Saturday, January 31, 2009

One of the first orders of business: Obama repeals abortion gag law for NGOs in developing nations

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) -- Nairobi's sprawling Kibera slum is far from America but not from America's battle over abortion.

Aid workers and experts say President Barack Obama's decision to allow aid money to flow again to international groups that offer abortion counseling will help restart programs desperately needed in Africa, the continent hardest hit by a so-called "gag rule."

Dr. Walter Odhiambo, the country director for Marie Stopes Kenya, said his family planning organization had been limping along on European aid because of the U.S. rule Obama overturned on Jan. 23 in one of his first presidential acts. Now, Odhiambo said, he would be applying for U.S. funds he hoped to use to expand counseling and other services, particularly in rural Kenya.

"Family planning was not given the prominence it needs," Odhiambo said.

The policy banned U.S. government money from going to international family planning groups that either offer abortions or provide information, counseling or referrals about abortion. Its critics call it the "global gag rule," because it prohibits funding for groups that lobby to legalize abortion or promote it as a family planning method. That can affect a range of services provided by private groups on a continent where governments can meet few of their citizens' health needs.

"The biggest impact has been in sub-Saharan Africa," said Wendy Turnbull, a researcher for Washington-based Population Action International, which lobbies on family planning issues and applauded Obama's move.

The rest of this article can be read here.

Those of us adopting from Africa or other third world nations realize that adoption is merely a drop in the bucket of aid to these impoverished orphans. But at least we are helping in some small way. When I Google this topic I see a lot of horror show pictures of aborted fetuses, obviously Pro-Life websites. I'd like to ask those people if they have ever seen starvation and the suffering brought on by an epidemic of AIDS first hand. What are those people doing to help the children born in the past 8 years because their mothers weren't educated on their options? Other than across the board proselytizing pro-life scare tactics? What are my readers thoughts on this?

Chickens on dusty roads and Fanta in glass bottles.

A few of my agency's families returned home from Ethiopia yesterday with their children and have posted pictures and slide shows. I wish I could have gone with them! I love the pictures, they remind me so much of "home". I know that must sound strange, but I grew up in "developing" countries and so I don't really have a "hometown". But anyplace that has chickens scattering across dusty pot-holed roads and Fanta soda in glass bottles being sold out of tin huts, and rickshaws feels like "home" to me! And so watching these slide shows gave me a good sense that most likely I will feel pretty comfortable in Ethiopia (as long as I don't catch a stomach bug). Here are the links, you can see their beautiful new families and also what I mean about tin huts and chickens.

Also, there might be some new pictures of my soon to be daughter to see!

What is WRONG with people??? Single mother of 6 has octuplets and lives with her parents..... BIG. SIGH.

Ok, this is completely absurd.
Apparently a 33-year old single mother of SIX, who lives with her parents and declared bankruptcy last year, just gave birth to EIGHT more. Octuplets. Yup.

So now guess who will be paying for their upkeep for the next 18 years? Uh-huh. You and me.

There's something wrong with a person who takes fertility treatments when she already has 6 kids and can't support them! And the doctors are not blameless either here! They should have refused to do this! It's outrageously irresponsible. They implanted 8 embryos by IVF. That alone is considered dangerous. Knowing the number of children this woman already has, and her financial situation, I hope these doctors have a moment or two of difficulty sleeping at night. This is really unethical in my book. How well can these kids possibly be brought up in that kind of situation?
Who wants to bet E! or TLC or Bravo will swoop in with a reality show deal for them? Sure, let's reward the irresponsbility! They'll be on air within a couple of months.

And here I am, worried about the cost of day care for one child. I guess I'll manage.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Received From 171-H Petition to Adopt Orphan!

Today in the mail I received the Advanced Petition to Adopt an Orphan from Abroad, from USCIS! This is what you receive after you have sent off form I-600A and then waited awhile and then driven two hours at 5 AM to get your fingerprints taken, and also had your home study done and sent to USCIS! After all that, this is what you get! I'm one step closer. I think all this form means is that the U.S. Government is expecting me to bring an orphan back to the States within the next 18 months.

My social worker says she *thinks* I will be traveling in June!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Did you know adoptive mothers can breast feed?!?!?!

Wow! I had no idea!

There's a whole community of women breastfeeding their adopted children.

OK, so who has breast fed an adoptive child?

What was it like?

I'm sure it's good for the baby's immune system, especially coming to a country where all the germs and viruses are different from their birth country.

I think I might like to have the experience, it seems like a great way to bond.... especially if I never have a biological child, I would hate to miss out on the experience entirely.

I wonder though, if a child has been bottle fed for the first 6 to 8 months of their life, would they even be interested in breast feeding? Wouldn't it be too late to learn that?

OK readers:

Do you think it's "weird"?

Do you think it's "natural"?
I suppose in a way, it is natural... Thoughout the ages, there has been a need for surrogate breast feeding. Sometimes even wolves took the job.

Here's another website devoted to the topic. They have a wealth of information, including milk calculators, using supplementation, herbs to stimulate milk production, and tons more.

And here is a blog on a personal adoptive nursing journal, following mom and child as they "develop their nursing relationship."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

As long as we're talking adoption.... what about a dog?

Ok, THIS is ridiculous! (click on pink word to see video)

Florida couple pays $150,000 for first commercially cloned dog

BOCA RATON, Fla. - Six years ago, a Boca Raton family froze their dog Lancelot's DNA. On Monday they picked up their new pooch that just happens to have all their former dog's genes.
"The only sad thing about dogs is that they have such a short life, wouldn't it be wonderful if you could live your life with the same dog," said Nina Otto, Lancy's owner.
Turns out you can, in a way....

With millions of dogs being put to death every year, I think it's EGREGIOUS to pay this kind of money, which I can think of hundreds of better uses for, to clone your dog. Yes, I understand the bond people have with their dogs. And I even understand wanting them to live with you forever. It does seem unfair that they live such short lives comparatively... but I take their lack of life span to mean I'm obviously meant to spend my life with SEVERAL dogs. Cloning your dog is so GROSS! I can't even think of a word that describes how I feel about it. It's ADDING to the overpopulation problem (just like puppy mills and back yard breeders, who also make me SICK!) and it's SELFISH and it's NOT THE SAME DOG so that also makes it STUPID.

Here's what I would have done with that $150,000.00:

1) Bought a farm and opened an animal sanctuary
2) Paid for the medical care and spay/neuter of THOUSANDS of rescued pets
3) Why keep it just for animals? That money could keep entire families together either here in the U.S., or in Ethiopia. It could feed them and keep children with birth families. But NOooooo... these people want a look alike dog instead!
4) Buy 10,000 cans of formula for orphanages who are running out in ET
5) I could have put that $$ away for my daughter's college fund, or if I didn't have a daughter I could have started a scholarship fund for a needy kid
6) Could have paid for HIV/AIDS retrovirus medication for AHOPE or other orphanage that accepts HIV positive children
7) Could have bought clothes, school books, toys, etc, etc for those orphans
8) More selfish, but still better than cloning a dog in my opinion: could have used that $ to go on 75 vacations (that's all the vacations a person needs in their lifetime and more!)

