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Archive for July, 2007

Helping out at the orphanage

Posted by E on July 12, 2007

s with pencilcase 

This week I received news that the little girl I sponsor through a private arrangement in an orphanage in Sri Lanka has received my second care package.

Over the last year I have been involved with various small charities around the world. This one is closest to my heart. This little girl, who I will name Sarita (not her real name) to protect her privacy, has been abandoned on and off by her mother since she was an infant. Growing up in an orphanage has been difficult for her, but at least she does receive the odd visit from her mother, and she does get to go home on school vacations.

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This is Sarita’s home, the Orphanage for Orphaned, Abandoned and Destitute girls. Below is one of the children’s bedrooms, which has been recently renovated through sponsor donations. 

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My monthly contribution is a private one, to help in providing the extra little things that she would not receive otherwise: new clothing, vitamins, English lessons, school materials, extra tutoring, and the occasional field trip. Sarita is one of 50 destitute girls living in this wonderful orphanage close to Colombo, Sri Lanka. Their matron is supposedly a very loving woman and tries to give them each individual attention, but that can only go so far.

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Each girl has a special friend from overseas who writes to her, sends her little things and care mail, and tells her how special she is. We also cover things such as birthday parties.

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Sarita has thrived over the past year. I’m so proud of the way she’s growing up. I hope to meet her someday. We try to email each other as often as we can through the only dial-up computer inside the home. I send her photo albums that are emailed to me from school trips, etc. 

 with gifts again

At the very least, I hope to be a constant reminder in her life of how special she is, and how she can accomplish anything if she puts her mind to it.

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Sarita’s beautiful village, a Sri Lankan tropical oasis. Her orphanage is 1km from the ocean.

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Posted in charity, children, cute, family, girls, love, orphanage, sri lanka | 7 Comments »

Canada’s low rank in innovation – a culture of mediocrity

Posted by E on July 12, 2007

Last month an international study reported that when it comes to creativity and innovation, Canada ranks abysmally low when compared to other industrial nations.

When chalked up against 17 other countries, Canada ranked highest in complacency. Promptly upon the distribution of the findings, released by the think-tank Conference Board of Canada, waves were made and a lot of people began clucking and shaking their heads.

“This country is doing dismally in the critically important area of innovation,” wrote Anne Golden, board president of  the Conference Board of Canada. “And the implications of that failure . . . show up in the absence of creative policy and investment decisions across all the other domains.”

Although doing fairly well in the arenas of education and health care, when it came to the area of innovation, Canada scored 14th out of 17, behind the US and most countries in Western Europe.

“Canada’s scientists don’t keep up with their global peers in the number of articles published, and its inventors don’t keep up in the number of patents, the report shows. For its competitive advantage, it relies on natural resources, and adds little value to goods or services. Canada has a shortage of skilled labour and graduates a low share of science, engineering and trades experts.
The country doesn’t take advantage of high technology, or keep up in the commercialization of knowledge.

“Canadians are complacent and generally unwilling to take risks,” the report points out. “This culture holds Canada back.”

Hmmm, why does this sound so familiar? Could it be because I’ve been saying this for years?
Canada’s deplorable lack of innovation is nowhere more visible than in the Arts field. There is such resistance to anything new, fresh, and vibrant.

In literature today, if one can even call it that, there are very few noticeable talents. Most writers will not get published unless they copy the old style of the same snub-nosed literati who can be discerned by their penchant to stop by the Governor General’s residence for a mid-afternoon tea and a spot of ditty.

Innovation is not only unrecognized in the Arts, it is punished. The only rewards come from being rewarded for staying well within the ranks of a mediocre culture that doesn’t even recognize it has no culture anymore. It hasn’t for a long, long time.

For an in-depth analysis of this topic, please see my previous posts: Integrity vs. Literary Prizes, and Impending Downfall of the inbred Canadian literary world.

http://subversivewriter.wordpress.com/2007/04/17/integrity-vs-literary-prizes/

http://subversivewriter.wordpress.com/2007/04/16/impending-downfall-of-the-inbred-canadian-literary-world-2/

Posted in art, books, canada, canadian literature, commentary, culture, innovation, literature, news, press, publishing, technology, thoughts, writer, writing | Leave a Comment »

The Seven Wonders of a Total Scam

Posted by E on July 9, 2007

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After looking into the controversy surrounding the “New Seven Wonders of the World”, I am hereby suggesting an alternate list of my own.

Elisa’s Seven Wonders of a Total Scam:

1. I wonder how a for-profit organization (Swiss-based New Open World Corporation – NOWC) can pull off such an obvious fraud.

