mamastuff

National Adoption Awareness Month

November is National Adoption Awareness month!  Let’s get involved somehow in the orphan crisis worldwide, please?!

So Why Adoption?

I hear many people say that adoption is a great cause - “I’ll definitely look into it if I can’t have my own kids.”  While that is the reason many couples across the globe choose to turn to the wonderful method of adoption to bring little bundles of joy into their lives, it shouldn’t be the only reason one considers adoption. 

The Need

The need for loving families to adopt is great. In 2008, it was reported by the Children’s Bureau of the Administration for Children and Families of the United States Department of Health and Human Services that in America alone, there were 123,000 orphans (NumberOf.net).  But why should we? It’s not our fault their parents’ died or are abusers or druggies or have been put in jail, right? What does it matter to us?

As humans, we desire to help others and to heal the hurting.  The issue of orphans and the lack of adoption taking place to help them is a large problem in today’s world - a world we all call home.  Many organizations are reaching out and identifying the needs orphans face around the world.  Social workers, humanitarians, activists - all are seeing the need, the hurt, and going to being a better life to a child in need. 

Consider It

While I strongly believe that as many loving families as can should adopt, I am not saying it is for everyone or should be required for every family.  What I do strongly believe is that every family should at least consider the possibility of becoming an adoptive family, helping orphans in some way, or find a way to assist an adoptive family.  Adoption is not something every family can or should do. However, every person should help orphans in some way or another.  

My hope is that, this month, this blog will encourage you to consider ways to get involved in supporting the cause of the orphans and adoption.

What will your role be?

Fall Weekends

So far, they’ve been pretty darn great.  This last weekend, as I was walking Emilio and Khadijah in the early morning I could sense that the rain was going to disipate and we’d actually have a beautiful Fall day, and we did!  We explored some walking trails near us, we played in and outside of the house, we spent time with friends, we boycotted naps- well Emilio did and that was not that much fun. 

On Sunday, we even skipped some of the early football game (and that is unheard of in our house!) to get outside and enjoy the day.  We walked through a little street fair our neighborhood was having and just took in the sights and sounds.  Emilio just chilled in his stroller taking it all in, I love how watchful he gets in juxtaposition to how busy he is and how quickly he’s moving on and learning new gross motor skills. 

When we got home from the walk, we spent our Sunday time on the floor in the living room, watching the Patriots, pulling up on everything in site and chasing after Khadijah.  As the day wound down, I pulled Emilio on to my lap, toy in hand, and we just sat together and let the day fade in to evening.  I held my boy and thought, “This is family, this is what it is all about, just quiet moments on a random weekend evening, this is what makes it all go round.”

And it is. 

Stuff

- My 7 year old has had a HELLA tude today and I’m not happy with it. I’m about ready to take away all her allowances for watching movies. She’s not happy unless she’s watching something and she’s been talking back/whining about EVERYTHING. #endofmymamarope

- My sister and nephew are in town from Seattle, WA for their once a year visit. It’s been really nice to see them! My sis is awesome with a camera so she’s going to take some maternity/family pictures of us this weekend.

- Started getting some (used) cloth diapers I purchased off of eBay today. Finding out which I prefer and I’m actually going to turn right around and sell the ones I decide I don’t want in the long run.

- Found out today that my 12 year old got her period earlier this year and no one said anything to me. Her father and I share equal placement so, depending on her cycle, it would have been easy for her to hide. But WHY HIDE IT?!  Ugh. This is my most frustrating thing of the day.

- I am getting more and more excited for this baby every day!! I was all “Oh.Crap. Another daughter" but now I’m all “Aweeeee!!! I can’t wait for my new baby girl to be here!“

Poop

This morning, during Nude Dude time (air time for his rash), Emilio was standing on my lap post morning snack and made a quick noise and face and then pooped.  On my lap.  Someone at work asked me, “Is that good luck?  Like when a bird does it?"  I hope so! 

Another benefit of breastfeeding and baby lead weaning, his poop isn’t super gross yet! 

It had to happen at some point, right? 

Conversation of the day in Hawaii—three times a charm

Scene:  Beach

60-something married couple (60SMC):  Is that your son?

Me:  Yes he is.

60SMC:  Would you mind if we asked you some questions about him?  It’s obvious that he wasn’t born in the US.  He is breathtaking and such a happy kid!!!

Me:  Thank you!  And you are correct–he was born in Ethiopia.  I agree–he is pretty amazing!  We became a family a little over a year and a half ago.

60SMC:  How wonderful!  We have some friends of friends who just adopted from Haiti right before the earthquake.  Since we don’t know them very well, I would love to use the correct verbiage when talking to them about their son.  We haven’t met anyone else who has ever adopted.  Is that weird to ask you?

