Month: October 2016

For anyone wanting to learn more about adoption (bonus post)

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In older articles posted on Ansa Nest, I have briefly talked about the experience we had as a family during the adoption of 3 African girls. And when reading something like this, or listening to a similar story, it sometimes seems extremely fascinating. Keep in mind that my mother decided to adopt because of an article she read on a family magazine.

Is it all that good and charming as it looks? How do you work out the “abnormality” of adding complete strangers into an already growing family? Does it get better with time?

These are very common questions and very good questions. What I’m hoping to achieve with this article, is to give you some insights on what you should be expecting when in a similar situation.

When my mother reached out to the lady that had adopted some children (the one who also wrote the article), one of the things she was told was “never expect from yourself to feel your adopted children to be like your own children.” This was something my mother held in her head for some time, but didn’t really pay attention to as she was determined to make this work.

Now if you ask my mother about her opinion on the same statement, you will find her agreeing with that. It may sound bizarre and maybe even “harsh.” However, when you add new children (especially when they arrive at a grown age), you should be expecting a change in the dynamic of your family.

As a parent, you will always be “comparing” your natural born children, to your adopted children. It’s not out of bad intentions. You may have the best intentions in the world. It’s simply nature. You tend to “love more” your own children than the adopted ones. And when the children arrive at a grown age and have already gained some very important experiences they may even not feel so strongly the “parent” connection. It’s not that you don’t have a parent-child relationship. It’s simply an acknowledgment of reality. Both parties, know that this isn’t the “natural thing” and as hard as you may try to make it normal, there will always be something missing.

I am obviously not saying all this to discourage you. Just the fact that you are saving children’s lives is very important and that by itself should be a very strong reason for you to want to proceed with such a process. But keep in mind that everyone before is kind of settled in their own ways. So “demanding” from yourself to give up a few things or change certain behaviors may sound easy at first. But when you add on to that a few years, then “tention” builds up. Being a part of an adoption process, I can now say that it’s really a blessing. You learn to live with people of completely different cultures, and quite frankly, it’s a very unique experience for the children.

By all means, you should give it your best and the more love you give, the more love you will receive. But just try to fit into your mind the fact that it’s something “strange” for both parties. And both of you will need to work on that while the years go on.

Personal advice I would give you (based on some negative experience I received): Never allow within your family “group separations.” In other words, never allow individual parties within the family (if that makes any sense.) You will be in a constant effort to stabilize situations. And the last thing you need in your family, are “parties” that differ your natural born children, with your adopted children. Even if your children tell you “it’s fine, we are okay” etc, make sure you don’t allow such behavior. It’s going to turn into a large problem, and very soon the tension that has been built will burst that bubble.

So, hopefully you found this post to be interesting and informative. Since I have gained some experience on these matters, I will be sharing them periodically. Hopefully you can benefit from them. If you want to get an idea (or background update) on my family experience, check out this article.

See you in the next post.

Throwback in time: Why adopt?

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In a certain part of this site or even in other posts created, I speak briefly about the initial reason of the adoption. So far, it has been best described in the first few paragraphs of this post. Some extra details though are important to be mentioned.

In short: Why did my parents (mostly my mother) want to adopt 3 girls from West Africa?

My mother (who had the initial idea) tends to read every morning a specific magazine she has subscribed to, which covers all things family. In there, one of the contributors had adopted many children from the same orphanage and other parts of Africa (including Sierra Leone.) So she was sharing her story about the adoption process, the way she lived her life having several adopted children and a lot of the work she and her family had been doing in that orphanage as volunteers. My mother, not having any daughters (just 5 sons) somehow felt inspired and enthusiastic about the idea. Long story short, she shared the idea with my father and then it was a mutually decided agreement to move forward with the process.

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The years passing by…

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Very soon in my sister’s journey, everything seemed to be in place: The awkwardness was gone, the first initial “shock” was nowhere to be found and there was a very good sense of family unity. Not everyone fully adapted (even to this day) to this change. My two older brothers had different views on the adoption and they didn’t try to hide them either.

But generally speaking there was an effort to try to keep things peaceful around the house, everyone living in their own unique world, being involved in their own unique activities. Something very similar to a “normal” family or at least a family that hadn’t adopted 3 black girls from Liberia.

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Getting the adopted girls in place.

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We are at this point of our story, where an introduction has been made by both parties and we are all trying to fit in our minds this very bizarre change in our family format. It isn’t easy (especially for the younger ones) to adapt to something like this that quickly. So during all the time we were getting things set within our home (making sure bedrooms were all set, buying appropriate clothing and basic needs) we also had to take care of things outside of or home:

  • Schooling
  • Medical checkup or treatment
  • Government papers taken care of
  • Buying everything they would possibly need (from clothes, to books, to a bicycle)

I have to admit (and I was told this a bit older) that we weren’t in the greatest financial situation at the time. We never had money issues but we weren’t wealthy either. Middle class would be the best description of our livelihoods. Even so, we never let anyone know about this as we always trusted God in our lives and knew he would take care of us.

