Wednesday, March 28, 2007

One More Check

Z got his passport today! YAY! One more thing to check off the list!

I've had my passport for several years now, but Z had never gotten one. And...thanks to my earlier travels (through research trips) and to the United States Army, Z and I are both up to date on all of the immunizations that we need for our upcoming trip (no more shots!!)

So...now we both have our passports. Let's go somewhere!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Heavy Burden

Some days the weight of the world is heavy....and today is one of those days. I look around at my life, and though things aren't perfect, they are pretty darn good. I have lots of food in my cupboards, I go to school every day, I have the ability to safely get from point A to point B, I have a rented roof over my head, I have a husband who loves me, I have pets who follow me everywhere, and I don't have to worry so much about the health and safety of my family. I know that if something happens we have access to some of the best health care in the world. Spring has officially sprung around here, the weather is beautiful, the birds are singing, and the grass is turning green. And still the weight of the world is heavy.

Z and I watched Blood Diamond over the weekend. It is one of those movies that I've been meaning to see for quite a while, but didn't bring myself to do it. Z has been teasing me that I didn't want to watch it because Leonardo DiCaprio is in it (and he knows he is not one of my favorite actors). But, the truth is I knew what it was about; and I knew that watching it would force me to confront apathy (my own and America's in general). I know that I am one of the few very priviledged in this world. I didn't ask to be born as an American. I didn't deserve to be born here. And yet I was. I have so many opportunities, so much wealth, and I have a voice (whether or not I think I have a voice in my government is irrelavent - the fact is that I DO have a voice - whether I find a way to use it is the issue). So, what should we do when we are confronted with the injustice in our world? Should we get angry? Should we write letters to senators? Should we raise money (if so, what do we do with it)? Should we find others who see the injustice and join together? Should we try to educate others? Or, should we turn the other way; forget we ever learned about it?

There are so many things in this world that need to be changed. We need to find a way to redistribute wealth in our world. We need to STOP poverty (in our own country and throughout the world). We need to fight the AIDS pandemic and stop it in its tracks. We need to find a way to provide good healthcare to EVERYONE. We need to end unnecessary death caused by treatable diseases. We need to DEMAND fair trade for the products we purchase. We need to stop slavery (yes, it is still taking place - even in the U.S.). We need to find a way to give all children access to a good education. We need to find a way to use our voices to speak for those who have no voice. We need to make this world a better place for our children.

Just over this past weekend I was reminded of the following issues:

-Children are being bought and sold as sex slaves (this is a big problem in places like Cambodia and other Asian countries as well as some Latin American countries...though it is also happening here in the good old U.S.A.).

-Ethiopia still has not been granted free trade rights for their coffee...Big coffee companies are still making big bucks off of lattes, frappuccinos, and mochas while Ethiopian farmers earn less than a dollar a day.

-One of my very favorite products (CHOCOLATE) is being farmed and harvested by child slaves. About half of the world's chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast and about 12,000 child laborers have been trafficked into Ivory Coast to work on these cocoa plantations.

Since we've started the adoption process, I am reminded everyday that my future children will be children that have been directly affected by the unfairness of our world. They will no doubt be victims of extreme poverty. They may have parents who died or are dying from AIDS. They may have parents who died of malaria (or another treatable disease). For me, these issues are no longer problems that happen on the other side of the world. They are problems that are affecting MY children.

What do I do about it?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Another Video

Here is another video that I think is well worth watching. It is a long video (20 mins), but is very informative. And, those of you who have read "There Is No Me Without You" may be interested to know that Heregowoin Teferra is featured in this video.

Click here to see this video on AIDS orphans in Ethiopia.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Choosing...

A great picture with an even greater message.


