Sunday, June 29, 2008

Baby Dedication

Our church had a baby dedication on Father' Day in which CrazyMom and I took part. CrazyMom snapped this photo just before leaving for church.

For some reason the event triggered the more somber side of me. As I would look at Anna standing there wearing her Ethiopian dress in all of her beauty, I found myself also seeing the face of a child I saw in the paper from her area of Ethiopia that was suffering from malnutrition from the famine. I could not stop reflecting on how on the same day that we were dedicating Anna, there were other children from her town that would die. On what should normally have been a joyous day, I found myself saying, "God have mercy on the children of Ethiopia."

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I wish I was White

“I wish I was white,” K.D. said after he got out of the shower last night. I was in the bathroom managing baths and showers for the four youngest.

A million things ran through my mind – I am failing as a transracial parent, somehow K.D. has picked up on racial preferences in America, how can I ever be a good father to this brown-skinned boy and raise him to be comfortable in his own skin?

I did not react visibly and as casually as I could I asked, “Why is that, K.D.?”

“Because then I would not have to put lotion on,” he replied as he begrudgingly dipped his fingers into the jar of Cetaphil.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

This is great, but is it over yet?

I love the day we roll out of the driveway with a heavily packed van for a family road trip. I also love the day we come home. This week feels like that with the three older girls being gone all week at camp. It has been great, but I am ready for it to be over.

Having the older girls gone has created a new atmosphere in our home. For example, I took a leaf out of the table and when the six of us pulled our chairs in for supper, it felt down right cozy. I could see every face around the table without binoculars and I could talk to anyone at the table without a marine flagman. The conversation was quite different as well. Taking away a third of the people reduced the number of interactions at the table far more. It was nice – for a day or two.

When I wander the house and notice Miss Bookworm’s violin, F.G.’s shoes in the closet, or Ed’s bike in the garage, I am reminded that they are not with us now. When I am upstairs putting the boys to bed there is this screaming silence from the end of the hall where light spills into their dark vacant room. “How does one ever survive the loss of a child?” I wonder. There would be just too many reminders, too many feelings, too much pain.

While there have been moments this week when I have felt the desire for the simplicity of a small family, I have been more overwhelmed with the loss of richness in our home. I am thrilled about my now clean desk, but that still pales in comparison to having my girls around making demands on my time so I don’t have time for my desk.

“I don’t know how you do it will all of those kids around,” people say to me all of the time. Well, I guess I don’t know how I could do it if I did not have all of these kids around. Life just wouldn’t be the same.

K.D. Reading to Anna

Last night CrazyMom was lost upstairs managing wardrobes and I was lost in my computer producing a post adoption report. When things seemed a little too quiet, I went to check on the kids. I found Anna snuggled up to K.D. on the couch and he was reading a book to her. It was a precious scene.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Universal Diagrams

“Dad, you aren’t supposed to be doing that,” K.D. said.

Since I was taking Anna and K.D. to Home Depot in the truck, I had to put in a car seat. I had grabbed a cast off car seat from our car seat reject pile, had thrown it in the middle of the bench, and now was strapping in Anna and the car seat.

“Yeah, sure,” I said, barely paying attention. This father of seven who simultaneously had four kids in car seats for multiple years knew that any advice from a six-year-old Ethiopian boy who did not know what a car seat was 18 months ago would be poor advice indeed. I continued to strap in Anna and the car seat.

“Dad, you aren’t supposed to be doing that,” K.D. insisted again.

I was getting a little annoyed. I just wanted to make a quick run to Home Depot and managing shoes, parting bathroom stops, car seats, 93 degree weather, and K.D. leaning on me as I was trying to strap in Anna was all just a little too much at the moment.

Knowing that if you don’t have anything nice to say you just shouldn’t say anything at all, I ignored K.D.

“Dad! Look right here! You are not supposed to be doing that!”

I looked. K.D. was pointing at one of those universal diagrams on the side of the car seat showing a child being strapped in just as I was doing it. Only this diagram had a big red circle around the diagram with a line through it.

“Look at that! You are right, K.D.!” I said, quite impressed that he had sized up the whole situation on his own. I then altered how I was doing things.

I guess those universal diagrams really are universal.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Medical Conditions to Expect

The question about what medical conditions one could expect when adopting from Ethiopia came up in a comment by Katie. I am not a doctor and this is certainly not a comprehensive list, but below are some of the things either we or others we know have experienced.

Lice – Sure you have heard of it, but can you identify it in your new child’s hair? We missed it on one of our new kids the first go around and then had to deal with a full blown case in our home. The next time we adopted, we took the special shampoo with us and had it all taken care of before we set foot in the US.

Ringworm – This fungal infection can affect the skin, but is more prevalent on the scalp. You will notice that your child appears to have dandruff or something similar but more pronounced. Topical creams don’t work on the scalp so you will need to get a prescription for an oral medication.

Other fungal skin conditions – I have no idea what all of the varieties are, but they are usually solved with a cream that you would use for athlete’s foot.

Molluscum Contagiosum – These water warts caused by a virus can be small or grow to be quite large. There are many suggested but not verifiably effective remedies. Usually the best thing to do with mild cases is to just let nature run its course. Over several months the body will win the war with the virus and they will burst or be reabsorbed.

Scabies – This little mite burrows in your skin and can cause some intense itching and may be treated with a full body cream.

Various intestinal parasites – When you get back to the US you will be collecting stool samples to test for all sorts of parasites. If something turns up, you get a prescription to take care of it. One thing to note is that giardia is not always found the first time around, so request a retest if the diarrhea does not improve.

Tuberculosis – TB is present in Ethiopia and there is a chance that your child may come home with it. The most likely symptom will be a persistent cough. You can read up on the other symptoms online. Diagnosing pediatric TB can be tough. Usually doctors check to see if the parents have it which probably can’t be done in the case of an adopted child. While TB is serious, it is great to be in America where we have all sorts of drugs to address it. One good thing is that the CDC says that kids under 10 are generally not considered contagious.

This is my list. Feel free to add anything else you have encountered so others know what to expect.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The End of Soccer

Soccer has come to a close for the season. Miss Bookworm had a good finish to her season and will now move on to play select soccer next year. Ed and F.G. also had a great finish. Ed was a scoring machine who could rack up lots of goals playing 7 v 7 on a small field. Below are some 10 second clips of her scoring goals from a game I videoed. F.G. was often playing goalie, but there is also a clip of her scoring a goal.

Ed and F.G. had an exciting finish to the season when their team won the championship. F.G. played goalie the entire game and the other team only scored on a penalty kick. It was the best I have ever seen her play. Ed scored multiple goals again helping to lead the team to victory.

I'm Back

I had a demanding close to the school year and I let a few things go by the wayside. The blog was one of them but that pales in comparison to being a poor father and husband the past few weeks. Thankfully school is done for the summer and I am back!