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

Friday, November 18, 2011

wishing for another child

i feel like i need to blog about this in the online equivalent of whispering.

it's just this whisper floating through my days. a wish for another child. the feeling that someone is missing at dinner. the urgency that ariam should not be alone in this world, dealing with her weirdo parents as we grow old.

it is a whisper that grows louder when we want to take a family photo and i feel unbalanced, like there should be two white adults and two brown-skinned children. it is that nostalgic whisper as i put away bottles and sippies, store the high chair, consider preschools, buy our first pack of little girl panties instead of diapers.

but I don't know. i just don't know. my wishing for another child is all about me (or you could say about us/ariam.) it is not at all clear to me what path we could take that would merge our wishes with the needs of a child.

i think. think. that ethiopia is not the direction for us. while we were not at all happy go lucky adoptive parents with blinders on entering ariam's adoption, we are even less so now that we have searched for her family and story.

i thought, hoped, that moving towards domestic african american infant adoption would reduce some of our concerns surrounding ethical infant adoption. learning that is not necessarily true. sometimes i think it would be tremendously easier to be a less intentional person. someone who doesn't give a s--t. really. that must be such an easy way to live.

adoption is not simple. it is not a slogan on a t-shirt. it involves human lives. i want no part in screwing that up. so i don't know. i just don't know.

adopt again, raise an only child, foster when ariam is much older....

but no fertility treatment. two years ago next month we found out that we have absolutely no hope of reproducing without major medical intervention. we did nothing with that news. and six months later completed the adoption we had begun the previous spring. i always thought we'd revisit the conversation but i don't think we will. ariam is all i could have ever asked for in a daughter. i want her to have a sibling she can relate to. so fertility treatment is not in our cards. and there's no venting or ranting needed. we are happy, at peace and completely at ease with that decision. i imagine that our genes could not possible produce a child who could compare in any way to ariam.

and because no post could be complete without her sweetness....i present to you....the perfect peacock!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

School Schmool

What's up with picking a preschool these days?!

B.A. (before Ariam) we would stroll by the neighborhood elementary school just a block from our house and pat ourselves on the back for living so close to school. How easy! How convenient! Won't that be perfect when our kiddo comes home?! No commute for school, hooray!

These days, when we stroll by the neighborhood elementary school with it's big banner advertising ECE for 3 and 4 year olds, we pout, we roll our eyes, we sigh. We remind each other that "this will be the last resort."

What has happend to us? Oh, yes, becoming parents in a P.A. (post Ariam) world.

Yesterday we went to two preschool open house tours. Apparently these things are all the rage - practically replacing date night as a fall activity for all parents in our city. We couldn't even get on the waitlist for the open house for one of the schools!

As I sat in the little tiered and carpeted (you know the kind of carpet, that industrial blue stuff that starts peeling into little unraveling plastic strings at the ends) auditorium listening to a principal describe Montessori curriculum, I couldn't help but feel the crushing weight of parental responsibility crash down on our shoulders.

Here are some of the nagging voices of parental responsibility:
"Whatever you choose, it will set the stage for her life, happiness, career, future ....."
"This could be the auditorium you will be trapped in for school plays for the next 8 years..." (ok, my own concern not exactly parental responsibility concern.)
"White, Latino, White, Latino. White, white, white."
"Dual language is so important. He's telling us it is SO important. If we don't get her in here she'll practically be unable to communicate in life!"
"Montessori, montessori, traditional classroom, traditional classroom. Make your choice but don't choose wrong..."

How do you make these choices? Little neighborhood school, well in writing it sounds very sweet and quaint. In reality it is almost 100% Latino (not a problem at all except that it is as lacking in diversity as an all white school.) It is also not dual language, not top performing, not a magnet or charter school, not, not, not, not.

Do kids really need all of this scholastic input? At age 3? Do they? They might. I really seriously do not have an answer here. Mr. dual language Montessori magnet school guy says they do.