Me:  Not at all.  I wish more people would ask.  Go ahead and ask away…

Twenty minute conversation that turned into an appropriate adoption terminology.

60SMC:  Your son is so lucky to have you for a mom.  We can’t tell you how much this means to us.  We know how precious family is and to be able to become a family—no matter how it happens, is a miracle.

Me:  Thank you!  But I have to tell you.  I am the one who is blessed.  He has changed my whole life for the better.

60SMC:  Well, it shows on both of your faces.

*We parted ways!  This conversation left me smiling!

High Five for Friday—week of 09.05.11

*It is my goal that even when I kvetch, I still have an attitude of gratitude, so each Friday, I want to share at least 5 fantastical things that have happened to me!

1.  Day off to hang with my kid!

2.  Mom is out of hospital!!!

3.  Rat is dead!!!!!

4.  Coach Gray came to see me mid-week!!!

5.  1 day until Hawaii!

‎By adopting a child...

‎"By adopting a child and helping them reach their potential, they help us reach ours. An adopted child is not an unwanted child; to the contrary. He is a child who was searched for, prayed for, cried for, begged for; received by arms that ached, making empty hearts full. Love is meant to be shared.“ ~Author unknown

Apology

Dear Friends,

I recently read one of the blogs that I follow and she was talking about how she and her husband were going to talk at a conference about transitioning when you come home with your older child.  It reminded me that, for about the last10 months I have wanted to apologize to you.  I have wanted to tell you that I know that I haven’t returned emails, phone calls, or rescheduled lunch or dinner dates.  I know that I haven’t returned your texts or voice mails for weeks at a time.  I know that I forgot your birthday and anniversary.  I know that I have forgotten your kid’s birthday and special something that we were invited to.  I know that you are willing to watch K for me.  I know that you have “tried” to be there for me!  Believe me, I know.

While most of us think that K was so tiny when I came home with him, let’s review—he was two y’all!  Many doctors say that by 2 years old, kids know who cares for them and who doesn’t.  By two years old, kids know who their parents are.  By two years old, they can rely on (hopefully) who will feed them, clothe them, play with them, love them, hold them, and kiss them.  My son didn’t have that.  So…by two years old, he was weary of my kisses.  By two years old, he didn’t trust that I would feed him and NEVER asked to be fed.  By two years old, he would scream bloody murder when I changed his diaper for fear that I wouldn’t give him those clothes back.  By two years old, he wandered around the house frantically looking for me if he couldn’t see me; afraid I had left him.  By two years old, he would cling to me one minute and push me away another; and I can’t take it personally.  I don’t have the entire back story as to what my son lived through, so I don’t know the scars or wounds that I am dealing with.  I just don’t have all the answers.  And neither does he. We are figuring it out together!

I don’t know why K clings to me when we go to culture class.  I don’t know why K gets scared when there is a room full of brown kids who look like him.  I don’t know why K is (sometimes) afraid of Ethiopian adults and won’t go near them.  It’s not like he isn’t around people of color—our life is full of them.  He knows where he comes from and can point to it on our globe, but again, I don’t know what memories he has of his former life!  And I will just continue to love him through it!

Yes, we have now been a family for almost two years— ½ of his life has been spent with me and the other ½ wasn’t.  You might be thinking, “When will K get over it!?”  He might never get over his feelings of abandonment.  He may never get over “it”.  He may never get over who he was for the first two years of his life.  But I am going to do my best to love him until he does.

And let’s just go there—I am a new mom.  I haven’t tackled this gig before.  I was learning to be a mom to a kid who could walk and talk (but not speak in English).  I was learning to be a mom at the toddler phase—and that’s a tough friggin’ gig.  I walked right into tantrums.  I walked right into sassiness.  And let’s add attachment issues into that?  That’s a Bermuda triangle right there y’all!!!

I’d like to also add, and yes, I chose this path, but I am doing it alone.  I know that you complain about how your husband doesn’t help you or that your ex- is a no good for nothing Dad, but…I am doing this STRAIT UP SOLO!!!!  I don’t have an ex who can, at least, take him on the weekends so that I can sleep.  I don’t have a husband who, even if he isn’t “helping” me, could watch him so that I could go grocery shopping or sleep.  I don’t have anyone who, when K has been crying for a hour and there isn’t really anything wrong, I can just hand him off to so that I can take a 5 minute break.  I don’t have a scum-bag ex who I can call and say, “I know you are a jerk, but your son needs to hang out with you for 2 hours, so come get him!” 

