Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hold it up to the light

One of our friends recently referred to Baby Abenezer as an "orphan," and I found myself getting angry and wanting to come to his defense. My first thought upon hearing this word applied to him was, "No! He's not an orphan! I'm his mother!" I realize it sounds crazy, but in my heart, this child is not an orphan.

I think I'm a wee tad bit over-sensitive these days.

It's a tricky place we're in right now for many reasons, but mainly because we have absolutely no idea how to plan our lives for the next month. Will we be able to go to Ethiopia? If yes, we should start packing now because we might fly from Southern California instead of Portland which would mean going down there in the next week. All the logistics are really boring. Suffice it to say, it's a nerve-wracking time we're in and at times I feel like I'm going nuts.

Last night, I was a ball of nerves because friends were dropping popcorn on my recently mopped floors. When one friend noticed my angst-ridden posture and asked how I was, I was unable to speak, felt my bottom lip quivering, trying to shove it all down. The reality of needing to pack bags for a child I love but whom someone may say I never get to know is...uh, no fun at all. I don't want to be overly-dramatic, but as we get closer day by day to March 4th, I feel like my heart is constantly right on the verge of breaking.

Ted rediscovered a David Wilcox song today. He paid attention to the lyrics for the first time and had me listen to the song as well. It came at a good time. Ted and I chose to walk down this road, and in the middle of what feels like terrible darkness, I hold my heart, my future, and this crisis up to the light. Hour by hour, I'm trying to give it to God. I think doing this might make me a nicer person, one who doesn't obsess about popcorn on the floor.
I don't know what the deal is with the semi-violent, bizarre Sean Astin/Malcolm Jamal Warner clips and cheesy rock-song weirdness at the beginning and end, but this is the only youtube clip I could find of this song.

It's the choice of a lifetime - I'm almost sure
I will not live my life in between anymore
If I can't be certain of all that's in store
This far it feels so right
I will hold it up - hold it up to the light,
Hold it up to the light, hold it up to the light

The search for my future has brought me here
This is more than I'd hoped for, but sometimes I fear
That the choice I was made for will someday appear
And I'll be too late for that flight
So hold it up - hold it up to the light,
Hold it up to the light, hold it up to the light

It's too late - to be stopped at the crossroads
Each life here - a possible way
But wait - and they all will be lost roads
Each road's getting shorter the longer I stay

Now as soon as I'm moving - my choice is good
This way comes through right where I prayed that it would
If I keep my eyes open and look where I should
Somehow all of the signs are in sight
If I hold it up to the light

I said God, will you bless this decision?
I'm scared, Is my life at stake?
But I see if you gave me a vision
Would I never have reason to use my faith?

I was dead with deciding - afraid to choose
I was mourning the loss of the choices I'd lose
But there's no choice at all if I don't make my move
And trust that the timing is right
Yes and hold it up hold it up to the light
Hold it up to the light, hold it up to the light

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Long-distance parenting to the ghost in my head

Our Gladney caseworker, the resplendent Mary called today, get this: to check in with us and see how we're doing. This is the second time she's done this in a week. I know people with other agencies who can't get anyone to answer an email, and yet we have the feeling that Mary and the other kind-hearted folks at Gladney are almost as emotionally invested in this case as we are.

She let me know that all the necessary documents are being successfully gathered for court on March 4th, and we talked about how to best prepare ourselves emotionally for any possible outcome, including that of yet another delay. I told her that I'm getting pretty good at this waiting thing, and that I'm settling into my current relationship with Baby A which consists mainly of trying to telepathically send my love to him across an ocean and two continents by staring intently at each new picture we get of him. As I told a friend a couple of weeks ago, this is the most difficult long-distance relationship I've ever been in.

Today while listening to Fresh Air on NPR (because I'm white and apparently, that's what we do), I heard this journalist named David Sheff being interviewed about the book he just wrote about his son's meth addiction. He told a story about a bad health scare he had where he woke up in a hospital bed unable to remember who he was. While the nurses were asking him his name, all he could do was think that this was something he should know but couldn't get to. What was trumping the retrieval in his mind of his own name was his overwhelming worry and concern for his son. While he didn't know who he was, he knew every detail about his son. All he could do was keep asking where his son was and if he was okay.

He said that it struck him then what it really means to be a parent: that the love we have for our children takes a higher place in our psyches than our own identities.

I then continued down the freeway bawling my eyes out, missing my exit, and going twenty minutes out of my way.

When I wake up in the middle of the night to pee or because one of the cats is walking across my face, I immediately think of Baby A. It takes all of half a second for him to enter my brain, even if I hadn't been dreaming about him. This continues through the day, even while I'm concentrating on something else. It's why I've called him here on this blog "the ghost in the back of my head." Is this normal? Do all mothers experience this? Are your children always in your minds like this or has this twisty-turny adoption done a number on my psyche?