I "borrowed" this picture from another adoptive parent at:



Lisa and Pierre are adopting a sibling pair of girls from Ethiopia. Lisa recently got back from a trip to Ethiopia and has some really fantastic pictures and videos on her blog - you should definitely check them out. I am so looking forward to seeing pictures of their girls when they get them home. I love reading stories about other families adopting sibling groups from Ethiopia. Z and I are planning to adopt a sibling pair and the dynamics of adopting siblings (and older children) are certainly different than adopting an infant. It is great to know that there are other people who will share in our experiences.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Why Bono is one of the good guys...

Mary at Owlhaven (http://owlhaven.wordpress.com/) brought my attention to this video....Go and watch it! It is the acceptance speech that Bono made to the NAACP. He really, truly is one of the good guys.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENp7c6TtBHk

Stick with the video until the end. Its powerful and well worth your 7 minutes.

Here are a couple of quotes to whet your appetite...
"Because where you live should not determine whether you live or whether you die."

"God (my friends) is with the poor. And God is with us if we are with them."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Two Must See Videos...

My bloggy friend Erin (Hi Erin!) sent out a message last night letting people know that the trailor for a documentary that she is in has been posted on the web. If you have been following my blog, then you know that I have mentioned Erin and her family before (and if you've checked the comments section of my blog, then you have read some of the comments that she has posted on my blog as well). Erin has been an incredible source of inspiration and information for Z and I. Her family's newest addition is little Belane, and you can read about her story here:
http://transracial.adoptionblogs.com/
and here:
http://fullhousefullhandsfullhearts.blogspot.com/

The documentary that Erin is in (I think) originally started as a fundraising video for an organization called Chances by Choice
(http://www.adoption-link.org/chances-by-choice-program.aspx).
Chances by Choice is a one-of-a-kind organization that works to find families for HIV+ children all over the world. They work in conjunction with several adoption agencies to help bring attention to these children and place them in adoptive families. Please check out their site - they do incredible work bringing attention to these often "forgotten" children.

When Deca Productions began producing the fundraising video for Chances by Choice, they also decided to produce a full-length documentary on the subject of the adoption of HIV+ children. The documentary is not yet completed, but you can view the trailor online. I am hoping that someone will pick up this documentary, help complete it, and air it so that more people can learn about these kids. Maybe it will be Oprah...maybe it will be HBO...maybe someone else. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything.

The name of the documentary is "We Are Still Here" and the trailor can be viewed here:
http://www.decaproductions.com/

A portion of the Chances by Choice fundraising video can be viewed here:
http://www.decaproductions.com/reel.html
(click on the Chances by Choice video, lower right-hand side of the screen)

I hope that you will all check out these two videos. They are both short, but they will give you a glimpse into the lives of these kids (and the families who choose to love these children instead of forget about them).

Monday, March 12, 2007

Opening in 2009....

Here is a picture of Disney's newest princess - and their FIRST black princess. Her name is Maddy and she will be the main character is Disney's "The Frog Princess" which will be set in New Orleans. I am so looking forward to the release of this film...but I'll have to wait a while.


And here's another picture...

Friday, March 9, 2007

Say It As It Is....

When I started this blog, I did it for a couple of reasons. The first reason was to provide a place for our friends and family members to get updates on our adoption process. They will not have an expanding belly to indicate the impending arrival of a baby. There might be an expanding belly, but it will be because of copious amounts of sitting in front of the computer while I finish the thesis (but that's an entirely different story).

The second reason was so that I could share my thoughts and ideas about the process of adoption. Z and I are not the "typical" adoptive parents that many of my family and friends think of. We haven't tried having biological children, so we don't even know if infertility is an issue for us. To us it doesn't matter - our children are in Ethiopia. And it is our responsibility to bring them home. This is a COMPLETELY foreign idea to many of our friends and family members. Why would we adopt instead of trying to have biological children? Why do we have to do things differently?

The third reason I started this blog was so that I could keep a diary of sorts for myself. This space is a place for me to write about our experience (good or bad). It is something that I will someday print out and keep for our children. When they are old enough to understand they will get the complete "diary". If nothing else, I hope that it will provide them with evidence that we really truly WANTED them in our lives and that we worked hard to get them home.

