July 08, 2006

Preserving our daughters' heritage and Lifebook creation:

I've been asked many times what we are doing to help our daughter keep her heritage, know more about her biological family, and give her something of her own that chronicles her life before us. Very good questions all, and these are subjects that every adoptive family wrestles with. We chose to be very open about the creation of our family, and I think it has worked out very well. DD#1 asked me if she grew in my tummy, and I said no. I said that she was my child and God told me where to find her; that her Ethiopian family was our family too and that we all loved her so much; that we are lucky to have such a large family now in 4 countries! We make and eat Ethiopian food often, talk about Ethiopian art and culture, express pride in Ethiopia and that our family is Ethiopian, and play Ethiopian music in the house and car. We've also maintained a close relationship with her grandmother in Ethiopia, sending small gifts that DD#1 has made, drawings, and many many photos. She, in return, has sent us letters and cards which we cherish and will put in DDs' books. Many adoptive moms-to-be seem to get sort of freaked out about having to share parenthood, and feel that their role as mom might be threatened if they maintain any relationship with the biological family. Those thoughts did go through my mind before my daughter arrived in my life, but now I see that in my eyes, in her eyes, in the eyes of the law both here and there and the eyes of her Ethiopian family - she is my daughter and I am her mother. The open appreciation of the love and care her Ethiopian family gave to her that we show both to our daughter and to them has only solidified our roles as her parents.

Also, I began writing her letters in a blank journal book about a month after she arrived. I've been telling her about things she's said and done, memories of Ethiopia she has told me, our feelings about her, etc. My plan is to give the book to her when she is 16 or whenever she needs to peek into my mind and heart for guidance or stability.

Well, due to a 2nd comment on my blog (which I was absolutely sure that no one ever read), I guess I must post a little more often than once a month! haha I must admit that I find it hard to put into print the thoughts that are racing around my head. Never could keep a diary or journal really, as I was always afraid I'd write something that would hurt someone's feelings if they read it when I was dead. How "middle-child" is that?!? Ok, so here goes....

Darling daughter #1 is such a miracle. She is constantly amazing us, her extended family, friends, the many acquaintances she collects every day, etc. with her increasing compassion, joy, love and downright smarts. (Any opportunity Daddy and I had of spelling "secrets" is now gone with the wind. She spells. She adds and subtracts. We are in deep trouble.) Just when I think that I will literally explode from loving her so much, I feel like something injects more. Mommyhood is amazing and very very humbling. It can also be frustrating, which you've been telling me all along. :) She is 4 1/2, which explains alot I suppose, but man o man I am not looking forward to next year when she is 16!!! We asked her if she wanted her baby sister to come and live with us, and she got tears in her eyes. Yes yes yes! Thank goodness. While I'm very glad we organize our family as a team where everyone gets a say, I don't know what we'd have done if she'd said no thanks! Now she's planning on having dollhouse bunkbeds, like our friends built for their daughters (Thanks alot! You know who you are!!!!). Hope we can squeeze them into the room!

Darling daughter #2 (in the photo above) is FINALLY in the baby home, thank goodness! She had been sent back to her grandmother due to a positive Hep B test, but subsequently had a negative test. Why they would send her back to an unsafe environment I don't know, but she is there now so I will concentrate on that. We are toiling away trying to get our paperwork done, but I fear that it won't be in time. You see, the Ethiopian courts close in August until mid-September so it looks like we won't travel until October. Breaks my heart that our baby will have to wait that long, but I guess it gives us more time to stock up the cash we'll need for the final payment to the agency and travel costs. She is absolutely adorable and looks quite a bit like her big sister!