Sunday, November 21, 2010

"The Call" part 2

We heard the story Little B at 10:15 until 11:00 am while I was in Jackson, Mississippi and Ted in Portland, Oregon on a conference call with our caseworker in Ft. Worth, Texas. As I wrote before, both my mom and dad were in the room for those 45 minutes. We didn't plan it this way, but I'm glad it happened this way. I printed some of the referral papers and a lot of the pictures on my mom's black-and-white printer. We got some photos of me between my parents, each one holding a photo of the little girl with sparkly eyes. My dad's eyes are half-closed in the photo. My mom has her standard photo-face (nothing wrong with this face). I'm sitting on my mom's desk between them with a huge smile. I love this photo.

What did we do the rest of this day? We went fishing and ate Chick-fil-A.

Abe had been asking to go fishing the whole week, and this being our last day in town, this was the day. My dad had taken off work, so we drove to my sister's house to pick Abe up. I took my sister into her bedroom, shut the door, and showed her the photos. When my sister saw the meaning of B's name, she burst into tears. Maybe my favorite photo from this day is of my sister holding up B's photo, her red face covered in tears all the way to her chin. I love my sister.

I wasn't on the phone on this day as much as when we got Abe's referral since most of the people I would have called, I was actually with. I did send a few texts to friends in Oregon, California, and a few other places. But mostly? I hung out with my family. I hovered around my son when he got too close to the water at the lake. Abe got his first fire ant bites. My dad cooked breakfast for dinner while I did laundry and packed up to leave. We went to bed early. It was a strange yet good day.

By the next morning, I was very anxious to get back home. I wanted to see Ted. I wanted to process this news with him. I wanted to get back online. I wanted to sleep in my own bed, clean the house, print and frame photos of this little girl. My dad drove us to the airport and my sister met us there. We had a long coffee and almost missed our flight. I was reprimanded by a flight attendant for missing family boarding and then spent the next twelve hours on an airplane or biding time in long layovers. Abe made friends with the two college girls sitting behind us on our last flight and talked at them for a couple of hours. By the time we got home, I was exhausted.

I slept a few hours, got up and went to work. It had been a week, and I needed to check on my dear clients. When people expressed surprise that I got up and went to work the next morning, I just thought, "Well, in a lot of ways, this isn't work. I get hugs by Ethiopian grandmothers every time I go. Who wouldn't get up early for this?" About an hour after I got home that day, Ted had to leave for a class he was teaching, so it was even more time before we got the chance to sit down and talk.

This is one of the biggest ways that this referral call was different from Abe's. This time round, we were both so busy. Last time, we were sitting at home doing nothing when we got the call. We could spend the whole day processing, talking, calling friends, falling in love with a photo. This time, it was four or five days before we had time to slow down and talk.

Also adding to this weirdness is that we decided not to tell Abe until we could sit down together. This wasn't until Friday evening, two days after we got the call. Abe's reaction was sort of what we expected. Ted told him that we now knew who his sister would be (he's been talking about his sister for months now), and he asked where she was and when she was coming. Then, "Hey Dad, can we wrestle again now?" In case you haven't seen it, here is his reaction to seeing her photo for the first time.

So we're now settling in to this new reality for our family. We're reading books like The Connected Child and Twenty Things Adopted Kids With Their Adoptive Parents Knew and Older Child Adoption. It's a lot to take in. Sometimes I get scared that I won't know how to give this little girl what she needs, that I won't know how to read the signs she's giving me, that the language barrier is going to be too huge of a barrier towards our bonding, that Abe is going to turn possessive and clingy. I suppose these are normal fears. At least I hope they are. I want to be prepared as best I can but I also know that we really have no way of knowing where Little B is in her stages of grief. We don't know if she's ready for a brother, for a mother and father, for family. We just don't know.

Abe is now three. Every morning when he wakes up, he wants me to pick him up. I grab him below his arms and he does a little jump as I bring him up to me. He wraps his ever-growing legs around my waist, rests his head on my left shoulder so he can suck his thumb, puts his other arm around my left shoulder and pats my back. I stand this way with him in my arms, chest to chest, our hearts lined up and very close. As he grows bigger, it seems that he fits even closer to us. I know at some point, this need of his to be close, to snuggle, to let me be his safe place, is going to fade. This is as it should be. But in the meantime, as long as he has this need, I do too.

The other morning as we were in this chest-to-chest snuggle, I thought about the little girl on the other side of the globe who is going to be in this house with us in a few months, and I couldn't help wondering when and if we'll be this close. How much was she held when she was three? What was her morning ritual when she was Abe's age? Did she suck her thumb and rest her head on someone's left shoulder? She is now five. How is she grieving the loss of this closeness? When and how will she let us in? Will she stare into my eyes with her almond-shaped sparkly ones the way Abe does with his puppy-dog sparkly eyes?

I'm ready, and I feel that the trick is going to be waiting for her to be ready. I'll wait the best I can. Patience has never been my strong suit. I'm thankful for the example of all the moms who've done this already. Moms like this one and this one. Thank you. I'm watching. And waiting.

Do I know how
How will I know
Cast the ropes that bind you
Get in that boat and row

Forsake not what's around you
For simple is close at hand
You might get tossed on water
But keep your heart peeled for land

Blue hearts blue tears
Blue 'n' bruised 'n' sore
Blue skies and blossoms
On the other shore


Cindy said...

Lori this is a beautiful post.
Mihiret was 5 when she came home and it is wonderful and hard and stunningly beautiful. I know you are close to Julie and have watched her sweet daughter work through things the way she has chosen to. I wanted to present the other side, since I know that I have often felt alone as we have moved through our family journey. Mihiret keeps things close. I have had a really hard thinking that the only way to know that is beautiful child trusts us is if she is willing to share herself completely...something she has not, and may not, ever do in the way other kids who came
home at this age do. She loves us and she trusts us almost all the time. She is incredibly bonded to her brothers. There is sadness, love and a whole host of amazing things she works through with my husband and myself. We feel like we are doing a terrible job sometimes and others we are doing beautifully.
2 1/2 years and we are doing the best we can for her every day. We have become much fiercer advocates for completely ethical adoption so that no child has to experience what ours has. So that no extra heartbreak occurs.
We have made choices regarding family that we
had never considered before. We are growing. We are SO lucky! We are looking forward to walking the path again.

You will be amazing Lori. You have a beautiful family and an amazing heart. Congratulations again!

coffeemom said...

Annnnd therein lies the difference between pre and post kids as a couple and going from one to two or more. The mode just changes w/out you even realizing it til later. It has too!

You will be fine. The wait is gonna be one of the hard parts....and I suspect, that you've got just exactly what it takes to parent this special girl. I'll be cheering you on the whole way!

Stephanie said...

Lori, I finally got a chance to read this post, and I want to take another spin on what Coffee Mom says. She's had both sorts of "new babies" (adopted and birthed), and I've only had the birthed sort ... but it just doesn't look that different!

I'm serious! If you took the parts out about how old she is, you could have been writing about my second pregnancy (which I was weirdly unaware of until after my first trimester!) -- it was so different from the first time that I wondered all the things you're wondering.

Funny, isn't it? We don't know if we can be moms in any way. Then we just about learn a way. Then another child comes, and we're beginners again. Every time. Some stuff we remember, of course. Only have to learn the finesse of nose blowing once or so ... but the rest? Different with every kid - no matter where they were before they finally got home.