Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Progress is progress ...

Progress is well ... progress.  And we have a few things to report on.

I am excited and super pleased to announce that in the past two nights, our little Ethiopian Angel has gone to sleep without us staying right by his side until he his a coma baby.

NOPE ... in fact, we sing, read books, tuck him in, pat his back, give kisses and LEAVE.  The first night, he whimpered slightly.  I told him Momma would keep his door open (who knows if he understands that ... but I sure talk to him like he does).  I came back about 10 minutes later and he was sawing some serious logs.  Dream land ... LALALA ... and so was I.  AN ENTIRE HOUR TO MYSELF??  Pinch me,  I have to be dreaming!

So, I tried that today at nap.  Singing songs, books and giggles were shared first.  I then tucked him in and was about to leave when this dialogue proceeded;

Zebene:  "Feesh, Feesh" (we went to the store today for the first time together and purchased you guessed it - Goldfish - another milestone - navigating HEB with a curious 4 year old).
Mommy:  "Goldfish, do you want a snack?"  (We JUST ate)
Zebene:   He then gave me the routine head nod and Ethiopian eyebrow nod meaning "yes"
Mommy:  "Ah,  buddy, we have to take a nap and then go and get Canyon, Dakota and Maliah from school.  THEN ... we can have a snack".
Zebene:  Giggles - he then closed his eyes tightly and began to act like he was snoring.


YEP .. progress.   First, that boy knew exactly what I was saying.   I'm telling you ... he is bright!
And, guess what.  After our little bout of giggles, Mommy tucked him into bed - kissed him and LEFT.
Guess who is now sleeping as I type this.  HELLO hour to myself!  You should feel honored that I am sharing it with you.  Have you seen my laundry piles and my floors lately??  Don't tell Doug I chose you.

So, we are indeed making some headway from the little guy who would scream "Mommy, Doddy, Mommy, Doddy" if he opened his eyes and we were not present.  He is also now awaking happy.  When I go in to check on him (thinking he is asleep),  I often find him looking through his books in bed.  Content.  Happy.   Ah, so am I with this progress!

The other night as I lay next to him, he began to sing to me the beginning of the same song I sing to him.  It's one I made up for my children and with each child,  I insert each of their names as I sing it.  As I laid there next to him, I heard this "Gootnight Mommy, Gootnight Mommy, Gootnight Mommy ... proceeded by the humming in perfect tune of the last portion of the line that comes next.  Sweet boy, he was telling me Goodnight and knew exactly where to insert my name.   Oh and did you notice ... I wasn't "Auntie"????

As we tucked his brother in bed two nights ago, he walked out, turned around said "seet deems Conyon" (sweet dreams Canyon).  Hello Angel!  You just melted me!  Canyon giggled and said "He just told me sweet dreams".  A precious little moment.   I think he melted Canyon too.

He is also picking up some words here and there.  He has "Soddy Mommy, Soddy Mommy" down pat when he realizes he's about to get a good ol' time in.  That is pretty annoying  funny.  Too bad sorry's aren't payment for the little break you need when you do the same thing over and over and over again ... when you know you are not supposed to or when you refuse to clean up the toys, come to Momma when I say "Nah" a gazillion times (and get the evil stare instead).  But indeed, we have got that one down.  Just don't ask him to tell his sister that when their has been a ruckus.  Seems to disappear from the memory bank in the most convenient times.

We are starting to also see a lot more testing of boundaries, eye looks and orneriness.   Yep, we're moving out of the "honeymoon" when he thinks he has to please us and into real transition where we are seeing the true personality unfold.  I am sure more is to come - but as for now, it includes fingers filled with sticky tape.  Think 18 month olds unleashed in your home.  Yes ... we touch and get into EVERYTHING.  Which brings me to another thing he has learned to do.  When Mommy says "no, no Zebene, not a toy", he answers "des, des, des"  (yes, yes, yes).

Progress is progress ... even if it doesn't seem, to the outside world, to be going in the right direction.  It is actually good news that he is beginning to feel right at home, test us (because then we get to show him we love him - no matter what!) and figure out his boundaries.  And well, even if that means that I have to follow him around all day like a toddler, at least he's right by my side while I do it.  It's all about attachment right?  "des des des"!!

Monday, February 27, 2012

26.1 miles to go?

19 months - from start to finish - from the moment we put in our application until the moment we stepped off the plane and became a family of 6.  23 months for Maliah ... so this time, the race was a bit shorter, albeit, mostly because we sought a child that was older - and a boy - two areas that are less popular in the world of adoption.    The journeys were long.  There were moments of great stress, tears and heartache during both.  There were moments where we had to completely trust that the Lord called us ... that he would finish the race set before us.   And - He did ... he is always FAITHFUL!!

