Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Addis Ababa, Part II

A favorite blogger of mine whose youngest son we were able to meet during our time in Addis Ababa and who got home a couple of weeks ago just wrote a beautiful piece on their experience there. My only criticism of it is that she self-deprecatingly titled it "Indescribable." No ma'am: you did a fantastic job. I could never write a better description, so for my Part II, I'm directing you all over to this post (that first picture might get you).

A few of our favorite shots, some with captions, some not:

The road to Entoto Mountain.

Tibs and enjera

Car seat, Ethiopian-style

Sunday, May 25, 2008


After a few weeks of going backwards pretty well, ending up in some random spot across the room, Abe started doing this yesterday:

I don't think he even realizes that he's now going forwards, because unless we've put something right in front of him to lure him onward (like the red balloon my mom is using), he'll sit there and cry as he looks at me from across the room like he doesn't know how to get to me.

I was surprised at how thrilling it is to see your child figure something out like this. When I first saw him go forwards, I got tears in my eyes, tears of joy with a little bit of melancholy, thinking, "yep, this is it...the first step to leaving." It made me think of these lyrics by Sara Groves, a song that I think encapsulates perfectly what I feel like as a mother:

I just want a small piece of you
a token to put in my pocket
and I will own that one things
and it would make me happy
I just want a small piece of you
something to put in a locket
and I will look at it daily
and that will make me happy

I guess it's human nature to want to hold you very still
I guess it's in a mother to inject a little guilt
Go on son and see the world; I hope you see it all
But please please please don't forget to call

Free to fly free to go free to not look back
That's how free I want you though it scares me half to death
Free to wander miles and miles and free to come back home
That's how free I want you though it chills me to the bone

...Go on son and spread your wings; I hope that you take flight
But please please please don't forget to write

I know you're just a baby sleeping in your bed
And you probably have other thoughts drifting through your head
I know this conversation's a little premature
It's just that I've heard eighteen years goes by like a blur

...I know that it's not fair for me to hold you down now is it
But please please please don't forget to visit

Free to fly free to go free to come back home...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Aid Organizations

I'm not sure which of these aid organizations are the best, but I at least wanted to direct anyone who might be interested in giving.

Compassion International

Children of Ethiopia Aid

United Nations World Food Program


Oxfam America


Food for the Hungry

World Vision

If anyone has useful info about any of those organizations or can recommend another, please leave a comment and I'll be sure to look it up and post about it. Like my friend Pattie said, this is the kind of situation that makes me want to stand up and scream. Loudly.

I read recently about a modern-day hero after the earthquake in China. This story is astounding. The compassion in this woman's eyes is so evident. You can read it here.

Abe is happy his Gee is here.

Here, he's talking to Susan on Skype and being held by his Gee while a photo is being taken by his Ma. Life is good for this little man. That's a lot of female attention directed his way.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Please read. The magnitude of this is overwhelming.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Abe slept most of the way to Portland, waking up to find a nice woman two seats back he could flirt with the last ten minutes of the flight. I unpacked our suitcases, fed Abe his favorite sweet potatoes, and went for a walk around the neighborhood. The grass has grown up in our front yard very quickly, and so right now we are that family on the street. I was lamenting this fact with my favorite neighbor Linda, and her thespian teenage son flitted out of the house and around the corner shouting, "I'll mow your grass!" Okay then. Just could you do it before my mom gets here so she doesn't know that we've become that family on our street?

Late in the evening, we opened up a package that had arrived from my aunt and uncle in Memphis: a hand stitched and framed I Samuel 1:27. It's a lovely reminder from a couple who know how to love well. Then, after Abe had dumped all the toys he'd forgotten we'd left behind out on the rug, we found our retro Up, Down Little Golden Book to read. Abe snuggled up in my lap and I started to read while "Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters" played through the speakers from a mix CD Susan had made for me. On page three of the book, I think on the part where the grass is down and the clouds are up, Abe turned his head completely around to look me in the eye. I stopped reading and looked back in his eyes.

