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."


Urgent Advice Needed

From those of you who read blogs during the workday! (Shame on you!)

On the mornings that Ariam attends daycare we have to drive right past the dream daycare on the way to her average daycare. Each day I attempt to avert my eyes but the pull of the Chinese lanterns hanging in the giant front windows of the toddler room force me to slow down and drool a bit.

This place is located in a perfect position for the winter sun which cascades down over the little outdoor playground and twinkles off the windows.

I see happy parents entering with clean shiny little ones and exiting with giant gourmet coffee cups from the coffee station next to the front door.

We slow, I drool, I sigh, and we drive 5 blocks further to the windowless brick church where I haul my little one in and leave her crying.

This morning returned to a message from the dream daycare. They have an opening two days/week and want to invite Ariam off of the waitlist!!!
I am not too proud to admit that I did call them (and possibly sent an email or two) begging them to let her in. I may have also played the adoption card a bit calling all other daycares in our neighborhood "tiny orphanages."

So they want her. And us. And this is huge because originally they told us the waitlist didn't have an opening until March.

But I need some advice.
Friday will mark two weeks at the average daycare. She's just started to settle in and sleep for two full hours there during naptime. She obviously likes Miss Maria. She definitely cries when I drop her off, but I sense that it doesn't last long. Yesterday when I picked her up she was walking in from the playground like a little duck in her row of 3 other classmates.

Is another change too much?
The new daycare costs more. Am I paying for fluff or is it worth the money to fulfill a good gut instinct?
I certainly don't think the average daycare is hurting her, but I would like to see how her day is going by checking the video camera online sometimes...

I feel like a bad mom these days. I'm hauling my kid around to have other people take care of her. I'm moving her whole little world over to a new house this weekend. When I do have her I'm packing and cleaning and not giving her enough attention. She's such a resilient little trooper full of kisses and goodwill. But how far can you push a toddler until you ruin her??


How is daycare going?

It's too soon to tell.

I really appreciated everyone's thoughtful advice here on the blog. We could not hire a babysitter or nanny because we're in the middle of a move and don't have room at the house. And because I work from home I really need Ari OUT of the house a few days/week. She has a special trick of pounding on my office door if it is closed and I'm on a conference call while J watches her. This did not bode well for bringing in outside help.

I think an in-home daycare would have been a nice option but did not have the time to seek one out via churches, mom's groups, etc. When our nanny share fell through I really only had a week to make a decision.

We chose a daycare from the 6 options we toured with immediate openings, but we're still on the waitlist for our favorite that didn't have an opening.

The last 9 days have been a test run. J took Ariam on a Friday and spent 2 hours with her in the classroom. She did great and didn't mind when he stepped out for a few minutes to make a call.

Then she went for a half day last Monday and was SO excited to arrive, get settled in with the other 3 toddlers in her class, she barely even gave me the time of day for a kiss goodbye.

Because we closed on a house on Friday and are in the middle of a big move, she went to the daycare all day on Thursday and Friday. Possibly a bad move. We got a bit over eager. She is wonderful to be with. But impossible to drag along to meetings with realtors and lenders.

Both Thursday and Friday she was fairly excited to arrive. Not happy to say goodbye. (Tears.) And generally droopy by pick up time 8 hours later. I think an 8 hour day outside of the house is really hard on her. So I think this week we will cut back to three 6 hour days.

Daycare Pros:

- I have 3 days/week to work, uninterrupted

- Ratio is 1 teacher/4 toddlers

- Toddler room is filled with great toys that I know she loves (like a tunnel with balls and a little table with toddler sized chairs!) but doesn't have at home

- Cook will make substitutes just for Ariam on ham or beef menu days

- Drop off is flexible, she doesn't have to be checked in until 9:30am if we are running late and I can pick her up any time in the afternoon

- Round-trip with drive and drop off is 15 minutes

- Ms. Maria, the teacher, oozes love and kindness and patience and has 20 years experience

- Ariam very obviously loves Ms. Maria already

Daycare Cons:

- Ariam very obviously loves Ms. Maria already

- Ariam very obviously has a daycare cold and runny nose already

- A full day out of the house is A LOT of time away and is very tiring for a toddler

- Ms. Maria is almost fully spanish speaking which I have decided is not a problem at all for Ariam but is a little awkward for J when he does pick up and wants to know about her day

- The crying thing. I don't like handing her over crying and I don't like to see her crying at pick up. And I'm just not sure this can easily be solved because everyone tells me that kids sometimes cry during transitions. But I don't like it.

In other news, Ariam won her first Halloween costume contest. Of course. (With her looks and my competetive spirit I really didn't doubt it.)

