Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tea Cozy

Addendum: I wanted to make you all aware of the goings on today over at Mary's blog, Owlhaven. Mary is the mom to ten kids, four of whom are from Ethiopia, and there's cool stuff going on there today. Go check it out.
One of the happiest things in the world to me is an unexpected package arriving on my porch. Today I got one from my friend Susan: actor, writer, comedienne, day of fasting organizer, kombucha-brewer, 76-stair-climber, traffic-loathing, all-round girl wonder.

I opened the box to find various treasures as "thanks" for the honor of reading the manuscript for her ever-so-delicious book, Angry Conversations with God. There was no thanks necessary, as this book's message hit me at just the right time. I wish I could give you snippets here, but she hasn't given me the go-ahead yet. Suffice it to say: go buy this book when it's out next year. It's that good. And if you're lucky enough to be in a city where she's speaking on the book tour, hight-tail it to hear her read. You will laugh your hiney off, maybe get mad here and there, and definitely be challenged to think about God in new ways that just might make you love Him more as you realize deeper His abiding love for you. Reading both Susan's book and The Shack has done so much to help me through this challenging time we're in right now. She couldn't have been writing this book at a more perfect time for me, hence the no need for thanks.

One of the surprises in the box Susan sent was the same tea cozy featured here: click here.

Maybe because I'm a copycat and maybe just because I was cold, I followed the example of Susan as seen here.

It works well to keep my head warm. In fact, I'm wearing it now as I write this. And see, I'm having a warm cup of PGTips as I took that photo, though it did get cold rather quickly since the cozy was not in its proper place.

Nice job, Susan. I'm impressed. And really, no need to thank me for reading the book, but I sure like the cozy anyway. It's the coolest thing I've seen in a while. In fact, this is what I think of the cozy, your book, and mostly of you:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


One of the surprises that the twist in our (hopeful) adoption of Abenezer has brought is a new set of things to celebrate. I had never imagined when we first entered this strange world of international adoption that I'd be ready to break open the bubbly to celebrate an appeal being officially filed. When I read the email from our caseworker today telling us that all the right papers were officially filed in the court of appeals on Wednesday, I had this feeling of lightness, of relief, of...dare I say it?... happiness.


Tuesday, January 29, 2008


That's what today feels like. No, I take that back: most of 2008 so far feels like limbo. There's a void of action, of progress, even many times of emotion. Finding things to be happy about doesn't come easily but it's not like we're moping around sad all the time either. We're just waiting for something to happen...and waiting...and waiting.

The appeal of this case for Abenezer should be filed tomorrow. We thought it was going to be filed sooner. This is no one's fault. It just is what it is (which is coming to be my favorite phrase). From the time the case has been filed, we are hoping the court will let us know how long it will take for them to figure out a court date. Sound murky? It is. Little is concrete.

As for other things in our life (work on the house, career issues, church, etc), there are what feels like thousands of little things that are being held up, not moving forward, stalled and stagnant. We are waiting for these thousands of things to be worked out. We are waiting...and waiting more.

Someone suggested I blog on one of my down-days. On those days, I usually end up wailing on the phone with my mom. This isn't one of those, though this may be worse. Today is a nothing day. Nothing, I tell you, nothing. I wish I felt sad. I certainly wish for happiness as well. But Mr. Knot has been moving in to the pit of my stomach, getting all settled in nice and comfy there. He and Ms. Dark Thoughts are new neighbors--she's been playing house in my brain for most of my life, though she does seem to take long vacations now and then.

But today? Man, those two are yucking it up in Lori-land, having a good ole' time. My bet is that by later tonight they will have cracked open a bottle of Jagermeister and started playing with Mr. Knot's new Wii system. I hear he's really into tennis.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Many Different Things

We heard from Mary again Friday with more details about what has been going on. We'd been afraid of some setbacks earlier in the week, but those have been worked out, and everyone is hoping that by the middle of next week, we'll know when the appeal will be. I'm not sure if having an actual date to look forward to is going to make all of this easier or harder. Oh well. It is what it is, and my goal these days is to do my best to live in the moment by not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. I realize it sounds like a cliche; it's true even so. It's how I'm keeping my head above water lately. I'm not always successful--in fact about half the time, I'm not, tending to blog mainly on the up-days. Believe me, you don't want me to post on my down-days.

