the least.  I asked her to just send the comment to me, and hoped she would allow me to use it as a guest post.

My friend Tamara, she is a warrior fighting for the people of southern Ethiopia.  So if you want to disagree with her, go for it.  But do it respectfully.  Or you will see my feral side.

Okay, do I share what I really think and make myself vulnerable here???

Thank you SFM for posting the questions.  Some of them are exactly what I’d been asking myself and talked to you about before I left for Ethiopia a few weeks ago.  Now, I’m back and can maybe add my personal experience.  Granted, I still haven’t showered and I think I can smell myself after travelling for 45 hours, almost missing my flight in Amsterdam and falling asleep on the way home from the airport and being too tired to shower.

Now, while my kids sit quietly watching TV (you know how much I despise that), I’ll give a reply. 

Thanks again for posting this and then FB’ing me telling me about it.  I opened the blog post in Amsterdam and was able to read it, and not the comments, on my second flight home… maybe why I didn’t get any sleep on that leg.

Anyway, I was just in Ethiopia.  My adopted son, Judah’s, first mother (FM) lives just on the edge of the city where I stay when working with FOVC (Friends of Orphans and Vulnerable Children).  While there in June we saw FM and Judah’s two bio brothers.  They had nothing.  I gave them a pic of Judah and nothing else.  I left that day feeling horrible. 

I loved on his FM and told her again that I would bring Judah back when he’s older (he’s currently 3).  In advance of meeting her this time, I tried to think through a few options of helping her help herself.  After all, the whole reason I’m volunteering in Ethio is to do that for other widows.  How come I’d be willing to help tons of other widows (who may have given kids up for adoption) but not Ms. A?  Could/Should I use my privilege to get her training at the local sewing school?  Could/Should I have the org I volunteer for hire her to gather info for my crops project?

 I saw Ms. A on Friday.  And her two sons.  And they’re not just some random people.  We are building a relationship.  The boys who were a little scared of me last time, walked right up to me this time.  And while Ms. A is really bashful and doesn’t say a whole lot, the boys are learning English in school.  And they were able to tell me about their recent “craft” project in school, about how they remembered Judah.  And when I asked to purchase the craft projects, they said no but that they would give them all to me.  They didn’t expect a dime.  But I gave them a few birr, therefore purchasing it and not giving a handout.  Judge me if you want.

SFM’s last question resonated in my mind.  Twenty years from now will I be able to stand before my son and tell him that I didn’t help because it wasn’t ethical.  That the picture of the woman and two boys on our piano was all I ever did.  Praying for them is great but can’t I do more than that?

When a woman we love and pray for tells me that what she pays for rent and how every month she is threatened with eviction because she can’t pay the rent, it is SO HARD to stand there and do nothing.  It hurts.  When I ask how she feeds the boys and she tells me she begs in the village for food for them, it’s SO HARD to stand there and do nothing.  When I see their living conditions which are worse than “normal” and the sun is shining through the grass hut, I know that also means that rain and cold come through too, am I so cold hearted to do nothing? 

Does that mean I hand her 100 USD?  No.  Does that mean that encouragement is enough when I know I’m heading back to my privileged home in 3 days?  No.  When I hug the younger brother and he can only hug with one hand because he’s holding up his hole-y pants that are 6″ too short so they don’t fall off, can I just smile at him and go on? No.

I love reading these comments.  I, in no way, think that I have this all figured out.  Do I think I did it perfectly on Friday?  No.  Will I do more next time? Absolutely.  Like bringing the boys a few pencils and some clothes that will stay up.  Will that be enabling them?  Or will that give them enough hope  to continue on?

I volunteer in Ethiopia to help keep families together.  To give these widows some knowledge and assistance (sm biz loans) in providing for their families.  When I visited their farms and met their families, I was glad to know that their family has a better chance of staying in tact.  I want the same thing for Judah’s birth family since she was able to keep the two boys.

Okay, shower time for this tired momma,
tamara b

You can follow Tamara’s adoption-turned-to-volunteering-in-Ethiopia blog here.

The One, The Only, Beautiful Judah

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3 responses

7 11 2011
Jan Wilberg

Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow. What a really great post — what a reflection. I had some of the same feelings about trying to help the kids in Nicaragua after our kids were adopted. We did some things, especially at first, but then it faded, replaced by what was happening right here. Distance from that those early feelings of obligation. Complicated. Thanks.

8 11 2011
Cazadora

Beautiful, insightful, moving.

8 11 2011
motherparadox

Is it wrong that I would try to find another adoptive mother who would take care of my kid’s first mom and I would do the same for her kid’s firstmom? Then there is a way that I can be sure it gets done, but I maintain a boundary that somehow makes it seem clearer? Just rhetorical, maybe naive, too.

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