Friday, February 29, 2008

The Adoption Name Game

I've written several post about names, naming, and changing names in the adoption process. In the last posts I was questioning the process of how to officially change the children's names. The official (document) name change will be needed even if I leave them with their Ethiopian given names. If you don't know, Ethiopians have one name and then their father's name is added as a surname. For my children this would mean that their documents would have CHILD'S NAME (Ethio given name), MY FIRST NAME (becomes their middle name), MY LAST NAME (their new last name).

If you read my post, Certificate of Citizenship Name Game, you know I was trying to figure out how to change this (correct this) on their documentation without re-adoption.

I finally received an answer from someone who completed the process here in Illinois. Thanks, Tara. Another adoptive parent explained that after bringing her child home on an IR-3 visa, she hired an attorney specifically for the name change. After receiving her Certificate of Citizenship, she paid about $900 to have him file papers with the county to change the name.

TIMELINE
  • April - Home with child
  • May - Certificate of Citizenship
  • July - Filed in court for name change (can be done immediately)
  • July - Court hearing
  • Sept. - Court order
  • Nov. - Record of foreign birth
This is still preferable to me than doing the re-adoption.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I'm a Mother Hen

I saw the mother hen quiz on Tracey's blog. It said she was a "Groovy Mother Hen" so I thought that I'd try it. The results...


What type of Mother Hen Are You?
by Montessorimom.com: Educational Resource

Parenting on the Fly

How do you feel about misbehaving children in public? I'm not talking about energetic childhood behavior. I am talking about, "who's kid is this" behavior that terrorizes everyone around them. We all love it right, but what can you do. I was stuck in the airport last night for a few hours along with many other business travelers and a woman with her five year old son. We were in one of those cramped seating areas where there was barely enough room for people and their carry on luggage. Still, this little tyke zoomed across the floor with his car making car noises, honking at people to get out of the way. Not so bad at first. Then he literarly started crawling across the tops of the seats. You know how the seats sit back to back? He actually crawled with his knees on top across three or four chairs.

I know you might be wondering, where was his mother? Sitting right there reading a book, calm as can be. When he crawled across a woman sitting there, she told her son that he was invading people's personal space and that was it. Oh, she did say to him that people don't like you in their personal space. He then started running at full speed around the chairs. He tried to come back and was stopped by a woman standing with her luggage. He screamed for her to get out of his way. The mother? She said, "Say get out of the way please." He added the word please and he also added a right elbow to her hip.

There was a man sitting across from me with a cain. The little boy would run and kick the cane. The cain would slide under the chair and the older gentleman had to bend down and pick it up three or four times. The little boy came through again and the cain slowed him down so he actually stood on the man's foot! My reflex kicked in and I reached out to grab the little boy (to jerk him) from the man's foot. Sorry guys, but assualting the elderly was a bit too much for me. The guy gave the boy a dirty look and he moved on.

The mother calmly said, "It's almost time to get on our plane." For once I was so glad that I did not make the stand-by flight. I can only imagine the flight home.

Visions of Motherhood and Flights of Fancy

I have a ton of visions dancing in my head. One has been that even if I travel for work, my children will go with me. Watching yesterday's airport event made me wonder if I am dillusional but I cannot imagine my children behaving like that in public. In my vision my children are sitting in an area away from people with a portable dvd player, reading, activity or coloring books. I know kids get tired and

cranky but (like you Grace) I will not tolerate my children acting out in public especially at the expense of other people.

People have been telling me, "oh wait until your kids get here." I know there will be days but I'm like the old lady in the shoe to my friends and they know when their children are left with me that I give the all the love and attention they can stand. But any child that hangs out with me also learns that I am a no-nonsense disciplinarian. They still love to hang out at my house. I told one of my friends the airport story. Her response made me feel pretty good.

My friend said that she knows that my children will have actitivities and that I will make it a learning experience for them. She said that she can imagine my children getting restless and me turning it into an activity of count the people, the red shoes, or something like that. She said she imagines my children will call her after a trip and tell her about all the things that they learned by being in the airport. At least one of my friends feels that she knows me well enough to believe that my children will be well behaved. At least in public.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Since the Last Time

I came across this song on YouTube. When I first heard it I thought that it about how it related to the adoption experience. These days with adoption on the brain, I can find meaning in just about anything. I really thought this song expressed the life-changing feelings that come with the miracle of adoption and how it must feel to go through the process, travel to Ethiopia, experience the country, and return as a mother.

Listen to Yolanda Adams sing, Since the Last Time I Saw You. The chorus says, "Since the last time I saw you things have changed, I will never be the same since the last time."

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Price is Right

I know I'm not the only one watching my dollars and cents. I told you it's been hard to think about what I want for me and instead I think of what I need for the kids.

I needed a new suit. So, with my birthday gift cards in hand I hit the usual spots. My good friend found great bargains and Macy's and that I should try there. I went into Macy's everything was 30-40% off with another 50% taken at the register. In ten minutes I found a$98 Anne Klein dress for $11. I found an AK suit on the $59 rack that fit great, was a size smaller, made me feel good and look good. I took it to the register and the woman said that it was not on the 50% off sale. It was $189 -- a steal for a $300 suit but I was disappointed that it wasn't marked down more. I left it and walked out. My friend called and kept telling me to go back and get it. I told her Iwas going to try one more place.

I walked into Loehmann's and found four suits to try on. The two that fit better than the Macy's suit where AK too. The suits were marked $59 and $79 ($320 regularly). The lady behind the counter started talking about how she was having a really bad day, so I offered her a few encouraging words. Then I read the sign behind her saying that they gave 15% off as a birthday discount and I told her my birthday was a few days ago. She whispered something that I didn't really hear and then she hit a couple of keys and the grand total for my two suits was $97.43.

I knew that was more than 15% off, so I checked my receipt and she had given me several discounts. I got such a good bargain that I felt better about spending on myself. I hope the cashier's day got better because she definitely made my day!

Reading is Fundamental Relating is Optional

Transracial adoption is becoming common and normal. As families decide to step off into the deep water they ask many questions. Before concluding that race doesn't really matter, I think at a minimum families should understand American history from the perspective of people of color. No one asked me what they might read that explores the history and effects of race on the development of identity. If they did, I would suggest the following:

Books
  • All Gods Children a book by Fox Butterworth
  • Company Man by Brent Wade
  • Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Patillo Beals (The Other Side)
  • Black & White Styles in Conflict by Tom Kochman
    (Read a review)
  • Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America
  • Member of the Club by Lawrence Otis Graham
  • Our Kind of People by Lawrence Otis Graham
  • The Rage of a Privileged Class by Ellis Cose
  • Best Intentions: The Education of Edmund Perry by Robert Sam Anson
Films
  • Imitation of Life (the Lana Turner version)
  • Good Fences
  • The Delaney Sisters
  • Finding Forrester
  • The Ditch Diggers Daughter
  • Boycott
  • The Long Walk Home
  • Standing On My Sisters Shoulders
  • The Human Stain
  • The Great Debaters
These are not books or films that tell you how to raise your children but instead they show you the effects. Most have a historical context, where a few are more contemporary. The themes are similar. When and if you read or watch, try to do so by actually putting yourself in the story. Be the person that you think represents your child in the story. Feel free to add to the list.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Political Debate

While I've become a "lady in waiting" I've also become a political junky. I've watched the debates, stay up waiting for the primary returns, and watch the political pundits. Last night was another democratic debate, if you can call it that. It was more like a firehouse chat between two old teammates that have run out of new things to say. Barak is often characterized as the candidate of change (Clinton says it is words over substance) and she continues to repeat that she has 35 years of experience. Barak Obama's tagline is "Yes we can!" Hillary Clinton's is "Read to be President on day one."

