Adopted kids preparing for loss

My heart aches, the thought of yet another loss. I pray every day as hard and as often as I can. I’ve always prayed but now I surely pray louder.

Last Friday we were informed my mum has inoperable lung cancer. We spent the past 11 years in Finland. Me and my two adopted girls had just moved back ‘home’ to Italy in June to spend  more time with the extended family. Now that my adoption process was finally over and we could move freely again. Unfortunately timing wasn’t to our side. Only very few months later the big C. hit us.

How do you prepare for the loss of your mother? How do I prepare my adopted kids who have already both lost their bio mums to the loss of their one and only grandma?

Since I am single I haven´t been able to provide much of an extended family to my girls, and living far away hasn’t helped the regular contact either. I’m scared of even thinking what  life will be without my mum and how my kids will react to yet another loss?

How to prepare…for now we are trying to be strong.

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Birth country heritage: why the focus?

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Since 2008 I’ve been involved in African adoptions; I became an adoptive mother of a Namibian girl and I’m now on the way to become an adoptive mother of a Kenyan child (in God’s will). An interracial family. At the beginning I read a lot on blogs and books: All interracial adoptive families seems to worry a lot, blog a lot, write a lot and discuss a lot about how to keep the heritage of your adoptive’s child country. Being Africa, China or India or South America.

Now my silent unanswered question has always been: Why the focus?

What’s the point of shoving info about an unknown, unseen, un-experienced country to a small child (most adopted kids are between 1 and 6 years old).

How much will s(he) want to know about the birth country? After all his/her parents, friends, school, hobbies are now, like in my daughter’s case,  in another country. And I’m also in another country from my birth country.

She wants to fit in my culture, in my food, in my language. But which one is my language? my country and my culture? The past 10 years I’ve been speaking mainly English (but I’m Italian), at home we watch TV in English and she attends a Swedish school in Finland.

My daughter left Namibia when she was 5 and spent 4 years in a ‘not typical’ Namibian orphanage. It was run by a South African family, German volunteers, they spoke at least 5 different languages (German, English, Afrikaans, Khoekhoe, Bantun), they were taken care by many nationalities carers, and when I moved to Namibia to finalize the adoption, I enrolled her in the closest kindergarten to our home. A 70 kids Lutheran kindergarten where she was the only, and I repeat, the only black child in her this partially white-owned African country.

I love Africa and I have started traveling throughout Africa before I decided to adopt her. My deep love for Africa is part of me. If I cook African or have African art in the house is because I love Africa and she has learnt to love Africa through my eyes.

Like a biological daughter. she loves her mother’s food, be it Italian, German, or whichever regional influence might have absorbed.

I have lived in several European countries, my cooking is clearly very influenced by my by 20 years shared among Germans, English, Finnish and Namibians.

This is why I’m not so sure  when we talk about country heritage and adoption what we are really talking about.

Isn’t everyone after all a little bit adopted or adoptive to countries?

Your grandmother’s recipe from another country, your habits from the Erasmus University abroad, your 10 years holiday in Spain or in Thailand?

 

Racism or curiosity?

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It has been years that I experience hands poking my kids’ heads from every direction. Very seldom you get someone asking: ‘Can I touch her hair please’?

It is like with a dog. No one ever asks. The unknown hand is already petting your dog and you should be glad about it. It means someone likes your dog. What a cutie, how soft…

But what about my children? Can you just touch their hair because you are curious to know how it feels? Or because you have never touched Afro hair before? Allegedly YES!

My oldest daughter would start crying or hide behind my legs every time someone tried. But this never stopped the transgressors.

When she was 5 we were visiting a water park in Rome, Italy. Whilst queueing for a rollercoaster ride, an arm crossed over from the other row and landed not so smoothly on my daughter’s head. She was scared upset, looked at me …puzzled; almost wondering, how should I behave ? but the guy continued touching her hair and I was just paralyzed.

It was my first time. Should I have told him to bug off? Or have a kind conversation about my daughter’s hair like you would do with your dog? I had a kind conversation about the softness and its waterprofeness and I felt immediately after, a little stupid!

Years have passed, she is now almost 12 but the incidents are still almost a daily happening.

Not long ago, in one of the top civilized country of Europe, home of Santa Claus, widely advertised for being the number one country in life standards and education, an elderly lady, who was queuing behind us in a photo shop (we were getting our passport pictures to become Finnish Nationals and hopefully put an end to our immigrant status – right?!), touched my daughter’s hair one time more than allowed.

