The first step is to penetrate the clouds of deceit and distortion and learn the truth about the world,
then to organize and act to change it. That's never been impossible and never been easy. ~Noam Chomsky

Thursday, August 9, 2012

THREE is the new two!

July 18th is the day we celebrate Ariam's 3rd birthday.

Birthdates are not always recorded in Ethiopia and birthdays often go uncelebrated, particularly in the rural areas. So we have no way of knowing her actual date of birth. I wonder, sometimes, what she will think of this. This not really knowing. But I have come to a place of peace about it for myself. Millions of people around the world do not know their actual date of birth. While we would love to have known our girl from the minute she entered this world, we didn't. Those first six months is a story only her birthmother knows.


The lead up to the celebration was substantial. Ariam's favorite conversation loop revolves around the topic of her birthday.

"When I have a birthday I am going to invite you. And I am going to invite my friends. (Insert a long list of friends' names.) And then I want lemonade at my party. Can we have lemonade? And soda? But is soda a red light food? Maybe we can still have some soda? And water. We need water. And then a cake. Can I have a cake? What color will the frosting be? (Insert rambling description of the colors of frosting she wants.) Will everyone come? How old will I be? I will be FOUR! No FIVE! I am FIVE!" (screaming laughter at her own craaazy joke.)

The birthday loop conversation was so cute at 2.5.

So the big weekend arrived. Family came from out of town. Friends came from far away places like Redstone. My mom and I frosted a lot of cupcakes in multiple frosting colors and styles (as directed by the birthday girl.)

 The  yard was decorated.

Water games and balloons were prepared.

Temporary tattoo station at the ready.

We exterminated for bees (and found at least 15 wasp nests in our eaves.)

And then, despite my screams of of "man your station" to J, my parents and his father, what was supposed to be a multi-station water themed birthday party exploded into a total free for all.

Turns out that 20 preschoolers hopped up on sugar and handed water balloons and water guns are much more powerful than their parental contingent.

Despite the reign of utter chaos, it was just perfect.

While we didn't hire a band, or a clown, or a pony. And we didn't have a giant bouncy house or even a balloon animal "artist." This kind of party still has a financial cost.

I don't imagine it is something most families do every year for their child. Especially larger families.

My mom reminded me a few times that they did not throw big birthday parties for me or for my sister back in the dark ages.

If I thought that it was spoiling Ariam, I wouldn't do it. But if I'm honest with myself, the party is not for her. She'd be just as happy with one friend, a bottle of "red light" soda (red light foods, according to her "Eat Healthy Feel Great" book are those that you should NOT eat or drink, which of course has given them huge amounts of fantasy and mysterious intrigue in her mind), and a can of pink cupcake frosting.

The party is not for her. It is for me. For us. It is a celebration of all that we waited for. All that we waited to be. Every bit of longing I stuff into those party preparations. With every frosted cupcake I am erasing a childless day of my past. Every time we sing happy birthday it is one more year with Ariam, one less year without.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Random bits of early summer

Thank you so much for all of your kind comments about Mr. Dimple. I so don't deserve comments and blog friends after being such a bad blogger for so many months! Please know that I read each of your comments and I am trying to get caught up on your lives too.

That fact is, while I am sad for Mr. Dimple, and it is never easy to get bad news, I also have a lot of hope for him.  Given that there is not much I can do for him until he is ours, we just continue to pray that his heart is resilient.

And life goes on...

The beauty of this time right now is that it is just us three. And we are such a close little family. Ariam is at a fun age. (Fun and frustrating and bossy and hilarious and mischevious and and and..)
Here are some of my favorite recent quotes:

"I love you with BOTH of my hearts!"

"You are my very best friend." (Said to everyone from J and I to the dogs to the drummers at a recent festival.)

"When my baby brother comes home I am going to teach him how to check his emails."

"Are you sad you aren't from Ethiopia?" (Said to us in a moment of pride in her new Ethiopian outfit.)

"We NEED to celebrate Hannukah and Kwanzaa!!" (Inspired by a new Elmo video)

She keeps us on our toes and makes us see the world differently.

We're taking advantage of having just one child who is at an increasingly flexible age. Since celebrating our family anniversary on June 1st (2 years together!) we have eaten tons of injera, danced samba, been hiking in the mountains, participated in Juneteenth celebration, danced even more, and come to Texas to visit Aya and Papa!