Below is an interesting report of their political records. I didn't do the research on this but found it very interesting. Senator Clinton - One 6-year term as senator and another year campaigning, has managed to author and pass into law - 20 These bills can be found on the website of the Library of Congress www.thomas.loc.gov, but to save you trouble, I’ll post them here for you.

1. Establish the Kate Mullany National Historic Site.
2. Support the goals and ideals of Better Hearing and Speech Month.
3. Recognize the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
4. Name courthouse after Thurgood Marshall.
5. Name courthouse after James L . Watson.
6. Name post office after Jonn A. O’Shea.
7. Designate Aug. 7, 2003, as National Purple Heart Recognition Day.
8. Support the goals and ideals of National Purple Heart Recognition Day.
9. Honor the life and legacy of Alexander Hamilton on the bicentennial of his death.
10. Congratulate the Syracuse Univ. Orange Men’s Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.
11. Congratulate the Le Moyne College Dolphins Men’s Lacrosse Team on winning the championship.
12. Establish the 225th Anniversary of the American Revolution Commemorative Program.
13. Name post office after Sergeant Riayan A. Tejeda.
14. Honor Shirley Chisholm for her service to the nation and express condolences on her death.
15. Honor John J. Downing, Brian Fahey, and Harry Ford, firefighters who lost their lives on duty. Only five of Clinton’s bills are, more substantive.
16. Extend period of unemployment assistance to victims of 9/11. 17. Pay for city projects in response to 9/11
18. Assist landmine victims in other countries.
19. Assist family caregivers in accessing affordable respite care.
20. Designate part of the National Forest System in Puerto Rico as protected in the wilderness preservation system.

Barak Obama: In 8 years elected state official he sponsored over 820 bills. He introduced 233 regarding healthcare reform, 125 on poverty and public assistance, 112crime fighting bills, 97 economic bills, 60 human rights and anti-discrimination bills, 21 ethics reform bills, 15 gun control, 6 veterans affairs and many others.

His first year in the U.S. Senate, he authored 152 bills and co-sponsored another 427.

The Coburn-Obama Gove rnment Transparency Act of 2006 - became law,
The Lugar-Obama Nuclear Non-proliferation and Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction Act, - became law,
The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act, passed the Senate,
The 2007 Government Ethics Bill, - became law,
The Protection Against Excessive Executive Compensation Bill, In committee, and many more.

In all, since entering the U.S. Senate, Senator Obama has written 890 bills and co-sponsored another 1096.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Another Blog I Like

I just came across this blog and have to add it to my list. This is the most honest, unflinching view from a white single mother who has adopted an Ethiopian child. While others tiptoe around issues of race she smacks you in the face with it. As we would say in the neighborhood, she gives out a little to everybody. Her equal opportunity views on stupidity regardless of race are not only funny but incredibly insightful.

Read about her "post-racial" world on her blog, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood. Here are a couple of articles.

Brookti and Me 3 Years On
I’ve been reading a lot recently about our new “post-racial” world, where we have “transcended race,” where a black man is running for president and white people are actually voting for him. I’m wondering, if we have transcended race so successfully, why are we reading so much about it’s impact on the presidential contest?
Judging from my own experience, we have not transcended race, not by a long shot. I am white, my five year old daughter Brookti is black. Pre-Brookti, I felt fairly anonymous walking down the street in New York City. When I first adopted Brookti, being new at the game, I would often lose my temper. Perhaps my outrage was due to the loss of an unconscious Caucasian sense of entitlement...

Brookti and Me Episode #2
I expected freaky racial—and class—‘episodes’, which are inevitably intertwined, when Brookti touched down. I knew the most common ones to expect and assumed I’d easily brush them off. What I didn’t expect: how intricate the race/class hiearchys are (I did expect the level of hostility on both sides), how fiercely protective I would be of Brookti (I knew I would be fierce, but not that fierce) or how insanely defensive, or how ridiculously paranoid. Or probably I know all of the above, but when these ‘episodes’ actually happen to you it’s a different feeling altogether.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blogs I Like

Tami's Baby Born In Her Heart
(Gladney) - Paper Chasing
This journal is being created so my daughter will never have any doubt from where she came, who she is and how much she is loved. Before I decided to adopt I lacked motivation, she motivates me and makes life worth living again.

Grace Has All These Reasons
(Gladney) - Waiting Referral
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God.

Tracey's Single Mom Odessey
(Wide Horizons for Children) - Amara is home!
I am becoming a single mother through adoption, and I expect it to be quite an adventure.

Nancy Has An Abundance of Grace
(Christian World Adoption) - Joshuah and Naomi are home!
A single soon-to-be mom to two beautiful Ethiopian children. This diary chronicles my adventure in adoption and serving God.

Jocelyn's Ethiopian Princess
(Gladney) - Pacey is home!
On to my daughter's name which will start with the letter P. The meaning of her name also describes my Great Grandmother. I found a couple of meanings but this one is the best "Noble Woman".

Habesha Child - Elsa is home!
This is the story of me, a single California girl, raising my habesha child, to whom I refer in this blog as “E”. Habesha is a term of pride that Ethiopians use to refer to themselves.

Renee Wants To Bring Them Home
(Gladney)
After two years of trying to get pregnant we decided that there had to be a better way and I'm happy to say that our hearts led us to Ethiopia!

Straight Magic
(Wide Horizons for Children)
Chronicling the phenomenal twists of fate that lead us to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to our family.

Waiting for Isa B
Single mama to a gorgeous girl born in the beautiful country of Ethiopia!

Dedra and Her Daughters
(Illien) - Kalkidan, Aster, and Bizuwork are home!
Dedra is home with her THREE girls from Ethiopia. Check in and watch the fun.

Ethiopian Triplet Land
(Children's Home Society & Family Services) - Home!
In case you haven't heard, we adopted 5 month old triplet baby boys from Ethiopia!!!

Adventures in Ellis Island
(Children's Home Society & Family Services) - Geremu is home!
Adventures in Ellis Land have taken place all around the globe this blog was established to share with family and friends the latest and greatest adventure in Ellis Land- PARENTHOOD!

A Sister Mom
(Hope Agency) - Baby is home and they are working on #2
I am just the average 19 year old college soph. that STILL lives at home and has convinced her mother to adopt two Ethiopian babies.

