Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fat Seagulls

I bet you never thought you'd see that as a blog title, but I can't get over how obese the seagulls are in New Jersey. They are so fat they can barely walk. They look like they need hip replacements. You might be interested to know it's not just me who noticed this, it's been studied by a University (I do think it was the same university who found that if you don't get enough sleep you'll be tired, but still).

In all seriousness, Abegail and I took a quick trip to New Jersey Thursday to see her best friend from Liberia, Tarry and her sister Maima. Tarry and Maima have been home a year and a half but living in Minnesota we didn't have a chance to catch up with them. We are now just four hours from their home in Bradley Beach, NJ. Not including Abegail and Emmanuel we've seen 13 out of the 24 children who were at the AFAA house when we went two years ago. It amazes me. When we left Liberia I thought I'd see their cousins (Martu and Mackie) and Akins Junior again. I never imagined I would be able to see and get to know so many after they were adopted. Seeing kids for the first time here still stuns me. I always say their name with a question mark, not able to fully recognize them. They are all several inches taller, healthy looking, clean, wearing nice clothes. It is the best sight! Abegail and Tarry didn't miss a beat, like many good friends, they were giggling and catching up immediately. Thursday just happened to be Tarry's 10th birthday.

Soccer for E-man and Abegail has already begun and we are getting ready for school. Now it is really apparent we are not in Minnesota. For one thing they are wearing sweatshirts in Minnesota now and it is still about 99 percent humidity here. (Trust me I'm not complaining about the weather). The school open house this week is sure to have me with a deer in the headlights look trying to figure out where to go, wishing Tori's mom or Ellen's Mom would just magically appear, and pondering whether or not I'm really ready for the responsibility of room mother.

We've had a great summer. Last week our neighbors from Minnesota (Jane, Cindy, & Drue) came to visit. We did three solid days of sightseeing. (So much so the kids now call the Washington Monument the pencil) Now if only we can get that camera fixed!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Big News....With The Diving Board!

Annie did it! She jumped off the diving board and swam to the side without a life jacket and then she did it about 25 more times. "Mom, you can stop clapping now," she said.
I hate not having my camera, but I've been assured it will be fixed in a week
E-man discovered earlier this month he can go off the board and doesn't need a life jacket.

I love the age of 5. I know I say that at every age that Annie is, but I really think 5 will be my favorite age. Yes, she is a bit sassier, but she is also as sweet as ever and tries to smile at me whenever I am in the middle of my head exploding with another child. Annie can do so many things too and is so excited about everything. I love the age of 5.

E-man has also turned a small corner. The ice-cream truck (which always comes right before dinner, who owns that thing?) came by and he pulled out his big jar of money to go buy ice-cream. But he didn't just buy some for himself. He bought for his sisters. Abegail said, "Are you sure?" Of course she didn't want to be expected to have to part with some of her precious money and return the favor. But he was sure and even enjoyed buying something for them with his own money.

I'm reading one of those books that's hard to put down. Don't you love that kind of book? "There is no me without you" is by a fellow AFAA mom who adopted from Ethiopia. It is fascinating and brings such light to the AIDS crisis in Ethiopia. 427 pages of a remarkable woman named Haregewoin who had unimaginable ups and downs. She lost her daughter to AIDS in 1998 and was about to go into seclusion until she was asked by a catholic charity to care for an orphaned teenager.
One of the most enlightening issues discussed was that in 1970 the UN General Assembly agreed rich countries should give .7 percent of their GNP to developing countries. It was not a moral issue, it was viewed that northern hemisphere wealth and southern hemisphere poverty were linked.

Melissa Fay Greene writes 'Africa had been plundered for hundreds of years by the world's elites, with no thought to the chaos, tragedy, and starvation they left behind.'

In 1992 the agreement was made again, but between 2002 and 2005 this is what was given:

USA: $75,853,000 .1%
Japan $40,138,000 .2%
France $31,051,000
UK $29,552,000
Germany $29, 502,000 .3%
Netherlands $16,771,000 .7%
Italy $12, 221,00 .2%
Canada $10, 552,000 .3%
Sweden $9,856,000 .7%
Australia $5,325,000 .2%

Of the world's riches countries, only the Netherlands and Sweden followed through on their agreement. While Denmark and Luxembourg gave .8 percent of their GNP, Norway came in with .9 percent.

