Posts Tagged ‘family’

The Image of Black Adoption

Typed in “African American Adoption” in Google, this is the first result to come up.

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Chocolate Brides Weekend 2010!

I’m a supporter of the vision that our community is not beneath others in the fact that we too can and do have strong, healthy and prosperous families. Aside from the banter I keep up here on the BBE, I am also a writer for ChocolateBrides.com, the premiere resource for brides of color.  Yup, that’s right, I lay out the majority of my life, right here on the internet, LOL.  Marriage over there, babies over here.  But, I must say I would not have the courage, knowledge and passion for the fight against infertility if not for the strength and openness of my sisters on ChocolateBrides.  Stop on by if you ever need a community to help support you in the full scope.

In celebration of the great support and family that ChocolateBrides has been to engaged, single, divorced, expecting and married women, we will be partying together this April in Raleigh North Carolina.  Join us for two days of outstanding fellowship including a private screening of Why Did I Get Married Too attended by one of the stars, Malik Yoba!
Visit our information site for tickets and a full agenda! – ChocolateBrides Weekend Info!
Come on, join us…you know you want to….

So Tell me…What’s Your Motivation?

There is quite a large group of people who would love to have a child bless their home.  The number of people who want this seemingly simple favor from fate, is staggering. Such a basic desire, yet due to a myriad of circumstances, there are now so many who seek out alternative ways of achieving this goal.  It is pursued relentlessly.
Sometimes though, I wonder what other reasons are lingering at the heart of the desperation.  And as I thought about that, a few other questions began to nudge me.
ImageChef.com

Right now, in my world, things are good.
My husband and I can financially sustain ourselves.
Aside from asthma and diabetes, we have no MAJOR health issues.
Our relationship is stable.
We are comfortable.
But what if things were to change?
Just random, out of the blue, change that alters that comfort?
Would I right now be in a position to care for a child  born with severe profound medical issues?

Do I have money saved to accomodate the needs of a child who is born in need of immediate medical care or surgery?
Can I afford to support my child if there were any change in my marital status?
What are my thoughts on c-sections, epidurals and breastfeeding?
Can I handle talking to my child about war, poverty, and death.

These are the thoughts that most people who desperately want a baby are far too wary of dealing with.  Ironically, these are the very thoughts that everyone who is even considering bringing a life into this world should be thinking on.  This is the world in which we live, and how dare we bring others into it without at least considering what we are bringing them into.
It’s not wrong to want to create life, but it is irresponsible to not truly examine the reasons for that want and the requirements that may come with it.

What is your motivation?

When I originally became a member of the embattled, tough girls of infertility lifestyle, I thought the best way to make myself strong, was to completely act un-phased by things that were the cliche discomforts for infertile women.  The textbook cases of teen-pregnancy haters, bitter stepmothers, and weepy weak women who couldn’t bare to lay eyes on children until they had their own.  But I have to admit, it is extremely easy to slip into feelings of inadequacy compared to other women.  So with that in mind, combined with the rather heavy questions above, I began to really start to question myself more thoroughly.  Why want a baby anyway?

Is it to feel adequate compared to other women, men and families?
Is it to show parents and others how we feel a child should be raised?
Is it  really a yearning for “mini-me’s” in whom we can carry out vicarious dreams of how we wish our own childhoods had been?
Or do we really want to create a piece of hope for this world through the bringing forth of more successful and moral families?
What is propelling you so dynamically that you are willing to go through whatever necessary to achieve the parenting goal?

I’m still working over my reasons, but whatever your reasons may be, remember to think past the longing.  Think beyond the cute Prada babybag.  Think of the future.  Think of the full picture.  So many are taking it for granted, please help balance the stakes.

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Guest Post – "The Hidden Problem of Infertility In The African American Community"

During one of my recurrent Google searches for AA Infertility sites, I came across the Ferre Institute’s “Families of Color Initiative”.  The site isn’t huge, but the wealth of information is amazing.  Upon seeing how great a resource they were, I realized that I just had to provide that great info with my Eggshells.  I encourage you to visit the families of Color site for more information and resources!  Here’s a long read, but a great one!

