It's been building.
I cried at a work related dinner meeting 2 weeks ago. Yes, you read that right. My colleagues were pushing me about my summer plans, my plans for childcare, my plans for attachment and bonding...on and on and on. Some things were questioned. I became defensive. Then some kind words were said. And the tears started dripping everywhere.
Our court date is tomorrow night and that could be a piece of it.
But it's more than that.
It isn't about the chee.rios or the baby socks or the name. It's bigger. I can't put it into words. Please don't ask me to explain. I feel like I should feel happy. But happy is not all it is cracked up to be I think. Happy is easy. Adoption is just so damn complex.
The annoying thing is that the nightime to do list is so unimportant.
Some of the things that have taken over my brain - honest to God I would not even normally find these things important enough to stress about in day time:
- must remember to buy a huge box of C.heerios to pack to win over D's affections...but how will I fit a huge box of C.heerios in my luggage...how much does a box of C.heerios weigh...will said C.heerios be too crushed if I pack them in just the plastic bag...should I get goldfish too...every baby loves goldfish...how many teeth does she have...what on earth will I feed her in ET...a 12 month old doesn't just eat formula right...how does a parent figure these things out...what if we end up starving her because I can't cook sweet potatos and carrots and other baby food goodness in Ethiopia...should I bring more snacks...what if we run out of C.heerios before we get on the plane home...we need to make sure to reserve some for that return trip...
- i think we need more socks. how many pairs of socks does a 12 month old need...will it be cold in June in ET...I think it is cold there...rainy season...i packed those three pairs of new cute flowered socks in their packaging...must remember to remove them and actually wash them...what is the harm in not washing before wearing...does that cause skin problems...could she be allergic to american detergent...if so would it be better to not wash everything before packing...i like the socks packaging...oh no, all three pairs are colors...we need some white socks...thick white socks because it could be cold..will three pairs be enough...should i get them at T.arget...everyone says i need tr.umpette socks...must add to list...what if her feet are chronically cold because we forget socks...does a baby wear socks under footie pajamas? Does a 12 month old wear shoes? We haven't even bought any shoes!
(oh my goodness, when I went online to find a photo of trum.pette socks I found these and fell madly in love. how cute are these socks???!!!)
Lately I've also added baby name drama:
- we both like the name A--- with her name...but what if it sounds icky with our last name...our last name causes so many problems...how many ways can i think of to distorte the name A---when combined with our last name...what about a nickname...does the nickname M--- remind us too much of another friend with a similar name...what will people think if we add a name that isn't Ethiopian...are both names meaningful enough...what if the nickname we use is Ethiopian...what if she doesn't look like any of the names we've thought of when we get her...what if we formally change her name but end up calling her D anyway...what a waste of time spent on names and forms...does the name D feel signficant...if we change something about it will it tie her to the community well enough...how many names can i run through in my mind before circling back to A---*??
* I do realize now that I see it in writing that the name we are considering looks oddly like my name and the nickname bizarrely like the nickname I had as a child. This was purely coincidence and I swear they are not the same names.
And on and on and on
Maybe my mind can't turn off because it's just too scared to sleep these days. Every. single. night. I dream about Baby D. Long, dramatic, emotional, heavy, stressful, sagas that play out through the course of the night leaving me tired and crabby in the morning.
A few nights ago I had THE WORST dream.
I was in a meeting. Of course it was in a strange place - a bright blue room, in a 60's diner, around a formica table, that was sort of somehow in the eating nook of my own kitchen. Of course.
The meeting was taking place between myself, a social worker, and another prospective adoptive parent. And the meeting was to inform me that actually, even though I had made it all the way to Ethiopia to get D, I was not finished with the process yet. Another mother had been chosen for her and D was likely to go with her unless I could answer a series of questions to the social worker's satisfaction. Questions involved describing the history of the Queen of Sheba, explaining the meaning of D's name, and successfully answering other Ethiopian trivia.
In this dream I was so upset. Crying, shaking, and in total disbelief that this was happening. (I have dreamtime PTSD from the T situation of last summer I think!)
