Thank you!

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All it took was ONE person to say: “because you validated my pain, I didn’t end my life that night.”

Just because you don’t live my reality, doesn’t mean that my words don’t hold merit. Just because you haven’t walked in my shoes doesn’t mean my shoes aren’t worn out or filled with holes. Just because you had a good night’s rest last night doesn’t mean that I’m not tired.

This Thanksgiving holiday, commercials have populated on my screen, most about family and togetherness. The 23 and me commercial depicts family members sharing a meal with a percentage over their heads, depicting their DNA relation to the commercial’s main character. Most of you sit at a table, where you too, share DNA with those sitting by your side. You look around and see your eyes on your father, your nose on your mother, and your high cheekbones on your grandmother. Some of you share a talent with your siblings, like singing. You may share common interests.

Some of us don’t have that. Some of us look around and see not one person who resembles us. Some of us don’t have even one person in our family who shares our interests, our dreams, our goals, and our passions. For many of us, life has felt as though we look in on these events from a window: there… but not completely.

The pain is not understood by those who haven’t walked in these old torn shoes. They simply say “just be grateful to have shoes” while they flash their newest pair. It’s like being left with scraps of each person’s leftovers after everyone’s eaten and being told “at least you had food to eat,” while their bellies are filled with lavish dishes. The hurt goes unseen because the love of money is far more rampant than the love of God in the world.

Continuing to invalidate people can create a strife so big within that person. Sadly, adoptees lose their life to suicide four times more than non-adopted people. When God called me to this… to be an advocate, to educate people, to be a warrior for truth… I felt just like Moses. In Numbers 11:14-15, Moses shouts to God: “I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now- if I have found favor in your yes- and do not let me face my own ruin.”

God’s response (Numbers 11:16-17): The LORD said to Moses: “Bring me seventy of Israel’s elders who are known to you as leaders and officials among the people. Have them come to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you. I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone.”

Adoptees, you’ve helped me carry this burden. In my darkest hour, I didn’t have to do it alone. I count myself blessed to be a spiritual elder or leader to help YOU carry that burden. I will never stop fighting for you. I promise you that I will do everything I can, with my blog, with my book, to lead you to the promised land of civil rights for adoptees! If I have saved just ONE life, it was worth any job I lost over my convictions, any “friend” I lost, any hate afflicted towards me.

 

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Please stop saying “It’s just a Cuban thing”

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If I had one penny for every time I’ve heard this phrase, I’d richer than Bill Gates. Sure, I’ll accept that line when it comes to jokes, phrases, food, and traditions. But, I’m tired of hearing such commentary in the name of justifying racism, sexual misconduct, downright abuse, and infantilization of adult children. It simply is not right. For years, I’ve grown absolutely disgusted with Cuban culture and make it a point to interject when people ask me if I’m Cuban: “My adoptive parents are…” emphasis added on adoptive. I did not want to be associated with Cuba in any way, shape, or form. I was embarrassed for people to think that I abided by the racist, misogynistic, and abusive culture. Nor, did I want people to think that I was an eternal baby. The hatred grew in my heart by day. Every act of chusmeria was confirmation to me that my hatred was justified. But, one thing kept me from becoming filled with pure hate. That was the elderly community. I’ve always had a soft spot for the elderly. While most people think that older people are set in their ways, I’ve discovered quite the opposite. Older people listen. Older people are receptive. They are wise. They don’t react. They respond. So, I held out hope that if the elderly were willing to change, perhaps the cultural worldview would change also.

First and foremost, I’m constantly bombarded with the word “white.” White people are racist. White people have no culture. I’m not sure what this means. My parents are white. But, these so called, “race-police” don’t consider them white. Their hispanic! What makes them hispanic instead of white? They are of Spanish descent, from European ancestry. So, why am I more “white” than them because my ancestors lived two countries down? Is it because I wasn’t born to Spanish speaking parents? Is it because their ancestry comes from regions of the world where English is spoken? I’m not quite sure what makes someone “white” in this day and age. What I do know is that everything we “white” people say comes under scrutiny. If I say that as a child, I was made fun of for having lighter skin, they say “well deserved.” As though me taking on the sins of whites of the past is somehow a form of justice. It particularly hurts to be called a racist when I’m the only person in my family who believes that an interracial marriage is a valid marriage. Yes, there are people this uneducated and behind walking amongst us. I’m the only person who doesn’t think that a Muslim person is a threat. I’m the only one who knows that all Asians are not Chinese and that North Korea is not “China Korea.”  However, I’m the one continuously being called a racist simply because the infamous “they” have deemed me “white.” Yet, the true racists are overlooked. There is no reason or justification for this. It is simply because we are in the end times and war is raging through humanity. The enemy wants to divide and conquer. So, I’ve chosen to set myself apart and close my ears to such ridiculousness.

