Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Blog Union '08

Author's note: it's imperfect, but Michelle, you're right: I'm letting that go. Here it is, in all its imperfection and long-stinkin' length.

The first time I heard Amy Breedlove’s voice on the phone, I felt a shot of adrenalin,
sort of like the one I imagine my father felt the time he saw his half-sister in person for the first time, at age 38. Hearing that voice felt a lot like meeting a long-lost sister.

Amy and I were both in the beginning stages of adopting from Ethiopia. Amy lives in Indiana; I live in Oregon. We’d both started blogs around the same time to chronicle the journey our families had embarked upon, and we were both with the same agency and in about the same stage of the process. I remember going upstairs to our bedroom to talk to Amy, shutting the door and connecting with this person whom I quickly found out had more in common with me than just the adoption: we talked about how to raise respectful, responsible children, pop culture, and a smattering of politics. This conversation was the first glimpse of feeling that I had “found my people.”

To give some backstory: My husband and I decided to pursue adoption in November of ‘06. What led us to adopt is its own very particular, personal, and long story. Suffice it to say, the day we made this decision ushered us into a completly new world, one that felt a bit like we’d been pulled up out of the dark “unexplained secondary infertility” pit and placed into this very bright labyrinthal structure, a bit like test mice in a lab. I didn’t care. At least someone had turned the light on, and I could just smell that bit of cheese luring me through the maze. The fire was lit again beneath me. I can handle a maze but a pit of despair I can do without.

The pit had to do not just with this bizarre medical diagnosis we’d been given (which was basically a doctor’s way of telling us, “Hell, we don’t know what's your problem”) but with the ensuing sense of alienation I felt, as I was living in a new city and surrounded by young moms who would sometimes complain about the daily grind of a world that I seemed inexplicably barred from entering. The diagnosis we were given brought me to the most isolated and lonely time of my life, a time when I sometimes found it difficult to get out of bed some mornings, a time I am content not remembering except for when I feel gratitude to God for not being there anymore.

It took us four long months of research to finally decide on an agency, which we switched from after the discovery of some things that made us uncomfortable--only after we’d filled out the initial $250 application fee. Welcome to the world of internation adoption where you must be ready to tackle the unexpected.

It felt a bit like starting over from scratch, and this is also its own long story, but when we finally signed on with Gladney, that first orientation phone call left us feeling even more like labrats, but at least the twists were becoming less twisty and the end was closer in sight.

Soon after signing on with Gladney, one day in early spring of ‘07, I “stumbled upon” this one blog of a couple who’d just received the referral of the child their agency had matched them with. They’d put together a video with a photo slideshow, song, and captions telling the story. The video showed them sitting down at their computer, opening the email with phone pressed to their ear, and what got me more than anything was the look on the young woman’s face when she first saw the photo of what would become her son. She burst into smiling tears, hands covering her mouth, absolute elation in her eyes. The video ended with a photo of the couple holding a printed photo of their referral picture. I sobbed. The adoption blog quickly became the thing that inspired me more than any of the glossy brochures of agencies or fancy DVDs about adoption. I was surprised and ecstatic to find that they existed.
The Bottomlys seeing Silas for the first time.

This one referral day post is what inspired me to start a blog for our family. Anyone who has attempted to adopt knows that it is a tedious and frustrating process. When dealing with lawyers, notaries, authentication of documents, doctor’s offices who are less than helpful, accountants, banks, etc., it’s easy to lose sight of how all this “paperchase” will end. I’m not a fan of the term “paper pregnancy” but I certainly understand why some adoptive parents feel the urge to use this term. The gathering of countless documents to prove to unknown government officials that you are worthy to parent has its own particular pains that some do compare to labor pains. It’s not a fun process.

I told my husband one day, on a whim, “Honey, I need an hour to myself. I’m starting one of these things.” I wanted to inspire others in the process the way the Bottomlys blog had inspired me. I wanted to chronicle this story, or “epic” as I prophetically started calling it (I had no idea at the time the terrible twist that would come in our adoption). I wanted a record of what we were doing. I think I saw myself as some sort of trailblazer. As we walked this road, I wanted others to be able to learn from our mistakes. I also really hoped to make people cry, the way I had at so many referral stories.

I started posting every few days and quickly put together a list of blogs I read on my sidebar so that I could get to the stories I was following quickly. I started to feel like I “knew” these people. I discovered the “comment” application, and I started leaving comments, and others started reading our blog and commenting on what I’d written. In the beginning, there were maybe 3 or 4 people who’d leave comments: some other PAPs (Prospective Adoptive Parent) and some our personal friends and family. But I kept reading and kept getting to know these people and them us. I posted a lot about the paperwork, but quickly realized that this could be boring. I tried to spice things up with stories about our travels, our cats, the antics of my actor-husband (I didn’t disclose this fact then--he’s just a generally entertaining guy who could make the tedious gathering of paperwork pretty funny).

I also sometimes posted about what I was reading about adoption, the big issues, the issues of race and transracial families. I ranted and raved sometimes about the dumb things that people say, people who don’t know the particular sensitivities when it comes to race and adoption. And all along, I followed these stories of others further along in the process. I cried at their referral day posts and travelled with them on their journeys to Addis Ababa. I woke up in the mornings to see if the travelling families had posted new pictures of the first meetings of their children. I’d hit “refresh” numerous times a day when a family I knew was awaiting news of their court date. I would pore over photos that families posted of Ethiopia.