The reality is though, that while most of my readers and friends followed us all those months and were so vital in praying Zebene home ... the race isn't yet finished.   That part of the journey is simply the warm up - the 5K - to the marathon that lies ahead for an adopting family.  The journey begins when most are finished cheering.   When the sidelines of cheers have diminished.  When their are no more water stations and mile markers to let you know how far you have to go ... when the posters have made it's way to the recycle bins and the rest of the world has gone back to living life.  That is when the real journey and work begins.

It's so easy when we arrive at one of our Airport Welcome Homes (yes ... we are blessed here in San Antonio that this has become a fun and frequent family affair), that we all look on at the new family and in our minds think "And they lived happily ever after".   The pictures are beautiful.  The moment is full of joy and praise as the fruition of all those months of praying that child/children home has finally come to pass.  A family has been birthed and we, the onlookers get to rejoice and be of witness to all His good works.   It is the crescendo!!!!

What you might not know, however, is that that family doesn't always look so "rosy" if you peered through the window once the bags have been unpacked.  Transition is hard.  It is work.  It is exhausting.   It is lonely.

It is also the only place I have ever seen and heard the Lord more clearly.  Why .... because when the world goes away ... I am only left with HIM!

Many have asked how we are doing.  Many have shared their desire to meet our sweet boy.  Many have blessed us with the gift of meals, texts and e-mails.  And while I haven't always had the chance to respond, answer or thank you ... they have been, in many moments, the oxygen to my blood that day.   Did I mention that adoption parenting and transition can be lonely?

So, let me give you a window into what we are doing.  A window into the world of attachment, bonding and grafting.

  • Zebene sleeps on his top mattress that lays next to our bed.  Each night and each nap, we lay down with him to get him to sleep.  Only in the past day or so, are we working to leave the room before he has drifted off .. which brings huge tears.  When he cries, we immediately go back in and pat his back and let him know we are here.  Zebene is a hurting child that needs to know that we will always return.  In his life ... that has not always been the case.
  • Discipline looks different.  When a behavior shows itself, a time in on Mommy's lap - or right near me, is how it is handled.  For a child from a hurting place, they have often been abandoned and isolated.  Our goal isn't a time out (away from us) as we are working to build a bond and trust and bring him closer to us.  This can also mean long timeframes of kicking, biting, screaming and spitting ... yep, I told you this isn't all rosy.  
  • Meeting Zebene's needs:  Zebene has had multiple broken placements.  First, he was with his beautiful mother for 2.5 years.  From there, he was in an orphanage for 4 months, a transitional home for 17 months and then placed into our care.  This means that Zebene has had many many Care Takers caring for his needs, and many broken attachments in his short 4 year life.  This also means that in his world and mind ... at this point, we are just another stopping place and perhaps, one more "Auntie" in his world.  Because of this, in order for Zebene to learn who his family is and what a family is ... only Doug and I (and his siblings) can be the one to meet his needs, show him physical affection and care for him.   This includes the simple things like when he needs help climbing on something, a drink of water, to go to the bathroom, help with his seat belt, a snack, or a meal.  This also translates that Doug and I do not leave him with anyone yet - even those incredible grandparents we have.  Now, if you see us and him ... don't treat him or us like we have the plague.  For sure, come say hi - Zebene loves to give a high five and would love to meet you.  Just leave the Care taking and physical affection to his immediate family for a while.  We are living in our cocoon ... and praying that this dark and sometimes lonely place will give birth to a butterfly that will be amazingly beautiful when it spreads it's wings.  
