Thursday, December 07, 2006

An Ethiopian feast ends with a momentous decision

It's been much too long since my last post, so please accept my apologies for the delay! I can tell you that lately our quiet lives have been rather hectic. I have so much to report that it's hard to know where to begin.

The day after Thanksgiving was a day I've been looking forward to for a while now. It was to be our first time attending a southern California Ethiopian adoptive family potluck! For weeks I drove Joe nuts talking to him about how great it was going to be and preparing for the moment when we would finally get to meet other families that have adopted/are adopting from Ethiopia. Not to mention the thrill of finally meeting some of their precious little ones in person.

The potluck was down in San Diego, which is about an hour and a half from us, but of course, as fate would have it, Joe and I hit terrible traffic on the drive down. For any of you that know me, you can imagine that with my excitement and two months of waiting for this day, I was a handful for Joe to deal with as we inched our way closer to San Diego. I kept looking at our navigation system's screen as it ticked away the minutes to our arrival at the destination. By the time it showed an arrival time of 1:58 pm... nearly an hour after the potluck was to begin, I was near tears. As I've said before, I've never been very patient and to me, every minute we were missing was one less minute spent at the potluck. Before long, we were so desperate that we hopped off the freeway (in the middle of nowhere in between Orange County and San Diego where there is nothing around but open land and one road that is part of Camp Pendleton), and we thankfully took advantage of having military id's. After we zipped through security, we were cruising. Now we were smokin'; 35 mph feels fast enough to take the wrinkles out after such a dramatic slow down on the freeway. Since we were now driving on a small and winding road through Camp Pendleton that more or less paralleled the freeway, we really had to follow the speed limit to avoid a ticket from the MP's (military police). Apparently they don't have enough to do so speeding tickets are the highlight of an MP's day.

By 2:00 pm we had arrived at our destination. The party had begun and a sign on the front door told visitors to go ahead and enter. We shyly made our way towards the action out back and met the hostess. My eyes filled with the sights and sounds of kids splashing in the beautiful pool surrounded by rock walls and an attached hot tub. Teenagers, babies, toddlers, you name it, they were there. I think in total that day there were said to be about 70 people in attendance. My attention quickly became rapt as we admired the littlest members of the crowd, taking in their smiles and giggles. One little doll grabbed my finger while in her daddy's arms and wouldn't let go. She was too cute for words.

Although the children had quickly caught our focus, we did turn it to talking to the parents and future parents in the crowd. We met a wonderful couple that lives up near my uncle and are currently awaiting their referral for siblings. We swapped stories, discussed agencies, various decisions that have to be made, and enjoyed some fabulous Ethiopian food. We asked so many questions of the parents that have already got their kids home from Ethiopia, and were thrilled about the support they showed us when we told them about the difficulty our age has posed for us. They rallied around us and our decision to do this, despite our young age, and many offered to help in any way they could. My heart felt like it was going to explode with excitement and thanks. They answered all sorts of questions ranging from reasons for choosing the agency they worked with to how they decided on the age and number of children they adopted.

As the afternoon wound down and people began to say goodbye, Joe and I reluctantly made our way toward the door. The day was filled with smiles, laughter, and truckloads of information. By the time we climbed in the car, Joe looked at me and confirmed with me something very exciting. We have been waiting to feel more certain before posting this update, so please start the drum roll.... after MUCH deliberation, Joe and I are planning on adopting twins or siblings rather than just one infant. **PAUSE** Yes, you read that correctly. We are now planning on starting the adoption process with the intention of adopting twins, or possibly siblings. We are still working on deciding on that one, or maybe we'll leave it open and see what we're referred. This may be something we discuss more with the social worker that does our homestudy before we make a final decision. I have talked it over at length with the social worker with Adoption Avenues and she seems to feel strongly supportive of this choice.

Now, you may just be sitting there wondering "What in the heck are they thinking?!" Believe me, when this idea started going through my mind, I started questioning my sanity as well. But after considering it for about two or three months now, not only do I feel comfortable with the logic behind what my heart it telling me, but Joe has also come to agree with me. Before I begin the attempt at explaining our reasons, I want to cover an important issue that surrounds our adoption. Race, ethnicity, skin color. Yes, we are adopting transculturally. And not just transculturally, but transracially. Since it's an important aspect of our adoption, I need to cover some important ground about this issue that so many people are interested in understanding our position on. You'll probably hear many different opinions on the matter from different transcultural/transracial adoptive families you talk to, and our own feelings will undoubtedly evolve as the process unfolds. This can be such a touchy subject in our society that it's been a struggle for us to know how to handle. So, I'll tackle this one like Joe. Blunt and to the point. Joe and I are Caucasian. We are white... blond hair, blue eyes, and very light colored skin. Our baby(ies) will not have that in common with us. They will have black/brown/dark skin, likely dark brown eyes, and curly black/brown hair. By doing this, we will be creating a family that is transracial. More importantly (and appropriately), transcultural. Our family will grow and be able to add the long and very rich history of Ethiopia to it. Our children may not look just like us, that is part of what will make our family so special and beautiful. Joe and I feel "colorblind" in a sense, but realize that in order to fully support and care for our children, we cannot be completely colorblind. It would be an injustice to our future children. We want them to know everything they can about their Ethiopian roots and have a strong pride in their culture and history. Ethiopia is an amazing country, filled with amazing people. We would never take that away from our children. Both Joe and myself feel that it is a blessing in every sense of the word to be privileged to have a transcultural/transracial family.

