Thursday, October 28, 2010


I've not ever been a fan of lucky.  The word, that is.  I've not found many (any) situations to be chance, accidental, or coincidental.  Mostly, it grinds on me because it takes all credit away from the ONE, who really governs life and breath, action and the end.  You can imagine then, how it unnerves me to hear how lucky Mezekir is to call us mom and dad.  I don't like this for a gamut of reasons, but let's just start by my saying, really, there is NO luck involved here.  Yes, I do understand the manner in which it is intended.  Really, though, nothing in his life, our situation, his placement, or our parenting him revolves around luck.  Nothing.

Holding him yesterday, wondering about his first months, my mind wondered back to his beginnings.  I thought too much of Awtash, his first mom.  I grieved just remembering her story.  His story.  Then, I thought of the other children I know, who are with their second families.  Some saw their parents die of starvation, some of water borne parasites/illness, a few whose father murdered their mother, some the product of rape, some whose mother's died in childbirth and fathers followed soon after and families couldn't afford to feed them, some whose parents contracted HIV and died of AIDS, a few whose parents were children themselves, some, who poverty stripped of all dignity and opportunity until what was left was not even recognizable as a person, others who were simply born "imperfect" in a system that only apprises perfection.  I could go on, but you get the point.  In every circumstance, there is grief, hurt, human failure, affects of sin, unfairness, but then the shining glimmer of God's redemption and sovereignty.  This is not luck.  How obtuse to refer to the situations that jerk children out of the precious grip of their families and culture and into another home as lucky.

I suppose this goes back to our sense that the best place for any child is here, in America, being westernized, surrounded by materialism and luxury.  The idea that somehow I'm a savior to my son and his story frustrates.  I'm not amazing.  I am just human, a failure often, impatient and myopic, sometimes even bossy and unkind or downright nasty.  I promise I didn't save Mez.  That is the work of One far greater.  It is not a result of my parenting him.  He doesn't owe me an extra ounce of gratitude or kindness.  Nor is America the answer to the problems in Ethiopia.   Don't get me wrong, adoption is vital to the lives of orphans.  Orphans are suffering.  Left as orphans, they are more likely to incur more pain, suffering, and hopelessness.  But we are not their saviors.

"Luck" for my son, would have looked like being born into a country that could support its people, to a mother and father, who could provide for his needs, a family that celebrated his first breath, hope of education and a future, and an enmeshment into a people and country that share his same history.  Sovereignty and redemption, on the other hand, placed him into my arms, life, and heart.  Luck, in my opinion, is best left to blackjack, poker, and lottery tickets.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I Like It

I remember when I delivered my first three children, the moment the nurse placed each one in my arms, the moment I put him to breast, the moment he nursed for the first time, the way my touch and my smell comforted him, the perfect fit of co-sleeping, and the way from the moment of arrival each would nuzzle into me as though it was the safest haven.  There was a meshing.  A melting in of sorts.  A sense of belonging.  As moms, those are the moments that convince us to forge into the next pregnancy and preserver through delivery.

In all the beauty of parenting through adoption, one of the things that did not initially emerge was that amalgamation.  Not that there wasn't a hope.  Not that there was a bond.  But the innate, inherent enmeshing was not inceptive.  I wasn't even sure it would come.  I didn't know how much I missed it.

The first month together, Mezekir deplored rocking to sleep and cuddling.  He preferred banging his head against a mattress.  At night, he found comfort only in his bottle and a song.  Slowly, he allowed us to rock him to sleep, yet in the midst of upset and angst, his solstice remained in solitude, self-soothing with a bottle or pacifier.  As of late, Mez has learned to love my arms, my lap, my protection.  It has just been within the last week that we have marked a revolution... those small markers that when they hit you realize how much you'd longed for them...without even realizing it.  Those split-second occurrences rekindle the "new mom" feelings that remind us it was partly for this that we were created.