I distinctly remember sitting in my first grade classroom. We were reading about families. The teacher, I kid you not, said, “you should always try to marry someone of your own color.” Yes, this really happened. To this day, I still can’t believe it happened. But, it did. From the time I was small, I was told that marrying a black guy was out of the question. When I was invited to another school’s prom by someone who was black, I wasn’t allowed to go. But, they will claim with the brightest smile, that “I’m not a racist.”

When discussing the current issue of North Korea, everyone called them: “los Chinos en Korea.” I reiterated several times that China and Korea are two different countries. While both countries likely house a dominantly Asian population, this does not imply that they are the same country. When they refused to call the country by its proper name, I just told them: “Ok, In that case, you’re Mexican.” After all, isn’t that what the world thinks? That all Hispanic people are Mexican? Their response was: “I’d rather be dead than Mexican.”

This was all summed up with… you guessed it… It’s a Cuban thing!

I developed earlier than I would have liked to. By the time I was about 11 or 12, I would get cat called by old men at Navarro. Only recently, I was harassed by some guy at a bakery while I was getting a bottle of water. at 26 years old, I just cried and cried over this. It is so incredibly inappropriate and the worse part is, no one cares. It is culturally acceptable to cat call little girls and to make remarks about women’s bodies in a public place. Seven years after the crime took place, I came forward and told someone. At 18, I was sexually abused. It happened in the back of a store. I was silenced with severe threats that I was terribly afraid he would carry out. Seven years later, I could not take legal action against my abuser. But, what I could do was gain justice by garnering empathy from family and friends. I could say what happened. I could tarnish his name amongst my loved ones. I could not be silent like he had wanted me to. My own family, INCLUDING PEOPLE ON THE POLICE FORCE, said that it was my fault for going to the store alone! I expected anger, fury, and rage, towards the criminal. Instead, I received the anger and rage instead. Not only did I not receive any empathy, but I was told to be silent and tell no one because it was dishonorable. So, now I had been silenced by the people who were suppose to protect me and be angry for me, not at me. When confronted with all of this, which I have written, the answer just seemed to be: It’s cultural. It’s a Cuban thing.

To make matters worse, I left my last place of employment after sexual harassment had become rampant. I can take a few jokes here and there. There is a fine line, however, between inappropriate and intolerable. I let all the penis jokes pass. But, when the manager began to yell about the type of sex that women “really like,” and included that if she said no, he would slap her across the face and leave her scratched and bruised… I said PEACE! First of all, this is not appropriate conversation for the workplace. Second of all, openly talking AT WORK about beating up a woman and raping her is horrendous. Others tried to justify this saying that this is the way that Cuban people “joke,” assuring me that it is harmless. So far, what I’ve learned is that it’s culturally unacceptable to bring an abuser into the light, but it is culturally acceptable to talk about raping women at work. Got it!

I, too, have laughed at all of the hispanic jokes on social media. I think it’s pretty hilarious  and reminiscent to hear from all the other children who watched novelas instead of cartoons, alongside of Despito, the cafecito version. But, some people are mocking full blown abusive beatings. I saw one skit where someone was severely beat because they forgot to take chicken out of the freezer. Another person made a skit of almost being drowned just because his mother was mad. Just because something is culturally acceptable doesn’t make it right. Severely beating children and trying to drown them is not right. And to think… if it only took an un-thawed chicken to deliver such a brutal beating, what would she do if he was in a car accident? Forgot to turn in a homework assignment? Or something else slightly worse than just forgetting something minuscule? But, everyone simply laughs because… well, it’s a Cuban thing.

