Thursday, April 13, 2017

Am I Not A Man?

"There's nothing wrong with a little agitation for what's right or what's fair." ~John Lewis

Today, Tuesday (4/11/17) we visited the National Museum of African American History & Culture. I've been waiting a long time to see this up before the birds on January 5th, to get online and try for a pass to enter in April. Thankfully, Karma was with me on this one.

The museum is a decade, some say, a century in the planning. To say I'm happy that it is open is an understatement. What an amazing building; architecturally stunning, its contents a history of our world.

The museum is broken out into seven floors. There are three floors that comprise the History portion of the museum, these floors are underground. They will take you from the 1400's up until 1968 and beyond. You take the elevator down to the bottom floor (1400's) working your way up. You begin to learn of the beginnings of slavery and its twisted, paradoxical path. The domestic slave trade, the transatlantic slave trade, the enslaving of colonial North America. As much as I personally feel I knew of the historical beginnings of slavery, this was so eye opening. I learned so much more that, frankly, makes me more perplexed & angry toward my fellow humans. It is so confusing how we can treat another being this way. We easily spent two hours on this floor alone...there was so much to read, learn, soak in.

The next floor in the history area of the museum brings you to the Era of Segregation the late 1800's - is here we are shown a segregated railroad car, deeper information around Jim Crow era, the beginnings of the civil rights movement and then this most beautiful installment; the Interactive Lunch Counter. A lunch counter for you to sit down at and choose your participation in the various elements of the civil rights movement at that time....the stools were from a Woolworths, which was the site of many a sit-in. Were you a Freedom Rider? Were you a Marcher? Were you going to sit at a Lunch Counter? Whatever you chose, you were then asked questions about what you would do if various digressions were put upon you; a white man beating you in the head, then choose your answer and you are told if you were following along with how the non-violent movement was guiding you, and what you needed to do if you chose otherwise. This whole time you are sitting at a lunch counter that looks exactly as the lunch counters looked during that time...with a continuing stream of videos in front of you; violent videos, showing the damage done to those that were rising up.

My girls have been engaged throughout the museum, when we enter this area of the lunch counter, they are understandably a little freaked by the video streaming...but they both sit down and immediately start doing the lunch counter menu choice of activism. They have previously (at home) seen videos of Selma, the march to Montgomery, the March on Washington...all of this. Ericka's met & listened to Congressman John Lewis speak of his storied history & experiences in the civil rights movement. They've both read his books. We've spent many hours viewing the footage from that era and I've tried to teach them as best I can, nearly since the day they came to the United States. I do everything I can to expose them to what has happened in the history of our country...but man, this is heavy stuff.  We hit this floor, walk into this area and all the resolve I've had the past two hours is completely gone. I had to take myself to a corner and weep. I've been slowly reading John Lewis' autobiography "Walking with the Wind" over the past few months...the details in this novel are gravely disturbing. This portion of the exhibit is like walking into a live act of his book. It became more real in this museum than real and upsetting as it's been in the past, this was the pinnacle. It hit home hard.

I gather myself, sit at the counter I've always imagined I'd have sat at in the 60's, and make my choices. I chose to be the Freedom Rider & the Lunch Counter 'sitter' -- I am next to the girls and we are all making our choices, having our individual experiences. Then at one point we all just stop, look at the videos above, Ericka see's her 'friend' John Lewis being beaten and it just opens up such floods of emotions. The videos, the artifacts surrounding feelings, their feelings, it was both bonding and so damn emotional you just wanted to stand up and scream.

At the beginning of this particular floor I shared with them the story of Emmet describe this boy's story and then to be with them when they viewed his pictures was deep. I have no other words but deep. Confusing, frustrating, incomprehensible, <insert adjective here>. I'm a white woman, I understand & have experienced gender discrimination but I have no first hand knowledge of truly what it is to experience discrimination in the depths that my brothers & sisters of color have. I feel I have spent most of my life learning all I can around this try and understand, make amends, help make a change in community behaviors.

The upper floors are where we learn about the rich cultural aspects given to us by our African-American brothers & sisters. These are the floors where I felt the celebration of the human spirit. The celebration of those that stood tall, despite all odds, and helped give our world more depth. The history floors were hard, agitating, depressing...the cultural floors give us a point where we must stop and ponder 'what if' the KKK and its supporters truly DID succeed in eliminating all those with a darker than white skin tone? How blandly homogenous would our lives be now? These floors were the necessary & entirely deserved floors of celebration. How resilient is the human spirit...thankfully it is such, as I, for one, am grateful for a richly diverse human experience.

We spent all day in the museum...past closing. We left with 1 ½ floors left to view, we hope to make it back to get those floors at some point this week. Rickza  & Ericka were fully engaged and I think the information they learned somewhat helps them to understand some of the behaviors that have been put upon them since coming to the United States...they had previously never experienced discrimination, from a skin color perspective. This helps their understanding that it's not really them, but rather this is a long & ugly history in this country...that I know they are determined to help change.

My desire is for all to take a few days, visit this amazing, well-thought out museum. Let it sink in, with your egos & prejudices put aside, let the history, the culture, the truth sink in and then take a moment to look in the mirror. Whatever your preconceived ideas were / are, did anything in this museum cause you to question those ideas? I hope so. I hope that with each person that visits, they take one thing away that they will improve in their day to day life...little by little, we can each make this the world we want for it to be. History is there for us to is not necessary to repeat, it is necessary to learn and do better now that we know.

XO - Ruth

PS - I am a firm believer that every day is a new day and a new chance to make things better...but I just need to be honest; there were more times during this day where I truly didn't like people. I know that there are more good in the world than bad, but boy, I really had some moments of doubt during this day...

"The point in history at which we stand is full of promise and danger. The world will either move forward toward unity and widely shared prosperity - or it will move apart." ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." ~Karl Marx

Monday, April 10, 2017

Wander & Explore my child...

The girls & I are doing Spring Break in DC!

Left bright & early, arrived at hotel by 5:30 pm...headed to get a snack, then off to the Mall to take in all the monuments. We hit the Washington monument, WW II memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Lincoln Memorial , MLK Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Such rich conversations we had throughout all of them and what a beautiful evening to explore.

Each memorial & monument was a deep discussion of our country's was encouraging to me to hear them speak of what they knew and then to hear their perspective of what they were learning from what I was sharing or what the monument/memorial explained.

Walking at dusk through the national mall & around the tidal basin, Rickza & I were having one of those discussions you have when you walk. Easy, free flowing...

Rickza "Mom, I know what I want to do with my life. You know, when I'm done with College."

Yes, what is it you want to do.

"I want to travel around the world, I want to learn about people and their cultures."