Finally, for Mere, thank you again for the mustard greens. This was what I ate today: mustards from a can, some tomato-y, spicy Indian mush, and a piece of Dave's Killer bread. I got all fancy heating the greens and putting them on a plate. They actually taste better room temperature, straight out of the can onto my fork and into my mouth. Next time, I'll eat the whole can that way.
Oh, and in response to the applause of Ted's kitchen-building talents: yes, he is talented at home projects, but I do have to put the disclaimer out there that we hired a contractor to do a lot of the work. Ted didn't do it all alone, though he probably did end up doing almost half of it all.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Kitchen and Update

We got an official update today from Gladney about Baby A. We were told that he is the only baby they have ever known who can come across as polite. He's laid-back and, even when he's having a bad day, it's easy to get a crooked smile out of him.

We also got our memory card in the mail today from the Breedloves with dozens of pictures. I was amazed at his range of facial expressions. It was quite a glimpse into his personality. My favorite photo probably is one where he's screaming. Amy told me that he'd been perfectly happy until she had to put him down, and then the yelling commenced, so like any good friend would do, she snapped his photo.

This baby in particular does nothing but get cuter as these long weeks go by.
This is what our kitchen looked like when we bought the house. It was functional, but we weren't crazy about the linoleum floors, the funky countertops, the bright red cabinets (which I wouldn't have minded so much if the kitchen wasn't so small--as is, it made me feel like I was drowning in red), and what we disliked most was this corner:
This odd corner is probably a result of fridges being built shorter than the monster-ones we use today. That's our best guess. It became a rite of passage among our friends to violently curse our kitchen as each one hit their heads on this god-awful corner. The first time I did it was one of the few times in my life I have let out the mother of all cuss-words. I was seeing stars, people. That corner was evil.

So back before Thanksgiving, we decided to do something about that corner. By December, the kitchen looked like this:We had holes in the floor and everything!

After ripping out walls, making thousands of tiny decisions, agonizing over what materials to use, having the granite counter-top break in two pieces last week (that was fun), and numerous screw-ups by hardware stores, we're almost finished. We still need to put in a back-splash and the glass for the cabinet doors and get a refrigerator that fits the hole built for it, and there's the last granite slab to install for the pass-through, but here's what the kitchen looks like today:
Ted installed the floors, did most of the plumbing and all of the electrical work himself. He even installed "hidden" speakers that are connected wirelessly to our office computer, which impresses our friends for sure.
Here's an example of what his mood lighting is like.

The cats liked playing in the upper cabinets above the stove.

It's so nice to having a fully functioning kitchen again. We even kicked the cats out of the cabinets eventually.

Lastly, did I cry during the Oscars last night? Not a ton, though I did get a lump in my throat a couple of times. I yelled at the screen when Marketa Irglova got cut off, but John Stewart made it all better by bringing her out and giving her the moment back. She's a dear. So is he.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Orphaned Photos, Someone Famous, and the Oscars

I was working on my bachelors at a pretty conservative, Christian, liberal arts college in the late '90s back when the internet was becoming more status quo for the common man (and not just for the "geeks," I guess). At the time, everyone at my college checked their email via dial-up, and there was a lot of controversy about whether the college should allow free internet connections to its students. It being a conservative school, a lot of people, both administrators and even some students, thought that allowing the internet was going to open up a pandora's box of sinfulness and temptation to the student body.

I thought the whole debate was ridiculous. There will be nay-saying about any new form of technology, especially among, ahem, certain types. All that to say, the internet has provided us with some amazing things in the past decade or so.

One of these things is this: Last week on Postsecret, someone sent in a photograph from a camera he'd found. He was hoping to find the owner. So a university student got the brilliant idea of having a place where people could send lost cameras and memory cards. He's started posting these photos in the hopes of rescuing these "orphan photos." Already, three cameras have found their owners. It's a simple idea, yet a genius one.

I wish I had thought of this, but I'm a little slow on the take. I think it could have made me famous.
Go check out who my friend Carrie got to meet yesterday by clicking here. She told her that she hopes she enjoys her new belt.
(And I'm not saying anything here about my feelings towards any presidential candidate. I actually really hate discussing politics. It's just pretty cool that she met someone so famous).
I love the Academy Awards. I get as excited about the Oscars as most people do about the Superbowl, and I usually cry at least once during the show every year. It's for moments like this that I cry: go watch Roberto Benigni win for Life is Beautiful. It won't let me embed the clip into my blog, but you can view it by clicking here.

Last year I actually cried during the song by Jack Black, Will Ferrell, and John C. Reilly. Even as I was getting choked up, I was aware of how odd a thing it was to get emotional at such a stupid thing. So what will it be this year that makes me cry? Daniel Day Lewis's acceptance speech? The scene from Ratatouille when the food critic takes the bit of food that transports him back to his mother's kitchen? The tribute to Heath Ledger?