  • Cocooning - This is a whole new world for Zebene.  His world looked different, smelled different, and sounded different.  It also was spent (in the past months) mostly in one place ... one transitional home - day in and day out.  He didn't make Target runs, hang out at his brother's baseball tournaments and ride in the car a gazillion times a day to take his siblings somewhere. For Zebene, transition into a new place can be scary - it's also not consistent (which he needs most).  Sometimes, he will want us to hold him and he won't let go.  In the few times we have gone out and strangers have approached, he has turned his head away from them (at first).  He isn't being rude - I promise.  He is guarded.  We don't know what he may be thinking ... since we can't yet really communicate.  For all he knows, you are going to take him away - I mean, we did.  Recently, a precious mother in law of a neighbor put her hands out and tried to take him out of my arms.  Immediately, he shook his head at her and held on to me tight (looking away).  I won't lie ... this brought me joy as I was the one who was getting to comfort him - a big plus for attachment.  This brings me to another point ... 
  • Your situation or your friends child might look like our Maliah's did (and still does at time) - indiscriminate affection.  Don't be fooled by the child who recently came home and looks so "happy and adjusted" because they are "so friendly" and will go to anyone ... sit in anyone's lap and allow anyone to care for their needs.  Friends ... this isn't good - though the world would say "Ah, they are doing so well", this is a child with attachment issues.  I have lived this world and continue to do so with Maliah (home now 5 years).  For a child from a hurting place who doesn't know attachment to a mother ... they are often willing to receive affection and attention from anyone who will meet those needs.  It often comes across as being so "Social" when little do you know that this child may be struggling with control issues, the need to always be seen (incessant talking can be a attachment sign), and freely "mommy shopping", I call it.  This has been the hardest part of our journey with Maliah.  I'm pretty certain that she would just as willingly go home with a stranger as us on some days.  SO ... once again, this goes back to only the parents meeting the needs of the child.  Well meaning strangers and friends helping are often hurting the process of attachment and not even know it.   
  • Intentional play.  This takes time ... and, friends, I am still learning this one.  There are all sorts of sensory play ideas and more that we are or should be doing.  I'm still trying to figure out how to fit it all of this in (practically speaking)  ... all day focused play, my growing piles of laundry, cleaning the bathrooms, kids activities, grocery shopping, making meals and more - without loosing my mind.  I will talk more about this one later ... KP (see below) and I are wrestling with this as I am often wondering if she has actually been in a home where one is trying to parent 3 other kids, be a wife, help your husband with work and more while doing all of this.   I am trying to learn a balance and right now and  the beam keeps winning.  
  • What would KP do??  In the adoption world, their is a well known attachment expert named "Karen Purvis".  She has worked with children from "hurting places" for years and through her science background and experience has learned a great deal as to the reasons why our children respond the way the do ... the things they are missing from nutrition, attachment cycles and more.   In our home, we often ask "What would KP do'?  If you haven't already, read "The Connected Child" then go on over to Empowered to Connect  and watch some of the videos of KP, read the blog posts of Amy and Michael Monroe and learn a little of what we are doing as the basis and foundation for each day.  What I have listed is only the starting place as we have read a TON of books along the way and are utilizing many tools from them - she just happens to be our families favorite.  I'm also still working on that "Karen Purvis" compassion voice.  
Parenting a child from a hard place isn't easy ... it has to be intentional and that often means ... exhausting.  The good news is, God knows all of this and we are sure that through the wisdom of resources like KP and through the revelation he gives each day, that he can and will bring beauty from ashes ... in every child.   But, when you ask how we are ... know that if I look at you cross eyed and glazed over, it's because I am caught somewhere between balancing the reality of living life each day ...  with 3 kids plus one more - from a hurting place.  (Well, actually 2 kids plus 2 more from a hurting place - since that parenting never ends).   And by the way ... I need a mile marker.  What mile am I on anyways?