I love that. When you learn about their cultures - what do you think you want to do with that information? Do you want to be a journalist? Do you want to educate people about what you learn?

"I want to write about it. I want to write a book. I want to share what I see and learn about what's all around the world."

I think that's so important that we learn and understand each other.

"Yes, mom....I just think if we spent time learning about everyone around the world, we'd understand we're all really the same. It's interesting to know of others' know what other people like. When I do this...I'm going to live in these places. I'll live there for a year and really know what this place is like. I just want to know them...I think if I did that, I'd tell their story really good."

We then proceeded to talk about a lot of life things, how we are all human beings, how we need to spend time and understand our individualities and how that makes our world the dynamic world it is. We talked about particular journalists that currently bring those perspectives to media today and how Rickza would do such a great thing to help the world when she realizes this dream of hers. Trust me on this one, I support this vision of hers 100% (really, I'll support most any...but you get my drift)

Tick tock...time keeps ticking, but I tell you what, I am loving the direction this particular clock is going. These girls continue to amaze me with their depth; I do truly hope the world doesn't squash them and instead, fully embraces all the goodness they have to offer.


XO - Ruth

"Wandering is the activity of the child, the passion of the genius; it is the discovery of the self, the discovery of the outside world, and the learning of how the self is both "at one with" and "separate from" the outside world. These discoveries are as fundamental to the soul as "learning to survive" is fundamental to the body. These discoveries are essential to realizing what it means to be human. To wander is to be alive." ~~Roman Payne

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Day of Remembrance....

Today, February 19th, is the Day of Remembrance, a day of commemorating the Japanese-American internment camps in WWII.  On this day in 1942, FDR signed the Executive Order #9066, requiring internment of all Americans of Japanese ancestry; 120,000 people.

I attended an event in Seattle today entitled Never Again; it was a couple of thousand people gathered together, demonstrating that we have not forgotten the atrocities from our country's past, committing to each other that we will do all in our power to enforce the words Never Again.

The afternoon was filled with powerful speakers, empowering words and first hand stories of experiences had by those interned. The parallel of Executive Order #9066 and the rash of EO's being signed now was not lost on any of us. The urgency behind complete adherence to Never Again was felt deeply.

There was a young poet (Troy Osaki) who brought the house down with his powerful words. He spoke of the need to 'hide' his culture as he was growing up, his attempt to try and be 'more American.'  A few of the speakers talked of this today; this got me thinking about a moment that occurred when I was adopting the girls.  Someone had asked me if I was going to change Rickza's, you know, be more American.  I remember answering 'no, this is her name.' Then this person said, well don't you think she'll have a hard time, her name is unusual and isn't American sounding, to which I replied 'she is of Haitian descent, I won't take her culture away from her.'

We are on a slippery slope right now in this country, in regards to the mania being directed toward people of Muslim faith. I trust that we will learn from our past transgressions, and treat each other as the individuals that we are.

Make it a point to reach out to someone that is the 'other' - learn about their faith, their lives, their fears, their joys and their dreams. I bet there are more points of similarity than there are points of difference...if you get beyond your fear and prejudice.

"Fear always springs from ignorance." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

....And Still I Rise

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
~William Faulkner

Four weeks post the GLOBAL Women's March and I still feel the high, the emotions, the camaraderie and passion of so many.  The past four weeks I have been reflecting on the experience,  feeling so proud of my fellow human beings; I've also read a lot of critical commentary, and name calling of those that participated in the march.  The author of this blogpost, (I think you meant to say Thank You), expertly captures a lot of what I have felt and feel about this matter.  I'll let their post speak for me.

These marches, and the subsequent activism & dissent, is not about who won or lost the most recent presidential election. This is about fundamental human rights - period, end of story. Basic, human rights & civil liberties. Why every single human living on this planet didn't march, I have no idea.

While I marched in DC, my girls marched here in Seattle, with friends & neighbors. They were given the option to march if they wanted to, I did not instruct them to march, I left it up to them. They were asked to explain what it was they wanted to march for and what they felt the marching would accomplish. To hear them describe the day before the march when they gathered with friends to make signs and then to hear them explain what they experienced the day of the march was encouraging. My goal is to raise young women who fully understand that this is their world, their voice is important and they are to actively participate in their world and help toward its betterment. That day, marching in Seattle, those lessons were learned.

To pfffttt the marchers away, discrediting those that marched by labeling them with those worn-out names (libtard, snowflake, et al), throwing assumptions out of not having jobs (full time+ right here...), or the accusations of violence & vandalism (worldwide...nothing) - it's time to find a new narrative, as YOU may be the problem.  I ask that you check your country's history and any points of progress, you will find communities of people that showed up, dove in and stayed at it...all to make it better for those of us that followed. For that I am eternally grateful and will do all in my power to make life for those that follow me, better.

Four weeks post the current President's inauguration, we in the world have been front row witnesses to the 'why' behind the numbers that continue to RISE UP.  To say the current presidential regime is not normal, is a nice way of saying we are currently on the cusp of a complete and total authoritarian rule...which is my personal 'why' behind why I won't sit down, but will continue to RISE UP, RISE UP, RISE UP.  

"The sun rises not to be mediocre, but to shine; so should you."
~Matshona Dhliwayo

Friday, January 20, 2017

Community is where it's at....

Today was an experience of community, inspiration and togetherness like I've rarely experienced. We walked all over DC.  Despite what may be the 'breaking' news on TV...THIS is what I experienced;

  • Thousands and thousands of men, women, children connecting with each other, with a shared desire to make our country & world a place of Love
  • Hundreds of people waiting in line to enter a pop-up Women's March shop for more than 3 hours, spending that time encouraging, engaging and connecting with one another over a shared experience
  • Those hundreds of people clamoring for the buttons I made, with the desire to help Planned Parenthood and wear the empowering words proudly
  • Those hundreds of people cheering loudly with each FedEx truck that arrived with more merchandise and eagerly helping to unload the truck, working together, passing boxes as an assembly line
  • The merchants along the street where we lined up, coming out and providing food for all of us waiting in line, loudly praising each and every one of us for Rising UP and donating their profits that day to Planned Parenthood
  • The police officers, lining the street, keeping everyone safe & organized...remaining open & helpful to each person who approached
  • Business owners & their service teams, expressing their gratitude and support for what we were all there to do (to include one WH be there with us in spirit)
  • Walking through checkpoints, intermingling with hundreds of Inauguration Ball attendees, that, peacefully, despite the impression displayed tonight on TV
This was our day today.  Community, connecting, empowerment, inspiration, patriotism, and love.  I dare say this is what the majority of people experienced today and what millions more will experience, ACROSS THE GLOBE, tomorrow as we come together to Rise Up for humankind.  All seven continents will be rising up TOGETHER...and together, as a world community, we will continue to Show Up, Dive In and Stay At It.

