Monday, September 17, 2012

Our first day...

So I wanted to post this earlier but I got hit by some kind of crazy stomach bug. And now I'm not sure which is worse: having a 12 hour stomach bug, or the impending doom you feel when you fear your husband and/or kids are going to get it?

But anyway... I've been a little nostalgic and emotional the past few days as I think about where I was a year ago. Have I ever explained how crazily my life became entwined with my friend Kim? Let me tell y'all... this is a God thing - there is no other explanation.

When you are an adoptive mama, you read blogs. Not casually. You READ them. And somehow connect with the mamas who are writing them from across the country. So after we traveled for our first court date, I somehow made the connection that the other Gladney mama who got a referral the same day we did was adopting a child in the SAME room as Amani.  Out of the six rooms in each of the four houses, our children were in the same place.

We got our referrals the same day, traveled for court within a week of each other and got to talking. We both felt like we needed to get our behinds over to Ethiopia and not wait for Embassy clearance like you're supposed to. I think we set a tentative date to travel before we'd even been submitted to Embassy. When we both got news on THE SAME DAY that our cases had been submitted to Embassy, we booked plane tickets and traveled halfway across the world with no clue when we'd be returning home.

It might have been the biggest leap of faith I've ever taken: leaving my first two children and my husband behind, not knowing when I'd be back.  And God knew I couldn't do it alone: so he worked it out for another mama and her sweet daughter to be there with me.  A year ago today, we were in Ethiopia with our new sons, trying to manage their fears along with Embassy requests while not being allowed to leave the guest house. I thank God all the time for Kim and her daughter - it's quite possible I would have completely lost my mind without them! We fought together at the Embassy and they ended up treating our boys' cases like one case. Halfway through we just started sending them one email from the both of us, since they'd already figured out we were together.  We cleared Embassy the same day and our embassy ticket even had our names written on it together. And, all together, we flew back to NC (oh wait - did I not mention that part? We live about an hour and a half apart).

Go ahead and try to tell me that's all just happy coincidence.  Oh wait... one MORE thing: they are both from Gondar and were at the same orphanage there. Seriously. I couldn't make this stuff up.

And... in case you missed it a year ago. Here's the letter I wrote to Amani after our first day together. I can barely believe that is the same child. What a difference a year makes!!!

Dear Amani,

We’ve almost been together for 24 hours now. I’ll never be able to tell you what you first day of life was like, but I can certainly tell you about our first day together.

I went to visit you at the orphanage yesterday as soon as you were up from your nap. We played for a long time.  Word got around that you were leaving that evening and your caregivers came by to say goodbye. They obviously love you very much.  Senet and Sarah are your “special mothers” and they are wonderful. We’ll see them again next week to say goodbye for real at the coffee ceremony.

I fed you dinner there and we played a little while longer. And then when I left, I didn’t have to leave you behind!!  You came right along with me!  Samuel Reisen was with us too because his mom and sister are here doing the same thing we are: Waiting for Embassy clearance.  You must have been some kind of favorite at the orphanage because we were stopped several times on our way out so that women could say goodbye.

Usually you would be brought to me at the guesthouse and that was our original plan but when the visit was going so well, Kim and I figured it would be so much easier on you and Reisen if you came with us while you were having a good time with us.  There were no tears. You didn’t try to reach for anyone at the orphanage instead of me.  I think it was way better than having someone from the orphanage bring you to me in the morning.  You didn’t really enjoy the car ride. It seemed to freak you out… you just sat very quietly on my lap with a slight look of alarm on your face.

We came back to the guest house and played a little longer. I changed you into pjs, and gave you one last nightly bottle.  Your schedule says you take one at 10 pm but I figured if I gave you one at 8 right at bedtime that you’d do just fine all night.  I was right – you slept all through the night until about 6!
I woke up because I heard a loud CRASH! You had woken up, stood up in your crib and grabbed the ring stacker I’d accidentally left on the bureau next to your crib. Oops.  You wake up so quietly… I wonder how I’ll know you’re up tomorrow morning.

You are a great eater! You had an entire banana, a bowl of rice cereal, and a bottle for breakfast!! And you played happily until about 9 when you decided you were going to take a nap. The orphanage said you only nap once a day but maybe moving was tiring so you needed a little rest.

You slept about 45 minutes and when you woke up, I gave you a bath. I think up until now you’ve only had sponge baths.  You did NOT like the regular bath. Not at all. I washed you up quickly and didn’t do your hair since you were so miserable.  And then after that you really weren’t yourself.  You only wanted me to hold you. You cried if I even sat down and cried harder if I sat you on the floor to play.  Most of the morning you were pretty out of sorts.

It was hard to watch you suffering like that.  I’m sure you are confused about where you are, about where your friends and caregivers are.  I don’t know your routine. I don’t know how you like to be held. I can’t speak the language that can calm you.  This morning was hard.  And it made me a little mad. I know the adoption would have been easier on you if we could have gotten to you earlier.  But now you are 13 months old. I’ve known about you since you were 8 months old. All those 5 months I wish we could have been together.  But things are not that way so we’ll have to get through.  A part of me is glad to see you grieving. I know it’s a healthy reaction.  It would not be a good sign if you just attached immediately to me as if nothing ever happened.

We ate Ethiopian food for lunch. You’ve never had real solid foods and you’ve never fed yourself before. I put you in our little highchair and gave you some tiny pieces of injera, gomen (collard greens) and a little meat. You ate like a champ!  You still prefer me to put pieces of food in your mouth but you ate a lot by yourself. And after lunch you had an entire bottle! I don’t know where you put it all!
After that you were back to yourself. Smiling, laughing! You’re walking now and you like to toddle over to Jaeden or Miss Kim and then turn around and toddle back to me. You’re so funny. You make some awesome faces. And you babble quite a bit but I don’t think you’re saying anything in Amharic. I know it’s not English J

I’m learning some Amharic to make life easier for us. More, all done, water, milk… I’m trying to learn the basic words we’ll need to get by for the first couple months.

You know what? I was nervous about coming to get you. I didn’t know how it would go between us. I wasn’t sure how I would feel. I remember feeling so strongly that you are mine when I came to visit you in July for court, but I was a little scared about how it would go when we were actually living together.  But you are my child.  I don’t feel like I’m babysitting. I don’t  feel like I’m having to try hard to feel motherly towards you. I love you. I love getting to know you. And I love knowing that we are finally together.  Only one hurdle remains and that’s getting you home to the rest of the family.  But it’s in the works and our adoption agency staff have been really encouraging.

I’m going to nap a little while you’re napping.



  1. this is why God gifts us with the ability to keep 'memory boxes' in our minds, that will take us right back 'there' when visited...
    love & hugs to all.

  2. What a sweet little letter! I'm so happy that Amani has been home for (over) a year now! What a blessed family!

  3. Thanks for praying for us! We appreciate it! It means so much to know we have support from other Gladney families even after they have completed their adoption!


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