I sure am worth it!!!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The list is endless

Today marks 3 weeks together.  It's hard to believe that it has already been three weeks and yet, as I look back I can already see how far you have come.
3 weeks ago, you were scared to death to leave the Transitional Home with us.  You cried and shook your finger "no" at us and the guides.  You kept your distance and shrugged your shoulders if we would approach.  We eventually had to pick you up and take you against your will.  You were so scared and yet so so brave.  I often wonder how well I'd be doing in your shoes ... I'm thinking, definitely not as well as you.  
Today, you cry when we leave your side at night and nap (so we don't), oh how far we have come from that day when you pushed us away at that Transitional Home!  

In the last 3 weeks, I have learned and continue to learn so much about you, Zebene.  There is definitely so much to love!

  • I love the way you you shake your finger "no" and tell us "yellum" when you don't want to do something.  
  • I love the way your smile and eyes light up when you see something you like.
  • I love the way you count "Makena's" (cars) as we drive somewhere.  
  • I love the way you have opened up to trying new foods ... and are starting to call them by their names; pineapple, milk, and of course, cookies.  Trust is being built when you will try these thing and no longer give us a shoulder shrug for everything on your plate.  
  • I love that you will randomly stop what you are doing and run to each of us, grab our hands and kiss them.  One at time.  Often.  You are so affectionate.  
  • I love that you love to reach up for me and have me carry you down the stairs.
  • I love that when you saw a rolly polly, you said "Kwas" (ball) and were so intrigued by it.
  • I love that because one time when you went "shint" (yes, that is what you call pee) and I broke off a piece of tissue to wipe the rim of the seat ... you now do it every time too.
  • I love that you will say throughout the day, "Canyon, Dakota and Maleeluh" over and over as if asking where they are.
  • I love that you love to look at our pictures and say who we are "Mommy, Doddy, Canyon, Dakota and "Maleeluh".
  • I love that when you saw a picture of your friend "Bedilu", you lit up and said "BEDILU" with excitement.  It brings me joy that you know sweet friendship.
  • I love that yesterday as we walked up the stairs, you began to say each of your friends names from the Transitional Home; Mehret, Ashanafi, Sentayhu, Bedilu, and on and on.  As I joined in, you smiled so big.  Sweet boy, those friends will never be forgotten.  
  • I love that when we put your shoes on, you now say "Zebene shoes, Mommy shoes".
  • I love that you learned that in our house, you take off your shoes when you come in ... and have done it every time since we showed you the very first night.   How fast you learn.  
  • I love that the first time we went outside, I bent down and pulled some weeds from the grass ... now, every time you see the weeds ... you bend down and pull them too.  
  • I love that you love to sing and dance and that throughout much of the day ... you are singing a song in Amharic.
  • I love that you taught me the words for big "tiliq" and small "tinish" by showing me two different size beads.  And I love now that you reiterate it over and over with big and small things.
  • I love that I am certain at times, you are totally tricking us with words (and making up words) ... like today as you pointed to the Polar Bear and said "injera" and giggled.  I giggled and said "no no no" and you shook your head yes to see if you could fool me.  You have a sense of humor.
  • I love that you can now point to almost every animal on the animal book and say it's name in English.  You are so bright!
  • I love that even though you know the name "Turtle"  ... you tell me each time "Elly".  Must be a word you love.  I actually think it fits better than turtle too.
  • I love the way you don't have personal space with your siblings on the couch.  That when you climb up to sit next to them, you snuggle up close.
  • I love that the other day, I was cuddling Maliah (spooning her) on the couch.  When she got down, you jumped up and took her place.  You too wanted a cuddle.  I love it!  
  • I love that today you pressed your nose to mine, giggled and then kissed me on the lips.  I love that you thought this was funny.  
  • I love that for two weeks ... you called me "Auntie", recently ... I love and that I have officially earned the spot of "Mommy".   It is a place in your life that should be earned ... I pray I am finding my way there.  I love to hear you say it!  
  • I love the way you light up when I serve you injera.
  • I love the way you say "Feesh" for fish, "Cot" for Cat, etc.  If I could, I would freeze the Ethiopian accent in your language skills forever.  I know, I might be crazy ... but there is beauty in it.
  • I love how cautious you are with new things and yet, you continue to try.
  • I love the way every time you give you PiPa a high five or a thumbs up, you will kiss your thumb or hand after.  It's as if you are telling him he is loved.  
  • I love how you stop to look at the bugs on the sidewalk, pick the leaves off the trees, touch the ends of the flowers.   I love watching the world through your eyes.
  • I love the way you laughed the first time we gave you a drink from a drinking fountain ... and it went all over your face because you hadn't a clue what to do.  
  • I love the way when we walk down the stairs, you point to the boat in the picture every. single. time and say "Bot".  
  • I love that you stop under each light switch for me to pick you up and turn it off or on.  
  • I love that even though we don't share the same language, there has been very few times that we have not been able to communicate.
  • I love that the other day, when you stuck your tongue out at Mommy ... you realized quickly that that was not nice and then said "Soddy Mommy, Soddy" (sorry).
  • I love the way when you are uncomfortable, or sometimes just because ... you will stick up your hand and wrap it into mine to hold it.  I love holding your hand!  
  • I love staring at your eyes and smile.  I don't even think I am biased when I say that I have the 4 most beautiful children in the world.  I cannot take any credit ... but you are GORGEOUS!  
There are so so many things I love about the precious little boy you are, Zebene!  One day, we will look back and it will seem like forever ago.  As we move through this journey, I don't want to forget the little things that I loved along the way of your discovery and your transition into this big new world of yours.  If I only could have "record" on that video all day.  It is beautiful to watch your big new world unfold!  

Favorite past time ... pushing big cars

Pulling the weeds

Yep, putting them in the trash.  

Taking in every morsel of newness.

"Kwoss" (ball) ... Rolly Polly bugs

Studying the Rolly Polly

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Zebene loves his Daddy.  He finds security and comfort there.  He has a reverence for him ... and when he speaks, Zebene listens.   I can often ask him to do something and well, the reality is ... I sometimes get the shoulder shrug and a look that says "no".  But not Daddy.   He listens when Daddy speaks.

Zebene loves his Mommy too.  He does ... He is affectionate and loving.  He puts his hands up for me to hold him and he shares lots of smiles and sweet moments with me.  With me he finds nurturing, care giving, and quiet moments.  But there is something different about his Daddy.   There is a reverence, a respect, a great honor he holds for him.   It was immediate ... it wasn't earned.