For the first time, four days ago Mezekir laid his head on my shoulder, placed his brown, pudgy hands on my bare arms, began to rub them, and drifted off to sleep.  I immediately recognized the milestone.  One step closer.   According to my attachment parenting ways, I've craved the sound of him sleeping on my chest and the feeling of our rhythmic breathing while I hold him and take in the fleeting moments of "now".  For the last five nights, Mez has done just that.  Now, around the house, he teeters up, grabs a knee, and lifts his hands to be held.  But the best remains.  He's happier.  He's comfortable.  He knows he's ours and we are his.  No more avoiding eye contact.  No more turning from side to side to prohibit others from engaging.  Something is different.  And I like it.

It occurred to me, so much of this is deep seeded from the beginnings of his life.  It also occurred to me that I don't fully understand who he is, what life really is/ has been for him, or will be.  In my love for him I have overestimated my ability to empathize and understand.  But today, something is different, and I like it.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkins: Orange, Brown, and White.

With four children spanning a large age range, I must admit, my younger chickens miss out on a few of the "classic" opportunities.  Our oldest two attended the best preschool, enjoyed play groups at the park, had picnics in the rain, walked slowly at the zoo to investigate each animal, sat on Santa's lap, rode the firetruck, visited the police station, grew beans in an egg carton, made play dough, finger painting at will, dove head-first into freshly raked piles of leaves, and went to the pumpkin patch each fall to select their own pumpkins.  But it does get old.  Taking the almost 13 year old man child, the 9 year old diva-born princess along with our own 4 year old comedian elect, and the bustling baby boy to experience these precious moments isn't the same. It's repetitive and a bit mundane.  I was sure it lacked the sparkle and intrigue of the new world we have entered:  Pre-teen Domain.  It's not that I'm resistant to repeating this memory, it just looses it's oomph and urgency the third and fourth time around.  

This year, since I am president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and act as social director of the East Texas Gladney Family Association, I put together the gatherings for the group.  Great chance to kill 2 birds with one stone.  We headed for some forced family fun at none other than the Moore Pumpkin Patch.  And truth be told, it was splendid.  I had forgotten how much fun those simple moments as a family without electronic based excitement, the next thrill, the sardonic nature of a group of teens, or the "newest thing to do" could be.  All of it was fun, feeding the pigs, shucking corn, pumping water, playing tag in the hay bail maze, and finding the choice pumpkins.  My favorite moment remains:  Preston announced to all on the hayride, "I chose a girl and a boy pumpkin.  See, look how long HIS stem is."  Somethings really are priceless. I loved watching my cute pumpkins find their gourds, and I thought you might enjoy the pictures.  

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

FOOD, Not just for living any more!

From all sources, Mezekir is said to mean "Remembered One or Memorial".  I'm thinking this is inaccurate.  We are leaning toward redefining his name.  Maybe something more fitting, "Mighty Consumer, who takes in inordinate amounts of food."  And although I jest at redefinition, I'm beyond serious in regards to his consumption.  

Our pantry door boasts a specific squeak or melodic song as it gives access to the treasures inside.   Mezekir has learned the 'pantry song'.  He responds in immediate demand...stomping feet, squealing, bouncing his massive toddler frame, and swinging his head back in forth in true Oromo-tribe style.  The gage on his round, bulging belly must not work because whether well-fed or nearing the next meal, this baby knows no bounds.  Quick run-down for yesterday alone:  Breakfast- 8oz. whole goat milk, 2 eggs, 1 piece of Ezekiel bread, raspberries, and 1/2 banana.  Snack- dried peas, raisins, and Dr. Crackers and 8 oz. water.  Lunch- cheese stick, cooked peas, turkey (about 2 oz.), 1/4 apple, and 1/2 hemp tortilla, and 1/4 cup roasted butternut squash, washed down with 5 oz. water.  Snack-umm, not sure as every time the pantry was cracked, there stood Mez begging in true Mez style.  Dinner- 1/2 chicken breast, 10 small tomatoes, 2 carrots, sweet potatoes julian cut, 1/2 banana and 5 oz. water.  Soon to follow 8 oz whole goat milk.  AND as I toted him off to sweet slumbers he protested loudly with knowledge the family remained in the kitchen snacking without him.