...and Still I Rise

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Do What You Can , With What You Have, Where You Are - T. Roosevelt


This blog’s genesis was to document the story of my girls’ adoption - I am taking perhaps a slight deviation, but one that is still related to my girls, as this is their world, their country and the activities that have occurred the past nearly two years have had personal impact on them. 

Today is the eve of the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States. On this inauguration eve, I find myself in Washington, DC. I am preparing to participate in an activity that were it not for those who came before and the inalienable rights bestowed upon me (us), as citizens of the United States, we likely would not be allowed to participate or even execute this activity. 

The Women’s March on Washington; as soon as the idea of a march began circulating, I knew I would be there. With who and how, I didn’t know, I just knew this was something that I MUST do.  So here I am, with a couple of close friends, and hundreds of thousands of new friends & comrades in spirit, across the globe.  (The globe, how INCREDIBLE is that?)

As the weeks post-election have passed, and the march has organized globally, I’ve read various articles and online commentary that is quite baffling to me. Some of the words I read make me wonder if people truly understand the history of the United States; its founding, its continued struggles & progress, its basic constitutional rights and Declaration of Independence. We as a people are allowed to RISE UP, truly, if we are to expect continued democratic health, it is required of us to RISE UP. To disparage those that are lawfully practicing their constitutional rights, simply because it doesn’t align with yours, flies directly in the face of what his country is founded on.

I have watched a percentage of United States’ population the last 8 years spit vile that I’ve never known possible, to our departing President Obama…spit vile that, if we are completely open & truthful with ourselves, was mainly driven by the color of his skin. I’ve watched a good portion of our elected officials spend the last 8 years with one objective - block President Obama at every point possible. To quote Mitch McConnell “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.”  Why we, as a collective society, kept these people in office is beyond me. they essentially (& literally) shut down the government because why?  

To sit idly by and do nothing but complain, via your mouth or hiding behind your keyboard, is not what this country is founded on. It is not what I am founded on…to RISE up, to Show Up, to Dive In and Stay at it…just as those that came before.  The suffragists & abolitionists, the Civil Rights movement, the Feminist movement, those that hid the ones persecuted by the Nazi's…they all ROSE up, they Showed UP, Dove In and Stuck with it. 

#WhyIMarch; I believe that Women’s Rights are Human Rights and Human Rights are Women’s Rights. The past nearly two years is causing me concern that we, as an interconnected society, are at risk of going backward in this realm.  I will do all in my power to stop that from happening.

#WhyIMarch; From a young age, blind allegiance was a very confusing concept to me. It was a behavior expected of me and one that, as I became stronger in the beliefs of my soul, I quickly shed. I don’t believe progress is ever made as an individual or a country, if we are made to ‘get in line’ without ever once being allowed to express our individual truths.

#WhyIMarch; I will march in this march for the same reason I marched on Washington with thousands of people asking for change in the International Adoption processes. I will march in this march for the same reason I went to the G8 in Edinburgh to march with thousands of global citizens & meet with G8 officials; to discuss aspects and actions toward Making Poverty History. I will march in this march for the same reason I have met with my congressional representatives in both the state and national realm; to express my desired action of them in various human rights categories.  I will march in this march to continue to ensure that the voice of the people are heard; that social justice and human rights are not just words, but are the true tenement of this country. That we will have Liberty & Justice for ALL.  This is the driving force in my being - the definition of my soul…it was pure luck that I was born in a country that allows my soul to fulfill its mission, for that I am grateful.

#WhyIMarch; I march in this march for Rickza & Ericka. My two young daughters who are immigrants, females and people of color. To watch the past two years through their eyes has been difficult. To find the right words to answer their questions of ‘why’ these grown ups are talking in the disparaging way they are talking about people that look JUST LIKE THEM, is beyond impossible to explain away.  I can’t and I WON’T explain it away…this is something WE as a society need to look in the mirror, consider the ‘other’ and get over.  For our sons & daughters…

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.  Begin it now.” ~~Goethe

Monday, August 25, 2014

Love Grows Kids....

We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

One year and one month the girls have been home.  They are on a trajectory of becoming very tall girls....they are thriving, they are growing both spiritually & physically.  Love certainly DOES grow kids.

Rickza, always having been measured 'behind' in the percentile world was measured today and the doctor had a mini celebration of sorts when he eagerly told her she was now in the 53rd percentile for height.  Explaining that out of 100 kids, she was taller than the majority.  Rickza has grown nearly 4" in this one year!

Ericka is in the 70h percentile for weight, 85th for height!  That girl grew nearly 5" in this past year!  Whoa!

They both have suddenly (over the past three months) done some noticeable growth....R would put on clothes in the morning and I would tell her 'today's the last day for you to wear that outfit' and then proceed to pass the clothes down to her sheer delight, of course!

The doctor and I both believe they will be tall girls...  I'm just happy they're healthy, growing and finally here!

xo - Ruth

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A humorous reminder about thinking...before speaking

"Before you assume, learn the facts.  Before you judge, understand why.  Before you hurt someone, feel.  Before you speak, think."  

Saw this little video yesterday and thought it hilarious.  While I personally haven't had many of these comments said directly to me (or really I have chosen to rid my brain of them when/if I heard them)...I do know many other families that have.

Always a nice reminder, whatever the subject, its best to pause a moment before speaking/judging/hurting/assuming.

The Link;  If you wouldn't say it about a boob job...

XO - Ruth

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Buckets Are For Sand, Toys, Flowers...Not People

"Man is the only critter who feels the need to label things as flowers or weeds." ~ Anonymous

I've recently had some people come into my realm of communication that, in essence, have put me into a bucket and labeled me 'one of them.'  'One of them' meaning a supporter of #CHIFF (Children In Families First)...a supporter of finding a solution to help the current (and future) state of institutionalized children.  Consider me GUILTY as charged.  They are very passionate about their opposition to #CHIFF.  The fact that they oppose #CHIFF isn't what's really bothersome to me; it's the fact that they have applied various (negative/derogatory) adjectives to the people who support the legislation and with one broad stroke of their generalized brush, labeled the ENTIRE group.

I understand that this type of labeling / bucketing is an unfortunate human trait.  This time, however, the labeling is personal to me.  I have been labeled and put in a bucket without ever once being given the respect of a conversation so they may try to understand the perspective from which I view things.  As I am human, my initial reaction was to lash back at those that I felt were sending a lashing tone at me.  That whole 'fight or flight' instinct reared its evolutionary head.  Fortunately, my experiences in life have shown me that lashing back at one that lashes at you typically doesn't foster good solutions and so I held my tongue.