There is a serious lack of boundaries in my family. People are involved in other people’s marriages. People are telling other people how to raise their kids. Bathroom doors are not respected. Shower curtains aren’t respected. Credit cards and social security numbers are not respected. This has continued because others haven’t put a stop to it. But, I know for a fact that everyone is suffering from these lack of boundaries. But, instead of securing their boundaries, they throw their hands up in the air and assume that it’s every Cuban family. In fact, before my very eyes, this is what I heard someone say when they were consoling someone after money had been stolen from them. Instead of saying “that’s terrible.” They simply echoed: “that happens in every Cuban family.”

I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on this in preparation for the publishing of my book. Imagine if every terrible and unexpected thing I did, I chalked up to my country of origin. You would have strong negative feelings towards me or anyone else from where I’m from because you would likely be afraid. The truth about this is that this has nothing to do with Cuba. This has to do with accountability. When you stand before God, He’s not going to ask you if you’re Cuban before He judges your sin. He’s not going to ask you if you’re black, white, pink, or purple. The ways of the Lord are for all people, every tongue, and every nation. All of the above I mentioned are not acceptable in the sight of God. We need to take accountability for our actions, individually! If you have offended someone, apologize. If you have mistreated someone, apologize. If someone has been hurt, offer a hand. If your children forget to take out the chicken, talk to them. If someone comes to you to share a story of sexual abuse, protect them. If you see someone sexually harassing someone else, intervene. If you know that someone stole from another, seek justice. The people who continue to blame all of the above on Cuban culture are really doing Cuba a great injustice. You are stereotyping people and planting seeds of hatred in the hearts of others. Take accountability for yourself and stop blaming it on your country.

 

The Social Media Standard

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I use to take time out of my day to admire other people’s instagram posts, especially other women my age. I thought I was admiring their careers, their homes, and their closets. What I was really admiring, however, was their smiles. The persona that most of these people depicted on social media was one of a life of joy and fulfillment. So, my thought process went something like this: I need to alter my life to be more like certain people in order to be more fulfilled.

No matter how much I modeled my life after such people, I could never measure up to their social media standards. I figured that perhaps my life was just too un-perfect. First, I naturally blamed the people around me. I blamed my mom for extending her one month stay in my house. I blamed the school that I was suppose to work for last year, for being the sole fault of me losing my little place. I blamed everyone for setting a bar of impossible standards. Then, I did a 180 degree turn and placed the entire blame on myself: I am not doing enough, I’m not good enough, I’m too anti-social, etc.

The reality was that neither answer was right. Sure, I may be struggling with some things that others don’t have to go through. Not everyone I know has had major financial struggles. Not everyone I know has to deal with clinical anxiety. Not everyone I know has a dysfunctional family situation. But, everyone has struggles. The same people posting the happiest of photos also have their dark days. They also cry, get emotional, argue with their loved ones, and find themselves broke some days. The difference between me and them is that my social media profile is more emotionally diverse. Those who don’t use social media or those who only use it as a place to show-case their happy times, can’t understand why someone would want to post the lows. But, this platform allowed me to feel genuine support from others who otherwise, I may not have known were so empathetic. But, what I discovered, was so much bigger than that. Looking at other people’s diverse social media made me realize that I am not alone in my human-ness. I’m not alone in not having a perfect life. I’m not alone in not being happy every single day of the year. There isn’t something inherently wrong with me.

So, thank you to those of you who are brave enough to say when you’re not okay. Thank you to those of you who say, “hey, me too!” You give me the courage to be myself and you have restored my sense of normalcy.

TV TUESDAY- 90 Day Fiance

 

If you aren’t watching 90 day fiance on TLC, you are missing out… and not just on the show! You’re missing out on being a part of a community of tweeters and laugh till our abdomen aches. The series has been so successful, that several spinoffs have been created, like: 90 Fiance, Happily Ever After? and 90 Day Finace: Before the 90 days. With the exception of some couples (cough cough Mohommed and Danielle), most couples up to now have been seemed genuinely in love and not suspicious of using the K1 Visa as a ticket for a green card. By far, Loren and Alexis are my all time favorite couple. I was not even remotely prepared for this spinnoff: before the 90 days.

