, or much of her life, Anita Greene was a self-
described "piece of cardboard." She was raised
in Huntington Woods and Oak Park and grew
up to be an entertainer. And in this extraordinarily
competitive field, Greene found success. She sang. She
danced. She acted. She was never without a job.
Then one evening, Greene was feeling ill but
she went to work anyway, singing aboard a
cruise ship. Most of the guests were not
American and Greene knew they couldn't
understand her English.
"I don't feel well; I don't think anyone
even understands me. What am I doing
here?" she wondered.
Greene was 39 then, and until that
moment it never occurred to her that
anything could be more interest-
ing or relevant than her
"My life was
very, very nice,"
she says. "But it was
The whole world revolved
around me. I was like cardboard,
shallow. I had no clue about life."
Then Greene met up with a couple
who had adopted children from
Guatemala. The idea intrigued
Greene, and she decided to look into
Today, Greene is the mother of two
adopted girls, Marissa Tate and Mayci
Rose, and the author of Annie
Cabannie's Star Baby, the story of how
her family came to be and a guide for
other families with adopted children.
The story is "what I tell my daughter:
A star in the sky fell on the earth and that was you,
and I came to find you," Greene says.
This is not the first time Greene's life took quite a
After that evening aboard the cruise ship, she decid-
ed to leave entertainment and look for more meaning-
ful employment. She considered teaching, but was
told no jobs would be available. So when she was 40
she enrolled at Wayne State University in Detroit,
graduating in 1992 with a degree in social work.
She found a position at a mental-health facility in
the Cass Corridor. She loved the work, and it was
consuming, but still she found herself preoccupied by
the idea of those children in Guatemala.
Greene, single at the time and still
unmarried today, approached a coun-
selor who encouraged her to
How one woman's dream
came true after two little
girls entered her life.
go. It was the photo of a 6-month-old girl "with a
sparkly smile," Greene says.
Like all potential adoptive parents, Greene learned
her next step was to visit the child in her
home country. Alone, Greene headed off to
Guatemala, where she had her first meeting
with a little girl she would name Marissa
Tate ("Tate" is an anagram for Etta,
Greene's mother's name).
"When you're waiting [to meet the
child], every minute seems like 1,000
hours," Greene says.
At first, things were a bit awk-
ward, she admits. Greene held the
little girl, though it felt
clumsy, and said
wondered. "I am
`Mommy'? Am I really
She was indeed Mommy, and
Marissa now had a home in
Thanks to her social-work
degree, Greene was well-versed
in all the parenting books. She
had, in fact, taught courses on
Mayci and Marissa
the subject. But when Marissa
Staff photos by Angie Baan
arrived, everything she had
learned started to sound as
familiar as Japanese.
"It was like poof, it all went
right out of my head," she says.
(In any case, Greene says you can just toss those
books aside if your entire parenting style isn't domi-
Greene's own father, Morris Greene, "thought I was
nated by love. "I'm not going to just do what a book
absolutely insane." She didn't let go of the idea,
says," Greene insists. "I'm going to give my daugh-
though, pausing only momentarily: the fees were, in a
ters what they need.")
word, exorbitant, she says. Her father offered to help.
Meanwhile, Greene moved to Lincoln Park, to be
One afternoon, Greene called an adoption agency
close to her work in Southgate, and Marissa enrolled
with which she had previously spoken. "Come on in,"
in school. Her mother had died years ago, and now
workers told her. "We just got some pictures of kids."
Greene's father was sick. Greene managed not only
Pictures? How could she pick a child just from pho-
to work full time, but to care for Marissa and her
tos, Greene wondered.
But she did.
Greene was happy, but not completely. Someone
Greene sorted through the many pictures of boys
was missing from her family. Her name was Mayci.
and girls, little ones and bigger ones, all of whom
For a second time, Greene approached the adop-
needed a home. One, though, just wouldn't let her