Bringing Home Baby Boy Preston
(Children's Hope International)
I have decided to proceed with adopting. The country was a no-brainer too. My heritage is Ethiopian. So Ethiopia it is!.

The Earley Journey
(Gladney) - Addison is home! This is the story of our journey to adopt our daughter from Ethiopia. We continue to rejoice in the trials, triumphs, and blessings that led us halfway around the world to our cherished child.

A Journey to Grace
(CHSFS) - Grace is home!
My hubby and I are adopting a baby girl(Gracie) from Ethiopia. This is the story of our journey to her.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to Me!

Yes, today is my birthday. My family has always been really big on celebrations and I've kept up the tradition by giving myself a birthday party every year. Several friends called this week asking about my annual party and I hadn't even thought about it. I had forgotten to plan one. What? Adoption is the only thing on my brain these days.

For the last two weeks, I've run to the mailbox checking for the I-171H. Instead there were birthday cards. I didn't send out my annual birthday list and I forgot all about my birthday countdown. It dawned on me that I didn't even open the cards. I'd just been stacking them with all the other mail. I did tear open that plain white envelop stamped with Homeland Security though, walking back up the driveway. Today I finally remembered to open the birthday cards.

People have asked me what I want for gifts and I can only think of what I want for the kids. For Christmas I wanted a juicer so that I could sneak vegtables into or onto their food. I asked for a vaccum pack sealer so that I could freeze food before I go to pick them up.

I didn't even get a birthday cake! Well, not yet. I have made dinner plans but I still cannot think of a gift I want -- for me. These are probably all good signs but I should focus on me while I still have the time.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Apples, Nuts, and Family Trees

Several months ago, I had a conversation with an adopted teen that expressed the difficulty of feeling connected to his family tree. He told me a story of being asked to complete a family tree at school. When he told the teacher that he couldn't do the project, he said the teacher told him to make something up. "Isn't that stupid," he said. I have to admit, I did thing the teacher could have handled the situation better.

I assumed he would use his adopted family tree. But, after talking to him, I understood how bringing up the idea of a family tree, watching other students talk about their families, and not knowing his genealogy created a little anger and some distress. I don't want my children to have this angst. I want to make sure the know how they are connected to me, Ethiopia, and both families.

I wondered how many of us living in our birth families could really complete a family tree? I started thinking about how I would integrate my children into our family tree. I wanted to connect them to any information I would learn about their birth families. Then it dawned on me that I would have to create the family tree first.

I found this FREE family tree tool that allowed me to complete the family tree in a couple of hours. You should really check it out. I sent the link to a couple of family members and now we have 8 generations and about 260 family members on the tree. There are also two slots for my little ones. I hope to get birth family information because the tool makes it easy to add them too.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It's A Family Affair

When I started the adoption process as a single person, I was not concerned about my ability to care for the children or make a home for them. What I struggled with initially was taking them away from Ethiopia, bringing them to Illinois where they would have no family in town except for me. I know how important family is.

I grew up in a very large extended family. My mother was one of 10 children and together she and her siblings had 35 children. That is 35 first cousins ranging in age from 61-28, aunts, uncles and second cousins in between. To understand how everyone was mixed in, there is a picture on my blog of my oldest brother and my youngest uncle who are close in age. I think I am cousin number 29! Suffice it to say there were tons of us. Every summer, most of the kids were shipped to Virginia. We all usually ended up at the house of one aunt that had seven children of her own.

The cousin that I'm closest to, was an only child although she was at our house so much it was like having a little sister. She says she has no idea what it is like being an only child because their were so many of us, she was never alone. Even though she's younger, she's been married about 15 years and has three amazing children. If I give my children new first names one will be named after my cousin Kendra in the picture--guess who is who.


On my father's side of the family, I am the youngest grandchild of 15. I have an uncle I've been in love with since I was a little girl and an 82 year old aunt that cracks me up. The two cousins I'm closest to on that side have older teenagers and my only niece will soon be 16. Many of my older cousins have adult children with children of their own. This family is old (smile) there are no more really small kids.

Knowing how close Ethio families and communities are and how I grew up, I want that for my children. What I have learned is how strong my support system is in Illinois. My friends have thoroughly embraced the adoption and can't wait for the children to get here. Many of these friends have been in my life for more than 15 years and are really closer to me than blood brothers and sisters. I am happy to say that my children now have two surrogate grandmothers, three surrogate aunts, and three uncles. I'm excited that they are so excited especially since their own children are teenagers or adults.

I am the last of all cousins on both sides to have children and I'm still looking for little kids my children's age. There are plenty at my church, but until we find more I think they will be happy with the family we've made here. Everybody is claiming a role and making plans. I love it. It looks like my children will be the babies of their new family and that's not a bad place to be.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Yes We Can!

No matter your political beliefs how can anyone argue with a message of hope? Who doesn't want their child to focus on what it is possible more than they focus on what cannot be done? What would happen if with every challenge that we face, we simply replied, "Yes we can!"

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Ethio Hair Transplants

Even worlds away people surprising have many of the same hairstyles. I believe it is dictated by hair texture and practical needs of the time. Here are a few pictures of women and girls living in Ethiopia with many of the same hairstyles that you see in the US.

They may not be celebrities but don't you see the same hairstyles? Natural, extensions, wet and curley and relaxed.

And what about these Ethiopian cuties? The desire to be creative with style starts young.


Looking At Black Hair from Different Angles

There was a bit of talk recently about haircare and the propensity of black women to straighten their hair to be more accepted. Here are a few pictures that show the range of diversity in the media.

The cast of Half & Half. Thelma Hawkins has naturally long curly hair. Rachel True wears her natural thicker curls, Essence Atkins has naturally straighter hair and Valarie Pettiford wears wigs which is the joke on the show.
See textures up close in large picture.







On another popular show, Girlfriends, Traci Ellis Ross wears naturally textured hair, Persia White naturally long curly hair, Jill Marie Jones has relaxed hair and currently it is worn really short. Golden Brooks wears a weave.






Ladies of color on The View. Whoopi? Those are dred locs and Sherri Shepherd has on a faux pony. But, if you look at a lot of Sherri's pictures she wears it natural, wet and curley, flat ironed or weaved.














I love this picture because it shows identical twins Tia and Tamara Mowry with totally different hairdos. Straight or curly they both look good!









What about singing sister sensations, Mary Mary (Erica and Tina). If you are not familiar with them they are walking billboards for the many ways a black woman can wear her hair. This top picture is definitely a tight, tight fro.

In the picture below with braids or flat ironed their voices are amazing. Check out some of their hairstyles.















On the younger scene here is Tiana Taylor (left) a new singer who is about 17 years old. Doesn't seam like she feels the need to go straight. Maybe she is channeling soul sista number one Erykah Badu (right). Now I think they call that a "natural" an "Angela Davis" or a "J-5" fro. Check out Eryka with dreds, wrap, natural, and shaved head. Now that is versatility.