Often times, we lose sight of the fact that the people we see on television are real people. We trash them on magazines and social media like their a sub-human entity without feelings. After I met the cast of Pretty Little Liars, I came to realize that celebrities are genuine and sincere people. Loren, from this very show, was gracious enough to provide me with helpful information in reply to a question I submitted on Instagram. So, I will by no means be using this as a gossip column or a trash-talk forum. I’m just going to give you the facts.

The Couples:

Abby and Sean: Abby is a gorgeous Haitian woman. She’s 20 on the show and she is involved with a 47 year old man named Sean. Sean is a handsome guy who spoils Abby to the fullest. Chris is Abby’s ex-boyfriend. He is 64 years old. It appears, at this point, that the relationship between Abby and Chris is not completely over. Last week’s episode ended with Sean crying and my heart breaking just a little.

Courtney and Antonio: Courtney has been texting back and forth with a hot model named Antonio from Spain. According to her instagram, she retired at 25 to be a world traveler (you go girl)! I’m slightly jealous. At this point, Antonio doesn’t seem to want to be tied down. He wants to continue playing the field. The show explores the relationship dynamic.

Larry and Jenny: Jenny is from the Philippines. She met Larry on Philipino-Cupid. Larry’s cousin is also married to a woman from the Philippines. As they sit over lunch, his cousin and cousin-in-law tell him about Jenny’s promiscuous presence on social media. But, Larry believes that true love conquers all and doesn’t hesitate to, as he loves to tell us, spend his 401K and 10 years of savings to fly there and meet Jenny. Jenny’s favorite thing about Larry is his nose. She also claimed that she hope he proposes because she feels that she will have a better life in the US.

Patrick and Myriam: Both of these individuals are so incredibly sweet! I could see why they hit it off in the first place. Patrick is a DJ with the cutest daughter in town! His best friend is his daughter’s mommy (awww)! She totally supports his relationship with Myriam and encourages him to go to Paris to find true love. Myriam and Patrick have been communicating frequently. Except… she forgot to tell him she had a boyfriend! Despite this small detail, Patrick’s mom encourages him to stay and make the best of his time with her. As of right now, we have little details about her boyfriend and the state of the relationship. But, she did offer to be Patrick’s tour guide… so he’s got that going for him!

Jesse and Darcy: All I can say is that my heart breaks for Darcy every episode. Last episode, she got drunk. But, her 24 year old boyfriend told her 42 year old ass that she better not ever drink again. This happened after his step-father, who looks like a psychic from the 1960’s, told her that she was out of his league and his best friend told her to her face that she wouldn’t be as hot in 20-40 years. But, Darcy is true to the cause. Her heart belongs to Jesse no matter what… even if he is afraid of being a stepfather to her teenage daughters.

Paul and Karine: I saved the best for last. Paul made his way to the amazon to meet Karine, the daughter of a retired cop, who gave his blessing for Paul to propose marriage to Karine, by using a cell phone translator app. In fact, Paul and Karine don’t speak the same language. They communicate through this app as well. Clearly the lack of communication goes deeper, as he forgot to tell her that he was a convicted felon… an arsonist to be exact. This information was revealed only after he made her take an STD and pregnancy test before having any relations with her. Last week’s episode ended with Paul running into the woods, nowhere to be found, followed by some muggers stealing a cell phone at machete point.

Tune in to TLC on Tuesday and find out what happens next! Leave a comment with your thoughts!

 

 

Sugar Bear Hair- Does it work?

First and foremost, I have to apologize for the mess in the background of this video. I am currently in the process of moving and my studio apartment is not ready, so my entire apartment is in my living room! It wasn’t going to stop me, however, from telling you about sugar bear hair! A few months back, I posted a picture on instagram showing friends my before and after photos while I was taking sugar bear hair. I received tons of messages and texts asking me if it really works!

So, watch the video to find out!

 

Whisper Wednesday- Late Post- Why are adoptees 4X more likely to commit suicide?