As we started commenting on each other’s blogs, I discovered a few kindred spirits. Amy Breedlove was one of the first for me. Because we were right in the same place in the process and with the same agency, we were hoping to travel at the same time and meet in Ethiopia. It truly was thrilling and a little scary to talk to her on the phone for the first time.

The process of getting to know these bloggers personally tended to be like this: lurking first, then leaving a comment or two, leaving our emails for each other in a comment, hope they don’t think I’m crazy-stalker for leaving my email, check email, feel giddy when they write, write back a few times, exchange phone numbers, be too shy to call first, stifle a scream when they actually call first, experience that elation of finding out that this stranger in blog-land is actually a kindred spirit and sometimes even a “bosom friend.”

Once I crossed that breach in talking one on one with Amy, it became less weird to talk personally to other bloggers, though never less thrilling. I pretty quickly had to create a new folder for all my “adoption friends” emails.

By this time, summer was ending, and we were waiting for our CIS-approval letter, the infamous final piece of paper to go in one’s foreign dossier, the document that is sent to Ethiopia. This approval letter is what gets you officially out of the “paper chase” and into the wait-list, which I started calling simply “The Wait,” capital W. Amy and I got ours in the same week. Since our goal had been to travel at the same time, I was happy to find out that we were both put on the Wait-list at the same time, right together in schedule. By this time, I’d also become “real life” friends with a couple of other bloggers, even meeting one couple live and in person, Drew and Carey, while they were in the middle of their Wait for Zoe.
Sweet Zoe, Abe's hospital buddy in Addis.

Then thirteen long weeks passed and at 9am on December 18, we got “the call.” After seeing photos of the child we hoped would become our son and going through all the crazy emotions of that hour, I immediately started to wonder if Amy had gotten “the call” that day too. When I saw that she had posted on her blog about their referral, I knew it was safe to call with our news as well. We talked giddily about these two beautiful boys we had just been introduced to, and I posted late in the day about hearing the name “Abenezer” for the first time, the heartbreak of finding out his story, and the simultaneous gratitude at being entrusted with this little person.
Straight out of bed to receive "the call," it all hits me.

We were on track! A few days later, both Amy and I got calls from Gladney: our court dates were assigned for the exact same day, January 4th. The chances of our traveling at the same time were looking really great.

There was another blogger whose story I’d been following, Jocelyn, a single mother who had devastatingly lost her first referral. The title of that post was, “My Baby is Gone,” which I read with shock. The one comforting thing as I read her story was to see the absolute outpouring of support Jocelyn got from the blogging community. I was in awe. Within a few hours, she had recieved 74 comments from people offering support, sympathy, and prayers. I knew this blogging community was tight, but seeing the support lent to Jocelyn during this time was the first I truly realized what a special world of people I’d found myself a part of.

Since then, Jocelyn (who was with a different agency) had recieved a new referral for a little girl, and she would be travelling the same time as me and Amy. I was excited at the chance to meet both of these women, women whom I respected immensely and saw a bit as adoption-rock-stars. I so looked up to both of them and knew I could count on them for anything.

This is where the difficult part of our adoption process happened, January 4th, the awful day that our adoption was denied by an ill-informed judge. I was taking care of a friend’s two preschoolers that day, so I barely had time to really take in what had happened. By the time I got off the phone with our caseworker, who had explained what uncharted territory we were about to enter with a court appeal, the kids were playing a made-up game involving throwing their food at each other, and I spent the next few hours in a daze. I remember standing blankly in front of our house later that day as my friend drove away with the kids (I hadn’t told her the news) and my next-door neighbor seeing me and coming over to ask if I was okay. This is when the sharp pain between my shoulderblades started as the reality hit me of what had happened. The next two months were some of the most difficult of my life, having fallen in love with this small boy but unsure if I'd ever be allowed to be his mother.

Amy hadn’t passed court that day either, but did two weeks later, along with Jocelyn. While I was thrilled for them both, especially for Jocelyn who had walked such a particularly difficult road, I also felt such envy that they would be there without us. I went through scores of emotions reading their blogs during this time as they both made their plans to travel to bring their children home. As happy as I was for them, it was often difficult to read their blogs.

And here is what is so amazing about this community: they understood my need for distance. They didn’t judge me. In fact, they’d pick up the phone every few days to check in with me, to see how I was holding up, to let me “cry or cuss, scream or just say nothing,” as Jocelyn offered many times. We even found things to joke about, like that big box of fancy wine Jocelyn used to calm her nerves. In the midst of their excitement to bring their children home, they remembered me and my experience, including me in their lives and them in mine.
"Woman Waiting" by Jana Funderburk

They both were able to travel not just at the same time, but also on the same flight and stay in the same hotel. Amy took a photo album and blanket for me to give to Abe, along with a SD memory card which she filled with photos. Though Jocelyn was with a different agency, we worked it out for her to go to the Gladney foster home to visit Abe for us. She took photos as well, and even made a shadow-box collage of one particular photo of her holding Abe, which she sent to us after we got home. The words say “Love, timeless, FAMILY.” The “family” is in all-caps.