I have no idea what it will be. But this I can assure you: There Will be Tears.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Crazy Dimples and Chickenheads

I sat down here to write about the conversation I just had with Amy Breedlove, but while doing that, a package appeared at my door that is still making me cry. I'm not sure how long it's going to take me to get through this post, as I keep having to stop to cover my face and cry. No kidding.

I am blessed, blessed, blessed by this blogging community. You people are my lifeline, second only to Jesus. I'm humbled and brought to a steady flow of tears as I write this, thinking of the support, the prayers, and the love sent our way from people I have yet to meet in person. Thinking of that fact, along with a package from the deep South has successfully pushed me over the edge into Tearsville.

Here's the outside of the box:

The inside of the box looked like this, before I tore into it:
Inside, along with tons and tons of delicious cosmetics samples for the Gladney ladies were some special treats for me and Ted from Mississippi.

Firstly, I pulled out a can of rutabagas!
I don't don't know how she could have known this, but some of my dearest friends in Hattiesburg, Dave and Angela, seen here and featured in the past on this blog, own this truck with this special license plate:
I've never really eaten rutabagas, but this might just be a "breadcrumb," so I'm paying attention and ready to dig in to this wondrous root.

And it got better! I next found a can of mustard greens! Of the three greens (mustards, collards and turnips), mustards have always been my favorite.
And then I discovered some Silvia's Queen of Soul Food peach cobbler mix. Yum! That'll be fun to try out when peaches are in season:
Along with these wonders, we had Valentine's candy addressed directly to us, even a Cars chocolate bar from Ryan to Ted that says, "You rev me up!" Hm. :)

Probably what's making me cry even more than the gift of mustard greens is the CD Meredith made for us with such wonderful music. Each new track makes me cry, from a song about a girl "on the banks of Lake Pontchartrain" to my Sweet Baby James singing "Sweet Potato Pie" to a song with this line which has made me cry the most: "God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you."

Thank you Meredith for these tears today. You've got it right:

Oh my gosh. And now I'm crying with laughter. It's one of my favorites: the "Chicken, chicken, bwok bwok chicken heads...Oh please, whateva" song! No kidding! Love it love it love it! Back in the grad school days in Hattiesburg, Angela and I used to sing this song! No kidding! Meredith Rocks!

The illustrious Breedlove family is home from Addis with their Nathan, and I had the fun of a newsy, long conversation with Amy today with a squealing Nathan in the background the whole time. It's an amazing thing to meet someone through their blog, follow their story, email, talk on the phone, and then actually hear their baby through the distance. Hearing those baby voices in the background gives me chills. It's a wonderful thing.

Amy sent me a new photo today, along with a memory card with photos and videos mailed today, probably to arrive next week. Amazing. The best thing was simply hearing Amy's wonderful description of Abenezer. She said that he smiles constantly and is a giggler. In the photo we got today, I think he must have been giggling because I can see lots of gums, dimples, and crinkled eyes. In fact, Amy said that "he has crazy dimples" that take up most of his cheeks.

The thought of those crazy dimples and the hope of planting many kisses on them just might get me through this weekend. I'm pretty sure that the mustards, rutabagas and chickenhead song are gonna help a lot too.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Incomplete History

I was just going through our hundreds of photos from the last four years and discovered a photo of Abe at age one month in our photos from the summer. I kept going and discovered him scattered about in seemingly random places. I quickly realized that as we've been importing photos of Abe sent to us from Gladney or other families, iPhoto puts them in our photo library according to the date the photo was taken, not when we imported it. It's made for interesting viewing, to see baby A at certain ages, getting bigger as we've gone on with our lives over here waiting for him. It's especially strange to see his photos from before we knew about him. There are a couple of photos of itty-bitty Abe taken while Ted and I were in Italy, right around the time our dossier was being sent off to Ethiopia. While we were waiting for our referral, I tried so hard not to think about where our potential child might be, afraid it would drive me crazy. Now, thanks to the wonders of technology, I can see exactly what we were doing as photos were being taken of him every month or so, before we even knew about him.

That's a strange and lovely thing.

