Tag Archives: ethiopian adoption

Letter to Samuel’s Birth Mother

I want to encourage all adoptive parents to consider journaling to their child(ren)’s birth mother/father. Even if you don’t believe the parent will ever be able to see your letters, it may one day be a comfort to your child when he or she is older. Also, it is nice to get down in writing some of your thoughts and struggles regarding the absence of the biological family.

Plus, you may never know. One day that journal may very well fall in the hands of the birth parent.

Here is an entry from the journal of letters that I wrote to Samuel’s first mother. This is from many months ago and is obviously before we met.

 

Dear Aster

 

Do you know what our son did today? He woke up earlier than the rest of the family and organized his books quietly as to not disturb anyone sleeping. He loves his books; his favorite is a book about Ethiopia. He will stop me on a page where he says the woman in the illustration looks like you. 

 

He is now talking about you every day and asking more questions. He loves telling people he grew in your belly. When someone asks him about his mother he proudly proclaims he has two. In our family, it seems Aram is feeling a little left out. He says he has two mothers, too. Samuel first tried to correct Aram and tell him he only had one mother, but when he heard how upset Aram was, Samuel now lets him share, saying you are also his mother.

 

I think about what it will be like to meet you for the first time, and what Samuel will think about our meeting. Brian was very nervous to meet you, and I can imagine you felt the same way. I know I would have been very stressed not being able to meet the woman who will be responsible for the care of my child. I hope when we finally meet, there will be some relief to you. 

 

People try to tell us that we are Samuel’s parents, his only parents. Don’t worry, we know better. I think there is a lot of fear coming from the people who say this. There is fear their role will be less important if the child knows another mother or father with a biological connection are also a part of their lives. There is no truth to this, of course. Just as we are able to love both Samuel and Aram (and I’m sure any other child who may one day be a part of our lives) our children will be able to love more than one mother and father. 

 

I often wonder how God will use Samuel, with everything that has happened to him. Although much of it was not right or fair, it will still be able to have a positive impact on the man he will come to be. I see his strength and determination and his gentleness and kindness. I appreciate his spirit and love for people both here and in Ethiopia. I can see him as a peacemaker for many, although, that may not be the plan for his life. I think, as mothers, we see the strength in our children and know the direction they likely will go. One day I hope to talk to you about the strengths you also see in Samuel…Until then, I will continue writing. 

 

May the LORD bless you and keep you.

                                                                                                                                                                                      -Jamie

The Deadly Mosquito


It looks as though I’ve contracted malaria along with a couple of other things. Another of our Ethiopia team members also developed malaria and a host of other maladies. Please pray for his recovery and medical treatment.

Dr. Jay Gordon at the Awassa Children’s Center. Photo by Lori Dorman

 

It was pretty cool coming back to the kids having a blast while I was away. It is so funny – the misconception that babywearing and breastfeeding your infants will turn them in to needy, clinging children couldn’t be any farther from from the truth. During the two weeks I was gone, they would talk about me, but it was in a way where they knew I was coming back and they were excited to see pictures and hear stories upon my return.

Awassa Children’s Project. Photo by Lori Dorman

 

I received a call when I landed in DC to do the Dr. Phil show, which I initially declined, but then I heard that I could plug the Awassa Children’s Project if I went on. There is something really uneasy to me about daytime talk shows. Even though the producers were lovely, I had a feeling they were a little disappointed in the pre-interview about how my current parenting style is not much different than an average American (my kids are growing up and naturally becoming independent). Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, but I got really, really sick two days before I was scheduled to go on and was able to cancel almost as quickly (and reluctantly) as I had agreed. I had made a decision to only do any type of media if I would be allowed to speak about the work happening in Ethiopia, because that is really where the attention and support should be. I am a proponent of a back to basics style of parenting, but I am more of a proponent for each parent to make educated and healthy choices that work for the entire family. This is what works for us, plain and simple. I think most talk shows are working for ratings and trying to exploit non-issues and make them issues.

Photo by Lori Dorman

 

Another reason it was a blessing in disguise was because Good Morning America called a couple days later. We let them know I had malaria and I was not feeling well, and they said I could do the interview on my couch with my pajamas and the interview would heavily stress the Awassa Children’s Project. Perfect.  It was a lovely experience and we’ll see how they edit the final cut. The great majority of the interview focused on the work in Ethiopia and how we really need to take the energy we’re using to bash other mothers in the West and focus it towards becoming advocates for children who do not have access to food, shelter, or any relatives to love and care for them.