Infertility affects 1 in 6 couples seeking a pregnancy. The causes of infertility for these couples are numerous and are distributed evenly between male and female factors. Approximately 6.2 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 are diagnosed as being infertile. In 1995, the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) examined trends in proportions and numbers of women with impaired fecundity and those who received infertility services using data from 1982, 1988, and 1995. The study revealed a dramatic increase in the numbers of women who sought medical treatment. Of women facing infertility, 44% will seek some intervention; however, among African American women only 31% will seek treatment for this problem.
One of the most common causes for infertility in women is Pelvic Inflammatory disease (PID). The National Institute of Health indicates that women with sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) are at greater risk of developing PID. According to the Center for Disease Control (1998), half of the ten most frequently reported infections are sexually transmitted diseases, including the most common, Chlamydia (CDC, 1998) all of these STD’s are associated with the complication of infertility. Most women with tubal infertility have never had symptoms of PID. Organisms such as Chlamydia trachomatis can silently invade the fallopian tube and cause scarring, which blocks the normal passage of eggs into the uterus (NIH 1999). Due to the lack of symptoms, many women frequently do not seek treatment. Those challenged with lower socioeconomic status often lack access to information, insurance and preventive health care. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, PID has also been classified as the leading cause of pregnancy loss in African American women (NIAID,1999). Annals of Internal Medicine (1998) reports that of women who get Chlamydia, 30% will get PID and of that group, 12% will end up with a problem in infertility. The United States Public Health Service’s Office of Women’s Health indicates that prevalence rates for African American women are significantly higher, (nearly two to three times) than for Caucasian women (1999). Conjointly, African American women are nearly three times more likely than Caucasian women to be hospitalized with acute PID and two times as likely to be hospitalized with chronic PID (DHHS, Office on Women’s Health, March 1999).
The Endometriosis Association suggests that endometriosis, which is symptomatically characterized by pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea, infertility, and abnormal vaginal bleeding, has often been erroneously diagnosed in African American women as PID due to racial bias in medical textbooks that suggest they are more sexually active and promiscuous and therefore more likely to get a sexually transmitted disease (1999). Further, according to one study found by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 40% of the African American women who were told they had PID in reality had endometriosis (1976). Endometriosis is a chronic condition that has reproductive and health consequences.
Another frequent finding in African American women are uterine anomalies such as fibroids. According to an article written by Essence (Jan 1994) a startling 50 to 75 percent of all African American women are affected with fibroid tumors. Fibroids generally occur in women of reproductive age. They are two to three times more common in African American women than in Caucasian women. For black women the risk of developing fibroids is 50 percent compared to 33 percent chance for white women (DHHS, National Women’s Health Information Center, 1999).
An additional consideration in our focus on infertility in African American women is the issue of wellness and quality of life. For example, some symptoms associated with fibroids, endometriosis and other STD’s are chronic pelvic pain, back pain, dysmenorrhea, intermittent bleeding and/or persistent bleeding. Remarkably, many of the aforementioned diagnosis’ that lead to infertility have been documented to be prevalent in the African American Women (NIH, DHHS, CDC, NIAID,1999).

PUBLIC AWARENESS
More than many issues in the field of health within the African American Community, the issue of infertility has been least considered, researched, or even discussed among professionals within the health care community. The National Family Growth Survey, however, does indicate that Black women had lower odds than whites of reporting that they had ever sought medical help for the problems associated with infertility (1998). This phenomenon is most likely associated with hesitancy to seek early diagnosis and treatment (Ebony, 1995), the lack of trust due to inherent racism in the health care system, and gaps in available resources and information regarding the condition of infertility.
Vanessa Northingham-Gamble, MD, Ph.D. indicates that African Americans’ beliefs that their lives are devalued by white society also influence their relationships with the medical profession. (American Journal of Public Health, Nov, 1997). Dr. Northingham-Gamble sites a national telephone survey that revealed that African Americans were more likely than Whites to report that their physicians did not inquire sufficiently about their pain, did not tell them how long it would take for prescribed medicine to work, did not explain the seriousness of their illness or injury, and did not discuss test and examination findings (American Journal of Public Health, Nov, 1997).
In addition, to the inherent institutionalized racism within the medical community, the American culture portrays women of color as stoic, earth mamas, and baby making welfare queens (Kashef, Essence, 1995). This myth has bombarded our society with stereotypic information, influencing perceptions of women of color. Despite this myth, one out of ten women will face fertility problems (Kashef, Essence, 1995). According to a study done for Ferre Institute by the College of New Jersey in 1999, men often equate fertility with potency. This perception of male virility often contributes to the persistence of the couple’s infertility due to the male’s unwillingness to participate in the diagnostic process. These misperceptions perpetuate the problem and lead to a lack of information regarding fertility issues concerning this population.
The Office of Population Affairs (OPA) administer Title X for the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) grants to fund comprehensive family planning and reproductive health services (contraceptive services and supplies, basic gynecological care, cancer and general medical screening, education, counseling, referral, and infertility services) through various clinics. According to the United States Public Health Service’s Coordinating Committee on Women’s Health, eighty five percent of the women served by Title X clinics are members of low income families. The patients who use Title X funded family planning clinics are disproportionately women of color. Thirty eight percent of Title X patients are either African American or Hispanic (DHHS, 1999). For many of these women, Title X clinics are their primary and often sole source of reproductive health care and information.