So yeah, I have had to, at times, isolate myself just to make it through the weekends and LONG days.  I had to adapt my life to him for a time.  I spoke as much Amharic as I could to him in those first few months, just to let him know he could trust me and that my words were filled with love!  I had to get him on a schedule, but I also didn’t want to traumatize him even more by forcing him to eat new foods at every meal or only speak English.  C’mon people, I went to Ethiopia and within 7 days took him away from the language, love from nannies who had cared for him for a year, familiar people, comfort food, reassuring smells and the only life he had ever known.  He was probably pretty traumatized just from that alone!

And no, when you ask me how K is, I am not lying.  He is perfect—for me.  I am not lying when I say how blessed we are to have found each other—we are.  I am not lying when I tell you how much I love him and that he’s adjusting so well—he is.  I would adopt him again, all over again—no doubt about it.  But it’s been a hard and frequently lonely road. 

Some people walk this earth and are awesome at being a parent—it’s just “in” them. I wouldn’t say that I am one of those people.  So… since you were a parent before me, I really coulda used your insight, love, kind words, help, understanding and friendship instead of, well… instead of judgment for adopting as a single woman.  Instead of getting a lecture about how I NEVER have time for you anymore when I am doing the best that I can.  Instead of sarcasm when I really need a hug.  Instead of… well…it doesn’t matter.

I know this may not sound like the best apology, and it probably isn’t.  Just know that I am working 2 jobs, raising a 3.5 year old amazing boy and trying to stay up on the laundry and dishes.  The last thing I need from you is a nasty email or voice mail letting me know that I let you down!  The last thing I need is to think that you will be in my corner and you aren’t!  Thanks for that!!!

So, like I said in the beginning of this letter, I apologize.  I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.  And I promise to forgive you!

Things I Sucked at less in 2011

Yeah, I stole the title and the overall thoughts about this post from a blog that I follow—I admit it.  But hey, didn’t someone say that imitation is the best form of flattery?  Well, here we go!

I am my harshest critic—pretty much about everything.  At work, I can be hard on people (just ask them), but I am even harder on myself (just ask me).  I expect a lot out of the people in my life, but I expect SOOO much more out of myself.  So to think of things that I didn’t suck at (as much) this year was a stretch for me.

*These are in particular hierarchy!

Endorsing food variety with K.  Since he came home—it’s been tough to get him to try new things.  Thank you OTFCC (his school) for your nutritious and wonderful meals because they have exposed him to so many new types of food.  Not only that peer pressure kicked in that my kid now loves BROCOLI!!!  I have jumped on board and supported this.  When he asks for something by name, we put it on the grocery list and get it.  When we are at the store, I ask him about trying one new thing each trip!

Stuck to (sorta) my work schedule.  For those of you who know me, I could work a 16 hour day and still think that I hadn’t done all my work.  My full time/day gig has been in flux for the past 18 months and I told myself that I would leave on time so that I would have quality time with K.  I was really good (not perfect) about it.

Made more time for friends!  It’s so vital that I maintain friendships with my own people (adults that is).  I need to make them a priority, and I really strived to do that this year.  Again, perfection didn’t happen, but I have quality people in my life!

Made more time for me.  I made sure to allow “me” time in the mix.  It wasn’t all the time nor was it weekly, but I did something for me at least once a month!

Kept K’s bedtime consistent.  When he goes to bed on time, I get more “me” time (AKA—time to grade papers for my OTHER job), but it’s nice to know that he is getting the rest he needs and I am getting some quiet time.

I lost weight this year.  Not sure how that happened, but from last January to this one, I am down almost 20 pounds.  HEY HEY HEY!!!

I screamed less this year (I think). I feel like K and I really got into a discipline groove this year.  He is going on 4, so there is A LOT of discipline going on in the Williams household, but I understand him a little bit better and he got to know me a little better too.

I allowed K to spend the night somewhere else a few times last year.  That was big for me, but it was SOOOO good for both of us!

I took a Grant Writing workshop (and my job paid for it).  It’s something that I have always “thought” I wanted to do and I finally got the chance to do it.  It was amazing and I learned a lot about myself and the grant writing process!  *Starting to write my first two grants this month!!!

I deleted some people from my life.  It’s sad, but sometimes necessary!  It freed me from a lot of stuff!

I stayed consistent with my blog this year.  Writing has always been therapeutic for me and it was great to vent, share, inform, and just explain things on my blog even if I am only speaking to myself.

K became a US citizen with a US birth certificate.  The paperwork was a NIGHTMARE and sadly, because of it, I will NEVER adopt internationally again, but as with everything regarding K, it was well worth it!  Welcome home my son!!!

