Thursday, March 31, 2011

Making room for another

Yesterday afternoon a little girl Bee's age spent the afternoon and evening at our house. She was there with her little brother and her dad. She is dreamy. The best part of my day was when she sat on our kitchen counter and talked to me while I popped popcorn for everyone. She told me all about how she used to make tea and coffee for herself when she lived in Ethiopia. She told me all kinds of stories about her life there. Anything I'd inject into the conversation, she would take in with wide open eyes that stared straight into mine.

After dinner, as all the grown-ups were sneaking cookies that we didn't share with the kids (no sugar-rush right at bedtime, thank you), she was riding the plasma car in circles around the table and stopped to give me some invisible flowers. She asked me to hold them for her because she was very busy getting ready for a wedding, hers and Abe's. He didn't know about it yet. She hadn't gotten around to telling him since he was very busy cooking dinner in the basement with her little brother. I taught her the proper way to carry flowers around, blooms down so as to keep them hydrated, a trick I learned during my years in Slovakia.

She decided that when Bee gets here, she wants her to refresh her Amharic while she teaches Bee English. I think it's a good plan. One thing for sure is that these two girls are so beautiful that when they are together playing in our house, the place is going to radiate with sparkles. People are going to walk past our house as they walk their dogs and wonder how we managed to get fireworks to go off out of our windows.

Please excuse my indulgence into my hope for a utopia. I know it won't be exactly this perfect. I know there will be grieving and frustration and lack of sleep and communication breakdowns and a lot of emotional intensity. I know this. But yesterday, the sun came out for a while in the late afternoon and within about five minutes, there were nine kids under the age of ten outside in front of our house organizing themselves into a posse of astronauts who were blasting off in their rocket ship, counting down in unison so loudly that you folks in Kansas probably heard the roar.

With the news of a court date, my mind is now "going there." I'm imagining Bee joining the kid posse in our neighborhood and the thought of her blasting off in the rocket ship with everyone else leaves a tightness in my chest, a physical tightness that I'm sure is my heart

e x p a n d i n g.

It is making room for another.

Another. A little peanut of a girl named Bee with big almond eyes who has a set of astronaut friends waiting to initiate her into the posse. The sun is finally starting to come out this spring.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Honest to Goodness NEWS.

I'm going to set aside my writer's block right now to just put the news out there.

We have a court date. Sort of. If all goes well. The "all goes well" portion is as follows:

Up until recently, cases sometimes went to court without the official letter of opinion from the Ministry of Women's Affairs, and it seems that some families would "pass court" and then be waiting for a while to get the opinion letter before things could be finalized.

To avoid this happening, there will be a first court date in which the powers-that-be at the Ministry will appear before the judge to present their opinion of the case. The date for this to happen for us is May 9th.

If a favorable opinion is presented, we are to arrive in Addis Ababa on May 19 in order to meet in person the famous Little Bee the next day (butterflies in my stomach at this thought). Our court date will then be on May 23rd.

May 23rd is the day that everything could potentially be finalized. Then we go back home to wait for an embassy date a few weeks later. We wish wish wish that we could stay in country the whole time but unfortunately our jobs will probably not permit us to do so.

That being said: We have been advised not to make solid travel plans until we hear the outcome of the May 9th court date and will most likely have to be paying exorbitant last-minute fares to travel. Therefore, we are having a really humongous (Abe's new favorite word) sale the weekend of April 8-9th. We have already collected fair amount of stuff from friends (thank you friends!), and if you live in our area and want us to take your Goodwill pile off your hands, we'd be happy to do so. We'll be happy to add your discards from spring cleaning to our sale. Ted has a cool truck that he can load everything in.

So. Real news. Finally and thank you, Jesus.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


About an hour ago, Abe and I were sitting at the dining room table having an early dinner. It's pouring out. I heard the rumble of a big truck, looked out the front window and saw a brown UPS truck stop in front of our house. I said to Abe, "Look, a package for somebody. Probably for dad." Ted orders a lot of boring stuff like ink cartridges online, so I figured that's what it was.

I met the deliverer at the door and saw it was for me. I felt that little rush of excitement that comes with "brown paper packages tied up with string." Abe immediately started pouting and saying, "I never get packages!" Oh well, little buddy, this one's for me.

