Posts Tagged ‘family’

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?)

What I Hope I Never Lose

This week has been brought to me by the number 25(as in days until the gala), and the letter O for “overwhelmed”.

Can we talk?

*sigh*

From writing for all these different sites to simply responding to emails, I’ve had a hard time staying on track because I have been beating myself up, something serious. If I mailed something a day later than I said I would, I was upset with me. If I didn’t respond to an email on time, I was mad at me.  I’ve just been emotionally up and down. But I know this is a trick of the enemy.  This thing has fallen together so amazingly, that I just can’t imagine it not being successful…so, later for all that.  Even still,  I’ve had to turn off phones and emails a couple times this week. Just for my sanity.  The dude and I kept my niece Karla since her parents both started school this week  and she doesn’t go back to pre-school until next week.  She has been getting ALL my attention. (as usual, The Dude would say) And she’s been a bit of a stress reliever.

However, in the midst of my mini-breakdown, the most touching things that have come about have been from my the men in my family.

First, my dad.
He works at this big mission here in Chicago that houses and in some cases rehabilitates men and women for various reasons. Some are as bad as getting out of jail or kicking drug habits while others are as mild as needing someplace to stay while they try to refocus on God. My dad himself graduated from one of their religious programs last year and decided to stay on as staff. Anyway, he calls me Monday and left a message about a friend who wants to buy tickets  to the A.H.A. Gala but can’t afford it.

To be honest, I was simply stunned that he had taken the info to the mission. I don’t know why, but to put it plainly, I’ve gotten a lot more support from my non-family recently in regards to the gala, so I’d been a bit down about that.  Anyway, I called him back and he tells me that a friend of his that is in one of the programs there wants to buy two tickets for him and his girlfriend, who has PCOS but can’t afford the full-price. I was so moved…I reduced the price of their tickets so that they could attend.  He put the friend on the phone and he was just so grateful, not just at my reducing the price, but for me even having this event…I was soooo humbled.  What a great nugget for me, and from such an unexpected place.

My lesson: YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOU ARE BLESSING and HOW you are going to connect with them.
I’m grateful to my daddy for being open about this event, and I’m proud of this young man for standing up for his lady.

My second “awww” moment comes from The Dude . He was at work and pulling his bus in for the night.

#BusDrivingLesson: When the drivers pull in, there are other workers whose job it is to come and remove the cash from the day.

Anyway, When the “box puller”,as they’re called went to remove the box, he noticed that Jahbari had put pluggers for the gala on the job’s community board.  He stopped what he was doing to tell my Dude,

“Man, your wife should be proud! My wife is on her blog all the time!”

I mean, what you want me to do with that?! That just floored me emotionally.  I don’t know if I’m just a wreck because the gala is so close, or if I’m just a sap anyway, but both of these instances have had me in tears just thinking about them.  They have been greatly instrumental in my putting things into perspective.

First of all,  the fact that I am doing the very thing I LITERALLY always said I would be doing, writing, is a blessing. I can’t take that for granted just because I’m tired.  The very fact that so many other people like my writing enough to feature it on their sites is a blessing and an honor that I refuse to take lightly.  Do I miss my students? Yes.  Do I miss my paycheck?  Darn tootin.  Would I trade what I’ve gotten accomplished in the past six months?  Not on your life.

Second, I’m grateful that without a backup plan, The Dude and I have been afloat despite my unexpected and abrupt unemployment.  Has every day been awesome?  Nope.  Have we had some, “um, peanut butter and jelly, anyone”, nights?  You bet.  Do we doubt that every night without fail, our God will provide us with dinner?  Nope.  We have eaten, haven’t been evicted, we aren’t hiding our car, and we can laugh in the midst of it all.  Not to mention, plan an amazing event.

I guess I’m too close to it to actually feel like I’ve gotten much done, even-though the results prove otherwise.   From the beginning, I’ve been asking for help, practically begging for it, and now I’ve realized that (in a very Dorothy Gale fashion), everything I needed was in me all along.  From press releases, blog design, and social marketing, I’ve become a powerhouse for advocacy.  This whole experience has proven to me that I’m extremely stronger and more powerful than I usually believe myself to be.