Abe meets Pacey and his Aunt Jocelyn

This is the wonder of this blog community: we are, in a sense, each other’s family. We get each other. Even among our closest family and friends, it feels sometimes like a minefield of insensitive comments or questions from our relatives who may not quite get what adoption is all about. Though they want to understand, some of them simply don’t, and our time sometimes ends up being spent trying to educate them to the ins and outs and appropriate adoption-language, or more often, biting our tongues because we lack the energy to be tactful educators. As loving as these non-adoptive people usually are, it’s not always easy to have conversations with them about our families. It’s easy to feel guarded around them.

But with my blogger friends, I can feel free to cry, scream, cuss, or just say nothing. And rest assured, hell will freeze over sooner than any of them will ask me, “So when are you going to try for your own child?” I found that talking with my blogging friends simply felt so easy, so natural because of the scores of things that can simply go unsaid (by the way, the title of our blog came from a reaction to the common usage of the terms "adopted" and "your own" when we feel that any child in our care and with our last name is our own child).

After our adoption of Abe was denied, our story seemed to spread in the blogging community, as dramatic stories often do, and our site tracker went through the roof. It’s human nature to be interested in a dramatic story, but what I found is that we seemed to have few “lurkers.” The people reading our story were people who were also reaching out to us, leaving supportive comments. A friend in Los Angeles who knew our story even organized several days of prayer, which the blogging community jumped right on board with. It was humbling to see such support, to know we were being remembered.

Our court date for the appeal was rapidly approaching on March 4th, and before I flew down to Los Angeles to be with Ted who was there for work and to possibly fly from there to Ethiopia, a blogger left a comment saying that she’d had the thought that our court date actually was a command to “March Forth!” and get our son. As nerve-wracked and emotional as I was, this idea made me laugh out loud in excitement. On the plane down to L.A., I read an article in The Oregonian about a local marching band named “March Forth” of all things. Pretty amazing stuff there, and I think I’ve got my book title, should I ever get around to telling our adoption story in its entirety.

Blurry, but how I love the love in this photo

On the morning of March 3rd, the day we were fully expecting to be the most tense and emotional of our lives, I woke up to turn on my phone and find that our caseworker had already called three times. I called her back to hear her sweet voice say, “Are you sitting down? Lori, it’s done!” I ran downstairs to find Ted, slid across the dining room floor dropping the phone, and yelled at Ted who was outside on the deck to come in and hear this news. The full story can be read in the archives of our blog. After calling our immediate family, I had to put the news out there on our blog. Within 24 hours, we’d recieved over a hundred comments from the people following our story. There is no doubt that our joy would have been full without the blogging community, but that proverb about "a grief shared being halved and a joy shared being double" became so true for us.

Because of the two-month delay in our adoption being completed, we were given the go-ahead to travel a week later. What a week and trip that was, which again can be read in the archives of our blog. While we were in country, several referrals had been made to Gladney families, so we got emails from these excited people, asking for photos of their children. We spent hours with these children, filling up SD cards with photos and videos. I remember thinking to myself then what an amazing experience it would be for us all to meet in person, to get to meet the parents that go with these kids I was getting to hold and to meet the people who had held Abe for us in our long wait for him...

Apparently, a few others had had the same thought. So Carey decided to take the bull by the horns and organize a gathering of Ethiopian-adoptive families. What started out small grew to over a hundred people. It is so remarkable to me that an event this large started off with one little blog post saying, "What if...?" Within a few short months, over a hundred people from all over the country, all with matching t-shirts, convened together on the beach in Orange County to meet, some for the first time, some as a reunion (further proof that the internet is a magical force).

Yellow shirt brigade

Abe and I flew down to Los Angeles on the first official day of the event, and that night as I was going to sleep, the first feelings of giddiness were starting. I somehow managed to sleep that night. Abe and I drove down to Hermosa Beach, parked our car, and walked to the pier to meet up for lunch with Amy, Jocelyn, and Carey. As I was walking, I called another blogging friend, Courtney, who asked if I was nervous. I wasn’t at all. Imagine if you were going to a family reunion where you actually liked (not just love--we have to love our famillies right?) everyone there, a family reunion free of familial dysfunction and drama. That’s what this walk to the pier with Abe strapped in the Baby Bjorn felt like for me.

I saw Dani and Judah first, greeted by that huge Judah smile (Dani had met us in person in Eagle Rock right before we left to get Abe). Right after that, we saw Carey, our rock-star friend, that woman someone described so well by saying she’s so much cooler than you but makes you feel like her peer anyway. We walked in to the restaurant, and I ran to Amy Breedlove for a long squeeze, then to Jocelyn for the same. I couldn’t stop staring at their kids, all of them. I planted myself at a table, with Abe next to me in a high chair, and just sat there quietly looking at and listening to all the conversation with this plastered on, corny grin that I couldn’t take off.

Soon after, the party got bigger with Staci and Micah making their way in (they’d recognized Abe through the window), along with Courtney and eventually Meredith and Laura, two hot Southern mamas. I could hardly eat from the excitement and ended up staying for three hours.

I’d told myself that I wanted to go down that day mainly to pick up Courtney and Jana who were staying at our house. I’m not so much a big-crowd person, preferring one-on-one time with people. However, I couldn’t pull myself away. We ended up at Drew and Carey’s house, spending a giddy afternoon with the others who were crashing there. Bob Marley was playing in the house, with Judah having his dance party instead of nap. A Corona and lime party was going on up on the roof. We watched each other’s kids while showers were taken. About a gillion photos got taken by Amy and me. I made a necklace with Anna, Amy’s daughter. And I still couldn’t get rid of that corny smile.