I open it up and see a box of Target wine. I love that stuff, people. Love it. I started laughing. I told myself I should read the card first but I just ended up digging more in the box. A group of three friends in different parts of the country had gotten together and sent me things they knew I liked. I laughed and laughed and then laughed more. I couldn't stop smiling.

Mission accomplished, ladies.

Earlier this week, a friend who is awaiting news of a court date spent the afternoon and evening at our house, just hanging out with the neighborhood kids, eating dinner with us and watching Abe's new jig. We were talking at one point about how one of the really nice things about going through an adoption, especially when things get dicey, is how genuinely nice people are to you. It's really true. We talked about all the surprising people in our lives who we may not have a lot of consistent contact with but who suddenly go out of their way to be supportive and kind, like one of Ted's old college roommates who called me out of the blue this week to tell me how much they are thinking of us and praying that things turn out well.

I have had so many of these experiences. A few:

A fellow Gladney mom who I have never even met in person sent me a huge box of hand-me-downs from her 9-year-old Ethiopian daughter. Inside were clothes, barbie dolls, shoes, toys, amazing things a little girl would like to have. This box was crammed full of goodness.

Ted brought me cadbury eggs this afternoon.

About a month ago, two wonderful friends hosted a gathering to celebrate Bee. It was beautiful and thoughtful and they were handing me mimosas throughout, and I drove away feeling loved and excited about the women Bee will have in her life.

Another friend secretly organized a "blessing way" for me. Almost every day for the last week, small packages have arrived in the mail with supportive notes and beads, beads with special meanings that often make me teary, like the one that is a tiny golden bumblebee.

This world is full of kindness, skittles, goodness, boxed wine, generosity, thoughtfulness, beads, showers, lovely hand-written notes, brown paper packages, and Ewan McGregor...all things that lift my spirit. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

At the moment, our nephew is showing our neighbor the scar from his spleen surgery while two little boys run around the house wearing superhero capes and fire helmets. It's loud. Really loud.

But this is what I will be doing when things get quiet around here.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


One of the best parts of being a mom is having your little person come running to you after getting hurt, arms stretched out your direction, tears and snot, yelling, "Mooooom!" You pick him up and he drapes himself into "his" spot over your left shoulder, face nestled in your neck, ever-lengthening legs wrapped around your waist, holding on for life, come back to the safe place that is "mama."

This afternoon at a neighbor's house, an Ethiopian girl Bee's age got her finger slammed in a door. The pitch of her wailing made my ears ring. Her dad and the other grown-ups there nursed her with ice-packs, towels, band-aids and attempts at distraction. She was brave. Through her continued sobbing, she still said "please" and "thank you for letting us come over." By the time her dad was carrying her out to the car, her crying had quieted, but then she remembered: Mother. The crying started again with "I want Mom! I want Mom!" Thankfully her mom was waiting for her at home, and her safe mama place was only a little over a mile away.

Please, dear God, keep our little Bee's little fingers safe from doors that slam. And when the time comes, my left shoulder and arms are ready to hold this 37 pound girl who needs a soft landing place.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


The sun came out today, after two solid weeks of rain, with no breaks.

All over Portland, people were out. Most of them had cameras. Rain was forecast for today, as it is for the next week. Today was a fluke, but whatever. We'll take it.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Caught in ABC and XYZ

I'm reading all there is to read about the situation with adoptions in Ethiopia right now, from message boards and blogs to what our agency tells us and the updates from other agencies my friends tell me about. It's a lot to try to figure out. There is a lot of controversy about what the response should be from the adoption community. I am starting to form opinions but still am not ready to write about it. I admire those who have managed to be more articulate than I am and write down their thoughts about the situation.

Last night at a meeting, another adoptive mother who just got home with her second child was asking me about what's going on. I had to gulp a few times and look away when talking to her, especially when I realized that if ABC had not happened when it did then we might not have gotten caught up in XYZ, and the chances are good that we could have already had our court date and possibly even our embassy date which would mean that around now, we could be getting Bee introduced to the kindergarten teachers at the local school and settled into her bed with her fairy sheets and string lights to hang above.

But that didn't happen. Worst case scenario: the adoption might never happen. Bad scenario (but at least not the worst): some estimates are that we could be waiting a year for a court date. Better scenario: we get our court date assigned to us tomorrow, and it's two weeks from now.

