Posts Tagged ‘Foster Care’

Review: Instant Mom by Nia Vardalos

When I discovered that I was a shocking 33 books behind on my Goodreads goal for the year, I went into a frenzy of book selections.  I have three e-books on my phone and Ipad, six graphic novels on my desk, two young adult novels in my bag, a playaway digital book in my car, and two audiobooks on my phone.

Don’t judge me.

Anyway, one of the audiobooks, was Nia Vardalos’ “Instant Mom”.

Instant Mom

While parts ring so very uncomfortably true that they bring tears to my eyes, another part of me knows that I will have to buy this book. In print, so that I can highlight parts, and extract quotes. I will then have to buy an extra copy so that I can wrap it in a note and give it to someone as oxygen.

I needed this book right now. I needed her hope, and her sorrow, and her success. I needed to hear my reflection. I’ve been stuffing myself so far down into my own chest that I have literally forgotten my feelings at times. I’ve hidden them under anger or fear, or completely blacked them out. I’ve treated the experience of our failed adoption this year the way I treat all mistakes in my life: as they that must not be named.

Do you know how when you’re writing longhand and you make a mistake in pen you can just draw a line through it and keep going?

Yeah. I don’t. Because I could never deal with just that line.  I, and more importantly, any other human, would still be able to see my error… and that cannot be.  I have to completely eviscerate the word or sentence. Like, to the point where the paper thins out where I’ve drug the pen across so hard.

That, is how much I hate making mistakes. How much I hate feeling or looking stupid. How much I hate failing. And this stupid journey(both the infertility and adoption) feels all the time like an error I can’t correct, white out, or even strike through. And I haaaaaaaate it.

I want to be past it already. To be on the other side. To be in the success story and look at me now portion.  And no matter what I do, I just can’t seem to. And it hurts fresh every time I realize it. Like waking up in a new place everyday and being reminded that I’m there because my house burned down.

So when I listened to Nia explain this exact frustration as she journeys backwards through letdown after letdown, I felt both invigorated and instantly saddened. Because I got it. I got it in a way that no fan or family member who read it without walking this road could.  I got her, because she got me.

She explained quite vulnerably, how her naturally upbeat personality made her wish, just as I have for so long, to just put this all behind her.  She hates discussing infertility, and wanted to focus on being a mom, and finally being happy, but fate has a way of making us share our stories when they can help others.  Nia soon found that the best way for her to feel truly “past” it all, was to tell the story of her journey, and help other hurting people find their children also.

This book examined not only the pain of infertility itself, but the struggle of enduring baby showers, failed IVF cycles, the pitfalls of shady adoption “professionals”, and even “the after”.  The hero of this story, however, was hope.  No matter how many walls Nia and her husband Ian Gomez hit, they maintained their ability to love one another, and love their dreams enough not to let them go.

The Vardalos-Gomez family found their daughter through the foster adoption system.  I appreciated a celebrity speaking out on behalf of the kids who are in the foster care system and eligible for adoption.  Nia took care to speak against the stigma that both adoption and foster care receive.  She expressed that she respects everyone’s choices in how they plan to build their families, but that she encourages people to investigate all the options available.

This voice was so very valuable.  Nia holds nothing back,…well, there is that first 80% of the book where she holds back her daughter’s name,…but other than that, she was exceptionally honest and real.  Her humor, as anyone who has watched her movies is familiar with, was very present in every chapter and she also includes an appendix that is full of adoption resources.

Now, as a librarian, I usually advise you to grab books from your local library, but Nia donates proceeds from the sales of this book to adoption charities, so I’m okay with you buying this one.  🙂

Darn straight, Nia.

Ps: I recommend listening to the audiobook, because she reads it herself, and all the emotion is present in her voice.


Real Talk

I’m gonna say a shitload of things.

Now, before I start on them, I want you to remember these four words okay:

I’m Not Going Anywhere

No matter how it sounds.

No matter what you think I’m trying to say.

At the end of this post, I want you to go back and remind yourself that I already told you those four words.




Now, let’s talk. (more…)

Hiding in Plain Sight

Long time no blog.

I know. *slaps own hand*  “Bad Blogger!”  But come on in, have a seat…

If you hang with me on Facebook and Twitter, then you know I haven’t really left, but that I’ve just been extremely more quiet about what is going on inside my own journey.    There’s good reason, I promise.   (more…)

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,


    Secondly, I DID call.
    I got a busy signal.
    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

    Advice from the Cos…and What We Need to Do

    Following people who you don’t expect to do the talking on Twitter is interesting.  You never know if it is their facts and ideas, or if it is just their team.  Then something amazing happens.  Proof.
    I follow @BillCosby.  Today, he posted a link to his Cinch account.  Cinch is a program that links with Twitter and Facebook where you can basically tweet your voice.  I’m in love.


    But anyway, here was his CinchTweet about playing Dr. Huxtable on the Cosby show.
    Just in case you can’t hear it, one of the things that stuck out to me was that he says(I’m paraphrasing),

    “Cliff Huxtable loved saving lives and delivering babies…but when he became a father, he learned that there was more to life, than just delivering babies”.


