Monday, April 18, 2011

Human Potential

I don’t normally post “political arguments” on my blog, but I’m making an exception concerning the ongoing debate about the public funding of Planned Parenthood abortion clinics in our country.  I am anti-abortion and I do not want my taxpayer dollars funding Planned Parenthood.  

This commentary, Human Potential, was picked up by Live Action News and published on their site.  I'm re-posting this  on my blog with the link to Live Action News mainly because a woman just recently posted her "positive abortion experience" on YouTube.  I find this abhorrent on so many levels - not the least of which is that YouTube did not remove this offensive posting.  Anyway, I believe it is imperative that people who are pro-life take a stand now for the unborn.  So, here is the post again with the link to the Live Action News website.
My first question to the pro-abortion folks is; “Just what is ‘it’ that is conceived?  Is ‘it’ an amphibian (since it lives in water) or perhaps a primate?”  I would argue “it” is a human; nothing else.  Can any of you convince me otherwise?  Now, I know that many of you might argue “it” is not human yet; “it” is just a potential human.  True - “it” is a human with potential.  So, to this I say; a two-year-old child is a human with potential.  A fifteen-year-old child with Autism is a human with potential.  A forty-year-old man is a human with potential.  We are all humans with potential!  Why, then, do we single out a particular group of humans (the unborn) and pronounce that their “potential” is somehow not protected under the same laws that protect every other human in our country?  The Declaration of Independence is clear: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  These unalienable rights are endowed by our creator; not by government.  Creating human beings starts at the moment of conception; it is the first human experience of our lives.  From that point on, we are endowed with human potential.  As a tax paying member of society, I want to pose the next question to everyone; pro-life and pro-abortion advocates.  “Why should my taxpayer dollars go to fund the ending of human potential against my wishes?”  

Right now our government has determined that the unborn are not protected because they are just potential humans who have not yet reached their human potential.  So, who will be next?  Who will be deemed “less than human?”  Will it be the aged who are too much of a drain on our wonderful government funded health care system?  Will it be the child with autism or Down syndrome?   

We seem to think that all children that are born should be perfect; that human potential can only be realized by perfect humans.  What a sad world this would be without all those “imperfect” humans we meet every day.  Wait a minute: We are all imperfect humans!  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hallelujah Baby
Paola @ 16 months old
Paola arrived four days ago from Haiti.  She showed up on our doorstep with her bottle, blue ribbons in her hair, and two diapers.  She was wearing a pretty little blue dress with patent-leather shoes and frilly little socks.  The folks that brought her are volunteers for Mercy and Sharing, an organization that helps children in Haiti.   They had never met little Paola, but fell in love with her during the trip from Miami airport and are already planning a return visit.  We too fell in love with Paola immediately.  What a little doll she is!
Paola has a cleft lip and a cleft palate as well as some other birth defects. Her mother gave her over to the orphanage because in Haiti (where voodoo is a way of life) a child with such defects is considered cursed. She weighs a measly 16 pounds at sixteen months old.  She will have to undergo numerous surgeries to correct her problems.  But, it is not the imperfections that you see when you look at this little bundle of joy. You might expect to see a baby who’d be sad and cranky however, instead you see gorgeous brown eyes and a ready smile that lights up her whole face.    She laughs and interacts with everyone and everything around her.  She already has won over the hearts of our whole family.  Yesterday all the children were gathered around Paola breathlessly waiting for her to throw her arms up in the air and yell Hallelujah!  Oh the cheering the ensued when she finally did it!  The noise was deafening as the children clapped and laughed.
I watched this celebration and wondered to myself, “how does a baby with all these problems have reason to rejoice?”  Then I thought about the country where she came from where you are considered lucky if you end up in an orphanage.  In Haiti many of the children live in rat-infested streets where raw sewage runs freely.  At least in the orphanage they have someone to care for their basic needs.  In the orphanage they rejoiced over simple things that we take for granted in our country of plenty.  In the orphanage they yelled “hallelujah” when diapers or formula arrived.  They yelled “hallelujah” when a baby went to a new home.  They yelled “hallelujah” when they had fresh water.  They yelled “hallelujah” when a doctor or nurse came to minister to them.  I suspect that some may have even said a silent “hallelujah” when the sickest little ones stopped suffering and returned to God.  I am sure they all said “hallelujah” when little Paola left because they know that she will be loved unconditionally and she will thrive.
So now we have our little “hallelujah” baby, and together we celebrate smiles, laughter, crawling, standing, clapping, and swinging. We celebrate smelling flowers, picking up the telephone, and sleeping on freshly washed crib sheets.  We celebrate toes that wiggle and fingers that point.  We celebrate the sunrise and the sunset.  We celebrate rocking chairs and rocking horses.  We celebrate baths and baby powder.  We celebrate arms that hug and voices that soothe…You name it, we celebrate it!  Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!
Paola now @ age 10
Author's note: Hallelujah Baby was published in Chicken Soup for the Adopted Soul in 2008.
Paola is 13 years old now and is thriving.  She has been our legally adopted daughter since she was 7.  The adoption process was very long and cumbersome because we were told we would have to take her back to Haiti.  After six years of explaining her medical issues and the dangers of traveling to Haiti where she could contract any number of infections, we were finally permitted to legally adopt Paola without leaving the US.  Now, seven years later we are back in a legal limbo.  She has been denied US citizenship because she entered our country on a visitor's visa for medical care.  Even though she is the daughter of two US citizens and she is under the age of 16 and the US is the only home she has ever really known, we are being told once again that we will most likely have to take her back to Haiti to the consulate in order to request citizenship on her behalf.  The absurdity of this dilemma is truly mind boggling!  I don't know what the future holds, but I know that Paola is and always will be our daughter and that I will fight whomever, wherever, whenever for as long it takes to ensure her legal right to be a US citizen. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Toilets, Plungers and Knives