Both yesterday and today have been up, so far at least. It helped hearing from Gladney yesterday. Every time we hear from them, we become even more thankful for this agency. Just last night a friend was asking us about Gladney and how remarkable it is that we have no complaints about them, when so many adoptive families have at least one or two gripes with their agency. We feel blessed to have them on our side.

I was tagged again this week, so here goes:

8 things I'm passionate about:
1. My dislike of the movie Love, Actually. I'm sorry for anyone this offends. It's a bafflingly popular movie that I happen to loathe.
2. Anything at all related to New York City, especially the Ric Burns documentary and this blog.
3. Finding interesting things at thrift stores.
4. Authenticity, especially among people who share my faith.
5. Manners, which is just kindness and respect to others.
6. Kindness to animals.
7. Laundry, excluding ironing.
8. Fresh food and good service in restaurants.

8 things I want to do before I die (not all realistic):
1. Perfect a dark roux for gumbo.
2. Get paid to be a restaurant critic.
3. Not suck at karaoke.
4. Complete a marathon, even if it's just a 5K.
5. Go for a hike while carrying my baby in a sling.
6. Shout "Sanctuary!" while banging on the doors of an old church as the bad guys quickly approach.
7. Live at least a few months in NYC.
8. Earn at least $1 from some form of art I created.

8 things I say often:
1. Dadgummit.
2. You wanna watch some TEE-vee?
3. Whatcha doin' Buddy-Wuddy?
4. Ooh, honey, what's that smell?
5. Just a Ruby ale and some tots.
6. Sorry.
7. Scheisse.
8. What the heck?.

8 TV shows I recently watched:
1. The Biggest Loser.
2. Seinfeld.
3. Sex and the City.
4. Dateline.
5. Curb Your Enthusiasm.
6. Moment of Truth (It's awful, I know. I only watched it because Ted plays basketball with host).
7. Friends.
8. Saturday Night Live.

8 Songs I never tire of listening to:
1. "Heaven's My Home"--the Duhks.
2. "Dreams"--The Cranberries.
3. "Home"--Rich Mullins.
4. "This Year"--The Mountain Goats (thanks, Neola!)
5. "Feel"--Robbie Williams.
6. "Seven Nation Army"--The White Stripes.
7. "So Much Beauty in Dirt"--Modest Mouse.
8. "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters"--Elton John

8 things that attract me to my friends:
please excuse the faulty parallelism in the following list
1. Sense of humor.

2. Honesty.
3. Snarkiness.
4. Dependability.
5. Equally as opinionated as I am.
6. Nonjudgmental (this quality actually does not have to stand in opposition to #5).
7. Empathy.
8. Also loathes Love, Actually (I kid, I fact, I've yet to find this person, so it's probably a pipe dream anyway).

8 Things I learned in 2007:
1. Be organized when it comes to adoption paperwork.
2. Getting impatient and angsty does nothing to speed anything up.
3. Sometimes, it helps to scream really loudly; then you can immediately go back to being patient.
4. Don't drag an old man around Irish country back-roads in a cramped little car without frequent stops. Better yet, don't drag an old man around Irish country back-roads period.
5. Skype is the best way to make long-distance phone calls.
6. Stay away from goats; they give me the willies.
7. If you meet someone famous who you admire and she's nice to you, have the gumption to ask her if she wants to have some coffee because the chances are, she'll say 'yes'.
8. It's possible to fall in love with a photograph.

8 people I "tag": The Spells, Jana, Courtney Rose, Stacie, Carey, Meredith, Susan, Neola.

I'll leave you with my favorite scene from the movie we watched last night. I'm so happy someone put this on youtube. It makes my stomach hurt and my face cry it's so beautiful. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Frozen Multnomah Falls

Ted heard early this morning on the radio that Multomah Falls had frozen over for the first time in several years, so we decided to drive out there this afternoon with D and L to see for ourselves. I had never seen the falls in this state. It was a lot of fun skidding around on the icy paths and seeing the wonder of what happens when constant waterfall spray freezes on blades of grass and chains. It was beautiful, and I had yet another moment of feeling so lucky to live in Oregon.

There's still no news from Ethiopia. Apparently, the phone lines were jammed and our caseworker couldn't get through to find out if anything is moving along or not. I did get an email today from a mom who is there now in Addis and who got to meet Abenezer. This is what she said:

We got to visit Abenezer today! When we arrived to the foster house, he was outside sunbathing on a foam mattress on the lawn. There were naked baby tushies as far as the eye could see!

