“Did You Ever Mind It?” – Thoughts On Race And Adoption

Good piece written out of the adoptee’s view on being adopted transracially.

Did You Ever Mind It

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Wednesday Wisdom 26/11/2014

“Adoption doesn’t cure the pain of my infertility. But because of adoption, infertility also hasn’t taken from me of the overwhelming joy of motherhood. And that’s beautiful.”

http://www.adoption.com

A Year Gone By!

7 November was our one year anniversary of bringing Siya home to us! I simply cannot believe how fast the time has flown.

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This year has been so much easier and better than I ever dreamt it would be. From the day we told our family and friends we got the call from our social worker, we have been surrounded with love and support. Everyone was so excited for us and were counting down the days with us until his home-coming. We were in the very fortunate position of meeting Siya about 3 weeks before the placement date and that gave us more than enough time to fall in love with this sweet little baby.

It was still an adjustment going from a family of 3 to 4 and I think the biggest challenge was getting Siya to learn good sleeping habits. But the hard work paid off and now he is a toddler that LOVES to go to bed and gives us most nights uninterrupted sleep. I am very grateful for the way that we all settled in, and nowadays I am not even aware of the color difference between us.

Siya is very friendly, inquisitive and loves to make jokes. He is always looking for a new way to make us laugh. He is a big tease and just knows which “buttons to press” with Nina to really annoy her! He has a special love for a toilet, and a few weeks ago for the first but hopefully last time he dropped a cell phone in the toilet. Siya doesn’t sit still even for a few seconds and is forever busy exploring and climbing on any kind of  obstacle. He definitely has a natural instinct when it comes to music and dancing, it is so cute to see that little body start to move to the beat.

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We have also been really amazed by the ease and enthusiasm by which Nina welcomed Siya as her brother. Even now a year later, Nina loves it when Siya is with me when we pick her up from the school because she so enjoys showing off with him. She also likes to discipline him and we have to step in every so often when we can hear her reprimanding him. 😉

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It is also special to share this one year anniversary of Siya’s homecoming with National Adoption Month, and we have been reminded again about the big burden that there is in the world and especially in Africa concerning orphans. We also took our Adoption Selfie with the smiley faces.

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For us it is impossible not to also be reminded about our adoption into God’s family by the work of Jesus Christ. We praise His name and give Him thanks for the wonderful privilege to be called children of the Most High God!

For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will – to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One he loves.”

Eph 1:4-6

 

 

 

Baby Abandonment – The Rising Crisis in SA

This article, published in the Wall Street Journal,  gives insight into the rising problem of baby abandonment in South Africa. As the article stated there are a number of reasons for this crisis. Thankfully there are many NGO’s working hard to provide anonymous drop-off points for moms that feel that they cannot look after the babies.

Another look at the current statistics in South Afrcia on this can be found here.

In South Africa, a Grassroots Battle on Baby Abandonment

Updated Aug. 22, 2012 7:21 a.m. ET

JOHANNESBURG—South Africa, buffeted by AIDS and economic crisis, is grappling with a related issue, baby abandonment.

When police in Port Elizabeth confirmed earlier this month that they had retrieved a newborn boy, alive in a shoe box inside a plastic bag, it added to accounts of infants abandoned by mothers in toilets, flowerpots, railroad tracks, rubbish bins, sidewalks and city parks. Many perish. Others are left to hospitals, acquaintances or charities, as mothers seek ways to give better lives to children they can’t support.

The issue has spurred unorthodox private responses such as the so-called Door of Hope—akin to a library drop box where desperate mothers can leave infants to be retrieved by volunteers. The Door of Hope has been operated by a nonprofit group of the same name in Johannesburg for more than a decade. Since then, the group’s founder said that about a dozen similar programs have sprouted up across the country.

Photos

A Home for Abandoned Babies in South Africa

A house mother, Francinah Phago, tends to a baby at the Door of Hope. Abortion is legal in South Africa, but many religious communities, particularly those in rural areas, frown upon it. David Dini for The Wall Street Journal

“Babies are often left in places moms are hoping people will take care of them,” said Heidi Loening, a South Africa-based child-protection specialist with Unicef. “It’s the dilemma of ending a life.”

South Africa’s government doesn’t provide statistics on baby abandonment. But people who deal with the issue say it is rising as families that are already fractured by disease and poverty grapple with the fallout of the global financial crisis. South Africa was hit harder than most on the continent. Overall unemployment stands at 25%, and is much higher among the young.