We then walked back down to the pier for the dinner and a chance to meet more families. What a surreal experience to see the Bottomlys walk up, the family whose blog inspired me to be a part of this community in the first place. I have a feeling if anyone were filming our first meeting that I looked like I was meeting Bono or Barack. I tried not to give off too much of that "creepy stalker vibe," though I couldn’t help gushing about how exciting it was for me to meet them in person.

Six months later, Abe and Amy meet again in California

Ted had had the idea that this would be mostly a womens’ event, so had taken the opportunity to stay up in Portland to get some uninterrupted work done on the house. However, I called him up and handed the phone to Josh Bottomly, who managed to convince him what a studly event this was too, in spite of the strong influence of estrogen in the crowd. So Ted jumped on a plane Saturday morning and headed down.

Jana, Courtney, Abe, and I spent Friday evening at our place in Eagle Rock never running out of things to talk about, and then drove back down for a full day Saturday with these “relatives,” and the feeling of euphoria never left the whole time.

There was Staci, Kevin, and Micah, free-thinking noncomformists in the mid-west with a captivating, bright-eyed baby boy.

And Meredith and Ryan: my Southern connection, the woman who sent me a care-package of things from the South while we were waiting for court, including a can of collard greens and a mix CD with songs that make me weep. I keep telling Meredith that I want her to come live next door to us.

There was also Alison and Reese, one of the first Gladney families, the family with the most clever referral post ever.

Jana from Dallas stayed two nights with us, a deep thinker and artist who had sent me that beautiful print, "Woman Waiting" while we were in process.

Then there was Tara and her son Malak, whom we got to meet and take pictures of in Addis Ababa.

Same for Leul and his mom, Leul who so needed the abiding love of his mama Pam.

Jennifer was one of the first who got to meet Abe. She sent us photos way back in December, right after we found out about him.

There was sweet Heidi, the person with the idea for the union in the first place.

And the list of people goes on and on and on. With each face I recognized, it felt like meeting in person a long-lost relative who I simply really really like hanging out with.

I have hesitated to make public our issues with fertility, but to explain why the blog union meant so much to me on a personal level, I think it’s important to put this personal issue out there. Any form of infertility is hearbreaking, from being unable to conceive to having difficulty in carrying a pregnancy to term. It’s an incredibly isolating experience that is made even more difficult when doctors have no idea what is wrong, when all tests come back not just normal, but better than normal.

I found that what happened when we were going through this was that an invisible line was drawn separating those who “can have kids” and those “who can’t.” Those who can’t are somehow broken, abnormal, other. My sweet neighbor after the birth of her first son (who didn’t know our story at all) talked about this by saying that she feels so lucky to have “escaped” the infertility trap that so many of her friends are caught in. She looked gratefully at her newborn son as she said this, expressing gratitude to him for making her a mother. This, and many other conversations with young mothers left me feeling like a non-member of a club I desperately wanted to be a part of, something I wrote about while we were waiting for our appeal court date.

I hated the thought though of people seeing me as being “broken.” This was the most difficult thing for me to take. I didn’t (and don’t) want anyone’s pity. Once we decided, with great excitement and joy, to adopt, the “unexplained secondary infertility” burden was lifted from our shoulders. I felt giddy. I was excited to tell people, and most greeted our news with equal joy and excitement. Occasionally though, they wouldn’t, especially women who were in the midst of trying to conceive. They didn’t quite understand why we were “giving up on having our own.” One woman in particular at our church in Los Angeles greeted our news with a forrowed-brow, concerned look, with a sympathetic click of the tongue and a “Oh, that’s great for you guys” said in an “I’m so sorry for you” kind of way. Oh boy, how does one react to that?

This was so hard for me to take. I didn’t feel broken in the least. If anything, I felt lucky to have been yanked out of that dark pit we’d been in, the one I referred to at the beginning of this article. I felt ecstatic, but what I found was that some people didn’t get my feelings of elation.

Being around the Amys, the Janas, the Courtneys, the Careys and Stacis and Jocelyns etc, normalized our shared experience of becoming moms through adoption. This is why I wrote that “I am among my people” at the blog union. Being among these moms makes me feel proud, not broken.

I understand that part of the package when adopting is a willingness to lovingly educate the people in our world who may not have been exposed to adoption about the joys, particular hardships, and thoughtful language of adoption. We must be willing to do this, as in a sense, we are diplomats of adoption to the rest of the world. But even having the best of attitudes towards this “teaching” aspect of being an adoptive parent, it can become tiring to either bite our tongues or explain for the millionth time the statistics about rates of conception after adoption and that it’s not necessarily true that we’ll “have our own baby” soon enough, that Abe is “our own” baby, that we are just as much his parents as if he’d been conceived and birthed by us biologically. I get tired of people feeling secretly sorry for me, that we “had to” adopt.

And I don’t mean to romanticize adoption. In a perfect world, every couple would conceive and birth children whom they are able to raise free of disease, heartbreak and tragedy. I am very aware that this is an imperfect world we are living in though, and every single adoption is a story of heartbreak and brokenness on many levels for several people, but it is also a story of redemption and wholeness, of the beauty than can come from the ashes of an imperfect world. The mothers I have come to know through the blogging community understand this, and I am so grateful that we share the same voice.