2. I wonder how somebody can actually BUY the designation of a Wonder of the World. After the first vote by registered members, additional votes were available for purchase through payment to NOWC. “In addition to the sale of votes, NOWC relies on private donations, the sale of merchandise such as shirts and cups, and revenue from selling broadcasting rights.”(Wikipedia).

3. I wonder how much money was allocated by each country’s tourist boards toward purchasing votes for their own national monuments.
Only by realizing that the voting process was heavily endorsed in certain countries can one figure out how some of these “Wonders” were shoe-ins over others.
“Brazil’s President Lula de Silva addressed his people on radio telling them how to vote for Rio’s statue of Christ the Redeemer. The government of Peru opened computer terminals in public places and exhorted people to vote for the ancient city of Machu Pichu.” (http://itchofwriting.blogspot.com).

4. I wonder how historical monuments of vital importance to the history of mankind, such as the Pyramids of Giza, were purposefully left OFF the voting list.
Built in 2560 AD, the Pyramids, incidentally, were the oldest and only remaining location from the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – which was originally compiled around the second century BC. The final list was revised during the Middle Ages. This list was compiled as a celebration of humankind’s greatest architectural achievements: the man-built epitomes of beauty, love, art, religion, mythology, power and science.

5. I wonder how a 21st century stock-based corporation decided that they would put the determination of such achievements on an Ebay-inspired online bidding war of greed and profit, in the process whoring civilization itself to epic proportions.

I wonder how a corporate board and a small man named Bernard Weber, described as an adventurer and quasi-Indiana Jones, got to decide the “New Seven Wonders of the World.”
Unscrupulously touting in a CNN interview that he saw this process as a way “that everybody can decide what the new seven wonders should be and not some government, not some individuals, not some institutions,” he managed to shut most of the world out of the selection process, since “by everyone he meant those with an Internet connection or with at least a cell phone with text messaging capability”(www.ipatrix.com).
With a voting pool so narrow, how could it have ever been perceived as representative of the global population?

I wonder how this can’t be seen as a defrauding of civilization itself.
NOWC’s waged an intense media campaign, forging alliances with various telecom industries, enlisting celebrities and even selling a song on iTunes to generate as much revenue as possible through charges for text messaging, telephone, internet voting and merchandise sales.

6. I wonder how long before everyone recognizes this fraud for what it is. In a fantastic analysis of this event titled Seven Wonders of Utter Crap, Gridskipper comments:

“The New Seven Wonders is one of the most protracted and bizarrely successful publicity stunts in history, and it’s based exclusively on … well, exclusion. Getting on the list is of questionable value, but being left off the list is perceived as a definite snub. Weber and his representatives make airy proclamations about the democratic process giving the entire world a chance to select its wonders, rather than stuffy old Antipater of Sidon and his original list of wonders. But really the success of the list is predicated on large numbers of people getting whipped into a nationalistic fervor — a frenzy that has draw politicians, entertainers, and even phone companies into stumping for votes.”

[…] No public reports exist of the company’s finances, but just consider the claim that 70 million votes have been cast worldwide. Even if New Seven Wonders isn’t getting a payoff for the international phone voting, sending an SMS text message to vote will cost you $1 in the United States, with similar fees elsewhere. You can vote for free online via registering, but why not spend $2 on an official certificate documenting the happy occasion?
This is chump change, of course. The real money comes from merchandise, events, promotional tie-ins, infinitely subdivided and perpetual versions of the New Seven Wonders competition, and more.”

Not to mention the $.99 iTunes song and a new IMAX movie production in the works.

7. I wonder how anyone could expect this list of “New Seven Wonders” to actually be anything but forgotten? Perhaps in the years to come, we might expect a new corporate marketing frenzy to produce new Wonders of the World: how about Trump’s Tower, for a change?
With UN’s UNESCO not even endorsing this corporate undertaking, instead calling the whole shebang a “private undertaking”, this milking cash cow, under close scrutiny, doesn’t even hold a semblance of authenticity.
When the dust clears and it’s all said and done, the only wonder that remains is that of chutzpah – and the New Wonders of PR.

References: http://gridskipper.com/travel/hypewatch/seven-wonders-of-utter-crap-273766.php
http://itchofwriting.blogspot.com/2007/06/new-7-wonders-emotional-scam-or-master.html
http://www.ipatrix.com/
Wikipedia

Posted in art, commentary, culture, india, life, media, news, press, propaganda, pyramids, rant, seven wonders, stupidity, thoughts, wtf | 4 Comments »

An Open Letter to a Future Mother

Posted by E on July 6, 2007

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

This entry started off as an answer to a woman who wrote that she wants to adopt, but doubts that she can find an “ethical” adoption agency. I put a lot of thought to her comment, and decided to write a response that I wanted to share with all of you.

Dear Amanda,
You mentioned that you had fears about finding an ethical agency from where you could adopt a child without feeling guilty about potentially “stealing” or “coercing” a birth mother. I want to take this opportunity to put your fears to rest.

