Last year, Holt adoptee Tamirat Hines submitted a story he wrote to the producers of a children’s TV show called “Green Screen Adventures.” Tam’s story, entitled “Land Shark,” aired in August 2014! Here, Tam’s mom shares about his interest in writing and the lesson of “Land Shark.”
We first saw our son, Tamirat, in the Holt facility in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in Oct. 2009. He was just over 2 years old, and he hid behind the nanny who led him by the hand. He was tiny, with shiny curly locks and deep brown eyes, and he was wearing an Elmo T-shirt.
Fast forward to 2015. Tam is 7 now, and he is far from tiny. He is tall for his age, tall enough that mom can wear his shoes and his hoodies. He is kind and outgoing, an avid reader and a prodigy on the basketball court. And he still has the soulful eyes and the charming smile we fell in love with when we met him.
Our family lives in Greensboro, NC. We are older parents, now 44 and 54, and Tam is our only child. Our lives have been blessed in so many ways by his presence. Neither of us had ever traveled outside of the U.S. when we boarded the plane for Addis, but overcoming the fear and the unknowns was well worth all we gained.
Tam has always been a “character.” His intelligent, curious, no-nonsense personality emerged not long after we got him home. We served him chocolate milk and he announced “Tami no drink dirty milk.” He wanted a small battery-powered car to drive himself to Target, which we did not agree to. At age 3, he removed the wheels from dad’s wheelbarrow with a wrench.
Tam has had a lot to overcome. He went through an intense grieving process after he came home. But Tam has persevered and has accomplished so much already.
From learning a new language, to getting used to an enthusiastic Shetland Sheepdog named Mackie MacGus, to adapting to preschool and elementary school, Tam has never let anything stand in his way. If he decides to do something, he does it.
Writing is one thing Tam has definitely decided to do. He has entered the PBS KIDS Writers Contest for two straight years, and he loves to imagine stories. So he was eager to be part of “Green Screen Adventures” when he saw the show on a local TV station one Saturday morning.
“Green Screen Adventures,” which sadly came to an end recently, was a children’s show produced in Chicago. A talented group of adult actors read and performed versions of stories submitted by kids from across the country.
“I like writing and writing helps me to get better at writing,” Tam says. “If I make a mistake I can just erase it and make it better. I wanted to tell my own story for ‘Green Screen Adventures.’ I wanted to see it acted out, and they also put a lesson at the end.”
As a first-grader, he wrote a short story called “Land Shark.” It is the story of a shark who wants to walk on land so badly that he never stops trying. His friends encourage and support him as he learns to walk.
“I wanted to write something about the ocean,” Tam says. “This shark was a nice shark who did not eat his friends. The shark is the best ocean creature ever.”
We sent Tam’s story to “Green Screen” and had almost forgotten about it. Then, a few months later, we got a call from Chicago. They wanted to film Tam’s story for the show. The producer, Liz, said it would air over the summer of 2014.
The show aired in August, and we were delighted. The actors did an incredible job. They even sent Tam an autographed picture showing the cast in costume.
Tam beamed with pride as he watched the show. His name was mentioned several times during the story. Having his story produced for television gave him added confidence and fueled his interest in reading and writing.
Even more important to Tam is the lesson told by “Land Shark.”
“Just because you are different does not mean you can’t do something,” he says. “That’s my lesson.”
Tam, that’s a great lesson.
Norman and Michelle Hines | Greensboro, North Carolina
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