A Brother for Samir

A Brother for Samir

From Jenny Spinner

A window has opened. Unexpectedly. And in that opening is a now-or-never chance for Jackie to return to Morocco, to Samir's place of birth, to accept the gift of a son, a brother.

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Update #7

almost 4 years ago

Jenny and I are going through the process of formally thanking each of you for your support. We are so incredibly grateful. A simple "thanks" simply does not seem adequate for the village that rallied to make it possible for me to return to Morocco to adopt another baby. Some of you have asked when this will happen. It depends. I am waiting on approval from Illinois DCFS. Once I have that, I can apply for what is called an I600A orphan petition, which is approval from U.S. immigration to go to Morocco. While I wait for the U.S. approval, I am hopeful that the orphanage in Morocco will begin to process my application and match me with a baby. I probably will not know until mid-November when I will travel. Ideally, I would like to go in early December, but that depends on when I am approved, a very unpredictable process. If my approvals are delayed, I will have to wait until next summer. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts as we wait for these approvals. And thank you, Jackie

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In the summer of 2012, shortly after Samir arrived in the United States, Morocco halted all foreign adoptions. Our family was incredibly relieved that our little guy had made it to us before this happened. And yet we were sad, too, especially when we learned that the orphanages were soon over capacity, filled with children who would not have a chance to join families.

Earlier this year, Morocco started allowing foreign adoptions again, though with limitations and with new restrictions. Jackie wanted to go back to Morocco, to the same orphanage in Meknes where Samir had been living, to take advantage of the window that had opened, but the United States also had changed its law, requiring her to go through an agency instead of adopting independently as she had done for Samir. That meant prohibitive costs. To make it work, she’d have to wait, teach summers and winter terms, accept as many speaking obligations as her schedule would allow, write when Samir went to sleep. 

But it is a race against time.

Nobody knows how long Morocco will remain open to adoption. Furthermore, the Adoption Tax Credit, which makes it financially possible for many Americans to adopt, might be going away, as soon as this fall when the U.S. Congress considers major overhauls to the tax codes. 

She was afraid that her dream of giving Samir a sibling, of returning to Morocco, would not happen. And then she talked to her twin.

Her twin reminded her of the village.  

With humble gratitude, we ask you to consider a gift to help defray some of the costs of adopting a child from Morocco.  Those costs include, for example, a $2,500 Orphan Development Fee, a $2,500 Agency Fee, a $2,000 Hauge Supervision Fee, an $1,800 Child Care Fee for the orphanage.  The donation goal for this campaign represents about half of the total cost.  Any donations above the campaign goal will be given directly to Le Nid, the orphanage in Meknes.  

As our thank you for your donation, we will add your name, if you don't want your donation to be anonymous, to a matte that will ring a photo of Meknes and be hung in the baby's room, connecting our village to the baby's beginnings and serving as a bridge of love that will carry him back and forth.   

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Jenny Spinner posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Thank you from the Spinners

Jenny and I are going through the process of formally thanking each of you for your support. We are so incredibly grateful. A simple "thanks" simply does not seem adequate for the village that rallied to make it possible for me to return to Morocco to adopt another baby. Some of you have asked when this will happen. It depends. I am waiting on approval from Illinois DCFS. Once I have that, I can apply for what is called an I600A orphan petition, which is approval from U.S. immigration to go to Morocco. While I wait for the U.S. approval, I am hopeful that the orphanage in Morocco will begin to process my application and match me with a baby. I probably will not know until mid-November when I will travel. Ideally, I would like to go in early December, but that depends on when I am approved, a very unpredictable process. If my approvals are delayed, I will have to wait until next summer. Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts as we wait for these approvals. And thank you, Jackie

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Jenny Spinner posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

A boy born into a village of love

This is the last of our week-long ripped-from-NPR campaign updates. We knew from the beginning the challenges of raising the kind of money we have to raise. We are so grateful to all of you, for sharing what you can, including your prayers of support and good wishes. I am overwhelmed to have come this far, a quarter of the way in just six days.

Please feel free to share this Fundly post or video. If you do, my only request is that you share it with your network of friends only and not publicly.

http://youtu.be/RZybKuyje80

Jackie Spinner, Aug. 9

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Jenny Spinner posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Transactions

Originally posted at Twinprints: https://twinprints.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/transactions/

In all the blue skies of my living, I have never been able to shake that hovering cloud of worry over money. Perhaps it’s the legacy of grandparents who lived through the Depression. Or my own coming-of-age in the 70s and 80s when my pipefitter father went for long stretches without work. Maybe, too, it’s those many years I spent in graduate school, barely making ends meet, racking up degrees while my peers racked up IRAs.

