Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Family Adventures ...

The first of many.

Ok- this isn't much of an update- but I haven't had time to finish the other one. So... sorry. Maybe after Christmas. But to catch EVERYONE up to date on one important note;

Travel dates are finalized and booked. Ryan and I leave January 11th. We leave Addis on the 23rd and arrive the 24th of January with the little man in tow.

Flights were finicky and difficult and although it requires 3+ days just in travel- we are both fine with it and will get us there a day earlier than necessary.

That is it!  Travel update complete~! 

For all you future travelers out there, I used Reach One travel. She does other agency bookings but hadn't been suggested by my agency. She was great- and trust me when I say, I was a PIA!! Although the prices were only slightly less than 'regular online listings' these are not tickets with a million restrictions/not refundable etc. These are good ones. (so I'm told... I haven't actually traveled yet- so what do I know... )

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lots of Little Updates

Ever since passing court back in October, things have been... FULL SPEED AHEAD!  That isn't to say that much has happened for the little man in Ethiopia, but there has been too much on Momma's plate and typically-  everything seems to take more 4 times as long to accomplish anything for me... to say things (i.e. me) have been crazy- may be an understatement.

Full speed ahead, is not a speed I'm comfortable with, nor do I function well at such velocity. Unfortunately- it's been necessary. The intensity leaves me single minded focused.. I will be the first to admit-- it has taken its toll.

Not only is my brain at max capacity and my emotions all over the map- but my body is beginning to rebel. I've had more headaches in 2 months than I've had in my life thus far. My stomach feels like the lava flows of Kilauea.

Remember that commercial:  "This is your brain on drugs"?..   Well, my brain is functioning like a Scrambled EggMrs. Reagan, I'm sorry to tell you, "Drugs" would be a vast improvement.  

Shonna has been 9 months pregnant 4 times now. I can not begin imagine how she did it sans alcohol and caffeine?

FINALLY. F.I.N.A.L.L.Y!!!  I've accomplished some of the "must do's" and reached a point that I can ssssllllooooowwwww down. (hopefully...)

Some quick updates that you may or may not be aware of:

-Ryan is planning on traveling to Ethiopia with me. Oh- By the way. Ryan has learned to speak Amharic. Although Amharic is the nat'l language of Ethiopia, it isn't too much of a stretch to call it 'obscure' on the global scale (only 20% of Ethiopians speak it). Although we all know my brother has the intellectual capacity of all the worlds super computers combined--- THIS-- Learning Amharic... is quite touching for me.  (Although I admit to giggling to myself as I imagine him dragging Jon around the Ethiopian neighborhoods of DC to practice his conversational nuances.)

-TC (dontcha love that those are his initials! Remember TopCat? He was on after FatAlbert on Saturdays)  .. anyhoooo- TC was hospitalized for a while (about a week) having respitory issues back in early November. He was diagnosed with pneumonia.  All accounts are that he is fine and back at the care center playing with all his buds. (As an educational aside: Diarrhea and Pneumonia still account for killing the largest number of children in the world.  Simply having access to safe drinking water would drastically diminish that)

-While he was hospitalized we got some new pictures of him. Here are a couple just to tease you.  I'll also attach a couple so that you can print them out and take them home and sleep with them under your pillow (come on. You know you want to...!)

-Shortly after that his birth certificate was issued!! Wee hooo. 


-In December, TC and I were showered with love at the Country Club.  WOW! My sister, mom and I'm sure many elves planned a really really really really really nice party. Upon arriving I was most relieved to notice the bartender still on duty. (the perks of adopting... no alcohol or caffeine detox required.) I can't express enough- how much it means that many of you were there to celebrate. So many people have gone out of their way to be so generous throughout this process. Sometimes there just aren't words to fully capture the appreciation. So all i can say is- Thank you.

My sister the generous fantastic over the top party planner!

-Still no confirmation of a travel date. The last I knew we were 'tentatively' scheduled for the middle of January. Last week I learned that he had been scheduled for his embassy physical- but no one knew if that had been done or when the physical was actually supposed to happen.  ??? (remember a long time ago- I told you that one of the things you need to get used to is "I don't know" as a legitimate answer)  As long as his physical goes ok- we could be traveling anytime in the next 6 weeks. (in theory..) There are some 'issues' with the embassy right now- so our "advance notice" for travel is not expected to be really "advanced".  But we will do the best we can to find reasonable flight schedules.  January is also the high holidays in Ethiopia so that is making things "tight".  But no sense worrying about it. We'll get there. (in theory...)

-I'm packed! I'm a little overweight (oh hush up. I talking about the luggage!!) So I may have some figuring or send some stuff to Ryan- but I think I'm close anyway. Typically we are allowed 2 pieces of checked luggage but one of my pieces is a tote full of donations for a family- warm clothes and medical supplies. (Thank you Ashlee & Ryan for the Med Supplies! Made 'em all fit!) Of, course.. there are a few more details I have yet to do and take care of in order to claim.. DONE PACKING... but... I'm done enough to ease the fretting. (in theory..)

-Remember a while ago I told you of my friends who switched agencies because they found their children waiting with another agency.  They will be in Ethiopia to bring their 2 kiddos home over Christmas!!  They are over the moon excited!  As am I for them!  Lisa, Nate, Ammanual and Mesret are a beautiful family!

Last email I mentioned TC's original diagnosis of Kwashiokor.  Kwash is not something he still "has".  It is just a state of being from malnourishment. He was treated, fed well, and is now ok. It is not like asthma or diabetes (when you get diagnosed you have it forever).  It is more like pneumonia or rheumatic fever: (you had it- you heal- but it may have lasting effects so you have to be aware of it.)

The fundraiser that Tara did for Haiti (mentioned last update) was this past spring. Long before any of us ever knew about my little man TC- but precisely during the time he was suffering from the Kwash and could have benefited from something like a Medika Mamba treatment.

That's all I have for now... I think?  I'm working on another quick update - Lord only knows when I'll finish it for you....  Love and huggs to everyone during this season of Holidays, hospitals, funerals, sadness, goodbyes, joy and new life.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Get Shannon's Toukas In Gear" Party...

SO- retail therapy has been fulfilling...and... filling.  Literally. Filling up this small little castle.  I don't think I can say there is much.. if anything.. that we "NEED"- not anymore. Floor to ceiling. Every surface. Tucked under every piece of ... STUFF.  Stuff for traveling to Ethiopia.  Stuff for a 2-3 year old.  Stuff  stuff everywhere. 

"Overboard", may be a valid accusation.

So much stuff.. that I don't dare take out all the gov't forms that I'm supposed to have ready to travel.. in fear I'll immediately lose them amongst the other stuff.  I haven't cooked, literally in over a month. And yet the dishes from the last time I did are still on the side board.  The sink is sparkling clean and empty. No dishes in there. Showing that beneath this stuff- it is clean. It's just ... full. Disorganized. Unprepared.


If I think about it I panic.  So I don't think. Although I did realize.. I need help. And I've asked for it.  Even when I get 'the call' to travel with 4 weeks notice... I'd never pull this off by myself. And I'd never feel comfortable with it if I did.

Work is FULL right now. Stress and pressure.  But preparing a "Leave plan"- plus getting things done ahead of time - plus teaching others to do stuff that can't wait while I'm gone - plus prioritizing what can wait and what can't--- that is another full time job right now.  Now go and add in the preparing to travel to Africa for 2 weeks and preparing to have a 2 year old in the house.