Then he smiled a very gummy smile, never breaking his gaze at me.

It was right at this point that I heard Elton say, "I thank the Lord for the people I have found," lines that have been meaningful to me in the past but that have now taken new shape. I could hardly get through the rest of the book.

I read a book to my smiling son while listening to a CD made by a friend who inspires me to write, after being offered a grass-cutting from my neighbor's enthusiastic son and being reminded by my aunt and uncle to treasure the time we're in because it passes very quickly. Go hug the people you love. Um, or write a blog about them and really hope they read it, the way that family on the street seems to do.

"And I thank the Lord there's people out there like you
I thank the Lord there's people out there like you."--Elton John

Monday, May 19, 2008

Another Reading Recommendation

This just in: I don't know how I missed this, as it's almost a month old, but our friend Neola just wrote the most lovely piece about family. You can read it here. It made me happy.
This is why I respect Melissa Faye Green so much. If you haven't read her Informal Guide to Ethiopian Adoption, I encourage you to high-tail it over there, especially if you're in the beginning stages of adopting:

"Is he or she the “right” child for you, the one destined by heaven to be yours?

Hard to say.

You’d hate to wish that anyone’s “destiny” included becoming an orphan. The child’s history is tragic; the child’s luck is about to change in a big way, beginning with your appearance on the scene."

She includes in this article an excerpt from There is No Me Without You about the first meeting between Meskerem and her new parents. I have read this several times and cry every single time.

She makes the point that not every meeting is so magical (though some certainly are) and that, "Even if the relationship doesn't feel perfect or magical or pre-destined for the first few weeks (or months), just pretend that all is unfolding according to plan, according to a higher intelligence than your own.

The child will simultaneously create in you the right mother or the right father, the one who knows where to tickle, what to cook, which bedtime story to read, and which flavor ice cream flavor is the best, the ice cream flavor ordained by heaven to be the one you both happen to love."

She also goes on to make the very true point that little boys are just as cute as little girls. True dat. Here I offer proof:

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Susan, Books, Gee, Heat

The two newest members of the Mutual Admiration Society: Susan and Abe.

I finished one book, then read another, all in the span of a week.

My mom is coming to visit on Wednesday.

It's stinkin' hot on the west coast. Why people say they don't mind the heat, I will never understand. How can you like being sweaty?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Food for Thought

There's some good, thoughtful writing going on out there in adoption blog-land. Have you ever felt mildly uncomfortable with terms like "paper pregnant" and been unable to know how to respond when someone comments on how "your adoption has taken a full nine months! How cool!"? What is it that makes me uncomfortable with people comparing an adoption to a pregnancy?

Courtney just wrote about this topic on her blog, Dandies in the Sunshine, and she has a link there to this article, which got her thinking about it all in the first place. The person who wrote the article is an adult adoptee who is very generous towards the community of those adopting (us) but who doesn't mince her words. Whether we agree with what she has to say at first glance or not, I think we owe it to the children we've been entrusted with to really pay attention and listen when an adult adoptee has something to say.

Adoption is not all touchy-feely, butterflies, rainbows and happy endings. Every single adoption comes with a certain amount of pain and loss and this is something we have to acknowledge and grapple with. I highly recommend reading this article and taking some time to think about it, even if it rubs you in the wrong way a bit, which it just might do.

These are issues our children, when they are all grown up, are very likely to want to discuss with us. We need to be ready. Kudos to the contemplative Courtney.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reality Check

Notice the crusty right nostril in this picture? See the tiny scratches between the eyebrows from where he'd been attacking his face when he was itchy from a rash that came up at the end of his fever? This is real life. It's not all "buckets of cherries," as Stacie says.

Not long after we came home with Abe, Ted had to be out of town for almost two weeks. I thought I wasn't going to make it. The difficulty was just knowing that every diaper, every nap, every meal, every booger needing wiping was all on me, all of it, all the time. I complained about this to my friends ad nauseum (sorry guys) but not much here on the blog because I was afraid of sounding ungrateful for the place we are now in our lives, a place that we didn't come to easily.

