Archive for April, 2006

Our Agency


So last Friday we were up in Minneapolis and got to visit our International Agency, Children’s Home.  And it was great.  We got to watch a video about the care center our child will come from and find out some answers to questions, etc.  Dillon was pretty into it, too, even after six hours in the car. 

It was really interesting to see the video, and to hear about the center.

Perhaps more on this later, I’ve been working crazy hours over the last two days and don’t have lots of introspection in me today.   But check out this link:

Looks like a really amazing nonprofit that is doing great work in Ethiopia.  Also some interesting statistics about the country.

"Currently, an estimated 2.2 million people are infected with HIV in Ethiopia.<1> Health care is not available for the majority of those who need it with only three doctors for every 100,000 people.<2> To compound the situation, Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world with the average income per person at approximately $90 US per year.<3> Even where health care is available, the majority of the population simply can’t afford the luxury of treatment and medication."  – US Doctors for Africa website.


Homeland Security


So today we had our fingerprint appointment.  It was very surreal.  We were warned to get there on time, so we got there a few minutes early, and waited outside of the building with quite a few other people for the building to open. 

Apparently they have some seagull issues downtown, because there had to be at least a hundred seagulls flocking around less than a block away.  I think they're nesting in a pile of rubble from one of the freeway exits that got torn down.  But it added to the wierdness of the situation.  

While we were waiting outside, I mentioned to Charles that I didn't think it would be a particularly happy job to have to work there.  I get the vibe that it's worse than the DMV.  Everyone in line was anxious, freaked out, even us who were there for what should be a pretty happy and exciting event.  This feeling was reinforced as the doors opened and I had to remove all metal, etc., including my belt to walk through the metal detectors.

We have to present our ids and letters several times to receive more forms to fill out, then they call our numbers individially for the fingerprinting.  Basically, they check your hands for cuts, etc., and then scan your fingers in with a machine that sort of looks like a check-out scanner at a supermarket.  Only there's a lady holding your hand instead of a can of refried beans.  It's pretty weird.  I was a little freaked because I have bouts with excema on my hands, and so she commented that I might have to come back again to do it if they couldn't get a good scan, but my hands are pretty much as good as they get, and I told her that.  But I have really messed up fingerprints on two fingers.  I know, gross.  Anyway, the lady holding my hand kept telling me to relax, but I really couldn't.  After what seemed like forever, she finished, and they called Charles up.

 I waited for him outside the scanner room, where I could hear him flirting with the old ladies that work there.  He is so funny like that.  They were having problems getting his prints because his hands are so big or whatever, but he had them all talking and laughing and stuff.  I hung out in the waiting room- most of the people there were there to renew their "resident alien" cards or whatever.  I noticed that some parents brought their kids to translate for them, which was pretty interesting.   There were literally people there of all colors and races, it would have been a pretty cool picture of the promise of America if there wasn't a big framed picture of G.W. Bush right over the metal detectors.   And some of the other Dept. of Homeland Security folks in D.C.  That sort of knocks the wind out of your sails a bit in the waiting room.  There was also a big lit sign that said "God Bless America", which was kind of strange as it really didn't seem to belong. 

 But anyway, let's hope our fingerprints are good to go and things move smoothly towards the next steps, which are:

1.  We're meeting with our international agency in Minneapolis tomorrow.

2.  A mandatory class in a couple of weeks provided by our local agency. 

I'll keep you posted!

No, it's really not because of Angelina…


Okay, so I got my first dumbass comment related to the adoption today.  From an older lady, so maybe she doesn’t know any better.  But the subject of me adopting a child came up, and this lady makes some comment about how Angelina Jolie adopted a baby from Ethiopia.  Now, while I am (of course) aware of that, as one could hardly stand in a supermarket line without knowing all of the intimate details of her life, that really doesn’t relate to my life, or our decision in any way whatsoever.

 Yes, you know, I was looking at adopting a kid from West Xylophone, but when I saw that Brad and Angelina got a baby from Ethiopia, I just had to get one of those instead.  Like I am picking out a lipstick or purse or something.  I don’t know, maybe she was just making small talk.  But I would think you could think of something better than that to say…

 Ah, well. I feel better now.