Scrambled Eggs. That is my brain.  Actually probably more of a blend of Scrambled egg and swiss cheese- many times I'm in the midst of sentence and completely forget what I was talking about...   They warned me about 'mommy brain'... I never thought it'd start this early.

So- I've bribed my 3 of my nearest and dearest with food and *beverage* to come over and help me on Friday night. They are all "take the bull by the horns" people so they will make decisions that I would hemm and haw over.({insert huge sigh of relief})   I also asked Ashlee, a former *traveler* to join in the confusion.  Poor thing.. she's got no idea what she's in for if she shows up....


They are like the best comfort food.

There is no therapy- like REAL FRIEND's COMING FOR A VISIT!

(and just to be clear... all food will be take out as literally the sideboard, table,  island and stove are covered with... you guessed it... stuff).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What is Kwashiokore?...

There are some basic facts- signs and symptoms:
Read this quick fact page from University of Maryland.  Click here.

Wikipedia has similiar response: Click here.

One of the last things written- is what begins to put it in perspective: "When Kwashiorkor does occur in the U.S., it is usually a sign of child abuse and severe neglect."   In our country- In a nation of fortified cereals, enriched grains, and even vitamin rich water- it would have to be a difficul purposeful task to be as malnourished as to develop what is called full blown Kwashiokore.  In countries where there aren't infrastructure, sufficient food supply, clean water, or support- parents will walk for hours, days, with or without shoes, in horrendous heat and cold conditions to find food and treatment for their children... often carrying their kids the entire trip.  The dedication and humbleness of such an act --brings me to my knees.

Oddly- months before I received Munchkin's referral information- I was moved- riveted and about this odd sounding malnourishment disease. It was written about rampantly by a number of groups doing missionary and medical work in Haiti. Kwashiokore. I didn't even know how to pronounce it. I had only heard it in terms of Haiti- never Ethiopia. Never mentioned on my agency forum. I -I didn't know it was a possibility... a possibility... for my babe.

Tara (one of Haiti blog writers) started raising money as she trained for a marathon. Her goal was to raise $2600 for Medika Mamba. One hundred dollars for each mile to be run- to benefit Haiti Rescue Center in their overwhelming need for Medika Mamba (A highly nutritious slurry of peanuts, dry milk, vitamins and minerals) a substance that when fed to a child for 6-8 weeks can literally bring them back from deaths door.

I gave a bit to the cause. $26 - a buck a mile. Mostly cause I felt guilty that I SHOULD be out running myself. And then I met Renald (He's almost 4years old here)

If I found a extra dollar or five in my jeans- it went to the Medika Mamba program (Doctor's Without Borders uses a similar product in Africa called Plumpy Nut). One week i decided- I had enough food in my house and sent the $20 I'd have spent in groceries. Soon- they raised $50,000. In like 6-8 weeks or something insane like that. I have no idea how many kids that will cure of death Kwashiokore- but it's ALOT.  At first i wondered if it were too much. And then --just one day last week there were another 250 kids suffering at the door.  It is incomprehensible. I can't even begin to comprehend it.

Anyway-- that isn't why I was introducing you to the Haiti program. I started typing down this path because much of the links and photos I have to share are from Haiti and that program.  Here is a group of 4 children with progression photos:


Look at the transformation!! AMAZING!!  Although in pictures they look like over fed fat healthy babies- they are closer to 2 years old or older.  Malnutrition does that. You need food to grow.  Sadly, Gilderson passed away earlier this month, November 8th or 9th. As malnourishment causes decreased immune system- its hard to tell why he died. It was sad and frustrating for his care givers who had such hope for him.

You read the facts. The signs and symptoms as defined by Wikipedia and University of Maryland. Below are links to 2 videos- where you'll see what it really means. The faces- the families- the children.

This one is from the rescue center in Haiti. You will notice, on Henrius' body, some of the scaring- I've been told that the Tman had some skin damage and may have scaring from the edema stretching and splitting his skin on his knees. This clip is factual and easy at first. But it gets harder and you may not want to watch the entire thing. Admittedly, I had a visceral reaction to it- so don't keep going if it gets too hard to watch.  But I thought it important to allow you the opportunity to see part of what this "Kwashiokore" really means and it's impact on a child. 

I have many postitive and upbeat things to chronicle-but this update was half written when my laptop had to go in the shop. (Diego's Arctic Adventure DVD decided to stay put-- and it took trained professionals a week and a half to remove him.)  So I promise some fun and exciting stuff soon!! 

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Face...

I'm seeing myself lately. (could be the purpose of Him waiting on me??)

The physical self.  The face that people see. I'm not sure I like the face of me lately.

I love how peoples spirit shows through their face. The glow. The LIFE. That contagious spirit that reaches out and touches anothers heart.

When I see me in photos and mirrors:  I see-- pasty- dim - muted - overcast- sickness.  I'm not sick... it just looks that way. In fact I get comments alot lately "Oh- geez. You don't look like you feel very good! Are you sick?"

That always helps my fragile, over sensitive, nerve exposed ego.  I then collapse into a weeping heap. (just kidding- I do the weeping heap routine in private)

I think this two year APhD (Adoption PhD) path- has consequently put the basic -self -care -taking -care -of -me -and -my -health at the bottom of the 'priority list'.   I eat pretty well... most of the time (what.. you didn't know Tim Horton's Honey Crullers are GOOD for you!?!?!). But the running out of time in a 24 hour day  leaves spending time out side exercising.... well... it just left.

My face already bares that "November North" look. You know the one... lack of Vit D- Complete Depletion of all UV rays and a poisonous level of recirculated dry heat air combined with shakey inside lighting combine to afflict the patient with "Florescent Gloom Syndrome".   This combined with residents reluctance to pull out warmer clothing- results in complete lack of normal exposure to fresh air, social activities, or any PrimeTime TV. (I mean.. geez... it' been completely dark for 4 hours by that time! It's time for bed already.)

I have a sneaky suspicion that my child meeting me in this state... would concern him greatly for my health. Perhaps this is why God is waiting on me. Must do something about it today. Yes Lord!  I hear ya.  Warmer clothes are out.  Today is the day I'll put them to use and venture outside... for oh say.. 15 minutes. Huh? Longer.. ok- let me find the hats and mittens... I'm right behind you. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

BIRTH CERTIFICATE has been Received!!!


My boy- you may at one point wonder- what took me so long?  (and then there'll be the teen age years when you'll just want me to go away... we'll deal with that later) Remember that there are many (read: most) things in this world that are not in my control (please forget this in your teen age years. Momma is always in charge then!). 

There are many steps that require other people's signature, ok's, and legal stamps of approval.  Today-  a full 4 weeks after we were legally declared family- your birth certificate was given to me. This is not the last step. There are a few others- more steps- that are not in my control my love. These are things other people have to do. I'm sitting here waiting patiently for you- but rest assured they know how important this is- they know how critical it is for you to be here as soon as possible.

I love you. See you soon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He's got the whole world in his hands....

I don't know why-- but gotta share this with you. It is a copy of an email I wrote to my dear friend Dodie.