As I was going through our photo library, I realized that there are a lot of off-kilter pictures of me and Ted on our computer. So I present to you:
An Incomplete and Sort of Random History of Ted and Lori

Summer 2003, Kosice-Barca, Slovakia. One of the first photos of us, taken at a friend's house:

August 2003, Kosice, Slovakia. This was at my friend Barbara's wedding. We were hot, tan, and most likely slightly tipsy. It was a Slovak wedding, after-all:

New Year's Day 2004, Los Angeles. We'd been engaged for one week. The t-shirt was what won me over:

February 2004, the Swiss Alps. Our first Christmas card photo, the infamous "Captain Q-tip and Frau Furball" greeting. We nearly died several times right after this photo was taken, attempting to sled down a mountain. I was very very afraid:

February 2004, Heidelburg, Germany. I've always thought this photo looks like we're ice-skating. We had turned to look at someone. I found my wedding dress on this trip while visiting Ted's friend Baui:

Spring 2004, Keidrich, Germany. We visited Ted's brother and his family during Fasching, and since we didn't have costumes, we dressed in each other's clothes. Ted's boobs are definitely a lot bigger than mine:

July 2004, Oregon Coast. Oh wait, that's not me. It's my hussy Granny at the beach, sitting on my fiance's lap:

July 2004, Portland, Oregon. I was serenaded at the karaoke bar two days before our wedding.

July 24, 2004, Portland, Oregon. The headline of the Oregonian said that day: A Sweltering 103 degrees! That's basically the only thing people say about our wedding, "Man it was hot!"

Fall 2004, Los Angeles, California. Ted's home after another long day at work:

Halloween 2004, Los Angeles. We went all out that year but only got a handful of trick-or-treaters. Were they scared of us or something?:
Summer 2005, Clarksdale, Mississippi. This was our second Christmas photo. It made some of my family think we were making fun of the South, which we weren't.

Summer 2006, Portland, Oregon. We like our front porch, and Squinty is wearing her "half full" shirt again:
January 2007, Portland. We spend an exciting Friday evening doing this after discovering Photobooth on our new mac:
I now challenge others out there to come up with their own Incomplete Histories. I'll go so far as to "tag" a few: the Spells, Kevin and Stacie, Drew and Carey, the Albertsons, the Raleighs, and anyone else so inclined.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Why we need a house-sitter

A cat draped across one or both of us at the end of the day is such a regular occurrence in this house that they come to expect such attention, so much so that the fat cat roams the house wailing in search of Ted when he's not home and the little one seen here in this photo with me runs away to the neighbor's house when we're out of town. These furry creatures living with us are more like dogs than cats. So we're currently on the look-out for someone who is willing to 'dog-sit' for us when we travel (yes, I'm letting myself think about it more and more these days, mainly because a trip to Ethiopia to bring home a young child is no small undertaking--a little bit of planning is required).

Speaking of planning, I'm pretty quickly ticking things off the list. Yesterday I found a diaper bag with insulated bottle holders and changing pad at Target. I'd looked into a couple of local baby boutiques in town and was floored by the prices. The saleslady showed me one bag, her favorite because she thought it was economical at $85. What? The others were all even much more. Why does someone need to spend $100+ on a diaper bag? I don't get it. If I spent that much on a diaper bag, I'd expect it to come with magical fold-out arms that would change the dirty diapers for me. (And any of you who may have spent that much on a diaper bag, I don't mean to offend. Really. There may be plenty of good reasons for a $100 diaper bag that I'm just not aware of yet).

The cosmetics gifts for the Gladney home caregivers are starting to come in too. This stuff came in the mail last week from some sweet-spirited and probably very sweet-smelling ladies:And a dear friend in L.A. has gathered up this stuff for us to take:
I'm loving the Dr. Bronner's. A mutual friend of ours apparently is friends with Dr. Bronner himself and added all this soap to the collection.

And for your Monday entertainment, here's a clip hopefully explaining why I love Merlefest. This is a performance by The Duhks with their new lead singer Sarah Dugas whose beautiful voice consistently makes me cry. Yes, that's John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on the mandolin with them. And I was sitting on the stage during this performance able to take this photo, totally blissed out.

You can read what I wrote about Merlefest last year, but besides the amazing music, quirky people, and impromptu jam sessions by the artists scattered around the campus, I like Merlefest because it's turned into a mini family reunion. Living on the west coast, I find myself missing the South, so what better way to reconnect with my roots than by camping out in Daddy's pop-up and listening to bluegrass/folk music in North Carolina with my family? I love those mornings, waking up to coffee brewing outside, a stolen shower from the diesel mechanics building, and hopefully a shared breakfast with Dancin' Dave before tossing a stick to Doc, my dad's dog (yes, named after Doc Watson).

Please excuse the randomness of this post. I appreciate your attention and especially all the words of encouragement. In good faith, I'm going downstairs now to count bibs, onesies, and burpcloths.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

On-hold membership to the mommy-club

I have to start out here giving props to our caseworker, Mary, who spent part of her weekend trying to get through to anyone who might know what happened Friday at court. She finally got through Sunday morning and let us know that a court date has been assigned to us on March 4.

Is this reason to celebrate? I'm not sure. I certainly feel glad to know there's a concrete date, but this long, twisty tale has succeeded in shooting my naive optimism to smithereens. We now know all too well that a court date doesn't necessarily mean this the day you get to celebrate becoming parents. For some, it does mean this. For others, it means other things, sometimes sad things.