Due to technical difficulties with the internet, I did not post videos or articles for this week’s scheduled times. That is:

TV Tuesday, Whisper Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday, Flip-the-Script Friday, and Spiritual Saturday

The good news is that I am not abandoning these scheduled times and will be posting videos for the above today, at different times. However, they may be out of order, considering that certain issues have precedence, given observances this time of year. September was national suicide prevention awareness month. Today is the first day of October, so I do not want to delay this September-related post for a moment longer.

No one wants to hear about how those who are adopted are four times more likely to commit suicide than those who are not adopted. This is an uncomfortable dilemma for most people. Common misconceptions include:

  • adopted people are “lucky”
  • adoption is happy
  • adoption is beautiful
  • it was God’s plan for you to be with your adoptive parents
  • adoptive parents are heroes and selfless people
  • adopted people were “saved”
  • adopted people were living in poverty or neglect conditions prior to adoption
  • adoptive parents are not abusive
  • adoptive parents are properly screened before being approved to adopt
  • the “fees” included in the adoption process are ethical
  • birth parents are terrible people
  • adopted people who complain or feel bitter and angry are just ungrateful people

These lies have caused people to feel and act a certain way towards those who are adopted, which diminishes any trauma or pain associated with separation. Adoption always, always occurs because an original loss. Regardless of what that loss was, be it death, relinquishment, or removal, a loss occurred. Adoption is the only loss in which society does not support grief. When someone dies, is kidnapped, disappears, etc., people commonly accept these as a tragedy. But, no one ever accepts that a separation, which resulted in being adopted is a tragic event. When pain is unrecognized or disregarded, chances of suicide are much higher. There is nothing “lucky” or “happy” about being separated from one’s parents. “Lucky” is not an appropriate term, and it is highly disrespectful.

It is absolutely narcissistic to believe that God knit a child together in their mother’s womb, and formed their inmost being (Psalm 139:13-14) just so that they could be separated and the child would be with you. I cannot fathom that anyone would think this. This is not a godly form of thinking. This is diabolical and selfish. In the Bible, we have a plethora of examples of tragedies that God used for His glory. In the story of Moses and Pharaoh, God clearly told Moses that His name would be glorified, despite Pharaoh’s narcissism and idolatry towards himself. He used Pharaoh’s idolatry, the ultimate sin, to make Himself known to this day. So, we have clear, clear evidence that God could use a tragedy and bring glory out of that tragedy. But, to say that it was God’s will for Pharaoh to be an idolator is simply not supported by Scripture. In parallel fashion, it is not appropriate to say that God purposefully separated a child that He created in the womb of another woman to service you. Those who believe this are also self-idolaters, looking for a God to serve them, rather than a God to serve. With that being said, to an adoptive parent, any child will do. There is a misconception that we were all sitting on a shelf and picked out. This is not the case. My own parents went through four failed adoptions before I came along. I was not “chosen.” I was matched by an agency who specialized in people who looked alike. Other adoptive parents who used this agency confirmed that this was their specialization. I did not spend time with my family prior to the adoption, where they got to know me and love me as an individual person, with likes and a personality different from their own. I was matched by the agency because I matched the preferred physical characteristics. There is nothing “beautiful” about this process. Through the years, some have grown to love me and accept me. Others don’t like me as much and think that I’m some sort of outlier who refuses to conform who the person they believe I should be.

If adoptive parents were so righteous, they could have given the money used to adopt to the birth parent in order to preserve the family. They could have offered the birth parent their home. They could have adopted a child living in an real orphanage with absolutely no one to care for them. Wanting any child, as long as their a white “wet-womb” baby is does not make you holier-than-thou.

