It’s About Poverty

The word misunderstood has never been as appropriate in my life as it is here. The day we came home from court, I flipped on the TV and found a quick blurb about Angelina Jolie’s new fight to help orphans and vulnerable children around the world. I quickly wrote down the website and found myself reading Global Action For Children. I then researched more and found myself lost on YouTube trying to locate the news conference that I had gotten the quick blurb from. Here it is.

I wanted desperately to do more homework on the subject. I wanted to read more ways I could help. But I wanted to give the post about Global Action For Children the time it deserved. I still haven’t dedicated the time I want due to the events of the past three days.

So after watching as much of this news conference I could find, I realized that I had received emails and personal messages from my friends and family wondering why I hadn’t posted anything about our final court date. So I wrote a quick little post about the day. Two less orphans in the world. That is right. It’s a great title for the post.

With all the reading, phone conversations, the truly dark places that I go to when dealing with orphans from around the world, child trafficking, and horror stories from war survivors, I was happy that my daughters would not be part of that possibility. Why? Because they are not orphans anymore. And yes, by law, they are were considered orphans.

If you do not know what life is like for woman and children in Guatemala, you have no right to fight me on this one. NONE! When I walked off the plane and into the airport pickup area, I was attacked by little children begging me for money. I’m not talking 9-10 year olds, I’m talking 3-4 year olds. They were pleading with me to give them anything I had. “Please Miss, anything you have, my children haven’t eaten for days” is one comment that I will never get out of my head.

What about this scene?

I was walking down the streets of Guatemala City, where there are dozens of mothers on the ground, with numerous children sitting close by, selling tapestries and jewelery they had made. My new daughter was in my left arm and we were picking out tapestries to bring home. The mother asked me if I was taking this little girl back to America. I said, “Yes, we are going home tomorrow.” What she said to me will haunt me for the rest of my life. She said, “Can you take my daughter with you? She is a good girl.” I obviously couldn’t. I was overwhelmed by sadness.

The idea that this mother was willing to give up her daughter to a complete stranger, another Mother, knowing, without question, that life in America IS that much better… it was more than shocking. It changed me. My desire to help end this started at that moment.

At that moment, I understood why there are so many adoptions from Guatemala. Of course there are the stories of bad adoption practices, that is tragic as well. But when you born into a country where 80% of the population lives in abject poverty, where there is no birth control available, where the rights of women are not equal to their male counterparts, life can be horrific to say the least. I have never seen so many children in the streets. They weren’t in school, they were begging on the streets. They had no shoes, hadn’t been bathed in a very long while, but were the most beautiful children I had ever seen.

You have no right!

Because you don’t know the history, the stories of why my daughters were given up, you have no right to say to me that they would have been better off to stay there. Until Guatemala can help it’s people, raise them out of the poverty, give equal rights to all its women, get blatant prostitution off the streets, until they can recover, fully recover from their horrific civil war, my daughters are better off here. I stand by that. If you have not seen true poverty, if you are not willing to look at it in its ugly, sinister face, then you don’t belong in this conversation.

Look at this through the eyes of poverty.

We live in a country where millions of illegal aliens fight to cross it’s borders, because life in America is so much better than what they escaped from. I can not tell you how many Guatemalan women I know who have left their children behind, so they could come to America and work, get paid, and send back money to them. Some of them have not seen their children in 10 years.

Living in America, having the opportunities to equal rights as women, to an education, are the gifts that their mother gave them. That is the ultimate gift.

Aren’t our hopes as mothers are to give our children things we did not have for ourselves? Their mothers in Guatemala gave them that gift. They gave up the most precious thing they had, their child, in hope for a better life. A life they know they could not give them. And they couldn’t because of the disease that they all have – poverty.

I don’t want to go into my fight about poverty in America vs poverty in all third world countries. I have done that before. If you are interested in reading what I have to say, please read it HERE. I also explain a little about my daughters’ stories there as well.

An adoptive Mother I respect wrote a thought provoking post, called The Perfect Storm. In it she said, “For that makes it possible for us to view a woman’s relinquishment of her child as heroic act, one to be praised and repeated.”

It’s not heroic, it’s necessary.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the world of true poverty, the relinquishment of a child is not a heroic act, but a selfless and necessary act if the mother wants her child to live. And until we, as mankind, stand up and try to make a difference in the world, until we try to make poverty history, there are no other options right now. Unfortunately, the only option for these Mothers, that includes LIFE for their children, is relinquishment. In the harsh light of severe poverty, how can adoption be wrong? These children would die… or worse.

Do I hope that all of my children are part of the change that needs to happen in the world? Yes, I do.

Do I hope that my daughters understand the opportunities that they have been given, simply because a piece of paper says they are Americans? Yes, I do.