I'm not saying that the "half-empty" girl is back. She's not. But I can try explaining it this way: back in 2003, one of my best friends in Slovakia, Hena, was pregnant with her second child and her mother-in-law got angry with her for buying a stroller for the still unborn baby. Apparently, buying too much for the still unborn baby is bad luck: something could go wrong and then what do you do with all that baby stuff? My friend actually ended up putting an end to her grief by stashing the stroller at her mother's house and telling her mother-in-law that she'd returned the thing until she was closer to delivering.

At the time, I thought the whole thing was a little crazy. Now, I understand a bit better. Between December 18 (referral day) and January 4 (first court date), I was in a whirlwind of getting ready. I was even complaining about all I had to get done before leaving...stupid, stupid girl. January 4 put an end to all the preparations, and one of the hardest things for me was having to go into the room where all the baby stuff is. I didn't want to look at it, and I certainly wasn't buying anything else.

This is where the up-and-down nature of international adoption can do quite a number on one's psyche. After you get the referral and have a face to put to your dreams, it becomes thrilling to look through the baby sections in stores and in my case, to go to the scores of baby-gear consignment places in this eco-friendly town I live in. Life looks rosy when you're suddenly made a member of the mommy-club...

...until your membership is revoked.

This isn't just about buying baby stuff. I don't know how to answer people we meet for the first time who ask if we have children. One time, I actually said, "Sort of." Of course, I got a weird look and while I was trying to explain, the person was politely nodding, but I could almost hear the words being repeated in his head as I was speaking: who is this freak?

One day this week while in the shower (a place of frequent epiphanies for me), a thought settled itself into my brain, "Just get ready to travel." It was almost like a voice outside of myself said it to me. It made me excited and scared at the same time. Excited because it meant I could go back to the consignment places and scared because...well, you know: the voice of Hena's mother-in-law is a loud one.

I pulled out my list again of things we need for our trip, and yesterday I started checking things off. I can't say that it was fun the way it was before January 4th, but it wasn't torturous either. I wasn't pulling out my photos of Abe to show everyone like I was doing before. As I was picking out diaper cream and baby oil, I was almost doing it sneakily, hoping I didn't run into anyone I knew, like I was trying to get away with something I shouldn't be doing, like I was afraid the burly mommy-club bouncers were going to whip around the corner of the baby-aisle and turn their blaring sirens on, shouting through their bullhorns: "Mrs. Rooney! Did you forget about January 4th!? We said the answer was 'no'!"

As I paid for my things, successfully avoiding these scary men (uh, maybe I am a freak then), I drove home vaguely pleased to have gathered butt-paste and motrin, cautiously optimistic that I'll be able to actually use them eventually.

And there's one thought I can't get out of my mind through all this: Merlefest. For the last two years, I've been with my dad who is a volunteer coordinator who gets us back-stage passes to be able to sit on the stage with Emmylou Harris, The Duhks, and Allison Kraus. I love Merlefest. Love. It. At last year's festival, we were about two months into the adoption process, and I just knew we'd have our baby home by 2008's festival. I kept pointing out all the moms walking around with babies, telling my dad and sister, "That'll be me next year!"

The first thing I bought for Baby A was a "Half Full" t-shirt at Merlefest '07 because I've had the adult "Half Full" version for a while. I was scared buying it. The voice of Hena's mother-in-law almost kept me from getting it. Now '08's festival is coming up in a couple of months. One shirt is empty. One shirt is filled. Half Full. Ironic, no?

Friday, February 15, 2008

You guessed it...

...wait til Saturday. I promise I'm not making this up. Apparently, it's pretty common for the phone lines to get jammed in Ethiopia, and that happened today of all days. Our caseworker tried to get through all day to Belay but had no success. We thought we'd hear news by noon today, so by around 2:00, I was a ball of nerves. We finally got an email from our caseworker telling us that she'll contact us tomorrow and will continue trying to get through in the meantime. In her email to us, she described this waiting as "torturous."

I wish I had something uplifting to say. Mary's description was spot-on. Sorry for not posting earlier. Thank you to all you sweet people writing to say you're praying. It's humbling.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wait til Friday

Ted kept saying yesterday, "Tomorrow's a big day!" I shut him down every time, reminding him that the chances are high of more delays. I also reminded him that reminding me of a "big day" only makes me unable to sleep. So we got up this morning to an email from our caseworker saying that the Gladney reps went to court Thursday and were told to come back Friday, that whoever is reading our case wasn't through reviewing it.

Some general positives:

Jocelyn sent me more pictures yesterday, a couple with facial expressions I'd not seen Abe make before. In one, he's holding Jocelyn's sister's hand and staring up at her like he has a big ole' crush. Heartbreakingly cute.

