Adoption, Family, HIV/AIDS Education


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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ending Pediatric AIDS


The Time to Eliminate Pediatric AIDS is Now from EGPAF on Vimeo.

Here's to Elizabeth Glaser–a woman who's legacy, strength, and dedication to ending pediatric AIDS still lives on today. This powerful video is up for a Weeby Award. I just voted and you can too. Just follow the link and look for the EGPAF video titled "The Time to End Pediatric AIDS is NOW"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Adoption


"Where there is great love, there are always miracles."
~ Willa Cather

Families who are pulled toward adoption are often surprised when they are met with opposition. I know I was, and the only thing I could do was accept it and move on. Not everyone is going to understand your desire to love and adopt a child that isn't yours ... a child who belongs to no one. You may encounter bias, racism and cynicism–sometimes from your own family, but hearts can change (as did my own mother's) and how lucky are those who love beyond race–beyond biological ties, and even beyond the constraints of culture and entire continents. It's true what they say about that undeniable "pull" of the heart that adoptive families feel. I know, because I felt it too, and what other choice did I have but to follow, and I'm so glad I did. My story of adoption, like so many, is nothing short of remarkable. There were brick walls and triumphs, hardships and times of downright despair, but the one constant that kept us going was love. As difficult as the process of adoption was, we never stopped believing that we could and would bring our child home, and even more remarkable were the many people–from friends & family to complete strangers–who helped and supported us along the way. I have so many people to thank, who, without them Yonas would most likely have succumbed to HIV/AIDS and died without ever knowing the love of a family. Willa Cather, a great voice in American literature, once said, "Where there is great love, there are always miracles." Believe that.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Annie Lennox and Yonas?

Being the big American Idol fan that I am, I couldn't resist sharing this story (and beautiful song) once again.

I cried when I saw this video. I was so surprised to see my child's face near the end of this! Unfortunatley, we didn't have it video recorded, but I was able to find it on YouTube. This footage is so special because four years ago, my son Yonas was an orphan living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. (Adoption Story Here).

One evening, not long after Yonas came home to America, we were all sitting in the family room watching Idol Gives Back. Annie Lennox, a singer dedicated to the fight against AIDS, was on the screen singing "Bridge Over Troubled Water," when, just a couple of minutes into the song, on the screen behind her flashed Yonas's smiling face! Well, all of our jaws dropped, including Yonas's! We just couldn't believe it. Watch the video below and listen closely to the lyrics; just as Yonas's face comes on the screen, Annie sings, "Your chance has come to shine...all your dreams are on their way..." It still gives me chills. Those beautiful words carry significant meaning, and always will.

It's difficult, even now, when I think back to what my son's life was like before we found him. I know that whatever pain he endured, his spirit somehow soared regardless. So, yes–once upon a time, my son was an orphan. But he's not an orphan anymore. I bet Annie would be happy to know that.

Today, Yonas has a home, food and access to medicines that will keep him healthy for a lifetime; he also has a family who loves him beyond measure. Like the song said, "Your chance has come to shine...all your dreams are on their way." I do believe that. Thank you, Annie, wherever you are, for the song, the music and all you do in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We love you for it.

Annie's SING site here

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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Those Crazy (remarkable) College Kids...

I have some good news to reveal, but first I want to share this latest blog post, inspired by my daughter, Alee, and her love of theater. See that sign above? It just so happens that was the first thing that greeted me as I walked through the theater doors of Alee's last performance. Curious yet? Trust me, it gets even better.

When my daughter, a college sophomore, told me she'd landed a part in a play, and that she'd be doing a politically motivated skit about HIV/AIDS, naturally, I was eager to see it. I have to admit, though, that when I saw the "Viewer Discretion Advised" I got a little worried.

I had no idea what was in store as I headed for the last empty seat, (front row and center) but let your imagination run wild, and let me assure you this will be better.

The theater was jam packed with college kids. Seems the entire student body had come to see Naked-Man. Now, you have to picture it. Sleek, nice looking college kids–kicked back–very cool. Me–Nervous-Mom, slumped in the front row having a hot flash–not so cool. Anyway, I smiled at the kids on either side of me and settled in just as the lights dimmed.

Each skit was a riveting, politically motivated rendition to drive home a point. I was glued to my seat during the entire emotionally charged performance ... and then, once again, the lights dimmed. When they came on again, front and center stage, stood NAKED MAN. Okay, so I admit, Alee had tried to warn me, but nothing could have prepared me for this. There stood naked man, ( and I do mean NUDE) with slur words written in black marker all over his skin. I have to say that once I got over the shock, the performance in itself I found to be very profound and beautifully executed. And I tried not to stare at the penis, which wasn't easy to do with the lighting guy upstairs shining the spotlight on it the entire time. (Laughing yet? Me too!) Those crazy college kids...

Alee's performance was next. You could have heard a pin drop as she spoke of what it was like to grow up with HIV, and what it was like to finally come out to her friends about it. I heard someone behind me whisper, "This is a true story."

I have to say I was incredibly proud of my daughter, and moved by her honesty and brave performance.

At the very end of what proved to be an amazing night, there was a Q & A with the audience. There were a lot of questions for Alee about HIV, and how that works in a committed relationship. It was great to see young people so open and unembarrassed to talk about condoms, relationships and safe sex–much more so than when I'd been their age. We must be doing something right.

Now, about that good news I've been wanting to share; I'm pleased to announce that my novel, The Silence of Mercy Bleu, sold on just its second read to a wonderful publishing house, kNight Romance Publishers. It's been an amazing experience from start to finish and I can't wait to share this story. Watch for it in bookstores and online beginning March 5, 2012!

To learn more visit: SuzanStirling.com and you can also follow me on Twitter for the latest updates.