Do I hope that they will then help do something to change the system that put them there in the first place? Yes, I do.

Yes, I hope all of my children will be part of the generation that will finally take the stand and make the right decisions to change the face of poverty.

Poverty, child trafficking, lack of education, adoption, are all part of a vicious cycle. And poverty is the root to all of it. If poverty wasn’t an issue, I would say that the percentage of adoptions would go dramatically down. Especially, international adoptions. I know that these women did not want to give up their children, they felt that they had to. It is a horrible thing to have to go through. But they have little if any choice until the systems change in their own countries.

And that is my goal. My goal as a woman, a mother, and as a human being. The reasons why my daughters were given up for adoption are the very same reasons why I write and fight against the atrocities that happen in the world.

If you are not willing to help the cause, to help stop poverty, to help make the changes that are so necessary in the world, then with all due respect, back off.

rocky signature

16 Responses to “It’s About Poverty”

  1. joy21 May 6, 2007 at 9:17 pm #

    I was trying to stay out of this, but I do have to say be careful of great solutions

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/11/05/america/web.1105guatemala.php

    they often have unintended consequences, avoid the white man’s burden, it hasn’t served us so well in the past.

    Be careful whose heads you step on to pull yourself up to hero status.

    The adoptees and mom who made you so mad, you were very patronizing to, remember adoptees have lived adoption their entire lives, they may know a thing or too, about as a dear friend of mine said, what a fucked thing it is to be saved from a fate worse than death.

    Adoption doesn’t end poverty.

    Schools, roads and clean water, viable ways to sustain an economy,

    Imagine if you became destitute and the help you were given was to take your children.

    You may be willing to lose them for their sake, but really think for one moment how that would feel.

    Adoption is not the happy ending it is often sold as, whatever you think it is, it is more.

  2. headmutha May 6, 2007 at 10:51 pm #

    Joy, thanks for stopping by. I do appreciate your perspective. Especially since it’s obvious you’re not here address me personally.

    I never said this was a great solution. It’s far from great. For my two little girls specifically, it was A solution. Nothing more. Nothing less. I can’t speak to anyone else’s adoption or circumstances or trials or emotional upheavals.

    Joy, if I’ve stepped on someone heads, it wasn’t to pull myself up to hero status. I’m not sure why anyone thinks I desire to be a hero. I’m just trying to be human. I’m trying not to turn my back on problems by just talking about them. If you think that means I’m trying to be a hero… I’ll just have to accept that. I can’t help you change that opinion. It’s not mine.

    I was unaware that I was patronizing anyone. I didn’t invite the personal attacks. They sought me out, not with questions or opinion, but with a blatant personal attack. I’m very, very open to understanding other opinions. But I am not open to someone attacking me personally who doesn’t know me from Adam.

    Obviously adoption doesn’t end poverty. We agree on that.

    Yes! Schools, roads, clean water, viable ways to sustain an economy, that’s what this website is ALL about. That’s why we’re working to raise money for A Child’s Right. Our goal is to raise $35,000 and go to Guatemala and help an entire village with clean drinking water. That’s my mission. Thank you for validating it.

    And I can’t even begin to imagine how the Mothers must feel who have to turn over their children just to give them hope for life. I can’t imagine it. I’ve been to these orphanages… the best of them are substandard. Right now, what do you suggest as an alternative? Throwing money at Guatemala would have done nothing for these two little girls. I chose not to stand by and watch. I chose A solution. Perhaps not the best in your eyes, but it was a solution for these two girls.

    Adoption may not always be the happy ending it is often sold as, but the other options are almost always not happy endings. I’ll take these odds over the others any day.

    As for the article you point to, I lived through the protests at the hotel on my second trip to Guatemala. I’m not naive or uninformed about the potential for abuse. As I’ve said before, this is not the perfect solution, nor will it even begin to end poverty. That wasn’t my goal with these two little girls. I did not think adopting them was a solution for Guatemalan poverty. It was a solution to help them, specifically, obtain the chance for life. Period.

    Joy, I know they are going have issues surrounding abandonment. I know they may feel like they don’t really fit in. I know they are going to have questions. If people like you can find a way to communicate with people like me in a way that helps us understand their issues better, we’ll all be better off. I know you may not want to do that. But someone will.

    Right now, we’ve turned our energies to helping whole communities in other countries. We’ve decided that there will probably be no more adoptions for us. We feel strongly that the solutions lie exactly where you say they lie… in education, roads, clean water and the creation of viable methods for sustaining their economy.

    So, this little housewife, the mother of six children, is just trying to do what she can. Would you like to help? I could use another great writer. And you are.