As a handful of additional people have made themselves known, I have tried to understand their perspective.  Asking questions, trying very hard to comprehend what is driving their current opinion. I have to do some digging, as no one seems to be able to share with me what drives least share with me in a tone that is civil and not driven by anger.  I sense that they don't feel they are being listened to.  And if that's true, I am sincere when I say that's unfortunate...I've been trying to 'listen' and am truly interested.  I hope one day we can listen to each other and come up with a solution; simply throwing stones isn't doing anything to make progress and help the children.  It's time to see the proverbial forest for the trees.

At its most basic level, I support #CHIFF because of two little girls that I am proud to have call me mom.  I support #CHIFF because of all their friends before and after them, in Haiti or any other country, that continue to languish in an institution because various government bureaucracies can't seem to prioritize the needs of a child.  Finally, I support #CHIFF because I am a human being who takes very seriously my responsibility to my fellow human beings.  And I need to be able to look in a mirror each day knowing that I didn't turn a blind eye.

Change needs to happen.  I do believe if we were to slick back the current 'emotion-ego' that seems to be driving a lot of the stone throwing, it would be agreed that at the core, ALL of us want the same thing.  We want all children to be properly cared for.  That all children have a fundamental right to a family.  End of story.

When I witness the disarming behaviors of children that have been institutionalized (my girls included) for any length of time, it angers me.  These children had no choice in the matter...they are simply sufferers of their circumstances.  If this was happening to the child next door to you, I am assured you would swiftly step in and try to resolve the situation.  U2 has a beautiful line in their song, Crumbs From My Table, "...Where you live should not decide, whether you live or whether you die."  

Back to the point of me being put in a bucket.  The following is a list of who I am NOT, despite being put in this bucket by total strangers.  This is also how the majority of #CHIFF supporters I know are NOT;

  • A baby-catcher - which I believe is defined by some as one who fancies themselves a 'savior' and adopts child after child after child to fulfill some need
    • If you knew me, took any time to understand me, you would know that this is the furthest from the truth of me and certainly NOT what drove me to adopt two children
    • That said, I am sure there are what you call 'baby-catchers' out there...but I ask, are these the MAJORITY or are these those sensationalized stories that fit a need to support one's theory
  • An ultra-zealous religious crackpot
    • Religion, mine or anyone else's, played no part whatsoever in my determination to support #CHIFF or adopt children
    • My religion is just that...MINE.  It's personal and I do what is right for my own personal dogma, not what is deemed to fit into a religious mold
  • A Savior
    • Uh...What?
  • An unhappy person seeking an orphaned helpless child to fulfill my life and make me a saint
    • As stated above, if you knew me (and a majority of #CHIFF supporters I've met) you'd know this was misguided
  • An LGBT 'basher' and believer that LGBT people would be unfit parents
    • I will acknowledge there are groups supporting #CHIFF that ARE against LGBT adopting, I find that unfortunate, but they are also in the minority...AND, if we truly want to focus on the reality of legislation and its passing, do you really think that the United States (whose gov't this legislation currently sits) would deny this?
    • Certainly, there are specific agencies in the USA, now and likely in the future that will deny LGBT adoptions...there are countries that deny it right now, #CHIFF isn't written to deny it, AT. ALL.
    • I wish we would stay focused on the core issue...
    • Oh and BTW, I support LGBT rights; support the adoption of children to LGBT families, support LGBT marriage, all the above...
  • A believer that children languishing in International orphanages are MORE important than children languishing in US orphanages...
    • ALL children, everywhere, are equally important and we need to find a solution for ALL children
  • I am not an ultra-right winger and I am not an ultra-left winger - I am my own person, making my own decisions and supporting whomever and whatever I feel is most important
    • The aim of #CHIFF was to work 'across the aisle' so to speak...there are certainly supporters that I may have differences on certain issues (see above, LGBT), but that doesn't make them or myself incorrigible 
  • I am very sensitive to child trafficking
    • Child trafficking is despicable
    • We need to do all we can to put an end to it.  #CHIFF does NOT encourage the increase of child trafficking...sorry, but that is ludicrous and I believe another case of losing focus to the core of the matter
  • I believe in domestic adoption, I also believe in inter country adoption
    • I believe in ensuring children, wherever they may be, are given every opportunity to grow and become healthy, productive adults
  • Finally...I am a supporter of family reunification; when it is possible and most importantlylegitimate 
    • Unfortunately, in far too many cases <right now> we find that it isn't possible.  There are socio-economic challenges that continue to plague countries / situations, all these driven by the adults in this world.  I look to the day that we as fellow world citizens seek to find a solution to our collective short-comings and truly focus our energies   

In a most perfect world, all children would remain with their birth families and life would be happily ever after.  This includes my girls.  They wouldn't be with me and wouldn't be calling me mom.  I have written about this before; my girls would be in Haiti, with their birth parents.  If you've read my blog or had this conversation with me, you know how torn I am by this.  I have spent many years as an activist toward the eradication of extreme poverty.  I know full on that my girls are with me due to the effects of extreme poverty.  This kills me.  But the fact remains that they were placed in an institution because their family (immediate or extended) weren't able to care for feed them, to house them, to clothe them.  I happened into that institution one day, as a volunteer, and the rest is history.  To say to me or them that they are better off in that institution is completely abusive.

So yes, I support #CHIFF.  I support being part of the solution.  For anyone to look at me and tell me that 1) children are perfectly fine languishing in an institution or street and that 2) the current multi-year timeline it takes to finalize adoptions is okay...I ask them to spend some time with the children in both an institution and then with the children after they are finally 'released' into loving homes.  The transformation is STUNNING.  Stunning and quite frankly, should be embarrassing to be an adult who has the 'power' to change things and chose otherwise to turn their head.  

I beg that we as a collective world community stop turning our heads and remember the children.  There is never ONE answer to every situation...the intent is to move forward, make progress.  We'll never know what the answer is if we continue to have stone throwing fights.

XO - Ruth

PS - Please watch STUCK, to see first hand the situation as it is today;  Stuck the Documentary - it's on Netflix and I have copies, if you want to come over for movie night :-)

PPS - Visit Both Ends Burning to become further informed on the situation and what YOU may do to help, like host a House Party featuring STUCK; Both Ends Burning

PPS - Please review the details of #CHIFF and contact your legislators;  Children in Families First

"It is said that when we stop insisting that a thing is either "this" or "that," but that it can be "this" AND "that," we have at last matured."  ~Neil Donald Walsch

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Let's Thrive.....

