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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Been a long time

I have not written on here in a very long time. Life got crazy. Life got hard(er).  A few years ago I went quiet and private because of big legal stuff going on. I would love to say that was done, resolved and over. But sadly it still drags on and it lingers over us. I don't let it roller coaster me anymore and I am not letting it make me hide and be quiet anymore either. Truth will come out, answers may or may not come and with that may come more questions. Some people will pay consequences and some, likely, will not. But despite all of that MY job is to do what is best and honest and true for my family. I will never give specifics on any of this and Little Man's story because it is his and not mine to share. I will share generals of what has happened as we get answers and closure.  

In the meantime we continue to grow and experience the world around us. He is in second grade...I am in year 17 of teaching. We continue to learn, laugh and love together as mother and son.  We got a puppy and recently some fish. We go jump the waves in the ocean, we take silly pictures with fun artwork, we build Legos and stress over Shark Mania, we cook and clean together.  We also cry, argue and get mad together as mother and son. We take time outs, share long hugs and "I'm sorry(s)", and even sometimes go to our separate rooms. We listen to Harry Potter and cry over Sirius dying (we are only finishing book 5) as we drive to therapy. We still do therapy because while time heals. growing brings new understanding and new questions! 

We are living and healing. I want to get back to writing here to document life for friends and family and him as he grows, but also to be honest about adoption and the challenges that still happen almost 7 years later.  To be honest about challenges we face today and tomorrow. Life isn't easy but he sure makes it fun. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Adoption Awareness Entry 16: Encouragement said to you


Okay so I am way behind in making this actually follow the November calendar, so I have just decided to change it to entries and make me way through them all despite tomorrow being the end of November! 
Encouragement said to me falls into 2 categories; the while I was waiting and once he was here.
While waiting for adoption to finalize and then to travel it was hard I think for people to find things that were truly encouraging to say about the wait, but many said things that were comforting as I got frustrated. When I didn't pass court the first few times people who called and let me cry or vent was so greatly appreciated. Even the "you'll pass next time" was helpful. While I may not have appreciated it in the moment the reassurance that while I was missing "firsts" that there were many more "firsts" to come was encouraging. The general encouragement of the adoption as a whole was wonderful. But probably the best encouragement came simply in peoples words about me being a mom. I was embarking on not only adopting from a foreign country but becoming a single mom and I was scared. The reassurance that I was going to be a great mom, that they could already see how much I loved him were things that kept me going when I felt discouraged. My students checking in to see what news there was and being so excited to see me as a mom and meet him meant the world. So many people stood behind me and more importantly stood beside me through this process that often words meant little and their presence meant so much more. 
Now when we got home I think the encouraging words as a new adoptive mom are no different than the words that encourage any new mom period. Things like "You are doing great" , " He looks so happy", " I know you are tired, but he sure does make you light up." Those are things that make any mom feel a little better. When I wasn't sure if I was doing it right those comments made me feel a little better and little more confident. Now I will also say as a mom of black child some of the best encouragement came at the hands of strangers who would comment on his hair looking good or how attached he was to me. smile emoticon
I wish I could say I didn't need encouraging words or comments anymore but that is not true. Parenting is tough and positive, kind words are always helpful. As an adoptive mom with a child that comes from a hard place with a trauma background encouraging words, comments and actions keep me pushing forward. People who remind me how far he has come and how much he has grown help me to remember the journey we have taken. 
So my encouragement here would be to find a parent and give them some encouraging words, I don't care if they are adoptive parents or birth parents, if it is a young child, a teenager or a grown child we all need to feel encouraged.
‪#‎knittogetherbyadoption‬
‪#‎adotpionawareness‬
‪#‎loveknowsnoboundary‬

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Adoption awareness Day 15: Miracles