  3. Margie May 7, 2007 at 1:00 am #

    Rocky, I admire your commitment to the children of Guatemala and the world. What you have seen there has impassioned you – and passionate people work hard on behalf of the causes they embrace. I most definitely respect you for that, and respect the work you are doing here.

    There’s much in this post with which I agree, some with which I don’t, but I appreciate all of it. Thanks for helping us understand your point of view.

  4. joy21 May 7, 2007 at 1:06 am #

    Thank you for your kind compliments, I understand your frustration, at wishing to find a fix.

    My focus is more local, my passions are children aging out of foster care, and helping mother’s keep.

    I am glad your children will be safe, the problem as I see it, is that there is an underground economy of babies, literally being farmed for American Consumption, that the good intentions of many of unwittingly caused harm. There are many more and much more damning articles of what adoption has done for Guatemala than the one I mentioned.

    I just think we have to be very careful when we go in as white westerners with answers. I think that Americans in a general way get carried away with our bad selves and don’t examine how we as a nation have helped create these very circumstances we then want to rescue children from.

    That is it, I think it is easy to lose reverence in the face of enthusiasm.

  5. Petunia May 7, 2007 at 3:01 am #

    Don’t listen to any of these women who try to steal your happiness. I applaud you for doing what you felt you needed to do. For loving these children so much and feeling so strongly for all the other children still there that needs love. I am an adoptee and an adopted mom and the small group of people against all this is small…just seems big when they gang up on you. Congratulations on your new family….wonderful blessings to you!!!

  6. joy21 May 7, 2007 at 4:36 am #

    OH Hi Petunnnniaaa

    so nice to see you,

    H. Mutha, I sincerely hope you don’t think I am trying to steal your happiness, I am not, I just think things are way more complicated than they often appear at first blush.

    It seems like you get that.

    I just don’t think it is simple, as I am sure you know, and for some of us the celebration of the most painful event in our lives being celebrated is triggering.

    I guess for *me* am still figuring it out, I wish there was more reverence, less being a gift, shit my nmom even called me a gift, makes one feel kind of like a punch bowl.

    For Petunia, things are simple, for the Hamlets of the world, who want to be sure of the nature of the right action, it is not.

    Kind of a pisser at times, but as our friend Socrates says, the unexamined life is not worth living…

    P. is right about there not being a huge number of adoptees willing to share, many are conflicted with feelings of love and loyalty to their aparents, many are silenced by the cultural norms, in real life I don’t even tell people I am adopted, and have only tried to discover adoptions true impact on me in the last year and I am 35.

    I wish people wouldn’t be so afraid of thinking about it you know, I wish people were more willing to stand in the gap between black and white.

    *sigh*

  7. HeadMutha ~ Rocky May 7, 2007 at 2:26 pm #

    I know that everyone involved can be hurt with adoption, but until we can have an open, honest, and respectful discussion, the gap between aparents, adoptees, bmoms, etc. can never be brought closer.

    And how things transpired with the first post is the perfect example. If the first comments were, “I see that you are happy with the events that has transpired from your adoption of your daughters, but I hope that you are aware that there are adoptees/bmothers like myself who read this, and are horrified with the idea and ideals that you are discussing, because we are dealing with are own issues of being adopted. This celebration is a reminder of the most painful event of our lives.”

    I believe we could have started a true conversation if that is how it happened. It is about validating our feelings. Adoptees can not come to me and tell me not to be happy about one of the happiest days in our families lives, and I cannot tell adoptees not to feel the pain and sorrow that they are feeling due to the exact same event. That would be wrong.

    But what we can learn from each other could be overwhelming.

    How can we truly understand each other, as humans, if we can’t have an open and respectful dialogue? I hope this is the start of a great relationship where we can respect each other, validate each others feelings, and move forward to a positive place where we can make a true difference in the lives of everyone involved.

    Much Respect,

    Rocky

  8. headmutha May 7, 2007 at 3:06 pm #

    With that said, I hope Kim.Kim will come back and join us in a more positive conversation. I welcome it, and her perspective.

    Much Respect,

    Rocky

  9. Margie May 7, 2007 at 5:15 pm #

    Petunia, I respect your opinions and have said so to you on your blog. I have also spoken frequently on my own blog about my family and the fact that we are a very happy one – visit the category “Kids” and you will see. Nothing can change that – it’s a fact of my adoption experience, which is one of gain, not loss.

    The point I tried to make in my post has nothing to do with adoptive parent happiness, however. It has to do with adoptive parent attitudes toward adoption loss, and in particular the way we write about them. That opinion, with which anyone is entitled to disagree, is simply that if we a-parents seek dialog with adoptees and first parents for whom adoption equals pain and loss, we need to recognize that our words will be interpreted through that prism.

    Rocky, sorry to have a discussion with someone else here, but I did want to clarify the misunderstanding. There are two posts on my blog named “Truth and Humility,” and they clarify what I mean further.

