On Birth, by a Father-to-be

Yousef Turshani

Yousef Turshani

Flying into Detroit to see Sara and Nabil’s new home, it’s my annual visit to catch up with my now 5-year-old neice, Lina.  She who gave birth to me 35 years ago today will be there. We haven’t spent my birthday together for about a decade. All the warm greetings I receive today are for my mother.

This birthday is special in a few other ways too.

I’ve been blessed to have attended about a thousand births professionally, as a pediatrician. From the 1-pounder to the nearly 11 pounds. From Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to San Francisco, California. From the celebrity mothers to the orphans who were HIV+. They’ve all taught me something, and each birth was life changing for their families.

Just a few weeks away now is the one birth that will change my life.

Last night, before heading to the airport, I knelt down before the swollen belly pushing out in all directions. I have been singing “You are My Sunshine” to our growing girl throughout my wife Nadeah’s pregnancy.

Some time around October 8th I will get the chance, God willing, to sing directly to her in my arms.

On that day I’ll gain a new title: Daddy.
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To the Father Who Tried

Mahmoud Tahir Haj Adam circa 1973

Mahmoud Tahir Haj Adam circa 1973

He came here full of hope.

It was 1981 and he was a twenty four year old graduate student sent from his home country of Sudan. He was told to make his country proud so he packed his belongings along with his dreams for a better life.

The ultimate dream of any person living in a poor country. He was starting a new life in America.

A land of endless opportunity and a place where anyone could make it.

My mom said women were always taken aback because he was exceptionally handsome. His nubian almond shaped eyes, strong jawline, and chocolate skin made women, from all ethnicities, gravitate towards him. His solid frame had him shy of 6’5. I always thanked Allah that I inherited his eyes and not his height.

He didn’t know it though. He didn’t realize how good looking he truly was because back in Africa he resembled any other tall and lanky East African guy walking around Khartoum.
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Fatherhood is…

Photographer Sabrina Thompson‘s “Social Series: Fatherhood is…” project promotes positive images of black fathers. The campaign reached some 28 thousand people in its first six days.

Imagine the effects if these were the images we saw every day in the media.

Ms. Thompson’s tagline: “Be socially responsible through imagery.” Share this with your father, family, friends and other people you love!

Step Baba


I was around three when my mother met him.

He said I took one look at him and hid behind her dress. I peered around as he reached down to pick me up, frantically screamed and did a wiggle move out of his arms.

That was the start of our relationship.

My father (technically step-father), Halil, grew up in rural Turkey. He worked hard and was eventually offered a full paid scholarship to the University of Basel in Switzerland. That is where my mother and I would eventually settle after they met through a marriage ad in Islamic Horizons. My parents were forward thinking even in the 80’s!

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[FATHER/HOOD] Inconvenient Truth


I think I scared my daughter. Hell, I think I terrified her. When I heard the Zimmerman verdict, I lost it. I yelled the “F” word, then obliterated two of the milk crates my daughter uses to store toys. The strength of my reaction frightened me. I was hit with a rush of memories of Black men taken from this world. Some of them I didn’t know (Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant III, James Byrd); some of them I did (Gordon Arias, Trey Samuels, JaQuan Rice). I flashed back 23 years ago when a bullet entered my flesh. I then became angry with myself because I did not recall a single woman who’d been killed—I know of quite a few.

On the couch, knees pulled up to her chin, I saw my daughter’s eyes wide and wet. She was shaking.

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Love is Doing

Omid and Roya 

Some women have dreams about their weddings.

Some men dream about finding “the one.”

I’ve dreamed about having a kid…ever since I was 12.

Yup, it’s kind of freaky, but I have always wanted to be a dad.
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Dreams of my Fatherhood

Nadeah and Yousef

Go awwaAAYY!

Go awwaaaAAYY!

At 5:30 am the sunlight is faint, peeking between my billowing curtains, but, outside, there’s already a cacophony of birdcalls.

I’m two months into my yearlong mission in Zimbabwe working at the largest Pediatric/Adolescent HIV center in the region, and possibly the world. We have the monumental task of handing over the entire Doctors without Borders project to the Ministry of Health by year’s end. Though my colleagues and friends here have touched my heart, my thoughts are with one special person on the other side of the world.

Six months prior, I stood on a naked bluff in California overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Walking down the makeshift aisle toward me was the woman I’d dreamed of. Like most couples on this magical day, we looked forward to spending a lifetime cherishing each other.

Unlike most newlyweds, though, we’d already planned to split up in less than five months.

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