Sunday, January 31, 2010

Change.org petition for access to birth certificates

A fellow adoption advocate submitted an idea to a contest on Change.org. It calls for allowing adoptees access to their original birth certificates. The 10 ideas that receive the most votes by the end of the competition will be presented at an event in DC to relevant officials in the Obama Administration. Check it out, then vote and comment if you agree!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Whites-Only Basketball League

A whites-only basketball league. At first some thought it was a prank.

Whose idea? Don "Moose" Lewis, former pro-wrestling promoter. He says that people will support something they can identify with (AKA white people), and that white basketball is "fundamental basketball" instead of that "street ball" that apparently litters our vision and is only played by people of color. He cites the recent incident with NBA player Gilbert Arenas bringing guns into the Wizards' locker room. This is apparently indicative of "street ball"? As in gangster, as in black. Street = guns = gangster = black

A friend of mine had this to say in response: "I think the league’s founder is mistaking whiteness for male maturity. To form a white basketball squad, in his mind, would equal decorum, respect, good old wholesome sport. But it ignores the fact that whiteness does not equate with maturity: let’s see, bill clinton, john edwards, rush limbaugh, eliot spitzer, Joe Wilson, the obama-hating senator — philandering, drug addicted, ill-mannered. Immaturity knows no one race. Improper behavior knows no one race." Truth!

When you are connecting behavior to race, and/or connecting the behavior of some to the behavior the entire race, you have officially been swallowed by race.

[However, if he were really swallowed by race, you'd think he'd agree that white men can't jump!]

The league is, according to this article, forming out of Georgia. They hope to begin playing in June this year and are looking for 12 cities to host teams. Chatanooga, TN, for one, said hell no. Good for them.

Requirements to play: "Only natural-born United States citizens with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play." I would like him to define this a little better. Lots of white people have a drop of something else somewhere in their family tree. Will there be cheek swabs? Blood tests? Hair examinations?

Such a blatant abomination is hard to believe. Some still think it must be a joke. But Lewis keeps emphasizing to the media that this is very serious indeed. Let's just hope his plan fails, which will be a success for America.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bastard Nation's Statement on Haitian Adoptions

Statement from the Daily Bastardette, which was faxed to the U.S. State Department: "For the last week, Bastard Nation, like the rest of the world, has been watching the devastation of Haiti. The images are frightening, sad, and heartrending, especially those of the children.

We have also watched with alarm the rush to rescue Haitian children by adoption. Within three days of the earthquake, Catholic Charities of Miami had set up a scheme modeled on Operation Pedro Pan, a joint State Department-CIA-Miami Diocese project in the early 1960s to separate children from their parents, creating young pawns in the US war against the Castro government. Although “Operation Pierre Pan” in Haiti is on hold, at least for now, numerous evangelical churches and ministries, adoption agencies, secular organizations, unfinalized adoptive parents and other individuals--many with conflicts of interest--have joined the rescue mission call to remove children immediately, no matter what their family status, to the US for the purpose of adoption.

Haiti is still under rubble. Aid is slow to arrive. Survivors are spread out in shelters and camps, or live in the streets. The dead are unnumbered, unknown, and unnamed. Family members continue to search for each for other, and it will take weeks or even months for final conciliation.

The rush to relocate orphans, quasi-orphans, and potential orphans internationally is ripe for coercion and fraud. Adoption agencies, church agencies, and ministries especially--along with fraudulent and predatory “child welfare” agents--have much to gain from fast removal. The trafficking of Haitian children for sex, servitude, and adoption operated in Haiti before the quake. It certainly operates now. The unethical and possibly unlawful mass transfer of traumatized children, many with family status unknown, to foreign shelters, foster care, and adoption agencies, removed from their culture and language, with little hope of family reunification cannot be allowed or tolerated. We urge US State Department and other US authorities in Haiti to (1) remove private special interests and those with conflicts of interest, such as adoption agencies and ministries, from the child welfare decision-making process and (2) halt the evacuation of children and their placement for adoption in the US.

We also urge the State Department to suspend pending adoptions. Haitian paperwork is lost or destroyed. Rock Cadet, the judge most responsible and knowledgeable about pipeline cases, died in the quake. Though the US Embassy survived, US paperwork is probably unavailable for some time, if it still exists. Without proof of Haitian court or Embassy status, any adoption removal from the country, without thorough background investigation and due process, is illegal and not in the best interest of the child

Needless to say, no new adoptions should be processed.

In the post-quake chaos, children need protection from predatory snatchers. Bastard Nation, therefore, supports the expedited removal of Haitian children, orphans or otherwise, to credible and documented parents or family members in the US for temporary or permanent placement depending on the circumstances. These children must not be assumed adoptable and scooped up for fast-track adoption. They should be a top priority. We urge the State Department or other government or credible private and disinterested agencies to assist Haitians in the US to locate child kin and bring them to the US.

We understand why people want to open their arms and hearts to the children of the Haitian earthquake, but adoption is not emergency or humanitarian aid or a solution to Haiti’s ongoing problems. The immediate rescue effort in Haiti should focus on emergency services, individual and family care and family reunification, not family, community, and cultural destruction and the strip-mining of children."

Haitian Adoptions, con't

Apparently 15 children have gone missing from hospitals in Haiti since the earthquake. Another reason why aid organizations such as UNICEF have been warning officials to tread carefully with these accelerated adoptions, as there is a high risk of child trafficking in this country.