So what got to me most about last month in Hermosa Beach, on a personal level as a woman, was to see how the coming together of all these varied women from varied backgrounds with different political, social, and religious beliefs was that we all have something in common: through the adoption of our children from Ethiopia, we have become each other’s family. I love them all. As different as we all may be, I love each of them with that special love reserved for those “bosom friends.” I can breathe deeply around these women. They get it.

In spite of our many differences, we have the most important thing in common. We love our children, all of them. We are not broken, well, not at least as mothers. Their support has made me a better person, and their presence in my life has been a source of miraculous healing in knowing that I’m not alone.

And as for our family, though Abe is now too little to understand what these “blog unions” mean, my hope is that as he grows older and starts to see in our every-day world that his family doesn’t look exactly like the other ones on our street, that these annual get-togethers will be a safe-place for him, as this year’s event was for me. I pray that his seeing all these other families that look a lot like his will normalize his experience as well.

Nathan, Pacey, Abe

We all have each other, and I can’t wait for next year’s family reunion, for me to meet up again with these sisters and for Abe to meet again his scores of aunts, uncles and cousins. What joy, what joy.


graceling said...

Thank you, Lori, for these words. This is why I WILL be at the BU next year- Anna has a lot of family to meet.

Jocelyn said...

What an incredible post are such a beautiful person inside and out. I too feel so lucky to have you, Ted and Abe in my life and am so thrilled that Pacey does... and will for the rest of her life. You made me very teary and it takes a lot to do that...thank you for writing this.
love you,
jocelyn and pacey

Lori said...

Woo hoo! I made Jocelyn cry!

Amy B. said...

Let me start off by saying that I am going to have to call you, because I can't write enough about this. What an incredible post...and not just because you wrote about me :) You truly have such a way with words. You got me teary too...and it is difficult to make me cry too. I feel so incredibly blessed to have you as a part of my life...I love that we are family. The biggest highlight of the BU for me was seeing Abe again...this time in your arms. It was a memory I will cherish forever.
Beauty for ashes for sure!

Christina said...

Well, shoot. I cried, and I don't know any of you :). What a beautiful post. Thank you, Lori.

Jennifer said...

What a great post Lori! I wish I had been able to go to blog-union this year...I feel the same way...we were meant not only to have these children but to meet the people we have met along the way. Our family. Hugs!

The Redman's said...

Beautiful and perfectly written! I couldn't agree with you more! These blogland friends are a treasure... a very unexpected treasure that was discovered during the journey of international adoption! As I blog about our journey, the milestones we're hitting-- one year home, etc. my posts focus on my family and our newest addition, but the posts always seem to be missing a little something... and I think that something is the unexpected friendships that have formed throughout our "adoption journey" as well. It's hard to explain to others, but pretty spectacular! Thank you for sharing your heart.


megan said...

What an amazing post! You made me cry!

veggiemom said...

Ditto on the tears. This is why I'm addicted to adoption blogs - these people understand. It's amazing to me these connections that we form and I don't know how anyone gets through an adoption without it.
Kerri, Medina, and Ruby

DrewCareyShow said...

Sweet Lori, what a beautiful post! You have captured so perfectly the unique fellowship of this blogging adoption community, and I too so value it. I also remember reading the Bottomly's referral post and crying right along side these perfect strangers -- and many others who went after them. How special that we've all been able to become real life friends and a community for our children in the years to come. We've just wrapped up the craziest month of our lives, so it was so great to sit down and make this my first long read as I try to catch up with my blog family. I am going to go to bed happy and full... We love you guys!

emily said...

What a beautiful post. I love how you outlined your initial excitement over the blogging world... I remember finding Amy's blog at the beginning of our process as well and just bawling over their referral video. How crazy that to think that it has touched so many people! I didn't really find your blog until after your referral but I have always enjoyed your honesty and wittiness. thank you for that! you see beauty in life, that is a gift from God.
from all the way in canada,

Jana said...

oh, Lori.

Well done, friend! Thoughtful and well-written. I am right there with you on everything you said! Especially the part about infertility.

And, I must confess, I felt totally tongue-tied the first time we talked on the phone. Such a surreal experience. I was trying to play it cool. :)

Much love to you.

Jen said...

What a beautiful post!

coffeemom said...

Lori, no worries. You did it. It IS perfect. See.... What a post.

You made me cry.

YOu said it so well and it IS hard to say to tie it all together. I had the 'secondary" infertility too (after my second) and went through the lonely hell of that broken place and the excruciating madness of infertility treatment, another kind of hell, worth it for my Banana girl, but never again. So. I get that too.

Oh. And now, look where you are! A mom. w/ a gorgeous boy and very very large family. A 'family' that is so blessed and grateful to have you be part of it (and I am shamelessly throwing myself into it as a fellow ET mom, because I want/need to). IT is a large but very unique bunch....we are so lucky. And for this post and you and your insight, even more so. Well done.

mama becca said...