    Wow.  “More to life than just delivering babies”.

    In the world of infertility, this thought can sometimes be buried down underneath so many other pangs and yearns, that it can be neglected if we aren’t careful.
    Here, since I come from a slightly broader cloth, it is one of the things that I contemplate quite often.
    I’m so grateful to Dr. Cosby for summing that point up.
    7 year old Aiyana Jones has been on my mind this morning.  I have to admit, I have avoided the news coverage about this beautiful young person, killed by the very group I was taught at age 7 would protect me; the police.
    As I look at her, and I let the news stories swarm over my consciousness, I can’t help but stop and sigh when I think about what would cause police to storm this house.
    The sins of the father.
    This is not to say that Aiyana’s father, Charles Jones, was in any way connected to the acts that brought police to his home searching for a murder suspect, but it is to say that we as a community, are NOT doing our job to protect our own children.
    I’m not going to go into whether the Detroit Police were right or wrong.
    I won’t say whether or not I believe the fact that they were taping an episode of ‘The First 48’ led to heightened need for drama.
    What I will say, is that it says a LOT about our society as a whole when one of our highest rated shows on the Arts and Entertainment channel is a true life Law& Order.
    What I will say is that with crime at the rate it is, how can we not expect our police to be anxious, nervous and jumpy?
    What I will say is that I don’t understand how we send shoutouts to Lil Wayne and shout victory chants when TI, Lil Kim and others get out of jail, as though they didn’t deserve to be in there.
    I will say that we are ADDING to the fire that is causing our young people to misinterpret what prison is about and why it is necessary.
    What I will say is that even the man whom the police were seeking…has been charged with the shooting death of a 17 year old boy just a week before.
    What I will say, is that perhaps we need to think more carefully about who we have in our homes and around our babies.


    Aiyana Jones
    Kaliya Willams
    My heart goes to not only the Jones family in Detroit, but also the Williams family in Brooklyn where 8yr old, Kaliya Willams was found strangled in a bathtub along with her mother.
    I feel that coming from a blog such as this, the amount of attention we need to be placing on what happens once these children we crave so badly get here, is something that should be addressed.  You see because if we DON’T focus on that…we ARE the selfish people that many who misunderstand infertility accuse us of being.
    What are your plans for AFTER the Clomid works?
    What schools have you considered?
    What dreams do you see in that ultrasound photo?
    What are your hopes for this precious one who has not yet come to this heinous world that are so inspiring they are worth the fight?
    You see, Cliff Huxtable and I have a lot in common, according to Dr. Cosby’s assessment of his character.  We are both enamored at the possibilities of bringing children into this world.  The euphoria of knowing that this little person we can usher in, can become the next somebody to change the world.  There is an inner joy in feeling connected to the greatness of One Day.
    However, I, like Dr. Huxtable, have also learned to revel in the fact that it is not just the conception and birth that makes for these great emotions.  There are people to be nurtured after that birth.  There are dreams to be inspired.  There are human beings to build.
    We have to think beyond the babies.  Babies can’t change the world. Humanitarians can.  Babies can’t build communities.  Educated individuals can.  Babies can’t bring peace.  Humble and loving young people can.
    The only way to change the devastating cycle we have found ourselves in, will be to begin working on these underlying situations.  Young black children today need attention and nurturing so that they grow to become attentive and nurturing adults.  In providing activities and outreach programs, we can begin to show them different paths to take once they reach teen years.  Showing that we value education and family can then bring them closer to pursuing education and then raising healthy families of their own.  We have to think of the children outside of our own homes, so that the ones we seek to conceive have a world worth coming to, and friends worth making.
    I know this is a lot, but I was inspired.  Which also leads nicely into a note about this month’s awareness.  May is National Foster Care Month.  Think of the children you could begin influencing even now, by providing those very environments I mentioned above, for a child or teen who needs a family.
    I do hope I’ve put something on the heart of someone willing to take this thing and run with it.


    Thank you Dr. Cosby, for the inspiration.

    Three Booktalks!

    Alright, so I missed a couple days…I know, bad me.

    So, lucky for you, I’ve included THREE stories for you.  Books about grandfamilies, foster care and other family building options are in today’s video!

    For one of the books, I didn’t have the book on hand, but I do have some pics for you!  So, since I’m behind,..I’m gonna shut up and let the vlog do the talkin!

    Hope and Will have a baby

    Byrne, Gayle, and Mary Haverfield. Sometimes It’s Grandmas and Grandpas, Not Mommies and Daddies. New York: Abbeville Kids, 2009. Print.
    Celcer, Iréné, and Horacio Gatto. The Gift. Niskayuna, N.Y.: Graphite, 2009. Print.
    Nelson, Julie, and Mary Gallagher. Kids Need to Be Safe: a Book for Young Children in Foster Care.Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Pub., 2006. Print.
    Free Spirit Publishing


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