This entire adoption process has been a full -repeatedly -driving -it -in -lesson in "giving it to God".  I finally came to the point that I can do nothing without him and- if I try-- I may get what I'm striving for-- but it my not be the path He had for me-- such a stupid pursuit.  I just give it to him. Repeatedly.   So many many many times I've told God that "it has to be Him. That I can't do this and I don't want it unless it is His".  (Now, you know me. Coming from a girl that once put her mind to anything and made it happen- no matter what -or who got in the way.... This is progress!)

But I also struggle trying to balance the- Do what you can- and God will do what you can't- principle.   There are moments and situations that these two are sort of .. not necessarily conflicting but.. perhaps.. overlap.  These times i've had to really pray and trust that He'll show me.

These past few weeks since passing court has been a struggle.  There are sooooooo sooooo soooo many reasons to push. To push the agency to do more for him. To speed things up. To call the embassy to get me there faster than what they are predicting will happen. I don't want to be the bitch running around getting people to react to the possible health implications of him not being here and getting treatment. Especially for something he may or may not have!  (and what sort of Jesus loving person chooses to purposefully be a bitch to others in order to satisfy her own itch?) But then... it seems like SOMEONE should be advocating for him.  I want SOMEONE to advocate and push for him.  But something holds me back. And I hear... "this is all in His time."

It took a looooooooooooooooonnnnnnnggggg couple weeks for me to kinda-sorta intermittently in ever growing bits and pieces.. feel some peace in just giving it to Him. I knew that it had to be His glory. I knew that if I pushed... I could get him home... but what glory would that be for God.?  (I'm teary now...)   

Last week- I literally felt at wits end. Collapsing in tears multiple times a day. I knew I had to do something. I asked for something to keep me busy- to lift me up- to keep me from running the scary vile monologues through my head constantly throughout the day.  Just one weekend. A day or two to relieve the pressure-

That is when Alex came to visit for a few days. His brother Tyler woke up with a fever- not sick.. just a fever and he ended up being perfectly fine- but to make sure- the brothers were split up for a couple days- and Alex came with me.  I had a three year old in the house. All to myself. My own little Godsend. The pressure release was palpable.  

I didn't "forget" -- but it had the opportunity to move from the FRONT of my mind- permeating everything... back to where-- where it belonged. Back where I could say- this is not for me to hold onto so tightly- that 'This I give to You' place.

My prayers and conversations with God these past few days have changed from "Please God- Make this happen and that happen and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE I really want this"- to "Thank You. I may not understand right now- but You, and only you, have infinite wisdom and blessings beyond my imagination.  Forgive me when I falter and am tempted to take this from you. I trust You. I trust that You are watching over him. I trust that he feels Your love today. I trust that in pain and agony- he feels Your love and comfort which is far more complete than I can provide.  I trust he feels You are with him and he is not alone. I trust that our next step is in your time- for this is all for You."

As I drove home last night- the first night in a long time I didn't weep half the way home- I prayed some more and thanked Him for the strength to get through today. The strength to resist sending a nasty gram and taking it from Him. I also said- Lord I know that tomorrow the urge will come again. Maybe a more forceful urge- to trick me into making those calls and emails. Be with me for I can not do it with out you.  Peace is settling in even more.

Getting bored yet?

This morning--- listening to the local Christian station- they are in their pledge drive season and were reading stories from people. I don't remember exactly how it happened cause it happened in very quick succession-- with urgency. But I remember praying.  Again my brain had started thinking about pushing and making things happen. So I prayed for guidance. At first I heard "you already have your answer. Sit. Let it be. Let Me." and then something happened with a song that was something about "call" yada yada. (hmmm I thought..) Then they started reading a letter from a lady who stated how her family without the financial means was called to adoption and the Lord always Provided and she had a challenge for all those touched by adoption to-- get this--  "pick up the phone and make the call". (yup- of course that I remember!) (BTW- I already made my pledge..) And my eyes started darting... "Yup. You heard it- There's my sign!  I'm gonna cal the agency an..."

I soo wanted to give into that voice. I SOOOOOOOO SOOOOO SOOOO wanted to.  And then I heard it all again. His Glory. Trust in Him. His path. His timing.  I knew if I made that call- I could effect change-- but I would spend a great deal of time convicted about it. The agony of indecision lasted about 3 seconds. As soon as I made the decision- consciencely- and said it aloud "I trust in You".  The peace came back. I'm not bothered by that temptation at all (ok- there is still a little devil whispering in my ear.. but he'll leave soon). 

Here is the reality of this situation. If it is in God's plan for us to be together 'earlier'- it will be. Regardless if I make the call. He can do all. This is all in His hands.   All this complication I created- just to learn this very simple truth.

Now go ahead- I know you want to sing that song don't ya... "He's got the whole world in His hands.. He's got the whole world in His hands.. He's got the.... "  HA  Ha. It's gonna be stuck there all day! (better than "it's a small world!)

Sorry to dump all this on you. It needed to go somewhere.

Love ya babe! 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Round the Same ol' Mountain...

I felt the need to pull myself out of this funk.  Remember that 'waiting' funk I was in for a while.. till I realized 'waiting sucks donkey doo  is bad" and I would pick up with life and move on?  The waiting for a travel date... feels (felt)...      sickening.

Well I went back and read this post.  And I can honestly answer the question: NO. I keep attempting some sort of tug-o-war.  You know what?  Its not a game. Its not supposed to be a struggle. Little by little -I have faith I'll get better (although a big break through would be quite welcomed!)

I followed up reading this one.

Hmmm. Seems I've been here before. Traveled this path. What's the parable?  Going around and round the same mountain. ???

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Social Report!

Such a strange name for such an exciting gift.

Yesterday - I received word that you ... well... I'll edit this later.. but you are experiencing some acute health issues. You are getting medical care and we are all very hopeful that you will be back playing with your friends in the center, soon.  There are hundreds of people praying for you. Praying for God to watch over you. Momma is a bit numb about the whole thing. I know you are not alone. In my gut- deep in my soul- there is peace- cause I know God has you in his hands.(I should also tell you that I'm literally sick with worry. In this country we have medication that sometimes helps...)

Today- the people who cared for you in Ethiopia- sent me some new pictures of you and lots of information on your likes, dislikes, bath time, favorite toys, naps, meals etc.  I'm hope that you'll have found this info either digital, or hard copy - that was saved for you.  After yesterday's heartache... your whole family was joyful to receive more information on your little personality and your bright and shiny face. The front page had your picture- in that picture- there is no doubt you are my son. I am your Momma.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mini Updates 1- Method/Principle

In an attempt to make some of this stuff more palatable (i.e. readable)- I'm going to attempt to send shorter, subject oriented 'updates'.  They will likely be more frequent though...  Normally it takes me a good week or so to write the monthly updates- so I hope the lack of thought re-writes doesn't leave you too disappointed.

As you've realized by now- there are some things that I have to be more cognizant of with The Boy- for a number of reasons.

Sandee's post quoted a quick and easy excerpt from Karen Purvis' Study Guide "Empowered to Connect".  It reads like this:

Children from Hard Places.” This is the phrase used by Dr. Purvis and others to describe children that have experienced some type of abuse, neglect or trauma during their lives... Obviously, this phrase applies to most children who were adopted, spent time in foster care etc.