"Once in a while it really hits people that they don't have to experience the world in the way they have been told to."
~Alan Keightley

We are just hitting the 8 months home, in the United States.  We just had our fourth doctor appointment, girls are thriving and Doctor Poo is extremely pleased with their progress to date (he is nicknamed by the girls due to the early need of him collecting so much now, he is known as Dr. Poo...luckily he's a great guy and totally cool with the name)

This post is to wave my geek flag and share some charts.  Since I first started getting the girls' vital stats on height and weight, I've been charting them, to give myself a visual of their development.  As is logical and expected, while in the orphanage, the growth was fairly stunted.  Weight and height both stayed relatively flat.  The eight months they've been home E has gained 6LBs and grown +3", R has gained 8LBs and grown +2".

Certainly, they are young children and it's expected that they grow...however, both the doctor and myself were pleasantly shocked when he showed the chart that he tracks them on.  He says they are right on track and certainly thriving.

EVERY child should be given this opportunity to thrive.  EVERY child has a right to a loving home...Internationally adopted or otherwise...the most important thing is that they have a loving home.

Please continue to call your legislators and ask for their support of CHIFF - Children In Families First.

XO - Ruth

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual.  Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities."  ~Ayn Rand

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Seven Months In….Behaviors & Personalities, Further Revealed

“It is only to the individual that a soul is given.”  Albert Einstein
In the years of waiting and Bonding Trips, I was fortunate to begin the process of getting to really ‘know’ the girls.  Now being home just over seven months, I’ve really had the opportunity to get to know them and them me.  
In the long waiting process and the months since they’ve been home, I’ve read various books and articles around ‘what to expect’ from Internationally Adopted and/or Institutionalized children.  As I’ve written about before, for the most part, I’ve not witnessed the ‘major’ things these books and articles talk about.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t witnessed stunning and sometimes unsettling behavior.  I am highly sensitive to my behavior and actions with the girls and attuned to picking out anything I see that may hint at situations/behaviors I read about.
The first few months were tough with Ericka…she flips emotions like a light switch (still does now, only slightly tempered now Vs the first few months).  This is another typical behavior of post-institutionalized children, file under poor self-regulation.  Boundaries, parental ‘guidance/authority’ and having behavioral expectations weren’t something that they were used to.  Ericka fought me tooth and nail.  A lot of times she would fight in unnerving ways, ways that were frequently difficult to witness and reign in.   As best I could, I remained mindful of her life experiences up to this point and respond accordingly.  I wasn’t and still am not perfect in my responses…but I am learning and understanding more of what she needs, what works for us.
Rickza, on the other hand, has the affliction of always trying to be ‘perfect’ to be the ‘good girl’ and never do wrong.  She has a deep rooted fear of being abandoned again, so she will do everything she can to be ‘perfect’ or at least give the allusion that she is perfect.  I work very hard at making sure I am real with her and to let her know being perfect is not expected, or frankly, accepted.  I was that girl who always thought she had to be perfect…I got over it eventually, but it held me back in a number of situations and I want to help Rickza learn that being perfect isn’t necessarily the ‘best’ thing.  I talk a lot about how we all make mistakes that we learn from these mistakes, that being truthful is more important than being perfect <the allusion of perfection>.  That trying new things, stepping outside the box and possibly failing Vs standing back and watching your life pass you by.  We talk a lot about how even though one or all of us will be mad at each other at times, it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other; that it’s important to feel these feelings, communicate what we feel and trust that we all still love each other , even though we may have been or are mad at one another. 
Institutionalized children find ways to soothe/stimulate themselves, due to the abandonment and neglect of their basic emotional needs, caused by spending their formative years in an institution.  These actions range from rocking, twisting their hair, spinning, to hitting themselves.  While R &E aren’t at the level of some of the orphans shown on the horrendous videos from eastern bloc institutions, they most definitely are demonstrating these behaviors.  Their spinning is starting to be less frequent now, slowing down as true attachment is building with me.  The hair twisting, being a near 24/7 behavior the first four months, is nearly non-existent now, thankfully.  They used to hit themselves in the head quite frequently, for no apparent reason…this has also slowed down significantly, showing only when they feel frustration and potential lack of ‘approval’ now.  We talk about this quite openly…as I want to ensure that they feel safe and know they can talk with me about anything.  We talk about how they may be feeling at these moments, what I can do to help them feel safe, etc.  We are getting there, I feel it and they will randomly express to me how happy they are to sit and talk about things, as it makes them feel safe.  Recently, while Rickza and I were sitting on the floor in the basement talking she grabbed my hand and said “I like it when we talk like this mom, it makes me feel safe.”  That’s all we can really ask for in life, eh?  A loving, safe environment to thrive in….
Our attachment builds more each day.  The past couple of months it has hit a huge level…I am definitely the one they look to for comfort.  I appreciate each day and each little step we make in this attachment-building.  From day one of our bonding trips I was very cognizant on the fact that attachment-building with children that have been institutionalized would be a marathon of sorts.  I had no illusion that I would show up and they would immediately attach and off we would ride to the fairy tale land.  We took this slow, we built trust with each other, I made sure I was consistent and ‘there’ for them.  Our attachment has visibly deepened and I believe we are on the right track.  Recently E had a little accident, falling and putting a fairly nasty gash in her forehead.  I heard screaming outside, didn’t realize it was her until some of the kids came running down.  I stand up and see my neighbor carrying E to me.  I take her, see the massive blood gushing down her forehead into her eyes (it’s a head wound after all), E is screaming at the top of her lungs and I simply cradle her, talking very calmly to her, asking her to breathe.  Take deep breaths, E, take deep breaths.  I repeat this over and over while holding her tight.  We sit down; she begins to breathe deeply while staring directly into my eyes.  She becomes very calm, never losing eye contact with me.  R and my neighbor are going inside gathering 1st aide supplies to help clean and bandage her wound.  E stands up, takes about 30 seconds to gather her wits about her and then begins to laugh, talk really fast and act like nothing had happened.  <phew> Later that night Rickza hugs me and says thank you for taking care of my sister.  As terrible as it was for E to injure herself like that, it ended up being a positive experience in the attachment building realm...they both now know for certain that I will take care of them and be there for them if they are hurt.  If she ends up with a scar on her forehead, I will always view that scar lovingly and be reminded of the good that happened because of it.
Another aspect of attachment building I am seeing is in the realm of making memories.  The girls talk a lot about ‘remember when we…’ and I see that this makes them happy and proud in a way.  They love to talk about what we have done and to have a discussion around a shared memory.  It’s quite nice to have enough time ‘under our belt’ to share these memories.  I look forward to a lifetime of continued shared memories.
An interesting conversation I had with E the other day occurred while I was on my work computer and she was on my personal computer doing her ‘homework’ (her learning program on the computer).  While working through her reading program, a goat comes on the screen and she says “I eat one of those in the orphanage.”  I say, “Yeah, I know…yuck!”  She then says, “yeah, yuck.  Nanny, yuck.”  I say, I’m not nanny…she says, “I know.  Nanny make us eat it.  They make us eat yuck all the time.  The blan, they eat good.”  I ask for clarification, “The blan?  The white people eat good?”  “Yeah…they get to eat all the good vegetables, the good meat, the good food.  We have to eat all the yuck the nanny make us eat all the yuck.  Alllllllll the time.”  So there you have it, straight from the mouth of a former Haitian orphan.  This says so much to me, all of which is not good.  I knew this was happening; I didn’t eat at the orphanage (even when it wasn’t meat)…it never sat well with me, I was never comfortable with it.  The kids were out back, the blan out front eating the special food.  Things like this have never sat well with me, even before I went to Haiti and met these two little girls.  
Rickza is the care-taker…she’s very sweet, very sensitive and as noted before, wants to be the good girl.  She informed me the other day that when she grows up she wants to help people, little kids, specifically.  I will do what I can to help nurture that in her and know that if this is the direction she takes in her life, she will be an amazing, philanthropic person with a beautiful soul.  
Ericka is the dare-devil, independent, hilarious little girl.  She continually pulls her sleeves up to “Show you my strong?” – Which is flexing her biceps to show me how strong she is.    When you talk to E it is a little like surfing the internet…you start out in one place, then after various different twists and turns, you end up in a completely different ‘site’ (conversation) then where you started…wondering, “How’d I get here?”  Girl can talk and tells a story like no other.
E loves to kiss.  Kiss, kiss,'s cute.  And it makes me fear her later years, ha ha.  E also LOVES 'booty's' - if you are with her and your booty gets a little pat <and sometimes a kiss> on it, please don't be offended...she is genuinely giving you and your booty props.  She doesn't pat/kiss everyone's booty, but she is not afraid to show appreciation for the good ones she is near.  
They both know I think Adam Levine is cute…E will pretend to call him and work out a deal for him to come to our house.  “Hello, Adam?  Yeah, hi, this is Ericka…you want to come over tomorrow and see my mom?  Oh, you do?  Good…yeah, she want to see you.  Okay, bye, see you tomorrow.”  R on the other hand goes all googly and says “OOOHHHHH, YUCK!  No boys in this house, that’s yuck!”  Adam has yet to come over….I am beginning to think E really isn’t calling him, ha ha ha.   
They are both very empathetic people.  The energy they emit is palpable and it’s magnificent…I know that others sense it as when we’re out and about, people are always drawn to them.  
They are thriving and growing into beautiful young ladies.  All three of us have learned a lot and will continue to learn a lot about ourselves and each other.  This journey has just started…I can’t wait to watch their continued growth.  
XO – Ruth