I got up this morning to red roses at my desk and the smell of bacon coming from the kitchen. My man made me breakfast.

Our flooring for the kitchen finally arrived yesterday.

I just got out of jury duty in Los Angeles, since we don't live there anymore.

I've been invited to a mass where my friend lights a candle every week for Abe. This same friend is going to introduce me to an African American friend who is part of an integrated church in North Portland. I need this.

A writer-friend told me she thinks I have a book in me.

I have a heart of flesh, not of stone.*

*Wait, that is a positive right? ...sometimes it doesn't feel like it. Today I can't dry the tears up, and I'm scared Ted's going to think I didn't like his maple-bacon (seriously: he purposely drizzled maple syrup on the bacon, turning it into this weird yet tasty twizzler-stick type sweet bacon candy). I even tried freezing my tear ducts by a bike ride in the frigid air today but all that did was make my inner ears ache from all the freezing cold wind.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Chewable album

We're so thankful to Amy for delivering this album this week. We've heard that the caregivers like seeing photos of the waiting families, and we figured Baby A might like having something new to chew on. I love knowing that a photo taken in Ireland that was developed in Oregon, mailed to Indiana and made its way across an ocean is now in the hands of a babe I love in Ethiopia.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Breeding love back in

First things first: We were told today that the powers-that-be for the court hadn't finished going over everything and that the Gladney reps were told to come back Thursday. We were told that on Thursday we will be given a court date.

One milestone at a time. Next one: Thursday. Thanks everyone for checking in, especially those who've written us to ask what's going on. That's today's news: no news.
I have a pair of boots that are becoming famous, at least around here. They are the nicest boots I've ever had in my life. Every time I wear them, no matter where I go, someone comments on them. And I wear them all the stinkin' time because they're rain boots and we all know how important that is here in Portland. Look how good they work. My feet remained totally dry throughout this insane amount of rain:
My boots are so popular that I have to keep a close eye on them. Some people--and I'm not naming any names--even try to steal them when I'm not looking:

How did I, a person who finds most of her shoes from Target and Goodwill, end up with such a fine pair of boots?

It's because of my friend Amanda's "vision board" (at least that's what I think it's called--please correct me if I'm wrong). She and her man Ian have a board up in their house where they tack up things that inspire them, things that they want, things to spur them on to good deeds. Amanda really dug these boots, so she put a picture of them up on their vision board. She looked at them every day and realized that as cool as they were, she would never use them in Southern California as much as someone would, say, in the Pacific Northwest. And I'm the lucky girl who first sprang to Amanda's mind when she thought of generously giving them to someone who could use such lovely things.

We were surprised this weekend when Ian and Amanda showed up in Portland. We were really happy to get to hang out with them. They're always enthusiastically introducing new ideas to our world, and one of those ideas was that of "breadcrumbs." A breadcrumb is what some people might call a coincidence, but that the perceptive and wise see as something more. David Lynch talks about this idea too--how, when two or more similar things happen all at once: pay attention.

We had a breadcrumb moment Saturday night. We sat down to eat, opened up a bottle or two of wine and made a toast. We toasted various things, all being sure to look each other directly in the eye in the Slovak way (that's another breadcrumb: I met Ian and Amanda at the very first party I went to in Los Angeles after getting married, and they had just returned from a trip to visit friends in, of all places, Slovakia--so we bonded over our shared love of Becherovka and bryndzove halusky). I made a toast to Jocelyn and Amy and their new babies, and when I said the name "Nathan Mussie Breedlove," Ian and Amanda told us this story:

As you can see, the kitchen remodel still isn't finished...we're waiting for the flooring and countertops to arrive...

That's pretty cool, huh? Adding to the breadcrumb moment is that the restaurant worker they described who helped take care of their son Ben demonstrated a value that is also very Ethiopian. In fact, on Jocelyn's blog today, she wrote about the housekeeper at her hotel immediately taking Pacey in her arms and loving on her. What a wonderful thing. Yes, we do need to breed these kinds of loving people back in to our culture.

Ted tried his hand at being the village that raises the child but ended up using Ben as a prop to refresh our memories of what "the infected" are like in the movie we were about to watch, 28 Weeks Later. Ben, being the zen-master he is, just took it all in stride.

By the way, you can listen to Ian's brilliant song-writing by clicking here. Go listen. You'll be blessed.

Speaking of breadcrumbs: As I was finishing up this post, I took a break to check my email (an obsessive habit) and had a new message from who else but Amy Breedlove! She got to meet Abe yesterday when they went to get their gorgeous boy Nathan. She says the following,"...I gave him his blanket and his photo album. He loved his little photo book. He wouldn't turn loose of it for me to get a picture of it straight! He is so adorable...his little dimples are just as precious as they are in the pictures too..."