According to one group, the number of abandoned babies fell from 2008 to 2009 but rose over the next two full years. Some 2,583 infants were abandoned across the country in 2011, up 36% from the year before, said the group, Child Welfare South Africa, a nongovernment organization that collected the data from 263 member organizations, including homes for infants and children.

Comprehensive global infant-abandonment figures aren’t available. Anecdotally, however, some fellow BRICS nations—Brazil, India and China—are also seen as particular problem spots, according to Shantha Bloemen, the chief of communication for Unicef in Johannesburg. Large portions of the population in such nations live in poverty, even as they are more acutely aware of better opportunities around them. But unlike in China and India, where rates of female abandonment are particularly high, South Africans abandon boys as well as girls.

South Africa’s government is devoting more funding to children’s and women’s shelters that aim to keep families together, according to social development minister Bathabile Olive Dlamini. For the 2013-14 year, the government has allocated what she said is a record $162 million for women and children’s shelters, and in funding to relieve the financial burdens of early childhood education.

Ms. Dlamini said her ministry has also tried to make the adoption process easier and quicker.

But the slower economy means fewer families can afford to adopt. Last year, about 2,400 babies in South Africa were adopted, down from 2,900 in 2010, according to the ministry. International families can adopt only once the government has determined that a South African parent can’t be found. Fewer than 10% of babies are adopted internationally.

Abortion is legal in South Africa. But many religious and traditional communities, particularly those in rural areas, frown upon it, as they do single motherhood. South Africa also has one of the world’s highest rates of rape; women often have difficulty bonding with infants conceived through violence. HIV-AIDS also has taken a particularly heavy toll on a generation of childbearing South Africans, often removing at least one parent from a family. About 18% of adults are HIV-positive, one of the highest rates in the world, according to Unicef.

The problems have led many women to the bright white hatch labeled Door of Hope, located steps away from a corner shop selling chilled drinks and cigarettes.

When a baby is placed inside the door, motion sensors trigger an alarm. Helpers check a live video feed of the box, where people also at times leave trash. Babies often arrive at night.

“We never judge the moms,” says Baptist pastor Cheryl Allen, who founded Door of Hope, which receives no government funding, in 1999. “Things are difficult here in the inner city. If the mothers stay with others, crying babies get them kicked out; they are orphans themselves.”

The group cares for babies until they are adopted, which can take up to year. Meanwhile, they are fed, cleaned and taken to medical appointments. HIV-positive babies are given antiretroviral drugs. The facility’s 54 baby cots are always full, say the home’s helpers.

The number of babies taken in at the home has more than quadrupled since its founding, from four per month to as many as 18.

Inside the home, there are sounds of cooing and crying. Volunteers “kangaroo” infants, wrapping them close to their chests to spark bonding.

Some South Africans, including social-development minister Ms. Dlamini, have raised objections to the use of baby doors, saying anonymous abandonment leaves children without any way of their tracing family or heritage.

Supporters say the hatches are a necessary option for women who might otherwise leave babies to die on the street.

Charmaine Coetzee says that in her case, she could neither bring herself to abort an unborn life nor take responsibility for the babies. So she left them to others.

Ms. Coetzee, now 40 years old, says that as a 19-year-old prostitute she gave her firstborn to a friend. A few years later, she said, an acquaintance raped her; she abandoned the twins at a hospital. Two years later, she said, she was a homeless alcoholic when the father of her fourth child proposed to her before he was killed in an alcohol-related car crash. She handed the baby to the boyfriend’s elderly mother.

Five years ago, as a homeless alcoholic, she arrived at a Johannesburg shelter seeking help. She has since taken a paid position there, doing laundry. Her face cracks into a smile when she says she is no longer an alcoholic, drug addict or sex worker.

Parts of Ms. Coetzee’s story were confirmed by Dr. Rebecca Walker, a volunteer at the shelter and a lecturer in anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Ms. Coetzee says her four abandoned children, unlike herself, have all attended high school. Three of her sons speak to her occasionally by phone, she says. Her youngest refuses.

“I wanted the best for them, not for me,” said Ms. Coetzee, who is planning a trip to Cape Town to see them.

Last year, Ms. Coetzee had a fifth child.