How did it happen? In Finland your best friends wouldn’t even come to say goodbye in person, when leaving the country after having lived there for over a decade. Let alone touching you or hugging you unless really necessary. Maybe at your birthday? (no offense to my Finnish friends).

Few seconds later the lady transgressor profusely apologized in very good English. She said my hands just moved: Like the magnet to its fridge. Strongly attracted by it. And there again I had a conversation about the softness and the curliness of my daughters’ hair.

After the arrival of my second daughter, my first daughter and I soon realized that it was happening all over again. And to the second one, the fascination was even bigger (her curls are smaller).

She originally had really long hair according to Namibian standards, she could do nice bolas (that is when elastic rings make small or big pony tails) but one day we discovered she had developed tinea capitis, a fungal infection on her head, common in African children. Similar to our athletes foot fungus caught in swimming pools. Not a major issue but very contagious.

So I cut her hair short (even more tempting now) and although she was under medicament, I tried to inform people (those who asked if they could touch her hair) that touching her head would bear the risk of catching the same disease.

Not much of a reason. Still proceeding with the satisfaction of their desire: feel that hair. Touch it. Rub it. Comment about it. Touch it one more time.

The hands never gave up rubbing it. They followed my girls from hiding behind my legs, from running away from them by coming closer and just getting what they came for: their first hands-on experience of Afro-hair 🙂

And the satisfaction on their faces. Oh my! And their reports about the softness, the strange curls, the being water repellent. How not to be “politely” excited about them being excited?

How do you call it: racism or simple human curiosity? You have the power to decide how to ‘sell’ it to your children. Your reaction will be their reaction.

Years are passing by. My girls are finding it more and more flattering that people love their Afro-hair. It is like being famous. And who doesn’t like that!

After all interracial families are just trying hard to smoothen differences and why not hoping it would smoothen ignorance and slowly smoothen racism?

“Hope is always the last to die” promotes an Italian way of saying. So let’s hope by satisfying people curiosity we are promoting knowledge and therefore putting an end to racism. At least this is my angle to the not so often asked question but often acted upon: can I touch your hair?

Little sister is finally home

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I have been waiting long to write this post. I didn’t want to jinx it. Against all odds, I’ve managed to become legal mama of baby Karina. She is a happy 3 and a half years old girl from Namibia.

We have been a family now for over three months, the blogging mode was turned into praying mode and it seems God listened to all our prayers.

Since few weeks we are back home. Big sister is back to school and I am now busy with meeting immigration authority, applying for residence permit, kindergarten and hopefully a European Passport. Karina is enjoying her new home and she is happy and bubbly trying to make everyone smile at her.

After I cared to inform my adoption agency about us dropping out of the waiting list for South Africa where I had been waiting since November 2014, within a day I got a phone call from the social service appointed to my home study renewal (5th time in 5 years) and in two days an official letter came from the adoption agency stating we are not allowed to adopt anymore due to great changes in our lives… yes thanks to me… for sure not thanks to you. We waited 2.5 years, spent thousands of unjustified euros and never got a child. I had never seen them being so efficient in communicating, a part from when they sent invoices with some ridiculous amount to be paid and no explanation for what.

We are so very blessed we have managed to grow our small but happy family in this unconventional way, I am equally sorry for the child who is still waiting for us in Kenya and possibly the one who was on the way to be assigned to us in South Africa: But God chose Karina for us and I truly believe he knows what is best for each and every one of us.

I wish all of you out there, still in this crazy adoption process, faith, strength and more faith. It seems ‘your’ child is somewhere out there. Follow your heart and leave your comfort zone and why not challenge the system. Sometimes it works in your favour.

I am now ready to start our life as a bigger family and who knows… maybe one day I will find the strength and the money to adopt again 🙂

Happy two Mothers´ Day

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Let me start by wishing all of you out there Happy Mother´s day to any kind of mothers out there. Be it biological, adoptive, surrogate or however it is the way you become Mother to your child/children.

If we embrace children´s  perspective, a mother is the mother. The one who is by their side when they fall on a bike ready with a plaster and a kiss, the one who reassure them at night after having a nightmare or the one who reads bedtime stories every night, no matter how tired she is.

When I became an adoptive mother of an almost 5 years old child (she is now almost 11), brought some confusion to our first Mother’s days celebration. The first year I felt the responsibility to give my daughter some options; should we give your gift to your bio-mum? I heard myself asking! She looked puzzled but also she paused thinking and said: I want to think about it!

