First of all, I feel blessed to have had the full love and devotion of my REAL mom and dad, Thomas and Catherine Scott, who gave me all the love they had and laid my foundational values. Losing my mom at 13 was really tough, and my dad and I got even tighter as we had to find a way to take care of each other now. For perspective, when I was at Howard, my dad picked up, washed, and delivered my clean clothes every week!! He just enjoyed seeing me weekly and taking me and my girlfriends out to dinner when he brought my clothes. So when he died unexpectedly in 1999, the empty space was huge. That’s the first time period of my life that I remember wanting … feeling … the need to connect with my birth parents.
Desperation is what I’m feeling in this episode. I’m pressed to find a man somewhere in Nigeria, the most populace of all African nations. Statistically, one in four Africans are Nigerian! Of course, I don’t even know for sure that my birth father is even in Nigeria. He could literally be anywhere in the world as Nigerians often leave to live in Europe, as well as the U.S. So there’s a lot working against me, but what I do have are pictures –- sent from my birth mother shortly after we made contact. For the first time in my life, I was able to see pictures of myself as a newborn: pictures of my birth mother at the time of my birth, and of her wedding day, the black and white photo encasing the face of a pretty young woman.
Equally intriguing were the color email photos (clues) of a man my birth mother describes as my paternal grandparents. Not so fast though … my husband Jason, the resident car expert (Jason knows and loves EVERYTHING related to cars) was quick to note that a car in the background is an '80s period Acura Legend … a classic in its day he tells me! Quick math tells me this CAN’T be my father’s father in this picture, so the plot thickens … as well as my distrust of my birth mom. he pictures are an incredible start. Clearly she thought this would pacify me, that it should be enough for me to see pictures. Instead I only got more determined. And HOW does she have fairly recent pictures of him? A date stamp says 2001!! Is she still in contact with him after 40 years?? It appears so -- and now I am pissed. For sharing invaluable photos, I am forever indebted to my birth mother. This is why I felt so conflicted going against her wishes and deciding to find my birth father despite her unwillingness to assist and pleas to abandon the search. But it is what it is … no turning back now.
The feeling of being at a forced “dead-end,” and Jason’s ability to understand that pain, drove us to that Facebook contact. Thankfully, as you saw, nothing ever came of it. Knowing what I know in the present, I cringe to think about that action I took those months ago!! Thank goodness we live in D.C. where nearly every country in the world has an Embassy. And because the Nigerian Embassy is less than 10 minutes from my house, one road came to an end, while a three-lane highway opened up for me. It was Jason’s idea to reach out to the Embassy (which by the way, I thought was a crazy idea at the time)… and one day without an appointment or any relationships, he walked in (with the pizza man) and met my angel Stella. At the time, Stella ran a program within the Embassy to “claim” Americans of Nigerian decent, and in some cases like mine, re-introduce us to the culture, traditions and family legacy of Nigeria. As you saw, not only did Stella meet with us, but she is Igbo, from the same area of the country, as my birth father! I can’t begin to describe how much of a 180 my heart and mind did in two seconds!! I went from doubt and despai ... to hope and faith that my journey would have a happy ending, and that despite time, distance, and circumstance, I WILL find my birth father –- wherever he is.
Jason is my rock –- he is ALWAYS so positive and encouraging. He never gave up the faith and kept me believing even when it seemed all was lost. He always seems to make a way out of no way. I love that man!
On another note, I was bummed to miss the fashion show sponsored by Burkina Faso and managed by Lynda’s agency. It looked like an incredible event with beautiful clothes and culture. Lynda’s dress was hot! Bad timing on our social schedules that night though -- it just so happened that we had committed to attend a function hosted that same evening by the South African Embassy. As some of you may know, my charity, Extra-Ordinary Life, was preparing to take a group of foster teens to South Africa in just a few months, so it was important to be there. Again, one of the truly unique aspects of the city is its access to embassies from literally every country in the world. I love that viewers are getting a sense of new cultures—and how our lives can be enriched by opening ourselves to different cultural experiences!
Where’s that invite?
Oh wait,Tareq says you don’t need one! Hold on folks — the ride begins. Watching it, I am tripping that they are seeming 100% confident that they are invited and should be at the White House that fateful evening. You can’t sneak in wearing a bright red sari! What you didn’t hear in my phone call to Michaele (as she and Tareq were riding to the big house) was, “How did YOU get invited?” After all, it’s arguably the 300 most important people in the world, and (no offense, but just keeping it real) I was shocked that the Salahis were in that group. I would continue to be shocked in coming days. More on this next week….
Our hearts our heavy
It has been an emotional 48 hours for the Turner family. We discovered this past Tuesday that our 14-year-old lab Cairo (aka my first “child”) had a huge tumor in his spleen, and we had to make the difficult decision to put him to sleep on Friday. I’m sooo sad—I know most dog lovers can relate. Jason and I drove from Kansas City, where we lived in 1996-7, to the middle of Iowa to get Cairo as a puppy when we got engaged. He was the best dog ever and we miss him terribly. Our house has a terrible emptiness without him ... rest in peace good boy!!