Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas, Earrings and Bellyaches

We had a wonderful Christmas. It was more special, calm and comforting than I could have ever anticipated.

I was filled with anxiety leading up to it. There were moments when I thought that I couldn't do it. I wasn't strong enough for an American Christmas. We weren't strong enough. Not yet. We were in too deep to cancel.

People were thrilled for us. Our first Christmas. Together. As a family of four. I wanted to scream- DON'T YOU KNOW HOW TERRIBLY WRONG THIS COULD ALL GO?!

But, they didn't. How could they?

I felt lost. At times I felt very alone in my panic and deep breaths. A few times I misplaced tears and cried at little things. I was too stressed for words.

Tears poured as I was watching her first grade holiday performance. I was beyond proud. I kept flashing back to our Christmas one year before.  When I had to leave her. The most difficult time in my life. I hope my life is never that painful again, but my heartache was nothing compared to what she experienced. What she had already lost. My worst is nothing.
Loss is not relative. Pain is not relative.

Aster's performance was beautiful. She sang all of the chorus parts perfectly and quickly opened and closed her mouth - the worst lip synching possible - for the wordy parts. She stood tall and happy in her Christmas dress.
In between songs, children shared their letters to Santa. Every letter started the same, "For Christmas I would like to ask you for ___ for people who have less than me. I would like __ (fill in wii or iPod Touch or whatever)..."
I felt like I had been punched in the gut. It took me a few emotion filled moments to figure out why.
My daughter cannot tell the different between a bad tummy ache and being hungry- yet, she was coached to write a letter asking "Santa" to give people clothes. Santa never visited to give her food, yet he gives rich kids iPod Touches.
Pain is not relative. 
So much to explain.

Tonight we discussed the possibility of getting her ears pierced. When I told her she could pick earrings, she absolutely glowed.
My girl's ears were pierced before. Pierced, but she never got earrings. My little girl got her ears pierced and never got the reward of seeing shiny earrings sparkling from her ears- even for a moment,

"It was sad."

Looking into my soulful daughter's eyes- the eyes that are so full of love and genuine care for others- just reconfirms what I already know. Pain is not relative. Hurt is not relative. Love is not relative. My daughter's experiences have been extreme, too much, heartbreaking - but the result is extraordinary- she's breathtaking.

I heard you mommy. Who said that about me? Who said I will do amazing things?
I said it, baby.

She already has.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Almost exactly a year ago, I met my Aster for the very first time. For over two weeks, we visited the care center frequently. Knowing Aster a year later, I can't believe she's the same person. She appeared so strong, but many of her behaviors were simply a mixture of coping and surviving. No child should live in institutionalized care. Ever. The shorter the time, the better.
I fell in love with all of the children during those weeks. But, there was one boy that simply melted me. Perhaps I worried about him the most. He had such a gentle spirit. He was by far the oldest/biggest boy at the care center. I loved his eyes, the way he watched the other children play and his very shy smile. One day, when I walked by the children eating, I grabbed his foot and pretended to take a bite. He covered his mouth and let out a good laugh. It was that moment, hearing his sweet laugh, he had my heart completely. While in Ethiopia, I referred to him as, "my little bunny."
Well, my little bunny was still there when we returned in May. Still without a family. I couldn't look at him without filling with tears. I couldn't stand the fact that we were leaving my little bunny.
When Aster started talking about a boy named "Z" in Gambella, I was intrigued. She would laugh a huge laugh and tell silly stories "One time, poor Z caught his hair on fire! Mommy, he was ok. He laughed about it when he told me!" She told me that "Z" was so nice and such a hard worker. Aster worried about Z in Gambella.
A few weeks later I learned that Aster's Z was my little bunny. Z lived with his uncle in Ethiopia. Z's uncle is Aster's uncle. They share an uncle and lived a few steps from one another in Gambella.
My heart hurts that Aster's sweet Z still needs a family. She teases me, "I love Z, but so do you. I heard you. You call him a little bunny!"

Beautiful families are holding an auction to raise funds for the three oldest boys at the care center. Two of the boys have families. Z does not. Yet.

Do some holiday shopping. Go bid on some of the wonderful items. For my Aster's Z, for my little bunny. For all the boys that deserve to be home yesterday.

Go here. Now. Thank you. Please.

UPDATE! Z has a family. It happened today! TODAY! Can you believe it? I know. Good stuff. YAY!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Present

With the holidays quickly approaching, my mind is swirling with thoughts about presents. I obviously haven't started shopping. I've just starting thinking.
As a child, present getting was the best.  I'd love nothing more than for my girl to love it like I did. And she will. In time.

You may assume that if you've never received a present before, your introduction to present getting would be a joyous and fabulous event.
Not so much.
After 6 months, some of my Aster's thoughts, "I love presents mommy. I like getting things. I think it's so nice of people to get me things...but, I just get sooo nervous."

By the time you are at the age where you are trying to please others - by the time you actually can think about what other people may be thinking - most American kids have opened an uncountable number of presents. They are experts. They've had years of gentle couching on what to say, rate of opening, how to respond, etc. They also are usually familiar with the items they are getting, know how to ask if they are unsure, speak the same language of the gift giver fluently and know the appropriate gift getting language. 

If you think about the pragmatics needed to successfully open a gift, it's a bit mind blowing. You need to know how to look and what to say during each of the numerous steps: When you get handed the package, while opening the package, after opening the package and later when someone wants to talk about it again.

Everyone stares at you (making you nervous, so you may hurry?), evaluates your facial expression.
What do they want me to say?
What do they want my face to say?
What if I don't like it? What do I do then? What do I say?
What if it's something I already have?
What if I don't know what to do with it?
What if I do like it? What do I do then? What do I say?
What do I do with this paper?
How does it open?
Do I shake it?
What do they want me to do with it after I open it?
Why are they STILL staring at me?
Why is my mom talking the whole time? "Slow down, relax, say thank you, don't shake it, don't throw it, look at it, look what it does, let me help you, say 'Thank you'..."

Remember the slight anxiety as a child when you opened up that gift from your great-grandfather? What could it possibly be? How should I react to THIS?
It's a billion times worse for our babies. We were possibly a little anxious, yet we KNEW what we were supposed to do.

Point? My baby girls LOVES presents and she should get them. Slowly. Without a lot of people. With support. With front loading.

She remembers who gave her each and every single thing she owns. Things that were here when she arrived, she has asked. She also treats all of her things respectfully and thoughtfully. Aster is amazing, but watching her open gifts is the most painfully awkward event. When she first came home, we thought that videoing her opening a present would be fun. Nope. Within 10 seconds we stopped. It was horrifying.