She was 4 and half, yet she wanted to think about it!

The hours between her thinking and me being the chosen recipients of her Mother´s day gift were very hard. Today six more Mother’s day have passed and we have learned that in life it is better to multiply instead of dividing.

So here we are: double celebration! One card and one nice bouquet of freshly hand- picked wild flowers for Mamma and one card and a bouquet of freshly hand-picked wild flowers for Mum. I guess the only difference is the language of the wishes. To her bio-mum, the message is in English.

I am proud of us how during these years we have managed to learn to multiply Love.

There will always be place for more love in our family, even for the third mum ❤ ❤ ❤

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Take the bull by the horn!

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Sorry for the long radio silence! It has been hard on those adopting families like us. We were already so near the finishing line: our files had been already few months in the National Adoption Committee!

Kenya cancelled international adoptions, my adoption agency disappeared, my money disappeared, my documents collected with extreme hard-work disappeared somewhere in Kenya.

Still today, 6 months after the Kenyan ban on international adoption, the only direct communication I received, it has been a bill for the yearly fee to stay in the adoption system and few vague emails to everyone discussing the unclear future of adoptions.

Adoption agencies should receive some sorts of business training on how to deal with sudden change like we get in the technology industry, where things change by the day, sometimes by the hour. My daughter went through horrible pain seeing her long awaited sibling disappear. Why adoption agencies don´t provide psychological support in these cases? especially to the kids already in the adopting families!

Not because we wish to adopt a child, we can be robbed from our lives, money, time and hopes. I had to do something. So I complained. An official letter to the supervisory board of Adoption Agencies, underlying extreme lack of communication and demanding some clarity on the costs. Really high, considering nothing happened. I mean N O T H I N G  at all. Let´s see if we get treated a little better in the future.

Stay tuned… I have taken the bull by the horns! I came back, aggressive to the aim, as we say in Italian ‘Chi fa da sé fa per tre’, or better said “If you want something done, do it yourself”. So I will!

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A year of blogging: Cable Car or Roller Coaster?

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The WordPress 2014 statistics’ summary says: If I were a cable car I have carried 2600 people with me through this blog on A Sibling Adoption Journey:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 43 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The reality is, it felt much more like a roller coaster gone mad with 2600 spectators telling me to KEEP CALM and CARRY ON.

When the ride was coming to an end, slowing down towards the arrival station, it suddenly regained speed. As always powered by HOPE! A meeting with social services discussing about the South African Program, a chat with the social services of my previous adoption, some Kenyan families approved despite the new moratorium blocking international adoptions.

Despite the facts, International adoptions are now closed in Kenya, Christmas holidays are coming to an end, and HOPE takes place back in our family. HOPE that Kenya might review the moratorium, maybe a new Program will welcome our dossier, or the country of my first adoption will open its doors to us again.

It is all about FAITH & HOPE. HOPE that 2015 will be more of a Cable Car ride than a roller coaster. A trip from the North to the South where to finally meet my child, and my daughter so long awaited sibling.

Happy New Hope Everyone, 2015 will be THE Year! I wish you all less waiting more action 🙂

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Merry Hope Everyone!

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It has been a little over two weeks today, since the dire announcement of Kenya indefinite moratorium on international adoptions. My moods have gone from astonishment to rage, from pinball style action, to stillness…emptiness!

After a lot of thinking, clocking hours of calls and chats, with those friends who have been in the adoption process, I feel like an empty avocado shell, scooped out from my pulp, my essence, my heart!

It feels like, adopting was another life, not mine; as it wasn’t real I was actually trying to adopt again.

I have to admit I never felt this lost before in my life. I am doubting all the choices I have ever made around this second adoption. And it is not really my style to doubt. Never once so far, had I doubted my actions before.

I’ve been living in Finland for almost 10 years now. Most of these years have been because of adoptions. With my first daughter, I had to stay in Finland during the whole adoption process: from 2008 when I first met her, until 2011 when she finally got her Italian passport. As a single applicants from Italy, I am not allowed to adopt in my own country. Thank God I had been living in Finland already three years when I met her on holiday in that Baby Home in Katutura Namibia. It wouldn’t have been even possible otherwise to file for adoption. Thank God Namibia had just had a case of international’s adoption and it was ruled unconstitutional not to allow foreigners to adopt in Namibia. Thank God she was a girl, I wasn’t otherwise allowed to adopt a boy as a single applicant. Thank God she was orphan, I wouldn’t otherwise have ever received the recognition on the adoption from Italy. And the ‘Thank God’ are so much more with my daughter, it feels like it had to be. Are these coincidences? For the true believers, I’d say, if and when God wants, it will happen!

