Every tree limb overhead seems to sit and wait, while every step you take becomes a twist of fate.
Up on the watershed, standing at the fork in the road...

If you are new to our adoption blog please take a moment to scroll down to the archives at the bottom of this page and start with July 2009 post "Watershed."


We are not ourselves.

I. Have acute bronchitis. (Read, heaving gagging cough that keeps me from sleeping, sucks my breath away and wakes her up just as we are rocking into a nap.)

She. Is angry and confused and not herself at all. I'm glad we had 19 days together in Ethiopia so I know that this is not her true personality. But knowing that doesn't make me feel better about it. I feel bad that we have put her in a position of feeling so turned upside down. She is wearing the serious owl face a lot. And I swear she is cursing in Amharic at us. She lets out a string of baby curses with mamamama and daddada thrown in just so we know they are directed at us.

We. Are not at all ourselves. Passing ships in the night. Communication has come down to shushing, pointing, and annoyed eyes. Both of us are tired and our balance is off which means we frequently step on each other or bump into each other in our tiny kitchen. I am missing laughter and making dinner together and walks around the lake. I am trying to have faith that we'll get back there. Plus one.

Here is how I envisioned our first weeks home together.
- I would create incredible artistic adoption announcements and mail off at least 100 to closest friends and family.
- We would take a gorgeous family photo shoot in the local park.
- The yard would be green and lucious and we would frolic in the baby pool.
- Every evening we would take a long stroll together as a family.

Here is the ugly reality.
- We have a stack of bills and mail a mile high that neither of us have time to open.
- My camera card is full but no photos have been saved or labeled and no waiting families have received the pictures I promised them.
- The minutes go by slowly but the day flies by in a blur of dirty diapers, smeared yogurt in the hair, naptime rocking, and conversations about when the lawn is actually going to get mowed and amazement over how the weeds have taken over. There will be no sweet yard lounging or baby pooling anytime soon.
- Presents arrive and within minutes of opening them I have forgotten who sent them. The thought of sending thank you cards seems unimaginably hard.
- We are frequently arguing over what to feed her during that precious hour when we had hoped to be strolling as a family. Instead we are making airplane food noises and cajoling her to eat so we can just go to bed already.
Oh real life. Why does it have to worm its way into the daydream and mess everything up?!

While Ethiopia was a gigantic challenge at least there was no pressure. No pressure to cook, clean, run errands, mow the lawn, answer the phone, answer emails, blog, write thank you cards, water the plants, feed the dogs, go to the bank, open bills. I am overwhelmed by real life with a baby who is a barnacle of confusion, need and anger.

Since I am not responding to emails or answering the phone (I don't have a voice anyway) - here are photos and a big thank you for the meals, calls, presents, and emails. Someday I will respond. And someday I will blog about the trip. And someday I assume we will be ourselves again.



  1. Welcome to parenthood with a litle jet lag and a stranger for a child thrown in. You will figure it out. It takes time Lots of time. I remember the fights. The resentment. The prays for sleep. It truly gets better. I promise. Be kind to yourself. I never made adoption announcements. By the time things settled it seemed pointless. Family photos took place one week after homecoming because of a church directory and trust me Dave and I look fine but I have a grumpy, owl faced babe in those pictures. Thank you notes went few and far between and if it wasn't for take out and my very kind in laws I am not sure what we would have eaten the first weeks home. Hang in there. Big hugs and it is A-okay to not mow the lawn or do the laundry or clean up the clutter. You are a new mom. You aren't supposed to have it all figured out yet.

  2. Agree with everything Cathy said. You are in survival mode. You WILL look back on this period at some point and realize that you did in fact SURVIVE. Expectations are only a set-up for disappointment. Toss the to-do list. Be pleasantly surprised by what you do get done, and the progress that you make. When you have second (ha!) go back and read my post "Oh my goodness, what was I thinking." It took over three months for me to return to "me" and we to "we" after Benjamin was born -- and I had nine months to get to know him... Everything you feel is completely normal. As I read somewhere else, you can have a clean house and prim yard when you retire and the kids are out of the house. For now, stacks of laundry and a cluttered house are the badges of motherhood. Embrace them. Much love to you and D.