It's so strange to think about Abe having in his hands (and probably his mouth too) something that my hands prepared for him. That small connection makes me happy but breaks my heart all at once. I so want him to know he's loved by us so many thousands of miles away. I can only pray that in some way he does.

I hear the rumbling of faith...
I know the benefits of pain.
I know I'll never be the same.
And when I've given all I can I'll be a satisfied man.
--Ian Harrison from "Pretty Good Plan"

Thursday, February 7, 2008

First Delivery and a Surprise

We got an update on Abenezer yesterday. It seems the boy is gaining a pound every two weeks. And we were told that he has a smile that "curls up slowly as he recognizes you and stays on his face until you leave." Sigh.
When I complained to my mom a few weeks after we got this blog up about how she hardly ever leaves comments, she explained something about how it feels weird for her to leave a message to her daughter in a public place like this. I reverted back to being an eye-rolling teenager and said something to her about "getting with the times" or something dumb like that, but I'm starting to see that there are others who feel the same way about leaving comments.

I know this because several people, some of whom I hadn't met yet, wrote me emails after I put our new email address up on the sidebar. Some people are just more of the private sort, and I respect that. I'm just always happy to hear from people, especially people who've been "lurking" (though I've never liked this term--leaving comments is an option, not a requirement when reading someone's blog, though I certainly enjoy and deeply appreciate getting them).

Several of these emails have included offers to mail me gifts for the Gladney home caregivers, and today, I received our first package! That was exciting. A college-friend of Ted's who is also an adoptive parent dropped off on our front porch this morning a huge bag off goodies. As promised, here's a photo of what she brought by, including the samples from Nordstroms and our cat Bang Bang who has to check it all out: Isn't all that stuff great? It's so wonderful to get this off to such a good start, and I look forward to being able to deliver these gifts to those beautiful women who give their love to those children. I want them to know that these gifts are from this adoption community, not from us, that they way give of themselves to the children in their care is appreciated not just by Gladney parents but from all our friends and families as well.
As I mentioned before, one of my favorite things is getting an unexpected package in the mail. It happened again today. I'm a lucky girl. One of my favorite blogging friends, Jana, sent me this print called "Woman Waiting," which I'd been eye-balling for months now. She herself is the artist. I'll keep it in the plastic envelope it's in until I can get it framed. For obvious reasons, it means a lot to me right now. I love it, Jana. Thank you.

Another high-point of today was getting to have lunch with of one my favorite Portlanders Jill, and today we were accompanied by her younger daughter Peyton. Despite my claim of being really good at tic-tac-toe, Pey made sure to keep me in my place by pointing out that I can't be all that good if we just keep blocking each other where neither of us wins. True dat, girl. (and I just realized looking at their blog archives that their blog is hosting most likely the ugliest photograph ever taken of me and Ted...if you find it, don't show your children--it will give them nightmares).

Now, everyone: go get thee Lost.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Oh yay, it's been so great to hear from people who are gathering their "free gifts with purchase" and sending them our way. I'm realizing this is the way to go instead of those cold-calls to businesses, especially big corporations who stare at me blankly as I start my spiel. I tried again today with our favorite place to buy groceries (I won't name names here, but frequent readers of our blog can easily guess which one), a place we've loyally shopped for years. The manager looked at me blankly (unlike the manager of Bath and Body Works who enthusiastically congratulated us on our adoption plans--love her!) and went into his spiel about how I'd have to get a letter from our agency stating their nonprofit federal number and where the donations would go.

Um, hello? All I'm asking for are 20 or so little bottles of hand lotion or bars of your hippie-dippy tea-tree oil soaps. With a lot of these corporate managers, I feel like Oliver Twist, begging for a scrap of bread, that they're going to reach across their counters to knock my cap off my head and pinch my ears, shooing me out like a rapscallion who's overstepped her bounds. I don't see how salespeople make these "cold calls"--my skin is much too thin to have my motives misread and looked at skeptically all day long.

And I didn't write this yesterday, but the furrowed brows of the lady in Nordstroms nearly drove me to tears. No kidding. I've never been good at letting anything roll off that proverbial duck's back.

Anyway, Ms. Namby-Pamby Overly-Sensitive Lori thanks you for sending things in! If you've got thicker skin than I do, you could ask store managers for donations, but I wouldn't wish that rejection on anyone (and I'm most likely going to keep asking anyway--the Nordstroms lady was proof that it can work).

This has nothing at all to do with adoption. It's the most brilliant thing I've seen in a while though. I wish I had thought of this!

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Gladney Caregivers

For all you adoption-blog fans out there, I'm sure you've noticed here and there the pictures of the wonderful women who work at the Gladney foster home. These women are remarkable. For one thing, they are all drop-dead gorgeous. For another, you can tell by their facial expressions that they adore these children in their care. I've heard so many parents say that one of the most difficult parts of the trip to Ethiopia was watching these ladies say goodbye to the children they'd grown so attached to. Some of these ladies continue to ask about certain children and even send gifts to them after the children have gone home to their families.