I don’t blame you for being guilted into believing that adopting a child is somehow akin to kidnapping. There is a lot of propaganda on the internet where a small group of biased people are determined to compare all adoptions to the underground trafficking of human beings.

I need you to know that you have it wrong when it comes to the idea that expectant mothers are coerced or seduced by money and gifts to “give up” their babies. First and foremost, how can you coerce someone with expensive gifts?
If they are the type of individual who would take jewelry and a trip to Europe (as happened in a real case I’ve heard about) as a thank-you gift, then what kind of person is she to begin with??
Would you take a fur coat and a trip as price for your child?? Not if you are a “mother”.

There are women who want their child to go to a good family, and there are those (yes, they do exist) who will indeed look for profit. But the women who barter their babies to the highest bidder are not “mothers.” They are business women who profit from the pain of infertile couples.

There are – frankly – more cases of that happening, as you can see in the news and shows like 2020 and 48 Hours, than the other way around.
How can the receiving half of the adoption industry (namely the adoptive parents) be unethical and seeing the children as commodities, yet the mothers be victims who were coerced??

It doesn’t work that way. Most of the time, both parties (adoptive parents AND birth mothers) want the best for the children involved.

Yes indeed Amanda, adoption is a legitimate business, with professionals involved, i.e. social workers and lawyers. Calling it a “business” and implying that by definition it’s immoral simply because there are fees exchanged is ridiculous. All legitimate enterprises operate under a business model. Hospitals, schools, etc all are businesses – employing staff, doctors, lawyers. Making a business out of adoption by no means designates adoption as “unethical.”
If it WASN’T for agencies, I would be much more worried about the state of the children.

And by the way, let’s talk about the ethics of covering birth mothers’ expenses. These days, the feelings and emotions of A LOT of infertile couples are being manipulated because of short supply-excessive demand for children. As a result, a lot of people get second mortgages and work their asses off to impress young pregnant women who KNOW they are peddling a “commodity”. So just who is being taken advantage of here?

There are lots of well-meaning people who still see pregnant girls who wish to place their infants for adoption as the same naive waifs pre-1950’s Homes for Unwed Girls scenarios; please realize that in today’s world, the tables have turned. Women are much more educated about their rights. To think less of our capability to make our own judgement is to make us less than what we are: intelligent human beings.

The mothers who want to keep their kids, do – with support from social services, welfare, whatever. And the ones who don’t – get to pick the family they give their infants to. And yes, they do have their expenses covered.

But what is wrong with that? What some might call “selling” a child is to the rest of the world a way to recompense someone for her troubles. I mean, the woman carries the child for 9 months for another couple – why NOT have her expenses covered? Why NOT have extra money for food, or have her rent paid (as so many people have done)? Why NOT make her life as comfortable as possible?
If that is “selling”, then take it up with those birth mothers! They did after all agree to those conditions and accepted payment for their expenses. I somehow don’t think they see themselves as selling their children. Yet if they do, then they could hardly be regarded as “fit” mothers, can they?

In a perfect world, children would be WANTED, pure and simple. REGARDLESS of whether they were carried in a different person’s stomach for nine months.

You mentioned the fact that some adoptions can cost upwards of $30,000, and you couldn’t understand how that could be – unless there was something morally reprehensible about it. Or involved the sale of white children only.
So to address that query – the $30,000 fee is not just for white children. It’s for healthy children. People adopting Asian, Hispanic, Black or Bi-racial kids from overseas have had to pay that much, and sometimes more to adopt healthy infants.
Yes, fees would be much less if kids from foster care were adopted – but often they are not up for adoption, they are older, disabled, or have been traumatized by abuse and neglect. A lot of a-parents might not be prepared to handle such complexities, and they have read studies that show that bonding is less complicated with infants or very young children.

That’s not to say those children are any less valuable – but unfortunately, people may not have the emotional and monetary resources to care for traumatized kids over the span of a lifetime. I wish all those youngsters would find permanent homes, and in fact I wish the government would offer more incentives and support for people to adopt every child in the system. Perhaps if they felt they were not alone, potential parents might adopt more. As it is, it’s hard emotionally enough to adopt older kids in the “system”, and those efforts are compounded by “angry Adoptees” and other psychologically-scarred people who give a bad rap to all kids still in need of a parent.

Many people who are not adopting tend to confuse what the money is about – most of it has to do with paying social workers’ fees for those home studies, lawyers to process applications, fingerprinting fees, background check fees, psychological assesments – and in the case of internationals, having to fly to the country, stay a minimum number of days, etc etc etc. And then, yes, there are those agencies fees too. But remember, the $30,000 figure represents the ADDED cost at the end of the road. It’s not just the myth of a large envelope being passed under the table.