Today, as I sat in church it hit me.  Zebene has never had a Daddy.  Not even a Daddy figure.  He has yearned for a Daddy his whole life and not even known it.   For for the first time, Zebene has a man who is filling his immediate need for ultimately, what his spirit yearns deeper for ... his eternal Father's love.  As I watch this adoption journey unfold, it amazes me to see my little boy live out what we all know ... we all yearn for our Daddy's love  - our eternal Daddy love!  Aren't we all seeking that ... approval, protection, comfort, security and provision?

As I hear Zebene cry out when he awakes or is scared, I often hear him say "Doddy, Doddy, Doddy"!  In his upset as he sits on my lap for a time in, he will cry "Doddy, Doddy, Doddy"!  When we were in country, the first name he would say was "Doddy" ... and loudly, with excitement he would exclaim it!  He would run to him with excitement to show him something new - to seek his approval of what he had just done.

Doug gets to be Zebene's first picture of what he will someday find in his eternal father ... comfort, security, protection, provision and approval and unconditional love.  As Zebene looks up to Doug with respect and honor, he will learn the same for his eternal Father.  

Zebene, you are blessed to have the best Daddy ... and the very best example of God the Father!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The journey

Adoption.  A beautiful expression of God's greatest love.  He adopted us first.  He showed us that through our brokenness, our ugliness and our sin ... we were still worthy of his greatest love.  This is eternal adoption and yet ... physical adoption is no different.  Indeed, he showed us first how to love the hurting.  I mean, I am a mess on most days, and yet he still calls me beloved and daughter of the King.  Even in my mess ... through my adoption ... he loves me!

So today, as I think back over our past two adoption experiences, the reality is still the same.  My kids - all of them are a mess.  My biological children struggle with sin, selfishness, lack of self control, pride and more.  They are and always will be a work in progress - won't we all?  But, they have been adopted ... eternally.  Indeed, they have committed and have given their life to the one who first gave his for them ... even when some days, that love and that heart is divided as they seek and learn what that relationship looks like.  They are learning how to move from adoption to ADOPTED!   It's beautiful!  They have seen his love even when they thought they were unworthy.   He continues to pursue them ... even in moments when they push him away.  Their relationship with the one who created them will be a process.

And well, as go for my children through physical adoption.  It is a earthly display of a spiritual reality.  Maliah struggles ... with all those things above and more.  Control seeps in - a by product for many children from an institution.  On many days we see the fruit of a physical adoption in her behavior.  You might not.  The world, that is.  You see a beautiful, happy, giggly, bright little girl, who is well adjusted and well adapted into her family.  She is.  But from the outside in, you might not see those things that we see...   You may not see the small behaviors that scream brokenness.  You might not see the places that still yearn for wholeness and healing.  We do ... and still, we love her through it because well, he loved us first and showed us how.  Adoption.  It is a beautiful and messy thing!

And once again, over these past days,  I am getting the chance to see and experience the truth of my own adoption all over again through the journey of our son.

 I was broken and alone when the Lord swept me up.  I believed him ... that he loved me and yet, it took YEARS to truly receive him.  I wanted to give him my whole heart.  I wanted to experience the depth of his great love and yet I wasn't sure what that looked like or how to go about getting it.  And even when I did, their were moments that I turned away and I questioned my love and his.   I had a divided heart.

I see that in my Zebene.

I also rebelled on many occasions.  I fought, pushed back and resisted when he pulled me in closer.  I pushed back, not believing he truly could love me ... in all my unworthiness.   And yet, I still felt him pursue me and when I didn't deserve it or even want it, he held on to me tight ... knowing it was just what I needed but little did I know ... it was what I wanted.

I see that in my Zebene.

And at times, I missed the life I had known before.  Even though that life had nothing to offer.  Even when others in my (Christian) community would say there was nothing to gain there ... I missed it.  It was the only thing I knew.   This life was new and undiscovered .. it was full of fears.

I see that in my Zebene.

It took some time to move from a place of "adoption" in my life with Christ.  From a place where I knew in my heart that it had happened ... but it hadn't yet become my identity to a place where Christ  became central to who I was and am ... it took years to become the wholeness of this adoption.  To be fully ADOPTED!