So... you get my drift. People like this should have to pass a test before they are given that much money to waste.

What would YOU do if you had that kind of EXTRA cash lying around?

ETA: Doing a quick search on shows over 125 adoptable Yellow labradors available in the Boca Raton area.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My vision for this blog

I'm very happy to see some readers from Central Africa, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada, the Philippines, India, Israel, Chile, Italy, England, Wales! How exciting! Welcome!

I hope that readers feel free to comment, whether or not they agree with my post. I'd like this blog to be an online version of Thanksgiving with my family. But not as loud. At our family table we usually tend to focus on a central topic or a few issues of debate going on in the world at the time. We hear passionately from all family members, and all sides of an issue.

I'd love to hear all kinds of differing viewpoints in the comments here, and hope that readers feel safe enough to post their honest feelings. I just ask that this is done so respectfully! Wouldn't it be great to have a place to talk about all these parenting and adoption issues? I know the posts I read on other people's blogs where I learn the most, are the posts where the author is being brutally honest about their experience.

PLUS, as of this moment, I'm only a "imaginary" parent. I have NO IDEA what I'll do and what it will be like to parent an actual human child! So those of you in the know, please speak up! Let me know if I'm on the wrong track! Or a different track than you took, or would take.

So, as long as you comment respectfully, and keep your personal information out, I will be posting it. It might take half a day, as I cannot always check for comments immediately, but I'm usually fairly quick.

This could really help keep my mind off the wait, as well ;-)

P.S. This post inspired by my friend Michelle who knows she can comment honestly and still be loved by me ;-)

Could co-sleeping kill your baby?

My mom sent me this article. (Aside: Do your parents send you articles all the time? It used to annoy me no end when it was on the perils of smoking cigarettes, but I'm rather enjoying the parenting articles! I'm pretty lucky to have supportive parents.) Anyway, having read a bunch on attachment parenting at this point, co-sleeping is regularly suggested as a way to bond, and to let your child know that you will always be there when s/he needs you. It builds trust.

I plan on having one of those foam "drawers" on my bed... I don't know what they are called, but they are rectangular, and have four little walls around the sides, and it's made out of soft foamy material and covered with waterproof material... Anyway, my cousin has one for my Godson and he loves it. Also, it provides a "sacred space" that I would not be able to roll over into. I'm a pretty good sleeper though, I'm used to having my dogs on all sides and never squash them. In fact, often I wake up to find myself petting them gently around the face or tummy :-)

Here's part of the article but as it's quite long, you can find the rest at The Washington Post:

"More Accidental Infant Deaths Blamed on Suffocation in Bed

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter
Monday, January 26, 2009; 12:00 AM

MONDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Even while the rate of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in the United States has declined, the rate of infant deaths from accidental suffocation in bed has quadrupled, a new study reports.

Such deaths have been most common among black boy babies younger than 4 months, according to the study, published in the February issue of Pediatrics.

The authors said the increase might be due to differences in classification rules and methods among medical examiners and coroners.

But, regardless, the message to parents and caregivers stays the same.

"The safest sleep environment for an infant is one that's close to the parent on a separate sleep surface," said study author Carrie K. Shapiro-Mendoza, an epidemiologist in the division of reproductive health at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Infants should always be placed to sleep on their back on a firm mattress, and the sleep surface should be free of pillows, quilts, comforters and stuffed animals."

Another issue related to infant deaths is co-sleeping, the term for when a baby sleeps with a parent, sibling or caregiver.

"The concern has as much to do with parental behavior," said Dr. Thomas G. DeWitt, director of the division of general and community pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "If you're a deep, sound sleeper, or if you're on medication or if you're drinking, then it's really a bad idea to have the baby in the bed with you."

The United States ranks 29th in the world in infant mortality, according to data released in October for 2004. It ranked 27th in 2000, 23rd in 1990 and 12th in 1960.

Accidental strangulation or suffocation in bed is one of a number of conditions included under the umbrella term "sudden, unexpected infant deaths."

Such deaths can be caused by a baby sleeping on soft bedding such as a pillow or waterbed, a parent rolling on top of a baby while asleep, a baby getting stuck between a mattress and a wall or bed frame, or a baby catching his or her head between crib railings.

For their study, the authors examined data from death certificates for U.S. infants 1 year old and younger.

In the two decades from 1984 to 2004, infant death rates attributed to strangulation or suffocation in bed jumped fourfold, from 2.8 deaths per 100,000 live births to 12.5 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The biggest increase occurred between 1996 and 2004, when strangulation/suffocation deaths rose 14 percent. During this time, sudden, unexpected infant death rates overall remained relatively stable, with a possible trend downward after 2003, and deaths attributable to SIDS actually declined.

The decrease in SIDS has been attributed largely to the national "back to sleep" campaign, launched in 1999.

Strangulation or suffocation deaths, which occurred while the children were sleeping in beds, cribs or couches, were highest among black male babies younger than 4 months. Overall, black babies had a higher mortality rate from this type of death than did white babies (27.3 deaths per 100,000 births compared with 8.5 deaths per 100,000 births), and the rate was higher for boys than girls (12.5 vs. 9.6 deaths per 100,000 live births).

"That there's such a disparity between black versus white is important," DeWitt said. "The disproportion that we know happens in SIDS continues in this category as well."

Strangulation and suffocation deaths appear most common in infants 3 months old and younger, with most deaths occurring at 1 month of age. And they occur more often from Sunday through Wednesday than during the second half of the week.

"It seems that medical examiners or coroners seem to be moving away from SIDS as a diagnosis and more likely to report suffocation as the cause of death," said Shapiro-Mendoza. "We don't know the exact reason. It could have to do with better death investigation or stricter adherence to SIDS definition."

National death-scene guidelines for sudden, unexpected infant deaths were released in 1996, intended to standardize investigations and make them more user-friendly.

"One of the caveats here is: Was there truly an increase, or is there a more careful assessment of unexpected infant death cases?" Dewitt asked. "It's hard to know."

Single female adoption and fatherlessness

So far in this blog, I have mainly tackled issues regarding race, as far as topics I'm trying to learn more about in parenting. However, being single, there is a huge issue looming.... My dad sent me this article which touches on the issue of single parenting. In my case, by choice. I waited around until it was almost too late, in the hopes of finding a husband and father. But then the years roll by and the question becomes "Do you want to be a mother, or not?" and if so, you need to do it alone. Now, don't get me wrong, I have a wonderful family full of supportive people, but it will definitely not be the same as having a live in father to share the load. And to provide that positive male role model. It can be worrisome, but I have to remember that so many women are doing this without a partner. In fact, several of my divorced friends have told me "If I had to do this over I'd leave the man out of it and just be a single parent!". I guess if the marriage doesn't work out, having to figure out custody and having to stay in touch to discuss parenting would be very hard. Anyway, our new President was raised mainly without a father present. Here's an article from the Washington Post:

A Presidential Spring in My Son's Step

By Susan R. Benda

Washington Post

Saturday, January 24, 2009; A13

Barack Obama is many things to many people. Among the groups claiming a special resonance with him are mothers like me. Who has not seen The Photo (can it be that there is only one?) of toddler Barack and his young mother? His memoir may be titled "Dreams From My Father," but in the preface, Obama says that his mother "was the single constant in my life" and that "what is best in me I owe to her." She brought him up largely on her own.