Even Christmas gift getting. It's just hard.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Our Thanksgiving was wonderful. Parts of today were the first time I felt completely relaxed during the past 6 months.
It was just the four of us. We sauteed, baked and roasted it all. With no time constraints, we just cooked, cuddled, ate, slept, ate again, watched a movie and cuddled more. It was perfect. Although we missed our extended family, I knew the four of us couldn't handle any more.

Today, something fabulous happened.

6 months ago, the first morning we woke up in Ethiopia with Aster, she was mad. The anger seemed to happen during the dressing process. It lasted a long time. Breakfast was an Ethiopian shrug fest sprinkled with dirty looks and tears. No jokes or tickles could break it.
I recently asked Aster (she has the best memory and recalls all details), why she was mad that morning,
"Did I put the wrong shoes on you? What did I do?"
She laughed so loudly and said, "I was mad because I wanted the other shoes. It was the shoes, but it really wasn't the shoes mommy. I was just so scared. So, it was the shoes, but it really wasn't the shoes."

I know. Brilliant. 

When Aster came home, our biggest tension was getting dressed. If I asked her to pick something, she got big watery eyes and looked overwhelmed. If I gave her two choices, she'd still get watery eyes and look overwhelmed. She'd want to please me. I'd want her to be happy. I'd be unhappy because I couldn't figure out how to please her. She'd be overwhelmed and unhappy because I was unhappy. Usually there were tears. Most days I had to take a break during the process and take big, deep breaths. It was a big mess. We were a mess. Finally, I just started picking for her and dressing became a nice time to chat - just not about clothes. Recently, I've been asking her for some input, "Do you feel like wearing pants or a skirt?" It's gone well. Baby steps.

Today, I made a promise to her. We weren't going anywhere. We were going to stay home, eat, cuddle and watch TV. All day. Nothing else. No one else. That was all.

I saw her relax. In that relaxed state I knew she could do it. Even do it happily.
"You can pick anything in your closet to wear. I don't care what."

Her face lit up and she smiled. She whispered that she knew exactly what she wanted. She went to her closet and picked out a beautiful hand-me-down Christmas dress,
"I saw it in a movie. I want the Christmas dress."
I took it down. I put it on her. She smiled. I smiled. We were dressed.

It was a Thanksgiving Day miracle.

Since Aster was "fancy" - Judah wanted to be fancy too.

Monday, November 21, 2011


I often find myself having more thoughts than I could ever process. More concerns, more guilt, more questions than I can comprehend. Clinging to the people that understand. Being unsure how to interact with those that don't. Thinking I need to explain, when words aren't necessary. Thinking I don't need to explain, then quickly (or not so quickly) realizing I do. A state that obsesses over death, trauma, loss, parenting, race, hair, discipline, language development, neurology, pragmatics, culture, family and so much more. Sometimes it feels good to let all of it go and just look at us. When I take away all of those thoughts, all of our real struggles, something very important emerges clearly. Despite all (that word is not nearly long enough) of it, we are unbelievably filled with joy. Each of us. We have ridiculous amounts of fun. We trust and love each other. We are silly. We are thriving. From their struggles, my children have skills, strength and beauty beyond their years. Despite it all, they are happy. There are not enough words to express how proud of them I am. So we dance.

I am so thankful for my babies - such funny, smart and strong souls. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I wouldn't...

I could write a very long novel explaining in detail all of the reasons why I would never put hair extensions on my daughter. Not that I judge people who do. You know your children best. I'm too busy trying to tread water. Judging? Wow. I don't even know how to do anything yet. It seems way too big of a job to judge. 6 months ago, I would have laughed just thinking about ME putting hair extensions on a CHILD. Really. I would have thought and thought and analyzed until I was sure that hair extensions + barbie would have been the equivalent of just handing a girl no self esteem and a couple dozen eating disorders. Then I met my grounded girl. The most mature person I know. The girl that has such real struggles and real thoughts, that any sort of temporary happiness- real or imagined, anything that makes her feel like she fits in a little bit more, anything that makes her feel lighter and less serious, anything. She knows more "real" than any person should. I looked at her last Saturday morning and impulsively decided. Really. At this point, some fake hair on her head is the last thing that's going to hurt her. I spent over 10 hours last weekend putting hair extensions on my daughter. It sucks to lose everyone you know. It sucks to worry about and miss your family. It sucks to be a girl and to have your head shaved. A few times. It's a tiny part, but it's the only part I can sort of, not really, almost, a little bit, fix.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


I've learned to look at feet much differently. Aster and I have spent a lot of time recently, talking about feet. Her feet. Her beautiful feet. A few weeks ago, after her bath, I painted her toe nails. You mommies know. Carefully placing the chosen blue polish where the nail should be. Filling in the bits where the scared toe nail curves. Adding, sculpting, loving. She was thrilled with the result. Adorable. There was something in her eyes while I was working. Something that told me- she didn't love her own feet. Those perfect feet. I took some time to kiss all of those scars and lines and places that hurt her at one time. She told me, "sometimes, maybe carrying water for my family or something and feet hurt." "What did you do when your foot got hurt?" Shrugging,"I keep walking. I don't say anything." "Because that's who you are. You are someone that will work so hard for people you love and not stop even when you get hurt. You are so strong. So beautiful. So good. Your feet tell stories about how good, strong and beautiful you are." I look at my own characterless feet. Feet seem so symbolic of our lives right now. Those with characterless feet learning from those with beautiful feet. No one, no thing, could have prepared me for this- for how inexperienced I feel. I am just starting to learn about real loss, fear and pain. When you love your child, you feel and hold their pain. My daughter is a shining, thriving, beautiful girl that happily squeals things like, "I know how to spell HALLOWEEN! H-A-L-L-O-W-E-E-N! I DID IT!" I am just breathing. I don't know what to do. I'm just new.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


13 months ago. The first picture we ever saw of our girl.
4 months ago. When I first held her and knew I'd never have to let go. Ever again.

One month ago. On our first family vacation.
One week ago. Celebrating Ethiopian New Year. With friends. Real, beautiful friends.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Taken Away

During the past year, I've heard many versions of "well all people go through things" and "all children have special circumstances."
Yes. People do.


But, just imagine.

Imagine not having a primary language*.
Imagine not being able to express your thoughts into words- even to yourself.

Imagine if all the food you really like was taken away. Even familiar foods are different. Not in great ways.
I often imagine it to be similar to the time a restaurant in Barcelona put honey in my burrito. Inedible. To me.

Imagine if people laughed and you didn't know why. You bellowed out a good one to join in and people looked at you strange.

People walked at an impossibly fast pace. Spoke at an impossibly fast rate. Ate at an impossibly fast pace. Hurried you along constantly.

Imagine if you were scared. More scared than you've ever been. People wanted from you. Hugs, smiles, laughs. Usually you were unsure of what or how.