Our focus for these children must always be clear: to help them heal and become whole in body, mind and spirit. This is done not by focusing on achieving “good behavior,” but by helping our children create strong connections built on trust. Out of this can grow not only “good behavior,” but so many other things that our children need and that we desire for them. By balancing structure with nurture and always remaining mindful of the inherent preciousness of each and every child, we have the opportunity to help our children realize dramatic strides and in the process discover (and re-discover) the joy in parenting.

Heather wrote something else that completely resonated with me- my style- personality. But more importantly- seems somehow intergrated with the second paragraph from Dr. Purvis. 

"She said there are principle people and there are method people. The method people will spend hours trying to formulate the exact "how to" for any sort of thing. They aggressively assert that there is only one "right way" to do something. The principle people could care less about how it happens, just that it happens if it is supposed to. "
I should note Heather wasn't referencing parenting at all (she talking about her mom and cooking.. but still--- some how in my scrambled over-taxed brain--- the concept is the same)  This paragraph itself should tell you which one of those I typically am;  Method vs. Principle.


In some ways- many can attest- I reeeaaalllly struggle with the existence purpose of "Method" and generally takes me twice as long as anyone else to figure out the best "methods" but I muddle through... if it's necessary. 

This is how I see a good chunk of my responsibility in parenting The Boy:  I'll need to take a more 'principled' approach. We won't always be focusing on "the right way" to do things (I rarely believe there is only one way- so I'm typically a waste of good breath trying to get me to believe otherwise).  The priority will be to try and balance the basics of structure with nurturing. Of course- first we have to nourish his Body before the Mind and Spirit can heal.

Joy. Trust. Self Confidence. Conscientious Decision Making.  Will those be the outcome?  Who knows... one can hope.

I'll leave you with a picture from Saturday: Pre Alex emptying bladder in my bed. (note to future-parenting-self:  limit 3 year olds water intake...) Alex would most want you to notice his boots. Connor would most prefer to be taking the picture.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Green Monster (not Fenway)....

It finally hit me.

Jealousy. Envy. The "What about meeeeeeeee's"

I was surprised as I went along this journey that, I never looked at a referral post, a court photo or a 1st meeting video and was jealous. I always related to the parents and their emotion- but never a--- "what about me?"

Until 3 minutes ago. (actually I'm scheduling this to post in a few days, but... whatever....)

Yesterday I read a bloggers post, one I stalk keep up to date with regularly.  She had talked about a small update she received on her little girl. One of the updates was tiny ones, height and weight.  They were almost EXACTLY the same as my recent (read: only!) update on the Boy.  Yesterday- I LOVED reading it. I loved fantasizing relating that update to the Boy's. I realize- that isn't smart- nor healthy. But we all project an image of what the future holds as some sort of coping mechanism.  So I did.  Until today....

Today she posted her travel dates. Soon. Very Soon.

The big ugly green monster - that does not visit this house often- crashed the party.

I don't like feeling that way. In fact I'm committed to not being pissy today. I can't afford it anymore. It's too expensive and it's costing me way too much.

And you know what else.. I'm sure you heard it too, back there on the 2nd line?  The "What about meeeeee?" comment....            It's NOT ABOUT ME!!    (nodding ) Yes.  I heard that too.

Shaking it off. Getting busy with life. Being happy for the travelers. Joyful even!!

Peace be with us all.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Thrill of the Thrift...

Confession:  My munchkin boy, is stylin!  Already.  Uh huh. Very few things, have I purchased new.  And NEVER at full price (I'm a salvage store shopper).  See these 3 pieces of outdoor gear?  Total cost: $1.00.  That is not a typo- one dollah. The olive and orange lighter jacket was given to me at while visiting Randa in NJ. Her friends were having a clothing swap and they graciously invited me along and picked out the best stuff for the Boy.  He also came away with a pair of black snow pants and a Ralph Lauren White button down. (all of which look and feel brand new).

 These are both 2T. So they'll swim on him for a while...

There are 2 thrift stores- amongst the bins, hangers and occasional folded piles- I can frequently be found- daydreaming.  This yellow set comes from the one run by a local seniors group that supports their community health program.  It is a set of Columbia Ski pants (with bib) and matching winter jacket.  I've found that it is typical that groups that run thrift stores try to charge less for the childrens clothes.  This one charges between a quarter and fifty cents per piece of kids clothes.  It may have been worn a few times one season.

The other local one is run by the Catholic Church in the neighboring town. They sell their clothes by the pound. Uh Huh. Sometimes a quarter a pound. Sometimes fifty cents.  I once got a garbage bag full of boys clothes for $3.50.  They do price their outer wear a bit different.

I've been searching for an 18mo, everyday-ish warm jacket.  I've been scouting the thrifts. I didn't want a new one, cause, I don't think he'll be in that size too long. Each day they open (oh ya- they usually have funky hours) I run in, and see if there are any new ones on the racks. I've found some over the weeks but not any that I liked or were in a condition I'd take home.  Until this little gem.

London Fog 18m Water resistant, Orange Fleece Lined $2
Who knew London Fog made kids coats?

I know that there are "logical"  and "Good community" reasons to shop at these types of stores.
  • great savings on wardrobe
  • kids grow fast they grow out of clothes before the clothes wear out (especially ones coming home internationally)
  • It basically ends up being like renting the clothes as I'll bring the good ones back as soon as he grows out of them
  • Volunteer lead- good community outreach purposes

Yes. I found all those to be true.   You want to know WHY I ended up at these places?
  • The only thing I felt like I could do FOR him, was get his clothes
  • Great day dreaming time
  • Call it therapy

These are 2 of my fav's. Only the olive pants were new from Mardens. THRIFT STORES RULE!

I'll refrain from showing you his closet. Mostly cause it's my closet too and that part is messy. His section(s) is neat as a pin.  To give you an idea of what good stuff you can find with a little time, patience and day dreaming determination... these totes are full of clothes that aren't (obviously) in his closet:

They are organized by Tops or Bottoms and then by size with the totes labeled on the outside at the point the size changes. My crap is lucky to get washed and folded before it gets tossed in a tote for the next season...

I'm really going to enjoy having my Boy here to care for.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

October Update- It's Official

Today's update for my family and friends includes:
  • Court & Travel info
  • I Wonder
  • Know one Told me
  • Hot Links and Photos
  • List of Stuff for Travel

Most of you are now aware that it is "officially official".  The Boy and I have passed and been approved in Ethiopian court. The Ministry of Women's affairs is right now, issuing his birth certificate, with me listed as parent. (collective aawwww)  As soon as his birth certificate is in hand- the last 'official' business belongs in the hands of the US Gov't (Embassy in Addis Ababa).  Specifically an immigrant visa will be applied for and issued. The 'applied' for part is likely happening now-- the 'issued' part will happen when I travel to bring him here.  Still expect to travel before end of year.

My brother, Ryan is definitely joining me on the trip!  THANKS RY!!  He'll be, understandably, not staying at the agency guest house. Consider the possibility of: 10 families, with scared kids, vomiting, screaming at these alien-ish white people who keep trying to squeeze them.... Sound like peace and quiet?   He will still be able to participate in all the scheduled 'activities'.  (edited later: he did stay. and was wonderful!)

Lately, I've been feeling .. URGENT.  Urgency permeates everywhere.  Urgent, in packing and getting ready to have a little one living in my house. Urgent, at work, preparing to be out for considerable amount of time. It will die down.. I should say... I will settle down... soon. I just need to get a couple key things checked off and I'll feel much better.