“The baby was a second chance for me,” she said of her one-year old, Ruthie, whom she tries to spoil with new shoes and clothes. “I’m trying my very best with her. This time around, I will not fail.”

“What Not To Say To Parents Of Adoptive Families”

Another article on using the right adoption language, but written also out of a Christian worldview and perspective on adoption. Well worth the read!

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/life/what-not-say-parents-adopted-children#eMeDZyBfPkcuySMe.01

“All My Children Are “My Own””

A very good look at both adoption as we know it to be but also our adoption into God’s family by the work of Jesus Christ.

All My Children Are ‘My Own’


OCT 292014
The theological significance of adoption language.

“We prefer not to refer to our children as ‘adopted children’ as we see adoption as having been a one-time event. We just call them our children,” Hagerty said.

“If Mommy gets a baby in her belly, will you send me back?” my daughter asked, with nervous eyes searching the floor, inhaling the shame of those words as if they were her indictment.

It’s often near the surface for this one — not the year she was “chosen” and a mommy and daddy flew all the way across the ocean to look her in the eyes and call her daughter — but the too-many, earlier years that still seem to weigh heavier. These days, she lives buoyant and giddy. Her eyes have found a sparkle, and we see them more than we see those hands that spent nearly a year awkwardly covering them. My little girl laughs. A lot. And this week when I hugged her I could tell her body wanted to melt (not stiffen) in my arms.

But just within her reach is the shame she feels about her life on the other side, when her given last name tied her to no one. One phrase or question or hint of her past and I watch those eyes, which just harnessed a sparkle, go dark.

Adoption saved her and it haunts her, because of its open-ended definition to her. It’s still a question. She, like many of the rest of us, has yet to reconcile the power of this one act.

Children of My Own

I hadn’t even kissed their foreheads or tickled their feet and this stranger’s words about them stung.

“Oh, you’re adopting? Just you wait. Once you have them at home I’m sure you’ll be able to have children of your own.”

A phrase I’ve heard a hundred times, and it never ceases to give my heart pause. Children of your own, words that expose a subconscious understanding of adoption as charitable affection versus primal love. As if these, once-adopted ones, were somehow, not truly mine.

There is a distinction in our language about those children, once adopted, and their biological counterparts that reveals much more about the state of our hearts — the state of myheart — than it does about the children to whom it’s referring.

That simple phrase, often spoken by beautifully intentioned people, reveals the shame under which my daughter sometimes lives. But she’s not alone, she just lives an outward existence that represents the battle each one of us fights in our understanding of him.

It is inherent to human flesh. We are interlopers, or so we think, hanging on to the coattails of another person’s inheritance. Certainly we’re not “one of his own,” we hold deep-down; instead we grasp at something we believe will never really name us. We are simply recipients of his charitable affections, we subconsciously reason.

Our language about physical adoption reveals the gaps in our understanding about how he has adopted us. And those words that sting when I hear them make me hurt more than just for my children, but for the representation of his name.

Most can’t imagine a love beyond what we see in the natural as the most intense form of love — the kind birthed when a mother’s body breaks open to give life to one that shared her flesh and her breath. How could it be that a mother could not only love, but see as her own, a child that her womb did not form and who wears another mama’s skin? We see the struggle of attaching, mother to child and child to mother, that so often happens in adoption, and it only reinforces our subconscious belief that true love between mother and child is only inherited through blood … and not won.

Adoption Changes Everything

When my daughter’s eyes fill with the shame of her history and her heart begins to clamp behind them and adoption is still her question — am I truly “in” or just posing? – I see me. I see a hundred weak yeses as just plain weak and all the things I’ve declared with my mouth that my body never fulfilled and the times I poured out prayers to him only to forget him, the real source of my strength, hours later.

I see a never-ending list of failures. I live, subtly, as if I am on the outside of that fence. Just like her. All things that could be wiped away in an instant if I understood the power of his having adopted me. This reality changes everything.

I am a child of his own, this God-Man who wrapped his holiness around my sin-stained existence and renamed me. Adopted. Grafted. I am one who is marked by his name more than any of my failures.

A child who knows that adoption isn’t really about the past that haunts her, the forever stamp of separate, not included, but instead the name of the King who fought, hard for her — she wears a love that is fierce. She’s a force with which to be reckoned, this wildly-loved former-orphan. Me.