All games were different. You got yelled at for things like simply getting in line.

Imagine if this came after you were hurt. A few times. Abandoned. Left. Given away. Stressed.
Imagine if this affected you, your brain**, so severely that intense emotions were triggered quickly.
Sometimes the emotions were so intense they shut you down. Completely.

Imagine if you didn't know where you were going next or when. To the store, to a new school, to a new mom, to a new home or to a new country.

Maybe it would be easier, if you weren't trapped in your brain without words. In any language. Because the language of the family, friends and strangers around you kept changing as the family, friends and strangers kept changing. As soon as you've started to get a loose grasp of one language, the people and the language change. So do the rules. Maybe it would be easier if you had the same mommy to hold and cuddle you during it. Maybe it would be easier if you could just eat your favorite food, prepared the way you like it. Maybe it would be easier if...everything and everyone you ever knew wasn't taken away from you including many of your thoughts. Maybe it would be easier if you weren't so scared. So emotional. So lost.


All people go through things. All children have different challenges.

*Older adopted children spoke more English than L1 within 6 months of adoption (Masters, 2000). Expressive L1 is mostly gone after 3-6 months, comprehension by 1 year (Gindis, 1999), yet after only 3-6 months a new language is very basic. Aster is a genius and is quite creative in expressing herself in English- but, her thoughts are WAY more sophisticated than her words are in any language. She is very frustrated that she can't translate because she can't "hear" her old languages. She also dreams in English, a language she's been exposed to for only 4 months.
**Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) Stress Axis, abnormal HPA regulation = poor cognitive abilities, emotional functioning, memory (specifically targeting hippocampus- short to long term storage), growth stunting (Mason & Narad, 2005). A difficult time regulating hyper responsive stress hormone system is similar to post traumatic stress (Glennen, 2009). Length of time spent in orphanages correlated with abnormal HPA response 6 years after adoption (Gunnar, et al 2001).

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of School

Catching Aster take an extra peek of herself in the mirror; seeing her eyes twinkle with happiness at how she looked in her uniform.
Seeing my eyes fill with tears during the drive to school and discussing how they were going to make me feel better,
"I'm going to draw you a beautiful picture to make you feel better mommy" and
"I'm going to tell you about all the good food I eat for lunch to make you happy" (Yes, I do realize that them comforting ME is a pathetic parenting low- but, I'm still proud of how sweet they are).
Aster's prideful posture as she walked into her classroom.
Aster's eyes when she saw her name on her desk.
Aster telling me "Mommy, I have to tell you something" followed by a whispered, "I'm going to miss you today"
Judah running to hug his sister one last time and following it up with a big, exaggerated kiss on her cheek (not a high of the day for Aster).
Catching Aster doing an over her shoulder last look, followed by a recommitment to the proud posture.
Judah telling his teacher, "I've already given my parents hugs and kisses. I'm ready to play."
In response to my, "Have fun today!" Judah shrugging with confidence and saying matter-of-factly, "Of course I will."
Spying Judah run full speed onto the playground and hearing his bigger than life laugh/cheer/hoot boom.
Knowing that Judah would be ok.
My sweet girl getting her heart hurt, "I KNEW how to play mom. I knew the game. They didn't want to high five me. They were being bad. So sad I tell teacher, 'I don't feel better' so I can stop playing and just look."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


We go to Mammoth every summer. It was Aster's first vacation. Judah and Aster loved fishing and hiking and playing. I feel so lucky to have both of my babies. Home. Safe. Happy.
Looking back at our transition (knowing very well that we're just at the beginning of it), I realize that Judah has had a much tougher time than I ever anticipated. My sparkling boy, the one that can entertain any room with his laugh. That one. Had a very, very hard time. He's so sensitive. I should have known.

Watching their relationship with each other evolve and change and mature, has been so beautiful. Although it's been tough stuff, I'm very grateful that they have each other.

My babies are such magical, sweet-hearted people. I know I've said it a billion times, but I'm lucky. During most of our vacation, I was just in awe. Here's a little look at some random moments during our vacation.

Such a different little girl than what the pictures showed almost exactly a year ago. It's been a year since we first saw that face...


Monday, July 25, 2011

My brave girl

People often ask how my girl is doing. In my opinion, what she has gone through, is so extraordinary, that unless you've experienced something similar, it's impossible to comprehend. I know I can't, and in many ways, I feel closer to her than anyone else on earth.

I know that there is a very playful, happy, generous and brave soul- that was/is scared. Very, very scared. Parenting a scared child is hard. Fear manifests in all different ways. Sometimes it tries to control. Sometimes it freezes. Sometimes it cries. Sometimes it hugs. Sometimes it's angry. Sometimes it's sad, but too scared to admit it for fear of rejection. Sometimes it fakes being happy. Two months ago, in Ethiopia, the fear was so thick, so completely overwhelming, that it completely paralyzed her at times. For hours.

I recently watched the video of when she first walked through the doors of her new home. When I experienced it, I thought it was a relatively good moment. It was. For me.
Now I look at the terrified little girl and my heart breaks. It just breaks as I watch the high-pitched-little-fear-squeal that was meant to fool us into believing she was happy. My heart breaks as I watch her eyes shift quickly and fearfully around. It just breaks as I watch her stiff body posture. Her fearful jump when the stuffed elephant trumpeted followed by the high pitched squeal.

Aster loves people and is quite social. More than anything she wants lots and lots of friends. Balancing the fear with her social wants is a daily game.

Now that she's been home for over two months, I am starting to see the layers of the girl I love. The fear, still strong, seems to be starting to break away in small chunks (not melting, because there is nothing even about the process), I get to see that my giggly girl is also a comedian. Similar to how one may learn about an infant, I've learned the smiles, which mean very different things. I've learned the cries, which mean very different things.
I've learned whether the look straight into my eyes is going to be followed with a crossing of her arms and a huff or a secretly lipped "I love you mama." Whether the huff is a plea for playful attention or a broken heart because I somehow made her feel badly.
It was hard to not know. To not even have a small clue.

It's been so important these last few months to have some friends that know. That know my Aster's heart. Friends that have helped to chip away a little bit of that fear. More about our friends, the friends that know, later...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Conversation, Highs and Lows

Judah, "I like red trucks. Red is my favorite color."

Aster, do you have a favorite color?

Aster, "Yes. The color of Bob Marley. Bob Marley is chocolate like me. Chocolate my favorite."

Judah, "Hey! I'm chocolate too. Aster's chocolate, I'm chocolate. Mommy's vanilla. Daddy's vanilla. Everyone else is vanilla."