Pretty funny image there, though reading this gave me those unpleasant pangs of deep longing to be the one there getting to meet him. I'm so thankful for any bit of news and look forward, as always, to more pictures. Yesterday was an especially sad, emotional day for me (I never know when these are going to hit me), so this trip out to the gorge today was a nice break.

I offer documentation of the trip today. Drive east on the 84 towards the gorge, and you'll get to see Mt. Hood:

We arrived at Multnomah Falls and the love of my life threatened us all with a sharp icicle:

Here are the falls in all their glory:

Here's the view from the bridge. Note the ice-covered pathway:

What frozen waterfall mist does to grass and branches:

Not being afraid of heights, I leaned over the railing of the bridge to get this picture of the almost-frozen bottom of the falls:

Weirdness at the bottom of the falls:
So while Abenezer is sunning his tush in Ethiopia, his mom and dad (hopefully) are freezing their tushies in Oregon. Sigh. Sigh. Sigh.

I'll leave you with a video of L (Ted's nephew's awesome girlfriend) tushie-sledding down the path, with the help of a very concerned tourist. He seemed pretty aghast that the men were just standing around letting her do this--he reached out to help her at the end with a disapproving look on his face. All those worried "oohs" are his:

And finally my turn. It was a lot of fun, especially the one bump on the path:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Letting Go of Worry

Any idea what makes these two photographs remarkable?

If you guessed something about the sun being out this bright in January in Portland, ding ding ding, you get the cigar. Most days, it's so dark that noon feels like dusk, so Ted made the comment today about how remarkable it is that "When the sun is this bright outside, it's like it actually lights up our house. We don't even have to turn any lights on inside or anything. It's weird and kind of cool."

It's the little things.

We talked to Mary again today, and it looks like we have at least a two week wait ahead of us. The Gladney team is going above and beyond to get ready for the appeal, doing more than what most would probably do to ensure that this case is presented in the clearest way possible. We hope to find out this week when the court date is.

I have been touched lately by reading this blog, especially the post titled "Shaken Up" in which she writes about the gratitude that she feels to the Ethiopian nation for allowing her to be mother to one of their own. I have thought the same thing, often getting choked up at the thought of the honor it is to be entrusted with this child. I cringe inside when people make comments to us about what an honorable thing we're doing by "rescuing" a child. We don't see it this way and never have. We feel like the lucky ones and will live our lives doing all we can to honor those who entrusted us with a child. I encourage you to read this blog: this family really seems to have the right perspective about adoption. We don't have a right to these children--we are the fortunate ones. Keeping this perspective in mind makes me realize that being impatient with this process is selfish and pointless. I'm still not good at being patient, but I'm trying to keep my heart focused on the big picture, that worry and impatience will do nothing to form our family even a second faster. All it does is make me unhappy and a pill to live with: just ask Ted.

I'm also inspired by this family as well. I cry every time I read their story.

Finally, I don't know if it was the sunshine or a day of successfully "letting go" of the worry, but we let some ridiculousness in this afternoon while shopping for kitchen flooring. Hope you enjoy.

Follow this link if you need context.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Good News from Friends

The Breedloves and Jocelyn passed court this week, and we are so thankful that they're soon to be on their way to bringing their babies home. Both Amy and Jocelyn have been such supportive friends to us through everything--the good and the bad--and we rejoice with them today! It's a little bittersweet knowing they're going to be seeing Abenezer before we are, but I'm so happy at the thought that he's going to get hugs and kisses from Jocelyn and Amy so soon. Both these women have hearts of solid gold. Congratulations and Godspeed, you guys!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


They don't call adoption an emotional roller-coaster for nothing. We'd had about a 5% hope of the decision just being overturned, but it seems this is a legal impossibility. I'd been riding high the last couple of days on that slim hope--had a bit of a crash this morning where I just laid in bed in a funk.

So I'm pulling myself out of the funk and looking at the bright side:

1. Everyone involved in this case is getting first-hand experience in the as-yet unexplored, murky territory of the Ethiopian court of appeal. This could be useful information for the future, no?

2. With the influx of new agencies being licensed in Ethiopia in the last year or two, judges seem to be growing more skeptical about all this activity, as they should be. Imagine if the citizens of wealthy, foreign countries started trying to adopt American kids--don't you think our judges would be pretty strict, even erring on the side of caution? I would hope so, and thinking about it in this way helps me have patience with the "powers that be" in Addis Ababa.