The experiences I write in this blog are MY experiences. Every adoption story is different. Every adoption agency is different. Every child is different. Some days I will have great news to share; other days I might be frustrated, defeated, and depressed. But, I will always be honest in what I write. I have learned a tremendous amount about the process of adoption (the rollercoaster ride that it is) from other blogs that adoptive parents have written. And I have to admit that I learned the most from the blogs that shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. If another potential adoptive parent learns something from my blog that will help them out in any way (or help them to understand that what they are feeling is normal) then that is an added benefit.

When a woman gets pregnant and announces the new addition to her family and friends, there is no shortage of people who are there to offer support, advice, and encouragement. But, when a couple announces they are adopting there are often very few people in their close circle of friends and family who can relate to this experience and are willing to offer support and advice in a real and tangible way. Sometimes people are supportive and try their best to offer help, but often people don't know what to do, so they do nothing at all. So, instead of getting support and encouragement from their circles of friends and family members, adoptive parents often find their greatest source of advice, support, and encouragement from other adoptive parents. There is an incredible community of adoptive parents online who offer advice for every kind of situation from making the announcement to dealing with attachment issues once the child is home. Right now, I am getting TONS of great advice and support from this community and someday I hope to offer some insight of my own to another newbie.

Monday, March 5, 2007

How do you know???

One of the things that Z and I have talked about several times since we started this adoption journey is the question of "How will we know when we've found 'our' children?"

Before we started this journey, the adoption stories that I was most familiar with (or at least the ones that I remembered most) were the ones where the parents "found" their child, fell in love with them, and found a way to bring them home. Will we have a story like that? I don't know.

I think the vast majority of adoptive parents do not have a story like this. In most cases, you fill out a series of paperwork for your placing agency that lists the criteria that you want your child to have. You can be specific and state that you want a healthy baby girl who is between 0 and 12 months old....or you can be vague. Then, when the agency processes your paperwork and compares your criteria to the children available in the orphanage, they match your family with a child (if there is a child who fits your criteria in the orphanage at the time). If there is not a child who fits your criteria, you wait until one arrives. In most instances, the more specific you are with your criteria, the longer you wait (especially for babies and toddlers).

Z and I are happy with this process. It makes sense to us that it would be done this way. And we know that we will love any child we bring into our family. However, for me, this process seems a little bit sterile. Of course this is how it should be...and I know I will see their pictures and "know" they are my kids....but in some ways it makes me feel really distant from the process, too.

There is something really romantic about the idea that we'll "find" the perfect children for our family. There is something appealing to being involved with the process in some way.

Our agency has a waiting child list that is available to all adoptive parents working with them. Waiting children are children who are harder to place for one reason or another. Some of these kids are older kids, some of them have health issues, some of them are hard to place because they are sibling groups. It is easy to look at the list and think that any one of them could be our kids. All of the kids are cute...they are all special in one way or another. I have seen lots of pictures of waiting children, and I know that any one of them would be a wonderful addition to any family. But, there are only two occasions where I've looked at pictures of waiting children and really "felt a connection" to the child in the photo.

Does feeling this "connection" mean that we should pursue the adoption of these children? I don't know. This is entirely new territory for me. Does Z feel the same way that I do when he looks at their pictures? No....to him, ALL the kids are cute. And he feels that no matter what kids we adopt, he probably won't "feel" a connection to them until we meet them. Does that mean he is less interested, less involved, less invested in the process? No....it simply means that he is more practical in this area. He knows that in the end, no matter how we "find" our kids they will be the ones who belong in our family.

So, for those of you who are adoptive parents, how did you "find" your children? How did you "know" they were the ones who belonged in your family?