Friday, July 8, 2011


I love watching Aster play.
She is slow, gentle and strong. She goes across the monkey bars so gracefully. She moves carefully. So thin you can see every muscle in her back. She's beautiful. Aster likes the slide. She slowly climbs up and carefully sits as she's told. Feet first. I think the best is watching her swing. It's when she just seems free. No rules to follow.

There was only one other family at the park. A mom and three kids. And a billion sand toys. All huddled together.

Aster walked slowly over, careful as always. She sat down next to one of the kids. Barely louder than a whisper she said, "I'm going to make injera" and picked up one of the many shovels laying about.

Before I could even start to tell her about asking to borrow, the mother screamed, "Tell her to put it down or give it back!"
In shock from the urgency and horrid delivery, I paused.
She repeated her request.
I told Aster to please give the shovel to a child (not even knowing which one, because all of them had their hands full of toys and none seemed interested in what Aster had).
The mom instructed one of the children to take the shovel as my daughter sadly reached her arm out offering the shovel to whoever would take it.
Her children ignored her.
Again, she instructed and one of the children finally looked up and took the shovel.

Aster slowly walked back to the slide. I met her and tried my best to make the park fun as the strange lady and her kids stared at us.

My children felt it.
Judah whispered, "I want to go home."
Aster heard Judah and quickly joined in, "Me, too."

Once we were in the car Aster had an idea, "Tomorrow let's bring my sand toys I got from birthday party. I will share with any kids. I'm nice."

Yes, you are baby. Yes. You. Are.

It can easily be argued that the mother could have screamed over my child touching her children's toys if my child was white. That's the thing about racism, it's never completely clear. It's a feeling deep down in the gut. It's in the eyes. It's too easily dismissed. If you ask my children what happened today, they'd tell you they met "a mommy that was not good at sharing."
If they could express it, I think they may also tell you there was something way worse about it than just being shovel-selfish.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


We knew Aster loved Bob Marley.

She says, "I want Bob Marley" (and "I like fish") at least 39584 times a day.

Every single time she gets in the car her Bob Marley music request is heard.
She asks to look at his picture on the computer.
She says she wants hair like Bob Marley.
She sings versus to his songs constantly.

buufloooo solder
stand up stand up, stand up for your righ
I sho the sheeeri

She told us that her bad dreams would stop if she had a picture of Bob Marley in her room. He would help her.

Yesterday she found out that he was no longer living.

We didn't expect for her reaction to be, well, just SO sad.
We were all heart broken for her. She said she just wanted to go home and cry. She silent cried during the hour drive home.

She had her first crush. On Bob Marley. Now he's dead. My poor girl. Why can't even that just be easy.

Aster still wants the poster in her room.
She says she still wants to kiss his picture. He's still her boyfriend.
I hope she's right. I hope he takes away those dreams.


Aster shares with me about her life in Ethiopia. In carefully planned spurts. When she is finished; she is finished. Aster knows it's ok to say, "all done talking" because it is impossibly hard stuff. She needs time to be free, to be a little girl, although I doubt that's ever truly her reality.

I expected it. I hoped for it. I felt so impatient to hear her side. Loving her as completely as I do, I wanted to know every single thing about her past. Even the hard parts. There's so much I'll probably never know. So much she likely doesn't know.

It doesn't make it easier. It shakes me and rattles me and I am never the strong mother for her that I envisioned. I fight with all of my soul and still, my eyes instantly fill.

She notices. As she notices everything.

Sternly she instructs, "Mommy, don't cry. Please. Aster's ok. I'm ok, mommy."
I know she feels like she is the one making me sad. So she stops.

Even in Ethiopia. Before we left, my eyes filled. While looking deep into my eyes, as if to say she cares that I'm crying- but it's obviously unacceptable- she took her thumb and firmly rubbed from the inner to outer corner of each of my eyes. As if to turn off my tears. It worked. Then her eyes said, "I'll be ok."
But she wasn't.
I know she wasn't.
After we left, I've been told my sweet daughter appeared to be, of all the girls, "the most in need" at the care center.

She still isn't ok.

Yet, she continually gives. Gives strength. Care takes. Loves. My only hope now is that slowly, each day, I to learn to become the mother she needs. The mother she deserves.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

From my babies...

He may or may not have any idea what he's doing, but he hits on my friends. Tommy's friends. His friends. Judah explained the situation to me, "I need my girls."
Yes. I'm afraid for our future. Very afraid.
Yesterday's example:

to a very pretty friend (who happens to be in her thirties), "I want to comb your hair in the bath."

Judah says incredibly sweet things also:

Last night before bed, "Daddy, lie on my pillow because I want it to smell like you."

I feel like a broken record, but she really is the most generous person on earth.
Friday was her birthday.

while insisting I take her last bite of birthday cookie/ice cream,
"mama PLEASE try"
Aster, it's YOUR birthday. You already gave me lots of bites. I want you to eat it. We are celebrating you. I want you to be happy.
"but mama, I'm already sooo happy!"

She's also very funny. Both intentionally and not.

With a very disgusted look on her face, "I don't want to eat frog" (after thinking we said "froggies" instead of "pierogies").

Saturday, June 11, 2011

If she's so easy, why is it so hard?

I'm not positive.

It may be because, as a parent, you feel all of your children's problems. If Judah skins his knee, I have to suck air through my teeth and feel it in my stomach. I'd much rather have the skinned knee. Every mama would.

Mamas worry about their children's problems. Even the little ones.

There are at least 10 major life events that very easily could have destroyed my daughter. Yet, she is not destroyed. She is beautiful and strong. I am clearly not as strong. I don't know how to feel these hurts. Hurts my brain can't even comprehend. Not individually. Not all at once. When I let myself think about any single one, even for a minute, I feel destroyed.

It's the litte/huge things. Aster hand feeds me like I'm a queen. She is a little bit obssessed with me eating and is stern if I decline. Yes, she has noticed my curves-a-plenty- which is another story completely.

She loves me. I am her mama. Therefore she needs to keep me. Alive.

Deep breaths.

Aster is very generous and kind. I love her. Completely. She has no extreme behaviors. Not even medium sized ones. I believe our attachment is going very well. Despite her huge dose of pure fabulousness,

adopting an older child is hard.

I'm grateful and just feel extremely lucky. I don't think I've ever laughed as hard as I do these days. One day in the future, when I look back at my life, I believe these will have to be the best days, because life just doesn't get any better than this. But,

this is very hard stuff.

I often think that I'm just unworthy. I read the books and still, I just don't get what to say or what to do. Ever. All I know is that even though I'm clueless in general, I love my babies so much I'm in a constant state of feeling as though I could burst. I hope that makes it a tiny bit better for them, because

well, this is hard, damn it.

Jump Rope.

Aster is very giving.

In December, she put part of a broken sparkly jump rope handle in our backpack. It was clearly a gift. It was all she owned. All that was just hers. She gave it to us.
She's amazing that way.

