Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Recent changes

We're rapidly moving to the point of having a family with three children (I'm 28 1/2 weeks pregnant now) and preparing for that has been surprisingly low-key.  Most of that is because we already have children and there's very little that we need.  Oh sure, there are a few things that we'd either borrowed the first time around or have given away since Patrick was a baby but we have a crib, we have a carseat, and we have clothes.  Since I'll be nursing the baby, that's practically all we'll need.  The changes to our household until the baby actually arrives are pretty minimal.  The playroom/guest room is being converted back to a nursery, but that's simply a matter of moving furniture and toys.  I'm still reasonably comfortable and so our normal activities have stayed the same. 

One bigger change that I have noticed is the sharp drop-off in the times that we've been asked if we adopted because we couldn't have more of 'our own'.  (I mentioned at one point that all of my children are mine, regardless of what blood we contain, so I won't address that again right now.)  Apparently the fact that I could get pregnant again and am now visibly so means that we clearly didn't adopt for reasons of infertility.  And ultimately, that's true.  We didn't adopt because I am infertile.  We adopted because it was how we chose to build our family.  We had the option of doing more fertility treatments and trying to get pregnant again then, we had the option of choosing to raise Patrick as an only child--we had many other options.  We had already planned to adopt before Patrick was born.  We chose to adopt at that time because it was the right choice for us.  Living in our family now, I can't imagine having made any other choice.

What makes me uncomfortable is not that view because really, it's fine that people don't look at our family and see "adoption" = "infertility".  I wish more people realized that no one adopts because it's their only choice--everyone has other options.  It makes it easier on me and it certainly will make it easier on Melkamu not to be hearing that all the time and wondering if that's the only reason.  No, what makes me uncomfortable is that people seem to have transitioned to the view that for our family, "adoption" = "selfless rich people who saved a poor little starving orphan".


I've written about the costs of adoption in the past.  That post has nothing to do with money, and money really isn't the biggest part of adoption--we are certainly not rich.  We are not selfless.  We wanted another child.  We chose to adopt a child from another country, which means that we took him away from his home country.  We also chose to adopt a child of another race, which means that he's being raised in a completely different racial environment than that of his firstfamily.  We made those choices deliberately and while we feel like we can do a good job being his parents, we know we're not perfect.  There are a lot of burdens to adoption that Melkamu will bear.  Selfless?  Hardly.

Don't even get me started on "saved".

It's true that his firstfamily was poor...but not all firstfamilies are poor.  It's true that he was malnourished and might have starved...but not all firstfamilies lack food.  And while he fits the definition of an orphan for international adoption, he does have a living firstmom.  Many children who are adopted have living firstfamilies. 

When you are a family formed through adoption, you learn a lot more about the world than you might have otherwise.  I've learned a lot about Ethiopia that I might not have otherwise been moved to learn, and that would have been a terrible shame because it is a beautiful and fascinating country with an incredibly interesting history.  I've learned a lot about international adoption, about the ethics and issues involved in the process--much more so than I knew before we'd started the process or even when we were fully involved in it.  I continue to learn more about it now.  I've learned a huge amount about adoption in general, about the history of adoption and parenting children by adoption and all the issues (both good and bad) that are involved in adoption.

The changes that our family are making right now have helped me realize that there's even more to learn, and I'm so glad that we chose to adopt so that I had a reason to start doing so.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow no!

Yes, it's snowing in Atlanta.  I don't think there's any actual accumulation predicted but it is sticking and we've got big, white flakes coming down.  It's very pretty and very, very cold outside.  The kids, of course, can't wait to build a snowman.  I told them they could probably build a snow ant.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Carrying those scars inside

Those of you who've met Melkamu know that he is one of the most secure, confident little boys ever.  He and Jason drove separately from Patrick and I to the appointment with my midwife the other day and they were a few minutes later than us.  Kamu walked in like he owned the place, immediately starting to explain what he and Daddy had been doing.  His attitude was "I know I've been missed--let me tell you all about it!"  He's really a remarkable kid to have gone through so much change in his life and to have the confidence that he has today.

But sometimes, we're reminded of how badly he's been hurt in the past and right now is one of those times.  I had something to do at work that kept me there much later than I'd anticipated, so I didn't get to the daycare to pick up the kids until very shortly before it closed--normally I would have been there by 5 and didn't get there until almost 6:30.  Luckily they combine all the kids when it's that late and so Patrick was there with him.  When I walked in, Kamu had been cuddling with his teacher and he just walked over to me with the saddest pout on his face.  He was so, so sad that I was so late to get him.  He also told me that he'd been sad and Patrick had kissed him, which had helped him feel better.  Jason and I had talked while I was driving over and decided to take the kids to Chick-Fil-A for dinner, and that cheered him up for the rest of the evening. 