Someone asked me about magazines for black hairstyles for older children. Here are a few that you may want to try.

Black Hair Magazine - Every issue has 100s of hairstyles and expert advice.
Sophisticates Black Hair - They show long, short, and natural styles.
Hype Hair - Contemporary hair and fashion with celebrity profiles.
Black Beauty Magazine - Find a variety of styles in the hair gallery.

Copies of Ethiopian Birth Certificates

If I am interpreting the information that I found on the Travel.State.Gov website, it is possible to get additional copies of the Ethiopian birth certificate while in the country.
  • Issuance of birth certificate $2 or $7 for same day service.
  • Birth certificates can be authenticated in Ethiopia for an additional $35

Certificate of Citizenship A Name Game

How do you prove that the children born in Ethiopia are now US citizens? For those of us born here we are often asked to produce our social security cards, state ID cards, drivers license, and birth certificate.

With an IR-3 visa my children will receive a Certificate of Citizenship automatically. Will that be enough? I was just reading that one of the big problems is that the COC that is automatically sent to the parents come with the name as stated on the Ethiopian birth certificate.

You can change the name on the COC -- for a small fee of course. To make a change to the COC, I will need to file form N-565 and pay $380 per child or $760 US dollars!

Now, how do you change the name and how much does that cost before you can request that the name be changed on the COC? More questions, more paperwork, more money.

Questions About Ethiopian Documents

After writing the post about re-adoption, I found this information about Illinois Senate Bill 180.

Senate Bill 180 simplifies obtaining a Record of Foreign Birth for a person born and adopted in a foreign country by allowing the adoptive parents to submit five items to the State Registrar of Vital Records:
  1. evidence of the child's birth date and place, provided by the birth certificate (original or certified copy)
  2. certified copy of the foreign adoption decree
  3. copy of the IR-3 visa (immigrant visa issued by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for a child adopted abroad)
  4. name and address of the adoption agency that handled the adoption
  5. $5 application fee
Information above is from the Gitlin & Kaper Law Firm.
So here are the new questions that it brings to mind.
  1. What is the process for getting a certified copy of an Ethiopian birth certificate? Is is possible while in Ethiopia to get a second copy of the children's birth certificate?
  2. Do we only receive one copy of the foreign adoption decree?
  3. What is the process for a name change?

Re-Adoption in Illinois

If it's not bad enough that the children once adopted in Ethiopia, travel to a new country, move into a new home with new parents, some states require re-adoption. Illinois is one of those states.

Re-adoption requirements are based on the type of visa the children received in Ethiopia. An IR-4 visa means that the children enter the country without permanent citizenship and receive a green card upon entry. In this case, citizenship is not automatic and re-adoption is required by law. Most Ethiopian children enter the country on IR-4 visas. A child will receive an IR-4 unless BOTH parents saw the child before the adoption was finalized in Ethiopia.

Early in the process I decided to get an IR-3 visa. I made that decision for two reasons. Primarily because Illinois has an additional requirement that an adoptive parent become a licensed foster parent and then readopt. To get an IR-3 visa means that I have to travel to Ethiopia twice. My father and I will go right after learning of the referral to meet the kids and do a little sight seeing. I will return to Ethiopia and bring them home after the adoption has been finalized. With an IR-3 visa the children are granted automatic citizenship and receive a Certificate of Citizenship.

Nothing in international adoption is ever as straight forward at it first seems. Here is the rub. With an IR-3 visa Illinois re-adoption is recommended:
  • To get a US Birth Certificate. However, with an IR-3 visa you can get a US birth certificate through the Illinois Department of Public Health without re-adoption. IDPH requires surrendering the Ethiopian birth certificate in exchange.
  • To legally change the child's name. If the new birth certificate is given by IDPH it will have the name as it is on the Ethiopian birth certificate. A name change would have to be completed in a separate proceeding.
  • Jurisdiction. Some parents are concerned that without re-adopting the adoption may not be valid in other states (if they move). Though all states do not recognize foreign adoption, they do have to recognize an Illinois adoption.
Today the way that I feel, I would rather do a name change and get the birth certificate through IDPH. Tomorrow of course all of that could change.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Music to Soothe the Soul and Help the Wait

Okay I said that one of my top ten things is music. Right now the CD in my car that's getting heavy rotation is Marvin Sapp's newest album Thirsty. My favorites on the CD are Magnify Him, Praise Him in Advance, and Never Could Have Made It. I found the CD at the start of the adoption process and it has really kept me going.

It is when I listen to the song, Go Find Your Place of Worship, that I think of my children and all the other children and families in Ethiopia. The song says, "Find your place of worship. Look into your pain and find your praise. Every low place in your life prepared you for your high place. Every tear you cried is water for the garden of your victory. Even though you're in the valley, victory comes through your adversity. Go and find your place of worship"

But, my YouTube favorite (not on the album) is Marvin Sapp's version of You Are God Alone. I love YouTube! I will have to add YouTube to the top ten list. This is the song that helps me deal with the frustrations, setbacks, and wait of the adoption process. When I listen to the words they help me focus more on the children's circumstances than my selfish wants or demands. I listen to this song and no that no matter whats happening, I know that everything that happens in my adoption process is all God's will, preordained and will happen in His time.



There's no question of your greatness nor searching of your power. Or the wonder of your glory, to you forty years is but one hour. Your knowledge is all encompassing. To your wisdom there is no end. For you alone are God. You are God alone. Your mercy is everlasting. Your truth is here always. You are he, who was and is and is to come. Who is He that can number your days. You flung the sun to burning space and the nights moon powers light from day to day. You alone are God. You alone are God.

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible. The only wise God. The only wise God. To thee all glory, and honor, dominion, and power, forever, and ever AMEN. You alone are God. You are God alone.

Just one more YouTube favorite is For Every Mountain.



I have got so much to thank God for. So many wonderful blessings and so many open doors. A brand new mercy. Along with each new day. That's why I praise you and for this I give you praise. For waking me up this morning. For starting me on my way. For letting me see the sunshine of a new day. You've been my provider. So many times you've met my needs. So many times you've rescued me. So many blessing you give to me each day. That's why I praise you. For every mountain you brought me over. For every trial you've seen me through. For every blessing hallelujah. For this I give you praise.

I have to add this one too. It's Dewayne Woods singing Let Go.



I couldn't seem to fall asleep. There was so much on my mind. Searching for that peace but the peace I could not to find. So then I keeled down to pray. I was praying help me please. Then he said you don't have to cry 'cause I'll supply all your needs.
As soon as I stopped worrying. Worrying how the story ends. When I can let go and I let God. Let him have his way. That's when things start happening, when I stopped looking at back then. When I let go and let God have his way.

There's so much going on. Sometimes I can't find my way. And often times I struggle, I struggle from day to day. But, I had to realize that it's not my battle it's not my battle to fight. I had to know that if I put it in His hands everything would be alright.
As soon as I stopped worrying. Worrying how the story ends. When I let go and let God. Let him have his way. That's when things started happening, when I stopped looking at back.

