Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wanna know what you missed?

So, I'm not sure if anyone noticed, but I didn't blog for several months. The reasons are all tangled up in the red tape of international adoption, one family's horrifying experience with confusion about that red tape and an entry on their blog, and my confessed inability to discern what kinds of things are "appropriate to discuss" (ask anyone about this special character trait of's one of my most identifiable and longstanding eccentricities!). Therefore, I abstained (from WRITING blogs, but not from reading them....I was a crazy ravenous bloghound for four months). Here's what you missed:

One day, I went into Kroger to buy deodorant. I was met with one of the great uncomfortable shopping interruptions == a store worker was shelving exactly the item I intended to purchase, placing her awkwardly betwixt my stuttering reach and the chalise of Secret that I sought. After several lifetimes (read: probably a second or two) of peering alternately over her shoulder and under her armpit (gross irony, right?), I finally abandoned any hope of "Selecting" my deodorant, and made a wicked mad (you know, wicked, as in NKOTB "wicked awesome" jargon....not mean or vicious. If you know what NKOTB stands ROCK!!!) grasp for anything in that particular shade of powder blue and dashed away (I think I really did dash, too. When I make up my mind to remove myself from an awkward situation....I usually do it with a kind of twitchy fervor). The next morning, as I prepared to slather the concoction that I bought with my dignity onto my underarms (graphic, no?), I glanced at the label to see what scent I had snatched (I'm not even sure what punctuation to include at this moment to illustrate the eyebrow-raising "huh" moment inserted about a colon?): Vanilla Chai Latte. I think that's really what it was called. Like, the drink. Anyway, after a likely audible "huh" of surprise, I put on my deodorant, and headed out for the day. I can't tell you how upsetting it is to smell tea whenever you grow nervous or anxious and then realize that that smell is emanating from your underarms!!! While all the other women at the crowded, sweaty park smell vaguely of Morning Mist or Fresh Spring Blossoms, I smell like Starb*cks! Not even Starb*cks, though, really....because it was more of a weak Earl Grey than a broad coffee smell. Just enough to make people look around for the absent cup. "Huh." Each day, the smell became more and more annoying to me, to the point that I began to wonder if body odor wasn't just a better option than Vanilla Chai Latte. It isn't. So it's tea for me until I've exhausted all two dollars and seventy eight cents of this deodorant and can move forward with a clean conscience and powder-fresh armpits.

And, one day (maybe even the same day. That would be weird! It all kind of runs together), as I was driving to pick up a friend, I approached potentially the most unwieldy intersection in our city. Three lanes rapidly move into two as they approach a four way stop. None of the lanes is marked for a merge, and the lines aren't clear as the merge occurs. I was half a length in front of the mini-van behind me when I merged (chose,'s hard to know who did the merging) into the "I'm going straight" lane. This move made the man driving the minivan really REALLY angry. I offered the obligatory glance-in-the-rearview-mirror-and-wave-remorsefully, but he CONTINUED to flail about screaming at me! For several miles! And when I turned onto another road, he honked a bunch of times to let me know that he was still displeased. Seriously. When someone cuts me off (assuming I DID Indeed cut him off, which I am not wholly willing to concede), I generally have an instant or two of indignation, and then I think "Oh, I've had that happen to me. No harm done. Whatever" and move on, and if they give the obligatory remorseful wave! Well, my affrontery melts instantly! I feel that we have already become friends, and I somehow sympathize with their merging difficulty --All ill will gone. But not this guy. I can only imagine that somehow he felt I had launched a two lane assault on his manhood or that I was resolving a personal grudge against his family by insisting on reaching that intersection first. I just kept thinking "Buddy," (this is a word that should only be used in conversation with very small children or when anomously addressing other drivers), "you are already driving a minivan! Let go that uber-masculine machismo!" But he did not! I had to suffer a whole lot of potentially rude gestures (I have no idea) and a series of sustained honks before his vengance could be appeased. It actually took me awhile to get over the mingled humiliation, frustration, and self-righteousness of our encounter. In fact, I'm not. I'm not completely over it. I'm weirder than him. He muttered for, what, maybe an hour, and I'm sitting here, untold weeks hence, blogging about him! I wonder if he has a blog!

