Posts Tagged ‘Adoption’

FertileKwanzaa – Nia & Kuumba: Creativity in Purpose

Originally Published 12.31.10 @ 9:56am

Habari Ghani?!

Nia & Kuumba!

Kwanzaa day five(yesterday) was Nia, which means Purpose.  As we walk the tightrope of fertility feelings, this is the  thought that may become hardest to pinpoint.  While I was totally perturbed yesterday when my server wouldn’t let me get my post out to you, as I thought about today’s principle, I realized that it was probably a divine,…well,… purpose, that may have led to that delay.

Today’s principle is Kuumba which means creativity.  As I thought about the combination of Nia and Kuumba, I was stuck for a moment as I tried to think about how these two principles have affected my journey.  I grasped the concept of Nia instantly because if there is anything that I have eventually come to terms with, it is my purpose in this journey.  I have come to believe wholeheartedly that the reason for my issues with fertility, are rooted in my being here for you.  I feel that I deal with this issue so that I can help you deal with yours.  That thought gives me peace. (more…)

BBE Rewind: The Fertile Kwanzaa: Ujima!

Originally published 12.28.10 @ 8:36am

Harambee!!

Habari Ghani? (What’s the News?)

Today is the third day of Kwanzaa.  Today’s principle is Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility.   This principle is one that I love because it is the very reason for The Egg.   The purpose of Ujima is that we are to “build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together“.  That is what this very blog has been based upon.

The greatest compliment that I receive from the infertility community is in regards to my transparency.  I say what you want to say but are too shy/afraid/embarrassed to.  I rant and rave when you can’t, and I try my best to let it all, (or most of it), hang out.  This is what drove me to start this blog, and later the organization.

Many have called me flighty or unrealistic for it, but from the time I was a very young girl, I have always believed that people would treat one another better if they only took the time to see where the other person was coming from.  That if we were all as honest as we could be, we would have no way to hate or mistreat because we’d get to the bottom of what is making us tick.  I was always the kid asking bullies why they were bullying me, or the person in the clique who would say, “hey guys, cut it out, she has feelings too”.  It’s just who I am.

Actually, it’s who my grandmother made me to be.  When I think of this principle today, I think of her, actually, as she’s been on my mind since my aunt gave us restored photos of her for Christmas.  My grandmother was a lover of service and a believer in collective work and responsibility.

My Grandmother As a Teen

My grandmother at 17! Ain't she purrrty?!

Her home was open, which is very much a part of where I get my philosophy on how adoption is a relative term. If you needed a mother, aunt, sister, etc., she was that. She was always willing to pick up a cause, and her own issues didn’t really take up much space in her head.  Getting breast cancer, made her an advocate for breast cancer awareness and support.  Though she died of complications from that cancer on my birthday, fifteen years ago, I can remember that even as she was sick, she couldn’t help but care for other people who had less of a support system or who were just in need of someone to talk to.

She was a housewife by all accounts, but she used that to her advantage, often using me as her legs and hands to pick up donations for others, or to drop off gifts to sick and shut-ins.  With that example, I had no choice but to learn how to serve and make others feel comfortable even in their ailments.

Because of her, I actually have a low tolerance for people who complain but DON’T serve or cause change.  I can’t help it. From what she taught me, I find that every disparity we think we have, is an opportunity to encourage someone else.  Every trial is a testimony in disguise.

The issues of the world are MY issues because I’m a part of this world.  On a smaller scale, it is what makes me such a big part of the infertility community.  To know how I feel to see that period every month, or to hear that same wretched report from my doctor, or to feel the way I do as a wife or daughter, I cannot help but to think of how YOU feel.  I can’t help but to want to help YOU find your voice.  I can’t help but to want to HELP.

Your problems are my problems.  Through this blog, and the connections I’m allowed to make because of it, I pray that God allows me the opportunity to help you solve some of yours.  And by what we both learn, I pray we are also given the opportunity to help our younger sisters and brothers so that they don’t have to start from scratch.