My childish a miracle! (Okay scientifically speaking every child really is a miracle, but I won't go into all that😀)
Now I recognize fully that I am biased when I say my child is a miracle because, well he is my child! But let me cover a few things for you. Little Man was born in a country where statistics (and yes it depends on where you get them) from the year he was born say this: in sub-Saharan Africa 1 in 9 children will die before the age of five. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of first day deaths for infants. Malaria is the leading killer of children under age five in Africa, leading to 600,000 deaths in 2010. Only 6 in 10 births are actually attended by a trained medical staff in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is one of poorest of the African countries. The rate of malnourishment across the generations is TOO high. Yet, Little Man made it. He survived to be delivered, he lived past day 1 and he lived for a year in an orphanage. Against most odds he survived.
Then he came here and he clung to survival. He was malnourished, sick, parasitic and living in "fight or flight." He recognized as a baby that I would provide that which he had not had. So bonding happened quickly, at least survival bonding happened. And then permanence settled in, I wasn't going anywhere, this was home, I was mom and he was safe. His body relaxed and the next "fight" began. 
Through all that he experienced before coming to me and all that we have been through since; migraines, GI issues, sensory delays, PTSD and countless other things that have lead to many doctors appointments Little Man is a happy, sweet, kind and thoughtful kid. He loves deeply and completely. This child who has every right to not trust and to be angry looks out at the world and see beauty and life and opportunity. This little boy brings strangers into his imagination and reminds us all to pause and appreciate the beauty we see and the beauty that can be. 
His heart and mind are miracles, that no matter the strikes he started out with they can't touch him. I think he will change the world one day or at least he has change my world.
‪#‎knittogetherbyadoption‬
‪#‎adoptionawareness‬
‪#‎loveknowsnoboundary‬

Friday, November 13, 2015

Adoption Awareness Day 13: The 93% giving support


There is a statistic that gets tossed around that states if 7% of the christians in the world adopted there would be no more orphans. So let me start by saying A) I don't know how true that statistic is but I am guessing that is what this topic is suppose to cover. B) I don't believe only Christians are "called" to adopt. C) I don't believe every christian should adopt.
In light of that I am going to tackle the topic slightly different. If enough people adopted that there were no more orphans then what do the other 93% do, to which I believe this topic is referring. Here it goes... they still need to give in whatever way that looks to them maybe it is money, maybe it is a talent, maybe it is time. Getting all the orphans adopted today certainly does not solve the crisis that created orphans around the world. So whether you fall into the category of the 7% or the 93% the work isn't done. Children around the world are losing one or more parents at an alarming rate. Adopting doesn't make me done. If I am honest I should be leading a group of those 93% in how to help.
In practical right now ways, if you are the 93% and you know someone who is adopting or has adopted call them, encourage them, take them a meal, bring them a coffee, offer to babysit while they get out for a bit. Parenting is hard, parenting a child whose life started or was interrupted with the loss of a parent or parents is really hard. If you pray, then pray. Let them know you are there. 
And please don't say "if you need something just let me know." Pick something and do it for them. Parents of newly adopted kids, kids in crisis don't ask and let people know...we just keep going because that is all we can do at the time. ( I am sure much like an exhausted mom of a newborn doesn't know what to ask for) We don't know how to ask for help, so if you want to help do something...anything, I promise we will appreciate it. I will never forget Jamie Batts Langley and Lori Paschall bringing me dinner the night I got home from Ethiopia and the respect they gave me by waiting until after I had Little Man in bed even though I know they wanted to meet him. I will always remember Dana Graves and Courtney Gunnels sleeping on an air mattress in my living room to help take care of Little Man at night because I was SOOOO sick after getting home from Ethiopia. And the list can go on of people who just did for me.
‪#‎knittogetherbyadotpion‬
‪#‎adoptionawareness‬
‪#‎loveknowsnoboundary‬

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Adoption Awareness Day 12: Open