'By April 15, 2006, the U.S. government had spent according to congressional appropriations, $275 billion on the war in Iraq. According to the national Priorities Project, worldwide AIDS programs could have been completely funded for 21 years with that amount of funding.'
Of course that can be said about education or transportation and a million other things. But those things didn't leave millions of orphans in one country.

More amazing about the whole thing is how the drug companies held patents for decades to keep lifesaving medications at a price so high it was impossible for anyone in a third world country to think about it.

Finally the story comes to adoption. Orphans wandered around the streets of Ethiopia aimlessly and Haregewoin's home had more than 40 children because there just was no one else. And then it was discovered that while there was a shortage of adults in Ethiopia, there was a shortage of children in Europe and North America. The Ethiopian government worried, they would lose their culture, they may be the only Ethiopians in their town, they may be the only black children for miles around. But they will have families. The babies were easy to get adopted, everyone wanted baby girls.

Greene writes: 'In the adoption world, Haregewoin learned even a three year old was an 'older child,' declined by most prospective parents as possibly too damaged or traumatized by early experiences.'
'But won't someone adopt the older children?' Haregewoin sighed as a Canadian-agency person prepared to depart with a baby.
'Try the Americans'
'What? Really?'
'The Americans will adopt anyone.'
Melissa Fay Greene has 9 children, four are adopted from Ethiopia.
Quotes From Abegail:
A: Mommy, are there stores in heaven?
M: I'm not quite sure...are you wondering if you can go to Target after you die?
A: Yes (laughing)
M: Well I'm sure you can, it's heaven after all. Just ask God for a room next to the bulls eye, I've already requested a room next to the pool.
Happy Birthday Auntie Caroline, may you have decades more of #39

Thursday, August 13, 2009

To Akins...With Love...

Annie missed the MUAA reunion and one of her good friends, Akins. So in response to his impromptu break dancing she danced for him. Akins even asked about her, "where's E-man's sister?"
The Richardson summer party continues, I had a friend and her two boys come visit this week. Her kids are sweet, mine are....energetic? I kept telling her I grade on a curve. In fact that's my motto for the summer, I've told countless people, I'm grading on a curve, don't be alarmed.

Scott Says: Don't be mislead by this video. It may look like a video of Annie dancing in a moment of spontaneous emotion at the pool...but really (if you look closely) it's a video of E-Man showing us how much he loves to straddle water cannons!! feels funny....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

One Small Planet

A Liberian man now living in Minneapolis went home to Africa to see his family. He was talking to someone in Liberia and said, "There are these two Liberian kids in Minneapolis who have been adopted. Their names are Abegail and Emmanuel." The person said, "Oh, those are Alexander's kids." The person the man was talking to happened to be a friend of A&E's birth father, Alexander. The man said, "They are being well cared for." Scott spoke to Alexander while we were in Oklahoma and Alexander repeated this story to him and said, "Thank you so much. I can never repay you. God bless you." That's what I call a small world.
So we have been a bit out of touch lately, normally I blog when we are away but our camera broke and I only took our video camera and it seems to be against my nature to blog without pictures. I have stolen some pictures from our reunion to post this and will work on video of our entire trip tonight. We had a wonderful time in Oklahoma. Good family time and a good time reconnecting with our Liberian friends and their families. Here are some of the photos I have stolen from Val. The first thing I got Lorea to do was give E-man a matching haircut to Akins (Junior) so they looked like brothers.
A trampoline was added to the fun this year and even I got in the action. Have you ever played duck, duck, goose on a trampoline??
It is very fun, try to run a trampoline sometime, it's quite the feat.
I loved having A&E all to myself. Annie stayed back with Grandma, giving me time to just focus on them. I think they liked it too!
And I got some love from both my boys, E-man and Akins (who is as handsome as ever!)
Making S'mores
The whole gang, Sharon, Jemama, & Princess from Wyoming, and Val with Akins (Lorea is taking the picture) the hosts from Tulsa. We also got to see Grandma Joyce.
Bye Akins!
Catch ya later dude!
Quotes From Abegail:
We are watching the news and President Obama is sitting at a table talking with a couple people.
A: Mommy, can we go and sit with the President like that?
M: No.
A: Why?
M: Because you have to be special.
A: But I am special.