Saturday, February 27, 2010


I can see it. I can see our potential as a family.
I think he has planted the tiniest seed of trust in his heart. This makes all our lives easier.
He enjoyed playing with his sisters for a while this morning.
For the first time in the two weeks we have known him, he ate a meal without it ending in a rage.
We are seeing more frequently a goofy side to this often serious boy.

I am worried about Erik returning to work.
I'm experiencing a lot of anxiety in the middle of the night that makes for broken sleep and shallow breath. I feel like my heart breaks a little around 3:00am each night. My dreams are weird and hazy and unpleasant.

He called me mama.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day Six

Yesterday my youngest daughter, Safa, turned 4. It was not the sort of birthday you envision for your child. Yesterday morning Yonas tantrumed three times when I sat down while holding him. His body literally did not shift its position on mine. I just lowered myself to the floor and it was too much for him to bear. Which in turn was too much for Safa to bear. We had an awful morning. We all cried.

The birthday cake I made for her was so ugly I asked Erik to not take pictures of it. I really don't want her to have evidence of it. She tolerated her crap birthday with such grace it broke my heart.

Yonas napped yesterday afternoon. When he woke, he was more pleasant to be around. So different, in fact, that I was able to see a possible future that included me sticking around to be his mama. Because frankly the railroad tracks a few short blocks away were starting to look pretty good a few days ago.

Today was more manageable. I cried a little, took a long walk with Yonas and Safa in the sun, practiced breathing deeply while he tantrumed, ate some chocolate, called my mom. At some point yesterday, I subtitled his screaming in my mind: "I'm so scared I won't get to stay!!", "I'm angry because I've lost so much!!", "Please help me!!" That helped open my heart to him. Today he was goofing for his sisters. That helped too.

I have been blessed with an amazing group of women that are bringing us meals, delivering care packages, sending me emails and texts of love and support, and in general letting me know I am not alone. I have been overwhelmed by the gracious and supportive comments left here, the ones I've received on the Ethiopian Adoptive Families forum, and sent in private messages. I have been moved by their candor and empathy. I'm blown away by the strength shown in these stories of struggle, how hard parents and children have worked to become a family, how much they have endured. I am proud to be a part of this community. I do not feel alone, and right now, that is everything.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Thank You

I am humbled and comforted by the comments left here.

Thank you.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Faking It

How I would love to be able to post a glowing report of our first few days home. I really would. I would love to be able to match the joy our friends have shown, their love and enthusiasm.

But I'm struggling. Erik is having a hard time. The girls want to love this brother they have waited for, but he's not making it easy. He's a tantruming, unpredictable mess. And rightly so. But just because he's earned the feelings doesn't mean they are easy to be around. He has major, MAJOR issues regarding food. Every time food is around he loses his shit. This is what happens when a child has experienced a lot of hunger. Or equates food with love. Or isn't fed when hungry, but on a schedule instead. When a child never sees food being prepared and so never has to wait a bit for it to come their way.

In Ethiopia he tantrumed for 45 minutes because we moved his hand out of the way to close a cabinet door.

He will not nap now, it is too terrifying for him.

In short, he's kind of an asshole. An insanely cute, terrified asshole.

In Ethiopia I cried. I cried for many, many reasons that I will begin to detail in the coming weeks. But in part I cried because I couldn't imagine what fresh hell we'd willingly created for ourselves. I cried to Erik. I said things like, "We only have 16 years left. Maybe he'll run away from home when he's 15. We'll start selling San Francisco. That could cut our time to 13 years." I said it through sobbing laughter and I was only partly kidding.

I am better right now, now while he sleeps. But today I had moments of such deep sorrow I couldn't imagine a time where I could ever think of him as any thing less than the biggest mistake of our lives. Did we seriously trade our sweet, well-oiled lives for this new shitty version?

Let me be perfectly clear that it is only because my adoption community assures me we will all be fine in time and that statistics tell me that 65% of adoptive parents experience some form of Post-Adoption Depression (PAD) that I can write this awfulness here. It does not feel good to write this out. It doesn't feel good to know I will probably have to seek professional help. But maybe it will help someone else be prepared. Because if you know me, you know I am nothing if not honest about my emotional life, especially if I think it might help someone else. And because I have to believe that this is our path and it isn't meant to be our undoing.

In adoption circles here's what they say: "Fake it 'til you make it." So today I carried my mess of a boy around all day when all I wanted to do was leave him on the front porch. I pretended to be happy to see him. I smiled giant fake smiles through my panicked crying and raspberried his belly through my tears.

In the middle of the night, when he cries in his sleep, I will wrap my arms around him and tell I'm here. That he's safe. That he's not going anywhere. That I love him. And I will pray like hell that someday soon it will be true.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Now We Are Six

This is at the airport upon arrival, after 33 hours of travel. Erik and I were so exhausted, we were hallucinating on the last leg of trip. Eden's hand looks scary because it got crushed in a restaurant bathroom door, but she is fine. More soon...

