Archive for March, 2008

Crack open the Kumis and raise your glasses!

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Suzanne, over at Straight Down The Mountain has downright made me blush.  She has nominated me for the “You- make-the-world-a-better-place” award.  Holy smokes that’s fancy.  So, I’ll pass on the blog lovin’ to a few people who I know without a doubt are making things better in the world.

www.actofkindness.blogspot.com John Wright and his family walk the talk.  They give of their time, energy and money to the people who need it most in Kyrgyzstan.  He and his group fix up properties, restore hope and provide dignity for the forgotten and needy.  They bring food, vitamins, warmth, toys and money to the orphanages and baby houses in Tokmok and Orlofka.  They help people who are living in the dump and have no other options.  John plays with the children, reaches out to those who are sick and can’t afford healthcare.  He does this because of an unwaivering belief and faith that this is what he must do.  I admire him so much.  He and his family are there now and I dare anyone to read his blog and not feel the same admiration and respect.

Margie over at her blog, www.thirdmom.blogspot.com is a wise, kind, funny, insightful and amazing mom and human being.  I feel that she is an online mentor for me in her graceful and gentle way of interacting with other bloggers (especially ones whose opinions are different from hers) and she writes about adoptive parenthood that exemplifies respect for her children, their mothers, and their country of origin.  Margie is an activist, writer and a good soul.  Read her.

Judy over at www.justenjoyhim.wordpress.com makes the world a better place because of her peerless honesty, humor, chutzpah, and her all-around sassyness.  Judy is another adoptive mom to Nate and I admire her parenting so much.  She walks an honorable path in everything I read in how she lives her life.  Right now, Judy is battling cancer and is asking the tough questions that go along with a life-threatening illness.  I totally love Judy.  She makes the world a better place because her writing is as big as her heart.

Lastly, but not leastly, I want to send an award out to Nicole at www.paragraphein.wordpress.com for being an incredibly brave blogger.  She writes with her whole mind, heart and soul on being a relinquishing mother who regrets placing her daughter for adoption.  She writes with great compassion and anger about adoption, the system that let her down over and over, difficulties and pain in open adoption, and what it all means to her.  I never tire of her willingness to put it out there, and to let all comments stand, even the ones that hurt her.  So, while I wish she weren’t having to write a blog about her pain, I celebrate her and I feel that she absolutely is making the world a better place by writing at length about that which must be changed in the American system of adoption. 

There are many others I’d love to honor.  But man, it’s late here.  Four is good, right? Oh darn…I just remembered one more new-ish blogger I really like.  Talk about honest.  KAD blogger Kev Minh. www.borrowednotes.wordpress.com

Feast on the riches of these people. 

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March 27, 2008 at 10:42 pm 7 comments

Craft For China – Putting Creativity To Work

I found a blog that I believe exemplifies part of responsible adoptive parenting.  Should we adopt from afar, then we owe that country a deep and lifelong commitment to its betterment for the future.  I think this is especially true for adoptive parents to take a part in helping the orphanages.  Along comes the brainchild of blog creator and art student, Melissa Robertson.  www.craftforchina.wordpress.comCraft for China is a fundraiser for orphans in China. Artists, crafters, and other volunteers have donated their time and products to be auctioned on eBay. 100% of the proceeds will go to Love Without Boundaries, a nonprofit organization that helps Chinese orphans get medical care, nutritional care, foster care, educational help and so much more. The money raised goes towards sponsoring children or their orphanage 

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Consider putting their button on your blog, crafting your own items to donate which will be sold at their fundraiser, or sending in a donation.  I think this is a marvelous idea and I would like to perhaps start making things to sell at Etsy and donate the proceeds.  Maybe someday I could even start a Craft for Kyrgyzstan, or Craft for Central Asia. 

