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On this day, four years ago, Elsa and I arrived at San Francisco International airport.
My little box of sunshine and I have been family for four years now.
I am so blessed.
And, as is now tradition, I’m sharing the photo montage I submitted to Ethiopia with my annual report.
[so much for retirement]
Well, it’s here again – March 25th. On this day, three years ago, Elsa and I (and my intrepid friend Clare) stepped off the plane at San Francisco International airport and came home (thanks to my other intrepid friend Kate who picked us up!).
I have been blessed with this amazing little sunshiney soul for three years now.
Last year, I posted the photo montage I submitted to Ethiopia with my annual report. Thought I’d share this year’s with y’all, too…
Sometimes other people say stuff just much better than I could.
From the awesome Transracial Adoptive Parenting blog, info about some upcoming programming on PBS’s Point of View (POV) series that adoptive parents might want to check out. Heavy emphasis on the experience of Asian adoptees, and one domestic adoption, but I’m sure the themes translate to other adoptions as well..
PBS Series of Adoption Documentaries
The first will be First Person Plural, which will first be aired on August 10. It is the story of a woman adopted in the 1960’s from Korea and what happened as she began to remember her birth family. The PBS website describes it as “a poignant essay on family, loss and the reconciling of two identities.”
The second will be Wo Ai Ni (I Love You) Mommy, which is first scheduled to air on August 31. It is the story of an 8 year-old girl adopted from China by an American family. The story is told through the eyes of the little girl as she struggles with her new identity after leaving her foster family and culture behind.
Off and Running is the third offering in the POV series. It is scheduled to first air on September 7. This story is about a young African-American woman adopted transracially and her struggles with her identity and her estrangement from black culture.
The final offering is In The Matter of Cha Jung Hee which is scheduled to first air on September 14. This documentary is another story about a Korean woman who was adopted in the 1960’s and her search to find the truth about her past.
Check your local listings for the time and station. Depending upon your local programming, it appears that these documentaries may air more than once.
Folks who are of a different race than their children have some interesting parenting issues. And adoptive parents who have kids of different race have additional things to consider.
Dr. John Raible recently put a post on his blog called A Crash Course in Transracial Adoptive Parenting. He knows of what he speaks – and this post is essentially a primer for people like me. It’s a comprehensive syllabus, really – including a reading list and assignments – and (IMHO) includes stuff that every parent of a transracially adopted child should know. I know I’m looking to get educated, and this is a great opportunity.
In response, a group of adoptive parents then started a new blog where they could – together – work their way through the Crash Course, and have a place to discuss it – the blog is called Transracial Adoptive Parenting.
If you have any interest in this topic, check out the Crash Course, and if you want to join the discussion, please sign up over at TAP! The more people participating, the better, as far as I’m concerned. I’m going to be a pretty low-level participant – don’t have much capacity to do a lot of the reading right away – but I’ll be following along.
Drink up, people!!
(And hey, Dagmawit, welcome to the tribe. You scored – bigtime – with that family you’ve just become a part of. They are going to rock your world… just like you are going to rock their’s – in the best way possible.)
When I was first home with Elsa, people kept telling me that it was going to fly by, and to savor the time. I have to admit I was thinking – yeah RIGHT. Time was moving glacially. I prayed some days for it to move more quickly.
Then, something happened, and now it’s moving fast. Someone asked me the other day how old Elsa was when I met her and I had to stop and and take a deep breath, because NO WAY is it possible that THIS happened two years ago today.
As some of you know, for a long long time after I first got home with Elsa, things were not great. In fact, things were pretty shitty.
But I didn’t talk about it too much. I didn’t even know how to. And I felt too scared that people would think I was an ingrate, not worthy of raising a child, if I described just how bad it was, and how afraid I was that I had made a terrible, awful mistake, and how I wished that I could just go back in time and not adopt. Even now, I can only barely admit these feelings because I am madly in love with my daughter and can’t imagine life without her. So I am doing it with safety and not risking much with the admission.
But then along comes someone like Ashley. Who writes this post. Searingly honest… breathtakingly so.
If you are one of those who have Been There, Done That, please go over and post a comment of support. If you haven’t BTDT, please go over and read it anyway – especially if you are in the process of adopting…
The amazing Julie recently wrote a similar, painfully honest post about the first 6 months home with her two adopted kiddos – should also be required reading.
This photo was taken during one of my many visits to Toukoul orphanage while I was in Addis. I would visit Elsa for about an hour in the morning, and sometimes again the in the afternoon, hoping to get her accustomed to me and lessen the jolt when I eventually took her home.
More often than not, Elsa conked out on me about 15 minutes into my visits.
At the time, I thought they purposefully scheduled visiting times during nap hours to allow for these peaceful and lovely little sleepy interludes (who doesn’t love a sleeping baby on their chest?).
I now know that going to sleep is a classic defense mechanism – very common in orphanage babies – when a child is overwhelmed by stimulus. I think my appearance and intense attention and affection was probably just too much for her to handle after a while, so she simply went to sleep. Pretty effective, actually.
This is a shot I’ve never posted. In fact, when I look through photos of Ethiopia, I tend to zoom past this one because it makes me uncomfortable. It is not a good picture of me, nor is it a good picture of Elsa.
But it is a good picture of a moment.
This is the moment I took Elsa out of the orphanage for the last time and she became truly my own – we were literally crossing the threshold into a new life.
Will it surprise you to hear that this moment was the one and only time during my adoption process that I cried? It’s true.
I didn’t cry when I got my referral. (Seems everyone else I know who has gone down this adoption road did.)
I didn’t cry when I passed court, or booked my trip, or arrived in Addis, or even (to the shock of everyone, including myself) when I met Elsa for the first time. I didn’t cry when I visited her village in the Sidama zone.
But at this moment, I was taking Elsa away from everything she knew, from every loving person with whom she had bonded, from every familiar food, smell, bed, and place. She had already lost her family, and as of this moment, she was losing her country, her culture, her language, her sense of belonging, her home.
As I carried her through this doorway, she retained only the clothes on her back. She was losing literally everything else.
So while I was thrilled (and terrified) for myself, I was devastated for her.
And this is the moment when I lost it.