This week and in the many many weeks to come we will be dealing with a huge and scary word in the adoption world called "attachment".  I intend to and will discuss in a future post our plan and what we are doing to help our little boy and us with this process.   It is a process!  But, for my friends who are new to this community .. attachment is the instinct for Zebene to seek close proximity to us for comfort, protection and provision.  To not seek this from you ... or anyone else.  This is that natural relationship built between a mother and her child at birth ... a relationship that we don't yet have.  It's a process to build ... one that takes time and intentional work.  It's also one that takes only us.  It can be and is exhausting at times.  It is a choice.   Loving him well is a choice.

The reality is, our Zebene still sees us as his favorite Care Giver.  In the past 1.5 years of his life, many have come and gone and cared for him.  This week ... I happen to be his favorite "Auntie".  And indeed, I am reminded on many moments of that reality when he actually calls me that  - "Auntie".
We have had some beautiful moments these past two weeks.  We have shared in some sweet moments and I have loved sharing them with you.   And yes, we have had and will continue to have some hard ones too.  But again, this is the process we are on ... to move from Care Giver to Mommy ... from adoption to ADOPTED!  It's a process, a timely and sometimes exhausting process.

Keep in touch and I will share what it looks like for us along the way.    It's a journey ... one I pray and hope you will join us in.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A photo glimpse of one week

A week ago tonight we stepped off the plane and became a family of 6.  It's hard to believe we have hit the one week mark.   I can't even believe how much I love you, Zebene.  The reality is, I believed in my heart that it would take some time to learn to love you.  I knew that was normal and I was prepared for it.  But the Lord did so much more ... and I can say with all of me ... you are so so loved!

So many things I prayed along the way of this journey ... and already I have seen this week the Lord answer many of them.  One of the things I prayed most was for my kids at home - and specifically for Maliah.  Being the youngest and adopted herself, I knew this journey may bring us some setbacks in behavior, jealousy etc.  The Lord has done MORE than I could imagine ... and well, to say she adores you, her brother and you adore her is an understatement.  You giggle in delight when she comes home and become alive with excitement to share and play together.

Over the week, I have taken a few pictures.  Not as many as one would expect but well, we're a little busy around here and the camera often becomes the after thought.
Here are a few of the first week home ...

We have played a LOT of leggos.  And your favorite is  building "Me-ki-na's" (Cars).  

To think a week ago, you would scream if we got you in the shower.  Now, you pour the water all over your head.

Your buddy Matthew gave you these.  It is hilarious that when you put them on, you will say "Cool Mama" because I said that once when you put them on me.

Your brother is the best ... and he is determined to make a hunter out of you.

Probably my favorite sibling moment.  You reached out and held Maliah's hand while you happily watched her play on her leap pad.  She acted like it was second nature and as you guys sat together, you chatted away (in Amharic) and she talked back and answered as if you both could understand every word.  This is my answer to prayers this week!

This photo makes me smile because their were 2 chairs to sit in to color, but you insisted on siting WITH Maliah while she worked on her homework.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

10 day-versary!

Today marks 10 days of Forever with our boy!  In the past 10 days, we are learning more and more about the little boy chosen for our family.  Everything is not perfect ... we have healing to do ... but every day the Lord gives us smiles, kisses and moments where our heart melts a little more for this amazing little guy!   Thank you for praying as we continue to transition and be grafted as a family of 6.

So ... in honor of 10 ... here are 10 things we have learned.

  1.  In new places - he gets quiet and studies all those around him.  Inside the house - he comes alive with excitement.  This is good ... home is beginning to feel safe and a fun place to explore.
  2.  He loves Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwhiches - good thing - because he is a picky eater!
  3.  Before he eats anything new - he smells it.  A shoulder shrug and a push (away) of the food means he doesn't want to try it.  Often, if left alone - he will indeed come back and try it later.  If he eats something and likes it one day, it doesn't mean he'll like it the next.  
  4.  He LOVES baths - even though that shower at the guest house was absolutely frightening.
  5.  He falls asleep quickly, sleeps soundly but is very afraid when he wakes up if you are not in sight. (Thank goodness he sleeps on his mattress right next to Mommy and Daddy)
  6.  He has the BEST little giggle and smile.
  7.  DADDY is adored ... I love hearing him yell "Daddy, Daddy" with excitement to show him something.
  8. He knows quite a few animals, letters, colors in English.  He is bright!  He loves books!  
  9. Discipline is hard - I believe he has gotten away with much with a cute giggle and smile.  Time ins on Mommy's lap are hard - but soon he will learn that he can push, kick, bit and spit and Mommy still never loves him less.  Boundaries are being tested indeed - this is good.
  10. He loves to look at his photo albums we sent him ... and name every one in the picture ... over and over again.  It seems to bring him comfort.  
We have learned so much more ... but today, in honor of 10, I will only give you 10.