 

Awassa Children’s Center. Photo by Lori Dorman

I will always be an advocate for mothers breastfeeding their children beyond infancy (if they feel it is right for their child and family), but I think our issue with it here in the US is so much deeper than a “breastfeeding issue.” Our loss of community and reliance on each other as human beings has become even more apparent in my latest trip into a more human-centered culture. I feel like with this deconstructed cover on Pathways and article inside I was able to explain what had happened with TIME to the community of mothers I admire so much. I am a little surprised that it is picking up in mainstream media, but I think it is also positive. In this magazine there are multiple articles about an ancient style of parenting that coincides with our biology (all explained in the articles). In a sense, this cover is the end of one chapter of our lives and the beginning of a new one. We now see the focus changing and feel the confidence to decline media requests wanting to speak specifically about something misrepresented as extreme. I’m able to point them to the right direction of people who are better qualified and can articulate the topics better.

 

Awassa Children’s Center. Photo by Lori Dorman

There has been a shift in the direction we wanted it to go, and that is to gain coverage for the Awassa Children’s Project, which I was fortunate enough to spend time last week seeing first-hand. Trying to gain much needed funding (It’s a 100% volunteer operation and every dollar goes directly into the center) and bring awareness to this cause is well worth working media circuits for. I think the attention from the TIME article definitely gave our family odd exposure, and thus, the ACP….this is another reason it is hard for me to rag on TIME completely. They definitely misrepresented toddler breastfeeding and the polarizing headline was not okay, but I’ll give them credit where credit is due, they put a breastfeeding mother on the cover and started a global discussion on the topic.

Awassa Children’s Center. Photo by Lori Dorman

 

I need to hurry up and get better for our next round of adventures. We’ll be spending almost a month with the entire family in South Africa and then I’ll be heading straight from there to Uganda and Ethiopia.

 

Also, we are planning a fundraiser in Los Angeles for ACP on World AIDS Day December 2.  Anyone looking to fundraise or wants to volunteer please contact me.

Completing a family – the adoption story

Who doesn’t love a good birth or adoption story? This one is the Grumet family’s, in links that were compiled here by Kendall.

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This post (January 28, 2010), written in the midst of other posts regarding social worker visits (“Please God, let my house be clean!”), endless notarizing, and multiple sets of fingerprints, details the reasons for choosing to adopt from Ethiopia specifically. Samuel had turned 3 a little over a month before this post was written.

This post (February 20, 2010) celebrated the passing of the homestudy portion and details the steps of adoption process.

Setback after setback marked March with this post, written March 29, 2010, and this post which details a seizure Aram experienced.

Finally a referral (June 21, 2010)! and an adoption court date (July 9, 2010)!

But then, excruitiating delays. Finally, Brian traveled to Ethiopia and made the adoption official. But, there were delays again in picking him up.

Finally, Samuel was welcomed home.

 

Here’s why Samuel is the perfect name for him.

and here’s a video that might make you cry.

 

Ethics (or lack thereof) in Ethiopian Adoptions

Earlier this year I attended an adoption-centered Christian women’s retreat. One evening at dinner, some of my table-mates asked me my thoughts about ethics in Ethiopian adoptions. I gave a guarded response, knowing that many of these women were in process to adopt. Ultimately, I shared that I personally would not adopt a young, healthy child from Ethiopia at this time because of my concerns over the pervasive corruption in the system. I also shared some guidelines that I felt could help insure an ethical adoption if others decided to proceed with an Ethiopian adoption.

Anna and her mother, Sept 2008

Later, the organizer of the event approached a friend who was with me at the dinner table. She asked if we had discussed ethics or other “negative” things about adoption. My friend responded that the topic had come up, but did not share anything further about our discussion. The organizer, the leader of this organization- a respected Christian blogger- replied that she prefer we not discuss the topic because “it might bring down the women who are waiting on a referral.”
Friends, this was just days after discovering some unethical practices in our adoption process. Believe me, if anyone  felt “down” because of the (un)ethical situation in Ethiopian adoptions, it was me.

Unfortunately, this seems to be a prevalent attitude among Christians. There seems to be a thought that we shouldn’t discuss the ethics of adoption because that’s not placing our trust in God. That those who discuss adoption and warn against certain practices are “naysayers” at best or “working against God to prevent His will of adoption” or worse. The mindset seems to be that the ends justifies the means. That even if (and yes, people still pretend this is an “if” situation) unethical practices are occurring, it’s worth it because in the end, kids have families and hear about Jesus.

