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!