He fell asleep in our bed with both Jason and Patrick last night because he didn't want to be alone (even though he and Patrick share a room).  Then he had a nightmare last night, which hasn't happened in a long time, and it was about being lonely.  Then he didn't want to be dropped off this morning.  He hasn't clung so tightly in ages.  Normally when I drop him off, he'll give me as quick a hug and kiss as possible so that he can be off playing with his friends.  Today he didn't want to let go of me for even a second.  The teacher eventually had to peel him off me so I could get to work, and I can't even tell you how miserable I felt for having to leave him on the verge of tears when all he wanted was to stay with me.

When Patrick was that age, he used to get mad at me for picking him up too early because he wanted to stay and play with his friends.  Kamu loves to play with his friends but he's never once asked to stay longer.  On days when I get there later (around 4:30 on my late days this semester), he always asks "Why you wait so long to get me?"  I've always made a point of telling him around what time I'd come get him--not that he understands time on a clock, but I relate it to what they're doing and tell him it will be after naptime, after snacktime, after Patrick gets there, etc.  Then he knows when to expect me.  I'd told him yesterday that I would be a little later but not too late.  When I was really late, he recognized it...and it seems to have brought back out the worry about being left by the people he trusts.

He's so little still and has been through more trauma than any child should have to experience.  It's easy to see his sweet nature and confident attitude and forget that he holds those scars within himself, but his vulnerability shows when something like this happens.  It doesn't take much to bring it out--just a single day of getting there late to pick him up can bring it all back.  His trust that we will be there for him generally seems so strong but those scars make me really just how fragile it can be at times.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Patrick turns 7!

It is really hard to believe, but my oldest child is SEVEN!  Seven years ago, Patrick was born at Crawford-Long Hospital in Atlanta, weighing in at 6 lb 11 oz.  A tiny little peanut, perfectly healthy, and very much treasured.

Now look at him.  He's gotten so big!  He's missing some teeth--but the adult ones are growing in and the window in his mouth is getting smaller.  His hair is just below his shoulders.  I'm pretty sure he's in another growth spurt (when isn't he in a growth spurt?) because he's been eating like a bear fresh out of

hibernation.  He usually eats breakfast at home, like this morning's banana bread, then eats breakfast again when he gets to school.  The other day he ate a whole quart of egg drop soup.  Tonight he requested chicken with yellow rice for his birthday dinner and ate three helpings.  His face has filled out a little and that's usually a sign that he's about to shoot up in height.

He's a voracious reader now.  I've taken to sitting in the hall outside the boys' room when they're falling asleep because otherwise, I'll come up at 9:30 and find Patrick still reading.  From the kid who didn't want to read because he didn't think he was any good at it to the kid who won't stop reading.  I'll admit, it makes me smile.  His teacher says he's reading on a second-grade level already, and he's getting better with practice.  Patrick loves to read pretty much anything, including Calvin and Hobbes books!  He's reading chapter books on his own and we're going to be starting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone together now that he's 7. 

Patrick still loves to draw and do other art projects.  We're pretty much limited to drawing at home (because I only let them get out the acrylic paints during the summer when they can go outside), but he draws a ton and is really getting good!  The other day he showed us the origami that they'd been doing at school, and he's brought home clay-work and painting and all sorts of things.

He loves soccer and mentioned wanting to take ice hockey lessons the other day.  I'm not sure where he got that from since it's a sport that neither Jason nor I watches, but that's what he decided.  We're pretty supportive of his ideas but we did veto that one since I'm not sure he's even ever seen an ice hockey game.  Perhaps the first step would be to actually take him to a Thrashers game sometime.

We're so proud of Patrick and the way he's developing into his own person.  We are so lucky to get to be his family, and can't wait to see what the next year will bring for him!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 2nd

December 2nd is a special day in our family's history, though it's not one we often think about.

Seven years ago today, at about 11:30 p.m., my water broke at 37w4d of pregnancy.  We were a bit surprised since everyone kept telling me "First babies are always late!".  I'd even started to believe them despite my long-held belief that my baby was going to come early.  Patrick was born 16 hours later, and made us parents for the very first time.

Three years ago today, I sent an e-mail to our case person at our adoption agency.  We'd just had to turn down our first referral for medical reasons a week or so earlier.  She had said that when we were ready, there was another little boy she'd like to tell us about.  We waited through the weekend to decide if our hearts were ready to take that chance again.  On December 2nd, I e-mailed her and said that we'd like to hear about him.  She called the next day to tell us about a little boy, just 2 weeks past his first birthday, named Melkamu Delelegn.

It's not a day we celebrate.  It's not a day we really even mention in the course of things.  But it holds a special place for our family.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaBl...oh wait, it's over. In that case...

Happy Hanukkah!

Enjoy some latkes

And gelt, candles, and smiles from us.