Saturday, October 20, 2007

F.G.'s First American Birthday

We celebrated F.G.'s 9th birthday on Friday and she was radiating the entire time. Some grandparents were suppose to come into town to help celebrate her birthday, but were prevented due to some health issues in our extended family. It was unclear to us whether or not F.G. would be sad about celebrating her birthday without them, but it turned out that nothing could keep her down.

We asked her who all of the presents were for and she said, "Me!" and threw her arms in the air. The above photo captures the moment.

One of the presents brought back some old memories for F.G. and she played a song that her Ethiopian mother had taught her, captured in the following video.

Our other kids were not quite as graceful with the drum and F.G. was not able to teach them how to do what she could do. Finally, she jumped on the couch behind Miss Bookworm and grabbed her hands to make them do what they were suppose to do.

It was a grand affair. F.G. felt all of the attention on her and she was thriving on it. It is too soon yet to know when she will come back down to earth.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sparse News about Anna

We don’t have a lot of news about Anna to share, but here is what we have.

The last official information we received about her was from well over a year ago. We have a picture where she is wearing a hat and looking down and not much else. Based on what we were told then, we think she is now about 3 years old.

Anna was moved from where she was living in southern Ethiopia to an orphanage in the capital city, Addis Ababa, about 3-4 weeks ago. We are hoping that now that she is in Addis Ababa our new agency will be able to get updated information to us soon.

The courts in Ethiopia shut down for a couple of months each year and they are just re-opening now. We don’t know how big their backlog is nor when our papers will make it to court to be processed. We are currently guessing that we might be traveling to Ethiopia around January or so.

Someone from our agency is traveling to Ethiopia soon, so we get to send along a little welcome bag. We will pack the gallon size zip-lock with photos, a t-shirt, a doll, a few small toys, and a disposable camera. The camera will be used to snap some pictures of Anna and then it will be mailed to us to have the pictures developed. We don’t know how long it will take for the camera to come back to us. We are already anxiously awaiting its arrival and we have not even mailed it with the welcome bag yet.

Not much news, but in some sense not much is needed. We know Anna needs a home where she can be cared for and we are excited to be able to provide that home and bring her into our family.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Family Love

(Note: In the post Telling the Kids I mentioned Miss Bookworm reading a journal entry to the family. Here is that entry.)

We used to have a cat named Smokey who was a bit too feisty so we had to take him to the Humane Society. Some time later, we found two cats from the same litter that a person couldn’t keep. A few days later, Cocoa and Patches were a part of our family.

Their colors were very different. Cocoa was brown with dark stripes and Patches was Calico with patches of orange, black, and white. Patches was a jumper, pretty light weight, while Cocoa was a little heavy and lazy.

We found out a few months later that they fought just like brothers and sisters. We think Cocoa starts it. They start batting each other then become a blur of fur until Patches breaks away and Cocoa streaks after her. Patches ends the fight by gaining higher ground – Cocoa usually doesn’t follow her.

It is the same with us kids. Someone starts a fight and they start “batting” – hurling insults back and forth until one person breaks away and gains “higher ground.” Higher ground is tattling to mom or dad.

But sometimes with Cocoa and Patches, Cocoa starts licking Patches, just like sometimes the kids are nice.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


On Saturday I needed to retrieve something from the master bath so I ran upstairs to get it. The door was closed and when I went to open it I found that it was locked. I thought that was pretty strange since I couldn’t recall any other time that I had found the door locked. I tried it again and sure enough it was locked.

I heard some noises inside and realized that CrazyMom was in there. We have not ever had a lock-the-master-bath-door type of relationship before and I was beginning to wonder if things might not be going as well between us as I had thought. Us men are often the last to know.

I tentatively knocked on the door.

“Who is it?” came the reply. My antennae were up to try to discern the tone in the voice and calculate how bad things might be. There was an inflection up in the voice, which was a good sign. Other tones, however, gave me the feeling that the question was being posed in a court of law so that the respondents name could be recorded. This would enable the court to ensure they were prosecuting the proper person for the egregious crimes they had committed.

“Umm. . . It’s me, CrazyD” I said, for some reason stating my name as if my wife would not recognize my voice.

There were noises from inside and a slight delay. My level of concern was rapidly rising.

Then the door opened and CrazyMom was smiling broadly.

“I was so going to nail a kid for trying to open the door without knocking first!” she said.

Turns out that CrazyMom, in her pursuit of sanity, had issued a decree from Mount Olympus to our six kids:

From this time forward, CrazyMom, in her capacity as answer-giver and request-fulfiller (but not in her capacity as a 911 operator), shall not be unduly disturbed for the 10.5 minutes that it takes her to shower and get dressed.

CrazyMom is fair game when she is drying her hair, however, provided you can yell your request loud enough.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Telling the Kids

(Note: If you have not read I was wrong. Adoption IS Risky., you should read that post first.)

