Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Injera and Bananas and Pizza

I hope this won't come out wrong.

I would say without hesitation that the adoption ride is amazing.  Wonderful, even.  (It's other things, too.)

But when people say that we are those things-  wonderful or amazing-  it makes me a little squiggly on the inside.  We aren't.  We're a mess.  Just like you,  you know,  if you happen to be.

A long time ago a dad was telling us about how he hated when people remarked about how lucky his children were.  He resented that people said or implied that he saved them.  He and his wife chose adoption to build their family,  and he didn't like the feeling that came with that descriptor.

Yes,  but...

Yes,  Sitota's life is different than it would have been if she'd remained in an orphanage in Ethiopia.  If I hadn't seen the tweet that led me to the blog that opened my eyes to loving orphans...  I don't know what I would be writing about tonight.  I don't know what our family focus would have been for the past 2 years.  That trip has definitely defined this stage of our lives.

I went and I saw and I ached and I loved and I hurt and I met Sitota.  And when I came home I shared a picture and somethings that I wrote.  I have shared this before,  and I will likely share it again:

This was the moment for me.  
I stood by the window knowing that in just a few short minutes I would be leaving the orphanage.  Knowing that in a few hours I would be leaving Africa.  I didn't know if I would be back.
I knew that this sweet girl, this helpless child, this embodiment of pure perfection was my entire purpose for being in Africa.  I stood there with her warm weight in my arms and remembered every moment that I had held my children.  I kissed her head, her cheeks, her neck with every ounce of love that I had for my children.
My sole purpose on this planet, was to pour all of the love that I had into this baby girl.
Tears poured down my face, onto her cheeks as she looked at me with those uncertain wide eyes.  I ached with the thought that no Mama would be tucking her in at night.  There would be no Mama thanking God for her as she drifted off to sleep.  No Mama to chase away her nightmares.  No Mama to celebrate her first step.  Her first word.

The thing is...  I didn't think that I was talking about my daughter.  Honest to God, I didn't.  I left Africa wanting to make a difference at that little orphanage for those sweet babies.  I wanted them to have enough.  I wanted someday to return and love them.  All of them.

A few months later we started asking... could we?  Should we?  She stayed with me, you see.  In that moment when I was saying goodbye,  she was every motherless baby.  But somehow she crawled inside and rooted there.  I fell in love.  And then Rob did, too.  And she became our daughter.

It was almost a year later that we got The Green Light.  Yes,  she is "available."  Yes, we were all in.

Oh, it was messy.  Uncertainty, worry, fear, hope, fear, worry, uncertainty.  The Wait.  It's a relief to be on this side of that.

We tried to shield the older punks from the waves of worry,  but we weren't always successful.  We couldn't be.  We did our best.  And somewhere along the line,  they fell in love, too.  I know it happened before she came to Maine.  I know it did.

And now,  only a month in, I know this is still a honeymoon period-   where they are smitten and overwhelmed by the cute.  We all are.  But I heard some frustration from one of them the other day and I thought "YES!"  A glimpse of normal.  It's coming.

There are 10 years between Aidan and Sitota.  8 between Clay and Sitota, and 5 between the girls.  I'll get all choked up writing about how they are with her.  The understanding that they show,  the compassion, the empathy.  It is inspiring.  For real.   Each one of them has proved themselves to be...  Gah.  Bigger.  Better.  More.  I don't know how to write about this yet,  but I am so thankful for them and who they are becoming.

Am I really off topic?  Maybe I should've just written about the progress she's making-  how her language is exploding and she demonstrates her comprehension constantly.  I could write about how she's back into her baths and asks every day to take one.  I could have told you about how today she! played! alone!  I was in the room folding laundry and she set up her little kitchen with her giraffe and her little brown baby and her little white baby and her woof-woof.  She made them injera and bananas and pizza.  I could've shared her favorite books or told you about how she loves to sing,  and how she loves my phone.  You might have liked to read about how she asks 89,956 times a day "what's dis?"  Or about chicken!  Tonight at dinner she had 4 bites of chicken before she started throwing her utensils.  And speaking of chicken,  sometimes that's what she calls the kitchen.  I could've written a long list of people and things that she thanks God for when she lays in bed at night.  It's pretty much adorable.  She is pretty much the smartest 3 year old I know.  No offense to your 3 year old.

But I guess I just want to say that my house is completely a mess and my basement flooded and my laundry is way out of control and we have ordered out as often as we've cooked a meal.  We are neither amazing nor wonderful.  We are messy.  She sometimes cries and I don't know why and I end up crying and moody, too.  And if I get serious with her about something she yells at me loudly, persistently, and with great emotion.  Sometimes I think it's kind of cute.  Sometimes I am exhausted by it and impatient with this phase.  Sometimes the older punks are all up in her face wanting her to perform,  and steam pours out of my ears.  The highs are so very high.  The lows are awfully low.

So far,  only 4.5 weeks in, underlining it all,  I go back to what that dad said about not saving his kids.  I get it.  I mean,  I guess she is one of the lucky kids who now has a home and a family... so many babies are still going to sleep as orphans.  But honestly...

Oh, what if we hadn't jumped in?  Not for her... but for us?  What if we didn't get to love her?  Who would we be?

I have no idea.

Tank you, Gah.

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