March 27, 2008 at 9:43 pm 5 comments

This Weekend Took A Lot Out Of Me

Taking a detour from our regular topics here at Hearts, I am compelled to write about my friend Craig who passed away recently and whose memorial I attended Saturday.  I ought to put the word memorial in quotes because it was not a memorial.  Only his sister spoke.  She eulogized him and told the story of his life, and her idea of others participating was to raise your glass when you heard her speak of the era in which you met him.  I was speechless at how this minimized the other people in his life and how this enabled Craig’s family to control the content of the memorial.  There were about 100 people there and only she spoke. 

The elephant in the room was that Craig was gay and his sister and his family were not about to even look in the direction of the elephant.  So, when she mentioned how Craig had gone to college in the mid 80’s at how at that time he had worked in a coffee bar, that was my time to raise my glass.  That was how I was able to honor my friend at his memorial.  I sat there while I heard her minimize his personality, his creativity, his brains and smarts, his passions, and whole entire fields of his life. 

She minimized all the things that she and Craig’s family didn’t identify with therefore, enabling them to feel more comfortable. 

I had prepared a short bit to say at the memorial which I carried lamely in my hands until I fully realized that no one would speak at which point, I tucked it away back in my purse.  During the eating part of the evening, I approached Craig’s brother and asked why it was that no one else spoke.  “We felt that there were so many different groups of people here, that we decided not to do that and that others could memorialize him by sharing stories amongst themselves.”

I felt like I had fallen to the bottom of an elevator shaft when he said that.  There it was, utter proof of editing Craig’s life, even in his death.  “But, feel free to write down a special memory of him in this book…”  I was handed a small, attractive notebook in which I was supposed to encapsulate my feelings.  I pulled out my paper that had what I would have read, and stuck it in the book.  Three other people had written in it. 

Now, his family has always been kind to me and I’ve spent quite a bit of time with them over the years. (Over 20)  They know that Craig and I had a deep, lasting relationship and his sister said several very kind things to me before the memorial about how much I meant to him and he to me.  She had told the people at the funeral home that Craig had, “Not left a wife, but he had left a Tina…”  So, she knows that I and many, many others were aching and mourning for her brother’s passing.  Why was there no storytelling?  Laughing over the shared lives and experiences?  Why was that all brushed under the carpet?  Craig had not lived with being ashamed of being gay, but his family had always struggled with that and other parts of who he was, like the things that sometimes accompany a gay man’s life.  Craig was an artist in everything he did.  He wasn’t one to be put in a box.  His home, his clothing, his choices were of a person who was a true individual.  They called it ‘artsy’ which in its own way was their version of ‘weird’.  These things and more were threatening to his family.  The memorial was all about putting him into a box.  Their box.  The memorial was their memorial to their version of his life. 

I went with another dear friend of Craig’s.  We had the same reaction to the event and did our best to honor him that day and the next by telling our favorite stories and remembering things about him that we loved as well as things that annoyed us, or made us laugh.  We were outraged for him.  I went to bed very late and just before wakening, I had a dream in which I was talking to him.  In the dream I am able to talk to him, even though he has already died.  I asked him, “Wow…how are you doing?”  and he answered in a steady, regretful voice, “This weekend took a lot out of me.”

I woke up and said aloud, “I know it did….I know.”

I love you Craigeee…

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March 18, 2008 at 8:27 am 15 comments

Early Intervention & Izzy’s Pit Crew

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Izzy has an entourage.  She has staff.  Peeps.  Around here, we call them Izzy’s Pit Crew. 

Isabel is enrolled in ‘Early Start’ of which I believe, all 50 states have a version of.  What this means is that from birth to age 3, if a child is showing signs of developmental delays, physical, cognitive or behavioral, then the child and their family can choose to enroll.  Being in the program offers the child a great chance in getting the intervention necessary to boost their growth.  Even if the child is at risk for being delayed qualifies the child for these services.  Offered to children in the program and their families are physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, screening testing for auditory and/or speech problems, and on and on.  Parents can receive up to 24 hours per month of respite care, which for the parent may provide some much-needed rest.  Parents of children with delays are under a certain amount of stress and worry, on top of the usual amount of parenting stresses.  There is a playgroup that we can go to, classes to educate the parent on how to best serve your child, and even helping siblings understand and cope with their own feelings about what it’s like having a new sibling who is receiving all this care. 