PS. Are you all watching Downton Abbey? How did I just discover it? Staying up way too late at night catching up!!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


I'm here. It's late, I can't sleep, and the usual adoption coping mechanisms of continuously hitting refresh on our creche's photo update facebook page, surfing posts in the Haiti group for tiny bits of adoption news, and chewing my lip to shreds are not working. So. Here I am.

What was I thinking with all of that zen talk? This time around is very different, but no less stressful. With Ariam I worried a lot about *us*. Would we get to be parents? When would it happen? What would it be like? What should her room look like? Would she like us? I suppose in comparison I am zen. I am not worried about us. We'll be fine.

But I am finding that with Mr. Dimple the anxiety is very high because I am so much more worried about *him*. While we enjoy summer in Colorado and our days fly by, he is living without parents. His life without parents will last much longer than Ariam's did because the process to adopt from Haiti takes so much longer than from Ethiopia. Now that I know how much a baby and toddler needs his/her parents, because I have been a parent for 2 years and seen it firsthand, my anxiety is entirely for this little guy.

Tonight we got word that Mr. Dimple is not well. He has some medical needs we knew about. But now he is pulling his hair out. And it didn't even take a g.oogle search for me to know that hair pulling is a sign of stress.

I know exactly what large group care does to children. This shouldn't surprise me. What should surprise me is how little impact institutionalization seems to have had on Ariam. I need to be more realistic that she is the exception and not the rule.

Even the best of institutional care is not natural for a baby - who yearns to be touched and looked at and deeply intimately seen and adored.

Months and months and months are what we have left. HE has so many months before he'll be part of a family. It makes me sick to think about it. Sick and scared.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zen Did Not Last Long - Mr. Dimple Introduction

My peace and calm lasted for a few weeks leading up to our trip to Haiti last month.
Where we met Baby Brother, aka "Mr. Dimple."

Zen quickly replaced by urgency and rising panic as the social welfare agency in charge of adoption in Haiti decided to stop accepting adoption dossiers for a period of time. The period of time is not extremely long, but I think any of us who have been through an adoption are well aware of the meaning of delays, temporary "holds", and increasing restrictions.

Not knowing exactly what is going to happen in Haiti, we have spent the last couple of weeks attempting to finish the dossier that we began in February. (For those not in the know, a homestudy and dossier normally take about 3-4 months to complete because many pieces of it are not under our control.)

Every. single. problem that one could encounter with an adoption homestudy and dossier...we have encountered. It has been an agonizing process.

Some of the problems we've experienced: FBI backlog for our fingerprint clearance required to finish our homestudy, lost application for J's birth certificate from California (actually still waiting for this to be resolved 5+ weeks later), two notaries who misspelled their own names which caused those documents to be rejected for authentication, rejected Washington DC child abuse clearance - technical glitch (fortunately resolved that by using the clearance from our last adoption), employment letter for Jeremy had to be rewritten FOUR times by his HR department and then they forgot to notarize the final copy (and then they notarized it incorrectly and it had to be done AGAIN!!), French translator fell through and we had to pay $200 more than going rate to get expedited translations, my doctor stopped doing TB skin tests so I had to go downtown to the health department to get one implanted and then back again to get it read and then hand deliver results to my doctor, entire dossier missent by the post office when it was supposed to be going to CO Secretary of State (creating a statewide "manhunt" for the express mail envelope it was in) = four day delay for something that should have been one day turn around. Oh, there is more, but those are the immediate issues that come to mind. There have been moments when all we could do was laugh. But truthfully the amount of money we've had to spend fixing errors that were not our fault and overnighting documents is horrifying and hasn't even been totaled yet.

Finally, after overnighting the completed dossier to the consulate in Chicago last week for legalization, the consulate took some days off and didn't legalize the dossier at all. (Supposed to be one day turn around.) We are still waiting for the package to arrive back to us. Today is our cutoff. Last day it can possibly arrive and still make it to Haiti in time.

If the dossier arrives today then we have a few hours to put it together with translations, make three photo copies of every page (with translations, medical lab reports, 3 years of tax returns, authentications and legalizations that's probably going to be 100 pages in the original copy.) Then it will fly Fed Ex next day air to arrive at the home of a family traveling on Saturday morning. Allowing ONE day (Monday) to sneak this thing in under the  May 1st cutoff.