Now my body and mind are scared to fall asleep. :(
Instead of laying in bed tossing and turning I thought I'd hop up and write this blog post. I really think the benefit of blogging is that once you lay something out in writing, it can be easier to clear your head and move on. I hope that's true tonight.
ADDED in the AM:
Am really appreciating the comments!
Would not normally be so totally obsessed over these details (when I travel there for myself I am not at all worried about what I will eat or wear!) but because I plan to fly to ET in early June whether we have an embassy date or not I am worried about caring for her for 2,3,4? weeks there. First time mom, plus not great access to the resources and options I would have here, plus feeling a little nervous that if we get "stuck" there I will be flying home alone with her since J can't spend an endless amount of time in the country...
Add all of that to the need to get her packed up before I leave for S. Africa on May 14th without knowing her height or weight or shoe size or diaper size or formula brand (can't seem to get the agency to answer emails about these questions) and the stress is on.
Any packing suggestions are appreciated.
I've been told I will get a health and size update immediately before I am scheduled to travel. But I am not being a good sheep and following the typical plan. So I won't be "scheduled" to travel on their timeline. I have emailed several people at the agency about this - to let them know that I am going to ET the first week of June, packing now, leaving soon, need to know some basic basic info, etc and have gotten nada back.
When we received her referral on March 1st I immediately created those elaborate math equations that are part calculus, part calendar geometry, part hopeful wishing, and part life convenience scheduling that all factor into determining exactly WHEN she would get home.
You know what I'm talking about - don't even pretend you haven't all done it yourselves.
It goes something like this:
If you take a) average assigned court date of 6-8 weeks after referral
and you account for b) pessimism that we would be on the early end
and you factor in c) the symmetry of our referral and court date both falling on a Monday
multiply by 4 family members all waiting to hear whether or not baby will be at our July family vacation in Santa Fe - buying tickets being semi-dependent on knowing something by end of April,
divide by 2 weeks of work in Africa in May that would conveniently land me in Ethiopia in early June,
then add together a complicated triangulation of desires, reality, and dates on the calendar
you come up with....theoretic dates for referral, court, and embassy appointments!!
All this to say that long ago I guessed April 26th and it is the first thing I have calculated correctly. Which hopefully means I have the rest of the equation right.
I am travelling in Southern Africa for work the last 2 weeks of May. I'm going to book myself through Ethiopia on May 31st (paying the change fee and staying as long as needed if something crazy happens) and hope and pray it all works out. We'll be more practical with J's ticket and wait to purchase that when we know the exact dates.
What did I mean by this? I was asked that question.
I'm not sure. That's the simple answer. I can't put my finger on exactly what I meant. I wasn't talking about anyone specifically.
Adoption - that word encompasses so much. Maybe what I meant is that I was discouraged by how simplistic an answer it is to the giant question of how can we help orphans and vulnerable children. It's almost like the question and the answer just don't fit.
Maybe I meant that I had seen one too many conference speaker insinuate that American Christians are somehow better equipped to care for Africa's children than Africans themselves. (Racism? Cultural superiority?)
Maybe I am simply tired of the slogans around adoption. "One less orphan." "If every Christian adopted one child..." That type of thinking does nothing for children in need. For every child adopted there are millions more who are vulnerable. Millions more on the verge of being an orphan statistic. We need different slogans.
Maybe I had seen one too many family wash away all vestiges of their adopted child's language, culture, name and heritage only to replace those losses with nothing. With trendy meaningless names and empty materialistic pursuits.
Maybe I was referring to the time I visited a community that had built a small school and was implementing a great community-based program that provided support to local families raising orphaned children. After an awe inspiring presentation from the local pastor and children I unfortunately heard an adoption advocacy representative ask the local pastor to "identify the kids in need of international adoption" in that village. Sigh.
I've been gathering up some stories and statements that have really impressed me and educated me. These are stories from adoptive parents! I've learned a lot from this group that I sorted, and labelled and categorized before joining them. I've learned that often the ugly voices and stories get the most attention, but the heart of adoption can be found if you look for it and share it.
From Irene who is on my online forum:
What I want for Daragh is that he will grow up confident and secure in all aspects of who he is and never feel pressured to choose one aspect of his identity over another.