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It takes a Village….


                                                                      


Though I’ve prayed for Haiti in the midst of their crisis, I have tried not to watch the news for fear that I would get desensitized or worse, that I would get emblazoned into one of my campaigns.

And I messed around and did it.

So, no matter how I say it someone’s gonna have a problem with it, so I’m just gonna put it out there:

I’m sure that there are SOME African Americans interested in adopting Haitian orphans.  

I just know it.

So why am I not seeing any?

Please don’t take this the wrong way, as it’s not a racist thing, and honestly in light of the circumstance, I’m grateful that ANYONE is taking on the care and well-being of these precious ones.  What I yearn for, is some balance.  I would LOVE to see one news story that showed more than just Caucasian Americans walking with tear-filled eyes through the airports with their new children.

Are we not as aware of the information on how to adopt the children coming into the country after the disaster?
 Are we not given the same opportunity to adopt as Caucasian Americans?
Or, even more disturbing, are we just not interested?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/unicefsverige/ / CC BY 2.0


On the other hand:

Some of these families have been actually going through the adoption process for their Haitian children for over a year and were just wading through all the formal propaganda before being able to bring their children home.  The emergency of the earthquake was actually a blessing in disguise for these families because it afforded them the opportunity of meeting their little ones sooner than expected.  God bless them!

BUT,
Um, still, no brown faces adopting brown faces?

I’m grateful to see the outstanding show of compassion towards the children of Haiti.  Even before the quake there was a rather large amount of Haitian orphans awaiting families to call their own and in just the past two years the amount of adoptions have risen.

Upon a little research, I did learn that the rush in adoption processing has been primarily geared towards those who have already been engaged in the process before the earthquake.  That is amazing.  I’m really glad that these families who have yearned for children are finding that the little ones who have stolen their hearts are not only alive and well, but that the process has been expedited.

Though my husband and I are not in a position to adopt any of the children, I would love it if I could see some other well-meaning and well-equipped brown faces bring those brown babies home.

                                                                      

Just my thoughts.

Here are a few other yolks for you to investigate:
United States Department of State Office of Children’s Issues
God’s Littlelest Angels Orphanage – I encourage you to join their mailing list and their adoption news list! I did!
U.S. Intercountry Adoption Page for Haiti
How You Can Help – MSNBC
Americans Eager to Embrace Hatian Orphans – USA Today
Haitian Orphans – Old and New- “Scared” – CBS Evening News

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Sigh, Steve Harvey….

Well Eggshells, on the way in to work today, I found out that I’m going to have to go off on Steve Harvey. It’s confirmed. Every morning during his radio show, Steve and his co-host Shirley Strawberry, read what is called the “Strawberry Letter”. People write in seeking advice and Shirley and Steve respond. Usually, Shirley is the “good cop”, with sound advice and sympathetic answers, while Steve provides the blunt, sometimes aggressively humorous bad cop role. He is often serious at first, unless the letter is totally outrageous and then afterwards, will get a little more humorous and raunchy.