Let go and let God. Let go and let God. Let go and let God. He is the only one with the answers. With tears in your eyes let God. Let God. He feels your pain and he knows your heart. He knows your issues, and He knows your struggle.
So, let go and let God. As soon as I stopped worrying. Worrying how the story ends. When I let go and let go. Let him have his way. That's when things started happening, when I stopped looking at back. I can let go and let God.

I almost forgot to add this one. I love this song by Donnie McClurkin called, Great Is Your Mercy.



Great is your mercy towards me. Your loving kindness towards me. Your tender mercies I see day after day. Forever faithful towards me. You're always providing for me. Great is your mercy towards me. Great is your grace.



Wednesday, February 6, 2008

10 Things that I Love

I love a lot of things but these are the ten I can think of right now.

  1. Music - any music with good lyrics and a message but Gospel music is probably my favorite.
  2. Research - strange but true people call me the knowledge broker because I like finding out all types of facts. I feel like the internet was created just for me.
  3. Cooking - I even know how to make homemade syrup.
  4. Diet Coke - I'm trying to get over it.
  5. Peanut M & Ms - 700 calories a pack not so good.
  6. Apples - granny smith, apple pie, apple tart, applesauce, quartered, halved, stewed, or fried.
  7. Writing - it is relaxing -- usually.
  8. Soft Sheets - have to have them.
  9. Old Black & White Movies - Gary Grant, Ray Milan, Deborah Carr, whoever
  10. Children - they are honest, and open and life affirming.

How Many Posts Does It Take To Kill An Idea?

Groups. Groups. Groups. You have to love them. A couple of thousand faceless strangers wanting to share their experiences, hopes, and dreams of adoption gather keystroke, by keystroke looking for answers, connections, support, and information.

I have been on either end of a more than a couple of misunderstandings and it never feels good. What feels worse is when your heart is in the right place and by simply having an opinion it creates more confusion than clarity. You want to scream over and over, "that's not what I meant at all!" But, it doesn't matter discussions take a life of their own, others chime in and by the time you reply it now looks like you are replying to something else. Here is my new disclaimer.

DISCLAIMER: This are the thoughts of one woman. They are not written in direct response to any one person or statement but are written with gentle reflection and meant to share a positive perspective. They are in no way meant to harm, instigate, or inflame. If for any reason that the statements fall short of those intentions it may simply be that the internet does not adequately transmit feeling and emotions. Smile before you begin and exhale at the end.
Even he disclaimer was written in fun and with humor received a negative response.

Of God, Stones, and Political Candidates - RESPONSE

I think discussion is valuable. I appreciate the comments that I get from readers and even those who disagree with me. Here are great comments that I received concerning the Politics post. I believe that the poster raised good points so I wanted to respond openly. Thanks for your comments below is my response.

COMMENT: As a member of the discussion board you reference, I am not aware that people said that pro-choice candidates are muderers.

RESPONSE: Go back and read the long list of post. There were many things said that I found a bit disturbing. I believe the comments were that pro-choice candidate don't believe in the sanctity of life and sanction murder of the unborn. What I saw little of was compassion or understanding for anyone who might disagree.

COMMENT: I think many people feel that there is no law in place to protect the unborn child.

RESPONSE: I believe that a discussion of how to truly protect children would be valuable. I include all children in that and saw no real discussion about protection but instead a lot of moralizing about the sin of the mother. It would have been wonderful to have an exchange of ideas about the many ways in which we can protect ALL children everywhere. Unfortunately I did not see that discussion.

COMMENT: As for the other issues you mention, there seems to be a tone that perhaps a conservative person does not care about the poor, healthcare etc.

RESPONSE: It's not a tone. It's just an opinion. I did not see the same fervor or quoting of scriptures about those things that I did about murdering, killing, and stoning. In a Christian forum I'd appreciate a response that is in line with scriptures about how God feels about the poor. Unfortunately I did not see much of that.

COMMENT: I believe that many conservative people (not necessarily candidates) believe that in many cases the various government programs just enable people, not help them.

RESPONSE: I wasn't speaking as a conservative or liberal but as a Christian. Those people who are being enabled have children that have no voice. Those children need someone to speak for them just as the unborn. When a child sits down and is hungry or is hurt and can't go to a doctor I don't think it is Christian to punish them because of what is thought of their parents. As a Christian I know that the Bible says time and chance happens to the just and and unjust alike. Just like the hurricane of Katrina or today's tornadoes, it could be you or I that needs a little help. There, but for the grace of God go I. I have no problem saying that I would prefer my taxes to go to feed hungry people. (Matthew 4:45, Ecclesiastes 9:11-12, Philippians 4:12)

COMMENT: "Give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach a man to fish feed him for a lifetime".

RESPONSE: The word of God said, "feed my sheep." It's great to teach a man to fish but he'd perform better on a full stomach.

To me pro-life means just that. Do whatever you can to promote life on earth. Feed, protect, challenge, love and show compassion to every living person on God's earth. It is always easier to dismiss than embrace but that is what God commanded us to do. The pro-life debate sounds a little like the scripture that says, if you hate your brother that you can see how can love a God that you cannot see. (1 John 4:20) We say that we love the unborn but watch as children that we see every day live in poverty, lack, and hunger. That seems inconsistent to me.

Someone else sent me a note that I will also respond to.

COMMENT: You don't believe you can be pro-life and pro-war. There are many that disagree with you.

No. I don't believe that you can be staunchly pro-life and pro-war. I know that others disagree with me and they are free to do so. There is a passage in the bible that says that the power of life and death are in the tongue. It is important that we always speak life and positivity in a situation. (Proverbs 18:21)

There are Christians on both sides of many issues, that is why I am glad that God sits on the throne. That is why I am glad he is gracious and merciful because inevitably even when we try to get it right we will still often times get it wrong.

Here is an article on God and War that you may want to read.




Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Of God, Stones, and Political Candidates

What a day? Super Tuesday and the elections are underway which began a discussion among Christian adoptive parents. The straight line argument was that Christians should vote for the person who upholds Christian values and morals. There seemed however to only be two moral issues of concern, gay marriage and abortion. Feeding the poor, caring for the homeless, and providing healthcare were not seen as moral issues but rather socialist politics against the word of God. Homosexuality wasn't discussed much but the rhetoric was high about abortion. I think what got my attention was the insistence that a candidate that is pro-choice is a murderer, unholy, immoral, and against God and that pro-life candidates were upholding their Christian duty.

Romans 10:9 is one of the first scriptures that I learned in church. We were taught that we had to consciously decide to accept God into our hearts and lives. That you had to not only know who God was but to believe. Believing is a choice (the right choice for a Christian) just as Christians can, have, and do reject Christ by choice.