3. As for our particular case, we were told that the judge will now be writing her official report today or tomorrow, which we're hoping will now be "softened" thanks to the truth presented in Wednesday's meeting.

4. Once the judge hands the report off to the lawyers, we were told that our court date for the appeal should happen within two weeks. If we had been assigned just another court date (not an appeal), we might have to wait longer.

5. Everyone involved in Abenezer's case, including the Ministry of Womens' Affairs, is advocating for this adoption to happen. It is good that apparently there is only one dissenting voice, and that one may have been softened, thanks to the truth presented in this most recent meeting.

6. Abenezer is still being given the best care available in the Gladney foster home. We're told he's happy as a clam, smiles constantly, and lets out little squeaky "gasps" when he's excited.

7. I'm indulging my "half-empty" side less and less. Ok, I did for a few hours this morning, laying in bed with an angrily racing heart, having fitful dreams, but at least I finally got out of bed. And I'm learning that I don't have to feel guilty about laughing at things that are funny, things like this and this. In fact, it's even therapeutic to find things to laugh at.

8. A dear friend and her 3-year-old light a candle in their church every week for Abenezer, and she's teaching him what it means "to pray for something really big." I'd say that building faith in the heart of a 3-year-old is pretty important and wonderful.

9. As all this drags on, I sometimes find it unbearable to think about this chunk of Abenezer's life we're missing out on, how we're missing the squeaky laughs from those fat cheeks. But here's my one consolation: all kids want to know that they were wanted, but if all this ends with Abenezer getting to come home to us, he'll get to grow up knowing that he was fought for.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Kombucha Day

Since we on the west coast are 11 hours behind Addis Ababa, we're going to start another 24-hours of fasting and prayer this evening at 5:00 pm, around the time Addis is waking up on Wednesday. We're so appreciative of all the people who have joined with us in this, in whatever form you can. Fasting is a big mystery to me, and if anything, denying myself food just reminds me to keep praying. Our friend Susan, who organized the last day of prayer and fasting, had the good idea of drinking kombucha on these days. I did it last week and will do it this week as well.

I'm not sure how much rest I'll get tonight, knowing that the meeting may be happening during the middle of our night. Even more chances to pray, I suppose. We're expecting to hear some sort of news sometime Wednesday. Thank you again to everyone checking in and praying.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Through a Glass Darkly

Still cautiously optimistic, we found out today that the big meeting this week is going to happen on Wednesday. We got some other interesting news, with more clarification of what happened in court last Friday that makes the situation a tad less baffling but that also makes the case Gladney is working on even stronger.

We already had a lot of confidence in the Gladney team, but that's growing even stronger. We also feel like some of the conversations and "chance" meetings going on are a direct result of prayer, so we want again to thank all of you who are taking the time to remember us, Abenezer, Belay, and the rest of the Gladney team in your prayers. Thank you!

Since we're in unknown waters here, no one is sure of what steps are going to come after this Wednesday's meeting. We're preparing ourselves for the full range of outcomes, delays, postponements or resolutions. We've got the full gamut of emotions going on right now with all these possibilities.

During this wait-time, I'm reading The Shack, a book about a man grieving the tragic loss of his young daughter. He meets the Trinity in the form of a pie-baking African American woman, a Middle-Eastern wood-worker (ok, that one's pretty straightforward), and a small Asian gardener who flits around wearing shimmery colors. The story, though a bit out there, is hitting me as a comfort these days, managing to stretch my imagination of what God is like, thus building my faith and helping me figure out how to see beyond the cracked world we live in. There's so much going on in reality that we never experience with our human senses and logic, something I often forget if not reminded. We really do see through a glass darkly and some seasons are a lot darker than others.

I cried all the way through the article in Parade by Melissa Faye Greene. If you didn't get a chance to read it, you can find it here.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Monday in Addis Ababa

The day is getting started right now in Addis Ababa. It's Monday morning already over there, 6:30 a.m. I'm trying to fight the growing knot in my stomach with prayer. We're praying for favor and understanding in a meeting that could be taking place any time now...

