Sunday, April 26, 2009

April Update... Family & Friends

Thursday the 30th marks the officially 4th month of 'waiting'. I have no idea what lies ahead or how long this path is. Each month there are more milestones to celebrate and occasions to be involved. April has been no exception.

I had a fun day a couple weeks ago, when I traveled to So. Portland with local friends Ashlee, Ryan & their 3 year old son Feleke who came home in August. We spent the day with a growing group of Ethiopian Adoptive families playing in the pool and eating Ethiopian food. The amazing “ASMARA” restaurant catered the lunch. They serve Ethiopian (Eritrean) food, which I admit to finding addicting. It’s on Oak Street in Portland (near Civic Center) and is worth the trip if you get the chance to try it out.

Begrudging the over saturated: I can’t let the month pass without somehow addressing the whole “Madonna/Malawi” issue. Others have far more educated and eloquently stated the obvious and insightful. Primarily these two.
(click on the name for the articles)

Randy Cohen of the Ethicist

Marathon Monday was great cause for celebration for Ethiopians! Both the women's and men's classes carried high competition from many Ethiopian runners. The top Ethiopian Woman placed 2nd collapsing at the line. While the top Ehiopian man finished First!!

Last month, a woman passed away. A women that most within the adoption world hold in high regard for her role in history. She was known, as Haregewoin Teferra. ‘An Ethiopian woman who found herself at the heart of a global crisis.' At the depth of her life despair, she was shown her mission, her gift, her life. A very telling book, “There is No Me Without You”, by Melissa Fay Greene captures many aspect of her life, yet only the tip of those effected by her mission.

The book is almost required reading for internationally adopting families by now. I highly recommend it. I’ve read it twice now. It was too good to put down. I have 2 copies of the book I would love to loan to you and I’m sure the library may be able to get it on cd.

I've received a few repeating questions lately. I'll do my best to answer them here, perhaps more intelligently than I have in the past.
Note: Feel free to ask away. Some answers are harder to give than others, but by searching for the answers it helps others too.

How much longer? If you are a logical thinker, looking at the spread, the bookies would lay odds on about this time next year. Yes. A year. If I listen to the timelines, calculate those ahead of me, account for age range, substitute variables. . . yada yada yada. . . the result will just drive us all crazy. REMEMBER: There is a great deal of this process that has nothing to do with steps, red tape, or time lines.

You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them. ~Desmond Tutu

Children are God’s gift. As are my children. This will happen, simply, when it is time. Not before. Not after. It will happen when the time is right. It may be sooner. It may be later. And I’m ok with that. I have ground to cover. Paths to cross. Mountains to climb. Reminding myself with each step, it is the journey that gives the venture its worth.

What I’m not, right now, is anticipating about what does or does not, lie ahead. This is somewhat odd for me. Anxiety has a way of messing with many aspects of my life. So this is oddly surreal, but good.

Ultimately, I am thankful for this attitude. What may seem as lack of engagement is, I believe, the gift of peace. I feel peaceful about this adoption. I have felt God's hand throughout this journey and continue to feel comfortable in the timing.

I was so naive when I started this process. I thought it would be 'easy' - 6 to 9 months and boom! Family. In a way, I'm glad it wasn't so easy. I don't think I respected the sacredness of what is going on. Half-way around the world, a family is going through trauma. My family is being born out of that trauma. There will be joy, but right now, there is pain beyond what I can understand.

“The path as it lays before me appears trodden under my feet. Ahead though, many trees and plants that hide the path ahead of me. I have no fear because the light at my feet shows me those steps I must take first. So, I do not care of the steps in my path that are not yet lit. It is a journey of rejuvenation.” -Unknown or Kampossible

Am I excited?!?!!? The easy answer is yes. Of course I am incredibly grateful to be starting my family. It is thrilling and feels right. The true answer is complicated. I’m keenly aware that adoption, by definition, is a result of: Great Loss. Excruciating Pain. Undeniable Sacrifice. This is the reality adoptive parents recognize. It is not the part of the process that I expect you all to understand or want to hear so I won’t mention it any further. I simply make note so that you are conscious about my hesitation in the answer of: Are you getting excited?

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Waiting is our destiny as creatures who cannot by themselves bring about what they hope for. We wait in the darkness for a flame we cannot light; we wait in fear for a happy ending we cannot write. We wait for a not yet that feels like a not ever. Waiting is the hardest work of hope."
- Lewis Smedes

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thank God I'm a Country Girl...

Does not wanting to ‘climb the ladder’ right now, make me un-ambitious?

Tonight I went to a dinner on campus. The plan I had, was to go early, make the rounds, be seen and say hello to as many as possible and leave before the program portion of the awards dinner started. Unfortunately, they decided to assign seats. Normally not a big deal, except I found I was seated in the very front table, obviously reserved for the mucky mucks of my states largest university.

As I was there representing the Alumni Association (and more importantly my boss)- I was in a pickle and not being there may have been more obvious than I’d hoped.

I do not intimidate easily. I wasn’t intimidated this evening.

These are highly intellectual and intelligent people. The heady-est people in a whole room of very heady higher ed intellects. The best analogy I can come up with is, I’m a little kid who got seated at the adult table.

No. I was at the correct table. But I can’t help thinking they all wished Todd had been there instead. He’s a great entertainer and thought provoker at these things. Of course all I had to offer was sarcastic wit. Not to worry. I did my best to keep that to myself.

Ask a couple probing question. (hoping ignorance isn’t obvious)

The whole thing made me wonder, why do I not want to be like these people? Why don’t I want to learn more about what it is they are talking about so I can participate in these negotiations and conversations? Does that make me less at my job?