I don't remember anything about school before age 5. I think it was called daycare. I think they flicked me on the head if I was naughty, I spent afternoons napping, and my mom taught me my numbers and letters at home. Somehow I succeeded in life, although God only knows how.... ;)

Here's the thing. Today I had to be at the Children's Hospital for something. We're there reasonably often. But today I was not with Ariam so I had the chance to look and listen more. The woman I was with told me that right before I sat down in her office she had to call a family whose child had died to let them know they have a $1 million dollar medical bill. One million dollars.

Walking through the halls I watched kids in wagons, hooked to IVs, sip tiny sips of orange juice.

Ariam has medical challenges but not quite like these kids. We are so very fortunate that our decisions are not life and death ones. That we can spend our time worried about something as frivolous as 3 year old preschool.  We are so fortunate to have her. She is so fortunate to be healthy, alive, thriving. She is so smart. Already smarter than us. I want to make the right decisions for her even though I can't look in a crystal ball and see the end results.

So... here are the options for the fall so far:

1. Public school ECE (ages 3-5 in one class) with dual language classrooms. Large class sizes, Montessori based, half day program. Caucasian/Latino but not much other diversity. A magnet school but not in a fancy neighborhood with lots of funding and special "extras." Designed for kids to go age 3-5th grade with full fluency in both languages by graduation.

2. Private preschool (ages 3-4 in one class) with some Spanish taught/spoken. Small class size. Love and Logic based, full day program (but doesn't have to be 5 days/week.) Random diversity, heavy also on  Caucasian/Latino. Lots of parent involvement - bringing in favorite foods, sharing about trips to other countries, etc. Not Montessori - more group activities, field trips, etc. Designed to meet the needs of our neighborhood (in walking distance), prepare kids for kindergarten, and a fun environment.

There are other options. We have a list of SIX other programs to visit. A very diverse private preschool downtown (hello waiting list), our local school, another Montessori dual language program, and a couple of schools across town that would be annoying for commute now but could be good options if we relocated in a couple of years.

I have a feeling that in the end we will still have no clue what we are doing. We will put our numbers into a lottery for a lot of them, pay money to sit on the waitlists for the other private ones, and pray to God that it all works out.

It's pretty unsettling. This whole school thing. It's like the person who used to smile knowingly at the little neighborhood elementary school (yeah, the school and I were in solidarity about our need for a small one to enter my home) is gone. Replaced by rabid preschool weirdo mother.

Decisions decisions. How do you make this one? What weight do you give to language? diversity? distance from home? class size? price? teaching style?


Oh, and a quick pic of the little miss headed off to preschool in the fall. She started dance class.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Talk about loss of momentum. I didn't realize how hard it would be to get back to blogging after neglecting it so long.


This past spring, when it was cold and white here in our next-to-the-mountains city, I sat in my bed and scribbled out an email fantasy to three amazing mothers of three little Ethiopians (and 3 equally lovely non-Ethiopian!)

At the end of August, the dream that started in a chain of giddy emails almost 6 months earlier, finally came true over five picture-perfect days in Santa Fe.

Taki, Noemi, Kenenisa and Ariam.

Floating in the swimming pool on our last morning I was struck by how Taki, previously this tiny, fragile baby, hurt so deeply by life in an orphanage, has turned into a fearless, pool jumping, splashing, happy boy. Noemi, previously gripped by anxiety has blossomed into a funny, brave, open, loving little girl. Kenenisa, who couldn't breath and almost died in Ethiopia, now our chilled out, ukulele rockin,  nature loving sweet little man.

And my sweet Ariam. Who received the boys and their mommies as visitors in Ethiopia while waiting for us to come for her. So patient. So even tempered and open to life. My sweet Ariam who chose to ride like a queen on her floating seat through the pool but who got brave and ultimately jumped in. She who always chooses love and life and laughter. It was amazing for me to see these four together. The way they each fit with their mommy. The way they accept each other.
Each one magnified in beauty by the presence of the others.