We feel confident that, knowing what we know about her story and what we trust about our agency, this adoption is an ethical one. As soon as we heard her story, we felt that this should be one of those open-and-shut cases. That's what makes this so difficult. This little bumblebee of a glowing-eyed girl whose hair has grown out so much that she now has little puffs with little bows is now sitting in a foster home with a lot of other kids in the same position. There are worse places she could be. I know this. But I also know that we want her in a family, preferably in our family, with parents to study her and dote on her, extended family to shyly meet her, and a little brother who told me this week when I asked him if he could fly anywhere, where would he want to go, "to Africa, to pick up my sister." This foster home is not a bad place. She has food and is read to and I think watches Cinderella pretty often. She has friends there. She looks happy in the pictures we get. But it's not a family. Who stands over her bed while she's sleeping, amazed and thankful at getting to be her mother?

We got an update about her today from our agency. She had just woken up from a nap. She made her bed. Then, "It was obvious she had done it before because once she was finished, she walked over to a younger girl’s bed and straightened it for her. It seemed natural to her, as though this was just something she did. Then, she obliged me for a new photo." In these photos, she is crazy beautiful, as in "sign this child up for a modeling contract" beautiful, with eyelashes that curl up over her lids making her almond-eyes look like stars.

One day, we're hoping she helps Abe make his bed. He's not good at it now, and could use her patient instruction.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We Were Always Headed Toward Eternity

O the dragons are gonna fly tonight
They're circling low and inside tonight
It's another round in the losing fight
Out along the great divide tonight

We are aging soldiers in an ancient war
Seeking out some half remembered shore
We drink our fill and still we thirst for more
Asking if there's no heaven what is this hunger for?

Our path is worn our feet are poorly shod
We lift up our prayer against the odds
And fear the silence is the voice of God

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

Sorrow is constant and the joys are brief
The seasons come and bring no sweet relief
Time is a brutal but a careless thief
Who takes our lot but leaves behind the grief

It is the heart that kills us in the end
Just one more old broken bone that cannot mend
As it was now and ever shall be amen

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

So there'll be no guiding light for you and me
We are not sailors lost out on the sea
We were always headed toward eternity
Hoping for a glimpse of Gaililee

Like falling stars from the universe we are hurled
Down through the long loneliness of the world
Until we behold the pain become the pearl

Cryin´ Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

And we cry Allelujah Allelujah
We cry Allelujah

Sunday, March 13, 2011

In lieu of news, photos.

I have been reading all there is to read about the changes going on in Ethiopia but because something new seems to happen every couple of days, I'm still not able to fully get my mind around it all. On top of all the "facts" coming out, there are also numerous rumors swirling around to try to sift through and understand.

Eventually, I'm sure I/we will write about it here. But I'm not ready yet. So in the meantime: pictures.

I kept Abe out of school on Tuesday so I could bring him to work with me for International Women's Day. The men cheered on... the women sang and danced. Seeing these Oromo women walk into the gym that morning dressed like this made my heart swell. I feel so lucky to get to spend time with these people every week.

Ted came home from a week in NYC, bearing gifts from Zabar's. We were up until after midnight sifting through the cheese, strudel and knish.

Someone now sees letters everywhere. We are proud.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

News for Family and Friends Who Might be "out of the loop"

My head has been swimming for the past week with all the news, rumors, and debate going on surrounding changes going on now with Ethiopian adoptions. I don't know where to begin with writing about it, so this post is mainly for our family and friends who may not yet be aware of what's going on.

You can click here to read the U.S. Department of State's statement about what is going on.

We have no idea yet what this news means for our adoption of Little Bee. Today marks our fourth month of waiting for a court date.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

3 Years of Our Own Rooney

It didn't hit me until this afternoon. I have never been good at remembering birthdays, anniversaries, important dates.

Three years ago, Abe became "our own Rooney," officially. What an amazing day.

I posted this the day before, on March 2nd.

And here is the story of the best phone call I've ever received.

March 2, 2011, in Sisters, Oregon.

Somewhere in central Oregon, there is a tree that a boy Ted scratched his initials into, over the course of a few decades. He always came back to this tree. The year we were married, he took me the tree and scratched my initials in it.

It was only fitting to add the next year and name.

There is room right below for another.