I don’t have a right to worry about money as much as I have over the years. I don’t know what true poverty is or what it’s like to be poor without a safety net.

Fortunately, I learned how to stretch a dollar from my parents, who made the most of whatever money they had, including my dad’s unemployment checks. Even when my dad wasn’t working, my parents managed to pay their bills. They didn’t accrue credit card debt. They still tithed at church. We went without wants, but we never went without needs.

Still, I was conscious of how we seemed to be skirting the edge of something much worse than the government cheese in our fridge. I began to see the world around me in price tags: what we ate, where we went, what we did. How much was it? Could we afford it? Did we really need it?

I put a price tag on my sister and me, too, peppering our parents with questions. How much did it cost to adopt us? I wanted a figure, not a guess. I wanted that figure to the tenths and hundredths and thousandths. Maybe some day, I thought, I could pay them back.

My sister and I had made a pact as young children never to ask for anything in a store. Ever. We knew our parents would never send us back if we expressed too many desires, but we didn’t want them to suffer for us, either.

It was hard for me, in this family of penny pinchers and bargain hunters, to get past the idea that my sister and I were a transaction, past my obsession with hoping that my parents got a good deal when they bought us. At times, I measured my achievements by this scale. The more achievements, the better the deal. I was never jealous of our younger brother, never jealous that our mother birthed him into this world and bartered for us—except in this one regard.

Years later, when I told my mom how consumed I was as a child by my own expense, she looked horrified. She actually cried out. “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”

But it was just one of those childhood anguishes that I could only whisper to my sister, who understood. I didn’t want to make my fear my mother’s burden, too.

My sister is in the process of adopting another child from Morocco. A window has opened, unexpectedly. It’s now or never, sooner rather than later, this chance to return to the orphanage where her first son once lived, an orphanage bursting with children who need checks to spring them and help care for the ones left behind. Now or never, sooner rather than later, despite the fact that she has not had enough time to save the initial outlay of cash.

Most people don’t (need to) bank tens of thousands of dollars before deciding to have another child. Regulations have made the process more expensive than it was for my sister’s first child. Agency fees. Government fees. Medical exams. The U.S. Adoption Tax Credit is also up in the air again.

And so, I advised my sister to do what many others do when faced with seemingly insurmountable adoption costs. I told her to raise it. I told my sister to ask our friends and family to help make it possible.

I’m aware of the controversy in the adoption world over people doing just what I suggested my sister do. It doesn’t matter that we’re raising funds to help the orphanage, too. We’re not—as critics would offer—using the money to empower women to keep their children in the first place. We wish for that world, too, where no one who wants to keep a child is forced to relinquish that child or abandon it. In the mean time, the orphans are reaching.

Our birth mother said she was told if she changed her mind about giving us up for adoption, she’d be on the hook for the bill for her prenatal care and for the labor and delivery. She’d be on the hook for that and raising the two of us.

Money is not the only what if in the complex equation that is adoption, but at the time, my parents had enough to make it happen and our birth mother was backed into a corner in part because she didn’t. By the grace of our own hard times in the years to come, my twin and I went on to learn humility and gratitude that had nothing to do with being adopted but certainly adds some irony to the differentials in the initial transaction.

I wonder what my new nephew will think some day of these efforts to make him a part of our family. I don’t want or need or expect him to be grateful. I only hope, as he works out his own story, that he will feel the village’s love. For this is true at any cost: So many people loved him before any of us knew who he was.

Jenny Spinner, Aug. 8

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Jenny Spinner posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Awareness

The problem with being aware is that once you aware you can't be unaware. I struggle to read the news some mornings knowing that some story, somewhere, of some mother's grief, will haunt me the rest of the day. Whether from Iraq. Or Syria. Or Gaza. Or Afghanistan. Or the West side of Chicago. And yet, I have to read these stories because they exist whether I see them or not. And then I have to go about my day giving my beautiful little boy the most ordinary of moments and be grateful that I can, that I can shield him and protect him, give him milk when he's thirsty, a peach when he's hungry, hug him when he hears a sound that scares him and reassure him that there is nothing to be afraid of even though I know that some mother, or father, somewhere in the world cannot make that same promise. I am very lucky, and I know that, and that makes being aware all the more difficult. But this is what I choose to do with my awareness, and this is why. Thank you for your support and for staying aware. Sometimes that is all you want when you are a reporting these unimaginable stories. It is part of the calculation in the calculated risks of covering conflict, this knowledge that at the very least whatever you are seeing has been seen.