When I was about to cancel postpone the gala back in February after losing my job, a special person stepped in to say, “No, I’ll front you”.  When I was about to flip about not knowing how to go about doing any of this I’ve been doing, people have contacted ME.  Matter of fact, whenever I’ve been prepared to doubt, or question or simply throw a tantrum,…God has provided a way for me to get it done.  I am grateful.  I trust we’ll have an outstanding time at our event and all will be well.

I’ve watched so many others give up their sites, or their missions because it didn’t catch fire as quickly as they wanted it to.  Others have abandoned them when things changed for the better, and the place to vent was no longer necessary.  I hope I don’t ever lose the resistance to either of those.  I hope I never lose this fervor and tenacity for A.H.A.  And most importantly, I hope I’m giving a little of that spark, to you.

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Dear Angela Bassett,

Dear Angela,

I want to thank you for being open about your journey to your twins.  I know that for you, it may have not seemed as important to speak out as it was for those of us who were able to see it, but I am so grateful.  Out of all your work, this is the role for which I am most proud of you.

To see your smiling face in People magazine, speaking of the eternal gratitude you and your husband have for your gestational surrogate, was IMPORTANT.  It was meaningful to a brown girl such as myself who had not seen anyone of my race discuss surrogacy before.  It was important for me to understand that surrogacy was not weird or awkward, but an insurmountable gift.

I want to thank you for showing me an example of a strong, black family who wanted children, instead of being overwhelmed by them.  So many of the images I had seen until then showed women who’s children were their obstacle, and something they had to become successful in spite of.  You showed me that even in Hollywood, family was important.  You proved to me that having children to reflect the love you and your husband shared was not too strange of a request.  You proved to me that motherhood was worth fighting for.  That parenthood was as important a goal as success.

I thank you for being honest about your decision to use a surrogate.  I thank you for being honest about the seven years it took you and Courtney to achieve your family.  I’m grateful for you explaining to the masses what gestational surrogacy meant, in relation to your babies being your 100% biological offspring, though I WISH we didn’t have to make that distinction.

I thank YOU for giving me a reflection that was accessible.  I thank you for being real.

As I look at the mother you’ve become,…and the journey you took to get there,…

I THANK YOU.

Sincerely,

A Different Kind of Adoption

I’m conflicted in my beliefs this morning.

Well, maybe not my beliefs, but the beliefs of this society.  The beliefs that African-Americans do not adopt and that we are unaware of the children in need of homes and loving families.  You see, I have a hard time with this misconception, because I’ve lived the opposition.  I firmly believe that unbeknownst to the mainstream, we are actually doing the majority of adopting.  So why isn’t it headline news?  Because it is completely unofficial.

Seven years ago today, my boyfriend of four months, mentioned during our nightly phone call that his cousin was in labor.  The very next day, I came over to visit and was introduced to a small and fragile infant, the color of chardonnay.  Two weeks later, the baby and her three year-old brother were still there, but their mother was not.  This, needless to say, put my boyfriend and his mother at a hectic place, since both were working and he was in school.

I was the oldest in my family, so I’d taken care of my share of babies.  In fact, it is still awkward for me to hear adults say they’ve never been around babies, or changed a diaper.  When I think of waking up at 4am with my baby brother and of carrying him around the grocery store in a Snugli, I’m a bit taken aback.  My job had just ended, so I offered to help out in any way I could.  The next weekend, I moved in to take care of Israel.

There were some in both of our families who questioned my willingness to jump into pseudo-motherhood for a man I’d only been with for four months.  My own mother was completely shocked and told me as much as I was packing my suitcase.  There were some in his family who questioned my motives.  But I didn’t hear any of that at the time.  All I could see was that precious premature little girl who was without a mom.  I couldn’t stand the thought of her being pushed off on daycares and strangers when I was available.  I didn’t know when or if her mother would be back, but I knew that for what it was worth, I had the time and ability to stand in the gap, so I did.

3 weeks old

For those months that I took care of Israel,  I did not consider my own ability to have children at all.  I was not even aware of what would one day be my issue with infertility.  All I could think of, was this amazing little girl and her brother. That was more important to me than my own fertility, or the circumstances that had caused their mother to leave.  I asked for nothing in return, which was also unheard of to some friends at the time.  But they couldn’t see what I saw.  They didn’t see the joy I got from knowing that I was helping this family stay together.  In the evenings, my boyfriend and I would pack her in the stroller, and take she and her brother for a walk around the block.  It was the only payment I received.