I think I've filled in all the important stuff from my blogger sabbatical.
Have a good night.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What I learned from the 70s

In the meantime.....during all of the uncanny perfection of this family building, I have had so many moments when my two kids at home have gotten the worst of me. I've hung up the phone with our caseworker, dissappointed with news that didn't fit my timetable, and turned to snarl at the beautiful faces around my kitchen table (granted, those faces were wide-mouthed mid-bicker, but no body deserves the snarls they've been subjected to these last few weeks). SO, another BIG lesson being re-taught to me: If you Can't be with the Ones you Love.....Love the Ones you're with! I DO love ALL of my children....I just haven't been loving them all very well lately. So I'm finally going to curl up in this Zen learning curve and do exactly and only and all of what's right in front of me. Same lesson.....snappier tune:)

Wonderful Update -- Delayed Post -- Postponed Joy

Five days ago, an Ethiopian specialist confirmed that we have been assigned a TRAVEL DATE. We immediately booked seats on a flight to Ethiopia leaving August 27th and arriving in Addis Ababa on Thursday night, the 28th. On Friday, we will meet our children. In spite of the new mom muddle of anxiety and joy that I should have been wallowing in these past five days, I have been wandering around this desert, nostalgic for Egypt, bemoaning the banality of manna from Heaven!

During our conversation, the specialist described the "series of impossible things" that came together in making our family. "So few people are open to three siblings," she said, "and even if a couple requesting two siblings were to open their hearts to triplets, the revision of paperwork that would have to follow could take so much time. So when the triplets' file came up...and your names came up at the exact same time...and you had already completed all of the provisional paperwork for three siblings...well, I don't know what you'd call that. So many impossible things, things that just never happen, happened when we called with your referral."

You don't know what to call that?

It's a MIRACLE! I am living in the middle of a miracle.

Without clobbering this dead horse, let me just recap a handful of the truly IMPOSSIBLE things happening in Indiana during the months when God was building this family.

1. The choice. [Wow! I just searched through my archives, and I couldn't find ONE post about how we came to the decision to adopt...and then adopt internationally.....and then, specifically to adopt from Ethiopia! Let me check one more time. Okay.....I found it.....see the link for "the deliberation"....I elaborated both together.]
2. The deliberation.
3. The transportation. [I don't think I've ever actually shared this crazy turn of events. Last December, we were approaching the first of the "We could get the call any day now" months, and panic about the logistics of adding another child to our family (yep, child...this was before the sibling revolution and well before the triplet explosion....just imagine....!:) seeped into many of our conversations. Specifically, we were beginning to wonder how we were going to get our family home from the airport. The fairly compact back seat of our family car would likely not accommodate three car seats, and our already extended budget was set to be stretched to the finest fiber of its limits with adoption expenses alone. Then, early, out of the blue, Josh got a promotion at work. No raise, just one very....impossible....perk. He got his choice of a company car to be used and driven by his family -- so, we picked the minivan, and HE filled the seats:).]
4. The revolution.
5. The inundation.
6. The consumationn.

And yet somehow, when the travel date we were assigned seemed a week later than the one I had hoped for in my heart, I got some kind of spiritual surely MY timing...the timing that I had planned for and expected was infinitely more RIGHT than this late travel date. Here's a woman being carried in the palm of God's hand toward an unspeakably beautiful life trying to shout directions with her back turned toward the future! The Red Sea just split clean down the middle, I've had water from a rock and food from the sky, and all I can do is whine about the lack of menu variety on this road to the promised land!!!

Incidentally, I've been through this very same lesson a time or two before. Why can't I just LEARN!

No more. This sweet manna is more than enough!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Something to Share

I've borrowed this link from another blog. As a mother bouncing on a trampoline of inadequacy right now, I appreciated the renewed hope. I think I might need a REALLY big piece of cardboard if I went to their church, though!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Wonderful news!!! Friday we received BIRTH CERTIFICATES for all three of our babies in Ethiopia. Pragmatically, this news is good because it means that we are one GIANT step closer to bringing them home (we should be assigned a travel date during the early part of next week). Emotionally, this news is good because the birth certificates included recent pictures, which have encouraged all of us (although seeing the dynamic changes in their beautiful faces makes me ache for the weeks that we have spent apart during their time at the care center). Here are three of the five most beautiful children in the whole world: Girum, Tarikua, and Taye. (See photo at the top of the blog for a recent picture of Olivia and Josiah, the other two most beautiful children in the whole world!).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My New Maxim

Today, I saw someone I did not want to talk to -- I never feel fully myself when I run into her...I feel somehow smaller. I bucked my instinct and spoke to her, and she welcomed me -- really -- and I didn't feel so small. Just goes to show -- life works better for me when I think "what do I FEEL like doing right now?".....and then DO the opposite.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

All I have to say tonight...

I'm so sleepy, but lest my blog become too syrupy with all of the wonderful news and annoying personal insights, I thought I'd share with you my bad day. After a call to our caseworker this afternoon (following many hours of anxious calls abandoned mid-dial and "refresh" hits to our email accounts, just in case), I am less optimistic about being able to bring the kids home this month. Although a raft of Birth Certificates has been received and more are expected this week, ours may be another week, still, in coming. Because of the influx of Visa applicants looking to travel over the next several weeks, our caseworker estimated that our travel may wait until the early end.