Clarification: we were told certain meetings should be happening at any point this week, not necessarily on Monday, though we still haven't heard anything yet. Thank you for all the continued prayers.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Our Confidence in Gladney

Ted and I spent the four months after officially deciding to adopt searching for the right agency for us. We even began the application process with one before finding out policy information that didn't gel with us, leading us to back out. We researched all there possibly was to research and developed the most detailed list of questions you can imagine. When I started going through my list of questions with a Gladney rep on the phone, she laughed at me a bit with her sweet Texas twang, saying she'd never heard such questions before. She reassured me that Gladney believes in trust between their staff and clients. We'd been burned by the previous agency we'd started to sign on with, so the word trust was just what we needed to hear to go full-steam ahead with Gladney.

We have not once regretted that decision. We have the upmost respect for their entire staff and the strongest confidence that they are doing all they can do (and possibly even more, with the help of God) to advocate for Abenezer. Though this is a worrisome, stressful situation we are in, something we haven't worried about even once is Gladney's reputation. There is no other agency that we would want on our side right now, not one.

The world of adoption includes many twists and turns, more than we'd imagined when we set off down this path, and no other road has required more faith or patience of us. I look back at 2007-Lori, the one who sometimes complained about how long it was taking for paperwork to get done or how impatient I felt with the process, and I want to gently shake her and say, "Honey, you have no idea what patience is about to be required of you...better buckle up and tighten those straps."

So Ted and I are doing our best to hang on to that mustard-seed. I hope to encourage others out there further behind us in the process (especially Gladney families) to hang on to faith. Dig deep in search of that little seed and have patience that God's timing is perfect, though you may not be able to see right now (I'm preaching to myself here). And please please please don't let our situation rattle your confidence in the Gladney staff. These people are stellar, I'm telling you. Tears well up regularly when I think of them and all they are doing for our family. They are overworked, under-appreciated, and go the distance with all of their families.

I know that our situation has probably scared a lot of Gladney families out there, but I implore you to understand that what is happening to us now is not the norm: the Gladney team could not have done anything to prevent this happening. We are convinced that they have the best resources available to do all they can to advocate for these children. We ask that you remember what good hands we are all in with Gladney, and that they daily go above-and-beyond, many days working long over-time hours to bring our children home to us.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A Bit of News

After talking to our caseworker today, we are cautiously encouraged. Some things are going on, good conversations and a couple of important meetings hopefully within the next week. So, there is more waiting on the horizon and definitely more prayers.

It must be said that Belay is the hero in this whole situation. He is busting his butt over there to talk to the right people and organize meetings. We've heard such amazing things about the man, and we feel so thankful to have him advocating for Abenezer. Please remember him in your prayers: thank God for him and pray for his continued strength, safety and wisdom (and whatever else you feel led to pray).

Thank you to all of you who are making the sacrifice to remember us, Abenezer, Belay, and the rest of the unseen Gladney staff who are working so hard to advocate for these children. Thank you. We hope to hear more news in the next week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Wednesday's a-coming.

We just got a call from our case worker with some updates. Nothing has changed yet, but please keep praying...

Monday, January 7, 2008

This Wednesday

So it seems that Wednesday is going to be the best day for our day of prayer and fasting for Baby Abenezer. By then, we're also hoping to know something from what's going on in Addis right now: the judge who presided over this case has promised an official report on her ruling by Wednesday, and since they're 11 hours ahead of us (on the west coast), we're hoping for more detailed information then...which could help with knowing more how to pray as well.

Thank you so much for all of you who said you would join the ranks! Of course, if Wednesday doesn't work out best for you, feel free to pray whenever (and as often as) you want to. I'm humbled humbled humbled by this outpouring of care and can't say thank you enough. Hope is slowly creeping back into my heart...

Finally, talk about being humbled: our blogging friend Jocelyn just passed this award on to us today. What a gift from someone who has been a shining example of Fortitude and Perseverance.

According to the award, "You are receiving this honor because you have embodied perseverance in the face of difficulty and shared the journey of your experiences with others proving that a single voice can both be a light of support and a source or humor for those in the midst of their struggle. You are acknowledged here today for allowing others to share in your personal story and providing camaraderie through the power of your words."

Day of Prayer

Our funny and caring friend Susan wants to organize a day of prayer and fasting for Baby Abenezer. I'm all for it, of course, and am so thankful for her willingness to "do some damage" spiritually for the sake of this babe.

Susan sent me this today to post:

Hey friends of Lori
I'm not one prone to superstition or hyper-spiritualizing things. But I do believe in prayer and fasting, to do some damage to whatever negative forces are at work here.

So I'm proposing to Lori's blogging friends that we set aside a day to pray and fast, whatever you can manage that day, that Abenezer's appeal will come swiftly, that it'll come before a more understanding judge, and that Ted and Lori can bring their baby home.