    Thanks.

  10. HeadMutha ~ Rocky May 7, 2007 at 5:30 pm #

    Margie,

    I am happy to continue any and all conversations here.

    Thanks for coming back.

  11. magicpointeshoe May 7, 2007 at 6:55 pm #

    “And how things transpired with the first post is the perfect example. If the first comments were, “I see that you are happy with the events that has transpired from your adoption of your daughters, but I hope that you are aware that there are adoptees/bmothers like myself who read this, and are horrified with the idea and ideals that you are discussing, because we are dealing with are own issues of being adopted. This celebration is a reminder of the most painful event of our lives.””

    Sorry, I disagree right here. Dialogue does not come from comments like this. What follows is the exact same comment rush against the person because of the attempt to rain on the parade. The same tirade of the person must be jealous. The same tirade of comments. Been there, done that, and it’s very tiring.

    The question then becomes where does the dialogue come from then. It come from discussion like the ones that stemmed on your blog recovering from someone raining on your parade. Whether she was rude or not initially is not the point. The point is whether the conversations following can bridge that gap. I think you have gotten lucky on that part and have gotten very good conversations with very wise women and not hit by inconsiderate trolls that lack compassion of understanding your side.

  12. JWT May 7, 2007 at 7:36 pm #

    magicpointshoe…. what I think you are saying here is that in the past, when attempts have been made to be positive in the approach, adoptive parents have still reacted negatively. If I’m reading our comment wrong, please let me know. I am reacting to it in that light.

    I can see how that might happen, of course. I honestly don’t think it would have in this case, but we’ll never know. Your real point is the only one that matters. “Whether she was rude or not initially is not the point.” I agree.

    We have all found a way to get past it and engage in a necessary and healthy discussion. There is power in that.

    Are we lucky that we are now getting good conversations and are no longer being attacked? Maybe. But we worked hard to control ourselves so we could see the other side. I’m glad we did.

    And people like Joy and Margie worked hard to facilitate discussion. They took the time to listen and were patient. I’m glad they did.

    I am now looking at words like “orphan” outside of the legal definitions and attempting to hear it with a different ear. For me, that’s powerful and necessary. We can all be a bit myopic at times. We all need to be jarred from our place at times.

    Let’s turn this into something good.

  13. magicpointeshoe May 7, 2007 at 7:59 pm #

    It’s not just adoptive parents that react negatively. The fundamental trouble is that most people think of adoption as win-win situation. There is a phrase that is used about drinking the adoption kool-aid to describe it.

    People tend not to think of adoption being an emotionally plural topic. It’s complicated and messy. And when it gets pointed out, the person who points it out gets slapped down by the majority.

    I’m not being eloquent with my words lately. I’ve been having tough conversations on multiple blogs that last couple days and I’m worn out.

  14. issycat May 8, 2007 at 1:54 am #

    This discussion makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, truly.

    Golly, what began as a train wreck has turned into an open and honest discussion. No more name calling, no accusations. Just people expressing their opinions and actually listening to each other. It warms my heart I tell you.

    You can respectfully disagree with someone and not make it World War Three.
    Anyway, I know I’ve learned something today.

    And I do want you to know, Head Mutha and her hubby, that you have inspired me to think globally and make an effort to help and promote change.

    I look forward to reading more.

    Thanks.

  15. kim May 8, 2007 at 4:21 am #

    There is a lot of emotion when it comes to the subject of adoption. As a teenager I gave birth to a little boy and placed him in 1982. At the same time I was watching my 18yr old brother try and raise his little girl along with his 15yr old girlfriend in my home. My mom was newly divorced and had 5 teenagers in the house plus a baby. She was selling her silver to try and feed us. Even in the U.S.A. things can be grime for a young woman.

    Adoption is not a perfect solution. It is not perfect to be a teenager and pregnant either. There is no perfect answer. But, what makes a mother and what makes a father is so much more the DNA. $$$ is not the answer either. I couldn’t have live with abortion as a solution and many urged me to do just that including one of my teachers. But my son and I both could live with adoption. And that we did.

    I am pleased with how you view the birthmother. You sound like a good mutha!

    blessings to your family,
    Kim

  16. headmutha May 8, 2007 at 4:50 am #

    issycat: You have brought me to tears. Thank you for that response. I wish you could see the smile on my face.

    kim: Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for sharing it here.

    I want to thank everyone who came back and worked through all of this. I know only great things can come out of it.

    AND WITH THAT…

    I feel like I have been turned inside out. I just need to breathe. I am going to take one day off. Turn off my computer and spend the entire day tomorrow cuddling with my kids. Thank you for coming back. I hope to see all of you soon.

Leave a Reply