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.




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.)

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.

My Presents For Me

20 11 2012

I made a list of presents I plan to give myself this holiday season.

It might be the most over-used adage in the mommy blog–o-sphere, but if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your family.  So these are presents for ME, but they will probably be gifts to the whole family.

1)  Four appointments with a Personal Trainer between TDay and New Years.

  • I actually have about nine appointments pre-paid from last winter.  But I broke up with my trainer after three visits and haven’t been able to get back on that horse. (How is that for mixed metaphors – apparently my trainer was both my significant other and a barnyard animal?)

2)  Send money, a letter and pictures to a “Searcher.”

  • Last year at this time, I was given the name of a man in Ethiopia used by a few of my friends.  He has aided them for years.  I contacted him.  He got back to me promptly.  I froze.  I am afraid to open this door.  But I know better than to leave it shut.

3)  Find an Attachment Specialist Councilor and meet with this person face-to-face.

  • Yes, we have been so, so, so lucky in the attachment department.  But it is time to take a hard look at some of our unhealthy family dynamics.  I think the attachment lens will work best to get a clear picture of the correct path for moving forward.

4)  Kick the Diet Coke habit.

  • I promised I would give this gift to myself for my birthday.  Then lots of things shifted in our extended families and I needed my number one crutch to get through the day.  Time to kick aspartame to the curb.  I feel it is melting my brain.

5)  Eat Raw Foods

  • I think I can handle this one day a week, every week, for the first three weeks of December.  Is Diet Coke considered raw?

6)  Organize MY closet.

  • Moved into this house 16 months and 2 weeks ago.  Still haven’t organized MY closet.

7)  Read at least HALF of Karyn Purvis’ book and HALF of Patti Cogan’s book.

  • I own the damn things, might as well read them.

Personal Invitation

16 10 2012

Dear Friend,

I am having luck getting people to participate in the communication/adoption research that I blogged about here when I ask them personally.  However, as far as I can tell, YOU haven’t decided that you want to participate.

So, consider this YOUR personal appeal.

Did I scare YOU off when I said we needed to find a wide variety of families?  Sorry.  If YOU don’t participate, I won’t actually have a wide variety.

If you have particular reservations, maybe you could send Leslie an email and ask her any questions you have.  I did have one person ask me about the anonymity of the research.  That is a great question.  I have to say, I just assumed it would be anonymous as I feel confident that this researcher understands APs desires to protect their families privacy.  But that would be a very legitimate thing to establish with Leslie before agreeing to the interview.

As for me, my interview is Friday and I am really looking forward to it.  She says it will take between 30 minutes and 45 minutes.  Who wants to bet I go on and on for at least an hour?  You are right, when you say 2 hours, HOWEVER, I scheduled the time so I HAVE to go pick the kids up at pre-school.

I am going to re-paste Leslie’s original email below.  If you decide you want to participate, just give her a call or send her an email.  All her contact info is included.



My name is Leslie Nelson and I am a Master’s student in the Department of Communication here at the University of Missouri. I got your contact information from Dr. Colleen Colaner, who is my advisor and support for a research study I am embarking on for this semester! I am conducting a study that examines communication in adoptive families in which the child is of a differing ethnicity or cultural background. Specifically, I am interested in if and how the child’s ethnic identity or cultural background becomes a part of adoptive families’ overarching family identity (from the parent’s perspective). With this, I was wondering if you know of any adoptive parents who may be interested in getting interviewed? If so, feel free to pass on my contact information (listed below)! I would greatly appreciate any and all help!

Thank you so much in advance!

-Leslie Nelson

Need You To Read – Can’t Think Of Important Title

12 10 2012

Last month, I was lucky enough to accidentally meet another adoptive mother.  She also happens to be a professor at University of Missouri and specializes in researching adoption.

The day after we met I sent her an email with a whole list of things I thought she needed to study.  She immediately blocked me from ever sending her another email.  She actually was really nice about.  She said she had a graduate student working with her this term who might want to interview me for a research project she is working on  (not one that I suggested, but hey).

Cool, right?

Well, guess what?  She needs to interview about 20 transracial/transcultural families formed through adoption

I told her I had at least 20 friends who would be interested in working on this.

It only requires a 30-45 minute phone interview during which she only needs to speak with one of the parents in the family.  She is hoping to conduct the interviews in the next couple of weeks.

Now, here is the part where I play scientist….  I think, and Leslie (the woman conducting the research) agreed, that the study would be best if it represented lots of different types of families.  For example, let’s try and find her families that adopted infants. Let’s try and find her families that only adopted older children.  Let’s try and find her families that adopted domestically.  Let’s try and find her families that adopted from EVERY country.  Let’s try and find her families that adopted through foster care.  Let’s try and find her families whose adoption was at least in part motivated by fertility issues.  Let’s find her families whose adoption was not motivated by fertility issues.  Let’s try and find her single parents that have adopted.  Let’s try and find her adoptive families formed years ago, and others that have just formed recently.

I think you probably got my point by now.

And, I think, most importantly, and probably the most tricky, we need to find her families who are NOT super involved in online communities or other AP related activities.  Because only then will she have a valid sampling of adoptive families.  Which means you may need to personally ask friends of yours.

