Our Marta has, today, been an American girl for three years. We can hardly believe it. The anticipation of this anniversary has made her grin and ponder at length what sort of cake she wants (You didn’t think she’d let this pass, ever, without cake, did you? Of course not!). Happily, this anniversary arrives just past the fourth of July, so we get the benefit of a yearly thematic shirt to bring the anniversary home. You know, a cute flag shirt. To match the cute (but ever changing design request) festive cake.
It’s a very personal anniversary, of course. One she marks in a big way, anticipating it for months and in fact one of the reference markers of the calendar in her head. The day is and was watershed day in many ways….the day she set foot on American soil, thus becoming a citizen. It was the day we finally got home after a long long trip; made longer by her fear of flying and crowds and new things, as well as my getting hit hard by Swine Flu in Addis and needing desperately to get home to fully recover. It was the day she stepped into her new family, meeting the kids who stayed at home: her little brothers and her big ones. It was the day she first got her own bed (soon enough to be her own bedroom) and a space of her own …..even as she joined up into a new (strange hard good big) family.
Her life has changed so. She is now in school, she is learning, slowly but with excellent support in the excellent teachers who work so hard in her program. She has begun to relax into things a bit here and there. Some days she even sleeps in past seven! Seriously, that is a much bigger marker of change than you might realize. She has grown physically a bit, but only a bit. She has experienced so many new things. The American culture is still often a mystery to her, tho let’s face it, isn’t it a mystery to us all at times? She adores movies and country music and her dog and big brothers. She does not like fish or snow or heights. She is growing into America – America is slowly seeping into her, bit by bit. She will, however, always retain her Ethiopian-ness. So she gets to swap between those options/cultures at will. And does.
There is more to this day, however, than just the external stuff. This is not just a day of getting a different stamp or passport; though she did. This day was a day of fusing, in many ways. It was the very beginning of her fusing into us and us into her. I choose the term “fusing” because you don’t only ‘form’ a family. It is fused. When you adopt an older child, especially one from hard places and or around the globe…that fusing is literal. It sears. It burns. It is accompanied by tears and grasps and gasps for all members. But also by the flashes of light and color that spark and make you say “Wow!” at their beauty. It takes time. To fuse you have go over and over the seams, laying down the sauter, the binding. It takes time to fuse and cure and set.
But it starts with a beginning, a bright burning torch. And that is today, three years ago. Miss Liberty is more representative than we knew.
She carries the torch.
We carried our girl.
Together, this day, three years ago…they were brought together.
The process of fusing a family began.
And so it continues….three years. American girl.