That being said, I'll get back to our feelings about adopting two rather than one. We want our child to have the comfort of growing up with a sibling that looks like them and shares a similar history. When they get old enough to start realizing that they don't look like mommy and daddy, I want them to be able to have that commonality with their brother/sister. When they are struggling with issues surrounding their adoption, I want them to have the support and closeness of a sibling that has that in common. Joe and I will always do our best to show them that we love them unconditionally and embrace their culture, history and beautiful dark skin, but it's not the same as having a sibling they can share that with. Someone that looks like them and share a similar life story.

We've thought about doing two separate adoptions, from Ethiopia, but don't feel that's the right decision for us. Adoptions are long, stressful, emotionally, physically, and financially draining. Getting our kids at the same time will allow us to work through the transition at once instead of two separate times. It also means our kids will have a playmate from the get-go, which is nice for the entire family. They will get to have each other as they go through the process of adjusting to life in our family and grow up together with that special bond.

None of this is to say that there's anything wrong with adopting just one child. Or doing separate adoptions. I'm just attempting to explain our own personal feelings on what works best for us. Since it's so late here, I also hope this reads how it's supposed to. Sometimes thoughts and feelings can be so hard to put on paper and still make sense. Nothing is set in stone yet... it'll be a long while yet before we get our referral and until we have the referral, get through court, and travel to Ethiopia to bring our little angels home, everything is an uncertainty. But, until the stork tells us what he's bringing, you can expect it'll be twins!!! I've always dreamed of being a mommy to twins... as crazy and difficult as I am sure it can/will be on some days, the amazing bond they share and joy they will add to our lives will be well worth it!

The final announcement I have for tonight is that my mom has finally moved to California!!! Surprise! I can't even begin to tell you all how happy that makes me! She flew out here last Tuesday and started work on Wednesday, November 29. We convinced her to stay with us since dad is stuck in Colorado finishing a few projects around the house before he can list it for sale. In the meantime, we're doing our best to send him our love and talk lots on the phone! He's the only one left in Colorado now! I hope that the house sells quickly once they list it in the spring, but with the way the housing market's been so slow... it may be a while before dad can get out here to join mom. So, despite the fact that I am so sad dad isn't out here with mom, I am overjoyed to have her around to spend time with again. You can only imagine how big I've been grinning lately with all the exciting changes happening!

5 comments:

Liz said...

I'm so happy for you guys! Can't wait to come visit! *hugs*

Anonymous said...

We just adopted twins from Ethiopia for many of the same reasons you describe. And they are WONDERFULL!

Just to give you a little bit of possible "down" sides: As new parents we never got that time to bond with just 1 baby, go for a walk with just 1 baby while the other parent rests, have dinner with 1 baby while the other parent eats, etc etc. It is very very hard to start out with 2 at once. Much harder than starting out with 1. Another thing to consider, if you only want to adopt once, then you will only go through any stage with your children once. When it is over, it is over. So once they have walked, you don't get to go through that again. Once they have passed babyhood, you don't get to go through that again. etc.

So there is a lot about it that is much harder than starting out parenthood with 1. Still, I would not change it. It is wonderful having 2!!!!

It is a little bit of sad feeling sometimes, not bonding just with 1 butI figure if you eventually want 2 kids anyway, then as soon as you have 2 you are going to have to deal with those issues, so you may as well just start out that way.

Another benefit is if you adopt 1 and then go back and adopt another later the first child has yet another transition to go through. If you plan to stop at 2 (or stop after 1 adoption no matter how many) then the kids don't have to go through that transition.

Best wishes on a sometimes difficult but in the end an amazing and wonderful journey!

Heather said...

Hi! Just came across your blog! Check out ours!!! (and let's chat!- via blogs!) we adopted our twin sons from Haiti!

http://johnson-mccormickfamily.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling your Mom is more excited to be near you again, than you are to have her near you! And...., I'm positive that she will be very excited to have one or two little grandbabies some day (especially the kind that DON'T eat dog food!)....

Anonymous said...

Hi,
My blog is nemo-nema. My husband and I are adopting from Ethiopia too. We decided to adopt twins or siblings under age 4 (1 being an infant). The reasons you give mirror ours. I like how you explained it. I forget most people don't have to have the same considerations.
Kateri