Telling the kids that we were adopting again was a lot of fun. We gathered them up in the family room to do some public readings. Miss Bookworm read a journal entry that she had written recently and then I read the soon-to-be-public-we-are-adopting-again post. The kids had this wild look in their eyes that said it all – they were really excited but kept looking around at each other to try to make sure I was not kidding. Once they knew it was for real and a new ~3 year old sister would be joining our family, they let themselves express the excitement they were feeling.

After the initial buzz, the kids immediately started lobbying for where Anna would sleep. F.G. wanted her in the girls’ room. Ed wanted to leave Miss Bookworm and F.G. behind and shack up with Anna in their own room. K.D. thought Anna should be with him in the boys’ room and said she could sleep in his bed. CrazyMom and I told them we would resolve such issues at a later time.

While all of the kids were excited about the news, they responded in different ways. Buddy’s excitement lasted for about 30 to 45 seconds. In that time he processed the whole thing, thought it would be great, and then moved on to try to ask CrazyMom which book she thought he should read next.

At the other extreme was K.D. He was excited at first, then turned thoughtful for a minute or two, and then was verbally processing the event non-stop for the rest of the night. About every minute or two he would blurt out some new thought.

“What is his America name?” (K.D. uses “he” for boys and girls.)

“When he cries I will hug him.”

“Will he do school with us?”

“I want to give him this toy.”

“We will have to buy him a swimsuit.”

“He will need clothes. I want to buy him nice clothes. I want to buy him a shirt with a lion on it.”

“Where will he sit (at the table)?”

“He won’t know how to pick up toys. He will just dump them out.”

“When he cries we will make him some k-nex.”

“I will hold his hand for a long time.”

This last comment was particularly meaningful to us. When K.D. arrived at the airport from Ethiopia, he walked right up to Little Foot, grabbed his hand and would not let go. Little Foot was K.D.’s lifeline for his first few hours in America. K.D. remembers this clearly and still talks about it. Now he wants to be the one to comfort Anna when she gets off the plane. Here is a photo from the archives of when K.D. met Little Foot at the airport.

The next morning, K.D. and Little Foot were eating breakfast and having a conversation about the order in which they would take Anna through the house. Sounds like it will be quite the mess since they thought it would be fun to dump all of the baskets of toys so she can see everything she has to play with.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I was wrong. Adoption IS risky.

In the post "Is Adoption Risky?" I reflected on the risks involved with having a child by birth vs. having a child by adoption. I concluded that while the risks are very different, I am not sure that one is more risky than the other.

I was wrong.

Let me explain. Let's say a family has n children - remember, I am a math/science guy. Consider the following birth family conversation:

Wife: You know honey, I have been thinking.

Husband: Uh-oh.

Wife: No, really. I know we have n kids and all, but sometimes I think our family might not be complete.

Husband: Uh-oh.

Wife: Have you ever thought about what it would be like to have n+1 kids? Another child for our n kids to play with? I think it would be pretty special.

Husband: Are you crazy? We already have n soccer games on Saturday morning and I am coaching n/2 of them. Then there are the n*2 parent conferences each year, the n bikes in the garage, the n*10 shoes in the closet, the n future orthodontist bills, the n future tuition bills, the n . . .

Wife: Ok. Ok. I know. It was just a thought.

Now, compare that conversation to the following adoptive family conversation:

Wife: You know honey, I have been thinking.

Husband: Uh-oh.

Wife: No really. Do you remember Anna?

(Anna is a child the couple met through the first adoption process.)

Husband: Yes, I remember her.

Wife: I have been wondering a lot lately about how she has been doing.

Husband: Does she have a family yet?

Wife: No, she doesn't. The adoption agency has dropped her. They are pulling out of that part of the country.

Husband: They dropped her? They are pulling out?

Wife: What do you think her future looks like?

Husband: You know the stats. Things are pretty grim.

Wife: I wish there was something we could do.

Husband: Short of loading our family on a plane and moving to Ethiopia, there isn't much we can do. Unless . . .

I am struck by how easy it is to say no to a pre-conceived birth child. That child is an abstract idea, not a flesh and blood individual. But how difficult it is to know a child, to have pictures of the child, to have heard stories about what the child has been through, and to have knowledge of what the future will hold if nothing is done. Such a child is already here with us in the world struggling for life.

This is the risk of adoption.

It is nearly impossible to go through an adoption process for the referral you accepted and not meet another child - an Anna - in need of a home. For some reason you will feel connected with Anna. But you will dismiss the thought of adopting again as absurd. You will find out that other families have not chosen Anna. You will dismiss the thought again. You will walk by a room in your home with space for a bed for Anna. You will dismiss the thought again. You will find yourself counting out n plates to set the table and wondering why you are not counting out n+1. You will attempt to dismiss the thought. You will try to focus on utility bills, food bills, clothing bills, future tuition bills, your crazy schedule and other things that have helped you dismiss the thought in the past, but their potency will wane. Anna will always be on your mind.

Wife: Hon, our family just doesn't seem complete.

Husband: I know. I know.

Wife: It feels like she is already a part of our family, but that she is just not with us yet.

(long pause)

Husband: Ok. Let's bring her home.

Wife: I will make the call.

And so CrazyMom called. Anna is on her way. We are adopting again.