I don't know. I have been praying a lot. J has helped each time I've come to the end of my rope.

We want to share more. We want to show you a photo of Mr. Dimple and tell you all about him. All about how we chose to adopt from Haiti and our trip there last month. But I need this dossier to safely make it into the adoption system first.

So please pray with me that it will happen. We would really like to call ourselves a family of four.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Can You Feel My Zen?

In March of 2009 I was convinced that we were going to adopt. Specifically a child with special needs or a waiting child. What that looked like, exactly, I wasn't sure of yet, but God was doing in me. Everything looked different after that January trip to Ethiopia and my visit to AHOPE. The world was spinning at a new angle.

Never one to believe that feeling "called" means turning off my God-given brain or making wild assumptions that the easiest or most obvious path must be *the* path, I went into research mode. That month I spent all of my free time researching, reading, emailing, and looking at DVDs of children. I so clearly remember the day I filled in an online order for "more information" from one of those agencies.

I remember March of 2009 distinctly. I secretly purchased a few, very small, things. For a future child. Very small. Nothing of note. No clothes. But a few visual reminders tucked into the back of my office closet. A stuffed animal. I remember opening the closet and looking at him when I needed a reminder that someday, I would be a parent.

This little blog hadn't even been born yet. But I was reading a friend's adoption blog, and her friend's blogs, and her friend's blogs. On our nightly walks around the lake with the dogs, I would feed J tiny bits of information. Tiny tiny bits. He wasn't quite ready yet.

The rest is history. You and I all know the rest. And for posterity it is all recorded on our original blog: (my first post, July 2009, on the old blog.)

Now, here we are, together. You, me, this often neglected blog.
J, Ariam and I.
My utterly fantastic circle of Ethiopian adoption friends who have come to mean the world to me both in person and online.

And that brings me to July of 2011. In July, a week after Ariam's 2nd birthday party, we sat at the playground watching her bravely slide down the biggest twirly slide all by herself. And in a less than 10 minute conversation agreed that we would do it again in a heartbeat. All the pain of searching for Ariam's first mother (a post for another time), all of the heartache of infertility and figuring out what to do about it (nothing), all of the questions about ethics in adoption, all of the time and money. We still wanted to do it again. Because we are selfish like that. Ariam has made us both insanely happy. And we want more. More happiness. More laughter. And we want her to have somebody to grow up with.

I immersed myself back into learning. Learning more about domestic adoption. Continuing the fight to find Ariam's truth/first family in Ethiopia. Asking myself and others hard questions about adoption systems, both in the U.S. and in other countries we were considering.

A couple of months ago we decided that we were ready to move forward. This month, every Wednesday, we have our homestudy visits. We've been fingerprinted. We've started collecting all of those endless pieces of paper that, when put together, tell the story of our lives: medicals, bank statements, taxes, loans, marriage certificate, birth certificates, employment letters, references, psych evaluations, and on and on.

No tears. No hoarding of secret baby clothes or toys. No overreading of blogs. Just a peace that comes with knowing that we did this once and we can do it again. The peace of knowing that we've done our homework, we are prepared, Ariam is ready, and at some point, hopefully in 2012 or 2013, we will be the parents of 2.

But with my relatively new zen attitude has come a new realization that, while I loved to share our journey to Ariam here on this blog, I'm not so sure I can share to the same extent this time around.

It worries me. That he or she will someday read here and believe he/she was less wanted just because mama's learned to reign it in a bit...

Hopefully not though. Hopefully he/she will know that all the same excitement, yearning, and love applies the second time around. It's just a very different process moving from 10 years of aching to be a parent to adopting again while parenting an almost 3 year old!

At some point I will be ready to share about where we are adopting from. And I'm absolutely positive I'll be quoting some good Sara Groves lyrics (because obviously she writes her music to coorespond exactly to my adoption emotions!)  In the meantime, thanks for reading.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Emotional preparation

The other day I was in the car on a long drive and found myself pulling out Sara Groves CDs. And before I knew it I was belting out Add to the Beauty and speeding along I70 feeling all moved by the poignancy of the sunshine and the mountains and life.

