Monday, February 28, 2011

It Has Already Started

When we decided to adopt we bought our daughter Celine some books on adoption. We wanted her to be a part of the process and understand exactly what adoption meant. We read them often at bedtime It was a great way to open the doors of communication. One of these books is Rosie’s adoption. It is a story about a dog who is adopted into anther breed of dog’s family. It was one of Celine’s favorite.

Since we have been home with Tegegn we have occasionally read him these books and others about the differences of people. We really want to prepare our kids the best we can to the inevitable cruelty that will one day fall upon them.

A few nights ago we were all sitting on Tegegn’s bed reading Rosie’s adoption at bedtime, and when we got to the part of the story that talks about how Rosie’s friends sometimes question if her family is her “real family” Celine said “that happened to me at school”. I took a deep breath, prepared myself and asked her what happened. Now you should know a little about my children’s school. They go to a French immersion school in a predominantly Caucasian neighbourhood. It is a very small school in today’s world, so everyone knows Tegegn.

Celine started explaining how last week a boy in her school asked if Tegegn was her brother, to which Celine replied yes and thought nothing of it. Then recess came. She was playing with a group of her friends and another little girl ran over to her yelling “Celine come here”. I guess the little boy who originally asked her about Tegegn was telling other kids that Tegegn’ wasn’t really her brother. At that moment my heart sank. I think the knowledge of the questions, hurtful comments and ridicule that could possibly happen is the greatest fear for parents of multicultural families. As parents we do our best to bring our children up to know that all families are different in their own way, and ours is beautiful, but we would be naive to think that the entire world thinks the same way as us and that they will never feel the hurt of the words of racism or ridicule. This day was not that day though. I asked Celine what she said. She looked at me as if Duh mom…..”I said he was”. And that was it. As plain as that. Here’s hoping it will always be that easy…..

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Every Little Bit Helps

This weekend was a fun one. My husband and some friends went to our cottage for a weekend of ice fishing, beverages and whatever else is entailed in the annual male bonding rituals while myself and the kids enjoyed a weekend with my step sister and nieces. We took the kids to an indoor playground one afternoon and just had a lot of fun. All the kids are so close in age that it is really fun to watch them interact.

On Monday my other niece who is 10 and nephew who is very close to 9 came over to play in what I hope is some of our last snow of the year (wishful thinking I know). When they walked into my house they handed me a Tupperware. Inside was some change. They told me that they were inspired by one of my last posts in which I told the story of how Celine gave me her money from creating a store to send to Ethiopia. After reading that post, they went around their house and collected all the change they could find. This included pennies, nickles, dimes and a couple of quarters. They told me that they wanted me to add it to the next cheque I send to Ethiopia to help the children there. After they left I counted the money. It totaled $4.61. I started thinking what you could do in Canada for $4.61. Well you could buy a coffee and a bagel at Tim Hortons. That would give you a few hours of hunger relief. You could get your car washed, your car would look nice for a total of a few hours if your lucky. You could buy one beer at a restaurant.... yummmmmm tastes good. Or you could send it to Ethiopia and help a child have an education.

My niece and nephew have briefly heard me talk about helping the children in developing countries, but not at any great lengths so I find it amazing that one little post and they would decide to do this. What they probably don't know is that the change they collected from around there house is almost enough to change a child's life for a year. School fees in Ethiopia are 100 Birr a year. At today's exchange rate that is $5.93 Canadian. It's amazing to think that the money that is lying in our couch cushions, in our junk drawers and on our dressers could do so much.

So, thank you so much Lauren and Hunter. I will proudly add your $4.61 to the next amount of money that I send to Ethiopia. It will change a child's life.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


When we decided to start a charity in Ethiopia I knew it was going to be a challenging undertaking, but I think I underestimated it a little bit.

Some of the challenges I knew I would face were the language barriers, differences in processes between two completely different countries, technology challenges and of course cultural differences.

Chance for Change International Outreach received our charitable status in Ethiopia on December 6, 2010 after jumping over many hurdles, but that was just the beginning and looking back the easy part. Because the model of our charity is based around sales of goods as apposed to strictly collecting monetary support there is additional challenges. Developing countries do not have systems in place like we do here in Canada. In order to import products for sale purposes in Canada there is a few steps that have to be taken. These steps are clearly outlined in a number of different governmental organizations. It’s not a simple task, but one that if you follow the steps and talk to the right people you are able to achieve without too many swear words coming out of your mouth in the process. Ethiopia is a different beast. Getting an export license wasn’t that difficult because I have some good people working for me there, but the process after that has been a nightmare. Every time we think we are days away from our shipment leaving there is another form that needs to be filled out, another process that needs to take place, another place to bring the shipment to get authorization to allow the shipment to leave……ahhhhhhhhh (insert swear words). Anyone who has travelled to Ethiopia or I would assume any developing country knows that electricity comes and goes at will with no notice and with it Internet service. Adding this to the time difference, and cultural differences in the fundamental ways in which Canadians and Ethiopians do business means I go days and days without knowing what is going on and thinking that everything is fine, only to find out that once again we are stalled usually because of one more piece of paper that is needed. My hope is that once we have this processed ironed out, every shipment from here on will be a piece of cake and looking back it will just be the story of the beginning of a great Charity.