“You are here for a reason.  That reason is to be you.  Not to be anyone else.  Be all you can be.”  ~Unknown

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seven Months In....Discovering New Adventures

“Life is unchartered territory.  It reveals its story one moment at a time.”  ~Leo F. Buscaglia

The past seven months have been a plethora of discovery and adventure for the girls…and me.   A new country & home, new language and new friends were to be expected.  It’s the unexpected things that are fascinating to watch them discover and enjoy.
One day, while out and about, Rickza was asked her name.  She alters between Rickza Jeune Kerr to Jeune Rickza Kerr Bella to Rickza Kerr.  This one particular day she gives her name as Rickza Jeune Kerr.  Ericka stopped, her eyes got really big, she looks at me, looks at Rickza and says “HEY!  She have same name as me…Jeune Kerr!  How that happen, Mom?”  Needless to say that was hilarious…Ericka had never considered that all three of our last names were the same and I still don’t know if she really gets it.
Being walking distance from the beach has turned into another avenue of adventure and discovery.  Watching the boats and gulls in/over the water, combing the beach for shells & rocks, dodging waves and riding bikes along the shore can make anyone feel like a kid…it simply makes these girls giggle with joy.   Even though Haiti is part of the Island of Hispaniola, the girls’ exposure to the vast water was limited if not completely absent.  The wonderment and complete awe they have for the water makes me happy.  This is why I remain living in the neighborhood I do…access to the beach is worth its weight in gold.

They are completely open to adventure of seemingly any kind.  Around the New Year we took a trip to New York City…my favorite place in the country and my top ten in the world.  They didn’t seem fazed one bit.  They took the Big Apple and bit hard.  Upon arrival at the airport and taking the train into the city, I taught them ‘the stance’ – don’t let people push you when boarding the train, don’t be rude, but don’t be weak.  Just stand your ground.  That lesson proved valuable throughout the week, through many subway rides…Rickza would turn to me and say, “see mom, I do what you say…I nice, but I don’t let them walk over me.”  I also believe it to be a valuable lesson for nice, but don't let others walk over you.  

We saw Annie on Broadway, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis island, ice skating at Rockfeller Center and Bryant Park, after midnight hot dogs from a street cart, saw our friends Trish & Sammy (and their extended family), saw friends made this past summer while doing the Nightline piece and survived the major snow storm; playing out in it in the middle of the night.  All in all, the girls ate up this city, made friends throughout it and have numerous times since asked to go back.  (yaay….my heart swells knowing they want to return)  I know grown adults who are intimidated by NYC, these girls waltzed around like they owned the place…

The Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl this year – in case you’ve been living under a rock, figured I’d share that with you.    The girls got caught up in the hysteria and pride that engulfed this city, reaching a crescendo the few weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.  Random “Go Hawks” would be emitted from their mouths, wherever and whenever they pleased.  Whenever they saw the colors blue and/or green, they would exclaim “Mom!  Look, Seahawks colors.”  After the Super Bowl was won (very exciting day for them), the city proclaimed there would be a parade that following Wednesday.  As I am totally into these type of community events, cheering for the home team and am one not to miss ‘the happenings’ I decided to take the girls out of school that day and we would go down to the parade.  We had tickets to get into the stadium to wait for the team and perhaps be a bit more comfortable, but I thought if we were doing this we were going to DO THIS!  I wanted to be on the street with the people.  They estimated nearly 1M people were out that day and I believe they were correct in that assumption.  There were oodles of people.  The girls and I made it to just outside Pioneer Square, getting hot cocoa, staking our spot on the corner of the street.  I thought we were about one block off of where the parade was actually going to come, but it didn’t matter to me, I wanted them there with all the people cheering the home team.  Turns out we were right where we needed to be.   The route turned west, toward us, right at the block we were on.  We were 3-4 arms’ lengths away from all the players and it was amazing!  Amazing to yell and cheer, to watch the girls yell and cheer and most importantly, to watch them truly feel like a part of the community.  It was a grand day and a memory that we made and that they still talk about…I trust that many years from now they will still be talking about it.  It was fun, worth missing school and I’m glad we did it.  This was indeed a grand adventure for us.