Well… this was the Strawberry Letter for today:

Hello Steve, Shirley, and Morning Crew. I am a 39 yr old woman with a wonderful husband. He is a God fearing man, that is an excellent provider, and the best husband that any woman could ask for. He is the most unselfish person that I have ever met. We desperately want to start a family but this past summer I was diagnosed with diabetes and ended up in ICU with a blood sugar of 980. The nursed said that I should have been in a coma. Well because of this the doctor told us that we really should try to wait a while before we try to conceive. I also have PCOS (Polysystic Ovary Snydrome) which is already an issue and now this. I feel like less than a wife because I can not give my husband the one thing that he wants the most. He is very supportive and never pressures me about this but, I really want to start a family with my husband. I feel terrible about this situation.

As someone who UNDERSTANDS this situation, I was immediately interested in what Steve and Shirley were going to say. Shirley said that the woman should be more focused on getting herself healthy and worry about having a baby later. Her tone was a bit annoying, but at least her point was well-taken.
Now Steve’s response:
“Lady, what the hell, you don’t need no baby. What do you want us to say? You ain’t even ask a question! You don’t need no baby. Adopt an abused circus animal. You already got posturepedic(PCOS), whatever it is, you ain’t even asking us anything. Your husband ain’t putting no pressure on you, why you putting it on yourself?”

“Have jungle sex three nights a week and tell your husband that if yall have a baby, you can’t do that no more. What you trying to have a baby for? Your blood sugar was 980!? That’s almost a 1000! You don’t need a 10000 of anything. Hell, you don’t need 1000 eyelashes!  Then you already got that PCOS, I don’t even know what that is, probably some woman’s issue. Why don’t you adopt a white baby to flip the script.  Why not just let somebody live in yall house.  Why you write us? Why you draggin us down into this?”

ARE YOU SERIOUS STEVE!!!!
I’m sorry, I was gone at “Adopt an abused circus animal”
ARE YOU SERIOUS!


I was so angry. Primarily because this is the EXACT reason infertility and family planning as a whole is so ignored in our community. This woman was not asking for Steve’s advice, she was asking for some form of support. Reaching out in the way that for most suffering with this issue, only know how to do. Did Steve say anything positive about the fact that the woman’s husband was a supportive one who loved her unconditionally? No. He chose to joke about sex and confuse that with the importance of women feeling adequate as FAMILY builders.


So, I took all that anger and penned a response to Mr. Harvey.  I hope it finds him.


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Dear Mr. Harvey,

Congratulations on being the father of four children. I’m sure that they are the apple of your eye, your pride and joy, and your very reason for doing what you do. I’ve heard you from time to time referencing them with a glimmer of pride in your voice, and I know that you are a great father by the way you speak of them. Now, that being said, I wonder if you have ever likened your precious babies, two of which are only one year younger than I, to abused circus animals?

I ask this question because on today’s show, that is exactly what you prescribed to a woman who was struggling with infertility and who reached out to you. I ask you, as you look into the eyes of your children, do you ever honestly feel that they would be better equated to a week of “hot jungle love”, as you put it. I pose that question because you told this same writer that she should convince her husband that it was better to have sex than to yearn for offspring for fear that they might “ruin it”. Do you see where I’m going with this?

My statements may seem bold or out of line, but in all honesty sir, I am merely regurgitating to you the precise words and stance that YOU took so effortlessly during your show this morning. You see Mr. Harvey, the writer of the letter did not choose to fill her letter with rhetoric and nonsense about how awful her husband is, or how they sleep with other people, or he sleeps with her mother etc., but no, this particular writer instead gave you a full-on depiction of what is REALLY going on in some of our most positive homes in the African American community. She cast her pearls before you, and you turned around and not only did you trample them under your feet but you then turned again and attacked her.

I’m finding it hard to believe that a man who told a writer a few weeks ago that she should be more considerate of her husband’s age and “medical libido” when speaking about how disastisfied she was with their sexual life, could in turn be so unsympathetic when speaking of medical conditions that occur more often than libido problems. Granted, you are a comedian, and perhaps are better suited to adress letters of complete tomfoolery because they allow you to shuck and jive around while throwing out bits of information that any woman with common sense already knows, and I guess you just aren’t able to deliver the goods when in regard to a situation that requires care and tact. You had an opportunity today to open your listeners up to a serious issue that is literally RAVAGING the African American community, and instead you were insensitive and cruel.

Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome, as listed in Google Health, is a condition in which small cysts attach themselves to a woman’s ovaries, which impedes a woman’s chances of getting pregnant. Polycistic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS, affects 5%-10% of ALL women. Of that count, the only group with a higher case of PCOS diagnosis than African American women are Hispanic-American women. The chances of contracting PCOS are also INCREASED when a woman is diabetic. So, to break this all down for you, the letter you read today was from a woman who was ALREADY blocked in wanting to give her husband the gift of a new life, but then hitting another wall because now BOTH diseases are combating her chances, not to mention the fact that at 39 she is considered in many medical fields to be of “advanced maternal age”. But again, she wasn’t talking to you about stripping, or whether or not its okay to sleep with her husband’s best friend and wife, so you didn’t catch on to this particular chance to educate. Is that it? Or is it what I’ve suspected for some time now, that you are NOT in fact an educator at all, but merely a comedian who like all comedians are, is good at making everyday common sense funny? You see Mr. Harvey, it is far harder to truly TEACH our community about the importance of family building and healthy relationships than it is to make humorous the fact that they don’t KNOW right from wrong. I can get a lot more jokes saying, “Just make the plane out of the black box”, than I can by saying, “Learn your body, get immunizations, have regular pap smears, seek counseling for your reproductive mental health”. One topic is just not as funny as others.

There are some times that are not the time to laugh. There are some times, that are more for teaching. You had what we teachers call, a “teachable moment”, and you let it slip away.

I am a 28 year old, African-American daughter, wife, and teacher. I have, in my life, a 28 year old, AMAZING African-American husband, who has been to me, a better husband than I’ve seen in most 50 and 60 year old husbands in my family. He is a God-fearing man, the head of my household, my dearest friend, and the greatest piece of this world that God has ever trusted me with. Because of who he is, and all he does, I want nothing more than to give him someone he can pass his great attributes to, and someone in whom his own eyes he can see reflections. I want it more than anything. But unfortunately, until my own bouts with PCOS related complications and thyroid problems subside, I cannot.

It is the most heart-wrenching sight to see him doing everything he can to be the best husband God would want for me, while friends have children, younger family members have “accidental offspring”, etc. I yearn for someone to talk to about it. But in our community, Mr. Harvey, it is easier to speak about unprotected sex, STD’s, unplanned pregnancies, etc, than it is to find someone willing to openly and unashamedly discuss infertility. You sir, made it just that much harder this morning. You stated that the writer “didn’t ask a question”. She asked one, you just didn’t hear it. She was asking you to say, “It’s alright. Your husband loves you in spite of your afflictions. Your marriage is worth more than having a baby. You are valuable. You are beautiful. You are worthy of a good husband, regardless of your fertility”. But you didn’t tell her that. You told her to build a bridge and get over it.

I was disappointed this morning Mr. Harvey. As someone who is claiming to be a relationship guru, expert, or overall oracle for women to seek out for advice and support, you disgraced yourself this morning. You made yourself out to be an insensitive man of lowly moral character in whom none of us, perhaps not even your own daughters, should confide in for anything of substance.

However, I will say this, you have inspired me more than you know today. Infertility is not a curse that can’t be overcome. With medication, healthy lifestyle choices and other therapies, it can be beaten. The thing that must be beaten first, is the ignorance and lack of knowledge pertaining to it. Because of you, I have a renewed vigor to spread the word about infertility and family health in the African American community. YOU, have given me so much insight into how far we have yet to go in regards to health and awareness. I thank you for reminding me of how important it is to open my mouth about this plague and how it is surging through our diaspora.

It is my hope, that the next time a woman opens her heart before you, and lays out on your radio show ALL that is sacred in her world, you will regard it as such. It is my hope that you and your show take heed to the amount of weight your words and your movement has on the world at large. You have been given the greatest of responsibilities and I hope that I never hear you squander it that way again.

God Bless you, I believe you when you say He’s not finished with you yet, but keep growing.

Sincerely,
Regina M. Townsend
Creator – The Broken Brown Egg Blog

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