No parasites, thank you.  We've checked recently.  No malabsorption.  We've checked.  No long-term history of malnutrition in ET; we checked.  Maybe Purvis' idea of neuro/physio-development and its link to food=comfort applies when a child has spent only short periods in an institution?  Whatever the case, we remain sure Mez's food intake is not just for living.  This is about comfort, people.  He loves his food!  If food were a love language, we would know Mez's.

Monday, October 4, 2010


So, this weekend, I realized I still have a few strongholds or prejudices I haven't worked through.  I attended the T4A Conference.  A question was posed by a parent of an adoptee, who is HIV+.  She asked, "If your son or daughter made friends with a child at school, who was HIV+, how would you handle that friendship.  Would you allow the friendship to grow?  Would you encourage it?  Would you be fearful?  Would you expect your friend's parents to tell you he/she was HIV+?"  She continued, "If your child contracted HIV while in the hospital, would you feel inclined to disclose it to his or her friends?  Would you tell the schools?  Would you tell your church?  Would you want to hide it knowing the majority of the public is uneducated in the truth of HIV, and it would surely mean your child suffered from being ostracized?  Do you feel there is a difference in what you would expect of HIV+ persons and how you would want your child's health information handled?"  I must say, I couldn't answer these questions initially, at least not the way I wanted.

This parent and another of HIV+ adoptees and a PID doctor and nurse practitioner spoke on HIV and AIDS and the myths surrounding them.  My knowledge was antiquated.  Little did I know that HIV/AIDS no longer carries a title of "terminal disease".  Instead, it is a chronic illness, which is easily controlled and readily preventable.  In the US, an HIV+ person need only take 2 pills a day to live a long, healthy, uninhibited life.  REALLY?  There's never been 1 single diagnosed case of HIV transference from family member to family member in a normal family environment.  All the myths of cut to cut, accidents riding bikes, bumps on the trampoline, shaving accidents as teenagers, or a bloody car wreck transference was put to bed.  I never realized how manageable this disease is!

Why then are millions dying in Sub-Saharan Africa of AIDS?  Well, the ARVs and AZT needed to control HIV/AIDS is still not readily available.  Those who do receive them do not have them administered properly (as they are usually orphans in group facilities).  More over, even when these meds are available, the life saving antibiotics for secondary infections are not available.  My heart broke to realize the difference in a child, who is HIV+, being raised in a third world country or America is the difference of life and death.  LIFE and DEATH.

Fear of transference doesn't keep me from an HIV+ adoption.  I'm going to lay it out there; the fear of social (used loosely) isolation and social martyrdom of my 4 children and husband halts me in my path.  I don't want them to be shunned or hurt.  I don't want to be the bulls eye.  I don't want to ruin my husband's career.  I know there's a theme and it circulates around "I".  What a sad truth.  Due a possible inconvenience or social abandonment, I would forgo adopting a child that God placed on my heart.

Then it also hit me.  The spiritual parallel.  God came to me when I was suffering from an incurable disease, sin.  Had He taken inventory of my status, judged my sicknesses, assessed my risks, considered the stigma of a relationship with me, or not wanted the weight of my current status, I would be left to my own demise.  If God had looked to my past to judge my future, I would surely perish.  If there ever was a stigma associated with the illness of sin, I carried it.  But instead of judging, He made the greatest sacrifice.  He gave what was perfect for my life.  And I was saved.  I cannot move past this yet.  I trust there is a reason this resounds in my heart and soul.  This story of redemption from a past and the promise of a future.   It's all too sweet for me to throw away and discount.

How would you answer that parent's questions?