Monthly Archives: April 2008

For the Love of Family

My friend, Margaret, made this for me – to celebrate my 43rd birthday and my family. My dear Mark asked her to create a piece of art for me and after a cooperative design session, this is the gorgeous piece of work she created. It’s all here, under the acacia tree. The art symbolizes so much of our coming together as a family – gathering in good spirit and sharing our thoughts on life around the dinner table as the sun sets. Or, sharing adventures as a family, whether it is soccer or dance or music or birding. We travel, we talk, we laugh, we play, we even cry.
I love acacia trees,
I love African sunsets,
I love the red earth of the
land of our ancestors,
I love Ethiopia, the home land
of our little one!

Look here for her more of Margaret’s amazing work.

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International Adoptions – some numbers

International Adoption Statistics:
The top 10 ’sending’ countries for 2006 provided U.S. families with 18,290 new children through international adoption. By region of the world, these children are from:
43% from Asia (China, Korea, India)
26% from Eastern Europe (Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine)
24% from Central and South America (Guatemala, Colombia)
7% from Africa (Ethiopia, Liberia)

I really hope we get our referral this summer, before the courts close for the rainy season.
It would be a delight to commit my summer to being able to prepare and “nest” for our little one. I will do this anyway, but to do it with an age and gender in mind would add to the fun of preparing for our family referral – I think A and D will love doing some hard core thrift shopping with me with little one in mind!

Being Allies to Transracially Adopted Persons

Behaviors & Attitudes of Allies to Transracially Adopted Persons
Ways to be an ally

Interrupt offensive jokes. Even if they aren’t about your child’s racial or ethnic group, if you stay quiet you are “showing” your child it’s okay to make fun of people of color.

Educate yourself and support the social justice issues and causes of the racial and ethnic community your child belongs to, both in the US and from the country of origin.

Read books/articles/view films by adult transracial adoptees.

Interact and find support from other adoptive parent allies and likewise support other allies.

Don’t judge others experiences, especially if they seem negative. Seek to understand their experiences. Don’t dismiss experiences of racism.

Acknowledge the powers and privileges bestowed upon you based on your social group membership. Understand your privileges as a white person and as a parent, and help others understand their own privileges.

Utilize your power to bring about social change that benefits all people, especially those underprivileged from your child’s community.

Seek to understand all the different forms of oppression – gender, racial, class, GLBTQ, etc.
Notice the numerous intersections between different forms of oppression.

Let your actions speak louder than your words. Participate in your child’s racial/ethnic community because you value the diversity, not just for your child.

Don’t make your child be the “bridge” for you.

Don’t expect external rewards for your work as an ally – feel good and be proud about the work you do.

Don’t expect your child’s racial or ethnic community to welcome you just because you want to participate, and especially if you want them to be invested in your child. You need to be invested in their lives as well.

Walk your talk.

Know there are different ways of doing and seeing everything.

Be comfortable with criticism and feedback. Accept that others may stereotype you
Don’t buy into stereotypes. Try to acknowledge your own prejudices and baggage. Take ownership in your own conscious and/or unconscious participation in oppression. Use examples that don’t exclude a particular group’s experience.

Don’t get stuck feeling guilty for the oppression of the past. Know that the past is not your fault, but the present and future are your responsibility.

Demonstrate your ally role through your actions rather than trying to convince others of it through your words.

Don’t expect someone else to represent an entire social group, especially just because you are parenting one from their community.

Remember to speak only from your own experience, and do not assume your child speaks for his or her entire racial/ethnic group.

Don’t assume to know what support others want and what’s best for them.
Recognize that no one form of oppression is more significant than another – there is no hierarchy of oppressions.

Accept that none of us are experts in diversity.

Materials adapted from: Ederer, Jeff & Barnes, Lori: Allies for Social Justice. http://www.wesleyan.edu/reslife/asj/, ACPA 2000
http://www.unh.edu/residential-life/diversity/attitudes.htm

Giving Instead of Getting

After much consideration, a lot of soul searching, and some just plain old frustration, I decided to DO SOMETHING about our nation’s tendency to “get” instead of “give.” Did you know that the greatest group of “givers” in our country are those with the least? The percent of income given is the most among the least wealthy. It’s true!

I had a long and rewarding conversation with my friend, Cris, who really helped me gel my ideas (as she always does) and formulate both a plan and a commitment. So here it is – I made a plea to our agency adoption forum for folks to do more giving and less “getting.” There was a little firestorm for awhile, but then the wheels started moving and the good folks of the forum stepped up. A couple of us are coordinating efforts to collect supplies. I, personally, am coordinating cooperative sponsorships for HIV children at AHOPE. I am so excited! My goal is to coordinate 100 families to support 10 children at AHOPE. Check here for details on AHOPE. My piece is small – I coordinate.

To those who say that giving and getting isn’t an either/or situation, I understand your point, but I do beg to differ. The tensions of ‘having’ compared to ‘not having’ are feeling powerfully out of balance these days. It is such a great and soulful relief for me to take some action and get to work on making a difference. Sometimes you just have to clear the path so there is little resistance to a great idea. Sometimes things that “feel” like great ideas really aren’t great ideas upon deeper and more thoughtful reflection. Jae Ran, an adoptee herself, wrote to me and said, “some AP’s are in the flush of adoption celebration and think it’s a luxury to take time to consider the losses of a child.” I have reflected on her comment; the luxury is giving, not getting. For me, that’s an essential truth.