This is significant for me as an unmarried mother of a preteen son, and it surely resonates for other mothers raising their children without dads. Growing up without a father, my son has at times struggled to feel "normal." All children struggle with that; of course, some struggle more than others. My son, who is white, was startled a few years ago to learn that his best buddy felt that he didn't belong anywhere because his dad was a black African and his mom a white American. My son didn't see the issue of race as a problem -- to him, they were a perfect family.

For my son, the issue is fatherlessness. Not having a father has been an impediment to "fitting in." He yearns for an adult man to call his very own and is uncomfortable when other children talk about their fathers or ask about his. This discomfort has affected his sense of security about his future, about measuring up and "making it" (whatever that means). You wouldn't notice it if you met my cheerful, outgoing boy, but in some intangible way he carries an invisible burden on his little shoulders.

It is hard to watch him do this, even though thousands upon thousands of households today are headed by women who don't have partners. I know, however, that it takes time for the world around us to catch up to where society already is. For example, my son's tae kwon do teacher had the habit of talking to the students about their "moms and dads." I took him aside one day and suggested that the term "parents" might do the trick, with no child left behind. But there is a limit to how much a mother can protect her son from the word "dad." A mother can repeat to her child that there is no model "normal" family, but the world reflected and projected by television tells another story. My son and others like him are a silent and almost invisible minority, but they know who they are.

For these young people, the election to the presidency of a man who grew up without a dad signifies a seismic shift. The mere candidacy of Barack Obama has spoken eloquent volumes to my son where my words had failed. I know this because my son now walks a bolder walk and talks a more confident talk. The doors of his imagination have swung open, and his sense of his place in the world has changed. He is proud to share this identity with the new president. For my son, Obama's inauguration this week felt like a personal embrace. For him and for the growing number of children being raised by their mothers alone, all of the ceremony showed something, in a concrete way, that our words alone cannot: Yes, you can.
The writer is a lawyer living in Washington.

Monday, January 26, 2009

2 for 1 Airfare to Addis on ET Airlines! and other airfare discounts

Having a mom in the travel industry can really pay off sometimes! Here is what she discovered today:

"Travel must be between Feb 1 and March 30. You can stay up to three weeks. One domestic roundtrip ticket within Ethiopia is included in the deal. The cost for the first person is $1640 plus tax which is $341. The second person only pays the tax of $341. In economy, one is allowed two pieces of luggage weighing no more than 50 lbs each. Also one carryon of 15lbs and they actually weigh the hand luggage. So that is it."

I hope that this info will help some of my readers either bring an extra family member over for the pickup trip, or ease the burden on the pocket book for couples.

And this is from a recent article in the SunTimes might help more with domestic adoptions, but still some tips may apply to international as well:

It's been drilled into our heads that the best way to get a cheap airline ticket is to buy it well in advance of your travel date.

But parents adopting children from overseas often have no idea when that date might be. And once their adoption agency gives them the go-ahead to bring home their child, they typically have only a matter of days to make all the arrangements.

Irina and Andy Prutch of Yorkville traveled to Russia last year to adopt their daughter, Anastasia. They were surprised that a one-way ticket for Anastasia would cost more than a round-trip.

• If you're adopting an infant, ask your travel agent or the airline reservation clerk to seat you in the bulkhead section with a bassinet (provided on a first-come, first-serve basis at no additional cost). Bassinets will hold infants up to 20 pounds and 26 inches. Also, ask if they offer baby meals on the flight. Some airlines will provide jars of baby food.

• Don't forget about buying your child's one-way ticket. Infants under the age of 2 years will need a lap ticket (generally about 10 percent of an adult fare) to sit on parents' laps. Older children will need their own seats and will be charged the same fare as adults.

Rather than get stuck paying a premium for last-minute tickets, parents can benefit from adoption airfare discounts. For example, Northwest Airlines "Special Delivery" program has benefits that include 65 percent off the price of full-fare coach tickets, open returns and no penalties for cancellations or changes. (Parents must show proof of U.S. residency and provide legal documentation of the adoption.) Details at

Some 17,438 overseas adoptions by U.S. parents took place this fiscal year, according to U.S. State Department statistics.

Not all airlines are eager to publicize news about these special adoption fares. The media relations spokespeople for other major airlines either ignored our queries about discounted air fares for adoptive families or point blank said they didn't offer any. However, when we called the reservation lines for Delta, United and Cathay Pacific and questioned the customer service reps, they all said they offer discounted fares.

"Airlines are very secretive about specialty air fares," says Ed Perkins, contributing editor for "They don't advertise them and they're just not going to tell you about them unless you specifically ask. So ask."

Perkins cautioned that consumers need to know the ramifications of their discounted tickets if they can't leave or return on the dates they booked. For instance, will the airline charge a premium to change a ticket if your child is too sick to fly on the date you've planned or if bureaucratic red tape is holding up your departure?

"Given how complex some of the airline policies can be, the best bet in some of these situations is to pay a travel agent to handle this for you," Perkins said. "He or she will have access to consolidator deals and will know which airline is offering the best fare. This is one case where it makes sense to pay someone to deal with the hassles for you."

Portland, Ore.,'s Azumano Travel American Express has been in business for 60 years working with corporate and leisure clients. For the past 15 years, they've also become one of the go-to travel agencies for adoptive parents booking flights overseas. Azumano has adoption fare contracts with a number of airlines, including Cathay Pacific, United, Delta and Northwest.

"A lot of our parents do their research and already have a general idea of what these flights should cost with a few weeks notice," says Erle D'Penha, an Azumano travel consultant. "They could probably do it themselves, but what they're paying us for is our knowledge, relationships and ability to get them seats when the online sites say they're all booked. Sometimes people will look online and won't see options to leave from the cities they want to, but we'll be able to find other hubs. The travel Web sites won't always look for all of those flights. We can help find more options."

Indeed, we gave Azumano dates for a hypothetical trip to Seoul, South Korea. We came up with a $3,000 economy fare with two days advance notice. Azumano came up with a nonstop flight on the same carrier for less than half that price.

Not all carriers offer discounted fares, but there are other ways to get around paying full price. Check to see if you have enough airline miles to use toward a ticket. When Yorkville's Andy and Irina Prutch traveled to Russia last year to bring home their adopted daughter, they were surprised to find that a one-way ticket for their child would cost more than a round-trip ticket. But they weren't allowed to purchase a round-trip ticket for her.

"It would've cost us almost $3,000 for a one-way ticket for our daughter," says Andy Prutch. "We ended up using my miles on American Airlines for her seat. My company's travel agent didn't charge us any fees, so we only paid $52.70 for her total airfare. It was definitely the way to go for us."