I would be one big bundle of worry and feeling like I was living on my last nerve every day if it weren’t for Izzy’s pit crew.  Isabel is receiving every single one of these services in some form, some more than others.  Her biggest focus right now is with her speech.  She’s a quiet little thing.  She only makes a few sounds and is quite delayed in this area.  So, without the Early Start people, I would be wringing my hands over it.  But I’m not because of what they have taught me.  Isabel only started walking about a month ago.  What I learned is that when babies are becoming toddlers, and learning to walk and other gross motor skills, their little brains can’t handle learning how to talk.  The brain is just too busy with all the physicalities.  So, just like they told me would happen (It will Tina…it will…she’ll talk soon…) she has started making new sounds, and they are coming more frequently. 

It does sound kind of odd, that my wee little toddler has all these therapists, and eventually most children who have been adopted internationally catch up just fine, I still am so glad that we are in this program.  They come and play with her for about 45 minutes, check out her progress, give me new ideas on how to get her to her next milestones, sing and eat bagels, and then they leave.  And, almost without fail, that day she does something new. 

I want all of you reading who have adopted internationally to just consider your state’s Early Start program for your child.  Even if your kid is only slightly delayed, and even if they will catch up on their own without the program, it’s still something to consider.  The effects of spending months or years in an institution is, without question, very difficult neurologically and psychologically.  A baby or child is more stressed and has little stimulation.  The brains of these children aren’t being fed in the way that a child in a home are.  There are almost always delays in some form or another.

Love and cuddles and attention count for a great deal, especially with Izzy.  But I absolutely know that her peeps are essential to her development right now.  We Heart Izzy’s Entourage.

March 14, 2008 at 9:16 am 5 comments

Suzannah, Crazy Hair Day and Sojourner Truth

Zannie doesn’t get much play on this blog, so I plan on giving her the spotlight for a bit.  She’s an amazing child and my pride knows no boundaries.  So, here’s kind of a news roundup of her recent, busy life. 

Latest Insightful Comment:

Isabel is like a magazine – every time you turn a page, you never know what you’re going to get

(I just LOVE that)

Crazy Hair Day

Once a year at her school, they have Crazy Hair Day.  I suppose it’s a school spirit thing.  Anyway, most of the younger grades really get into it, even the boys.  Being fabulous and naturally game, Suzannah was all for it.  She said, “Can I dye my hair mama?”  I remembered that just a few days earlier I had seen this:

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…a ‘temporary color mousse’.  It said that it would wash out in 2-3 shampoos, so I said, “Sure”  It sounded like fun.  It WAS!  Check it –

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While Hair Was Being Transformed And…

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The Morning of Crazy Hair Day With 8 Bright Pink/Red Pony Tails

She was a big hit in and amongst all the green-haired boys with crazy spikes and the other girls who had other kinds of hair paraphernalia.  What is really funny though…there still are streaks of pink in her hair.  When they said 2-3 shampoos, they should have said 2-3 MONTHS. 

The other very great and cool thing Zannie has done recently is a class production of a play based on the life of Sojourner Truth in honor of Black History Month.  Two First grade classes combined together for the play and they worked for 4 weeks on it.  We came to see her on stage and we knew she would be really putting her all into it, but we had no idea the level of elementary school professionalism she possessed.  She played the part of Sojourner Truth’s mother, Betsey and she was good.  But, she was also narrator in the play and it was there that I kind of went all jell-o and verklempt.  She just walked up to the front, held the microphone, and didn’t read from the pages, didn’t sound like a computer or spit out some memorized words.  She was the storyteller.  She had inflection.  She had pathos.  Now, it wasn’t like she’d just graduated from acting school, but it really was something to hear.  Parents were turning around and looking at me with big smiles and all I could do was just smile back.  Afterwards, I swung her around and told her how proud I was of her.  This was the same week that report cards came out and she is doing great and so she ordered up her favorite dinner at home, complete with ice cream sundaes.  Here’s our little actress…

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On Stage – In Character

So that’s the news here in Lake Wobegon, where the Men are good-looking, the women are strong, and the children are WAYYY above average.

