Well, it has been awhile since I have been available to post anything to this site. Adoption Awareness Month has passed and was amazing! I started off by flying out to Michigan where I met a wonderful transracial adult adoptee, Edie, who took me in to stay with herself and her family like we had been friends our whole life! It was fantastic being surrounded by her four children who were so similar to my own, and being able to share very similar adoption issue stories with Edie was enlightening. I was very interesting to see what type of issues and how she dealt with those things in her life and how I dealt with things. As an only child, her life was a little different than mine and she mentioned that she grew up with, let's say blinders on. When I say that I mean, she was very secure with who she was growing up because she had no reason not to be - it wasn't until she started University that she really started having feelings of not belonging and not fitting in. She was treated differently all of a sudden and it was a difficult transition for her to become aware of the fact that people of colour ARE treated differently by those around them. I was very used to that and was able to relate to everything she and I discussed because that was my everyday when I was growing up. I didn't have any blinders on my eyes - I was, and to some degree still am, treated differently because of the colour of my skin. Being different is not a bad thing - it never was meant to be and I wish that as I was growing up I had had the resources available to me that are now available to children and families now.
While I was in the USA, I spoke with a lot of parents and support workers about the books, Why Can't You Look Like Me and Where Do I Belong, and how they are both useful in assisting children with how they are feeling when they believe they do not fit in, within their schools and even within their families. The reaction I received was very positive and one I am excited to share. Families are more than willing to support their children with any and all issues that arise in their lives and with the encouraging and empowering support from the book series I am providing, parents are eager for the release of each new title. There are still four titles to be released and I am looking forward, as many people are, for the release of What Is A Part Of Me, hopefully to come out within the next few months.
I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved with fellow transracial adoptees, Rhonda Roorda, co-author of In Their Own Voices, and Kevin Hoffmann, author of Growing Up Black In White. What I found to be so enlightening for me was the way they both told their stories and how similar events were for both of them and also for myself. Even though all of us had grown up in very different families and environments, there were some definite things that we could all relate to in some way or another. There were a lot of questions asked, we answered what we could and still we could have easily sat there for another two or three hours discussing what the parents and support workers wanted, no needed, to kow all about. We will havae to get together again and present as a panel in some way.
The success of Adoption Awareness Month came for me on November 19 when I was awarded with an honour only bestowed upon 24 individuals within the Scotiabank world. Here is what was said about who I am and what I do for children...
‘Her Success Her Way’
Remarks by Andrew McGillivray, Branch Manager, Orchard Place Scotiabank Branch, Kelowna, BC
“Her Success, Her Way” celebrates Scotiabank women and the different choices they have made which contribute to their success in life, not just at work but at home and in the community. Throughout the year culminating on March 8th 2011, the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day, Scotiabank will be recognizing the successes of 24 chosen Scotiabank women, 12 from Canada and 12 from over 50 International locations, who have truly defined success on their own terms and whose successes have been noticed and submitted for consideration by a Scotiabank colleague.
Ola Zuri is the first B.C. Scotiabank woman to be selected to receive this honour. I am proud and delighted to share with you how Ola’s success is defined:
Ola is no doubt a successful woman. Anyone who knows her will agree that she lives with energy, enthusiasm and empathy. Everywhere she goes she takes her whole heart with her. She’s been with Scotiabank for 4 years and is a team player who takes great pride in her role, both in the Bank with her colleagues and customers, but also outside the Bank – in the community.
Ola is an author, mentor, mother, and adoptee, and a very successful woman. She has an exceptionally strong feeling toward giving back to those around her, particularly to children.
Ola has one goal: to ensure all children become strong, independent and confident within themselves as they are growing up, and she strives to achieve this goal with the various programs she is an integral part of.
First, the Believe In Me program, established by Ola, provides positive literature to encourage and empower children to believe in who is inside of themselves with determination and faith while discovering and using perseverance for success and overcoming obstacles in life. Her books, Why Can’t You Look Like Me and Where Do I Belong open children up to dealing with their feelings when they are unsure of how to feel by shows them ways to actively teach and encourage them to believe in what is inside and not on what others may say or want for them.
As many people are aware, Ola is a full time single mother raising four of her five children, works part time at Scotiabank, writes books passionately, also part time, and in conjunction with the Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia and the Boys and Girls Club, is the Lead Mentor, volunteer coordinator, and facilitator of a group called, True Colours. It is a mentoring program offered to children and families celebrating the variety of cultural diversity in our growing society. The committment Ola has to children, families, and those in her community is impressive. She has been an integral part of the group since it's inception in 2007.
In recognition of the various successes, Scotiabank is proud to present Ola with a cheque for $ 2,000.00 to present to a charity of her choice. Congratulations Ola and keep up the great work - we are so proud of what you are doing for children and families everywhere!
What an amazing day and the recognition was very important to me, more so as it helps me put the spotlight on children in a way that gives strength to them. So there I was in the middle of the mentoring group, children and families everywhere, and I took that moment to mark the occasion, during Adoption Awareness Month, by donating the monetary award to the Adoptive Families Association of British Columbia (AFABC). The AFABC provides exceptional support services for people looking to adopt, have decided to adopt, or already had a child or children join their family. AFABC also plays a significant role in promoting awareness of the thousands of BC children who are waiting for a family. What AFABC does is very important and is close to me heart. The more children who are placed into families, the better! What better way for children to celebrate Adoption Awareness Month than by being able to join a family to call their own!