Seattle

You Sound White

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The traveling Race Exhibit is currently residing at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. It is a mind blowing exhibit that is not easy to digest in one sitting. The topics range from crime and race to race and real estate (redlining and the Fair Housing Laws etc.) to racial disparities within education.

The photo below shows how each individual would've marked the census on the corresponding years. Should we continue to ask people to check a box indicating their race on our yearly census form? Judging from our history - we aren't faring so well with the whole labeling thing. Lest us forget that race is a socially constructed  concept anyways. Is it important to keep this data for the sake of government benefits, money allocation and/or working to reintegrate communities (racially)? Does the Hispanic origin section confuse Latino's? Why does White always come first on the census - shouldn't it be alphabetical?

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People were asked to write down their thoughts throughout the exhibit. Here are a few:

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Who would've thought?

My birthmother came to Seattle a couple of weeks ago, and got a taste of what my life was like growing up. Who would've thought that this day would come?  Deborah enjoyed her very first airplane flight across the country, and then enjoyed spending a couple more days in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my family.

Deborah got dressed up for the Bethany fundraiser auction.

We ate breakfast, posed with the Pig, and watched people throwing the fish at the Pike Place Market.

We figured that since Canada is so close to Bellingham, and since Deborah had never been to another country, that we might as well step foot in to Canada while she was here.

We showed Deborah the waterfall at a park in my hometown.

Hanging out with my family at the Auction

Deborah got to hear some great music, and see where I work at night.

Deborah with my brother, Kyle standing at the bench that is dedicated to my grandfather, overlooking Bellingham Bay.

Deborah can't come to the coffee capital of the world, and not experience great coffee!

Looking at the Seattle skyline from Kerry Park.

Of course we took Deborah to the top of the Space Needle.

All in all, this was a memorable trip, that I never knew would happen. It was so special to be able to show Deborah around the city that I grew up in.

The Letter.

My mom sent this beautiful letter to my [new] family in Chattanooga...

Dear Deborah and family,

I’m Angela Tucker’s mom here in Bellingham, Washington and am very excited to be writing this letter. Have thought about this for a long time. Chattanooga had always seemed so far away as our family talked about it over the years but now even though miles apart it feels right next door.  It means a lot to Angela and our entire family to be able to meet you and your family.

I’m guessing that you might be curious how we became Angela’s adoptive family?  The story follows, but first I want to thank you for sharing Angela with us (even though some of you didn’t even know you were).  We thank you Deborah for choosing adoption.   Not only was Angela’s  life changed by being adopted, but our lives were changed as well.  What a blessing this was!  Her cheery personality and her ‘forever’ smile brought much joy to our family.  She was best friends  with our older daughter, Elena, as they grew up.  This was and still is a special friendship.  People joked as Angela turned 2 years old that I should just hook her to my side with velcro as she always followed alongside me wherever I went.  We were never far apart.  Her sports ability—kickball and PE (in elementary school), basketball, track, cross-country and softball in high school and basketball at Western Wash. University—made us all proud.  Music also filled our house—her piano, harmonica, karaoke and singing for no reason or any reason was daily.  She and sister Elena enjoyed numerous piano duets.  Angela’s hearing loss helped educate all of us about both the struggles of wearing hearing aids and the belief that all of life’s opportunities were ahead.  She added a lot to our family, to say the least.

Deborah, when Angela was born, you had asked that she be given opportunities in life to live up to her full potential.  We took this to heart, felt guided by your request and thought about it many times as we raised her.

We began our family in 1974 with the birth of our daughter, Elena, followed by the adoption of Shawna and Steven.  In 1986 we were anxious to adopt again and searched the adoption books of waiting children from different states hoping to find the perfect match.  It didn’t take long before we found Angela in the state of Tennessee book.  She was listed in this book as a ‘hard to place’ child due to her possible physical disabilities.  (She spent the first year with a Chattanooga foster family as her health issues were identified. The adoption agency did not know the cause of her disability.)   We knew she’d fit into our family as soon as we read it.  We notified our adoption worker here in Bellingham who then worked with the adoption worker at Bethany in Chattanooga to make this match happen.

David and I flew to Chattanooga a week or two before her 1st birthday and spent the weekend getting to know her and deciding for sure if she was the one.  (There was never any doubt she was the one!)  We met with a representative from Bethany, was given non-identifying information about your family and the first name of the birthfather.  We spent a couple hours with Angela to get to know her (she slept the entire time!).  Then on Monday, flew with her back to Bellingham.

We continued her physical therapy related to her disability but within 3 months was told by the physical therapist that she had improved enough that she didn’t need it anymore.  She shortly began to walk, run and do all the things expected even though there was still some mild tightness in her legs and arms. Her hearing loss wasn’t identified till she was about 4 years old.

And so this is how Angela became a Burt and a resident of Bellingham (about 75 miles north of Seattle) and Washington state.  As time goes on I’m sure Angela will share photos, stories, memories etc. about growing up as a Burt with all of you.  (Ask her about getting her wisdom teeth out while she was on crutches, the competition she had with a friend to see who could wear shorts to school every day of 5th grade, playing basketball in bare feet in Belize, the ride on the Desperado rollercoaster, Highway 3 in Mexico and of course, our yearly Burt Meatfest.)  And she’ll enjoy hearing from each of you what it was like growing up in Chattanooga.

She has been a joy to our family.   We thank you again for sharing her with us. We look forward to meeting you all next summer.

Simply beautiful. Thanks for writing this mom!

What I would say...

Ms. Deborah,

I'm hoping that somehow this letter makes it's way into your hands. There are some things I have always wanted to say to you:

I think the World of you.

I admire your ability to go through with an undesired preganancy, especially without any help, doctors, books or guidance. I am amazed by your courage and foresight in knowing that keeping your pregnancy  a secret was the best choice for yourself, and for me. I want to thank you for thinking ahead enough to find an adoption agency to place me in a home. I don't know as many people who are as selfeless as you who have the strength to carry a baby to term, walk in to the hospital alone and in labor, and walk out of the hospital alone and empty-handed. 

I wanted to apologize for showing up at your doorstep so unexpectedly last month, I can only imagine how completely overwhelmed  you must've felt.  I can imagine that my suprise visit opened up a very deep wound of intensely painful feelings, feelings that had been buried for 24 years. I never meant for you to have to retrieve the painful memories. I hope that you never felt ashamed for having given me up for adoption.  Your strength and courage to give me up  has provided me with more opporrtunities than you'll ever know. 

 Since I sought you out, I had the advantage of working through some of my feelings prior to the day that I showed up at your door in Tennessee. I cannot imagine what it must've felt like to be on the other side of the equation. I know that my raw emotions were overpowering when I looked at you for the first time. I'd venture to guess that your emotions were 10 times stronger than mine, I guess this may have been why you denied knowing who I was and asked me to leave. I understand.

Just wanted to let you know that I am doing fine. I am happily married, enjoying all that life throws my way. I live in Seattle, Washington and my home is open to you anytime - I'd love to get to know you more.  

Love,

Your birthdaughter

     -oh, and by the way, my name is Angela.