My little owl kicked butt in the contest and waddled away with a T.arget gift card. :)



Move over Carol's Daughter!

After my last hair post I spent some time on natural hair care websites and emailing with some girlfriends who know what they are doing with hair.

The conclusion I came to is that Carol's Daughter products are just too harsh on Ariam's hair. So we returned everything (except for our Mimosa Hair Honey) to S.ephora. They were incredible about taking it all back, no questions asked.

I found very positive Alaffia reviews on Happy Girl Hair and other blogs and bought it at my local organic grocery store. We are trying out a whole new hair routine and it is working wonders!

1. Wash with Alaffia shampoo and conditioner once/week

2. In mid-week we do a co-wash (that means we just wash and rinse with conditioner, no 'poo)

3. After a wash or co-wash I add Alaffia hair lotion and use it as a detangler, then I add a pea size amount of Mimosa Hair Honey and run it through her hair with my fingers (it defines the curls)

4. Daily I wet Ariam's hair with a spray bottle and add just a dime size of Alaffia hair lotion, rubbing it in all over her head and finger detangling and fluffing

5. Twice/week I put her in the highchair in front of Baby Einstein's sign language video, wet down the hair, part it into several parts pulled back with clips, rub a little mix of pure aloe vera and coconut or jojoba into her scalp, and put pure coconut oil in her hair (I do this the day of her hair wash to make sure her scalp doesn't get dry and also the day before her mid-week cowash.)

That's it!

Also I have mastered a good center part for double puffs, the single puff with a ribbon, and am now moving on to tiny puffs in the back of her hair.

Tonight Ariam and I attended our trans-racial adoption group dinner. The hostess brought in an African American hair stylist who specializes in children's natural hair. She gave us an individual consultation and proclaimed Ariam's hair "very healthy and soft!" She gave us a VERY wide tooth comb and told me to wet the hair daily and detangle when I add the hair lotion or leave-in. I had not been detangling well enough which is why the tiny knots were forming. But to be honest, as soon as we stopped using Carol's Daughter products and changed to Alaffia the knots disappeared anyway. I haven't had a knot or a breakage in two weeks.

We're feeling very confident now in our hair routine. There are still several products out there that I'd like to try including Darcy Botanicals Hair Jelly and Aubrey Organics conditioner. But the hair is looking much healthier and is starting to grow.

Thanks for all of your comments and emails!



Beauty for Ashes, Strength for Fear

She doesn't wave her fingers in front of her eyes anymore.

Sounds like such a small thing in the long list of changes: walking, laughing, using a fork, sign language, sharing instead of hitting, sleeping through the night, kissing...

But it is my favorite change.

Every nap and every night for many many weeks Ariam waved her hands over her face, wiggling her fingers and bringing them close and then far. Close and far. She looked at her hands instead of my eyes until sleep came. It twists my heart and makes me short of breath to imagine how, when and why she began doing this.

When babies don't have the loving touch of a parent to soothe them they find other things to help. Head rolling, self rocking, hand waving...

Tonight I was running through the list of "reasons why Ariam is ok and ready for daycare" when she reached up and set her palm on the bare skin of my neck. She loves close touch and those 30 minutes of rocking and snuggling before bed. Where there was once a protective shell all around her and fear in her heart, now nothing separates us. She sees me and I am enough for her. No hand and finger waving needed.

He gives us beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

(Ears pierced)



See something different?

(Wearing shades helps her keep a low profile.)


Q: What is more emotionally draining than the adoption process?

A: The search for child care.

After the nanny debacle yesterday I had to have a very painful phone conversation with the other mother. (She's employed this nanny for a year to watch her sweetheart of a daughter.) I had to tell her about the lack of eye contact, the lack of touch, the disinterest in either child. I was shaking during the call and realized that if I were her hearing these things I'd be falling apart.

Today we visited four daycares with immediate openings.
(We visited 2 last week and 1 earlier this week. All three had waiting lists and we put ourselves on our favorite which was absolutely amazing and probably won't have an opening until spring.)

Two of the four today had really negative reviews online but had immediate openings. Of course.

I went into the daycare visits this afternoon with a huge lump in my throat. Fear. Anxiety. Sadness. Stress about the time away from work. Concern over the reviews.


I was tongue-tied and barely functional. We did a lot of standing around staring and looking like we were attending a funeral.

More draining than waiting for Ariam has been this realization that life cannot move forward unless we remove her from the house for 20 hours each week. How is it that after all that waiting and longing now we have to put her away from us and be apart? It breaks my heart. But it will break us, literally, if we don't do it...