K and I went on our first vacation since we’ve been a family.  We have done weekend things, but this was a 2 weeks in Hawaii kind of thing!  It was great to see him see the ocean for the first time ever, snorkel, swim in the ocean, etc.  We had a blast!

So… there you have it.  I know that there is a ton of other things—and that’s ok!  I don’t need to rant and rave about EVERYTHING.  As we always say, “our life is awesome!” and really, it is!

Who woulda thought that that woulda happened at IHOP!?

I am blessed to work at a place that gives me the week between Christmas and New Years off, and that it’s paid!  Not only that, my dad’s birthday falls during this week, so it’s been our tradition for me to take him to lunch (just the two of us) on his birthday!  Since I have become a mama, obviously, K has joined us and my dad loves it even more now, I think.

So, as per our usual, we went to a late breakfast/early lunch and it was his choice of where to go. My dad, being the decadent guy that he is, chose IHOP!  When I asked him why, he simply said, “I think K will like it because you can see the train tracks from the window, and I like the food, why?”  I wasn’t’ berating his choice, I just didn’t think that this would be his choice since I was footing the bill!!!


But as I have learned, everything happens for a reason.  K does love the view from IHOP.  He can see all the cars on the 6 lane road and the railroad crossing—it’s like a little bit of heaven for him!  Yet, this time was different. As we were walking out, this woman approached me and asked me where my son was born!  I could tell by looking at her that she was from the Motherland, but wasn’t sure if she was Ethiopian, Eritrean or Somalian (not saying they all look alike, so don’t send me hate mail, I just didn’t want to assume anything!!!).  After I told her he was born in Ethiopia, she said, “I am from Ethiopia too!  Can I ask his name?” 

Fast forward 15 minutes.  It was an amazing conversation in the parking lot of IHOP.  Come to find out, her son shares K’s birth name and she lives locally.  She was stoked to discover that there was a little Ethiopian community right here in Orange County.  I shared with her about all of our friends and that we were celebrating Timket in January and that we had just recently eaten at Tana Restaurant in Anaheim and that many of us have gone to culture class in LA. 

We exchanged numbers and she hugged both K and me.  As with most of my encounters with Ethiopians, it was beautiful!  But, it was not only a wonderful encounter; it was fantastic for my dad to see it as well.  Since my dad didn’t travel with me to pick up K in Ethiopia, he hasn’t seen much native, adult Ethiopian reaction to my adoption.  He has asked me, on several occasions, how Ethiopians feel about Westerners adopting “their” kids, so I know it’s a concern of his.  He is very aware of my feelings about making sure that not only K, but others KNOW that he is ETHIOPIAN-American! He was so happy to have had the chance to talk with her and hear her thoughts.

As we pulled out of the parking lot at IHOP, we were all grins and basically shared the same sentence over and over—wow!  Who woulda thought that that woulda happened at IHOP!?

Why Didn’t She Want Me?

Scenario: Getting in the car to head to school today.  

K: (*turning to me, out of the blue with tears in his eyes)

Mama, why didn’t my birth Mama want me?

Me:  *stunned and immediately crying….

K:  I mean…

Me:  It’s ok to ask about her, my love.  You know you can always talk to me about anything and ask me anything about her.  But I need you to know that she did want you. 

K:  Why didn’t she want to keep me?

Me:  Oh my love!  She wanted you more than anything.  I didn’t get to meet her yet, but I can tell you this, she loves you just as much as I do.  There are lots of reasons that birth mommies make the tough choice to….

K:  (cutting me off) Do you think she misses me?

Me:  I KNOW she misses you.  How could she not?  I miss you when you’re at school during the day, so I know that she misses you each and every day!  You know what, it’s dinner time in Ethiopia right now, I bet she’s thinking about you right now.

K:  Do you think we could meet her someday?

Me:  Would you like to? 

K:  Yeah.  I think so.  I would tell her that I love her. 

Me:  So would I. 

K:  Do you think that we could go to Ethiopia next weekend to try to find her and tell her?

Me:  Well, I don’t think we can go next weekend, but why don’t we make a deal—when you’re 10, we can take a trip to Ethiopia and try to find her so that we can both tell her how much we love her.

K:  I think that’s a good idea.   And I would tell her Betam ewodishalehu. 

Me:  I bet she’d love that!!!!  I know I love when you tell me you love me in Amharic.  You know, if you ever have questions about her or are scared or confused, you can always talk to me about it.  I love her and I know you do too.  It’s great to have so many people who love you. Right?

K:  Exactly.  I love you Mama!!! (reaching out to hug me)

*We were both crying but it’s the first real conversation we have had about her ever.  I love this kid.  And I love his birth mom!