I was just watching her. Jumping with her brand new jump rope. I just realized it's the same one. The same handle. I'm positive she has noticed that it's the same one too.
She's amazing that way.

My daughter is a princess

Aster is the most beautiful girl in the world. A very wise woman said so and she knows stuff. At this point it's no longer subjective.

Aster is a 6 year old girl. She doesn't know how good and beautiful she is. In every way possible. It's heartbreaking.

Whenever someone referred to Aster as "beautiful" or a "princess" she would vehemently deny it. Then it got worse. She'd get angry and watery eyes.

Yes. We tried to refrain from talking about "beautiful" or "princess" crap.

Aster told me that I was a princess because I have "big hair"
and she told me that she was not.

Then she cried for an hour.

I made a hair appointment for the next day, cut off about a foot of hair (I have it in a bag to send away for donation- win!win!) and got an asymmetrical purple bob.

It's short hair for both of us. "Big" hair is definitely overrated.

I feel like I'm placing mini-sized useless bandaids on gaping wounds, just hoping for one to stick.

A few moments

Our first night, falling asleep next to Aster in the hotel, she carefully pulled my shirt so that the little space between by pajama top and bottoms was together. I loved that there is no cool breeze on my lower back. No one has ever done that for me before.

Later that night, I woke up and had a good cry in the middle of the night (because I needed to). Right when I got to the ugly part, Aster giggled in her sleep. She pulled me right out of the cry and reminded me how much joy was there.

During a parenting low, when I started crying in the middle of her grief, she looked at me- wiped my tears and said, "I love you mama. Ok."

She initially let me do every little bit of care taking for her, even though we both know how capable and smart she is. She'd look at me with smiley eyes because she knew what we both needed.

Every morning, she crawls right onto my belly, tucks in carefully and we both fall back to sleep.

Discovering ice in her water. The squealed and laughed until it dissolved.

The look of disgust when given a new food. The laughter two minutes later when she realizes she loves it.

Laughing so hard she's silent when we read our little I Make the World Better book to her in Amharic. She repeated the correct pronunciation, then laughed again at our hardly improved accent.

Her sense of humor. Walking into the kitchen first thing in the morning, hugging me and saying, "Good morning mama." Then glancing at Tommy with a smirk, walking by him without stopping and saying, "Stop it daddy."

How hard she laughs at herself. Every time she trips, when she says no to a sweatshirt - then wears mine because she's cold, whenever she does something new, or tries...

The soft whimpers to let us know that there needs to be one more song performed during a family dance party. Being so breezy, that she's always happy after the "one more."

Freezing in her tracks on Mother's Day (one day after she came home), because she was one bracelet short in Mother's Day gifts (grandmas, great-grandma). Immediately going inside and making one more...

Judah wanting to be taller and her indicating that it's ok, if he really wants to be.

Aster matching Judah's T-Rex with her own very ferocious lion.

and so many, many more...


Aster is the most compassionate, lovely person. I am not.

During an episode of grief, while holding her baby style, I found myself crying right along with her. Not proud. It was the first time that it just seemed too much for me to keep in. I'm not strong.
Noticing that I was crying, she rubbed my arm gently, looked in my eyes and in her typical generous way said, "I love you mama."

This morning I made pancakes for breakfast. Since I multi-task and am easily distracted, I repetitively under and over cook them. I sneaky eat those.

I put the plate of edible pancakes out. Aster asks for 3 (I squeal with delight, she's starting to fill out those 2T undies!). Judah takes 2, Tommy takes 3. There's one left for me (I'm full, but want to join in). Aster eyes me and instantly walks around the table with one of hers, insisting that I take it. I have to convince her that I'm full.

I am very attached to my little girl. Aster loves for me to take care of her and I love each moment that she lets me. I'm so glad she gives me that, because in every other way, I'm the one that needs to learn and grow.

Home for One Week

I already feel like I have too much to say. The last two weeks have been some of the best of my life. I am on a honeymoon. So completely in love with each member of my family. Even the ones that aren't at their most lovable.

Enough about me.
Let me get started on talking about the one. The one that looks like a super model yet seems to carry all the wisdom of the universe. Oh, yes. That one. Not the one that recently was referred to as the PreK class clown.

I have heard so many things about how differently children behave when they get home. All I truly knew about Aster was how she was reacting or my interpretation of how she was reacing in a certain environment (the orphanage). I just reread what I have written and what others have written about her.
Same. All of it's the same.
Now she's just a lot lot happier. That's the short answer.

Aster is the most beautiful soul in the world. She is thoughtful and compassionate and sweet and loving and fun. Oh, and my favorite part. Here it comes. Wait for it. Please be excited for me. Aster. is. a. mommy's. girl! I know. It's really, really good. I knew you wouldn't be disappointed.

I can say, and truly mean, with all of my heart, that I love Aster as much as I love Judah. It takes all of my strength not to chew them up. Yes, she is more chicken wing and he is more pudding pie, but both are just too delicious. Now, everyone that has even briefly met me, knows how much I love Judah. I'm obsessively in love with him. Therefore, this next statement I've questioned sharing. I only share this because I know other adoption mamas might find it interesting. My attachment to Aster is much quicker and easier than it was with Judah. Judah and I are in a very good place, but his attachment to me is something I continue to work on.

Not that it's easy breezy with Aster. Nope. There is true and significant grief. There is fear. There are places that I'm just starting to be allowed to see. There is much I don't understand and just hope I someday may. But...

I'm completely in love with my magical girl.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My daughter is a princess

Aster is the most beautiful girl in the world. A very wise woman said so and she knows stuff. At this point it's no longer subjective.

Aster is a 6 year old girl. She doesn't know how good and beautiful she is. In every way possible. It's heartbreaking.

Whenever someone referred to Aster as "beautiful" or a "princess" she would vehemently deny it. Then it got worse. She'd get angry and watery eyes.

Yes. We tried to refrain from talking about "beautiful" or "princess" crap.

Aster told me that I was a princess because I have "big hair"
and she told me that she was not.

Then she cried for an hour.

I made a hair appointment for the next day, cut off about a foot of hair (I have it in a bag to send away for donation- win!win!) and got an asymmetrical purple bob.

It's short hair for both of us. "Big" hair is definitely overrated.

I feel like I'm placing mini-sized useless bandaids on gaping wounds, just hoping for one to stick.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Less than 2

days until we leave. Until we leave to bring our girl home. Forever. Our beautiful, sweet girl. Yes. It's time. She's waited too long. I'm one happy mama.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Today our case was submitted to the US Embassy. I am so excited that I am literally shaking.
What's next?
They will tell us within about 72 hours (Thursdayish?!) whether we are clear to travel or if they need more documentation/clarification. We don't think about the latter option. Nope. Won't do it. Don't like it. Can't make me.