So what say you? Log in and let us know what a good day is for you. Let's do it this week if possible!


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Somebody Loved

I'm not sure how these things work, but I'm going to chalk it up to the mysterious workings of being bathed in prayer by so many people that I've been able to sleep and sleep and sleep the last two days. Yesterday, I must have slept eleven hours, part of those in the middle of the day. Thank you is not enough to all of you who have prayed that we would have peace. Despite the fitful, heart-racing hours spent awake, sleep has come so easily, a gift from God.

First of all, I want to say how absolutely blown away we've been by all the support being poured out by friends, family, blogging buddies, and even people we have never met. All of the comments, phone calls, and emails have been such a huge blessing, truly a comfort to know that so much care, concern, and prayers are being sent our way. Thank you. I was just telling my mom last night on the phone how much harder this process would be without the support we're being given by the blogging community.

Yesterday morning I got up and sat on the couch, staring out at the ever-steady Portland rain, letting my mind go where it wanted, and it kept drifting towards the question, "Why?" This only made me frustrated and hopeless. I realized that there's a distinct possibility that we may never know the answer to that question, at least until we get to heaven. And I have to be okay with that. We've never been promised answers to all those "why" questions here on earth, so I decided to just stop asking. Instead, I've been asking myself what is to be learned through this, how can I change? What can God show me about what it means to be a child of God living in a fallen world, a world of grief and dashed hopes? I'm trying to put my faith, often mustard-seed-sized, into the hope of heaven and the love of God, despite this darkness.

One of the things I'm learning is that part of being human means living the simultaneous experience of grief and joy. This, I'm being taught through the example of certain people in my life who have experienced some of the deepest grief imaginable but who have chosen to go on, not denying the experience of grief but making it a part of their daily lives. I'm humbled by their example, how they've made friends with grief as a part of their life story, not being embittered or swallowed by it either, not allowing it to be the whole. One dear friend told me that she still curls up and cries almost daily over her particular loss but she has also chosen to let joy in as well. She lives with them both; both are her friends. I'm so thankful for her example.

There are so many other things I'm learning, too many things to write about here, but something practical is the restorative power of having a shower and putting on lipstick, both of which I finally did last night. I got rid of the pajamas, brushed my hair, made myself decent and met friends for dinner. These are some of the most compassionate, loyal, sensitive, loving friends we have, and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for their steady presence in our lives last night as I sat across from them.

Finally, since getting the news two days ago, we've both been wrestling with whether we should have let ourselves get as attached to Baby Abe as we did, knowing that he wasn't legally ours. We've gone back and forth about this, having a hard time coming up with the answer. I'd been saying all along that I wasn't going to allow myself to feel attached to a child that had only been referred to us: that's why they call it a referral, not your own child. I've thought about it a million different ways, and I think I've come to the conclusion that, with the information and updates on his personality, along with those amazing pictures we were being sent, not getting attached would have been impossible for me. That mother-urge is particularly strong in me, an overwhelming force that swept away reason.

So now I'm heart-broken. What do I do with that? I'm still figuring that one out, but I was so encouraged by the words of a friend here in Portland, the mother of four (three of whom are from Ethiopia):

"I was thinking today about your desire to not get attached to a baby before you had them home, and although it makes this situation particularly painful, how right it is that you became attached to little Abenezer. You have ennobled him by your love! What a great gift to him and his Creator!"

And later last night, I discovered this song through another friend, and though the song is about a couple, I couldn't help crying rivers of tears, thinking about it from the perspective of children who are adopted:

Now my feet turn the corner back home

Sun turns the evening to rose
Stars turning high up above
You turn me into somebody loved.

By opening our hearts to Abenezer, we turned him into somebody loved. What a gift that is to give these children who are entrusted to us, what an example of how we've been loved by God. God's love ennobles us. So while we have hope that the tide may turn in this situation, I pray that, even if Abenezer does not get to become our own Rooney, someone along the way will tell him who he is: that he is somebody loved.

You can hear the song by clicking here.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Conscripted Pioneers

"May all your expectations be frustrated. May all your plans be thwarted. May all your desires be withered into nothingness that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen."

For today, it feels like a fair amount of thwarted plans and frustrated expectations. I have no idea what God is doing, and though I'd heard people use the phrase "desperately clinging" to faith, I'd never grasped the depth of that until today. I'm grasping for God, between gasps for air.