Israel and I at her Christening

When I think of the day her mother came “back”, it still stings a little.  I was warming a bottle when the doorbell rang.  My “boyfriend” opened the door and let them in.  I was in the middle of changing Israel’s diaper when her mother walked into the room and said, “Oh, Regina, thank you, I’ll do it.”  I remember backing away with a slight smile.  More out of discomfort than anything.  Immediately I felt like a stand-in for Jessica Lange in Losing Isaiah.  It was very quickly that she had fully dressed the baby, grabbed her bag, took the warm bottle from my hands and was out of the door.

I sat on the bed and just let the tears fall.  That experience, is what scares me about adoption, to this very day.  I NEVER want to feel that way again.  I kept thinking to myself, she doesn’t know that her favorite snack is Cheerios.  She doesn’t know that I sing “Izzy the Pooh” to her to calm her down.

It was hard.

Today, Israel turns seven.  Her brother, Na’kif, is ten.   Today, that boyfriend is my husband.  There has never been a formal adoption, but both children are still living with their great-aunt, my mother-in-law.  Though their mother is better and back in the picture, she has not taken them into her own home.  Though now, I’m sure that if she did, it would tear my mother-in-law apart.   The children go and visit their mother and new baby sister.  My husband is Godfather/Uncle/Dad-figure.  I’m Gommy (God-mommy).

Situations such as this are more common than believed in minority communities, which is why I believe that the idea of us not adopting is a myth.  We may not officially adopt as often as other races, but we are extremely familiar with the concept.  Many of us have cousins and uncles who we later find were of no relation at all.  Some of us find that our own grandparents are not who they have appeared to be for all our life.  We do adopt,…just differently.

Favorite Girls, Favorite Place. Me, Israel, and my niece Karla.

Today, Israel is seven years old.  Today marks seven years of drying her tears.  Seven years of dressing her body and hair.  Seven years of giggles and bedtime stories.  Seven years of loving this little girl in ways that her mother was simply incapable of doing for whatever reason.  Today, I am GRATEFUL to her mother for giving me this little person who has enriched my life, loved me unconditionally, and shown me to my boyfriend in a light that led him to make me his wife.  I thank her for my amazing, smart, and BEAUTIFUL little girl.

This afternoon, I am going to take my goddaughter to the library for her birthday.  A boring gift to some, but it was the exact thing she asked me for.  What kind of mom would I be, to deny her?

Happy Birthday to my Izzy the Pooh!  Gommy LOVES You!!!

The EggShelf: “Here and Now” by Kimberla Lawson Roby

This week’s trip to the library resulted in my searching for African American fiction that mentions infertility.  Information is great, but sometimes you just want to find a good  story.  That’s why we read these blogs, isn’t it?

Anyhoo, my search, both online as well as through the catalog, led me to only TWO stories that featured African American characters dealing with infertility.  The first being HeatSeekers by Zane, which was listed as being in, but is NEVER there when I go (Darn you Oak Park Public Library OPAC!) And the second being Here and Now by Kimberla Lawson Roby.  I put ALL the other  books I was reading on pause, so that I could quickly finish up this story of two sisters.

It wasn’t until I was nearing the end of the book that I recalled my having read it years ago.  The fact that I so quickly forgot the subplot of infertility, reminded me of how oblivious we are to infertility until we’ve encountered it ourselves.  Which made this read all the more endearing to me.

The story centers around two sisters, Raquel and Marcella.  Marcella has two children by a deadbeat father, and is pushing her way through the trials of minimum wage and single motherhood.  Raquel, is a second-grade teacher, married to a wonderful husband, and going quickly into debt and solitude because of her infertility.  The two couldn’t be more different.  And in those ways…they were just alike.

For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on Raquel and her infertility.

First of all, I commend the author for doing her research on the medications and feelings of infertility because for the most part, she nailed them!  She also did a great job of showing the role that miscarriage can play into the infertility world.  This is something that many people tend to overlook.  There was a sincere look at the emotional and physical strain that was afflicting not only Raquel, but her husband Kevin.  She even made effort to note how annoying it can be when one partner is willing to have a child by any means neccesary and the other is has basically had enough.