Ethiopia next week? Maybe. Might. Ahhhh...

I have so much to say, but I'm currently too busy spinning and fidgeting (basically being myself) to express meaningful communication.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another Wednesday

Only 4 out of the 5 pages of the document were faxed. We were not submitted again. Another Wednesday.

Tommy and I went to the store and bought lots of candy. Then ate all of it. Yes, we are at that point.

My girl has to spend another week without her family. All of her adorable friends are no longer there.
There are no words for how we are feeling.

Our little girl needs to come home.

Sometimes I think my little man is just psychic. When I picked him up, he gave me the biggest hug and told me "I missed you so much. I really love you mommy! Oh, and I was very nice to my teachers today!" Then he followed me to my office and cleaned up my toys. He is so good at taking care of me and my heart.

Trust me, other days he's not this generous. Other days, well...we don't want to talk about those days today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Picking myself up

Yesterday was tough. Our paperwork wasn't submitted to Embassy. Again.
What does this mean?
We will have to wait another week to see if we will be submitted. Another Wednesday. Wednesdays are now very hard days. I get the "not the news you are hoping for" phone call, fall down (which has the added struggle of being done without Judah noticing), followed by the infinitely more difficult challenge (darn gravity) of picking myself up again.
A few days after we are eventually submitted, the US Embassy will let us know if we are clear to make an appointment or if they require more paperwork. Well, that's if people are working (you've heard about the government shutdown possibility, right?).
You know what makes life a lot better when you are super sad because you want your child home?
Friends. Friends that come over and make you fish tacos (from fish they caught) AND two types of salsa and guacamole too. Or the ones that let you walk in a daze at the aquarium all day after they buy you a peach margarita (and even use their guest pass on your sorry butt).
You know what else makes me feel better?
Judah. He is hysterically funny all the time.
Judah, don't fall asleep right now, ok babe?
(We were 1 minute away from our destination).
He opened his eyes and in a very level and calm voice he explained:
"Me closing my eyes should have answered your question. Kids need to rest sometimes. You should know that. I was closing my eyes so you should know I need to rest."

Funny baby.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Things that make me feel like a big grouch.

Honestly. People do not know what to say to people who are adopting.

When at work is it OK to yell down the hall at an adoptive mother, "Is she here yet?" Then, when she shakes her head no, add the ever helpful and pleasant "She's not coming home, is she?"

No. It's not ok.

Please, at least be in close proximity before asking if MY DAUGHTER is NEVER coming home. Ok. I take it back. Just don't say it.

Is it ok to try to convince me that people "should get to go to Ethiopia and choose their child?"

No. Also, when I look at you like that, don't try harder to convince me. I'm trying to take deep breaths and find my peace-filled inner core.

I'm going to say it. If you haven't adopted, you probably don't know a whole lot about it.
You don't know if "a domestic adoption would have been quicker" (and you certainly don't know if I care. Oh, I very much don't).
We chose to adopt an older child, so saying "well I hope she's 6, that would be A LOT better than 9", isn't true OR helpful.

If you've never adopted and never plan on adopting, I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU WOULD HAVE DONE (where you "would have" adopted from, what gender child, what age child, any of it). I don't even understand that. "I know I would have..." HUH? But you didn't and you're not going to. So you wouldn't have. You didn't (my head spinning is producing the redundancy).
I'm not concentrating on what you're saying now, my eyes are squinty because I'm thinking about how much your stupidity actually hurts my brain.

Also, I know I'm a picky girl, but I like it when you see a picture of my child for the first time that you say something nice (and it shouldn't be difficult. Have you seen my prettier-than-any-super-model child?).
NOT "How old is she?", "Why is her head shaved?" OR anything about how "lucky she is."
Seriously people! LUCKY? Let me go throw up. A lot.

She is my baby. My baby.

It IS as big of a deal to adopt a child as to have one biologically.
It IS as big of a deal to adopt a child as it is to adopt a baby.

She is my baby. My baby.

It is a celebration for our family. It is a celebration of a life being brought into our family. It is huge. For us.

I feel like handing out an instructional pamphlet for people when they ask to see a picture of my girl.

Now stop talking. Nope. Don't say that. Or that. Or ever that. Still not a good idea.
Now smile and walk away. Quick.

I've been working on this "pregnancy" for a very long time, I've run out of patience.

Thank you.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Attachment is a strange thing, isn't it? It's always changing. Sometimes we are overflowing with love and connectedness, other times we need to work at it. Ebbing, flowing.

I've made HUGE mistakes with Judah. Last summer, traveling without his dad for three weeks.
Judah was with ME. It would be ok? Right?
Nope. Not right at all.
About two days later, Judah started punching walls, furniture, everything and not talking to me. All he could say was
"I'm angry."
I sat Judah down, turned his face toward me, asked why.
Judah, you have to tell me why you are angry.
He looked with such intensity, like he was challenging me. Tears flew out of his eyes and down his face.
"I'm angry because I miss my daddy."
I should have been on the next flight home, right? Right. Obviously.
I wasn't.
I thought, he's experiencing so much, he's with lots of family. Yes, he's upset...but he will be ok.
I wish I was a bright girl.
After we came home, for THREE months, Judah would be a tear-and-fear-filled mess every single time Tommy left the room.
People have implied that Judah was adopted at such a young age, he doesn't remember, therefore there are no long term effects. I disagree. Very. Much. Disagree.
Hopefully, in a few short weeks, it will be time to bring Aster home. We are counting the moments. Aster will be VERY disappointed if we both don't go. I'm terrified that regardless of how much we front-load Judah, it will be another event he'll need to somehow recover from.
I can't wait until we are all together.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Aster and Judah

My babies, Aster and Judah.

It's been over 12 weeks since we left Aster. Leaving her was the hardest thing I've ever done. It brings me comfort and lots of self-indulgent happiness to talk about my babies, so I apologize for all of the bragging. I can't help myself.

In many ways, Judah and Aster are completely different.

Judah speaks every unedited thought that flows through his brain. Oh my, do I ever love those thoughts! The other day, he was angry with Tommy (Tommy dared suggest he relax in bed for a little bit) and told me, "right now I don't even have thoughts!"
It was a threat. He knows how much I love to hear about what goes on in that beautiful and silly brain.

Aster is silent power.

Before we're even out of bed in the morning, Judah has a few quotable quotes.
Last Saturday his first words were, "Mama, I'm just thinking about moons and summers and trucks."
I like those thoughts. You must be happy.
"Yes. I'm happy. I'm also thinking I really, really hope that Aster likes her room."
Those are nice morning thoughts, babe.