Our Family, July 2012

And friends, that Is. Not. Okay.
These attitudes not only are opposite of the Biblical truth that we should hold ourselves to a higher standard in our choices and behavior, but they make Christians and the worthy cause of caring for orphans and the needy a laughingstock to non-believers. The casual way we use “God called us to adopt” as a dismissal to our duty to ethical adoption practices just as easily dismisses us  in our attempt to live according to The Way.

What it comes down to, for me, is this: God may call you to adoption, but He will NEVER call you to an unethical adoption.

And ignorance is not an excuse.

 

 

This guest post was written by Grace, an adoptive and biological mother of four, striving to live in The Way through practical love for others. She blogs about marriage, motherhood, and moving to the Deep South at Gracelings.org.

Meeting With Samuel’s Birth Mother- Thoughts Before the Visit

 

“I am grateful to have been loved and to be loved now and to be able to love, because that liberates. Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind. Love says, ‘I love you. I love you if you’re in China. I love you if you’re across town. I love you if you’re in Harlem. I love you. I would like to be near you. I’d like to have your arms around me. I’d like to hear your voice in my ear. But that’s not possible now, so I love you. Go.’” – Maya Angelou

In two days we leave for a month full of adventure, but that also means today is full of tedious packing and planning. The most important task we need to accomplish is collecting drawings, videos, and photos of Samuel and Aram for Ama (Samuel’s birth mother).

 

I was trying to put myself in her shoes today. Samuel was 3.5 years old when he entered the orphanage and a month shy of 4 the last time she saw him. It makes me angry for her. I think of the age Samuel was when we brought him home and how that is the same exact age Aram was in May. The irony of normalizing attachment parenting in the West and then knowing my oldest child and first mother were tragically detached from one another seems completely unfair and heartbreaking.

 

I’ve had people say to me that “over there” losing a child is expected, and the mindset of mothers is different. No, it’s not. Humans are humans and mothers are mothers, regardless of geographic location. Knowing that you’ve made a selfless sacrifice to give your child to someone else to raise out of necessity for his well-being and livelihood doesn’t make it any easier to give up a child you have deeply loved and cared for over the course of four years. The pain is still the same. Understanding her love for Samuel during a conversation with her proved just that. It is almost unlivable to know you have to give your child to another family when you don’t know the family, you don’t know if they are caring for him well, you don’t know if you will ever see him again, if he is happy, if he is healthy. Could you imagine having to live with that? A birth mother who gave her child up for adoption during the era of strict closed adoptions described it as the death of a loved one, only worse because there is no closure of knowing they are okay or at peace.

 

When people want to know why it is so important to keep a close relationship with Samuel’s birth mother, we explain that it is because we understand the importance of the relationships he formed the first three years of his life. We also understand his mother’s love and her need to make sure she always feels connected to him. As much as Samuel loves us we also love that he is aware I am not his only mother. At the grocery store last week a woman was chatting with the boys in an aisle. Samuel said, “I’m from Ethiopia!” Aram then said, “I’m from mommy’s tummy” and Samuel added, “I’m from Ama’s tummy! I have two mommies!” The woman smiled brightly when she saw how excited Samuel was to talk about his family, his entire family.

 

I think what I am most excited to share with Samuel’s mother is the journal I started writing for her when Samuel arrived home. I wanted to hand deliver it and make sure I had a translator. I wanted her to be as connected as possible with what has been going on since he left her side. I wrote it for her, but also as an outlet for myself. It’s elating to know she will finally get to read or listen to my thoughts from these past twenty months and hopefully be able to better understand the love and devotion we have for her (our) child.

 

So while making sure to bring an adequate amount of underwear is important, this trip is proving to be even more difficult to pack for because some of these items have extreme emotional value.

Adoption Is Trendy?

Yes, unfortunately adoption is trendy.

  I am very worried about the consequences of adoption being something stylish, rather than a creation of a family. 

(Fact: Ethiopian adoptions doubled following Angelina Jolie’s adoption of her daughter.)

 

International and transracial adoptions are quickly sweeping over Hollywood. As family that adopted internationally and transracially, I understand the reasoning behind intercountry adoption and embracing a child of any color. However, it has come to my attention the motivation being some of these adoptions is to make the adoption more obvious, as it is a trend. This is frightening for the adopted children if it is true.