Also, it never hurts to be nice to the reservation clerks.

While Shannon Mogilinski of St. Charles didn't get any discounts, she did get an upgrade.

"When my husband and I traveled to Russia to adopt our daughter in 2003, we mentioned to the reservations clerk at British Airways that we were adopting a child and that we were carrying humanitarian aid to several orphanages," Mogilinski said. "She gave us a complimentary upgrade to business class. If we hadn't said anything, we would've been sitting in coach."

Jae-Ha Kim is a locally based free-lance writer.

The cost of a new baby...


I ended up spending $140.00 this weekend for the handyman, and $40.00 for paint and supplies. Basically all he did was disassemble my monstrous desk and bring it downstairs and reassemble it. That WAS a big job and took two hours, maybe three. Then he taped up the nursery and painted the corners and around the edges, while I rolled the main part of the walls.

Just that took 7 hours of his time. I kind of felt a bit ripped off. I suppose doing the corners and edges and all the taping does take the most time. But I was done with the walls in an hour.

Anyway, today on MSN I found an article quite by accident about the expenses of having a baby. They quote $11,000.00 per year as being average in one section, but daycare alone around here is $12,000.00 per year, not including diapers, cribs, car seats, clothes, Dr.'s appts, etc.

Since with international adoption, we PAPs are also paying exorbitantly for the adoption process itself, this figure leaves me a little anxious. Luckily, the article does give clue on how to save a little. For one, I will probably not be buying a matching set for the nursery now :-( although i was kind of looking forward to that. Nor will I buy furniture at Babies R' Us... I used to paint furniture as a hobby and I can still do that. It's much cheaper to find second hand or unfinished items. Here's the article:

Save a bundle on your new baby
Many excited expectant parents waste thousands of dollars on baby items they don't need. Here's how to wise up early and find just the essentials for less.
By Liz Pulliam Weston

Before I tell you how to save bundles of money while preparing for a baby, I must make a confession.

We've spent more than we planned in the months leading up to the birth of our first child. Way more.

Part of our problem was that we succumbed to the "as long as we're at it" syndrome of home improvements. What started as a fairly straightforward project -- converting a spare bedroom into a nursery -- turned into a six-month-long around-the-house orgy of stripping wallpaper, repainting rooms, laying new carpet and refinishing hardwood floors.

The other part is that I wasn't quite as immune to the siren song of the $4-billion baby products industry as I'd anticipated. While I was able to avoid some of the more obvious excesses -- $800 crib bumpers, anyone? -- I (and my doting hubby) still probably bought too much stuff.

The good news is that we didn't go into debt for any of this, and we'll still be able to fund our baby's college savings plan. (The expense means we won't be flying to Paris anytime soon, of course, but that was pretty much a given.)

The other good news is that my experience may help you avoid some stumbling blocks, although you're bound to discover new ones of your own.

So here's the result of my research and hard-won experience on corralling the buying needed to get ready for a wee one.

Get a great guidebook You'll need something fairly comprehensive that can tell you what you really do and don't need to prepare for the new arrival.
My sister-in-law gave me a copy of Denise and Alan Fields' terrific "
Baby Bargains: Secrets to Saving 20% to 50% on Baby Furniture, Equipment, Clothes, Toys, Maternity Wear and Much, Much More!" Immensely readable, loaded with checklists and full of hard-nosed product reviews, this book quickly became my shopping bible -- and the first thing I bought for a couple of friends who got pregnant after I did.

Know what's optional If you let the kindly women at the baby specialty stores guide you, you'll spend more getting ready for this child than you would on a brand-new sports car. Here are just a handful of things you might NOT need:

A changing table. You can put a special tray on top of a dresser, or buy a dresser specifically outfitted for changing.

Baby store furniture, other than cribs. We found the dressers especially to be of exceptionally poor quality, even at the high-end shops. For less than $400, we were able to buy and paint a well-made ash dresser from a nude-furniture store. You can find used stuff for even less at consignment and used-furniture stores. Just make sure, for safety's sake, that the drawers can't be pulled all the way out, bonking a curious toddler on the head.

Diaper stackers. This is a bag to store diapers that hangs off a changing table. A plain willow basket tucked in a drawer can work just fine -- if you need anything at all.

Coordinated linen or crib sets. Some of the pieces in these sets, such as pillows and quilts, can't be used with an infant. Others, like crib bumpers, are controversial among safety experts. (If you get them, make sure they tie at both top and bottom in several places.) If you must have coordinated sheets and dust ruffles -- and yes, ultimately, I did -- you usually can buy those separately for less.

A car seat for each car. Most infant car seats come with detachable, adjustable bases. Just get one seat and a base for each car.

Jogger strollers. We occasionally see these sporty-looking, three-wheeled all-terrain vehicles in our neighborhood -- usually pushed by dads ambling to the corner coffee bar. We know a lot more couples who parked theirs permanently in the garage. Some runners and hikers swear by them, but you've got time to decide to get one later, since you're generally not supposed to use them with kids less than a year old anyway.

Make a budget Your numbers will necessarily be squishy for awhile, since you won't know exactly what you'll get in shower gifts and hand-me-downs. But between maternity clothes, strollers, car seats, clothes and nursery d├ęcor, the Fields estimate the average cost of baby preparation to be around $6,000 -- and that's not including hospital bills, day care or all the expenses that come later.

You can definitely spend less -- a lot less, with creativity and help from family and friends. But there will always be stuff you need to buy, and you should set aside enough money to cover the basics so you don't go into debt. Splurges make sense only when you've got the cash; otherwise, reduce the stress of your baby's arrival by not adding huge debt to your worries.

Accept donations: I knew I was in a foreign land when a baby store saleswoman cooed at me that of course, I'd want to get "all new" things for my first baby. She obviously didn't know I drive an old car, recycle outfits from my husband's closet and take great pride in pointing out the furniture we didn't have to pay for because it was given to us by someone in the family. "All new," indeed.

Chances are your friends and relatives would be happy to load you up with their outgrown baby items and clothes if only you'd say the word. Once you get it in your house, you'll see why: This stuff eats up space like a Humvee on a one-lane road, and their houses are already jammed with the next generation of kid stuff.

So accept, sort, clean and pass along whatever you can't use (with the original donor's permission, of course). You'll make your friends and family happy, you'll save money and you'll put a little less pressure on our already overstressed environment.

Find consignment stores: As I mentioned, I live in a place where fashionably dressed women pay $2,500 for a foreign-made stroller, $800 for crib sets with silk dust ruffles and $149 for a newborn's sleeper. But Los Angeles and other major cities have neighborhood consignment shops that sell both luxury goods and a wide range of more reasonably priced baby gear. At an outing to one, we found gorgeous velvet dresses for toddlers, seemingly unworn, for $5.
You can find name-brand strollers, toys and other baby gear for a fraction of the new price (although many safety experts advise buying car seats and cribs new if at all possible).