Kevin and Raquel have spent the majority of their four years of marriage on the road to baby.  While Kevin, (and most of the other people in her life), are supportive of Raquel, they are beginning to feel that her desire has become an obsession.  One that is threatening her marriage.  Spending hundreds on baby clothes before even being pregnant, devastation  after repeated calls from the nurse to relay negative test results, and even the thoughts of worthlessness, are all not only read but felt while following Raquel’s journey.

I applaud the author for making Kevin a patient husband.  It would be far too easy to create an angry and threatening charatcter from him, but instead the marriage of these two is primarily tested by Raquel.  The selfishness of this character, whom I did want to identify with, was a bit lengthy.  Her inability to SEE her husband over the desire to make her husband a father, was one that I did find eerily familiar.  With regard to Raquel and Marcella, it would have been equally as cliche to allow these two women to dwell on “the grass is greener” syndrome.  Instead, Ms. Roby found a way to make BOTH women find the same realization about valuing their own stations in life.

So, all that being said, and without telling too much of the book, if you have a lazy Saturday or a trip to the beach coming up, stop by the library and pick up Here and Now.  It’s an oldie but definitely a goodie.  The entire story was full of out-of-the-blue twists and yet some great  familiarities.

Roby, Kimberla. Here and now. Kensington Pub Corp, 1999. Print.

In all, I rate Here and Now:

Omelet Worthy – Great lessons, engaging story, well-written, informative.

Blessed to be a Blessing

This is Dr. Camille Hammond

This is Dr. Hammond’s mother Dr. Tinina Cade.

 

 

In 2005, Camille and her husband Jason became the parents of triplets.
Triplets who were carried to term and given birth to by her mother, Tinina.
What an amazing gift.

Because of her unique experience in dealing with infertility, Dr. Hammond felt the need to fill a void that for many is the deciding factor in whether or not they can pursue parenthood: money to cover IVF.  InVitro Fertilization, is the process of sperm and egg being joined together outside of the body and then re-implanted into the woman’s uterus.  In the United States,the average cost of this procedure is $12,000.  Many couples, regardless of race, just don’t have that lying around.

To give back to the infertility community, Dr. Hammond founded the Tinina Q. Cade Foundation, an organization which seeks to provide family-building resources to couples in need.  The foundation actively engages community members in various cities through activities such as Fertili-Teas, tea parties for Infertility Awareness, FertiliWines, wine tastings for infertility awareness, and an amazing annual Race For the Family.  These are just a glimpse of the many things that this great company takes part in, but one of the most amazing feats is the Family Building grant.

Each year, through an application process, the Cade Foundation awards SIX $10,000 grants to couples in need of assistance for IVF treatments or domestic adoption expenses.  I first mentioned the Cade Foundation grant exactly one year ago this Thursday, and am more in awe of them now than I was then.  I so wanted to find a way to make sure that people were hearing about these options so that we could put an end to the “that costs too much” barriers of IVF and adoption.

That being said, it is my GREAT honor to announce that a portion of the proceeds from this year’s A.H.A. Gala will be donated to the Cade Foundation to assist in funding a Family Building grant.  I have always been humbled by people who make their adversity their mission.  Dr. Hammond has done just that.

On Friday, September 17, 2010, the Broken Brown Egg will make our formal debut into society as an advocate for infertility and reproductive health. Please help us help others by purchasing a ticket to the A.H.A. Gala. There will be great information, connections and entertainment, but most importantly, we will be giving someone their power back over infertility.  Won’t you please help? Your ticket or donation has the power to create a new life for someone.  We hope to see you.

A.H.A. Gala for African American Infertility and Reproductive Health Awareness
a night of Awareness, Hope, and Activism
at
Loft on Lake
1366 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL.


Purchase tickets (or donate) here: A.H.A. Gala
Please feel free to contact us for sponsorship and partnership opportunities as well!
Learn more about our friends at the Cade Foundation by clicking here: Cade Foundation







Please Note: “The Tinina Q. Cade Foundation Selection Committee is responsible for the review of all Family Building Grant applications and makes the decision about funding. All complete applications will be reviewed and considered regardless of color, race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, elderliness, familial status, or handicap.”
*2010 Grant Submissions are closed.
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