Because I want to make sure I am as popular and influential as I think that I keep my promise to her, I am hoping that if you plan to contact Leslie and volunteer to participate, you will either post a comment or send me an email at semiferalmama@yahoo.com .  As many people as want to participate should contact Leslie, I am sure she will be thrilled to have too many volunteers.

This might be a rare opportunity to make adoption better understood, or to help members of the triad in the future, or just to go on and on about your wonderful parenting skills.  Whatever it turns out to be, I don’t think you will regret participating.

Below is the email Leslie sent to me with her contact information.

Please feel free to contact her by email or by phone directly.

And please let her know you heard about the research through me.


My name is Leslie Nelson and I am a Master’s student in the Department of Communication here at the University of Missouri. I got your contact information from Dr. Colleen Colaner, who is my advisor and support for a research study I am embarking on for this semester! I am conducting a study that examines communication in adoptive families in which the child is of a differing ethnicity or cultural background. Specifically, I am interested in if and how the child’s ethnic identity or cultural background becomes a part of adoptive families’ overarching family identity (from the parent’s perspective). With this, I was wondering if you know of any adoptive parents who may be interested in getting interviewed? If so, feel free to pass on my contact information (listed below)! I would greatly appreciate any and all help!
Thank you so much in advance!
-Leslie Nelson

I included this picture just in case you have forgotten how cute my kids are.

On A Roll With Reviews: Yes, Chef By Marcus Samelsson

20 09 2012

More than a month ago in this post, I promised to review Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson.  I had completed the book and was excited to share my brilliant insights thoughts.  Then PJ broke her arm and that threw my schedule off.  Two days ago she got her cast off, I think that means I can probably get back to the post.

The real question those of you who haven’t read the book yet but are fans of Samuelsson want to ask is, “Is the book as yummy as Marcus?”  The answer is unequivocally, yes.

The truth is, I was NOT a Samuelsson fan before I read the book.  I know to some of you that is simply blasphemy.  In reality, I didn’t know about him until he was on Top Chef Masters a few years back.  When I saw him on the show I recognized he was Ethiopian and did a quick google search.  And then I promptly laid the reputation of an entire nation that I love on his back (seems fair.)  I can’t even remember what he did on the show that bothered me, but it was enough to make me turn off Top Chef Masters and to write him off (being the forgiving sort that I am.)

Last year, when he held a fundraiser to provide famine relief, I took notice of him again most notably because people I respect, respect lust after him.  However, just recently, I also found out that I have a few friends, FRIENDS WITH CHILDREN FROM ETHIOPIA NONE-THE-LESS who do not know who Samuelsson is.  When an Ethiopian is famous around the world for something other than running, and when said Ethiopian looks like this…

Source: Mike Coppola/Getty Images North America

we should all know who he is.  But it is more than being Ethiopian.  How about the fact that he is a trans-racial adoptee who has won every major award in his chosen field?  Shouldn’t that get our attention?

Also, note-to-self, snap judgements based on a reality show probably are not the smartest way to go.

This summer, I put myself on the waiting list for his autobiography before it was officially released and had it in hand a few weeks later.

I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it.

In an effort to avoid, once again, a third grade book report format, please allow for a few bullet points.

  • Marcus was born in Ethiopia.
  • As a young child he and his biological sister were adopted by a white, Swedish family.
  • His grandmother taught him to cook and inspired his love for the culinary arts.
  • He paid his dues, or whatever it is called in the foodie world, in what seems to be both a typical and a somewhat extraordinary fashion.  Honestly, I know nothing about the journey most chefs take to make it to the top in fine-dining and found this aspect of the book fascinating.
  • He has returned to Ethiopia and established a relationship with his biological father, siblings and extended family members.
  • He won the second season of Top Chef Masters, has received many major culinary accolades and prepared a White House State Dinner.
  • Being adopted and being black played a role in every aspect of his life while simultaneously playing almost NO role in any aspect of his life.  And if that doesn’t make sense, I suggest you read not only Yes, Chef but also How To Be Black (which I reviewed here.)

Unlike most books I check out from the library How To Be Black, I returned this book to the library on time, which means I will not have any brilliant direct quotes in this post.  You will just have to trust that my interpretation is EXACTLY what Samuelsson was saying….

My favorite part of the book was at the end, where Samuelsson makes an attempt to sum up the role race has played in his life.  He acknowledges the labels OTHERS have given him… is he Black?  Ethiopian?  African-American? a Swede?  And he points out that these are LABELS OTHERS GIVE HIM.  Get it?  Labels from others don’t define him (us).  The fact that he has received so many different labels is proof that the label has more to do with time and place and probably most of all it has to do with the label-er, not the labeled.

If Saumelsson wasn’t so driven, hard-working and successful, I would give him the label of eye-candy.

I think you will enjoy this book.  And I really look forward to a time where my son is old enough to read Yes, Chef and see Samuelsson for the inspiration that he is.


*My version of WordPress will not allow me to use italics in the headline.  I actually know the book title should be italicized.