I so wanted it to be sooner than that.

While I was struggling to pull myself out of the funk that this news plunged me into (which, by the way, never works....I can almost never pull MYSELF out of a funk because, secretly, I believe I somehow deserve to be there), my Dad told me about his upcoming sermon on praise -- which briefly summarized will underscore the point that God is good even when things around us seem to be falling apart, and therefore, He deserves to be praised no matter what. Some people do this so well -- almost instinctively, even. Sadly, I was not among them today!

Do you know, I say this very thing to my son nearly every day, recently!? (If I could learn half of the lessons I try to teach my children, my life would be almost completely free of crud and interference!). Whenever I ask him to pray (before bed or a meal or whatever), he always says, "Thank you, God, for everything. Amen." Obviously, if you are in the room you are clearly aware that his motivation is more expediency than simple reverence. Josiah likes to cut to the chase -- get to the meal -- move on to the bedtime story, etc. The other night, he asked me (and now asks me sporadically throughout the day) if I've noticed that he always prays the same prayer. I told him that I had noticed (I wonder, sometimes, what they must think of us...) and that I thought that if he could learn to pray that prayer with his whole heart and soul and self every day of his life he would have lived more fully and figured out more about love and life than most people ever begin to learn.

I am tired. I am headed to bed. With everything inside me, I hope that I can lay down this day and pray, "Thank you, God, for everything. Amen."

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Open the Eyes of My Heart

For the last several days, a weird optics, a backward way of seeing, has come up again and again in my conversations. SO, I figured I should write about it. (when life hands you themes -- make theme-ade). When we first began thinking about adoption two and a half years ago, I ran across an anti-trans-racial adoption website that asserted the position that -- loosely quoted -- "the adoption of black children by white families is a reinscription of slavery -- an opportunity for white people to own black people with impunity." What a kick in the chest! Initially, my heart-yearning to mother to gush that mothering toward the heart of someone who needed a mother was renamed violence! My love was renamed hate! [If there is a Devil, I'm nearly convinced that his whole function is to rename bad good and good bad....and that's all]. I wrestled with the assault of his position for a week or two (and with other arguments in his support). Finally, I reached two conclusions that unraveled the meshy threads that had me all tangled.

First: parents do not own children. No one who has ever worn a path between bedrooms anxious to watch her baby breathe or sat in a steamy bathroom trying to quiet the cough that threatens to arrest that sweet breath would misname parenting as ownership. No one who has laughed for days at mismatched knock knock jokes or cherished the genius of amorphous fingerpaintings would ever invert the roles of sacred responsibility and unspeakable cruelty. No one who has agonized over the mistreatment of his child by a teacher or plunged into the vertigo of panic in the silence that follows the call of a momentarily missing child's name at the park or exploded with pride at the stumbly dance moves of the most graceful grey mouse in the Nutcracker could think that we own our children. If anything, they own us! In fact, love is, I think, the choice to let onesself be owned -- to submit our OWN needs and desires to those BELONGING to an-other.

Second: He is wrong! At the most basic level, the distinction that the website purveyor draws between one person and another remains forever erroneous! Although we have botched the job horribly, people were created to carry out the harmonious worship of love as a multifarious, unified family. The notion that certain qualities could erode such a basic unity, that the beauty of harmony could COMPLICATE the thoroughgoing melody of love is backward. [Once again, if there's a Devil, I think he gets the credit for such a destructively clever perversion as renaming harmony noise and noise harmony].

Most recently, the (very important) issues of ownership and difference surfaced on an adoption forum, and a heated discusion about possession and parenting erupted between a number of people I both like and respect. Ultimately, intentions were clarified and wrinkles, to some degree, were smoothed, but one woman's assertion that the child she was adopting would be her "OWN" led to a pretty raucous debate. [I rather like wrinkles]. I mentioned, once, how much the word "our" has stretched during the course of this adoption process. Let me say now that, maybe, we should think of OURselves (all mothers and fathers included) as belonging, by choice, to a common child -- rather than wondering to whom our child belongs. [Think of the two mothers at Solomon's feet.]

Perhaps, the pronouns have all been inverted as well!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The Great Fable?

What if life is an allegory about Heaven? What if all of our loves and complications stand for something? Would that lend them weight? Would it lift all weight so that the whole story pointed toward one great love in a single, metaphorical gesture? And who am I in this story? The fox or the crow? Fox for some.....crow for some, maybe. Sometimes, I think I trick myself into singing just so that I can scramble after the cheese that had been in my beak all the time.