In August 2012, we decided as a small happy family, to adopt again from Africa. One and half year after finalizing the first adoption, I was back again in the social service’s office to commence, yet again, another long year counselling and collecting documents. With the sibling adoption all has been going shift from the very beginning: Even demonstrating to the City Council in Finland that I am not married proved to be a Circus Show. Since I live in Finland, Italy said they cannot issue certificates on my marital status. Finland cannot state I am single, unless Italy tell them so. Here it starts the Grand Circus Show, which lasted over 6 months…

Then the Kenyan National Adoptions Committee got dismantled, followed by the Finnish adoption agency which had troubles renewing their licence. Then Kenya changed the adoption requisites, infertility certificate needed (which I couldn’t provide as I am not infertile) and many more little incidents, which culminated in where we are today: 28 months later; indefinite ban on international adoptions, a career as Interim Manager built around the Kenyan adoption process, which obliges applicants to reside up to one year in Kenya. A daughter growing up in a country that is so far away from her culture, a single mother tired of adoptions and the hassles around them and the itch to just turn the page, move back to Italy, find a ‘real’ job and just live life.

We’ll be home for Christmas in less than a week, I truly don’t know what to tell my family & friends. Can you ask someone you love, to suffer as much for you and your dreams? Is it really over? should it be over?

I want to fight for the sweet son/daughter/sibling, who should have been part of our small happy family. I do; we do! If Kenyan or elsewhere it doesn’t matter. If God wants, we will follow your lead. I am tired, disappointed, empty, a little pissed off too (can I say this?).

New Year will bring some new thoughts, new strengths, new energies. To be in the adoption boat is hard. At times you loose sight of ‘land’ But as I look at my 10 years old daughter crafting Christmas cards for her loved ones, a smile appears on my face and gives me an extra boost. She wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t fought beyond my power, my hopes, my imagination.

To you my child, wait a little longer we will come and get you! Until then I wish you a Merry Christmas wherever you are praying it will be a good one and praying that the New Year will bring us closer together.

Love Mum/ Sis ❤

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Hoping Kenya R.I.P (OFF)

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Waking up at 5.30 thinking your life is finally under control – all tasks for Christmas have been all taken care of, family is healthy, ready to fly back home for a well deserved Christmas break and deep down your heart knowing that 2015 is the year you will finally become a mum for the second time… then the news hit the internet sphere:

NO MORE FOREIGN ADOPTIONS IN KENYA – REVOKED ALL AGENCIES PERMITS WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT !!!

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After 2 years of waiting, lives on hold, hopes up and down, the terminally ill patient has finally pulled the plug…HOPING KENYA: R.I.P. (OFF)

A fatherless Father’s Day

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Yesterday it was Father’s Day in our part of the world. For a child with no father like my daughter, it can be a difficult day. Adults are very good at avoiding unusual situations by just ignoring them!

Every child in my daughter’s school had to prepare a gift for Fathers’ day, even the kid with two mums made one for the other mum… and what did my daughter do? Well she was instructed to make one for her grandfather, (my father) who unfortunately doesn’t even live in the same country as we do, so we couldn’t really celebrate with him.

How should you approach a fatherless Father’s Day? What if your adopted child has a father somewhere out there in the world but you just don’t know where? What if he or she had a father but passed away?

Many adoptive kids don’t have the luxury to know where the bio parents are but we know as a fact that everyone has had a biological mother and father at some point in time. Since we were lucky enough to have some intel on my daughter’s biological parents (at least the names and dates of birth and death), we decided to celebrate Tata Hosea instead of Grandpa since it was not  Grandparents day yesterday!

We prayed together, Martha asked him if he was OK up there, if he had friends… and she wanted him to know it was very nice down here and that we had celebrated with pop-corns and movies for his Father’s Day. I thanked him for giving me this biggest gift ever, to spend part of my life with his amazingly sweet and caring daughter.

Good night Daddy I love you, Martha she said …and at that point I replied, I am sure he knows your name, he is your father!

It shouldn’t matter where your Father is and if you know him or not, Father’s Day is the Day to celebrate him, and that is what we will do from now on. Even if another father might come along one day and join her life, there will always be a very special place for Tata Hosea!

Happy Fathers’ Day & Thank you from down here!fathershand