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. - Romans 10:9

I've always believed that pro-choice candidates where just that. They believe that every individual has a right to chose for themselves and their families. That is a long way for me from them sanctioning murder. But, that is just me. I mentioned that God sat before man choice. No one is born into Christianity they have to choose to believe. A Christian must choose to believe that Jesus was the son of God, that he came, bled, and died for our sins. It is only upon making that profession that one is ushered into Christian fellowship. The Bible said that I set before your life and death, blessings and cursing, CHOOSE life. That is the power of accepting God into your life. If he coerced you or forced you, it would be inconsistent with who the Bible tells us God is. There is punishment but there is also free will.

God urges us always to choose Him but in every story in the Bible where someone did not, God still tells a story of redemption. Read Jonah. The story is not about a whale.
  • I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; - Deutoronomy 30:19
  • And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve... - Joshua 24:15
  • ‘Thus says the LORD: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you. - 2 Samuel 24:12
  • Let us choose justice for ourselves;Let us know among ourselves what is good. Job 34:4
  • Who is the man that fears the LORD?Him shall He teach in the way He chooses - Psalm 25:12
  • Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the LORD - Proverbs 1:29
  • For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good - Isaiah 7:16
  • You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. - John 15:16
Everyone does not believe, but by mentioning that God gave us free will and urged us to choose life seemed more consistent with the pro-choice argument than the pro-life argument. The reason why I honestly struggled with this is that there are candidates that are pro-life and pro-war. Candidates that are pro-life also support the right to bear arms. Now, I proposed that one might argue that having a right to bear arms doesn't mean that anyone will be killed. Isn't that the pro-choice argument? Allowing people to choose doesn't mean that they will choose abortion. I think that statistics bear that out. There are far too many abortions in the country to be sure but the fact that that number is small in comparison to the women who bear their children to term even though the choice is there. I'm not arguing for abortion. I'm saying that I can't demonize or criminalize someone who makes that choice.

One person even took the argument and said that bearing arms had to do with liberty and protecting our freedom. Shewww.....!?! Who's freedom is the question? Because the other argument was that Christians don't have freedom of choice but are bound to abide by the 10 Commandments. You first have to choose to be a Christian. So following this logic, there is a freedom to bear arms but no freedom of choice? Another person compassionately said that someone has to speak for the unborn and I agree. The question is how do we do that? Do we speak for them by shutting down the conversation are dealing with the issues that lead people to think that abortion is their only option? I honestly have no answer. I just can't seem to grasp how it is only this commandment that we should be legislating. I'm trying to see where bearing arms is in line with the 10 Commandments.

I wrote the post below and I'm really confused as to how quoted scriptures about God's love for all mankind received such a negative reception. The post below received a much more negative than the talk of stoning people and the difference between murdering or killing. After all the duty to love is the first and second commandment. It is from these two that all the other laws hang. The response I got was that God said it was okay to stone people for certain sins. I wrote the post below in response and the response was shocking. I guess there are somethings that are lost in translation in the group forums. The intent of my message was to say that abortion or adultery or not the only sins. I was trying to say that everyone of us including me sins and that God wants us to deal with others like he did for us. The Bible says that God tosses our confessed sins into the sea of forgetfulness.

I was told that my sarcasm was not appreciated, that I was making somebody hot under the collar, that I was not being supportive of the troops. I was told that my thoughts were interesting when they are not my thoughts but scriptures directly from the Bible. I'm not exactly sure how you get that out of these scriptures but I am quite confused. I thought that showing God's grace was the right thing to do. Go figure. For my faithful readers, if I have any left (smile) let me know what you think. I stand open to your correction or you can just pray for me.

The post:

My Bible said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."(John 8:7) It also says in my Bible that "ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) If you flip over to 1 John 1:8 it says plainly "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and truth is not in us." Romans 3:10 says, "There is no one righteous, not even one..." So, which stones should we get out for "you" and for me?

The Bible says further that "God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He that believeth on him is not condemned." So, if God is not doing the condemning what man has the righ to condemn and stone?

My Bible says in Deutoronomy that thou shalt not "kill". Now I use the KJV and murder is not what is says. Even if it is, I cannot believe that we are trying to parse words to determine who it is okay to kill or murder.

1 John 3:18 says "...let us not love in word and tongue but in deed and truth." Further it teaches that we can know love by observing the way Jesus lived His life. I remember him meeting the woman at the well in love, compassion, and forgiveness -- not stoning. I have yet to read about Jesus stoning anybody. Hanging on the cross he even said, Father forgive them..." But maybe that's all only in my Bible.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Hairy Situations


I think therefore I have hair. LOL! Well, if you were there (you know where) you can follow along. I spend 5 minutes thinking about my hair in the morning. It's no bigger issue than that for me. Hopefully this can lighten up the hair drama and we can all have a good hair day.

India Arie sung prophetically, "I am not my hair..." She sung it after going through her own internal struggles about what she needed to look like. India's song again points to how songs express the heartfelt experiences of a culture. In the song the best line is that, "I am not your expectations." What I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about black people is their versatility, their creativity, and their daring to be unique. India Arie realized as an adult that she was the one that had limited her options.

Eventually she realized that she had allowed herself to be trapped on both sides, trying to fit in because of media pressure and then feeling trapped into using her hair as a symbol of blackness. She realized that it really wasn't that deep and her hair did not have to define her or be a political statement. It could just be hair! In the video she said she cut it off her dreds because it was HOT! Sometimes it's just that simple and practical. Women of every race and every color have OPTIONS. Choose the one that makes you feel good.
Finger waves, French rolls, blow out, blow comb, wrap, weave, extensions, braids, up-do, waterfall, lace-front, sew-in, fade, locs, J-5 fro, curly fro, wash and go, cornrows, French braids, box braids, twist, flat twist, love knots, tree braids, rod set, jeri curl, press and curl, loose curls, tight curls, wavy, kinky, tightly coiled, asymmetrical cuts, tapered at the base, long pony tails, bead, bows, barrettes, gel, good old fashioned grease, spritz, leave in, hot oil, flat irons, golden hot curling irons, bun, natural, relaxed, permed, tinted, rinsed, bleached, straw set, fried-died, and laid to the side, and bald.

We can wear it all and make it all look good! That to me does not speak to fragility it speaks to versatility.
I Am Not My Hair - India Arie

Little girl with the press and curl. Age eight I got a Jheri curl. Thirteen I got a relaxer. I was a source of so much laughter. At fifteen when it all broke off. Eighteen and went all natural. February two thousand and two I went and did. What I had to do because it was time to change my life. To become the women that I am inside. Ninety-seven dreadlock all gone I looked in the mirror. For the first time and saw that HEY....I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am not your expectations no no. I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am a soul that lives within

Good hair means curls and waves. Bad hair means you look like a slave. At the turn of the century. Its time for us to redefine who we be. You can shave it off like a South African beauty. Or get in on lock like Bob Marley. You can rock it straight like Oprah Winfrey. If its not what's on your head its what's underneath and say HEY....Does the way I wear my hair make me a better person? Does the way I wear my hair make me a better friend? Does the way I wear my hair determine my integrity? I am expressing my creativity.