Yes this is great!  This is exciting!  

But I must admit this writing this now is difficult for a couple reasons- My brain is on overdrive. Being reflective- eloquent- is appearing on my screen as short, quick- mechanical. I have 100 lists of things going on and everything looks like one more line item to be 'checked off'.  

Overdrive!!  There is so much to prepare for. So much I'm still learning- relearning-  I'm doing the 'right' thing and preparing for the worst- while expecting the best. (note: 'the worst' isn't the right term- maybe "preparing for that which would be require the most preparation'... but you are adults and get my point) 

As exciting as this time is: preparing for ALL THE POSSIBILITIES of what my son will need/react to is ... DAUNTING and INTIMIDATING and HEAVY and SCARY AS HELL!!  These last couple weeks, being buried in the preparation for the hard stuff- it's hard to write to you about the exciting stuff. But - we are all aware that there is hard stuff. He comes from - a hard place - he's lost more than anyone I've ever known in my life - he'll lose more - this is not his choice - this, coming to America, may cause more trauma.. All I can do is prepare, to get him and myself through it - stronger - better - tighter - happy - loving - joyful on the other side.

A fellow adopting mom, reminded me lately: that all the reading and studying we've done simply tells us love, patience, prayer, humility and professional help are the keys we need.  Thanks Staci! PROFESSIONAL HELP! Housekeepers, cleaners, babysitters- (YES YES YES) Therapists (don't forget to keep and have your own!), OT, PT, Speech/Language, a REEALLY good and invested and listening Pediatrician, pay your friends if you need to but keep in touch!!!

 I wonder... (edited April 2012)
  • will he understand what is happening? No. He didn't really. He knew "something"
  • will he be scared? Yes. He seemed happy. Looking back at photos, I know he was scared. And on 'show'
  • does he feel alone or does he know what love feels like? He was ready to leave the orphanage. but... there are many questions that will never have answers
  • is he ready to be a family of two? More than two years later, I can say yes. It's been a good, long two years.
  • how many times has he thought he was home, safe, before...? may never know. As I hear him laugh to curi0s Ge0rge now, I still struggle with the never really knowing.
  • what does his laugh sound like? beautiful. heartwarming. and now... most often real.
  • how long till he lets me rock him to sleep?Approx. 2 years
  • will he play with my fingers or my hair as he drifts off to sleep? No. Fat rolls, moles and breasts! Good Lord.... whodathunk
  • how long till he rejects me? 4-6 weeks. It went downhill from there. Down to foundation and then we built us back up together.
  • how long will the honeymoon phase last? I'm mostly fuzzy about the entire first 6-9 months.
  • will he be ready to settle in to being in a family? Two years later, I can say with certainty. NOW, yes. Then... he had no idea what was going along and just along for the ride.
  • is he waiting for me? yes. he was.
  • how will he learn what a good father- good son- good husband- good partner- good boyfriend- good man, acts like? Treats those he loves? I still do not have good answers for this. But the urgency is beating like a drum.
  • will I learn to take good enough care of him, his hair, his skin? yes. so far.
  • how will I deal with others when they don't think I do? I still don't know.
  • will he recognize me? Not really. But there is a story to this.
  • will he be happy to see me? Scared frozen. But warmed up quickly and is still reminding me of leaving and not coming back.
  • do the horrors of true starvation haunt him? YES. He doesn't have the textbook 'food issues' it's all much deeper as part of himself and the traumatic history.
  • will I ever "GET" how a 2 year old fights for his life? No. I still ache and sob imagining. But I still don't get it.
  • how long till I adjust to having a another human in my house? Still learning.
  • how long till he does the dishes on his own?   2 weeks!!

No one told me-
In lieu of writing any more: cause I'm clearly not doing much education right now...more.. rambling : I'm going to share some things from others families who have been there and done that. Below is some posts from other families entitled "Things no one ever told me" or "Things I wish I knew before being touched/ crushed/ bowled over, by adoption"  These are actual responses I've copied and pasted: 
  • No one told me how hard Russ and I would work to find new ways of parenting our children when the things that had worked so well with our first seven were not only unsuccessful, but detrimental.
  • No one ever told me that I might not love him right away. I had read about attachment on the child's part - but never that MY attachment may not be instant.
  • Likewise, no one told me how to deal with anxiety, night-terrors, pin worms, Guardia, ring worm, mollescum,  etc. And that was just the first week he was home. Learning those ropes on my own was the hardest thing I ever had to do.
  • And no one told me how cute little boys look in their pajamas.
  • No one told me that my daughter would look at me after 3.5 years of being home and say "I can't believe you love me" or that even today (after almost 4 years) she still shrinks away when I go to hug her.
  • I did not know that the echoes of the boys, the same age as my boys, surrounding the van and begging for food- would haunt me each time I opened the refrigerator or throw something away.
  • I wish I had an inkling as to how instantly bonded I would become to other adoptive parents. There's a level of connection that can't be described, only experienced.
  • that for adopted kids, talking about it helps, but nothing "cures" adoption loss.
  • that children are not "meant to be" adopted, they do not grow in the "wrong tummy" as a way-station to adoptive parents' homes. My loving God did not want my children's birth parents or my children to suffer pain and loss just so I could be a mommy.
  • that what you feel when you look at a referral picture isn't love, that love grows as your child becomes a real person to you, not an abstract idea, and that love means accepting unconditionally all parts of your child -- their birth parents, their life before you met, their loss, their pain, their anger, their joy.
  • that one day I would wonder, when people ask me how many children I have, I proudly say, "Two!!", but when people ask their birth parent this, will she pause as a dagger stabs her heart, unsure how to respond?
  • As the white one, I'll never really understand what it's like to be a transracial adoptee. Never.
  • That it is a tight-rope walk trying to decide what is age appropriate behavior and what is the result of early life experiences of which I know nothing about.
  • I wish I had known as a child, with an internationally adopted sister, that race does matter.  It's part of how you view the world & how the world views you & to ignore that is damaging to everyone.
  • No one told me that I would feel stretched so far, and yet know I was doing just what God had called me to do.
  • No one told me that there were adult adoptees that were very angry (some for very valid reasons) and that they would make me question everything I am doing- to make sure my kids grow up happy and healthy
  • No one told me that after 30 months - I would get my first spontaneous hug without being asked and then sit in my chair and cry.
  • No one told me that the parenting techniques I had used successfully with our first four children wouldn't work well with adopted kids. Sometimes these techniques that seemed to shape our first four kids well would be damaging for our adopted kids.
  • No one told me I would cry the first time I heard mama and knew it meant me, got my first real kiss or watched them reach for me because it was me they truly wanted and not who they knew
  • Race does matter, it just does. It's a part of identity and soul and how we all view the world.
  • I didn't really think I'd have to change my parenting style but adoption parenting is very different from parenting my bio sons.
  • I didn't think I would have to deal with attachment issues in a child adopted at a very young age.
  • I didn't know I would feel so annoyed every time someone tells me how wonderful I am for adopting or how lucky my daughter is.  I'm selfish & she lost her birth family & culture.  What's lucky about that?
  • I didn't know how thankful I would be for my friends who are parents through adoption & all the wisdom they have shared with me.
  • I did not know how deeply and across the board visiting Ethiopia would change every aspect of my life
  • I did not know how hard the hard days would be
  • I did not know how deep the demons of starvation run through children's veins
  • I did not know how frustrated I could become
  • I did not know that watching Morgan Yisak fight off love and protection would remind me of what I do to God on a regular basis

Sorry this update feels a little 'heavy'. It's just how I am these days- I'm so focused on the urgency and getting things done I complete forgot this is Halloween..   But the fog is already starting to lift.   As I get a few more things checked off the list- I'll soon venture out of the 'worst case scenario' area and get ready to pick him up.  Things could go very smoothly. He could be waiting and ready to attach. Excited to get on a place. Have no food / hunger issues. It is just as likely that he will be happy and ready for a family and soon he'll be here. YAY!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I am yours! We are Court APPROVED!