If you don't have consignment stores in your town, you might check out regular thrift stores and garage sales. I've collected plastic toys from yard sales since my friends first started having babies, so the little ones would have something to play with when they came to our house. A few of the more-finicky mothers blanch when I tell them where I picked up this or that bargain, but just about anything plastic can be sterilized in a weak bleach solution, then rinsed and sun-dried. Electronic toys and games can be blasted with disinfectant spray, and stuffed animals can easily be machine washed and dried, particularly if you put them in a nylon bag first.

Given what your kid will do to them in short order, it may be the last time they look so good.
Keep receipts, and don't wash new items right away In a nesting frenzy, I did what I thought you were supposed to do, which is launder everything that might come in contact with baby's skin. More experienced mothers later told me it's smart to wash only a few of your newborn items, since the baby is likely to quickly outgrow them and you can take the still-packaged ones back to the store for a refund.

Oops. I did the same thing by laundering the crib bedding, only to completely change my mind on the color and style I wanted for the linens and dust ruffle. I claim temporary hormonal madness, but the crib really does look cute now.

Expect a few splurges On a related note, it's not just the mother-to-be who can wreak havoc on a budget. The daddy-in-training can also lose his mind occasionally, as mine did one fine autumn day when we were visiting New Mexico. He slipped away from me for a few hours with a credit card, and about a week later a packing crate -- yes, a crate -- laden with stuffed toys arrived at our home.

We did build some parental splurges into our budget -- including a few more dinners and movies out, in anticipation of the confinement ahead, and pregnancy massages, which I'm convinced made the aches of my expanding body more bearable. If these luxuries aren't within reach, at least make sure you make some nice dinners for each other at home, and learn a few massage techniques before the baby arrives. We've heard the latter come in quite handy in the labor room -- and beyond."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

THIS is priceless

You have to check out the reaction of thses kids when they find out their parents are adopting.... it's too funny. And sweet.


Turn down the sound a smidge :-)

Started work on the nursery today

Here's a "before" picture of the study. Usually things are not in boxes, they are spread all over the desk! But anyway, this is sort of what it looks like now, with yellow walls and and orange/red/yellow/rust curtain.

None of the nursery designs would go well with the wall color except MAYBE the second one, Glenna. But I'm not even sure about that. So I figured while I have my handyman here disassembling my desk and relocating it to the basement, I might as well also paint the walls. I chose a simple creamy off white color, which will go with anything. I love having color on the walls in my house, and several walls have a bright accent color on them. But there are so many accessories and wall hangings for the nurseries available that simple white will allow me to go with any design. I'll show pictures as we move ahead in the process.

Another corner of the room:

This is after the desk has been removed:

Ahh yes, there is that covered vent that was under the desk, freezing me out of the room all winter long!

Now, I don't know about you guys, but when my handyman is here, I feel the need to work every minute he is here. I let him do his thing, but I don't want him thinking I'm some rich, lazy person. So while he works, I get done a bunch. So far I have: picked up all the dog poo in the back yard, done two loads of laundry, done a load of dishes, finally put away some Christmas decorations (!!), and now I'm about to put all the paperwork back into the reassembled desk in the basement. Do you guys feel the same when you have help over?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Help me choose the nursery theme!


Ok, I've been having some pretty "heavy" posts lately. Here's a fun one. I'm loving several different designs for the nursery. I'd prefer to get something that will last through toddler-hood. Which ones do you prefer and why?

These are all from Babies R' Us. This first one is called the Cotton Tail Poppy:

The second is called the Glenna Jean Domain (sorry the picture is so small, they didn't have a bigger one available):

The third is called the CoCaLo Angeliqua:

And last, but not least, is the Bunny Meadow, and the picture of the crib doesn't do it justice so I'm putting a picture of just the sheets and blanket. It's very delicate, I saw it in person this past weekend:

What do you think?

I'm so indecisive lately! Please help me choose :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

ADOPTING ACROSS RACIAL LINES - Barbara Bearsinger Part 3

I asked Barbara, after reading a couple of articles written by adult trans racial adoptees who felt angry at their parents, whether Barbara's daughter had ever mentioned any similar feelings. Here is her answer:
"My daughter hasn't really said anything much to me about the differences in our races -- in the main, she actually views me as "Native American", i.e., not very different from her.

In that regard, I've found myself in a strange kind of dichotomy at times. When we were involved with the NA cultural organization I mention in my write-up, there were members who were full-bloods, members who were half-bloods, and members who were of lesser blood degrees as well as various sorts of mixed-bloods. This mattered to some members in the sense of defining "how Indian" someone was. The government perpetuated this categorizing by setting up a lot of its programs for NAs based on blood quantum -- a person had to have at least 1/4 NA blood to be eligible for some of the programs. The tribes traditionally didn't think about their members that way, but they've had to in our lifetime because of the government. The effect has been to create a kind of subtle internal discrimination amongst tribal members who often view full-bloods as the REAL Indians. We had several full-blood members, and oddly enough, I was picked up as a friend and included in their camaraderie more often than most of the mixed-bloods who were part Indian and part white. Mind you, I have NO NA blood. But I was raised on reservations, and even though I didn't personally live under the same conditions of hardship and deprivation that most reservations-dwellers did/do, the common ground of knowing reservation life mattered more to the full-bloods and inspired more trust and friendship, than did the fact of whether or not I had any NA blood.

So from that standpoint, my daughter saw me mingle comfortably, and this afforded her the opportunity to mingle more comfortably, etc. So in her view, she doesn't really see a racial difference between us.

On a broader level, I can tell you that a lot of NA tribes -- maybe most -- don't feel it is a good idea for their children to be adopted out to white people. And it's mainly over concerns the children will lose their heritage. There is some foundation for that concern on beyond the fact that the children will be raised far from their native people. White people historically have taken NA children away -- to boarding schools, into home service (as maids and what not), with the express purpose of stripping them of their "Indian-ness". They were shorn of their hair with no regard for the fact that hair and how it is worn is a sacred expression ... punished for speaking in their native language, etc. I saw the native language thing myself when I was in first grade -- the teacher washed out the mouths of 2 Navajo kids for speaking to each other a word or two. Being NA was viewed as being "dirty". Very similar in many ways to how African Americans have been treated, but a lot of NAs think the African Americans had it better because at least the white man let them be African American and didn't try to make them white!

And I've read about NA kids who were adopted by whites and grew up disdaining their adoptive parents because those parents treated the children as if they were white and ignored the obvious. A lot of white people try to express their lack of racial prejudice by pretending that they don't "see" any difference between themselves and people of color. But there IS a difference. Pretending it doesn't exist is false. The Real Thing is to know and acknowledge the difference and yet not see "different" people as LESS than we are (as whites).

With regard to Indians, this stuff isn't something that folks in the mid-Atlantic states are likely to know much about, because the tribes there were so overcome and decimated that little of their own culture and traditions is left. My daughter's tribe -- the Rappahannock -- are extremely disorganized. They are trying to re-learn anything they can about their own history and customs. I nearly broke down in tears when I saw their "museum" -- it was a little shack, populated with toy bows and arrows made in Japan, and presided over by their Chief who was wearing a full-feather Plains Indian head-dress that had nothing whatsoever to do with his own people. And somehow maintaining a kind of broke-down dignity. They are in no position to prevent their children from being parceled out to anyone who will take them when it comes to adoption.