Breast Cancer and Chemotherapy. Took away her crown and glory. She promised God if she was to survive. She would enjoy everyday of her life. On national television her diamond eyes are sparkling
bald headed like a full moon shining. Singing out to the whole wide world like HEY... If I wanna shave it close. Or if I wanna rock locks. That don't take a bit away. From the soul that I got. If I wanna where it braided. All down my back. I don't see what is wrong with that.


Learning Ethiopian Culture from the Inside Out: Part 2

Part 2: What is Ethiopian Culture?

Part 1: How Do We Learn Culture?

I started out like most of us I'm sure searching the internet trying to find out anything that I could about Ethiopia. The first things that I learned were about the historical significance of the country. I learned that it is the place where the oldest human remains were found making it perhaps the birthplace of civilization. I learned that it had a rich spiritual history and was linked to early Christianity and even the Ark of the Covenant. I learned how Muslims, Evangelical, and Orthodox Christian live in harmony. I read article after article about the physical beauty of the people and their beautiful loving hearts. I read how they love, care for and nurture their children. I learned about doro wot, injera, coffee ceremonies, and celebrations like Timkat. I poured over pictures of Gondar, The Blue Nile, Axsum, and Lailebella. I read about 75 million people speaking 85 different languages living in a country that bordered the Red Sea.

I learned facts about Ethiopian culture. Just the facts. Facts alone help me see Ethiopia from the outside looking in. Reading about a coffee ceremony is not the same as smelling the aroma of the beans or learning quiet lessons through casual conversations while the coffee is being made. I could have a coffee ceremony in the US for symbolism but there is more to culture than that.

What's funny or sad is that even though I know Ethiopia is a country I approached it like it was a city. ETHIOPIA! Northern Ethiopian is not the same as southern Ethiopia. They have different foods, different customs, different dress, different language, and even different histories. Ethiopia is divided into nine regions. It's sort of how we talk about the Midwest, the Northeast, or the West. Sure we share some American customs but there are some things that are East coast and different traditions and customs in the Midwest. Ethiopia's geographical regions are much more diverse than America.

I realized that where I began learning about history was the Ancient history of Ethiopia. To understand my children I would have to learn more contemporary history of Ethiopia. What led to the poverty? Why are there orphaned children? What happened to the parents and why? One of the first questions that I asked the agency was, "How does Ethiopia feel about children being adopted and taken away from the country?" How do children come to live in orphanages? What was there life like before that? Most importantly if my children remained in Ethiopia what would life be like for them. Sorry, I don't believe that they would simply perish if it were not for me. The God that I believe in always has a master plan. If they lived and I focused on "life" and not despair what, would life be like for them at 5 and 6, 12 or 15, or into the age of dating or marriage?

Learning Ethiopian history and culture from the inside out meant putting myself in the place of the child or my children. If I stood in their shoes, if I tried to imagine what it was like to be them everything changed. A child led away from their village and family may be proud of Ethiopian history but from the inside they are wondering where they are going, what will happen to them, and why. For a 3 or 4 year old history is what my mother made me for dinner last week, the songs their father was singing the last time that they saw him, and the child that they played with every day. Their history lesson wasn't leaning the names of dances but watching their elders dance and trying to imitate them. Their history is the last thing that their mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, or grandmother told them just before they headed to the orphanage.

Helping them preserve their heritage meant really understanding how to explain to them that with all the historical significance, rich spiritual history, 75 million people and 85 languages that they had to come to America live with a woman that can't make injera or speak their native tongue. For every day that they live with me remembering small things from their past, longing for foods, sounds, and their mother's touch I know that they are wondering if they will ever get to return home. I believe that my job is to make sure that if they do, that they still feel some connection that is more than symbolic.

Learning Ethiopian Culture from the Inside Out: Part 1

Read Part 2

I guess all of us have been asked what will you do to preserve your child's Ethiopian heritage and culture? I had to answer a series of questions before I could formulate an response. [Here goes another series.]
  1. What is Ethiopian culture? What is the history, the celebrations, the food, the music?
  2. What is the spiritual connection or foundation of Ethiopian people?
  3. What is the hope of an Ethiopian mother and father? What do they expect from their children and how to they prepare them for the future?
  4. What is the hope of a little boy or girl growing up in Ethiopia? If they ever returned home who would they most want to be and what would they want to do?
  5. Why does it matter if they retain part of their Ethiopian culture if they are going to live in America.
  6. How does growing up in America change their lives, their opportunities, and their self-identity?
  7. How did having a strong cultural understanding, shape me? Who would I be if I didn't know who I was? Who would define what I should be?
As I started trying to fill in the blanks, I realized that it all seemed a little hollow. I was learning about Ethiopian culture and not how to preserve Ethiopian culture in the children. I had to jump to question number seven.

African American people have a very deep, rich culture. Like any culture it is built upon a historical reality and a preserving response. We hold on to the best things about who we are and shed others in an effort to assimilate. I asked myself, how did I learn my culture? I learned it from the inside out. I didn't come to understand the traditions by reading about them, I learned by experiencing them with generations of African American people who told me why certain things were significant. I didn't hang pictures or flags on my wall first. I developed some sort of admiration, respect, connection, and/or reverence for the person or the symbol. I bought things and placed them around the house, because I drew strength from them. Drawing that strength was only possible because I understood them in context to a struggle of a people.

Cultural things are not the trends of a hairstyle but the tradition of sitting between your mother's legs to get your hair done. I don't know of many people who went to the hair salon back then, but I do know that any little black girl could get a lesson sitting in the kitchen on Saturday night while hair was being washed and styled.

I jump up when I hear an old R & B record because when I hear it, it takes me back to a certain place or time. I connect with the words that tell a story that is unique to our black experience -- it allows me to reminisce, hope, or hang on. Even though I probably attended black history programs and a couple of Kwanzaa celebrations I went because it was a gathering of black folks that understood the meaning. I didn't go to learn the meaning. I learned who I was by looking in the face of my mother and her sisters. They were constantly telling us what would be expected of us and how we would need to respond. More importantly the modeled the behavior and demonstrated the character.

I learned something new every night over dinner as my parents told stories about the good old days. Even when those story included tales of segregation, poverty, or injustice -- they were the history that my parents knew. They talked and we got to ask questions. I learned black history by sitting in church next to the old ladies that told me about their days as young girls traveling in America. It was because I heard the stories first that I wanted to find books in the library and not the other way around. I gained a love for books when I heard stories

I come from a large family. On my mother's side there were 10 children, 8 girls and 2 boys. On that side alone I have 35 first cousins, many who have children my age. Our parents didn't talk to us about limitations but they instilled a hope that our generation was the one the could make a difference if we worked hard and "lived right." I picked a certain style of clothes not to reflect that I was black, but to honor one of my hero's who had paved the way for me.