Certainly there have been some abuses of the process, as in any arena where there are strong feelings involved. Yes, some people have paid adoption brokers above and beyond what the adoption papers state; yes, money has found its way around the legalities of this normally well-regulated system. But those situations were extremes, the minority of cases that contravened the law and were prosecuted when the law caught up.

There have also been cases of birth parents who actively sought out “buyers” for their babies. Whether in the slums of Guatemala City, the villages of rural Romania, or a parking lot in New Jersey, babies have been sold – just as often by brokers as by their own parents.

But to be afraid of adopting because of extremes doesn’t make sense. You can’t judge a legal process like adoption by looking at those who break the law as representatives and ambassadors of that process.

The only country I know of where an envelope full of cash is demanded is China (about $3000). But guess what? Although the Chinese government undoubtedly profits from this “sale” of babies, there are no mothers who are being coerced.
Those mothers abandoned their girls by the roadside, in market stalls or on the orphanage doorstep.
That’s if they didn’t kill them first.

(And please, before someone tells me that the Chinese government created this nightmare of abandoned girls with their one-child policy, let’s not forget that the parents COULD have chosen to keep their daughters as that one child. Nobody held a gun to their head and forced them to throw their baby girl in the trash.)

So you see, Amanda, you can freely let go of your guilt and fears – all you have to ask yourself is: Will I be a loving mother? Will I be able to provide and nourish this child as if it were my own?
If the answer is yes, then welcome to the wonderful world of motherhood.

Posted in adoption, children, china, commentary, family, infertility, letter, life, love, mother, orphanage, parents, personal, pregnancy, surrogate, thoughts | Leave a Comment »

The Red String, and how we are all connected

Posted by E on July 4, 2007

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An ancient Chinese proverb talks of “an invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet. The thread may tangle or stretch but it will never break.”

I believe that everyone you meet, you meet for a reason, and every experience presented to you is a challenge to be learned from. This is not a religious belief but a personal, albeit somewhat spiritual opinion I hold.

I also believe that a parent is not one who carries a child for nine months, but someone who carries a child in their heart for a lifetime. Someone who is there for the smiles and the tears, the temper tantrums, the loss of baby teeth, the first day of school.

Adoptive children and their parents are brought together because they were meant to be together. Because they are on a spiritual level, if not genetically, parent and child. They are connected, not through blood, but through love.

Lately I’ve received some venomous mail from birth mothers who were using the same boring rhetoric about how adoptive parents  are acting “entitled” and “arrogant” about taking “other people’s children” and separating them from their birth families. (Basically suggesting that adoptive parents are legally kidnapping babies from their mothers via a subterranean, demonic ring of evil adoption lawyers).

I was astonished at their accusations. I wanted to say back to them: “Nobody held a gun to your head. You signed the papers. You may have been a teenager, felt pressured, etc, but YOU GAVE UP this child. (Maybe due to social stigma, poverty, depression, or simply not being ready to have a kid). BUT when you did that, the child became SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD.”

I don’t understand how anybody can deny being responsible for giving a child away.  So you didn’t feel that you could be a parent to the baby. Fine. So you went and gave up all rights to him/her. I understand that there were tremenduous emotions involved in that decision, but WHERE ON EARTH do these people come from, to act as if these kids were kidnapped from them at gunpoint???

I wish there was some degree of respect for the people who actually TOOK that parentless child and raised him/her. They didn’t rob a mother of her child. That child didn’t HAVE a mother! Birth parenthood ended when the papers were signed. 

Dismissing a child’s adoptive mother and father (their REAL parents legally, and the only family they have known) as nothing more than arrogant, “entitled” jerks who want nothing better to do than satisfy their sadistic urges to kidnap and mentally torture a child by forcing them to “conform”, is insulting not only to them, but to that child.

Do these birth mothers REALLY think that they are helping their relationships with those adopted children (if and when they’d happen to meet again) or their psychological well-being by expressing such open-faced hostility toward their mom and dad?

Regret, jealousy and rage for having missed the most important milestones in the life of the person you gave birth to ought not to negate or deny the love that this child received from someone else: his or her parents. I would be thankful that someone loved them.

I’m certain that not all birth mothers feel like this – in fact, perhaps only a small fraction have such strong feelings. So before everyone in the adoptee camp freaks out, please remember that this post is about that small margin.

The relationship of parent and child goes so far beyond the nine gestational months spent in a womb. It’s about love, magic, and a connection that is much more than blood type. A red string ties each mother with her baby, even if the child is born thousands of miles away.

Posted in adoption, children, china, commentary, culture, family, ignorance, infertility, korea, love, parents, pregnancy, red string, surrogate, thoughts | 19 Comments »