What is worth mentioning though is the tremendous help and support by family, friends and even people that didn’t know us but learned our story. People would offer to give us clothes they had in excellent shape that they didn’t want, note books that included notes from classes the girls would absolutely need for their school (they didn’t speak very well English), even food! I feel an obligation to mention the name of a very close family friend that was extremely helpful throughout this whole transition process. Our friend Daniel who owns a limousine company in Columbia, SC ( limorentalcolumbia.com ) would visit us very often to help us take care of things around the house (manual work and building in the new bedrooms or moving in the new beds), he had many clothes that weren’t being used by his now grown up daughters that were in excellent shape, he even offered to help us out financially. Something we denied. Daniel has a very special place in our hearts to this day, and we always remember the kind offering of help back in the day.

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Where did everything take place (background update)

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Reading through my website and the past blogs I had posted, I realized that I haven’t really given you a geographical location in which everything from the time of the adoption is taking place. Maybe I did this intentionally? Keep you guys in suspense?

In any case, everything is taking place in the South. Specifically in Myrtle Beach, SC. The girls arrived there over 10 years ago, and we were waiting for them to walk in that front door. The rest will be described throughout the following posts.

If you need to establish a story foundation and maybe a background, check here to make sure you got everything straight.

Getting To Know Each Other

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The following events and stories to be talked about, are continuing the logic of the previous posts and are following the time frames in which these events took place.

Throughout the first few weeks and especially after some major strange behaviors faded away, everyone was able (including my sisters) to start meeting each other in depth – exchanging stories and life experiences. As you can probably understand, we were more interested in what they had to say, rather what we had to tell them. Their challenge was to try and understand the way of living in a western/civilized country, and our challenge was to try and train our brains and souls to not burst in flames of anger and cry, for the kind of wrong doings conducted on my sisters while in the orphanage and throughout their recent life.

I guess me and my younger brothers who were more involved with my sisters and wanted them in our daily family lives, were curious at the time of the different songs and traditions they had from Liberia. Keep in mind that I was eight at the time, and my younger brothers were six and four. So this was fun for us, and learning the negro traditional melodies really made us happy – especially when those melodies came from my sister’s voices. Below I have an example of the kind of music that was brought to our family because of the Liberian girls.

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The first few days.

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In my latest post, I mentioned basically very briefly the events that took place from the day an adoption was decided, until my father and 3 black sisters arrived at our home.

I still remember waking up from a very short after-lunch nap (honestly don’t know if I even slept by the anxiety.) I was eager to meet my new sisters and had been waiting for this time, for months. As I mentioned in my latest post, I couldn’t imagine at the time, that I would have 3 brand new black sisters being related to, for the rest of my life. I was 8 years old at the time, and my brain just couldn’t adapt to that idea. I was excited to have them, and promised myself I would love them no matter what. I just couldn’t understand the transition process of suddenly adding 3 new family members. When a new family member arrives from natural birth, you aren’t as shocked because you’ve been waiting it for 9 months, and also you see the development of the child through its mother. But when you suddenly sign up for an instant add of 3 African sisters, that can be quite scary for an 8 year old boy.

When they first stepped in the front door and into our house, someone had to break the ice. Me and my brothers (even the older ones that were playing tough) were kind of just “waiting to see what happens.” My mother, being the one to always remove awkward situations and being the problem solver that she is, cheered up instantly welcoming my 3 new sisters (and my dad.) We had prepared our dinning room table to have a nice first dinner, to get a first introduction of our selves.

Now, before I move any further with the events, I just need you to understand the kind of environment 3 orphan girls (the oldest one was abandoned by her mother) were living in an orphanage in Liberia that even got hit by rebels as a result of the civil war. I need you to imagine what hell they were living in since – as you probably have heard –  Liberia and other African countries aren’t the richest. This specific orphanage was being sponsored and supported by money and volunteers from US Christian churches. Reading about these specific small philanthropic organizations later when I grew up, I instantly realized how many phony organizations exist to supposedly support children in Africa. I don’t have great respect for Unicef and similar groups because of the stories we have heard. But these small – not for profit – groups that were supporting children in orphanages by actually volunteering, well you just stair in “aw.” Even so, when you have hundreds if not a thousand or two of orphanage children, you need to distribute all the money and volunteers that are helping out, which means that every child gets a smaller piece of the pie. My sisters were dangerously skinny when we saw them.

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Starting at the very beginning…

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In this article, I want to get started with the basics of the experience to be unfold for all of you wonderful people reading my blogs.

As you probably are aware of, Ansa Nest is really my personal nest in which I am able as an “artist NOT in small Africa” to share my thoughts and real life experiences of 3 adopted sisters born in Liberia. If you go over to my about page, you’ll get an idea of why I’m calling Liberia “small Africa” and my whole relation to it.

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