I tell people all the time, you see my face and my accomplishments but their are a thousand faceless and nameless black men and women that poured their faith and hope into me. Many of those people don't speak correct English, never thought about going to college, and aren't interested in being important. It was the women in my church that always told me that I could do it. It was the janitor in the school, that whispered in my ear that he saw what I was doing and it made him proud. It was the women who had very little that would buy me cards of encouragement every step of the way. The women who baked my favorite cake for the smallest achievement. What I learned is that we are a culture of love and commitment. I learned in my culture that you reach back, pull up, and push others forward. Culture is the lessons learned from the actions and not the actions themselves. Otherwise it's all symbolism and no substance.

One phrase that I've come to hate through this process is, "...just because they are black." I hate it because there is absolutely no understanding of the substance about what that means. It's thrown off as some insignificant fact that should be ignored, co-opted, or eradicated or exchanged. Black is simply a symbol of a much deeper connection, history, culture, and struggle that can't be brushed away. Compare it to saying, "...just because she's American." "...just because she is a woman." Why do we join the Yahoo adoption groups? Is it just because we are adopting or is that because we are adopting that we face different life experiences than others, that our path to parenthood is fraught with twist and turns, and that we find community with others that have gone before us? Mmmm....think of about how it feels for someone to dismiss your adoption experience that way. You would think to yourself, "do these people know what it takes and what we have to go through?" That's it it feels to me when someone says to me, "...just because you are black."

I don't want my children to understand their culture just because they were born in Ethiopia. We weren't asked the question just because the children were born in Ethiopia. We were asked what we will do to maintain their heritage because it is crucial to the development of a healthy self-identity. To be whole they have to know who they are and how they came to be.

I came to the conclusion that my culture is not the signs and symbols that I wear that tell others that I am an African American woman. My culture is reflected in how I feel about the fact that I am a black woman and I how use that information to press my way.

With this understanding I set out to learn about Ethiopian culture from the inside out. I wanted to understand how my children could preserve their Ethiopian culture living in America with an African American mother. Preservation suggest that there is something already their for them to hold on to. I needed to find out what that was.

Neither Chick Nor Child

My mother was a funny lady. She was hilarious but not necessarily on purpose. She was direct and didn't waste her time on too many superfluous conversations. She had a saying for every occasion and I'm not sure that she didn't make some up on the spot. Whenever I think of things that she used to say, I try to write them because I don't want to forget. One of my friends says that once the kids are here it will all come back.

Here are a few:
  1. To people who had no children but wanted to offer advice to those who did, she would simply say, "they have neither chick nor child so..."
  2. To people who were constantly talking about God she would say, "Always remember that even the devil could quote scripture. Impress me by showing me the word in action."
  3. To anyone who felt that they were being falsely accused or talked about by others, she would simply remind you, "They talked about Jesus didn't they? I heard they even nailed him to the cross. You don't think you are any better than him, do you?
  4. Her continual warning to her children had two parts, "Whatever you do in the dark will always come to light." It always did. "You might get by but you will never get away."
  5. My mother was always curious about people who didn't want to discuss their age. To that she'd say, "Tell it! If you're not getting older you're dead, so to me it beats the alternative." I'll be 42 in two weeks! Thank God! It beats the alternative.
  6. My mother didn't believe in quitting and would say, "Nothing beats a failure but a try."
  7. To any of her children showing disrespect, she couldn't just say that. Instead, my mother would say or sing, "I pay the costs to be the boss at 3052." Our old address.
  8. When I graduated from college she let me know that, "God never created a roof big enough to cover two grown women. Every woman needs her own place." This might have been a shock if I hadn't always heard that it was my job to take care of me and that there was not enough pretty to cover a full month's rent.
  9. My mother cautioned that, "Nothing in life is ever free make sure you understand the cost and that you are prepared to pay them."
  10. When she was stumped (not often) and couldn't think of anything else to say, she would say, "I don't know what to tell you. Pray about. God has all the answers not me!"
  11. If you disagreed with her assessment of a situation she would tell you, "Keep living and then come back and tell me about it."
  12. To children teetering between a truth and a lie she would always tell you, "If you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said."
  13. Then there were the (more normal) one's that we probably have all heard. A bird in the hand beats two in the bush. Little pictures have big ears. Your eyes are bigger than your stomach. Never let the right hand, know what the left hand is doing. God does not like ugly and two wrongs never made a right.
One that sticks with me the most happened my second year of college. Maybe a week before I returned to school we received a letter saying that I had no financial aid for the semester. I asked my mother what we were going to do, she told me calmly and simply, "We are going to pack the car, I'm going to take you there and drop you off. Stay there until we figure out what to do or they put you out." That was her straight forward way of teaching faith and hope. I went, it got figured out, and they didn't put me out.

What I Love Most About What I Do

I don't really think I ever said what I do. I'm also not sure that it matters but here goes. I am a learning strategist or adult learning consultant. I have a master's degree in Instructional Systems Design with an emphasis in adult learning and human performance improvement. I've been in the profession for 15 years and I worked as an instructional designer, internal performance consultant, external consultant and director of a training company before starting my own company. I love what I do for a living. I go into organizations when their is an identified performance deficiency and help build programs to speed time to competence or to help people work better, faster, and cheaper.

The work that I do takes many forms. Over the last few years I've spent most of my time developing models for increasing the rate at which people learn, unlearn, and relearn. In a knowledge economy it is imperative for people to learn faster than the rate of change. I write articles about strategic thinking and it's power to improve problem solving. I've been working at writing a business book and use the adoption blog alot of the time to help me break through a mental block.

What I love about what I do:
  • I am exposed to a variety of organizations and every kind of people that you could imagine. I get an opportunity to work with a diverse group of people and over the years have had every stereotype challenged for the good.
  • Learning people's stories. We all have them and the more I stories I hear the more I realize how we are all connected.
  • No two days are ever the same and something unexpected always happens.
  • It is a challenge to find the right levers for different groups. I like trying to come up with different and unique ways to engage an audience.
  • I've had the opportunity to teach in foreign countries. Teaching while using a translator is a really interesting experience. Your brain hurts by the end of the day. But, I'm always reminded by my favorite line from a movie. In a Walk In the Clouds, the Spanish American father says to the Keanu Reeve's character, "Just because I speak with an accent doesn't mean that I think with an accent." That is the best line!
  • Getting to work as a part time or adjunct professor. I've taught adult learning, human performance improvement and now teach group and organizational dynamics. I teach in a non-traditional program where adults are returning to school to get their degrees. It's pretty rewarding to be a part of that.
  • I am always in learning mode. Every time that I think that I've "got it" I learn something new.
  • My greatest love is seeing people do more than they thought was possible. I love when people light up with the personal "aha." To see people walk out of a room with much more confidence is the best feeling for me.
  • Getting letters months and even years later from participants telling me how they have exceeded their goals.
These days like I said I focus more on how people think, learn, and solve problems. Here is a link to one of my favorite articles Thinking Through Problem Solving. It was published by a company called Change This.

If you are really bored or at least curious you might read, 35 Thinking Dispositions. Most people find it really interesting to try to figure out their thinking style. I've classified them into three groups. Can you guess which one I am? You might even get a little insight into why some of my forum post are what they are.

Which one are you?

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