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Adoption and HIV

For the past couple of months I have been trying to learn as much as I can (and have time to) about Ethiopia and its orphan crisis. Our children will be two of Ethiopia's six million of orphans. Just two. Does providing a home for two children make a difference? Is it the right answer? Are we helping at all?

Overall, no....I don't think we'll be helping the orphan crisis by selfishly providing a home for two of Ethiopia's orphans. We'll get two children out of the deal - but what will Ethiopia get? Two less mouths to feed. Two more open places in an orphanage that will likely be filled before we even leave orphanage grounds. We'll be providing a little bit of money (but once the money is used to pay our adoption fees it is likely that any money left over will be negligible). If we travel to Ethiopia to pick up our children, we will provide a little bit of money to Ethiopia's economy. We'll stay at hotels, buy food, and stock up on souvenirs for our children and ourselves. But, any amount of money that we have to spend is pretty small in the grand scheme of things. Will this money make a difference? Probably not.

We are expecting to spend a fair chunk of change on this entire adoption process. Thousands of dollars, in fact. I suppose if we took the money we would spend on the adoption and donated that full amount to a charity or to the World Orphan Fund, we might make a difference. We could purchase ARV medications for kids with that money to help them live a healthy life despite their infection with HIV. We could buy all sorts of clothing, medications, and equipment for orphanages so that kids in the orphanages will live more comfortably. If we were REALLY wanting to make a difference to the maximum number of people possible, adoption would NOT be the answer.

Our children will most likely be AIDS orphans. They will have witnessed far more death and sickness than any small children should ever have to witness. If their parents died of AIDS, does it mean that our children will be infected with HIV? No...

How is HIV transmitted? I think a lot of people think that because the AIDS crisis in Africa is so widespread it means that HIV is transmitted relatively easily. But, its not. It is transmitted ONLY through blood, semen, and breast milk. For children born to HIV+ mothers, there is a 5-10% chance that they will contract the virus during pregnancy, a 10-20% chance they will contract HIV during childbirth, and a 10-20% chance that they will contract HIV through breastfeeding. MOST children born to HIV+ mothers do NOT contract HIV as a result.

However, it is possible to choose to adopt HIV+ children; and many would argue that these are the kids who are in the most need of finding loving homes. Without access to life-saving ARV drugs, their futures are grim. However, if these kids lived in loving homes and had access to ARV drugs, their futures are bright. Yes, they will always have HIV. But, in the U.S. and other developed nations HIV is a chronic, but manageable disease. Children born with HIV here are growing up to live happy, healthy lives. They are getting married and having families of their own. In Ethiopia, HIV+ kids would never reach adulthood.

I would love to say that I am strong enough and brave enough to become the mother of an HIV+ child. I would love to say that I could handle the challenges associated with HIV. I would love to say that I could handle handing out meds twice a day and holding my child during blood draws and doctor visits. I would love to say that I could handle being an advocate for my child; that I could handle dealing with the fear and discrimination that might follow an HIV+ child. I would love to say that Z and I are surrounded with a group of people who would be open to and supportive of this endeavor. I would love to say that I wouldn't have any health insurance concerns and that funding ARV drugs wouldn't be a hardship for us. I would love to say that I am ABLE to do it all. The truth is, I'm not sure that I am brave enough, confident enough, strong enough. Its scary to think about bringing this into my life. And at the same time, I can't imagine the fear that must be associated with this disease for those little children. Who holds their hands and tells them it will all be ok? Who helps them dream about the future? What opportunities do they have?

I don't know what our final decision about this will be. And when we make it I'm not sure we'll share our decision with very many people. I don't know if we can handle this now, or ever. But I do know that I have a heart for these children, the children who are so often "forgotten" by the majority of the adoptive community. These are the children who are "unadoptable" for so many people. This has to change. We (as a society) have to make this a priority.

I am reminded of a quote that I read a couple of months ago on my friend Anita's blog (http://www.gillispiefam.blogspot.com/). He doesn't call the qualified, He qualifes the called.