Jackie Spinner, Aug. 7

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Jenny Spinner posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

Potato Salad

If a guy from Ohio can raise $55,000 on Kickstarter to make potato salad, how hard can it be to raise $13,800 to adopt a baby from Morocco? I have been ruminating on this, in part, to ease my nagging distaste for having to take this process public even though I am fully aware that it is easier to raise money for potato salad. Some of my social media connections, before now, knew my son only as "the boy." I have resisted using his first name on Facebook to protect his privacy. And yet here it is, "A Brother for Samir." It is the modern dance of parenthood, using social media to connect our children to an already connected world and yet still protect their privacy. I post frequent photos already of Samir on Facebook, an acknowledgement that he is part of this global village of friends and family who live around the world, people who are invested in him emotionally even if they aren't part of our physical lives. But I am mindful of his privacy, of our privacy, and I never post a photo to social media without careful consideration. The public cover photo on Facebook never reveals his face, for example. After the Chicago Tribune's Mary Schmich wrote last month about his relationship with Mahmoud Saeed, his Iraqi grandfather, I immediately made my Instagram account private to protect him even though his picture was already in the Tribune, with his name. I know how illogical that is. Every morning since my sister and I launched this campaign, I wake up with dread, wondering which well-meaning friend messaged overnight questioning my motives. If a stranger will find us and force me into a discussion about the costs of adoption, why I am not adopting domestically, why I am spending money on one child in one country when so many children are dying and suffering. The headlines lately are particularly horrific. Gaza. Iraq. Syria. They put all of this into perspective and frankly make me feel guilty that I can't do more. My friends from other cultures find this process uniquely American, raising money to adopt a child. Adopting at all. Why don't I just get married? And yet I also am finding comfort in the overwhelming support. The people who love us. The friend who told me she had my back. The former colleague who thanked me for letting him be a part of this process. The former Iraqi student who told me to quit saying I was raising money for me. "This isn't about you," he chided. The people who have donated, whatever they can, including prayers and well wishes, for this child whose name they do not know, whose face I have not yet kissed. I am trying to hold on to that.

Jackie Spinner, Aug. 6

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Jenny Spinner posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

'He only gave you a day to grieve'

I am truly grateful for the outpouring of support yesterday for "A Brother for Samir" and the compassionate notes I received. It's so hard to be public about this process. (Yes, for someone who wrote a memoir and went on book tour for seven months, I prefer my privacy--at least while the narrative is still being written.) Some of you know that I lost the first baby from Morocco, a son, Rami, who was too sick to adopt when I went for him in 2012. I found out that I could not adopt Rami on a Wednesday. Samir came to me on a Friday after spending five days with him in the NICU. I was describing to a close friend from Iraq at the time how it felt: like becoming pregnant, losing a baby and giving birth in the same week. I will never forget what she told me in response. "God must love you very much. He only gave you a day to grieve." This process is no more certain, and it really makes me nervous to be "living" it in public. My heart broke for all the families left waiting for their children in Morocco when it closed in 2012. For friends still waiting for a child (their child) stuck in political limbo in Russia. But there is absolutely no other way to make this happen. Thank you for your kindness.

Jackie Spinner, Aug. 4

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Jenny Spinner posted a new update:
almost 4 years ago

It begins here

Dear friends,

I am sharing this humbly and with a lot of trepidation. I'd prefer to keep this process private like I did last time. Some of you know the story of how I came to adopt Samir. I was in Cairo in early 2011. It was the beginning of Arab Spring. I had dinner with my friend, Chris Hondros, and met his fiance. At one point I asked Chris what was left, after all of the wars he had covered. He reached for Christina. He asked me what I wanted. To be a mom, I told him, without hesitating. A week later, Chris was killed in Libya. A few weeks after that I showed up at an orphanage in Morocco, with a sense that if I didn't leap, I would never leap. I had had too many close calls, had lost too many friends, had seen too many strangers die. As a journalist, we are always taking, taking people's story of pain and joy, of sorrow and loss. I wanted to do something, to give something, to save something, to do more than just write a story. Almost a year to the day later, I brought Samir home. I have now started the process of adopting a brother for Samir. I was sharing with my sister a few weeks about how I just did not think I could pull it off this time. The costs of adoption are enormous. I am a single mother raising a little boy who has started to require extra care for developmental delays. How on earth could I make this happen, for him, for me, for us? My sister suggested that I reach out to the village, and so it begins, here. Thank you for whatever support you can give, even if it's only a prayer, a wish, a light of hope. We need those, too, and are grateful for them.

Jackie Spinner, Aug. 3

Check it out: http://fundly.com/a-brother-for-samir

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