We were not delayed in court. There was no problem on our side, with us or with our paperwork. It's still a bit of a mystery how it all went down, but between a young girl possibly overwhelmed in a court system and issues with translators and a skeptical judge, our adoption of Abenezer was denied. His birth mother was there to verify her relinquishment of him, but somehow things went awry between her and the judge and who knows what else.

We are beyond devastated. We were prepared for the possibility of a delay. We were even prepared for the possibility of the birth mother changing her mind, and honestly, that would have been better than this. At least then, Abenezer would be with his biological family. But as things are, he is in limbo. His birth mother can't or doesn't want him, yet he is not allowed to be adopted either. We're having a hard time making sense of it.

This is the first case of this happening with our agency, so they seem to be doing their best to figure out where to go from here. There is a possibility of appealing to a higher court, but no one knows anything about what this process looks like, how long it takes, what the chances would be. Our agency has never had anything like this happen before, and it seems we're the lucky ones who get to be the trailblazers in this process.

There are so many things to consider and try to figure out in the next few days, and we still feel like our heads are spinning. We found out this news this morning around 10:00 am, and because I was taking care of a friend's two kids, ages 2 and 4, I somehow managed to shove it all down until they went home. I understood today really for the first time Ted's mom's adage not to cry over spilled milk: you can't fall apart when you've got people depending on you.

But from the moment they drove away, it all hit me. I can't stop shaking and I have physical pain across my chest, from one shoulder to the other, as well as down my back. Breathing isn't the easiest thing to do either, and I have waves of grief wash over me--about three since sitting down to write this post. And in a particularly cruel twist, we received three pieces of mail today addressed to Abenezer from some sweet people in our lives hoping to get to know him soon.

After hearing the news, I took the kids down the street to our coffeeshop to let them play (yes, most Portland coffee places have play areas for kids) and sat down in a fog and scribbled this out into my notebook:

"...for those of us who struggle to attain the satisfaction of those human urges like the desire to parent, the world becomes an alienating, isolating place. Today, I look around my world and can't connect. "Convoy" is playing in the shop, a funny song that makes me happy, yet I feel nothing. I look at a newspaper and can't read it. This feeling is deeper/beyond an ache. It's not a hopelessness--I do have hope. I know God has a story for us. It's a feeling of wandering blindly in the darkness. I smile at Sophia, who has two black plastic horses in her hand. I can't form words though. A smile is the best I can muster. For a blind stumbler, I guess that's not bad."

Ted suggested I put the qualifier out there not to worry about me. He's right. Writing this here is just cathartic for me, and I apologize to those of you who've called and emailed, wondering what's going on. I just didn't have it in me to talk much today. I appreciate your concern.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Pins and Needles

If I knew for a fact that it would not embarrass this sweet darling in the photo here with Baby Abe, I'd ask for a caption contest for this photo. Her expression is...I don't know what. I just know that I want this girl to move to Oregon and be our regular baby-sitter. Another sweet family picking up their daughter sent us a couple of new pictures yesterday, which of course I am so thankful for. Getting any kind of news and especially pictures is such a God-send.

I've been so surprised by how difficult this part of the process has been. The first few days after getting the referral for Nezer, we were riding high in a constant state of euphoria. After about a week, we're still excited, but I think I'm becoming manic. I want to be with this baby now. I have never in all my life felt a greater loss of control about anything. All I know is that there's this baby out there who we are desperately praying will become Our Own Rooney tomorrow in court, and that I'm dying to figure out what that foot rash is about and get the right medication for it. I'm dying to hold him, to smell that hair that everyone who has seen him says is the first case of Ethiopian blond hair they've seen, to feel his little heart beat as he snuggles on my chest, to hopefully coax a smile out of be his momma.

But here we are so far away and all we can do is wait. And I've never had to run to God more. You are right, Jill, trust is the opposite of control, and that's a lesson I'm trying hard to learn. Well, it's being forced upon me, I should say, but I do want to learn it.