I know the shipments will get here, and with them we will be able to continue with our goal of helping educate and employee some of the people in Ethiopia but for right now the frustration mounts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Confession Friday

I confess that ……

I really like green licorice. The long thin kind that as a child I used for a skipping rope before I ate it. I think more stores should sell it. I would buy it

I have a hard time with people who have pity parties constantly. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that everyone deserves a day or two or period of time here or there to wallow in their own self pity, especially those going through adoption. God knows I’ve had my days in the past few years of adoption hell where I found myself curled up in a ball eating candy to comfort myself. I am talking about the people who are always saying “poor me”, or “why can’t my life be different” or my favorite “why me”……… AHHHHHHHHHH you create your life, you make your own existence. If you don’t like it change it, do something different, create something new, but stop complaining all the time.

I haven’t read a good book in a while, and I need to.

I’m a procrastinator with a lot of things. If I’m not passionate about doing something, I have a hard time getting started and I often put it off far too long.

I throw out my children’s school work that they bring home when they aren’t looking sometimes. I love the art that they do and I don’t want to crush their spirits but they just bring home sooooo much. We can only put so much on our fridge, so when they go to bed or up to their room, I throw some out.

That I still check the yahoo adoption site way too much. I still get so excited for people when I see a referral, or a passed court date or a VISA, and so sad and upset when a family get’s news that they don’t expect or have a hard time with the endless waits. I don’ t think those feelings will ever go away. Having lived through it, I think it’s incredible that one little phone call or lack of a phone call can instantly change someone’s life.

I have a hard time with electronics. My husband is constantly shaking his head when I try and turn something on. I mean really….. why can’t their just be one controller, and why is there so many buttons. I don’t have the patience for it all when it doesn’t work.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Joy of Winter

I'm not a big fan of winter. I always say that I wasn't meant to be born in Canada. Don't get me wrong I love the country, and everything we have here but honestly is asking winter to be cut back to 2 months out of the year too much?

The past 6 years have been a little better. Watching and playing with my children outside having fun in the snow, learning to skate, tobogganing and this year snow boarding has made it a little easier to handle, but I have to say...... I would rather be watching them and playing with them in the sand of a hot, tropical climate.

Come on Spring...... Where are you?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Proud Mommy!

Last night I went out with a group of 3 other wonderful people I have met throughout my adoption process. 3 of us have brought our children home and 1 is still waiting for a referral. Whenever I get together with adoption mom’s I am so happy after. It’s always great to be able to speak to other people that know and have shared the experience of not only the ups and downs of adoption but also the experience of traveling to Africa. All 4 of us have been there (Ethiopia or other countries) for various lengths of time, but we all had the same impression. It was a life changing trip that we will never forget.
You can tell people over and over and over about the poverty you saw or the beauty of the people, but to witness it with your own eyes is an experience that I think every person should have. To watch a person dig through the garbage, get their water from a puddle at the side of the road or be so frail that they can hardly walk is a humbling experience. To explain the beauty of a smile on a child’s face when you give them a balloon or hand them a necklace that you brought from a dollar store is something that can not be put into words.

One of the things I have always said about being a parent is that I want my children to Experience the world as much as I am able to afford to them. By this I mean to not be sheltered. I want my children to be awear and see with their own eyes that we are LUCKY to live in a country like Canada. To know that there are places in the world that people don’t have running water, electricity and computers, but that this is OK as long as they are not suffering. I want them to know about different cultures and the history of different countries. And mostly I want them to be compassionate and want to help those who are suffering.

The other night Celine and Tegegn decided to make a store. They took different items from our house and asked Darryl and I to come shopping, so we did. I decided that I wanted to buy a stuffed dog and Cat and a blanket so that they would have something to sleep on. I handed them my pretend money, and to my surprise they said “no mom, at this store we only take real money”…… so I gave in and handed them $2.00. Next came Darryl. He decided to buy everything else at the store. After negotiating he paid them $3.00, which was a far cry from the $80.00 they said they wanted.

Now during this process I suspected that Celine was just trying to get more money to save for her Pokemon cards that she wants and was taking her brother along for the ride, but NO. I was so proud of her when after cleaning up the store she walked over to me and said.
“mom, when are you sending more money over to Ethiopia for Chance for Change”. I said I’m not sure when the next time is. She reached into her pocket and took out the money that She and Tegegn just made from there store and said “ Please add this to it. We want to help the people in Ethiopia”. My heart melted. How proud am I?