Is odd as it will sound in the future- its exciting and a huge relief to tell you- we have been approved in Ethiopian court to be a family.  As I write this today- October 23rd 2009- I have tears rolling down my face as I look at this picture of you. These two pictures are the only paper images I've been given of you. But there are so many other images in my heart and mind.

It is an odd and surreal - this path that has brought us together as family.  I know we will struggles- have our fights- days of rejection- misunderstandings.  I also know that we will have Love- joy - laughter -kindness- generous times and moments of deep understanding and compassion. I promise you today- that I will cherish them all. The tough and the easy. I promise you today to stand by you- protect you- guide you- comfort you- nourish you- sooth you- nurse you- teach you.

God has clearly- lead us together. I am full of hope that one day you will understand the how clear this is to me today. That you will clearly know it for yourself.


I love you today. I choose to love you everyday from here forward.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Eh- ness

For at least two weeks now.  "Eh".


It seems to have settled in. Taken hold for a little while. Oddly. I also have a sort of peace in this adoption process. I know that I know that I know... it will work in His time. The only right time.

It's the Day in Day out. I'm admittedly struggling with the day to day. Every fiber in my being wants to be nesting. Doing all these little things that in the end just prepare for the 'later'. But I spend my 8-10 or more hours a day at work. And I love my job. I know in my bones it has great purpose. I work for to support my alma mater.  I rejoice on payday only to remind myself that I am grateful to have a job and have a job that is challenging.

At the same time- the Mother Nesting thing is kicking in full drive. Nothing else seems to matter much. I mean. It all matters. But- the priority of nesting. The Priority of taking care of the few things I can take care of- is the only driving force right now. Its the only thing moving me.  Moving me.  Keeping me moving.

So in an attempt to survive: Next week I start creating a leave plan. Start building my ideal leave plan so that I don't leave my people in the lurch. So that things progress. So that it's better when I return.  Cope. Survive. Move.

ps- i've scheduled this to post during the weekend I'll be spending 30+ hours working... and social worker arrives Tuesday for HomeStudy update.  ugh  if only we didn't have to eat or sleep- imagine who much we could get done!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Follow your nose...

The blog is titled "Not all who wander are lost."  Apparently that has a spiritual meaning - For me it is literal. Literally. Not everyone who wanders is- necessarily lost.

Feeling the NEED to know where I am, can tend to cause me anxiety. You must know the feeling. Someone asks "Where are you??"  You look at the map. You look at the road. Don't see any town markers. Hmm. "I don't know exactly?"   They reply "Well how long till you get there?"  Hmm.  "Don't know."  Now up to that point, you know you are on the right road -and until you started questioning what point on the map indicates where you are, your were content in your journey.  But now, you start to wonder? "Where am I?"  Natural instincts get buried by second guessing. Drowned by worrying that other people are concerned where you are. "What does that sign say?" "Is that a short cut?" "Maybe I should go back?"  No longer are you, contently, quietly, enjoying the journey.       (recognizing a parallel here?)

Remember these lessons:
Lesson #1- Don't question own instincts.
Lesson #2- Don't worry about other peoples worries.  Cause... well it screws up Lesson #1


Sunday, Brother Mike (in law) and myself- loaded up the Mtn. Bikes and drove out the Private gravel Rd to the Youth Fish and Game at Pond and cabin. He wanted to go for a bike ride. Now, Mike has been riding for some time. Tooling around on the local land trusts in his town. Me. I've been sitting on my toucas for a year blogging, filling out paperwork and reading mindless FaceBook updates.  To say my FITNESS level is substantially below par, would be an understatement. But I don't question it and out I go. Follow my nose.

Mind you, Mike will deny it, but he's still a Jersey boy. So I went out so he wouldn't get lost and cause it provides me someone to explore with. Normally I'd go out exploring on foot and as pretty as it would be, I can get further on bike.

Normally on foot, being alone- if you met me on the trail, I'd look like a geek. I'm over prepared, with all my 'just in case' gear- safety whistle- bear bell- GPS- food- extra clothes- flashlights- maps- you name it- I found a way to load it in my little pack.

Packing for this day- I realize= "I'm not alone! I don't have to bring everything!" Cool.

Fast forward to unloading the bikes:  "Uh oh. Forgot the GPS, Maps and snacks"  "That's ok- we'll just follow our own tracks back."  Our gear consists of, 2 cellphones (sketchy service at best mostly none!) each a bottle of water, 2 pairs of gloves, and 2 headbands to keep ears warm. Thats it. No food. Map. GPS. Extras. Ahhh, no worries. Off we go in 40 degree weather on a beautiful October day.

We travel this little "road" that is along a natural Esker (anyone know what that is?). Go a little too far (whole different story). Track back a bit and think "Hmm- wonder where this path goes". Oh it was gorgeous. We road and road through these birch patches with yellow leaves. Alder stretches in different phases of foliage change.  Stretches of open with drying out grasses, as they ready for the winter.

I start to tire. Some of the hills I have to walk up. I'm slowing down.

Eventually we come to a split in the path. The trail we were on, meets up with a familiar snowmobile trail, I've traveled a few times, not often this far out, but it's still familiar.  I instinctively head west. Knowing it will bring us out closer to home than where we started, but we'd been riding 3 hours now and it was time to head towards getting home. Or at least where we don't have to ride anymore. Plus we can always get a ride back to my truck.

Mike read the signs, nailed to the trees. He thinks- we should head East.

Mistake- Ignored Lesson #1. I question the instincts and follow Mike.

Now. Either way would have brought us out to where we needed to go- but this loop that we are now on is 30 miles. 30 miles on rough path. Through the mud. Undulating. Crossing washouts. Tree jumping 30 miles. So the question is.... where are you on the loop and which direction are you now going?

Answer:  The looooooooong way around. I'm now pedaling with 2 highly exausted legs that are contemplating going on strike. I have to walk up any slight incline. Any little undulation- I have NO POWER. I wasn't scared. I was too tired to be scared.

I was hungry. But was reminded that I knew my hunger was temporary. I was too tired to care about the hunger much. Even if I was cold for a night- even if I was hungry. It would pass. I wasn't alone. I had plenty of fat storage to last and make it through. I knew it would pass. I wouldn't be lost forever. I wouldn't be lost for long. (thoughts wander to those who always wonder if there will be another day with food. those who are alone. those who KNOW the pain will NOT go away)

I should have followed my gut and stayed West.

We got to a point that was impassable. In an attempt to find away around, enough time was wasted that the sun was beginning to set. We need to find a way out fast. We back tracked.  About 5 miles back there was a small section on a spur of a 'road' (i put that in quotes cause they are more widened glorified ATV trails to you city slickers) so we make a run for it.