Stacie reminded me today though of the importance of remembering not just that life isn't perfect (and certainly parenthood never is) but mostly of how much we need each other. We need the support and friendship from people who are a step ahead. Having this can make all the difference. I consider Stacie and so many other blogging moms to be in that community for me, and I thank you for your honesty. Now, go read what she had to say.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

Susan just read this to us from this month's Vanity Fair. This quote is the perfect way to end my first Mother's Day (those dimples up there were the perfect way to start it).

Who are your heroes in real life?
Let's go with Jesus. Not the gay-hating, war-making political tool of the right, but the outcast, subversive, supreme adept who preferred the freaks and lepers and despised and doomed to the rich and powerful. The man Garry Wills describes, 'with the future in his eyes...paradoxically calming and provoking,' and whom Flannery O'Connor saw as 'the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of [one's] mind'."--John Cusack

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I've never been one to believe that everything happens for a reason. Because we're living in an imperfect world, bad stuff just happens. Life doesn't always go our way. And when crappy things happen, I don't think it was always for some ultimate purpose that we just can't see yet. I certainly don't believe that God made painful things to happen to us as part of His Great Plan and that one day we'll look back at all the pain and loss and say, "Oh, so that's what all that suffering was about."

I was reminded tonight at our church in L.A. the story about Joseph and how twisty his life was, how so often evil had the upper hand. He could have walked out. He could have slit his wrists. He could have cursed God and died. He didn't though--he let his heart stay open and let God shape his character. That's what it's all about. It's not about things working out in the end. It's about us becoming better, more compassionate people.

That being said, I do believe that everything is redeemed. After all the hard work of not getting bitter or numb due to the crap life throws our way, I do believe we'll see redemption because God is good and He can't be anything else.

For a couple of years there, Mother's Day was not a fun holiday for me. I think I will always be hyper-sensitive to women on this day. Tonight at church, they showed a video of different women talking about the experience of being a mother, and I could hardly enjoy it from thinking about how childless women who long to be mothers must feel watching it. I know how they feel. Motherhood was a club I wasn't allowed membership to for a while, and Mother's Day was especially hard since all the members were celebrated and paraded about.

"Character is formed when life doesn't turn out the way you were dreaming."

Our pastor said this tonight, and boy is he right. If we keep ourselves open, difficult circumstances can really make something beautiful. I wrote that quote down and beneath it added, "...but God redeems ALL."

There is a couple in our church here who did our pre-marriage counseling and eventually become our friends. We love these two people dearly ( They actually are some of the dedicated friends who wrote letters of recommendation during the long paper-chase process for the adoption.). These two never had children. After a particularly painful loss a couple of years ago, we were talking with them one day, and Dave told us something that I will never ever forget.

They had tried to conceive a child earlier in their marriage, and it just wasn't happening. Neither of them felt comfortable pursuing fertility treatments (I don't know if they ever considered adoption). The years went by and both started working in counseling and eventually doing all the marriage counseling in our church. One fall, they started a seminar based on the Love, Respect materials (really wonderful stuff, by the way). As they were standing on the stage one evening getting the seminar started, Dave looked out at the people there and realized it was mostly young couples, some married and some not. It suddenly occurred to him that, if he and his wife had ever had kids, the majority of those people out there were the age their children would have been.

Tears welled up in his eyes when he told us this, as they are now in mine as I write it down. He said that he felt God was showing him that He was letting the two of them parent and nurture all these couples, that He had given them children, more than they might ever even know.

God redeems. God loves us. He's with us. If you doubt anything on this earth, don't doubt that one.
"My words could not say, not even in part
Of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart."

