Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Meeting Anna

Over Memorial Day weekend, GrandpaD and GrandmaD came to visit us and got to meet Anna for the first time. Anna is such a sweet and loving child that she won their hearts in their first moments together. It was a wonderful weekend. Well, almost wonderful.

Anna was particularly drawn to Grandpa. The first night when I was putting her to bed she was concerned that she would not see Grandpa again in the morning.

Anna: Grandpa sleepy here?

CrazyD: Yes. Grandpa is going to sleep downstairs.

Anna: Grandpa sleepy downstairs?

CrazyD: Yes, Grandpa is going to sleep downstairs.

Anna: Grandpa sleepy downstairs?

CrazyD: Yes, Grandpa is going to sleep downstairs.

We repeated this for what seemed like forever until she was confident that Grandpa was indeed going to sleep downstairs and she would get to see him in the morning.

It had been a hard week at work and when I finally dropped into bed that night my body was heavy with weariness. After what seemed like moments, I heard something. I lay there very still hoping I would not hear it again. Then it came a little louder. It was Anna calling for us. My body felt like lead but I was able to move my head just enough to look at the clock – 2:30 am. Then Anna called again even louder and closer to tears. I lay there for another moment (like a loser) hoping that CrazyMom would hear and be the first responder. Anna was now reaching a crescendo and CrazyMom was still sleeping soundly, so I dragged myself out of bed and went into Anna’s room.

Anna: Grandpa sleepy downstairs?

CrazyD: Yes, Grandpa is sleeping downstairs!

I was not happy. After a few more reassurances, Anna lay back down to go to sleep and I was able to go back to bed. Anna did not call again until 6:30 am. When I walked into the room there was no “Good morning!” or “Nice to see you, Dad!” Instead it was a demanding “Where is Grandpa?!” She evidently thought I must have been lying to her since the sky was already getting light and Grandpa had not yet come for her.

As adoptive parents you hope that the grandparents and the adoptive child forge a strong bond. Well, be careful what you hope for because you just might get it.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Food Crisis in Ethiopia

I normally don't post news articles here, but I feel compelled to do so now. This first article crossed my desk yesterday and mentions the conditions in Shashemene, which is very near Sodo where our kids are from. One of our kids actually lived there for awhile. This article cuts to the heart in me since CrazyMom and I were just there in this area and I can see the faces of the children in my mind.

Children Dying in Drought-Stricken Ethiopia

Then today another article crossed my desk with this opening sentence:

Ethiopian mother Ayantu Tamon has lost a child to hunger every year for the last four and now cradles her severely malnourished and weakened three-year-old son Hirbu in her arms.

Here is the full article: Drought returns to haunt Ethiopia

May we all find a way to hear and respond.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Photo of the Kids

We lined up the kids before we left for church today. They are standing on various steps on the deck, so don't think this is their actual heights!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Soccer Photos from Today

Here are a few soccer photos from today.

Miss Bookworm is really settling into her position at stopper this season. Here she is collecting the ball and turning it to the outside. She even had an assist on the day when she played a long ball over the crowd which dropped in front of the right striker who then scored.

Ed and F.G. went to a free clinic last night. In one of the drills they were instructed on how to shoot the ball with their laces and land on the foot they shot with. Here is Ed the next day shooting with her laces and landing on the foot she shot with. Since she scored on the shot, I guess the free clinic was worth the price.

F.G. got to play goalie today. Here aggressiveness combined with her fearlessness make for a pretty tough goalie.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of Buddy's game today since I am now helping to coach his team.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Scary Week

I have been a little concerned about what the food bill will be like when we have six teenagers in the house at the same time. Right now all seven of our kids are 12 and under and already they are scaring me with how much they eat. But that is nothing compared to the scare I had this week. Check out these before and after pictures.

Braces. Why do they cost so much? Miss Bookworm’s teeth were in pretty good shape so that delayed us going to the orthodontist for the first time. Now that we have taken Ed, they want to evaluate three of our other children. Yikes!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Mother’s Day Sonnet

So often friends will come and say to me,
“This wife of yours – a Nobel Prize is hers.
If not, then surely sainthood it would be,
For it is seven children that she serves.”

I sometimes laugh it off at her expense.
I tease them, “No, is not as it may seem.
No thing gets done; home school does not commence.
The house is such a mess I want to scream.”

But truth be told the words they speak are sound.
This woman, mother, lover, friend, and wife
Does work her wonder making love abound
and brings to bloom in this fair home sweet life.

On Mother’s Day to her I give my love
And that she’s here a thanks to God above.

Friday, May 9, 2008

From Good to Bad to Worse

Enough time has passed that I think I can talk about what happened Thursday morning.

Note: I will not be talking about Thursday night when after I stood in the rain for an hour at Miss Bookworm’s soccer game, I entered the house expecting some sympathy from CrazyMom. Instead, I found her expecting sympathy from me. She had arrived home late from an appointment with six kids in tow and needed just five minutes to get the food from the oven to the table. Unfortunately, Anna threw up all over some blankets, the couch, and the floor after two minutes. CrazyMom was not looking good when I got home, but that is a different story.

Thursday morning I rose early and had the luxury of sitting in my favorite chair with a cup of coffee before anyone else in the house was up. Even by the time breakfast rolled around I was still so far ahead of schedule that I decided to cook. I was having a good morning.

