>The BackStory

>So. Now we have passed court!
Our feet are still floating a bit…ok, a lot.
We have a new daughter, we knew it long ago, but it’s nice to be really official.
The words, “Our new daughter, Marta” still feel new on our tongues.
It’s been a long road to her, we are still on it, but still…

So, now that we have passed, now some of the questions have begun flying.
We knew they would.
We had many of the same questions, ourselves, last summer – when we started this whole process.
So, I figure we should address, at least a few of them, here.
So, here’s the back story, complete with the zingers:
See that pic up right above?
That is our Marta, last May. Yeah, the one in the ray of light (nice, huh?) .
When we were in Addis Ababa, last May to pick up Gabey, we went to Kebebetsehay.
Kebebetsehay is the government orphanage where Gabriel Tariku first was placed.
And there were, and are, many kids there.
And it is kind of a heartbreaking place.
They all are, the orphanages, of course.

Anyhow, the visits to the orphanage are kind of devastating…as is the trip on the whole. I posted some about it here, it’s hard to describe it well. And what happens is that you come home with your heart kind of shredded up. Frayed around the edges. Ok, kind of with a hole torn in it that won’t ever be mended up nice and smooth and invisible, ever again.

And on one level you go and come home and are OH so grateful for the little things that you took for granted: convenient clean bathrooms, pounding hot water, ice in drinks, understanding anyone you might happen to speak to, salad, being able to read signs, clear(ish) air, the sheer convenience of getting around and daily life here in the States.

And that, that gratitude for the ease and comfort in daily life, inevitably fades. You slip back into the usual routine that was there before you made the trip. It’s our natural way, you know it. But what we found was that one thing didn’t just go back to size and form. Our hearts. Our hearts, mine and Coffeedoc’s, were reshaped. Tugged and torn and pulled into new versions, akin to old colanders in a weird way. Poked full of holes, dented, bumped up. Each hole was the place of a kid we met in Addis, stuck in our hearts. Or someone we saw in the city, seared into our brains and now heart and prayers.

We kind of tried to gloss over that part, because it was too raw, and hard to talk about really. I mean, what is there to say? How? But we would mention it, in that old married shorthand kind of way. And we’d nod to each other. Or look at each other. And we’d pray. Or we’d find each other looking at the pictures, again. And again. Especially that one up there. And this one, just below.
And finally, we emailed Joanna (the in-country rep, we had made friends…). And we asked about a number of the kids we met, just so we could put them very precisely in our prayers. And she kindly wrote us back about most of them. Good info to have, happily, most of them matched already. Others we put into our prayers, precisely. We knew their names, most of them, so we could ask about them. We had been praying to their patron saints (determined by their names) if we could. And one of them, she needed to get more info on, as she was still at the gov’t orphanage and it might take a little time. We said ok, thanks so much and waited. Because I wasn’t really thinking about anything other than knowing more and praying, although Coffeedoc was… I had already been stewing about the older girls left there, but I didn’t yet know that he had one, her, in mind for more, for bringing home.

Then she emailed back, she confirmed her name: Marta. (Spelled, in Ethiopia, as “Martha”, pronounced, and to be spelled here, as “Marta.”) And that she was ten to twelve, an orphan, no family, a few other things, and she was available for adoption. And I sent the email on to Coffeedoc, who was working. And he called me. And he said, “Do you know what day it is?” And I gulped and said, “Yes.” “It’s St. Martha’s feast day,” he said, voice cracked just a bit. “I know,” I said. And I knew. Ow.

For us, think what you like, that is a brick dropped on our Catholic heads. {To recap and explain that, we had been praying to St. Martha, for prayers for her; and we got her info on St. Martha’s feast day? Coincidence? Not in my world….} But we hung up, enough had been said. For now. Later, Coffeedoc called back. I knew he would. He said, “I think we need to go get her.” “I know,” I said. But I’m still needing to think and pray…this is big, so big, I told him. And he said, “I know.” And then he let me think pray talk stew pray study research pray talk wonder and pray. He waited. He waited for me to move past my fear and imagination and worry. He never wavered. He doesn’t. That would be me, at that point in the game (ok, other points too…). I fret. I stew. I wallow in fear. Yup. That’s me. And adopting an older child is more complicated, many more layers and complexities. I talked a little bit about it all in my post announcing our start back in process, here. But it only alluded to how big this was, this decision that was as surprise to us both. Finally it came down to were we willing? And, so, yes.
But then, and now again of course, come the questions, the opinions (Because everyone’s got an opinion, and not all, not nearly all, are positive), the zingers:
Why her? Why this child? Why not another one? Did you guys pick her? Did the agency refer her? Was she picked for you? What are you thinking? Are you crazy? How did you know she was your daughter? How do you know? Are you scared? Are you excited? Why her?

And I don’t have the perfect answer to that, certainly not any satisfactory answer to anyone who asks. Some ask with “nerve” (oh, the nerve of them, right? sigh), and some with genuine interest. And they have asked. And are. And will. I did too. But here’s what I’ve got, now:

No, the agency didn’t refer her to us, she was in a government orphanage, not the agency one.
Yes, we believe she was picked for us, but not by the agency, but instead, God (Even tho so many will scoff at this, there you have it. And yes, we know that sounds prideful…we get that. Maybe it is, maybe we just have the big heads….but try living it, it sure won’t feel it.).
We probably are thinking too much, all this time; now we are very anxious to start living it, and yes, we are probably a bit crazy. {But that’s old news.}
We know she is our daughter because she is (why yes, we are Zen Catholics, didn’t you know? 🙂).
We also know she is our daughter because the courts say she is, because our faith says she is, because we have jumped through hoops for her, whittled stacks of paper for her, fought for her, prayed for her, loved her, dreamt of her, forged her into our hearts and selves, even before we truly KNOW her in person.
Yes, we are scared (ok, me)!
Yes, we are excited!
And lastly, finally, why not her?

Why her? Because this is our daughter, Marta.
You know, I tend to pray for bricks on my head.
I really need to remember to start wearing a helmet.