I don't believe in miracles - I rely on them

I don't believe in miracles - I rely on them

Yogi Bhajan


You found my blog and as I am experimenting with the weird and wonderful world of cyber publishing, let me explain what
a gunna is: it's a word for all things desirable, something that makes us happy and warm and comforts us when we feel tired or sad or lonely. a gunna is the best gadget in the world! it was leah s first word for all things she wanted. Or you might also know it as: dummy, schnulli, pacifier binky, schnuller...... and so on. So this is for my beautiful


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Favourites of the week:

My  friend, mother of two - one self made and one recently adopted - suggests, I put the following comments up for discussion.

1 Where is her real mother
2  Don't these people use contraception

Ok ... let's see: the first one might possibly fall under the clemency of yesterday's enlightened state of mind, in which I suddenly found understanding and love in my heart for those who don't think before they speak (!!! )but are essentially well intentioned. They look me in the eye and hush their voice as to not to alert my child to the fact that a total stranger is asking an intrusive and utmost intimate question about her life. They seem to think that there is some level of understanding between them and me that naturally excludes her -  something that they think they ought to know and she should not. Some uncomfortable, maybe even nasty secret:  THE REAL MOTHER
To those, who look me in the eye and ask where is her real mother, I calmly respond: I am her real mother.
That normally does the trick. Furtive glances around for the black man who might have fathered my children are not uncommon. Or nervous laughter as if I made a joke they don't quite get. Sometimes though, somebody gets it. I can see this by the slightly embarrassed smile as my answer sinks in and they concede: of course you are.
Yes Of Course I Am.

As far as the second one goes: I choose the high road of no comment
(but from somewhere within I hear a growl: Your parents clearly should have. But here you are, you brain dead excuse for a human being)

anything else???

October Child Magazine published this one

There is one thing that bothers me whenever I read anything about adoption, and that is that people don’t seem to consider the possibility that adopting a child can be a deliberate choice and not the result of many years of failed attempts to conceive “your own” biological child. There seems to be a common perception that adoption is only a second choice, reserved for when all else fails, and that loving a biological child is more natural and comes more easily than loving an adopted child.

This is absolutely not the case. The feelings we have for our children are only determined by our capacity to love and not by their genetic backgrounds. If you have the ability to love, you will love your child – whichever way he or she comes to you.

I chose to adopt my children because it made sense to me from an early age (I was 12 when I first decided I was going to adopt). I wanted to be a mother to children who needed mothering, rather than bringing more children into the world. At the time this seemed like a teenager’s make-the-world-a-better-place idealism, something I would grow out of. I did abandon the idea in my twenties and thirties, but then I moved to South Africa, and suddenly many signs were pointing me towards adopting again.

Getting my children was such a wonderful and natural process and I am forever grateful to this country, to all the people who helped us bring our family together and most of all to my daughters’ beautiful birth mothers, who loved their children enough to make this choice for them. In my opinion it is vital, especially when you consider how children are abandoned to beg on street corners while rich people are spending a fortune on in-vitro procedures or other means in order to conceive.

Now more so than ever we need to wake up to the fact that there is a need for a new way of life, for a new understanding of family. To adopt children should be as natural as giving birth to them and I hope that my children will grow up understanding this. They must always know that having them the way we did was not a solution to a problem but a choice we made (as did they – I believe they also chose us).

There are many more things that I could go on about, as this has been a subject close to my heart for as long as I have had the privilege of being a mother. For example, if every couple that had a biological child would adopt a child in need of a family, the world would be a better place for children.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cute kids - where did you get them?

Yes, people notice us, wherever we go. They stare, they smile, they make contact, they make a point of not looking but no matter what, we always get noticed. Does it bother me? It used to. A lot.
When strangers came up to me and said things like:

It's such a beautiful thing that you are doing. Being a parent to these children.


They are so cute, where did you get them? (for real!)


Are they real sisters. I mean  REALLY ? sisters?

I never knew what to say, so I smiled stiffly and carried on walking or if we were stuck in a restaurant, I turned away pretending that my kids needed my full attention, to indicate that I was not interested in any further communication. Inwardly I was seething: Who do they think they are, that they can come up to me and comment on my life choices, or my children or ask questions about my most private affairs? Do I go up to total strangers and say:

Ooooh excuse me, did you conceive your child naturally or by invitro. Is this their real dad or did you have a donor?

This is of course a rethorical question. Why? Because the notion is absurd. So what makes people abandon their sense of natural boundaries with us? Do they think because we look  different from the norm, we should be open to constant comments and prodding questions, sort of like an exhibit in a gallery.

Being angry and somewhat resentful was what I got used to in dealing with this kind of encounters. Until I recently noticed that I was really not. So much. Anymore. What happened?