Your daughter is going to receive love and joy in your arms. You will look at her color and see the beauty. You will give a damn about her heritage and make sure she knows it -- both the pluses and minuses, so that she grows up relatively savvy about her country and people, their achievements and their needs. You'll make the effort to learn and fix some Ethiopian dishes (I love their flatbread, by the way, and the meat dishes to dip it in). If their culture contains myths and stories from times of old, you'll probably read those to her along with the Three Little Kittens and Cinderella. She is going to grow up very well rounded, I think, knowing she is both loved and respected. Such an upbringing doesn't give a child any reason to turn against a parent of another race.

Throughout history, races have adopted from each other (sometimes by stealing children but that's a different ballgame) without any particular problems arising from that, but I think in today's world we are so much better equipped to give children their true heritage than could ever happen before. The fault lies with those who don't think it is important and don't do it.

Hugs On Ya,
This concludes the two part (which turned in to three part!) series written by my friend Barbara Bearsinger. Thank you for taking the time, Barbara. I'm sure many will read this and learn a lot, either presently or in the future when I've stopped checking for comments. It's the kind of essay that will stand the test of time, I'm sure and I'm proud to be the blog host for it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ADOPTING ACROSS RACIAL LINES - Barbara Bearsinger Part 2

Here is the continuation of Barbara's piece on trans racial adoption, specifically in the Native American and African American communities:

"It was a good thing that our daughter learned to accept all of herself and value all of her background in our home. The outer world was not so kind. As a child of color in a predominantly white town – and the only child of color in her school – our daughter was subjected to some truly sad experiences. Other children didn’t want to be friends with her. Teenage boys who rode her school bus got our phone number and called her up to say filthy things – to a 9-year-old little girl!! -- until “Mama” found out what was going on and put a swift stop to THAT.

It’s ignorance. And irrational fears born out of ignorance.

There was a time in the past of all of us – way way back for most, not so far for others, and sadly still too near at hand for some – when strangers were to be met with suspicion and fear. Specifically, the strangers who looked different by color, who spoke a different language and wore clothing and had customs that were unfamiliar. When a group of “us” encountered a group of “them”, who knew what “they” might do? In the far distant past, life was precarious enough without weird-looking and weird-sounding people coming along to hunt and fish the same grounds and make the game even more scarce than it was. And who knew for sure that they were even people, the way We were People? Opting for common sense, we ran them off, or they ran us off, preferring to be safe rather than sorry (if possible).

Racial and cultural prejudices are nothing new. They are as old as human experience, and fundamentally they came out of the need for survival and self-preservation. In other words, there was a time in the history of the world when such feelings were literally instinctive and necessary – they were GOOD because they kept us safe from others who might be, and probably were often, enemies.

Those times are gone for the most part, or should be gone. Certainly, in developed nations, we don’t need to fear each other for reasons of color and culture, as there is enough to go around. The United States, in particular, is a country in which all races and cultures have joined together for the benefit of all. While this doesn’t work perfectly in all places at all times, it actually does work pretty well and every generation contributes to making even more improvements.

Fortunately for my daughter, I fell into an opportunity to make a contribution in the community that was of immense help to her. I had been somewhat involved in the Native American Rights Movement, and my background came to the attention of someone in the school system who called to ask if I’d be a volunteer resource person for the county schools in the area of Native American culture and history. I agreed to give it a try.

This endeavor involved going into classrooms and talking about Native Americans, answering questions and the like. It was an easy job – what child isn’t interested in “the Indians”? As I had lived longest among the Western Apache and still had many friends there, I chose to specifically represent that tribe and usually showed up at the school wearing a long, colorful “camp dress” as worn by Apache women, and carrying on my back a cradleboard with a little “baby” strapped inside. I brought with me items from several tribes: pottery, baskets, drums, a turtle shell rattle, a Kachina doll. My talk delved into the traditional past of these tribes, and included what goes on with them in the present day.

The first school I was invited to was the elementary school where my daughter attended. I made a point of asking how many children in the class knew they had Native American blood, because I was aware that many white pioneer families in the area had intermarried with Shawnee and Cherokee people in the past. Although the children didn’t identify as Native American, to a practiced eye the Native American characteristics were often evident in the shape of cheekbones and eyes. One by one, the hands would go up until it was clear that roughly a quarter of these children had some Native American blood, albeit far back in their genealogy, and knew it. Then I mentioned my daughter and told them about her tribe. It was a wonderful opportunity to use their natural interest in “Indians” as a means to point out that we all have tribal roots of one sort or another and that all groups of people have interesting and delightful things to share.

The added benefit was an increased respect for my daughter among the other children. The rude behaviors toward her stopped and her time in school became a much happier experience.

I feel we were very lucky that this particular school opportunity came up, but there were other activities that we sought out which were of equal benefit to her development. We were able to establish contact with a Native American cultural organization in the Washington, DC area, and through that association our children were able to participate in pow-wows and overnight camping with Native Americans of many tribes who traveled to participate.

Now grown, my daughter proudly identifies her mixed racial heritage and takes her own daughters to pow-wows.

Raising a child of another race certainly isn’t as easy as raising a child of one’s own background. One has to work a little harder to give the child a strong sense of his/her own genetic identity and place within that sphere while at the same time ensuring that the child feels 100% a member of the family, regardless of racial difference. Unique challenges are presented, but the opportunities far outweigh the concerns, and in the final analysis a well-blended family represents the most important thing of all, the one thing we all have in common that stands above the differences: our humanity. "

Thank you SO MUCH, Barbara, for taking the time to write down your thoughts and experiences to share with us.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another cool book!

This 20 page book with full color professional photographs was written and photographed by adoptive mother Heidi Mehltretter. It walks a child through important and beautiful cultural settings in Ethiopia, giving them a sense of pride in the country of their birth. The book shows how Teff is grown and made into Injera, it talks about the rich religious history and ultimately describes how a child might become orphaned leading to their adoption. Ms. Mehltretter leaves the end of the book open so a family can insert a photo of their own child which allows for personalization. There are a handful of children's books about international adoption, but there are no books which highlight the unique adoption and cultural History of Ethiopia the way this one does. 100% of the profits from the sale of this book will go to support Hanna Fanta, the founder of Children's Heaven, a sponsorship program to help teenaged girls affected and orphaned by HIV and AIDS. Click the title to be taken to the ordering website.

ADOPTING ACROSS RACIAL LINES - Guest blogger, Barbara Bearsinger! Part 1

This is a piece on trans racial adoption and older adoption from a friend of mine who adopted a Native American girl in the 70's. That was wayyyy before we were openly dialoguing about trans racial adoption. I have read essays by adult adoptees, crying out about being damaged by their white colorblind parents in that era. Not so for Barbara's daughter.