Angelina Jolie, Katherine Heigl, Madonna, Sandra Bullock, and Charlize Theron all recently adopted children outside of their race. Some of the adoptions were also international adoptions. I am not questioning the motivation behind the celebrity adoptions.  My concern and focus is what this may be doing to our celebrity obsessed society.  My three most recent encounters with adoptive parents left me uneasy about celebrity inspired adoptions.

So what is the harm in being inspired by celebrity adoptions? Perhaps nothing. Almost every adoptive parent has a moment or experience that makes the choice to adopt very clear. If that happens to be an interview with Sandra Bullock speaking about her adoption experience, then that is great. What is not okay, is being inspired by Sandra Bullock based on something like the positive attention she has received for adopting a black child. If you are adopting to gain anything more than a family member (clearly, that is not something to take lightly) you are doing it for the wrong reason.

Some people have argued that through this process all of the people doing it to be fashionable would be weeded out because it is so long and strenuous. I completely disagree. If you have enough money, most of the adoption can be taken care of through your attorney with little to no fuss from the prospective adoptive parents.  Also, certain countries the wait is much shorter.

A good example of a “bad” adoption is Casey Johnson. She was the heiress of the J&J brand, and adopted a little girl from Kazakhstan. She originally tried to adopt from Cambodia (“inspired” by Angelina Jolie) but the country actually turned her away.  However, after another celebrity friend introduced her to her baby from Kazakhstan she was again inspired to adopt. This time the country let her go through.  Her daughter soon after adoption was quickly taken away from her, and went to live with her grandparents (Casey’s parents). Casey’s mother was afraid for the little girl’s safety living with her adopted mother. Casey was a drug addict and definitely made some tragic life choices.  Sadly, Casey ended up losing her life due to her lifestyle.

It is very unsettling to know the process of adoption is not discerning enough to catch this kind of potential adoptive parent.  What we can do is help educate people to the best of our ability the truth of adoption. Hopefully, giving realistic rather than romanticized truths of what each adoptive parent and child may face, will help people debating whether or not to start the process. Yes, adoption is beautiful, but there are definitely different hardships that adoption creates. It is definitely not for every family.

 

I hope that any potential adoptive parents know:

1. If you are adopting for any other reason than the desire to want another person to be a part of your family, you should stop the process right now and re-evaluate the adoption.  If not, that kind of recklessness will put your current family and adopted child in danger.

2. It is something almost anyone can do, but it does not mean everyone should do it.

It’s my SITS DAY!

Holy Cow!

Today is my SITS Day! (It’s a big deal!)

What is SITS? Visit here for details.

So, here is a little about who I am and about this blog for all my fellow SITS sisters and new readers-

I’m Jamie

I’m the mother of two beautiful boys.

This picture pretty much sums up my life- I can’t tame my children or my hair:

but my kids love me:

About Me:

I am a Christian.

I am a wife

I am an adoptive and biological mother.

I love to travel.

I am a hypochondriac.

I am a breastfeeding advocate (We practice- Nursing In Public, Child Led Weaning, and Adoptive Breastfeeding.) (I would love to feature any and all of you in my Clever Cleavage series. See one of my favorite guest posts here)

I home school my children.

We all love Disney.

I try to live as natural/organic of a lifestyle as possible (I also co-author a product review blog named Mommy Hates Chemicals)

I am my own person outside of my children. (This blog is geared more as a parenting blog, but I hope to convey the message that even though I love them as much as a human being could love another human, and I would give my life to spare theirs without a second thought,  my children still do not define me as a person.)

I am on a mission. A group of brilliant friends and I have been tirelessly working on what we consider a labor of love- the Fayye Foundation (site should go live in the next two weeks so check back!) Our mission is to end the orphan crisis in Sidama, Ethiopia, through heath care and family assistance. While we believe that adoption is beautiful, we believe in family preservation above all else.

About my Kids:


Samuel is five and was adopted for Sidama, Ethiopia. November 6, 2010 was the day of his homecoming!

Aram is three and was born two months premature due to me developing HELLP Syndrome in my pregnancy. (We both made a full recovery from that traumatic birth)

About my Husband:

I have been married to this stud muffin for almost five years-

Although, up until a few weeks ago his beard looked more like this:

We live in Los Angeles where I am chronically mistaken for the babysitter of my children.

I hope you stick around!

 

Samuel

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