I was not “saved” by anyone but God. I was not in imminent danger at the time of adoption. I was not picked up by social services or had parents in prison or anything like that. The truth is, that the reasons for what happened are none of your business. I am entitled to some type of privacy. Adopted people should not have to give you their life story in order to merit respect from you, nor for you to respect their biological parents. The reality is that adoption agencies across America are banking hard. They charge unethical “fees,” which typically result in commission for different parties: counselors, social workers, and attorneys.  Hence, if a child is “sold” for $40,000, the social workers is promised a 10% cut, making him/her $4000 richer. Whenever money is on the table, objectivity goes out the window. Counselors, attorneys, and social workers working for this private agency have one goal: get the child adopted. I recently read an article by a social worker called: I hate telling adoptive parents that there are no children for them. WHAT?! The day that there are no children to give adopters will be the best day ever. It means that a mother was able to keep her child. It means the child was likely planned. Unplanned pregnancies are a profit for them. We are no longer seen as people by the time the adoption agency is involved. We are profits. Those who work in the foster-care system are typically not as persuaded by money, because these are salaries workers, not commissioned workers. I’m not saying that corruption doesn’t happen. But, it’s not the business model. Birth parents are not the demons the public thinks they are. The majority or teen parents or college students that were coerced by the agency to make the decision.

People typically think that because adoptive parents are screened, they are not going to be abusive. This line of thinking is quite strange, given that nobody is going to abuse a child before they arrive. There is no follow-up after an adoption is sealed. In reality, punishments should be harsher for foster-parents and adoptive-parents who abuse, given that they willingly signed up for this. But, there is no accountability or follow-up. In the US, a social worker who works for a private attorney does not need to be licensed by the state. It is considered a “service” that you pay for, like when you go to the beauty salon and do your nails and your hair. This is really not as serious and thorough as the public seems to believe. There is a misconception that to adopt, you have to jump through a lot of hoops. You don’t. You just need to have the money to do it. There are plenty of amazing potential adoptive parents who have enough to raise a child, but because they don’t have 40K at hand, they are denied time and time again. This is not about the children. This is about the agencies making money. Being used as a pawn and exploited is another suicide risk factor.

Most adoptive parents love their children. Most of us don’t have an issue with our parents and love our families, regardless of a few bad apples. However, there are major civil rights issues related to adoption, birthed by Georgia Tann, the founder of modern adoption. She was a crook who stole children in order to sell them to the wealthy. She advocated for sealed records because she didn’t want to be discovered. She died before facing an earthly punishment. But, her crimes were discovered after children who were presumed dead found their birth parents. Sealing records=sealed crimes. So, no one should be advocating for this. When a child is adopted,  the fees also include a “sealed identity” fee, meaning that the child is no longer known by their name and can even go by a different race. They receive an amended birth certificate which says that their adoptive parents gave birth to them and it says the race of the adoptive parents. This is wrong. Adopted people are also not a protected minority, which means that you can get fired for being adopted and not have a case in court. Legally, it’s not considered discrimination. Not being a protected class and having no real civil rights is also a form of oppression.

Those of us who are a different race/ethnicity than our parents often experience discrimination. We don’t fit in to any of the “groups.” There’s a complex of “you’re not a real Cuban,” but “you’re not a real gringa either.” It’s like hearing people talk bad about you from behind a curtain. I’ve heard all the cracker jokes there are to hear and I’m expected not to feel at all offended. Lack of community support also leads to suicidal thoughts.

What I’ve learned along the way is that some people are like a cancer. Some people did make me feel suicidal. If a certain food was the cause of your illness, you would stop eating it. So, if certain people are the cause of your illness, then stop associating with them. Despite being treated like a profit margin, you are human, created in the image of God, from your mother’s womb, and part of a genealogy that extends past your parents and will extend past your children. Adoption is a multi-generational issue and it should not be taken lightly. I am in full support of providing children with a safe and loving home. I’m not in support of selling them and treating them as profit. I’m not in support of coercion over an empowered decision.

Today, I was driving on US-1 and saw the signs advocating to end abortion. I am pro-life and in complete agreement to end the slaughter of human life. But, when I read posters like: “adoption is the loving option,” I cannot stay quiet. Absolutely, it is favorable to abortion! But, I did not see one sign that said: Dear Mom, you can do it! Not one person had a sign that encouraged and empowered a mom to realize that she was capable. I’ll be the one to tell you. You are capable. You are strong. There are places you can go for help. There are people to assist you. I know teen mom’s who put themselves through law school. Children are a gift, not a burden. Instead of seeing a child as a stumbling block to your goals, see them as the motivation to do better than you would do for yourself alone. You don’t have to be #birthmom strong. You can be #momstrong! I believe in you. God will provide. God will prevail.