I’m so happy (for the most part) doing what I do now. I’ve learned to care about my job for the same reasons that I care about the people in my life. I’ve been truly blessed to have a boss that is also a great friend. I’ve met people through my job, that inspire me every single day. I’ve been given the opportunity to see through the eyes who have gone before me. I’ve learned that in order to stay happy in my job and the days I spend performing it, my focus must be on those who I care about. I care that my boss is successful. I care that the staff has a good day. I care that our Alumni are involved. (There are so much more areas that I, of course, care about, but I also have to limit what I try to influence or I get not happy.)

I had seasons of ladder climbing ambition. Becoming. Changing. because of what seemed “expected”. Trying to “improve” in order to get better and make an impression. I think this was normal and necessary to a degree, in terms of learning and growing some professional skills.

Now, it all feels different.

It feels odd to try and aspire to be what others want me. I do not feel motivated to create myself in their image. Does that make me un-ambitious?
I don’t think so.

But I’m not sure.

The truly un-ambitious, annoy me. Those short seasons where I lack purpose, motivation and drive. Those are dark seasons in which I do not like myself and do not stay long. People who mask a lack of Purpose as a “laid back attitude”, literally drive me crazy.

The ambition that drives me, is truly internal. Moving me with purpose to be the person that lives in my heart. The ambition that drives me is not necessarily professionally progressing.

I am striving hard right now. Pushing to grow. Running a marathon to be a great teacher, provider, nurturer, nurse, mother. Does that make me less valuable as an employee?

Sometimes I wonder.

What I know is:

I like sarcastic wit.

I like self- deprecating humor.
I prefer a pair of jeans and a fleece to a suit.
I prefer TV, Movies and Music over great literature.
I prefer a good bloody Hockey scrap over a debate.
I prefer a beer at the bar over cocktail parties.
I prefer food I can eat with my hands over 4 course dinners.
I prefer dirt roads to paved!

Intellectual. Nope. Not me.

(Note to self: This may have something to do why why you are still single???)

I can hang in those circles most of the time.
I've been there. Done that.

But, here's the kicker: It feels false. It feels wasteful. It feels like being forced to move backward. I've been there. You can debate issues all you want. I'll be at the bar laughing it up with my friends.

Existential quandaries are debated along these lines.

Exercising my mind.

Ritzy beach vacation.

Beer Dreams on Beer Budget.

Me & my heady colleagues.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Letter to Me...

I always wanted to adopt. That should be made clear, for posterity sake.

I was saddened and quite distraught when I (mistakenly) believed I was not eligible to adopt. I ventured into the more common (and un-common) means of family building.

I want to be clear. When I look back I want to make sure I remember that not being in touch with God and His plan, His timing, made me physically ill & emotionally empty.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

There Will Come a Day...

"There will come a Day" Do you now this song? Faith Hill sings it beautifully. I have it playing now to get me through this post. Blogging is sometimes odd.

I started this to track progress and keep family and friends in touch with the process and offer some learning tools on supporting other adoptive families. Sort of a "let's learn together". Also to chronicle my end of this journey to Ethiopia. I knew there would be many paths. Many unknowns. I just didn't prepare myself for the emotional effect each fall would take.
The "journal" aspect of blogging cannot be escaped... at least not by me.

The cathartic part of processing the cacophony echoing in my head is invaluable. Sending that out to the empty space and reaching out to other families that only they can truly relate to, is a release I hadn't counted on. A real blessing.

So how, do I try and keep family and friends involved and interested in the process without sucking the life out of their anticipation for the arrival of this child blessing?

There are times, like now, when I have to repeat positive mantras throughout the day, just so the overwhelming sadness part of adoption doesn't drop me to my knees in the middle of the day. When the sweet release of seeing families grow just stops happening. When it all seems to drift away as if it will never happen. What do I say to them during those bits of time? What do I post for them in an effort to be true and honest, yet not be the "Intense Ingrid" or "Debbie Downer" or "Nettie Negative"?

"You must be so excited!" Umm ya. I will be. But right now all I can think of is the heartbreak and struggle the family in Ethiopia is grappling with.

Not an answer that is fair to say casually. Not an answer that everyone is ready to hear. Not an answer that many will ever be. Only an answer that those out in the adoption world can truly grasp.

I have learned so much from the happy glossy joyful adoption blog posts. I have learned perhaps even more from the posts that grapple with emotion and struggles that often times only relate to those sensitive adoptive families. Thank you all for sharing. I hope someday I'll be as insightful to offer support & friendship to you.

Speaking of which... A group of Ethiopian Maine adoptive families got together for a big giant play date. The Holiday Inn Express was kind enough to offer a meeting room to eat lunch (Asmara's Ethiopian Food!!!) and the pool for the kids to go swimming. It was the first time I'd met this group. Even though many of them live 2+ hours away, I have to believe having this network will do wonders for my family in the future. I'm so greatful to have been invited to join and THRILLED that Ashlee, Ryan and Feleke agreed to come along. I so look forward to being able to someday offer support & friendship to these folks. Wow! Just thinking about this weekend, my mood has lifted! yay

There will come a day...
There will come a day..
This too shall pass..

This too shall pass..
Today I'm at peace and joyful..
Today I'm at peace and joyful..

Someday soon, the Sun will shine again. It will stop snowing and raining. I'll shake off the winter cobwebs. The beauty will show it's face again. I know it will and I will no longer be a Debbie Downer!