Today… I Bought A Barbie


So, today I had a whistle emergency at work.  Those of you who don’t plan events in your everyday jobs may not be familiar with the type of emergency that sends you frantically around town searching for a whistle.  Suffice to say, for me this is not altogether uncommon, and I found myself today running up and down aisles at Walgreens looking for a whistle (or something that makes a reasonably loud noise) fifteen minutes before an event I was hosting. 

I am certian anyone who reads this won’t be particularly surprised that the sixteen-year-old-kid behind the cash register was not helpful, and didn’t much care that I had a whistle emergency.  Turns out, she was blissfully unaware of any types of noisemaking items the store might possibly carry.  Ah well, so I use my powers of deductive reasoning to look in the toy aisle, where they do, in fact, have a harmonica, but that didn’t meet my particular needs.  So I decide to give up on the whistle, when I notice that there is this lonely Barbie doll on the top shelf.  

She’s not actually Barbie, I guess, apparently her name is Madison, and she’s a sort of mocha latte-colored doll that carries a dog in her purse and wears platform shoes.  And I find myself buying her.  Not because I expect that my daughter-to-be will wear a leopard-print cami and daisy dukes, or anything.  Not even (really) because the lonely doll was on clearance-they are discontinuing her line in favor of the (I am so not joking here) Bling Bling Barbies which are glittery.  And sluttier, a la the Bratz dolls. 

The funny thing is, this isn’t the first Barbie I’ve bought since becoming a parent.  For Dillon’s second Christmas, along with a train table and ridiculous amount of "boy" train paraphernalia, I got him two "my scene" Barbies.  One that looked just like Charles, complete with goatee, combat boots, a-line tee shirt, glasses, and laptop.  And one that looked sort of what I have imagined D will look like as a young adult-big curly hair, light brownish (hair and skin), band tee and skateboard.  Dillon has since incorporated these dolls into his play.  These two guys may help the Green Lantern catch bad guys, or D may make masks for them for Halloween, but while they are not his favorite toy, they aren’t ignored, either.

 But a part of me (the Women’s Studies major part, most likely) is somewhat more concerned about the potential ill-effects Madison might have on my daughter than about how her male counterparts might affect Dillon.  Personally, I played with Barbies as a kid (not obsessively as many of my friends-most likely because my parents weren’t as into consumerism, etc., so I only had one or two) and I doubt that toy affected my body image more than any other aspect of the mass media.  I wanted to be She-Ra more than I wanted to be Barbie as a kid, and she frankly wasn’t proportioned any more realistically.

My husband saw Madison and asked me about the fact that this African-American doll has blue eyes and reasonably straightish hair (think Beyonce) and asked me what kind of message that is communicating to our daughter who probably won’t have either.  But I certianly plan on filling her life, bookshelf and toy box with representations of all types of beautiful women.  

 I’m not sure we’re being fair, though.  I was smart enough and empowered enough (mostly) to take the bullshit representations of beauty in the media and file it away.  I think that was due in part to my parents, who didn’t much buy into the Beauty Myth, in part due to lucky genetics, as it’s easier to not stress out about your body if you are a pretty skinny girl, and in part due to a b.s. detector I’ve mostly always had.  So why don’t we think our daughter is going to be smart and empowered enough to be able to play with Barbie and not want to grow up to be her.

This quote from Mother Jones pretty much sums up people’s concern: 

 "Translating Barbie’s plastic proportions into human being terms is a favorite pastime of eating disorder activists and other anti-Barbie crusaders; estimates have put the doll’s life-size bust between 38 and 40 inches, her waist at 18-24 inches, and her height between five and a half and an outlandish more than seven feet, with a weight of 110 pounds. Need some help visualizing that? Imagine Anna Nicole Smith’s breasts, suspended above Kate Moss’ waist (after a fast) all resting comfortably on Cheryl Miller’s frame (after a mid-life growth spurt)."

So, the question remains, why on Earth would I purchase this monument to unrealistic, self-destructive behaviors for my kid?  

And I’m not entirely sure I can answer that.  But, I can tell you that someone asked Naomi Wolf (author of The Beauty Myth and other great books) if she let her daughter play with barbie, and it turns out, she did. I think it’s because we have to have more faith in our kids, that we will teach them to be critical thinkers, and that sheltering them won’t necessarily make them better people.

Recommended viewing:

The Simpsons: Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy Episode

I, Doll (if anyone finds this anywhere, please let me know, it’s an awesome documentary about Barbie & body image that I saw in college.)