Last week at I took Leah to our doctor.  It so happened that we were alone in the waiting room with the receptionist, a lovely lady who has known us since we started coming there with our first child 5 years ago. We never really talked much apart from the usual baby/kid talk: Can't believe how much she has grown since you last came / cute dress, etc. etc

She was on the phone when I came in, and  a little agitated when she ended the conversation. She then told me she had problems with her 15year old son who has started smoking a year ago and from there we went on to talking about teenagers and how difficult it can be to be a parent. And then, with no apparent connection to the subject of teenagers, she suddenly said to me in a hushed voice:

Its so great that you people take on orphans and kids that you don't know the background of. I mean it's great that there are people who do this, but isn't it difficult when you don't know what you are getting?

I was stunned. My smile froze and my vision blurred. The room was totally quiet, exept for leah making train noises and shoving building blocks around on the floor. I was so aware of her little ears pricking up and the importance that this moment could have - it was paralysing.

We seemed to be hovering in mid conversation for an uncomfortably long time. When my vision cleared I saw her shaky smile and questioning eyes and I realised something. There was no malice in what she was saying. She did not know any better, maybe hadn t even thought about the issue much before this moment and this was really more of an opportunity to build a bridge than to start a confrontation.

And here is what I said to her: I don't believe that anyone knows what they are getting, whether they give birth or their child comes to them in a different way. Our children all come to us as the same pure souls, full of opportunities and promises and what we put in is what we'll get out.

And the most amazing thing happened. She really thought about what I said and then her eyes lit up and she smiled the brightest smile at us and said: yes you are right, they are all god's souls and it depends on us, what we give them and how they will turn out.

And we were back on the subject of her teenage son....and then the doctor could see us...

Ok, I might have over simplified the nature vs nurture discussion a bit and it's also a little on the cheesy side. But this is essentially what I believe and it was meant just as much for my daughters ears (who would not acknowledge for a moment that she had listened...). Most importantly I learned the most valuable lesson so far on this journey into parenthood: If I can bypass my mother-lion reaction of aggression and defense the moment some stranger enters our cosy little world with their nasty views and if I really just listen and open my heart, the right answers will come. And sometimes they might even make a difference in someone elses world and start building brigdes.

And sometimes I might still get angry at some bigotted or racist reaction and this anger might be healthy and justified and show my little lion cubs that mummy has claws to defend them until they can do it for themselves...(so bewarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre)


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Cross Cultural Adoption

Cross cultural adoption….
There are those who feel it is important to restrict or even forbid by law what they call cross cultural adoption. They claim to have proof that it can’t be good for a child to be adopted “out of their original culture”. They think that those children are burdened not only by being adopted but also by having been deprived of their roots.

Lets have a closer look at the this cultural issue: What culture are we talking about? Are we talking about continents, countries or language? Is it - for example - ok for a German person to adopt an Italian child, but not an Asian child? Are French parents acceptable for a Russian orphan? And how do we trace the exact culture of an abandoned child who might have two genetic parents from different cultures? Should parents from different cultures not have children because it might confuse them when they grow up? Is it not time to face up to the fact that we live in a world community? Some people live in many different cultures throughout their lives. Some people – like me - adopt a different culture, some people leave their original culture behind by choice or by circumstances. We have friends from different cultures, we marry into different cultures. To think that it is a good idea to restrict relationships by culture is downright absurd.

So why say culture, when, the real issue here is colour! What these opinions really hide is the belief that people with light skin should not be parents to people with a dark skin and vice versa. The underlying reason behind these opinions is that some people are uncomfortable with the fact that we are headed towards a world where black and white will ultimately blend into one, where cultures become interspersed with each other and we have to lose our preconceptions and judgements if we don’t want to be left behind in the dark ages of racism and elitism.

And even if it might be easier for children to grow up with parents who look like them - what is the alternative here? That we should rather leave them in orphanages or foster homes or abandoned somewhere in the street, because parents of a different culture will only make them feel like they don’t fit in? And is this not what all teenagers feel anyway? Is this not the very definition of being a teenager? And if everybody feels that way at some point in their life why should adopted children actually not feel alienated and unloved at times? This is what it comes down to really: We all have problems throughout our lives, with our parents or friends or siblings, with our self image and our self worth. That’s life. We breathe and we have problems. If we work on ourselves we learn to live with problems and be content, even happy sometimes. If our problems are over, we are dead. To think that these problems can be put down to one simple cause is not only delusional but also totally pointless.

Will it confuse my two adopted children, when they realise they have darker skin than me, or different colour eyes or hair? Yes, it might confuse them, it might even cause them anxiety and pain, when they are confronted with insensitive reactions and opinions. But at the end of the day they come home to me and to a family who loves each other for who they are and where they are taught that it is ok to be different and where we are really not so different at all.
Or as my 4 year old daughters best friend put it (after she scraped her knee) : Look,  we have the same blood, its red!