Sunday, August 17, 2008

Remembering Joao


Image: European Stars and Stripes, Hesse Germany, October 2000

I was a teenage drug dealer.

It’s true.

It sounds so illicit, so inflammatory, so shady, but it was none of the above. It just happened. It didn’t seem like such a big deal to me. Honestly looking back, it reads like some really bad stereotypical 70’s movie.

My first high school was a private all-girls Catholic boarding school. Although I couldn’t quite manage the boarding part. Being away from home was freaky. So a private transportation company was hired to schlep me the 45 minutes back and forth to school each day. Occasionally the only vehicle that would be available in the morning was a limo, which was pretty cool, but for the most part the daily ride was a nice black Town Car with tinted windows.

I had wanted to go to the public high school with my friends, but my adoptive mother would have none of that. She was concerned about me getting into drugs, so she sent me away to a good Catholic school to keep me drug free. That’s funny.

The aforementioned tinted windows were important, because I got stoned every morning and every afternoon with the driver.

He had the best pot.

He also had a good supply of some pretty high quality shrooms too.

My driver was definitely the best part of my Catholic all-girls private school experience.

When I’d get my allowance, I’d buy some pot or shrooms from my driver, to share with my friends who were also quite impressed with the quality.

Quality is everything, you know.

Sometimes my friends would ask me if they could buy some of my stash. This of course was back in the days when a dime bag only cost $10. I’d buy a dime bag, and sell them half for $5.00. I didn’t mark up at first. I didn’t need the money. I just wanted my friends to be able to have the same cool access I did.

Word spread quickly. Demand grew. Supply followed. Eventually I did mark up a little bit. Not by much, but I was paying attention during Economics 101.

That’s really all there is to it. There’s no big climax or ending to the story. Eventually I got kicked out for attitude difficulties that were not in keeping with the fine Sisters of Nazareth, and therein my drug dealing days were over. I lost contact with my driver and his cheap weed. End of story.

I think this story is pretty common with a lot of people caught in this pointless drug war. It’s easy to bust small time dealers who sell to friends and friends of friends, because we’re dumb and naive and not street-savvy. It makes an easy arrest. I don’t know Joao Herbert’s path, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his didn’t follow a similar progression. All I know from what I’ve read is he got caught selling 7.5 oz of pot to an undercover cop a month after high school graduation.

Joao, like me, was adopted. Joao, unlike me, was not a US Citizen. Joao was deported back to Brazil, where he was murdered.

Sometimes young people make dumb choices that wind up with them doing time. But once that time is done, the last thing they need is to be deported simply because the adults in their lives didn’t see their adoption through to citizenship. Either the agency that sold them or the parents that adopted them – these adoptee’s lives were a litany of adult failure from day one. Abandoned by parents, shipped halfway across the world and sold for profit, citizenship never finalized, and then dumped unceremoniously back by a country caught in the grips of OMG DEPORT TEH ILLEGALZ! hysteria.

There are slick and well designed websites out there which purport to hold the best interest of adoptees.

I’m yet to be convinced.

Unless ensuring equality for adult adoptees on both the state and federal level is priority #1, I can’t view them as anything other than a mouthpiece for those who profit off the sale of our disrupted early lives. Adoption is a lifelong experience, but I’ve met very few who view it as such… unless of course it’s providing insulting for-profit search, reunion, and registry services.

The fantabulous Margie at Third Mom has compiled a list of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption members. If you haven’t read Margie’s post on Adoptees and Deportation, please take a moment to rate her article at RainbowKids, and please give a digg too.

And then write, please, please, please write, call, fax.

For those deported, for those facing deportation, for those whose actions they perform today will lead to their deportation, not knowing they aren't citizens, something has got to be done.

And to those with the flashy we-heart-adoption websites: Convince me.



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5 complaints from ingrates:

Third Mom August 18, 2008 at 11:38 AM  

Theresa, you did a huge amount of work on that list - thank you! And thank you for posting the article. I'm heading over to find yours so I can digg it, too.

I hope we can start getting some attention on this issue. It absolutely must be changed.

imtina August 20, 2008 at 9:41 PM  

Thank you both for bringing this to my attention. How horrible and tragic and unacceptable.

Tina

Erika August 25, 2008 at 9:38 PM  

the war on drugs is another farce.
it's a war on families, a war on responsible marijuana users.
but please, keep puffing that cigarette that carries 20 different kinds of poison and drink that booze!

Marley Greiner August 28, 2008 at 8:45 PM  

Thanks for posting this, Theresa.

I haven't read Third Mom's blog on this but will tonight.

There is another adoptee due for deportation soon. I don't have much information on him; it was posted on DKOS. I also have some information on some early deportees that I should dig out.

The problem goes much deeper than deportaton for BS charges. Reportedly there are possibly hundreds of adoptees held in detention centers after performing such threatening acts as applying for Pell Grant or Social Security benefits. The War on Drugs is a big part of it, but it's really rooted in immigration, and the laws are written so that judges haveno discretion. I know in some cases parents did try to finalize years ago, and INS refused to cooperate. (Having had some experience with the visa office at the American Consultate in St. Petersburg, I can believe it.) With others the fault lies with agencies and adopters. Adopters, among other excuses, have said, they wanted to give the kid the chance to decide which citizenship to hold. That's all well and goof unless you're dealing with the fascist government that has taken over this country. Then all bets are off. I learned too late that I could have held Brtish citizenship with my US citizenship. If I'd known it, I would have done it. We all need an escape hatch.

Ungrateful Little Bastard August 29, 2008 at 8:50 PM  

Crap I never even thought how that could happen - but it makes sense. That lack of citizenship would be discovered under other mundane circumstances. Great.

Too FUBAR for words

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