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sunday, February 07, 2010


I have started and erased this post three times now. I'm unable to convey everything I'm feeling now. Earlier today I had a moment when I thought, I can't wait to get on that plane so I can get a little rest.

Unofficial birthday celebrations for Erik and Ava have gone well. We have been blessed with an amazing amount of support and love coming our way. It is humbling.

I'm hyper-aware of our remaining time with the girls, these days becoming moments before we leave. I think of them as babies, how quickly the time has passed; see them now, the people they have become.

And although I feel no desire to return to those times, it is a reminder to me to let these last few days permeate me. Because I know years from now I will sit and remember this time, these days before we left; the days before Yonas. The days when we were five. And it will be hard to imagine that we ever lived without him.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


I may have entered the realm of diminishing returns today. I would walk to my lists, look at them for awhile, decide I was too tired to have to think much, move on to something physical because that seemed easier somehow, decide it wasn't, go back to something that required mental effort and realize I was fooling myself.

Erik returned mid-afternoon from a guys, pre-birthday 24 hours that involved horse racing, whiskey and pecan pie. I took a nap and it was good. I should be in bed now, but need to do this first.

Being so close to meeting Yonas feels surreal right now. I look at his picture and can't fathom what strange magic is granting me the honor of being his. There's a sweetness about this boy I know. Something around the mouth that already feels familiar. I imagine the softness of his cheek. The sound of his laugh. The weight of his body on mine.


Friday, February 05, 2010

Five: I Think I Fell Asleep While I Was Peeing

Just for a second. I have not been wanting to mention that Erik and I are fighting back simultaneous colds for fear that writing it down would tempt the pre-travel gods. Especially since we both seemed to have escaped the stomach virus. But it is time to face facts. I also haven't mentioned that Erik is currently closing a deal and is working every bit as hard as I am. We are run down in body and mind. Last night in bed I was an overtired infant unable to calm my body enough to fall asleep. So this morning I took a quick nap while I was peeing.

Last night five of my lovely friends took me out. (Thank you Bryna, Janna, Leslie, Mima, and Wendy!!!) Toasted me and Yonas with Prosecco. They asked me questions because they really care. They held me up and promised support that I already knew was there. And in return, do you know what I did? (Besides feel blessed and humbled?) I accepted.

Not too long ago it was hard for me to accept help. Nearly impossible for me to ask for it. But in the last few months the futility of living that kind of life has become clear. We aren't meant to do it alone. I don't mean just parenting. I mean all of it. Life. It's too much.

So now when someone asks what they can do to help, I tell them. When someone offers to take my girls to school or fold my laundry, I say yes. It's still a bit outside my comfort zone sometimes. But each time I allow someone who cares about me, my life; each time I yield and surrender, I grow. My heart opens. And my own experience of helping someone I care about tells me that theirs does too.

In this final countdown to bringing Yonas home I may be stumbling a little, but I know there are people who care enough to catch me before I fall.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


I finished writing this post around 5:30 yesterday and forgot to post it. I'm a little tired. So today I give you countdown days six AND five.

My girls go to an alternative school that doesn't hold classes on Thursdays and Fridays. So my mother-in-law comes on Thursday mornings for a few hours. And when she came this morning, I headed out the door with my many lists in hand, a woman on fire. Obsessed. Possesed? I went to eight different places in 2 hours and 45 minutes. (Thank you Alice!) Including the grocery store. The birthdays are kicking my ass. But I am happy.

The rest of this post isn't going to have anything to do with preparing to leave. The remainder of this post is stories of my girls that are worthy of inclusion here and I'm afraid I will forget to write them down in the new brother frenzy.

Most of the funniest things said in our family come from the mouth of Eden, 5:

"I love honey more than I have fingers."

"Of all the animals, the scorpian is the one I worst want to take care of." (After a date with Erik to the exotic pet store.)

In this aforementioned alternative school, they have engaging teachers and 5 year-olds write poems so beautiful you could weep. The following are by Eden:

Pretty, colorful
Growing, blooming, swaying
They make the world beautiful.
Red, white, purple
Spreading, opening

A Shell

Pink, peach spirally
Came from the sea
It used to be a home
Now it lives with me.

This came on her own yesterday:

Snails slithering beneath the morning sky
They don't let anyone see them,
In their shells they sleep.

Eden and Safa, 3, do this weird thing in their pretend play where they talk as if they are reading from a book written in the third person. I think it comes from watching Thomas the Tank Engine. So they say things like, " 'I can do that!' she said, flipping through the air." So Safa and Eden were playing baby and Mama and I overheard this:

Safa: "Waaaaaaaaa. Mama!"
Eden: " 'What is it?' I said sternly."

The following is a conversation you could only have with a 3 year-old. We were on a walk and Safa was distressed, looking for something.
"What are you looking for?" I said.
"That thing I lost." she said.
"What was it?"
"It was the same thing I had earlier, but different."
Okaaaaay. I've been around the block with toddlers a few times, so I pull out a trick that almost always gets somewhere.
"What color is it?"
"The same color as the thing I had." This was said in a kind of why-do-keep-annoying-me-with-these-incessant-questions-when-I'm-trying-to-find-the-thing-I-lost, sort of way. I gave up.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


So far so good on the vomiting front. My bravado diminished a little when it came time to eat last night, and I went for half the burger and about two-thirds of the shake. I was certain I was going down around 9:30, but nothing happened. It could have been how creepy Lost was. Or maybe I was having a panic attack.