I love this. This is beautiful. Thank you for writing it all down... capturing our feelings perfectly. While we couldn't come to the union (tear), I love to hear the stories and of course know how deep a connection we have as adoptive mamas. I love how you said that you could "breath deeply" around these women... my good friend Erin, who lives down the street with two African babes, is that friend (live and in person) for me. So I just get that- I can breath deeply with her. We get it. You all get it. This is our safe place to just "be".
Great job, friend...

jody said...

oh my gosh, if i hear the "one of your own" distinction between our birth kiddos and the one we're adopting ONE MORE TIME i am going to push that person down!! What is the DEAL with that?!?! i am glad to be able to vent here to my own kind of people, and though i have not had the fierce and painful battle with infertility, we had horrible pregnancies and i feel i need to explain that often to "justify" to people why we're adopting-as if "b/c we WANT to" is not a good enough reason?? the blessing of being among fellow adoptive bloggers is that there is none of that questioning, none of the "why do you want ANOTHER child?", no comments like my most recent "well, more power to ya' i guess" (what??), and just genuine joy for others' families and their beautiful glowing brown cuties and multicolored families. the blogging community can be hard sometimes, b/c you cannot always talk things out and things can be hard to interpret w/ no tones of voice, expression, etc, but it is also so good to make me think, feel connected and feel less isolated in our adoption journey-just like A FAMILY!! Thanks for this awesome post-and I mean "awe" some, the blogging community of Ethio adoptive families is something that often provokes awe in me. Your story is so beautiful and I remember praying fiercely as March 4th/forth approached and saying "YES!" on March 3rd w/ happy tears as I read your news. Now we're enduring our own Wait and watching Abe's videos and pics makes it so much more tangible to us. Thanks again for sharing your story :)

Stephanie said...

Whew. Shedding tears this early in the morning isn't such a good thing. ;) But I am so happy for you, so glad that you have found your people! How awesome is that?! Healing, joy, friendships, family additions, and all this by way of different paths leading up to one goal!

Precious! Thank you so much for sharing. I continue to visit your blog daily! :) You're an awesome mother, friend and writer. Much hugs and love to you, my friend!

Julie said...

Wow Lori. I guess I never knew your whole story. I think I first saw your blog through a 'Lori and Ted are in Ethiopia' link. I remember seeing that picture of a lovely young woman expertly roasting coffee beans, and an animated man who was obviously going to be a fun dad. Then the next post I landed on was the one where you were looking out your window. You know the one with the daffodils? Well that post made me weep with its beauty. I am so happy that you have your happy ending, and it is so obvious that, indeed, Abe is your 'own'. Thanks for this post.

PVZ said...

Lori: Thanks for finally releasing this post. As an outside observer, it has been amazing to witness this community that has surrounded you.Sometimes I have felt like one of those weird stalkers because I have gotten caught up in these stories of people I dont know through your links, even though I am only associated by virtue of having the privilege of knowing you.

Thanks for talking about the struggle to become a Mom. Maybe one day I will write a post about all of the questions you get asked when you have been married a while and don't have kids.

You made me cry, but nothing new there.

Love to you.


Carol said...

Lori - Thank you for capturing the emotions of adoption. You've painted the story so well, from the sadness and confusion of infertility to the utter joy of emerging on the other side. The adoption community is truly a special group of people who get each other. And how lucky and blessed are we to have such beautiful children in our lives!

Jenny said...

Lori, I rarely comment, but I'm a faithful stalker of you and most of the people mentioned in your post! No wonder it took so long for you to write, it was a beautiful chronicle of your story.

jen said...

this made me cry so much. so lovely. it's a strange/beautiful thing to be so understood by a stranger/friend.
with love,

Tim said...

Lori--I've been following your blog for some time now. I was here when you were fighting for your son, when you first looked him in the eyes, and ever since you've brought him home to the wonderful world you've created around you. My husband and I are a month into the waiting list for our own child from Ethiopia and I can't say enough how much your blog, and blogs like it, have bolstered us throughout this long, sometimes dreary, often daydreamy, occasionally scary process. I think though that as magnificent as this post is it deserves to be writ large. Please please do consider submitting it for publication in O magazine or Real Simple or the like. There's boocoodles of people who would find such comfort and warmth and wisdom in it.

Anyways, brava to you and your family! You are all so lucky to have one another. And a pat on the head for your sweet little cat.

p.s. With luck, my own blossoming family will get to meet you all at a future blog union.

Tim said...

And, as I'm new to commenting and worried I shall always make a mess of this, allow me to clarify: This is Tim's wife Karen, who shouldn't be trusted with a computer, who is posting.

Stacie said...

You made me cry too... all so beautifully written. I remember the feeling of being yanked out of the pit too - both Kevin and I felt the same giddiness. I remember seeing the Bottomly's referral video and finally believing that I would be a mom. And, the community, the family. I can barely type for the tears. Sweet Lori - you always do say it best - thank you for this post - I am sending along to family and friends.

And, you must know that I feel great pride in being called a non-conformist-free-thinker. :) Thanks for the high compliment!

Carrie said...

WoW. EVERYTHING you said is so true! I'm pretty new to the adoption blog world and it is so nice to see that there are people out there that are experiencing the same emotions that I am. I don't really comment on people's blogs for fear of seeming creepy, but I just wanted to thank you for eloquently putting all of my thoughts and feelings into words:)

Vinitha said...

That was truly beautiful! Internet is definitely a magical force.

los cazadores said...

Wow, that was awesome. Your writing is impeccable, gorgeous and evocative. Thanks for sharing such intimate moments and thoughts. It was a joy to read.


filoli said...