This story is an excerpt from my book: Melody of My Heartstrings.  I'm posting this especially for Nurjahan :-)  It still makes me laugh when I picture her trying to "keep the toilet water in".  This story is all true - I couldn't make this up!  Hope you enjoy it.  

Have you ever tried putting your chin on the dishwasher while it’s running?  It’s quite a nice feeling.  I recommend it to anyone who is feeling especially stressed out.  It causes a soothing sensation over your whole face.  I imagine, if I were only two feet tall, the soothing feeling might send little tingles down my entire tiny body.  I guess that is why Lulu is so enamored with the dishwasher.

I noticed Lulu’s strange fascination with the dishwasher one Saturday morning while I was sprinting with a plunger between bathrooms on either end of the house.  As I ran back and forth from one bathroom to another, I could not help but observe that Lulu had pinned herself to the dishwasher and was oblivious to the commotion all around her.  Her diapered behind was swaying back and forth with her face plastered on the front of the dishwasher.  At first, I thought she must have had her tongue stuck or something but, upon closer inspection, I saw that she was holding her chin against the machine as it vibrated.  I hoped the cycle had just started as it would keep her busy while I plunged.  Currently, there was toilet water “falling out” of two toilets simultaneously.

While Lulu was preoccupied with the dishwasher, Jennifer was in one bathroom screaming, “Mom the toilet is overflowing!”

And Nurjahan, our little girl from Bangladesh, was in the other bathroom yelling in broken English, “Oh my gosh!  My toilet water falling out!”

How could I deal with such catastrophe when I had not even had my first cup of coffee yet!  My eyes were still blurred and crusty from sleep!  I was unprepared for such a rude awakening.  I had to think fast.  I grabbed the first thing I could find in the kitchen; I reached for a spatula.  I ran to Jen’s bathroom and quickly jammed the spatula under that bulb thingy to stop the flow of water. (I have absolutely no idea why I did not think to turn the water off, but I didn’t).

Then, I rushed to Nur’s bathroom (stopping momentarily to grab a couple of carving knives while making sure that Lulu was still worshiping the dishwasher).  Quite a sight met me when I reached Nur’s bathroom: Nur was straddling the toilet pushing with all her might on the lid trying valiantly to stop the water from “falling out”.   Strands of her long jet-black hair dangled in her face and she was so out of breath I thought she might pass out from her herculean effort.

I quickly rushed into her bathroom with my knives to the rescue.  I wedged one knife under to bulb thingy and the water soon slowed to a trickle.  Nur slid off the toilet to the floor and started laughing.  I soon joined her on the wet floor giggling at the absurdity of using a kitchen knife to stop the toilet from overflowing.  Suddenly, the doorbell rang.  “Now who could that be so early in the morning?”  I asked myself as I made my way to the front door.

I opened the door.  I must have scared the bejesus out of the man standing in front of me.  I’m sure he didn’t expect to see someone in sopping wet smiley face pj’s holding a plunger in one hand and a large carving knife in the other.  The carpet cleaning man eyed me suspiciously then he spoke, “What’s that buzzing noise?”

“What buzzing?” I asked.

“That loud buzzing noise that seems to be coming from your back yard.” He said.

“I don’t know.” I said.

I threw him the plunger (good thing it wasn’t the knife).  “Hold this!” I yelled as I ran toward the backyard slamming the door behind me.  I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed the buzzing sooner as it was loud enough to wake the dead.  It was coming from the septic system alarm.  I deduced, even in my coffee deprived state, that the alarm might have something to do with the overflowing toilets.

I silenced the alarm, called the septic company, checked on Lulu (who was still stuck to the dishwasher), made sure Nurjahan and Jennifer were okay and was pouring my coffee when the doorbell rang.  “Now who could that be so early in the morning?”  I was thinking to myself when I suddenly remembered that I left the carpet cleaning guy at the front door holding the plunger.  I went back and opened the front door apologizing profusely for my oversight.  He was still holding the plunger.

“Rough morning?” He commented.

“Yeah.” I sighed as I opened the door for him and reclaimed my plunger.

After I had shown him all the carpets that needed cleaning, I said, “If you need me, I will be in the kitchen with my chin on the dishwasher.” 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mrs. 'P'

Mrs. "P"

“Mrs. ‘P’ was made in the 1980’s.” seven-year-old Ben said as bits of his peanut butter and jelly sandwich sprayed from his mouth landing precariously close to my lunch plate. 