Tommy and I were in the kitchen (so glad I had a witness). Judah walked up to me and instructed, "Pick me up." He proceeded to grab my chin gently, look straight into my eyes and dramatically declare, "Mama, I really understand you. That is all. Put me down."
I bit my lip to keep from laughing (he's very perceptive and would have been crushed if I laughed at him) and stammered a "thank you."
It felt good to finally be understood. Completely.

He's also creative.
"What are you drinking?"
Coke. You tried it before, but you don't like it.
"Oh, yeah." While smiling, he explained, "Coke is too sassy for me."
I'm thinking my 3-year-old's ideas should be used for Coke's next advertising campaign. Coke IS sassy.

Everything about Judah is unreserved and big and uninhibited. He laughs loudly, talks incessantly and fumes wildly.
Everything about Aster is thoughtful and calculated. Crumbs are carefully wiped, everyone in the room is counted, actions are quiet and gentle.

But both of them, have the best humor. They both laugh easily.

Now I have to share more about my girl. The girl who I love to talk about, even though I usually cry while doing it.

Last winter, I learned a bit more about how few words you need to be funny.
I'll never forget Aster trying to copy Tommy's rubber-lipped faces with very little success. But, she has her own ways of being funny.
Aster felt comfortable enough with Tommy to tease him. Something she does well.
While slowly and deliberately pointing to each family member,
While pointing to herself, "Aster."
Then she'd point to Tommy and shrug, making the I-have-no-idea-who-you-are-face (a face she makes very well).
Then she'd crack up laughing. I loved the serious delivery and the heartfelt-mouth-covered laughter that followed. I love that the purpose of the joke was to tease, so that her dad would tickle and hug her. I love even more how clearly the teasing was one of her many ways of telling him how much she already adored him. I love my girl.

My funny, beautiful babies. I'm so very lucky.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Official Paperwork!

Today we received Aster's birth certificate and Adoption Decree. WITH OUR NAMES ON IT. HER PARENTS. US. Yes, I know. It's a very, very big deal.

I need to go spend more time staring at her name, my name and her daddy's name on these very important documents.

Saturday, March 12, 2011


We are now officially parents to beautiful Aster. We are hers. She is our daughter. We couldn't possibly be more thrilled!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

5th Court Date = Not yet.

We did not pass yet (I added "yet" to be positive, but I do believe it's true). I'm so sad for her. I miss her so much. We miss her so much. Heartbroken.

Hopeful our 6th date (don't have one assigned yet) will be the one, but sad today...and since I was too excited to actually sleep last night, I'm super tired also.

Will find my happiness tomorrow because for today, I'm out.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


or actually...while we sleep tonight, a judge will decide if we are a family of 4.
All extremities tightly wound.
Breathing. Just breathing.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Random Thoughts

On Monday, Judah and I went to Knott's Berry Farm. We had a wonderful time. He is just the most fun person to be around. He's the kid that loudly hoots and laughs on the rides. He's the kid who raises his hand high and screams, "ME! PLEASE! ME!" to go up on stage. He's also the kid that initiates giving all of the Peanut characters high-fives once on said stage. He's the kid who talks to everyone before us and after us in line AND in front of us and behind us on the actual ride. More than just being a super extroverted person, he's just really nice and interesting too.
He talks about what he wants to talk about without hesitation.
To a little boy with a big sister behind us:
"I have a big sister too."
Is she here?
"She's in Ethiopia." I then nod to show him that I agree with all of his very true words.
Then he turns to me.
"Mama, my skin looks like chocolate milk. Is your skin black?"
No, my skin isn't black. What color does my skin look to you?
Yes, I think you're right (although the Mexican-pride part of me wished he chose a nice peanut butter cookie. I guess it IS winter).
"Mama, chocolate is sooo good. I love chocolate."
I do too. It's my favorite.
"It's my favorite too."

Judah is funny. Sometimes purposefully, usually not.

To Tommy, when he got a time out:

"Don't you know, I'm just a kid. You're a man. You should know that!" with hands gesturing to support each important statement.

I'm so glad that we have so much joy filling our days, because the adoption of our girl is killing me. It's been a struggling time for us, I'm not going to lie. Last weekend we had a few friends over and I was so thankful for the company and laughs. I needed it. We needed it. I'm just so grateful for our friends.
Our adoption has felt like it's been in a holding state for over 6 months. I know there have been steps. BIG steps that have moved us forward.
Yes. BUT.
We still haven't passed court.

I know some people, lots of people, have had it much, much worse. I shouldn't complain.
It hurts. So I'm going to.

My daughter, who IS my daughter (according to her and according to each and every one of my cells), needs to be with her family. We need her. We love her.

Our next court date is March 3rd. Our 5th court date. I think. Maybe our 6th. I've lost track.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day Nine, Friday

We visited A. Upon greeting me, she spun around, wrapped my arms around her tiny body and playfully hung; laughing. To see a book a foreigner brought, she held my hand tightly as she pulled and stretched to steal a peek. I am hers. She knows.

Inside, there were tickle games and more fun. We looked with her at the photo album we brought for her. She had decorated pictures with small stickers and was proud of her contribution. It was clear that she had memorized each photo.
Searching for activities, we showed A our pictures from our travels to southern Ethiopia. Not A's home, but both areas are rural and look very different from the city of Addis.
Her eyes widened and focused as she looked at pictures. She visually consumed each one. Especially of the round, traditional homes. Not identical, but similar I'm sure, to where she grew up.
A can change her face in seconds. She can go from what appears to be happy, to what appears to be sad, instantly. A also thinks of others constantly. As much as she loved us to visit, it was also hard for her socially. There was jealousy. It was hard for us to pay attention to all of the children and make her feel special simultaneously. The whole situation was so complicated emotionally. Obviously.
Today I saw a glimpse of the very top of the iceberg of how, even A, the most brave soul I’ve ever met, finds all of this too much.

After, we went to Judah’s old care center. Abdissa, the kind coordinator from the agency we used to adopt Judah, picked us up at our guesthouse. It was so wonderful to see him. He is very warm and hospitable. He is family.
The first place he took us to was the "administration building." I didn’t realize until we were minutes away that the administration building was actually the old care center. Judah’s old home.
When the gates opened, I was clearly brought back to the day, almost three years ago, when the same gates opened and we met Judah. We pulled in and my eyes locked on the spot, where 34 months ago, Abdissa literally handed Judah to me. We walked into Judah’s first bedroom, now an office. The room was empty except for two desks, but I could clearly see all the cribs lined up. Judah’s in the front left. We went upstairs and sat in the room where we first cared for Judah. I could see our friends and their babies, in the spots we had worn well over our days visiting.
They left us alone, perhaps knowing better than us about the big tears that would be shed. We looked out the same window, the same view and couldn’t believe the time. I love that room. That window. That view.