We made it. And shortly after heading West on that 'road' - my dad comes barreling around the corner. Apparently he's been out looking for us for over 2 hours at this point. Over 5 hours after hopping on bikes- I jumped in a pick up truck and headed home.

Was I lost?  No.  The Wardens Search and Rescue wasn't involved so I'm not counting it. Consider it a long day wandering in the great outdoors! 

I was on the proper path all along. Just didn't get where I was headed in the time frame I thought I would. (insert knowing sighs from adoptive parents everywhere) We had a great time until I got a call from my brother worried about where we were, or weren't. We were always on the right path- but I questioned my instinct and headed the wrong way.

Lesson #1- Don't question your instincts.
Lesson #2- Don't worry about other peoples worries.

EDITED TO ADD:  Maybe the lesson is- stop listening to everyone else.?? (easier said than done)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Jersey World or is it New Disney?

This is awkward to write. It sounds awkward. But it felt so nice. So new. So encouraging somehow.  Forgive me for it being completely politically incorrect. I'm being genuine.

You see- Last week, I drove to southern New Jersey for an Alumni event. I took the opportunity to stay with one of my high school friends and her family. It was wonderful to spend time with her. She had it tough growing up. To say the least. But I can write a whole ode to Randa on another day.

To say there is a 'lack of diversity' in my homeland- would be an understatement. (For the record: I dislike the word "diversity". For some reason it doesn't sit right with me ...)  It's discouraging- given what is to change in my life. But it is what it is- and I go forward.

Randa lives in a beautiful area. One of those cookie cutter neighborhoods with matchy street names- but an established, well maintained - safe, not creepy kind of place. As the sun rose, I walked outside to the car. Taking in the warm morning air - I looked across to the neighbors yard and watched the kids and a dad kicking the ball around their white picket fenced yard.  Older guy, I thought. I wonder if they are grand kids. He's keeping up with them pretty good for an older fella. HEY! (excited reality setting in) They're brown! They are brown! Randa has brown neighbors!!  I practically skipped through the yard.

Color. Oh the color!!  I loved the all the colors I saw. The brown skinned neighbors. The bright colors in the scarves of the Muslim women. The many accents of those at the CVS, different than those at the gas stations.  The mixing of English with any number of other languages.  Forgive me- but I felt like a 5 year old at Disney World!!!

Of course, there are many races, religions, accents, here. In fact we have the 2nd largest Somali population outside of Somalia itself. The large nearby college does an admirable job *recruiting a diverse population*. The Muslim women locally where beautiful head scarves. We have a new mosque that serves the college and surrounding community - but even so- ... lily white mill towns make up the majority of our small population.

Its awkward to admit that when I notice a person of color in Sunday Mass, I want to skip over and sit next to them. I don't. But I must admit- it makes me so happy - I'm almost giddy.

I find myself being extra nice. An extra smile. Greeting. "Go ahead. You first." if I notice the person next to me, or serving me doesn't fall into the lily white world I normally live in.

You know when you go to a museum, or show and come away surprisingly happy, moved, motivated. You didn't go in expecting anything - but you are all a chatter with the things you saw!  You know that feeling?    That was my trip to New Jersey.

Here is the uncomfortable- odd - thing:   It feels wrong attaching these adjectives to human beings. Individuals. It isn't right to think look- "New!" "Different!" Gawk like a start struck teenager. These are people, for crying out loud.

As 'exciting' as it may have been. It still makes me wonder- how will he do? How will he feel, being the one stared at. He'll look different. Refreshing. Exciting. Different. Exotic. Regardless of motive. He'll stand out here. No way around that.

It is beautiful here. And family is family.  Its just very very white.

Some say- "No don't leave- we need you here. If all the people of color leave an area, for a place with more color.... it leaves this place whiter. Who else will come if you leave?"  And yet- is that a decision to make for him. That he must be the *magnet*? That he will be the different one? I don't know. I don't know the answer. Not yet. Maybe never. Right now. I think it is important to question it and look at it.  sigh. 

Here is the other sort of weird part. When I graduated college- I was recruited to go directly to New Jersey and work. I suffered from culture shock so badly- I turned my car back north 365 days after arrival.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fightin' Mad

I admit. I'm in fightin' mode.  I'm ready to pick a fight. Argue. Yell. Fein offense- just to get into it with someone.

It's unlike me. It is not my favorite part of me. It pisses me off. Catch-22

Quick trigger
Short Temper

Add any number of adjectives. That's me that last couple weeks. I wish it wasn't. It will go away. I know it will. It takes work- and time is something that is tight this time of year. Need to take some time and enjoy the fall. I haven't hiked in a REALLLLLLLLYY long time. It purges my brain. Opens it up. Lightens it. Rejuvenates the body and soul.

Lost. Lost is how I feel. Pushing hard on someone else's path. One of those walks that leaves me wondering "WHERE THE HECK AM I!"  (If you're a long time reader- you know this question is one that I generally find useless. Falling in one of 2 catagories- LAUGHABLE or FEAR INDUCING. ) 

I wonder how much this has to do with my 'T'. Ethiopia has pushed back start of court dates. I was so hoping for an Oct/ early November date. It is still possible. He has been without a family for sooooooo long now. Way too long. Longer than most in his orphanage. Hope. Hope. Walk in Faith. Move. Move.

This will pass. It will. It has lingered longer than I can afford. But right now- I want to fight. Fight for my child. Fight for him. AAAAAAAAARRRRGGGG!!!!  

Force for Sale: Michael Harvey Photography

If you are of praying heart- Pray for him. Pray for his peace. Pray that he feel the love in his heart despite it all. Pray for his joy. And pray for me. Pray that I feel it too- so that I can be the Momma he needs- deserves.

officially giving up the misery. It's too costly and I'm too cheap to pay the price!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

September Update- Lacking a Witty Title

Well the last update was exciting!  It's a tough act to follow. But- we'll do our best!

Photo album filled with pictures that was included in the care package I sent him.


When I started these updates, the purpose was three-fold:
   1- to keep you all updated on my personal family building journey
   2- to provide you the opportunity to get invested and attached to my children
   3- to provide a means for us to learn, how to be supportive of other adoptive families. 

Keeping #3 in mind, I sometimes struggle with how to word things. As you know- it takes a lot to get me upset. A lot to offend me. Among today's regular updates, we'll cover a few things today that will provide an opportunity to learn a bit about #3. Cause if it's sensitive to me- imagine what it does to normal families!?!?!?

Some of you have mentioned that you don't ask about him- because you figure everyone asks the same thing and it must be annoying.  In fact I like that you are invested enough to ask. There are some things I won't or can't answer - but those are few and far between.

Now that we have a picture to fawn over- the questions have come fast. Things will be changing quickly soon, so rather than get behind, I'll try and cover all that has been asked since last update:

How am I?
Today- eh. I'm a little sad. I want him home- actually- I just want to be there- with him.  I have small infrequent bouts of "eh- ness". Usually I'm happy and excited. Not scared or nervous. Just happily taking it a day at a time alternating with overwhelmed from everything I need to get done before travel.