I was in the pantry trying to clear a path to the back corner of a shelf to get to a container of oatmeal that had fallen over when things started going down hill. When I finally got my fingers on the container and pulled it toward me, the lid caught on the wire rack and oatmeal began to cascade down through multiple layers of wire rack shelving tinkling on of their contents. It sounded like those rain sticks they sell that are suppose to be therapeutic, but the effect was lost on me. All of the good vibes I had stored up for the day left me. My morning was now just OK.

After breakfast I reentered the pantry to deal with the mess. Evidently I was a little frustrated because my cleaning was vigorous enough that when I bumped a pan, it bumped something else which punctured a pop can. Pop started spraying everywhere taking advantage of all of the open spaces in the wire racks to wreak more havoc in the pantry. My morning went from OK to bad.

Quickly I started throwing things out of the way to try to get to the pop can without getting pop on my suit. I got a hold of the spewing can and ran from the pantry to head for the sink. When I emerged from the pantry I found the kids with a shocked look on their faces. Unfortunately, they were not looking at me. Rather, they were looking at K.D. who had spilled an entire glass of grape juice. My morning when from bad to worse.

Now, one would think that with as many spills as we have in our house, our kids would be pros and they would be considered “first responders.” I envision Mobile Exxon calling my family when a tanker runs aground because we are so good at mobilizing to clean up a mess. Of course, that is delusional thinking. Rather, my kids are great at looking on in shock as the grape juice runs off the table and splatters on a chair. Then, after a large enough pool has gathered, in horror they watch it run off the chair and splatter onto the floor.

I put the pop can into the sink and started cleaning up grape juice. CrazyMom came down from upstairs and was in disbelief over how much could go wrong in the two minuets she was gone. After cleaning up the grape juice we turned our attention to the oatmeal/pop mixture in the pantry, which happens to be a lot like a confetti/glue mixture. So much for being ahead of schedule.

The grape juice/oatmeal/pop and the vomit messes were not the only ones in the 24 hour span. As CrazyMom was trying to get out the door, she asked Ed to shake her coffee creamer to help her get her coffee-to-go cup ready. Ed started shaking the bottle so vigorously that it popped the lid off and went all over the kitchen.

Big family life comes with big messes. We know that. We were just hoping that they would be spread out a little more.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Grateful Orphan

Admit it. One of the fantasies that we adoptive parents have is that the child, an orphan from a poor and distant land, will snuggle up to us and with a near tear in their eye say, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for adopting me. I am so very grateful.”

What is a fantasy for us can be an expectation for others. On the plane ride home from Ethiopia, a gentleman from Africa was talking to me and telling me how lucky Anna was and how much she will thank me. He expected that Anna would be grateful. I also recall hearing about a disrupted adoption where the mother had said, “I was expecting a grateful orphan.” She was unprepared to parent an ungrateful child.

Sometimes I fall into expecting more gratefulness from my adopted children. When I give a hand-me-down bike to one of my adopted children (as I would to any of my children) and they complain because it is not a new bike (as any of my children might) I find myself wanting to say, “Hey, wait a minute. You wouldn’t have a bike at all in Ethiopia. Maybe you should be grateful you even have a bike.”

There is likely a continuum among adopted children. On the left are those who have an acute sense of localized justice. If you are passing out jelly beans, they want to know how many each child has received to make sure they were not slighted. On the other end of the spectrum are those who have an acute sense of the unfairness of their new found privilege. These children realize they have bikes, beds, and bathtubs. More than that, they realize they are one who has survived where others have not and they suffer from survivor’s guilt.

I suppose there is a narrow slice of adopted children right in the middle with just the right balance – grateful for the privileged life they now live but not burdened by the guilt of being a survivor - but to expect that your adopted child will be from this narrow slice is probably unrealistic.

So the adopted child may be no more grateful than any other child. That is just fine. In fact, it is probably a good sign. It shows that the child can simply be a child again.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I am a Hypocrite

I am a hypocrite and I have the evidence to prove it.

Exhibit #1 – Going through the adoption process we had to gather recommendations. One friend wrote a rec that was glowing beyond belief. Here is a sample phrase: “Neither CrazyMom nor CrazyD ever raise their voices to their kids.” Knowing that the reader would balk at this, the friend felt compelled to add this note at the end: “I realize that this application may seem overstated, but I stand by every word”. He can stand by his words, but he will lose money if he bets on them.

Exhibit #2 – I end up in conversations where the other person is going on about how we have done such a wonderful thing and we are incredible people and they are amazed by us and so on and so on and so on.

Exhibit #3 – As I look over my blog posts, it is clear that they paint a picture of me that is too favorable. While some say in the comments that I am honest, I am only honest when I want to be. I disclose only those things that I am comfortable disclosing. So in total, the projected image is too rosy.

What does it matter if people think more highly of me than they should? It matters. People who think I am some sort of super dad are prone to think that they could never do what I have done. And when they think that, my hypocrisy has hurt the cause of orphans in the world.

Here is the real me. I have moments where I wish that all of my kids would go away. I have moments where I don’t feel loving towards CrazyMom. And I certainly have bad days where I am not pleasant to be around. I suspect that I am a lot like you. Or, maybe you always want your kids around, always feel loving toward your spouse, and always are pleasant to be around, in which case you are much farther ahead than I am.

So if you are considering adopting, don’t think that those of us who have gone before you are in some way better than you. We are not. Rather, we testify to the fact that someone just like you can adopt and make a dream come true for a child – a dream for a family.