Ok, the daycare visits.

Two of the four smelled bad. Like cafeteria food and old poop.
One had a room filled with little jail cribs, like an Eastern European orphanage.
None of the caregivers spoke much English. I am a huge fan of children learning Spanish at a very early age. But Ariam needs to hear and process English. She's just now beginning to babble and trying to say a few words. Not sure now is the time to introduce a (third!) language.

I felt like all of the children we saw were blank and bored and moving in slow motion.
At one of the daycares, within the 10 minutes we were there, Ariam got her finger stuck in a faulty toy and fell off of a broken scooter.

How can parents send their children to these places for 50 hours/week? How does this childcare thing WORK?!!! Please tell me if you have the answer. Because I can't do it. I can't leave her somewhere unsafe, icky smelling, dirty, with people who seem bored. And why do all of them serve disgusting things like pork meatloaf?? (No offense meat eaters but we really don't eat much meat.)

Oh my goodness. I can FEEL the panic rising. Never had a panic attack. Pretty sure the first one is going to be on Ariam's first day of daycare. Or it may be tonight while we discuss the options.



When it rains it pours

So true.

We are having a very hard week.

First I got sick over the weekend. At first I thought it was allergies so I really didn't rest like I should have. Then by Sunday night I was feverish, coughing, sore throat miserable.

Second, J got a new job. Which should be a great thing since he hasn't been working much this summer. But to be honest I've gotten very used to having him at home. He's done at least half of Ariam's care and because of that I've been able to work in August and September.

Third, we are buying a house. We close on Monday. The paperwork, the inspection follow up, the money, the packing. It is just a giant overwhelming mess. We aren't moving in immediately after closing but I almost wish we were. Instead we are dragging it out to the end of the month so J can spend every evening working on the house - painting, fixing, etc. That means I will not have him during the day OR during the evenings.

Fourth, we thought we had a nanny-share lined up for Ariam. After a lot of consideration we decided not to hire an Ethiopan nanny for now (a. we have a small house and it's easier for me to concentrate if Ariam is out of the house and b. we were worried a bit about all that we'd have to work through to teach the nanny how we do things.) So we agreed to be the second family in a 2 family nanny share starting Monday. Today I went on a play date with the nanny and the other child and walked away without childcare.
1. The nanny didn't look Ariam in the eye or even touch her during the whole play date.
2. The nanny told me that the other child's favorite activity is "tv."
3. The nanny didn't speak enthusiastically to either child, engage them in any way, or help them play on any of the playground equipment.
4. When I asked the nanny how she planned to handle two active toddlers at the park alone she said "I don't know."

I walked away with a huge pit in my stomach. Had a small freak out at home. And ultimately called the other family and told them what happened and that we were backing out. Honestly? A nanny, no matter how she is with the kids, should be ON HER GAME in front of the parents. Isn't that rule #1??


We are on a waiting list for the most lovely daycare near the house. It has Chinese lanterns, and fresh coffee, and singing time, and fish, and organic snacks and video cameras in every room so we can watch Ariam. But it is impossible to say when we'll get off the wait list.

We've toured and said no to three other daycares. Now, following Nannygate 2010, we are visiting two more daycares tomorrow. Both have openings but both have at least one negative review online.

At this point Ariam is going insane in our house filled with boxes. I am going crazy trying to get even the smallest things done for work and am driving my coworkers crazy by not being responsive enough. Jeremy starts his job on Monday and is way over his head in packing, filling holes in our rental walls (from pictures, not from punching). I am still feeling under the weather. And we aren't sure if we are definitely closing on Monday or not.

All in one week. It's a lot to get a handle on. We need a third person in this marriage. Like a sex-less sister wife or something.



Washington DC - Part I

Six years ago, on a chilly fall evening in Washington DC, I entered my first graduate seminar.
And met this amazing woman who had just arrived in the U.S.
Was it really only 6 years ago? It feels like a lifetime...

She cried during her introduction. She made me cry. I knew we would be good friends.

Ana has been my role model for parenting. She celebrates her children every day. She teaches and loves and cheers them on. I can already see the strong and brave men they will be - because of her.

As Americans, we find that we have few friends we would be comfortable descending on for a full week - taking over their basement, demanding to be fed and wined, and letting loose our toddler throughout their beautiful home. It's a good thing we know some Colombians!! :)

Holding Hands (notice who is happy in this photo and who is skeptical...)

She must have known this was coming next! Pablo is our little latin lover.

It's so hard to say goodbye.

And just a gratuitously cute photo of Ari and her "purse."


About Me

My photo
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.