  3. I hope you feel better soon! Those first few weeks are always tough.
    Your daughter is beautiful. So glad that you are together at last!
    Try to take it easy!!

  4. Ditto. I couldn't see think talk straight for the first 6 weeks after we were home - after that the me that other people saw became more coherent, but I was still a MESS on the inside. It takes awhile. It doesn't mean there isn't, won't be love and a happy family at the end of it. Give yourself a huge break and hang in there!

  5. This means you all are NORMAL!! I would be worried if you had a clean house, paid bills, announcements done, etc. If someone tells you they had a smooth transition then they are LYING - with a capital L!

    I have vivid memories of sitting at our kitchen table with my head laid down and tears streaming down my cheeks those first 3-6 weeks. And, hubby and friends telling me it *would* be okay. I didn't believe them. At all. But they were right.

    I think the worse thing I did was expect life to resume to normal or even a new, nicely packaged normal within a certain timeframe. It only frustrated me more. So, like other friends have said, give yourself lots of room for grace and continue to verbalize it all in whatever way suits you best.

  6. Again, it gets better and easier but takes time. Hard but much better than waiting for letters, referrals, court dates, etc....
    Hug her and at least for that second everything will be fine. And also hug J: He is a daddy now! It's real. And hug yourself a lot.

  7. You are SO normal! It takes time...we've been home almost 4 months, and it's our 4th child, but we are NOT at our new normal yet (at least I hope this craziness it not our new normal!! Aacckk!) You will make it, I am sure of it.

  8. It WILL get easier/better/normal! Hang in there!!

  9. I'm going to say what every one else has said. YOU ARE SO NORMAL.
    I was MISERABLE when I first got home with Elia. We fought all the time. We were exhausted. And sick. And exhausted. I wanted to punch people who said, "cherish this time." In my mind, it couldn't go fast enough. God. It's just awful. I know. I remember. The memories are just that now, memories. And ahead of you...in the future....lies the dreams of walks and baby pools. I promise. For now, live day by day (even that is hard) and just try to survive. Don't try to do anything more than that. It WILL be o.k. It will. HUGS!

  10. Oh, honey....so me in October. (minus the bronchitis).
    Here's my advice: do the minimum. The bare minimum. Like food and shelter and let everything else go for now. I didn't even open presents for one whole week and then when I did, I just took pictures of the cards and gifts together---thank you notes went out about 2 months after gifts were received, and you know what--it's good enough. Thsi is the time in your life to aim for a C-. Food, shelter, consistency. That's all you need for now.

    Second piece of advice: accept the help of anyone who offers. (Well, except when they offer to babysit). People want to feed you? Yes. People offer to run errands: yes. The only reason I had adoption announcements was that my sister offered to help, and I said, "here's my camera. Find a photo and a design and just order them." She did a great job.

    All you have to do this month is keep the 3 of you alive. Give her food and consistency and love. And survive. Thriving is for 5 months from now.


  11. I will add to the chorus of IT WILL GET BETTER. Becoming 3 from 2 is very very hard. I had to have friends fill me in on the conversations we had in the first few weeks after my first. I still remember none of it. Your daughter is beautiful. Welcome Home!

  12. Oh poor little princess and mommy. I bet in another month she be back to normal. I too am so glad you all had 19 days in ET togehter.

  13. This is SUCH a stressful time! My husband and I were both so sick when we got home with our daughter--ear infections and bronchitis for all three of us. It's hard enough trying to get your feet on the ground, clothes washed and the baby to sleep when you feel like junk. And then there is the angry, confused, terrified baby...yes...we had (and still have at times) that too. That is the hardest part, because all you want to do is enjoy her and her enjoy you back but she is just in survival mode. It's heartbreaking when your child grieves and you can't fix the trauma. It's easy to be hard on ourselves--so give yourself credit just for getting out of bed each morning! :) I try to remind myself each and every day that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and that I am being the best mamma I can be for her. And that we'll all be OK in the end. My hope is that years from now I'll look back on this foggy period of life and know how scary and beautifully rich it was at the same time.