What is next?
Courts in Ethiopia close for the rainy season. It is anticipated they will open the first week of October. At some point after that we will be assigned a court date. After we pass court (some other behind the scenes stuff happens) we will be assigned an embassy visa date. The Embassy Visa date will indicate when I need to travel. I'll be traveling for 10-14 days. The agency is telling me to expect to travel after the new year. I, on the other hand, am Hopeful for December. Bold. Yes. But Hopeful!!!

Will you be able to take time off?
Yes. Todd, Dorothy and I will discuss details after we have a better time frame.

"So what happened to his family? Do you know? Do they tell you? Is his family all dead?" (this is one of those #3 things.)

This is a difficult question to answer - for a number of reasons. It is not a casual conversation. It requires consideration and thought. Depending on the situation and person asking- the response will vary. Usually this is asked by someone in a casual group setting and I may be heard responding with "It's not a question I'm ready to answer yet." It's true - and really - it may be someone who should not have this type of personal information anyway.  If we are talking in a considerate, quiet setting, I can try to answer. But it is not simple. And yet I hesitate- because I do NOT want to infer that there is or should be anything 'secretive'. It is a delicate balance.(Respecting #3- many other families will read this as being a nosy callous none-of-your-business question- rather than just curiosity.  Be sensitive.)

This is what I feel very comfortable share: (To fellow adopters- in the note to family and friends I identified innocuous details to share. A date or two. Age. Diagnosis. Description.  I've shared 3 details that are personal but not harmful or necessarily private.  I've obviously removed them for blog purposes. Family are curious. Personally, its a better alternative to feeling like there is an air of "secrecy".  We have to be confident in where we draw the boundary lines for our children. I expect there will still be moments of being uncomfortable- but being confident in our decision of where those boundaries are is most important)

Consider: 40, 30, 20 years ago when a child was adopted all personal and family history was locked up in storage and stayed there, intended to never be seen by the child or either of the families. No history of the child ever existed. It was locked away – erased… ignored.

Now- we know after years of doing it wrong- there are better ways. It's not perfect- but better. Now, I have been entrusted with his information. His history. It is my job to raise this child with his history INTACT.  There, is the catch.    Keeping his history intact.

We, here in the US, have no context in which to understand the complex life situations for families in a country on the other side of the world. There is no way we can understand the cultural impacts, the family dynamics, the community pressures.  There is no way you can expect to learn a few facts about how a child comes into care without automatically inferring *what that means* or assuming some other things go hand in hand.  It is hard for me to not do that and I've had almost 2 years of cultural training to prepare.

T will be raised knowing his history. I will do everything possible to provide cues that perpetuate the memories while he is learning a new life, new language, new family, new environment... T will then have a safe loving supportive family and friends in which to ask questions and share his family, his history- with us. I expect we'll all learn a bit about his life before us. (LBU) But- the catch is keeping it intact in HIS head, HIS heart, so when he can finally express it- he feels safe doing so - without our input and false impressions. Just our support, love, comfort and understanding.

"Your adopting? Well that must be expensive!?" "How much does that cost?" followed by "You shouldn't be spending money on that! You need to save your pennies!"

I have heard this twice now and I'm honestly not sure how happy I am with how I've handled it. The snarky side of me wants to answer these things by saying--- I can't imagine someone commenting to my mother, on her nice new van- asking how much it cost her and asking her to justify buying it when she's out of work and dad is retiring.  You are aghast just thinking about it aren't you.?.?  I try not to be snarky.... all the time.

If someone is truly interested in adopting, I am more than willing to have a meaningful conversation about what to expect financially.  Each state, country and agency is different so it is a complicated issue... but very manageable.  – I’m capable and willing to have a meaningful conversation with families considering taking this path.  This is another one of those sensitive ones for families (#3). 

If you are really interested in my finances- I have 2 plane tickets left to fund. If you have ideas on how to accomplish that let me know. It will all work out, though.

Exciting news?

During the midst of my nightmare called 'child care shopping' - a couple has offered to provide T's child care. We will work out the details later- but this will be a good fit for a boy (and his Momma) in transition.

Another couple has donated their unused travel medications saving me $60+ in co-pays.  So I now have most of my shots done (yay!) and I'm armed with Malaria meds, Cipro and a Lice Shampoo kit (I swear- I may really freak out on that one!! Give me Giardia. Give me Malaria. Give me Ringworm. Just keep the Lice!)

Another couple has graciously committed to taking care of/donating T's plane ticket home. Yeah. That is huge. HUGE. I was overwhelmed. Literally.

All of that happened in one week. What a relief.  I lost 100 pounds of burden that week. (the scale has yet to show it- it just takes a few days to catch up)

"Have you hear anything new about him? What is he doing now?" T- Update
The couple that sent me their travel meds- the momma met 'T'. She reported him as tired and crying at potty time. So while all the toddlers were lined up sitting on their pot chairs -she rubbed his back till he fell asleep, bent over on his legs. This was the only update on had on him for some time. It made me sad, for a couple days, wondering who was going to be there for him the next day...

I also received a bit of a social report with small indications that he is understanding the Nannies but he isn't attempting to speak to them. His first language is different than what the Nannies are speaking so this is normal. Christy reviewed it as well and she agrees that he is socializing and responding, so all looks on target. It states he is generally happy and playful. (sigh)

Our own Laird Hamilton enjoy the end of the summer

Some of you have asked repeatedly what you can do.  Have patience with me. There is so much I have to do! I'm truly a little overwhelmed in trying to organize it all.  This is the busiest time of year for me at work - all at the same time of trying to turn the trailer over to it's winter set up & Get the garage ready for winter and get the house ready for a 2 year old.  Things typically take me 4 times longer than they do most people so - I feel the need to do this early as I fully expect I'll get more scatterbrained the closer we get to traveling.

One of the things you can do is to help me in -Preparing to travel - Its been suggested to send the list of needs to family and friends and provide a drop off area. Good Idea! It seems silly to purchase luggage or tea just for the trip if some of you have a couple tea bags and luggage I could maybe borrow. (ok- not that you'd want the tea back... but you get my point.) So how does the front porch of the trailer sound for a drop off? Big and little- anything you can do to pitch in is a gift and blessing I can never repay. Thank you! We are on our way to bringing him home!

For not having any title to this one- I certainly went on long enough!

  • 2 XLarge Luggage pieces with wheels
  • Travel/Passport Wallet
  • Small "fanny' pack
  • 220 volt electrical Converter
  • Non Aerosol high concentrate Deet bugspray
  • Misquito netting
  • Small umbrellas
  • Bag 'o goodies aka "Stuff to keep kid happy on 21 hour transit"
  • Long skirt (big enough to fit me) (broomstick /hippie style one)
  • Kids Tylenol
  • Dry powder Pediacare/Propel
  • Immodiam AD (tablets)
  • Wet wipes
  • Small anti bacterial stuff
  • Diaper rash crème
  • Anti fungal crèmes (Clortrimazole)
  • Chamomile Tea
  • Benedryl
  • Pepto Bismal
  • Neosporin
  • Bandaids
  • Lightweight robe
  • Head scarf
  • Small Nalgene like bottle
  • 4 -RW CD's
  • PinkEye meds?
  • Sml First Aid kit
  • Sml Flashlight
  • Walkman CD player (iPod requires charging and electricity is scarce)
  • Batteries
  • Small Kleenex packs
  • Cloth Diapers/burp cloths (airplane sick cleanup)