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As a former foster child, my passion is advocating for and with foster care youth, publicizing the challenges that they face and addressing their developmental and emotional needs through workshops.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Jubani by Gigi Anders

The strength of Gigi Anders' writing is in her emotional honesty. While reading her book about growing up Jewish and Cuban, I was impressed more by her candor than by her writing style.

Here is a particular quote that spoke to me:
"I was learning the ropes, the ropes of people's love limitations, and settling for what little I could scramble to get. My deduction: I may have to steal the love I crave. Where can I go to shoplift love? Maybe I'm just not interesting enough to linger over, so I'd better work on that.

I must be burdensome and not worth putting time and effort into. My needs must be too big and unwieldy, for meeting them takes too long and takes too much out of others who have more important things to do with their time. My feelings about the state of my needs don't matter. I will always be alone in this world."

This is a painfully honest statement of feelings. To one extent, it is true and to another, it isn't. The prophecy about being forever alone for example...

A friend of mine once told me, "Lisa, people are born alone and they die alone. In between then, they have other people in their lives who come and go. In between then, they always have God."

There were times, when I was processing my foster care experiences in my late-teens and early-20s, that friends I shared with were overwhelmed by the emotions that I shared with them. It was indeed "too much." That happens. Emotions can be very overwhelming.

But that said nothing about my personal worth. As time went by, I was able to sort through those experiences, deal with the emotions and figure out a way to use those experiences for good. It's a "beauty from ashes" sort of thing.

People do have love-limitations. That's a fact. But to assume that their human fallibility means that you as a person are unloveable? That would be to believe a lie.

Have I ever shoplifted love? I married far too quickly. My husband and I rushed our courtship. We wanted instant-family. The first year was tumultuous. But now, we have done the tough work of building a marriage. Trust, communication and honesty.

I guess I still believe in happy endings. For all of us.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping (Nasdijj)

The quotes from the very beginning of the book "The Boy and the Dog Are Sleeping" by Nasdijj are very powerful. I must admit that I became frustrated mid-way through reading this book, because while I admired Nasdijj adopting a foster child with AIDS, some of the trips he took the boy on were troubling to me.

But, here are the quotes:
-"Sometimes I think I am insane. Why would anyone adopt a child with AIDS?... I want something no one is allowed to have."

-"I want the mad ones. The children mad enough to struggle and survive. I want the children who have seen war. The children mad enough to question everything. The children who have had everything taken away from them. The children who are broken and mad enough to attempt to repair themselves. The children mad enough to spit and fight. Mad enough to laugh outrageously. Mad enough to make a music of their own. Mad enough to see themselves as individuals..."

-"I want children who will dance in the rain. I want the mad crazy ones. I want the ones insane enough to love hard, and brave enough to be vulnerable."

-"What I know and understand and write about is chaos. I have worked with boys who live in foster homes. I am told there are good foster homes, and I believe it. I am an optimist and in denial about many things. I just haven't seen any good foster homes. The foster homes I have seen have been places I wouldn't leave a dog."

-"I have many social worker friends who call me when they are facing a crisis with some kids they want to go to the wall for in order to save. Even in our burned cynicism, we believe there are kids who are still worth it."

-"When we were young, our idealism was breathtaking... we would save the world... We demonstrated. We got our names put on FBI lists. We took over Alcatraz. Now, we are quiet about the work we do. We change things. Quietly."

-"We are no longer interested in saving the world. We know in our bones that the world does not deserve or desire to be saved. We also know that there is a different between the world and an individual child who might, indeed, desire to be saved."

-"Change is one child at a time. Change is one family at a time. Change is changing the madness of culture into the spirituality of the individual, one social structure at a time."

-"Life with Awee (the foster child with AIDS) had an immediacy that was inescapable. You did things now. You hugged him now. You did the dishes with him now. You talked late into the night with him now. There was no 'later'-safe to store your valuables in."