Felt very familiar....

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday, February 19, 2012


for a little somebody special to arrive from Ethiopia...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

She is 2.5

 I'm snuggled down on the couch, a cooking segment on the Today show. Ariam's play kitchen and baby accessories are spread widely over our new basement family room and she is modeling random items of my clothing.

The dogs are impatient. Talay tore her ACL right before Christmas and is still recovering from surgery. August is 7 months old and under exercised because of the cold.

It's been almost two years since we were matched with "baby Derartu" on March 1, 2010.
Amazing how much a child changes in two years. For J and I, two years doesn't bring a lot of personality or physical change. A few more gray hairs, a few more wrinkles, but we are still recognizable. Ariam is almost unrecognizable, except for her sparkly eyes which I would know anywhere.

She's now 3 feet tall and 30 pounds. Her hair, when stretched, is at least 8 inches long. She prefers her nails painted. She can discuss books and seasons and find Ethiopia on a map. She moved from silence, to "dada" to "JER - come here and get me out of this crib" in the blink of an eye.

As I type Ariam is playing doctor on her baby. She spends much of her imaginative play time caring for others. Heating bottles for her baby and feeding her, giving us imaginary medicine and bandaids on our owies, brushing my hair, or cooking up eggies and chicken nuggets in her toy kitchen. She loves to nurture and help and is consistently kind and empathetic. A few weeks ago when August chewed up my shoe (and I was storming around the house in fury) Ariam followed me around saying "it's ok mommy, I'm sorry. we'll get you another one. it's ok..." in her sweetest softest voice.

She's very verbal. We're constantly amazed by what she absorbs and repeats correctly. Last week her teacher told us that Ariam arrived to school and told them that Daddy took her to Mc.Donald's but wouldn't let her play so she was "very frustrated." She's learning how to talk about her emotions and has less tantrums and breakdowns in general.

Ariam loves people. Names of friends, family, and the grocery store clerks are all very important to her. She knows the name of every baby and child at her daycare and whenever a new person enters her life (or a story) she must know his/her name (and usually the parent's and grandparent's names) immediately.

Sleep is still not her strong suit. We've had several nap fails (but not napping is really not an option in this house) and we went through a period of 2-3 months averaging four wake ups/night. I think Ariam is starting to dream. She's having some night terrors, combined with waking up when she wets her diaper. We've been sleep deprived. But little by little I see it getting better.

Over Thanksgiving Ariam started using the potty. It was amazing. Enough said.

Maybe the biggest change that has taken place since Ariam turned two last July is her growing interest in her story. Once a week I rock her and try to tell her some of the pieces. It's been hard - very hard - knowing how to talk to her about what we know of her life before we met. In our quest to learn the truth about her first family we've been given misinformation more than once. I've learned that the details have to remain fuzzy and that for now the bigger story is all that we can share. Ariam likes to share her story at random times with random people. It usually sounds like this (with very wide eyes) "I was a little baby. I lived with nannies. Then mommy and daddy flew ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE WORLD to come and give me my bottle."

Ariam keeps us laughing constantly. She's outgrown my favorite phrase "I hold you mommy?"But she's moved on to other funny phrases like "No pinching Jesus, right mommy?" (She's very tempted to pinch everyone and everything.)

She is also very obsessed with her (and everybody else's) private parts. She likes to include at least one body part word in every conversation. It goes something like this: "Hey mommy, I want a marshmallow and I saw Andrew's pe.nis at school today."
There are a lot of things I didn't know about raising toddlers. I'm endlessly surprised by how intimate mothering can be. How very little personal body space I'm allowed, how many complex questions have to be answered, how they notice absolutely everything - especially things you try to hide from them and how much personality and strong opinions a child can have by age 2.5. Ariam is already asking us about God and Jesus, about mothers and babies, about body parts, about death, adoption, medicine, J's diabetes, blood sugar, Africa and so much more. She is observant, curious, and chatty beyond belief. With the world's shortest attention span.

I would describe our life as parents as equal parts fascinating, hilarious, and terrifying.

She spends much of her time at home naked or in the process of costume changes.

Ariam desperately wants a baby brother or sister and talks about it all the time. Despite zero encouragement from us, she's been telling her teachers that she's getting a baby really soon. She's not.

Well, not soon soon.........