I don't really know how to respond to this post because it is one of those moments where words do not feel adequate. I was reading some of the comments as well...and thinking about well everything...and since I can't seem to focus on work because I am swimming in feelings, I thought I would comment. I would worry about length of comment but given length of post and the sheer volume of comments you are receiving I am just going to follow my thoughts...I do not care if it irritates anyone (which I do) but I will try to not care...frankly, after reading this post I felt a bit naked and exposed (in a good way) in the way that sometimes you become lost in an experience and you feel so isolated and alone that you are scared that you will never actually be able to connect with others ever again...after years of hysterical crying before or after baby showers and social events (that should not have made you emotional) and all of these bizarre coping mechanisms you create to drudge through the day you feel...what is the word...see that is the is a feeling that doesn't have a word...and therein lies the challenge because you feel distant from family and friends, from people, from words...just this horrible distance.

Then someone tells you to check out blogs and next thing I know I am watching the very same video that you referenced...and for the first time something makes sense...

It reminds me of the first time Tomas met Tereza in Unbearable Lightness of Being...when they talk about coincidence...him sitting there instead of a local butcher, the music..etc...I feel like there is a theme in this blog world of coincidence we all seem to come from some version of the same thing and instead of feeling distant I feel like I am slowly being patched back together and a community does exist...

In sum, you were right...blogging helps...oddly, undeniably, definitely seeing other's thoughts it somehow helps to frame your own...and you are one of those great thought architects and I thank you...

Susan Isaacs said...

Bravo, Writer Grrl! I'm thinking: This American Life, NPR, The National Story Project, Parenting Magazine, Oprah. That's where I'd like to see this. Radio or hard copy. It's so inspiring. Bravo!

Dianne said...

Lori, that was beautifully written and ever so relatable. I join the ranks of your teary-eyed readers.

Isn't it interesting how many others first tuned into Amy and Stacie's blogs? They were the first two I ever read when we began our adoption journey last year, and it shone a light into my life, knowing that we just might be parents someday. Later on, your blog did the same. I hope they and you realize what encouragement you've provided!

Isn't it incredible? I never would have imagined what wonderful friendships I would develop via the internet. But now... I don't know how I could have made it through this journey without them.


Gretchen said...

Hell yeah, Lori girl. You did it.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your beautiful post. I read your blog and am thankful for the hope it gives me as I wait for my journey to begin!

Louise said...

Way to make a girl cry! I am in Canada...but what you write is sooo true..and that is so true of who I feel about the other adoptive families I know in our area. Our lives so different...would never have crossed paths ever...but through adoption, our lives crossed and we have become family to each other!
Wonderful post!

Rebecca said...

I LOVE this post. I am so sad that I missed out on the blog union, but have met up with some bloggy friends and it's true - they are like family. I was afraid it would be weird, but you feel like you're talking to an old friend. I never felt uncomfortable at all. This amazing community of people is truly a blessing. Thanks for telling us your story.

Nicole said...

That was an amazing post. Just beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

Christina said...

Tears. Love. Thank you.



Thank You.

Blog Shmog said...

Lori, I love this. I think you did a WONDERFUL job in writing this. I'm so thankful for you, Abe, and Ted...for our friendship with you guys through adoption. Let's get together soon. :)

Anonymous said...

The tears are flowing here too. I am a lurker, its true. I am not in the process of adopting, I am not even in the process of conceiving, but somehow I stumbled on to the Bottomly's blog and that infamous referral video and the rest is history. I have followed all of you for so long that when I saw pics of the blog union, I felt my own giddiness...kinda like I was picking celebraties out of family photos :) I don't know what else to say. I have been so inspired by you all. My husband doesn't totally understand it but he does support me when I tell him that someday we will adopt from Ethiopia

msl said...

Thank you for this beautiful post. It's all so true.

Danni and Tommy said...

Beautiful...You are beautiful!

Erin Sager said...

I needed that! I hope to one day meet you and baby Abe.. All I have been doing is blogging, people understand what your going through. With our wait getting longer and longer, I sometimes feel it will never happen.. Our agency has not had any referals in 2 months, so we have not moved up the chain much, but reading your post and seeing those pictures got me all excited again, well I've always been excited then I get in a funk, I just am so excited about becoming a mother, and starting a family. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful words.

More Dorrs said...


I've been waiting for this post ever since you mentioned it when we had lunch. And I second Susan's comment - This American Life would be lucky to have this piece!

Thanks for the support you have provided us as we journey down this road that so many great people --including you-- have already travelled. I feel privileged to be part of this community.

Let's get together again soon!


Claudia said...

How have I never seen your blog before? You've got me feeling teary too, with that strange feeling of being understood by someone who lives on the other side of the world but somehow understands exactly what's going on in my head! What a great post - thanks so much for writing it.
xxCaroline (UK)

Shelly Roberts said...

Happy tears today ... remembering your journey to Abe ... and your priceless gift to us of taking photos and video of our Arsmea.

So grateful to have the support, love and encouragement of other adoptive families ... especially through technology!! ... when you live in a place like ND with few other people around. :)

Thanks for sharing about the union. :)

Blessings~ Shelly

Amy said...

So I know I sent you an email with high compliments for this post, but I am going to be honest and tell you I didn't read it all the first time. I just read through the post in its entirety and am crying too! You said everything so well... You hit the nail on the head (if you will) regarding the wonder of the blog community.