“She was bornded on the same day as me!”  Shayla chimed in, “On number 23. I was bornded on the number 23 too, but in February and Mrs. ‘P’ was bornded on the number 23 in March.”  She grinned at me revealing a gaping hole where two teeth used to be.  In fact, most of my lunch table companions were missing at least two teeth.

“Were your there when Mrs. ‘P’ was borned?” Jacob asked.

“I remember it well,” I replied as pictures of the delivery room danced in my head.  Mrs. ‘P’ was refusing to be bornded so the nurse was straddling me pushing on my belly as a last ditch effort before rushing me to surgery for a “C” section.  Luckily, the nurse’s Herculean efforts paid off and Mrs. ‘P’ was bornded - only back then her name wasn’t Mrs. ‘P’; it was Jennifer.  “I’m Mrs. ‘P’s’ mommy,” I explained. “So, I was there when she was born.”

“Mrs. ‘P’ has a mommy!” Josh exclaimed.  Some of the more worldly children at my table patiently explained to Josh that everyone has a mommy - even Mrs. ‘P.'

The reason we were all discussing Mrs. ‘P’s’ birthday is because she just celebrated her twenty-fifth birthday a few days ago.  In the world of seven-year-olds birthdays are ranked first in the top ten most important life events; followed closely by losing teeth.

“So,” I asked my table of munchkins, “can anyone tell me where all your teeth went?”

“The tooth fairy took mine,” Elizabeth yelled from the end of the table.  Even though she was yelling, I was finding it hard to hear her over the chatter of the surrounding lunch tables.  It didn’t help matters when they all started talking at once; "I got five...once I lost three...the tooth fairy left me...dollars...teeth...a once...when I fell off my bicycle."

As the children clambered for my attention, I glanced over at Jennifer who was sitting at another table eating lunch with the rest of her class.  The chatter going on at her table was as lively as mine.  I had to smile as I observed the adoring faces of the children surrounding my daughter.  It seems like only yesterday she was sitting on the floor of her bedroom with all her stuffed animals surrounding her.  I remember vividly one particular day: She was telling her furry kindergarten class the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  She couldn’t have been more than five herself - in fact I think she was still in preschool.  She had set up a makeshift chalkboard (a piece of cardboard), and she was holding her pointer (a stick from our yard).  By her side, she had a box of stickers (a must have for all kindergarten teachers).  As she told the story, she periodically pointed to the invisible scenes on her chalk board while asking questions of her well-behaved students.  I noticed that most of her stuffed animals were covered in “great job” stickers - all except one.  Then, I discovered why.  I didn’t know that Jennifer was aware of my presence in the doorway until she turned to the stickerless dog and sternly informed him that the principal was here to get him.  I took that as my cue and entered the classroom.  “Miss Jennifer,” I said in my dour principal voice, “Do you have a student who is misbehaving?”

“Yes,” she replied, “Will you please take Jason to the office and call his mother?  Tell her that Jason keeps interrupting our story.”

“I will,” I said gruffly as I took Jason by the paw and escorted him out of the room.

Jennifer is married now to a Jason (who I’m guessing was as well behaved in school as the Jason I escorted out of her classroom twenty-some years ago).  I still marvel at the fact that she has never wavered from her dream of becoming a teacher.  She would come home from school and play school.  Even on weekends she would play school.  In fact, the neighborhood kids would send their stuffed animals to Jennifer’s school!  Jennifer didn’t “become” a teacher.  Jennifer was born a teacher.

Now, I have the privilege of volunteering in her class (and I don’t even have to play the part of the gruff principal).  Today, as we were walking to the lunchroom, I noticed how happy all her students were.  They didn’t walk to the lunchroom, they bounced, hopped, skipped, spun and laughed.  They weren’t misbehaving in line; it was just a happy line.  I commented to Jennifer that they were a merry bunch.  She laughed and said that she’s been told by a lot of teachers that her class has become transformed since she took over. The previous teacher became ill and had to retire in the middle of the school year.

Mrs. ‘P’ didn’t fly in like Super Woman, and she doesn’t even wear a cape but, to her students, she is a hero.  Her classroom is a place of joy where the children feel safe and loved.  She’s my hero, too.  She has grown into a beautiful, kind woman who I have the honor of calling my daughter.

We were getting up from our lunchroom table when I heard a voice at my side, “Are you Mrs. ‘P’s’ mommy?”  I looked in the direction of the tiny voice and saw a small child who must have been about five.  “I want to be in her class when I grow up,”  The voice continued, “because she is the bestest teacher in the whole school!”

Most of us can point to that one teacher that had a profound impact on our lives.  I know Mrs. ‘P’s’ students will remember her for years to come.  She may even be the “bestest teacher in the whole world” to that one child who just needed someone to care.  Perhaps Kyle summed it up best as I sat next to him during reading instruction.  “Before Mrs. ‘P’ came, my reading was broken,” He confessed.  Then he grinned proudly and pronounced, “But, she is helping me fix it.  She is fixing all my broken spots.”