Because of this, I work my hardest to never censor myself here.  I work hard to make sure that you feel safe here.  I will continue to work hard to make sure that you have a place to sound off.  And I hope that through my example, you do the same for someone else.  It’s about ALL of us.  Sometimes, it takes a Village to MAKE a child just as much as it does to RAISE one.

I know this post went a bit more serious than I’d originally planned, or than you expected, but the point of it all is that I hope you find your own ways to relate to the principle of Ujima!  If you blog about something dear to you that you wish to share, you’re doing it.  If you speak up to someone who needs to know that what they’re going through is okay because you’ve been there, you’re doing it!  I’m already proud of you, feel free to share.

Guest Post: Why We Don’t Adopt

ADOPTION!!! What are the first words that come to your mind when I say it, “Family, babies, happiness or expensive, heartbreaking and time consuming”? Many people have different assumptions about adoption and many of those assumptions are incorrect. I really felt I should write something about the myths and stereotypes about adoption in the African American community and clear a few things.

Black people don’t give away their babies

Stop!!! First, a woman does not give away her baby. She is making a brave and courageous decision to give her child a life that she is unable to give. I’ve worked with many women from every background. All the years I’ve worked in adoption, I never met a woman who “wants” to do an adoption. It’s usually her life circumstances that force her to make this hard decision.

And why don’t Black women place their child for adoption? We have to struggle and work as hard as any other women out there. And unfortunately sometimes life does not give a fair start. Usually when a Black woman makes the decision to place her child for adoption she wants her child to go into a Black family. (There is nothing wrong with a Black child going to a Caucasian family, but I’m speaking from my experience.) BUT there aren’t any Black families to adopt! Why?  I know Black folks experience infertility or have to find other alternatives to build their families. Why aren’t we also looking at the option of adoption?  I’ll tell you why, because of all the misconceptions and bad information. Let’s set the record straight, there are healthy Black babies out there in need of good homes, we shouldn’t be lacking good Black families.

Adoption is expensive….

Again my people, this is incorrect information. Did you know that there is a $13,000 tax credit for families that have adopted? Also, because of the lack of Black families willing to adopt, most agencies are willing to have the cost drastically lowered compared to the average adoption. I know so many little tricks that could make your adoption so affordable, it would be cheaper than having a c-section at the hospital.

It takes a long time to adopt….

As mentioned above, there are Black women wanting to give their child a good home, but there is a lack of Black families. The time it would take for a Black family to adopt would probably be around six months or less. (Can’t guarantee this, but can say this with a lot of confidence.)

She will come back and take her baby…

Don’t always listen to what you hear on the news. That’s like saying every airplane that flies will crash. Look, there are hundreds of adoptions that happen each day and the news will pick up on the 1 out of 1,000 bad adoptions. Adoptions are safe and agencies are bound by confidentiality. A woman cannot legally show up on your doorstep and demand her child back.

I want our children to go into good homes, and I don’t want Black women to be discouraged because they are not able to find the family they want for their child. So before listening to bad information, take some time to learn the truth and consider adoption as an option.

Chala Barrington-Cruz is the founder and Executive Director of Adoption Consultants of Florida.  If you have any question please call or email chala@adoptionconsultantsfl.com or 407-850-8346. Visit Adoption Consultants of Florida facebook page for adoption discussions and tips.

Dear DCFS, this is 2010, Thought You Should know

So, with November being National Adoption Month, I wanted to give you guys some information on adopting through the foster care system.  So I began researching, (as usual).  I tend to peck around my own neck of the woods before venturing out into the world so my first stop was the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services website.
Insert Regina’s, “Are you effin kidding me” face.

Mrs.Tiye's "What the Smelly Hell" face

This site is a DISGRACE to its mission!  Being a librarian, I spend a lot of time looking at rather boring databases and ancient websites.  However, with the staggering amount of Illinois children in need of homes, one shouldn’t need a technology degree to navigate the website of an agency that exists to help.