We recently went to see the traveling Broadway production of The Lion King.  OMG.  I thought Annie was amazing to watch them watch.  This was even more amazing…  This is a phenomenal production and I was eager to share it with the girls.  They were completely, 1,000% mesmerized by it.  I may have cried, Circle of Life and grand African ululating makes me do that; combine that with being here with the girls and I was over the top.  I love Broadway shows and I am doing my best to expose the girls to various activities…but their ability to sincerely appreciate a good Broadway show MAKES. ME. HAPPY!!!!!  The Circle of Life, certainly does (as the lyrics go)  ...moves us all.  Through despair and hope, through faith and love, till we find our place on the path unwinding…
Hakuna Matata – XO

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  ~Maria Robinson

Monday, March 3, 2014

Seven Months in...Academics/Language

"Out of perfection nothing can be made.  Every process involves breaking something up."  ~Joseph Campbell

We are seven months since the girls came to Seattle.  On one hand it seems like it was just yesterday, on the other it really seems like they’ve always been here.  While people snicker when I say I don’t feel my life has been turned upside down, I truly don’t feel like things are hugely different.  I don’t know if that’s due to awaiting their arrival for so many years or if it’s just the fact, I truly go with the flow of things.  I adapt, they adapt and off we go.  Certainly my life has some differences, but it just doesn’t seem like that huge of a change to me.  Odd…I know and you likely don’t believe me, but that’s what I feel. 
Since I’ve been so negligent in updating this blog, the next few posts  will break things out in categories, assessing the past seven months; not necessarily in chronological order.
Academics/Language;  We got them tested and enrolled in school, which was exciting.  They are being bussed to a school outside our attendance area that offers the ELL (English Language Learners) program.  They were over the moon excited to go to school.  The first day I took them to school, to attend an orientation and ensure they got to class okay.  The next day, they were off on the bus, no hesitation.  They eagerly run to the bus each morning, no fear, no hesitation, nothing…it’s awesome.  
Prior to starting school, Rickza’s English was limited and Ericka’s was negligible, if there was any.  Each day home from school, I noticed some English comprehension sneaking into conversations…then about two weeks into school, they come home and Ericka suddenly blurts out this obscure, yet legible, statement.  Both Rickza and I stopped, looked at each other and said “What’d you say?  How do you know that?”  Ericka looked at us both like we were losing our heads, saying “What?  Why you look at me?”  I write this, as I’m amazed at how children and being immersed in a new language/culture helps one to so ‘easily’ learn this new language. One funny story around this language learning; about 4.5 months into them being here, Ericka and I were talking and she asks me “Mom, how you say house in English.”  I say, “House.”  “Yeah” she replies, “How you say house?”  I then try and explain that she’s talking to me in English and tell her how to say house in creole.  She just looked at me.  I can literally see the wheels turning in her head…she’s trying to figure out WTH just happened…what language she is talking, what world she lives in.  Again, further proof behind the immersion aspect of language learning is seamless.  Poor girl probably thought I was finally learning Creole well enough to carry on a conversation with her.  On the other side of this, I need to figure a better way to help her KEEP her Creole…if you have any ideas, I would be open to suggestions.
Ericka and I speak together in a made up language.  Early on, she started talking in this odd made up language and I just went with it, beginning a conversation with her in this language.  It’s quite hilarious and we can talk for a long time in our made up language.  In thinking about this, I believe this made up language began because foreign, ‘blah blah blah’ was likely what Ericka was hearing when she first came here.  
They’re both doing well in school…there are times I need to regain my perspective and remember all that they have been through, learned and experienced in the past seven months…last four years of their lives, really.  Academically, they’re ‘behind’ the expected levels for their age.  That said, the trajectory of their learning is over the top amazing.  Rickza has jumped nearly three levels of reading, two levels of math. Ericka is getting her basics down and flourishing in kindergarten.  
A month or two into the school year I reached out to Rickza’s teacher asking for tutor recommendations, as it was clearly evident that Rickza hadn’t been exposed to any sort of mathematics and the dynamics of ME being her tutor were proving to be negative.  Her teacher got back to me offering 12 weeks of tutoring after school, done by the teacher herself.  This has proven to be just the nudge Rickza needed and has helped her comprehension of the subject explode.  I am very appreciative of this teacher for her generosity of time and helping to get Rickza the bit of individual attention that she so needed.
They both have had musical performances in school, Ericka’s first.  Ericka further cemented my opinion of her future in performing arts…specifically in improv.  The girl is a ham and needs the spot light on her.  Her rich sense of humor and ability to improv situations makes me eager to see her grow, likely on stage with all eyes riveted on her.  The day of Rickza’s performance, she shared with me her fear and nervousness of that evening’s show.  We talked about nerves and how on one hand, nerves are good, but giving nerves power over her abilities isn’t necessary.  I explained how everyone in the audience are simply people, just like her.  They are people who do the same things as she does every day and that they were all there to support her.  She walked out on stage with her class, looked a bit uptight, then looked at me, I gave her a thumbs up and then voila…she was easy-peasy.  She was exuberantly singing her songs with pure joy and it was nice to witness.
They’re both making friends and unfortunately experiencing some bits of bullying behavior.  The bully’s aren't getting the best of them, but it’s still a bit hard to hear about it.  
XO – Ruth

Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one's self-esteem.  That is why young children, before they are aware of their own self-importance, learn so easily.  ~Thomas Szasz

Friday, January 10, 2014

The First Seven Weeks of our New Life in Seattle....

"All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual."
~Albert Einstein

When the girls arrived here in Seattle, I took seven weeks off of work, commencing immediately upon their arrival.  I was/am eligible to take the FMLA, unpaid leave, which for my company was a total of 16 weeks in a 12-month period.  I anticipate and am planning for the need to take some additional weeks, after the "honeymoon" is seven weeks at the beginning seemed appropriate.  (Plus, unlike when you birth a child, these weeks were unpaid...I needed to put food on the table and really, seven weeks was the max that I could afford)  Those seven weeks flew by and we were off on an adventure it seemed each day.  Both the girls were open to everything and showed no sign of intimidation, fear or reluctance to try or do anything.  I was surprised, but yet not surprised.  They're both fairly adventurous and I simply followed their lead.

The first seven weeks we went to a Seattle Mariners game, they started rock climbing at my gym, we rode a train to visit friends, flew an airplane to visit great-grandma and an aunt.  They learned to ride bicycles, scooters and in-line skates; got mani/pedi's, learned how to trampoline (or as Ericka calls it, Jump-o-line, which is perfectly logical actually), took water taxi over to the downtown Seattle/Pike Place Market, tried oodles of new food, got tested for & signed up for school, had a tooth pulled, started wonderful new friendships, experienced their first bubble bath, rode a merry-go-round, learned about the importance of Starbucks (ha ha) and built sandcastles at the beach.