I met Barbara ONLINE in an animal rescue forum, after Hurricane Katrina. We have remained in touch since then. I think she is a wonderful writer, and have enjoyed her forum posts for years. Therefore, I asked her to pen a piece on her experience adopting her daughter, and raising her daughter, along with the issues of race and culture. She is a sage woman, and has wisdom to share with me. So I hope you will also enjoy her writing and thoughts on the topic. Since it is a longer essay, I will post it in two separate pieces.


In the late 1970’s, my first husband and I (who are Caucasian/white) adopted a little girl who was half white/half Native American. We already had a little boy of our own, and our daughter at age 9 was an older child adoption.

On the Native American side of her heritage, there was also almost certainly some African American ancestry. This is not uncommon in the southeastern region of the country (where we were living at the time). Historically, escaped and freed African American slaves often found a welcome among the Native American tribes in the area.

In the United States and Canada, first preference is to place adoptive children with families of their own race in order to help them in developing a sense of self within their own racial heritage. Although as a couple we were not Native American, due to the work my father did I had been raised on Indian reservations in the northwest and southwest from birth until my teens and had been an avid student of Native American cultures and histories since that time. So in a sense, our family was the “next best thing”!

There have never been any problems at all between our daughter and ourselves over the racial differences. Like all children everywhere, her first and biggest need was to be loved, and that she had in abundance with us. However, she had identity conflict over the fact of some African American ancestry – prior to coming to live with us, she’d already experienced some episodes of racial prejudice in her short life and therefore thought it was a “bad thing” to be part African American. This came to light within a few months after she joined our family.

With an extensive personal library of books on various Native American cultures in our home, we had no difficulty expanding her knowledge of that part of her background. In addition, we encouraged both children in activities that had to do with Native American cultures: taught them how to make musical instruments such as the “mouth bow” (similar to a jew’s harp) and water drums, taught them respect for fellow creatures on the planet (the four-leggeds, the wingeds, and plants), and how to make use of natural objects in inventive ways.

Our daughter did identify herself as Native American, and her physical features and characteristics were Native American, but we also felt it was important to do what we could to counter the negative views she had about being part African American. Fortunately, we had one great resource at hand.

Three years earlier, the movie “Roots” based on Alex Hailey’s book of the same title, had burst on the American consciousness, and with great good fortune, was being shown again on TV in its entirety approximately a year after our daughter came to live with us. We all sat down and watched it together, and what we emphasized most to our daughter was the beauty and splendor of the African cultures from which African American slaves were torn away. She achieved a whole new level of understanding about who African American people are and saw that – at the core – African Americans were/are tribal people very similar in many ways to Native Americans and, as such, deserve as much appreciation and respect for their traditions and histories.

As do all people, since we all have tribal roots in our ancestries, out of which we have brought beliefs and customs, traits and achievements that we contribute to the world.

It was a good thing that our daughter learned to accept all of herself and value all of her background in our home. The outer world was not so kind. As a child of color in a predominantly white town – and the only child of color in her school – our daughter was subjected to some truly sad experiences. Other children didn’t want to be friends with her. Teenage boys who rode her school bus got our phone number and called her up to say filthy things – to a 9-year-old little girl!! -- until “Mama” found out what was going on and put a swift stop to THAT.

Stay tuned for Part 2, tomorrow! And if you would like me to continue the guest blogging invitations, please post comments for Barbara so I can tell whether this is something my readers are interested in reading more about. I have a lot of fascinating friends I could invite!

Getting my history on!


What a day! It's going to be hard not to tear up watching this.

Shhh! I'm going to try and find a TV here at work. Don't tell anyone ;-)

I heard on NPR this morning that Obama has an 84% approval rating going in to the job. That is quite a mandate, much higher than the numbers of people who voted for him. What does that mean? Does that mean that the people who didn't vote for him secretly wished they could have, that something was stopping them? Abortion, gun control, gay rights, color? I think what those numbers mean is that despite feeling the need to vote for your beliefs, we are all in need of hope.

I'm very proud of Americans, and so happy that we have redeemed ourselves (somewhat)in the eyes of the world just by voting for this man. Now let's go out and support him, so he can be successful in his job.

Interesting fact: Obama is from the Lou ethnic group of Kenya which traces its ancestors from western Ethiopia.

PS Just kidding about the work thing, we all watched the inauguration on the TV in the front lobby!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Emotional day!

Today I had a lot going on emotionally.
First there was an appointment with a fertility doctor to see what's up and plan for the future. That went fine. No plans for right now, I've got enough on my plate.

Then I went to Babies R' Us with my pregnant friend, and I parked in the expectant mother spot! Ha!

While walking around the store and looking at so much STUFF, I started to feel anxious and panicky. I don't even know if I need a crib, or what size bed, or clothes and there are 4 sizes of bottles, how am I supposed to know what size to get?

Adoptive mothers.... HELP!

Can you tell me how you PLANNED this? I have no idea when I'm picking her up. How big she'll be. What size car seat to get. Bottles. What kind, there are about 40 different kinds. SIPPY CUPS? No, probably not yet, right?

Also, adoptive moms... please answer this question: When did you start feeling like "a mom"? Was it right when you signed the agency contract? Right after your referral? After the judge said you were a mom? I'm not sure I'm feeling what I'm supposed to be feeling. I look at her picture about 20 times a day. Here are my feelings, you tell me if something is missing: excited, obsessive, scared, worried, relieved her medical seems good, but nothing very maternal yet. I don't feel like I could lift a car, stop a train, lay down my life for her anymore than I would for any infant (I would try for any infant of course). When do THOSE feelings come? Is there something wrong with me? I don't feel the innate connection. It's been two days since I got her picture. How long did it take you adoptive moms?

Then of course in "The Curious Life of Benjamin Button" this afternoon, I saw a little black infant being nursed and immediately felt that "Aww..." and breath catch. The movie was great, but a bit of a tear jerker in a good way. On the way home, I finished up the sad last chapters of an audio book I've been listening to, "The Girls", about conjoined twins who die at age 30. Sniff. Roller coaster of an emotional day! I highly recommend Benjamin Button though, it was really good.

I thought the attachment on my side of things would be instant. But I really don't know what it feels like to "be a mom" yet. I asked my pregnant friend if she already felt maternal towards her baby in utero... I figured if the baby's inside the attachment must be automatic. She said that she felt more like a mom to her dog than to her baby presently, but expects that to change. That was a relief to hear. I didn't feel so deficient then. If she feels that way and her baby is in her stomach 24/7 and has been for 4 months, than maybe I'm expecting too much after 2 days when I've never even met my girl yet and she's 7000 miles away.

Moms, I'd really like to hear from you.

PS. Funny thing since I've been thinking about and reading a lot about trans racial adoption: in Benjamin Button, he is a white baby adopted by a black couple. His bio dad thought he was a monster and wanted to throw him away. Then the black couple find him and she says "He's still a child of God" and they keep him and raise him as their own.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


When I was the Program Director of the halfway house I use to work at, I would rent out the "I have a dream" speech on video from the library and play it, not on Martin Luther King Day, but on other days. I thought it was important to listen to it more than once a year on some chosen day. Besides, it was always checked out of the library on THE day, so my way made more sense.