A chief executive of the children's organization Plan International had this to say:
"You can speed up the process but not cut corners. We must keep in mind that the first best choice is to have children with family members. And the second best choice is to have them in their own community with responsible adults taking care of them."
Read more here.

I just hope and pray for the best possible outcome for these kids. If their families are alive and they step forward, I hope they are heard and supported. Adoption should always be an option for mothers-adopters-kids, but it should always be a last resort for the child.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haitian Orphans Hurriedly Adopted in America

The recent earthquake that ravaged Haiti left many children parent-less. Check out this article, which details how the US of A has jumped to the rescue, loosening visa requirements so that hundreds of American families are able adopt these children almost immediately.

(I wonder if, on our end, anything has changed or "loosened" with our adoptive-parent-screening process to make it quicker?)

A quick rescue effort from Pittsburgh included sending a plane of aid workers, doctors, and a few politicians to gather orphans from Haiti.

Does this scenario remind anyone of the Korean Babylift of 1975?

Aid groups had said that every effort should be made to place children with relatives in Haiti, but in reading all these articles I can't tell how much of that effort really happened.

Shouldn't we stop and think: Maybe a rush to help doesn't have to mean a rush to remove.


Of course there are other things to protest about with this highly sensitive issue. Critics have complained about the media images. Photos that say without words: look at the white rescuer carrying the poor, starving, third-world black child to safety. Because of our long history of silencing with international adoption and the "savior" narrative, the images make me cringe a little.

(And, of course, I think about how no one seems hurried to adopt the many African-American children without permanent homes right here in this country. This is a crisis, too, people.)

One adoptee writes a detailed critique of the media's portrayal, naming the emotional bent that adoption stories often take, one that focuses solely on the adoptive parents' point of view. It's hurtful as an adoptee to see this happen over and over. To feel silenced, objectified. But I believe we should be compassionate as we criticize, recognize others' good intentions as we speak up. We should definitely speak up.

America, we should be careful as we laud, and not simply see these Haitian children as poor and in need of rescue. We should not simply view these adoptions as providing a "better" life for these children. Yes, their basic needs will probably be met better than back in Haiti (though what if we gave more directly to Haiti so it could provide for its own?). But their emotional needs are even higher now. Remember the lost mothers and fathers.

We must say thank you to all those who stepped forward to give time, money, and resources to Haiti, and to the parents who have opened their homes to these orphaned children. It's a good thing to see people work together to help another country in crisis. It's a good thing that people are coming forward to meet immediate needs of children. Intentions, I am certain, are good. But, adoption is always-always-always complicated, and a balanced perspective on all the issues surrounding it rarely seems to emerge. No one likes to hear about the downside of adoption, or how a good thing can go bad.
Fifty-three orphans arrived here in Pittsburgh yesterday morning. As they get settled into new families, my hope is that the parents are being educated on the issues surrounding this potentially-good-yet-complex situation. The children might not be as "grateful" as parents expect them to be. At some point they might struggle with racial issues, anger, confusion. They will probably want to return to Haiti one day, obtain their original birth certificates and records, maybe find their birth parents or other blood relatives. I hope the parents are ready for that, and will allow space for their children's complicated emotions.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Curly Girls Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.

I find it amusing, yet somehow perfectly appropriate, that naturallycurly.com is offering a 15% discount on all orders to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday.

Interested parties should use coupon code MLK15 upon checkout.

Meeting My Newfound Family over New Year's

I should write something about my meeting with new family over New Year's. It's hard to put into words (I've already been trying!) Or maybe it's just hard to put into the right words.

In short, these people, my people, are wonderful.

Everyone was super warm and welcoming right off the bat. I was doing chores and helping prepare the meal within 20 minutes of arrival. There was none of that weirdness that can happen sometimes when nobody knows that their brother or son or husband had a secret child way-back-when. It was as though I was now part of the family and that was that.

My cousin Faith just had a baby in November, which made for a nice parallel. I wasn't the only new face to examine and welcome into the family. Took the pressure off a bit. Thanks, little Jo-Jo!

Big family dinner New Year's Day--fried catfish, greens, chitterlings, gumbo. Probably about 20 people, many of whom looked at me and immediately said I look just like my father. They told me stories of what he was like growing up, how he'd been a basketball star in high school and had wooed all the ladies.

What a strange feeling to be told that you look like someone! I've never looked like anyone before. I wanted to see him immediately.

Finally on Saturday, January 2, I did. Debbie and I went to where he was staying and there was my face on a fifty-year-old man. He looked me up and down and said, "So you my baby?" Then he hooted. I laughed. A bit of humor goes a long way when you're so nervous you think you might explode. We talked (mostly he did the talking). He paced, though I don't think he was particularly nervous. He showed me his calf muscle. I showed him mine. He put his arm next to mine. Just a shade darker. "It's because you ain't been in the sun," he said. After what felt like only a minute, we had to leave.

Although I only got to spend 20 minutes with him, I do feel that I got to know him a little bit through his family. Everyone had a story to tell about him. I see the role that he plays in the family. How, in a strange way, he brings them together, how they've all come together in different ways through the years to make sure he's well.

I'm still processing all of it. Mostly I felt like I was basking in a pool of light. A beautiful, dark, shimmering pool of light. Dark and light.

I hope the connections last this time. But if they don't, it still feels better just to finally know. Finally.