A lot of crazy things go on in your brain when you know you're about to become a parent. Yesterday I took a niece and nephew to see The Water Horse and cried through at least half of it, even at parts that weren't intended to be sad. I cried when I saw all the old-fashioned wooden toys the boy was playing with in his room, longing for our son to have a similar imaginative place to play, free of ugly plastic things with bells and whistles. I cried at the beautiful scenery of Scotland, remembering the drives Ted and I went on there two years ago and how we'd stop at every curve to get out and explore this phenomenal place of beauty. I cried at the way this boy was so gentle with a wild creature and how I want our kids to respect and have compassion for animals (it makes me crazy to see children chase and kick small animals--I think this is the ugliest side of human nature, to terrorize a being weaker than oneself). I cried at all the flashback scenes of the boy and his father, knowing that Ted is going to be the same kind of dad--one who takes time to encourage and teach our boy to stand tall.

I spent the day today as far away as possible from the kitchen remodel situation. I discovered yet another children consignment shop in our neighborhood where I got a whole bag full of stuff, from a few more clothes to blankets to an African lullabies CD to one of those night-time sleepers (so no need for blankets). I even found a pair of shoes: the cutest little fuzzy lined leather boots you've ever seen, perfect for winter in Portland.

A friend lent me her Moses basket this afternoon and showed me the ins and outs of the various baby carriers, from the Moby wraps (spelling?) to Ergo carries, and some sling thingee too. She even let me try them out with her Baby E, the one who is twice the weight of Nezer.

Then lo and behold, I came home to discover that the first upper cabinet has been installed in the kitchen, along with a functioning sink and dishwasher! I am blessed beyond measure. I consider the sound of our running dishwasher in the other room to be our first miracle of 2008.

We found out yesterday from Gladney that Abe has gained a full pound since we last heard and has grown two inches. He seems to be a laid-back kind of fella, one who doesn't put up much of a fuss about too much. We're hoping he's our Zen-baby who sleeps all night and goes with the flow. Gladney also sent us this photograph which I'll leave you with.

What a miracle it will be if we pass court tomorrow. I'm trying to prepare myself the best I can for the real possibility of some sort of glitch or delay, which seems to be happening more and more often these days. It's the same coping mechanism I used to handle the Waiting for a referral; it's just a heck of a lot harder now that we have big brown eyes and dimples to look at...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year

Recent goings-on round here:

I keep having dreams about babies, sometimes about poopy babies and sick babies and snuggly babies that are the size of newborn kittens. In one part of last night's dream, the kitten-sized baby was being sat upon by Chitty, our fat cat. I panicked, running to shoo fat-cat away and get the squished baby (he ended up being fine, even smiled at me). Why can't I just have normal dreams? Is there even such a thing?

Some friends are throwing a donations-shower for us Sunday to help us gather together all the goodies we want to bring with us to Ethiopia. I'm hoping we can even get everything all packed up and ready to fly.

I'm checking email obsessively for new pictures of Abenezer some good folks said they'd send our way...just dying to get those, finding it hard to believe that patience is a virtue (I know they're super-busy right now, picking up their own daughter and getting settled in).

Two nights ago, during an attempt to learn to play bridge, I had a mild meltdown. My brain couldn't take it, and while the two experts were explaining the subtleties of the game at once while I was still trying to get the basic point, this lump started rising in my throat triggering tears that I willed myself to force back, repeating in my mind, "You must not cry, You must not cry. It's just a game, Don't cry!" Luckily, my cell phone started to ring, so I escaped tearful humiliation with a 30 minute phone call. My friend who had called advised me to go have a strong drink of whatever the bridge-players were offering. This is why I like her so much. But such is the state of my mind these days; thinking about our upcoming court-date this Friday and all the things to get done in the next couple of weeks, I cry over card games.

Last night, as Ted and I sat on the couch around 1:00 am drinking our Kirkland brand, Costco-bought "champagne" after returning from a New Year's Eve gathering, I got a serious case of the hiccups (a regular occurence). So all at once, I was hiccuping, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, and burping--thanks to the bubbly. That was fun, maybe the best part of our New Year's.

We canceled our annual holiday book-swap party where I make pots of soup and everyone brings a book they don't want anymore to trade with other guests. This would have been our fourth year to do it. We canceled because this is what our kitchen looks like today:

And here is the view down from where the kitchen sink used to be into the basement laundry room.
The living room and dining rooms are full of our yet-to-be-installed cabinets. Not the best time for a party. Probably not the best time to start a kitchen remodel either (though in our defense, we started this project back before Thanksgiving when we didn't think we'd hear about Baby Abe until well into 2008). We're hoping it gets done before we leave for Ethiopia. I'm choosing not to worry about it, just like I chose to shove down the bridge-induced tears.

And lordy lordy, I'm not even thinking about resolutions...

Happy 2008!