So when I hear that phrase “a child of your own” separating the children under my roof from the one born from my womb, and my heart saddens at the misunderstanding of this wild-love that’s been birthed within my home among children who wear another mama’s skin, I can’t help but think of him.

He calls me “his own” when the world and my heart wants to label me forever severed.

Adoption is his great declaration.

Sara Hagerty is a wife to Nate and a mother of five whose arms stretched wide across the ocean to Africa. Sara is the author of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God In All Things and she writes regularly about life-delays, finding God in the unlikely, motherhood, marriage and adoption athttp://EveryBitterThingisSweet.com, where this article originally appeared.

* This article was first posted on Christianity Today.

Wednesday Wisdom 12/11/2014

“If you love someone unconditionally and with your whole heart, then you will do what is best for them, not you. I have never learned a harder lesson than giving my child up for adoption, I probably never will.”

Sarah, birth mother

“Why Didn’t You Adopt a White Baby?”

Love this little bit tongue-in-cheek but also honest look at typical questions multi-racial adoptive families get. 🙂

“Why Didn’t You Adopt a White Baby?” and Other Questions I Wish People Would Stop Asking

I’m a mom of three children, all of whom were adopted at birth. My kids are black, and my husband and I are white. When we visit the park, eat at a restaurant, meander around the mall, or stand in a checkout line, we can reliably predict the questions and comments that will come our way.

We are a multi-racial adoptive family, and we realize that our uncommon path to parenthood evokes curiosity. However, there are days we can’t even buy toilet paper or order a sandwich without hearing, “Excuse me … ” followed by a request for personal information or an assumption about adoption or race.  It gets tiresome to respond to the same questions and comments over and over, all while standing right beside my children who are listening and learning about the world.

Here are some things I really wish people would stop saying to us:

1. “Are you going to tell the kids they are adopted?”

Um, they already know. And I think they’d figure it out even if we didn’t tell them.

2. “Are the kids real siblings?”

Of course. Kids in the same family are “real” siblings. We are the real parents. We are a real family. Authenticity isn’t based on genetics.

3. “Oh! I’ve always wanted a little brown baby. They are SO SO SO cute!” 

Yes, my kids are adorable. But a brown-skinned child isn’t an accessory to be carried around. My kids, you know the ones standing right next to me, are people with feelings, and there’s much more to them than their looks – such as their intelligence, talents, and humor.

4. “What country are they from?”

Um, the Midwest. In the United States. Not all black kids were adopted from Africa.

5. “Isn’t it so hard to do their hair?”

(This one is usually proceeded by an attempt to fondle the kids’ heads.) Like anything in parenting, moms and dads learn as they go. And please, please do not touch my children. You are a stranger, and my children aren’t puppies to pet. Also, that hair you are admiring took hours to style, so keep your grimy hands off!

6. “It’s so nice of you to provide them with a loving home. The kids are so lucky to have you as their parents.”

We didn’t rescue our children. They came from loving families and were placed with us for reasons we don’t disclose out of respect for the birth families’ privacy. We are the lucky ones, so please don’t act like our kids are charity cases.

7.“Why didn’t you adopt a white baby?”

We were open to adopting a child of any race. We were chosen, three times, to become parents of a black child. Our ability to love a child has nothing to do with the child’s race.

8. “I heard adoption is so expensive! Doesn’t adopting cost a ton of money?”

Financial matters aren’t usually a topic of discussion between strangers. But since you are just itching to know how much adoption costs, you can call adoption agencies and ask. And keep in mind, adopting from foster care is free.

9. “I’ve always wanted to adopt, but I know that adopted kids have problems.”

Yes, all adopted children are exactly the same. Thankfully we have Lifetime movies to provide the public with stereotypical adoption education. You do realize my children are standing right here as you proclaim how all adopted children have issues, right?

10. “Now that you’ve adopted, are you going to try to have your own kids?”

These are our own kids. And unless you’re my gynecologist, my uterus is none of your concern.

Tip: The next time you see a family like mine, treat them just as they are, fellow human beings. Interrogations aren’t appreciated. Smiles are.

This post was taken from www.Adoption.Com

Taking Flight: From War Orphan To Star Ballerina

This video and the story behind it just brought tears to my eyes. Being reminded of the orphan crisis in Africa and what emotional and physical trauma many of these kids have to go through are unimaginable. With the current Ebola crisis in West Africa, Unicef also note the dire needs of these vulnerable children loosing one or both parents.

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