Heart Beats

Madonna and Meg Ryan each have one. Angelina Jolie has two. And Pamela Lynn, who has one, would have two more in an instant. We’re talking about adoptive children. And each of these beautiful, creative, artistic women has such a strong and loving commitment to family that they are trying to help save the world’s less fortunate children by bringing them ‘home.’

"I say this to everybody: you never regret it. It’s the greatest thing that you can do,” says Pamela Lynn. A freestyle drummer, singer, songwriter and recording artist, Pamela lives in Lantzville with her three daughters: Jessica, 13, Tia, 10, and Mikia, 4 ¾, who was adopted from an orphanage in Nanchung, China, nearly five years ago.

"I always knew I would adopt. Oddly enough, it was from around the same time when I knew that I had found what I’d found with drumming, at about age twelve. I always knew that’s what a family looked like.” Pamela says that her planning to adopt children began when Jessica was born, and continued to unfold after Tia’s birth.

"When I adopted Mikia, there was no different feeling than if I had given birth to her. It was the exact same bond. It was instant because I’d waited for her forever.”

It took two years to arrange all the paperwork, and was a very long waiting period for everyone in the family to endure. Pamela says that you never know if the adoptions are actually going to go through until you bring the baby across the border.

"There’s a lot of things that can go wrong, and you’re pretty well holding your breath. It was pretty stressful.” And little Mikia was sick at the time. At nine months old, she weighed only ten pounds and didn’t have the motor skills to be able to sit up by herself. But with love and plenty of good food, she soon started to gain weight and develop normally. And Pamela found that much support was available to them through family, friends and community organizations such as "Families with Children from China British Columbia” (www.fccbc.ca).

"There’ve been no health problems, no lasting effects to worry about. You don’t know the story of the children who are there. There’s always the unknown of genetics – there’s no history or background info, no parentage, no records. But even with children you give birth to, there’s always the unknown of some disease surfacing.” And Pamela felt she was ready to handle anything that might come up.

"Tia was born three months premature. I went through the full spectrum of (having) a healthy big baby girl, (Jessica), a super tiny baby girl, (Tia), and then adopted Mikia, who looked like a new baby, at nine months and ten pounds.” She laughs and shakes her head.

"I tell these guys,” she says, reaching out to touch her three girls gathered on the sofa around her, "that even though, financially I’m not able to, I would adopt again in seconds. They all know that that’s the plan. I totally want to adopt from Africa. And I’d love to adopt older siblings. That seems like the right thing to do. I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m a big believer in the Law of Attraction. If you’re putting it out there and you’re focusing, then all sorts of wonderful things happen.”

And put it out there she does.

Shortly after bringing Mikia home to Nanaimo, Pamela and her family left to experience life in Costa Rica, and Mexico, and then Richmond, one of Vancouver’s sprawling suburbs, before returning to Vancouver Island once again. The four ladies have been living in the peace and quiet of Lantzville’s small, oceanside community for a year and a half now. Pamela says she thought she would need to be in a larger urban setting to build her career, but the need for tranquility and a natural environment, and the warmth and support of a nurturing community in which to raise her girls and create her music, far outweighed the lure of bright lights and faster times in the big cities.

"I don’t work as a performing artist. I need the silence to create music: the peace and quiet, the outdoors, the ocean. With digital sales, (the downloading of singles from the Internet) and music for film, any media stuff, I don’t need to travel. My style is creating and recording – and I have no desire to be out (performing) like that because of the girls.”

Pamela has recorded her first CD called, ‘Fearless & Feminine: A Voice of Intuitive Rhythms.’ It’s an album of melodic drumming and vocals, put together entirely on her own last summer, in her home recording studio.

"What makes my style so distinctly different is that I believe you can create music using just drums and percussion and vocals. It creates melody from the music. Drumming was always the timekeeper. But to me, it is the music. I think people have never had a chance to hear it like that and I don’t know of anybody else who’s doing it. People say, aren’t you going to add a guitar? Why? Eventually I’d love to collaborate with other artists, but I have to do this first. I’ve got something to say that I want to share, and I hope it’s well received.”

And this summer, Pamela will find out what the world thinks of her music. She has just been signed by the New York record label, ACM, who will soon make the official announcement and release the first single from her album. Up until now, she has been promoting the CD herself as an independent artist, through venues such as myspace.com, where she has enjoyed some international feedback, and by entering songwriting contests like VH-1’s "Song of the Year” for the Save the Music Foundation, where she earned several ‘first runner-up’ accolades last year.

"I sent it to music supervisors, for publishing for film. I had entered the contests and done really well in those, and knew it was getting a really good response. You put it together, and you record it, then you put it out and you have to let go, because you can’t be attached to other people’s opinions. You have to have faith – this is what I have to offer – close your eyes, and let go. Then I started to get busy working in the community, and writing other songs. On International Women’s Day, (March 8th) the president of ACM phoned me, and said they’d love to sign me. In my mind, I wasn’t looking, because I’d let go. I was totally shocked and wasn’t even thinking about the label. And after talking to her, it was really important to me – that connecting with another woman – because of everything else that I do.”

Because she studies different cultures and different music, there’s always been a connection for Pamela with people from around the world. The drumming she says, gives her a voice to be heard and used, to bring awareness to people about things that are important to her, like international adoption and human rights for women and children. Even before the label signing, she took part of the proceeds from her initial CD sales and sent them to an orphanage in Ghana. Jessica took it upon herself to research the community’s circumstances and planned a fundraiser for them. She made buttons with pictures of the orphaned children on them, and sold them throughout all of Lantzville and Nanaimo. Her efforts resulted in enough money to buy two uniforms for each student and a pair of sandals, helping more than 50 people in the Ghana community.

"It’s important that my girls see: you can make a difference. We don’t have much to give, at all, but if you can give a little, then it’ll lead you on that path.” Jessica has future plans to become a children’s human rights lawyer, with Pamela’s full support.

And there’s always an additional awareness of being drawn to people and places for a reason, including Pamela’s dream to adopt more children from Africa:

"There’s always these things, and I think, hmm, I think we’re going there. You just know it’s in the future – so close. I don’t know how it’s going to work, but I know that everything just points in that direction.”

For now though, she’s an extra busy mom who teaches drumming to 22 women a week, and will be performing at a Children’s Festival, as well as at a fundraiser for the Women’s Centre in Nanaimo near the end of April.

"That’s how I’m giving back to the community, and it doesn’t seem like much, but it’s time consuming. The kids have a way of keeping you in line. I have to lay low, and not even think about all the other possibilities, just stay centred and focused, and know that the girls have to come first. I still drive to gymnastics, and karate. And we go bird-watching. So I get up at 4 a.m. and practise until 6:00.”

Life as a single parent is full of difficulties, but Pamela says she has a strong faith and feels guidance in what she does. She believes she’s living with purpose, and her family and her career are all inter-related.

"To me, this is right. This is what I’m meant to do. My path has been very specific, with what you’re drawn to. I think if anyone can give a home to a child, they should. I’d like to see (adoption) be the normal way to live, not just for people who can’t give birth to their own child. There’s so many kids – what greater thing, what a blessing! What it’s done for my life is the greatest blessing…I can’t imagine anything worse than not having family. You could go without food, but to not have that love – everyone wants that. It’s as basic as it gets.”

Pamela Lynn’s website is: http://www.freestyledrumming.com