Thursday, August 21, 2008

The ONEs Who Did!

Many moths ago I had heard that the Ethiopia government was unhappy that so many blogs posted statistics of the millions of orphans, the people dying of AIDS, or numbers about starvation. It was enough for me to see that they did not like and I removed it from my header without much thought.

On any of the adoption forums I will defend the negative stereotypes and preconceptions that exist about Black people. I do so, one because it is the community that raised me and I want it represented in the best possible light, and two because I want people who are adopting children of color to recognize how harmful believing those things can be to the self-identity of their new children. There is no hope in telling me what's wrong. The hope is found in looking at what is possible.

I've always believed that you can never give advice to others that somehow isn't intended to teach you something as well. So, here is my big aah-haa moment.

It occurred to me this morning that constantly posting how many children die and how many are orphaned is just like me seeing how many black children are raised without fathers or how many black men are in jail. Constantly repeating those negative facts stains and limits the honorable Black man that wants to nothing but care and provide for his family. Over representing the negatives is not the whole story. Posting it all over the web will leave the impression that it is all their is to Ethiopia.

I or others like me are not exceptions, we are what our community raised us to be. My education or intelligence is not an exception. The fact that I don't live in poverty is not the exception as much as it is a testament of what is possible. It is the same for our children from Ethiopia. In a country that has so much more to offer than children for adoption, they want their story of hope, wonder, and excellence told. If not our children will become known as "one of those kids that would have died in Ethiopia." Some will believe that the only redeeming value is that they were adopted by a good American family.

I think that if we are going to be the country's ambassadors, they want us to tell people that they are under incredible strain and fighting against difficult odds and our children are evidence of their effort and not their failure. I think they would rather that we talk about what the government and its citizens are doing to ensure the welfare of children and families. I think they want us to talk about the important impact that they have had on the rest of the world in art, sport, culture, song, and history. I get that now. It should not have taken me this long to make the connection.

There is an old song by the Winans called Millions. The song says, "Millions didn't make it but I am one of the one's who did. I made it over. I came through hard trials and tribulations, persecution but I was one of the one's who did." I think they want us to say that for those who will not make it to the U.S.A our children carry their hopes, their strength, their resilience, and their faith. As long as our children live they will always represent the hope of what will come.


DWS said...


Kim said...

Well said! Thank you for that beautiful and wise post.

Signe said...

What a great perspective, thanks for sharing. I guess it makes sense to focus on the positive.

haze said...

This is such a great post, Valarie. I am certainly going to shift my focus as well. May I link to this post on my blog?

Also, do you remember where you heard that the Ethiopian gov't did not like seeing the statistics on the blogs?


VALARIE said...

Hi Haze. Definitely post it on your blog. I got the information directly from the agency. It was given as a reason why some changes will/are being made. In a year Ethiopia has gone from the fifth or six to the second in terms of international adoption. Sentiments have changed slightly in the country as well as there are more reports of hotels and planes filled with ET children. They do not want to be known as a country that can't care for their children. It absolutely makes sense if we think about it.


Great Post! You go girl and keep it coming!


Naomi said...

Hi Valarie,

I have a public blog and it has been a wonderful journey. I have great respect for Ethiopia and sharing information with friends and family. I think I'm representing the country well, but I'm now thinking more about my posts. I sent in a question about public blogs to my agency and they felt that all blogs should be private until the adoption is final. So now I'm going to figure out how to do that. I think it is sad, because connecting and sharing with others is so valuable and it is an amazing personal journey.

Andrew and Rebecca said...

I am so thankful for the words you express in this post. It opened my eyes and has also changed the way I will present my posting.
Keep up the good work. You touch a lot of people that you'll never even know.

Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]