I love this sweet song and today it is perfect for my sweet Zebene.  As we learn about each other each day, I find that he may just be teaching me as much about love as I am teaching him.  It is a choice!  I choose him!  

Be sure to pause the music below.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Serenade

As we fixed breakfast today ... we got a Sunday Serenade.   Enjoy - we sure did!

One thing I'll miss about Ethiopia - is the day when my little Ethiopian isn't singing and talking to me in Amharic.  I could listen to him all day!  Just melts me!

*make sure to scroll to the bottom and pause that music I have*

No place like HOME!

We finally arrived home on Friday night - 30 hours of traveling, 3 planes, 2 layovers later.  The trip all in all went WONDERFUL!  Zebene did awesome on the flights, giggling in the airports and hamming it up as he watched the "airoplanes" out the window in Atlants.  He slept some on each and even though at times got a little restless, he really was a traveling trooper - an answer to prayers.   Even security posts went well.  Like he'd been doing it all along.  Such a change from the Embassy visit just a few days prior.

The hardest part of the whole trip was awaking him and getting him off the plane from the last flight where is had sacked out and was like a coma baby.  Of course, you would know it to be the case since we were anxiously trying to get down those airport stairs and into the arms of our children and amazing friends that chaos would abound then.
But no, the Lord wanted to show us first what we know is true these days - he has to come first - sacrifice.  He was a mess.  Full on tantrum and crying.  So confused and so exhausted, the whole scene broke my heart!  We sat and held and played in the waterfall for about 25 or so minutes - leaving all those waiting below to wonder - or so we thought.  Little did we know, the Captain and flight attendants had sweetly shared with our waiting crew that our precious joy was not so full of joy.  They shared with them that he was having a hard time and to be patient.  And well ... they were!  As we came down the stairs you could have heard a pin drop.  All those waiting kids and friends as quiet as a mouse as not to scare our little guy.  Thank you so so much for understanding and without knowing it - submitting right in line with what was best for our boy - a little distance.

I was so overwhelmed to see so many friends show up to welcome and embrace our newest addition.  Of course, after 30 hours I was in a hazy fog myself - but I remember each of your faces, your embraces, your words of encouragement and smiles.  You will NEVER know or understand what it means and feels like to know we were and are surrounded by such an amazingly supportive community.  Hey - even my pastor and his precious wife arrived.  I'm thinking this may be Scott's first - but definitely NOT last welcome airport home party!!

Home ... there is no place like HOME!

So here are a few of the amazing photos that my friend Jennifer Verme took.  She is an incredible photographer and I knew she was there snapping away.  Amazing that she can make priceless photos even with this tired, greasy ol' lady, her matching beaux and one overwhelmed little boy.
Thank you is never enough Jen, for sharing your talent with us through this blessing!  If you love what you see ... check out her work at "Bend the Light".  Once we are settled, we'll be looking her back up for our first family shoot - including showers. HAHA.

These are in no particular order - that would take time and energy - both of which I have none right now.  Enjoy them anyways.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

A Treasured Day

As a Mom to a beautiful almond eyed Chinese princess, I have always dreamt of what I would say if I ever had the chance to meet Maliah.  I pray often that the Lord is telling her how beautiful and lovely she is ... And how courageous she is  for choosing life.  I dream of what she may look like and find myself staring into Maliah's eyes or her pouty heart shaped lips and wonder if they are traits of her Mom or perhaps, she looks like her Dad.  I will probably never know and yet... I still dream.

 But today, the Lord gave me those moments I have dreamt of for her - with Zebene's birth mom.  This day was a treasure  I will always hold dear.  Every moment is etched into my mind forever. I have embraced and held the woman who gave my son life.  I sat next to her and told her that I honored her and that she was and is courageous.  I listened as she expressed her love for her son and felt a little of the pain and great sacrifice she was making for him.  I gained a greater understanding of her desires for him ... Even through a small morsel of words to describe it.  I saw the way she looked at him - adoringly- I saw her smile, kiss and embrace him.  I have treasures to share with him as he grows of a few memories of his years with her.  I now know that his smile - is hers.  I now know that his gentle voice - she shares.  I now know that he was a quiet and shy baby ... And that she dreams he will one day return.  I now know that she told him over and over " do not forget me" and he told her " I will not forget you" before and as she made the hardest decision of her life - to release him to the care of an orphanage.  I now know that she likes his room, knows who his brother and sisters are, knows who is loving her son ... And was " happy he had a good family" and has photos of them all ... And her son ... to keep close.