The Architecture of One Family

Our town is famous for its architecture. Apparently, we sport works by several well-known (not Mich#el Jord$n well-known.....but well known if you know about that sort of thing...which I do not) superstars in the architectural cosmos. All of this style and elegance is pretty much lost on me (pretty much -- I enjoy a big witch-hat church as much as the next guy, and -- although I have no desire to investigate the aesthetic resonances that elicit such a response -- I am vaguely pleased by the curvy lines and asymetry of most of the buildings around here), I can be impressed by the effort, if the intentions are explained to me.
More often, though, I leave a building by winding my way out of its artistically complicated corridors after some completely pragmatic errand or other a little annoyed at the cumbersome exit route. And when I reach my car (which sometimes takes me awhile), I glance back at the building and finally "get" it. The weird twists and turns built into my unwieldy walk were part of a larger design that looks... at least planned if not exactly awe-inspiring. I usually say "oh" or "hmmmm" (I'm nothing if not audible) in that dull-girl-just-getting-the-picture sort of way, and then get into my car and drive away nodding (the nod is gratuitous -- it's just what I do).

Last week, I looked back through my early adoption blog entries. (I am -- in many WONDERFUL ways, on the "walking toward my car" leg of this journey, and I guess I wanted to scan the building one more time). Almost nine months, to the day, before OUR (and until this adoption, I never had an imagination for the enormity of the word "our") babies were born, I wrote this letter to their distant but suddenly and absolutely un-anonymous mother. Shortly thereafter, I posted this message about our decision to open ourselves to TWO babies with its prophetic little tag about the paperwork we filed that certified us for a sibling group of three.
Joshua was out of the country when THE referral call came. For days before he left, I had dreams of three babies. Finally, just before taking him to the airport, I said, "If she says three, I'm saying 'yes!'" He reminded me of the height of the emotional and spiritual ledge he crept onto with our decision to stretch our parameters from one to two and asked me to keep that decision in mind. I did. And then I answered with my heart. And so did he!
After two hours of falling in love with Girum, Tarikua, and Taye, I FINALLY made contact with Josh. He had received the same electronic file that I had (along with a half-a-dozen emails from me urging him to READ THAT MESSAGE) and found a way to call me from Germany. After hedging around the question pressing against every cell in my body for a sentence or two ("Hi! It's YOU! So what" "I" etc.), I asked: "Do you think we should accept this referral?" To which he responded: "If this is what God has for us, then...this is what He has for us....and I am so honored that He would choose me for this responsibility." And then, "Aren't they just so beautiful, Amy?"
And they are.
So we accepted the referral...
And then we made it through court! On June 25th, my caseworker said, "I am calling to let you know that, as of yesterday, you are officially the mother of FIVE children! Congratulations!"
And now,
after a long walk through such complicated corridors,
we are waiting to travel to bring our children home.
What a magnificent building!
What a Brilliant Architect.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

So, so beautiful!

I had a chance to peruse my own last blog entry (could anything on the planet be more self-indulgent than perusing MY OWN blog entry!?), which I did....and then did again....because my children are so beautiful! From the top of the blog, where I get to see the sweet faces of Olivia and Josiah (minus the more recent gap-toothed smile and supercool mohawk), down through the only pictures that I have (and hold, and carry, and memorize) of my three, tiny new babies -- isn't my life so, SO beautiful?!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


I'm going to let these pictures speak for themselves (if I can figure out how to post them:):




I hope you kept scrolling because the blessings roll on and on. On Tuesday, May 27th, I received a call from our agency caseworker. I had heard that referrals were on the verge of surging forward during the weeks surrounding Memorial Day, so I was prepared (although, once again, life proves that no one is prepared for important things. Unimportant things are easy to prepare for, but kids, marriage, death, impossible hope -- these things catch us when we aren't looking. They always interupt us. I swing along, now, from interruption to interruption, holding my breath, ready to be blindsided) for the possibility of some kind of news (READ: I was a jittery, distracted mess). I was on vacation with family in California, and Josh had just flown out on Monday night for a work trip in Germany. I was reading to my kids (the ones I had met). My brother walked in, and I knew from his greeting to our caseworker that this was OUR CALL! When I answered, I asked (SOOO casually) how she was doing, and she said, "I have a possible referral for you." I (shaking) said, "Okay." After we finally communicated that Josh was not going to be able to be a part of the phone call, she said, "This referral is a little different from what you requested" [2 siblings, up to 30 months old]. "Okay," I said...again...I was out of words....down to just two letters...O and K! "Would you be willing to consider" drum roll please "triplets?"

I said, "YES!"

There's more (a lifetime more, in fact), but I'll have to write later.

Thank you for your prayers.