Ava was well enough to go back school. Safa and I got more birthday crap and dropped a load of money at Costco. Seriously, I made a kind of painful grunting noise when the eternally grumpy cashier told me my total.

I found out today that not only is the day we're leaving Ava's birthday, it's also the day of the culminating performance for Ava's and Eden's theater class. Yes, you read that correctly. Most of you that read this blog don't know my kids. But if you did, you might be doing a spit take at the notion of either of my oldest two being in a drama class, much less LOVING it. But they do. And we will miss their performance.

Also, I checked our itinerary for our return flight and saw that Yonas is assigned to the seat in front of us on the last leg. I'm sure he'll be fine. He's almost 2 for goodness sake.

I took out the recycling in the cold rain.
The next time I do it, I will be back home. With my son.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Countdown to Ethiopia Day Eight began at 3:16am. Safa began crying loudly. Not a whimpering cry, but the kind that makes you jump out of your skin and begin running before you even realize your awake. She said, "I'm hungry because I didn't eat dinner!" in a sort of accusatory way. Like I just decided not to give her dinner on a whim. So I made her toast, brought her water, sat on the floor beside her bed and breathed a sigh of relief that she was feeling better.

She was feeling better enough, in fact, to not want to go back to sleep. At 3:46am she called again. I can't remember exactly what happened next, but deals were negotiated, promises made, and Erik pulled in his pillow and a blanket to sleep on the floor next to her.

I made my way back to bed fully aware I was doomed. If you read this blog even occasionally you know I'm an insomniac. Now, an adrenaline rush coupled with a mind on fire, doesn't equal restful sleep. But sometime shortly after 4:30am, I found it. But at 5:23am I hear a child crying in the airlock. (This is what we call the long hallway in our bedroom. It has some magical quality that renders a child unable to pass completely through into our bedroom.) It was Ava.

"What's wrong, honey?"
"I feel sick."
"How do you feel sick."
"My belly hurts and my body feels heavier than it normally should."

I was impressed with that description and knew exactly what she meant. I let her crawl into Erik's side and we both tried to reach out to Mistress Sleep, but she slapped us both on the face, then spit in my hair. At 6:10 we stumbled to the living room.

Ava threw up at 8:42am, 9 seconds after Erik woke me from a deep nap. It can't be good to have to nap at 8:00 am.

She stayed home from school. I had so many errands to run this morning, but I stayed home, tended my feverish, nauseous girl. Did load after load of laundry. Closed all the curtains, ducked and hid from the yard hippies that we paid to pillage our yard. Canceled my laser hair removal appointment. A little beard on a woman looks nice anyway. It says you aren't pretentious.

I did everything I could possibly think of that I could do at home to prepare for the trip in between cleaning up vomit and playing with Safa. A friend picked Eden up from school. Another took her to and from dance class.

In anticipation of getting this virus, I didn't eat much dinner to speak of last night. Ate a liquid breakfast, very little lunch. All too recently I experienced the ravages of a stomach virus that brought me to my knees, and I'm scared. I have taken so many garlic/olive leaf capsules to ward off illness I'm starting to smell like pesto.

But things have changed over the course of this day. Tonight is the "Lost" season premiere. I will watch it with Erik eating a burger and fries while nursing the second best chocolate milkshake in town.

If I have to vomit it all back up a few hours later, so be it. If I'm going down, I'm going down in a blaze of glory.

Monday, February 01, 2010


My eye twitch is back. It's been with me only sporadically during the adoption process and not since the summer. Heretofore reserved for the dissolution of my first marriage, finals, and newborn babies, the twitch is thankfully small and barely noticeable unless I point it out to people.

I've eaten half of the chocolate I bought to take to Ethiopia.

I went to Saver's and bought a giant used duffel bag for $3.99 to carry donations to, and souvenirs from Ethiopia

I spent $200 at Target this morning. Including, but not limited to: birthday crap I would have never bought for Ava's and Safa's birthdays had I been alone. (I have pre-emptive guilt for the birthday I will be capable of whipping up for Safa five days after we return from Ethiopia.) A helium tank. Homeopathic ear drops. A laptop case.

Safa and I have spent the day on the hard floor because the rugs and couch were steamed cleaned and everything is wet.

I've been writing this post in installments. It's 5:42. Safa threw up in the kitchen about 15 minutes ago. Ava and Eden are very hungry. In the past 5 minutes I have said,"Sweetie, I have to clean up this throw-up and then I will get your dinner." and "Baby, I have to wash my hands so I don't get vomit on your pasta!"

I'm bone tired. The dryer is buzzing. I think my legs are about to fall off. The couch and rugs are STILL wet from the steam cleaning this morning.

If I get this stomach virus, I'm going to lose my shit.