March 10, 2008 at 8:48 pm 8 comments

Happy Hearts, Isabel & The Supermodel

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Izzy, me, Petra Nemcova & Philip Caputo

I went to Husband’s place of work, which is a racetrack to meet and talk with someone very special.  Firstly, my husband has a dream job.  He runs and operates a racing school for amateur and professional drivers alike.  They specialize in courses aimed at people who want to learn how to drive their performace vehicles safely, and drive them to their limit.  So every once in awhile, the school attracts a person in the media, and even the odd celebrity.  A certain ‘dreamy Doctor’ comes there and Suzannah and he are like this.  Zannie loves going to the track.  But, it was Izzy’s first time to the other day.  What a cool thing happened too.  At the track that day, having a few hours on the track, was Petra Nemcova.  You may have heard of her as she was written about extensively in the aftermath of the tsunami in Thailand.  She and her fiancee were pulled into the tsunami and she clung to a tree for over 8 hours while awaiting rescue.  Her fiancee didn’t survive. 

We came to the track to meet her (and she was absolutely sweet and adorable to us, willing to take a picture and congratulated us on Isabel…) to talk with her about the foundation she started, The Happy Hearts Fund.

Happy Hearts Fund has funded different locally run, culturally specific, effective and efficient charitable projects around the world. Thus far, HHF has established successful programs in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Czech Republic. Programs in India and Haiti are under way and expansion across the globe is continuing. HHF aims to advocate and provide for disadvantaged youngsters who have had to endure hardship and who are not receiving the essential and sustainable help they need for healthy childhood development.By bridging the existing gaps in education and health care, Happy Hearts Fund is helping to improve the lives of children by providing them with the means necessary to self sustain and only strengthen with time. Giving little ones the opportunity for higher quality education and health care will allow them the chance to receive increased life
opportunities and gain the personal strength needed for them to elevate not only their own lives, but the lives of their families and entire communities.
Husband had the great idea of telling her about Kyrgyzstan and what a great need there is for an organization such as hers for the people and children of Kyrgyzstan and central Asia.  She held and cooed at Isabel and Isabel flirted back and soon they were the mutual admiration society.  We spoke of how Kyrgyzstan is very much underrepresented in foreign aid and that the need for organizations such as hers is dire.  What she said was that she would be open to adding Kyrgyzstan to her list of countries, but that she needs “A well-connected person who is there, or a very powerful individual who is willing to step forward.” 

Let’s put on our thinking caps people…

Let’s put that six degrees of separation to work and see what we can do. 

Facts about Kyrgyzstan:

Recognized as an LLDC (Land-locked Developing Nation) by the United Nations Ranked 116th out of 177 countries in the UN Human Development IndexRanked 143rd out of 177 countries by the UN HDI for GDP per capita According to the World Bank:

In 1999, relative to a national poverty line, 64.1% of the population of the Kyrgyzstan Republic was living in poverty. Annual household surveys from 1993 to 2000 in Kyrgyzstan found that more people were living in poverty each year. In 1993, 17.2% of people lived on US$ 2.15 per day or less; by 2000, the proportion had doubled to 34.0%.

Let’s not let the people of Kyrgyzstan think that the world has forgotten them. 

  According to the World Health Organization:

WHO estimates Kyrgyzstan’s latest probability to be 59 under-five deaths per 1000 live births. WHO estimates for neighboring Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are both lower, at 33 and 32, respectively.

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Let’s Not Let The People Of Kyrgyzstan Believe That No One Cares

March 10, 2008 at 5:19 pm 4 comments


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