So this was a topic I was not totally sure what was intended. Was I suppose to talk about open adoptions or was it meant to be open to any topic I want to talk about? Well since I did not complete and open adoption and any information I could post here, would be simply second hand from friends who have, I chose to make it mean open topic. And so I chose to talk about "Paper Pregnant"
So there is all of this paperwork that you have to do for an adoption and for those of you who are married, you had/have more than I do as a single! Anyway, you get a list of things you need to get together to compile your dossier for adoption. These papers include letters of reference, tax returns, proof of employment, fingerprinting at state and federal level, home study paperwork, medical paperwork, background checks and I am sure there was stuff I am forgetting. So once you have all the paperwork complete and turned in to your agency you are ready. And by that I mean you are ready to WAIT. 
Now comes the waiting for the call or email from the agency that says "we have a match" Which means that there is a child that meets the criteria that your social worker said you were able to adopt. ( In the home study the social work will list ages and special needs that you are approved to adopt.) Once the call comes in and you decide to accept the match, which in an international adoption meant I took the provided medical background to a pediatrician in the area to have him look at it and tell me what all the numbers meant and how "healthy" this child was and what struggles I might anticipate. Once you accept the referral people often then say you are "paper pregnant", some will say once the dossier is in and you are waiting that you are "paper pregnant" Either way this pregnancy just involves more WAITING. I guess much liking being physically pregnant and waiting the 9 months for delivery. The difference with the adoption wait is that it may end in a much shorter time or it may take way more than 9 months. For me funny enough I received Little Man's referral on March 2nd, and accepted the referral on March 6th. It was November 18th when I passed court and December 18th when I arrived in Ethiopia and Dec 21st when I got him in my arms. So my paper pregnancy was just over 9 months long. My labor....a 15 hour plane flight to get to Ethiopia and get to my son....or maybe the labor was actually the 17 hour plane flight home with a baby that was all sorts of sick and had only known me for 4 days.
My "pregnancy" was not measure in doctors appointments, gaining weight. feeling kicks and ultrasounds. My pregnancy was packing up care packages to send with the families that traveled before me and then waiting, repeatedly checking email during the day to see if pictures came in from the families that had just come home. It involved talking almost everyday to Jennifer Matasovsky as we waited for our boys and talking late at night to Sarah Tjepkema as we waited to pass court. It involved fear and excitement when the phone rang on court days. It involved me watching my child grow for 9 months in someone else's care and yearning for the day I could kiss his cheeks, play with those curls and look into those big brown eyes.
Paper pregnancy or physical pregnancy they both put a toll on your body, they both changes you and they both teach you patience!
‪#‎knittogetherbyadoption‬
‪#‎adoptionawareness‬
‪#‎loveknowsnoboundary‬

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Adoption Awareness Day 11: Cultivating adoptive family culture


I have to say this is not a topic I have truly thought a lot about. Since Little Man was only a year old when he came home he has spent his life surrounded by the American culture. 
I have exposed him to family traditions that I grew up with and I have deliberately started new traditions with him. For example I have continued with the tradition of having monkey bread for breakfast on Christmas morning, but I have added to it that we make a second and deliver to those men and women who are working to serve us on the holiday, so we have delivered to the fire station and the police station.
Overall I try and expose him to Ethiopian traditions, my families traditions, and a variety of other traditions as well. Raising a child who is knowledgable about many different cultures, one who can blend them into himself or at least see the value of others traditions is important to me. So we read, we talk and we experience what we can from Hanukkah dinner with friends, to International Festivals, to the black barbershop, to the Veterans Day parade and whatever else we can do. America is rumored to be "the melting pot" although I think we have not "melted" into each others cultures as much as mixed together retaining some piece of the original and adding on more.
I hope that overall the "culture" I give him is one of acceptance for things that are different, kindness toward other, and the strength to stand up for his. traditions and beliefs
‪#‎knittogetherbyadoption‬
‪#‎adoptionawareness‬
‪#‎loveknowsnoboundary‬

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Adoption Awareness Day 10: Cultivating birth culture


    Ethiopia is a beautiful place. I will admit that I was a bit surprised when I started researching the country before deciding to adopt from there because the images I had in my mind were the ones media had put there in the 80s and 90s of starving children sitting in dusty, desert like areas. While I am sure that was effective marketing to get people to help donate and is a reality in part of Ethiopia, there is so much more to Ethiopia than that small glimpse. The culture is rich in tradition and the countryside is beautiful.
     When you are being interviewed by the social worker for your home study you are asked many questions, but added on in an international transracial adoption is the questions of how you will help him identify with his/her race and heritage. I am blessed to have many families that have adopted from Ethiopian living in the same basic community I do and so we do get our kids together. While culture is much more than food it is a way for me to expose him to pieces of his home land and such traditions as the coffee ceremony.
While in Ethiopia I purchased traditional clothing and small gifts to give to him each year on his adoption day for the first 5 years he was home. We also have things like the Ethiopian alphabet, toys and art work in the home for him to see. We always discuss and recognize Ethiopian New Year and other holidays.

   This last year Little Man has started asking about visiting Ethiopia. It is in the works, probably not for a few years, but we will go. ( He is hoping I will bring a baby brother home for him when we go, not likely to happen but he is hoping) We will go and visit, tour the country he came from, eat the food and hear the language, smell the spices and see the beauty. I will attempt to give him memories of his birth place. I will attempt to balance the America he lives and breathes everyday with a pride for his birthplace as well.
‪#‎knittogetherbyadoption‬
‪#‎adoptionawareness‬
‪#‎loveknownoboundary‬