March Forth... Catchy title. I'd buy some copies. :)

Autumn and Dan's family said...

Beautifully said...I hear you put a vote in for a Portland BU. It was fun to see you two.

Cindy said...

What a beautiful post Lori! I really hope that we can make it to next years BU. Thanks for your beautiful words!

Sam said...

What an awesome post. And I have to point out that so many of you who saw the Bottomlys etc as inspiration, have BECOME the inspiration to all of us other waiting people. You're like older siblings, or the elders in the tribe...(ok maybe not elders in the tribe but you get the point). Thanks for being that to so many.
can't wait to see you again at bu09

Anonymous said...


this is my first time here...i followed a link about this post from another blog!

i could not have said it any better myself! what an amazing community we are all a part of!

i look forward to going back through your blog and reading your story. you little guy is just precious!

chris_tina brown said...


I have enjoyed reading your blog immensely (though I rarely post comments). You've done good, Lori, real good. This post is so beautifully written. You are so open, thoughtful, reflective, and loving. I am so happy that you are a mommy. Abe is a little joy boy. We are blessed to have you all in our lives.

gigglechirp said...

Thank you so much for your beautiful post!(and thanks to stacie for pointing it out!)

Tears here as well!
Hope to meet you one day - I can use as many gatherings with "our people" as possible!

good wishes

~Laura~ said...

you totally made me cry.

Such an amazing post. You captured our "adoption connection" so beautifully.

nell ann said...

I agree most whole-heartedly about so many of the things you've beautifully written. I hold tight to the thoughts of redemption and beauty through ashes. Thanks for the post. I am always trying to explain what it's like in the blogging community to non-adopters, but like so many other adoptive issues, they just don't get it. I hope we can meet up at a family reunion one day, in a non-stalkerish way. : ) Happy mothering.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I am crying too, only after my husband told me to come in and read your post, he was crying too.
We are Jocelyn's parents and feel like we know all of you as well. When you said a "Family" you were right. As you all went through your process, we would ask Jocelyn on a daily basis any news from the current family that did not pass court. We prayed with each of you and celebrated with you when you received your travel dates. We watched for posts from in country, and had tears of joy as you all held your children for the first time.
We are a close family and yet we know it was your support and love that got Jocelyn through her journey.
You have all changed our lives and made us realize what is really important to us.
Thank you for sharing and allowing us to be part of your "family".

Lori, send this to Oprah or Diane Sawyer, this needs to be told to all others out there that could benefit.
Love you all!!!!Grammy and Papa

Ali said...

What an awesome post & amazing journey! I am new to this blog & in the beginning of our journey to Ethiopia with Gladney! You inspire me, my new friend. Thank you, that gave me chills :) Come see my blog and our son Daniel who we adopted domestically through the state of Texas on July 9, 08. I have met many online friends through myspace who traveled the journey with us to our son. I too have friends on there are kindred spirits in a world you feel so alone in. I hope to meet some great people in blog land to share my journey with. It's so inspiring to read & watch videos of everyone's journey. That this does happen to real people :) I don't feel so alone. Thank you for posting this, just know you inspire me.

Ali in Texas

Melissa said...

This really is a great post. This community of adopting bloggers really is a tight-knit bunch who "get" each other. You're right. Family loves you and (hopefully) supports you, but they don't always understand. I love reading others' words and finding encouragement as I see others leading the way through the hills and valleys of this process. Thank you for putting it so clearly into words. I'm bookmarking this one.


Quinn Girls said...

What a great post! I was trying not to get too upset about missing the union but this post sealed the deal. I am bummed. It's definitely time for the girls and I to get off this rock so we can have more freedom to move about and meet up with this wonderful family. Hope to see you soon.

Anonymous said...

you rock. bravo abe's momma!

Becky said...


Even though I read your blog religiously along with many of the people you mentioned in this post I haven't projected myself into this whole blogger community. Don't ask me why. I don't really have an answer. After reading this post though it makes me wonder what I am missing. I somehow happened upon your blog the actual day you found out you didn't go through court. I remember telling my husband about your story, I remember praying for you and I vividly remember saying, "When we go to our life group tonight I want to make sure we pray for this couple and their situation." Honestly, it couldn't have been more than a couple hours later and we got our referral call. We were so thrilled and excited about our little girl. As we were driving to life group later I remember feeling guilty at the joy we were experiencing when you were experiencing such pain. Those weeks you were in limbo were agonizing for me - I can't even begin to imagine what you felt on a daily basis.

As for the sentiments that some people view you as "broken" or that you settled when you adopted.....morons!! That is the only word that desribes such utter nonsense. We have three boys biologically and have now been blessed with our daughter Eden who came home on April 1st. For me adoption was a much more intimate and purposeful journey to motherhood! Bless you both for your love for this little boy. He is beyond beautiful and someday I hope to have Eden meet some of these handsome boys!


Anonymous said...

Beautifully written and so very very true! Now that I am home with my babies I am still in awe of the blog community.Bravo for capturing it so eloquently!

Renee said...

You summed everything up so beautifully and I can relate to so much of what you said... we were also victims of unexplained infertility and it felt so good to be with families that were like ours. I wish we would have had a little more time getting to know you guys but we look forward to seeing you again next year.

Rachel said...

Such a beautiful post. So many of your words touched me. Thanks,