>Open letter to Michelle Obama

>This post is an open letter to Michelle Obama.
I know, I know…another letter. Really?
And to Michelle Obama?
A joke right? Um, no.

Yes, I wrote a letter, here, and Coffeedoc wrote a letter, here, with the details about this whole situation.
So, yeah, you could say we are on a letter binge…
But I prefer to say that we are determined to let no avenue shut down before we’ve tried it, no stone be unturned, or miss shouting from a rooftop.
My best rooftop, right now, is a cyber roof.
And this is mine.

Lest anyone forget, this is my beautiful daughter, Marta, above.
And that picture was taken this past Saturday, the 15th of May.
That’s an notable day in that I was in DC, hoping to meet Michelle Obama. {no, really….} Michelle Obama was in Merced, speaking. We missed each other.
Yes, I’m kidding. Mostly.
But the 15th is also a day when my Marta was supposed to be home and we were supposed to be pantomiming to each other in a desperate bid to communicate, and laughing as we failed once again.
But she is not here. So I have decided to shout from my cyber rooftop and send an open letter to our First Lady. If any of you are good pals with her, please pass this along.

Dear First Lady,

I am writing to you out of sheer, shimmering, waning hope. It is the hope of one mother, reaching out to another mother.
It is, to steal a phrase, a call to hope. A call to change.
But this time, the change and hope are those of a mother, of a family, of a girl. That one, in the picture above.

That is my daughter, Marta. She is currently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On March 31st, 2009, she legally became our daughter. She was so, in our hearts and souls, for the past year. She is staying in a foster care home until our government allows us to go and bring her home. You see, she got stuck in the rollout of the new TB screening protocols of the CDC. But this is the catch: she doesn’t need screening. She’s had TB. She has successfully completed documented treatment for TB. But since she will always show a scar on her xray, the CDC protocol shifted her forward to the sputum culture requirement and that takes eight weeks to clear. And so she is stuck, away from her home and family.

We have spoken with as many people as we can find about this at the CDC and US Embassy and many have agreed that it is an “unfortunate” snare. But we have also been told that this sort of protocol certainly can’t just be changed for one girl, or, as we also believe, that an adopted child can be considered a different class of immigrant and be allowed to come home. That just can’t be done.

Mrs. Obama, respectfully, as a mother, I ask you, “Why not?”

Why can’t we change this?
It’s a bureaucratic hitch. It’s not what anyone intended. It’s not what is best for the child or any children who are affected by this. My husband (a physician), the W.H.O., even the man who wrote the instructions for this protocol at the CDC, agree that the data shows that a child who has gone through TB treatment is no risk to the public, and suffers by being kept from the love and care of their family. Instead these children are kept for months in orphanages, without the level of love, care and provision they would have here at home where they could begin to grow and thrive and learn to love in a family again.

This protocol for immigrants is an effort by our CDC to lower the incidence of TB. That is an admirable effort. However, in this application, to the adopted children of U.S. citizens, it becomes instead a trap. It is a trap for our children that does nothing to lower the incidence of TB in the world, rather it might even make it worse by keeping vulnerable children in difficult conditions; those not conducive to optimal health or healing on any level.

It puts our children in the category of “other.” “Stranger.” “Risk.”
They are not “other.” But they are being treated as such.
They are not a risk or threat. They are OUR children. America’s children.

Mrs. Obama, you are the woman who represents hope and change and action in our nation.
So, I want to ask you if we can look at this closer…indeed, if we can hope?
Can we dream and make change?
These are our children. The children of U.S. citizens.
They are our hope, as all our children are. These children are the embodiment of hope, for our families, for our country, for each other. They are living waiting breathing hope; waiting for their families, their legal, matched, real families, to come and get them to bring them home.
They wait.
They dare, still, to hope.
They dream, even so, of change.

Any mom, but most certainly an adoptive mom, lives hope every day.
She dreams of and for her children.
She sees the challenges and faces them as clearly as she can, even while she yearns for the best for her child.
You are the First Lady, as well as the “First Mom.”
You understand this.
You see the challenges of our nation’s children, face them clearly and you hope and work for change and for them to live to their fullest potential.
These children, the orphans who have been adopted into our families, are our children, our nation’s children and all of our future as well.

So, I am appealing to you.
Some will laugh at me, again, and point and say I am a fool.
But I don’t care. I can take it, I am a mom.
Any mom will advocate – as far and high as she must – for her child, for her children.
Marta is my daughter, my child. And she needs to come home.
The other children caught in the trap of this protocol are the children of American moms, our children. And they need to come home.
You are a mom. You are the “First Mom.”
I think, if you can know of this, you would understand… so, foolishly perhaps, I appeal to you.
You know that any mom will try to change the world if she has to, for her child.
Because, we can. Yes, we can. We are mom’s. And we hope.

Thank you for your time and attention reading this, if you do.
Thank you for your willingness to step out to face the challenges.
Thank you for being willing to make change happen.
This may be a ridiculous shout into the cyber void.
But thank you for the hope.


Michele Gautsch

>I went to DC but I didn’t see Michelle Obama


But I DID get to see my nephew graduate!

David is our first college graduate of this generation. Frankly, none of can quite believe he is, or we are, already that old!

Ah, but we are all so proud. He’s graduated from Georgetown and he’s going to South Africa this summer for the second time/year in a row. He is working with a community-building foundation there and is now doing fellowship with them; fundraising as well as hands on work on the ground. His younger brother (19, Matt, shades, below) is going too, six weeks of teeny township and community living. I am one proud aunt!

And I did get to go to a swishy ball at Penn Station and have a fun two days with my only sister and her family! Crazy crowded (this pic is before it got crowded) and great people watching, music, food, bars…
Cool decor with living statues of important historic figures and models of buildings….turning the lovely Penn Station into a faboo swell party. But the best thing about the party was hanging with my nephews (Michael and David, below, Matt came later) and my Sis and bro-in-law.
Graduation was on the lawn, it was the perfect afternoon in that the rain held off and I got to hang in the fresh air with my favorite sister!
We had a big time. Two old middle aged moms, watching the world pass by, having a nice afternoon in the sun, saving seats, smiling at nervous grads. Lovely. Just a lovely proud afternoon.

My sis and I kept scanning the crowd for “very important people” to accost, erm, politely approach and speak to about the TB protocols. But we didn’t see anyone we recognized. I had hoped to get a meeting with Michelle Obama, but she was in Merced. Something about a commencement speech…. I’ve been in Merced. I got a speeding ticket there once…hmmmm. Anyhow, so we just missed each other. But I can hop a plane back anytime…so Michelle, give me a call!