I’m sure there are a lot of computer literate people who have a hard time finding information on the site.  For those who may be interested in this family-building option, the mere appearance of the site is overwhelming and off-putting.  There was absolutely no consideration for literacy when designing this website.  I’m convinced that the information was only placed here, so that no one could say it wasn’t.  In fact, there were quite a few things wrong with the website, specifically concerning visual literacy, so let’s just take a moment and decode, shall we?

  • Text Size – My eyes are 29 years old, and they were ready to turn in their letters of resignation on me.  I could hardly keep my vision straight. Especially when I went to the adoption page, which was my focus for this particular search.  Very small fonts and practically no spacing was a huge hindrance for me, and I’m sure many others.
  • Language Sensitive – If I were a person who was not as comfortable reading in English as in perhaps, Spanish, this site would have failed me.  In websites that are sensitive to the cultures and nationalities that visit them, there is usually some way for visitors to translate the site’s content into their preferred language.  This would cost you no money Governor Quinn, with all the technology available to us novices, it really wouldn’t take but a moment.  This very site, for instance, if you take a look down there at the nifty toolbar I’ve added, will let you translate the Egg to whatever language you choose.  In a state with as large of an urban metropolis as Chicago, there should be far more attention given to the kind of patron that may visit.
  • Non-Linear  Searching – The most frustrating thing about my experience had to be the spread between each topic and it’s additional info.  I click a topic on the far left, get confused by the jibberjab in the center, and then find that to narrow it down, I should have looked at the far right. Who designed this crap?   Obviously someone who was very good at html, but awful at information-seeking.  When a site is done, it should be in the mindset of the kinds of questions visitors will be asking.  My small search about adoption took me to four different pdf files, two dead-ends and a jumbled list of laws.
  • Now, I know what some of you are saying,
    “Why didn’t you just call?  Or go to the office?”
    First, you get this face,

    Seriously?

    Secondly, I DID call.
    I got a busy signal.
    REPEATEDLY.
    And third, this is 2010.   Being a municipality is NO excuse for remaining in 1987 computer trends.
    I felt like Whoopi Goldberg in Jumpin’Jack Flash for a second.
    While there are many independent adoption agencies in this state, and this country for that matter, foster-adoption is an important and necessary part of the family-building discussion.  This is ESPECIALLY in the African American community.  In Illinois, for instance, though blacks only make up 15% of the state population, we make up 64% of the children in foster care.  That is jaw dropping to me (and hopefully to you too).
    My concern was not so much because I’m a bit of a website snob.  My angst erupted from thinking about the children who are potentially forgotten because the process seemed too overwhelming.
    Ridiculous, Illinois.
    Completely embarrassing.
    Do Better.
    In my hunt, I also began looking at other states to see if we were really as bad as I felt we were.  I have to say that perhaps the Children and Family Services offices of this country need some serious overhauls!  Here were a few others I found.
    I have to say, Indiana and  Arkansas, you done me proud!
    Oh..but Nevada, how you suck.  You frustrated me so fast!  Click here to watch me try and click a link on their site.
    Anywhoo, perhaps I’ll return to this post a in a while, so that we can go over the helpful links I was able to find while digging my way through our pitiful website.
    Here’s a little bit to give you some insight on the foster care statistics: Children and Family Research Center of UIC
    Photobucket

    I Love YOUR Hair

    The fantastically viral Sesame Street video, “I Love My Hair” has a special place in the hearts of African American moms and women all over the world it seems.  I watched it when it debuted last week and smiled gently, but decided it was not necessarily an “Egg-worthy” posting.  How wrong I was.

    Joey Mazzarino

    The song, which aired on October 4, was written by Sesame Street’s head writer, Joey Mazzarino.  Mr. Mazzarino wrote the song for five year-old Segi, his Ethiopian adopted daughter.  To hear this, placed an extremely large lump in my throat as it brought to mind the many other blogs and stories I’ve heard over the past two years of families who face this situation.  How do you tell your daughter how beautiful she is,…when she uses YOU as the standard for beauty, and she doesn’t look like you?