 I left with his birth Mother a long letter... Translated into Amharic for her.  All the things I dreamed of sharing with Maliah's birth mother, I shared with Zebene's Mother today in both the physical sharing and through a letter for her to always keep.  I didn't share for just today    ... But every day she reads them ... "You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Jesus adores you and loves you.  We love you for giving us the honor of being your hands and heart to a son you and I both love ... I will never replace you ... But am only honored and humbled to share Jesus's love and yours with our together son.   You hold great esteem in our home and our hearts."  Much more was in the pages of the letter ... But those things ... And the truth of the beauty she holds in Christ's eyes were the most important things I hope she receives.   Thank you Jesus for the privilege to share that truth with her today.  To say you did more than I could ever ask or imagine is an understatement.

 The day was emotional.  I cried trying to share - but lost it as she walked away.  Waving goodbye, holding our son on my hips was far too much  for me to process - still my heart tries to absorb it's reality.   Simply the thought brings me to tears. I don't believe I know how to love so selfless and courageous as she has.

 Half way around the world, there will always be a piece of our family and our hearts ... Thank you Mimi for allowing us this day!  It was and always be our Treasured Day!

Play Day - day 3

Sorry this is posted a little late - by a day.  I was too pooped last night to get it on here.  So of course, now I am a day behind.  Come back in a bit for Day 4 - Birth Mother meeting.

Play Day! Today was  a relaxing play day spent in Ethiopia's lap of luxury - the Sheraton Hotel.  This is by far the nicest place in Addis Ababa,  courting dignitaries and those whose who like Angelina Jolie and more.  But today, it held the finest of fine ... Zebene Martine and paparazzi.

 It is beautiful with a gorgeous pool and a very nice park with grass and beautiful flowers.   A treat for us all ... And a world of discovery for a little boy who has never experienced those things.  From the sand, to the grass, to the big plastic climbing animals ... It was all new and full of inhibitions to go with.  By play time end... He was jumping off small walls and leaving much room between us and him - a new milestone.   We also enjoyed a long nap.  Well, the people with testosterone did.

 We then went on two long walks on the streets outside our guest house.  Our boy who has been timid of new, grabbed each of our hands and seem to walk in great confidence between us.  He would watch carefully any time a van full of people drove up, captured the eyes of the many whom passed and together, we got lots of looks .... Smiles to go with... But we definitely stuck out.

  Those walks always come with an arrest of sights and sounds! As the begging Mom with the baby (Who also with her hand out from the knapsack on her back) said, "sister, farenge" (foreign white person) it was even more clear just how much we stood  out.   Of course this phrase was followed by the tap on the mouth, then the tummy with another " sister, farenge" (a plea for money for food).  Heartbreaking always ... But the one who took the cake for me today was the little girl- about 2.5 or 3 at max who approached doing the same while Mom sat watching with a newborn baby tied up on her breast.  Ethiopia ... A place that will break your heart and then steal it!  Doug might be short a few burr.

 The second walk of our day got us to Kaldi's where Zebene experienced his first bowl of ice cream.  While grilled cheese, quesadillas or  eggs haven't gained his yet approval - ice cream is officially a universal love.  We taught him "yummy" and indeed .. He said it was!

 Things I learned today
1.  We aren't quite potty trained ... We will have some homework.
2.  When told "no", he shuts down or withdraws .. Sometimes will get honory. That too is universal.
3. He loves French fries and like his big sister-Catsup!
 4. I get Mom of the year award ... Yes, I did feed my kid nothing but French fries for lunch.  Nice!  What's a girl to do when he won't eat the grilled cheese it came with.  Besides, Karen Purvis said I needed to build in a lot of yes's and well....she gives a lot of gum so who is keeping track?  Gum, French fries, whatever!
 5.Two hours is too long for a nap ... 2 hours past bedtime and as I type, he is awake still next to me and I am sitting in a dark room as when I had thought he was asleep and began to leave ... Alligator tears erupted.   Mental note - fear of being in the room alone.
 6. He and Maliah should never share a bed... It could look like a war with how much they both toss and turn!
 7. Zebene's birth mom has visited him each time she has come for court and embassy.  I knew she was offered to do so ... But found out today that she had.
 8.  Not a fan of dried fruit
9. Showers are terrifying!
10. I am falling more and more in love with this sweet boy.  We have declared  that he is keeper!!!!

 Oh one last thing I learned ... Without a poop sample, I will bet you money this kid has Guardi!  Eeeeew!  TMI?? The joys of IA adoption.  Get ready all my friends to follow - I am thinking that too might be universal.  Haha

My beautiful boy!

learning and getting good at jumping

There is a hint of the smile for you that we see lots


Ethiopia flag

Big Bite ... ice cream!

Yep ... it's universal ... we love it!

Yes, those are my beautiful eyes!

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