We had their initial post-placement medical examinations, seeing a fantastic doctor who's specialty and interest is in caring for children Internationally Adopted.  The first appointment went okay...until the jig was up and Rickza realized that shots were involved.  She then grew very silent, shot me daggers via her eyes and basically dug her nails into my skin as she screamed prior to the needle piercing her skin.  Ericka squirmed like a little jumping bean...screaming as well.  The funny thing is, they both screamed and dug their nails in PRIOR to the needle insertion.  When the shots and blood draw were done, neither one of them knew it had even occurred.  In fact, Ericka started to giggle when she realized the needles were done.  Gone.  It was the anticipation of the act and likely the memory of past Haitian shots that gave them the fear.  Every subsequent appointment and shot they have not cried, screamed, dug nails into me, nothing.  They listened to what I said to them the last time about thinking nice thoughts and breathing.  We imagine Marley, our kitty, pretty flowers, sunshine, puppies, what have you.  They're old pros now and don't let a little needle and 30 seconds in time ruin their day.

I likened these first seven weeks to a "Boot Camp" of sorts...I had seven weeks totally, 100% devoted to them and to help begin their acclimation to this new world.  I take very seriously that my  job is to love, guide and nurture them into being the best they can be, into being responsible, productive and positive members of society.  While I didn't see a lot of behaviors I read about (hoarding, stealing), there were definitely some growing pains and traumatic emotions that surfaced (and continue to surface).  There were 'stand offs' so to speak...these are children that are basically used to raising themselves.  Yes, there were nannies at the orphanage, but they couldn't realistically keep watch on every single child, in the manner the child needs.  So...when it came to Rickza & Ericka, they weren't used to having someone here to 'raise' them, to guide them, to basically have expectations of their behaviors and to hold them accountable when they didn't follow those expectations.  I don't consider standing them on their knees in the gravel, holding them accountable.  That was what they were expecting as punishment, but what they got from me was a bit more, "you tell me what you did, why you did it & take responsibility for it" type of discipline.  We either had the silent, they didn't say a word stand off (one lasted for seven, yes SEVEN, hours), to the screaming, yelling, throwing things & kicking fits stand off (that lasted anywhere from 3-5 hours at a time).  Whichever stand off it was, I remained consistent in what I was expecting; I stayed with them, I usually didn't say much...just sat there either on the bathroom floor or kitchen chair, until they calmed down and talked about their behavior, apologized, we hugged and moved on.  I almost felt like I was breaking a wild horse, which I guess metaphorically, I was.  There were tough times and once I needed to break my rule and leave the area, as I was completely spent and broken down myself.  Thankfully, I have a particularly awesome friend who is always there and able to help me find clarity...I usually called her at those moments and she 'helped me off the cliff.'  I also have wonderful neighbors who have become dear friends who were very understanding and would come sit with me (and some wine) after some brutal stand offs.

I write this not to leave any impression that these children are any different then other children - be it biological or adopted.  I didn't have any expectations on how their transition would be really, they're kids.  I'm not traumatized by their behaviors and I don't believe they are unusual in the 'kid' sense.  They are learning a new way as any kid is.  They just happen to be learning at warp speed, based on a past that is a bit more traumatic than most.  So if they have a few extra fits, they're allowed that.  The thing is, however, I don't really think they are having extra fits; their fits just may have a bit more emotion and past life experience that I'm unaware of, built into them.  We will work through these together and find the happy spot.  Bottom line though, they are children, navigating their way through life...and truthfully, aren't we all simply navigating our lives as best we can?

XO - Ruth

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Lessons Learned, Truths Uncovered, Tears Shed....

"Instructions for living a life.  Pay attention.  Be astonished.  Tell about it."
~Mary Oliver

The above Mary Oliver quote seems to sum up perfectly my thoughts about living and especially sums up why I ever wanted to start this blog.  With this post, I wanted to simply reflect on what the process of adoption has taught me and opened my eyes too <the tell about it part of Mary's quote>.  

I've learned many lessons along this path and there have been many truths uncovered; truths about myself and truths about our world.  Truths that sometimes hurt, but as always, are ultimately necessary to fully know & understand.  If you know me well, you know that all I ever want is the truth.  I've lived far too much of my life surrounded by those who are fearful of and contort the truth/reality of life.  

"If there's a single lesson that life teaches us, it's that wishing doesn't make it so."  ~Lev Grossman.  What a wise man Lev is...  There certainly was a lot of time during this grueling process that I did find myself wishing.  Wishing for people to get their acts together.  Wishing for the girls to come home to Seattle. Wishing...Wishing...Wishing...  Awh, but I believe I am also a wise my life with full knowledge that wishing alone does not make things so.  There must also be a bit of work behind ensuring that what you 'wish' for comes to fruition.  The process of International Adoption is a nice mix of both wishing (faith) and work (advocacy) is life in general.

Some of what I've learned (or really, I've just had further confirmed);
  • I've learned this is a great world filled with wonderful people.  People who, in general, have huge hearts and truly want the best for their fellow human beings.  
  • I've learned that there is no greater force in the world than LOVE - sincere, unconditional, open-hearted, no ego, LOVE...truly it can change the world
  • I've learned that apathy is alive and well; but that apathy doesn't rule the world, it is just there to taint things temporarily...
  • I've learned that the chasm of strength & patience that lies within me is deep...deeper than I ever knew and for that I am grateful
  • I've learned that acceptance of a situation is the first step toward helping to improve the situation...that whole seeing the truth / reality as it is
  • I've learned to continue to trust my gut (& heart) it buying the new house because something on that street spoke to you, to sending out an SOS video to the world despite your fear of doing so, to flinging aside all perceived logical reasons of why I 'shouldn't' adopt two children from Haiti...because in the end your instincts are generally spot on
  • I've learned that far too  many people hide behind the veil of religion...truthfully, that was something that was simply reconfirmed to me during this process 
  • I've learned that as Oprah always says, "When people show you who they are, believe them."
  • I've learned that I truly have a superb support system; be it friends made during this process, ones that I've had for a while, to total strangers reaching out to either help me during the process or, after seeing the Nightline piece, asking "What can I do" to help change this for others...
  • I've learned that in the end, the good in this world far outweighs the bad and that each experience is a beautiful milestone toward continually being astonished with my life...
Ultimately this journey has been meaningful.  I am being blessed with the opportunity to witness two little girls realize their potential in life...I will do what I can to guide & support them along their path.

XO - Ruth

"You take people, you put them on a journey, you give them peril, you find out who they really are."
~Joss Whedon