By Jonathon Gatehouse - Monday, April 22, 2013 - 0 Comments
A conversation with author Mary Williams
Although only in her mid-40s, Mary Williams has lived several lives. Born to members of the Black Panther Party, the infamous African-American rights movement, she was raised as a revolutionary. Then came years of poverty and privation. Still in her teens, she met Jane Fonda at a summer camp she sponsored and eventually became her adopted daughter. Williams’s new book, The Lost Daughter, tells the story of her journey from Oakland, Calif., to Hollywood and back.
Q: Your parents were both members of the Black Panthers, and that movement shaped your early life.There was a lot of violence associated with that fight, but your own memories of the Panthers seem to be mostly good. Why?
A: Because it was a family. I would say that the Black Panthers were my first family. I wasn’t able to distinguish who my blood sisters were, from my Panther sisters, because we were all living in communal housing, and I wasn’t even sure, really, who my parent was because we were all parented by each other. It was very communal. There was a very strong feeling of: “you’re special, you’re wonderful, you’re part of something bigger.” There was no real sense of hierarchy. As a kid it was a very safe and empowering climate to be in.
By Rosemary Counter - Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:43 AM - 0 Comments
Now that anyone can have a baby without sex, stigmas are fading. But some sperm and egg questions are still uncouth.
As Lauren MacMillan’s due date approaches, she’s attracting attention from well-meaning strangers. “At work, I get lots of ‘Ooh, your husband must be so excited!’ ” she says.
That’s when MacMillan, a 32-year-old account manager from Winnipeg, explains she has a wife, whom she’s been with for eight years and married to for a year and a half. There’s an awkward moment, followed by an even more awkward moment. “The look says, ‘Uh, how did this happen?’ ”
If you must know, MacMillan and her partner used a donor. They went through a U.S. sperm bank and chose a handsome fellow with similar interests in sports and travel. She got pregnant on their second try. No, she doesn’t know the donor, not even his name, but yes, she paid more for someone who was willing to be contacted when the child turns 18.
“I’m always open about my lifestyle,” says MacMillan. But if you happen to bump into her in the supermarket, a big smile and a “congratulations” will do just fine. “Don’t make assumptions,” she advises. “Times have changed.” Continue…
By Anne Kingston - Friday, March 11, 2011 at 6:10 AM - 8 Comments
A stunningly candid new book gives voice to the women whose daughters were taken from them
After China legalized foreign adoption in 1993, the sight of adorable Chinese girls with their proud Western parents became commonplace. The fact that 120,000 Chinese children, almost all girls, would grow up far from their homeland was framed in happy supply-demand terms: a daughter surplus in one hemisphere filling the needs of would-be parents in another; a child denied a home united with a family eager to provide one.
Now a stunningly candid new book, Message From an Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories of Loss and Love, illuminates the unexplored side of that equation: the plight of Chinese women who give their daughters up for adoption. And that arithmetic is far more complex and brutal, the journalist Xinran writes: “a black hole in the woman’s heart and unanswered questions in her daughter’s.”
The Beijing-born Xue Xinran, who writes under the pen name Xinran, is known for giving voice to Chinese women—first on her radio program in China that aired from 1989 to 1997, when she moved to England, and more recently via her Guardian column and books, notably The Good Women of China. After that collection of real-life stories was published in 2002, Xinran was flooded with letters and videos from adopted Chinese girls and their families, she says on the telephone from her home in London. Many of the letters punctuate her new book.
By Katie Engelhart - Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 9:50 AM - 7 Comments
In France, gay couples are not allowed to adopt children
When the French lesbian known to the public as “Emmanuelle B.” first applied to adopt a child in 1998, she was rejected; the adoption board cited the “lack of a paternal figure in [B.’s] household.” That explanation spurred a legal standoff that pitted French courts against gay rights advocates, who saw the rejection as a statement about their ability—or, more accurately, inability—to be parents. Last week, 11 years after the case began—and one year after the European Court of Human Rights condemned France for sexual discrimination—a French court overruled the 1998 verdict, conceding that it could not “legally justify the decision to reject [B.’s] request.”
B.’s supporters say the case is a flagrant example of high-level prejudice, because, since 1966, France has explicitly allowed unmarried individuals to adopt. And given that the now-48-year-old B. is a nursery school teacher, it would be hard to claim she is an unqualified caregiver. So last week’s reversal is being celebrated as a landmark. “This groundbreaking ruling means governments can’t use sexual orientation to stop someone from adopting a child,” charged Scott Long, director of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights division program at Human Rights Watch. L’Est Republicain, a French newspaper, dubbed the decision “the end of hypocrisy.”
For others, the victory is tainted. If B. does apply to adopt again, she will still have to designate herself as a single parent, despite the fact that she is in a 20-year relationship. That’s because French law still bars same-sex couples from adopting. And that view does not look poised to change: “The government and president have on several occasions expressed our position,” said spokesman Luc Chatal, “which is that we are not in favour of the adoption of children by same-sex couples.”
Translation: one gay mother is okay, but not two.
By selley - Thursday, November 20, 2008 at 2:17 PM - 4 Comments
Everybody hold hands…
Fear not, Canada. As soon as we’re back in the black,
Everybody hold hands
Fear not, Canada. As soon as we’re back in the black, our politicians will go back to hating each other.
“Glittering through [the] bleakness” of recession, deficit and abandoned election promises, the Toronto Star’s James Travers also espies Stephen Harper’s “commitment to suspend the politics of division in favour of partnership.” It’s nothing less than a “seismic shift,” he enthuses, as evidenced most compellingly by his recent meeting with the premiers. And with the opposition parties in no position to trigger another election, Travers expects a new, congenial tranquility to descend over Ottawa. We’ll all be living in abject penury, of course, but you can’t have everything.
The Globe and Mail’s Lawrence Martin believes yesterday’s Throne Speech arrived safely at the midway point between “timidity” and “rash action.” And, like Travers, he detects unusually low activity in the Prime Minister’s Van Loan lobe, the part of the brain that regulates hyper-partisan blather. “The economic crisis has focused his mind,” he suggests; “he is a more mature leader. … He understands the country better.” And as such, Martin believes he now “realizes the necessary response [to the crisis] is consensus-building at home and abroad.” However, as if sensing Canada’s collective skepticism, Martin hastens to add “it’s by no means certain” that this new conciliatory tone will take hold throughout Ottawa.