I want him to feel equally at home in himself as an Ethiopian, an American and an Irish lad. All of those cultures will influence and inform who he is and who he becomes, and all have something to offer him.
But I don't want any of them to limit him.
His full name is Daragh Yosef Zelalem. Yosef was his pre-adoption name; I chose Daragh and Zelalem. I chose Zelalem because it means 'forever' and I want him to know that he is Ethiopian forever and a H(surname) forever. One doesn't end the other. Daragh is an Irish name from the word for oak. I was born in Oakland, California, so that is part of why I chose it. But I also chose it because oak is associated with St. Bridget, Ireland's other patron saint. Part of St. Bridget's story is that she was born while her mother was standing in a doorway with a foot inside and a foot outside, so Bridget was born in two places at once. This is really probably a way of explaining how a pre-Christian goddess was also a Christian saint, butnonetheless, to me it also expresses duality, which I feel will be part ofDaragh's identity, as it is of mine as a dual national with one American parent and one Irish parent.
What I don't want is for him to feel pressured or limited, that he can't do something because one of his cultural identities doesn't allow it. I don't want him to feel he has to check any part of himself at the door anywhere he goes. I want him to feel as Ethiopian on the hurling pitch or the baseball diamond as he does having some shiro or listening to Bole2Harlem. The way I see it, and being a single mom of one may bring this into sharper focus, my family is now half Ethiopian.
Yes my son's identity is changed by having been adopted internationally. But it also changes my identity. It's not fair for him to be the only one who's identity is affected and it's not accurate either. I'm now the mother of an Ethiopian child. That shifts how I view the world and how I participate in it. I still have a lot to learn about Ethiopia, but I couldn't adopt from the country if I wasn't willing to embrace not just my child but the broader culture. I don't mean to uncritically take on everything. I don't do that with my own cultures. ButI couldn't adopt from a country if I couldn't find a significant amount to love about it.
She's needing a lot of under the blanket snuggling and reconnecting. Should I just stick her in the Ergo?
I am in no great mood to blog.
After hosting rainbows and unicorns on this site for the past 6 weeks, I've turned an irritable corner towards impatience.
I have been dreaming of D every night.
These are the last three nights of dreams:
Night one: dreaming of twisting my fingers in her curls
Night two: dreaming of a stormy night, standing dripping rainwater in the waiting room of an orphanage, asking for her, pleading for her...
Night three: unidentified dreams that kept waking me up with anxiety, her little face running through my mind whether awake or asleep. Woke up crying.
I'm feeling so discouraged that 4 weeks have passed since we were submitted to court and we've heard nothing. I wrote TWO separate blog posts tonight and both are so incredibly obnoxious and snarky and negative that I couldn't even hit publish on either of them. What a waste of time.
I am going to be speaking at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Minneapolis on April 29th. 4-5pm. Topic is church-church partnerships caring for orphans and vulnerable children in Africa. If you are going to be there please leave a comment so we can connect in advance. I'd love to meet you. I'm also hosting a luncheon on Friday. Let me know!
A few words about Baby D:
"She was so happy and laughed the whole time we were in the room." ~ April 1, 2010
"Her favorite caregiver walked up as we were taking the pics and D went crazy with happiness." ~March 31, 2010
"Whenever he sees her picture he gets all excited and says "D------!" (Cindy's son, little T.) ~March 29, 2010
"D kept tapping my watch, so I took it off and put it her foot. She would take it off and try to put it back on her foot. She is one special little girl and we do love her!!" ~March 17, 2010
"She recognizes her name, says a-goo, and turns towards people when her name is called." ~March 13, 2010
"She is an easy easy, deep from her toes smiler." ~March 11, 2010
"This girl is not passive either. She arches her back and shrieks when she is unhappy. For such a calm, gentle girl she sure knows how to express herself!" ~March 11, 2010
"She loves to stand on my legs with her full weight on her legs. So strong!" ~March 8, 2010
She is sparkly, and strong, and loves to laugh. I think she will fit just fine with us.
- Me. Us. She.
- 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.
- ▼ April (8)