Friday, May 9, 2008


Abe has a virus. He's been snotty and cough-y but since yesterday he's also been feverish. This morning we made the trek to the doctor (never much fun but especially not in a big ol' city like Los Angeles where they have the been-there, done-that, sick kid, get 'em in, get 'em out feeling) where they checked him out from head to toe and said that all we can do is let it run its course.

I've been around plenty of sick kids in my life and it's never made me sadder than this time. A couple of nights ago, I had a dream that I was protecting Abe from sniper bullets at a big political gathering. Later in the dream, Kid of the rapper duo Kid 'N Play showed up to perform, so I think everything turned out okay, but it was a harrowing moment anyway.

Nothing like realizing you'd so readily and quickly and might I say, eagerly, take a bullet for someone.

Anyway, at some point, I will blog about the rest of our Ethiopia trip. I will, I will.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Still Around

Though it seems like we wouldn't be blogging while out of Portland, here is proof otherwise. We're back to sharing a computer plus are staying with friends and on the road--all things that keep from regular blogging. I do so love this community and miss it when I don't get to check on how things are going. There have been some new referrals this week with Gladney (always exciting) and it's fun to read about everyone gearing up for the blog union in a few months.

Abe is going to wake up any second and Ted is walking out the door to have a mold made of his head (all in a day's work) so things here may be short. Abe got to meet more Rooneys this week when some of the Texas Rooneys came to Los Angeles. We cooked burgers on the deck and got to hear Susan tell one of my favorite stories, which you can catch the end of here and probably guess pretty easily what came before, especially with Ted's helpful illustration:

I think my favorite thing about this video is the adoring way Abe watches Susan, then jumps in joy when she smiles his way, most likely the boy's first crush right there.

Abe got to go swinging for the first time this weekend, which he was just thrilled about:

It looks to me like he should have a scepter in one hand, glass of mead in the other (whatever the heck mead is), and his harem behind him attending to his every need as he oversees the kingdom.

See, it's really not all happy-happy, joy-joy for Abe. That deadpan gets me. It'll be interesting when he gets to that stage of pulling this face as a teenager. He's got the weird expressions, goofy ones, and boy oh boy has he already mastered the deadpan disapproving ones as well.

I've been thinking a lot the last few days about that verse about how God puts the lonely in families if we let Him (italics mine)...lots of thoughts there, little time to write them down. The prevailing thought has been about how we think of that verse mainly in terms of orphans being put in families but how so often it's the other way around. There are a lot of grown people out there, lonely and in need of family. And how sad it is that so many of them have maybe even forgotten this need by dulling that sharp pull with distractions, with career, with affluence. We need each other, that's for sure.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Power Outage

I made the following discovery today: A pair of Abe's pants in the kitchen garbage can. A dirty (and I mean dirty) diaper in the laundry basket. I have no idea how they got there. Ted said I could blame Abe since I have no memory at all of how this could have happened.

We're packing to leave town for two weeks, so I'm figuring that's his excuse. I'm letting it go this time.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Short on Brain Power

Yeah, Abe, that's about how I feel right now too. I have severe shortage of brain power right now for writing, from handling all day a squirrelly boy who did not sleep well last night in his new room that is much brighter than the old one, from eating way too many tater tots tonight at Kennedy School and from really wanting to go watch the new 30 Rock that I know is waiting for me on Tivo.

I did want to share quickly that fantastic and funny book I'm reading so you can all rush out an buy it and make this mom a million bucks for her brilliant ideas.
She deserves it.

On why not to let your kids have videogames on long road trips: A certain amount of boredom is necessary for a child's development, and will eventually spark a mental state known as "daydreaming...Many of the world's problems were solved in just this manner. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Ms. Mellor lives in Los Angeles, and if I ever see her wandering the streets of Silver Lake (where I imagine her to live), I'll walk right up and kiss her.

This is what night-time looks like at the Rooney house, so I now bid you sweet dreams, a lovely morning, sharp thoughts in the day, tasty lunches, and plenty of laughs at the genius of Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin. Really: you should watch 30 Rock if you don't already. Off I go...