Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Will Madonna Have Mercy?

As a follow-up to my previous post about Madonna:

1. I have read that Madonna's adopted son David did get to meet his father who dd not recognize.

2. The following are two quotes by spokespersons for Save the Children regarding Madonna's hope to take another Malawian child home with her:

"We believe very strongly that children are much better looked after, even if they've lost their parents, within their home communities." Sarah Jacobs, Save the Children's Africa specialist, working on issues of child protection, hunger, health and education.
"...our biggest concern is that we believe that in the most -- in the majority of cases, orphans, so-called orphans, in fact [are] not orphans -- they have at least one parent living -- and even those that don't, have a wider family that can look after them. And we believe that children in poverty should be best looked after by their own people in their own environment. And that people like Madonna and organizations like Save the Children are best off helping those families by building schools and supporting them to look after these so-called orphans and not transporting them to live across the world in mansions, in pop stars' mansions, that sort of thing." Dominic Nutt, the spokesman for Save the Children UK . "Children best raised in their own environment, charity says" CNN News 3/30/09

3. Ethica's Call to Action on the Mercy James Case
Ethica is calling to action to raise funds to Linkassist Mercy James to be cared for within her country with her extended family of origin. The annual average salary in Malawi is $160.00. If we provide those funds to the care of Mercy James for the next 14 years, we believe not only could she stay with her family, but she should also be able to be educated within her own country. Therefore we are challenging the adoption community to help us raise $2,240 for Mercy James.

Please read Ethica's entire statement on this subject and donate.

4. Joan M Wheeler, born as, Doris M Sippel sent the following comment to the post "Material Mom To Buy David a Sibling". With Joan's permission I make it available here...

This is outrageous! Thank you for pointing out "Taking children from their culture, without concern for their families’ needs, is done all the time—not just by the rich and famous."

My blood boils. It happened to me. Not in this extreme sense of rich white woman picking out a poor black boy, or girl. But in a small-town-big city: Buffalo, New York. Poverty, maternal death, manipulated grieving father, extended family pre-occupied with their own children to help keep the family together, and, the biggie: Christians.

I get nervous when I think about it. While I was growing up, my adopted mother would tell me stories of her life. How her mother, age 23, died of the flu epidemic in 1918. She left behind 4 children: three boys and one girl. The baby was six months old. The father managed to survive the flu (yes, both parents were dying; he pulled through). The close-knit Italian family and friends helped take care of the children while both parents were hospitalized. When the mother died and the father recovered, he moved the children to a German orphanage in the city of Buffalo. This was 100 miles away from the family home near the Pennsylvania-New York border: mining towns. The father somehow managed to work all week, including Saturdays, and come into the city to visit his children on Sunday. Every week.

Then, fire destroyed the orphanage. The children were moved to an orphanage in an eastern suburb of Buffalo. Still, the father either drove up or took a train to visit his children once a week. He paid for their care. But it was an orphanage. People came to see the children line up, sing songs for entertainment, be on their best behavior so that the audience could pick out the ones they wanted to adopt.

This was a Polish orphanage: most of the children were blonde-haired and blue-eyed. And the girls were separated from the boys. My mother was a full-blood, darker skinned, black haired, brown eyed Italian girl. She was strikingly different from the rest of the girls. She was picked for adoption nearly every time the children performed their entertainment.

But her father refused to let his children be adopted. He saw them through to adulthood. My adoptive mother told this story to me frequently. She was happy. To her, the orphanage was her home. She spent 14 years there, and came home at age 16, when her father came back from Italy with a new wife.

But while I was growing up, all I knew was that my mother died and that my father “put me up” for adoption. My adoptive mother, whether she meant to or not, seemed to rub my nose in the fact that her father kept her, and mine didn’t keep me.

When I was 18 and found by 4 older siblings, the truth came out. A Catholic priest told my father, after the death of my mother, that “the baby needs two parents.” The priest didn’t offer any help to keep five children with their father, no, the priest manipulated my father’s weakened sense of ability by re-enforcing the prevailing social atmosphere of giving needy infants two parents. Didn’t matter that we were an intact family suffering the shock of our mother’s death. Just do the right thing and make sure that infant has two parents, meanwhile, the four older kids could flap in the wind and the father absolutely must go to work. He “found” a wife a short time after his first wife’s death, and had a mother there to take care of the dead mother’s children. The children rebelled. Who wouldn’t?

When I was 18 and learned the truth, I was outraged. Still am. My own siblings lived less than five miles from me for the duration of my childhood and I was deliberately kept from them by a mother who insisted on telling me, over and over again, how her father did not want his children to be permanently separated by adoption. It’s okay, though, for my adoptive Mom to take me from my family and adamantly fight for her right to possess me! And then yell at me for accepting a phone call from a sister I never knew. Mom could have her family, but I could not have mine.

I fail to see how this is love.

Somebody please tell me how to cope with these conflicting, maddening, extremes.

And this happened in my own “back yard”. I can drive to the broken down house and look at it: the house in which I was conceived. I can drive to the houses where my father and siblings lived after our mother died. I can drive by the vacant lot where the orphanage used to be. I know where my mother is buried.

I could have had my family. Instead, I was adopted by Christians. Good, loving people who didn’t see the damage being created.

2 comments:

maybe said...

Wow, Joan's story of her a-mother is fascinating. I have a friend whose mother was in the same situation during roughly the same time period: mother died young, father needed to earn a living and could not take care of children full-time so he sent them to a Catholic orphanage (Cleveland area). The children lived there, were educated, father visted, etc. They remained a family with the help of the orphanage.

On a similar note, my own father (whose parents went missing in the '20s) spent time in an orphanage in PA, later followed by time with foster families (who took in foster children as a source of income during the depression). He never once said he wished he had been adopted, he only wanted to know what happened to his parents. The fact that he, nor his very large group of siblings, was ever adopted was really a blessing for our family. The siblings maintained their family ties throughout their lives, helped each other in adulthood when they were trying to establish themselves, were aunts and uncles to each other's children, remained a family unit forever, as nature intended. This flies in the face of the "forever family" nonsense that is adoption. They were, and still are, a true forever family even though they were without parents.

Joan M Wheeler, born as, Doris M Sippel said...

Thank you for posting my long blog here. I didn't even think to post it on mine. Does good justice on this blogsite.

It is good to hear from others who have been raised in an orphanage. IT is hard to imagine a life in one.

It is good that Save the Children and Ethica have made public statements, also.

I'm actually borrowing a computer at the moment, as mine crashed yesterday! Repair guy will be here tomorrow. sigh...

Thank you again, Mirah.

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