Through this stressful period, there have been two things I have not even once worried about. The first is the competence and dedication of the Gladney staff. The second is the care that Abenezer is getting right now in the Gladney home. Another adoptive mom told me a while back that when she took their child the first day from the Gladney home to the guest house where they were staying, she felt a little guilty. What a gift to know these children are being taken care of so wonderfully!

In that batch of photos we got last week of Baby A, I was struck by the kind face of one particular lady who always seemed to be holding Abenezer, tickling him, cajoling a mile out of him, or simply looking at him adoringly. Who is this lady and what can I ever do to repay her for the attention and love she has been giving to this boy we hope will be the next Rooney?

Well, I know that nothing could ever be truly enough, but small tokens of thanks that are appreciated by these ladies are cosmetics, especially lotions from Bath and Body Works. So here's what I did this morning. It was quite an experience.

I made little cards with my name, email address, blog address, and phone number and took off to my personal hell-on-earth: the mall. I was asking for free cosmetics. I started at the Macy's fragrance counter and made my way to Bath and Body Works, the Body Shop, Gap Body, and finally the Nordstrom's counter. At Macy's they gave me the phone number of a manager who was out today. The manager of Bath and Body was the friendliest but they didn't have any samples to give me. She said she'd call me if they got some. I think I believe her too.

I could tell the nice folks at Gap were freaking out a little, wondering how to navigate corporate policy to be able to give me a few samples. The friendly manager ended up giving me a corporate phone number. I'm not too hopeful for success with that one.

Nordstroms was an afterthought. When I finally got the manager's attention, she furrowed her eyebrows oh-so disapprovingly at me and was not at all interested in my cute little contact info card. She listened to my spiel, sizing me up the whole time, and grudgingly walked off saying she'd see what she had. She came back with a bag chock-full of perfume samples! And I don't mean those chintzy magazine inserts--I mean those small glass sprays that can actually last a while.

And then Lady Curmudgeon Perfume-counter Manager with a Heart of Gold gave me a great idea. Once a year, she organizes a party where she invites all her buddies to go through their cosmetics and collect all their unopened "free gift with purchase" items or any other unopened item like lotions, perfumes, body sprays, etc. They have their party and donate all they collected to local womens' shelters. What an awesome idea!

So I may try to get it together enough to do this in Portland, but since a lot of us are so spread out, I'm asking here if any of you with unopened "free gift with purchase" items like this you have laying around your house would be willing to mail them to me to bless these lovely lovely women who love these children. You could even organize your own get-together to collect your friends' stuff! I promise to take photos of what you send and post them here as proof that I'm not keeping it all for myself :)

I put our email address on our sidebar. If you are interested in participating, please send me an email and I can let you know how to get stuff to us.
Thanks so much everyone who wrote encouraging comments yesterday. Today feels better somehow. Mary told us this morning that the court has received all our documents and that the Gladney reps are to appear in court on February 11th to find out if any more information is needed before an official court date is set. Yes, it feels slow, but I'm at least happy to know that things are moving.

So, no official court date yet, but at least a preliminary one. That's something, right?

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Down Day

In the last week, we've received ten new photographs taken of Baby A, half from a traveling family and half from Gladney. I am thrilled to have these, but here's how it makes things hard: one of my coping mechanisms during this time is to allow the details of Abenezer to fade in my mind. I'm constantly--and I mean constantly--aware of his beautiful existence in this world, but so that I can function, I avoid looking at his pictures. Having new ones come brings back into very sharp focus the reality of this baby, who may or may not get to be ours.

Ted is a one-track minded sort of guy. Sometimes I wish I were more like this. I think it's true of a lot of women that we can juggle many different ideas in our heads at once. I can laugh at a movie, get engrossed in a book, have dumb conversations with pals about pop culture, and get excited about the butternut squash soup I'm making all while being very aware of a life in Ethiopia that my heart is achingly bound to. He's become sort of like that lyric in a Lisa Loeb song, "the ghost in the back of my head." He never goes away, and I don't want him to.

So for the past few days, the ghost became slightly less vaporous. As my friend Jill said when I showed her the new pictures, "He seems like such a real person in these." Yes ma'am, he does. He's in the bright sunshine in all of them. In one, he's on his tummy, chewing the fingers of his right hand, head cocked to one side, eyes smiling, hair so soft and warm. In another, he's again on his tummy, looking high up at someone standing over him, revealing that he has tan stripes on his neck from when he lays on his back in the sun. In a couple of the photos, he was sick with a cold, so he looks droopy and sleepy.

In all of them he's breathtakingly lovely. In all of them he's real. For the last few days, he's stopped being the ghost in the back of my head, and it's hard as hell to take.