It's an amazing speech. Yes, everyone KNOWS it's amazing, but when is the last time you heard the WHOLE THING? We all know the "I have a dream that one day my children will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character " part... but what about the rest? Do you know it?

If not... never fear, I have it for you.
"I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."
But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.
We cannot walk alone.
And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.
Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.
And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."
This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.
With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:
My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.
Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.
And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.
Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.
Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.
But not only that:
Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.
From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:
Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"
Does transracial adoption bring us closer to this dream? Some would say "yes" and some would disagree, and some would say it's a drop in the bucket. Some say transracial adoption is harmful to the orphan. I hve hope that open discussion about race and culture will in the end be more helpful than harmful, and that my child will grow up no more damaged than if she was my biological child. (I have no illusions I'm not going to make mistakes!)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I just ordered these books

It's a story about infertility and how the couple turned towards adoption from Ethiopia. Their blog is at You can read an excerpt and it looks like a great read. From their website:
"This is the story of ashes. For us, our ashes correspond to our battles with barrenness. Studies show that one third of the time, infertility involves the female. One-third of the time, it involves the male. Another one-third involves mystery. Three-thirds of the time, though, infertility involves deep heartache and pain. Amy and I know this firsthand.
This is also the story of Africa. For us, our story involves falling in love with and feeling God’s heart for a continent and people, where beauty and tragedy, wealth and poverty, and humanity and sub-humanity coexist in a jagged tension. Stepping into this world of interlocking realities felt like a baptism of sorts, whereupon returning to Oklahoma, we have been challenged and inspired to rethink and redo everything from our relationship with God, to church and community, to our understanding of missions and God’s future dreams for the earth.
Finally, this is the story of adoption. For us, it is simply the story of meeting a baby boy named Tesfamariam, and our lives not being the same since."

I ALSO ordered "Risk and Promise: a handbook for parents adopting a child from overseas " which has this as a synopsis: (from Amazon)
"Risk and Promise is designed to help prospective international adoption parents better understand the risk factors as well as the protective factors a child from overseas is presenting, support the parents through the decision-making process, and guide them during the period of transition in their lives as their new child moves into their family. The premise of Risk and Promise is that the success of any adoption, both international and domestic, is a function of not only the capabilities and needs of the child, but also the expectations, characteristics, and lifestyle of the adoptive family members. It is important that prospective adoptive families assess their tolerance for uncertainty, for the potential challenges that the child may bring, and the parents ability (financial and otherwise) to modify their lifestyle in order to accommodate the demands of a child who may be quite challenging. Along these lines, a secondary objective of this book is to enlighten prospective adoptive parents regarding the extent of what may be required of them if, indeed, they are to fulfill the commitment that they are making in taking on the responsibility for a child whose needs will unfold over time. "

It has four out of five stars and lots of positive comments about the helpfulness of growth charts that pin point height, weight and head circumference in the back of the book.
I will give book reviews once I've read them and let you know whether they are worthwhile.

I looooove 3 day weekends!

They should all be 3 day weekends, as far as I'm concerned. I like to do 3 different things on the weekends: errands/chores, social stuff, and relaxation. Usually a 2 day weekend is enough to accomplish 2 things, not all three.
This weekend I will have time to do all three. I'm also planning on catching up on my movie going, since I have missed out on some recent movies that I've been wanting to see. Last night I saw "Doubt", tomorrow I'm seeing "Benjamin Button" and tonight I have to decide if I'm seeing "Slumdog Millionaire", "Revolutionary Road", or "The Reader". Any readers want to chime in on which one I should see tonight?
Tomorrow I'm also going to Babies R' Us with my pregnant neighbor to look at patterns and themes and maybe get inspired for a little girl's room. That's probably a productive thing to do while waiting...

"Kids in the U.S. need help too..."


Ok, I'm broaching a tricky topic....

I've been asked, and told "Why go overseas? Kids in the States need help too."

Yes, that is true, all kids deserve families.

But if you have never been to a "third world" country I don't think you can begin to imagine the difference in being poor in the U.S.A and being poor in Africa.

In the U.S., there are homeless shelters and food pantries. Do people go to bed hungry, yes sometimes. Do they starve to DEATH? Not often. (Unless they are anorexic, a disease that is only seen in countries of excess.)

In the U.S. if you show up to a hospital with a gun shot wound to the head, they will treat you at least on an emergency basis before kicking you out for lack of insurance.

In the U.S., if you are thirsty, you can find a tap and drink water that will not kill you.

In the U.S., school is not only free, it's the law. Pencils are readily available. A school bus will pick you up and drive you in relative comfort miles away to your school.

In the U.S., if you are a child with HIV you can receive free medication through the Ryan White Foundation.

In many developing nations, none of the above is true. There is famine, a lack of safe drinking water or sometimes any water at all, no medical care, no medication even for simple problems, shelter can be iffy, and school is a luxury many cannot afford or travel the distance to attend. In America, mothers are not giving up their babies for adoption because they are starving and don't have breast milk to feed them. In America we have programs. WIC. Food stamps. Etc. We have over the counter medicine for diarrhea. But please don't compare the two situations, they un-comparable.

So, just to explain, I have nothing against American babies, I really don't...I wish them all to be in loving homes with everything they need to grow up happy and strong. There's much less of a chance of that happening in Ethiopia. 4.5 million orphans in a country twice the size of Texas. I wonder how many orphans there would be if formula could be provided to those mothers?

This video is extremely difficult to watch, but boy does it prove my point. I debated posting it, because it is so disturbing... But I can't stand heads in the sand AKA denial. If it hurts to watch, imagine what it feels like to live through. This video makes me feel like quitting my lucrative US social work job and becoming an international social worker, like I wanted to when I was a teenager. The video does have a "happy" ending, although you will still need a box of Kleenex because it brings on the "ugly cry". Just be warned.

Newborns dying before age 1 - 1 in 10
Children dying before age 5, often from preventable diseases -1 in 6
Main causes of early childhood deaths -Diarrhea and pneumonia
Orphans, 2003 estimate -4 million
Children under age 5 stunted from lack of nutrition - Over 50%
High school attendance, females - 8.5%

Population with use of adequate sanitation facilities - 15%
Rural population with use of adequate sanitation facilities - 4%
Population with use of improved drinking water sources - 24%
Population with access to public health facilities - 61.3%
Population more than 10 km (6 miles) from nearest health facility - Over 50%
Physicians per 100,000 people - 3
Population moderately to severely underweight - 38%
Population stunted due to lack of nutrition - 47%
Adults infected weekly - 5,000
Age group with highest rate of infection
15-24 years; female prevalence 3 times greater than among males
Women living with HIV, 15-49 -770,000
Mother-to-child HIV transmission - 2nd highest number of new infections per year
Children dying from AIDS - 1 in 16
Children orphaned by AIDS from 2003 to 2007 - 720,000
Female Genital Mutilation
Women aged 15-49 with FGM - 80%
Girls undergoing FGM - Up to 90%
Women experiencing rape, in total population (2004)