Monday, September 24, 2007

The Incredible Journey of the Heart---Part I

I’m going to try not going to delve too heavily into racial issues here, as I could probably start a whole blog on that. However, I must talk about it a bit, because of my family history, and also because of where I live.
For better or worse, I was a Daddy’s Girl. In my early adulthood we disagreed about a lot of things, but it seemed I came around to his way of thinking as I matured, we are very much alike. One thing that we never agreed upon was racial issues. In fact, we were deeply divided. I believe my mom never agreed with him on this either, and certainly not my two sisters, but we tolerated his point of view because it was (unfortunately) never going to change. I just could never understand why he was determined that people of color were inferior, less than, undeserving, bad,….whatever…all this based on skin color! So I grew up knowing what racism is and I hated it. Then I moved from California to the Deep South, and I learned some more. Here, this seems deeply ingrained in some people’s psyche, and for them the wounds of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, segregation, the Civil Rights Era and the aftermath of all of it, have not entirely healed. I wish that were not true. However, there are many people here who are not caught up in that, and in my heart, I have hope that the wounded will heal. The wounded are black as well as white, and the hurt and fear is passed down from generation to generation, and I pray for the day that it finially ends. Racism here is not always obvious either, as some people like to stereotype the American South. There are also a lot of people, nearly all of them white that say “it’s no big deal anymore.” I have never heard a single black person say this.

OK, for now enough of that. Let me just say, I had no intention of doing something so controversial. Adoption alone, combined with the single mom issue, is plenty to deal with. Throw in the extreme transracial factor, and it just adds fuel to the fire. This is why I was so angry with God. Even though my father passed away in 2005 (and I firmly believe he is in a place where there is no room for hate) I felt like He was asking just a little too much of me by pointing me firmly in the direction of Haiti. It was so “Haiti” I could not even consider Ethiopia. I slowly began to realize it was not about color, it was about this place and about these kids, and who knew, maybe even specific kids. I also realized that as tough as it might be to do, He would not leave me alone. And He has not. I have met many people now who have done this very thing, and some of them live here. (None are celebrities, BTW!) I do not have on blinders. I know it will be very difficult at times to deal with these issues in real life. However, what I have learned is that racial issues in this type of adoption are not the most important issues, regardless of what others outside of this experience may think.

I tried to abandon this whole idea a couple of times. Just "go on with my life", as it was. But,it had already been made clear to me where He wanted me to go and what He wanted me to do and there were times I tried to ignore that, but when it was all said and done; I just could not get it out of my head or my heart. Also, I kept getting tugged in the direction of a sibling group of two, instead of just one child, and I was doing my best to ignore that as well, but finally I gave into the idea, for a lot of reasons. I already knew I wanted a girl(s), my sisters and I are and were very close, and that has been such an important bond in life. I saw my own sons really rely on each other, especially after the divorce. They are almost 5 years apart and I don’t know if they would have developed that same bond otherwise. I did not want a child to feel isolated and alone in a family setting, or in our culture, where all of a sudden, EVERYTHING is so different. It all must be strange to them. Kids are resilient, but these kids in orphanages have already been thru so much, they need a break. Since I have already essentially raised 2 kids (I still have one at home, but as a teenager he is firmly sighted on the future, and I know the time is short. Already been there and done it with the eldest) I felt confident I could do it again.

All of this occurred over a time period of about 7 or 8 months.
The whole time part of me kept thinking “well, I don’t have to do anything right now. I still have time to decide how/if/when I’m going to do this, besides; I need a lot more money than I’ve got. Maybe I won’t do it at all and I will put this crazy idea away!” But I knew somewhere in my heart that none of that was true. I knew it was my heart’s desire, and that I was going to make it happen somehow. Still, I felt like I had all the time in the world to get it all resolved. Then towards the end of May, I started getting this feeling that I needed to get a move on the adoption. It came out of nowhere, and it was urgent and insistent, and it was really ticking me off. It would not go away, in fact, it became even more so. Urgh!!!! I had already studied my dossier requirements for Haiti, and I was looking at orphanages on the internet all the time. I decided to take some action, one step at a time, and see what happened next.

I ordered my birth certificate from California (thinking it would take along time (it didn’t) and went to see about my passport. I joined the yahoo group for PAC (orphanage) and just hung out there for awhile, observing. I researched some local home study agencies and started some needed home improvements. I started working on replacing my kitchen floor, a DIY project that required me to completely tear the place up. After several days, I got it back together enough to put my computer back up I went online to the PAC group, and lo and behold was an announcement from the director of the orphanage (via a mouthpiece) that anyone that might be affected by the Haitian Laws of 1974* needed to submit their dossiers by July 15. This was on June 14.

*Haitian Adoptive Laws of 1974 ---summation
· Adoption is only allowed for people older than 35.
· If married, at least one parent should be 35 years old.
· If married, to qualify for adoption from Haiti, you must have been married for at least 10 years, and not have any biological children from this marriage.
· Single women are OK to adopt
For my situation, it was the biological children that I was afraid might stall the whole process.

The rules are exclusive, but were instated when the poverty in Haiti was not as bad as it is now. These are the only rules the government has ever had, and in a current effort to stem corruption, there has been much ado about reinstating at least something, because the infrastructure is so weak there is no safety net for these kids. Orphanages are run by individuals and charitable organizations. The American and Canadian Embassies do not get involved in these matters.

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