After we went to the new care center. It was gorgeous. The babies were absolutely gorgeous.
There was one woman that I was searching for in particular. She was the main reason it was so important to bring Judah back to Ethiopia. She needed to see him.
Walking up the stairs, I instantly knew it was her. She was laughing with full eyes and talking. The others were translating for her.
“I cried so hard when he left.”
While getting full eyes, “I don’t want to cry again. I cried so hard.”
She gave me one of those big, tight, long hugs that say a billion words, while thanking one another repeatedly both in English and Amharic.
She told me that she was so happy to see that he was well taken care of.
I told her that I tell Judah about her. He knows about her. He knows her. We took pictures and she asked that we send one to her.
I could tell during our entire visit that she was overwhelmed with emotion. She loves Judah. Still. I feel so relieved that she was able to see her baby. She taught him how to love. Something she did very well.

That night we went to a Jazz club with beautiful new friends and laughed till it hurt.

It was the best birthday I could have ever had.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Day Eight, Thursday

We made bracelets with A today. She was proud of her beaded bracelet, but seemed a little bit sad also. She finally communicated with us that she wanted to make one for her best friend, even requesting another of her favorite bead.
Later our family shared cookies. The three of us gobbled ours. A saved half of her cookie for her best friend and carefully brushed my cookie crumbs off of my pants.
A shared everything she had with her best friend, no matter how coveted.
Everything she did was magic to me. She was beautiful and gentle and just the easiest person to fall completely in love with.
She had learned the routine. When it was time to go, we found Sister (the strong, kind woman who runs the center). Sister tells A in Amharic that we will be back tomorrow. A’s long, very skinny legs stiffened and she refused. She looked exactly like baby Bambi when he was learning how to walk. She silently objected to us leaving. Although my heart hurt, I was proud of her.

*Update: A’s best friend left last week. Although I am thrilled for her friend and her friend's sweet family, my heart breaks for my little girl. She was her family. I cried the day she was going to lose her best friend. I cry as I write this. My little girl. How much loss can one person experience…

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day Seven, Wednesday. Court Date.

I should have known. I had spent the evening before looking for a scarf. I needed one. Obviously. My planned outfit consisted of black pants and a mostly black shirt with some white on the sleeves. I found a little shop with a friendly and helpful owner. He showed me the bags of scarves. Black, white, red. I bought it. I did not take it out of the bag.
I’m not so into labels of any kind. In fact, I hate to admit this, but I’m sort of a reverse label snob. Second hand store shopping in the back alleys of Istanbul = clearly awesome. Gucci, Prada, OthersIdon’tknow = clearly not awesome.
I took the scarf out of the bag, placed it next to my outfit. I noticed it had odd patterns, “Tommy, look it has checkers and circles and stuff…”
Tommy laughed and explained to me that Gucci, Prada, Couch and more were all over my scarf.
Not thrilled. I wore the scarf anyway. I needed to wear a scarf. Obviously.
While getting ready, I was nervous. Nervous.
When I looked in the mirror that morning, I thought about how silly I am, how I wished I was braver. I took a deep breath and decided that I was a little bit brave just for standing in front of the mirror, half way around the world from home and for wearing that scarf. Hoping with every cell that all the pieces would come together to let us become A’s parents. We have fallen in love and now have so much to lose.
We were told that there were some paperwork issues with the area of Ethiopia A is from. Our agency assured us that they were not concerned and it looked like it would be cleared up very quickly. Any day. I expected not to pass court until the issue was resolved. I was ready for that. It would be resolved any day. We have been waiting for months, just a few days.
We were told to follow her into the room. The judge was beautiful. More beautiful than most models. She asked us a few questions. Yes, we have met A. Yes, we have taken classes. Yes, we understand this is final. YES. Please. YES.
“A’s ___ (birth family member) did not come. I have set a new date for Jan. __th.”
We were done. No, we were not awarded custody of A. It would be at least one more month. We would go home without being able to count down until Embassy. We would go home and wait. We will not be able to celebrate with A. We are not her mom and dad.
These are parts that I dislike.
The part that I hate is that we would not be able to meet A’s birth family member. We would not be able to ask questions. As a mother I felt like such a failure. Now I have no answers for both of my children. Yes, A will remember, but the mind changes memories, especially when you are very young. She deserves to know. Everything.
By the time I reached the hall, tears fell. As the tears fell, I wished again with all of my heart that I was braver. I looked around at the brave women and men and aunts and grandparents. The people who were here to do something a zillion times braver and harder than anything I will ever have to do. They were here to give up custody of their children. Instead of this stopping my tears, it just powered them. It was too much. A kind Ethiopian man looked at me and said, “It will be ok.”
After court we went to visit beautiful A.
Judah told us, “I love A so much. I want her to come live at our house.”
We do too, baby. We do too.

Week #1 Home Without A. Sad.

I love that she said, "I didn't bring it up, just in case you weren't thinking about it this minute." Wise girl. Wise, thoughtful girl. Best Ethiopian Christmas present ever. Love her.

I love talking about my girl and I want to talk about my girl. I also love, love, love that people are thinking about us and want to be updated. But, it hurts. A lot.

I thought I should send an update since writing individual emails is just making me sad. There is no update. We still haven't passed court. There are still THREE issues that need to resolved. We are heartbroken. The wait seems impossible. I feel like I am just going through the motions. I don't think I'll feel better until I know when our little girl, who we are already completely in love with, is coming home. No, we don't know. We won't know until we pass court. No, it won't be until a fairly significant chunk of time after that. She's not home. She's not coming home this month. Or next. No, I don't think God wants my little girl to be living in an orphanage and definitely wasn't a fan of the tragedies in her life that led her to this point.

I'm finding it difficult to be my usual springy self. I'm ok, but I'm not full of happiness.

I'm going to continue to post about our adventures while in Ethiopia and you'll hear us screaming and the champagne bottles popping when we do finally pass court.
Much love,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Day Six, Tuesday

I'm skipping days because 4 and 5 weren't that eventful...well, except for Judah getting wiped out by a big, metal swing. Nope I don't want to talk about that either.

Since Papa was in charge of watching Judah when he encountered the swing of death, he was not allowed to take his camera with him today. Papa’s care taking skills greatly improved. Today Judah only fell once, scraping off his elbow. My child is going to be a great big band-aid before we leave.
Since Papa was now able to concentrate on looking after Judah, we could spend all of our time hugging, teasing and laughing with A. We spent about 2.5 hours at the care center. My favorite moment of the day was when A, while sitting behind me and playing with my hair, leaned over and whispered very softly in my ear, “I love you mama” and then cracked up laughing. A few minutes later, in a barely audible voice “I love you Judah. I love you daddy” and giggled.
We love you A.