    Green and daughter Miriam

    The “Labor of Love” post from two years ago, which spoke of a Caucassian father’s journey into learning how to braid and style his African-American daughter’s hair, was a similar case.  In that story, Clifton Green and his wife also adopted their daughter, Miriam, from Ethiopia.  Green, an associate professor of finance at Emory University, spoke of his desire to be for his children what his own father was to him and how that encouraged his learning to braid Miriam’s hair.  He spoke of his father making him feel as though he could “hang the moon”, and how he wanted his own children to feel that they could do the same.  I’m sure that the outstanding love and admonishment he received from the community and world after seeing that it was him providing the braids, paled in comparison to the affection of his daughter.

    This sentiment of learning how to appreciate and cultivate the heritage and esteem of their daughters, is what ties so many bi-racial families together.  It is also a sentiment that should be respected and supported by those of us who witness it.

    While there are many reasons for couples to adopt from other countries and ethnicities, (and infertility is not always that reason), our community is one of the first places we should be providing support and encouragement.  As we are all a part of the same mission: Family Building, we know all too well how important it is that these families succeed at what they wish to achieve for their special little girls.

    I was already quite touched by the song, but seeing that it was the product of a father,…and not just a father but one of a different race who wanted to show his daughter how wonderfully unique she was,…just made my heart grow three sizes.

    In celebrating the beauty and wonder of this special bond, allow me to share  a few resources.

    First, a couple of  touching articles on RainbowKids from the Caucasian mom of two special girls from Haiti, Sherri Gragg: More than Just Hair – published in 2006 and Hair Matters – published in 2007

    Next, because you guys know me by now, I’m a book-owl.

    I came across this book and blog, “Brown babies, Pink Parents” by Amy Ford, and thought I would share it with you guys.

    Now, when I first saw the Sesame Street video, I immediately thought of the book with the same title, “I Love my Hair by Natasha Tarpley.  This book is AWESOME!! In it, Keyanna, who hates having her hair combed, starts to realize all the great things about her hair, (also very similar to the Sesame Street song).

    A random search on the book, led me to this blog, Bloggin About Books, and there, I found a blogger with a passion for books to assist herself and other parents to understand the culture of their biracial children!

    Her movement, is called Baby Steps to Understanding (Which I think is adorable), and she is promoting it via this cute button,

    I don’t see any posts since February, but rather than reposting her list, I’d like you to head on over and visit!  Check out the cool list she’s started and get a little more info on her BabySteps initiative. Perhaps if we all visit, she’ll start it again.

    Anyway, here is a shelf-full of books that I’ve read which are awesome for lifting the esteem of our daughters.  Enjoy them with a little lady you know!

    Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

    (p.s.,…one of the books has a young lady on the cover when she was just a toddler who has very recently become a superstar in her own right.  Can you spot her?)

    Thank You in Advance

    The very first day that I mentioned hosting a fundraiser for Infertility Awareness on this blog, was about a year ago.  From that time, I’ve received support and collaboration from the most unexpected places.  There have been some very high moments, and some low points.  In my personal life, things have taken more dips and turns than a trip to Six Flags.  Yet, the importance of this mission…for someone out there who needs it more than anything, has kept me moving.

    Tomorrow night, at our first annual gala, the following video will be played as a slideshow tribute.  I am debuting it today, because I felt an enormous sense of gratitude for each and every person who visits this blog, interacts with us on Facebook, or just supports the mission of The Egg.  I could NOT have gotten this far, without you.  There were so many great statements collected via our Facebook page, so many in fact that there was just no more room.  I THANK everyone who participated, and will be finding a way to highlight those messages as well.

    Anyway, I haven’t slept yet…and I’m rambling. LOL  So without further stall…

    THANK YOU.  From The Egg and I.

    Create your own video slideshow at animoto.com.

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