    I'm happy to talk anytime--some babies have a particularly tough transition and I know how crazy it can make you feel. You're not alone. Thinking of you!!! :) julie@robertswitmer.com

  14. You are in survival mode. Keep your expectations low and just get through the day moment by moment. Cry and grieve your old life just as she does. You will get through this (even if you don't believe a word of that right now). It's OK. You are normal. At the end of the day if you have all survived & gotten a little nourishment in the process, consider it a smashing success.

  15. The Lord will not give you more than you can handle w/out His help. Hold onto that. She's lovely!

  16. I am sure most comments are much the same as mine, but I am waaay to ADD to read all of those.

    Don't be too hard on yourselves. Being new parents of a newborn is impossibly difficult -- and that is with a baby who makes nearly no noise and sleeps 18 hrs a day! You guys have a little person to contend with! She has wants, desires, opinions, etc all her own. AND she can get around!! So, just remember, you two are each other's greatest resource and support. Have grace and patience with each other and realize you have both been parents for the same amount of time. Neither is more the expert than the other :) You are both feeling around in the dark.

    I could give suggestions on eating as my son is probably about the same age as D (15 mos old) and is a terrible eater. But I won't because all babies are different. Take advise and criticism with a grain of salt and just try and realize the miracle of each moment.

    You guys are doing great and are going to be fabulous parents.

  17. ((HUGS))!! My biggest suggestion right now is to delegate. Whether it's by asking friends or family, posting on Facebook and asking people to do favors for you, or listing odd jobs (like the lawn or cleaning and laundry) on craigslist, try to conserve your energy for your marriage and your child and let others do the dirty work.

    Possible solutions for right now:

    - Dealing with mail: open bills and pay them. Give the rest of the mail to someone else you trust who can go through it for you, and tell them to throw away anything that isn't important.
    - Photos: give memory card to someone to upload on Snapfish for you, and go back later to label photos if/when you have time.
    - Yard: Find a friend or pay someone to mow it. Until then just fill the pool and enjoy it, knee-high weeds and all.
    - Presents AND announcements: don't send thank-you notes. Send out a mass email to everyone you know thanking them for the warm welcome and gifts and attach a cute photo of Derartu. Tell folks that the adjustment is hard, no one should take your silence personally, and to check back in a few months.
    - Food: she'll get past this eventually. Figure out a way to make it relaxing for you and baby will follow suit- I know from experience that parents' stress about a child not eating = child guaranteed to not eat. Eating does not need to take place inside with D in a high chair with certain types of baby foods. Put her in a sling and go for a walk as a family, feeding her bits of a food that she'll eat. Or something like that, just think outside the box.
    -Family photo: this can wait indefinitely. Aim for a cute one for your Christmas cards!

    You'll be fine. I know it doesn't feel that way right now, but it will be! Hang in there :)

  18. Yep. that sounds exactly how the first few weeks are - anyone who says otherwise is lying! It's okay, one day you will wake up and find life has become life again.


  19. Oh, I can't believe that I haven't commented on this already - ack. This brings back SO many memories. SO MANY. I'm not going to give you advice, because you already know all the answers, but want to chime in with everyone else and say THIS IS SO TOTALLY NORMAL!!! And that it WILL get better. It really will. (And as for what I wrote a few days ago - I wasn't talking about this crazy transition time. IMHO, that pretty much IS the hardest thing in the world. I was talking about the normal bit, that comes later).

    Hang in there. Even if it's by your teeth. Let yourself find this difficult, because it jolly well is.

    Thinking of you!!!!


About Me

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J and I have been married for almost 15 years. We have shared many adventures and a lot of watershed moments. In 2009 I began blogging and in 2010 we adopted our daughter from Ethiopia. In March of 2012 we began the process to adopt a little boy from Haiti. This blog follows the many twists and turns on the road to our two children and beyond.